PDA

View Full Version : FEDERAL VISION BABBLE



ray kikkert
08-12-05, 09:08 AM
Greetings to all:

This thread was created for the purpose of refuting the Federal Vision doctrine which some may or may not know about. That is why it is here posted, to let you know.

It was also created to look at the rebuttals of those who see this false doctrine for the babble it is. Also, to study here the words of the proponents themselves from the subsequent writings that are public. The names of which appear at the start of the following article.

This is not a witch/heretic hunt. This is cornering a rat and killing it with regards to false doctrine. Some at present smell a rat, some have not even caught wind of it, but have heard of certain breakings of wind.

Thus , we will start with this refutation by the "banner of truth" since some here have problems with the Trinity Foundation and the PRC and their use of polemics here.

If any one else has access to writings of the different proponents to the Federal Vision babble they can be brought here for study.



Debating the Federal Vision




A review of The Auburn Avenue Theology, Pros and Cons: Debating the Federal Vision. The Knox Theological Seminary Colloquium on the Federal Vision. Edited by E. Calvin Beisner. Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Knox Theological Seminary, 2004. 331 pp. $16.00.

The talks given at the 2002 Auburn Avenue Pastors' Conference (AAPC) at the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church in Monroe, Louisiana, raising questions about the orthodox Reformed doctrines of justification by faith alone, the covenants, election, perseverance, and the sacraments, have become well known subsequently throughout the Reformed community. The book we are reviewing here consists of the papers given on these and other related subjects, delivered at a specially called colloquium (hosted by the editor, Dr. F. Calvin Beisner) in Southern Florida during August 2003. The papers were exchanged and discussed, by seven of the Auburn Avenue Theology/Federal Vision proponents and by seven of its critics. The former are John Barach, Peter J. Leithart, Rick Lusk, Steve M. Schlissel, Tom Trouwborst, Steve Wilkins, and Douglas Wilson. The critics of the Federal Vision are Christopher A. Hutchinson, George W. Knight, III, Richard D. Phillips, Joseph A. Pipa, Jr., Carl D. Robbins, Morton H. Smith; and R. Fowler White.

In a short review of this publication, it is impossible to go into a detailed analysis and criticism of the views expressed by the Federal Visionists on the vital doctrinal matters of the Trinity, the covenants, justification, election, the sacraments, perseverance, and the distinction between the visible and the invisible church. But the conviction of this reviewer is that the "Cons" have won the argument overwhelmingly against the Federal Visionists' position and that the latter are in the most serious danger of departing from Reformed orthodoxy into sacramentalism and even a form of works-righteousness, if indeed this has not already happened despite all their arguments to the contrary.

The Federal Visionists are reacting to problems in the contemporary American evangelical and Reformed churches, such as the rampant individualism, the neglect of the covenantal objectivity of salvation, an over-emphasized subjectivity in seeking assurance of salvation, the tendency towards antinomianism in some circles, and an inadequate view of the role of the sacraments as signs and seals of salvation.

Their pastoral concern in these matters is doubtless commendable, but the re-casting of the normal orthodox understanding of certain vital aspects of Biblical and Reformed theology (cf. the Westminster Standards) raises far more serious problems in the end, than the ones which the Federal Visionists claim to have solved.

For instance, there is an attempt to reformulate the doctrine of the Trinity, to move away from the Reformation commitment to “forensic” justification (by assuming an over-reaction by the Reformers to Rome), to allege that Hellenism and the Enlightenment led to the "scholastic" propositional statements of Reformed doctrine in the Westminster Standards, to read Biblical history as "The Story" involving primarily personal relationships between God and His people (rather than a depository for doctrinal propositions), to deprecate the value of systematic theology, and finally to introduce different views of covenant, faith, baptism, the Lord's Supper, election, regeneration, apostacy, and sacramental efficacy. While it is claimed that all these re-formulations are within the parameters of the orthodox Reformed Faith, this reviewer has been left in no doubt that the Federal Vision is, in the end, contrary to the Westminster Standards. One of the critics, Dr. Joseph Pipa, in his response to Steve Wilkins' paper on "Covenant, Baptism, and Salvation," puts this point concisely in these words: “If I have understood Wilkins in this paper, the Federal Vision is a deviant, unbiblical view of salvation.... the proponents of the Federal Vision hold to a deviant view of the covenant, the active obedience of Christ, the way one receives salvation-justification, the role of baptism in conversion, the relation of the reprobate to Christ and the means of assurance" (p.281).

There are at least three major causes for concern with regard to the Federal Visionists’ presentations.

1] The first is methodological errors. As one of the critics has pointed out (p.10), there is a tendency towards faulty hermeneutics and exegesis, implying that all Scriptural terms are always used in the same way (e.g., "baptism" always meaning water baptism), thus abandoning the Reformation principle of the analogy of faith. This same tendency leads to the redefining or ambiguously stating the doctrine of election, regeneration, justification, and adoption, and to a general low regard for any attempt to "systematize" theology.

2] The second is a loss of Biblical balance in regard to covenant theology. Union with the (visible) church automatically implies union with Christ in the Federal Vision teaching, thus over-objectifying the covenant and failing to distinguish between covenantal union in the visible church from the saving union of the invisible church; and in emphasizing covenantal election, atonement, justification, and adoption at the expense of soteriological election, atonement, justification, and adoption (p. 12). There is an attempt to downplay the confessional distinction between the visible and invisible church and to propose another distinction in its place, the historical and eschatological church!

3] The third major cause for concern is the unquestionable incipient sacramentalism in the Federalist position. In reading paper after paper in this colloquium, the. reader is left with the conviction that the Federalists impute the efficacy of the thing signified to the sign itself, whether in regard to baptism or the Lord's Supper. The sacraments can communicate blessings apart from faith, and baptism appears to be a converting ordinance. The Federal Vision states that the unbelieving feed upon Christ when they partake of the Lord's Supper, and that a person is given new life by virtue of baptismal union with Christ.

There appears to be an erroneous view of the doctrine of justification held by the Federalists, with the claim that one cannot understand Paul's teaching on justification apart from dealing with the Gentile problem and that in the. Old Testament the instrument of justification was covenant faithfulness and not simply trusting in the promises of God.. There also appears to be a denial of the role of merit in Christ's work and the imputation of Christ's righteousness in justification.

In conclusion, this reviewer is convinced that the carefully articulated presentations of the great doctrines of the Reformed and Biblical faith in the Westminster Standards (on election, faith, good works, perseverance, assurance of salvation, the sacraments, etc.) provide still today the effective and truly adequate answer to the problems of the contemporary situation in the Reformed churches. Sadly, the so-called "Federal Vision" is no vision at all in the end, but a "Federal Fog", and that of a most serious nature indeed. One can only agree with the editor of this volume which is being reviewed here, Cal Beisner, when he writes: "Extensive study of their [the Federalists'] oral and written teachings on the special concerns of the Federal Vision convinces me that they have taught, alongside some wonderful truths, some serious errors about covenant theology and its implications for salvation, personal and corporate spirituality and piety, the use and understanding of the sacraments and the conduct of theology and biblical studies in general. Sadly, their mistakes undermine their very laudable goals. Their attempt to assure tender souls who doubt their salvation while they trust in Christ collapses and the poor souls are left more confused than before, because the objectivity of the covenant is inadequate to the task-while the presumptuous, who hear that aspect of their message may be led, inadvertently, to the false assurance of formalism. At the same time, their attempt to destroy the complacency of the presumptuous is in profound danger of promoting a false legalistic notion of works righteousness" (p.306).

While we recognize that the Westminster Standards should never become an "icon" and that the ecclesia reformata is also subject to the semper reformanda principle ("always being reformed" according to Scripture), the Federal Vision teaching implies a wholesale denial of the Westminster soteriology.

wildboar
08-12-05, 09:23 AM
The Banner of Truth--an organization committed to publishing books by the Puritans--doesn't like the very anti-Puritan Federal Vision? Imagine that. Once again the article is unhelpful because it only makes claims, it does not substantiate those claims with quotes. The fact of the matter is that they do not deny the forensic nature of justification and the things that are being complained about in this article with regard to the Trinity are the same things Engelsma teaches on the Trinity.

ray kikkert
08-13-05, 06:49 PM
One of the proponents of Federal Vision babble is Rev. John Barach of the United Reformed Church. Here are some statements he has issued as of late in discussing clarification of the Federal Vision. It starts with a question which he then answers.

Any insight from the family here would be appreciated:

"> 1) In your system how does Christ's active obedience work?

I have to admit that I don't think in this language; I doubt I've ever
used the phrase "active obedience" in a sermon in my six years as a
pastor. So in answering your question, I'll have to translate into
your language and something may be lost in translation. =)

There's much that I'd agree with in your quotation from Meredith
Kline, though there's also much that I'd want to quibble with, too.

Here's a lengthy stab at an answer: God created Adam holy and
righteous. Adam could not earn anything from God, nor did God demand
that Adam attempt to earn anything from Him. But the pre-fall
situation in Genesis 2 was never intended to be the end.

I don't care for the language of "probation," which has a certain
negative sound. Even the language of "test" may not be quite what I'd
prefer. Adam was not a slave or an employee who had to earn God's
favour, nor was he created already on probation, as if there was
something doubtful about him. Rather, the Bible teaches us that Adam
was the son of God (Luke 3).

God's desire was for His son to grow up to maturity. Adam was created
a priest, someone "holy" (i.e., with access to God's presence): Adam
could come into the Garden to draw near to God. Adam was intended to
be a king (and in some sense, I suppose we can say that he was a king
and a prophet, too). But kings need wisdom -- the knowledge of good
and evil -- in order to reign well, according to Scripture.

God gave Adam the Tree of Life from which to eat (I doubt he did eat,
but he was allowed to eat of it). Indeed, God gave all the trees to
Adam to eat, except one, the TOTKOGAE. But God had PROMISED that He
would give Adam ALL the trees (therefore including the TOTKOGAE).

Adam had to wait for God's good timing. More than that, Adam had to
grow to maturity. He had to withstand the devil's temptation; indeed,
he should have been willing to lay down his life to fight off the
devil and protect his bride.

But instead, the Bible tells us, Adam stood idly by (he was "with
her") when the dragon tempted his wife. Adam fails to grow to
maturity. He fails to be a king. And so he loses his sanctuary
access, too, and is banished from the Garden.

Israel was to be God's answer to Adam's sin. Out of all the people on
earth, including many who feared and worshipped the one true God, God
chose Israel to be His special priestly people. He gave them the Old
Covenant, with laws that set them apart from the other people. They
had special privileges but also special responsibilities.

But the Old Covenant could not take away sins, and therefore Israel's
sins (as the representative of the world) piled up higher and higher.
Every year they were symbolically dealt with in the Day of Covering,
but that itself could not take away sins.

Israel (and especially her kings) failed to be God's faithful son, the
son that would pass through death into glorious new life, the son who
would grow to be mature, the son who would consider others more
important than himself, even laying down his life for them, the son
who would be faithful and obedient to his Father even to the point of
death. Instead, Israel was like Adam.

Jesus came as the Messiah, the king who represents His people. He did
what Israel failed to do, what Adam failed to do. He was faithful to
God, obedient even to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

His "active obedience" therefore was (1) the _expression of His faith
in God and His loyalty to God, (2) His ongoing growth to maturity,
such that Jesus is the only full-grown adult in history, (3) His
qualification to be the king who lays down His life for His people,
(4) the perfect righteousness that God requires us to have if we are
going to stand in His presence, and (5) the faithfulness to God His
Father that is necessary to pass through death and emerge, triumphant
over sin and Satan and death, in glorious new life.

Jesus did obey God, being faithful to Him even to the point of death
on the cross. He humbled Himself, pouring Himself out in death. And
in so doing, He perfectly reflected the character of the Father who
humbles Himself for others, who continually pours Himself out for His
Son and His Spirit (as they do for Him and for each other).

And THEREFORE God superexalted Him (to use Paul's term) and GRACED him
with the name above every name ("LORD") so that every knee would bow
and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the
Father (Phil. 2). Interestingly, Paul says BOTH that this exaltation
is God's response to Jesus' faithful obedience ("therefore") AND that
this exaltation was a gracious gift (the word Paul uses is related to
the word CARIS which means "grace").

That exaltation starts with the resurrection, which was Jesus'
justification. By and through the resurrection, God was declaring
Jesus to be righteous ("justifying" him). It's not as if Jesus was
earning points throughout His life, as if He were playing DonkeyKong;
rather, He was always God's faithful son, worthy of all glory and
honour and dominion and power -- and never more so than when He
perfectly revealed God's glory on the cross (and that worthiness is
what the 3FU have in mind, I submit, when they speak of Christ's
"merits," a term Scripture doesn't use).

The king in Israel represents his people. When David wins a victory
over Goliath, Israel has won the victory. So, too, with the Messiah:
Those who are united to Him, "in Him," members of His family, share in
all that is His.

So, those who belong to Jesus Christ share in His righteousness, that
is, in God's verdict on Jesus ("Righteous!"), in Jesus' vindication
(in spite of our own sins), and in Jesus' status as a righteous and
faithful son of the Father. This is what we mean in our theological
jargon by "imputation": what is true of the Messiah is true of us in
Him, just as what was true of Adam was true of us in him, as his sons
and daughters.

Our justification is also the Father's justification, that is, the
vindication of the Father against all accusations that He is unjust
and unrighteous and unfaithful to His promises.

As Paul puts it in Romans 3, apart from the Torah (the Old Covenant
God established with Israel) God has revealed His righteousness, His
faithfulness to His covenant. This is not contrary to the Torah and
the Prophets; rather, this is what the Torah and the Prophets had
always indicated would happen.

God's righteousness -- His faithfulness to His covenant and to His
people -- is revealed through the faithfulness of Jesus the Messiah
(PISTIS IHSOU CHRISTOU) to all who have faith, both Jews and Gentiles.

All have sinned and have fallen short of God's glory, but all are
declared righteous and given the status of righteous people, not
because they have done something (e.g., becoming Jews) but by God's
grace through the rescue from enemies and exile ("redemption") that
takes place in the Messiah Jesus, whom God presented as a
propitiation, through faith, in his blood.

In this way, God revealed His righteousness: even though He passed
over sins in the past, He is righteous; and He is the "righteous-er"
of those who have faith in Jesus.

> I have heard it said (and not by you
> specifically) that we remain in the
> covenant through our obedience. Does
> our obedience then become an essential
> ingredient to our justification? (That
> is where art 24 ties in)

Faith, not our good works or our obedience, "is the instrument that
keeps us with [Christ] in the communion of all His benefits" (BC 22).
But when we speak of faith "we do not speak of an empty faith but
of what Scripture calls faith working through love" (BC 24). The only
faith that justifies is a faith working through love, a faith which is
not a dead faith but a living faith, a faith that drives us to repent
of our sins (there is no justification without repentance because a
faith without repentance is dead).

Justifying faith, in the words of the Westminster Confession, is never
alone in the person justified (not even at the moment of
justification) but is always accompanied by all other saving graces
and virtues and is not a dead faith but a faith working through love.

As for our status in the New Covenant, the New Covenant like the Old
calls for a response of faith and can be broken. It's possible for
people who are genuine members of the New Covenant people of God to
count the blood of the covenant an unclean thing (Heb. 10).

God's covenant always has two sides because it involves two parties,
and therefore by our baptism into Christ we are obliged unto new
obedience, namely, that we love the one true God, Father, Son, and
Holy Spirit, that we cling to this one God and trust Him and obey Him,
that we put to death all that belongs to our old way of life (who we
were in Adam), etc. -- all the kinds of things we say in the Baptismal
Form.

And those -- even those who are in the New Covenant, members of
Christ's church, baptized into Him -- who do not repent of their sins
and do not respond to God in the kind of faith that prompts and
produces obedience will not inherit the kingdom of God. No one who is
obedient can EARN that inheritance by his obedience: an inheritance
can't be earned; it's a gift.

> I would also like to add one last question.
> 4) If there wasn't a probation (covenant of
> works) with a hope of glorification at the
> end, what was the tree of life all about?
> If Adam already lived in perfect-completeness
> in Eden in this covenant of favor, what role
> did the tree of life have?

I'm a bit confused by this question. It sounds as if you think that
Adam was denied access to the Tree of Life until he survived a
probationary period. But the Bible tells us that God gave Adam the
Tree of Life to eat. Anytime Adam wanted to, he could come into the
Garden and eat from the Tree of Life.

What he couldn't eat was the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of
Good and Evil, even though all the fruit of ALL the trees. For the
rest of your question, see above.

Hope this stab at things is helpful. I'm sure there are a lot of
infelicities here and if I were to write it again I might put some
things a bit differently."

wildboar
08-13-05, 09:39 PM
Ray:

Perhaps it would help if you gave some direct comment relating to what you believe the chief problems are. The posting of this is certainly a step forward from your previous posts on this subject. Notice though that some of the things that people are mad at Barach about are the same things people don't like about Hoeksema: denial of the distinction between the active/passive obedience of Christ, denial of the covenant of works. As regards statements regarding the covenant, they are different from my own position and different from the position of the PRC, but the Three Forms of Unity do not articulate a particular view on the covenant. As for the statements on justification, what he says literally fits within the bounds of the confessions. Does he actually mean something different? Perhaps, but the right questions must be asked in order to bring that out. Once that is done then real allegations can be made.

ray kikkert
08-15-05, 01:53 PM
Ray:

Perhaps it would help if you gave some direct comment relating to what you believe the chief problems are. The posting of this is certainly a step forward from your previous posts on this subject.

"As for our status in the New Covenant, the New Covenant like the Old
calls for a response of faith and can be broken. It's possible for
people who are genuine members of the New Covenant people of God to
count the blood of the covenant an unclean thing (Heb. 10).

God's covenant always has two sides because it involves two parties,
and therefore by our baptism into Christ we are obliged unto new
obedience, namely, that we love the one true God, Father, Son, and
Holy Spirit, that we cling to this one God and trust Him and obey Him,
that we put to death all that belongs to our old way of life (who we
were in Adam), etc. -- all the kinds of things we say in the Baptismal
Form.

ray's response: This statement..... after the well laid out statements before made by Rev. Barach is a gross injustice to how God's everlasting covenant is defined Gen.17/ Gal.3. Notice he mentions that in the new covenant some can break it. That is totally obsurd and a direct assault on the sovereignty of God. Previously Rev. Barach explained well how the elect receive the righteousness of God. Yet in his scheme it is possible that "genuine" members can count the blood of Christ unclean. These are the reprobate, these are not the elect, thus they never, ever had a part in the everlasting covenant of God. This is a blantant assault not only of Scripture, but the 5 points of Calvinism as well.



And those -- even those who are in the New Covenant, members of
Christ's church, baptized into Him -- who do not repent of their sins
and do not respond to God in the kind of faith that prompts and
produces obedience will not inherit the kingdom of God. No one who is
obedient can EARN that inheritance by his obedience: an inheritance
can't be earned; it's a gift.

ray's response: again folks within the "new" covenant can possibly not repent, not respond and therefore do not inherit the kingdom of God. This is impossible with respect to God's everlasting covenant Gen17/Gal.3. He alone established maintains and sustains it and it is clear it is for Christ and the elect alone. It is unconditional. But notice all the conditions the aforesaid babbler Barach will make in God's everlasting covenant.



Notice though that some of the things that people are mad at Barach about are the same things people don't like about Hoeksema: denial of the distinction between the active/passive obedience of Christ, denial of the covenant of works.

Yet Barach does make the distinction when he explains the covenant. He talks of the "new" covenant. It is this new covenant that Barach still deems that the reprobate are included, can break it, and fall away. He contradicts himself. He pays lip service to the sovereignty of God and is babble.


As regards statements regarding the covenant, they are different from my own position and different from the position of the PRC, but the Three Forms of Unity do not articulate a particular view on the covenant.

Yet even our reformed confessions are clear that in the "new" covenant are included Christ and the elect.They never , ever speak of the reprobate having place within it. Barach does not. This is outside the reformed confessions and the vain philosophy of his own.


As for the statements on justification, what he says literally fits within the bounds of the confessions. Does he actually mean something different? Perhaps, but the right questions must be asked in order to bring that out. Once that is done then real allegations can be made.

I have just touched the tip of the ice berg here Chuck. We shall see how well you can twist and turn the words of these babblers into conformity with Scripture and the reformed confessions. His words and the words of other FV babblers will find them out.

ray kikkert
08-16-05, 12:16 PM
Here again is some more babble from John Barach in his own words.

John Barach, Baptism and Election (http://www.messiahnyc.org/ArticlesDetail.asp?id=46)

"But how do you know that promise is really for you and not just for other people in the church, people who've advanced further in their sanctification or who've had some special experience that convinced them of God's love?

The answer is that you've had the special experience. You've been baptized. All God's salvation - from election to glorification - is found in Christ. And when you were baptized, God promised to unite you to Jesus Christ. That's what it means to be baptized into Christ. You're united to Jesus and all His salvation is for you.

At baptism, God promises that you're really one of His elect: I will be your God and you will be my child. And God never hands out counterfeit promises. If He made that promise sometimes but not all the time, then you could *never* trust the promise. But God's Word is true and you must trust Him. Doubting your election when God has promised it to you is sin.

But a promise is not a prediction. God never promises that you will be saved regardless of whether you respond to Him in faith and love. His promise always makes you responsible."


Here is a response to the babble of FV doctrine :
Andy Webb, Foolish Galatianism (Counsel of Chalcedon, Sept.-Dec. 2002) [html (http://www.societaschristiana.com/Theology/AAPC%20Pages/FoolishGalatianism.html)] [pdf (http://www.paulperspective.com/docs/webb2.pdf)]

This is review of the 2002 Auburn Avenue Pastors conference by a PCA pastor. Webb concludes:

"The New Paradigm teaches people to depend upon their baptism for assurance, threatens those united to Christ with the real possibility of apostasy if they fail to meet the demands of the covenant, and consequently teaches them to look to their own faithful "non-meritorious works in order to remain in the Covenant of Grace. This encourages unbelief, nominalism, legalism, and is contrary to the Reformational Solas and, most importantly, the Scriptures. These gentlemen have been given ample time to clarify their message, and it is abundantly clear that their message really is as unorthodox as it sounds."

wildboar
08-16-05, 10:36 PM
Hoeksema's position certainly falls within the bounds of the Reformed confessions, but to claim that his is the only position that is within the bounds is absurd since many of those who authored the confessions would have disagreed with him on various points in regards to the covenant. In fact Q&A 74 of the Heidelberg assumes that the child being baptized is in covenant with God.

HEI 27:7 - 28:1 Q. 74 Are infants also to be baptized? 8 A. Yes: for since they, as well as the adult, are included in the covenant(4) and church of God;(5) and since redemption from sin by the blood of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the author of faith, is promised to them(6) no less than to the adult; they must therefore by baptism, as a sign of the covenant, be also admitted into the Christian church; and be distinguished from the children of unbelievers(7) as was done in the old covenant or testament by circumcision,(8) instead of which baptism is instituted in the new covenant.(9) 9 (4) Gen. 17:7; Acts 2:39 (5) 1Cor. 7:14; Joel 2:16; Mat. 19:14 (6) Luke 1:14,15; Psa. 22:10; Acts 2:39 (7) Acts 10:47; 1Cor. 12:13; 1Cor 7:14 (8) Gen. 17:14 (9) Col. 2:11,12,13

Regarding the covenant, the FV folks are really bringing back Calvin's own conception of the covenant in which from the perspective of man the covenant is conditional but from the perspective of God's vantage point it is completely unconditional.

Here are some quotes from Calvin on Gen. 17:7:



7. And thy seed after thee. There is no doubt that the Lord distinguishes the
race of Abraham from the rest of the world. We must now see what
people he intends. Now they are deceived who think that his elect alone
are here pointed out; and that all the faithful are indiscriminately
comprehended, from whatever people, according to the flesh, they are
descended. For, on the contrary, the Scripture declares that the race of
Abraham, by lineal descent, had been peculiarly accepted by God. And it
is the evident doctrine of Paul concerning the natural descendants of
Abraham, that they are holy branches which have proceeded from a holy

313

root, (<451116>Romans 11:16.) And lest any one should restrict this
assertion to the shadows of the law, or should evade it by allegory, he
elsewhere expressly declares, that Christ came to be a minister of the
circumcision, (<451508>Romans 15:8.) Wherefore, nothing is more certain,
than that God made his covenant with those sons of Abraham who were
naturally to be born of him. If any one object, that this opinion by no
means agrees with the former, in which we said that they are reckoned the
children of Abraham, who being by faith ingrafted into his body, form one
family; the difference is easily reconciled, by laying down certain distinct
degrees of adoption, which may be collected from various passages of
Scripture. In the beginning, antecedently to this covenant, the condition of
the whole world was one and the same. But as soon as it was said, ‘I will
be a God to thee and to thy seed after thee,’ the Church was separated
from other nations; just as in the creation of the world, the light emerged
out of the darkness. Then the people of Israel was received, as the flock of
God, into their own fold: the other nations wandered, like wild beasts,
through mountains, woods, and deserts. Since this dignity, in which the
sons of Abraham excelled other nations, depended on the word of God
alone, the gratuitous adoption of God belongs to them all in common. For
if Paul deprives the Gentiles of God and of eternal life, on the ground of
their being aliens from the covenant, (<490418>Ephesians 4:18,) it follows
that all Israelites were of the household of the Church, and sons of God,
and heirs of eternal life. And although it was by the grace of God, and not
by nature, that they excelled the Gentiles; and although the inheritance at
the kingdom of God came to them by promise, and not by carnal descent;
yet they are sometimes said to differ by nature from the rest of the world.
In the Epistle to the Galatians, (<480215>Galatians 2:15), and elsewhere,
Paul calls them saints ‘by nature,’ because God was willing that his grace
should descend, F404 by a continual succession, to the whole seed. In this
sense, they who were unbelievers among the Jews, are yet called the
children of the celestial kingdom by Christ. (<400812>Matthew 8:12.) Nor
does what St Paul says contradict this; namely, that not all who are from
Abraham are to be esteemed legitimate children; because they are not the
children of the promise, but only of the flesh. (<450908>Romans 9:8.) For
there, the promise is not taken generally for that outward word, by which
God conferred his favor as well upon the reprobate as upon the elect; but
must be restricted to that efficacious calling, which he inwardly seals by

314

his Spirit. And that this is the case, is proved without difficulty; for the
promise by which the Lord had adopted them all as children, was common
to all: and in that promise, it cannot be denied, that eternal salvation was
offered to all. What, therefore, can be the meaning of Paul, when he denies
that certain persons have any right to be reckoned among children, except
that he is no longer reasoning about the externally offered grace, but about
that of which only the elect effectually partake? Here, then, a twofold
class of sons presents itself to us, in the Church; for since the whole body
of the people is gathered together into the fold of God, by one and the
same voice, all without exception, are in this respects accounted children;
the name of the Church is applicable in common to them all: but in the
innermost sanctuary of God, none others are reckoned the sons of God,
than they in whom the promise is ratified by faith. And although this
difference flows from the fountain of gratuitous election, whence also faith
itself springs; yet, since the counsel of God is in itself hidden from us, we
therefore distinguish the true from the spurious children, by the respective
marks of faith and of unbelief. This method and dispensation continued
even to the promulgation of the gospel; but then the middle wall was
broken down, (<490214>Ephesians 2:14,) and God made the Gentiles equal
to the natural descendants of Abraham. That was the renovation of the
world, by which they, who had before been strangers, began to be called
sons. Yet whenever a comparison is made between Jews and Gentiles, the
inheritance of life is assigned to the former, as lawfully belonging to them;
but to the latter, it is said to be adventitious. Meanwhile, the oracle was
fulfilled in which God promises that Abraham should be the father of
many nations. For whereas previously, the natural sons of Abraham were
succeeded by their descendants in continual succession, and the
benediction, which began with him, flowed down to his children; the
coming of Christ, by inverting the original order, introduced into his family
those who before were separated from his seed: at length the Jews were
cast out, (except that a hidden seed of the election remained among them,)
in order that the rest might be saved. It was necessary that these things
concerning the seed of Abraham should once be stated, that they may
open to us an easy introduction to what follows.



On Psalm 132:12:




This may serve to show in what sense the covenant was not
conditional; but as there were other things which were accessories to the
covenant, fe132 a condition was appended, to the effect that God would
bless them if they obeyed his commandments.



On Hosea 5:7:




He says that they had acted perfidiously with God, for they had violated
his covenant. We must bear in mind what I have said before of the mutual
faith which God stipulates with us, when he binds himself to us. God then
covenants with us on this condition, that he will be our Father and
Husband; but he requires from us such obedience as a son ought to render
to his father; he requires from us that chastity which a wife owes to her
husband. The Prophet now charges the people with unfaithfulness,
because they had despised the true God, and prostituted themselves to
idols.

ray kikkert
08-20-05, 11:05 AM
Hoeksema's position certainly falls within the bounds of the Reformed confessions, but to claim that his is the only position that is within the bounds is absurd since many of those who authored the confessions would have disagreed with him on various points in regards to the covenant. In fact Q&A 74 of the Heidelberg assumes that the child being baptized is in covenant with God.

HEI 27:7 - 28:1 Q. 74 Are infants also to be baptized? 8 A. Yes: for since they, as well as the adult, are included in the covenant(4) and church of God;(5) and since redemption from sin by the blood of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the author of faith, is promised to them(6) no less than to the adult; they must therefore by baptism, as a sign of the covenant, be also admitted into the Christian church; and be distinguished from the children of unbelievers(7) as was done in the old covenant or testament by circumcision,(8) instead of which baptism is instituted in the new covenant.(9) 9 (4) Gen. 17:7; Acts 2:39 (5) 1Cor. 7:14; Joel 2:16; Mat. 19:14 (6) Luke 1:14,15; Psa. 22:10; Acts 2:39 (7) Acts 10:47; 1Cor. 12:13; 1Cor 7:14 (8) Gen. 17:14 (9) Col. 2:11,12,13

It is clear enough Chuck who is meant here. It is the elect believer and their elect beleiving seed. It is not meant for all head for head. Are you now going on record in advocating that all head for head are in the covenant of God? Are you advocating that all are redeemed from sin by the blood of Christ? Are you advocating that the Promise of God is for all head for head?



Regarding the covenant, the FV folks are really bringing back Calvin's own conception of the covenant in which from the perspective of man the covenant is conditional but from the perspective of God's vantage point it is completely unconditional.

Your comment is as sick as it is disgusting. From the perspective of both God and the elect sinner the covenant is always unconditional. God says live to a dead sinner and that sinner lives. There is nothing conditional from the aspect of man, they are dead to start with.


Here are some quotes from Calvin on Gen. 17:7:


On Psalm 132:12:



On Hosea 5:7:

I will inter act with your Calvins quotes later on.

wildboar
08-20-05, 05:28 PM
It is clear enough Chuck who is meant here. It is the elect believer and their elect beleiving seed. It is not meant for all head for head. Are you now going on record in advocating that all head for head are in the covenant of God? Are you advocating that all are redeemed from sin by the blood of Christ? Are you advocating that the Promise of God is for all head for head?

The catechism does not say it is only the elect. The catechism refers to all the children of believers and from reading Ursinus it appears that that is what he meant. Are all in the covenant of God? It depends what you mean by that. The Bible uses very strong language to teach that they are in the covenant of God. But it uses equally strong language to teach that God's covenant is unbreakable. The Bible speaks of the covenant from two different aspects and so it depends what you mean by the question. All are certainly not redeemed from sin by the blood of Christ and the promise is not for everyone head for head.


Your comment is as sick as it is disgusting. From the perspective of both God and the elect sinner the covenant is always unconditional. God says live to a dead sinner and that sinner lives. There is nothing conditional from the aspect of man, they are dead to start with.


What of those who drank from the rock which the Bible says was Christ in the wilderness who God was displeased with?

wildboar
08-20-05, 10:07 PM
Here are some quotes from Ursinus' commentary on Q&A 74 pp. 366ff.:

"..for all the children of those that believe are included in the covenant, and church of God, unless they exclude themselves. They are, therefore, also disciples of Christ, because they are born in the church, or school of Christ; and hence the Holy Spirit teaches them in a manner adapted to their capacity and age."

"...God wills that the offspring of the faithful should be included amongst the members of the church, even from the womb."

wildboar
08-21-05, 01:51 PM
I purchased a book awhile ago called German Calvinism in the Confessional Age: The Covenant Theology of Caspar Olevianus by Lyle D. Bierma. Out of curiosity I was curious as to what Olevianus believed as to the breakability of the covenant. (For those who don't know Olevianus is generally considered to have contributed to the composition of the Heidelburg Catechism). Bierma cites the Latin texts and they appear to back up what he is saying Olevianus taught. I haven't been translating Latin for at least a year now, so I won't torture people with my own translation. Bierma cites Olevianus' Romans commentary and says "Olevianus claims that baptized infants can be "cut out" (excinduntur) of the covenant if they reject its promises upon reaching the age of discretion...This implies that they once were members of the covenant." (102) Bierma notes Olevianus' distinction between general outer adminisration of the covenant promise and the special inner administration of the substance of the promise. In some of Olevianus' writings he seems to say that infants are members of the covenant by virtue of their baptism, in others by virtue of the promise to their believing parents. In at least one instance Olevianus even speaks of children normally being justified in the womb.

ray kikkert
08-22-05, 08:57 PM
Here are some quotes from Calvin on

7.
And thy seed after thee. There is no doubt that the Lord distinguishes the
race of Abraham from the rest of the world. We must now see what
people he intends. Now they are deceived who think that his elect alone
are here pointed out; and that all the faithful are indiscriminately
comprehended, from whatever people, according to the flesh, they are
descended. For, on the contrary, the Scripture declares that the race of
Abraham, by lineal descent, had been peculiarly accepted by God. And it
is the evident doctrine of Paul concerning the natural descendants of
Abraham, that they are holy branches which have proceeded from a holy



313

root, (

<451116>Romans 11:16.) And lest any one should restrict this
assertion to the shadows of the law, or should evade it by allegory, he
elsewhere expressly declares, that Christ came to be a minister of the
circumcision, (<451508>Romans 15:8.) Wherefore, nothing is more certain,
than that God made his covenant with those sons of Abraham who were
naturally to be born of him. If any one object, that this opinion by no
means agrees with the former, in which we said that they are reckoned the
children of Abraham, who being by faith ingrafted into his body, form one
family; the difference is easily reconciled, by laying down certain distinct
degrees of adoption, which may be collected from various passages of
Scripture. In the beginning, antecedently to this covenant, the condition of
the whole world was one and the same. But as soon as it was said, ‘I will
be a God to thee and to thy seed after thee,’ the Church was separated
from other nations; just as in the creation of the world, the light emerged
out of the darkness. Then the people of Israel was received, as the flock of
God, into their own fold: the other nations wandered, like wild beasts,
through mountains, woods, and deserts. Since this dignity, in which the
sons of Abraham excelled other nations, depended on the word of God
alone, the gratuitous adoption of God belongs to them all in common. For
if Paul deprives the Gentiles of God and of eternal life, on the ground of
their being aliens from the covenant, (<490418>Ephesians 4:18,) it follows
that all Israelites were of the household of the Church, and sons of God,
and heirs of eternal life. And although it was by the grace of God, and not
by nature, that they excelled the Gentiles; and although the inheritance at
the kingdom of God came to them by promise, and not by carnal descent;
yet they are sometimes said to differ by nature from the rest of the world.
In the Epistle to the Galatians, (<480215>Galatians 2:15), and elsewhere,
Paul calls them saints ‘by nature,’ because God was willing that his grace
should descend, F404 by a continual succession, to the whole seed. In this
sense, they who were unbelievers among the Jews, are yet called the
children of the celestial kingdom by Christ. (<400812>Matthew 8:12.) Nor
does what St Paul says contradict this; namely, that not all who are from
Abraham are to be esteemed legitimate children; because they are not the
children of the promise, but only of the flesh. (<450908>Romans 9:8.) For
there, the promise is not taken generally for that outward word, by which
God conferred his favor as well upon the reprobate as upon the elect; but
must be restricted to that efficacious calling, which he inwardly seals by



314

his Spirit. And that this is the case, is proved without difficulty; for the
promise by which the Lord had adopted them all as children, was common
to all: and in that promise, it cannot be denied, that eternal salvation was
offered to all. What, therefore, can be the meaning of Paul, when he denies
that certain persons have any right to be reckoned among children, except
that he is no longer reasoning about the externally offered grace, but about
that of which only the elect effectually partake? Here, then, a twofold
class of sons presents itself to us, in the Church; for since the whole body
of the people is gathered together into the fold of God, by one and the
same voice, all without exception, are in this respects accounted children;
the name of the Church is applicable in common to them all: but in the
innermost sanctuary of God, none others are reckoned the sons of God,
than they in whom the promise is ratified by faith. And although this
difference flows from the fountain of gratuitous election, whence also faith
itself springs; yet, since the counsel of God is in itself hidden from us, we
therefore distinguish the true from the spurious children, by the respective
marks of faith and of unbelief. This method and dispensation continued
even to the promulgation of the gospel; but then the middle wall was
broken down, (

<490214>Ephesians 2:14,) and God made the Gentiles equal
to the natural descendants of Abraham. That was the renovation of the
world, by which they, who had before been strangers, began to be called
sons. Yet whenever a comparison is made between Jews and Gentiles, the
inheritance of life is assigned to the former, as lawfully belonging to them;
but to the latter, it is said to be adventitious. Meanwhile, the oracle was
fulfilled in which God promises that Abraham should be the father of
many nations. For whereas previously, the natural sons of Abraham were
succeeded by their descendants in continual succession, and the
benediction, which began with him, flowed down to his children; the
coming of Christ, by inverting the original order, introduced into his family
those who before were separated from his seed: at length the Jews were
cast out, (except that a hidden seed of the election remained among them,)
in order that the rest might be saved. It was necessary that these things
concerning the seed of Abraham should once be stated, that they may
open to us an easy introduction to what follows.

Calvin here speaks of God's grace and His promise to be for all. I ask , who are the all? Calvin surely would contradict himself if his meaning is for all the physical seed of Abraham. One does not have to look far (Galatians 3) as to whom grace and the promise is given. It is to to the elect in Christ, the spiritual seed. He states that it is in his comments on the later verses 19 and 20 as follows.

" And I will establish my covenant with him. He confines the spiritual covenant to one family, in order that Abraham may hence learn to hope for the blessing before promised; for since he had framed for himself a false hope, not founded on the word of God, it was necessary that this false hope should first be dislodged from his heart, in order that he might now the more fully rely upon the heavenly oracles, anal might fix the anchor of his faith, which before had wavered in a fallacious imagination, on the firm truth of God. He calls the covenant everlasting, in the sense which we have previously explained. He then declares that it shall not be bound to one person only, but shall be common to his whole race, that it may, by continual succession, descend to his posterity. Yet it may seem absurd, that God should command Ishmael, whom he deprives of his grace, to be circumcised. I answer; although the Lord constitutes Isaac the firstborn and the head, from whom he intends the covenant of salvation to flow, he still does not entirely exclude Ishmael, but rather, in adopting the whole family of Abraham, joins Ishmael to his brother Isaac as an inferior member, until Ishmael cut himself off from his father's house, and his brother's society. Therefore his circumcision was not useless, until he apostatized from the covenant: for although it was not deposited with him, he might, nevertheless, participate in it, with his brother Isaac. In short, the Lord intends nothing else, by these words, than that Isaac should be the legitimate heir of the promised benediction.20. And as for Ishmael. He here more clearly discriminates between the two sons of Abraham. For in promising to the one wealth, dignity, and other things pertaining to the present life, he proves him to be a son according to the flesh. But he makes a special covenant with Isaac, which rises above the world and this frail life: not for the sake of cutting Ishmael off from the hope of eternal life, but in order to teach him that salvation is to be sought from the race of Isaac, where it really dwells. We infers however, from this passage, that the holy fathers were by no means kept down to earth, by the promises of God, but rather were borne upwards to heaven. For God liberally and profusely promises to Ishmael whatever is desirable with respect to this earthly life: and yet He accounts as nothing all the gifts He confers on him, in comparison with the covenant which was to be established in Isaac. It therefore follow, that neither wealth, nor power, nor any other temporal gift, is promised to the sons of the Spirit, but an eternal blessing, which is possessed only by hope, in this world. Therefore, however we may now abound in delights, and in all good things, our happiness is still transient, unless by faith we penetrate into the celestial kingdom of God, where a greater and higher blessing is laid up for us.
It is however asked, whether Abraham had respect only to this earthly life when he prayed for his son? For this the Lord seems to intimate, when he declares that he had granted what Abraham asked, and yet only mentions the things we have recorded. But it was not God's design to fulfill the whole wish of Abraham on this point; only he makes it plain that he would have some respect to Ishmael, for whom Abraham had entreated; so as to show that the fathers prayer had not been in vain. For he meant to testify that he embraced Abraham with such love, that, for his sake, he had respect to his whole race, and dignified it with peculiar benefits."

It is also striking that Calvin does not comment on verse 21. The Lord yet again confirms to us just who His covenant is with. Calvin it seems in verse 7 , does not want the Lord's everlasting covenant to be only with the elect, but he contradicts himself if that is what he is trying to advocate in the later verses of this chapter, and also his reference texts to Romans in his comments on verse 7. This grace and the promises of God are indeed specific to the elect , a point Calvin himself states time and again in his commentary.




On Psalm 132:12:




This may serve to show in what sense the covenant was not
conditional; but as there were other things which were accessories to the
covenant,

fe132 a condition was appended, to the effect that God would
bless them if they obeyed his commandments.



The everlasting covenant of God is indeed unconditional. The ability to obey the commands of God is the gift of God to the elect child in Christ who wholly satisfied for the sins of disobedience amongst the elect. The elect have part in the everlasting covenant because of Christ, the promised seed.

The reprobate disobey the commands and Christ does not satisfy ,nor was it His intention to satisfy for their disobedience. They never had part in the the everlasting covenant.


On Hosea 5:7:




He says that

they had acted perfidiously with God, for they had violated
his covenant. We must bear in mind what I have said before of the mutual
faith which God stipulates with us, when he binds himself to us. God then
covenants with us on this condition, that he will be our Father and
Husband; but he requires from us such obedience as a son ought to render
to his father; he requires from us that chastity which a wife owes to her
husband. The Prophet now charges the people with unfaithfulness,
because they had despised the true God, and prostituted themselves to
idols

It is obvious that man, of his own , has no ability whatsoever to have the obedience and chastity God requires unless He Himself preforms this within the creature. Apart from God , the sinner remains dead. The Lord preformed this through his begotten Son, the elect's Lord. Thus the covenant is unconditional. That which the Lord requires , that He also preforms. God binds Himself to the grace , faith , assurance, and promise of the the covenant and He will surely make it come to pass. He has said so, His Word is sure and without fail.
The Lord's everlasting covenant is His. He is the one who establishes it, maintains it, and sustains it. There never is any condition to the covenant of God that man must preform and can preform of himself. That is impossible for a dead in sins and trespasses creature. Yet the Lord in sending Christ, the Lamb slain from before the foundations of the world wholly satisfied for these sins of disobedience to the Lord's covenant. It is because of Him that the elect child is in covenant fellowship with the Triune God. It is unbreakable. The sinner by nature is a breaker of covenants , not this one. They first must have part in it, and the wicked reprobate never have had a part in the everlasting covenant of God.

ray kikkert
08-22-05, 09:17 PM
The catechism does not say it is only the elect. The catechism refers to all the children of believers and from reading Ursinus it appears that that is what he meant.

Then by all means Chuck please explain the definition of a "believer".


Are all in the covenant of God? It depends what you mean by that.

It depends? What does the Lord say about His everlasting covenant? Who does the Lord say is "in" the everlasting covenant of God? Who is His promise directed to and does God make vain promises like man when they make covenants? To whom belongs this everlasting covenant?



The Bible uses very strong language to teach that they are in the covenant of God. But it uses equally strong language to teach that God's covenant is unbreakable. The Bible speaks of the covenant from two different aspects and so it depends what you mean by the question. All are certainly not redeemed from sin by the blood of Christ and the promise is not for everyone head for head.

Is it not true that sinners disobey God commands? For whom did Christ satisfy for the disobedience to the commands of God? The two different aspects you speak of are sustained and maintained by God Himself. Man of his own cannot so much as move let alone preform the commands of the covenant. You rightly see that Christ is the one who preforms this. Now will you advocate that man has the ability , regardless of what God states regarding His everlasting covenant , to break it. What kind of assurance and comfort can one have if that is the case?





What of those who drank from the rock which the Bible says was Christ in the wilderness who God was displeased with?

Is God not displeased with the sinners sin? Is that not what the Lord Jesus came to satisfy for? Was His purpose to satisfy for the sins of all head for head throughout history, let alone in the wilderness? What in your scheme gives equal honor and glory to God apart from what I ask you?

ray kikkert
08-22-05, 09:22 PM
Here are some quotes from Ursinus' commentary on Q&A 74 pp. 366ff.:

"..for all the children of those that believe are included in the covenant, and church of God, unless they exclude themselves. They are, therefore, also disciples of Christ, because they are born in the church, or school of Christ; and hence the Holy Spirit teaches them in a manner adapted to their capacity and age."

"...God wills that the offspring of the faithful should be included amongst the members of the church, even from the womb."

Then it is obvious that Ursinus wrongly equates the Lord's everlasting covenant with the visible church. "all" the children of believers in the visible church are "not" elect.

ray kikkert
08-22-05, 09:28 PM
I purchased a book awhile ago called German Calvinism in the Confessional Age: The Covenant Theology of Caspar Olevianus by Lyle D. Bierma. Out of curiosity I was curious as to what Olevianus believed as to the breakability of the covenant. (For those who don't know Olevianus is generally considered to have contributed to the composition of the Heidelburg Catechism). Bierma cites the Latin texts and they appear to back up what he is saying Olevianus taught. I haven't been translating Latin for at least a year now, so I won't torture people with my own translation. Bierma cites Olevianus' Romans commentary and says "Olevianus claims that baptized infants can be "cut out" (excinduntur) of the covenant if they reject its promises upon reaching the age of discretion...This implies that they once were members of the covenant." (102) Bierma notes Olevianus' distinction between general outer adminisration of the covenant promise and the special inner administration of the substance of the promise. In some of Olevianus' writings he seems to say that infants are members of the covenant by virtue of their baptism, in others by virtue of the promise to their believing parents. In at least one instance Olevianus even speaks of children normally being justified in the womb.

Disobey the commands of God , a baptised child can and surely does. Breaking the everlasting covenant of God ... impossible. Baptism is the outward "sign" of membership in the visible church. The "seal" of baptism is within the elect in Christ,and is the work of the Lord and they are truly members of the everlasting covenant of God.

ray kikkert
08-22-05, 09:41 PM
Here are more babbling statements by another Federal Vision Babbler:

Peter Leithart, Baptism is Baptism (http://www.credenda.org/issues/16-3liturgia.php) (Credenda/Agenda 16-3)

"How can we affirm a strong view of baptism without implying that all the baptized are saved and without implying that the water is a magic potion? I propose that we answer those questions in terms of three axioms: 1. When the New Testament writers use the word "baptism," they mean the water rite we call baptism. 2. When the New Testament writers call the church the "body of Christ," they mean that the church is the body of Christ. 3. Apostasy is possible."

Peter Leithart, Baptism Now Saves You (http://www.credenda.org/issues/16-2liturgia.php) (Credenda/Agenda 16-2)

"Peter crowns this trend with the statement that "baptism now saves you" (1 Peter 3:21). The qualification that Peter introduces ("not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience") does not, as often thought, diminish the efficacy that he attributes to baptism. It is not as if Peter says "baptism now saves you" and then adds, as a slight nuance, "but baptism doesn't really save you." On the contrary, the clause enhances the efficacy. This qualification makes no sense if Peter is merely contrasting baptism to a daily bath: Would anyone be tempted to believe that baptism was a bath to remove dirt? If not, why does Peter make the point?"

Peter Leithart, Sacraments are Rituals (http://www.credenda.org/issues/16-1liturgia.php) (Credenda/Agenda 16-1)

"So. If sacraments are not "means of grace," or "signs," or "symbols," what are they? In some respects, they are in a category all their own. In fact, it is not entirely helpful to talk about baptism and the Supper under the single category of "sacraments." Still, if I have to pick a general category that covers both, I would pick "ritual." I have several reasons."

Peter Leithart, Baptism and the "Real Me" (http://www.credenda.org/issues/14-5liturgia.php) (Credenda/Agenda 14-5)

"Because they were joined to Christ by baptism, the Roman Christians were to "consider [them]selves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:11). To use the modern jargon, Paul taught that a Christian's "self-image" is grounded in and shaped by the fact of his baptism. But is this really true? Does the "self-image" that comes from baptism match reality, or was Paul playing a game of "let's pretend?"

Peter Leithart, Baptism and the Church (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/peter_leithart/baptism_and_the_church.htm)

"None of this means that baptism guarantees eternal salvation. One consecrated as a saint may renounce God's claim on him; one can be cut off from the people whom the Lord regards as covenant-keepers, and entire churches may be snuffed out, cut from the vine. But those who live out of their baptism, faithful to the Lord in His Body, may be assured they are sanctified and justified."

Peter Leithart, Sacramental efficacy (http://www.biblicalhorizons.com/rr/rr043.htm)

"For many centuries, there has been an unwarranted narrowing of the purposes and intentions of the sacraments. The sacraments have come to be seen purely in relation to individual salvation. But the sacraments have multiple purposes and intentions. In terms of individual salvation, they cannot be said to operate "automatically," but this is not all that is going on in the sacraments. Conferring grace to individual members of the Church is not the only end for which the sacraments were instituted."

Peter Leithart, Daddy, Why Was I Excommunicated? (http://www.biblicalhorizons.com/rr/rr020.htm)
(http://www.biblicalhorizons.com/rr/rr020.htm)
"Though one hesitates to raise what has been a divisive issue, it is not an issue that can be ignored. Belief in paedocommunion is not, to be sure, in any sense a test of orthodoxy. But its significance for the system of Reformed doctrine is vast. It is plausible to argue that many of the tensions that have arisen in Reformed theology are crystallized by, if they do not actually arise from, the traditional antipaedocommunion position. I do not believe that paedocommunion implies any discarding of the foundational doctrines of the Reformed faith, but it does certainly imply a recasting and refinement, a further reformation of Reformed theology."

Peter Leithart, The Politics of Baptism (http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft9612/opinion/leithart.html)(First Things 68 (December 1996): 5-6.)

"Baptismal water was the universal solvent not only of traditional religious distinctions within Judaism but also of the foundation stones on which the ancient city rested; for the church, it was the sole initiation and was not confined to a single family, clan, race, or social class. Everyone within the watery walls of this city participates in the rites and shares in the sancta; holy things are for holy people, but all the baptized are saints."

lionovjudah
08-22-05, 09:44 PM
Does one have to be in covenant with God for sin to be an offense? Is sin only recognized, because of their part of covenant?


I always believed the new covenant was made with Christ and not with man. Perhaps I am off. And His headship of the elect. not directly with each individual elect.

wildboar
08-22-05, 10:33 PM
Ray:

You wrote:


Calvin here speaks of God's grace and His promise to be for all. I ask , who are the all? Calvin surely would contradict himself if his meaning is for all the physical seed of Abraham. One does not have to look far (Galatians 3) as to whom grace and the promise is given. It is to to the elect in Christ, the spiritual seed. He states that it is in his comments on the later verses 19 and 20 as follows.



Calvin wrote right at the beginning:


There is no doubt that the Lord distinguishes the
race of Abraham from the rest of the world. We must now see what
people he intends. Now they are deceived who think that his elect alone
are here pointed out....



Calvin says you are deceived. I'm still studying the matter on the issue of the covenant and am not prepared to state if you are deceived or not on the issue of what the covenant is and does. What I do think is pretty clear is that your belief about the covenant contradicts what Calvin teaches. And that's okay. Just say, "Calvin is wrong!" There's no shame in that. Calvin was not infallible. But there is shame in trying to make people say what you wish they said.

Notice even what Calvin says in the passage you brought up:


Yet it may seem absurd, that God should command Ishmael, whom he deprives of his grace, to be circumcised. I answer; although the Lord constitutes Isaac the firstborn and the head, from whom he intends the covenant of salvation to flow, he still does not entirely exclude Ishmael, but rather, in adopting the whole family of Abraham, joins Ishmael to his brother Isaac as an inferior member, until Ishmael cut himself off from his father's house, and his brother's society. Therefore his circumcision was not useless, until he apostatized from the covenant: for although it was not deposited with him, he might, nevertheless, participate in it, with his brother Isaac.

Calvin speaks of Ishmael apostacizing from the covenant. This language is very similar to things that the FV folks say. Ishmael is said to have cut himself off from the covenant after once being part of the covenant.


Calvin it seems in verse 7 , does not want the Lord's everlasting covenant to be only with the elect, but he contradicts himself if that is what he is trying to advocate in the later verses of this chapter, and also his reference texts to Romans in his comments on verse 7.

I'm still trying to decipher exactly how Calvin understood "the everlasting covenant."


The everlasting covenant of God is indeed unconditional. The ability to obey the commands of God is the gift of God to the elect child in Christ who wholly satisfied for the sins of disobedience amongst the elect. The elect have part in the everlasting covenant because of Christ, the promised seed.

The reprobate disobey the commands and Christ does not satisfy ,nor was it His intention to satisfy for their disobedience. They never had part in the the everlasting covenant.

That may very well be but Calvin is saying that blessings of the covenant are conditioned upon obedience.


It is obvious that man, of his own , has no ability whatsoever to have the obedience and chastity God requires unless He Himself preforms this within the creature. Apart from God , the sinner remains dead. The Lord preformed this through his begotten Son, the elect's Lord. Thus the covenant is unconditional. That which the Lord requires , that He also preforms. God binds Himself to the grace , faith , assurance, and promise of the the covenant and He will surely make it come to pass. He has said so, His Word is sure and without fail.
The Lord's everlasting covenant is His. He is the one who establishes it, maintains it, and sustains it. There never is any condition to the covenant of God that man must preform and can preform of himself. That is impossible for a dead in sins and trespasses creature. Yet the Lord in sending Christ, the Lamb slain from before the foundations of the world wholly satisfied for these sins of disobedience to the Lord's covenant. It is because of Him that the elect child is in covenant fellowship with the Triune God. It is unbreakable. The sinner by nature is a breaker of covenants , not this one. They first must have part in it, and the wicked reprobate never have had a part in the everlasting covenant of God.

In the above you seem to be equating election and covenant as does the PRC. I think it is pretty clear from reading Calvin that Calvin did not. He saw the covenant and election as related but not as the exact same thing and he saw that God elected people from eternity and that God covenanted with people but that some of the people whom God covenanted with were not of God's elect. Again, I'm still studying the issue of the relationship between covenant and election. I received my copy of The Federal Vision in the mail today and I expect to find some, maybe many problems with it. I'll post a critique of it here when I'm done. Due to the request of those immigrating to the states, the PRC took an official stand on the covenant. Because of that stand it seems that many within the PRC view those who hold to a different position on the covenant than they do as being heretical and outside of the confessions. My only point in all of this is that a person doesn't have to hold to the position of the PRC on the covenant in order to be within the bounds of the confessions. It seems that due to the equation of covenant with election, when those within the PRC read of a person who teaches some kind of conditional covenant, they think that the person is teaching conditional election and assume that the person is on the road to Rome.

Some within the FV seem to advocate some kind of conditional election because they believe it is Scriptural to do so. However, what they mean by "election" is not the same as what Reformed dogmaticians have meant by "election" and so those who act like they are are engaging in equivocation. I do think there are problems with this use of election but they make it very clear that they believe that God has elected who will be saved from eternity and that these people will really be saved.



The catechism does not say it is only the elect. The catechism refers to all the children of believers and from reading Ursinus it appears that that is what he meant.




Then by all means Chuck please explain the definition of a "believer".



I take the catechism to be referring to true believers in the visible church. But the catechism refers to ALL children of believers as being in covenant with God not just all believers who are children whose parents are believers.


Then it is obvious that Ursinus wrongly equates the Lord's everlasting covenant with the visible church. "all" the children of believers in the visible church are "not" elect.



I'm glad to see you admit your disagreement with Ursinus. But if doctrinal positions are taken which claim not to be new confessions but an affirmation of what the confessions already teach on a given topic, how can they be proper explanations if those who wrote the confessions would not be able to subscribe to the document which is supposed to be the proper interpretation of what they themselves wrote? (sorry for the long run-on sentence)

ray kikkert
08-23-05, 08:26 AM
Does one have to be in covenant with God for sin to be an offense?

Sin is an offense regardless if one is in covenant fellowship with God or not. God determined that Christ would satisfy for the sins of His chosen people with whom He delights in and is in fellowship with.


Is sin only recognized, because of their part of covenant?

Sin is recognized as disobedience to the law of God. The 10 commandments are the law of the covenant. The reprobate are quilty sinners for whom Christ does not satisfy for. Thus they have , from the beginning , no place in the covenant fellowship with God. They do break the commands of the covenant, but since they have no part in the covenant relationship with God they can never be able to break His covenant.





I always believed the new covenant was made with Christ and not with man. Perhaps I am off. And His headship of the elect. not directly with each individual elect.

It is only because of the perfect satisfaction and atonement of Christ that the elect enjoy and will enjoy for eternity the everlasting covenant of fellowship with the Triune God. As Galatians 3 states "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many: but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ" so yes it was made with Christ, then further in Galatians 3 , "And if ye be Christ's , then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Thus the elect are "in Christ" .

This term "in Christ" has been so wretchedly twisted by those advocating Federal Vision as to now mean that both elect and reprobate are "in Christ"
This is heretical babble according to the Word of God.

lionovjudah
08-23-05, 09:00 AM
Paul says, "Sin is not imputed where there is no law" (Romans 5:13). John says, "Sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4).

If sin is imputed to the reprobate, not atoned for, then does it not fit that they are in covenant in some aspect since sin cannot be imputed apart from Law/covenant?

I am just thinking out loud here

ray kikkert
08-23-05, 10:22 AM
Ray:

You wrote:



Calvin wrote right at the beginning:



Calvin says you are deceived. I'm still studying the matter on the issue of the covenant and am not prepared to state if you are deceived or not on the issue of what the covenant is and does. What I do think is pretty clear is that your belief about the covenant contradicts what Calvin teaches. And that's okay. Just say, "Calvin is wrong!" There's no shame in that. Calvin was not infallible. But there is shame in trying to make people say what you wish they said.

I seen that Chuck. When reading Calvin elsewhere in speaking of the covenant he must needs then call himself deceived and contradicts himself. I cannot look at Genesis 17:7 and judge from it alone. I have to take into consideration his other comments on the Lord's covenant throughout Scripture to do justice to his comments.

On the basis of Genesis 17 verse 7 alone, I do reject his commentary. Verse 7 alone is confusing language Calvin uses to define God's covenant. Calvin attaches "grace" "faith" "assurance" "the promise of God" in his definition to God's covenant. He is not talking about multiple covenants (which I also reject, it is but one) but is speaking of the one , everlasting covenant of God. I do not do so lightly as to think I am something of better repute. I do so from the systematic reformed confession that followed Calvin and exposed errors and were dealt with by the reformed faith.

Canons of Dort , 2ND HEAD.

Article 8 (http://www.prca.org/cd_index.html#head2). For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation: that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father; that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.



The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:

II (http://www.prca.org/cd_index.html#head2). Who teach: That it was not the purpose of the death of Christ that he should confirm the new covenant of grace through his blood, but only that he should acquire for the Father the mere right to establish with man such a covenant as he might please, whether of grace or of works. For this is repugnant to Scripture which teaches that Christ has become the Surety and Mediator of a better, that is, the new covenant, and that a testament is of force where death has occurred. Hebrews 7:22 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Hebrews+7:22); 9:15,17.


IV (http://www.prca.org/cd_index.html#head2). Who teach: That the new covenant of grace, which God the Father through the mediation of the death of Christ, made with man, does not herein consist that we by faith, in as much as it accepts the merits of Christ, are justified before God and saved, but in the fact that God having revoked the demand of perfect obedience of the law, regards faith itself and the obedience of faith, although imperfect, as the perfect obedience of the law, and does esteem it worthy of the reward of eternal life through grace. For these contradict the Scriptures: "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood," Romans 3:24,25 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Romans+3:24,25). And these proclaim, as did the wicked Socinus, a new and strange justification of man before God, against the consensus of the whole church.
V (http://www.prca.org/cd_index.html#head2). Who teach: That all men have been accepted unto the state of reconciliation and unto the grace of the covenant, so that no one is worthy of condemnation on account of original sin, and that no one shall be condemned because of it, but that all are free from the guilt of original sin. For this opinion is repugnant to Scripture which teaches that we are by nature children of wrath.

5th Head:


The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those: I (http://www.prca.org/cd_index.html#head34). Who teach: That the perseverance of the true believers is not a fruit of election, or a gift of God, gained by the death of Christ, but a condition of the new covenant, which (as they declare) man before his decisive election and justification must fulfill through his free will. For the Holy Scripture testifies that this follows out of election, and is given the elect in virtue of the death, the resurrection and intercession of Christ: "But the elect obtained it and the rest were hardened," Romans 11:7 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Romans+11:7). Likewise: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Romans 8:32-35 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Romans+8:32-35).

Thus on the basis of the reformed confessions with respect to God's covenant, when terms as "grace", "faith', "assurance" are used it is always specific to the elect and also that there are no conditions attached to the covenant of God that can be fulfilled by the creature.



Notice even what Calvin says in the passage you brought up:

Calvin speaks of Ishmael apostacizing from the covenant. This language is very similar to things that the FV folks say. Ishmael is said to have cut himself off from the covenant after once being part of the covenant.

I seen that and Calvin leaves himself wide open for criticism especially when he fails to comment on verse 21.





I'm still trying to decipher exactly how Calvin understood "the everlasting covenant."

That is why I am not so quick to refute Calvin. If you take the instances in God's Word where "everlasting covenant" is stated and then check Calvins commentary on his comments regarding the text(I'm thinking the Isaiah texts), even he admits that the everlasting covenant cannot be broken, yet here in Genesis 17 he seems to allow for it.




That may very well be but Calvin is saying that blessings of the covenant are conditioned upon obedience.

There is no room for the language of "conditions" in the reformed faith . It leads to anarchy. "conditioned upon obedience" itself is an oxymoron. Only Christ has perfect obedience. For man the blessing are unconditionally given. Man cannot preform a condition , he is dead.





In the above you seem to be equating election and covenant as does the PRC. I think it is pretty clear from reading Calvin that Calvin did not. He saw the covenant and election as related but not as the exact same thing and he saw that God elected people from eternity and that God covenanted with people but that some of the people whom God covenanted with were not of God's elect. Again, I'm still studying the issue of the relationship between covenant and election. I received my copy of The Federal Vision in the mail today and I expect to find some, maybe many problems with it. I'll post a critique of it here when I'm done. Due to the request of those immigrating to the states, the PRC took an official stand on the covenant. Because of that stand it seems that many within the PRC view those who hold to a different position on the covenant than they do as being heretical and outside of the confessions. My only point in all of this is that a person doesn't have to hold to the position of the PRC on the covenant in order to be within the bounds of the confessions. It seems that due to the equation of covenant with election, when those within the PRC read of a person who teaches some kind of conditional covenant, they think that the person is teaching conditional election and assume that the person is on the road to Rome.

Assumption is not needed. It is proven fact , and has been from the beginning. Election defines the covenant. They are parallel to each other. That is the damnation of the Federal Vision. They look at election through the covenant, the covenant as defined by them. The covenant of God to the FV babbler is breakable, thus in their scheme and they admit it as well, election is breakable. Never , ever is the covenant to be defined apart from election. They are inseperable.


Some within the FV seem to advocate some kind of conditional election because they believe it is Scriptural to do so. However, what they mean by "election" is not the same as what Reformed dogmaticians have meant by "election" and so those who act like they are are engaging in equivocation. I do think there are problems with this use of election but they make it very clear that they believe that God has elected who will be saved from eternity and that these people will really be saved.

The Fv adocate is a radical evangelical that comes to the reformed faith so to speak and redefines it as they see fit. I say leave it alone and if you will not, then leave the reformed faith, and do not call yourself a reformed calvinist. You are not. Out you go.





I take the catechism to be referring to true believers in the visible church. But the catechism refers to ALL children of believers as being in covenant with God not just all believers who are children whose parents are believers.

Then that stands in contrast to what is confessed in the Canons of Dort. The Heidelberg can only speak of those within the visible church. Here all are members. That is not so with the covenant. All are not members. All are not "in Christ" the head of the covenant. That is impossible.




I'm glad to see you admit your disagreement with Ursinus. But if doctrinal positions are taken which claim not to be new confessions but an affirmation of what the confessions already teach on a given topic, how can they be proper explanations if those who wrote the confessions would not be able to subscribe to the document which is supposed to be the proper interpretation of what they themselves wrote? (sorry for the long run-on sentence)

I will not judge Ursinus based on one statement, neither I with the Federal Vision advocate. This is a drawn out process where the fruits are shown to be good or evil. I have not the statements of Ursinus on the Heidelberg to comment further. I do know the Heidelberg and the Canons of Dort conform to each other and do not refute each other as reformed confessions of unity. That is laughable.

ray kikkert
08-23-05, 10:33 AM
Our brothers in the Presbyterian church see the filth of covenant breaking as advocated by the Federal Vision babblers:

Tabletalk Rewrites the Covenant (http://www.trinityfoundation.org/horror_show.php?id=2)March 2004Friends,

The February 2004 issue of Tabletalk, a monthly magazine published by Ligonier Ministries, contains a lethal misrepresentation of the Covenant of Grace. In its February 18 "devotional," we read these words:
"The book of Hebrews uses this story [of ancient Israel] as a basis for warning Christians to persevere, thereby proving that the new covenant can be broken as well [as the Mosaic could]....
"The fact that Hebrews gives real warnings and teaches that the new covenant can be broken might seem strange to those of us from a Reformed background. After all, are not the elect secure in their salvation? Surely it is not possible for the elect to lose their salvation?... How then can these warnings be real?
"The answer lies in the concept of covenant. When God makes a covenant, He makes a covenant with both believers and unbelievers, with both the elect and the reprobate.... Human beings are responsible to keep the covenant...."

Nothing could be further from the truth. First, Hebrews says that the new covenant is better than the old Mosaic covenant:
"But now he [Christ] has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as he is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises [than the Mosaic covenant]. For if the first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second."

Second, the new covenant, says Hebrews, is better because it cannot be broken:
"I will put my laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be my people. None of them shall teach his neighbor and none his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for all shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them " (Hebrews 8:10-11).

There is no possibility of these things not happening: "All shall know me."

Third, God does not make the new covenant, the Covenant of Grace, with both the reprobate and the elect, despite what Tabletalk says. The Covenant is made with the elect only. Question 31 (and many other questions as well) of the Westminster Larger Catechism makes this perfectly clear:
"Q.31 With whom was the Covenant of Grace made?
"A. The Covenant of Grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed."

In the new and better covenant, God the Father made an agreement with God the Son, Jesus Christ. Acting as the Mediator, as the Representative and Substitute for his people, the elect, Jesus Christ fulfilled all the conditions of the Covenant of Works that Adam had failed to fulfill. Jesus procured all the blessings of salvation for his people, and that salvation he gives to them all as a free gift.
What Tabletalk is teaching is false doctrine. Tabletalk's covenant is the basis of the Antichristian Neolegalism that is sweeping through Reformed churches. This false covenant does not recognize the role of Christ as Mediator. Instead, it requires believers to fulfil unspecified conditions of the covenant in order to keep their salvation. In this false covenant, there is no room for Christ as the Substitute for and Representative of his people, who alone met the conditions the holiness of God requires for salvation: perfection. In this false covenant there is no room for Christ as Savior. In this false covenant, the doctrine of the imputation of Christ's righteousness as the necessary and sufficient ground for salvation of sinners is denied. In this false covenant, sinners are told that they themselves must meet the conditions of salvation, the "obligations of the covenant," and by their own "covenant faithfulness" obtain the blessings of the covenant.
If they love the brethren and the truth, the writers, editors, and publishers of Tabletalk must issue an immediate apology to their readers, and a correction and retraction for these false statements. Their failure to do so will justifiably cause many more to doubt the doctrinal soundness of Tabletalk. For three years Tabletalk gave Douglas Wilson, a proponent of Neolegalism, a platform for his views; now the magazine is giving George Grant, a featured speaker at the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church (which is the primary source of Neolegalism in the PCA), a platform for his views.
When taken to task two years ago for saying in Tabletalk that Peter was the head of the church, the editor of Tabletalk refused to issue a correction or retraction to his readers. So the magazine's record is not good.
The question we must ask is, Will Tabletalk repudiate Neolegalism and its proponents, or will it continue to teach it and to give the proponents of Neolegalism a platform?
John Robbins
The Trinity Foundation
March 4, 2004
For further reading go to Review Archives at http://www.trinityfoundation.org

wildboar
08-23-05, 11:08 AM
Calvin speaks of the "generally elect" and the "specially elect" in his commentary on the Hebrews. He did not speak of non-elect members of the covenant but of generally elect members of the covenant who were not among the specially elect. Zwingli said similar things and even went so far as to say that if Esau had died in infancy he would have been one of God's elect since his unfaithfulness would not have been shown. The Cannons seem to take a similar position:


CAN 1:17 Since we are to judge of the will of God from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature, but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they, together with the parents, are comprehended, godly parents have no reason to doubt of the election and salvation of their children, whom it pleaseth God to call out of this life in their infancy. Zwingli even goes so far as to say, "Indeed it is my opinion that all infants who are under the testament are doubtless of the elect by the laws of the testament."

I know that Homer Hoeksema takes this a different way but it really seems to be in harmony with the statements of Zwingli and Calvin. A person who subscribes to a confession is not required to subscribe to all the writings of the authors of the confession but it would seem rather odd to claim that certain beliefs which were held by the authors of the confessions are outside of the bounds of the confessions.




There is no room for the language of "conditions" in the reformed faith . It leads to anarchy. "conditioned upon obedience" itself is an oxymoron. Only Christ has perfect obedience. For man the blessing are unconditionally given. Man cannot preform a condition , he is dead.


Given the language even by Turretin, it does not appear to be true that there is no room for conditions in the Reformed faith.


The Fv adocate is a radical evangelical that comes to the reformed faith so to speak and redefines it as they see fit. I say leave it alone and if you will not, then leave the reformed faith, and do not call yourself a reformed calvinist. You are not. Out you go.


The statement is untrue. They are using language which has been historically used by reformed writers including Calvin and Zwingli.

The basic beliefs of the FV folks are that:

1. God has eternally predestined an unchanging number of people out of the whole world to eternal glory with Christ (Eph. 1:11).

2. God's covenant includes some who have been so predestined to eternal glory with Christ, but i also includes others who have not been predestined to eternal glory with Christ but who will apostacize.

3. God addresses His people as a whole, and that includes each one in the covenant, head for head, as His elect.

What do the Canons of Dort mean in the following?

CAN 5:14 And as it hath pleased God, by the preaching of the gospel, to begin this work of grace in us, so he preserves, continues, and perfects it by the hearing and reading of his Word, by meditation thereon, and by the exhortations, threatenings, and promises thereof, as well as by the use of the sacraments.


How can we understand the threatenings? How do we understand Ezek. 33:13ff.?

Ezekiel 33:13-16 "When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die. 14 "Again, when I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, 15 "if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 16 "None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live.


It would seem that the statements in the Ezek. passage contradict the Hoeksemenian position. It would seem that if Hoeksema were there he would be saying, "No, no, don't tell them that they will live, some of them are reprobate as is evidenced by the fact that some of them will die later on."

ray kikkert
08-23-05, 12:30 PM
Calvin speaks of the "generally elect" and the "specially elect" in his commentary on the Hebrews. He did not speak of non-elect members of the covenant but of generally elect members of the covenant who were not among the specially elect. Zwingli said similar things and even went so far as to say that if Esau had died in infancy he would have been one of God's elect since his unfaithfulness would not have been shown. The Cannons seem to take a similar position:

If that is what Calvin suggests that some are generally elect, then his commentary here is refuted by the reformed confessions and I refute it as well:
Canons of Dort, 1st head, rejection of errors;
II (http://www.prca.org/cd_index.html#head1). Who teach: That there are various kinds of election of God unto eternal life: the one general and indefinite, the other particular and definite; and that the latter in turn is either incomplete, revocable, non-decisive and conditional, or complete, irrevocable, decisive and absolute. Likewise: that there is one election unto faith, and another unto salvation, so that election can be unto justifying faith, without being a decisive election unto salvation. For this is a fancy of men's minds, invented regardless of the Scriptures, whereby the doctrine of election is corrupted, and this golden chain of our salvation is broken: "And whom he foreordained, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified," Romans 8:30 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=romans+8:30).




CAN 1:17 Since we are to judge of the will of God from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature, but in virtue of the covenant of grace, in which they, together with the parents, are comprehended, godly parents have no reason to doubt of the election and salvation of their children, whom it pleaseth God to call out of this life in their infancy. Zwingli even goes so far as to say, "Indeed it is my opinion that all infants who are under the testament are doubtless of the elect by the laws of the testament."

I know that Homer Hoeksema takes this a different way but it really seems to be in harmony with the statements of Zwingli and Calvin. A person who subscribes to a confession is not required to subscribe to all the writings of the authors of the confession but it would seem rather odd to claim that certain beliefs which were held by the authors of the confessions are outside of the bounds of the confessions.

That is absurd. It makes no difference whether an infant, child, or adult. Either they are predestined to election or reprobation. The intent of the article is not to state that all children head for head of believing parents are elect. It is stating that parents ought not to doubt because in reality it is beyond their scope and knowledge whom God has predestined to election and reprobation. Parents are not to wrestle with God's sovereign good pleasure here. Zwingli's statements regarding Esau are babble and are to be written off.

That does not refute the truth that only the elect enjoy covenant fellowship with God.



Given the language even by Turretin, it does not appear to be true that there is no room for conditions in the Reformed faith.

Then one might as well opt for a full revision of the Canons of Dort. The reformers of the time of the Canons were off their rocker. This is exactly what the Federal Vision babblers what. A revision of the confessions to suit there own vain philosophy. They can hit the road.



The statement is untrue. They are using language which has been historically used by reformed writers including Calvin and Zwingli.

Fine , then you concede the Federal Vision babbler is given over to tunnel vision in his exegetical grasp of scripture twisting. Ask them rather to deal with the plain language of the Canons of Dort, then see how they whimper and whine. They are to be rejected for the errors they harbour.



The basic beliefs of the FV folks are that:

1. God has eternally predestined an unchanging number of people out of the whole world to eternal glory with Christ (Eph. 1:11).

and has generally elected some as well who evetually go lost even though they were "in Christ".




2. God's covenant includes some who have been so predestined to eternal glory with Christ, but i also includes others who have not been predestined to eternal glory with Christ but who will apostacize.

Thus we as Federal Vision babblers reject the perserverance of the saints and refute assurance. God's promise and His covenant are indeed breakable. You the sinner must fulfill conditions in order to attain eternal glory.



3. God addresses His people as a whole, and that includes each one in the covenant, head for head, as His elect.

What do the Canons of Dort mean in the following?

CAN 5:14 And as it hath pleased God, by the preaching of the gospel, to begin this work of grace in us, so he preserves, continues, and perfects it by the hearing and reading of his Word, by meditation thereon, and by the exhortations, threatenings, and promises thereof, as well as by the use of the sacraments.

The preaching of the Gospel which the Federal Vision babbler is oblivious to, is a sharp two edged sword. It is a savor of life unto life for the elect, and a savor of death unto death for the reprobate. When the Canons mentions "us" they speak of the elect alone. Preservation of the elect saints. This to the Federal Vision babbler is foolishness and a stumbling block to their blinded theology of dung.




How can we understand the threatenings? How do we understand Ezek. 33:13ff.?

Ezekiel 33:13-16 "When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous works shall be remembered; but because of the iniquity that he has committed, he shall die. 14 "Again, when I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, 15 "if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 16 "None of his sins which he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right; he shall surely live.


It would seem that the statements in the Ezek. passage contradict the Hoeksemenian position. It would seem that if Hoeksema were there he would be saying, "No, no, don't tell them that they will live, some of them are reprobate as is evidenced by the fact that some of them will die later on."

Did it ever occur to you that if the Lord does not say "live" the sinner remains dead? Or do you advocate that the sinner apart from God can "live". God not only speaks "live" but He also preforms and gives His elect the gifts in order to "live". Will you now advocate that the Lord tells the reprobate vessel of dishonor to "live", yet that vessel wills to remain dead and rejects what the Lord tells it? So much for a sovereign , all predestinating God . He has become god, subject to the whims of the creature. That is far removed from your make believe Hoeksema scoffer of God. Try again.

wildboar
08-23-05, 05:29 PM
Ray:

Neither FV nor Calvin teaches various kinds of election to eternal life. They do teach various kinds of elections but this is necessary given the fact that everytime God says "I choose/chose something" he is electing. God chose Israel and then called a people who were not his people his people.


That is absurd. It makes no difference whether an infant, child, or adult. Either they are predestined to election or reprobation. The intent of the article is not to state that all children head for head of believing parents are elect. It is stating that parents ought not to doubt because in reality it is beyond their scope and knowledge whom God has predestined to election and reprobation.



The article does not say that though. The article tells all those who have had children who die in infancy not to doubt the salvation and election of their children. I think to say that they should not doubt because they should just plead ignorance and say only God knows is a very unnatural way to read the confession.


The preaching of the Gospel which the Federal Vision babbler is oblivious to, is a sharp two edged sword. It is a savor of life unto life for the elect, and a savor of death unto death for the reprobate. When the Canons mentions "us" they speak of the elect alone. Preservation of the elect saints. This to the Federal Vision babbler is foolishness and a stumbling block to their blinded theology of dung.




But if the canons mean the elect alone then what is the purpose of the threatenings?


Did it ever occur to you that if the Lord does not say "live" the sinner remains dead? Or do you advocate that the sinner apart from God can "live". God not only speaks "live" but He also preforms and gives His elect the gifts in order to "live". Will you now advocate that the Lord tells the reprobate vessel of dishonor to "live", yet that vessel wills to remain dead and rejects what the Lord tells it? So much for a sovereign , all predestinating God . He has become god, subject to the whims of the creature. That is far removed from your make believe Hoeksema scoffer of God. Try again.



The FV folks do not deny that God does all the work. But sense must be made of this passage. And the passage says that those who were once told that they will live will die if they act unrighteously.

ray kikkert
08-23-05, 07:04 PM
Ray:

Neither FV nor Calvin teaches various kinds of election to eternal life. They do teach various kinds of elections but this is necessary given the fact that everytime God says "I choose/chose something" he is electing. God chose Israel and then called a people who were not his people his people.

Take your time and reread what the Canons says again, you seemed to have missed the point.




The article does not say that though. The article tells all those who have had children who die in infancy not to doubt the salvation and election of their children. I think to say that they should not doubt because they should just plead ignorance and say only God knows is a very unnatural way to read the confession.

Well then will you now go on record to advocate that all children of believers who die in infancy are elect? It is far from pleading ignorance, it takes God at His Word as truth.





But if the canons mean the elect alone then what is the purpose of the threatenings?

I see you struggle with God threatening His own. Maybe we should disregard Revelation 2. Threatening is too offensive for the elect.





The FV folks do not deny that God does all the work. But sense must be made of this passage. And the passage says that those who were once told that they will live will die if they act unrighteously.

Simple.... God's sovereign good pleasure. Do you have a problem with that Chuck? Is this not a means which God can use? Or do you think that this is "below" God. It sounds as if you question God's methods. One wonders how God could not blantantly see "no iniquity" in Jacob yet He says it nonetheless.

wildboar
08-23-05, 08:52 PM
Take your time and reread what the Canons says again, you seemed to have missed the point.

I have reread it and the cannons still appear to be adressing the issue of election unto eternal life specifically. Calvin did not speak of the generally elect as being elect unto eternal life.


Well then will you now go on record to advocate that all children of believers who die in infancy are elect? It is far from pleading ignorance, it takes God at His Word as truth.



I'm not willing to go on record as advocating either position on this issue. My concern at present is to discover whether or not this view is in harmony with the reformed confessions.


I see you struggle with God threatening His own. Maybe we should disregard Revelation 2. Threatening is too offensive for the elect.



I don't find offense in the idea of God threatening his own, but I don't see how it could fit into the PR grid.


Simple.... God's sovereign good pleasure. Do you have a problem with that Chuck? Is this not a means which God can use? Or do you think that this is "below" God. It sounds as if you question God's methods. One wonders how God could not blantantly see "no iniquity" in Jacob yet He says it nonetheless.



God saw no iniquity in Jacob because he saw his sins covered by the blood of Christ. I just wonder if the statements made in the Ezekiel passage are really that different from statements made by ministers which caused the PR split in the 50's.

Here are some statements from Scripture made regarding apostates:

Matthew 21:42-44 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD's doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes'? 43 "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. 44 "And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder."

Matthew 13:20 "But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;

Luke 8:13 "But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.

Luke 8:14 "Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.

John 15:1-6 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

1 Corinthians 10:1-13 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Hebrews 6:4-6 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

Hebrews 10:26-31 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people." 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Hebrews 12:22-26 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. 25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven."

2 Peter 1:9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

2 Peter 2:20-21 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.

Romans 9:4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;

lionovjudah
08-24-05, 07:41 AM
Is there a "visible" part of the covenant where everyone is included?

God covenented with Israel, but all of Israel was not all Israel right? The blessings and curses were for everyone correct?

AS far as presumptive "anything" I do nto see how one could or even consider this option.

If the believeing parent makes the child "holy", then why does nto the believing spouse make the unbelieveing spouse holy according to Paul?

ray kikkert
08-24-05, 09:04 AM
I have reread it and the cannons still appear to be adressing the issue of election unto eternal life specifically. Calvin did not speak of the generally elect as being elect unto eternal life.

I was referring to the second statement the remonstrant would use "Likewise: That there is one election unto faith and another unto savation (notice the seperation), so that election can be unto justifying faith, without being a decisive election unto salvation."






I'm not willing to go on record as advocating either position on this issue. My concern at present is to discover whether or not this view is in harmony with the reformed confessions.

It is quite simple Chuck. It is taking the Lord at face value. You mean to tell me for all the times you have read Romans 9 you now, still, cannot state without fail that the Lord alone deteremines before any are born as to there predestinated end?
I think quite simply put , you apart from the Word of God, are sympathetic to the thinking that all children who die in infancy, head for head, of believers are elect, period.





I don't find offense in the idea of God threatening his own, but I don't see how it could fit into the PR grid.

I am surprised that the idea that the Lord would threaten His elect in Scripture is foreign to you. The Ezekial text is not an isolated event. You mean to tell me that only this text confuses you?





God saw no iniquity in Jacob because he saw his sins covered by the blood of Christ. I just wonder if the statements made in the Ezekiel passage are really that different from statements made by ministers which caused the PR split in the 50's.

History proves that the ministers who left injected conditions on the part of man to fulfill, for God's covenant. They made faith a prerequisite. But ministers who have a low view of the sovereingty of God, and are vain philosophers will indeed foolishly see conditions for man to fulfill to be part of the covenant of God. Christ gets the boot, he no longer "is" the head of the covenant in their scheme's.


Here are some statements from Scripture made regarding apostates:

Matthew 21:42-44 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD's doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes'? 43 "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. 44 "And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder."

verse 44 shows the difference between the elect and the reprobate.



Matthew 13:20 "But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;

Luke 8:13 "But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.

Luke 8:14 "Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.

"Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given," Matthew 13:11 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=matt+13:11).

Canons of Dort 3/4th Head
Article 9 (http://www.prca.org/cd_index.html#head34). It is not the fault of the gospel, nor of Christ, offered therein, nor of God, who calls men by the gospel, and confers upon them various gifts, that those who are called by the ministry of the word, refuse to come, and be converted: the fault lies in themselves; some of whom when called, regardless of their danger, reject the word of life; others, though they receive it, suffer it not to make a lasting impression on their heart; therefore, their joy, arising only from a temporary faith, soon vanishes, and they fall away; while others choke the seed of the word by perplexing cares, and the pleasures of this world, and produce no fruit. - This our Savior teaches in the parable of the sower. Matthew 13.



John 15:1-6 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

Canons of Dort 1st Head, rejection of errors


V (http://www.prca.org/cd_index.html#head1). Who teach: That the incomplete and non-decisive election of particular persons to salvation occurred because of a foreseen faith, conversion, holiness, godliness, which either began or continued for some time; but that the complete and decisive election occurred because of foreseen perseverance unto the end in faith, conversion, holiness and godliness; and that this is the gracious and evangelical worthiness, for the sake of which he who is chosen, is more worthy than he who is not chosen; and that therefore faith, the obedience of faith, holiness, godliness and perseverance are not fruits of the unchangeable election unto glory, but are conditions, which, being required beforehand, were foreseen as being met by those who will be fully elected, and are causes without which the unchangeable election to glory does not occur. This is repugnant to the entire Scripture, which constantly inculcates this and similar declarations: Election is not out of works, but of him that calleth. Romans 9:11 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=romans+9:11)."As many as were ordained to eternal life believed," Acts 13:48 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=acts+13:48)."He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy," Ephesians 1:4 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=ephesians+1:4)."Ye did not choose me, but I chose you," John 15:16 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=john+15:16)."But if it be of grace, it is no more of works," Romans 11:6 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=romans+11:6)."Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son," I John 4:10 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=1+john+4:10).



1 Corinthians 10:1-13 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7 And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." 8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Canons of Dort 5th Head:
Article 11 (http://www.prca.org/cd_index.html#head5). The Scripture moreover testifies, that believers in this life have to struggle with various carnal doubts, and that under grievous temptations they are not always sensible of this full assurance of faith and certainty of persevering. But God, who is the Father of all consolation, does not suffer them to be tempted above that they are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that they may be able to bear it, I Corinthians 10:13 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=I+Corinthians+10:13), and by the Holy Spirit again inspires them with the comfortable assurance of persevering.



Hebrews 6:4-6 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

Canons of Dort, 1st head:
Article 14 (http://www.prca.org/cd_index.html#head1). As the doctrine of divine election by the most wise counsel of God, was declared by the prophets, by Christ himself, and by the apostles, and is clearly revealed in the Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testament, so it is still to be published in due time and place in the Church of God, for which it was peculiarly designed, provided it be done with reverence, in the spirit of discretion and piety, for the glory of God's most holy name, and for enlivening and comforting his people, without vainly attempting to investigate the secret ways of the Most High. Acts 20:27 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=acts+20:27);Romans 11:33,34 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=romans+11:33,34);12:3 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=romans+12:3);Hebrews 6:17,18 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=hebrews+6:17,18).




Hebrews 10:26-31 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people." 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Canons of Dort, 5th head, rejection of errors:

VII (http://www.prca.org/cd_index.html#head34). Who teach: That the faith of those, who believe for a time, does not differ from justifying and saving faith except only in duration. For Christ himself, in Matthew 13:20 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Matthew+13:20), Luke 8:13 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Luke+8:13), and in other places, evidently notes, besides this duration, a threefold difference between those who believe only for a time and true believers, when he declares that the former receive the seed in stony ground, but the latter in the good ground or heart; that the former are without root, but that the latter have a firm root; that the former are without fruit, but that the latter bring forth their fruit in various measure, with constancy and steadfastness.
VIII (http://www.prca.org/cd_index.html#head34). Who teach: That it is not absurd that one having lost his first regeneration, is again and even often born anew. For these deny by this doctrine the incorruptibleness of the seed of God, whereby we are born again. Contrary to the testimony of the Apostle Peter: "Having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible," I Peter 1:23 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=I+Peter+1:23). IX (http://www.prca.org/cd_index.html#head34). Who teach: That Christ has in no place prayed that believers should infallibly continue in faith. For they contradict Christ himself, who says: "I have prayed for thee (Simon), that thy faith fail not," Luke 22:32 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Luke+22:32); and the Evangelist John, who declares, that Christ has not prayed for the Apostles only, but also for those who through their word would believer: "Holy Father, keep them in thy name," and: "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one," John 17:11, 15, 20 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=John+17:11,15,20).




Hebrews 12:22-26 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. 25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven."

2 Peter 1:9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

Canons of Dort,3/4th Head, rejection of errors:

VIII (http://www.prca.org/cd_index.html#head34). Who teach: That God in the regeneration of man does not use such powers of his omnipotence as potently and infallibly bend man's will to faith and conversion; but that all the works of grace having been accomplished, which God employs to convert man, man may yet so resist God and the Holy Spirit, when God intends man's regeneration and wills to regenerate him, and indeed that man often does so resist that he prevents entirely his regeneration, and that it therefore remains in man's power to be regenerated or not. For this is nothing less than the denial of all the efficiency of God's grace in our conversion, and the subjecting of the working of Almighty God to the will of man, which is contrary to the Apostles, who teach: "That we believe according to the working of the strength of his power," Ephesians 1:19 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Ephesians+1:19). And: "That God fulfills every desire of goodness and every work of faith with power," 2 Thessalonians 1:11 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=2+Thessalonians+1:11). And: "That his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness," 2 Peter 1:3 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=2+Peter+1:3).



2 Peter 2:20-21 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.

Romans 9:4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;

Canons of Dort, 1st head:
Article 10 (http://www.prca.org/cd_index.html#head1). The good pleasure of God is the sole cause of this gracious election; which doth not consist herein, that out of all possible qualities and actions of men God has chosen some as a condition of salvation; but that he was pleased out of the common mass of sinners to adopt some certain persons as a peculiar people to himself, as it is written, "For the children being not yet born neither having done any good or evil," etc., it was said (namely to Rebecca): "the elder shall serve the younger; as it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated," Romans 9:11,12,13 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=romans+9:11-13)."And as many as were ordained to eternal life believed," Acts 13:48 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=acts+13:48).

Article 18 (http://www.prca.org/cd_index.html#head1). To those who murmur at the free grace of election, and just severity of reprobation, we answer with the apostle: "Nay, but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?" Romans 9:20 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=romans+9:20),and quote the language of our Savior: "Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with my own?" Matthew 20:15 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=matt+20:15).And therefore with holy adoration of these mysteries, we exclaim in the words of the apostle: "O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counselor? or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him are all things: to whom be glory for ever. - Amen."

It is clear that the reformers were not a loss for words as to what to confess and what to reject. That is exactly the kind of "in your face" statements that are needed to reject these whimpy , uncertain thinkings of the FV babblers.

ray kikkert
08-26-05, 11:34 AM
Here is some more babble from another Federal Vision babbler , Rev. Douglas Wilson:

Doug Wilson's Presbytery Examination [mp3 (http://www.christkirk.com/DougWilsonCREC.asp)] [pdf (http://www.cmfnow.com/cre/WilsonExamAnswers.pdf)]

Because of the hue and cry over his theological innovations, Doug Wilson asked his presbytery to examine him again to clear him of any potential ecclesiastical charges. The MP3s are recordings of his floor examination, and the .pdf file are his written answers to presbytery questions.

Douglas Wilson, A Short Credo on Justification (http://www.christkirk.com/DiscussionWithRPCUS/rpcus%20A%20Short%20Credo.asp)

"The second covenant is a covenant of redemptive grace. The thing that the two covenants have in common is grace, not works. The condition for keeping this covenant is the same as the first, although the circumstances are different. The condition always is to believe God. These points are made, not to smuggle "works from the covenant of works into the covenant of grace, but rather the opposite. I believe we must insist that autonomous works be banished from every human realm and endeavor, whether fallen or unfallen (1 Cor. 1:31)."

Douglas Wilson, Beyond the Five Solas (http://www.credenda.org/issues/16-2presbyterion.php)

"When confronted with any scriptural truth that is new, or as in this case, with any that sounds new, misunderstanding can do two things with it. One ignoble option is to roll up into a tight little "orthodox" ball, and call anything outside that ball heresy. This is the misunderstanding of the one who says, "It might be biblical, but that doesn't make it confessional!" Another option is to misunderstand the new emphasis in just the same way, but with this difference: the misunderstanding is embraced. This fellow says, "It doesn't sound very confessional-it must therefore be biblical!" The former doesn't understand that true confessional faithfulness is the basis of confessional growth. But the latter will pick up any little piece of doctrinal tumbleweed that blows down the road."

Douglas Wilson, The Objectivity of the Covenant (http://www.credenda.org/issues/15-1thema.php)

"The church is therefore a covenanted body, organically connected to Christ. As a covenant body in history, it contains organic members who are faithful and organic members who are not. The faithful members persevere to the end only because God has decreed it and given it to them. The unfaithful members are cut out because of unbelief. While they experienced grace, they were not given persevering grace."

Douglas Wilson, Judas was a Bishop (http://www.credenda.org/issues/13-2presbyterion.php)

"Because American evangelicals (and fundamentalists) tend to believe that the invisible church is visible, this means that to include someone in the church is tantamount to a declaration of peace and harmony. Conservatives see that the Christian faith and liberalism are two antithetical faiths in principle, and so they exclude liberals. The whole thing is so simple: those guys can’t be Christians. Evangelical moderates see that schism is distressing, and so they raise the welcoming glass to just about anyone, and try to promote the general glow of bonhomie. The conservative wants standards and no unity. The moderate wants unity and no standards. The biblical requirement is to demand both unity and standards, backing up the demand by fighting for both."

wildboar
08-26-05, 10:18 PM
When confronted with any scriptural truth that is new, or as in this case, with any that sounds new, misunderstanding can do two things with it. One ignoble option is to roll up into a tight little "orthodox" ball, and call anything outside that ball heresy. This is the misunderstanding of the one who says, "It might be biblical, but that doesn't make it confessional!" Another option is to misunderstand the new emphasis in just the same way, but with this difference: the misunderstanding is embraced. This fellow says, "It doesn't sound very confessional-it must therefore be biblical!" The former doesn't understand that true confessional faithfulness is the basis of confessional growth. But the latter will pick up any little piece of doctrinal tumbleweed that blows down the road.

AMEN!!! How can you call this babble, Ray? To deny this would be to be the babblingest blabbering brook that ever babbled.

ray kikkert
08-27-05, 08:39 AM
AMEN!!! How can you call this babble, Ray? To deny this would be to be the babblingest blabbering brook that ever babbled.

I can deny this babble because at present Rev. Wilson talks of confessional adherance but himself and the CREC do not have a confessional stance. He has stated that it will eventually be the Westminster confession of England and yet finds it confessionally correct to administer the sacrament of the Lord's supper to his young grandson who has not professed faith. Thus Wilson rewrites the confessional stance to suit his own vain philosophy. He maintains paedocommunion. This is the outworking of his FV babble.

As an FV advocate, he has the audacity to speak of being biblically and confessionally reformed.

J.V. Fesko, The Federal Vision and the Covenant of Works (http://www.genevaopc.org/resources/res_pdf_44.pdf)

This paper was presented in Dec. 2004 to the PCA Stated Clerks meeting.

"The federal vision's formulation of the Adamic covenant naturally leads to a different understanding of the covenant of grace... Their construction of their Adamic covenant brings them closer to a semi-Pelagian Arminian theory of the atonement than anything that one might find in historic reformed theology. Moreover, by removing the need for the imputation of the active obedience of Christ, they create a vacuum which is filled by the believer’s obedience. The federal vision mixes what reformed theology has historically distinguished, faith and works. Given these divergences, it is fair to say that the federal vision does not simply represent a variation within reformed theology but virtually an entirely alien system of doctrine, one at odds with the reformed system of doctrine outlined in the Westminster Standards."

T.E. Wilder, Ecclesiology: The Achilles Heel of the Federal Vision (http://www.contra-mundum.org/vision/ecclesiology.pdf)

"We see that those who hold to the idea of the covenant taught by the Federal Vision cannot agree on what the true church is. They cannot agree on the boundaries of the covenant. They cannot agree on who is in the covenant. Therefore they cannot agree who is elect and united with Christ." (p. 6)

Joe Morecraft, A New View of the Covenant Creeping in Largely Unnoticed (http://www.paulperspective.com/docs/morecraft4.pdf)(New Southern Presbyterian Review I, 2, Fall 2002)

Taking on the Federal Vision's understanding of covenant, Morecraft identifies the FV confusion between covenant and election:

"This new view of "the objectivity of the covenant goes off track by failing to keep clear two Biblical distinctions: first, the distinction between the corporate election of Israel as a nation (in the Old Testament) and the soteric election of individuals in Christ (in both Testaments) and, second, the distinction between being baptized into the organized church and being incorporated into Christ."

Morecraft includes two appendices: the first, a refutation of the Federal Vision's interpretation of John 15 (Norman Shepherd and Douglas Wilson) and Doug Wilson's rejection of the visible/invisible church distinction.


So yes Rev. Wilson's statement above is babble.

wildboar
08-27-05, 02:53 PM
Not all FV folks endorse paedocommunion. Schlissel took the opposing stance in the debate with Tim Gallant. Also, throughout history not all who advocated paedocommunion were part of the Federal Vision (the Eastern church since its inception, the Western church for the first 12 centuries, Wolfgang Musculus, etc.). At the very least the dutch reformed tradition has departed from its reformation roots in the way in which it often bars children from the table until they are 18 or older. Calvin saw age 11 as being the oldest a person should be before they partake. Hoeksema thought the age should be much younger. How can we seriously speak of children of believers as being in the covenant if we make them wait till age 18 when they take part in some kind of unbiblical confirmation ceremony to partake. The Heidelberg does not take a particular stand on the issue but yes the Westminster does. And no, I'm not endorsing paedocommunion. I think there are good arguments on both sides. I think the argument would be stronger from the dutch reformed folks if profession of faith ocurred at age 11-13. You seem to delight in these sweeping accusations and hasty generalization fallacies.

It would seem to result in more frutiful discussion if you quoted actual FV folks and were more discriminatory about what you posted and then commented on what you believe is wrong with what they say. Some of what you posted by them, every reformed christian should confess and some of it is taught by the PRC. As for little quotes from those who oppose them, why should I believe what they say? I can say anything I want about anyone.

Just writing the word 'babble' doesn't tell anyone anything. Be a good Christian. Read what these people have actually written. Get yourself a copy of The Federal Vision and then critique it.

samohtwerdna
08-27-05, 08:15 PM
Dear Ray,

I have in the past so enjoyed your posts, and your insight. Reading this thread has raised up some questions about discernment however.

You have treated all those in the FV as equally contemptable and wrong. With out discussing if I agree or disagree with the FV as a whole, I would like to discern the speakers/writers from one another. For an example, If 5 solas.org decided to have a conference and invited you to speak there. Assuming you would atend, I doubt wether you would agree with all your fellow brothers. I could see you getting a little upset if people said: : "oh those 5solas guys think "Adam was created evil" that "the church disappeared with the apostles" that "baptism is not for infants" ect. Showing clear non-confessional stands on Covenant theology (1) on the Doctrine of the church (2) and on the sacraments (3). No, I doubt you would like that, but would instead want people to evaluate you based on what you said, and not on your associtations. Yet at the end of the day I trust that you could still call your friends at 5solas brothers.

The Lousiana Presbytery issued a formal letter clearing Steve Schlissel from the charge of being outside the pale of orthodoxy, and also reproving him for being unclear and confusing. You may want to check it out, if you havn't already.

What Chuck brings up about Calvin, Hoeksema, and others is important, because much of what the FV says has been the posistion of many Reformed believers since the reformation. (I hope you believe that Hoeksma has a good Covenant Theology - better than M.Klein!!)

Also concerning Baptism - you said that only the elect should be baptized. Wich means that we must be able to discern elect from non-elect. That power is clearly not given to us wether in the Old Covenant or the "New". Christ seperates the wheat from the tears - not us.

Ray, I have not seen it your custom to atack friends. It does not suit you. Boast in Christ, as you have before - that suits you much better!

ray kikkert
08-30-05, 11:03 AM
Not all FV folks endorse paedocommunion. Schlissel took the opposing stance in the debate with Tim Gallant. Also, throughout history not all who advocated paedocommunion were part of the Federal Vision (the Eastern church since its inception, the Western church for the first 12 centuries, Wolfgang Musculus, etc.).

You would have to concede the rest do in fact advocate peado communion.
Considering the amount of time given to paedocommunion by FV advocates, it is a distinctive of them, not of reformed and presbyterian churches and their subsequent church orders.


At the very least the dutch reformed tradition has departed from its reformation roots in the way in which it often bars children from the table until they are 18 or older. Calvin saw age 11 as being the oldest a person should be before they partake. Hoeksema thought the age should be much younger. How can we seriously speak of children of believers as being in the covenant if we make them wait till age 18 when they take part in some kind of unbiblical confirmation ceremony to partake. The Heidelberg does not take a particular stand on the issue but yes the Westminster does. And no, I'm not endorsing paedocommunion. I think there are good arguments on both sides. I think the argument would be stronger from the dutch reformed folks if profession of faith ocurred at age 11-13. You seem to delight in these sweeping accusations and hasty generalization fallacies.

The arguments in favor of peado communion have been found wanting within reformed synodical decisions. It has been denied as a "reformed" distinctive. In fact most reformed churches state within their church orders a "profession of faith" is required not only and for participation of the Lord's supper but also with respect to full church memebership with regards to congregational meetings where the congregation is to vote on specific items.

" Moreover , proper participation at the Lord's Table requires a measure of maturity and an active , conscious faith. Voetius, in answer to the question whether or not all baptised individuals should be considered as entitled to partake of the Lord's table , answered, "No". Said he in substance: Faith may be present potentially without having as yet developed into actual faith. And actual faith is necessary for the proper celebration of the Lord's supper. The essence of faith may be present by regeneration, but the fruit of regeneration, conversion, must also be present.

In the convention of Wezel (1568) indicated a profession of faith was required before being admitted to Holy Communion, which was later re established by the synod of Dortrecht (1578), than again in the synod of Middelburg (1581) and is in the wording we have today. The office bearers rightly are the guardians over the Lord's Table and rightly fence it.

Strikingly, those attending the tenets of Arminianism held that attendance or non- attendance at the Lords Table should be left to individual conscience. Hmmmmm. How true to arminian form many so called churches and FV advocates are to the Arminian view that the Lords Supper is a free for all.

The question of age is determined by the catechism training a child receives within the reformed church they are members of. Seems to me Chuck it was not that long ago you lamented the fact that churches do not teach catechism anymore or hardly. Hmmmmmmm.

Your lament that child could be seen as not really covenant members is also without validity. The Lord's Supper is administered in the visible church, where both the elect and the reprobate are present and have membership. "Covenant" members are the elect alone. Thus the Lord's supper will be of a gracious benefit for them alone. The reprobate who outwardly, formally , in the visible church fake such membership who partake of the Lords supper, rightly eat and drink judgment to themselves. The office bearers rightly fence the table from those who err in doctrine and lifestyle.



It would seem to result in more frutiful discussion if you quoted actual FV folks and were more discriminatory about what you posted and then commented on what you believe is wrong with what they say. Some of what you posted by them, every reformed christian should confess and some of it is taught by the PRC. As for little quotes from those who oppose them, why should I believe what they say? I can say anything I want about anyone.

That is a fair request. The point of me being more "discriminatory" did make me laugh though. This "discrimination" rail is infact the same old plea to be more tolerant and compromising. God forbid I would be.

The word "some" is true. Even the arminian remonstrant used this as well to squeeze thier heresy into the reformed churches. It is a sneaky ploy yet one seen for some reason by many a minister, elder, professor within reformed and presbyterian churches as an assault on the Scriptures and the reformed confessions. Why such a fuss? How is it the FV has been able to cause splits within churches if it is in fact not such a big deal? Maybe we are really overreacting. Maybe we should let them go ahead and rewrite Scriture and then the reformed confessions. After all here in 2005 a greater light of exegetical wisdom abounds by these FV men.

Your whine as to why we should believe folks like Moorecraft, Engelsma, Webb, Robbins, White.... et al is a laughable illogical whine.
Why should I then believe what the FV folks say to be true if that is your intent. It is a plea to emotion and feelings that according to you should override doctrine and the antitheical lifestyle.

I will rely on the solid exegetical doctrinal stance over emotion and logic. The remonstrant camp shows where that will lead.


Just writing the word 'babble' doesn't tell anyone anything. Be a good Christian. Read what these people have actually written. Get yourself a copy of The Federal Vision and then critique it.

Be a "good" Christian. Hmmmmmm. Why am I called a Christian? "
Question 32 (http://www.prca.org/hc_index.html#Q32). But why art thou called a christian?

Answer. Because I am a member of Christ [g] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text1.html#LDXIIg) by faith, and thus am partaker [h] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text1.html#LDXIIh) of his anointing; that so I may [i] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text1.html#LDXIIi) confess his name, and present myself a living [j] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text1.html#LDXIIj) sacrifice of thankfulness to him: and also that with a free and good conscience I may fight against sin and [k] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text1.html#LDXIIk) Satan in this life: and afterwards [l] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text1.html#LDXIIl) reign with him eternally, over all creatures.
[a]: Heb. 1:9 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Heb+1:9)
[b]: Deut. 18:18 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Deut+18:18); Acts 3:22 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Acts+3:22); John 1:18 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=John+1:18); John 15:15 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=John+15:15); Mat. 11:27 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Mat+11:27)
[c]: Psa. 110:4 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Psa+110:4); Heb. 7:21 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Heb+7:21); Heb. 10:14 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Heb+10:14)
[d]: Rom. 8:34 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Rom+8:34)
[e]: Psa. 2:6 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Psa+2:6); Luke 1:33 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Luke+1:33)
[f]: Mat. 28:18 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Mat+28:18); John 10:28 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=John+10:28)
[g]: 1Cor. 6:15 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=1+Cor+6:15)
[h]: 1John 2:27 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=1+John+2:27); Joel 2:28 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Joel+2:28)
[i]: Mat. 10:32 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Mat+10:32)
[j]: Rom. 12:1 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Rom+12:1)
[k]: Eph. 6:11,12 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Eph+6:11,12); 1Tim. 1:18,19 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=1+Tim+1:18,19)
[l]: 2Tim 2:12 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=2+Tim+2:12)

I will stick with the Heidelberg catechism interpretation as to what the definition of a Christian is.

A copy of the Federal Vision I see was critiqued by yourself. The flip flopping of Chuck continues. Well, I will in time weigh in on the book, yet I have enough to read regarding the FV from ligit resources. Of which I will submit in due course.

ray kikkert
08-30-05, 12:33 PM
Dear Ray,

I have in the past so enjoyed your posts, and your insight. Reading this thread has raised up some questions about discernment however.

You have treated all those in the FV as equally contemptable and wrong. With out discussing if I agree or disagree with the FV as a whole, I would like to discern the speakers/writers from one another.

Thank you. I am not above admonishment. I tend to be polemical yes and I admit that my choice of words bite rather than bark. Chuck , yourself , others do a good job to temper me.

With respect to the FV I maintain that is it the old arminian error. The men involved do maintain a love for the Lord, yet there is a clear disdain for His predestinating, sovereign purposes. They explain and define apart from that reformed fact. There is clear evidence from the Canons of Dort that the 5 points of calvinism are being destroyed. Yea even the Heidelberg catechism Lords day is clear , but for some reason needs to be re explained by the FV adherant:

XXIII. LORD'S DAY. (http://www.prca.org/hc_index.html#LDXXIII)


Question 59 (http://www.prca.org/hc_index.html#Q59). But what doth is profit thee now that thou believest all this?

Answer. That I am righteous in Christ, before God, and an heir of eternal life. [a] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIIIa)

Question 60 (http://www.prca.org/hc_index.html#Q60). How are thou righteous before God?

Answer. Only [b] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIIIb) by a true faith in Jesus Christ; so that though my conscience accuse me, that I have grossly transgressed all the commandments of God, and [c] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIIIc) kept none of them, and am still [d] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIIId) inclined to all evil; notwithstanding, God, without any [e] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIIIe) merit of mine, but only of mere [f] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIIIf) grace, grants [g] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIIIg) and [h] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIIIh) imputes to me, the perfect (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIIIi) satisfaction, righteousness and holiness of Christ; even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin: yea, as if I had fully [j] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIIIj) accomplished all that obedience which Christ has accomplished for me; [k] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIIIk) inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart.

Question 61 (http://www.prca.org/hc_index.html#Q61). Why sayest thou, that thou art righteous by faith only?

Answer. Not that I am acceptable to God, on account of the [l] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIIIl) worthiness of my faith; but because only the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, is my righteousness before [m] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIIIm) God; and that I cannot receive [n] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIIIn) and apply the same to myself any other way than by faith only.

[a]: Rom. 5:1 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Rom+5:1); Rom. 1:17 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Rom+1:17); John 3:36 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=John+3:36)
: Rom. 3:22ff (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Rom+3:22-176); Gal. 2:16 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Gal+2:16); Eph. 2:8,9 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Eph+2:8,9)
[c]: Rom. 3:9ff (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Rom+3:9-176)
[d]: Rom. 7:23 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Rom+7:23)
[e]: Rom. 3:24 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Rom+3:24)
[f]: Tit. 3:5 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Tit+3:5); Eph 2:8,9 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Eph+2:8,9)
[g]: Rom. 4:4,5 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Rom+4:4,5); 2Cor. 5:19 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=2+Cor+5:19)
[h]: 1John 2:1 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=1+John+2:1)
[i]: Rom. 3:24,25 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Rom+3:24,25)
[j]: 2Cor. 5:21 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=2+Cor+5:21)
[k]: Rom. 3:28 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Rom+3:28); John 3:18 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=John+3:18)
[l]: Psa. 16:2 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Psa+16:2); Eph. 2:8,9 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Eph+2:8,9)
[m]: 1Cor. 1:30 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=1+Cor+1:30); 1Cor. 2:2 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=1+Cor+2:2)
[n]: 1John 5:10 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=1+John+5:10)

[B]XXIV. LORD'S DAY. (http://www.prca.org/hc_index.html#LDXXIV)


[I]Question 62 (http://www.prca.org/hc_index.html#Q62). But why cannot our good works be the whole, or part of our righteousness before God?

Answer. Because, that the righteousness, which can be approved of before the tribunal of God, must be absolutely perfect, and in all respects [a] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIVa) conformable to the divine law; and also, that our best works in this life are all imperfect and [b] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIVb) defiled with sin.

Question 63 (http://www.prca.org/hc_index.html#Q63). What! do not our good works merit, which yet God will reward in this and in a future life?

Answer. This reward is not of merit, but of grace. [c] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIVc)

Question 64 (http://www.prca.org/hc_index.html#Q64). But doth not this doctrine make men careless and profane?

Answer. By no means: for it is impossible that those, who are implanted into Christ by a true faith, should not bring forth fruits of [d] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text2.html#LDXXIVd) thankfulness.
[a]: Gal. 3:10 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Gal+3:10); Deut. 17:26 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Deut+17:26)
[b]: Isa. 64:6 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Isa+64:6)
[c]: Luke 17:10 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Luke+17:10)
[d]: Mat. 7:17,18 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Mat+7:17,18); John 15:5 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=John+15:5)



For an example, If 5 solas.org decided to have a conference and invited you to speak there. Assuming you would atend, I doubt wether you would agree with all your fellow brothers. I could see you getting a little upset if people said: : "oh those 5solas guys think "Adam was created evil" that "the church disappeared with the apostles" that "baptism is not for infants" ect. Showing clear non-confessional stands on Covenant theology (1) on the Doctrine of the church (2) and on the sacraments (3). No, I doubt you would like that, but would instead want people to evaluate you based on what you said, and not on your associtations. Yet at the end of the day I trust that you could still call your friends at 5solas brothers.

My brothers here already know where I stand, what I confess, they also know I ought to wholeheartedly confess what I say I confess. They know I subscribe to the Three forms of Unity.

Would to God the reformed churches would come under the influence of such sovereign grace believers as the saints here. But it is clear , there is a despising of this , and rather the views of FV adherants gain wide acceptance in reformed churches instead.

Now take a fellow like Rev. Barach, he takes great pains to dis associate himself from the FV clan. In fact he would state that no such FV movement is afoot. Yet a book comes out entitled "federal vision" in which he is a contributor. Hypocritical and an eye opener.

The FV doctrine is what is being refuted. The men within the FV are as men prone to stumble. I will refute the doctrinal babble they put forth as I would from say..... andrew bain. Nonetheless the person themself I have no need to attack. I take seriously the warnings and admonishment of those who are called to minister and teach as professors with regards the the FV babble.

It was one of the very first things I was introduced to when I started on reformed theological forums back in 2002.
It can be wrapped up in one sentence ..... It leads back to ROME!

Now I know some claim this to be an overreaction. The same claim when the reformers acted upon the deceit of the arminian camp or when conservatives acted upon the vain philosophies within the CRC. Yet the fruits will show themself for what they are.


Now ask Ray about his affliation with being a member at 5 solas. Yes I am and happy (not hiding) to be here. There are kindred spirits here that are not afraid to confess the Lord as sovereign, to acknowledge His predestinating purposes first and foremost and that theology can only be discussed with this truth being front and center. This forum is an eye opener to the sovereign gracious work of God through out the world.


The Lousiana Presbytery issued a formal letter clearing Steve Schlissel from the charge of being outside the pale of orthodoxy, and also reproving him for being unclear and confusing. You may want to check it out, if you havn't already.

That would be Steve Wilkins. Yes I know of this . Mr. John Robbins has reviewed this. Steve Wilkins views have been discussed here on other threads and rightly condemned.



What Chuck brings up about Calvin, Hoeksema, and others is important, because much of what the FV says has been the posistion of many Reformed believers since the reformation. (I hope you believe that Hoeksma has a good Covenant Theology - better than M.Klein!!)

You are probably referring to Meredith Kline. Covenant theology has to deal with what God states it is..... everlasting, that is without end, without consumation, established with Christ in time, with Christ as it's head and the fellowship of the elect in Christ with the Godhead.

Yet I do not deny the FV folk are rehashing the words of Mastricht ( an agreement between two parties), Turretin(difference between covenant with Christ and the elect in Christ), a Brakel(same as Turretin but lacks distinction), Hodge(adds stipulations and conditions), Vos(forerunner to Hoeksema's view, yet with conditions), Bavinck(forerunner to Hoeksema's view, yet with conditons), Berkhof(an agreement with conditions) , or Kuyper( forerunner to Hoeksema' views, yet with agreement between two parties).




Also concerning Baptism - you said that only the elect should be baptized. Wich means that we must be able to discern elect from non-elect. That power is clearly not given to us wether in the Old Covenant or the "New". Christ seperates the wheat from the tears - not us.

Where have I stated "only the elect should be baptised"?

Where have I stated " We must be able to discern elect from non- elect"?




Ray, I have not seen it your custom to atack friends. It does not suit you. Boast in Christ, as you have before - that suits you much better!

I attack false doctrine. It is because my boast is in the Lord Jesus Christ and His perfect satisfaction for the sins of His elect chosen through His limited atonement where He irresistably graces His chosen from before the foundation of the world and comforts and assures them, giving the gift of faith that He has purposed it and promised it , and that His Word shall never fail, nor that I as a wretched sinner can break that command He has purposed but will be wholly conformed as a vessel of honor forever.

Why?

To the Triune God, my Lord, be the honor and glory alone forever. Amen.

wildboar
08-30-05, 01:17 PM
Ray:

I'm not flip-flopping, I'm dealing with the reality that we are all sinful human beings. I'm not going to adopt a caveman mentality and say FV good, Hoeksema bad or vice versa. Both Hoeksema and those in the FV were/are sinners and so I will be a Berean and test what both of them say against the Scriptures.

It is also untrue that the bulk of what they write is concerning paedocommunion. I only remember a couple of sentences I think by Leithart in the book that spoke of it at all. The FV group is very, very strong on catechism but just like Hoeksema they don't believe communion should be withheld prior to the time catechism is completed.

ray kikkert
08-30-05, 01:43 PM
Ray:

I'm not flip-flopping, I'm dealing with the reality that we are all sinful human beings. I'm not going to adopt a caveman mentality and say FV good, Hoeksema bad or vice versa. Both Hoeksema and those in the FV were/are sinners and so I will be a Berean and test what both of them say against the Scriptures.

we shall see in the months to come.


It is also untrue that the bulk of what they write is concerning paedocommunion. I only remember a couple of sentences I think by Leithart in the book that spoke of it at all. The FV group is very, very strong on catechism but just like Hoeksema they don't believe communion should be withheld prior to the time catechism is completed.

What I stated is that the rest of the prominent FV folk advocate paedocommunion. www.peadocommunion.com (http://www.peadocommunion.com)

Yet Hoeksema would then admit and true to subscription remain silent on the issue since the reformed churches have rendered what is decent and in good order regarding who should partake of the Lord's supper. Or as the form of subscription states clearly

"And if hereafter any difficulties or different sentiments respecting the aforesaid doctrines should arise in our minds , we promise that we will neither publicly nor privately propose, teach, or defend the same, either by preaching or writing, until we have first revealed such sentiments to the Consisitory, Classis, or Synod, that the same may be there examined , being ready always cheerfully to submit to the judgment of the Consistory, Classis, or Synod, under the penalty, in case of refusal , of being by that very fact suspended from our office. "

This brings up 2 questions for me.

1. Where does Hoeksema state what you refer to above?

2. What is Rev. Barach still doing in the office of minister given that the URC has indeed rendered it's verdict with respect to his views on paedocommunion and will not submit to them?

wildboar
08-30-05, 10:22 PM
1. Where does Hoeksema state what you refer to above?


In his Triple Knowledge. I was pretty surprised when I read it. Unfortunately I read it awhile ago and don't have a page reference to give you but believe it was included somewhere in the section on the sacraments. Neither the church order nor the Three Forms of Unity give an age at which communion can take place and neither say that it must occur after catechism has been completed. In Presbyterian churches it has been at a much younger age than in the Dutch-Reformed tradition. It is true that the Reformed churches following in the footsteps of the Western church which they came out of forbade for the most part paedocommunion, but there were exceptions.


2. What is Rev. Barach still doing in the office of minister given that the URC has indeed rendered it's verdict with respect to his views on paedocommunion and will not submit to them?



I am unaware of Barach making any statement saying that he supports paedocommunion. There is a larger issue due to the issue that came up with Gallant. Here's a short explanation of what happened with Gallant from his own web page:



Tim graduated in May 2000 with honours in Biblical Studies and Doctrinal Studies, including a perfect score on the Greek comprehensive exam.
Following his seminary studies, Tim was examined for candidacy by Classis Western Canada at Lynden, Washington (June 2000). Just prior to this examination, Mr. Gallant had been studying the issue of paedocommunion (children's participation in the Lord's Supper), at the request of members of a church which was interested in calling him.
By the time of the classis meeting, Tim had studied enough to be unsure of his position on the issue, and wished to ensure that he would not fall outside the bounds of the confessions to which he needed to subscribe, should he come to embrace paedocommunion. Consequently, he requested that his pastor, William Pols, bring up the matter before classis, to determine whether such a view was allowed by the confessions recognized by the URC (i.e. the Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort). The body ruled that these confessions required a profession of faith prior to participation in the Lord's Supper. Mr. Gallant's response was to decline to sign the Form of Subscription, which allows for no exceptions. As a result, the classis was unable to declare him eligible for call. (Tim subsequently appealed this decision in June 2002 at Classis Ponoka. The earlier decision was upheld. For Tim's reasoning that these Reformed confessions do not forbid paedocommunion, see his article "Paedocommunion and the Three Forms of Unity." (http://www.paedocommunion.com/articles/gallant_3_forms_of_unity.php))



Now, had Gallant just signed the Formula of Subscription and not said anything this would not even be an issue. I think there are probably a handful of ministers who hold to paedcommunion in the URC but have just kept their mouths shut about it. What Synod declared was that by signing the Formula of Subscription a person is stating not only that they do not believe in paedocommunion but that paedocommunion is outside of the bounds of the confessions. I think decision and all its implications are still working its way through the denomination and I don't know what all the results will be. I do not know the particular situation of Barach enough to comment on it.

The WCF is very clearly opposed to paedocommunion, there is no doubt about that. But I'm not so sure the Three Forms of Unity are explicit on the issue. You can say that because of x, y, and z they are wrong but I think it is rather foolish to say that it is unreformed. I think you could on the same basis of the WCF and various decisions made by reformed church bodies conclude that the position of the PRC on divorce and remarriage is unreformed. Going the other way we end up sounding like those Calvinist baptists who say that the Arminian baptists aren't real baptists and the Arminain baptists who say that the Calvinistic Baptists aren't real baptists and the Landmarkers who say only those who can trace their lineage back are real baptists. We have a very good framework laid out for us in the Three Forms of Unity on determining who is really reformed.

ray kikkert
09-01-05, 03:47 PM
In his Triple Knowledge. I was pretty surprised when I read it. Unfortunately I read it awhile ago and don't have a page reference to give you but believe it was included somewhere in the section on the sacraments. Neither the church order nor the Three Forms of Unity give an age at which communion can take place and neither say that it must occur after catechism has been completed. In Presbyterian churches it has been at a much younger age than in the Dutch-Reformed tradition. It is true that the Reformed churches following in the footsteps of the Western church which they came out of forbade for the most part paedocommunion, but there were exceptions.

Thanks , I will check that out. The issue of age is and will be in conjunction with the amount of catechism training the child receives in a given reformed church.





I am unaware of Barach making any statement saying that he supports paedocommunion.

There are many . Being a member of the Co-URC forum enter "paedo commuinion Barach" He is not at a loss for words.


There is a larger issue due to the issue that came up with Gallant. Here's a short explanation of what happened with Gallant from his own web page:


Now, had Gallant just signed the Formula of Subscription and not said anything this would not even be an issue.

I beg to differ. Though Gallants actions were admirable in the fact that he dealt with his concern front and center. Needless to say, upon his examination the question would have been brought forth. It was not a quiet advocacy on the part of Mr. Gallant.


I think there are probably a handful of ministers who hold to paedcommunion in the URC but have just kept their mouths shut about it. What Synod declared was that by signing the Formula of Subscription a person is stating not only that they do not believe in paedocommunion but that paedocommunion is outside of the bounds of the confessions. I think decision and all its implications are still working its way through the denomination and I don't know what all the results will be. I do not know the particular situation of Barach enough to comment on it.

True , Barach is not the only one that would advocate paedo communion in the URC. It is allowing for "disunity" within a "united reformed church" if the actions of synod are now questioned after a decision which is meant to be settled and binding is put forth in the URC.


The WCF is very clearly opposed to paedocommunion, there is no doubt about that. But I'm not so sure the Three Forms of Unity are explicit on the issue. You can say that because of x, y, and z they are wrong but I think it is rather foolish to say that it is unreformed.

When a synodical decision of a reformed, among reformed churches refutes it, that is pretty clear. Synods do take into effect previous reformed synodical dealings on the issue. There is a reason, not foolish speculation, why this is deemed "decent and in good order" in reformed churches.


I think you could on the same basis of the WCF and various decisions made by reformed church bodies conclude that the position of the PRC on divorce and remarriage is unreformed. Going the other way we end up sounding like those Calvinist baptists who say that the Arminian baptists aren't real baptists and the Arminain baptists who say that the Calvinistic Baptists aren't real baptists and the Landmarkers who say only those who can trace their lineage back are real baptists. We have a very good framework laid out for us in the Three Forms of Unity on determining who is really reformed.

Too bad sadly it has become a dead letter to some who call themselves "reformed" but instead will endure the curse of upholding arminian doctrine.

InChristAlways
09-01-05, 04:31 PM
Thanks , I will check that out. The issue of age is and will be in conjunction with the amount of catechism training the child receives in a given reformed church.
Hi RK. I remember awhile back I picked up a children's illustrated Bible by Victoria Parker and even my wife enjoyed it. It was in a "sale bin" over half price LOL. It is a large book and has plenty of beautifull illustrations in it that kids really love.
From what I have seen, this is perhaps one good way to introduce a child to the Bible and get them interested in it at home.[even I look at the illustrations in it from time to time]:eek: Blessing



This enthralling book provides a unique insight into the people and places of the Old and New Testaments. Beautiful illustrations and colorful maps set the stories in the context of the times. Information panels provide interesting, extra facts and historical detail. It also helps to explain what the stories mean, both within the context of the Bible itself and to people living today.

wildboar
09-01-05, 08:17 PM
There are many . Being a member of the Co-URC forum enter "paedo commuinion Barach" He is not at a loss for words.
Thank you for the info.

I beg to differ. Though Gallants actions were admirable in the fact that he dealt with his concern front and center. Needless to say, upon his examination the question would have been brought forth. It was not a quiet advocacy on the part of Mr. Gallant.

I don't know that he would have been asked about whether or not he advocated paedocommunion. When Gallant asked his pastor to bring the matter before classis he was unsure as to his actual position. It was not until after this that Gallant came to a position on the issue of paedocommunion.

wildboar
09-01-05, 08:55 PM
I found this quite interesting. Here you can find a copy of Douglas Wilson's voluntary Presbytery exam: http://www.crechurches.org/html/downloads.html

bauerpauer
09-01-05, 09:10 PM
I'm getting a little confused, so much of this just goes right over my head... But if i understand correctly, the federal vision argues that children of believers are therefore elect because they are in the covenant? Or does it just argue that they are members of the covenant until they show themselves otherwise as unelect?... I can see how this would definetly shape your view of communion also and i really would like to get a better grasp on what is being viewed here.

wildboar
09-01-05, 11:22 PM
I'm getting a little confused, so much of this just goes right over my head... But if i understand correctly, the federal vision argues that children of believers are therefore elect because they are in the covenant? Or does it just argue that they are members of the covenant until they show themselves otherwise as unelect?... I can see how this would definetly shape your view of communion also and i really would like to get a better grasp on what is being viewed here.


The FV notes two uses of the term 'elect/chosen' in Scripture. 'Elect' is used to speak of God's decree from eternity to choose who he would save for eternal salvation. 'Elect' is also used for those who are chosen for specific purposes or who are joined and baptized in the church but later apostacize. From the perspective of God's decree these people were never elect, from the perspective of election as it works out in history these people were elect and within the covenant but became covenant breakers. Since God's decree from eternity is not revealed to us personally we only come to know our election through the covenant.

This article provides a good summary of the various views on the relationship between covenant and election. The FV view is position number 4 here: http://www.biblicalstudiescenter.org/interpretation/covenantandelection.htm

bauerpauer
09-02-05, 02:08 PM
Can someone please instruct me in righteousness.. Maybe its because I see covenant theology as the correct form of viewing the covenants but i would agree from what i've read with the fed vision from that link wildboar. What is the problem with it really?

ray kikkert
09-03-05, 12:37 PM
The FV notes two uses of the term 'elect/chosen' in Scripture. 'Elect' is used to speak of God's decree from eternity to choose who he would save for eternal salvation. 'Elect' is also used for those who are chosen for specific purposes or who are joined and baptized in the church but later apostacize. From the perspective of God's decree these people were never elect, from the perspective of election as it works out in history these people were elect and within the covenant but became covenant breakers. Since God's decree from eternity is not revealed to us personally we only come to know our election through the covenant.

This article provides a good summary of the various views on the relationship between covenant and election. The FV view is position number 4 here: http://www.biblicalstudiescenter.org/interpretation/covenantandelection.htm

A correction must be stated here. Rev. Gallant truthfully even states that this is the case. To advocate point 4 here is also to advocate point 3. They maintain so they say an unconditional election but with a conditional covenant.


Rightly Rev. Gallant lays out those things to which are definitions of both the covenant and election. Wrongly it is applied.

These things are: grace, faith, the promise of salvation, assurance.

By there own admission they maintain a common grace, a common faith, a promise of salvation which the Lord makes to all, and a common assurance.

All adherants of the FV theology will in one way or another advocate the above statements.

In conjunction with these stances justification is redefined, "in Christ" is redefined, obedience is redefined, the baptismal form of reformed churches is also redefined (maybe you did not catch this but the baptismal form specifically states "believers" and their children, not what is stated by Rev. Gallant) and also inadvertantly forgets to mention that the baptismal form is specific again in referring to Acts 2:39 (as many as the Lord our God shall call).

This is the simple definition of their stand though by the FV advocate... defined in a multitude of words which they themselves admit are given to confusion, that they confess is in harmony with Scripture and the reformed confessions.

I cannot.

When it comes to election and the covenant and the words used, Scripture and the reformed confessions are clear enough:

Grace is particular, sovereign , irresistable.

Faith is a gift of God specifically given to the elect, not to all head for head.

A promise of salvation is steadfast, without fail, given specifically to the elect. The promise is given "in Christ" and thus specificlly to the elect.

Assurance is not common to all men but a comfort only to the elect, it as the others above are the gift of God to the elect alone.

Election cannot be broken by the creature. No less can the Lord's everlasting covenant of fellowship be broken or rejected by the creature, since the creature is elect and has covenant fellowship in the finished work of Christ predetermined from before the foundations of the world by the Triune God.

There are not two definitions of election but one. There are not 2 definitions of God's everlasting covenant but one.

The Fv advocate cannot skirt this, they may appeal to the writers of old, we do as well. The history of the Dutch churches in particular show the groanings of the church through successions and unification, that this schism continues to rear it's ugly head.

The Lord did not promise to bring peace, but a sword and a sharp two edged one at that.
By His sovereign grace that fight will continue, His truth shall stand fast and it sets the prisoner free from the shackles of the total depravity of arminianism.


It is arminianism, it will lead doctrinally back to Rome.

bauerpauer
09-03-05, 02:05 PM
What about in ephesians when paul says children obey your parents in the lord... he obviously is addressing them as part of the covenant community as he says in the lord... but he doesn't say christian children, nor does he say someday to be christian children, but rather than this principle should be applied to wether they are regenerate or not. Whatever age they may be they must obey their parents in the lord? Maybe i am misunderstanding this?

ray kikkert
09-03-05, 02:19 PM
What about in ephesians when paul says children obey your parents in the lord... he obviously is addressing them as part of the covenant community as he says in the lord... but he doesn't say christian children, nor does he say someday to be christian children, but rather than this principle should be applied to wether they are regenerate or not. Whatever age they may be they must obey their parents in the lord? Maybe i am misunderstanding this?

Addressing them as a covenant community or as part of the visible church?

The command is ligit. As was the command of the Lord in Genesis to circumcise the men children, so that they would remember that man of himself cannot bring forth the promised seed(Christ) but can only bring forth death.

The Lord states if we love Him we ought to keep His commandments. It is obvious that man fails. Thus where man fails , he is worthy of death. Thus where man fails, the Lord Jesus Christ saves. Who does the Lord save? Who does the Lord make alive? All head for head? No. The Lord saves His chosen elect children with whom it is His good pleasure to fellowship with in His everlasting covenant.

This is His determinate counsel, His good pleasure to bring about from before the foundations of the world as taught in Ephesians chapter 1 and 2 among others.

bauerpauer
09-03-05, 02:21 PM
The problem with saying they are part of the visible church is that is not the church the group of believers not a group of regular attendees? Therefore wouldn't he have to be addressing them as part of the covenant?

wildboar
09-03-05, 03:37 PM
Ray:

Rather than just making dogmatic assertions, why not deal with the Scriptural arguments found in the paper? Why should we believe you that it is wrong? Shenk's book (which received a very favorable review in the Standard Bearer), makes it clear that there was a Reformed consensus that viewed all children of believers who died in infancy as being God's elect. You have yet to show also that any of these terms are being redefined from their historic reformed meanings.

ray kikkert
09-05-05, 08:20 AM
Ray:

Rather than just making dogmatic assertions, why not deal with the Scriptural arguments found in the paper? Why should we believe you that it is wrong? Shenk's book (which received a very favorable review in the Standard Bearer), makes it clear that there was a Reformed consensus that viewed all children of believers who died in infancy as being God's elect. You have yet to show also that any of these terms are being redefined from their historic reformed meanings.

I did. That one is blind to it, is another thing. That I cannot help.
Maybe Ephesians 1 and 2 does not provide an exegetical rebuke to you in this regard.
It is clear that you indeed advocate presump. regeneration doctrine.
I do not. I cannot. Scripture is clear. The reformed confessions are clear.
Nonetheless, in due course I will send through a critique of Rev. Wilsons "reformed is not enough" wherein he deals with the issue of presump. regeneration.

Whether or not you agree or disagree with it, will be another thing.

wildboar
09-05-05, 03:26 PM
Ray:

I keep denying presumptive regeneration. Do you have any interest in truth?

ray kikkert
09-05-05, 03:51 PM
The problem with saying they are part of the visible church is that is not the church the group of believers not a group of regular attendees? Therefore wouldn't he have to be addressing them as part of the covenant?

The Belgic Confession:
Article 29 (http://www.prca.org/bc_index.html#a29): Of the marks of the true Church, and wherein she differs from the false Church.

We believe, that we ought diligently and circumspectly to discern from the Word of God which is the true Church, since all sects which are in the world assume to themselves the name of the Church. But we speak not here of hypocrites, who are mixed in the Church with the good, yet are not of the Church, though externally in it; but we say that the body and communion of the true Church must be distinguished from all sects, who call themselves the Church. The marks, by which the true Church is known, are these: if the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if she maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is exercised in punishing of sin: in short, if all things are managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the Church. Hereby the true Church may certainly be known, from which no man has a right to separate himself. With respect to those, who are members of the Church, they may be known by the marks of Christians: namely, by faith; and when they have received Jesus Christ the only Savior, they avoid sin, follow after righteousness, love the true God and their neighbor, neither turn aside to the right or left, and crucify the flesh with the works thereof. But this is not to be understood, as if there did not remain in them great infirmities; but they fight against them through the Spirit, all the days of their life, continually taking their refuge in the blood, death, passion and obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ, "in whom they have remission of sins, through faith in him." As for the false Church, she ascribes more power and authority to herself and her ordinances than to the Word of God, and will not submit herself to the yoke of Christ. Neither does she administer the sacraments as appointed by Christ in his Word, but adds to and takes from them, as she thinks proper; she relieth more upon men than upon Christ; and persecutes those, who live holily according to the Word of God, and rebuke her for her errors, covetousness, and idolatry. These two Churches are easily known and distinguished from each other.

The Heidelberg Catechism:

XXXI. LORD'S DAY. (http://www.prca.org/hc_index.html#LDXXXI)


Question 83 (http://www.prca.org/hc_index.html#Q83). What are [a] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text3.html#LDXXXIa) the keys of the kingdom of heaven?

Answer. The preaching [b] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text3.html#LDXXXIb) of the holy gospel, and christian discipline, [c] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text3.html#LDXXXIc) or excommunication out of the christian church; by these two, the kingdom of heaven is opened to believers, and shut against unbelievers.

Question 84 (http://www.prca.org/hc_index.html#Q84). How is the kingdom of heaven opened and shut by the preaching of the holy gospel?

Answer. Thus: when according to the command of [d] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text3.html#LDXXXId) Christ, it is declared and publicly testified to all and every believer, that, whenever they [e] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text3.html#LDXXXIe) receive the promise of the gospel by a true faith, all their sins are really forgiven them of God, for the sake of Christ's merits; and on the contrary, when it is declared and testified to all unbelievers, and such as do not sincerely repent, that they stand exposed to the wrath of God, and eternal [f] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text3.html#LDXXXIf) condemnation, so long as they are [g] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text3.html#LDXXXIg) unconverted: according to which testimony of the gospel, God will judge them, both in this, and in the life to come.

Question 85 (http://www.prca.org/hc_index.html#Q85). How is the kingdom of heaven shut and opened by christian discipline?

Answer. Thus: when according [h] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text3.html#LDXXXIh) to the command of Christ, those, who under the name of christians, maintain doctrines, or practices [i] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text3.html#LDXXXIi) inconsistent therewith, and will not, after having been often brotherly admonished, renounce their errors and wicked course of life, are complained of to the church, [j] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text3.html#LDXXXIj) or to those, who are thereunto [k] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text3.html#LDXXXIk) appointed by the church; and if they despise their admonition, [l] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text3.html#LDXXXIl) are by them forbidden the use of the sacraments; whereby they are excluded from the christian church, and by God himself from the kingdom of Christ; and when they promise and show real amendment, are again [m] (http://www.prca.org/hc_text3.html#LDXXXIm) received as members of Christ and his church.
[a]: Mat. 16:19 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Mat+16:19)
[b]: John 20:23 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=John+20:23)
[c]: Mat. 18:15,16,17,18 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Mat+18:15,16,17,18)
[d]: Mat. 28:19 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Mat+28:19)
[e]: John 3:18,36 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=John+3:18,36); Mark 16:16 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Mark+16:16)
[f]: 2Thes. 1:7,8,9 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=2+Thes+1:7,8,9)
[g]: John 20:21,22,23 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=John+20:21,22,23); Mat. 16:19 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Mat+16:19); Rom. 2:2,13-17 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Rom+2:2,13-17)
[h]: Mat. 18:15 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Mat+18:15)
[i]: Cor. 5:12 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Cor+5:12)
[j]: Mat. 18:15-18 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Mat+18:15-18)
[k]: Rom. 12:7,8,9 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Rom+12:7,8,9); 1Cor. 12:28 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=1+Cor+12:28); 1Tim. 5:17 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=1+Tim+5:17); 2Thes. 3:14 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=2+Thes+3:14)
[l]: Mat. 18:17 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Mat+18:17); 1Cor. 5:3,4,5 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=1+Cor+5:3,4,5)
[m]: 2Cor. 2:6,7,8,10,11 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=2+Cor+2:6,7,8,10,11); Luke 15:18 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Luke+15:18)

wildboar
09-05-05, 05:20 PM
Ray:

Since all parties involved claim to be in agreement with the Reformed Confessions, wouldn't it be better to directly answer questions rather than making some vague reference to Ephesians 1 and 2 or posting from the Reformed Confessions without explaining why you believe there is a conflict between what a person is saying and the reformed confessions?

ray kikkert
09-07-05, 11:58 AM
Ray:

Since all parties involved claim to be in agreement with the Reformed Confessions, wouldn't it be better to directly answer questions rather than making some vague reference to Ephesians 1 and 2 or posting from the Reformed Confessions without explaining why you believe there is a conflict between what a person is saying and the reformed confessions?

Well the apostate CRC also states they are in agreement with the reformed confessions as well, yet the views of the FV advocates are more in harmony with the CRC.

So no.

My references to Ephesians 1 and 2 were not vaque , they deal directly with questions that were asked previous to your post here. One has to read them at least.

Regardless, time to move on to another FV babbler and his comments:

Rich Lusk, The PCA and the NPP: Why a Denomination with Southern Presbyterian Roots Should Carefully Consider the "New Perspective on Paul"
(http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/the_pca_and_the_new_perspective_on_paul.htm)
"In my denomination, the PCA, we are continually haunted by the sins of our racist Southern past. It has become an annual rite at General Assembly for the issue to be addressed one way or another, often by means of an overture from a presbytery in the South asking GA as a whole to make some official pronouncement or send a pastoral letter addressing the topic. Usually there is no exegesis of key texts on slavery or related concerns, and no deep engagement with the facts of history to identify the precise nature of the sins of our ecclesiastical ancestors. But there is a desire to somehow wash the damned spot from our hands.

This is where the so-called "New Perspective on Paul (NPP) can really help us. I find it odd that some of the same men who are most vigorous in pushing for denominational condemnations of racism are also the ones condemning N. T. Wright for reducing justification to an "ecclesial or "social doctrine."

Rich Lusk, A Short Note on N.T. Wright and His Reformed Critics (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/a_short_note_on_n_t_wright_his_reformed_critics.ht m)

"Several Reformed theologians have recently gone on record critiquing Wright (e.g., Richard Gaffin, Charles Hill, Bob Cara) [1], particularly on the issue of justification. My hope is to clear the ground, and show why I think these critics have, in several key ways, misread and mischaracterized Wright's theology. In fact, if we ignore Wright or fail to do the careful study needed to understand his work, we will be missing out on tremendous blessing."

Rich Lusk, Future Justification to the Doers of the Law (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/future_justification_to_the_doers_of_the_law.htm)

"The Bible is clear: obedience is necessary to receive eternal life. There is no justification apart from good works. But more needs to be said about final judgment. What role will faith play? What role will works play?"

Rich Lusk, Covenant & Election FAQs (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/covenant_election_faqs.htm)

"Apostasy is a real possibility for all covenant members, and is to be warned against. But corporate election is the context in which special election is worked out. There is indeed an election with an election (cf. Rom. 9:6), but for pastoral purposes, the two can and must be collapsed into one another. Thus, we are to regard all who are baptized and bear Christ’s name as God’s chosen ones. We can derive real assurance from our participation in the covenant community. Looking at election through the lens of the covenant ‘brings election down to earth, so to speak. It makes election tangible."

Rich Lusk, Why the Law-Gospel Paradigm is Flawed (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/why_the_lawgospel_paradigm_is_flawed.htm)

"Thus, I conclude that the Mosaic law was simply the gospel in pre-Christian form. Or, to put it another way, the New Covenant is just the Old Covenant in mature, glorified form. The Torah is an earlier chapter in the same glorious Christ-centered story of grace and blessing."

Rich Lusk, Faith, Baptism & Justification (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/faith_baptism_and_justification.htm)

"But the concept of instrumentality is a bit fuzzy. We can legitimately ask: Are there other instruments of justification? Paul says we are justified by faith. But James says we are justified by works together with faith. James uses the same preposition for works that Paul uses for faith. He does more than simply qualify the kind of faith that justifies (though he does do that!). He says that works, along with faith, have justifying value. Thus, in some way works are instrumental in justification as well as faith."

Rich Lusk, The Tenses of Justification (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/the_tenses_of_justification.htm)

"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. Calvin doesn’t explain exactly how this works, but we can be sure that he did not regard our works as meriting anything on their own or as having value outside of our union with Christ. God’s judgment and reward of our works takes place in the context of the covenant. He judges us as sons and daughters, not as slaves or strangers."

Rich Lusk, Do I believe in baptismal regeneration? (http://www.auburnavenue.org/Articles/DO%20I%20BELIEVE%20IN%20BAPTISMAL%20REGENERATION.h tm)

"Some theologians try to limit apostasy to the Old Covenant. I would suggest they are simply not doing justice to the structure of biblical covenants. The movement from Old to New is not a movement from a breakable to an unbreakable covenant. The basic covenant paradigm and conditions remain the same from age to age. What changes is the magnitude of the blessings (for faithfulness) and curses (for disobedience). In the New Covenant, our salvation is far greater. That's why the curses are even greater for apostates who violate the New Covenant and trample underfoot the blood of Christ (Heb. 10:26ff). Apostasy is still a danger in the messianic age, albeit one we need not live in constant fear of, providing we are trusting Christ for the gift of perseverance."

Rich Lusk, Rome Won't Have Me (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/rome_wont_have_me.htm)

"It is interesting that both my critics have to assert that either I do not really believe something I affirm, or I really do believe something I deny. In [Morton] Smith’s case, even though I affirm imputation, because I ground imputation in union with Christ, I really believe in infusion. In [Michael] Horton’s case, even though I have denied the possibility of creatures meriting their Creator’s favor, I really believe final justification is a matter of congruous merit. Apparently these men know my heart and mind better than I do. It is very difficult to win a debate - or even have a cordial discussion - when those on the "other side put words in your mouth in this way. It’s bad enough to have one’s words twisted; it’s far worse to simply have words made up out of whole cloth and then treated as one’s own. This is precisely what these men on the "other side have done, however unintentionally."

Rich Lusk, Sympathy for the Devil (http://www.reformedcatholicism.com/archives/2004/07/sympathy_for_th.html)

"Those of us on the receiving end of [Ligon] Duncan's attacks do not feel like he has adequately understood our views or accurately stated what we believe. But surely this is because he has determined from the outset to give us an unsympathetic reading. Why should anyone trust an interpretation that is so admittedly biased? Personally, I would like to know why Duncan thinks Joel Garver and Peter Leithart (to take two examples) are impious men. I'd like to know why know why he finds their theological work less than substantial. Surely it cannot be because these men present themselves in an arrogant, haughty fashion. Anyone who knows them would laugh at the charges. Surely it is not because they lack serious academic credentials. They both have doctorates from top flight institutions. I could further speculate as to Duncan's motivations, but love restrains me."

Rich Lusk, Baptismal Efficacy and the Reformed Tradition: Past, Present, and Future (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/baptismal_efficacy_the_reformed_tradition_past_pre sent_future.htm)

"We do need to emphasize that baptism is a merciful work of God, and not so much a human act of devotion. We do need to reiterate, again and again, that through baptism, the Spirit incorporates us into the elect community, the church, which is the bride and body of Christ. We do need to teach that baptism is our initiation into the covenant of grace, and therefore grants privileges and imposes obligations. Most importantly, we need to confess our faith "in one baptism for the remission of sins" and in the gloriously gracious God who acts through the waters of baptism to bring us to himself."

Rich Lusk, Some Random Thoughts on N.T. Wright?s Romans Commentary (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/wright_on_romans.htm)

"Wright deals very ably with the various "tenses of Paul’s doctrine of justification, while never losing sight of its covenantal and forensic character. For Wright, justification is an issue precisely because we will all someday stand before God’s judgment seat. Will we be a part of the people who are acquitted or condemned? Final acquittal comes to those who have kept the law."

Rich Lusk, Putting the New Perspective into Perspective: Some Thoughts on Second Temple Judaism (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/putting_the_new_perspective_into_perspective.htm)

"I do think the NPP has raised many important issues and proven at least a large portion of its case straight off the pages of the NT. But the details of Second Temple Judaism form a collection of puzzle pieces that have yet to be put together into a coherent whole. There is still much work to be done."

Rich Lusk, Justification: Ecclesial, Cosmic, and Divine (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/justification_ecclesial_cosmic_and_divine.htm)

"The traditional Protestant doctrine of justification fails to fully hold together the soteriological (forgiveness of sins) and the ecclesiological (covenant membership). This is part of a larger problem, of course, namely, the dichotomizing of church and salvation. Biblically and confessionally, there is no ordinary possibility of salvation outside of the church (Acts 2:47; WCF 25.2). Salvation and the church are not related arbitrarily, as if God thought it would be a good idea to somehow get all those saved individuals together in one organization. Rather, incorporation into the church is integral to salvation precisely because salvation is the restoration and glorification of human community. By isolating justification from the church, we have dangerously constricted the scope of the biblical doctrine."

Rich Lusk, Some Thoughts on the Means of Grace: A Few Proposals (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/some_proposals_about_the_means_of_grace.htm)

"While the early Reformers maintained a high view of the means of grace, their successors have not always been consistent with their original vision in this area. Blow after blow from the Enlightenment and Revivalism have left the Reformed tradition with a rather anemic sacramental theology and piety. It is likely that many of the magisterial Reformers, particularly Calvin and Bucer, would hardly recognize many twenty-first century Presbyterians as their disciples. The family resemblances have largely eroded away. Calvin and Bucer strongly emphasized that the sacraments were instrumental means of grace, with an objective force. But today, the sacraments, even in ostensibly Calvinistic circles, are viewed as little more than badges of personal profession or subjective reminders of the gospel."

Rich Lusk, What is Biblical Theology? Story Theology and a Theology of Story (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/what_is_biblical_theology.htm)

"Essentially, Biblical Theology is Story Theology. The Bible tells a story. Biblical Theology seeks to understand that story on its own terms. Biblical Theology looks at what the Bible actually says and how it says it. It looks at patterns/types within Scripture, literary features, symbols, and so forth. Biblical Theology is closely related to, if not inclusive of, biblical hermeneutics."

Rich Lusk, The Christotelic Spiral: Notes on Biblical Theology #2 (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/the_christotelic_spiral.htm)

"If this sequence is correct, we have much to gain by recognizing that we are probably on the verge of beginning the cycle anew. By discovering where we are in the spiral, we can know what God would have us do. We can dance to God's rhythms built into the fabric of history. If a new priestly phase is about to begin, our focus should be primarily on faithful worship, teaching, mercy ministry and community formation. These are the needs of the hour. Perhaps is this why, in the providence of God, there has been an explosion of interest in matters of ecclesiology and liturgical theology in the last forty years. It's a "sign of the times."

Rich Lusk, The New Perspective on Paul and Second Temple Judaism: A Dialectic of Appreciation and Critique and a Call for Further Study (http://www.tanglewoodbaptist.com/newsletter/04-04/Theology/perspective.htm)

"Finally, I think a lot of Reformed brethren are making rather hasty judgments about the NPP, and especially Wright. The NPP is very difficult to understand for a typical Reformed theologian or pastor. There is a great deal of literature to master and the movement is quite diverse. Understanding the NPP requires a significant paradigm shift. It requires a new set of categories. A lot of men are proclaiming this or that about the NPP, and it is obvious they really don't know that they are talking about. I would suggest that anyone who wants to criticize the NPP needs to first take the time to give the major works of N. T. Wright a careful, sustained, and sympathetic reading. Frank Thielman, Don Garlington, James Dunn, Richard Hays, and Ben Witherington should also be consulted. Michael Thompson's small booklet on the NPP should be read. Then, if one wants to make deep and engaging criticisms of the NPP, he may do so. I certainly have criticisms of the movement as a whole, as well as individual theologians within the movement. But critiques "from the outside," that show a very shallow grasp of the real issues, are unlikely to do anyone any good; instead they just enflame passion and suspicion apart from knowledge."

Rich Lusk, What More Could I Have Done: Some Thoughts on the Mystery of Divine Sovereignty and Covenant Responsibility (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/what_more_could_i_have_done.htm)

"In Isaiah 5, we have a covenantal and pastoral model for dealing with covenant members, and especially with apostates. Isaiah 5 presents us with a covenant that is both gracious and breakable. The covenant is a covenant of love. And yet it is a conditional covenant that requires a response on Israel’s part. God’s sovereignty undergirds the whole, of course, but the covenant has its own integrity and must be reckoned with. The covenant is a crucial category in interpreting this text. Without this rubric, God’s central question to and accusation against Israel make no sense."

Rich Lusk, The Problem With Moses (It's Not What You Think!) (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/the_problem_with_moses.htm)

"Moses, then, did not tempt the people of Israel to blasphemously and arrogantly strive to earn their own salvation. Moses did not offer Israel a covenant of works. In fact, the program of the law functioned analogously to the gospel. The covenantal and soteric structure of the law is no different from what we find in the NT. Moses called the people to trust and obey, as did Jesus and Paul."

Rich Lusk, Jonah, the Judaizers, and the Gospel (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/jonah_judaizers_gospel.htm)

"The key, as we have already noted, is to see that Paul's critique of his unbelieving countrymen and the Judaizers is redemptive-historical. Israel, Torah, and circumcision have all served their purpose in God's plan and are now obsolete. Covenant loyalty must now be expressed in this new form: faith in Jesus, sealed in baptism. Faith, in the redemptive-historical, eschatological sense, has now come (cf. Gal. 3:23). For Paul, circumcision, which really was a divinely required, God-honoring badge of covenant membership is now a mutilation of the flesh (Phil. 3:2). The dietary laws, which in previous generations were worth dying to maintain (note that the writer of Hebrews praises the Maccabean martyrs in chap. 11) are now a form idolatrous belly worship (Phil. 3:19). The animal sacrifices have now become an abomination (Isa. 66:3)."

Rich Lusk, The Galatian Heresy: Why We Need to Get It Right (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/getting_the_galatian_heresy_right.htm)

"Misunderstanding "Galatianism" has caused several problems in the Reformed church. Because circumcision is at issue in the Galatian epistle, some have fallen into thinking that ritual per se, rather than anything uniquely Mosaic or Jewish, is the object of Paul's critique. Likewise, his polemic against "works of the law" is not read in terms of the temporary function of the law in God's purposes, but as a timeless, abstract critique of moralism and human merit. The redemptive-historical specificity of Paul's argument has been lost. The narrative substructure of his theology has been overlooked. The result has been misapplication -- or perhaps I should say missed applications -- of Paul's language."

Rich Lusk, For the Children's Sake: An Alternative Angle on the Paedocommunion Debate
(http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/for_the_childrens_sake_paedocommunion.htm)
"Only if we start with a view of God as something other than a loving Father, something other than the One who is abounding in love and mercy, does the anti-paedocommunionist position make sense. Paedocommunion better squares with the character of God as revealed in the life and ministry of Jesus and recorded in the Biblical text. It seems to me the argument made for the children's sake - we must withhold the Supper from them for their own protection, lest they receive the fiercest covenant curses - should be turned around. Withholding the Supper from them is not a neutral, "safe" action. By not allowing them to draw near, we are pushing them away. As a result they must either despair ("God must not really love me since he won't feed me!") or become self-righteous ("The Supper is something I have to earn!"). This is a very dangerous place to put our children. For their sake, let's bring them back into the feast."


Rich Lusk, The Art of Biblical Theology in Practice: Intertextuality and Two Pauline Case Studies (Notes on Biblical Theology) (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/rich_lusk/the_art_of_biblical_theology.htm)

"In Paul’s theology, you’re either in Adam or in Christ (Rom. 5:12ff). At baptism we are transferred from the old Adam to the new; we are taken out of the first Adam and plugged into the life of the Last Adam (Rom. 6:1ff). In Christ, we have a new identity, a new story, a new role to play, a new family, new privileges, and new responsibilities."

ray kikkert
09-07-05, 12:19 PM
Here is the promised critique of Rev. Wilsons "Reformed is Not Enough"

"Reformed" is Not Enough
by Douglas Wilson
Canon Press, 2002.
206 Pages, Paperback



“Reformed” is Definitely Enough:
A critique of Douglas Wilson’s book, “Reformed” is not Enough”By Dr. C. Matthew McMahon



http://www.apuritansmind.com/BookReviews/Sourpuss/WilsonDouglasReformedNotEnough.htm

ray kikkert
09-07-05, 12:24 PM
Here is a recent response :

Response to Louisiana Presbytery (PCA) Report on Federal Vision Theology




8/1/2005posted by Rick Phillips

One of the present controversies in Reformed Theology concerns a movement known as the “Federal Vision” or “Auburn Avenue Theology.” The latter name stems from an annual pastors’ conference at Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church in Monroe, Louisiana, at which this movement is propagated. At the request of a number of parties, the Louisiana Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) recently examined the Federal Vision theology and Rev. Steve Wilkins, pastor of Auburn Avenue. The report of that committee, unanimously adopted by the Louisiana Presbytery, made some critical comments about the Federal Vision but declared Rev. Wilkins to be in accord with the Westminster Standards.

A group of men critical of the Federal Vision – myself included – have written to the Louisiana Presbytery to express our concerns. You can access our letter at
http://www.ecalvinbeisner.com/farticles/LA_Pres_Response.pdf (http://www.ecalvinbeisner.com/farticles/LA_Pres_Response.pdf).

A few comments regarding this situation may be helpful:

1) Why have we taken it upon ourselves to respond to the Louisiana Presbytery’s report?

At the 2003 Auburn Avenue Pastor’s Conference, a group of critics was invited to debate the issues involved. Afterwards, however, it was not thought to be very effective at fostering real dialogue, mainly because the discussions took place in public. Therefore, it was decided for the two sides to meet in private, which produced the Ft. Lauderdale colloquium sponsored by Knox Theological Seminary in the summer of 2003. (I did not attend the 2003 Auburn Ave. conference, but joined the group for these private meetings.) Initially, our papers were not to be published, but afterwards we agreed to have them published in the book that Knox Seminary subsequently published (“The Auburn Avenue Theology: Pros and Cons”). After that, interaction between the groups continued for about a year via personal emails. Believing that we had done our best both to understand and to persuade our opposite numbers (contrary to their frequent remarks that we do not understand them, I believe that we understand them very well – we simply disagree with them), we concluded that the matter should pass to the church courts. Those of us were who hold office in the Presbyterian Church in America (the majority of the so-called “critics”), wrote a letter to the Federal Vision teachers who also hold office in the PCA expressing our belief that their views are contrary to the Westminster Standards and asking them to resign their credentials. These letters were forwarded to the presbyteries. Others besides ourselves also petitioned the Louisiana Presbytery to investigate the teaching of Rev. Wilkins. Now that the presbytery report has been published, those of us who have this kind of extensive involvement in this matter (all of whom hold office in the PCA) thought it appropriate that we would communicate our appreciation, concerns, disagreements and requests directly to the presbytery.

2) Why is our letter being made available to the public?

A matter that has demanded careful judgment is when and how to make things public, and when not to. The Ft. Lauderdale colloquium was originally intended to remain private, with no papers published. We decided afterwards – rightly, I think – that this kind of dialogue needed to be made more widely available. Our internet dialogues, conducted via private emails, were private, although occasional leaks unfortunately occurred. Also, our letter to Rev. Wilkins and his presbytery requesting his resignation/removal from office was kept private. However, when the Louisiana Presbytery report was made public, it was clear that our response also had to be public. The main reason for this is that the general public might (and largely has, I think) conclude that the PCA as a whole has exonerated Rev. Wilkins and approved the Federal Vision. This presbytery action has been an important step, but it should not be taken as establishing the denomination’s stance. There are other avenues for this matter to continue, and I am sure that those avenues will be explored and some will be properly exercised.

3) What does our letter say, in brief?

Our letter contains the following elements: a) Thanks for the presbytery committee’s hard work in making what we regard to be an important step forward; b) A statement of areas in which we agree. These include many helpful areas in which we believe the Louisiana report refutes and corrects the Federal Vision, touching upon such important topics as justification, baptism, assurance, apostasy, and perseverance. Most prominent is the affirmation that faith and works must be distinguished in justification – which is through faith apart from works -- though they are never ultimately separated in salvation as a whole. To have this agreed to is no small blessing; c) A section requesting clarification and expressing disagreement; d) A section outlining concerns dealing specifically with Rev. Wilkins, most notably unresolved conflicts between the presbytery report and Rev. Wilkins’ published writings and addresses (and those published through agencies of his church); and e) A petition to the presbytery to reconsider their findings and to require that where error has been identified there be a retraction and correction of those errors in suitable public venues.

In conclusion, let me assert that in writing and publishing this letter, we do not aim to embarrass, humiliate, or punish anyone. I am, for instance, one of the participants who has had very little personal relationship with any of the Federal Vision writers and speakers except in these discussions. Others who have criticized the Federal Vision have had long and strong personal friendships with men on the other side. There is, and has not been, any personal axe grinding. Our concern is for the well-being of the church as she is affected by this teaching. We believe that serious error is found in the Federal Vision, though we also believe (as our letter states) that it has helpful emphases that we also embrace. Our hope is that to the greatest extent possible, gospel truths may be upheld, preserved, and advanced in the PCA and that this may happen with the minimum degree of acrimony and division. Anyone who has followed the progress of this affair will observe that it has so far included a rather high degree of acrimony. May God allow us to progress forward in a way that involves a candid dealing in matters of truth with as much personal mildness as possible. The goal of those who authored this letter is not to win a fight, but to serve the church in what we believe to be a greatly important theological dispute and in which we have been providentially called to participate.

wildboar
09-07-05, 09:50 PM
Alright Ray it's time to put on your WWHHD? bracelet on. (What Would Herman Hoeksema Do?) I ask a question as to why you believe Ephesians 1 + 2 relate to the present discussion and what you believe is contradicting Ephesians 1 + 2 rather than just dogmatically declaring that they do and posting a number of quotes by people who attended the Auburn Avenue conference. What I was hoping for was a critique from you-citing what people had actually written and then writing what you believe is wrong with it while interacting with the Scriptures. That is what HH would have done. There are also different views among the FV people. A summary of what they are all in agreement on can be found at the Auburn Avenue website which I already posted. If you are going to attack the FV that should be the starting point. They are in disagreement on a number of things. Not all agree with James Jordan's chapter in the Federal Vision book for instance. Posting quotes from Richard Lusk only tells me what Richard Lusk thinks. It avoids the core issues. The intention of the Auburn Avenue Conference was not to create some new confession of faith, but to engage in discussion about covenant theology. Throughout the history of the reformed churches the issue of the covenant has been debated. So if you are going to provide thoughtful interaction and not just cutting and pasting I would be very interested in discussing these matters with you. Otherwise I'm not. McMahon wouldn't know historic reformed theology if it bit him. He holds up the Puritans as the standard of orthodoxy. That is the chief reason why he gives the FV people the sourpuss stamp and that is the chief reason why he gives Engelsma and the PRC the sourpuss stamp.

ray kikkert
09-08-05, 09:48 AM
Alright Ray it's time to put on your WWHHD? bracelet on. (What Would Herman Hoeksema Do?) I ask a question as to why you believe Ephesians 1 + 2 relate to the present discussion and what you believe is contradicting Ephesians 1 + 2 rather than just dogmatically declaring that they do and posting a number of quotes by people who attended the Auburn Avenue conference.

Your reference to WWHHD is irrelevant.

With regards to Ephesians 1 and 2 that I called upon. The reason I had brought these up to you again is because I was responding to Bauer's posts and his question regarding covenant fellowship and the visible church, as well as discussing circumcision and baptism.
Bauer was responding to the article you sent through.

Not only that, these chapters of Ephesians are quoted at length in the Canons of Dort, they are clear enough.

The quotes are from FV adherants in their own words.


What I was hoping for was a critique from you-citing what people had actually written and then writing what you believe is wrong with it while interacting with the Scriptures. That is what HH would have done. There are also different views among the FV people. A summary of what they are all in agreement on can be found at the Auburn Avenue website which I already posted. If you are going to attack the FV that should be the starting point. They are in disagreement on a number of things. Not all agree with James Jordan's chapter in the Federal Vision book for instance. Posting quotes from Richard Lusk only tells me what Richard Lusk thinks. It avoids the core issues. The intention of the Auburn Avenue Conference was not to create some new confession of faith, but to engage in discussion about covenant theology. Throughout the history of the reformed churches the issue of the covenant has been debated. So if you are going to provide thoughtful interaction and not just cutting and pasting I would be very interested in discussing these matters with you. Otherwise I'm not. McMahon wouldn't know historic reformed theology if it bit him. He holds up the Puritans as the standard of orthodoxy. That is the chief reason why he gives the FV people the sourpuss stamp and that is the chief reason why he gives Engelsma and the PRC the sourpuss stamp.

I post the quotes from these babblers for folks like you to look at and judge for yourself. It is obvious , due to some fence sitting on your part, that some of what I have posted from them is actually okay, that we can live with this statement. I think you are a little hesitate to look at the statements of Lusk ... et al and render why you think it is A okay. If you obviously think they are not wrong then by all means please explain why you think they are all good.

When I first started posting critiques the first whine of yours was, I do not like Robbins handling of the FV theology. Then the whine was I do not like that you always quote Prof. Engelsma. Then the whine was I do not like the way this Puritan follower handles the FV theology. I knew very well that Dr. McMahon does not speak well of the PRC yet appreciated his critique of Rev. Wilsons babble. Robbins has done the same. Now there is the whine from yourself that not all FV adherants agree on all pieces of doctrine as if this should somehow vindicate FV babble. I really do not care..... the fundamental aspects of FV theology is arminian theology and should be avoided like the plague and beaten down and quashed for the dunghill doctrine it is.

This FV babble is going to come to a head within reformed and presbyterian churches. The synodical meetings on the horizon will show that. The line is drawn, the trenches dug. One is in either trench or is out there trying to straddle the fence.

But do not just take my word for it. That is why I post critiques of others as well as statements made by FV babblers.

ray kikkert
09-08-05, 10:18 AM
Here is another critique of Federal Vision babble:

Retreating to Rome: The New Battle Over Justification

James W. Galyon (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/cover.html#j_galyon)
When God initiated His covenant with Abraham, He declared, “I will make you a great nation…. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2–3). All the families of the earth will be blessed because of Abraham’s Seed, the Lord Jesus Christ. Because of Him, people from every tribe, tongue, people and nation will sing out joyfully for all eternity, “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood” (Revelation 5:9). A question related to this wonderful truth, being raised in evangelical circles because of the influence of the “New Perspective on Paul” is, “How does one enter, and remain, in the covenant?” The answer to this question, from a theological standpoint, determines the nature of justification.
The Nature of Justification: An Old Battle

The controversy over selling indulgences, which provoked Martin Luther to post his Ninety-Five Theses, focused upon procuring favor with God by performing works of “satisfaction.” The Augustinian monk had come to the correct conclusion that the entire scheme, including penance, was unbiblical. He sought to reform the Roman Catholic Church, centering his enterprise around sola fide. Luther and the other Reformers insisted that the instrumental cause of justification is faith. Faith alone is sufficient for appropriating the benefits of the atonement and for having the righteousness of the Lord Jesus imputed to the believer. Grace is vital for justification in two aspects. First, redemption rests in the Lord Jesus Christ having the transgression of His people imputed to Him. Second, by His life of perfect obedience the Lord Jesus achieved the righteousness which is imputed to all who place their faith in Him. The transpiring of this great exchange, which happens at the time faith is exercised, results in God declaring the individual who trusts in the Lord Jesus as “just.” The Lord will affirm this declaration at the last judgment. This understanding of justification has been termed “forensic justification” because justification itself is a forensic, or legal, term. Its meaning is to be understood in the language of a court, the act of a judge acquitting a person accused of a crime. [1] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_1_) This forensic declaration does not change the nature of the individual, just the status. The sinner is not inherently righteous at the time of this pronouncement, but rather intrinsically sinful. The declaration and blessings attending justification are on account of Christ alone. This is why Luther declared that the believer is “simultaneously just and a sinner.”
According to Roman Catholicism’s understanding of justification “grace” is essential in two aspects. First, atonement is required for the satisfaction of God’s justice. God graciously satisfied His justice in the death of Christ. Second, sinners must be made inherently righteous. This begins with baptism, viewed by Rome as the instrumental cause of justification. This sacrament supposedly results in both cleansing from original sin and the infusion of Christ’s righteousness into the soul. The one baptized is in a state of grace and must assent to, and cooperate with, this infusion in order to become inherently righteous. Once achieving this righteousness, the individual is considered justified. Justification, however, is not necessarily permanent. One may fall from grace by committing mortal sin (labeled such because it “mortifies” justifying grace). A return to justifying grace is possible through the sacrament of penance, considered the second plank of justification for those who have shipwrecked their souls. This process involves confession to a priest, acts of contrition, receiving absolution, and performing works of satisfaction. Restoration to grace occurs once this procedure is completed. Ultimate justification will take place at the judgment. [2] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_2_)
There is a vast difference between these two views. Luther called forensic justification, justification by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone, the article upon which the Church stands or falls. He also declared, “If the article of justification be once lost, then is all true Christian doctrine lost.” [3] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_3_) Calvin was no less emphatic in his conviction, exclaiming, “Wherever the knowledge of it is taken away, the glory of Christ is extinguished, religion abolished, the Church destroyed, and the hope of salvation utterly overthrown.” [4] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_4_) These two were correct in these assertions. Any attempt to redefine justification is a matter of grave concern.
The Nature of Justification: A New Battle

The works of Krister Stendahl, Ernst K&#228;semann, E. P. Sanders, James D. G. Dunn, N. T. Wright, and others have contributed to the ascension of the “New Perspective on Paul” within the evangelical realm. From this viewpoint God chose the Jews to be His covenant people and entrusted them with the covenant standard, the law. While the Jews were initiated into this covenant by God’s grace, they were responsible to maintain their status as the people of God by observing the law. [5] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_5_) The Jews were awaiting the Messiah, the One who would ensure that the righteous people of the covenant would be vindicated while their enemies, pagan Gentiles, would be judged. Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be the One, did not meet these expectations. Instead He inaugurated the new covenant and included the Gentiles and those who were unrighteous (tax collectors, prostitutes, etc.). He claimed that all those who believe His message and receive His way of salvation are made part of the covenant. Not only were the “unclean” invited to join the covenant family, but the Temple religion was also eradicated. Rituals and restrictions were no longer necessary. The Jews, while not holding to works righteousness, rejected Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. They could not accept His new and inclusive teaching, so they rejected it and retained their adherence to the old covenant. Christians, on the other hand, believed Jesus to be the Messiah. They accepted the new, inclusive message and lived with the understanding that because of Christ’s sacrifice at the cross the old covenant requirements were no longer binding.
The apostle Paul, therefore, did not view the Jews as advocates of works righteousness. His contention with them was that they refused to accept the inclusiveness of the new covenant. The apostle’s antagonism against the “works of the law” centered on a dispute over cultural differences in cultural practice between Jews and Gentiles, such as circumcision and dietary restrictions. It was not a contention with Hebraic attempts to meet God’s standards to attain salvation. The real question surrounding justification from the “New Perspective,” then, has to do with the identity of covenant members rather than the issue of how an individual receives redemption. N. T. Wright declares that evangelicals who read St. Paul’s work on justification through the lens of Luther and the Reformation “may actually lose sight of the heart of the Pauline gospel.” [6] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_6_) He believes justification, as understood by the early Church, pertained to “God’s eschatological definition, both future and present, of who was, in fact, a member of his people.… In standard Christian theological language, it wasn’t so much about soteriology as about ecclesiology; not so much about salvation as about the church.” [7] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_7_) He adds,


Despite a long tradition to the contrary, the problem Paul addresses in Galatians is not the question of how precisely someone becomes a Christian, or attains to a relationship with God…. Within its first-century context, it has to do quite obviously with the question of how you define the people of God; are they to be defined by the badges of Jewish race, or in some other way? [8] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_8_)
For Wright it is possible to identify a member of the covenant because they wear the “badge” of faith. Someone is not received into the covenant through the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ imputed through the instrument of faith, but rather someone is already a member of the covenant and simply recognized as being so because they have faith. Covenant status is maintained by keeping the law, and the member who does so will one day be declared “just.”
Attempting to retain traditional Protestant language, Wright maintains justification is a “present declaration” that “constitutes all believers as the single people, the one family, promised to Abraham (Gal. 2.14–3.29; Rom. 3.27–4.17), the people whose sins have been dealt with as part of the fulfilled promise of covenant renewal (Jer. 31.31–34)…. Justification is thus the declaration of God, the just judge, that someone is (a) in the right, that their sins are forgiven, and (b) a true member of the covenant family, the people belonging to Abraham,” then adds, “It doesn’t describe how people get in to God’s forgiven family; it declares that they are in. That may seem a small distinction, but in understanding what Paul is saying it is vital.” [9] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_9_) So, how do people get in to God’s forgiven family? Wright claims that at the cross the Lord acted decisively to manifest His covenant faithfulness, to rescue His people from their iniquities, and to usher in the new covenant, [10] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_10_) yet he never makes it clear when an individual is actually brought into the family of God.
Covenant Entrance: Baptism

While Wright’s position is nebulous, there is no question with some who have been influenced by “New Perspective” thinking as to how covenant entrance is obtained. Steve Schlissel, in an address given at the Auburn Avenue Pastor’s Conference, asserts that baptism is the entryway to the covenant. He declares, “We should realize that the people of God are not few but many, and everyone who is baptized is to be regarded as belonging to Christ with obligations to live in accordance with the covenant in which he has been placed by the grace of God.” [11] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_11_) Note that Schlissel speaks of one having “been placed” in the covenant “by the grace of God.” No doubt that those included in the new covenant are there due only to the grace of God. However, Schlissel thinks this of anyone who has been baptized. Does he have a Roman Catholic understanding of baptism? Does he view baptism as a replacement for faith as being the instrumental cause of justification? It seems so. He laments Southern Presbyterians being like Baptists in that,


They don’t believe that their children are saved by the grace of God. They are waiting for a decision—some sort of cogent, confessable experience of personal regeneration in transition from death to life—because they believe that their children are born in death. They have bought into the Baptistic way of thinking, and it is an abomination. [12] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_12_)
He speaks of Baptists and Southern Presbyterians awaiting for a cognitive act, a decision, in the life of their children. This act, this decision, is placing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, Baptists and Southern Presbyterians are evangelicals. They hold to justification by faith alone. Justification is not received through physical birth or by baptism (John 1:12). Evangelicals understand that their children are born dead in trespasses and sins (Romans 5:12), and that they are not brought into the family of God unless, and until, they are awakened by the Spirit of God and granted faith to trust the Lord Jesus alone for salvation (Ephesians 2:1–9). The seed of Abraham are known, not by the sign or seal of the covenant, but by faith (Romans 4:9–25; 9:6–8, 30–33; Galatians 3:6–9). Is Schlissel denying this? Yes, it appears so, and it also seems that he is not the only one within the Reformed camp to take this stand. Steve Wilkins, another Auburn Avenue conference speaker, goes so far as to speak of baptismal regeneration. He declares,


Reading the Bible in this way, and in this sense, we can speak of baptismal regeneration…. By our baptism we have been reborn in this sense—having died with Christ, we’ve been raised with Him…. Because by baptism—by baptism—the Spirit joins us to Christ. Since He is the elect one, and the church is the elect people, we are joined to His body, we therefore are elect. Since He is the justified one, we are justified in Him. [13] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_13_)
Notice in Wilkins’ sequence that election is preceded by, and contingent upon, baptism. Where the doctrine of justification is concerned, this is a return to Rome.
Rome, nonetheless, must be given credit for its affirmation of such doctrines as the virgin conception and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead. Douglas Wilson, who has helped many with his fine works dealing with family life and his many sharp insights in Credenda Agenda, asserts shockingly that a “theological liberal…should be considered covenantally a Christian, even though he denies the virgin birth, the substitutionary death of Christ, the resurrection, and the final judgment. He is a Christian in just the same way that an adulterous husband is a husband.” [14] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_14_) Lest there be any doubt as to Wilson’s avowal, he adds, “And when a liberal bishop says that Christ was merely a man, he is more than wrong. He is antichrist. But he does belong to that which he betrays. Judas was this kind of bishop (Acts 1:20).” [15] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_15_) Wilson presses his point even further, claiming that the “savage wolves” which molest the sheep actually belong to the fold:


What does a faithful shepherd do with a savage wolf? He fights. And where do savage wolves appear? “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29–30). So, are these men in the covenant? Of course they are, which is why they are so dangerous. [16] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_16_)
Wilson is correct in stating that a liberal bishop who denies the deity of the Lord Jesus is antichrist, but his assertion that such an individual belongs to that which he betrays is absolutely erroneous. The apostle John, in his first epistle, makes it clear that the one who is “antichrist” is not of God (1 John 4:1–6). In his second epistle the apostle John not only warns that those who deny the deity and humanity of the Lord Jesus are antichrist, but that those who even greet an individual who does not affirm the biblical teaching regarding the Lord Jesus participate in his wickedness (2 John 7–11). Judas followed the Lord Jesus with his feet for three years, but never with his heart. He was the “son of perdition” (John 17:12) whose unregenerate heart, a heart which had never been cleansed (John 13:10–11), was manifested by its greed. Judas’ greed led him to steal (John 12:6) and to betray the King of Glory for a mere thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14–15). Judas was a member of the twelve, but never a member of the covenant (1 John 2:19). If he had any sort of faith, it was the faith of devils (James 2:14–20). One is brought into the covenant by grace alone through faith alone on account of the Lord Jesus Christ alone.
Covenant Keeping: Maintaining Justification

Ironically, the same circle advocating that apostates are within the covenant because of baptism is also asserting that justification must be maintained. Schlissel inquires, “Is the law ‘repugnant’ to how we stay right with God?,” and then goes on to assert in discussing Psalm 78, “The keeping of the commands of God is identified as putting trust in God; it is contrasted with forgetting God and disobeying God. To be in the gospel, then, is to be in the law of God.” [17] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_17_) Norman Shepherd, who is linked to Schilssel and Wilson, declares that justification must be maintained by obedience. He writes:


Because faith which is not obedient faith is dead faith, and because repentance is necessary for the pardon of sin included in justification, and because abiding in Christ by keeping his commandments…are necessary for continuing in the state of justification, good works, works done from true faith, according to the law of God…are nevertheless necessary for salvation from eternal condemnation and therefore for justification. [18] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_18_)
Does one “stay right” with God through personal obedience? Is one’s justification contingent upon personal obedience? No! One is kept in a right relation with God through the completed work of the Lord Jesus which has been applied to the individual. Justification is not ongoing. As the Apostle Paul writes, “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:1, 9). The apostle speaks of justification in the past tense even while discussing the future judgment. The apostle later assures the Romans (see 8:29–30), and all saints, that those whom have been “justified” have also been “glorified” (note again the past tense). Shall the transgressions, the law breaking, of the elect be held against them? Must they “stay right” with God through their obedience? Certainly not! This is why St. Paul writes, “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:33–35a). Nobody can bring a charge against the people of the covenant because the Lord Jesus has died for them and makes intercession for them. Obedience does not merit justification, but it does flow from the regenerate hearts of those who have been justified. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is not to be thought as a license for sin (1 Corinthians 6:9–11; Titus 2:11–14; Jude 4). As the Reformers declared, “Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.” Or, as St. Paul puts it, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8–10). The concern about antinomianism shown by Schlissel, Shepherd and others should also be shown by other evangelicals. A disregard for the law of God is a massive problem within the Church in our own day. A disregard for the law, however, is not to lead to a disregard for the true nature of the gospel.
Covenant Entrance: The Nature of Evangelism

If baptism is the way one enters into the covenant then the nature of evangelism is altered drastically. Instead of proclaiming the gospel and inviting hearers to make a cognitive decision to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and to turn from their sins, one will focus upon the baptismal fount. Schlissel argues that the great evangelistic expansion of the nineteenth century, based upon the principle of individual conversion, is in fundamental opposition to the “communal [or what we would call covenantal] form of expression.” [19] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_19_) Schlissel asserts, “Western Christendom was not built up by the method of individual conversions,” but rather by rulers ordering their subjects to accept Christianity. [20] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_20_) By virtue of their baptisms, irrespective of personal faith, these subjects were included in the covenant. What Schlissel has somehow managed to forget is that Western Christendom, in being built by the method of “communal conversions” and paedobaptism, was erected upon a faulty foundation. Western Christendom was blinded by superstition during the Dark Ages until God released the light of the gospel through the revival known as the Reformation.
Serious questions have to be posed in response to this position. While Jesus taught the masses, was He only concerned with them? When Jesus stopped in Samaria at the well, did He look for the “city mayor” or was He concerned about the conversion of a rather insignificant individual residing in an inconsequential community? Certainly others were converted in the region, but it was not because Jesus began with the communal leadership. This account in John 4 does not include any discussion of baptism although Jesus and the apostles certainly practiced baptism. Instead the inspired Word of God records that the Samaritans “believed” (John 4:39–42). Nothing is mentioned of baptism. If baptism were the entryway into the covenant, then why does the apostle Paul declare, “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel,” and “It pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe”? (1 Corinthians 1:17, 21) Nowhere does Paul attach a “group” or “community” and its baptism to the gospel. Instead he relates the gospel to “those who believe,” to individuals. Even when Paul preached to the masses, the Scriptures record that the message was believed by individuals (see Acts 17:34, for instance). Baptism is often recorded as a result of the preaching that takes place, but it always follows after individuals have believed the gospel. Individuals who place faith in the Lord Jesus are placed supernaturally with other believing individuals into a family, a community, a holy nation (1 Peter 2:7–10). This supernatural union is evidenced in the life of the local church.
Wright, in his concern about the importance of Christian community and the assault of rampant individualism states:


The gospel creates, not a bunch of individual Christians, but a community. If you take the old route of putting justification, in its traditional meaning, at the centre of your theology, you will always be in danger of sustaining some sort of individualism. This wasn’t so much of a problem in Augustine’s, or even in Luther’s, day, when society was much more bound together that it is now. But both in Enlightenment modernism and in contemporary post-modernism, individualism has been all the rage, with its current symbols of the personal stereo and the privatization of everything. Tragically, some would-be presentations of the gospel” have actually bought into this, by implying that one is justified or saved first and foremost as an individual…. Of course every single human being is summoned, in his or her uniqueness, to respond personally to the gospel. Nobody in their right mind would deny that. But there is no such thing as an individual” Christian. Paul’s gospel created a community; his doctrine of justification sustained it. Ours must do no less. [21] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_21_)
While one might disagree with Wright’s assessment regarding the position of justification in one’s theology, he is certainly correct in his assertion that “there is no such thing as an ‘individual’ Christian.” Many evangelicals, particularly Baptists, shirk from Cyprian’s comment that “He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother.” Cyprian rightly understood the biblical concept of , “fellowship.” Those who are converted are brought into a new family, a new community. Southern Baptists should lament the fact that our evangelistic practices have been those of which Wright speaks. We generally have a very distorted concept of ecclesiology, at least in practice. We now boast 16,247,736 total members in our convention, yet only 5,839,945 manage to attend worship. This does not mean, however, that evangelism is to be “communal” rather than “individualistic.” Rather, it must always be remembered that the Great Commission is a command to “make disciples,” and that disciples are made within the confines of the community of God—the church.
Conclusion

Wright claims that the “New Perspective” understanding of justification is extremely important because it “impels the churches, in their current fragmented state, into the ecumenical task. It cannot be right that the very doctrine which declares that all who believe in Jesus belong at the same table (Galatians 2) should be used as a way of saying that some, who define the doctrine of justification differently, belong to a different table.” [22] (http://www.founders.org/FJ54/article2_fr.html#N_22_) Evangelicals are certainly to be concerned about the ecumenical task insofar as there is agreement upon the fundamentals of the faith. Justification is a fundamental. To let go of justification is to let go of the gospel and return to Rome.
Notes:

1See Martin Luther, Martin Luther: Selections from His Writings, ed. John Dillenberger (New York: Anchor Books, Doubleday, 1962), 86–7; 111–15; Doctor Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, ed. C. Gausewitz (Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 1956), 154; John Calvin, John Calvin: Selections from His Writings, ed. John Dillenberger (New York: Scholars Press, 1975), 165.
2John F. Clarkson, John H. Edwards, William J. Kelly, John J. Welch, translators, The Church Teaches: Documents of the Church in English Translation (St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1955), 230–42.
3Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, ed. John Prince Fallowes, trans. Erasmus Middleton (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1979), xvi.
4John Calvin, “On Reform (Reply to Letter by Cardinal Sadoleto to the Senate and People of Geneva),” in Writings, 95. See also John Calvin and Jacopo Sadoleto, A Reformation Debate: Sadoleto’s Letter to the Genevans and Calvin’s Reply with an Appendix on the Justification Controversy, ed. John C. Olin (New York: Harper and Row, 1966), 97–112.
5See E. P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion (London: SCM, 1977).
6N. T. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said. Was Paul of Tarsus the Real Founder of Christianity? (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 113.
7Ibid., 119.
8Ibid., 120.
9N. T. Wright, “The Shape of Justification.” Accessed at http://www.angelfire.com/mi2/paulpage/shape.html (http://www.angelfire.com/mi2/paulpage/shape.html).
10N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), 458.
11Ibid.
12Schlissel, “Covenant Reading.” Lecture delivered at the Auburn Avenue Pastor’s Conference, 2002.
13Steve Wilkins, “The Legacy of the Half-Way Covenant.” Lecture delivered at the Auburn Avenue Pastor’s Conference 2002. It is interesting, from an historical point of view, that Wilkins stated this in a lecture entitled “The Legacy of the Half-Way Covenant.” From the perspective of Jonathan Edwards, the Half-Way Covenant was unbiblical and led to several problems within the congregation at Northampton.
14Douglas Wilson, “Judas Was a Bishop,” Credenda Agenda: Presbyterion vol. 13, no. 2. Accessed at http://www.credenda.org/issues/13-2presbyterion.php?type=print (http://www.credenda.org/issues/13-2presbyterion.php?type=print).
15Ibid.
16Ibid.
17Steve Schissel, “Covenant Reading.”

18Norman Shepherd, Thirty-four Theses on Justification in Relation to Faith, Repentance and Good Works. Accessed at http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/00000076.htm (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/00000076.htm)
19Steve Schissel, “Covenant Hearing.” Lecture delivered at the Auburn Avenue Pastor’s Conference, 2002.
20Ibid.
21N. T. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said, 157–58.
22N. T. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said, 158.

ray kikkert
09-10-05, 12:17 PM
Here is another critique of Federal Vision babble:


Foolish Galatianism
Reflections on the 2003 Auburn Avenue Pastors Conference
Part 1
By Rev. Andrew J. Webb
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain -- if indeed it was in vain? Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? -- just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed." So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." (Gal. 3:1-11)

Introduction

This initial essay is not intended to be an extensive response to the biblical, theological, and historical assertions made by the main speakers at the 2003 Auburn Avenue Pastor's Conference (hereafter AAPC), instead I will have time to address the speaker's comments in greater detail in following installments. In this first part, I wish to give a brief overview and critique of the conference and to give my own highly subjective observations of the events that transpired.

My intention in writing this critique is not to snipe at the participants from a concealed position. It is my intention to make copies of this essay available electronically to all the speakers at the conference, and indeed I do not intend to say anything in these pages I would not say to them in person, or in a court of the church.

I should probably begin by saying I attended every session of this year's conference and tried take the most extensive notes I could, I also made sure I had tapes of the four main presentations made by those espousing what was termed the "Auburn Theology" by the respondents at that the conference. Those main speakers and their presentations were in order:


John Barach - "Covenant and Election"
Doug Wilson - "The Visible/Invisible Church Distinction"
Steve Schlissel - "What Does the Lord Require?"
Steve Wilkins - "Covenant and Baptism"
Although I did not attend last year's AAPC, I have listened to the audio files and read the transcripts that were made available. In any event, my main emphasis will not be on responding to the conference of last year, but on the 2003 conference especially as the stated intention of this year's conference was to clarify the positions of the speakers at the 2002 conference, and that this was therefore the conference that they sought to be judged by.

Having said that, I should comment that the positions of the speakers as they were expressed at 2002 do not appear to have substantively changed as they themselves admitted. If anything, those opinions appear to have only become stronger in the intervening time, and as Steve Schlissel so succinctly put it: "I don't envy me, but out of all that was said last year and this year, I agree with me."

The Conference itself was intended to consist of sessions featuring further statements by the original speakers regarding what they said at last year's conference about the "Federal Vision" followed by comments by respondents all of whom indicated that they were concerned by the statements made at the 2002 AAPC, and then further discussions of those positions as well as 2 sessions where the "Monroe Four" (Barach, Wilson, Schlissel, and Wilkins) and the Respondents (Carl Robbins, Morton Smith, R.C. Sproul Jr., and Joey Pipa) could answer questions put to them by members of the audience.

The Major Themes

In a very real sense any discussion of the major themes of the conference is also inevitably a discussion of the major theological problems with the theology of the new paradigm being proposed by the speakers. When I say "new paradigm," I am literally using the same language used explicitly by most of the speakers. All of their presentations sought to identify what they saw as problems with traditional Reformed theology, especially in the way it deals with "problem passages" of the bible, and the pastoral problems that this theology apparently creates. From my point of view, the "problems" brought to light by the Monroe Four were either the result of peculiarities of Dutch Reformed Theology (this was especially true of John Barach's presentation), problems created by misunderstanding or ignorance of what Reformed theology really teaches, or simply straw men. In fact, at the end of the conference it was my sincere belief that enough straw men had been produced to keep the American Midwest well supplied with scarecrows for many years to come.
Let me give you an example of what I mean; John Barach pointed out that the "traditional" reformed view of election and assurance has produced such a crisis of assurance that he knows of a Reformed church near him with over 700 members, but that only 20 or so actually attend the Lord's supper. This is due, he says, to the fact that most members have not reached a point where they feel holy enough to be assured of their election, and thus truly worthy of coming to the Lord's Supper. This, he claims, is a result of basing our view of who is really a Christian on the doctrine of election. How, after all, can one know if he is truly predestined?

Now, I was not shocked by his example, because I have heard of this problem in Dutch Reformed churches before. Only the undoubtedly holy approach the table, because supposedly they are the only ones worthy to come. While this is a problem in some Dutch Reformed circles, it stems from a misunderstanding of the Lord's Supper and whom it is intended for. Joel Beeke and other theologians from the Dutch tradition have chronicled the fall off in attendance on the Lord's Supper in Dutch Reformed circles, and are working to undo the damage that has been done. This is not, however, a problem for Presbyterians, as they have long understood that the Lord's Supper was given by Christ for the spiritual strengthening of a people who are Justified and yet who will continue to struggle with sin this side of glory. In the words of "Rabbi" Duncan: "Take it - it's for sinners." Against Barach's thesis, the Westminster Standards explicitly state that full assurance is not necessary to approach the table:

"Larger Catechism Q172: May one who doubteth of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation, come to the Lord's supper?

A172: One who doubteth of his being in Christ, or of his due preparation to the sacrament of the Lord's supper, may have true interest in Christ, though he be not yet assured thereof; and in God's account hath it, if he be duly affected with the apprehension of the want of it, and unfeignedly desires to be found in Christ, and to depart from iniquity: in which case (because promises are made, and this sacrament is appointed, for the relief even of weak and doubting Christians) he is to bewail his unbelief, and labor to have his doubts resolved; and, so doing, he may and ought to come to the Lord's supper, that he may be further strengthened."

Barach's supposition is a straw man as far as the issue of communion in Presbyterian congregations is concerned. This kind of straw man was a common feature throughout the conference. The pattern was: 1) propose a straw man problem; 2) propose a new paradigm solution.

Unfortunately however, the new paradigm solution that Barach offers for the Dutch Reformed churches laboring under this misconception regarding the Lord's Supper is worse than the problem itself. Barach claims that they don't know if they are predestined (actually the problem is an uncertainty that they are really regenerate, not really predestined. The assurance is related to one's salvation, not one's predestination.)

Instead of saying that those uncertain of their salvation should look to Christ and trust in His completed work on their behalf and His righteousness imputed to them crying out to Him in prayer to "help their unbelief" or even to heed the advice of the Westminster Confession that " True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God's withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light: yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart, and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may, in due time, be revived; and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair." (WCF 18.4) Barach's actual answer (and that of all the Monroe Four) brings us to the first and perhaps most important theme of the conference:
Baptism Saves

Where do we look for assurance of our salvation? To our Baptism, the Auburn Avenue Theology replies. All those who are baptized with a Trinitarian Baptism are members of the New Covenant, all those who are baptized are members of the church. All those who are baptized, are members of the Covenant of Grace. Those who are baptized are in Christ, all of them are united to Christ, they are clothed with Christ, they are washed, they are sanctified, they are engrafted into Christ, the True Vine of John 15 and become true members of the one Church. We become Christians at our Baptism. Wilkins assures us that we really receive the Spirit of Jesus in our baptism, and at baptism we are transferred from Adam to Christ.

Baptism "ushers us into the regeneration." If you are baptized, you need not worry, your baptism is not merely a sign of something that might be yours if you have true faith, it actually conveys what it signifies and gives us assurance that these things are actually ours. We are not waiting for conversion, waiting for a moment, Schlissel assures us. Sure, that may be the experience of the prodigal, says Schlissel, but what our Reformed confessions have forgotten is the experience of the elder son! HIS EXPERIENCE, Schlissel tells us, is that which should be the template for those in the covenant: "'Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours." (Luke 15:31)

Ah, but we must also heed the warnings of the Monroe Four, lest we become hypocrites and unfruitful members of the Vine and thus be cut off. Be warned, the New Covenant can be broken, and it is our duty to heed the threats and warnings as well as listen to the promises of the New Covenant. We are to remain in the Vine into which we have been engrafted by remaining Covenant faithful and obeying the demands of the covenant. For we are warned, as Barach tells us, in lecture #1, "Jesus teaches us some who are in Christ, get cut off and burned, they apostatize and go to hell. Scripture tells us that not all who are in the covenant have been predestined to eternal glory with Christ."

"What?," I hear you say, "Hypocrites and their children are in the true Vine, in the Covenant?" Yes say the Monroe 4, that is why you can address the whole church as God's chosen ones, the people of God, etc. We don't need, and indeed the Bible doesn't teach, a visible/invisible church distinction. Of course, only the Predestined will end up in glory, but we know nothing of that, those are the secret decretive things of God. Our job is to be concerned with the covenant language of the Bible. That is why Paul could say that his fellow workers were in the book of life (Phi. 4:3)! Not because Paul had some special insight into God's predestining decrees, but because all who are baptized are in the Church, and all who are in the Church are the elect in Christ, they are all part of the True Vine. Paul did not go above to look into the secret things of God in this regard, we don't need too either. We may and should rightly use the Bible's covenantal language in addressing ALL members of the Church as the elect!

Ah, but I hear you say, don't those united to Christ go to heaven? No, no! Not necessarily, we have to read those "problematic" passages of the bible that seem to indicate the reality of Apostasy as they are written, not via the easy escape provided by our Systematic theology. The Bible appears to say that those who have "become partakers of the Holy Spirit," (Heb. 6:4) can slip away because that is really what it means. This is not just a hypothetical warning, say the Monroe Four, this is a real warning and that is what gives the warning real teeth!
The Apostasy of Those United to Christ is Really Possible

Peter teaches us that "all the members of the church have been born again", as Steve Wilkins says. There aren't different rosters between the visible church and the invisible church, that is an illegitimate distinction, Doug Wilson, makes clear. We have supposedly, traditionally had recourse to the old Invisible/Visible distinction in order to account for the obvious presence of hypocrites in the church. Simon Magus, Hymenaeus, Alexander - they were in the visible church, but not the invisible church we have said. These men were professing Christians, but never really converted. But were they not baptized? Were they not part of "The Church our Mother?" Who ever heard of an invisible mother?, quoth Douglas Wilson. It is the new paradigm which offers us the real solution - they really were members of the true Vine, and they really were cut out!

No longer do we need to feel embarrassed when Arminians bring up verses dealing with Apostasy (funny, I never did before) now we can handle, touch, and taste Hebrews 6. Imagine the shock on the Arminians face when we answer, yes, members of the Covenant, who have been real partakers of the Holy Spirit can indeed apostatize! "The Hypocrite is genuinely in Christ," says Wilson. Oh, what freedom, and what joy, we should reply. The hypocrite in the church is merely like Ivy on the tree, said the Puritans. That understanding is too provincial. The hypocrite is, my friend, indeed part of the tree! If they were not, points out Wilkins, then it would be illogical for them to receive a greater punishment as scripture says they do.
We remain in the Covenant by our Covenant Faithfulness

While we enter into the church by our Baptism, really gaining all the things mentioned above, we do not automatically persevere. "The Church is the body of Christ. If you are in the body of Christ you are in salvation," Wilkins tells us, but he also points out that Paul teaches, "if they depart from Christ they will sink like Israel of old." In fact, he says, Corinthians is "a powerful attack on unfaithfulness." And of course, "The covenant requires faithfulness." Faithfulness means keeping the obligations of the Covenant and the obligations are spelled out in the law. That law is of course not "evil or burdensome," as Schlissel tells us, and Paul when he speaks against the law is speaking of Jewish corruptions of the law that make it a system by which we accumulate points with God, these corruptions that make it an illegitimate meritorious system.

Keeping the Old and New covenants is not impossible. We are not meant to get all frustrated at trying to keep laws that are impossible to keep and be driven to Christ by that. The Covenant has conditions, and those in the covenant can non-meritoriously keep those gracious conditions.

The Old and New testaments are one book, and the requirements are the same for both, we of course are used to speaking as though there are two different systems of salvation in both books, but in both books its all about Covenant faithfulness.

I hear you ask, "What about Justification by Faith?" Well, Schlissel tells us, when Paul "speaks of Justification by faith, either immediately after or just before or somewhere before he has been talking about Gentiles coming into the covenant." It was therefore ludicrous for [I]Katakomen (The GPTS theological magazine) to devote an entire issue to justification that never discussed it in terms of gentiles being incorporated, except in a quote from N.T. Wright [Schlissel held up the magazine and ridiculed it in front of Joey Pipa at the conference. How Irenic, eh?]. "This is the issue, how can gentiles be incorporated into the body of Christ without first becoming Jewish? How can we allow them in?" declared Schlissel. Unless we understand that this is what Justification by faith is referring to, Schlissel tells us, then the meaning of the NT will elude us [hmmm... most of the Pauline epistles talk about the Gentiles coming into the Covenant, most of the epistles talk about Justification by faith. Hey, will you look at that, Schlissel is right! Wait a minute; Paul also never discusses Justification without a greeting either somewhere before, or after it. That must mean that unless we greet gentiles, we will never understand the New Testament]

In any event, reflecting on this wonderful new paradigm understanding of Justification by Faith [apparently "Faith Alone" is an outmoded expression, besides "by Faith" allows us to be more ecumenical with our other baptized member of the Church roman Catholic Brethren] gives us perhaps the most memorable quote of the conference:

"It goes back to Galatians and Romans, and these two letters are said to be containing letters upon which the true church stands or falls. Hooey and Hogwash! If those letters had never been written we'd still have the word of God that saves! The letters were written into a particular context they were highly charged polemical treatises that were meant to put out a fire, or to prevent a fire at particular locations, and yet when these books are read by modern reformers especially and by Lutherans, inexplicably these polemical pastoral and historical circumstances are simply ignored." (Steve Schlissel, Session #5)

exactly the same thing when I referenced the Faith alone passages in Romans and Galatians. Apparently, my old sparring partner was right all along.]

The New Paradigm

The discussion of whether the new "Covenantal" paradigm was really or necessarily novel was a glorious masterpiece of equivocations and virulent post-modernism. Wilson spoke frequently of the problem of "Paradigm bumper-cars" which prevented people from their camp communicating effectively with people from the older camp. Those attached to the old understanding got in their car and just bumped into the new one and bounced off.

Perhaps what Wilson was trying to say is that there are simply ways in which the new understanding is fundamentally different from the old, and trying to understand the new in terms of the old is like trying to put the new wine into the old skins once again. But, misunderstanding at this point is absolutely inevitable. This is because in simply stating if the paradigm is genuinely new and in some ways no longer compatible with the old, the speakers got into their own bumper cars and raced around in circles, bumping into each other, and often simply contradicting themselves. Some argued it was indeed new, others old, some (Wilkins) argued that he could hold it and yet still subscribe to everything in the Westminster Confession, maintaining directly after discussing the reality of Apostasy and Baptismal Regeneration, that he still affirmed 14.1 and 17.1 in the Confession. Later still during the debate Wilkins stated that to simply say that the Puritan wing of the Reformation was right about these things was "arrogant, and prideful, and schismatic" and insisted that we must listen to the testimony of the entire church over the last 2000 years not a provincial wing for "300 years". This of course comes after he has dismissed the testimony of the entire Reformed church for the last 500 years on the issue of Paedocommunion!

Barach insisted, citing out-of-context quotes that his positions were the positions of the early Reformers and the Dutch Reformed, which makes of course Wilhelmus A'Brakel and his ilk non-Dutch (perhaps they were crypto-Lutherans like the rest of us?)

Schlissel argued we'd all been wrong for allowing the Bible which was essentially a story to become a book of proof-texts driven by our rigid systematic theology, and that it was Reformed dogmatism, and then explained to us how our new systematic theology should drive our understanding of Romans and Galatians and gave us a series of proof-texts proving his theology, not ours was right.

"Holy Mother Church" was exalted by Doug Wilson, and then we were told that strict subscription means that creeds will never be amended by honest men and that somehow Holy Mother church doesn't have a role in determining which understandings are orthodox or heretical. We misunderstand the Puritans because we are affected by the enlightenment, but when the Puritans themselves were quoted, apparently they were wrong because they misunderstood the documents they themselves wrote, which could only be properly interpreted by the Monroe Four because they alone had not been Hellenized, Bapticized, Lutherized, or Hannitized.

There was a need for a new paradigm, the speakers declared, because the old paradigm could no longer hold the biblical data, and it was time for a paradigm shift. And yet they could still subscribe without exceptions to the statements of the old when necessary, even when those statements had been directly contradicted in their presentations.

Back and forth it went like that until I was reminded of some of the lyrics to my daughter's favorite song from Winnie the Pooh:

They're green they're blue they're pink they're white
They're round they're square they're a terrible sight
They tie themselves in horrible knots
They come in stripes or polka-dots
Beware Beware Be a very wary bear

Main Themes: Conclusion

While most of the quotes from the Monroe Four can be fitted into one of the themes above, more could obviously be said. There were other themes that could have been brought out, I have focused purposely on the ones that were most central and problematic in order to give you a flavor of what occurred.

In parts 2 and 3 of this series, I will be focusing on answering the actual assertions of the speakers to show why this new paradigm is neither new, nor biblical, nor reformed, but is in fact yet another version of the Foolish Galatianism that is endemic in the church.

The Response

In the interest of fairness, let me also give a broad critique of the response given by the respondents to the assertions and statements being made by the Monroe Four.

While I am extremely blessed to be able to say that up to the point of writing of this commentary (who knows what they'll think of me after reading this!) I have had the honor of knowing and being on friendly terms with three of the respondents (Pipa, Smith, and Robbins) the performance of the respondents at the conference was sometimes a source of frustration for me. Let me absolutely frank in explaining why this was the case.

The purpose of this conference was to examine the views of the original speakers more closely and if possible to hold them up to the light of the Bible and determine if these views were in fact orthodox and compatible with the historic Reformed faith as it is expressed in the historic confessions. In order to best do this, the respondents needed to be men highly conversant in the new theological paradigms discussed in the original conference and who were willing to "take off the gloves" and engage in heated polemics if necessary. Unfortunately, the men selected, while they are all excellent theologians in their own right, were are all close personal friends of the Monroe Four, and to a certain extent this proved to be a limiting factor.

The respondents themselves obviously had no great zeal to correct or rebuke their long-time friends, and even the tone of their voices was at times downright depressed. This is obviously a problem if you want to persuade people that they are engaged in promulgating serious errors, and to dissuade their supporters from following them. The self-confessed lack of zeal for the debate also meant that certain areas and issues, such as for instance, why the Monroe Four kept saying "Justification by Faith" but never "Justification by Faith Alone" were never actually addressed.

Perhaps more seriously than that, the debate itself was allowed to remain on the ground that the speakers were most comfortable operating in. Napoleon Bonaparte and Robert E. Lee both lost the most critical battles of their military careers in large measure because they forgot the critical maxim: "Never let your opponent choose the ground on which the battle is to be fought." I am not suggesting that this was the most critical theological debate that the respondents will ever engage in, but to a great extent I think they lost sight of this maxim as well, so that the respondents allowed every discussion to be framed in terms of the speaker's (hyper) covenantal model. At times the respondents seemed more eager to prove that they were appreciative of the covenant paradigm than they were to force the speakers to really compare their new paradigm to the older paradigm contained in the Reformed Confessions. This meant that most of the actual debate was very tentative and almost never what I would call aggressive. As the ever-blunt Steve Schlissel said:

"I don't think it's particularly profitable for us to get up one after the other and rub each other's back and tell each other "yeah you're Reformed, yeah I'm Reformed, yeah we agree with the Westminster, yeah we agree with the Heidleburg, yeah we all agree..."

The respondents also allowed the speakers to get away with camping out on massively confuted texts, instead of forcing them to go to texts where the doctrines in question are more clearly discussed. Allowing a discussion to center on 1 Cor. 10:4, for instance, should strike anyone as problematic. Also, while the respondents were frequently forced to exegete problematic passages on the fly, the speakers were never forced to explain how they understood clearer texts like 1 John 2:19 and John 6:37 for instance. We would not allow Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons to get away with behavior like that.

Sadly, the respondents seldom backed each other up, allowing Dr. Pipa at some points to be double or even triple-teamed by the speakers.

The respondents also tended to frame the debate as being intramural, thus implying that the issues to be discussed were of no great import, and certainly nothing that should make us look divided to the fallen world. I believe this was a fatal error, the issues under discussion are of paramount importance. At various points in the conference, the Covenant of Works was unambiguously denied, it was stated that everyone in the church is united to Christ, that hypocrites are part of the true vine, that the invisible/visible Church distinction is invalid, that we become Christians and members of the church by baptism at which time we are regenerated, united to Christ, sanctified, etc. Steve Schlissel even stated unambiguously that the central issue of the new [NT] administration was "Not Justification by faith, God help us. NOT Justification by faith! But the incorporation of the gentiles."

At times following these declarations, my blood was boiling. Declarations at odds with everything I have been teaching my congregation for the last year, everything I have understood the bible to teach regarding Baptism, the Church, the Ordo Salutis, the Covenants, etc. were made, and they were simply either never responded to, or never adequately addressed. I am not talking here about my private opinions about these things, but rather what I have been taught, what my mentors have professed, what the Reformed Confessions declare, and even the express declarations of the very men called upon to give a response to these statements. Part of this was undoubtedly a result of lack of time, but had the respondents been as zealous to engage as the speakers, more good would have been done.

Please do not for a moment think I am saying I would have done a better job than the respondents, not at all, I am not worthy to tie their shoelaces, and they are all geniuses in their own right. I simply would have been less irenic and more pit-bullish. I believe that the glory of Christ was being impugned and the doctrine of the gospel contradicted in the presentations and as such a little more rebuking in Gal. 2:11-21 style was necessary.

I should not for a moment overlook the fact however, that Joey Pipa did bravely and unambiguously assert that the supposedly New Paradigm was in fact Lutheran sacramentology, he even went so far as to initially declare that Steve Wilkin's position was in fact heretical. But later, under what can only be described as and angry and withering fire from the speakers (especially Wilkins), Dr. Pipa changed his assessment saying that holding to the Auburn Theology was a disciplinable offense. Dr. Smith seemed to want him to stick to his original statement, at one point cutting him off as he seemed to be backing off the charge of heresy and saying something along the lines of "Hold on now Joey..."

Appendix: My Thoughts

I wholeheartedly believe that this "new paradigm" is heretical, and as such I would recommend that the various ecclesiastical bodies (if any) which exercise oversight over the men proposing it urge them to repent and return to teaching the orthodox faith once for all delivered to the saints. If they do not, then I sincerely believe that they need to be brought to trial for teaching heresies of the most serious kind.

I believe that to teach people to depend upon their baptism for assurance, that threatens those united to Christ with the real possibility of apostasy if they fail to meet the demands of the covenant, and which consequently teaches them to look to their own faithful "non-meritorious" works in order to remain in the Covenant of Grace, encourages unbelief, nominalism, legalism, and is contrary to the Reformational Solas, and most importantly, the Scriptures. These gentlemen have been given ample time to clarify their message, and it is abundantly clear that their message really is as unorthodox as it sounds.

In the simplest possible terms, either what I believe about the teaching of Scripture is false and heretical, or what the Monroe Four are teaching is. It is simply not possible that we could both be right when we are teaching things that contradict each another. We may both be wrong but we cannot both be right, and the scriptures cannot simultaneously teach both A and non-A at the same time in the same way.

The glory of God, the purity of His Church, and the keeping and reclaiming of disobedient sinners demands that either they need to be charged, or I do.
Correction/Addendum (1/10/2003).

I was contacted this afternoon (1/10/2003) by Dr. Joey Pipa, who was genuinely concerned about some of my comments regarding the respondents. After speaking with him, I believe I erred in that some of my comments meant to apply primarily to the other respondents could be seen as applying to him, and because I entirely misunderstood the reason for his palpable depression. Accordingly, I would like to issue a formal correction to my original letter, which more accurately represents his personal position and feelings about the conference. I have indicated to Dr. Pipa what I will be saying in this communication, and he has worked with me over the phone to craft the contents. I would also like to publicly offer him my sincere apologies for initially misrepresenting his position.


It needs to be clearly and unambiguously stated that Dr. Pipa did not attend the 2003 AAPC in order to be used by those promulgating the Auburn theology to in any way affirm, cover over, or provide semi-official credibility for their theological positions. He went to the conference with a definite critique of the statements made at the original conference and had serious theological concerns about what had been said there. His actual response to Steve Wilkins' paper in no way coddled or supported Wilkins' theology, but rather sought to refute the Auburn Theology in a systematic fashion.
Dr. Pipa's reasons for being noticeably depressed at the conference did not have anything to do with his friendship with the Monroe Four. He wants it to be known that he was saddened because of what he was hearing from the speakers, and also by the number of people who appeared to be going along with it. His friendship with the speakers in no way led him to capitulate on any point, neither did he allow friendship to become a factor in toning down his critique. However, he did and still does want Christian civility to prevail in this debate, and does not want it to degenerate into an angry shouting match.
If Dr. Pipa occasionally refrained from engaging in the debate during the discussions sessions, it was because he did not want to give the appearance that he was the great Reformed Guru hogging the microphone, and that his desire was to give the other Respondents an opportunity to speak. In all fairness, this was visibly the case. The problem seems to have been that the other respondents did not often take advantage of those opportunities.
Additionally, Dr. Pipa did not back-off saying that the Sacramental theology of Steve Wilkins was a heresy out of friendship, love, and certainly not timidity. He backed off when he realized that their definition of "Heresy" and the definition of he and Dr. Morton Smith was different from that of Monroe Four. Their definition of heresy seemed to be that it was a soul damning offense, while he and Dr. Pipa were defining heresy as serious doctrinal errors at odds with the standards of the church requiring discipline. Dr. Pipa does believe that the speakers had a valid point in saying that it really is up to a church court to definitively pronounce something a heresy.
Dr. Pipa also stated that it is a misconstrual of his actions to say that he repented of calling the Auburn theology heresy. Rather because the dialogue was bogging down over the use of the word "heresy," a change of language was necessary in order to get back to the actual issues he brought up in his response, which he believes were not being addressed.
As far as Dr. Pipa's current beliefs regarding the statement of Steve Wilkins are concerned, he had this to say:
"I still believe that if what I've stated is true and if he [Wilkins] does not back off of it [The Auburn Theology], then it is a disciplinable offense, and to date he has not responded to the four points in my response:


[The Auburn Theology] Makes the sacraments efficacious apart from faith
[The Auburn Theology] Confuses the reality and the sign
[The Auburn Theology] Makes the sacraments converting ordinances, not sanctifying and strengthening ordinances
[The Auburn Theology] Teaches Baptism actually engrafts us into Christ NOT solemnly admits us into the church.

wildboar
09-10-05, 10:22 PM
Great Synod of Ray:

Since Doug Wilson in fact provides his own critiques of the New Perspective on Paul would it not be better to interact with his critique than just blindly posting whatever someone else said that he said? Look at this one for instance: http://www.credenda.org/issues/15-5thema.php

You are unwilling to even read what these people have written first hand. You are making yourself guilty of gossip. Be a man, think for yourself.

InChristAlways
09-11-05, 01:56 PM
Ray
Here is another critique of Federal Vision babble:



Foolish Galatianism
Reflections on the 2003 Auburn Avenue Pastors Conference
Part 1
By Rev. Andrew J. Webb
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?...................


Great Synod of Ray:

Since Doug Wilson in fact provides his own critiques of the New Perspective on Paul would it not be better to interact with his critique than just blindly posting whatever someone else said that he said? Look at this one for instance: http://www.credenda.org/issues/15-5thema.php

You are unwilling to even read what these people have written first hand. You are making yourself guilty of gossip. Be a man, think for yourself.

Matthew 18:3 and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as "little children", you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.:D :eek:

[Just adding a little "breath" of humor.] Blessings.

ray kikkert
09-12-05, 11:39 AM
Great Synod of Ray:

Since Doug Wilson in fact provides his own critiques of the New Perspective on Paul would it not be better to interact with his critique than just blindly posting whatever someone else said that he said? Look at this one for instance: http://www.credenda.org/issues/15-5thema.php

You are unwilling to even read what these people have written first hand. You are making yourself guilty of gossip. Be a man, think for yourself.

It is not Wilson's critique of the NPP were are concerned about, it is what he advocates and thus incorporates into Reformed doctrine from the NPP. This is the crux, always has been.

I have all this at my fingertips. www.paulperspective.com (http://www.paulperspective.com)

I read enough.

This resource overviews both advocate and critique alike. One can read to his hearts content from either side.

Thus one in the end will have to take a stand and gird himself as a man. Fence sitting tends to frown on one taking a stand and will belittle based on their fence sitting. The truth shall set me free, always has. 1 Peter chapter 4

wildboar
09-12-05, 07:24 PM
Ray:

It is not fence sitting to develop a fully orbed Biblical view of a subject. Nor is it Christian to claim that anyone who has read a certain book is guilty of heresy. Nor is it Christian to claim that a certain person is a fence sitter or a heretic simply because he spoke at a conference where other people spoke who perhaps hold questionable views on a topic. It is Christian to think the best of our fellow brothers in Christ and to hear them out before making accusations. Doug Wilson is not E.P. Sanders. Doug Wilson is not Steve Schlissel. N.T. Wright isn't even E.P. Sanders and to treat them as if they are is dishonest. You can dig out your trench and take your stand and sling rocks, but you might hit a fellow brother if you are wearing a blindfold.

ray kikkert
09-13-05, 09:33 AM
Ray:

It is not fence sitting to develop a fully orbed Biblical view of a subject.

That is not the problem. There is a reformed confessional view meated out through the Word on the subjects being reinterpreted by the FV babbler. We have a confession. They seek to change it's meaning and we reject that reinterpretation just as the arminian camp was rejected from reinterpreting the reformed confessions. There is nothing new under the sun here.



Nor is it Christian to claim that anyone who has read a certain book is guilty of heresy.

Where was this advocated?


Nor is it Christian to claim that a certain person is a fence sitter or a heretic simply because he spoke at a conference where other people spoke who perhaps hold questionable views on a topic.

Yes, it is by all means needed. To call on a FV babbler of the statements made to explain them, and when the explanation remains the same, then yes if they go against the reformed confessional truth, they will be called for what they are.


It is Christian to think the best of our fellow brothers in Christ and to hear them out before making accusations.

Patience has been given, and patience has run out. Now it is time to reject their stand that they have had ample time to explain. Their statements remain arminian.


Doug Wilson is not E.P. Sanders.

Both are FV babblers and will be called for what they advocate.


Doug Wilson is not Steve Schlissel.

Both are FV babblers and will be called for what they advocate. Again no respecter of persons in this battle.


N.T. Wright isn't even E.P. Sanders and to treat them as if they are is dishonest.

Both are FV babblers and will be called for what they advocate. They are not treated for who they hang with, they are dealt with by their own statements. They are FV babblers.


You can dig out your trench and take your stand and sling rocks, but you might hit a fellow brother if you are wearing a blindfold.

Yes I will take a stand, I am opposed to the FV babble. Yes they confess Christ as I , yes they say they whole heartedly confess the reformed confessions, yet I will attack their doctrine. Christ did not come to bring peace , but a sword. "Thus sayeth Jehovah God, hear ye Him"


You are either severely misinformed or just plain lying. All of the FV advocates teach that we are saved by God's good pleasure based upon His election from eternity. All deny merit.

We shall see. There will be some reviews of this "Federal Vision" book that the babblers have compiled from those as professors and ministers who will have to render an account. They will either advocate or fence sit on this issues and embrace arminianism or they will refute it and cast it from the churches. There are upcoming synodical meetings within the reformed churches that will have to deal with this heresy front and center, they cannot skirt it as the URC has till now done so. Even the OCRC where I came from is dealing with this and is cozying up to the filth.

Yea we shall see. We shall see if their cries of denying merit are actually defended or rejected, just like the remonstrant camp of old. To this point they imitate the arminian camp quite well. They have infected the church. They have caused disunity.

So I will continue to post critiques of the FV babble and update on the latest happenings with this babble.

"Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of a good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" Phill. 4:8

wildboar
09-13-05, 12:31 PM
That is not the problem. There is a reformed confessional view meated out through the Word on the subjects being reinterpreted by the FV babbler. We have a confession. They seek to change it's meaning and we reject that reinterpretation just as the arminian camp was rejected from reinterpreting the reformed confessions. There is nothing new under the sun here.


I can't speak for all those classified as the FV babblers as you put it. They are not, nor do they intend to be a monolithic unit. They disagree on many things. I think it is very possible that Schlissel is headed off the deep-end. On the other hand, men like Doug Wilson are being very faithful to the confessions in their original intent. They are seeking to bring the church back to a pre-enlightenment understanding of the confessions. It is easy in our present day regardless of our background to read things under a certian grid. Those raised in environments with a heavy Puritan influence will tend to read the confessions in a certain way, those who are raised in an environment influenced by Bavinck or Kuyper will read them in another way. Wilson is seeking to bring us back to the original intent of the confessions. He makes very clear those points which he disagrees with the Westminster on (forbidding marriage bonds within degrees of kinship which the Bible does not, the covenant of works, forbidding the communion to infants and so forth). The paedocommunion issue is perhaps the only issue that places him outside of the historic reformed position. Wilson even recently after reading something by Anthony Burgess (one of the Westminster Divines) noted that Burgess denied any merit in the covenant of works and so even in the WCF there might be some common ground there as well.


Yes, it is by all means needed. To call on a FV babbler of the statements made to explain them, and when the explanation remains the same, then yes if they go against the reformed confessional truth, they will be called for what they are.




They do not all use the same language or the same vocabulary even. They do not give the same explanations. Doug Wilson explains some of the differences in debate he had with Michael Horton on St. Anne's Pub. Even if you just read the Federal Vision book you will find that Wilson uses the word election almost exclusively to refer to God's decree from eternity and some of the others use it to speak of historic election more often.


Patience has been given, and patience has run out. Now it is time to reject their stand that they have had ample time to explain. Their statements remain arminian.




There has been no patience. The people involved are unwilling to listen to any real explanation and when the charges were brought forth they did not even speak with those who the charges were being brought against to find out if they were understanding them correctly. Regardless of where you believe they may be wrong there is nothing Arminian about it.

None of them deny total depravity, none deny God's unmerited favor, none deny the particular atonement, none deny irresistable grace, and none deny preservation of the saints.


We shall see. There will be some reviews of this "Federal Vision" book that the babblers have compiled from those as professors and ministers who will have to render an account. They will either advocate or fence sit on this issues and embrace arminianism or they will refute it and cast it from the churches. There are upcoming synodical meetings within the reformed churches that will have to deal with this heresy front and center, they cannot skirt it as the URC has till now done so. Even the OCRC where I came from is dealing with this and is cozying up to the filth.


Those in the OCRC who called for their synod to denounce the Federal Vision brought no basis for their charges just as you bring no basis for yours. You are truly on the road to Rome if you think the way to deal with doctrinal controversies is to just declare anyone who doesn't agree with you to be a heretic without even trying to understand what they are saying. You have yet to read any book such as the Federal Vision or Reformed is not enough and give an honest critique of it. You have no right to whine and complain when you are just going on heresay.

2 Corinthians 12:20-21 For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; 21 lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced.

lionovjudah
09-13-05, 02:06 PM
Let me give you an example of what I mean; John Barach pointed out that the "traditional" reformed view of election and assurance has produced such a crisis of assurance that he knows of a Reformed church near him with over 700 members, but that only 20 or so actually attend the Lord's supper. This is due, he says, to the fact that most members have not reached a point where they feel holy enough to be assured of their election, and thus truly worthy of coming to the Lord's Supper. This, he claims, is a result of basing our view of who is really a Christian on the doctrine of election. How, after all, can one know if he is truly predestined?

Now, I was not shocked by his example, because I have heard of this problem in Dutch Reformed churches before. Only the undoubtedly holy approach the table, because supposedly they are the only ones worthy to come. While this is a problem in some Dutch Reformed circles, it stems from a misunderstanding of the Lord's Supper and whom it is intended for. Joel Beeke and other theologians from the Dutch tradition have chronicled the fall off in attendance on the Lord's Supper in Dutch Reformed circles, and are working to undo the damage that has been done


Is the above actually true? I never knew such a practice existed. This is a shame if it is true

ray kikkert
09-13-05, 06:40 PM
I can't speak for all those classified as the FV babblers as you put it. They are not, nor do they intend to be a monolithic unit. They disagree on many things. I think it is very possible that Schlissel is headed off the deep-end. On the other hand, men like Doug Wilson are being very faithful to the confessions in their original intent. They are seeking to bring the church back to a pre-enlightenment understanding of the confessions. It is easy in our present day regardless of our background to read things under a certian grid. Those raised in environments with a heavy Puritan influence will tend to read the confessions in a certain way, those who are raised in an environment influenced by Bavinck or Kuyper will read them in another way. Wilson is seeking to bring us back to the original intent of the confessions. He makes very clear those points which he disagrees with the Westminster on (forbidding marriage bonds within degrees of kinship which the Bible does not, the covenant of works, forbidding the communion to infants and so forth). The paedocommunion issue is perhaps the only issue that places him outside of the historic reformed position. Wilson even recently after reading something by Anthony Burgess (one of the Westminster Divines) noted that Burgess denied any merit in the covenant of works and so even in the WCF there might be some common ground there as well.

Yes the "what FV?" question that is asked by those who state that no movement is afoot, yet it seems they can write a book, attend conferences, babble endlessly with explanations that do more to confuse and sweet talk the laymen.
There tactics are clear, there attempts at innocence... pathetic.
As for Wilson's doctrine.... it is an attempt to circumvent what the reformed confessions teach. I had to laugh that Wilson is trying to bring the church to a "pre enlightenment" understanding of the confessions. Yes that is right.... right back to Rome and the Dark ages.




They do not all use the same language or the same vocabulary even. They do not give the same explanations.

True..... their doctrinal definitions change as they see fit. They are the great re interpreters. Yet able to co exist in submitting to a book they all gave their approval to. One wonders how?


Doug Wilson explains some of the differences in debate he had with Michael Horton on St. Anne's Pub. Even if you just read the Federal Vision book you will find that Wilson uses the word election almost exclusively to refer to God's decree from eternity and some of the others use it to speak of historic election more often.

I am not fooled by Wilsons use of "in Christ" to define justification. That destroys what he pays lipservice to.




There has been no patience. The people involved are unwilling to listen to any real explanation and when the charges were brought forth they did not even speak with those who the charges were being brought against to find out if they were understanding them correctly. Regardless of where you believe they may be wrong there is nothing Arminian about it.

Not surprised by this comment. It is an arminian tactic.




None of them deny total depravity, none deny God's unmerited favor, none deny the particular atonement, none deny irresistable grace, and none deny preservation of the saints.

The blind leading the blind, your metamorphisis well on it's way.





Those in the OCRC who called for their synod to denounce the Federal Vision brought no basis for their charges just as you bring no basis for yours. You are truly on the road to Rome if you think the way to deal with doctrinal controversies is to just declare anyone who doesn't agree with you to be a heretic without even trying to understand what they are saying. You have yet to read any book such as the Federal Vision or Reformed is not enough and give an honest critique of it. You have no right to whine and complain when you are just going on heresay.

I have not read the OCRC Trumpet article yet. I discussed the issue with Prof. Englesma, Monday. Apart from your feeble attempts at providing a defense for so wretched a doctrine, I have read up on their articles. I have questioned some of them, I have not rendered any a heretic without first reading and finding out myself. I have better things to do, better things to work on, better things to talk about, yet it seesm these babblers will not shut their mouths. I have taken a stand against it and have rendered that I am fed up with their spewing of babble. That is the long and short of it. It is far from hearsay. How many articles, pamphlets, from seminaries, professors, ministers, elders, churches, synods, forum discussions will it take to suffice a clear understanding for brother Boar? Is this cloud of witnesses truly a Roman inquisition? Will you tell that which you have said to me , to them? I doubt you have it in you, you by admission are unclear where you stand. Nay, much has been said, still more to come. I have not posted what I have in vain. I have read them through. It is the same old, same old with a little different spin from a new breed of spin doctors who happen to be FV babblers.


2 Corinthians 12:20-21 For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; 21 lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced.

Yes indeed... His polemical admonition I need and submit to.

Bob Higby
09-13-05, 08:46 PM
None of them deny total depravity, none deny God's unmerited favor, none deny the particular atonement, none deny irresistable grace, and none deny preservation of the saints.

But they clearly deny the historic position on SOLA FIDE and the unconditional nature of the Covenant of Grace as both of these operate within the historical process. So while the above are not denied, they are certainly re-defined into a different mold as sure and certain as Robert Schuller has re-defined the Christian message into a mold having gospel language but no actual gospel.

There is no way that all the critics are wrong on this one; even if one wishes to dispense with Robbins.

wildboar
09-13-05, 09:04 PM
Is the above actually true? I never knew such a practice existed. This is a shame if it is true

It is a common problem in the Netherlands Reformed churches especially and also among those with an extremely heavy Purtian influence. The idea is that since only the elect are truly God's children and since election belongs to God's secret decree a person cannot know they are elect unless they have some kind of dramatic conversion experience. Sometimes these churches are referred to as Pietistic Reformed churches. The FV teaches that the Bible does teach God's decree of election from eternity, but this election is made know historically by an election which takes place when a person becomes a member of the church. The Bible speaks of national Israel in the Old Testament as God's elect for instance.


Yes the "what FV?" question that is asked by those who state that no movement is afoot, yet it seems they can write a book, attend conferences, babble endlessly with explanations that do more to confuse and sweet talk the laymen.



These conferences were held and books were written to discuss various issues dealing with the covenant. The men involved are not all completely agreed on a single position. The goal of course is that by continuing discussion a consensus can be reached not only among them but in the broader reformed community. There are various beliefs which these men hold to which are related to the covenant doctrine but which they are very much in disagreement over. The goal I believe was to make public, discussions which were already ocurring in the various denominations. As far as I know the PRC is the only church which has historically taken a particular stand on the issue of the covenant. Throughout history the various reformed denominations have had men which have labored side by side who held to various positions on the covenant. The Auburn Avenue conferences brought those debates out to the front. I've seen both Lusk and Wilson admit to their own sin in not being as clear as they could have been in some instances and in talking past their opponents. Both men have issued clarifications of their statements and further explanations in an attempt to clear things up but unfortunatly for the most part have gone unheard.


I had to laugh that Wilson is trying to bring the church to a "pre enlightenment" understanding of the confessions. Yes that is right.... right back to Rome and the Dark ages.



The idea is to bring the church back to the Reformation era in their understanding of the confessions. We did not magically leap from the medieval age to the enlightenment and the enlightenment brought us many, many bad things. Fish don't know that they are wet.


Will you tell that which you have said to me , to them? I doubt you have it in you, you by admission are unclear where you stand. Nay, much has been said, still more to come. I have not posted what I have in vain. I have read them through. It is the same old, same old with a little different spin from a new breed of spin doctors who happen to be FV babblers.




I am studying the issue. I have not yet reached a conclusion yet. None of your posts have helped me in reaching any kind of conclusion other than that this ray fellow doesn't know what he's talking about. If you have read the articles yourself why do you feel the need to post all these various reviews which have nothing to do with the real issues? Why not post your own critiques with quotes dealing with the core issues? Not just some snippets from a personally held conviction of one of the speakers?

wildboar
09-13-05, 10:11 PM
But they clearly deny the historic position on SOLA FIDE and the unconditional nature of the Covenant of Grace as both of these operate within the historical process.

From reading the various quotes that they provide historically regarding the covenant and checking them for myself I do not believe they are outside of the bounds of the historic reformed position on that issue. There is a possibility they are outside of the bounds on the issue of Sola Fide and that's not something to be taken lightly. There were two articles on the Federal Vision book, one by Leithart and one by Schlissel. I don't believe that Leithart's statements were outside the bounds. It is possible that Schlissel's were but his statements were so murky it was very hard to tell. Horton did not bring up the issue of faith/faithfulness until the debate was almost completely over with Wilson and Wilson didn't really get a chance to respond. I think Wilson deals with the issue more in "Reformed is Not Enough" and I intend to read that book and then I will be able to make an intelligent statement on it. I think that much more of the debate needs to center around this issue with a very clear definition of terms.

ray kikkert
09-14-05, 08:20 AM
These conferences were held and books were written to discuss various issues dealing with the covenant. The men involved are not all completely agreed on a single position. The goal of course is that by continuing discussion a consensus can be reached not only among them but in the broader reformed community. There are various beliefs which these men hold to which are related to the covenant doctrine but which they are very much in disagreement over. The goal I believe was to make public, discussions which were already ocurring in the various denominations. As far as I know the PRC is the only church which has historically taken a particular stand on the issue of the covenant. Throughout history the various reformed denominations have had men which have labored side by side who held to various positions on the covenant. The Auburn Avenue conferences brought those debates out to the front. I've seen both Lusk and Wilson admit to their own sin in not being as clear as they could have been in some instances and in talking past their opponents. Both men have issued clarifications of their statements and further explanations in an attempt to clear things up but unfortunatly for the most part have gone unheard.

They are far from being unheard. Wilson in his lecture "heretics and the covenant" at the conference made specific reference that the covenant he spoke of was the covenant of grace. I do not care who you are , but it is clear within reformed theology that the elect and the elect alone are the one's with whom God is pleased to fellowship with. The reprobate have no place in the covenant of grace. Regardless of anything else, this much is agreed to with respect to the covenant of grace.
Not so with Wilson. A heretic has place in the covenant of grace. Wilson states this right at the outset, but the lecture itself should have been termed "heretics in the church". Why Wilson termed it the covenant of grace is beyond explanation. It is true that I find agreement with him on some points he makes, yet that is totally destroyed the more his babbles on.
Wilson is a learned man. He is thus without excuse. The reformed confessions are clear both in regards to the covenant of grace and heretics in the church.



The idea is to bring the church back to the Reformation era in their understanding of the confessions. We did not magically leap from the medieval age to the enlightenment and the enlightenment brought us many, many bad things. Fish don't know that they are wet.

When Wilson repents of his butchering of the reformed confessions then we can work together to promote the truth of Scripture as confessed in the reformed confessions. A fish that jumps out of the wet water and remains stuck on dry land will die regardless whether the fish knows it is wet.



I am studying the issue. I have not yet reached a conclusion yet. None of your posts have helped me in reaching any kind of conclusion other than that this ray fellow doesn't know what he's talking about. If you have read the articles yourself why do you feel the need to post all these various reviews which have nothing to do with the real issues? Why not post your own critiques with quotes dealing with the core issues? Not just some snippets from a personally held conviction of one of the speakers?

Yes this "ray fellow" has endeavored to hear and read these babblers. I have made a stand. You state you have not, which to me is saying "yes I advocate FV babble"
I post the articles because simply these babblers will not shut up. Thus I will now not shut up either. "real issues" "core issues" ? I said it before, I will say it again.... the 5 points of calvinism are being destroyed, the reformed confessional base is being reinterpreted, the covenant of grace- God's everlasting covenant is defined as conditional....... it is leading back to Rome.

InChristAlways
09-15-05, 01:46 PM
WB
These conferences were held and books were written to discuss various issues dealing with the covenant. The men involved are not all completely agreed on a single position. The goal of course is that by continuing discussion a consensus can be reached not only among them but in the broader reformed community. There are various beliefs which these men hold to which are related to the covenant doctrine but which they are very much in disagreement over. The idea is to bring the church back to the Reformation era in their understanding of the confessions. We did not magically leap from the medieval age to the enlightenment and the enlightenment brought us many, many bad things.
rk
Fish don't know that they are wet.
When Wilson repents of his butchering of the reformed confessions then we can work together to promote the truth of Scripture as confessed in the reformed confessions. A fish that jumps out of the wet water and remains stuck on dry land will die regardless whether the fish knows it is wet.Yes this "ray fellow" has endeavored to hear and read these babblers. I have made a stand. You state you have not, which to me is saying "yes I advocate FV babble"

I post the articles because simply these babblers will not shut up. Thus I will now not shut up either. "real issues" "core issues" ? I said it before, I will say it again.... the 5 points of calvinism are being destroyed, the reformed confessional base is being reinterpreted, the covenant of grace- God's everlasting covenant is defined as conditional....... it is leading back to Rome.
rk. I have never seen anything said so bad that it would lead back to "rome". If even one truth can be heard from those already in "rome", that may lead them out of it and start their path to the Truth and Wisdom that is of God through His Son Jesus. There are plenty abandoning the CC these days and looking for a ship of Light to lead them and most of those have been so indoctrinated with the unscriptural views of the church, we really need to hold their hand and bring them to the Jesus Christ we know and Love. And after that, it is up the the Grace and Spirit of the Lord Jesus to lead them into His walk on this planed we call earth.
I mean, come on now brother, unless you can be tad bit more "open" minded in the Spirit to what others are saying, and not "beat them with a stick" just for disagreeing with your "set in stone" beliefs, then nothing will ever be resolved. WB has some very interesting posts that even I find edifying and some I don't. Blessings.

ray kikkert
09-15-05, 06:50 PM
I mean, come on now brother, unless you can be tad bit more "open" minded in the Spirit to what others are saying, and not "beat them with a stick" just for disagreeing with your "set in stone" beliefs, then nothing will ever be resolved. WB has some very interesting posts that even I find edifying and some I don't. Blessings.

The Lord will not forget His own, where er they come from. His elect are precious to Him. They shall be made to perservere. His promise is sure.

These words are confused by the FV clan. They cannot speak plain simple language to express their points. Until they do there derision will be rejected as dung.

bauerpauer
09-15-05, 08:27 PM
So the record is set straight.
1.) Wilson and other FV advocates do not believe in baptismal regeneration no matter how selectively you take their works or scrutinize what they have to say. They define Christian in two senses. A visible, objective sense, that the recipient of baptism is a part of once baptized in the name of the triune God. And they define Christian as an invisible, elect, sense. When you say they believe baptism makes you a christian it does not mean christian in the second, elect sense. It is using it in the objective, covenant sense.

Wilson uses the illustration that just because a husband is commiting adultery it does not make him less of a husband. He has entered into a covenant promise with a woman and he is her husband, this is not based upon a private decision. In fact, the only way you can charge him with his infidelity is to say he is a husband, otherwise you lose all ground to charge him with cheating on his wife. The same thing applies to Christians in the covenant object sense. If you say they are not really christians then you have lost all ground in which you may charge them with heresy.

2.) Wilson and Schlissel and the other FV Advocates are not advocates of the new perspective on paul and justification. If you would do some research you would see that in the back of Douglas Wilson's book, "Reformed" is not enough, there is a chapter devoted to clearing up this nonsense of the New Perspective which he is so often associated with.

Ray, Have you read Wilson's reformed is not enough? I highly recomend it if you have not, at least see where he's coming from and give him a chance. He has not destroyed the doctrines of grace, he affirms the synod of dordt multiple times in fact.

Grace and peace brothers.

Bob Higby
09-16-05, 02:31 AM
The gospel position on the New and Everlasting covenant of grace needs no debate. If one proposes that the operation of grace involves conditions placed upon man who is totally unable, we have no obligation to even consider that person's position. It is to be automatically rejected as a denial of the gospel.

ray kikkert
09-16-05, 06:08 PM
So the record is set straight.
1.) Wilson and other FV advocates do not believe in baptismal regeneration no matter how selectively you take their works or scrutinize what they have to say. They define Christian in two senses. A visible, objective sense, that the recipient of baptism is a part of once baptized in the name of the triune God. And they define Christian as an invisible, elect, sense. When you say they believe baptism makes you a christian it does not mean christian in the second, elect sense. It is using it in the objective, covenant sense.

Objective..... however Wilson wants to confuse it he is talking about the covenant of grace. The covenant of grace in Scripture and the reformed confessions is the fellowship of Christ and the elect. Not the reprobate, they never had part. There is no covenant breaking in the covenant of grace. You confess the Westminster?.... well then reread
Q31: With whom was the covenant of grace made?
A31: The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.[1]
1. Gal. 3:16; Rom. 5:15-21; Isa. 53:10-11





Wilson uses the illustration that just because a husband is commiting adultery it does not make him less of a husband. He has entered into a covenant promise with a woman and he is her husband, this is not based upon a private decision. In fact, the only way you can charge him with his infidelity is to say he is a husband, otherwise you lose all ground to charge him with cheating on his wife. The same thing applies to Christians in the covenant object sense. If you say they are not really christians then you have lost all ground in which you may charge them with heresy.

Wilson's anology of the covenant husband is false. Wilson's use of an earthly husband compared to that of God is false. The covenant is God's , it is bi lateral. He establishes, maintains, and sustains His covenant. He does all the work within the elect creature to bring about fellowship of the creature with the Creator. God in no wise commits adultery in His covenant , the mere thought of such is pathetic. Husbands we are told in Scripture(Eph. 5) are to love their wives , as Christ loves His church. Does that mean all head for head? The vain philosophy of Wilson is yes. Scripture says no, it is specific to the elect alone. If one is "not" a Christian which the catechism states thus:
Q32: But why are you called a Christian?
A32: Because by faith I am a member of Christ [1] and thus a partaker of His anointing,[2] in order that I also may confess His Name,[3] may present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to Him,[4] and with a free conscience may fight against sin and the devil in this life,[5] and hereafter in eternity reign with Him over all creatures.[6]
1. Acts 11:26; I John 2:20, 27
2. Acts 2:17
3. Mark 8:38
4. Rom. 12:1; Rev. 5:8, 10; I Peter 2:9; Rev. 1:6
5. I Tim. 1:18-19
6. II Tim. 2:12; Eph. 6:12; Rev. 3:21

or whether they are a flat out humanist, both can be rendered heretics. There is as much basis to call them heretics regardless.




2.) Wilson and Schlissel and the other FV Advocates are not advocates of the new perspective on paul and justification. If you would do some research you would see that in the back of Douglas Wilson's book, "Reformed" is not enough, there is a chapter devoted to clearing up this nonsense of the New Perspective which he is so often associated with.

I have and from men more read then myself. They are NPP babblers. You state "if I would do some research" . Maybe you are blind or just have not read the critiques I have put forth already.


Ray, Have you read Wilson's reformed is not enough? I highly recomend it if you have not, at least see where he's coming from and give him a chance. He has not destroyed the doctrines of grace, he affirms the synod of dordt multiple times in fact.

You highly recommend it do you? Here are 2 beaming critiques of it.

Not Reformed at All: Medievalism in “Reformed” Churches, by John W. Robbins and Sean Gerety. Unicoi, Tennessee: The Trinity Foundation, 2004. 153 pages. $9.95 (paper). [Reviewed by the editor.]

Not Reformed at All exposes the theology of Douglas Wilson. The book responds to Wilson’s Reformed is Not Enough: Recovering the Objectivity of the Covenant. Since the theology of Wilson is essentially that of the movement of covenantal universalism now troubling conservative Reformed and Presbyterian churches in North America, Not Reformed at All exposes the entire movement in which Wilson is a leading figure.
I use “exposes” advisedly. Robbins and Gerety show, not only that Wilson’s theology is not Reformed according to the Reformed confessions, but also that it is lightweight. It is not rooted in the Reformed tradition. What roots it has in the past are planted in medieval thinking. Hence, the book’s subtitle. In addition, Wilson’s theology is illogical, contradictory, and incoherent. Much of his teaching is mere assertion—“pontificating”—rather than demonstration from Scripture and the confessions. As if this were not bad enough, Wilson’s signature style, unworthy of the gospel, is a “facile glibness and an adolescent smart-aleckness.”
Emperor Wilson of Moscow has no clothes.
At its heart, the book is a criticism of the covenant theology of the “federal vision,” as its proponents like to call it. What sets this criticism apart from almost all others is its penetration to the root of the heresy: the teaching of universal, conditional, resistible, losable covenant grace. Most other criticisms of the theology of the “federal vision” are content to address the denial of justification by faith alone. For whatever reason, they steer clear of the doctrine of the covenant out of which the teaching of justification by faith and works arises, according to the teachers of the false doctrine themselves.
Robbins and Gerety take hold of the heresy at its root. “It is appalling that at this late date, some glib writer who claims to be Reformed can assert that the Covenant of Grace is made with elect and reprobate alike—and be widely believed” (p. 118).
In the course of their refutation of Wilson’s covenant theology, the authors prove from Scripture and the Reformed creeds that the covenant, its promise, its blessings, and its salvation are particular—for the elect in Christ alone.


This is God’s sovereign Covenant of Grace, and it is wholly efficacious; no one and nothing can thwart it. This Covenant is made exclusively with Christ and the elect, to whom alone the promises of life and salvation belong. At this state in his extended argument [in Romans], Paul uses the doctrine of election (individual, of course) to defend God against the charge that he has not kept his covenant promises to the Jews, and his Word is of no effect. Paul’s argument is, in summary, that God had made no promises of salvation to all the children of Abraham, nor even to all the circumcised, but to his chosen people only. Just as God’s election is of some only, and Christ died for some only, so in the Covenant of Grace the promise of salvation is to some only. The Covenant is not a promise to all men, not even to all those that are circumcised or baptized, but only to those chosen by God in Christ from before the foundation of the world. Paul writes: “But it is not that the Word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called’” (Romans 9:6-7 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Romans+9:6-7)) (pp. 92, 93).


There is astute reference to the biblical theology that plays a powerful role at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia and elsewhere in promoting the covenant doctrine of the men of the “federal vision.”


Christian theology is eternally true, firmly settled, and rigorously systematic; and it precedes all events. It is God’s thoughts that produce events. Wilson’s error, of course, is not unique to him; it is an error at the heart of the Biblical theology/redemptive history movement, which makes the chronological order in which God revealed truth to men more basic and more important than the logical order the truths themselves possess in God’s mind (p. 97).






I also give the book a beaming critique. It is dung infested. There. Simple and to the point. I will get the book, second hand from some one else. No need to spend money on dung.

ray kikkert
09-16-05, 06:27 PM
Lest anyone should think that there is no big fuss out there..... I render the following:

This is part of the unanimously adopted report from the Mississippi
Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America. The entire
thirty-one page report can be found on the website of the First
Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Mississippi's
Website<http://www.fpcjackson.org/resources/apologetics/PDFs/MSVP%20Ad%20Hoc%20S\
tudy%20Com%20Report.pdf (http://www.fpcjackson.org/resources/apologetics/PDFs/MSVP%20Ad%20Hoc%20Study%20Com%20Report.pdf)>.
The Presbytery of the Mississippi Valley (PCA)

The Reverend Roger Collins, Stated Clerk

130 Byram Parkway

Byram, Mississippi 39272-9601

MSVP04@... (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/co-urc/post?postID=6KMcXHqlBjtvJurWF3qHVgm8vHRC2UoXSqCHhj TLACMfwaKskHzVoeFRZJ7deYP_D5MKBw)

http://www.msvalleypresbytery.com (http://www.msvalleypresbytery.com/) <http://www.msvalleypresbytery.com/ (http://www.msvalleypresbytery.com/)>

Fathers and Brethren,

A year ago the Presbytery of the Mississippi Valley (hereafter MVP)
appointed an ad hoc committee charged with facilitating the presbytery's
study of the issues surrounding the distinct but related phenomena of
the so-called "New Perspectives on Paul" (NPP) (including the theology
of N.T. Wright, hereafter NTW); the so-called "Auburn Avenue theology"
(hereafter AAT, which is sometimes referred to as the "Federal Vision,"
hereafter FV, or AAT/FV) and the theology of Norman Shepherd (hereafter
NS). The committee began its work well aware of the uniquenesses of and
differences between these various theological projects, but also
realizing that they all share a certain similar attraction to a distinct
theological sub-culture within various Reformed denominations (PCA, OPC,
CRC, URCNA, etc). Our study committee's appreciation of the distinctness
of these theological blueprints is reflected in the provision of four
separate summary outlines (and one critical overview) of these
multifarious views.

The need for such a study has become increasingly obvious. In the PCA,
at least two presbyteries have refused to transfer PCA ministers
sympathetic to the AAT/FV into their presbyteries. Recently, Evangel
Presbytery's Credentials Committee rejected for transfer into their
bounds a PCA minister in good standing, who embraces the AAT/FV, finding
his views to be outside the pale of acceptable doctrinal diversity. The
minister and the calling church have now left the PCA for the CRE (the
fellowship of churches associated with Doug Wilson of Moscow, Idaho).
Several PCA presbyteries have established their own study committees on
the NPP, the theology of NS, and the AAT/FV (among them, Western
Carolina, Blue Ridge and Missouri). One Reformed denomination (the
RPC[GA]) and one PCA presbytery (Central Carolina) have now sent
communications asking for Louisiana Presbytery to conduct a theological
investigation of the AAT/FV within its own bounds. The OPC has also
established a study committee. Meanwhile, numerous books and articles
are appearing on these subjects, and conferences, seminars and lectures
(pro and con) are proliferating (the PCA's Stated Clerk has recently
sponsored a lecture for all the Clerks of the PCA presbyteries, and our
denominational seminary, Covenant, has also held a series of talks). One
PCA session and congregation has promoted through its pastors'
conference the teachings of NS and NTW as helpful to an ongoing
intramural Reformed dialogue and discussion on covenant and
justification. Members transferring from AAT/FV-friendly churches have
attempted to force the sessions of the churches to which they have
relocated to allow for their practice of AAT/FV distinctives relating to
child communion and membership (and in one case have pursued a judicial
appeal all the way through presbytery to the SJC). In one church, an
AAT/FV30 sympathetic pastor has engineered the removal of an associate
who was fully committed to the PCA doctrinal position but objected to
the pastor's extra- or anti-confessional views. Additionally, leading
pastor-theologians in the Reformed and evangelical world have raised
concerns over the unbiblical and anti-confessional views of the NPP,
NTW, NS and the AAT/FV theologies. Sinclair Ferguson, Al Mohler, Doug
Kelly, Don Carson, Rick Phillips, John Piper, R.C. Sproul, Cal Beisner,
Frank Barker and more have publicly indicated their disapproval of the
theological program of some or all of these various figures and groups.
Yet, a not insignificant number of PCA teaching elders shows significant
sympathy with these theological tendencies about which our most trusted
churchmen and scholars have expressed distress.

Hence, the presbytery's committee sponsored more than thirty hours of
lecture and discussion on the assigned subjects, and held a face to face
meeting with representatives of the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church of
Monroe, Louisiana. The committee has also provided the presbytery with
three sets of audio recordings pertaining to the theology of the NPP,
the theology of NS, and the theology of the FV (AAT). One book has
already been published as a result of the committee's labors, Guy
Waters' */Justification and the New Perspectives /*(P&R, 2004) and
another is on the way, Guy Waters' */Covenant Theology Improved? /*(P&R,
2005) (this volume deals with the AAT/FV). Dr. Waters' work has been
widely lauded as a definitive Reformed treatment of the NPP and no doubt
so also will his work of the AAT/FV.

The presbytery's committee presented a preliminary informational report
to MVP in November of 2004. This report contained the following: a
synoptic presentation of the views of the NPP (and especially the
teaching of NTW), of NS, and of the AAT/FV. At that time, the committee
indicated to presbytery that it would move adoption of a final report in
February, 2005. The summary statements in this report are improved and
corrected versions of that preliminary information.

Since the time of the preliminary informational report, the Session of
the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church (hereafter AAPC) has issued a
response charging our committee with misrepresenting their positions
(this has been distributed via email to the presbyteries of the PCA – it
is included in this report as an exhibit). Having met face to face with
three representatives of the AAPC, the MVP committee unanimously agreed
that the committee's representations of the AAPC session's original
Summary Statement and of the AAT/FV in its /Pr&#233;cis on the Federal Vision
(AAT/FV) /and in its /Critical Overview of the AAPC Summary Statement
/are both accurate and helpful, and MVP as a presbytery concurs. The
AAPC Session's response asserted three things globally – that the MVP
preliminary informational report: (1) "frequently assumes a monolithic
and univocal 'Reformed Tradition'" and "overlooks the various shades of
diversity within historic Reformed theology (including the
Westminsterian tradition);" (2) "assumes that there is a well-defined
movement labeled the 'Federal Vision' and fails to take into account the
"differences that exist between the positions held by the individuals
involved;" and (3) shows "no appreciation of the nuances or
qualifications or specified terminology that has been utilized by the
'Federal Vision' men" and does not engage "with the wide array of
exegetical, theological, and historical arguments set forth by the men
associated with the 'Federal Vision.'"

In discussion with the representatives of AAPC, our committee denied the
validity of each of these concerns. First, it was pointed out that the
committee was well aware of the diversity of the Reformed tradition (one
of the MVP committee members has published scholarly work on that very
subject). The issue at stake, however, is not whether there is diversity
in the Reformed tradition, but whether the AAT is within the bounds of
acceptable diversity. Furthermore, it should be noted that we do not
subscribe to the "Reformed tradition," generically, as PCA elders,
rather, we subscribe specifically to the /Confession of Faith/.

Second, the committee indicated that it is well aware of the amorphous
character of what is being called the AAT/FV. Nevertheless, there are
discernable common emphases and there is a generally shared desire among
FV proponents to stress what they call the objectivity of the covenant,
a shared desire to improve upon the classical formulations of Reformed
covenant theology, and a consequent willingness to reformulate historic
Reformed teaching on election, covenant, justification, perseverance,
ecclesiology, and more. Whether one calls this a movement or not is
immaterial. It is clear from the above that something identifiable
exists, and one of the key goals of the committee was to make it more
discernable.

Third, the committee, having studied thousands of pages of material from
FV proponents, is keenly aware of the nuances, qualifications, and
terminological distinctions deployed by advocates of the FV.
Nevertheless, the committee sought to highlight the main commonalities
and tendencies in this theological approach, as well as some of the more
striking aberrations being propounded by key exponents of the FV. As to
the charge of not engaging with the FV's exegetical, theological and
historical arguments, the committee's purview did not entail the
provision of a definitive exegetical, historical and theological
rebuttal, but rather it set out to provide an (1) accurate and useful
description of the FV position, and (2) a juxtaposition of specific FV
views with the confessional position. That having been said, even the
limited review, description and critique provided by the committee is
sufficient to indicate the FV's divergence from confessional theology
and biblical teaching.

The MVP committee had initially thought of not footnoting the FV summary
statement, in order to avoid having to name names and involving
personalities (hoping that a more detached and anonymous account of the
FV theology would help keep the temperature of subsequent discussion
down). However, when the charges of misrepresentation were spread
abroad, the committee determined to provide full public documentation of
its descriptions in order to vindicate the accuracy of the report, as
well as to be maximally helpful to other church bodies wrestling with
these issues.

MVP is well aware that assessments of the theology of the NPP, NTW, NS,
and the AAT/FV are not uniform from within the larger Reformed
community. Some examples of this may be helpful. For instance, out of
Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, Old Testament professor Doug Green
has rendered a generally positive verdict regarding the work of NTW,
while Systematic Theology professor Dick Gaffin has registered a
decidedly negative assessment of the NPP, and NTW in particular.
Additionally, Covenant Seminary, the denominational seminary of the PCA,
has produced a mild, if limited critique. Members of the Reformed
Theological Seminary faculty (in Jackson, Charlotte, Orlando and
Atlanta) have also written negative criticisms of the NPP and NTW.

Meanwhile, when Westminster Seminary in California, the RCUS and the
RPCUS recently condemned the teachings of NS and the AAT/FV, respected
Professor John Frame (of RTS Orlando) called into question the
conclusion of their appraisal, in his foreword to a book that contains
chapters by NS and advocates of the AAT/FV. Nevertheless, Frame (who has
consistently defended NS's orthodoxy even though he does not personally
adhere to many of NS's opinions and formulations relating to
justification) has himself conceded that: "Shepherd has taken positions
contrary to some elements of the Reformed tradition."

Furthermore, many advocates of the AAT (within and without the PCA) have
asserted that their own views are an acceptable part of the Reformed
tradition, consistent with the /Westminster Confession/, and a biblical
improvement upon traditional formulations, while at the same time their
critics (again, within and without the PCA) have called those views into
question, argued that they are anti-confessional and even labeled their
teaching as "heresy." AAT proponents have called for dialogue and
discussion, viewing these matters as an intramural debate, while many in
the PCA want to see decisive judicial action to exclude their
distinctive teachings.

What are we to say and do in the face of such a confusion of responses?
Well, first of all, we should note that our word is not intended to be
the final word on the matter. As other presbyteries, the General
Assembly and other denominations continue their work on these issues, no
doubt many things will be clarified and put out of question. We welcome
that, and trust that our own small and initial contribution to the
discussion will help the brethren. However, we do believe that we have
made a good and helpful start of the work.

Second, we continue to esteem and love our brothers, whether they view
the theologies of the NPP, NTW, NS and the AAT/FV as benign and useful,
or have been influenced by their teachings. Our committee genuinely
appreciated the demeanor and candor of PCA TE Steve Wilkins and RE Dale
Peacock in particular as they dialogued with them. There are many in our
midst with deep love for and fraternal bonds with ministers and elders
associated with the FV and these other theological tendencies. Our
greatest concerns lie not with the character and intentions of the
proponents of these new views, but with their theological formulations
and their serious pastoral and theological consequences.

We agree with the insightful observations and questions that Jonathan
Edwards once made and raised, at the end of his own great messages on
justification: "How far a wonderful and mysterious agency of God's
Spirit may so influence some men's hearts, that their practice in this
regard may be contrary to their own principles, so that they shall not
trust in their own righteousness, though they profess that men are
justified by their own righteousness -- or how far they may believe the
doctrine of justification by men's own righteousness in general, and yet
not believe it in a particular application of it to themselves -- or how
far that error which they may have been led into by education, or
cunning sophistry of others, may yet be indeed contrary to the
prevailing disposition of their hearts, and contrary to their practice
-- or how far some may seem to maintain a doctrine contrary to this
gospel-doctrine of justification, that really do not, but only express
themselves differently from others; or seem to oppose it through their
misunderstanding of our expressions, or we of theirs, when indeed our
real sentiments are the same in the main -- or may seem to differ more
than they do, by using terms that are without a precisely fixed and
determinate meaning -- or to be wide in their sentiments from this
doctrine, for want of a distinct understanding of it; whose hearts, at
the same time, entirely agree with it, and if once it was clearly
explained to their understandings, would immediately close with it, and
embrace it: -- how far these things may be, I will not determine; but am
fully persuaded that great allowances are to be made on these and such
like accounts, in innumerable instances; though it is manifest, from
what has been said, that the teaching and propagating [of] contrary
doctrines and schemes, is of a pernicious and fatal tendency."

But third, we do believe that many of the positions being advocated by
proponents of the NPP, NTW, NS, and AAT/FV are confused and confusing,
are unbiblical, are contra-confessional, and are (as Edwards put it) "of
a pernicious and fatal tendency." As such, we are ready to declare some
of these distinctive teachings to be outside the bounds of acceptable
diversity in this presbytery, and we trust also, in the PCA. Among these
are their specific departures from our /Confession/'s presentation of
the Bible's teaching on election, covenant membership, individual
regeneration, /sola fide/, justification, imputation, and perseverance.
We believe our /Confession /to be more faithful to the Scriptures than
are these new formulations.

With regard to these new formulations, we find (1) views that assert
that "final justification" is a matter of performance not possession,
and therefore based in some sense intrinsically rather than being wholly
extrinsic; (2) views that assert that new discoveries regarding "Second
Temple Judaism" require us to reject or radically modify the Reformers'
and our /Confession/'s understanding of the Pauline Gospel; (3) views
that reject or radically modify the /Confession/'s presentation of the
Bible's teaching on imputation of Christ's righteousness to believers
(including the imputation of Christ's active and passive obedience); (4)
views which confuse infused and imputed righteousness, or which do not
recognize the legitimacy of the important biblical and confessional
distinction between faith as "the alone instrument of justification" and
yet a faith which is "not alone in the person justified"; (5) views
which reject the traditional bi-covenantal theology of the /Westminster
Confession /(that is, views which do not merely take issue with the
terminology but reject the essence of the bi-covenantal, covenant of
works/covenant of grace framework of God's dealings with humanity); (6)
views that undermine the forensic aspect of justification by appeal to
the "relational elements" or which suggest that justification is
primarily a matter of ecclesiology and less so soteriology; (7) views
that categorically reject "merit" in relation to the atoning work of
Christ; (8) views which deny or undercut the biblical and theological
legitimacy of the distinctions between true/nominal believers, the
invisible/visible church, and the outward/inward aspects of the covenant
of grace); (9) views that relate water baptism to regeneration in such a
way as to suggest that water baptism (rather than that which it
signifies) unites us to Christ; (10) views that suggest that
justification in the NT always contemplates faith and the works of
faith, or that deny that faith is uniquely receptive in the act of
justification; (11) views that understand a believer's "final
justification" to be a justifying verdict that embraces the believer's
covenantal obedience [and not a merely public declaration of the
justification declared at the outset of the believer's Christian
experience]; (12) views that entail multiple instruments in
justification (whether the terminology of 'instrument' is used or not);
(13) views which posit the false antithesis of reading Scripture through
the "lens of the covenant" rather than the "lens of the decree;" (14)
views which cannot sustain the difference between the saving and common
operations of the Spirit; (15) views of sacramental efficacy that speak
of the salvific effects of baptism and the Lord's supper, but fail to
maintain adequately the crucial distinction between the sign and the
thing signified; (16) views that suggest that water baptism conveys all
the benefits of union with Christ, except for the "gift of perseverance"
and final salvation; (17) views which undermine the doctrine of the
imputation of Adam's sin or which call into question the doctrine of
individual regeneration; – all of these and more, 192 re, we find to be
out of the bounds of acceptable diversity in this presbytery and in the
PCA. As such they should not be taught or countenanced as part of the
public teaching of the church.

We are not asserting that any one person or group holds to all of these
things, but those who do hold to any of these views, and are desirous of
laboring within our bounds, should expect a thorough examination by the
MVP credentials committee – because any one of these issues is serious
in and of itself. Hence, those open to or embracing of any of these
positions should know that MVP will be careful to ascertain the nature
and relation of their view(s) to the public theology of the church –
that is, that which the church believes to be Scripture's teaching, as
summarized in the /Confession of Faith/.

Fathers and brethren, we trust that our concerns in this whole matter
are Gospel concerns. We believe that the clarity of the Gospel, the
freeness of grace and justification, and the assurance of the believer
are all undermined by the formulations of the NPP, NTW, NS and AAT/FV
theologies. No greater tragedy could befall the PCA today than to
compromise the lucidity of her preaching of the glorious Gospel of
grace, yet that is, we fear, precisely what we are facing. To that end,
we here pledge again our commitment to the faith once delivered. By
God's grace, it is our prayer that we would not preach a different
Gospel, which is really not another and contrary to that which we have
received, but rather that we would boldly proclaim that one true Gospel
that is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.

Your brethren and servants,

The Presbytery of the Mississippi Valley

Unanimously adopted, February 1, 2005

Bob Higby
09-17-05, 08:47 PM
I had read this before and fully support the courage of the MVP on this particular issue. I wish that such affirmations were the rule rather than the exception in those churches professing the doctrines of sovereign grace. However, we know that the opposite is true!

wildboar
09-20-05, 09:01 PM
In Reformed is Not Enough by Doug Wilson there is an appendix dealing with the New Perspective on Paul. In it he makes the following statements:

1. The foundational tenets of the New Perspective are off base.
2. The things of value within the movement are not unique to the movement.
3. The things which distinguish the movement are erroneous.
4. The Jews were self-righteous.
5. Sanders is wrong in teaching that good works maintain a person's status within the covenant.
6. Justification was not just a peripheal concern in Paul's epistles.
7. The New Perspective is right in teaching that there is corporate justification but wrong in denying individual justification.
8. Justification is by faith, not by faithfulness. Faithfulness will follow from a true faith but is not the means by which God justifies his people.

I would also like to publicly apologize for personal remarks I made against Ray and the PRC. Such remarks are unedifying and do not lead to meaningful discussion of the Scriptures.

ray kikkert
09-22-05, 02:51 PM
“Reformed” is Definitely Enough:
A critique of Douglas Wilson’s book, “Reformed” is not Enough”By Dr. C. Matthew McMahon

ray kikkert
09-22-05, 03:10 PM
“Reformed” is Definitely Enough:


A critique of Douglas Wilson’s book, “Reformed” is not Enough”By Dr. C. Matthew McMahon

Hopefully it will go through this time.



<H3 style="LINE-HEIGHT: 150%"><SPAN style="LETTER-SPACING: 0pt; mso-font-width: 100%"><FONT face=Arial size=2>Appendix: The New Perspective on Paul

ray kikkert
09-24-05, 10:12 AM
[quote=wildboar]In Reformed is Not Enough by Doug Wilson there is an appendix dealing with the New Perspective on Paul. In it he makes the following statements:

1. The foundational tenets of the New Perspective are off base.
2. The things of value within the movement are not unique to the movement.
3. The things which distinguish the movement are erroneous.
4. The Jews were self-righteous.
5. Sanders is wrong in teaching that good works maintain a person's status within the covenant.
6. Justification was not just a peripheal concern in Paul's epistles.
7. The New Perspective is right in teaching that there is corporate justification but wrong in denying individual justification.
8. Justification is by faith, not by faithfulness. Faithfulness will follow from a true faith but is not the means by which God justifies his people.
quote]

This is what I wanted to post before:


<SPAN style="LETTER-SPACING: 0pt; mso-font-width: 100%"><FONT face=Arial size=2>Appendix: The New Perspective on Paul

ray kikkert
09-24-05, 10:31 AM
“Reformed” is Definitely Enough:

A critique of Douglas Wilson’s book, “Reformed” is not Enough”By Dr. C. Matthew McMahon

I am sorry. I have tried to paste a pertainent section of Dr. McMahon's article regarding the NPP appendix of Rev. Wilson's book. Suffice it to say, I have tried thrice. In an earlier post I was able to present the link to this article and that will have to do.

Now I present yet another critique of Rev. Wilson's book to weigh in on.

Reformed Is Not Enough:
Recovering the Objectivity of the
Covenant by Douglas Wilson.
Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2002.
206 pp., $14.00, paper.

Reviewed by J.V. Fesko, Ph.D.

In this his latest book, Douglas
Wilson argues that contemporary
Reformed theology has become
gnostic in recent years. While there
are positive things about this book
(Wilson affirms various orthodox
doctrines and interacts with historic
Reformed teaching), there are many
negative things. In the end, the
negative outweighs the positive as
Wilson ends up tilting at windmills –
attacking opponents that simply do
not exist, or at least whom he does
not demonstrate to exist.

Let us therefore first turn to Wilson’s
case and then critique his arguments.

WILSON’S CASE

Wilson argues that Reformed the-
ology has become gnostic in its belief
that the invisible church is more
significant than the visible church
(70ff). This has happened, he claims,
as a result of the influence of
enlightenment rationalism. In fact,
Wilson builds on the current popular
acronym Truly Reformed (TR) and
argues that current Reformed thought
should be labeled Enlightenment Truly
Reformed (ETR). In contrast, Wilson
argues that what is needed is a
recovery of the historic Reformed
faith as well as an improvement upon
traditional Reformed concepts and
doctrines (7-9). How does he
propose to counter ETR theology?

Wilson argues that the remedy to this
gnostic and rationalistic plague is
recovering what he terms, "the
objectivity of the covenant." Wilson
means by this that we must view the
church not in terms of visible and
invisible, but as the historic and
eschatological church (70-74). Wilson
seeks to remove, by use of this
distinction—which in his mind is an
improvement upon traditional
nomenclature—the idea that what is
invisible, or spiritual, is superior to
what is visible, or material. Wilson’s
new terminology highlights the
distinction between the present and
final forms of the church—i.e., the
historical mixed body of believers and
non-believers and the eschatological
church as the company of the elect.
Wilson argues that these terms keep
gnosticism, or the exaltation of the
immaterial, at bay. To support this
Reviews and Notices

The New Southern Presbyterian Review
132
concept, namely the historic and
eschatological church, Wilson offers
some practical and theological ideas.

The first solution that Wilson offers
to combat gnostic Reformed practice
is to take people at their baptism, to
"believe what God said at their
baptism." (97) Wilson argues that by
valuing the spiritual more than the
material, those in the ETR camp
ignore a person’s baptism – which for
him is the point of their engrafting
into the covenant and into Jesus
Himself (103) – and instead search for
the spiritual state of a person’s soul
(34). Rather than trying to peer into a
person’s soul searching for faith in the
gnostic immaterial realm, says Wilson,
we must accept the face value of their
baptism. Wilson carries this thinking
into other doctrinal areas. The
objectivity of the covenant and
accepting baptism at face value
undergirds his understanding of who
may participate in the Lord’s Supper.
All baptized adults and children
should be admitted to the table on the
basis of their baptism, not a pro-
fession of faith (115, 185). This is not
to say that Wilson has no place for a
profession of faith. Wilson does
argue, however, that emphasis must
be placed on the objective elements
of the covenant, what is visible, not
on what is invisible. This view has
implications for Wilson’s under-
standing of the greater ecclesiastical
picture.
According to Wilson, ETRs place too
much value upon individualism, the
zeitgeist of the day, and are therefore
prone to sectarianism (146). At the
first sign of heresy ETRs break away
from the church. Instead, he claims,
we must accept a person’s baptism,
identify the sin or heresy, exercise
church discipline, and fight for the
truth (141ff, 196). Even if churches
do not discipline heretics, we must
remain. Wilson also argues that
church discipline is not of the esse
(being or essence) of the church but
only for the bene esse (well being) of
the church. In other words, even if a
church does not exercise church
discipline, it is not one of the
necessary marks of the church (145-
46). Wilson argues that this whole
process of staying within the church
even when there is heresy and fighting
for the truth is a necessary part of the
corporate sanctification and justifi-
cation of the church body.

ETRs focus on the invisible church
and hence are always in search of a
perfect church here on earth, Wilson
argues. He contends that the church
body is like an individual who must
first be sanctified and finally justified.
This is not a misstatement on
Wilson’s part; nor does this mean that
Wilson rejects the traditional ordo
salutis, or order of salvation. Rather,
Wilson argues, based upon a
sympathetic reading of N. T. Wright
(200, footnote 2), that Scripture
speaks of justification in more than one
sense. Justification is not simply a

Reviews and Notices
133
forensic imputation of Christ’s
righteousness at the moment of a
person’s conversion. It is also the
ultimate vindication and deliverance
of God’s people at the final judgment
(175-76). In other words, according
to Wilson, the church will never be
pure here on earth, nor can we know
the state of someone’s soul. Rather,
we must hold fast to the objectivity of
the covenant promise, our baptism,
identify and fight sin, remain in the
church, and await the final justi-
fication of the corporate body. Is
Wilson correct?

CRITIQUING WILSON’S CASE

Quite simply, Wilson’s case fails on
many fronts. Wilson states that being
Reformed is not enough but in reality
he is not familiar with the depth and
breadth of the historic Reformed faith
he claims to herald. To begin, Wilson
hardly, if ever, cites any evidence to
support his claims that the Reformed
church is influenced by gnosticism
and enlightenment rationalism. In
fact, sourceless assertions abound in
this book, at least twenty-eight to my
count (17, 21, 34, 40, 41, 43, 44, 51,
52, 53, 70, 85, 104, 132, 133, 146, 178,
183, 184, 189, 191, 192, 203). Among
his host of claims of degeneration he
cites only two sources, and at that,
those sources are over one hundred
years old (86, 183).

This poor and irresponsible
scholarship further evidences itself in
Wilson’s unfamiliarity with historical
theology. Why, for example, are the
terms visible and invisible church
deficient? Why does Wilson not
interact with their synonyms, the
ecclesia militans et triumphans, the church
militant and triumphant (see Richard
Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek
Theological Terms, q. v., ecclesia, 99)?
Additionally, Wilson either ignores or
has not thought through the
implications of the alternative terms
that he uses.

To use the terminology historical and
eschatological church roils the waters of
this doctrine by seeking to remove the
invisible church from temporal
history while limiting the visible
church to the same. The invisible
church is historical. Moreover, the
visible church is eschatological. In
other words, to say that the company
of the elect does not participate in
history is an error. Even those saints
in heaven participate in history as they
await the consummation of the age
and the judgment of the wicked (Rev.
6:9-10). Also, to say that the
company of the elect at this moment
in history is not eschatological is an
error. Wilson falls into the error of
dispensationalism with his term
eschatological church. It is dispensation-
alism that teaches that eschatology
deals with the days immediately
preceding the second advent of Christ
(e.g, see Charles Ryrie, Dispensation-
alism Today, 57-63). Reformed Biblical
theologians are the very ones that
have explained that the eschatological
age dawned with the first advent of

The New Southern Presbyterian Review
134
Christ (e.g., Herman Ridderbos,
Coming of the Kingdom). This means
that the present visible church is a
manifestation of the eschatological
church. Indeed, the great eschat-
ological prophecies of Jeremiah and
Ezekiel are being fulfilled at this very
moment (Jer. 31; Ezek. 37; cf. John 3;
Rom. 6-8). While we still await the
consummation of this present evil age
(Gal. 1:4), the eschaton has
nonetheless dawned. These facts
negate Wilson’s suggested terms.
This flaw in Wilson’s work, however,
is small in comparison with his views
regarding baptism.

Wilson desires to make baptism the
backbone of the church (187, 194).
Though Wilson interacts with the
Westminster Confession throughout
his book, he fails to recognize what
the divines identify as the backbone
of the church: "The visible Church...
consists of all those throughout the
world that profess the true religion; and of
their children" (WCF 25.2; emphasis).
Notice that the divines state that the
church’s backbone is a profession of
faith, not baptism. This is neither
gnosticism nor rationalism; it is the
historic Reformed faith. This is
troubling because it was the Judaizers
who placed emphasis on the
sacrament almost to the exclusion of
faith (Gal. 5.6, et al.). Moreover,
when Wilson connects his views on
baptism with the Lord’s Supper,
namely that any one who is baptized
may take the Lord’s Supper, allowing
even paedocommunion, he once
again departs from the historic
Reformed faith. The Westminster
divines write that "by faith they
[communicants] receive and apply
unto themselves Christ crucified, and
all the benefits of his death" in the
Lord’s Supper (WLC q. 170; my
emphasis).

Wilson also errs, departing from the
historic Reformed faith (as it is set
forth in the Westminster Standards),
by arguing that church discipline does
not belong to the esse of the church.
Once again, the Westminster divines
write that Christ has given the keys of
the kingdom of heaven to the elders
of the church and that they "have
power respectively to retain, and remit
sins; to shut that kingdom against the
impenitent, both by the Word and
censures; and to open it unto penitent
sinners, by the ministry of the gospel,
and by absolution from censure, as
occasion shall require" (WCF 30.2).
The divines base this doctrine upon
Matthew 16:19 and 18:17, Christ’s
commands. How can Wilson there-
fore say that discipline is not of the
essence of the church? He ignores
the explicit command of Christ. The
divines, not Wilson, set forth the
historic Reformed faith and are
faithful to Scripture. Moreover, it is a
bit ironic for Wilson to urge people to
stay within a church or denomination
and fight heresy given his own
sectarian setting in Moscow, Idaho.

Finally, Wilson errs in trying to make
the case that Scripture speaks of

Reviews and Notices
135
justification in more than one sense
and that the body of Christ awaits its
ultimate justification (171, 177). This
is Wilson’s most egregious error.

First, he has been influenced by N. T.
Wright on this matter (203); Wright
constantly triumphs corporate justifi-
cation. Yet, what seems to pass by
Wilson’s attention is the fact that N.T.
Wright totally reconstructs the
doctrine of justification. In fact,
Wright denies justification by faith
alone, a historic teaching of Reformed
theology, and the imputation of
Christ’s righteousness (see N.T.
Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said, pp.
113-33; cf. Richard Gaffin, "Paul the
Theologian," WTJ 62/1, 121-29).
Yet, Wilson pleads for a sympathetic
reading of Wright (200, footnote 2).
Moreover, Wilson confuses the
doctrinal categories of justification
and glorification. He also confuses
issues of the ordo and historia salutis, or
the order of salvation as it is applied
to individuals and the unfolding of
redemption in history, which typically
involves the corporate body, in his
discussion of justification (45, 175, cf.
74).

Yes, the church will be vindicated at
the consummation of the age but this
vindication is typically discussed
under glorification and under the
historia salutis, not under justification
and the ordo salutis. For the trained
theologian, detecting these errors is
not difficult. For the person in the
pew, the target audience for Wilson’s
book, this confusion is misleading.
Moreover, to plead for a sympathetic
reading of N.T. Wright with little to
no qualification or warning that he
denies the historic Protestant faith is
also very dangerous for the person in
the pew.

We have only touched on the key
points of Wilson’s book. There are
many other things with which we
could take issue. For example,
Wilson rejects Roman Catholic
teaching on sacerdotalism (85, 104),
yet he states that "the Westminster
Confession taught baptismal regen-
eration" (103); he has a confusing
equivocation: "Judgment is salvation"
(177); he states that barrenness is a
type for sin (193); he states that good
works "are the ground of assurance of
salvation" (172); and that order in the
church is the mark of Pharisaic
theology and not the "heroic dis-
order" (83) that the church requires.
Space does not allow us to examine
these errors in detail.

In the end, the positive things about
Wilson’s book are outweighed by its
negative aspects. Basically, Wilson
tilts at windmills. He quixotically
attacks ETR enemies that do not
exist; and, if they do exist, he gives no
evidence to support his claims. He
claims to banner the historic
Reformed faith, but we have
demonstrated how he departs from it.
What is most disconcerting is that he
is leading people away from the
historic Reformed faith.

The New Southern Presbyterian Review
136

It was G. K. Chesterton who once
wrote, "‘The Christian ideal,’ it is said,
has not been tried and found wanting;
it has been found difficult and left
untried." On a similar note we may
write, "‘The Reformed Faith,’ it is
said, has not been tried and found
wanting; rather, Wilson is unfamiliar
with it and therefore has yet to try it."

It is one thing to explore the breadth
and depth of the Reformed faith
based upon a thorough and carefully
exegetical, historical-theological,
Biblical-theological, contemporary-
theological, duly annotated analysis,
and then to offer correctives. Instead,
all Wilson has done is pontificate
upon that with which he is not
thoroughly familiar. For these
reasons, Wilson’s book can not be
recommended.

wildboar
09-24-05, 11:02 PM
Ray:

I really seriously believe it would be helpful for you to read Wilson's book. Even if you disagree at the end, you will still be given the opportunity to grow in what you do believe. The problem with the above critiques is that the majority of the critique against the NPP stuff would also apply to Hoeksema. These critics only want to speak of justication at the time a person is given faith and deny any other type of justification. Hoeksema spoke of several steps in justification. In his Reformed Dogmatics pp. 95ff. he speaks of 1. Justification from eternity, 2. Justification in the death of Christ, 3. Justification in the resurrection of Christ, 4. Justification in the declaration of the Gospel, 5. Justification received by faith, and 6. Justification at the final judgment. Obviously, in some of these steps justification is corporate and Hoeksema explains it as such. The idea that Wilson also teaches 6 which is also taught by people like N.T. Wright is considered by Fesko in the review above to be Wilson's worst error. If this is the worst thing that Wilson has done than he finds company in Hoeksema in his worst error as well and to be consistent Hoeksema must also be lumped in as a subscriber to the NPP.

ray kikkert
09-28-05, 02:46 PM
Ray:

I really seriously believe it would be helpful for you to read Wilson's book. Even if you disagree at the end, you will still be given the opportunity to grow in what you do believe. The problem with the above critiques is that the majority of the critique against the NPP stuff would also apply to Hoeksema. These critics only want to speak of justication at the time a person is given faith and deny any other type of justification. Hoeksema spoke of several steps in justification. In his Reformed Dogmatics pp. 95ff. he speaks of 1. Justification from eternity, 2. Justification in the death of Christ, 3. Justification in the resurrection of Christ, 4. Justification in the declaration of the Gospel, 5. Justification received by faith, and 6. Justification at the final judgment. Obviously, in some of these steps justification is corporate and Hoeksema explains it as such. The idea that Wilson also teaches 6 which is also taught by people like N.T. Wright is considered by Fesko in the review above to be Wilson's worst error. If this is the worst thing that Wilson has done than he finds company in Hoeksema in his worst error as well and to be consistent Hoeksema must also be lumped in as a subscriber to the NPP.

If this truly was the case, there would indeed be more reference made to Hoeksema. There is "not" thus far in defining "justification". The idea is indeed laughable to me. After all if Dr. Venema (CRC) and Dr. Powell (RCUS) have at present complied articles in rejection to the NPP, how could one come to the consensus that Hoeksema and Wilson share common ground here? That is a stretch to make some kind of relation evident when the outworking of such reveals such a doctrinal divide one must be willfully blind not to see it.

These are learned men reviewing this book. No news is good news, but bad news of constant confusion being promoted by FV babblers continues.

Time has a way of vindicating one's stance as ligit or false. The outworking of that stance will show itself out. It has yet to run it's course. I know that the URC, the OCRC, and the RCUS in the next 2 years will be reviewing this whole affair.

So never mind Hoeksema, never mind the PRC.... the stance is rock solid against NPP/Fv (whatever you wish to call the babble set forth) and there will be articles coming up on this babble in the next 2 months. In the mean time, we will have other "reformed" churches weighing in on the subject at hand. When they do , the articles will be posted here for others to judge for themselves.

wildboar
09-28-05, 07:51 PM
Ray:

Why not just read the appendix to Reformed Is Not Enough and then read pp. 95ff. of vol. 2 of Hoeksema's Reformed Dogmatics and then compare them with the reviews? Are you denying that Hoeksema teaches justification at the final judgment?

The articles written by these men do not compare the views of Hoeksema and Wilson. Nor do two men writing articles prove that something to be the case. I could assemble millions of scholars to teach that scientific evidence proves evolution but that would not make it true.

Bob Higby
09-29-05, 02:19 AM
Justification at the final judgment is only a continuance of God's declaration of the salvation of his elect in time prior to the judgment. If the group declared righteous at the final judgment is IN ANY WAY a different group than those 'justified' in the times previous, God's purposes are most fragmented and frustrated. The issue is not whether anyone denies justification in the final judgment; it is whether anyone justified in the times prior will be condemned in the final judgment.

ray kikkert
10-19-05, 10:40 AM
As I alluded to earlier, here are some articles coming out of the OCRC(orthodox christian reformed church). Our family were members of this denomination for 20 years. In 2004 the Wingham congregation voted to join with the PRC because the OCRC were more and more taking on CRC doctrines of compromise and toleration.
The OCRC churches met as a whole to discuss this very issue. What follows are articles from these churches and their stances on the FV babble.

Below consists of a statement put together by the Sunnyside OCRC consistory regarding the Federal Vision theology. I have inserted responses where I find a point of disagreement from that which was taught me throughout my catechetical and reformed confessions instruction. It is as follows:

Beloved Church of Christ,
We are writing this paper to inform you of certain doctrinal issues in dispute among Reformed leaders and churches, to try to make some sense out of all the charges and counter charges, to guard you from any false teaching, and to reaffirm our own position. Since this will be a brief survey of some very large subjects, our comments will be general and we will not have time or space to quote from the various participants. If we have misrepresented anyone’s position, we would take it as a kindness if you would point this out.
Our study is organized as follows:
1. The origin of the controversy.
2. The subjects of the controversy.
3. Our study and reflection on these matters.
4. Our position on these matters.
5. Some concluding remarks.
1. The origin of the controversy.

In January 2002 the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church of Monroe, Louisiana held a pastor’s conference titled, "The Federal Vision: A Reexamination of Reformed Covenantalism." Four pastors were scheduled to speak: Steve Schlissel of Messiah’s Congregation, Brooklyn, New York; Douglas Wilson of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho; Norman Shepherd, retired, of the Cottage Grove Christian Reformed Church, South Holland, Illinois; and Steve Wilkins of the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church (PCA), Monroe, Louisana. Norman Shepherd could not attend and John Barach of the United Reformed Church, Grande Prairie, Alberta, took his place. We will hereafter identify them as the Monroe Four.
About six months later the Covenant Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of the United States issued a call for repentance to all four ministers for alleged departures from the Scripture and the Westminster Standards. Their statement included serious charges of heresy in some of the most important doctrines of the Reformed faith.
Following these charges the larger Reformed world jumped into the fray. Cornelis Venema, president of Mid-America Reformed Seminary and Christian Reformed minister, and Robert Godfrey, president of Westminster Seminary in California and minister in the United Reformed Churches, although coming short of labeling the Monroe Four as heretics, expressed serious reservations and disagreements with their views, going so far as to say that the Monroe Four were leaning towards Rome in their view of justification.
Knox Theological Seminary of Fort Lauderdale, Florida invited seven men from each side of the issue to engage in a formal doctrinal discussion August 11-13, 2003. The resulting twenty-two papers did much to clarify the issues.
It is interesting to note that Iain Murray devotes a whole chapter in his recent book, Wesley and the Men Who Followed, to Wesley’s views on justification, bringing out the historical context for the present controversy, and illustrating how this debate has reappeared in many forms through the centuries.
Response: I have no idea what relevance there is in naming Iain Murray’s book. Suffice it to say Wesley exegetically has been proven to be unreformed in doctrine to the extent that he advocated arminian doctrine contrary to Scripture and the reformed confessions.
See article below:
http://www.prca.org/standard_bearer/volume80/2003dec15.html#Editorial:

2. The subjects of the controversy.

The 2002 Monroe Conference focused on the Biblical presentation of the covenant and its relation to justification, sanctification, the sacraments, assurance, election, and the church. Since all the Monroe men are confessionally Reformed, the way in which their views harmonized with their confessions naturally arose. They either implied or stated that the historic Reformed confessions had been misused and could be improved by clarification and further development particularly in the area of covenant.
At this point we want to affirm with the greatest possible strength that it is essential that we maintain the correct Biblical understanding and confession of the doctrines of the covenant and of its relation to the doctrines of justification, sanctification, the sacraments, assurance, election, and the church.
3. Our study and reflection on these matters.

When the consistory was made aware of the seriousness of the charges leveled against the Monroe Four, and when it also realized that some of our youth attend Christ Church, Moscow, pastored by Douglas Wilson, and that a number of our families attend an annual history conference in Moscow featuring two of the Monroe men, Douglas Wilson and Steve Wilkins, we began our study.
We resisted the temptation to begin with the critics of the Monroe Four. God tells us, "He who answers a matter before he has heard it, it is folly and shame to him." (Prov. 18:13) In Lord’s Day 43 of the Heidelberg Catechism we confess that we must never "judge, or join in condemning, any man rashly or unheard;…"
With that before us, we first listened to the tapes of the Monroe Conference 2002 lectures. There were ten lectures of about an hour each, and we each listened to all of them. Three of the lectures had been transcribed by the speaker and one of our number transcribed the other seven lectures so we could study them all in print. In addition we have read the articles in the Christian Renewal issues of 7/15/02, 4/28/03, 10/13/03, and 10/27/03 which included interviews and comments. Some of the Consistory have also studied the papers prepared by seven men from each side of the discussion and published by Knox Theological Seminary. After studying the positions of the Monroe Four and their critics, we met together, discussed the issues, and decided to give you this statement.
Some of us have heard and read all these men over the past years, and know them to be men of faith, of firm commitment to the Reformed heritage, and of unswerving allegiance to the authority, inerrancy, and sufficiency of Scripture. We also note that three of them came to the Reformed faith later in life, and brought with them a vitality and freshness sometimes lacking in the older Reformed world.
Inevitably such vitality, as it does in our youth, sometimes brings a mis-step, and so we don’t necessarily concur with everything they say. But this we may observe: the mainline Reformed world towards the end of the 20th century had emerged from battles with both earlier liberalism and more recently neo-orthodoxy. Understandably she became entrenched behind her historic confessions and also in danger of stagnation and confessionalism (holding that the confessions are the final word.) It is these tendencies, among other things, that the Monroe Four challenged, perhaps not always wisely or even well, but certainly of necessity. It was needful and still is.
We also respect two of the Monroe Four opponents, Cornelis Venema and Robert Godfrey, and we believe they bring some valid criticisms. However, our respect for Venema is necessarily tempered by his ministry in a denomination whose World Missions have promoted Liberation Theology and whose Synod allows women in ecclesiastical office. A similar reservation applies to Godfrey who heads a seminary that teaches the framework theory of creation and does not appear to have a single professor teaching literal six-day creation.
We mention this to note that just because we find men in error in one area doesn’t mean we cannot profit by listening to them in other areas. We wish to extend the same courtesy to the Revs. Barach, Schlissel, Wilkins, and Wilson on the one side of the controversy, as we do to Drs. Godfrey and Venema, on the other side.
Examining the lectures of the Monroe Four we see that their view of covenant and its various aspects is much more compatible with our own heritage of Continental Reformed covenant theology than the heritage of Presbyterian Reformed covenant theology, as developed from the Westminster Standards. In other words the language of the Monroe Four fits the historical understanding of the Continental Reformed tradition more than the Presbyterian tradition, and rather than promoting new views in these areas, you will find that these matters have been discussed in the past, particularly among the Reformed churches in the Netherlands and in America. Since much of this language is unfamiliar to the Westminster Standards/Presbyterian world, it is not surprising that the heaviest criticism has come from them.

4. Our position on these matters.

We do not agree with the serious charges that have been laid against the Monroe Four. Some of their critics have misrepresented them and others have misunderstood them. However, there certainly do appear to be areas where their presentation of covenant theology runs counter to the Westminster Standards. Whether this is more in appearance than reality is open for discussion. If indeed they do find their covenant understanding runs counter to the Standards, we suggest that rather than say they agree with them, they would be wise to challenge them. It may also be that their presentation does not run counter to the Westminster Standards, but runs counter to the predominant view of them within the current Presbyterian world.
When one reviews both sides, it is striking that the Monroe Four draw the bulk of their support from Scripture while their critics usually cite the confessions or Reformed theologians. Now there need be no conflict between Scripture and confession of course, but it draws our attention to what appears to be the heart of the matter—from which viewpoint are you looking at life?
From which viewpoint does God usually portray life? Which viewpoint will determine the meaning of our terms? We believe that God usually speaks to and about us in terms of our covenant status rather than in terms of our election. In general the Reformed confessions, and particularly the Westminster Standards portray life from eternity, from the end, from the final outcome. Most confessional definitions are formulated from the perspective of the final outcome of God’s sovereign plan, His decrees, His predestination both of the elect and non-elect.
That perspective is gloriously Biblical and wonderfully comforting. It is not, however, the perspective God generally uses when speaking about life as it continues from day to day, from century to century.
Response: The complaint here seems to be with the reformed confessions. This is the second time the confessions have been put forth in a negative light by the writers, confessions the brothers have willingly subscribed is in true accord to the Lord’s Word and promised to diligently teach and defend this doctrine without either directly or indirectly contradicting the same by our public preaching or writing. They are in conflict with their own distinctively reformed subscription here! To say that the confessions do not, or have erred in defining how the Lord judges day to day life, from century to century is a sell out of their subscription and more importantly … the reformed faith as has been confessed from century to century.
As stated in the conclusions of Dort:
CONCLUSION

And this is the perspicuous, simple, and ingenious declaration of the orthodox doctrine respecting the five articles which have been controverted in the Belgic churches; and the rejection of the errors, with which they have for some time been troubled. This doctrine, the Synod judges to be drawn from the Word of God, and to be agreeable to the confessions of the Reformed churches. Whence it clearly appears, that some whom such conduct by no means became, have violated all truth, equity, and charity, in wishing to persuade the public.

What do we mean? Let’s ask some questions. Who are the saved? Who are justified? Who are God’s children? Who are really in the covenant? Who are really in the church? Who are really in Christ? From the perspective of the outcome, and just looking at the end result, we are apt to say that every one of those questions has one answer: the elect.
But God usually doesn’t speak that way. He says to His people through Hosea, "You were my people, but now you are not my people." Christ says in John 15 that there are those who are in Him, branches in the vine, having a living connection with Christ, and yet because they bear no fruit, they were cut off. Now are we to take our theology or our confession and say that since they were cut off they were never in the vine, since they were not elect, they were not in Christ? God forbid.
Response: It is striking that the writers here will take their lead from 2 passages of Scripture which seem to allow the reprobate a place within the everlasting covenant of grace. This is pathetic exegetical work. Do we then overlook Romans 9, Ephesians 1 and 2., Psalm 72 and 89, Ezekial 16, Galatians 3 to name a few. More importantly the reformed confessional statements are not void of Scriptural proof to advocate the point regarding the Lord’s everlasting covenant of grace and all that is attached to the Lord’s covenant which also includes double predestination. In fact I will submit an example from the Canons:
2nd head, rejection of errors:
IV (http://www.predestinarian.net/cd_index.html#head2). Who teach: That the new covenant of grace, which God the Father through the mediation of the death of Christ, made with man, does not herein consist that we by faith, in as much as it accepts the merits of Christ, are justified before God and saved, but in the fact that God having revoked the demand of perfect obedience of the law, regards faith itself and the obedience of faith, although imperfect, as the perfect obedience of the law, and does esteem it worthy of the reward of eternal life through grace. For these contradict the Scriptures: "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood," Romans 3:24,25 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Romans+3:24,25). And these proclaim, as did the wicked Socinus, a new and strange justification of man before God, against the consensus of the whole church.
V (http://www.predestinarian.net/cd_index.html#head2). Who teach: That all men have been accepted unto the state of reconciliation and unto the grace of the covenant, so that no one is worthy of condemnation on account of original sin, and that no one shall be condemned because of it, but that all are free from the guilt of original sin. For this opinion is repugnant to Scripture which teaches that we are by nature children of wrath. Ephesians 2:3 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Ephesians+2:3).
In fact Scripture both in the Three forms of Unity and the Westminster confessions abound, and in looking at the texts used to support a confessional statement, it is not hard to get at the heart of what our forefathers points were. The writers earlier have termed the opponent’s "confession quoters" and the advocates …. "Scripture quoters". I would dare say that if those who are distinctively reformed and do not quote and call on the confession might as well leave the reformed faith for greener pastures and the proverbial Lot did. To say one group quotes Scripture and the other the confessions is such a pathetic argument … it wreaks of a weak and regular "no creed but Christ" evangelical baptist response. We are not baptists, we are distinctively reformed.
This illustration helps us understand several important points that the Monroe Four have brought to our attention.
1. Although the confession of our Canons of Dort and the Westminster Standards seem to run counter to these illustrations, they in fact do not, but usually speak from the viewpoint of eternity and election.
2. Rather than try to make all the Scripture fit our confessions, we must see that our confessions do not claim to present every perspective of the Bible, nor do they claim to be perfect and complete.
3. We are reminded that our Belgic Confession, Article 7 says,
"Neither may we consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, since the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself. Therefore we reject with all our hearts whatsoever does not agree with this infallible rule, as the apostles have taught us, saying, Prove the spirits, whether they are of God. Likewise: If any one cometh unto you, and bringeth not this teaching, receive him not into your house."
These comments apply to our confessions as well as to all writing outside Scripture. We may and do use our confessions as a map of the Bible to help us navigate. We may revise the map to fit the Bible, but never the Bible to fit the map.
4. Our Reformed fathers never supposed that when they completed the Canons or the Westminster Standards, no more growth was possible. To be Reformed means to be alive in Christ, and to be alive means to be growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our fathers saw that the church may add to, augment, expand, clarify, and develop her confessions.
Response: The writers now seem to say that those advocating this Federal Vision babble have free range within the distinctively reformed faith to change what the confessional base really says. That though the confessions speak from the viewpoint of election and eternity, we cannot (so the writers submit) use this as a basis to define the Lord’s everlasting covenant of grace within the bounds of "election" or " eternity". The writers have to be willingly blind to what the Lord Himself calls and defines His covenant. In effect the writers despise predestination, they despise the fact the Lord calls His covenant " everlasting" . To call on article 7 of the Belgic confession in defense of trying to re interpret what predestination and the covenant is within reformed doctrine and in the name of "reforming" is weak and pathetic. They do not dare tread close to the 1st or 5th head of doctrine in the Canons of Dort nor the "rejection of errors" within these heads. Of course not. It destroys and obliterates their argument from the get go. The Federal Vision doctrine has had ample time to clarify their doctrinal positions. Their statements remain contrary to reformed dogma regarding predestination and the Lord’s covenant and therefore the doctrine has been rightly called "galatianism", " the semi- pelagian error" and "arminianism"

5. Concluding remarks.

We wish to affirm the following:
We believe no one is saved by believing in justification by faith, but by faith in Christ. We joyfully confess in the words of Belgic Confession, Article 22,
We believe that, to attain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Spirit kindles in our hearts an upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ with all His merits, appropriates Him, and seeks nothing more besides Him. For it must needs follow, either that all things which are requisite to our salvation are not in Jesus Christ, or if all things are in Him, that then those who possess Jesus Christ through faith have complete salvation in Him. Therefore, for any to assert that Christ is not sufficient, but that something more is required besides Him, would be too gross a blasphemy; for hence it would follow that Christ was but half a Savior.
Therefore we justly say with Paul, that we are justified by faith alone, or by faith apart from works. However, to speak more clearly, we do not mean that faith itself justifies us, for it is only an instrument with which we embrace Christ our righteousness. But Jesus Christ, imputing to us all His merits, and so many holy works which He has done for us and in our stead, is our righteousness. And faith is an instrument that keeps us in communion with Him in all His benefits, which, when they become ours, are more than sufficient to acquit us of our sins.
We believe that our justification before God is clearly implied in the heart of the Covenant of Grace, "I am your God and you are My people," that God gave Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ His Son, and that all His righteousness is our righteousness.
We believe that all baptized members of the church have inheritance in Christ’s righteousness by God’s promise and Christ’s sacrifice, just as our fathers had the inheritance of Canaan by God’s promise and His sacrifices. God commanded our fathers to take possession of their inheritance and to live in it.
Response: This statement above destroys itself. The Lord’s covenant of grace is made with Christ and His elect. The writers go beyond this and Scripture. They maintain (whether purposely or not) that all within the visible church body are elect and all are to receive the promise of God, and all receive the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice. The writers maintain that when the Lord commands to take inheritance that all head for head are given the gift of God to in fact take the inheritance. This is arminianism and the cause of the skirting of the reformed confessions. It damns their statements above.

We believe that God commands all baptized members to believe in the word and work of God and to take possession of and live in Christ’s righteousness by a true and saving faith. We believe that this helps define justification and its relationship to sanctification. We believe that failure to take personal possession of Christ’s righteousness shows unbelief and that God will cut such a one off from his inheritance as He did to our fathers.
Response: Yet according to the writers these that fail, the reprobate, still have God’s promise and Christ’s sacrifice. The writers have discarded the heartbeat of the Gospel…. Predestination. It is beyond me why the writers will skirt "irresistable grace" and "limited atonement". It is simple enough, the Federal Vision dogma advocates resistable and a common grace as well as a universal atonement which leads to a universal covenant view in which all are in covenant fellowship with the Lord and this is the predestinating purpose of the Lord from before the foundations of the world. The idea is blantant blasphemy. In the Federal Vision scheme the Lord does not establish His covenant, nor does He sustain the fellowship nor does He maintain the fellowship and is instead waiting on the creature to accept this fellowship or reject and break this fellowship by the creature He created. One wonders why the Lord named His covenant everlasting, since some can reject this fellowship and break it and thus destroy it’s everlasting aspect for them.

We believe all the articles of faith relating to election. We believe that Reformed churches and our church among them must continue to grow in our understanding of God’s covenant salvation. We believe that we are not to turn back to be what the Reformed churches were in 1980, or 1950, or to go back to 1647, or 1619, or 1536, or 1517. We are to go forward, growing in faith.
Response: The writers do not believe the articles of faith relating to election. Covenant salvation is for the elect in Christ. The reprobate has never had part in the Lord’s everlasting covenant. Not Esau, not the reprobate, yet according to this vain philosophy promoted above….. the reprobate in the year of our Lord 2005 now certainly do.

We believe that a living and growing church is a confessing church, and will also confess her increase in understanding.
We believe that men on both sides of the current controversy are our brothers in Christ, and that as we are to read and appreciate them in a spirit of meekness and charity, so they should conduct their discussions in the same spirit, and refrain from all traces of sarcasm and finger pointing as they address their opponents in public.
Response: When defending reformed doctrine one does not use apologetics, toleration and compromise. They use a polemical rebuke against this false doctrine and call it for what it is. We, that take the name of "reformed" confess and adhere to a distinctive doctrine.
We believe that we are also to search the Scriptures to see if what these men say is true (Acts 17:11), and that we are to test the spirits whether they be of God (1 John 4:1).
We believe that Christ’s church has an enemy who seeks ways to pervert her doctrine, and in contending for the faith once delivered, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12)
We believe that we must test not only those things which are said, but also to especially note those things which ought to be said but are not.
We believe we should continue to support the work of Urban Nations, the mission outreach of Messiah’s Congregation, just as we continue to support the work of the Union Gospel Mission of Yakima, although we may have points of disagreement with both.
We believe that the families who so desire may entrust their college students to the spiritual oversight of the elders of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho. We believe that we should not withhold our blessing from those families who wish to attend the annual Credenda-Agenda History Conferences.
Should you feel the need to discuss any of these matters more thoroughly, each and all of us are quite willing to do so. If anyone believes there is specific evidence that any of these Monroe Four teach false doctrine, we will thank you for bringing it to our attention. You will understand, we trust, that an accusation, whether from you or another, is not of itself either evidence or proof of false doctrine.
Response: Let the writers also recognize that what they have stated here is evidence and proof of false doctrine advocated by the writers. They have a reformed confessional stance that has been side stepped by the writers.
Let them be reminded here of what a distinctively "reformed" position rejects which is the end game the writers are promoting whether inadvertently or not:
The true doctrine having been explained, the Synod rejects the errors of those:
I (http://www.predestinarian.net/cd_index.html#head34). Who teach: That the perseverance of the true believers is not a fruit of election, or a gift of God, gained by the death of Christ, but a condition of the new covenant, which (as they declare) man before his decisive election and justification must fulfill through his free will. For the Holy Scripture testifies that this follows out of election, and is given the elect in virtue of the death, the resurrection and intercession of Christ: "But the elect obtained it and the rest were hardened," Romans 11:7 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Romans+11:7). Likewise: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Romans 8:32-35 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Romans+8:32-35).
II (http://www.predestinarian.net/cd_index.html#head34). Who teach: That God does indeed provide the believer with sufficient powers to persevere, and is ever ready to preserve these in him, if he will do his duty; but that though all things, which are necessary to persevere in faith and which God will use to preserve faith, are made use of, it even then ever depends on the pleasure of the will whether it will persevere or not. For this idea contains an outspoken Pelagianism, and while it would make men free, it makes them robbers of God's honor, contrary to the prevailing agreement of the evangelical doctrine, which takes from man all cause of boasting, and ascribes all the praise for this favor to the grace of God alone; and contrary to the Apostle, who declares: "That it is God, who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye be unreprovable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ," I Corinthians 1:18 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=I+Corinthians+1:18).
III (http://www.predestinarian.net/cd_index.html#head34). Who teach: That the true believers and regenerate not only can fall from justifying faith and likewise from grace and salvation wholly and to the end, but indeed often do fall from this and are lost forever. For this conception makes powerless the grace, justification, regeneration, and continued keeping by Christ, contrary to the expressed words of the Apostle Paul: "That while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Much more then, being justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him," Romans 5:8,9 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Romans+5:8,9). And contrary to the Apostle John: "Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth in him; and he can not sin, because he is begotten of God," I John 3:9 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=I+John+3:9). And also contrary to the words of Jesus Christ: "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father who hath given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand," John 10:28,29 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=John+10:28,29).
IV (http://www.predestinarian.net/cd_index.html#head34). Who teach: That true believers and regenerate can sin the sin unto death or against the Holy Spirit. Since the same Apostle John, after having spoken in the fifth chapter of his first epistle, vss. 16 and 17, of those who sin unto death and having forbidden to pray for them, immediately adds to this in vs. 18: "We know that whosoever is begotten of God sinneth not (meaning a sin of that character), but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and the evil one toucheth him not," I John 5:18 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=I+John+5:18).
V (http://www.predestinarian.net/cd_index.html#head34). Who teach: That without a special revelation we can have no certainty of future perseverance in this life. For by this doctrine the sure comfort of all believers is taken away in this life, and the doubts of the papist are again introduced into the church, while the Holy Scriptures constantly deduce this assurance, not from a special and extraordinary revelation, but from the marks proper to the children of God and from the constant promises of God. So especially the Apostle Paul: "No creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord," Romans 8:39 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Romans+8:39). And John declares: "And he that keepeth his commandments abideth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he gave us," I John 3:24 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=I+John+3:24).
VI (http://www.predestinarian.net/cd_index.html#head34). Who teach: That the doctrine of the certainty of perseverance and of salvation from its own character and nature is a cause of indolence and is injurious to godliness, good morals, prayers and other holy exercises, but that on the contrary it is praiseworthy to doubt. For these show that they do not know the power of divine grace and the working of the indwelling Holy Spirit. And they contradict the Apostle John, who teaches the opposite with express words in his first epistle: "Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him, for we shall see him even as he is. And every one that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure," I John 3:2, 3 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=I+John+3:2,3). Furthermore, these are contradicted by the example of the saints, both of the Old and New Testament, who though they were assured of their perseverance and salvation, were nevertheless constant in prayers and other exercises of godliness.
VII (http://www.predestinarian.net/cd_index.html#head34). Who teach: That the faith of those, who believe for a time, does not differ from justifying and saving faith except only in duration. For Christ himself, in Matthew 13:20 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Matthew+13:20), Luke 8:13 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Luke+8:13), and in other places, evidently notes, besides this duration, a threefold difference between those who believe only for a time and true believers, when he declares that the former receive the seed in stony ground, but the latter in the good ground or heart; that the former are without root, but that the latter have a firm root; that the former are without fruit, but that the latter bring forth their fruit in various measure, with constancy and steadfastness.
VIII (http://www.predestinarian.net/cd_index.html#head34). Who teach: That it is not absurd that one having lost his first regeneration, is again and even often born anew. For these deny by this doctrine the incorruptibleness of the seed of God, whereby we are born again. Contrary to the testimony of the Apostle Peter: "Having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible," I Peter 1:23 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=I+Peter+1:23).
IX (http://www.predestinarian.net/cd_index.html#head34). Who teach: That Christ has in no place prayed that believers should infallibly continue in faith. For they contradict Christ himself, who says: "I have prayed for thee (Simon), that thy faith fail not," Luke 22:32 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Luke+22:32); and the Evangelist John, who declares, that Christ has not prayed for the Apostles only, but also for those who through their word would believer: "Holy Father, keep them in thy name," and: "I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one," John 17:11, 15, 20 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=John+17:11,15,20).



We covet your prayers. God has charged us to guard the flock entrusted to our care. We rejoice in your lively growth in understanding, faith, and love, and we urge you to continue steadfast in Christ, drawing your strength from Him, growing in Him in whom are hid all the treasures of godliness.
Yours for the glory of Christ and the edification of His Bride,
The Elders of the Sunnyside Orthodox Christian Reformed Church
Response: I pray that the Lord graciously gives the writers the spectacles of Scripture and make them to persevere, rather then giving them over to throwing the spectacles to the ground , jumping on them and then go crawling around in the earth’s crust blind as bats.

Submitted by Ray Kikkert.

bauerpauer
10-19-05, 10:44 AM
Ray, have you read "Reformed' is not enough?
Also, do you put the WCF on the same playing field as scripture? You act as though it is infallible.

ray kikkert
10-19-05, 11:01 AM
WB. rk. I have never seen anything said so bad that it would lead back to "rome". If even one truth can be heard from those already in "rome", that may lead them out of it and start their path to the Truth and Wisdom that is of God through His Son Jesus. There are plenty abandoning the CC these days and looking for a ship of Light to lead them and most of those have been so indoctrinated with the unscriptural views of the church, we really need to hold their hand and bring them to the Jesus Christ we know and Love. And after that, it is up the the Grace and Spirit of the Lord Jesus to lead them into His walk on this planed we call earth.
I mean, come on now brother, unless you can be tad bit more "open" minded in the Spirit to what others are saying, and not "beat them with a stick" just for disagreeing with your "set in stone" beliefs, then nothing will ever be resolved. WB has some very interesting posts that even I find edifying and some I don't. Blessings.

Then maybe check out a presbyterian minister by the name of Scott Hahn and his dung infested book "Home sweet Rome" who attributed his shift in doctrinal thinking to Norman Shepherd and what he has been teaching.

Maybe then you will not be such a bleeding heart.;)

ray kikkert
10-19-05, 11:16 AM
Ray, have you read "Reformed' is not enough?
Also, do you put the WCF on the same playing field as scripture? You act as though it is infallible.

If you would have done your homework, first you would have known that I confess the Three forms of unity. Within it is the Belgic Confession article 7 I confess as well.

That should suffice your babble...... but not unlike FV babblers this is the constant whine. Even more telling ... this was the same whine of the remonstrant camp at the time of the synod of Dort 1618-1619. Cheap, dung infested tricks do not change.

Also it seems this prior post I submit below has escaped your memory as well. So I will post it again and answer your question a second time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bauerpauer
So the record is set straight.
1.) Wilson and other FV advocates do not believe in baptismal regeneration no matter how selectively you take their works or scrutinize what they have to say. They define Christian in two senses. A visible, objective sense, that the recipient of baptism is a part of once baptized in the name of the triune God. And they define Christian as an invisible, elect, sense. When you say they believe baptism makes you a christian it does not mean christian in the second, elect sense. It is using it in the objective, covenant sense.


Objective..... however Wilson wants to confuse it he is talking about the covenant of grace. The covenant of grace in Scripture and the reformed confessions is the fellowship of Christ and the elect. Not the reprobate, they never had part. There is no covenant breaking in the covenant of grace. You confess the Westminster?.... well then reread
Q31: With whom was the covenant of grace made?
A31: The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.[1]
1. Gal. 3:16; Rom. 5:15-21; Isa. 53:10-11





Quote:
Wilson uses the illustration that just because a husband is commiting adultery it does not make him less of a husband. He has entered into a covenant promise with a woman and he is her husband, this is not based upon a private decision. In fact, the only way you can charge him with his infidelity is to say he is a husband, otherwise you lose all ground to charge him with cheating on his wife. The same thing applies to Christians in the covenant object sense. If you say they are not really christians then you have lost all ground in which you may charge them with heresy.

Wilson's anology of the covenant husband is false. Wilson's use of an earthly husband compared to that of God is false. The covenant is God's , it is bi lateral. He establishes, maintains, and sustains His covenant. He does all the work within the elect creature to bring about fellowship of the creature with the Creator. God in no wise commits adultery in His covenant , the mere thought of such is pathetic. Husbands we are told in Scripture(Eph. 5) are to love their wives , as Christ loves His church. Does that mean all head for head? The vain philosophy of Wilson is yes. Scripture says no, it is specific to the elect alone. If one is "not" a Christian which the catechism states thus:
Q32: But why are you called a Christian?
A32: Because by faith I am a member of Christ [1] and thus a partaker of His anointing,[2] in order that I also may confess His Name,[3] may present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to Him,[4] and with a free conscience may fight against sin and the devil in this life,[5] and hereafter in eternity reign with Him over all creatures.[6]
1. Acts 11:26; I John 2:20, 27
2. Acts 2:17
3. Mark 8:38
4. Rom. 12:1; Rev. 5:8, 10; I Peter 2:9; Rev. 1:6
5. I Tim. 1:18-19
6. II Tim. 2:12; Eph. 6:12; Rev. 3:21

or whether they are a flat out humanist, both can be rendered heretics. There is as much basis to call them heretics regardless.




Quote:
2.) Wilson and Schlissel and the other FV Advocates are not advocates of the new perspective on paul and justification. If you would do some research you would see that in the back of Douglas Wilson's book, "Reformed" is not enough, there is a chapter devoted to clearing up this nonsense of the New Perspective which he is so often associated with.

I have and from men more read then myself. They are NPP babblers. You state "if I would do some research" . Maybe you are blind or just have not read the critiques I have put forth already.


Quote:
Ray, Have you read Wilson's reformed is not enough? I highly recomend it if you have not, at least see where he's coming from and give him a chance. He has not destroyed the doctrines of grace, he affirms the synod of dordt multiple times in fact.

You highly recommend it do you? Here are 2 beaming critiques of it.

Not Reformed at All: Medievalism in “Reformed” Churches, by John W. Robbins and Sean Gerety. Unicoi, Tennessee: The Trinity Foundation, 2004. 153 pages. $9.95 (paper). [Reviewed by the editor.]

Not Reformed at All exposes the theology of Douglas Wilson. The book responds to Wilson’s Reformed is Not Enough: Recovering the Objectivity of the Covenant. Since the theology of Wilson is essentially that of the movement of covenantal universalism now troubling conservative Reformed and Presbyterian churches in North America, Not Reformed at All exposes the entire movement in which Wilson is a leading figure.
I use “exposes” advisedly. Robbins and Gerety show, not only that Wilson’s theology is not Reformed according to the Reformed confessions, but also that it is lightweight. It is not rooted in the Reformed tradition. What roots it has in the past are planted in medieval thinking. Hence, the book’s subtitle. In addition, Wilson’s theology is illogical, contradictory, and incoherent. Much of his teaching is mere assertion—“pontificating”—rather than demonstration from Scripture and the confessions. As if this were not bad enough, Wilson’s signature style, unworthy of the gospel, is a “facile glibness and an adolescent smart-aleckness.”
Emperor Wilson of Moscow has no clothes.
At its heart, the book is a criticism of the covenant theology of the “federal vision,” as its proponents like to call it. What sets this criticism apart from almost all others is its penetration to the root of the heresy: the teaching of universal, conditional, resistible, losable covenant grace. Most other criticisms of the theology of the “federal vision” are content to address the denial of justification by faith alone. For whatever reason, they steer clear of the doctrine of the covenant out of which the teaching of justification by faith and works arises, according to the teachers of the false doctrine themselves.
Robbins and Gerety take hold of the heresy at its root. “It is appalling that at this late date, some glib writer who claims to be Reformed can assert that the Covenant of Grace is made with elect and reprobate alike—and be widely believed” (p. 118).
In the course of their refutation of Wilson’s covenant theology, the authors prove from Scripture and the Reformed creeds that the covenant, its promise, its blessings, and its salvation are particular—for the elect in Christ alone.


This is God’s sovereign Covenant of Grace, and it is wholly efficacious; no one and nothing can thwart it. This Covenant is made exclusively with Christ and the elect, to whom alone the promises of life and salvation belong. At this state in his extended argument [in Romans], Paul uses the doctrine of election (individual, of course) to defend God against the charge that he has not kept his covenant promises to the Jews, and his Word is of no effect. Paul’s argument is, in summary, that God had made no promises of salvation to all the children of Abraham, nor even to all the circumcised, but to his chosen people only. Just as God’s election is of some only, and Christ died for some only, so in the Covenant of Grace the promise of salvation is to some only. The Covenant is not a promise to all men, not even to all those that are circumcised or baptized, but only to those chosen by God in Christ from before the foundation of the world. Paul writes: “But it is not that the Word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called’” (Romans 9:6-7 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Romans+9:6-7)) (pp. 92, 93).

There is astute reference to the biblical theology that plays a powerful role at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia and elsewhere in promoting the covenant doctrine of the men of the “federal vision.”


Christian theology is eternally true, firmly settled, and rigorously systematic; and it precedes all events. It is God’s thoughts that produce events. Wilson’s error, of course, is not unique to him; it is an error at the heart of the Biblical theology/redemptive history movement, which makes the chronological order in which God revealed truth to men more basic and more important than the logical order the truths themselves possess in God’s mind (p. 97).






I also give the book a beaming critique. It is dung infested. There. Simple and to the point. I will get the book, second hand from some one else. No need to spend money on dung.

ray kikkert
10-19-05, 11:25 AM
Continuing with the FV babble within the OCRC. Here is Cambridge, Ontario's overture to the OCRC regarding FV babble.

It is as follows:



ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH

OF CAMBRIDGE

1410 West River Rd.

Box 26202

Cambridge, Ontario

N1R 8E9
July 27, 2005
To the Consistories of the Orthodox Christian Reformed Churches,
We, the elders of the Orthodox Christian Reformed Church of Cambridge, overture Synod November 2005 to adopt the following statement regarding the Federal Vision.
Grounds: The Federal Vision teaches a Baptismal and/or Covenant Succession Regeneration and an Election and a Justification that can be lost if not maintained by good works.
In Christian Service,

For the Consistory,

Andy VanDixhoorn, corresponding clerk Martin VanNoort, chairman





STATEMENT CONCERNING THE TEACHING OF THE FEDERAL VISION

We, the ministers and elders of the churches federated under the name Orthodox Christian Reformed Church, are committed to the pure preaching of the Word of God. This Word of God, comprised of the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament, is inerrant and infallible.
We believe that the Word of God is written by men inspired by and through the agency of God the Holy Spirit. 2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” This is the Word of God which we preach, teach, and defend.
Furthermore, we hold to the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort, commonly known as the three forms of unity. These three forms of unity plainly set forth, in a systematic way, the doctrines contained in the Word of God.
For the glory and honour of God, the truth of His Word, and the preservation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we make the following statement of affirmations and denials.





REFORMED THEOLOGY:
Affirmations and Denials



-In light of the current Federal Vision controversy-
A. The Covenant

We affirm:
<LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l16 level1 lfo8">That covenant theology is at the essence of all biblical, Reformed theology, indeed an integral part. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l16 level1 lfo8">The covenant, between God and man as portrayed in scripture, is a pact between two parties in which the superior party imposes certain obligations upon the inferior party, with attendant blessings and curses for, respectively, keeping and denying those obligations. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l16 level1 lfo8">This covenant, within the scriptures, is the agreement that God enters into with believers and their seed in which salvation and eternal life is promised to those who respond in faith, and in which damnation and eternal death are invoked upon all those who do not believe. This we call the Covenant of Grace. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l16 level1 lfo8">Therefore this covenant has an essence that is applied to the elect alone (often referred to as the invisible or inward church), who receive it by their faith. We also affirm that there is an administration which is given to all, elect and reprobate alike (often referred to as the visible or outward church) who live within the context of that covenant administration. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l16 level1 lfo8">The essence of the covenant is found in the work of Christ as our only High Priest and mediator. This is commonly called the Covenant of Redemption. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l16 level1 lfo8">The administration of the covenant is limited to the benefits of baptism, church membership, the preaching of the Word and church discipline. This is commonly called the outward administration of the Covenant of Grace. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l16 level1 lfo8">That there are two conditions to every covenant: faith and obedience. Faith is the primary condition that ensures eternal life in Christ, and obedience is the secondary condition as the result of that faith. These conditions are only met by the elect upon whom God bestows these conditions as non-meritorious gifts. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l16 level1 lfo8">That ordinarily the elect are saved through this covenant and not outside of it. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l16 level1 lfo8">Since we are to speak of and to our children from the consensus of the Holy Scriptures, we do raise them as Christians and trust in the promises of God’s covenant that He has or will save them in the ordinary way: by their faith in Christ which is the inevitable fruit of their election, regeneration and effectual calling.
Thus we believe that our covenant children are different than those of the world. For we receive and treat our children as saved until they show otherwise, and we acknowledge that those who lack the necessary fruits of regeneration, faith and repentance, make it outwardly evident that they are not, nor were ever saved.We deny:
<LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l4 level1 lfo9">That all covenant or church members share in the salvation offered on the cross by virtue of that membership. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l4 level1 lfo9">That the covenant life or membership automatically entails a salvation for all covenant children which can be lost due to their apostasy or lack of faithfulness. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l4 level1 lfo9">That faith and works are added as conditions to the salvation given to all covenant members by which they maintain their salvific status. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l4 level1 lfo9">That the threats of the covenant are applied to the elect to instill in them the fear of losing their salvation, or the true possibility thereof, but rather are only a means for their final perseverance.
That this summary of covenant theology above is not contrary to Reformed theology in its historical outworking but is a good and faithful summary of its riches and is in no way a result of an overemphasis on election.B. The Law of God

We affirm:
<LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo21">That the law of God is just, holy and good since it is a reflection of God’s moral character. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo21">That all of mankind is perpetually obligated to keep this law in perfection. This law was revealed in part to Adam in creation, and more explicitly to Israel in the Mosaic economy. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo21">That the law of God is also revealed in the New Covenant, especially through the teaching and instruction of our Lord. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo21">That since the fall of man, our nature is so corrupt we cannot keep the law’s demands. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo21">Thus now the only way to satisfy the righteous demands of God’s law is to have faith in Jesus Christ, His Son, who has fully obeyed the law and has carried away its curse for all believers. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo21">That the law of God stands as a testimony of our sin even after we are regenerate. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l3 level1 lfo21">That all believers are enjoined to keep the law because we are given a new heart which enables us to respond in love to God’s law.
That the gospel is to be distinguished from the law, insofar as man’s redemption is concerned.We deny:
1. That keeping the law secures any part of our justification or entrance into eternal life, whether before or after regeneration.
2. That the believer is called to exercise his moral agency lest he be condemned and loses that good work that the Lord has begun in him
3. That the law and the gospel are the same thing and intended by God to be one method by which salvation is procured or established through man.
C. Election

We affirm:

We affirm that the election of God is according to His good pleasure and does not depend in any way upon foreseen faith or works.

That this election is from eternity and unto eternity. It is a decree of God thatcannot be changed or destroyed by our faith, works or lack thereof.
3. Thus it is an unconditional election.
4. This election of God is limited to the sphere of believers who are comprehended
as the remnant or the true church of God throughout redemptive history and finally perfectly manifested at the judgment day.
5. That true, saving faith and repentance as well as their attendant works are
the inevitable results of election that are only manifested in those whom God
has chosen before the foundation of the world.
We deny:
<LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo11">That the whole of the covenant body are chosen in the same way as described above. Rather the reprobate partake of the covenant and church life, but may not be spoken of or confused with the eternally elect.
That the choosing of Israel as a body or the visible church in its currentadministration is to be confused with those who are elect from eternity, as if they were the same thing or were created to effect the same outcome.

That this general choosing of the covenant body is in any way an application,whether indirect or direct, of the benefits of Christ purchased on the cross.

That this eternal election can neither be known or discovered by the elect but ought only to be left up to the mystery of God’s will. For rather we confess that
man is made for eternity and he ought to be made aware of where his eternal destiny lies.
<LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo11">That our standing in or assurance of our eternal election is dependent upon our covenantal faithfulness or obedience but is rather rightly known by our faith and works. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l0 level1 lfo11">That this election is seen exclusively or primarily through the viewpoint of the outward covenantal blessings and its administration, so that the covenant believer’s assurance of salvation does not differ from that of the covenant unbeliever’s.
That the reprobate can ever have true assurance of salvation.D. Regeneration

We affirm:
<LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l14 level1 lfo12">That regeneration is the sovereign application of the perfect work of Christ by the Holy Spirit who effects in the totally depraved sinner (dead in his sins and trespasses) spiritual life which enables him to believe in the gospel when it is preached to Him. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l14 level1 lfo12">It is the only way in which the sinner is awakened unto new life, and is the first, subjective application of the salvation won by Christ in His death and resurrection.
That this regeneration is only applied to the elect, though the non-elect who participate in the outward blessings of the covenant may experience non-salvificbenefits of the Holy Spirit’ work, such as the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments.

That this regeneration always results in faith and repentance, as commonly designated in the term conversion.

That regeneration is dependent upon God’s decision, and nothing that man can do,inwardly and outwardly, by means or direct application of signs or seals, effects or induces this spiritual awakening.
We deny:

That this work of regeneration is either in part or wholly applied to the reprobate or to those who participate only in the outward administration of the covenant.

That there is more than one type of regeneration or spiritual awakening that isapplied to the elect or reprobate.

That the work and/or the effect of regeneration, as demonstrated in the sinner’srepentance and faith, can be initiated by God but then lost by the elect or reprobate.
E. Atonement

We affirm:
<LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l11 level1 lfo14">That the atonement of Christ is perfect and complete. It does not need any work added to it by man to save the sinner before the holy and just throne of God. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l11 level1 lfo14">That this atonement was rendered on the cross only for the elect whom Christ had been given by His Father before the world began.
That the whole of the atonement is summarized in terms of the sacrifice of the body and blood of our Lord and was and is intended for the purpose of election unto eternity and that this forgiveness of sin can never be lost or revoked. We deny:
1. That the atonement was in any way applied to the reprobate, though it is
seriously and promiscuously preached as the way of salvation for all who believe.
2. That the atonement is applied to all covenant children without exception by virtue
of their participation in the covenant life or the sacrament of baptism.
3. That the atonement of Christ was given in order to present the covenant people
with an opportunity to gain eternal life yet failed for those who did not respond to
it in faith.
4. That someone for whom Jesus died and thus atoned for his or her sins, can suffer
eternal ruin under God's just wrath.
5. That the forgiveness of sins obtained for God's elect by the suffering and death of
Christ will ever be revoked.
F. Justification

We affirm:
<LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo6">That justification is a sovereign act of God wherein He declares sinners righteous before His sight. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo6">That this is done immediately as soon as the sinner trusts Christ, wherein he receives Christ’s righteousness as his own, apart from works. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo6">The righteousness of Christ is not only His perfect sacrifice offered for His elect on the cross, commonly called His passive righteousness as established in His atonement, but also His perfect life of obedience to the law, commonly called His active righteousness as established in His ministry on earth. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo6">This righteousness is imputed or granted to the believer as if it were his own. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo6">That faith is the only instrument or way of receiving justification. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo6">That this justifying faith is only a receiving or embracing of Christ’ righteousness. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo6">That this faith is a gift bestowed upon the elect so that they must be united to Christ and receive all His benefits by grace. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l5 level1 lfo6">That the final judgment is a time in which the believer’s justification in Christ will be publicly known and vindicated.
That James 2 is speaking of the vindication of our justification in this present life as our faith is proven to be true by our good works.We deny:
<LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l12 level1 lfo7">That this justification extends over the life of the believer, as if it could be improved by his works or faithfulness, but rather begins and ends with his profession of faith in Christ. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l12 level1 lfo7">That our life of sanctification changes or affects the status of our justification. Thus we also deny that the believer is waiting for the future judgment to ensure the truth or finality of his justification.
That the faith by which we are justified is a mixing of faith and works,or faith and repentance, which are commonly called faithfulness, but rather only a faith which receives, by an open hand, the perfect work of Christ offered for him.
<LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l12 level1 lfo7">Furthermore we deny that our understanding of justification by faith apart from works is limited to works of the ceremonial law, but that there is no work, whether from any part of the law, or offered in part or wholly through the power of the Spirit, yea even those done by true faith, to be sufficient to justify us wholly or in part before God. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l12 level1 lfo7">That anyone is justified apart from true faith, which is a faith that embraces the righteousness of Christ. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l12 level1 lfo7">That this justification undoes the corrupting work of original or actual sin.
That James 2 is speaking of this forensic or legal aspect of justification, that is a justification that functions as the way of forgiveness and entrance into eternal life. G. Sanctification
We affirm:
<LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l18 level1 lfo15">That sanctification is the ultimate outworking of the Spirit’s continued work within the elect from the point of their regeneration. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l18 level1 lfo15">That it is the outworking or inevitable result of man’s justification. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l18 level1 lfo15">It is a cooperation with the Holy Spirit as the believer desires to serve God with his whole being.
It always is joined with the saints continued unworthiness before the holy, perfect and just throne of God wherein he understands that none of these works can nor will ever justify him or add to his perfect justification in Christ.We deny:
<LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l15 level1 lfo16">That sanctification is ever a part of our justification, but that these two essential parts of our salvation must be distinguished, though not ever separated in the context of the whole of God’s work for and through the sinner. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l15 level1 lfo16">That sanctification must be applied or added to justification in order to make it effective or complete. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l15 level1 lfo16">That though, in part, it is necessary to the saint’s assurance, is not the primary means nor is the foundation of their guarantee unto eternal salvation, as if they had to continue in law-keeping or good works to know or even ensure their election.
That sanctification is ever given or applied to the non-elect, as if they participated in this or other salvific works of the Holy Spirit.H. Sacraments

We affirm:
<LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l13 level1 lfo17">That the sacraments are signs and seals of God’s covenant. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l13 level1 lfo17">That there is a commonality or unity in the sacraments the language of the thing signed and the thing signified, but in reality or application the two are to be distinguished as separate though not necessarily contrary. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l13 level1 lfo17">That they are means of grace as a visible gospel, pointing us to the finished work of Jesus Christ. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l13 level1 lfo17">That they testify of God’s grace only to believers as they receive the benefits of the sacraments by faith. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l13 level1 lfo17">The benefits of the sacraments are the nourishing and strengthening of our faith that we may be more assured of our salvation and drawn closer unto our God. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l13 level1 lfo17">That the sacraments of the New Covenant are baptism and the Lord’ Supper. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l13 level1 lfo17">Baptism is a sign and seal of the reality of the believers regeneration and forgiveness, but is not the reality thereof nor is the application thereof. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l13 level1 lfo17">The Lord’s Supper is a sign and seal of the reality of believers justification and union with Christ, but is not the reality thereof nor is the application thereof. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l13 level1 lfo17">That Christ has administered the sacrament of baptism for believers and their seed.
That Christ has administered the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for professing believers who have publicly confessed their faith in Jesus Christ, as summarized in our Form for the Profession of Faith. We deny:
<LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo18">That the sacraments can effect or produce faith or salvation in the heart of the elect or non-elect alike. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo18">That the non-elect participates in the thing signified by virtue of receiving the outward sign or the covenant life. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo18">That the non-elect ever participates in the thing signified, or receive any grace from their participation of the sacraments. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo18">That any benefit of the sacraments can ever be received apart from faith, or received by any other instrument than faith. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo18">That the blood of Christ is applied by or through water baptism. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo18">That the salvation which Christ has won on the cross for His elect is applied by or through water baptism. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l2 level1 lfo18">That the work of regeneration is applied by or through water baptism, with or without the power of the Holy Spirit.
That the Lord’s Supper is not only for mature believers but also for children or those who have not yet made a profession of faith. Rather it is limited to those who have come to the age of responsibility and have publicly enjoined themselves to full communion in Christ’s church by a profession of their faith.I. The Warrant and Place of Confessions

We affirm:
<LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l21 level1 lfo19">That the confessions of the Orthodox Christian Reformed Churches, the Three Forms of Unity, do fully agree with the Word of God. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l21 level1 lfo19">That they are placed within our churches not as an authority over the Word of God but as that which does rightly summarize the content thereof. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l21 level1 lfo19">That we who have voluntarily agreed to defend, teach and confess the Three Forms of Unity do militate against and oppose all those who deny or misapply them. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l21 level1 lfo19">That those statements summarized above on the major parts of our Reformed theology and history fully conform to and are derived from our confessions.
That our confessions are not the words and theology of men as an attempt to summarize the scriptures in submission to our Reformed theology and history but are based upon the very history of the exegesis of scripture itself.We deny:
<LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l20 level1 lfo20">That our confessions are in error in any part of their summary of the Scriptures unless this can be proven from the exegesis and analogy of faith of God’s Holy Word. <LI class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN-LEFT: 0.5in; TEXT-INDENT: -0.25in; tab-stops: list .5in; mso-list: l20 level1 lfo20">That the confessional statements are able to be denied or changed without the proper method of appealing to the courts of the church in a way that promotes the unity and peace of the church.
That ministers, elders and deacons are at liberty to propose new ways of teaching the confessions and the Reformed faith without first bringing these ideas and viewpoints to their consistories and fellow congregations.Therefore, we reject that teaching known as “the Federal Vision” which teaches that through Baptism or Covenant membership an individual is united to Christ and all His benefits, including regeneration, the forgiveness of sins, adoption, possession of the kingdom, sanctification, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and an Election and a Justification that can be lost if not maintained by good works.

ray kikkert
10-19-05, 01:52 PM
Here is a report of what took place at the synodical meeting within the OCRC in June 2005. It is as follows:


OCRC Synod 2005

Report

On June 23, 2005 twenty-three delegates from the Orthodox Christian Reformed Churches met in Burlington, Washington as Synod to make a statement about the Federal Vision.
One of the churches, the Sunnyside OCRC, had already made a statement about the Federal Vision. In 2003 one of their members expressed concern about the Federal Vision, asking the consistory to investigate it. The Sunnyside consistory made a thorough study and in 2004 issued a pastoral statement to the congregation. (www.sunnysideocrc.com (http://www.sunnysideocrc.com/)) That statement was later found in the hands of all the OCR consistories, and one consistory thought the matter of such urgency that rather than talk with Sunnyside, they brought the matter for discussion to the November 2004 OCRC Synod. That Synod made the decision to convene another Synod on June 23 & 24, 2005, and charged it to make a statement on the Federal Vision.
Synod 2005 met with only one overture on the agenda. The Bowmanville OCRC overtured Synod to discuss the OCRC’s own positions first on some of the matters raised by the Federal Vision before addressing the Federal Vision itself. That overture passed, and so the delegates spent the first day presenting their positions on four main questions:
1. How does God relate election and covenant in Scripture?
2. How do Scripture, our forms for baptism, and our confessions speak about our children?
3. How do Scripture and our confessions define a Christian?
4. How does the church find assurance of salvation?
Although the delegates conducted themselves peaceably, wide disagreement clearly surfaced. At times it seemed as though they were speaking from entirely different paradigms, or theological models.
The following day the chairman reminded the assembly that the duty given them by Synod 2004 was to make a statement on the Federal Vision. A delegate then stood and moved that “Synod 2005 denounce the Federal Vision.” In support of his motion the delegate said that the Federal Vision’s covenant theology was a blend of Schilder and Shepherd, and that it basically denied various cardinal principles of the Reformation. That motion gained the floor, and the mover was immediately challenged to produce a single shred of evidence that Schilder’s covenantal views were ever charged with heresy.
Another delegate rose and moved that the motion to denounce the Federal Vision was out of order. As grounds he first noted that church order principles prohibit synods from originating statements. All matters before Synod must arise out of a consistory and be presented to all other consistories with enough time before Synod to consider them carefully. Second, he noted that the mover had not presented any evidence to support the motion. Third, he observed that Synod 2004 was in error by charging this Synod to originate a statement. By a narrow margin Synod agreed to declare that the motion to denounce the Federal Vision was out of order.
Synod then passed a motion assigning the Cambridge OCRC consistory the task of preparing a statement about the Federal Vision and present it to all the consistories three months before November 11 & 12, 2005 when the next Synod will be convened by the Bowmanville OCRC consistory at Cambridge, Ontario.
Commentary

Now I’ll give my personal impressions, and you may certainly regard them as biased. I was truly thankful for the surface spirit of charity and peace. Under that surface, however, I find a sad and radical departure from the OCRC heritage of biblically covenantal and reformed thinking. There were delegates who expressed surprise that the Form for the Baptism of Infants should be taken literally. Others, publicly or privately expressed uncertainty about the state of covenant children who die in infancy.
How can I account for this? In some measure it seems to have been generated by the strength of their reaction to the covenantal thinking of the Federal Vision. They pushed so hard that they slid backwards. I would suggest that a reactionary spirit is an unhealthy posture for my beloved brothers to adopt. I have known these men for many years, and although we have always differed in some areas of covenant theology, it really alarms me that their reaction has suddenly become so vehement against positions many in the OCRC’s have always held.
I have grave misgivings and serious concerns for what seems to me, an anti-covenantal trend among the OCRC’s. Consciously or unconsciously some in the OCRC’s are turning their backs on our rich heritage of Continental Reformed covenant theology and heading down other roads. Scattered along those roads some traps for the unwary are set. I am convinced that none of my brothers have been snared by any of the traps I list below, but do judge that by following the roads they seem to have chosen, they expose themselves and their flocks to these hazards.
Rationalism. When God plainly addresses both Old Testament Israel and the New Testament churches as his people, his beloved, his chosen, his redeemed, and in the context he doesn’t qualify those terms, rationalism finds it necessary to qualify them in terms of election, or in terms of justification by faith alone. Rationalism rereads the plain texts of scripture to make them consistent with a certain theological grid. Rationalism says that since God elects certain people to salvation, when he addresses the church as “Redeemed,” or “Beloved,” logically he can’t mean all of them, but can only be talking to the elect. Rationalism cannot live with the polarities, with the tensions, with the mysteries God presents in the Bible, but insists that everything in Scripture can be neatly and understandably explained.
Individualism. The Anabaptist spirit, which sought a pure church made up only of elect individuals, largely ignores God’s usual emphasis on corporate election; that he chooses, elects a people, an Israel, a church at Ephesus, and that individual election is always in the context of corporate election. Individualism instead shifts to concentrate election on individuals who then make up an invisible church. No longer is the entire church, the men, women, and children assembled in front of the preacher, the object of the grace and love of God, but only select individuals within that church. This is a variation of the individualistic spirit typical of North America.
Voluntarism. Voluntarism is the belief that one is saved by an act of the will. If one identifies only the elect as justified, and if justification is by faith alone, then only those who have made profession of faith are justified. I realize that profession of faith, faith itself, is a work of the Spirit of God in the heart, but the impression of voluntarism remains. If the church can only call someone a Christian, a true member of the church because of that profession of faith, then the spirit of the altar call has risen. Voluntarism says that the individual’s act of profession of faith brings one into the body, rather than the free act of God’s grace in infant baptism.
Mysticism. “Mysticism” believes there is only value in the direct contact of God with the soul. There is a sad tendency to deny the mediate work of the Holy Spirit, and assert that his work is only immediate. “Mediate” declares that the Holy Spirit has bound himself to means. “Mediate” says the Holy Spirit uses ordinary things like the mouths of Moses and ministers, like the staff of Moses, like the brass serpent, like water, to achieve supernatural results. “Mediate” leaves together what God has joined together, as when Christ told Nicodemus, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” “Mediate” ties baptism, forgiveness of sins, and the Spirit together as Peter did when he said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
To hold that the Holy Spirit only works “immediately,” says that he only works directly on the heart of individuals without means. “Immediate” tends to downgrade the means God has ordained through which the Holy Spirit works: parents, teachers, preachers, elders, church, and sacraments.
Faith and ? Rome says faith plus works equals justification. If one says that faith plus inner experience or faith plus profession of faith equals justification would one not be falling into a similar though not so perilous a trap?
My broad overview of this controversy over the Federal Vision sees it as a struggle between what has been called the paleo-reformed and the neo-reformed positions. “Paleo” means ancient, and the paleo-reformed position is most clearly seen in the reformers and their immediate heirs. “Neo” means new, and it is represented by the refined theological positions worked out during what some would call the period of reformed scholasticism, sometimes laced with 18th century rationalism.
My call would be to return to the early reformers, and to the simple faith that sees that although the Word of our God presents us with mysteries and tensions, God gives true blessing and growth when we are content to declare faithfully what he has spoken, call God’s people to believe it, and to live consistent with that Word.

ray kikkert
10-19-05, 02:22 PM
In response to Cambridge, Ontario OCRC's overture to an upcoming meeting in November which I have found out has been postponed, Sunnyside countered with an overture of it's own to the meetings which in effect advocate's the FV babble of dung infested doctrine.

It is as follows:

Orthodox Christian Reformed Church of Sunnyside
July 25, 2005

The Consistory of the Bowmanville OCRC
Esteemed Brothers,
Greetings in the name of our great King.
Please accept the following submission as an overture to Synod Cambridge 2005:
The Consistory of the Orthodox Christian Reformed Church of Sunnyside overtures Synod Cambridge 2005 to make the following declarations about the Federal Vision:
The OCRC Synod Cambridge 2005 declares that we deny and reject any teaching or doctrine under the name of Federal Vision that contradicts the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, or the Canons of Dort. Furthermore, we reaffirm our promise to teach and defend all the articles and points of doctrine contained in them, and to uphold our Church Order and Liturgical Forms.
Furthermore, OCRC Synod Cambridge 2005 declares that if any member of the OCRC’s believes that the teaching of an OCRC office-bearer contradicts the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, or the Canons of Dort, they are to refrain from publicly expressing private judgment. Rather, they are bound by the Scriptures and Church Order Articles 29-31 to bring their concerns, first, to the consistory charged with the oversight of the office-bearer; second, if dissatisfied with the decision of that consistory they are to appeal it to Classis; and third, if Classis fails to uphold their appeal, they have the option of appeal to the next Synod.
GROUNDS:
1. Synod should neither endorse nor condemn the “Federal Vision.” It does not have a specific, identifiable confession of faith or creed, but is represented by a wide variety of writings by a diversity of ministers who are members in good standing of various Reformed and Presbyterian federations. While some would enthusiastically endorse some statements attributed to the Federal Vision, no one in the Federation has indicated they endorse all of them. The original speakers who identified their teaching as the “Federal Vision” do not agree among themselves on all issues. For example, some hold to paedo-communion and others do not.
2. If we should base a condemnation of the Federal Vision upon statements of various proponents or on certain books, we are beginning the impossible task of reviewing all the books that have or will come into the hands of all OCRC members and render a judgment whether they are orthodox or not. The Roman Church has attempted this with their Index, but unless we want OCRC reading restricted to books which carry the official imprimatur of Synod, we had best abandon this attempt.
3. It is not and should not be our primary concern to address those outside this Federation who we are convinced have seriously erred. If anyone believes that there are those among us who err in their doctrine, the way of correction is clearly open before us. We need the courage to address our concerns about each other directly and not compromise our integrity by ostensibly addressing the Federal Vision when we are really addressing Sunnyside.
Although it was earnestly protested at Synod 2004 that this Federal Vision matter was not about Sunnyside, and although it was similarly urged at Synod Burlington 2005 that we must limit our discussion to issues and not persons, those goals were and continue to be ignored. At Synod 2005 there were thinly veiled attempts to implicate Sunnyside, and a transparent attempt to charge Sunnyside delegates with violating their subscription vows. It has been reliably reported that some OCRC church members charge that Rev. Van Dyken believes in justification by works. Charges of near heresy and violation of vows have been made against Sunnyside on a large internet discussion group. Other evidence of public charges has surfaced.
Brothers, this is dishonest. If we have charges to make, let’s make them in the prescribed manner, not taking to ourselves the right of private judgment, but in charity hold one another innocent until proven guilty. We believe our overture reaffirms the righteous manner of dealing with each other.
May our gracious King and Savior Jesus Christ, be pleased, by the working of his Spirit, to maintain us all in the unity of his eternal word.

Yours in Christ, for the Consistory,

Rev. Donald Van Dyken, president Elder Michael Casbon, clerk

lionovjudah
10-20-05, 07:17 AM
Rationalism. When God plainly addresses both Old Testament Israel and the New Testament churches as his people, his beloved, his chosen, his redeemed, and in the context he doesn’t qualify those terms, rationalism finds it necessary to qualify them in terms of election, or in terms of justification by faith alone. Rationalism rereads the plain texts of scripture to make them consistent with a certain theological grid. Rationalism says that since God elects certain people to salvation, when he addresses the church as “Redeemed,” or “Beloved,” logically he can’t mean all of them, but can only be talking to the elect. Rationalism cannot live with the polarities, with the tensions, with the mysteries God presents in the Bible, but insists that everything in Scripture can be neatly and understandably explained.
Individualism. The Anabaptist spirit, which sought a pure church made up only of elect individuals, largely ignores God’s usual emphasis on corporate election; that he chooses, elects a people, an Israel, a church at Ephesus, and that individual election is always in the context of corporate election. Individualism instead shifts to concentrate election on individuals who then make up an invisible church. No longer is the entire church, the men, women, and children assembled in front of the preacher, the object of the grace and love of God, but only select individuals within that church. This is a variation of the individualistic spirit typical of North America.
Voluntarism. Voluntarism is the belief that one is saved by an act of the will. If one identifies only the elect as justified, and if justification is by faith alone, then only those who have made profession of faith are justified. I realize that profession of faith, faith itself, is a work of the Spirit of God in the heart, but the impression of voluntarism remains. If the church can only call someone a Christian, a true member of the church because of that profession of faith, then the spirit of the altar call has risen. Voluntarism says that the individual’s act of profession of faith brings one into the body, rather than the free act of God’s grace in infant baptism.
Mysticism. “Mysticism” believes there is only value in the direct contact of God with the soul. There is a sad tendency to deny the mediate work of the Holy Spirit, and assert that his work is only immediate. “Mediate” declares that the Holy Spirit has bound himself to means. “Mediate” says the Holy Spirit uses ordinary things like the mouths of Moses and ministers, like the staff of Moses, like the brass serpent, like water, to achieve supernatural results. “Mediate” leaves together what God has joined together, as when Christ told Nicodemus, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” “Mediate” ties baptism, forgiveness of sins, and the Spirit together as Peter did when he said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
To hold that the Holy Spirit only works “immediately,” says that he only works directly on the heart of individuals without means. “Immediate” tends to downgrade the means God has ordained through which the Holy Spirit works: parents, teachers, preachers, elders, church, and sacraments.
Faith and ? Rome says faith plus works equals justification. If one says that faith plus inner experience or faith plus profession of faith equals justification would one not be falling into a similar though not so perilous a trap?
My broad overview of this controversy over the Federal Vision sees it as a struggle between what has been called the paleo-reformed and the neo-reformed positions. “Paleo” means ancient, and the paleo-reformed position is most clearly seen in the reformers and their immediate heirs. “Neo” means new, and it is represented by the refined theological positions worked out during what some would call the period of reformed scholasticism, sometimes laced with 18th century rationalism.
My call would be to return to the early reformers, and to the simple faith that sees that although the Word of our God presents us with mysteries and tensions, God gives true blessing and growth when we are content to declare faithfully what he has spoken, call God’s people to believe it, and to live consistent with that Word.


I believe all these points are very true. But some here would disagree.

ray kikkert
01-18-06, 01:31 PM
I believe all these points are very true. But some here would disagree.

The dangers are always there Joe. This lists of definitions is nothing but a smoke screen.

It has come to my attention that the Westminster congregation in British Columbia has left the OCRC, is presently independant and looking to join with a more faithful denomination.

The issue: The advocacy of the Federal Vision theology.

The OCRC federation plans to meet this spring to deal yet again with the doctrinal babble within her ranks. It is becoming clear that they are helpless at present to stop the onslaught. Why? They are trying to curb it using a conditional covenant theology. It will not work. Only a doctrinal exegesis that is true to the Lord's Word that His unilateral covenant is unconditional will destroy this vain philosophy root and branch.

In the coming months other reformed bodies will meet to deal with this federal vision dung.

ray kikkert
01-18-06, 01:50 PM
If this truly was the case, there would indeed be more reference made to Hoeksema. There is "not" thus far in defining "justification". The idea is indeed laughable to me. After all if Dr. Venema (CRC) and Dr. Powell (RCUS) have at present complied articles in rejection to the NPP, how could one come to the consensus that Hoeksema and Wilson share common ground here? That is a stretch to make some kind of relation evident when the outworking of such reveals such a doctrinal divide one must be willfully blind not to see it.

These are learned men reviewing this book. No news is good news, but bad news of constant confusion being promoted by FV babblers continues.

Time has a way of vindicating one's stance as ligit or false. The outworking of that stance will show itself out. It has yet to run it's course. I know that the URC, the OCRC, and the RCUS in the next 2 years will be reviewing this whole affair.

So never mind Hoeksema, never mind the PRC.... the stance is rock solid against NPP/Fv (whatever you wish to call the babble set forth) and there will be articles coming up on this babble in the next 2 months. In the mean time, we will have other "reformed" churches weighing in on the subject at hand. When they do , the articles will be posted here for others to judge for themselves.

In response to my statements ealier, here is a recent review of the book entitled "Federal Vision".

Enjoy:

A Review Article


David J. Engelsma
The Federal Vision, ed. Steve Wilkins and Duane Garner. Monroe, Louisiana: Athanasius Press, 2004. Pp. 299. $21.95 (paper).

Written by several of the leading proponents of the heresy now solidly entrenched in most of the reputedly conservative Presbyterian and Reformed churches, and spreading, The Federal Vision brazenly defends justification by works; universal covenant grace to every child of believing parents, if not to every person sprinkled with water in the name of the triune God; an election unto grace that fails to save; baptismal regeneration; and the falling away of many who were once united to Christ. Among the authors are Steve Wilkins, John Barach, Rich Lusk, Peter J. Leithart, Steve Schlissel, and Douglas Wilson.
Justification by Works
The movement that calls itself the “federal vision” teaches justification by the obedience of the sinner. “The presuppositions undergirding Paul’s statement Romans 2:13 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Romans+2:13) ] include the facts that the Law is ‘obeyable,’ that truly responding to the Law (the Word) in faith does justify” (Schlissel, p. 260). Romans 2:13 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Romans+2:13) states that “the doers of the law shall be justified.” Schlissel’s comment on the text, that the “Law is ‘obeyable,’” affirms justification by deeds of obedience to the law.[/COLOR]
Schlissel denies that Romans 3:28 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Romans+3:28) has any and all human works in view when it speaks of the “deeds of the law”: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Rather, the reference is only to “Jewish” deeds, that is, ceremonial works done with the motive of meriting salvation (pp. 260, 261). According to Schlissel, the apostle merely excludes “Jewish” deeds from justification. Other deeds, deeds performed by the believer in the power of true faith, are included in justification. The apostle Paul concluded that a man is justified by faith without deeds—any deed and all deeds. Steve Schlissel concludes that a man is justified by faith with deeds—deeds performed by faith.
Peter Leithart charges the Reformation with distorting the truth of justification: “The Reformation doctrine of justification has illegitimately narrowed and to some extent distorted the biblical doctrine” (p. 209). The distortion is the Reformation’s sharply distinguishing justification and sanctification and its insistence that justification is a verdict (pp. 211, 213). Leithart argues that justification in Scripture has “a much wider scope of application than the strictly judicial” (p. 209). In fact, according to Leithart, “`justifying is never merely (sic) declaring a verdict” (p. 213; the emphasis is the author’s). Justification is also the sanctifying work of God within the sinner enabling him to perform good works, which then become part of his righteousness with God, as Rome has been teaching for the past five hundred years.

Resistible Grace
The “federal vision” teaches that the saving grace of God in Christ is universal within the sphere of the covenant, but that this grace can be resisted and lost. Everyone who is baptized, particularly every child of believing parents who is baptized, is savingly united to Christ, although many later fall away and perish.


Non-elect covenant members are actually brought to Christ, united to Him and the Church in baptism, receive various gracious operations of the Holy Spirit, and may even be said to be loved by God for a time…. In some sense, they were really joined to the elect people, really sanctified by Christ’s blood, and really recipients of new life given by the Holy Spirit. The sacraments they received had objective force and efficacy (Lusk, p. 288).

God truly brings those people into His covenant, into union with Christ. They are “in Him,” to use Jesus’ words in John 15 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=John+15). They share in His blessings (think of Hebrews 6 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Hebrews+6)). They experience His love, but that covenant relationship is conditional. It calls for repentance and faith and new obedience. God’s choice was not conditional, but life in the covenant is (Barach, p. 37; the emphasis is the author’s).

The new covenant theology in the Reformed and Presbyterian churches teaches that election fails to save many whom God chooses. It teaches that the eternal election of Ephesians 1:4 and Colossians 3:12 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Colossians+3:12) fails to save many who are the objects of this gracious choice. “And yet not all who are united to the Elect One, Jesus Christ, remain in Him and fulfill the high vocation that election brings with it. It is still to be seen who will persevere and who will fall away from within the elect people” (Lusk, p. 294).
The movement teaches baptismal regeneration. The ceremony of sprinkling with water in the name of the triune God effects the temporary regeneration and salvation of everyone baptized. It effects regeneration by the power of the Spirit, but the ceremony regenerates and saves everyone who is baptized, particularly every infant of godly parents. This regeneration and salvation can be lost. “The threshold into union with Christ, new life in the Spirit, and covenant membership in the family of God is actually crossed when the child is baptized” (Lusk, p. 109).
The advocates of the “federal vision” teach the falling away of covenant saints from saving covenant grace. They teach the falling away of saints aggressively. The falling away of covenant saints is one of their favorite doctrines.


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, p. 62).
Clearly, then, Hebrews 6:4-8 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Hebrews+6:4-8) teaches the possibility of a real apostasy. Some people do indeed fall away, and it is a real fall from grace. Apostates actually lose blessings they once possessed. Apostasy is so terribly heinous precisely because it is sin against grace (Lusk, p. 274; the emphasis is the author’s).

Rich Lusk manages to incorporate all of the false doctrines mentioned above in a paragraph that could have been written by James Arminius or Cardinal Bellarmine.


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. Baptism marks them out as God’s elect people, a status they maintain so long as they persevere in faithfulness. By looking to Christ alone, the preeminently Elect One, the One who kept covenant to the end and is the Author and Finisher of the faith of God’s people, they may find assurance. But those who take their eyes off Christ, who desert the Church where His presence is found, who forsake the external means of salvation, will make shipwreck of their faith and prove to have received the grace of God in vain (p. 289).

The “federal vision” rejects sovereign grace in the sphere of the covenant. In the sphere of the covenant, particularly among the children of believers, election fails, Christ died for all, grace is resistible, justification is by works, saved saints fall away to perdition, and salvation depends on the will of the sinner.
A Conditional Covenant
The root of the heresy is an erroneous doctrine of the covenant. The “federal vision” is covenant doctrine through and through. The doctrine of the covenant being developed by the movement teaches that God graciously makes His covenant with all the children of believers alike. In the sphere of the covenant, regarding all baptized babies without exception, grace is universal. The movement is one of covenantal universalism. But the covenant is conditional. Whether the covenant is continued with a child, whether a child continues in the covenant, whether a child continues to enjoy union with Christ and covenant grace, and whether a child is finally saved by the grace of the covenant depend upon the child’s faith and obedience. The movement is full-fledged Arminianism in the realm of the covenant.
In short, the error whence all the denial of sovereign, particular, irresistible grace springs is a covenant doctrine that refuses to permit God’s election to control covenant grace and salvation.



[ Hebrews 6 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Hebrews+6) and similar] passages simply speak of the [I]undifferentiated grace of God (Lusk, pp. 275, 276; the emphasis is the author’s).
God truly brings those people into His covenant, into union with Christ. They are “in Him,” to use Jesus’ words in John 15 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=John+15). They share in His blessings (think of Hebrews 6 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Hebrews+6)). They experience His love, but that covenant relationship is conditional. It calls for repentance and faith and new obedience. God’s choice was not conditional, but life in the covenant is (Barach, p. 37; the emphasis is the author’s).
To be in covenant is to have the treasures of God’s mercy and grace and the love which He has for His own Son given to you. But the covenant is not unconditional. It requires persevering faithfulness.... The covenant is dependent upon persevering faith (Wilkins, pp. 64, 65; the emphasis is the author’s).
Our salvation covenant with the Lord is like a marriage. If we persevere in loyalty to Christ, we will live with Him happily ever after. If we break the marriage covenant, He will divorce us (Lusk, pp. 285, 286).
Contempt for the Creeds
The Reformed creeds mean nothing to these men, all of whom loudly protest that they are Reformed. The Canons of Dordt reject the Arminian heresy that “there is one election unto faith and another unto salvation, so that election can be unto justifying faith without being a decisive election unto salvation.” The reason is that this teaching is “a fancy of men’s minds, invented regardless of the Scriptures, whereby the doctrine of election is corrupted, and this golden chain of our salvation is broken: ‘And whom He foreordained, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified’ (Rom. 8:30 (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?version=KJV&passage=Rom+8:30)) ” (Canons of Dordt, I, Rejection of Errors/2). Contradicting the Canons and breaking the “golden chain of our salvation” bother Rich Lusk not at all. With (undocumented) appeal to Augustine, he distinguishes a “predestination unto grace,” which is only temporary and does “not lead to final salvation,” from “predestination unto perseverance,” which does issue in final salvation (p. 275).
With cavalier disregard for the teaching of the Reformed creeds, James B. Jordan denies that Jesus merited salvation for His people. “Nowhere [in Scripture] is Jesus’ accomplishment spoken of as earning salvation” (p. 192). “What we receive is not Jesus’ merits, but His maturity, His glorification” (p. 195).
Absurdity and “Fuzzy-edged Mystery”
The presence in the book of James Jordan is significant. Jordan is one of the old-guard Christian Reconstructionists, involved, if I am not mistaken, in the fiasco of Tyler, Texas, where an early attempt to bring in Christian Reconstruction’s earthly kingdom died aborning. Jordan connects the original movement of Christian Reconstruction with its contemporary manifestation. It should not be overlooked that most of the men of the “federal vision” are zealots on behalf of postmillennial Christian Reconstruction.
James B. Jordan is the wildest hare started by Christian Reconstruction. His speciality is allegorical, fantastical exegesis. In comparison with Jordan, Origen and Harold Camping are pikers. According to Jordan, in his essay in The Federal Vision, Adam in Paradise would eventually have eaten the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil with God’s approval. Adam would then have died a “good-death.” By this “good-death,” he would have been glorified, maturing into eternal life. This would have enabled Adam to fight the dragon for a while in the unfallen world at large. But Adam would have needed help. Help would have appeared in the form, not of St. George or Frodo, but of the incarnate Son of God. The eternal Son would have become incarnate even if Adam had remained obedient. But the incarnate Son likewise would have passed through the “good-death” of eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so that He too could “mature.”
This fantasy is further embellished by Jordan with mind-boggling theories about garments and distinctions among animal, vegetable, and mineral (pp. 151-200).
If James Jordan is the exegete of the “federal vision,” the movement is not only heretical but also absurd.
The absurd is unintelligible.
Theological unintelligibility does not trouble Rich Lusk. Bravely drawing the inevitable conclusion from his premise that the Bible is not logical, Lusk is content to “live with fuzzy-edged mystery” (p. 279). “Fuzzy-edged mystery” is “federal vision” language for ignorance. The specific area in which Lusk is content to live in his “fuzzy-edged mystery” is the biblical doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Lusk readily admits that his doctrine of an illogical Bible, which is full of contradictions, particularly concerning the perseverance of the saints, derives from his “biblical-theological/redemptive-historical” method of interpreting the Bible, in opposition to what Lusk calls a “systematic/dogmatic” method (p. 280).
In fact, Lusk’s “fuzzy-edged mystery” is due to his denial that Holy Scripture as the inspired Word of God is non-contradictory and logical, as non-contradictory and logical as the God whose Word it is. As the written Word of God, Scripture is clear, sharp-edged, and certain revelation, particularly of God’s preservation unto glory of every recipient of His grace. Scripture is clear, sharp-edged, and certain to faith.
“Luther’s Malady”
It falls to Steve Schlissel to make the most despicable attack on the gospel of grace. Schlissel calls Luther’s knowledge of himself as a guilty sinner before a just God, out of which Spirit-worked knowledge came his understanding of the Bible’s gospel of justification by faith alone, “Luther’s malady” (p. 255). Luther’s sickness! Justification by faith alone, therefore, is a diseased doctrine. Since justification by faith alone is the cornerstone of the entire Reformation gospel, the entire Reformation gospel of sovereign grace is sick.
This “malady,” the men of the “federal vision” are determined to cure by a massive infusion of works-righteousness into the theology of Presbyterian and Reformed churches and into the spiritual lives of Presbyterian and Reformed people. The device by which works-righteousness is injected into the bloodstream of the churches and people influenced by the “federal vision” is a conditional doctrine of the covenant.
The heresy of the “federal vision” is deep and broad. It penetrates to the heart of the gospel, and it extends to all the doctrines of grace.
It can be refuted and rooted out only by the doctrine of a covenant of unconditional, particular grace.
And this is why the Presbyterian and Reformed churches where the heresy is boldly taught are both unwilling and unable to resist it.

ray kikkert
01-20-06, 03:02 PM
This FV babble is going to come to a head within reformed and presbyterian churches. The synodical meetings on the horizon will show that. The line is drawn, the trenches dug. One is in either trench or is out there trying to straddle the fence.

But do not just take my word for it. That is why I post critiques of others as well as statements made by FV babblers.

Here then, is another recent critique for folks to check out:


Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul: A Review and Response, by Guy Prentiss Waters. Presbyterian & Reformed, 2004. Paperback, 274 pages, $16.99. Reviewed by Pastor Edwin C. Urban, OPC.
Many in the conservative Presbyterian denominations are waking up, rubbing their eyes, and beginning to see that their communions are embroiled in a controversy that they never dreamed could have arisen in their Reformed churches. The controversy is over the nature and definition of justification. This debate is shaking the foundations of these denominations and is having a distinctly polarizing effect within them and between them.
It behooves every pastor and elder, the overseers of their flocks, to study and assess the now conflicting views that are being proposed regarding the nature of justification – a primary doctrinal concernof the Protestant Reformation. Much excellent material is being written and published regarding this debate.
One of the best books is Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul by Guy Prentiss Waters, B.A. in Greek and Latin, University of Pennsylvania; M.Div., Westminster Theological Seminary; and Ph.D., Duke University (concentrations in New Testament, Old Testament, and Ancient Judaism).
At Duke, Dr. Waters studied under Richard B. Hays and E. P. Sanders, two leading expositors of the New Perspectives on Paul. Dr. Waters is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Institute for Biblical Research. He is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church in America.
D. A. Carson, well known New Testament scholar, has written of Waters' book:

In the last few years there have been several careful evaluations and critiques of the New Perspective. This one excels for its combination of simplicity, fair-dealing, historical awareness, and penetration. For the pastor who is vaguely aware of the debates, but who has little mastery of the confusing details, this book's careful presentation of each scholar's position is a model of accuracy and clarity. Even those who have been pondering the issues for years will see some things in a fresh light. The ability of Waters to combine exegetical, historical, biblical-theological, and systematic reflections, and all in relatively brief compass, enhances the credibility of the argument. Combine these virtues with pedagogically helpful chapter summaries and an annotated bibliography, and it is easy to see why this book deserves wide circulation.

In reading this book, this reviewer was fascinated by the historical links the author establishes between the early exponents of the "historical-critical" school, F. C. Bauer and Wilhelm Bousset, through Albert Schweitzer, to Rudolph Bultmann and Ernst Kasemann, with the major authors of the New Perspective, E. P. Sanders, James D. G. Dunn and N. T. Wright. Waters has skillfully traced the affinities of the heterodox positions of this two hundred-year-old line of critical descent with the contemporary advocates of the New Perspectives on Paul, and beyond that, with Reformed circles close to home.
In the Preface, projecting the course along which his arguments will run, Waters writes, "I will…attempt to explain why officers and congregants within Reformed and evangelical churches find the New Perspectives on Paul attractive, and why such interest often attends interest in the theology of Norman Shepherd and the theology represented in the September 2002 statement of the session of the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church."
Among the reasons for writing this book, Waters, in the Preface, writes, "I want to illustrate the ways in which the New Perspectives on Paul deviate from the doctrines set forth in the Westminster Standards. I also want to show how Reformed theology surpasses the New Perspectives on Paul in explaining Paul's statements regarding the law, the righteousness of God, justification, and a host of other topics and doctrines."
Waters concludes his book with these remarks:

All expressions of Christianity are on the path to one of two destinations, Rome or Geneva. What the New Perspectives on Paul offer us is decidedly not “Genevan”…. It seems that there are elements active in the Reformed churches that wish to lead the church into a sacramental religion, all in the name of being “more Reformed.” If we examine their arguments carefully, we see that what they are really and increasingly saying is that Luther and Calvin were mistaken, and that Trent was right. May God give us grace that we may not squander the rich theological heritage bequeathed to us by the Reformers, historic British Calvinism, and American Presbyterianism. May we model, in spirit and teaching, that “pattern of teaching” preserved so faithfully by our forefathers.

After reading this book, it has become clearer to this reviewer that those in Reformed circles who have fallen under the influence of Sanders, Dunn, and Wright – whether they are conscious of it or not – are rejecting the federal theology of the Westminster Standards and are promoting, not just a refinement of the doctrine of justification, but a completely new system of doctrine.
January 2005




* "Vision: 1a: something seen in a dream, trance, or ecstasy, specifically a supernatural appearance that conveys a revelation; b: an object of imagination....2a: the act or power of imagination....";)

Bob Higby
01-21-06, 03:18 AM
Thanks, Ray. I will have to order this book right away!

ray kikkert
01-21-06, 02:50 PM
Thanks, Ray. I will have to order this book right away!

Looks good.


I should also mention that Rev. Van Dyken has also responded to questions posed to him from the Burlington Othodox Christian Reformed speech entitled "A Short Trip Through Federal Vision Land" ..... you can view this speech at this shortcut below:

http://www.sunnysideocrc.com/fdb/pafiledb.php?action=download&id=132

Here is his responses to those questions posed, and defense of the Federal Vision babble for you to view.

It is as follows:

Some questions and answers arising out of “A Short Trip Through Federal Vision Land.”



(These are questions that came to me following a speech in Burlington, Washington. Feel free to email me with others. –Donald Van Dyken)
1. Is there a difference between covenantal election and eternal election? Is the example of Saul that you spoke of referring to this or am I mixed up? (http://sunnysideocrc.com/fdb/uploads/FAQ%20on%20Fed%20Vis%20&%20me.htm#_1.__Is)
2. Can a person lose his/her salvation? (http://sunnysideocrc.com/fdb/uploads/FAQ%20on%20Fed%20Vis%20&%20me.htm#_2._Can_a)
3. Have you changed your thinking over the years, or because of the Federal Vision? (http://sunnysideocrc.com/fdb/uploads/FAQ%20on%20Fed%20Vis%20&%20me.htm#_3._Have_you)
4. You quote me saying, “our obedience keeps us in the way of life,” and ask “How can this be?” (http://sunnysideocrc.com/fdb/uploads/FAQ%20on%20Fed%20Vis%20&%20me.htm#_4._You_quote)
5. How can you say, If we are faithful to him, he will be faithful to us? (http://sunnysideocrc.com/fdb/uploads/FAQ%20on%20Fed%20Vis%20&%20me.htm#_5._How_can)
6. Can we thwart God’s salvation? (http://sunnysideocrc.com/fdb/uploads/FAQ%20on%20Fed%20Vis%20&%20me.htm#_6._Can_we)



1. Is there a difference between covenantal election and eternal election? Is the example of Saul that you spoke of referring to this or am I mixed up?

Yes, there is a difference between covenantal election and eternal election. Yes, my example of Saul refers to this.
I believe the Canadian Reformed Churches, for example, use the term “covenantal election” to distinguish it from “eternal election.” It certainly is a biblical use, for God clearly told his people Israel that he chose them above all peoples for his particular favor. Covenantal election, then means, that in the sovereign good pleasure of God, by his predestinating will, certain people are chosen to be included in his covenant of grace, in the people of Israel, in the church of Jesus Christ. Whether God makes them members of the church later in life, or as he usually does, through birth to believing parents, it is still the result of God’s choice, God’s electing love.
You will find, I believe, that many of the New Testament uses of the term “election” must be understood in that sense, that God has chosen people to be members of the covenant, incorporated them into the body of Christ. We hear the apostle Paul, for example, saying to the Thessalonians, “knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.” (1 Thess. 1:4) Yet it would seem from his comments later in the letter, that he was not referring to their eternal election, for he expresses uncertainty about their perseverance in the faith, saying, “For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain.” ( Thess. 3:5)
When Paul addressed the Ephesians and said, “just as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the word, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love, …” (Eph. 1:4) was he referring to their eternal election or to their election to be members of the body of Christ, the church? Was Paul addressing the entire church at Ephesus, men, women, children, and babies, or was he addressing only those members who were eternally elect? The witness of Scripture seems to be that he was talking to everybody in the church. Do we have evidence from Scripture that Paul knew who were eternally elect and who were not?
I believe the evidence is that Paul spoke of covenantal election, for he even spoke of the possibility that he should fail: “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Cor. 9:27) If he did not have the special knowledge of his own eternal election, he certainly made no claim about the eternal election of others.
But of one thing he was certain, that God had chosen him to be a minister of the gospel, and by the grace of God he was determined to finish his course with joy, to fulfill the apostleship the Lord had committed to his hand. And that brings us to realize that in the vast majority of the Bible’s references to God’s election, to his choosing, appointing, anointing, of people’s and persons, he does so for the fulfillment of his specific purposes, the advancement of his overall great program of redemption. God chose Israel to show forth his power and greatness to all the world, and that all people’s would see what great laws and statutes they had, and the great God who loved and saved them. Peter tells us today, “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Pet. 2:9)
Therefore the Scriptures urge us to fulfill our calling, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called…” (Eph. 4:1)
So the Lord reveals what has been called “corporate election,” that is the Lord choosing a people, a nation, a church. That church, that people, we confess he has “chosen to everlasting life;…” (HC q 54) and outside of that church there is no salvation. (BC Art 28)
The Lord’s choosing of particular people then comes within the context of his choosing a church. When this understanding of the normal way God speaks of election in the Bible, is reclaimed, we also can avoid the highly individualistic tendency associated with concentration solely on individual election. The church is elected, and we are elected, chosen, to be members of that church. As the Heidelberg says, “I am, and forever shall remain, a living member thereof.” (HC q 54)
The Bible speaks of God’s selection, election, of particular persons for particular roles, offices, and functions to fill in his great plan. Surely his selection of those persons is according to the eternal counsel of his will, that is, according to predestination. So God chosen Abraham, and also chose his descendents after him, that through him, through Abraham’s seed, the blessing of the Lord would come to all nations. Abraham was chosen for a specific purpose. And so we could show for all the other personal choosing God did. God chose Moses, Aaron, Samuel, Eli, Saul, David, and a host of others. To each one God gave a particular role to fill. Some filled it well, others failed. But again, God’s emphasis in these cases is not their individual salvation (as our children sometimes ask, “Did they go to heaven?”) but rather, did they answer God’s call, did they do what he told them to do, were they used by him in his great work of redemption. This, by the way, is the focus of our catechism books, always asking the question, Will you be used by the Lord in his great work, or will you be used by Satan?
Well, that’s a little in answer to your question. It’s probably not nearly adequate; so if it generates other questions, feel free to ask them. I know I don’t always get to them right away, but I’ll try.
2. Can a person lose his/her salvation?

Yes. And no. We’ve first got to define our terms. Much of the confusion surrounding the FV debate arose from the failure of the original speakers to clearly define their terms.
What terms do we need to define? “Person,” and “salvation.”
If by person you mean “elect person” and by “salvation” you mean our final salvation in the sense that Peter uses it, (“salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Pet. 1:5), then NO, emphatically never. God’s eternal purposes stand fast forever. However, as we all know, or rather do not know who are the eternally elect and who are not, we need to listen to Scripture and understand that since the Bible normally uses the term “election” in the senses I’ve described above, we can speak about falling away from “covenant election.” Obviously God predestined Ishmael and Esau, chose them to be born into the covenant, and they, by their unbelief chose to leave, they fell away, they lost what they had.
So let’s choose the definition of person that the Bible usually uses, and that means persons such as you and I whom God has chosen, from all eternity too, mind you, to be members of his church.
What then shall we mean by “salvation?”
There are at least three senses in which this term is used:
1. As something that has been accomplished, that we are saved.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, (Ephesians 2:8 NKJV)
who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, (2 Timothy 1:9 NKJV)
2. As something that is going on right now, that we are being saved.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18 NKJV)
3. As something that will be completed in the future, that we will be saved.
"But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 24:13 NKJV)
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. (Romans 5:9 NKJV)
Old Testament salvation:
We need to begin on this question from the Old Testament.
Let’s first look at Adam. Was he made perfectly? Indeed so, upright, in the image of God, in true righteousness and holiness, that he might rightly know God his creator, heartily love him, and live with him in eternal blessedness. Did Adam then live in a state of life, of perfect peace, of all that we comprehend in the term “eternal life?” Was it possible for Adam to fall from that state of grace? That’s not hard to figure out because he did.
Did God save Israel out of Egypt? He did, and he called them his redeemed people, his chosen people, his special treasure, members of his covenant. What kind of salvation shall we call this? In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul calls it a salvation that included baptism, and partaking of Christ in water and manna. Did some of Israel fall from this salvation; did they reject what they had? Yes, and here is the New Testament point: Paul cautions the church at Corinth that they don’t fail in the same way. These were the people he had addressed as church, as sanctified in Christ Jesus.
The warnings from Hebrews tell us the same thing, that having been saved by the grace of God, through faith, we are to continue in that grace and faith, and if we don’t, we fall away, we will fail to inherit.
Paul addresses these people in the book of Hebrews as “holy brethren.” He warns those “holy brethren” not to “drift away;” (2:1), not to “neglect so great a salvation,” (2:3), to “beware, brethren, lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God,” (3:12) that we should “fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it (his rest),” (4:1), he says that the same gospel was preached to Israel in the wilderness as to us, (4:2). He warns that we must “be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience,” (4:11)
Jude warns us of the same thing: “But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” (Jude 1:5 NKJV) They didn’t believe, they didn’t continue in the faith, they did not “hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” (Heb. 3:6) Exodus 4:31 says that they did indeed begin in faith, “So the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel and that he had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.” Again, following God’s great deliverance through the Red Sea, we read in 14:31, “Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and his servant Moses.”
They began in faith, but didn’t continue in faith the entire journey to the promised land. Remember the words of Christ, “He who endures to the end will be saved.”
Paul gives another picture in Romans 11, of the olive tree and the branches. The branches in the olive tree is Israel, the chosen people of God, and because of “the root,” the covenant mercies of God, “is holy, so are the branches.” Paul then goes on to say, “because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he may not spare you either.” (Rom. 11:20,21)
Paul says in Romans 6:3,6, “that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death…our old man was crucified with him…” That brings us to another metaphor, Again, another metaphor, the vine and the branches. I don’t think Christ could have made covenant membership any plainer. John 15 says that Christ is the vine and we are the branches. Every branch that bears fruit the Father prunes. Every branch that does not bear fruit is cut off, withers, and is burned. These then were branches that partook of the root and fatness of the vine, had leaves, yet were cut off.
The first part of Hebrews 6 gives a description of covenant membership that could not be plainer, it seems to me, and yet speaks of that member falling away, loosing what he had. Hebrews 6 goes on to compare God’s people to fields, same ground, same gracious rain from God, one brings good fruit and is blessed, the other thorns and thistles and is cursed.
I could go on, but let this be sufficient. All the warnings to covenant people in the Old Testament and to covenant church members in the New Testament, in all the gospels, in the epistles, are addressed to people whom the Lord calls redeemed, saved, delivered, his people, his saints, his inheritance, and cautions them against departing from the living God.
What shall we say? Where shall our security lie? Does God ask us to find assurance in some corner of our heart that is confident that we are eternally elect? God commands us to believe his promises, all of which are yes and amen in Jesus Christ. God calls us to have confidence in his word, for he has sworn with an oath that by two unchangeable things, we might have a strong consolation (Hebrews 6 last section). He calls us to cling to him, to believe him, to confess when we go astray for he is the God of all mercies, forgiving us in grace. He calls us to have complete confidence, that as we submit to him, as we come under his servants the prophets, as we obey the kingship of Christ through the elders, he is able to present us blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy. (Jude 1:24) We have confidence that if we remain members of the body of Christ, the Father will join us to the head, if we remain members of the bride of Christ, neither heaven or hell, angels or principalities, life or death, heresies, schisms, wars, communists, Muslims, famines or earthquakes, terrorists or cancer, will deflect the Almighty from his sovereign purpose to wed this bride to his dearly beloved Son.
The great question, it seems to me is faith. I know there are tensions between the various statements that God presents in the Bible. But do we have faith to believe just what God says, or must we rearrange his plain speech into ways that fit our rational minds? Do we have faith to believe that although God says of you and me that if we think we stand, we should take care lest we fall, that in our own strength and merits we would undoubtedly perish, but our hope and confidence is in Christ our Lord. Those who continue to trust in him will never be put to shame.
3. Have you changed your thinking over the years, or because of the Federal Vision?

I’ve said on occasion that no one should place all their confidence in the faithfulness of any man, for there are so many examples of men who began faithfully enough, but then went on to fall into grievous doctrinal or moral errors later on. My one emphasis has been, I hope, is to say that if a man is faithful, those whom he teaches will never quote him, but always quote the Scriptures.
But yes, I have changed and I suppose we all have changed. I suppose, that none of us are the same as we were. That still leaves the question, are our changes for the better or for the worse? That’s where our fellowship among churches comes in, and that fellowship is the Lord’s gracious means to keep us from becoming eccentric or out of balance. And above all, it is the application of the Bible that brings us back on track.
I sincerely believe that I have grown in my understanding through these years, and during this controversy. I believe that my understanding is more balanced because it is, in my judgment, more covenantal. I say more covenantal in distinction from reading things solely from the election perspective. It is that covenantal emphasis, which I believe is Biblical, that I stressed in the speech, and that perhaps caused you to be surprised at what I did not say. And indeed you may be right, that I omitted things that should have been said. There is the emphasis, for example, that Wilkins placed in one of his speeches on being “in Christ” for all things. I think he refers to over 75 instances in the New Testament where everything in the believer’s life is to be found in Christ alone. At the same time, the Bible stresses, Hebrews being a vivid example, that God holds us responsible for staying in Christ..
We must test all growth in each other by the Word. Growth can be legitimate or illegitimate. Sycamore trees in California occasionally have mistletoe growing on one of their branches. Mistletoe is nice, but it is a parasite, and a sycamore branch ten inches in diameter under the mistletoe shrinks to six inches after it. Mistletoe is not legitimate tree growth. When it’s cut out, the tree resumes proper growth. Every living thing must grow, for growth is evidence of life. And you and I not only grow in behavior, we grow in knowledge and understanding. So I believe, and am thankful that I have grown, believing that my growth is a legitimate extension of what my father taught me.
4. You said, “our obedience keeps us in the way of life.” How can this be?

You quote me correctly, for I said, God’s redemption gave them and us life, and our obedience keeps us in the way of life. “And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is this day.” (Deut. 6:24) If we leave this path of obedience he says we will die. “If you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God…all these curses will come upon you.” (Deut. 28:15) He set before our fathers, and he sets before us every Sabbath, the way of life and the way of death.
I tried to make the distinction in this quote and else where that truly it is God’s work, in his deliverance of Israel, in his deliverance of us through Christ that brings us into covenant, that pays for our sins, that provides us the obedience, the righteousness to come into God’s favor, to make us God’s children. Truly, our obedience is out of thankfulness. Our obedience does not contribute to our status as children of God, saved, redeemed, delivered, it does not add to the fact that God saved us, does not contribute to the work of Christ to redeem us. God illustrates that very plainly in the exodus. And I think you will find that emphasis in my speech.
First from the Old Testament:
God addresses this to his saved people (Deut. 33:29, “a people saved by the Lord.”) This then is addressed to those whom the Lord has given life, and now tells them that life is in obedience to the Lord. "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. "And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God: (Deuteronomy 28:1-2 NKJV)
Again, the opposite is also true. You have life, and since to live is to walk in the ways of the Lord, death is to depart from those ways. "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: (Deuteronomy 28:15 NKJV)
Two ways: "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; (Deuteronomy 30:19 NKJV)
These are the two ways of Psalm 1.
Does the New Testament teach us differently? I don’t think so. When you get to the end of the Sermon on the Mount where Christ applies the law of God more rigorously than Israel usually applied it, what did he say? He showed the way of blessing in covenant by the man who built his house on the rock. He showed the way of curse in covenant by the man who built his house on the sand. What did he say of the man whose house stood the test? He heard these sayings of Christ and did them. What did he say of the man whose house fell? He heard these sayings of Christ and did not do them.
How does Paul address the Roman Christians?
For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13 NKJV)
In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul plainly tells the Corinthian church that the Israelites were their fathers, that they were all baptized, that they ate and drank of Christ. In other words, in essence God’s work of redemption was the same for Israel as it was for Corinth. Now, says Paul, be warned, for many of them fell in the wilderness because of disobedience. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12) Paul is warning against a real, not imaginary, possibility. God has given us the responsibility to continue faithful, and faithfulness, belief, is shown by obedience.
The way of obedience that Christ walked is the way that gained us life. In that life Christ calls us to walk as he walked, to follow him. If, as the rich young ruler, we find that following after riches is preferable, we depart from the Lord. Again, to change the illustration, God gave Israel the promised land through grace alone, delivered them from Egypt, and told them to possess what was theirs. God promised to go before them, in other words, to work out the success of their obedience. They failed to believe him, and perished in the wilderness, because of disobedience, because of unbelief. (Heb. 3:18,19)
God gave us the righteousness of Christ that we should walk in that way of righteousness. Failure to do so is unbelief. Now I realize that we have failings, but also that God has provided his mercy for those failings, evident in the Old Testament sacrificial system and in the intercession of our High Priest today. But I also know that God describes his people as righteous or wicked on the basis of their works. Job was a blameless man, says God. God says of Zacharias and Elizabeth, And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. (Luke 1:6 NKJV)
Consider David, ever a lover of God’s commandments. Does he confess that he sins? Indeed yes, not only with Uriah and Bathsheba in Psalm 51, but in other Psalms, Psalm 32 for example as well.
But does he also say that he is righteous? For I have kept the ways of the LORD, And have not wickedly departed from my God. For all His judgments were before me; And as for His statutes, I did not depart from them. I was also blameless before Him, And I kept myself from my iniquity. Therefore the LORD has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to my cleanness in His eyes. (2 Samuel 22:22-25 NKJV)
Or consider the NT qualifications for office: A bishop then must be blameless… (1 Tim. 3:2) Does this mean that he has no sin whatsoever? No. Does it mean that in Christ he is righteous? Yes, but this is not the focus, for then every member of the church should qualify. The focus is faithfulness in covenant, and that is the way we measure a man, is it not? He is one that clings to God, evidenced by faithfulness in worship. He has a godly family and he is without reproach in his dealings in the world.
There is a sense in which our obedience keeps us in the way of life, for that is the way we function in family and church. You can say with gratitude that you have a godly wife and godly, righteous daughters. They are faithful to the Lord in covenant. Does this mean they are works-righteous? Of course not, only that they are faithful in covenant. They, as the baptism form says we must do, cling to this one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, forsake the world, crucify their old nature, and walk in a godly life. Covenant faithfulness is, again as the form says, if we sometimes through weakness fall into sin, we must not despair of God’s mercy nor continue in sin. Faithfulness is returning to the Lord in our failures.
Again, this stresses of course, the responsibility of man, but I really believe that it needs to be stressed to regain a biblical balance in covenant. Perhaps I am overworking this point, but again, if you review all the New Testament judgment day scenes, you will find judgment based on works. This does not deny the grace of God, nor does it deny that the elders, and all of us, will cast down our golden crowns before the Lamb, who alone is worthy of all honor, both for our adoption and for our obedience.
But listen to the Lamb as he calls us to obedience: To the seven churches, seven times beginning each letter, I know your works. And then concluding each of the seven letters, with a promise of reward contingent upon our faithfulness, To him that overcomes.
5. How can you say, “If we are faithful to him, he will be faithful to us?”

Perhaps this is not the happiest phrase, but what it does say is that God gives us contingencies, conditional promises. Christ said, Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Now in a sense there are simply no contingencies in God’s plan, in God’s predestination, in God’s election. That is simply the truth of Scripture. But it is equally true, that we don’t know who are God’s elect, and must simply accept his conditional statements although we may not, nor ever will, logically mesh them with unconditional election.
Again, I must simply refer to the many passages you are familiar with to show you this. God promised to be faithful to his promise to Abraham, to give to Israel the land of Canaan for their possession. Most of those who came out of Egypt, truly saved, really redeemed, never received that possession. Why? Because of unbelief, unbelief in the faithfulness of God; and that unbelief showed itself by failure to obey. They were unfaithful to God, and he did not give them the land.
We are familiar with the many times God says, If you repent, then I will do you good. Again, from Hebrews, For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, (Hebrews 3:14 NKJV) Another conditional statement, But he who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22 NKJV)
In my speech I spent some time asserting the absolute sovereignty of God in predestination. At the same time I wanted to emphasize that we may not rearrange or amend the plain teaching of Scripture that God places conditions upon us for the fulfillment of his promises.
God’s faithfulness in keeping his promises, in making us his children, in providing us with all things necessary for body and soul, indeed do not depend upon our faithfulness. He abides faithful, he cannot deny himself. At the same time, God emphasizes the necessity of our faithfulness in covenant, and makes his blessing contingent upon our obedience in covenant. He doesn’t oblige me to reconcile the two, but just to believe them.
I do think, and I believe this is part of my growth, that our five points of Calvinism are correct, logically coherent, and tight. But I also believe that we cannot take this system and impose it on the Bible, making everything logically fit this system. And that leads to your next observation.
6. Can we thwart God’s salvation?

No one can thwart God’s election, God’s predestination. No one can thwart God’s salvation. God’s grace for the elect is irresistible. That is a foregone conclusion, for the elect are those who will appear around the throne on the last day, those who endured to the end, faithful to death, the overcomers.
My points, which followed I think, upon my brief exposition of predestination, was to show that Scripture presents seeming contradictions. But, and this is my point, we may not subject Scripture to our logic.
Here are my statements:
There is a tension for our minds between election and covenant. It is a mystery. We need to recognize this, and accept it. God’s Word presents us many mysteries. The most obvious one is the nature of God himself, our blessed Triune God, three in one. The incarnation of the Son into human flesh is a mystery. Paul speaks of the mystery of our incorporation into Christ. The Bible presents us with the great mystery and tension of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.
God’s Word presents tensions. He says that he “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4) Shall we say that he doesn’t really mean that because if he did he could have elected them? God forbid. God says of his church, “what more could have been done to my vineyard that I have not done in it?” (Is. 5:4) Shall we say, “Lord, you could have done one more thing, elected them.” God forbid. Christ says, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34) Shall we say, “Christ, if you really wanted to, you could have elected them?” God forbid.
What shall we say? Shall we hire sharp theologians to resolve these tensions and tell us they can be rationally explained? Shall we be those fools who walk in where angels fear to tread? Or shall we be like Calvin, content to be a humble disciple of Christ, not foolishly prying into those things that are hidden?
I want to be Biblical, and believe all that God has revealed. Logically, proceeding from the given of election, we would say that God saves everyone he wants to save. This is true. God works out that salvation from start to finish. But God also speaks the way I quoted, and I fear greatly if I am inclined to change the plain meaning of his words to agree with my logic.
What does God give as the reason someone perishes? “So we see that they could not enter because of unbelief.” “Depart from me you workers of iniquity, into the fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” God rejected Saul because Saul rejected him. Esau lost the birthright because he sold it. I know that both good and evil, both faith and unbelief are all part of God’s predestination. But God, from the sin of Adam onward, gives as the reason for judgment, as the reason for not being saved, as the reason for disobedience, not his predestinating will, but man’s failure to respond in faith and obedience.
I do want to maintain a biblical balance, and that brings me to your last comments. My presentation was not a sermon, but an attempt to find balance. Perhaps I failed. But then again, if one received the epistle from James in the early church, one would perhaps wonder where the grace in Christ was.
These things must drive us to Christ, and that is being covenantally faithful. These things drive us to the Word. These things drive us to the church, the body of Christ, in which Christ ministers his Word to us. Our salvation is a continuing salvation, as you imply, and this God continues to be the God of our salvation at all times. I know that unbalanced emphasis on the covenant can lead to worldliness, as I have observed in another denomination. It can also lead to self-righteousness. But biblical emphasis on man’s responsibility should always lead us back to Christ, who then says, If you love me, keep my commandments.






............ also to follow will be information leading up to the OCRC spring meeting. Many overatures from the different congregations have been submitted.

Those pertaining to the Federal Vision will be brought here in due course.

ray kikkert
01-25-06, 02:37 PM
............ also to follow will be information leading up to the OCRC spring meeting. Many overatures from the different congregations have been submitted.

Those pertaining to the Federal Vision will be brought here in due course.

..... as promised here are the overatures that deal with the Federal Vision. We are seeing first hand just what kind of ruckus and turmoil this babble is having within reformed and presbyterian churches.

The overatures are in "PDF" format:

http://www.sunnysideocrc.com/fdb/pafiledb.php?action=download&id=209

http://www.sunnysideocrc.com/fdb/pafiledb.php?action=download&id=208

http://www.sunnysideocrc.com/fdb/pafiledb.php?action=download&id=207

http://www.sunnysideocrc.com/fdb/pafiledb.php?action=download&id=166

Brandan
01-25-06, 02:44 PM
Thanks Ray for keeping up with this important topic.

ray kikkert
02-01-06, 01:09 PM
Thanks Ray for keeping up with this important topic.

Thank you for the opportunity.

Here is another Federal Vision babbler you may be familiar with:

Mark Horne [website (http://www.hornes.org/theologia)] (Asst. Pastor, Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church, St. Louis, MO - PCA)

Mark Horne, The Victory According to Mark: An Exposition of the Second Gospel (Canon Press)

Mark Horne, Justifying Faith: A Prima Facie Vindication of Norman Shepherd According to Reformed Orthodoxy (http://www.hornes.org/justmark/archives/The+Justification+of+Faith.pdf)

"It is much easier to account for Shepherd from the Reformation heritage than it is to account for his opponents. The Reformed communion covers many centuries, confession [sic], theologians, and traditions. It may well be that Shepherd's opponents have some precedent for various points they bring up. But they have no precedent for attacking someone as a heretic for the crime of popularizing Turretin or the Westminster Confession." (p. 56)

Mark Horne, Sacramental Assurance and Westminster (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/mark_horne/sacramental_assurance_westminster.htm)

"Common election--which is God’s eternal choice to predestine some to be brought into membership in his covenant people, the Church--is not effectual in all because they are not given the gift of persevering faith. But Calvin’s "special elect are chosen for immortal glory from eternity and brought to that glory through the gift of faith in God’s promises to the common elect. By being marked out as God’s people--both initially in baptism, and continually by preaching and the Lord’s Supper, as well as all the aspects of covenant life--they are assured that they are loved by God and are headed to resurrection."

Mark Horne, The Grace of Judgment According to Works (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/mark_horne/the_grace_of_judgment_according_to_works.htm)

"It seems plausible to ask if Paul isn't in fact describing the life of faith ("the obedience of faith," Romans 1.6) that receives justification and life. His point might be that this faith has always vindicated both Jew and Gentile and that the Christ himself is the judge. God's judgment of "the secrets of men by Christ Jesus" may entail that Jews who reject Christ are no better than idolaters while Gentiles who obey the Gospel are acceptable to him. But whatever the structure and content of Paul's argument, the idea that this is a hypothetical means of gaining salvation through perfect obedience deserves to be questioned."

Mark Horne, Law and Gospel in Presbyterianism (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/mark_horne/law_and_gospel_in_presbyterianism.htm)

"The difference between Law and Gospel then is that of promise and fulfillment, type and substance, and partial and completeness. This is not all that controversial nor unique to the Reformed heritage. However, the difference between Law and Gospel is also that between ethnic exclusiveness and cosmopolitan inclusiveness, or between sectionalism and catholicity."

Mark Horne, Are Wright's Critics Misreading Him? (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/mark_horne/are_wrights_critics_misreading_him.htm)

"I hope this alerts readers of how much power a reviewer has when he picks quotations from an author. If our goal is to arrive at the truth of the matter, we cannot possibly allow ourselves to assume that conclusions founded on a writer's selection of quotations automatically guarantee that his conclusions are trustworthy.?"

Mark Horne, Norman Shepherd's Call of Grace: A Pastor's Book Review (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/mark_horne/call_of_grace_a_pastors_book_review.htm)

"The Call of Grace is an excellent manual to put in the hands of laymen to teach them how to rest in God’s grace while taking seriously the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. It is the only book written at a popular level that explains covenant theology. This is an odd situation, but before Shepherd wrote his book it was even stranger.

"Here is the mystery: "Covenant is perhaps the most popular name for churches in the PCA. Its name adorns both our seminary and our college. All of this is a result of the importance of Covenant theology. Yet when one looks at Reformed propaganda used widely in the PCA one encounters a never-ending stream of books and booklets about TULIP and about infant baptism. The covenant only gets mentioned in passing as a rationale for infant baptism. Other than providing support for that rite, one would think from looking at our literature that the covenant is of no importance to us at all. It is certainly undeniable that our literature designed to introduce and convince others of PCA distinctives tells a vastly different story than a glance at the names in our church directory."

Mark Horne, Getting Some Perspective on the "New Perspective": What's at stake (or not!) for Reformed Pastors regarding the contemporary discussion of Paul and "the works of the law"? (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/mark_horne/perspective_on_the_new_perspective.htm)

"This brief essay will simply deal with the central idea of what has been called "covenantal nomism"--that in Jesus' day the Jews viewed God's covenant as a gift of pure grace and viewed the law as part of that gift to show them how to continue in that covenant. The Jews, according to the "new perspective," were not trying to earn or merit salvation from God, but viewed their standing before God as due to God's merciful provision. That provision included the law as the means by which God's people continued to walk with him (i.e. stayed in covenant). It was based, all along the line, on the expectation of God's continual forgiveness of their sins as God had graciously promised them."

Mark Horne, When does God adopt us as His children? (http://www.christianity.com/CC/CDA/Content_Blocks/CC_Printer_Friendly_Version_Utility/1,,PTID23682|CHID125043|CIID1392896|CPATHL3BhcnRuZ XIvQXJ0aWNsZV9EaXNwbGF5X1BhZ2UvMCwsUFRJRDIzNjgyfEN ISUQxMjUwNDN8Q0lJRDEzOTI4OTYsMDAuaHRtbA==,00.html)

"We enter the Church by baptism, whether infants or adult converts. No one gets into the Church by natural birth. That is why baptism is applied, not only to the infants born to at least one Christian, nor even only to children to Christians whether by natural birth or adoption, but also to the infants brought under the care of Christian orphanages (See "The General Assembly of 1843 in The Princeton Review, July 1843, vol. 15, #3). The issue is not whether one possesses a Christian bloodline, or has been privileged to become a member of a Christian nuclear family, but simply if one is under the guardianship of Christians and thus can be discipled in the Church."

Mark Horne, Is Pelagianism and Acceptable Price?
(http://www.christianculture.com/cgi-local/npublisher/viewnews.cgi?category=3&id=1045336339)
"The price of what?" you ask. In this case, the price is what one must pay to portray Norman Shepherd as a Gospel-denying heretic.

Mark Horne, The Necessity of New Obedience: The Westminster Standards, Repentance, Pardon
(http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/mark_horne/necessity_of_new_obedience.htm)
"Any attempt to make some apparent level of sanctification the condition for salvation is hostile to the Gospel. [B]Indeed, claiming that such a level is merely the "fruit of faith is no less legalistic and dangerous. Matthew 18 gives us the process by which a professing believer may be considered an unbeliever, and that same chapter strongly warns against judging people or cutting them off from hope simply because of repeated sinning. The question is not how much someone obeys God but if they trust God. That trust, operating within a revealed structure of promise and warning, will be visible to oneself, to others, and to God." (emphasis added - ed.)

Mark Horne, Justification by Union with Christ Only Through Living Faith: A Brief Comparison of Calvin's Institutes with the Westminster Confession and Catechisms regarding the shape of imputation (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/mark_horne/justification_by_union_according_to_calvin_and_wes tminster.htm)

"This essay is a brief argument that the soteriology of John Calvin in his Institutes of the Christian Religion regarding union with Christ and the imputation of his righteousness is the same as that of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms."

Mark Horne, Correcting Two Mistakes of the Law-Gospel Hermeneutic (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/mark_horne/correcting_two_mistakes_of_the_lawgospel_hermeneut ic.htm)

"The typical interpretations of Luke 10.25-37 and 18.18-30 along the lines of a Law-Gospel hermeneutic are obviously flawed and end up undermining the very doctrine they are trying to protect. They allow Jesus to actually encourage people to be justified by good works and then try to save the Reformation slogan sola fide ("faith alone") by claiming Jesus really was using a clever ploy to get people to give up trying to be justified by good works."

Mark Horne, CREDO Regarding Personal Justification before God (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/mark_horne/credo_on_justification.htm)

Mark Horne, The Gospel is Jesus is Lord (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/mark_horne/the_gospel_is_jesus_is_lord.htm)

Mark Horne, Another Take on NT Wright and the New Perspective (http://www.christianity.com/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID23682%7CCHID125467%7CCIID1522996,00.html)

Mark Horne, "We Have One Father, Even God": Initial Observations: How the Gospel Challenged the Pharisees (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/mark_horne/we_have_one_father_even_god.htm)

"Provisionally then, the Gospel as Luke understands it to begin with John's ministry, is a call to repentance in the face of an impending visitation by God-a repentance that is defined in terms of concrete behaviors. As this visitation takes place, we see the content of the Gospel message adjusted according to what has already happened and what is left to yet take place.

"A call to repentance in the face of God's visitation, it should go without saying (!?), means a call to believe and trust in the God who is promising his visitation. One must first and foremost repent of unbelief and one never responds to a message from a person unless one believes the message and trusts the person. Perhaps the data above will help us feel more comfortable with the fact that the first sermon of the Church does not even bother to mention faith or believing, but simply exhorts those who want to be delivered from God's wrath to repent and be baptized."

Mark Horne, You and Your Son and Daughter: Christ's Communion with Young Children (http://www.hornes.org/theologia/content/mark_horne/you_and_your_son_and_daughter.htm)

"This paper was written to persuade people who were members of the Presbyterian Church in America. It should be accessible to anyone who believes in baptizing infants--especially to those who consider themselves a part of the Reformation Tradition."






............ more to come in due course:(

ray kikkert
02-02-06, 12:18 PM
Thanks Ray for keeping up with this important topic.

I received this information from the Trinity Foundation. Interesting how this review engulfs much of what has been discussed on this forum of late. It is good to see others who are willing to refute this Federal Vision babble and the list of false doctrine that goes with it.

This particular review deals as a critique against the Federal Vision:


Lessons for the Lads

Martha McElwain

Editors Note: For more than 30 years, beginning with the faculty and teaching at Westminster Seminary in the early 1970s, Reformed and Presbyterian churches in the United States have been corrupted and subverted by false teaching on the doctrines of Scripture, election, justification, the covenant of grace, sacraments, and the Gospel. Today, those heresies are entrenched, widespread, and taught with enthusiasm and impunity in the Presbyterian Church in America and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
Office-holders in those denominations – Pastors, Elders, Deacons, seminary professors and administrators – have taken no effective action to stop the spread of the heresies or to discipline the heretics. In fact, they have done the opposite. There are good-ole-boys’ networks, developed during seminary daze, that protect false teachers from any effective discipline or opposition. Students protect their professors; professors protect their students; and students and professors protect each other. Because they control the church courts, the good-ole-boys’ networks have prevented church courts from taking any effective action against false teachers in Presbyterian churches. With the exception of John Kinnaird (an Elder charged with heresy by ordinary church members, not seminarians, and whose conviction was subsequently overturned by the highest court of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, controlled, of course, by seminarians), no teacher has been disciplined by those denominations. (In one obscure case involving Burke Shade, now a “pastor” affiliated with Douglas Wilson’s sect, CREC, Illiana Presbytery [PCA] deposed him from office. Hardly anyone has heard of that case outside of that Presbytery, since the Presbytery did not understand that Shade, a follower of James Jordan, was part of a much larger problem in the PCA.)
Out of the scores of Pastors, Elders, and seminary professors teaching false doctrine in the OPC and the PCA in the past five years,
not one has been removed from office
not one has been convicted of doctrinal error
not one has been tried
not one has even been charged with error.
A few Presbyteries and congregations have adopted “statements” on some errors, but such statements are both toothless and shallow. The lads in charge of the seminaries and churches have failed in their duty to Christ and the church, but they have succeeded, so far, at protecting their own backsides and the backsides of their friends. But when church officers fail to do their duty, they are judged by God, and he raises up Christians who know and do their duty.
History contains many accounts of brave, intelligent, and believing women who act in defense of the truth when men, who have the greater responsibility to do so, fail. Those familiar with Scots history remember the name of Jenny Geddes, who threw a stool at church officers trying to impose the King’s liturgy in a Presbyterian church.
Well, lads, a greater than Jenny is here.
In February 2005, Miss Martha McElwain, daughter of a deceased Elder of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church who had left the PCUSA in June 1936, wrote a letter to the Board of Directors of Westminster Theological Seminary informing them of her concern about the false teaching of the Seminary and of her intention to eliminate the Seminary from her Will. The Seminary arranged a meeting between the President, a Seminary Board member, and Miss McElwain to discuss the matter. Miss McElwain wrote a Report of that meeting, a Critique of the meeting, and followed up with a letter to President Peter Lillback (PCA).
We begin our account with Miss McElwain’s February 2005 letter to Westminster Seminary. Read and learn your doctrine and your duty, lads.

Letter Dated February 15, 2005
Board of Directors
Westminster Theological Seminary
Post Office Box 27009
Philadelphia, PA 19118
Gentlemen:
It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I am writing to say that I have to remove Westminster Theological Seminary from my Will. “Why?” you may ask. It is due to the fact that I do not agree with the teachings of the Seminary that “works of obedience” are a part of justification.
The Word of God is very clear that we can do no works whatsoever to gain justification. Justification is God's declaration that we are righteous in His sight because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and it is received by faith alone. Praise God, our faith is His gift to us as well.
Our salvation from beginning to end is all of God to undeserving sinners. It is He who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. We continue to mature and grow (sanctification) only because the blessed Holy Spirit indwells us, and the elect will persevere to the end, only by the grace of God.
It is only by the grace of God that I do not believe that “works of obedience” are a part of salvation because the Scripture says, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” — Proverbs 14:12. Natural man sincerely believes in “works of obedience,” which actually are the teachings of Romanism.
I have shed tears over the departure of Westminster Seminary from the truth and, also, have shed tears that there are pastors in the OPC and the PCA who are not teaching the truth because of what they have wrongly learned at Westminster. May God bring a true Reformation to Westminster, is my prayer.
With a heavy heart and tears,
(Miss) Martha McElwain
P. S. My mother will no longer contribute to Westminster either.

Report on Meeting with Peter Lillback and Board Member from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Held on November 3, 2005, at Quarryville, Pennsylvania
Providentially it was a lovely fall day when Peter Lillback drove from the Philadelphia area to southern Lancaster County, which is Amish country in Pennsylvania. The temperature was very comfortable for this time of year, hovering around seventy degrees, making it possible for us to sit outside for our meeting so that we could enjoy the warmth of the late afternoon sunshine.
So that you will understand what prompted the meeting, I had written a letter on February 15, 2005, to the Board of Directors of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia because of my concern about the Seminary in regards to the doctrine of justification and “works of obedience.” You, my prayer partners, are aware of the “Justification Controversy.” In a moment I shall include most of the letter that I sent to the Board at Westminster.
When Peter’s secretary first telephoned me on September 15, 2005, to inform me that Peter and a member of the Board of Directors wished to talk with me, the meeting was scheduled for Friday, October 7th. However, another commitment arose for Peter that could not be scheduled for any other time except in the afternoon of October 7th. This was the reason our meeting was rescheduled for Thursday, the 3rd of November.

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I am writing to say that I have to remove Westminster Theological Seminary from my Will. “Why?” you may ask. It is due to the fact that I do not agree with the teachings of the Seminary that “works of obedience” are a part of justification.


Peter was graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary. Knowing that Dallas Seminary is a dispensational seminary, I asked Peter if he “ran into” John Calvin at Dallas since he ended up at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and he said that he had. Peter has become the new president of Westminster Seminary and has been in this capacity for several months now.
In my letter to the Board of Directors at Westminster I said, “The Word of God is very clear that we can do no works whatsoever to gain justification. Justification is God’s declaration that we are righteous in His sight, only because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and it is received by faith alone. Praise God, our faith is His gift to us as well.
“Our salvation from beginning to end is all of God to undeserving sinners. It is He who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. We continue to mature and grow (sanctification) only because the blessed Holy Spirit indwells us, and the elect will persevere to the end, only by the grace of God.
“It is only by the grace of God that I do not believe that “works of obedience” are a part of salvation because the Scripture says, ‘There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death’ — Proverbs 14:12. Natural man sincerely believes in ‘works of obedience,’ which actually are the teachings of Romanism.
“I have shed tears over the departure of Westminster Seminary from the truth and, also, have shed tears that there are pastors in the OPC and the PCA who are not teaching the truth because of what they have wrongly learned at Westminster. May God bring a true Reformation to Westminster, is my prayer.”
On November 3 after we were seated comfortably out of doors at Quarryville, Pennsylvania, Peter opened with prayer. He told me that the Board of Westminster had been praying over my letter. Then, it was his desire that I go into the concerns that I had. To do this, it was necessary for me to state exactly what I believed. I told Peter that the Word of God, the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, and what I have read in John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, and what Martin Luther said as well, clearly say that we are justified by faith alone. Martin Luther was struck when he saw that Romans 1 states, “The just shall live by faith.”
I quoted the Shorter Catechism answer to the question, “What is justification?” It says, “Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and declareth us as righteous in His sight, only because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.” I said that when the elect of God have been justified in His sight through faith alone, the blessed Holy Spirit enables the elect to will and to do of God’s good pleasure in the process of sanctification. In a very concrete case some years back, I shared with Peter how God gave me love for my enemy. He gave me the grace to put my arm around a person who was extremely jealous and hateful toward me, and He enabled me to say, “I love you…(I’ll not say her name). She responded, “How can that be!?” I could truly reply, “God the Holy Spirit makes it possible.” I told Peter it is not natural to say this, humanly speaking. But when God has regenerated a person, these things are possible. God puts it in our hearts to want to please Him, and we desire to walk in obedience because of His great love for us. We are saved “unto good works” but, “even then,” I said, “I am an unprofitable servant.” However, I told Peter and the board member that if I think I can hold these “good works” up to God in the Judgment Day as the means of gaining entrance into heaven, I am headed straight to hell. I mentioned that the thief on the cross didn’t even have any opportunity to do good works after he was saved, and Jesus told him he would be with Him in paradise. I emphasized again that I couldn’t hold up any “good works” before God in the Judgment Day and think that these works would gain me entrance into heaven. Peter said, “That’s right. That is Romanism.” I said that we shall be rewarded according to our works, but not saved by them. In First Corinthians 3, I said, the chapter begins with, “Brothers.” Therefore, we know that Paul was writing to believers. In this chapter we see how some were building: their “works” amounted to “wood, hay, and stubble.” But the “wood, hay, and stubble” was burned up, but they escaped as through the flames. They were saved by the “skin of their teeth,” as it were. Peter agreed with me that we’d be rewarded for our “works,” but that our works would not be the means by which we’d gain entrance into heaven.
Peter shared a lot of information about John Calvin and the covenant, and the Westminster Confession of Faith. In the few paragraphs that follow, I shall mention the main points that Peter made.
Peter referred to Chapter XI of the Westminster Confession of Faith, the second paragraph that says, “Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.” (I chimed in and said that there were other paragraphs that followed in Chapter XI.) Peter proceeded to elaborate on “other saving graces.” Peter brought out that we are saved through the sole instrument of faith, but that the Confession says that there are “other saving graces.” He said, “By their fruits ye shall know them. Our faith is no dead faith, but a working faith.” I mentioned that I had understood some time ago, that Martin Luther had had problems with the book of James. I continued by emphasizing that in the second chapter of James it states, “If a man says he has faith, and his life doesn’t show it, then the faith he says he has is a dead faith. Abraham was declared righteous in God’s sight because he believed God, and he was declared righteous even before he was circumcised. But due to the fact that Abraham’s faith was real and not a dead faith, he was willing to do the ‘work’ of offering up Isaac when God asked him to do so.”
Peter said that justification and sanctification are two different things, and he further elaborated on the “saving graces.” He said that Calvin said justification and sanctification are (1) “distinguishable,” but he also said that Calvin said that justification and sanctification were (2) “inseparable,” that they were (3) “simultaneous,” and (4) that there was a “logical order.” Peter told me that what he was saying was not original with him, that is, Peter. (Some of you may know that Peter had a great interest in John Calvin and that he studied him in great detail.)
Another thing Peter mentioned was that when something is in print and it has not been properly understood, there is no way it can be retracted. I agreed that it is much more difficult to put things into writing than to have a verbal conversation, and Peter said that when one is talking he can say, “That isn’t what I mean, and he can clarify it.”
I mentioned Norman Shepherd and said that Westminster was so long in getting rid of him. He said that Shepherd was “unclear,” and that is the reason the Board dismissed him. Peter said that Norman Shepherd had sanctification on top of justification instead of justification on top of sanctification, and that Shepherd was wrong. In the course of our conversation about Shepherd, I said that there was a gentleman who was graduated from Westminster who told me that what Norman Shepherd taught in his morning class conflicted with what Dr. Godfrey taught in the afternoon. I mentioned that there were a lot of students who were under the teaching of Norman Shepherd since he was at Westminster for a long time. Also, I said, “There are churches in the OPC and the PCA who are promoting the ‘New Perspective on Paul’ (NPP), the ‘Federal Vision’ (FV), and ‘Shepherdism,’” and I continued, “Where did the ministers who are in these churches get this kind of teaching except in seminary?” Peter gave me no answer as to how it is that there are ministers in the OPC and the PCA who are preaching and teaching these sorts of things.
Peter told me that he had questioned all the professors at Westminster about whether any of them were teaching the “NPP,” the “FV,” or “Shepherdism,” and that they all denied that they were. He said that there is some truth in all of these, but that they all have error. He mentioned that N. T. Wright is in error, too. Peter referred me to Matthew 13:52 in which Jesus said, “Therefore, every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new (italics for emphasis) and old.”
The next thing Peter said that he is going to do is to have each professor at Westminster Seminary go over the Westminster Confession of Faith thoroughly. I told Peter that back in the old denomination (PCUSA), ministers said that they accepted the WCF but they really didn’t agree with it. I said that the issues that arose in the PCUSA were clear-cut. Ministers either believed in the Virgin Birth, or they denied it; they either believed in the inerrancy of Scripture, or they denied it; they either believed in the miracles, or they denied them; but what is going on now is very subtle.
Several weeks ago I read some things that Dr. Van Til said and found him to be confusing and contradictory, and I told Peter that I thought that Dr. Van Til was confusing and contradictory. When I mentioned this, Peter made no comment about my statement concerning Dr. Van Til.
Our conversation led to a few things about Dallas Seminary that did not have any bearing upon the justification issue; therefore, I shall not mention these particulars to you.
Our meeting lasted a little more than an hour, and then the board member closed in prayer. I was thankful for having had the opportunity to talk with Peter about my concerns in regards to the justification issue. The day after our meeting, I wrote Peter a letter. Below I shall share a part of this letter with you.
“Dear Peter: Thank you, again, for coming yesterday to meet with me. I certainly appreciated your taking the time to do so! The Lord blessed us with a beautiful day for the meeting as well, so that we could sit outside and enjoy the pleasant weather.”
Then I told Peter in his letter that there were several of my friends who had been praying for our meeting, and that I planned to write a report of what was said at the meeting to give to them. I also said that I’d run the report by the board member for his approval of its accuracy because I was concerned to be correct in my reporting. I said in Peter’s letter, “Neither do I ever want to take anything out of context, nor do I ever want to put my own ‘spin’ on anything. Truth and justice are very important in every situation for the honor of God because our God is a God of truth and justice.” In addition, I told Peter that after our meeting was over, I made notes of some of the things we talked about while they were still fresh on my mind.
Then my letter continued, “In our meeting when I mentioned the ‘New Perspective on Paul,’ the ‘Federal Vision,’ and ‘Shepherdism,’ you said that you had questioned the professors at Westminster and that they all said they are not teaching these things. You also mentioned that you would be having the professors relook at the Westminster Confession of Faith. I shall appreciate your letting me know how that goes. Thank you.
“You will recall at the meeting yesterday I mentioned that Norman Shepherd was at Westminster for a long time. (You no doubt know that it was from 1963 until 1982.) This being the case, I do not know how Mr. Shepherd’s being at Westminster all those years did not have a negative influence on students and other faculty members as well.
“Too, I had said that I had read some of what Dr. Van Til said, and that I thought he was confusing and contradictory. Personally, I do not think that the subject of apologetics should be confusing and contradictory: profound, yes, but not confusing and contradictory. As you know, Dr. Van Til was at Westminster many years. Also, I am concerned of the influence he has had on many students and other faculty members as well.”
In the next paragraph in Peter’s letter I said that I had been “ trusting of what others in the OPC thought about Westminster Seminary and Dr. Van Til.” (This was in the 1970’s and 80’s). Then I said in the letter, “The only thing I was aware of was the Shepherd problem. I had read his Thirty-Four Theses. But, after that, I heard no more about him. In the verbal reports we were given of the General Assembly of the OPC, there was no mention made of Norman Shepherd, and he was in the OPC until he was dismissed from Westminster in 1982 and entered the Christian Reformed Church. Personally, now that I know what I do about Norman Shepherd, I think the OPC was very lax in not lovingly carrying out discipline for his sake and the sake of others.”
For you, my friends, who prayed for the meeting, I sincerely thank you!
This report is for the glory of God alone, and for the sake of God’s truth, which is precious and sweeter than honey!
“The grass withereth, and the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever” — Isaiah 40:8.
PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!
Martha A. McElwain
Quarryville, Pennsylvania
November 11, 2005

Critique of November 3, 2005, Meeting with Peter Lillback and a Board Member from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia
The purpose of this “Critique” is to make comparisons with what was said at the November 3, 2005, meeting with Peter Lillback who became the president of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia in 2005, and other documented evidence.
SECTION ONE:
Peter Lillback supported Elder John O. Kinnaid (of Bethany Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Oxford, Pennsylvania) in John’s trial for heresy at the Philadelphia Presbytery of the OPC in November of 2002. Please reread page 2 of my “Report,” the third paragraph, and particularly note what I said about “good works” after an individual is saved. I said that “I couldn’t hold up any ‘good works’ before God in the Judgment Day and think that these works would gain me entrance into heaven,” and Peter said, “That’s right. That’s Romanism.” You will also see in that paragraph that Peter agreed with me that we’d be rewarded for our “good works” and not be that by which we’d gain entrance into heaven.
I shall now refer you to what John O. Kinnaird (who is a follower of Norman Shepherd and, keep in mind, Peter supported him) wrote in The Personal Declaration and Theological Statements of Elder John O. Kinnaird. In the section that John entitles “THE FINAL JUDGEMENT” [sic], John says the following:
“God has appointed a day when he will judge the world in righteousness. All persons who have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ to give account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or bad. On That Great Day, the Day of Judgement [sic], God’s righteous judgement [sic] will be revealed. God will then give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good (we Presbyterians call this perseverance) seek glory, honor, immortality, he will give eternal life.


Peter Lillback [President of Westminster Seminary] supported Elder John O. Kinnaid (of Bethany Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Oxford, Pennsylvania) in John’s trial for heresy at the Philadelphia Presbytery of the OPC in November of 2002.


For those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be eternal wrath and anger and destruction from before the face of the Lord. It is those who obey the law who will be declared Righteous on that Day of Judgement [sic]. WCF XXXIII.I and II; Romans 2:1-16.”
John Kinnaird’s Declaration about the Day of Judgment and “works” is the same as that of Norman Shepherd. Do you see an inconsistency with what I said about the works of true believers in the Judgment Day (and Peter Lillback agreed with me) and Peter’s standing up for John Kinnaird at John’s trial for heresy?

Peter Lillback said that Norman Shepherd put sanctification on top of justification, and that he (Shepherd) was wrong. And, yet, Peter supported John Kinnaird (a “Shepherdite”) in John’s trial for heresy.


SECTION TWO:
John Kinnaird says earlier in his Declaration that one is justified before God through the sole instrument of faith. Below I shall quote from the section of John’s Declaration which he has entitled “GOD’S PURPOSE AND PLAN.”
“God had a purpose and a plan for all of creation and history, including the fall of Adam, before he brought any of it to pass. Insight into this purpose and plan is received from Scripture, one notable place being Romans 8:29-30, ‘For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.’ It is to be noted from this text that God’s stated purpose here is to establish His Son as ‘the firstborn among many brethren’. To that end he had to create people who would ‘be conformed to the image of his Son’. It is not possible that any could be a brother to Jesus Christ and enjoy with Christ, in the Kingdom of Heaven, the presence of God the Father except that one be fully conformed to the image of Christ in true and personal righteousness and holiness. Neither the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, which all Christians receive at justification, nor the infusion of the righteousness of Christ (a false and non-existent concept taught by the Roman Catholic Church)-can suffice for that purpose. Christ does not have an imputed righteousness; His righteousness is real and personal. If we are to be conformed to his image, we too must have a real and personal righteousness….”
At this point please refer to page 3 of my “Report,” and reread the fourth paragraph. In this paragraph, please note that Peter Lillback told me “that Norman Shepherd had sanctification on top of justification…and that Shepherd was wrong.”
What conclusions do you draw from what John Kinnaird says in his Declaration that I quoted above? Do you think that John Kinnaird, also, puts sanctification on top of justification, just as Norman Shepherd does? [You will recall that I mentioned above that Peter Lillback said that Norman Shepherd put sanctification on top of justification, and that he (Shepherd) was wrong. And, yet, Peter supported John Kinnaird (a “Shepherdite”) in John’s trial for heresy.]
SECTION THREE:
Also on page 3 of the “Report,” the fourth paragraph, I said, “There are churches in the OPC and the PCA who are promoting the ‘New Perspective on Paul’ (NPP), the ‘Federal Vision’ (FV), and ‘Shepherdism,’” and I continued, “Where did the ministers who are in these churches get this kind of teaching except in seminary?” (I asked Peter this.) (I knew that there were many Westminster graduates who entered the OPC and the PCA as pastors in these denominations. But I wanted to see what Peter would say as to where these ministers got their ideas.) Peter did not answer my question as to how it is that there are ministers in the OPC and the PCA who are preaching and teaching the “NPP,” the “FV,” and “Shepherdism.” Sadly, there are OPC and PCA missionaries out on the field who are graduates of Westminster Seminary, and they, too, are teaching these heresies.
It would be my recommendation that you read John O. Kinnaird’s Declaration in its entirety and that you notice how much he sounds like Norman Shepherd.


Peter [Lillback] did not answer my question as to how it is that there are ministers in the OPC and the PCA who are preaching and teaching the “NPP,” the “FV,” and “Shepherdism.” Sadly, there are OPC and PCA missionaries out on the field who are graduates of Westminster Seminary, and they, too, are teaching these heresies.

SECTION FOUR:

Due to my employment in addition to writing a “Report” and “Critique” of the meeting with Peter Lillback and the board member held on November 3, I have not been able to read Paul M. Elliott’s book entitled, Christianity and Neo-Liberalism: The Spiritual Crisis in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Beyond. I acquired Paul’s book on Sunday, November 6, 2005, at “The Reformation Betrayed” conference. In looking at the index and leafing through Paul’s book, it is not hard to see that he has good documentation for what he has written. I sincerely believe that it is a book that every serious Christian should read so as to be informed about the truth of what is going on with “Neo-Liberalism” in the OPC and the PCA and “Beyond,” as Paul puts it in the title of his book.
One thing I looked up in the index of Paul’s book was Gaffin, Richard B., Jr. since he is a professor at Westminster Seminary. I personally knew “Junior’s” parents, Richard B. Gaffin, Sr., and his wife Pauline who was called “Polly.” Both Mr. and Mrs. Gaffin, Sr., were doctrinally sound. However, please note the following, which is a quote from Paul’s book regarding Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., on pages 16 and 17: “Some neo-liberals who endorse the teachings of Norman Shepherd have also embraced the NPP. But other Shepherd supporters, such as Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., of Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia….”
On pages 42 and 43 of Paul’s book, Paul has this to say: “Like the old liberalism, today’s neo-liberalism is also founded on a mystical conception of God. Herman Bavinck, a philosophical hero of neo-liberal theologians such as Norman Shepherd, Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., and John M. Frame, asserted the following in the second volume….”
On Pages 56 and 57 of Paul’s book, Paul says: “Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., ordained OPC minister and Chairman of the Department of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, glowingly endorses Shepherd’s presentation of a false gospel….” Paul has approximately twenty-five more sections in his book in which he mentions Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.! In addition to Gaffin, Jr., Paul Elliott has documented material about Vern S. Poythress, Douglas Green (who is in agreement with N. T. Wright), and Peter Enns (who has written a new book denying the inerrancy of Scripture). All of these men are professors at Westminster Theological Seminary! The facts Paul gives are quite disturbing.
Now, has your appetite been whetted to the point that you want to read Paul M. Elliott’s book, Christianity and Neo-Liberalism: The Spiritual Crisis in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Beyond? I certainly hope so!
“Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations…” — Psalm 119:89, 90a.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my prayer partners,
It humbles me when I think about the apostasy that is taking place in the OPC and the PCA because, apart from God’s love and mercy and grace, I, too, would be deceived and would be following heretical teaching. Praise God, He has opened my eyes to see and believe the truth of His Word, and to recognize the heresies that are swirling about!
I thank the Lord for my brothers and sisters who already courageously have removed themselves from The Orthodox Presbyterian Church, some of them in the midst of many hardships to do so: the denomination in which I was reared and had come to love! My heart aches for those who were under sound teaching from infancy but who now are preaching and teaching heresies while at the same time claiming to believe the truth!
We must be forever vigilant and, with God’s strength, stand firm with all humility! It costs to be a Christian, but it is an honor to suffer for Jesus sake, and it is well worth it!
Brother Paul Elliott has been diligent and, also, very courageous to have written the book that he did, and I thank the Lord for him!

Martha A. McElwain
Quarryville, Pennsylvania

Follow-Up Letter to Peter Lillback
December 2, 2005
Dr. Peter A. Lillback
Westminster Theological Seminary
Post Office Box 27009
Philadelphia, PA 19118
Dear Peter:
Enclosed is the “Report”of the meeting I had with you on November 3, 2005. The purpose of the “Report” was to mention the main things about which we talked. I passed the “Report” by Keith for his approval for accuracy. He told me that what I said is what he recalled. Also, this letter is a follow-up letter to you based upon that meeting.


Peter, out of Christian love, I can do no other than to say that when you can support, “It is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous on that Day of Judgment,” this is a contradiction from what you told me at our meeting on November 3rd.


You will remember that we talked about “good works.” After one is genuinely saved by grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone (justified, forensically speaking), God the Holy Spirit works in and through us “to will and to do of His good pleasure.” Even so, we are unprofitable servants. When I said that if I thought these “good works” (after I am saved, or justified) could be held up to God in the Judgment Day as entrance into heaven, then I would be headed straight to hell and you agreed that this was right. I said we’d be rewarded for our works after we are saved, but that these “good works” would not be that by which we’d gain entrance into heaven and, again, you agreed.
Peter, out of Christian love, I can do no other than to say that when you can support, “It is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous on that Day of Judgment,” this is a contradiction from what you told me at our meeting on November 3rd. As you know, this is the teaching of Norman Shepherd and is what Mr. Kinnaird said in The Personal Declaration and Theological Statements of John O. Kinnaird. There are not two ways of salvation. Our salvation from the very beginning up to and including the Judgment Day is solely by grace alone, and not by works. If we think that any of our own works are involved in our righteous standing before God either before or after justification, then grace is no longer grace, but would be reckoned as debt (as Romans 4 tells us), and we will be headed to eternal damnation in hell.


Neither does the doctrine of salvation nor any other doctrine in the Word of God contradict. When there are “contradictions,” it is due to faulty hermeneutics, because God is a God of truth, and He cannot lie. To say that our works have any part of our salvation or justification before God at the Judgment Day is to make the Bible contradict.


The Word of God is very clear that our works have nothing to do with our righteous standing before God if we are God’s elect and have been justified by grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone. Works will follow in the lives of true believers, but these works will never be that by which we shall gain entrance into heaven at the Judgment Day.
Neither does the doctrine of salvation nor any other doctrine in the Word of God contradict. When there are “contradictions,” it is due to faulty hermeneutics because God is a God of truth, and He cannot lie. To say that our works have any part of our salvation or justification before God at the Judgment Day is to make the Bible contradict.
As you can imagine, I am grieved over John Kinnaird and the other “Shepherdites” who are at Westminster Seminary and elsewhere, such as the OPC, the PCA, and out on the mission field. It saddens me that Westminster is giving forth an “uncertain sound,” a sound that will lead people to eternal damnation.
May I lovingly say that Galatians 1:8 and 9 states a harsh warning, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” Peter, perhaps you are thinking, “We are not preaching another gospel.” But, out of Christian love, Peter, I have to say that it is another gospel – a gospel of works – not a gospel of grace.
May God out of His love, mercy, and grace, bring a Reformation to Westminster Seminary!
Sharing God’s truth in love, I am,
(Miss) Martha A. McElwain
Enclosure: “Report”
P.S. Peter, I have written a “Critique” based upon our meeting in light of documented evidence to the contrary. If you would like a copy of it, I shall be glad to mail it to you.
cc: Board of Directors
Editor’s note: We are not hopeful that the lads who run the seminaries, congregations, presbyteries, and denominations will learn anything from Miss McElwain’s confrontation with Westminster Seminary, but we are confident that many ordinary church members, both men and women, will.
The first lesson is: Know what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is. There are many Pastors and Elders in the PCA and OPC who do not understand the Gospel, and therefore do not and cannot believe it.
The second lesson is, Know the importance of the Gospel: Error on the doctrine of salvation is both fatal and damnable. It is not just another doctrine among many. In Galatians 1 the Holy Spirit damns those teachers in the churches who teach anything other than the pure Gospel.
The third lesson is, Speak up. Do not ignore false teaching; correct it. No one who fails to oppose false gospels can call himself a disciple of Christ. It is the duty of every Christian – not just church officers – to witness to and defend the truth of the Gospel.
The fourth lesson is, Put your money where your doctrine is. If any institution, whether it calls itself a church or a seminary, teaches false doctrine, cut off its funds. That lesson is taught in 2 John, and we discussed this in detail in The Trinity Review (March 2004) titled “Biblical Principles of Giving.”
Finally, understand that every Christian who is faithful to Christ will suffer reviling and persecution by false teachers in the churches and their friends. The religious leaders persecuted Christ, and they have always reviled and persecuted his disciples.
February 2006