One More Bronx Cheer For The PCA

wilkins-thumb-nose.jpg As the news spreads of Steve Wilkins’ departure from the PCA and her jurisdiction, along with the session and congregation of the Auburn Avenue church, Wilkins has issued a statement explaining his sudden departure as he heads for the favorable FV climes of the CREC. You can read Wilkins’ “Dear John” letter left on the PCA’s kitchen table in the dead of night here.

Wilkins explains the reason for the break up is because his session and congregation begged him not to stay and fight for the doctrines he believes in. Wilkins explains

. . .the elders unanimously recommended that I not seek to continue my involvement in this dispute. This judgment was affirmed by the congregation which stood unanimously in opposition to me continuing to seek to defend myself against what we viewed as unwarranted charges.

You see, Wilkins wanted to stay and defend his Federal Vision and demonstrate in the courts of the PCA that he is a Reformed Christian man and pastor in conformity with the standards of the church, but his church wouldn’t let him. Who is Wilkins to stand against the “unanimous” position of his own church and elders? Wilkins is really just a humble man acting in submission to the will of his session and the concern of his congregants. Wilkins reports:

Some of the members of the Presbytery informed us that they had already decided to file a complaint against the decision of the Presbytery to the SJC if a trial by the Presbytery exonerated me — regardless of what the trial evidence showed. They also acknowledged that the SJC would reverse any decision which exonerated me.

Wilkins’ argument is that he can’t get a fair trial in the PCA in any place other than his own Presbytery, the same Presbytery that twice found Wilkins’ FV doctrines to be in accord with the Westminister Confession of Faith. Of course, some 95% of the PCA disagreed and voted in favor of a Committee report that found Wilkins’ FV doctrines to be out of accord with that same WCF. Clearly someone is wrong, just not Steve Wilkins.

On a side note, one procedural mistake the anti-FV men made at the General Assembly (i.e., the Christians who actually hold to the WCF) was that nobody thought to move for a roll call vote. A roll call vote only needs a simply majority and the motion could be made come before or after the vote on the final motion (Roberts Rules, Art. 8.46). That way we could know which percentage of which Presbytery voted for the report and which did not. Perhaps Wilkins’ support in the Louisiana Presbytery was weakening even prior to the charges being leveled against the LAP by the SJC for failure to correctly deal with Wilkins when it twice exonerated him? Perhaps the writing was on the wall and that even the LAP might have finally found him guilty of deadly heresy? Either way, Wilkins had a safe little haven in the LAP for many years which may well have disappeared and most assuredly is nonexistent had Wilkins tried to defend his views beyond the enclave of his former Presbytery.  Not that I think Wilkins would have won his case, but I certainly would have liked to seem him try.

Notwithstanding, notice how Wilkins again thumbs his nose at the courts of the PCA. He says that regardless of what the evidence might demonstrate his innocence should he have faced trial in his own Presbytery, “the SJC would reverse any decision” which might have exonerated him. Lot of “mights” here, but I guess we’ll never know. Of course, that didn’t stop Doug Wilson from trying to make the same argument in Wilkins’ defense over in the Greenbaggins combox where he complained that the trial he had previously called for in Wilkins’ case, which he asserts would have again exonerated him only this time as a matter of church precedent, was not supposed to be “a field trip to Australia to watch some of those bouncy animals.”

Even more self-serving and nauseating, Wilkins continues to harden his heart against the collective judgment of the church. In addition to slandering the PCA as a kangaroo court, he gives one more Bronx cheer to the men on the PCA Study Committee, who he claims

. . .had judged me to be out of accord with our confessional standards without asking for any clarification or for a response on my part (and without any constitutional authority for effectively trying me in this manner) . . . .

Again, here is a man who has spoken at length and repeatedly at his annual FV pastor’s conferences that his church hosts, he has given sermons, testified twice concerning his views to his Presbytery, and has written both articles and other published pieces expressing, as clearly as anything can be expressed, his views and beliefs, yet all he can do is complain that no one called him.

If there were even a grain’s worth of truth in anything Wilkins has to say, one would think that a trial would have been a welcomed relief. Here, and despite his libel against the church, he would have been able to call witness after witness defending his Federal Vision and New Perspective on Paul. Wilson and Leithart could have taken the stand, along with Meyers and Horne. Perhaps some of the big guns who showed up at the Kinnaird trial in the OPC could have been brought in as character witnesses or just as moral support, like Dick Gaffin and Peter Lillback. OK, he could have left James Jordan home since here is a man who is clearly no help to anyone (see here), but he could have marshaled all the shining lights in the FV/NPP to his defense. Why, it would have given all these men someone to rally around. The Wilkins trial could have been the FV cause celeb. Wilkins could have been the FV’s Martin Luther. Instead he chose to run. Martin at least faced torture and death, what’s Wilkins’ excuse?

Pathetic as it is predictable.  When your church is just inches away from filing charges against you for heresy, something the church should have done years before, frankly right after the first Auburn Avenue Pastor’s Conference, you slide your tail between your legs and hightail it for the CREC. So much for being an exemplar of covenantal obedience. Yet, in spite of Wilkins’ cowardice he prattles on:

I continue to maintain that the charges of heresy made by a few against me are completely and utterly unjustified. Whatever one may think regarding the conformity of my views to the Westminster standards, the charges that I deny the sovereign grace of God in salvation, justification by faith alone, or the absolute necessity of faith in order to receive the blessings of the salvation of Christ Jesus, are false and without foundation.

Got it. You men are all orthodox and as pure as the driven snow, that’s why you run as soon as the prospects of being actually held to account becomes real. Why, Norm Shepherd, Doug Wilson and James Jordan all believe in sovereign grace of God in salvation and justification by faith alone, right? Isn’t Wilkins word good enough? Why should any of you have to explain what you mean when so much of what you teach contradicts these simple and central Christian biblical truths?

Randy Booth, in welcoming Wilkins and his congregation under the umbrella of the Krist Kirk Kult and the so-called “confederation of Reformed church” quotes the following from the CREC website:

While some of our member churches, and some of the officers in these member churches, hold to various aspects of the Federal Vision school of thought, other members hold differing views. Nevertheless, these positions fall within the pale of historic Reformed theology.

This is the same Randy Booth who Wilson quotes in RINE saying: “Only faithful covenant membership (i.e., those full of faith in the Savior), receive the covenant blessings, including the blessings of imputed righteousness” (RINE 175, emphasis added). That sentence deserves to be read again. The imputation of Christ’s righteousness is the result of being a faithful covenant member. As Wilson explains “breaking covenant occurs because of unbelief, lack of faith, and because of lack of good works” (134), and fulfilling the conditions of the covenant occurs by faith and good works. Wilson, Booth and the entire CREC reject the historic Reformed and Biblical view of the Covenant of Grace in which Christ is the Mediator of the covenant and the Savior of his people. The imputation of Christ’s righteousness is not contingent upon our “faithful covenant membership,” but solely upon Christ’s obedience to the will of the Father.

There are more problems with Booth and the CREC’s statement of belief, not least of which that the PCA’s own study Committee demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that the positions held those within the FV “school of thought” fall outside the pale of historic Reformed theology, specifically that of the Westminster Confession, the same Confession those in the CREC feign to also uphold.

While Wilkins has run off to be wed to another who is not Christ’s beloved, it would have been nice if he had the dignity to leave without feeling the need to turn around and thumb his nose one last time.

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4 Comments on “One More Bronx Cheer For The PCA”

  1. Mark T. Says:

    Another excellent essay, Sean; you just saved me the time of dissecting his excuse. And your last line says it all: “it would have been nice if he had the dignity to leave without feeling the need to turn around and thumb his nose one last time.”

  2. magma2 Says:

    Thanks Mark. It is disturbing that a man who constantly feigns the victim and who insists his views are consistent with the Confessional system he swore to uphold, yet when he had the chance to publicly defend his views, calling upon the aid of all the “great” minds that make up the FV, he runs away — and then attacks the PCA complaining he couldn’t get a fair trial and the system is rigged.

    What if everything Wilkins said were true? So what? He and his other FV sychophants would get the debate they pretended they wanted (remember Doug Wilson trolling the Internet throwing down his glove in front of any and every TE who opposed him in print) and there would be a public record of their views laid out as complete and as full as any FV man could want. As the defendant Wilkins had the advantage of laying out his case as completely and as fully as anyone could ever want. Then, if he lost his case, so what? Will he be driven from Louisiana like some Arminian heretic driven from Holland? Will he be drawn and quartered or even tared and feathered? No. The only thing he stood to lose was the nebulous notion of “good standing.”

    He ran away so he could claim a title.

    Evidently he is so utterly foolish to think that “good standing” means anything and somehow justifies his heretical beliefs or protects him from being marked as the false teacher he is. It’s like saying that a murderer who has been able to evade the law and who remains, at least in the eyes of the law, a citizen in good standing, is still not a murderer.

    It is an empty title that he can use to fool the foolish.

    Had he lost his trial, and I agree with him that he would have, he could have still left for the CREC who, as a matter of confession cited above, would have still welcomed him with open arms only this time as a hero who took on the gnostics in the PCA who maintain that salvation is by belief alone apart from works of obedience or works of any kind.

  3. Mark T. Says:

    Your “murderer” analogy reminds me of OJ, though a civil court declared him guilty. And your “Gnostic” point is excellent and needs development. I might just steal it from you.

  4. magma2 Says:

    Hi Mark. Go for it. You might recall that Wilson derided the idea of the invisible church as “Hellenistic,” yet the Greeks were, with one notable exception, as carnal and as sensate as Wilson. They liked things that were photographable too. Wilson owes a lot to the Greeks for his epistemology. Christ not so much.


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