Bishop Wilkins – Romeward Bound

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In case anyone missed it, and I imagine many have, Steve Wilkins has offered yet another denial of sola fide. So, if anyone was tempted to think that Steve Wilkins and the rest of his loyal followers at Auburn Avenue fled the PCA because they didn’t think he’d get a fair trial in the PCA (as the FV propagandists would have us believe), the following should disabuse even the most ardent fence sitter of that notion. Wilkins left the PCA for the CREC because he really does deny the Reformed and biblical doctrine of sola fide and shares the Roman Catholic belief that the faith that saves, is the faith that works. For Wilkins, it is the crucial addition of works, specifically works of obedience done by faith, that makes mere belief alone salvific. This is what Wilkins calls “the faith of the Church.”

In a recent blog Wilkins favorably quotes French Jesuit priest, Henri de Lubac. The fact that he’s favorably quoting a Jesuit priest should be enough to raise a couple of flags even in our day of ecumenical relativism and theological correctness. But, to really get you in that ecumenical mood, de Lubac’s writings contributed heavily to the Second Vatican Council. The Oxford Dictionary of the Catholic Church states: “De Lubac was one of the thinkers who created the intellectual climate that made possible the Second Vatican Council, largely by opening up the vast spiritual resources of the Catholic tradition which had been cramped by post-Tridentine ‘baroque’ theology.”

With that thumbnail sketch as a backdrop, consider the following quote from de Lubac that Wilkins provides along with his wholehearted endorsement and commentary:

“Becoming a Christian did not mean merely giving up erroneous beliefs in order to embrace the true teaching offered by the Church; it meant, essentially, renouncing Satan in order to adhere to Christ, or, as St. Justin put it, turning from idols in order to consecrate oneself through Christ to the unbegotten God. It meant, as Hermas said in his vivid language, apostatizing from the angel of evil in order to follow the angel of justice and to live for God.” (pp. 143-144).

Leaving aside the obvious errors of the Roman church-state and considered in a Christian context, what de Lubac and Wilkins are saying is that faith alone is insufficient to make one a Christian. Repenting and turning from one set of beliefs to belief in the Gospel, the message of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, doesn’t make anyone a Christian. For these false teachers it is not enough to give up one set of “erroneous beliefs in order to embrace the true teaching offered by the [true] Church.” Something else is needed and Wilkins, following de Lubac’s lead, provides the missing ingredient:

Faith of course involves believing that which has been revealed, but it is more than this. Faith means entrusting oneself to God; pledging the whole being to the Savior who has given Himself to us first. Thus, de Lubac notes, faith “calls to mind the reciprocal gift of spouses . . . In the old wedding vows there was the phrase, “I pledge thee my troth.” Troth is the old English word for fidelity, loyalty, faithfulness . . . This “betrothing” involves “dying” to the old way of life (living by yourself), in order to be “resurrected” to the new life of marriage. It is a very real “conversion” for both parties. And every marriage exists and prospers only so long as both parties maintain their troth. If troth is lost and forsaken permenantly[sic], the marriage will die [emphasis mine].

Notice, for Wilkins, while “faith. . . involves believing that which has been revealed,” belief alone is not enough. Besides trying to drive a wedge between faith and belief, becoming a Christian according to Wilkins and Jesuit de Lubac requires our faithfulness, and, like a good spouse, that we do our duty.  The message is clear, if the marriage is to work, we must do our part. Of course, the marriage here proposed is simply the old Satanic marriage of faith and works, with works being the operative component. You can almost hear Wilkins, like the Roman Catholics and Jesuits he follows, citing James 2:14 right about now. But, in case anyone might be tempted to think that I am somehow being unfair, Wilkins adds:

When this loyalty and willing fidelity is lost, faith has died.

To emphasize this aspect of faith is not to deny the role of knowledge or assent in believing, but it clearly distinguishes the faith of the Church from all other belief. Without this element of commitment, there is no faith. The devils may “believe and tremble” but they do not entrust themselves to God. They never “pledge their troth.” Though they may believe, they do not have faith [emphasis mine].

Note carefully, one can believe the Gospel, know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, but without their own personal “loyalty and willing fidelity” — pledging their “troth” — their faith will die.  Notice too that Wilkins concludes his attack on sola fide with a flourish that would make the pope blush by asserting that one can believe something without having faith. This is nonsense. Faith is belief.  Devils believe God is one and tremble.  Sinners believe Christ died as a propitiation for their sins and they are saved.  To believe something or to have faith in something means the same thing. The words are synonyms.   Is Wilkins’ so blinded by his marriage to the theological machinations of Rome that he doesn’t even realize that belief and faith in Scripture mean the same thing and are translations of the same Greek word pistis? Perhaps. However, I suspect he does know and instead hopes his readers are too stupid to realize his deception of trying to differentiate “faith of the Church,” which for Wilkins includes our “loyalty and willing fidelity” along with “living for God,” from all other types of belief — including belief in the Gospel. Living for God, as valuable as this is to the Christian life, does not make one a Christian. The finished work and imputed righteousness of Christ by belief alone does. More importantly our “living for God” contributes absolutely nothing to our standing before God. Again, Christ’s righteousness completely outside of ourselves and recieved by belief alone is all anyone needs.  We are justified before the bar of God’s absolute and unbending judgement by Christ’s work alone. Adding our “troth,” our faithfulness, our “faithful obedience,” our works, is to place ourselves under God’s wrath and Paul’s curse in Galatians 1.   Christ alone and His finished work alone, completely outside of ourselves, is all any Christian needs. Wilkins is a liar.  “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved . . . .”

Unfortunately, “the faith of the Church” Wilkins commends is the one the Reformed faith universally condemns. So, while I’m glad Wilkins has left the PCA, the fact is he’s still only halfway home.

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One Comment on “Bishop Wilkins – Romeward Bound”

  1. ebenezererskine Says:

    What I find even more troubling is the lack of knowledge among so-called Reformed evangelicals as to the dangers Rome poses.


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