PCA Pastor Peter Leithart to be Charged

A panel of commissioners from the PCA’s Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) made up of Fred Greco, Samuel Duncan, Dewey Roberts, Bill Lyle, and Jeff Owen has investigated a complaint filed against the Pacific Northwest Presbytery (PNW) for theological delinquency in their exoneration of PCA pastor and Federal Visionist, Peter Leithart.   You can read their preliminary decision in the case here.   Keep in mind their decision is just a recommendation and still has to be upheld by the entire SJC meeting in March, but I think it is safe to say their decision will be sustained.

While one might be excused for believing that this might be an occasion where a PCA pastor will finally be tried for heresy, you have to remember this is the PCA.

According to the decision it seems Leithart will not be charged with teaching heresy or for advancing what is without question — and as the report clearly demonstrates — a false gospel, but rather something more akin to favoring worldly recreations on the Lord’s day.

The panel’s argument is that the PNW”s failure to find a strong presumption of guilt in the case of Leithart is akin to affirming that Anglicans or  Reformed Baptists are within PCA confessional boundaries simply because they affirm some of the “central tenets of the Standards.”  The panel reasons, “This does not mean that Anglicans or  Baptists are within the Standards.  In the same way, Leithart appears to hold some views that place him outside the fundamentals of the Standards, as adopted by the Presbyterian Church in America.”  Of course, this is true.  However, last I checked an Anglican (unless he happens to be N.T. Wright or some other neo-liberal) or a Reformed Baptist isn’t necessarily a Christ denying heretic.  Leithart is.

I also found this particularly disturbing:

The only conclusion that a [PNW] court should reach…would be that there is a strong presumption of guilt that some of the views of Leithart are out of accord with some of the fundamentals of the system of doctrine taught in the Standards. This does not mean Leithart is a heretic. He is not. This does not mean that Leithart is not or whether he is a Christian. He is. This does not necessarily mean that Leithart is outside of the broader reformed community. The sole question to be determined is whether Leithart’s views place him outside of the Standards, as adopted by the Presbyterian Church in America.

Here again we have the PCA’s highest court referring to a man who boldly denies the Gospel, considers the doctrine of imputation “redundant,” and maintains that sinners are brought into union with Christ through the magic waters of baptism as their “brother.”  As I’ve said elsewhere, the Judaizers in Paul’s day never had it so good.

Even if  this tepid first step may one day end in the actual adjudication of an actual Federal Visionist within the PCA, it still might be another colossal waste of time, ink, paper, and prayer.  That’s because Leithart has plenty of time between now and March to decide whether he wants to stay and fight for the corrupt and phony gospel he believes or simply skedattle like that other FV queen and coward, Steve Wilkins, for the safe FV confines of the  Confederation of Make Believe Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC).  The ball is in his court.

Besides, one of the PCA Pastors in the minority who filed the complaint against the PNW, Jason Stellman, wrote on R. Scott Clark’s Heidelblog:

I for one would actually prefer he spare the church the time, energy, and money it will cost to try him. I have no desire to prosecute a case against Peter (though I will if need be). His case is unique in that he already ministers in a CREC in Moscow, so he has little to lose by just joining the denomination that best fits his theology. I mean, what good would it do for him personally or professionally to be deposed from a NAPARC church? He has to know that that’s what will happen if he insists on staying.

Leaving the issue of time, energy, and money aside (does the defense of the Gospel really have price?), Stellman does have a point.  What possible incentive can there be for Leithart to wait around to be charged even for some lesser offense than the one he deserves?  He could still end up getting defrocked and can no longer dishonestly claim to be a pastor in good standing.  That could be potentially embarrassing to Doug Wilson, the defacto pope of the Confederation of Make Believe Reformed Evangelical Churches.  I mean, allowing a defrocked former PCA pastor to continue to preach in their phony churches and teach in their phony Christian schools would go a long way in damaging the illusion that they’re really a Reformed Evangelical denomination.

On the other hand, I do get the sense from reading Leithart, and from the fact that he immediately and openly challenged his Presbytery by firing off a letter expressing his opposition to the PCA’s FV/NPP report only days after the report was adopted, that he is a proud and arrogant man.  He might even think he is clever  enough to outsmart the men on the SJC.   And, given what we see so far from the SJC’s preliminary decision, he might be right.

In a telling note, I did find it interesting that the PNW report exonerating Leithart reached its conclusion in light of “The dialectical character of biblical teaching famously produces tensions that remain difficult, if not impossible to resolve.”  Now where have I heard that before?  Hmmm?

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89 Comments on “PCA Pastor Peter Leithart to be Charged”

  1. Lauren Kuo Says:

    The sole question to be determined is whether Leithart’s views place him outside of the Standards, as adopted by the Presbyterian Church in America.

    What are the implications of having views outside of the Standards? The report states that such a person can be a Christian, stay within the reformed community, and not be considered a heretic. If that is the case, then what difference does it make if a pastor holds views inside or outside the Standards as adopted by the PCA? Why not just grant Leithart some exceptions and call them a difference of opinion?

    The SOLE question should be – Does the PCA want this elder to preach his views in the pulpit? If not, why not? Are his views unbiblical or not? Is Peter Leithart preaching a false gospel or not?

    PCA reports constantly affirm that the Standards are an accurate summary of the truths of Scripture. If that is the case, then wouldn’t common sense logic conclude that if a person’s views are outside the Standards, then his views are also outside of Scripture? If they are not, then perhaps the views of the Standards as adopted by the PCA are unbiblical. The PCA can’t have it both ways. Why should anyone be convinced that the PCA leadership is serious about their commitment to the Gospel?

    Steve Wilkins’ views were determined to be out of accord with the Standards. Yet, he and his once PCA church are now hosting a pastors’ conference and have invited PCA pastors to not only attend but to be featured speakers. If Wilkins’ views are out of accord, then why are these PCA pastors attending and teaching at this conference? Are we not to assume that their presence is an indication that their views are also out of accord with the Standards as adopted by the PCA?

    Could it be that all these declarations of persons and views being out of accord with the Standards as adopted by the PCA are a mere political stunt? If the PCA were to seriously deal with the Federal Vision for what it really is – a false gospel – then it would require getting off the fence of hypocrisy and holding Leithart and others accountable not just to the Standards but up to the light of Scripture.

  2. Sean Gerety Says:

    The total failure in leadership in the PCA is simply amazing. It’s like watching a train wreck. There is no question these men, Greco and the rest, know this fight has to do with the Gospel, yet they address dogs like Leithart as if they were Christian men and Reformed to boot. It is nauseating. The stench of apostasy is so powerful coming from the PCA, I can’t imagine how any Christian in good good conscience can stay in it. This must be the reason why the leadership has systematically kept their congregations in the dark about what is going on. You should thank the Lord that the pack of FV trolls in the Ohio Pres drove you and your family out of the PCA.

  3. Lauren Kuo Says:

    The SJC can only deal with the evidence and the particular case as it is presented on paper. With the Federal Vision, they can only rule or at this point recommend a ruling based on the PCA study report declarations and the written Record of the Case.

    Since the study report limits itself to what is contrary to the Standards, the SJC is not authorized to rule on heresy, only whether or not Leithart’s views are contrary to the Standards. That is why the study report is an abysmal failure because it does not go as far as proclaiming the Federal Vision to be false doctrine or heretical. And, it limits and prevents governing bodies from identifying those who hold these views as false teachers. Instead, the strictest ruling they can come up with is “a brother in Christ is teaching views that are out of accord with the Standards as adopted by the PCA.” In other words, all an elder would get for false teaching is 20 lashes with a wet noodle.

    It has been two years since we left the PCA. During that time the rotten fruit of deceit and false teaching has driven out most of the members who are committed to the truth of the Gospel. All that’s left are the few who agree with the false doctrine, are apathetic, are happy with the social circle they have formed, are brainwashed into submission to the elders, or are too afraid to leave.

  4. Hugh Says:

    Has John Piper invited him to speak at his next conference?

  5. Eric Says:

    Lauren,

    “Why not just grant Leithart some exceptions and call them a difference of opinion?”

    Ah! Then, virtually no difference between the OPC and the PCA.

  6. Lauren Kuo Says:

    Can anyone explain to me what it means to hold views on primary doctrine that are contrary to the Standards but at the same time are not considered as false doctrine? How is that possible? I have always felt as if I have stepped into the twilight zone when it comes to trying to understand the logic of the PCA’s rulings – I should say recommendations – regarding the Federal Vision.

    Sean, I praise God everyday for being driven out of the PCA. For,what some meant for evil, God used for good in opening new and bigger mission fields for my husband. We are grateful to the PCA for giving him a start in Chinese missions but are saddened by the turn she has taken toward apostasy. We are also very saddened and burdened for the young people with whom we worked in the youth ministry who have been led astray and deceived by these “contrary to the Standards” false teachers. They need our fervent interceding prayers. How can the PCA expect God to bless the denomination with a fruitful ministry when there are elders who are poisoning the children? Where are the broken repentant hearts over this horrible tragedy?

  7. Gus Gianello Says:

    Dear Lauren et al.

    You said
    ______________________________________________________

    Lauren Kuo Says on December 14, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Can anyone explain to me what it means to hold views on primary doctrine that are contrary to the Standards but at the same time are not considered as false doctrine? How is that possible? I have always felt as if I have stepped into the twilight zone when it comes to trying to understand the logic of the PCA’s rulings – I should say recommendations – regarding the Federal Vision.
    ___________________________________________________

    I too used to struggle with the apparent insanity. When I went to a then conservative Bible college my OT prof. said (with a straight face) “Jonah is a myth”. It struck me as so absurd I went to the Dean of Students and complained. My complaint was, “why would I spend thousands to get a liberal education at an obscure bible college, when I could go to Princeton and at least get name recognition?” His response to this fine example of conservatism on the part of professors, was to quit some months later.

    This kind of insanity is peculiar to the ecclesiastical world. It was always there. Just read what they did to Machen. But, Vantillianism has given them boldness and and apparent rationale to be brazen about it. I am afraid that as long as Van Tillianism is tolerated, paradox, mystery and contradition will be accepted as the normative part of Christian theology and practice. And as long as that is true, Reformed and Presbyterian Christianity will be its own kind of circus sideshow. The Pentecostal irrationalists have got nothing on us, when it comes to “charismatic” manifestations of insanity.

    Gus

  8. qeqesha Says:

    Lauren & Gus,
    Morons have never had it so good! They actually believe they own the world, and who can blame them when so called believers are satisfied with just being pew-ons. To me, the defence of “the faith once delivered to the saints” is a matter for every believer. As John Robbins once said, “Theology is too important to be left to theologians!” The attitude that says doctrinal controversies must be left to “the authorities” is thoroughly unbiblical as well as plain stupid. Doctrinal controversies are about what I should believe and surely I have a right to have a say in what my family is taught. The nonchalant attitude towards what goes on in the churches is an indication of unbelief on the part of those who claim to be believers. Where is their loyalty to the Lord? Jesus said “If you love me, keep my word!” Understanding the word can be achieved by ordinary means, such as diligent reading, studying and prayer. I get the impression that only a handful who participate in a blog such as this one are ordinary believers who have not had a formal religious “education”, and so it should be! Not everyone is called to be a “professional”. The leadership carry on about “procedures”(and they are important) as an excuse for inaction. When it suits them they will use procedure to get rid of a godly man such as happened to Machen! Unless the ordinary believer in the pews understands basic doctrine, the churches will continue to slide to oblivion and never never land at the hands of these van Tilian irrationalists and mindless morons!

    Denson

  9. Sean Gerety Says:

    Since the study report limits itself to what is contrary to the Standards, the SJC is not authorized to rule on heresy, only whether or not Leithart’s views are contrary to the Standards. That is why the study report is an abysmal failure….

    The report is even a bigger failure than I originally imagined. That is a great point.

    This is why those in the minority in the PNW, or in Siouxlands, or in any other PCA Pres need to file heresy charges directly based on the information they already have and not just complain to the SJC that the majority failed to do their job.

  10. Eric Says:

    Lauren,

    “Can anyone explain to me what it means to hold views on primary doctrine that are contrary to the Standards but at the same time are not considered as false doctrine?”

    It means you have a denomination of lying elders.

    Sean,

    “This is why those in the minority in the PNW, or in Siouxlands, or in any other PCA Pres need to file heresy charges directly based on the information they already have and not just complain to the SJC that the majority failed to do their job.”

    Or…, simply leave.

    Eric

  11. Gus Gianello Says:

    Dear Eric,
    I like that last comment, “…or simply leave.” It reminds me about what Paul said in 2 Cor 11, “…corrupt you from the simplicity that is in the gospel…”

    The Gospel is REAL simple, we only complicate it when we are looking for reasons to justify our sin. Pentecostal women need direction from their pastors so they can justify marrying the pagan that the “lord told them to marry”. I had a woman who told me that the “anointing” was out of the marriage, so she felt led to leave her husband. After inquiring as to whether he had committed adultery–and she said no– I quite literally called her a “WHORE”. Its that simple. Mary Geddes through a stool at the bishop. John ran out of the bath house when Cerinthus entered. Athanasius gave the whole church a santified raspberry, and squeeky clean Bronx cheer. Merle D’Aubinge danced when his father told him that protestant martyrs were burned at the stake. Luther grabbed a “supporter” by the neck and through him out for instigating the Peasant’s Revolt. It is that simple. When you’ve studied, reflected, prayed, investigated, and agonized, IF you dont get out your a traitor to Christ. Luther said it best, [paraphrase], “If you resist satan everywhere he attacks except that one point, then you have betrayed Christ.”

    I was not as “lucky” Lauren Kuo’s husband, I was secretly deposed from a micro-Presbyterian cult. Best thing that ever happened to me. While at this cult they watched porno movies at a General Assembly, and plotted the secret overthrow of fellow-ministers who weren’t in the “good ole boy” network, I was too enamoured with fellowship and attention to pay much mind. My heavenly Father chastised me, and I suffered but I learned. Better the fellowship by blog, of three or four Gospel committed professing Christians, than to be a minister in a cult.

    I got REAL simple. Believe what you live, or you will end up living what you REALLY believe.

    Gus

  12. Eric Says:

    Gus,

    Thanks!

    As I see it, it looks as though the doctrine of justification is up for debate in the PCA, like it is, and has been, in the OPC. When a central dogma, like this one, is open for discussion, acceptance, or difference of opinion, the writing is on the wall and the leaven in the lump.

    Eric

  13. Robin Collers Says:

    Sean,

    Rob Rayburn responded to the SJC Panel here:

    http://providencestlouis.squarespace.com/storage/Rayburn_SJC_Brief.pdf

  14. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thanks Robin. Muscovites and FV devotees and fellow-travelers are going to love it. Frankly, Rayburn does a pretty fair job attacking some of the weaknesses of the SJC Committee report.

    Of course, it’s basically the same whining diatribe that no one except a Federal Visionist can accurately read, much less understand, a Federal Visonist. I admit I do get sick of men like Rayburn constantly playing the victim. But, when that’s your only card, since they completely fail theologically, what else can anyone expect?

    Thanks for posting.

  15. Rusty Olps Says:

    Dear Brother,

    You accuse my friend and mentor, Peter Leithart, of being a “Christ denying heretic.” I’m not much of a blogger, but I can hardly resist asking you to define “heresy.” If you would condescend, I would be much obliged. Pending the orthodoxy of your opinion, I would like to weigh that standard against Peter’s views to see if your accusation holds water.

    In Christ,

    Rusty

  16. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hi Rusty. My guess is that I’m defining heretic the same as you would. The “Christ denying” qualifier should have made it crystal clear. I could add “Gospel denying” along with “Christ denying” if it helps?

    Beyond that, you should find some better friends and mentors.

  17. Rusty Olps Says:

    So, if Peter doesnt’ deny Christ or the Gospel, then he isn’t a heretic? I don’t think you’re going there. You’ve obviously got a keen mind, and I would really appreciate your condescension to a substantive answer. What makes Peter a denier of Christ?

  18. Rusty Olps Says:

    Furthermore…I invite you to discuss with me personally this whole issue. I’m a student of Douglas Wilson’s, and a Deacon at Christ Church. Obviously I find your charge of heresy to be suspect, and I have a vested interest in maintaining the peace and purity of the church.

    A blog discussion will only cater to the fundamentally damaging tendencies of Presbyterian impersonalism, of which so many of us are guilty.

  19. Sean Gerety Says:

    What makes Peter a denier of Christ?

    By what he writes and says. To save time (and seeing you’re not really interested in discussing things on blogs — although I’m thankful that you’re not the typical Wilsonite whose postings are more of the hit-and-run variety), let me recommend…

    1) John Robbins’ review of Leithart’s Against Christianity, and,

    2) my own review of Leithart’s letter to the PNW in opposition to the conclusions of the PCA’s FV/NPP report.

    Also, per Dr. Robbins’ review above, Leithart said this:

    John Robbins’s current Trinity Review is devoted to a sharply negative review of my book Against Christianity. So far as I can tell, Robbins caught me in one error: I did, as he said, misuse the phrase “beg the question” at one point. Otherwise, I would say that Robbins got the point of my book quite well, and understood that it was addressed to people who hold views like his.

    Fundamentally, I’m relieved: After working hard to write a highly polemical book, I was beginning to worry that no one actually held to the views I was attacking. Robbins cleared up that worry.

    posted by Peter J. Leithart on Wednesday, April 28, 2004 at 11:30 AM

    Needless to say, any claim that Robbins “misread” Leithart isn’t going to go very far.

    And, seeing you’re a deacon in Wilson’s church (evidently your choices in friends and mentors are not your only problem), I would recommend, Not Reformed At All where Dr. Robbins and I answer Wilson’s neo-legalist manifesto and defense of the Federal Vision theology, Reformed Is Not Enough.

  20. Rusty Olps Says:

    I still hope for your attention through a more personal medium than the internet, but I’ll compromise my convictions for the sake of clarity and some resolution to this little text discussion. It seems to me that the most cogent arguments against Peter would center not on heresy but on the standards of Westminster. For the sake of argument, let’s grant that Peter believes the Roman Catholic doctrine of Baptism (and he doesn’t). That doesn’t make him a heretic, does it?

  21. Sean Gerety Says:

    Yes, I think it would make Leithart a heretic. It would certainly require his excommunication from the PCA, that is, if the PCA actaully adhered to its own professed standards and required that their ministers do so as well.

  22. Rusty Olps Says:

    So what creed governs your definition of heresy?

  23. Sean Gerety Says:

    Well, Rusty, the Bible certainly governs my definition of the Gospel, and the Westminster Standards do an outstanding job of accurately describing it. And, since baptismal regeneration would necessitate a different scheme of salvation, hence a different gospel, I would think the Scriptures and the WCF should suffice.

    What do you think? And, please don’t tell me that you think the label is strictly limited to just violations of the so-called “ecumenical creeds” or restricted to the jurisdiction of some ecclesiastic pronouncement and judgment. FWIW I’m well aware of this subterfuge advanced by men like Andy Sandlin in defense of Wilson.

  24. Rusty Olps Says:

    We both know a heretic is not someone in conflict with the scriptures. We would all be heretics, then. Creeds of any kind are important for determining orthodoxy, right?

    So, for an authority to govern the boundaries of orthodoxy you go straight to the WCF. But, that’s not helpful for me. What about Anglicans and Baptists and Lutherans and Arminians, not to mention the ancient traditions. Implicit in your definition of orthodoxy as being according to the WCF there is a necessary hierarchy of truth. Some kind of creed within a creed. And it’s that creed that I’m looking for.

    You say it isn’t the ecumenical creeds. Very well, point me to your authority.

  25. Sean Gerety Says:

    Very well Rusty. I am starting to see the game you’re playing. So, let me put it this way. I’m one of those who think justification by belief alone and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness (since you’re a student of Doug’s and Pete’s that would be active and passive) are non-negotiable. It is based on the rejection and violation of these two simple doctrines that I call both Leithart and your boss Wilson heretics. Does that help?

  26. Sean Gerety Says:

    Oh, and BTW, the so-called “ecumenical creeds” say nothing about either of the above mentioned doctrines, so I would imagine they would be of no help in the case of Leithart and Wilson. Thanks for playing.

  27. Sean Gerety Says:

    To Robin above, I did read Rayburn’s bloviations in defense of Leithart and I was struck by this:

    “And, in the same way, the works of a Christian’s life are a cause of the sinner’s final justification (whether as its vindication or its demonstration) while certainly not being its ground or material cause.”

    Like Leithart, Rayburn does not believe that faith is the alone instrument in justification. Perhaps that explains why he defends the man.

  28. Rusty Olps Says:

    I’m sorry you think this is a game. When you call a man a heretic the stakes are pretty high. Your standard for accusation boils down to the doctrines of justification by faith alone and the active and passive imputation of Christ’s righteousness. Adherence to the WCF or two doctrines derived from it are a poor standard for universal orthodoxy.

    If I grant all your arguments against Peter, he may be in danger of being unreformed. He may be in danger of Arminianism. He may be in danger of infringing the two doctrines you specify as a standard for orthodoxy. But he is not a heretic.

    I’d like to humbly ask you to remove your charge of heresy against Peter Leithart.

  29. Sean Gerety Says:

    Not going to happen Rusty. Leithart is a rank and proud heretic and an enemy of Jesus Christ and his Gospel. Also, I do not think this is a game, I think you are playing a game.

    Adherence to the WCF and the two above mentioned doctrines, in particular (which are not derived from the WCF, but rather the WCF derives them from the Scriptures), are the central standard of “universal orthodoxy.” You obviously don’t know your Reformed history.

    Further, Leithart is not in danger of being unReformed. He is unReformed. He is not in danger of being an Arminian. His theology is worse than Arminian, since I would be hard pressed to say that all Arminians deny JBFA and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness (something Leithart calls “redundant”).

    Finally, Leithart will be charged in the PCA with, at the very least, being “out of accord with the fundamentals of the system of doctrine taught in the Standards” (admittedly he should be charged with teaching heresy, if even for the benefit of people like you, but, hey, it’s the PCA). And, if he does not repent, he will be excommunicated and can no longer falsely claim to be a “pastor in good standing.” My guess is when the writing is on the wall, and it will be sometime in March, he will simply leave the PCA for the CREC. He will show the same conviction of principle that Steve Wilkins did and simply run away. That is the man you call your mentor.

  30. Rusty Olps Says:

    Thanks for listening. My invitation for a real relationship stands. And for what it’s worth, you’re discoursing with a brother in Christ who believes in justification by faith alone and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. I believe these things as an officer of Christ Church, and if I ever refuted them I’d be in hot water. I’ve attended weekly elder meetings for three years, and I work 20 feet from pastor Wilson and 100 yards from Peter Leithart. I know and love these men, and I know and believe and love Jesus Christ who is the author of these doctrines to which I heartily and unapologetically ascribe, as I have been taught by Wilson and Leithart.

  31. ray Says:

    Rusty … real relationships are hinged on being equally yoked with one another.

    Based on the doctrines advocated by those within the CREC … we are unequally yoked. The truth of JBFA and Christ’s righteousness are hardly ever refuted front and center by heretics in the church. They first twist and confuse and contradict Scripture and the reformed Confessions as did the remonstrants prior to the synod of Dort. I hope they taught you about that controversy and the issues that led up to the synod of Dort while a student at Greyfriars Ministeral Hall. They (FV advocates… will even state what you have just stated. The tactics displayed for some 10 years now by FV adherants mirror those of the remonstrants. Heresy is as a disease that first infects the flock and left unchecked … that infection ends up being a deadly illness.
    That will be hard for you to see working 20ft from Wilson and 100yards from Leithart … yet the reformed churches have leveled many charges against both men based on what they themselves have stated … putting ink to paper. Not sure if you have read through any of those papers from different reformed churches.
    Covenantal Universalism = Federal Vision. Covenant salvation here is dependant and conditional on the will of man. This covenant view will not have Christ as it’s head, nor will it have the Lord’s predestinating purposes in election/reprobation govern the Lord’s covenant. It is governed by man’s will and the result is that the doctrine of faith …. as it was for the remonstrants … is synonymous … is alike in meaning or significance as free will… and why we have the tinkering of JBFA… along with a host of others to appease that free will.

    Faith we are taught is a gift of God … given to the elect alone. This is hardly spoken of by the FV advocate … even when they are reminded of it.

    If your interested in a relationship … get yourself out of the heretical CREC … and out from under the teaching of it’s heretics… Wilson and Leithart.

  32. Rusty Olps Says:

    The well is poisoned through your assumption that I’m delusional, too close to the situation, and incapable of accurately representing my own opinions, as an FV advocate. It no longer matters what I say, because FV advocates state one thing and mean another. And thus ends a fruitless discussion.

    May God bless your zealousy for His truth to the end of a pure and unified church.

    Thanks

  33. ray Says:

    I d’ont assume … you have proven it somewhat… your ready to give up…considering it a loss cause … maybe if you proved yourself that you are able to represent the reformed views you have without in effect contradicting them or yourself … I for one would be willing to see what you have to say for yourself.

    Maybe you could start off by introducing yourself, your history …how you got to where your at now … I would be willing to do the same. I mean… the moment you stated you were a FV advocate in close connection with leading figures … that is grounds for us to have our theological and doctrinal shotguns loaded and aimed at you 🙂

    We will suppose and assume nothing for sure now 🙂

  34. Rusty Olps Says:

    Good work. Now if I shut up I’m the one being difficult!

    There’s a shortage of zealously hard-headed and vitriolic Sean Gerety types in my life ;), so I’d love to get to know one and discuss the Bible frankly with him.

  35. Sean Gerety Says:

    Gee, and all this time I thought Rusty just wanted to be friends. ;-P

  36. ray Says:

    Well you came here of your own accord … and whether your able to discuss the Bible frankly … well that remains to be seen… your too busy whining thus far.

  37. Rusty Olps Says:

    Your mama!

  38. Rusty Olps Says:

    There the tone is set.

    I won’t be looking at this blog until the end of the day, I’m behind at work. I’ll check it out again then, and you can tell me what to do.

  39. ray Says:

    “your mama” …what …?

    …only tone your setting thus far is one of a punk.

  40. Rusty Says:

    I’m an FVer, and I believe in salvation by grace through faith and that not of myself. Someone prove me wrong about myself.

  41. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hi Ruster – if you believe what you say and the words you use have their normal generally understood meaning, then it is possible you are not an FVer, despite Wilson’s and Leithart’s best efforts.

    So, why don’t you start by defining faith and how it is you are saved by it?

  42. Rusty Olps Says:

    Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. The referent for my faith is Jesus Christ the Son of God and His atoning work through His life, death, and resurrection all imputed to me by sheer and unadulterated grace according to election and through His indwelling, regenerative Spirit.

    There is no room to boast in my understanding. Even my formulation is a gift of understanding through the renewal of my mind and the gift of His Word.

    I’m saved by faith because that is the gift that I’m given after regeneration which articulates that the regeneration has occurred. Faith is a gift with salvific assumptions.

    I realize I need to pull my WCF out to really impress you guys since this description lacks that kind of precision, but this is what rolls off my tongue when I ponder your question in between making my wife coffee and cleaning up my 2 year old’s breakfast mess.

  43. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’m not looking to be impressed and, besides, you’re the one who came here looking to defend your mentor. That said, the description in Hebrews you paraphrase is not a definition.

    So, let me help you, do you believe with Doug Wilson that obedience is a necessary or fiducial component in saving faith and is what differentiates “living” vs. “dead” faith? Or, to put it another way, do you believe with Wilson that we are justified through our faithful obedience to the demands of the convent?

  44. Rusty Says:

    Sean,

    From WCF chp. 15

    I. Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace,[1] the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the Gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ.[2]

    II. By it, a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature, and righteous law of God; and upon the apprehension of His mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God,[3] purposing and endeavouring to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments.[4]

    III. Although repentance is not to be rested in, as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof,[5] which is the act of God’s free grace in Christ,[6] yet it is of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it.[7]

    That’s all I need. And this is what Pastor Wilson believes as well.

  45. Sean Gerety Says:

    So, you are saying that for Wilson and you (as his faithful student) a person is justified by “purposing and endeavouring to walk with him in all the ways of [God’s] commandments.” Have I got it?

  46. Rusty Says:

    Nope. That chapter isn’t about justification. I should have explained more clearly.

    The ground of our justification is Christ alone.

    Your question was, “do you believe with Doug Wilson that obedience is a necessary or fiducial component in saving faith and is what differentiates “living” vs. “dead” faith?” In answer to that question I quoted chp. 15.

    I believe that men must live repentance out, or they shouldn’t expect any pardon from God. “Pardon” is surely language similar to justification, is it not?

  47. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’m well aware of what the chapter is about Rusty, but since the discussion is about justification I’m just trying to understand in what context I’m supposed to understand your use of WCF 15?

    So, is your point that a faith that saves, i.e., a living faith, is one that “purposing and endeavouring to walk with him in all the ways of [God’s] commandments.” To put it another way, apart from endeavoring to walk with God and keep his commandments, simple belief alone in Jesus Christ alone will not save a sinner. Have I got it now?

    I have to admit that does seem to be what you’re saying and why you cite WCF 15 in this context, but I’m trying to be careful not to put words in your mouth.

    Further, you say; “I believe that men must live repentance out, or they shouldn’t expect any pardon from God.” So, if a man believes in Jesus Christ and him crucified and that Christ’s life and propitiatory death alone, completely apart from anything done by him or even wrought in him by the Spirit, he shouldn’t expect any pardon from God?

  48. Rusty Says:

    This statement is clearest to me:

    “To put it another way, apart from endeavoring to walk with God and keep his commandments, simple belief alone in Jesus Christ alone will not save a sinner.”

    I think a sinner is saved by simple belief alone in Jesus Christ. I also think that sinners must purpose and endeavor to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments. And WHEN they fail, they must repent. And when they succeed they have added nothing to God’s perfect and full justification. Furthermore, repentance is not to be rested in, as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof, which is the act of God’s free grace in Christ, yet it is of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it.

  49. Sean Gerety Says:

    This statement is clearest to me:

    “To put it another way, apart from endeavoring to walk with God and keep his commandments, simple belief alone in Jesus Christ alone will not save a sinner.”

    I thought as much Rusty. The problem is, what clearest to you, and obviously closest to you, is not the Gospel, but a (subtle) repudiation of it. Simple belief alone, plus nothing, is all that is needed for a sinner to be justified. There is no “also” in addition to mere belief. The WCF 11.2 is clear, “faith…is the alone instrument of justification.” Nothing else is needed or required.

    You have been sold a lie by your mentors in Moscow and if you really believed in the truth found in WCF 15, you would repent. Interestingly, I just found out that Wes White, one of the men leading the charge against the FV in the Siouxlands Pres of the PCA, was a former FV man just like you. God is indeed good and preserves his own. I will certainly be praying that the Lord might change your mind too Rusty.

  50. Rusty Says:

    I meant that statement was the clearest to me in your preceding comment. So, I picked that one to address and dispute. Why do I get the sneaking suspicion that you’re trying to hang me?

    My opinion follows that quotation, and I hope disputes it. I’m not repenting, yet!

  51. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’m not trying to hang you, but I’m just trying to understand why you would cite WCF 15 in terms of justification? I also don’t see that you’ve disputed the idea that “simple belief alone in Jesus Christ alone will not save a sinner.” It seems you very much agree with it. You write:

    I think a sinner is saved by simple belief alone in Jesus Christ. I also think that sinners must purpose and endeavor to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments.

    It seems clear to me that for you mere belief alone in Jesus Christ cannot justify a sinner, but a sinner must also seek to “walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments.”

  52. Rusty Olps Says:

    15 is one place where it is clear, not that justification is a process, but justification must be proven. Faith without works is dead. A claim to have faith that I am justified without works is a false claim. I’m smack in the main of the Reformed tradition.

  53. Sean Gerety Says:

    Prove to whom Rusty?

  54. Rusty Olps Says:

    Well, to the people who would excommunicate me for unrepentance, for one. Also to myself, as I work out my salvation with fear and trembling and make my calling and election sure.

  55. Sean Gerety Says:

    You said “justification must be proven” and now to people. You also said faith without works is dead and now you’re saying that to be justified requires working out your salvation with “fear and trembling” and you also need to make your “calling and election sure.”

    I fail to see how your understanding of how a sinner is justified puts you “smack in the main of the Reformed tradition”? It sounds very much to me that your own ongoing evangelical obedience is also a necessary component, if not the sine qua non, in your understanding and scheme of justification.

    I certainly understand why you’re struggling, seeing your a deacon in Wilson church and Leithart is your mentor, but the scheme of justification you’re describing puts you in the main of the Roman tradition.

  56. ray Says:

    Only an FV freak would use the quote of working out his salvation with fear and trembling and making his calling an election sure in defining justification… without stating that it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

    That … to me .. is a dead give away … that sends up the red flags.

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

    II. 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.”

  57. Rusty Olps Says:

    I’m not being heard, so I’ll shut up. This will be my last post. Sean said that I said, “to be justified requires working out your salvation with “fear and trembling”. No, I didn’t say that. I said to prove my justification requires works (specifically of repentance, without which no one can expect pardon from God).

    My justification through the atoning work of Jesus happened to me a long time ago. Making sure of it through enacting the good works I was created in Christ Jesus to do does not make justification a process in which I am a contributor. That’s absurd! I was pardoned. It happened. I had nothing to do with it.

    That doesn’t mean I can be a “carnal Christian,” does it? If I live unrepentantly of all my sins, then I should be excommunicated. The very practice of excommunication assumes that someone who was regenerate was proven unregenrate. Their justification never was.

    You suggest, “ongoing evangelical obedience is also a necessary component” in my understanding of justification. That’s not true. Again you are trying to attribute to me some kind of process justification, as if God’s hammer never really falls, but I’m in some kind of justification limbo until I prove myself through good works. Such a gospel is anathema.

    Now, just because ongoing evangelical obedience is not a necessary component of justification does not mean it’s isn’t a necessary evidence or proof that I am justified. I still find it hard to believe that we wouldn’t agree with the necessity of having a living, working, repentant faith- surely you would agree that no one can expect pardon apart from ongoing repentance, which is of course a gift from God as well.

    Ray thinks my references to “making your calling and election sure” and “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” were used in defining justification. They weren’t.

    Clearly there is no desire to hear me on this blog.

  58. Sean Gerety Says:

    Keep your mouth shut if you like Rusty, but please stop whining that nobody is willing to listen to you. You’re the one who brought up WCF 15 in relation to justification, not me. It’s you who put a forensic twist on your evident reading of James and in relation to justification that faith without works is dead.

    This is all Federal Vision 101 stuff where one feigns adherence to JBFA and then denies it by systematically incorporating works, works done by faith mind you, as a necessary element in justification. Like Wilson, it appears you too believe that “raw” belief alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ is not enough to justify you at the bar of God’s infinite justice and that for faith to be “living” requires works. You seemingly confuse and conflate justification with sanctification and now you whine that you’re not being heard.

    I asked you if you believe with Doug Wilson that obedience is a necessary or fiducial component in saving faith and is what differentiates “living” vs. “dead” faith? I don’t know how else to read your replies except in the affirmative and that you agree with Wilson. You certainly haven’t said anything that would distance you from Wilson’s construction of saving faith.

  59. ray kikkert Says:

    Rusty stated:

    “That doesn’t mean I can be a “carnal Christian,” does it? If I live unrepentantly of all my sins, then I should be excommunicated. The very practice of excommunication assumes that someone who was regenerate was proven unregenrate. Their justification never was.”

    …if your not defining Justification … what are you defining? …. regardless your appeal above means that you think that if we maintain justification by faith alone … that we somehow will be lead to being carnal.

    No … John Calvin was clear enough in his commentary on a much beloved text for FV advocates who contend JBF/Works … Galatians 5:6 which states: For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything , nor uncircumcision: but faith worketh by love.

    Calvin states:
    “There would be no difficulty in this passage, were it not for the dishonest manner in which it has been tortured by the Papists to uphold the righteousness of works. When they attempt to refute our doctrine, that we are justified by faith alone, they take this line of argument. If the faith which justifies us be that “which worketh by love,” then faith alone does not justify. I answer, they do not comprehend their own silly talk; still less do they comprehend our statements. It is not our doctrine that the faith which justifies is alone; we maintain that it is invariably accompanied by good works; only we contend that faith alone is sufficient for justification. The Papists themselves are accustomed to tear faith after a murderous fashion, sometimes presenting it out of all shape and unaccompanied by love, and at other times, in its true character. We, again, refuse to admit that, in any case, faith can be separated from the Spirit of regeneration;
    but when the question comes to be in what manner we are justified, we then set aside all works.”

  60. Pseudonym III Says:

    I so admire the kind, loving tone which heresy hunters use when talking about their prey. Their example of humility and awareness of their own fallen nature is such a model of true Christlikeness to us all…

  61. Sean Gerety Says:

    And I so admire FV/NPP sympathizers who, having the courage of their convictions, exemplify Christian integrity and honesty by making irrelevant hit-and-run comments while hiding their identities.

  62. Randy Says:

    I wonder if anyone here actually has read Peter Leithart. From what I can tell (reading both sides for several months, i.e., Scott Clark and Doug Wilson), there appear to be two key issues: one concerns the law and the gospel, the other concerns the relationship between baptism and election. I have read many articles by current writers within the reformed tradition, including articles in Table Talk, that appear to be surprisingly inconsistent with the WCF, including the Chapter on the Law of God (Chapter 19). Modern “reformed” writers and teachers all too often teach that the law of God is incompatible with the gospel. More troubling, I have heard this false view of the gospel taught in my own PCA church from the pulpit and in Sunday school. I was so thankful to find a sermon by an OPC pastor who said that this false notion of grace was like “the Emperor’s New Clothes,” that sounds so God-honoring but leaves you (the saved person, the believer) naked. I have recently been pleasantly surprised that my Pastor (from the pulpit) and an RE (in a Sunday School class) altered their respective teaching about the law, after being confronted in a gracious way with logical arguments, supported by the WCF, the Larger and Shorter Catechism and the scriptural proofs for these standards. I can’t say that I have read everything that the FV writers have written about the law/gospel issue – but what I have read is much more consistent with the WCF than many who are so acceptable to the PCA and other reformed denominations. I also have read Doug Wilson’s responses to both the law/gospel issue and the baptism/election issue. I have found that Doug Wilson’s articles to be more clearly developed and fully supported than that of his esteemed critics. With apologies to Scott Clark, perhaps Doug Wilson’s lack of seminary training is a plus, not a negative. Thank you for the opportunity to add this comment to your article.

  63. Marty Says:

    That is extremely un-Christian of you to call a man of God such as Peter Leithart a heretic without any basis. If someone were to go over your words and actions like a Pharisee with a strainer looking for gnats (Mt. 23:24), I’m sure they’d find many reasons why you are heretical and worthy of being condemned to Hell despite your profession of faith. The use of the picture is also extremely disrespectful since Dr. Leithart was just having fun and surely did not intend for the photo to be used in this context. Your depiction of Dr. Leithart borders on slander and defamation.

  64. Sean Gerety Says:

    The denial of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and justification by belief alone is straining at gnats? Also, do you know the context or even the location in which that picture was taken?

  65. Hugh McCann Says:

    Downplaying the severity of heresy seems a convenient and popular tactic.

    Over @ H’blog, Bruce Atkinson calls N.T. Wright debates “of little practical value,” over “secondary issues,” & “the modern equivalent of How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”:

    http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/15/for-evangelicals-tempted-by-n-t-wrights-revision-of-paul/

    Reminds us of the soft-pedaling to slumbering Westerners of a certain Middle-Eastern religion that advocates terror and torture…

    Heretics and jihadists are not strange bedfellows!

  66. Marty Says:

    “The denial of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and justification by belief alone.”

    The charge is completely spurious, and I’ve read the supposed reasons behind it.

    If you think there is an “evil” context behind the picture, the burden of proof is on you.

  67. Sean Gerety Says:

    Then you should praying as I am that Leithart will be charged. That way Leithart and his supporters, like PNW stated clerk, Robert Rayburn, can present their defense. If the charges are “spurious” as you say, he’s got nothing to worry about. However, I suspect that when push comes to shove this fall, Leithart will demonstrate the same courage of his convictions as his fellow Federal Visionist and coward, Steve Wilkins, and leave the PCA for the FV CREC through the backdoor.

  68. evergreen Says:

    It sounds like people need to sit down and discuss this. I hear what sounds like classroom bickering.

  69. Hugh McCann Says:

    E-green: Is that you, Stephen?

    Hugh

  70. evergreen Says:

    No, I’ve been listening in at the back door and it sounds childish–I hear remarks like I’m gonna tell, your going to get in trouble, they’re going to kick you out, etc. This poor fellow is going to wind up like Franky Schaeffer.

  71. evergreen Says:

    We’ve had a lot of discussion regarding the atonement and what it really means. And we’re forgetting what C.S. Lewis taught us when he spoke of pure or mere Chrsitianity. We’ve lost sight of the bigger picture. We’re caught up in arguments about details–how one explains it all, when in fact it’s something mysterious. Yes, the great mystery is disclosed–the end of the ages has come upon us; and here we are fighting about how to explain the ‘how’ of it. Let’s recognize that it’s occured and live in light of it. And that means putting aside our pet theories and paltry debates. It means living as new creatures in Christ. It does not mean placing funny pictures of each other online and engaging in name-calling. Some people have been less than charitable about describing this guy and it’s not amusing. I feel hurt for him. Anne Rice, the popular novelist, has just said she’s quiting organized Christianity. It irks her something terrible and while I disagree with her decision, I’m not surprised at her sentiment. This is particularly an issue for Christians who, like myself, consider themselves reformed. There’s a certain Presbyterian type that’s now seen to have negative connotations out there. And outsiders don’t need to catch on–it’s ugly! The whole debate reminds me of when I was in private school and the rich kids played dungeons and dragons–someone was always possessing a secret and someone else was always winning or losing or being squashed. It’s like the sandbox all over again. Except now the stakes are higher–people’s names get smeared, misunderstanind and bad feelings ensue, splits occur, and self-righteousness develops. All over the web people are debating imputation and righteousness and so on–where’s this all leading ? Can someone please tell me? I’m getting very weary of it.

    Now I read this fellow’s book, Solomon among the Postmoderns. I don’t think someone of ill-will and a non-Christian background could have written such a thing. Why aren’t people rather congratulating him for his learning and insights? It looks very much like he’s taking the fall for some trend people don’t like. When you bind yourself to Westminster documents, you set yourself up for these squabbles. You don’t leave room for any deviation. People have locked themselves in and then anything else results in trials. Would Paul, in his day, have been interested in investigating this fellow???

  72. Marty Says:

    I have not parsed every word that Leithart has written but even if he is in error, he is a pastor and author with an anointing from God. When reading the story of David and Saul, I get the sense that it took forever for Saul to fall from God’s grace – in David’s eyes anyway. Peter Leithart has not done anything as bad as literally throwing a spear at someone.
    By the way, is there any way to unsubscribe from follow-up comments?

  73. evergreen Says:

    I think it’s highly distressing that we’re experiencing this sort of thing in the Christian community. I’m terribly embarrassed. What, after all, as this poor man done? He was probably minding his own business going about his duties and said something someone else didn’t understand or agree with. Or perhaps he had a take on something that collided with someone else’s doctrine. But the fact that it has come down to accusations, talk of investigation and heresy and going somewhere else either because he wants to or will have to, well it sounds like the whole Westminster project is collapsing in upon itself. I suspected this sort ofthing would be in the nature of the neo-presbyterian movement. I had high hopes for it. But I’ve seen and heard a lot of nastiness and I really don’t like it. I want to bring out a couple of things. I’ve seen this before and I know how it goes. I teach children and when one child brings an accusation against another, the first thing I think is–what really is the motivation here?

    There are motivations driving people who inquire and try others–dynamics, emotions–sin is this slippery, oozy king of thing. Is someone getting scapegoated? Is someone angry with someone, etc.? I want to know all of that first.

    Then, with this particular thing, is someone being overly detail-oriented? And the more I think about those Westminster documents, the more I think it’s going to undo everyone.

    Then there is this unhealthy pattern that goes something like this: OOOHHHH! You said something really bad and I’m going to tell. And then someone else hears of it and inquires. Did you really?? And then if the poor bloke is honest and sincere and doesn’t simply regurgitate what he’s told, they want to bring him up on heresy charges. Then he has to get embarrassed. People have a trial. It’s so pathetic and yes, it’s soooo Presbyterian. I used to think it was a good tradition. But now it looks just plain goofy.
    Finally, I think the overall pattern is unhealthy. It goes something like this: OOOOHH

  74. Hugh McCann Says:

    Dear Evergreen,

    I’ve been listening in at the back door. . .
    >>Then stop eavesdropping, EverG!

    We’ve had a lot of discussion regarding the atonement and what it really means. And we’re forgetting what C.S. Lewis taught us when he spoke of pure or mere Christianity. We’ve lost sight of the bigger picture.
    >>Nothing much bigger than the atonement, sweetheart.
    >>Lewis was bad news: http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=103

    It does not mean placing funny pictures of each other online and engaging in name-calling.
    >>You’re sounding like such a Puritan, sweetie!

    Some people have been less than charitable about describing this guy and it’s not amusing. I feel hurt for him.
    >>It’ll be OK. Breathe. Take a walk. Go to another website.

    . . . Anne Rice?
    >>Never was a part of Christianity, honey, she was a Catholic. If you’re confused on this point, go back to square one and talk to a knowledgeable pastor.

    I think it’s highly distressing that we’re experiencing this sort of thing in the Christian community. I’m terribly embarrassed. What, after all, has this poor man done? He was probably minding his own business going about his duties and said something someone else didn’t understand or agree with. Or perhaps he had a take on something that collided with someone else’s doctrine.
    >>Yes, he may be an innocent victim, or he could be incompetent to teach the Word, or a false teacher! You don’t seem to know much, but you’ve sure got your little opinion, don’tcha?!
    >>No need to be distressed or embarrassed, sweetie. Just take a deep breath, have a cup of Chamomile tea, and don’t visit this nasty site again. Your life will be much less stressful!

    . . . what really is the motivation here?
    >>Good question. How can we read hearts? Oh yeah, we can’t. Why not stop trying? Less stress! What really is YOUR motivation? Why do you conjecture & criticize what you know little-to-nothing about? Just wanna judge those whom to you seem mean?

    Is someone getting scapegoated? Is someone angry with someone, etc.? I want to know all of that first.
    >>Oh, honey, have I got dish for you!

    Then, with this particular thing, is someone being overly detail-oriented? And the more I think about those Westminster documents, the more I think it’s going to undo everyone.
    >>Oh, goodness, sweetheart, you are ONTO something here!

    You get the last word, ‘cause it’s just so good: “It’s so pathetic and yes, it’s soooo Presbyterian.”

    Oooh!

    Yours,
    Ageless

  75. evergreen Says:

    You didn’t pay attention to anything I said. You just made fun of it all. I’m trying to get across that people are feeling bad because other people disagree with them and want to get them in trouble. Those Westminster documents have forced everyone into a box and now, if anyone deviates from it, they have to be brought up on heresy charges. At first I thought the whole Westminster thing was great–I said, OK–this is wonderful. This is real Protestant Christianity. Now it just looks like a mess. Why can’t we return to mere Christianity as Lewis wrote about? All of this doctrine is going nowhere. What purpose does it serve? Is God’s work being done at greater speed or on a more profound level as a result of it? The level of detail involved in these debates is simply phenomenal. I’ve never heard people talk the way they’re doing–one is talking of federal theolgoy, and another is discussing something that sounds reminiscent of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. All of this theologizing would put the medieval scholastics to shame. We really should turn back–turn back to the Bible and being simply Christian. It’s far easier and there won’t be all of this misunderstanding. I’m not saying the whole Puritan tradition was a mistake. I’m simply saying that the Westminster formulations were too literal or too restrictive. They didn’t come around until the seventeenth century. Christians had to make do without them prior to that. We can certainly make due without them now. I feel really sorry for this man–I did read his book, “Solomon among the Postmoderns,” and I can’t bring myself to believe that that author is heretical–how then could he have written what he did? It was imbued with sound Biblical sense. And it was so timely–it actually spoke to the times we’re living in–I don’t mean culturally or socially so much as I mean intellectually. And the fact that someone would take his picture out of context–well, that picture has no business being up there–it’s been taken out of context and doesn’t belong there. It was a joke at one time and now people are trying to say he’s silly or something, but he’s actually a very learned and nice man. I think some terrible misunderstanding has occurred. Looking into things in such great detail has led people to disagree and now it’s called heresy. If people didn’t look into all these things so much they’d all be on the same page. Let’s strive for unity, peace and love–and truth when it’s accessible to the average layperson. Otherwise it doesn’t do the church much good–it merely generates argument. And yes, that’s increasingly what people are thinking about when they hear the word Presbyterian.

  76. Hugh McCann Says:

    E-green,

    So a broken theologian is right twice a day. Great.

    I don’t see you inteacting with Gerety’s article.

    Have you read Leithart’s _Against Christianity_?

    Please see the review here: http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=195

    As for Lewis and “mere Christianity,” it’s been tried and found terribly wanting due to man’s hubris and unrealistic optimism. Whether the Campbellites, the many other cults, or whomever. They end in schismaticism and heresy.

    Lewis’ (and others’) “mere” stuff winds up missing critical points such as the atonement. And it usually ignores or denigrates the progress we’ve seen in Christian doctrine over the millennia.

    The WCF and others may be relative late-comers, but even you see their biblicism and usefulness.

    False teachers can parrot the ecumenical creeds, and deny sola fide. Please see http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=108

    ~ Ageless, again ~

  77. evergreen Says:

    No, No, No. He simply saw the churcha as polis. He’s not arguing against something positive.

  78. evergreen Says:

    C. S. Lewsis was not a broken man as you say. He was a fascinating scholar. He dealt with texts all the time. He knew how to read them and to extract meaning from them. He wrote an entire compendium. His understanding of the Bible was that it was inspired. He avoided the inerrancy debate because he saw it was futile. He knew the Bible to be the Word of God. What he saw in America was polarization just as we see here now. The Campbellites have nothing to do with Lewis. The Campbellites were simply anothe group in America–and last time I checked, they were not beyond the pale of orthodoxy.

    Let me tell you soemting about the Cambellites. They may seem a bit eccentric to you, but they are a church. What serious issues do you have with them? The only serious problem I have with them is that they won’t use instruments. But neither would Calvin. So what’s your point? How are they a cult?

    How can theology progress? It just goes in circles. Each new way looks at it differently and formulates it as such for a different time, context, worldview, or mood.

    And you’ve changed the subject. The issue has to do with that poor man being bullied. And everyone is on a different page. There aren’t simply two opposing viewpoints. Look at all of these webpages and you’ll see that each one is his or her own theologian. And all we have is endless debate and squabbles. What about the people who are poor–people with disabilities, people who are sick, wasting away in a hospital bed somewhere and they aren’t being visitied? Or someone without food and shelter? They do not need to know how many angels dance on the head of a pin. The whole Westminster project is going nowhere. It’s on its way out. And C. S. Lewis was a very charitable and knowledgable man. He should not be denigrated. When I have time I will read Against Christianity, but based upon the introduction, it sounds like it’s a very sensible thesis–Christianity was never a worldview or a set of beliefs to be given assent to, yet—we’ve made it into all of that. It was a community like the Old Testament Jews. OK, I think you need to read Against Christianity. I’m wondering if it’s enough Presbyterian for you. It might be a little in another direction, and that might be an issue–we’ll have to hold synod and see if it gets past the panel. Better yet, form a committee to investigate it and report back first, this way no one’s feelings get hurt by accident!

  79. evergreen Says:

    It is true that C. S. Lewis experienced grief and mourning–he mourned the loss of Joy when she died of cancer. But he managed to fit it into perspective. Then he moved on. He even wrote a book about it. He was not broken at all. He grew from the experience. He was a profoundly Christian man. Anyone who can not see the depth and breadth to his writings must not be able to think outside of their framework. Another thing about c. S> Lewis. He was not a theologian and never presentedhimself as such. His whole point was that you could see truth in other ways too. That’s why he loved different genres. He was not trying to theologize. You seem to see theology in it. He was not a theologian and never claimed to be. And one could gather from his writings that too much focus upon theology is a bad thing.

  80. Hugh McCann Says:

    E-green,

    The broken theologian I was referring to is LEITHART, whom you defend. Not broken as in emotionally shattered, but broken as in being so wrong so often as to be less-than-usesless except as he happens to occasionally says something true (like a broken clock is right twice a day).

    Leithart says some good things – fine. What’s being debated is whether he has compromised the gospel. If he has, then he needs to be outed and ousted.

    The CAMPBELLITES teach that only their church’s baptism is valid, and that it is necessary for salvation; they also deny man’s depravity (original sin).

    THEOLOGY progresses and grows as iron sharpens iron, as men interact with the sacred texts and as the Text interacts with us! Also, as we debate each other, we hopefully learn. Not all doctrines were well articulated in the 1st Century (nor the 17th!), and we can learn from teachers in all ages. Ephesians 4:11ff are still in effect.

    Back to Leithart: >>“. . .it sounds like it’s a very sensible thesis–Christianity was never a worldview or a set of beliefs to be given assent to,”

    Then it sounds like you’re lost, E-green. Christianity is nothing if it’s not a worldview or a set of beliefs to assent to. Nothing.

    Please read “Words” @ http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=242

    If Lewis was no theologian, please stop eulogizing him at a Christian theology website! He denigrated the Psalms. Please see article I linked. From it:

    ‘Referring to them {PSALM WRITERS} as a group, Lewis said they were “ferocious, self-pitying, barbaric men.”9 Speaking of their writings, the Psalms, Lewis characterized some of them as “fatal confusion,” “devilish,” “diabolical,” “contemptible,” petty and vulgar.10

    ‘Nor did Lewis stop with these adjectives to describe what he called “Holy Scripture.” He wrote: “Naivety, error, contradiction, even (as in the cursing Psalms) wickedness are not removed. The total result is not ‘the Word of God’ in the sense that every passage, in itself, gives impeccable science or history. It carries the Word of God….”11’*

    Lewis was no friend of biblical Christianity, though he may very well have been articulate, well-read, and “very charitable and knowledgeable.”

    If all he has to tell us is that Christians are to “think outside of their framework,” and if “His whole point was that you could see truth in other ways too,” or that, “too much focus upon theology is a bad thing,” then Lewis certainly was not a theologian (student of God), but a moralist. You appear to be saying that Mere Moralism was his mantra.

    He sounds like a fit friend for Leithart!

    Ever Ageless

    NOTES:
    9 Reflections on the Psalms, 24.

    10 Reflections on the Psalms, 18-22. His actual words are “But of course the fatal confusion between being in the right and being righteous soon falls upon them [the Psalmists]…. There is also in many of the Psalms a still more fatal confusion – that between the desire for justice and the desire for revenge…. Even more devilish [than Psalm 109] in one verse is the, otherwise beautiful, [Psalm] 137…. This [Psalm 23:5] may not be so diabolical as the passages I have quoted above; but the pettiness and vulgarity of it…are hard to endure…. One way of dealing with these terrible or (dare we say?) contemptible Psalms is simply to leave them alone.”

    11 Reflections on the Psalms, 94.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  81. evergreen Says:

    OK, I think we need to remember that we’ve accumulated a lot of baggage on the way. Sometimes people drop some of it and take on something new. Is the essential Christian truth that God created the world and sent Christ to redeem it sufficient? In other words, everything is gift and God’s grace has brought us home–if we indeed are on board–is this enough? I think so. I think Lewis was just saying that. If you read his entire collection, I think you’ll see that he was very Christian and a sharp apologist. Did he do it in a way that everyone would prefer? No–you can’t please everyone. But if you saw him, spoke with him, examined his life and BASIC beliefs, was he a Christian? Of course! Then we must extend to such people the right hand of fellowship. Lewis was not a pagan or a wolf in sheeps clothing. Was he different in his outlook on things? You bet! Did he have a heart? Absolutely. Did he do God’s work? Entirely. Did he see perfectly? No–I know what he ssaid about the nature of scripture. I’ve read the books on his view. Yes, it was complicated–he was always caught up in texts. He was altogether outside the American track. His understanding of inspiration was not the Westminster position. But c’mon, he was obviously not a progressive–he knew too well of chronological snobbery as he put it. And he was not one to go modernistic. He felt he was with the golden mean as he thought it all through. He was a nice man. He had class. He married a lady with cancer that was not supposed to live beyond a few months. He gave away a lot of money to charity. He lived an elegant yet relatively plain life in his setting, considering he could have mixed in snobbish circles and lived it up. He was not that kind of person. He was not that kind of Christian. I don’t know why people accuse him of being wrong except insofar as they haven’t read everything he’s churned out. As one of my Bible study leaders put it, a lot of things are up for debate. And if we start judging people and causing divisions, we will endanger the church. Discipline is for sercious offenses–like pagan behaviors, not for silly stuff having to do with small doctrines. The way you speak of him it sounds like you couldn’t even subscribe to Theology Today. Because they’re all about getting along and trying to be Christian and good-natured in the tradition of C. S> Lewis, and uniting on the essentials for the sake of unity. I met up with a superintendent from one of the Wesleyan churches out west when I was in Rome. He said that the Calvinist churches wind up being just like Rome. And then they forget that Christ is the true shepherd. People lord it over others and then there is bullying and mean-spiritedness. And then people are trying to push otehrs out. And it’s ugly and disconserting to see it all happen. Like N. T. Wright said, sin is this oozy slippery kind of thing that works its way into everything. If you chase it out the front door it comes in through the back. So you have it everywhere. It’s in courts and trials and all these disagreements. People need to be allowed to differ when it comes to details. It’s part of their right as God-created beings to decide these things.

  82. Sean Gerety Says:

    “People need to be allowed to differ when it comes to details.”

    Leithart is free to differ with the WCF and the doctrine of justification all he wants, just not in the PCA. There already is a denom that openly holds to and advocates the doctrines he believes and teaches and that is the CREC. That’s where he should go, but since he will not, he should be defrocked and excommunicated should he not repent. A church without discipline is not a church.

  83. Hugh McCann Says:

    Thanks, Evergreen.

    Please see latest comments at “Martyr Complex.”

    Ageless.

  84. evergreen Says:

    Well, courts can do as they choose. But as for me, I think it’s a move in the wrong direction. I feel sorry for this man. Once people get into things at such a deep level, differences arise. Then people start deciding what’s heretical and what’s orthodox. Meanwhile, most Christians are going on their merry way being Christian and neither understand nor care about this. They probably couldn’t udnerstand it because it’s esoteric. It’s outside the average layperson’s ability to grasp. Theological debate in teh Westmisnter tradition has grown too complicated and intense–people don’t have the intellect for it.

  85. evergreen Says:

    The other matter concerns the fact that here is a neo-Presbyterian church that locked itself in from the start. Now tell me, how many peoploe are going to be able to subscribe to all those details and remain subscribing to them over the course of a life-time?? People are going to change, see more, revise, etc. It’s only natural. With those Westmisntger documens, you’ve set yourself up for this sort of thing. Now someone’s getting in trouble because of something that was overly precise to begin with.

    The initial idea, if I understand it correctly, was that you went over to Phili because Princeton got modernistic. So Machen was forced out. Youhad the opc and then the pca. OK then. But now inside it there arises more drama. And it jsut keeps going. How can one be proud to be a Presbyterian? It’s all so embarrassing. I’m embarrassed to say the word anymore. It either means you’re a progressive liberal or a doctrinal machine. There is nothing in the middle these day. What is one to do? It’s become so problematic. Who can remain Presbyterian when it’s like this? It’s a polarization of extremes.

  86. Hugh McCann Says:

    E-green,

    Please see latest comments at “Martyr Complex” on elders’ duty to teach the people.

    Ageless.

  87. evergreen Says:

    Yes, I know that very well. The issue as I see it is not that. It’s the fact that people are being too literal and taking their jobs too seriously. Then people want to drag others before panels and ask questions. They reduce the person to an object and labels get tossed around. Before you know it, someone’s reputation is ruined. Don’t let this happen. Work out your differences. Be tolerant of other viewpoints. His teachings are still Presbyterian enough that they probably wouldn’t make sense to anyone anywhere else anyhow. After all, who else could interpret the whole mess but neo-Presbyterians honestly. He wouldn’t fit elsewhere. I think it’s just a mistake to place him in a category. And the uncharitable climate in which the whole thing is taking place–well, that picture up there for instance. That wasn’t meant for that. It’s been taken out of context. It’s being used to make a statement about the man. When I saw it, I reckoned it symbolic of the whole debate. Here is this poor man who, in good Presbyterina fashion busied his head with all these things and came up with something a little different. And now some people want to remove him. It just shouldn’t be. As I said, he’s a very intelligent man and I feel for him. Very few authors can wright like him. Even fewer can translate truths into a new context the way he does. He’s not a Roman Catholic. He’s not an Anglican. He has a bit of a different take on some doctrine. He’s very much within the reofrmed tradition adn i’m sure he’s for the Presbyerian polity–well hopefully he still is–I mean this is enough to send him running elsewhere really. But I think you understand what I’m saying. It all just seems very unfair and unnerving.

  88. evergreen Says:

    And as for Franky Schaeffer, he was very hurt. And no, he actually did listen to his father who told him things on the side–about craziness. His father used to have to deal with these zanies–and Francis would humor them so as to smooth things over, but really he was thinking, boy I;m dealing with a live one. He used to have to kiss up to Rovertson or Fallwell or Rushdooney or Dovson, or whoever. He really thought, boy I can’t wait to return to the Alps. And Franky was at one pont reduced to stealing porkchops because he couldn’t make a living outside the arts, and they wouldn’t let him do anyting because everything had to be a certain way for the American Christian world–artificial, fake and puritanical. And Edith ran a commune and they grew their own vegetables when Americans shopped at supermarkets. That’s how Franky first caught on. He saw the tension with his parents and what they had to go through adn he didn’t want to have to undergo the same thing. So he stewed for a while and lived a double life and finally headed out.

  89. Sean Gerety Says:

    Green – I think you’ve made your point. I’m closing the comments here. If you want to continue feeling sorry for Leithart, you may do so in the combox of “Martyr Complex.” Thanks.


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