Archive for February 2010

Alien Fantasies of the Federal Vision

February 10, 2010

I thought I had the Federal Vision’s heretical nonsense pretty much under my belt. I understand their blasphemous belief in union that occurs via the waters of baptism and the mumbling of some self-styled priestling that magically engrafts both believers and unbelievers into Christ.  I understand that in the Federal Vision light has communion with darkness and righteousness fellowship with unrighteousness. I understand their reworking of the traditional definition of faith whereby the tautological fiducial element that is supposed to make faith saving is really just another name for our own personal obedience. I understand their phony agnosticism concerning the imputation of Christ’s active obedience as they scrape out a role for our own “good works” in justification — or what they fraudulently call “final justification.” I understand their flattening of the Covenant of Works as they eliminate Adam’s probation in the Garden and replace it with a gracious call to faithful obedience.  I understand that these men are all liars and antichrists that dishonestly wear the name “Christian” while they pretend to be “Reformed.” In short, I understand  the “parallel soteriological system” of the Federal Vision as they continue to lead countless men, women and children, baptized or otherwise, to hell.  However, there are certain aspects of the Federal Vision that are so alien to anything even remotely Reformed or Christian, that it rightly places their false religion into the realm of the cults.

I recently stumbled on John Fesko’s 2004 study:  The Federal Vision and the Covenant of Works.  In this short piece Fesko takes aim at the warped and anti-Christian retelling of the Biblical account of the Fall championed by FV architects Richard Lusk and certifiable lunatic, James Jordan.  To be fair, I have read a few things by Lusk over the years that seemed downright crazy, but you don’t have to read very far into almost anything Jordan writes to realize he is a giant bag o’ allegorical nuts.  However, I confess reading their respective theories on the Fall was so bizarre I thought I was reading some Dianetics tract written by that dead science fiction writer and cult leader, L. Ron Hubbard. Here is just a sample from Jordan’s “Merit verses Maturity” as cited by Fesko:

What is set before Adam is a choice. He is free to eat of every tree, including the special Tree of Life. He is forbidden to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. Approaching the garden’s center, he must choose which of the Trees to eat first. If he rejects the Tree of Knowledge and partakes of the Tree of Life, he will enter into a process of further life that will eventuate in eternal life. Having obeyed God in faith at the outset, he will set himself on a road of further faithful obedience. If, however, he chooses to eat of the Tree of Knowledge first, he will die and not move any farther down the road to eternal life. We notice that there is nothing of ‘merit’ or ‘work’ here.

Rather than a Covenant of Works “wherein life is promised to Adam, and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience,” Jordan fantasizes that had Adam remained obedient one day God would grant him permission to eat of the Tree of Knowledge in order that Adam would continue in a process that would one day “eventuate in eternal life.” According to Jordan’s retelling, and had Adam chosen correctly, “The Tree of Knowledge, then, not the Tree of Life, was the eschatological tree, the tree of promise.  The Tree of Knowledge would end Adam’s first phase in life.”  Adam was given a choice: eat of the Tree of Life or the Tree of Knowledge.  Had Adam ate of the Tree of Life first, Adam would have moved from childhood into a kind of cosmic puberty.  Then, I suppose around the time Adam was ready to get his cosmic driver’s license, or in Jordan’s case, his first drink at the Garden pub, Adam would be given the present of eating from the Tree of Knowledge, dying, and then moving on to a home in the celestial suburbs complete with a never ending mortgage payment.  However, choosing to eat from the Tree of Knowledge first, Adam still dies, doesn’t pass Go, never has to shave, and must remain in his soiled diapers for eternity. (more…)

Scripturalist Apologetics

February 6, 2010

I recently decided to reread John Robbins’ systematic dismemberment of Objectivism, Without A Prayer: Ayn Rand and the Close of Her System. Admittedly, this is my third time around.  The first time was more years ago than I care to remember when I purchased John’s original work,  Answer to Ayn Rand. Later when that book was reedited, expanded and re-released, I read that version too. I suppose what motivated me now to pick up Without a Prayer again was finally reading Atlas Shrugged last year after a few vain and failed attempts to read it during my college years.  I confess, regardless of my love of capitalism and my concern for my Objectivist friends and acquaintances over the years, I thought the book was a tedious bore and couldn’t make it through the first few hundred pages (my old tattered Signet paperback with excruciatingly small type runs 1084 pages).  It was only after someone sent me Steve Moore’s Wall Street Journal piece, “Atlas Shurgged: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years,” that I finally took the plunge and plowed my way through the totality of Shrugged which is still a tedious bore.  That’s not to say that Rand’s philosophy is boring, but I confess that periodically having characters launch into oddly placed chapter length philosophic monologues and tirades gets a bit tedious. I suppose what attracts so many to Rand’s novels is what repulses me.  I know when I’m being propagandized.  Just give me the philosophy without all the window dressing. That’s why I have always found her book, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology to be a much better doorway into her philosophy than her novels.

Shrugged aside, what I am particularly enjoying about Robbins’ reply to Rand this time around is not so much his meticulous examination and destruction of Rand’s Objectivism (frankly, there isn’t much left of her philosophy after the third chapter), but rather it’s his application of Gordon Clark’s Scripturalism.   Clark’s profound insights into epistemology and other areas of philosophy provides the necessary tools that allows Robbins to completely dismantle the foundation of Objectivism and everything else collapses from there.  Consider the following insight into the nature of truth that Robbins uses as a crowbar to separate Rand’s rickety Objectivist structure from its foundation:

Truth is a characteristic of propositions, and of nothing else. How a concept can be true or false [Rand] did not explain.  “Cat,” spoken, heard, or read without context, is not true.  It is not false.  It is meaningless.  If it is an answer to a question, it is an elliptical expression, meaning “That is a cat,” or, “My favorite animal is a cat.” But without context, “cat” is as meaningless as “boojum.” All by themselves, single concepts and single words are meaningless. They are neither true nor false. Rand made the same mistake that Parmenides, Plato, Aristotle, and Hegel made: thinking that concepts per se are true.  If we are to know truth, if we are to discover truth, we must think in terms of propositions, not concepts.  Truth — knowledge — comes only in propositions. “Conceptual truth” is a contradiction in terms. Truth is a relationship between a predicate and a subject.  If there is no predicate, there is no truth.  If there is no subject, there is no truth. Neither an experience, nor an encounter, nor an observation, nor an isolated concept, nor a single word can be true.

Truth, of course, is an insuperable problem for empiricism: Truth cannot be derived from something non-propositional, such as “observations.”  Unless one starts with propositions, one cannot end with propositions.  One cannot logically infer more than one begins with.

Without a Prayer is a brilliant lesson in how Scripturalist apologetics is done.

Calvin and Keister Tag Team the Federal Vision

February 4, 2010

The following is from Lane Keister’s systematic dismemberment of Joshua Moon’s floor speech that was given on the floor of the Siouxlands Presbytery in defense of Greg Lawrence (the man who was determined by two separate investigative committees to be a Federal Divisionist and a man who should be brought to trial but continues to evade prosecution).  While I recommend the entire piece, I selected just the portion below because the quotes Lane provides from Calvin (and one from Peter Barnes) are so devastating to the entire false FV scheme of baptismal regeneration and the covenant  that they deserve special recognition.

I have to admit, I was extremely impressed by the job Lane did dissecting and demolishing every one of Moon’s historical and exegetical arguments.  Frankly, I am surprised Lane hasn’t been brought up on some frivolous Ninth Commandment charge by Moon’s whining session for failing to protect and care for Moon’s good name.  That’s because after Lane is finished with him, I simply don’t know how Moon can show his face in any Christian presbytery.  OK, and to be charitable, Moon’s arguments would probably carry some weight in Doug Wilson’s Confederation of Federal Divisionists and Phony Evangelicals,  but I did say “Christian presbytery.”

So, while I will continue to pray that Lane may one day come to his senses and repent of his tragic exoneration of Doug Wilson on the doctrines of justification and imputation, I will say this piece has gone a long way in repairing his imagine at least in my mind.  I guess when the Federal Divisionists are stinking up his own Presbytery Lane is really a very good bare-knuckle brawler after all. (more…)

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