Archive for March 2010

Siouxlands Shenanigans in Chronological Order

March 30, 2010

TE Brian Carpenter, the “Happy TR,” has posted a succinct and revealing chronology of Federal Visionist Joshua Moon on his blog.  For those who don’t remember, Moon and his Session at Good Shepherd PCA of Minnetonka, Minnesota, have filed a complaint against TE Carpenter for assorted and imaginary violations of the Ninth Commandment, specifically Carpenter’s claim that Moon himself is associated him with the Federal Vision movement and theology.  In his defense, Moon claims: “I have almost no familiarity with the writings of the so-called ‘federal vision’ theologians” and asserts that he is “ignorant of the controversy” having read “almost nothing from those involved in the disputes.”  Hence, to associate Moon with the FV is unfair, wrongheaded, and just plain nasty. However, I guess just like former president Clinton dancing around the meaning of the word “is,” Moon has decided to hedge his bets on the word “almost.”

While Moon claims to have “almost no familiarity with the writings of the so-called ‘federal vision’ theologians,” he did have a long a fruitful relationship in the employ of  well-known Federal Vision demagogue and polemicist Jeffery Meyers.  Moon claims to have had “weekly meetings” with Meyers during the time period that includes at least the first two Auburn Avenue pastor’s conferences, which also includes the time the RPCUS issued their public “Call to Repentance” to those pastors associated with the AAPC.  I assume Moon will claim he is also “almost” ignorant of Meyer’s close ties to the FV even as one of the signers of “The Joint Federal Vision Statement.”  It is also interesting that in his 2009 ByFaith blip Moon refers to “covenantal election.”  Yet, “covenantal election” is that which, in FV Newspeak, is contrasted with “decretal” election (or what Calvinists historically have just called “election”) and is nomenclature virtually unique to FV theology.

Further, and more importantly, if it is true that Moon has “almost no familiarity with the writings of the so-called ‘federal vision’ theologians” and is “ignorant of the controversy,” then why did he agree to be part of a committee investigating TE Greg Lawrence, a man suspected of advancing FV theology?  If it is true he has “almost no familiarity” with the Federal Vision to the point of being virtually ignorant of the controversy, then he owes an apology to Carpenter and the rest of the Siouxlands Presbytery for sticking his nose into the Lawrence investigation in the first place.  Clearly Moon has stepped in it more than a few times and now he’s having a hard time getting it off his shoes.

Given Moon’s close personal associations with Meyers and other prominent FV men during the early and very public battles over the FV, Moon either had his head stuffed deep in a hole somewhere in the nether regions of St. Louis during that entire period or he is just lying now.  Of course, even if Moon is “almost” ignorant of the Federal Vision, a name which its proponents gave to their own sacramental scheme of salvation by faith plus works, Moon has associated himself with this movement by publicly announcing – and on the floor of his own Presbytery – his own affinity with the views of a strongly suspected Federal Visionist in his own Presbytery, Greg Lawrence.

If Moon objects to being associated with Federal Vision theology he has only himself to blame.

Lane Keister: Doug Wilson Denies Justification by Faith Alone!

March 29, 2010

There have not been many praiseworthy moments in the battle to identify and rid the church of Federal Visionists.    Frankly, all in all, I’d say it is a losing battle, and despite recent movements that seem to be more or less in the right direction, I am of the opinion that it is all a case of too little too late.  However, I am extremely happy to report, and praise be to God, the public retraction Lane Keister has just posted on his blog declaring that Doug Wilson does indeed deny justification by faith alone.   As readers of this blog may recall back in March 2008, and after a year of reviewing and publicly debating Wilson’s defense of the Federal Vision in, Reformed is Not Enough, Lane publicly exonerated Wilson on the central doctrines of the Gospel: justification by faith alone and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.  At that time Lane declared:

Personally, I am willing to believe that Wilson holds to justification by faith alone, although he is too ambiguous on the aliveness of faith and its place in justification. He does hold to imputation.

Well, it looks like on at least one of those doctrines Keister has made an about-face and now declares:

I feel that I need to retract an earlier statement I made about Douglas Wilson’s theology. I have come to the conclusion that the law/gospel distinction is essential to preserving sola fide. Here’s how this worked in my own mind. If there is no distinction in the text of Scripture between law and gospel (that is, if the difference between law and gospel is only in the application, and not in the text), then all the discussion of faith in the New Testament is both law and gospel, which we’ll call Golawspel. This means that, even in the apostle Paul’s most rigorous separation of faith and works, which occurs in his discussions of justification, Paul is not really claiming that law observance is separate from faith within the structure of justification. For the definition of faith itself must fall prey to the Golawspel muddlement. If faith, therefore, is not opposed to works in justification, then justification is no longer sola fide.

Put more positively, the definition of sola fide has always been dependent on the prior distinction between law and gospel, such that when God calls people to faith, this has nothing to do with law observance of any kind. It is pure gospel. Paul does not speak of faith-faithfulness in justification, but of faith as utterly opposed to works in justification. Who are we to turn around and call faith Golawspel?

This means that every proponent of the Joint Federal Vision Statement denies sola fide. They will, of course, claim the opposite. And they will also claim that denying the distinction of law and gospel in the text of Scripture does not mean that they deny sola fide in justification. This will have to be a difference between them and me. For if there is no difference between law and gospel in the text of Scripture, then faith is no longer what the Reformers said it was: which is opposed to works in justification.

And, in case some are wondering who the signers of the Joint Federal Vision Statement are and who it is openly denying sola fide, they include:

John Barach (false teacher, CREC)

Rich Lusk (false teacher, CREC)

Randy Booth (false teacher, CREC)

Jeff Meyers (false teacher, PCA)

Tim Gallant (false teacher, CREC)

Ralph Smith (false teacher, CREC)

Mark Horne (false teacher, PCA)

Steve Wilkins (false teacher and coward, CREC)

Jim Jordan (lunatic at large)

Peter Leithart (false teacher and phony “godly scholar,” PCA)

Douglas Wilson (pope, CREC)

Needless to say, Lane’s  retraction was perhaps not as strong as I would like to see, and there is certainly the question of imputation (although I fail to see how someone can deny sola fide while simultaneously affirming the imputation of Christ’s righteousness which is also by faith alone, but I never try to assume anything when dealing with one of Van Til’s children),  it did take a considerable amount of courage and conviction for Lane to publicly reverse himself on Wilson.  I also have to think this seismic reversal in Lane’s thinking has come about through his discussions with Scott Clark as he’s been a recent and repeated guest on Scott’s  Heidelcast.   Of course, any change in mind and recognition of the truth is ultimately the gracious work of the Holy Spirit.  Yet, regardless of how it occurred,  thank you Lane.

Papists in PCA Clothing

March 20, 2010

John Otis over at the Aquila Report has stumbled on another Federal Vision PCA “pastor” coming out of closet.   Otis titles his piece, “Roman Catholic Tendencies Among Professing Reformed Churches,” but this is really just understatement.   There is no doubt that men like Leithart, Wilson, Wilkins, Meyers, Horne, Moon, Lawrence, Smith, Cassidy (only 2 of those mentioned are not PCA) and the rest of the FV men are just proto-papists who are all, aside from some minor differences,  as sensate and apostate as the pope himself.  However, their “Roman Catholic Tendencies” are generally kept close to their vestments as they proclaim the virtues of their  “objective covenant” which  is nothing more than the Roman Catholic false gospel of salvation by faith and works.   Of course, even FV men are generally not willing to come that far out of the closet and instead maintain  salvation by “faithful obedience to the demands of the covenant.”   As those familiar with the FV false gospel know, you are ushered into a tentative but very real “union with Christ” through the waters of baptism and the mumblings of some “authorized representative of the church” (read preistling), and you remain in this worthless “photographable” covenant by availing yourself of God’s imagined grace appropriated by faith as you do your best to persevere in good works (non-meritorious of course) in the vain hope that you will one day achieve “final justification.”   As OPC and exonerated Sheperdite pastor John Kinnaird once said, “it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous on that Day of Judgment.”

Yet, while the vast majority of FV and No Perspectives false teachers at least play the game of trying to appear as good P&R men in order to fool the feeble minded washcloths that make up the majority of femminized Presbyteries throughout the PCA, OPC and beyond, Otis came across one particular FV man complete with purple vestments and wearing a mitre.   His name is Craig Higgins of Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) of Rye, New York. You’ll notice on the church’s website that none other than former WTS  professor, Peter Enns,  is listed as their “Visiting Scholar” and who “comes to Trinity Church and teaches several times each year.”  Those poor people.  Enns, some might recall, is infamous for his attack on the doctrine of inerrancy in his book Inspiration and Incarnation (for a good summary of the Enns controversy see here ). Miraculously, even the WTS trustees could see  Enns is selling poison and voted 18–9 to suspend Enns from his position in 2008, which obviously makes him fit to teach “several times a year” in the PCA.  I guess having Enns teach in a PCA church “several times a year” can’t do any harm after the poor souls in the pews have been subjected to Higgins.   You can find a number of articles by Higgins at the wrongly named PCA Conversations website, like his recommending various forms of popish acts of asceticism done all in the service of “Keeping Holy Lent.”  You can also find Higgins’ doctoral thesis here.   I also highly recommend Otis’ Aquila Report where I found this little gem from Higgins:

Therefore, if we are to work toward the visible unity of the Church, we should, I am increasingly convinced, defer to the wisdom of the majority in the Great Tradition and embrace the ministry of bishops.

One last comment: In Ut Unum Sint, Pope John Paul II has invited all the churches to discuss how the Petrine office should function in a reunited Church, and Reformed churchmen should welcome this conversation. Our idea of concentric circles of conciliar accountability would lead us to teach that, if the Church were visibly united around the world, there would need to be an ecumenical council, meeting as necessary to govern and guide the Church. The above argument for a (reformed) episcopacy would also lead us to teach that such a council would need a “presiding bishop,” serving as primus inter pares among his brothers, and historically such a position of honor has fallen to the bishop of Rome.

Can’t you just see Luther, Calvin and Knox spinning in their graves?  Yet this is the PCA today.  Needless to say the P&R world has slid a great distance from the great days of the Protestant Reformation where the Westminster Confession and Christians everywhere once exclaimed:

“There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof, but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.”

As John Robbins wrote in 2003; “The cancer of Neolegalism … has now metastasized throughout Reformed and Presbyterian churches in America.” I think PCA erstaz-“pastor” Craig Higgins is proof that things are a lot worse than even John Robbins could have imagined.

Clark Quick Quote

March 19, 2010

Any ethic to prove acceptable must, at least in my opinion, provide room for one principle among others, which Kant would sure to deny, viz. each individual should always seek his own personal good.  Such a principle is usually designated egoistic, and egoism usually carries unpleasant connotations.  Yet when unnecessary implications are avoided and misunderstandings removed, it is my opinion that egoism can withstand criticism. A universalism, like [Jeremy] Bentham’s for instance, finds embarrassment in considering the possible incompatibility of an individuals’ good with the good of the community.  Kant, representing a different system, is forced to resort to elements discordant with the rest of his philosophy when he considers the possible conflict between an individual’s good and the same individual’s duty.  It is true Kant attempts to harmonize duty and good by providing a Deus ex machina to reward duty, but he makes hope of that reward immoral.

Christ on the other hand, did not think it immoral to seek one’s own good.  If you judge that Hebrews 12:2, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,” does not warrant any conclusion as to the nature of Christ’s motives in undertaking the work of redemption, still we think we can insist that both Christ and the Apostles made abundant use of hope and fear in appealing for converts. So if anyone reproach Christianity as being egoistic and based on fear, partially, ask the objector if fear and self-interest are or are not worthy motives for preferring orange juice to carbolic acid for breakfast. The Bible appeals directly to fear and self-interest; it teaches that absolute destruction awaits him who rejects Christ; and it also teaches that although the Christian my have temporary tribulations, he ultimately loses nothing but gains everything in accepting Christ.

Kant and Old Testament Ethics, 1932

UPDATE:  Here is an excellent related piece by Brandon Adams on self-interest.

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