A Little Federal Vision Update

It looks like this fall may tell us quite a bit about the future of the Federal Vision within the PCA. Then again, maybe not.  I suspect there will be another little flurry of activity, a bit of foot stomping on both sides, and more posturing by Presbyteries feigning their allegiance to the Gospel of Jesus Christ over against the false gospel of the FV, all the while systematically ignoring the Federal Visionists right under their noses.  I know, I know.  My wife calls me a “negative Nancy.”  Yet, I predict no FV man will face any disciplinary action, other than being inconvenienced, and no FV man will be brought to trial for teaching their corrupt “parallel soteriological system.”  After all, the PCA is now an official “Big Tent” denomination.  Of course, this didn’t happen over night.  It’s been a number of years since elders and deacons were required to actually subscribe to the Westminster Confession, much less believe that the Confession actually contains the system of doctrine taught in Scripture.  For example, since 2000 elders can believe virtually anything they want concerning the Days of Creation, even if what the Bible calls a day is in fact a real day at all.  Scripture, after all, is much more elastic in the way it uses words like day, salvation, justification, union, election and any number of terms central to the once historic Reformed and Protestant faith.  I’m increasingly convinced in the PCA the Confession is a virtual dead letter, or, at very least, an antiquated curiosity from the days when men used to make their wives and daughters wear doilies on their heads to go to church.  The supremacy of doctrine and fidelity to the Scriptures has been replaced by relationships and community building.

Also, you have to wonder if there is any genuine system of doctrine taught in Scripture at all, since in the minds of most PCA elders and seminary profs the Scriptures themselves are, in principle, hostile to systematization as they contain any number of antinomies and conflicting “truths” impenetrable to the human mind.  Contradictions in Scripture, even if they’re only apparent, make the very notion that the Confession actually contains the system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture philosophically suspect and better suited for the unsophisticated and naive.  A quaint notion for those with their heads still in the 17th century perhaps, but for modern day PCA pastors enamored by new perspectives and Starbucks, confessional standards are just a brickbat used by self-styled TR’s to beat others about the head.  Isn’t it time we all grew up?

Then there was the issue of the so-called “good faith” subscription which the PCA passed in 2003.  As Andy Webb presciently argued from the floor of the General Assembly:

Once we pass this, our presbyteries will be empowered to grant exceptions to any doctrine we confess is taught in Scripture by a simple 51% vote.  Once those exceptions are granted, precedent is set, and that doctrine will never again be an impediment to the ordination of any man. . . . Gradually, but inevitably, our standards will be eroded. This will not happen overnight, there will be no immediate catastrophe, in fact the initial action will probably be hailed as a triumph. But while I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet, if we do make this decision, I foresee a day when presbyters—watching as men who believe things they thought unthinkable are ordained—will wish they could come back here to this moment in time and change what happened.

Today presbyteries can and do allow for any number of “exceptions” to the Standards, or, even more malignantly, decide for themselves if any exception is an exception at all.  David Coffin said at the time that the so-called “good faith” subscription would lead to the “balkanization of our denomination.”  I wonder if he ever imagined that that balkanization would center around the doctrine of justification as the false gospels of the FV & NPP that have continued to metastasize throughout the entire PCA to the point where there are now recognized FV Presbyteries that, at the very least, protect and provide cover for known FV pastors, not to mention dozens of other individual churches that embrace these and other doctrinal novelties.  And, if you think the so-called “good faith” subscription decision has no relevance to the spread of the Federal Vision and the New Perspectives movements, consider the following from James Jordan written just prior to the PCA passing the FV/NPP report:

Now, the true agenda of this committee was to use the “Federal Vision” as a way of tricking the PCA General Assembly into taking a hyper‑subscriptionist view of the Standards, thereby reversing the earlier “Good Faith Subscription” view wisely adopted by the PCA. To elaborate — and I write this as someone who is quite familiar with the early days of the PCA and who worked for a time in the Stated Clerk’s office — the PCA was formed in the early 1970s by conservatives who had given up trying to reform the old Presbyterian Church US (the pre‑merger Southern Presbyterians). The dream of some of the leaders was to have a strictly Calvinistic and Presbyterian denomination that would be thoroughly and hardcore traditional in terms of Southern Presbyterianism, the return to a golden age as it were . . . But that dream did not die . . .

On more than one occasion they have tried to force the PCA into a very tight traditionalist mold, attempting to repristinate a cultural Calvinism that has been dead for nearly 200 years. They have failed so far. Now they try again. By filling the “Federal Vision” committee exclusively with such TR‑oriented persons, and by making their report in fact a demand for strict subscription to the Westminster Standards, they hope to execute a coup. If they can frighten the PCA into thinking that some kind of “Federal Vision” monster is on the horizon, they may just succeed in pulling the wool over the General Assembly in June and get their way.

I think there can be little doubt that in many Presbyteries exceptions to even the Confessional doctrine of justification are no longer considered exceptions.  The Missouri Presbytery is one such presbytery and one, if you can believe it, that is supposed to be in the process of “looking into” the Federal Vision of Jeffery Meyers.  While miracles do happen, I suspect they’ll  to continue to protect Meyers just as they always have.  After all, Meyers says he’s a good guy and those calling for his investigation are a bunch of liars (this despite Meyers, along with his Assistant Pastor, Mark Horne, is one of the signers of the Joint Federal Vision Statement and a man who said; “The whole bi-polar covenant of works/grace schema has got to go. And if that goes, the whole ‘system’ must be reworked” ).  Last I checked William Smith is still safely ensconced in the Ohio Pres from where he continues to publicly thumb his nose at the rest of the PCA and the conclusions of the PCA’s FV/NPP report with impunity.   Meanwhile, the Pacific North West Presbytery is being forced by the Standing Judicial Commission to take some sort of action in regard to Peter Leithart.  What that action will be remains to be seen, but I think the best anyone can hope for is that Leithart will simply chose of his own free will to leave the PCA for his true home; Doug Wilson’s Federal Vision denomination, the Confederation of Phony Reformed Evangelical Churches or CREC.  This is, after all, the preferred outcome according to Pastor Jason Stellman, who, aside from leading the effort to remove Leithart from the PCA, and a man who recognizes that Leithart denies imputation and has redefined justification “to include our overcoming of the enlaving power of sin,” maintains that Leithart is still a “godly man” and a “Christian scholar.”   I confess, I don’t expect too much from anyone in the PCA, even the good guys.

After all, and concerning Leithart, Sean Lucas, who was one of the committee men who drafted the PCA FV/NPP report, wrote on Stellman’s blog:

I have little doubt that Dr. Leithart is a genuine believer in Jesus. I do not believe that he is a heretic (particularly because, in my understanding as a church historian, heresy would generally be associated with denying key Trinitarian or Christological truths).  And I do not believe that simply because one has a high baptismal theology that one is a heretic (if so, then Calvin was wrong to say that the Roman Catholic Church still had true baptism).

The issue here (and really the only issue here) is whether someone can teach in ways that are contrary to the essentials of the Standards of the PCA and still remain a minister in good standing in that church. The case that has been made is that Dr. Leithart has significant differences with the Standards on issues such as covenant, election, justification, and perseverance‑‑all issues that are essential to the system. One could hold his views and still belong to other branches of the Christian church; the real question is whether one can hold his views and be a minister in this branch of the Christian church.

Think about this for a moment.  One can have “significant differences” concerning the doctrine of justification as expressed in the Westminster Standards, which is a doctrine repeated in every other Protestant and Reformed Confession and one that faithfully echoes the clarion call of the Reformation, yet can still be a “genuine believer in Jesus.”  This is amazing.  According to Lucas, Leithart can safely hold his views on justification, the covenant, election, and perseverance and “still belong to other branches of the Christian church,” just not the PCA.  Since Lucas failed to mention what branches those might be, I can only think of the Roman Catholic and the FV CREC branch that might fit the bill, but both of those are only pretend branches of the Christian church. I wonder if Lucas can tell the difference.

Clearly for TR’s like Lucas, the Christian church is so broad that one can hold to a scheme of justification based on faith and works, deny the imputation of Christ’s righteousness (Leithart calls it “redundant”), bastardize the doctrines of election, the covenant, and perseverance along with them, and still be a “genuine believer in Jesus.” I mean, what does it take to be an actual antichrist these days?  Horns, hooves and a red pitchfork?  That’s because according to the vast majority of the leadership in the PCA, the battle over the FV isn’t really about the Gospel at all, but rather it’s about  “whether someone can teach in ways that are contrary to the essentials of the Standards of the PCA and still remain a minister in good standing in that church.” Leithart isn’t a modern day Judaizer advancing anything remotely like a soul destroying a false gospel.  This isn’t a Galatians 2 moment after all, even if all admit Leithart is teaching a scheme of justification by faith and works, he just isn’t part of the PCA club.

Beyond that, the Stated Clerk of the PNW presbytery, Robert Rayburn, claims that those at Covenant Seminary are “fit to be tied” over the imagined ill treatment Peter Leithart has received from anti-FV men like Stellman.  So, even if Leithart doesn’t leave the PCA for the CREC without ever being required to account for his many years spreading the false gospel of the Federal Vision, he’s safe.  If things keep going along the current trajectory, and I think they will, it is men like Stellman who will find themselves looking for another denomination.

That leaves, and to the best of my knowledge, the Siouxlands Presbytery and I don’t expect too much to come of that mess either.  Not that there aren’t a few good men in that Presbytery actively trying to root out those who continue to spread the neo-legalism of the FV & NPP.  There are.  However, this is the same Pres that set up two seperate committees that twice investigated Greg Lawrence and both times found a strong presumption of guilt that he too has been advancing the FV anti-gospel.  Yet, rather than proceeding to trial the Presbytery chose instead to “instruct” Lawrence on items that have nothing to do with the original charges leveled against him (see here and here).  Those in charge of Lawrence’s “instruction” included, if you can believe it, none other than TE Joshua Moon and a small cadre of Lawrence’s supporters.  Not surprisingly these boys are playing a shell game as they clearly hope that by moving the shells around quickly the vast majority of those in the mushy middle will lose track of the ball, breath a sigh of relief, and reflexively deem Lawrence “orthodox” on all counts.  Admittedly, it didn’t help Lawrence’s case that he recently agreed to speak at a CREC Slavic “missions” conference in September after being recommended by none other than James Jordan. It’s going to be tough to convince even the most gullible Siouxlands presbyter that Lawrence isn’t an FV neo-legalists when he’s busy promoting a CREC “mission” to Russia.  Frankly, these poor Slavic souls were better off under Stalin.  At least comrade Stalin made no pretense of being brother Christian.

Finally, there is the ongoing saga of Robert Rayburn’s son-in-law, Joshua Moon.  A panel of the SJC reported that the SP failed to find a “strong presumption of guilt” in their sloppy handling and snap exoneration of Moon, who openly admits that he shares Greg Lawrence’s doctrinal views: the very same views that two committees of the same Presbytery twice found to be contrary to the Westminster Standards.  Admittedly, I think Moon actually does Lawrence one better. In a piece that was temporarily removed from Wes White’s blog, and concerning the parable of the unfaithful servant, Moon argues:

“We are told by the complainants that you cannot attribute forgiveness of sins to the potential reprobate. But that is clearly wrong. The unmerciful servant, Jesus says, was ‘forgiven his debt.’  He moved from a state of condemnation to true and real forgiveness.  This was no pretended forgiveness. Yet the servant was finally apostate. failed to live up to the grace shown to him, and so the privilege of that forgiveness was revoked.”

Notice, to be justified is a privilege, not a gift.  It is a privilege that we must live up to (as if such a thing were possible).  Failure to live up to the grace shown to us results in having our forgiveness “revoked.”  How is that not justification by works?   As the SJC panel investigating the actions of the SP summarized Moon’s views stating:

“The question here is not whether those who persevere (the elect) are the only ones  to receive saving benefits which in the end effectually result in true salvation. The question here  is whether there are non-elect who receive saving benefits which are qualitatively different from those received by the elect only in that the recipients do not persevere and thus forfeit their justification….”

How can one forfeit their justification?   But, notice the difference, and the only difference, between the elect and reprobate (ever notice how FVers don’t like the word “reprobate” and prefer the less definitive term “non-elect”). The elect are those, and those only, who persevere.  Both are the recipients of the exact same grace.  Both are justified before the throne of God.  Both receive the same saving benefits and the forgiveness of sins.  The “qualitative” difference lies in the doctrine of perseverance.  Perseverance is not a saving benefit in this scheme and is the one thing that makes the forgiven non-elect different from the similarly forgiven elect. To persevere in FV newspeak means to live up to the grace shown to us.  It is to make ourselves worthy of what the neo-legalists like Moon and Lawrence call our “final justification.”

While the problems in this scheme are many, one of the most obvious and overlooked is the complete perversion of the biblical doctrine of perseverance.  Concerning the Perseverance of the Saints, WCF 17.1 states:

They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.

But, according to Moon and the other FV men, God accepts both elect and non-elect in his Beloved.  Both are real members of the Covenant of Grace, united to Christ, and are justified. Yet, the non-elect, the reprobate, while temporarily justified, united to Christ in baptism, washed and cleansed from their sins, finally do fall away from the state of grace.  Further, what differentiates the elect from the non-elect is that only the elect, like the good and faithful servant, lives up to the grace shown to them.  It is how we live that makes the difference between the covenantally elect and non-elect.  The will of man, not the eternal will of God, is the root of the FV doctrine of perseverance.  However, according to the WCF 17.2:

This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ; the abiding of the Spirit, and of the seed of God within them; and the nature of the covenant of grace’; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.

Notice, there is nothing concerning the grace shown to us in Jesus Christ as something that we must live up to. Frankly, we can’t.  Biblical perseverance rests on the “immutability of the decree of election” that flows from the “love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ; the abiding of the Spirit, and of the seed of God within them; and the nature of the covenant of grace….”   Perseverance has nothing to do with us and it has nothing to do with how we live.  These are all things denied by Federal Visionists.  Members of the covenant, those united to Christ, can and do fall from grace.  The very idea of the “efficacy” of Christ’s merit in particular is similarly rejected, as are all ideas of merit that flow from the Covenant of Works and which Christ fulfills on our behalf.

However, before the SP is forced to act in the Moon case, the whole SJC first needs to vote on the panel’s decision, but I think it is safe to say that they too will affirm that the SP failed in its examination of Moon by not finding a strong presumption of guilt.  Of course, we don’t need any more presumptions of guilt with more FV men slipping out the backdoor for the CREC (Doug Wilson calls the FV controversy his “big promotion“) or skipping the middle man and going straight to Rome, their true home.  We need every one of these FV men to be tried, found guilty and if they will not repent, be marked, tossed out of the church, and treated like the deceivers in 2 John.  Anything less is simply an abrogation of the duty of every elder in every presbytery in the PCA.  Admittedly, it’s hard to imagine why any Presbytery would need to be forced by the SJC or anyone else to deal with false teachers in their midst or shy away from trying fellow pastors on something as essential to the Gospel as justification by belief alone and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, but that’s what the PCA’s come to.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Heresies, Peter Leithart, Siouxlands Presbytery

18 Comments on “A Little Federal Vision Update”


  1. All I have to say is that I don’t think you can consider Lucas to be a “TR” based on what you show he says above.

  2. John Byl Says:

    You write, “For example, since 2000 (PCA) elders can believe virtually anything they want concerning the Days of Creation, even if what the Bible calls a day is in fact a real day at all.”

    It seems, however, that Gordon Clark himself was rather wishy-washy on this point. Read his “What do Presbyterians believe?” on creation “in the space of six days” (pp.57-59) where, since “science has made it almost impossible” to believe in a young earth, Clark argues against taking the creation days as real days.

    Clark has written many excellent works, but on this point he seems to have erred.

  3. Sean Gerety Says:

    Agreed. Even odder given his analysis of the philosophy of science.

  4. Odium Theologicum Says:

    To make matters worse, I hear that David Coffin was the dissenting voice on the panel which heard the case against the Siouxlands concerning their handling of Rev. Moon. He was, by some reports, very hostile to the compainants. I thought he was sound and orthodox. I don’t understand why he would take such a position.

  5. Sean Gerety Says:

    I don’t think things are that clear cut. Coffin thinks that Moon should not have been investigated at all under BCO 31-2 as there was really nothing to investigate. That’s because Moon’s statements that the complainants were objecting to were not a matter of rumor or hearsay; they were part of the courts official record. Rather, the overture should have been in the form of charges being laid against Moon and process should have commenced. His point is that BCO 31-2 was misapplied and BCO 32-2 was the correct course of action.

    32-2. Process against an offender shall not be commenced unless some person or persons undertake to make out the charge; or unless the court finds it necessary, for the honor of religion, itself to take the step provided for in BCO 31-2.

    I can’t say I disagree with his reasoning.

    I think rather than focusing on the perceived errors of a presbytery in their failure to find or not to find a “strong presumption of guilt,” Moon should have been charged and granted due process.

    However, following the wrong procedural path and agreeing with the complaint that Moon be “investigated,” Coffin thinks that the SJC panel should have deferred to the judgment of the presbytery.

    Again, I can’t say I disagree with his reasoning. Moon should have been charged and the whole matter should have been tried. Moon could have then properly prosecuted and he could have properly defended himself. Then, if the SP found Moon innocent of the charges against him and the likely appeal sustained by the GA (SJC), then we all would have our answer. The Federal Vision is within the bounds of the PCA’s constitution just as it is in the OPC (see the Kinnaird case).

  6. Odium Theologicum Says:

    Well,

    I hear that TE White attempted to lay charges against TE Moon in April and the presbytery refused to receive them. Perhaps TE Coffin was not aware of that fact.

    -Odie

  7. Drake Says:

    Sean,
    Do you consider Clark’s view of Christology to be an exception to the confession? This is an issue that is looking at me straight in the face right now and it seems impossible for me to think otherwise. Methinks Clark’s Christology and Westminster Christology are not compatible. But I would like to read what you think.

    Drake
    a.k.a. Ferdinand Bonvosnick

  8. Sean Gerety Says:

    Drake, this thread is about the Federal Vision. If you’d like to discuss Clark’s Christology you can post on another thread that’s relevant or email me privately. However, I think in my recent reviews of Anderson and Crampton answered and addressed your question.


  9. What Odium Theologicum says is true. TE White did attempt to lay charges against TE Moon, but he was able to talk the presbytery into not receiving the charges.

  10. Denson Dube Says:

    Concerning Clark’s position on “the days of creation”. There has always been, among very sound believers the opinion that since creation is not a “process”, (there is no “how” to it), that therefore, the days may not be literal 24 hour periods!
    What is surprising is that Clark uses “scientific dating” as the basis for his argument! Some of the volcanic material from Mount St Helena eruption I understand is “several hundred years old” from these dating methods. The red shift of distant galaxies can be explained through Compton scattering, rather than the assumption of receding galaxies! It will take only one observation of a super cluster “bigger” than the size of the universe to blow away the “receding galaxies” myth!
    Let us remember that even a great mind like Augustine wrote the retractations!

    Denson

  11. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sadly, I can’t locate my copy of WDPB (I think I may have lent it out). However, it is unfortunate (even if I think Phil of Sci and Belief in God is as good of a defacto retraction as any) because Michael Horton published a piece in Modern Reformation by a group of “PCA geologists” (must be another office like elder and deacon) arguing that inferences from “general revelation” makes it impossible to believe in a young earth.

    Another PCA geologist responded in Answers in Genesis.

    Sadly, both would do well to study Clark’s Phil of Science (although, John Reed in AiG is certainly closer to Clark’s thesis only because of his healthy skepticism than is Horton).

  12. Roberto G Says:

    I am just going on memory, but when Clark wrote that line in WDPB about the creation days and science made it almost impossible to believe in a young earth, might he have been saying that sarcastically? From his other writings, he would often dryly say something to provoke thought without elaborating further. Usually, if he wanted to make a definite point, he would assert and provide reasons for his point.
    Clark may have been subtly mocking scientism by seemingly relying on the “authority” of science.
    O.K., upon checking WDPB quickly, I can see that one point Clark is making is that Ussher’s chronology is not infallible. Yet many Christians hold onto it as though it is. Yet, only Scripture is infallible. But Scripture doesn’t provide information concerning the earth’s age.
    Clark’s interest in “how do we know?” comes out in challenging non-believers to justify that the cosmos isn’t even younger than the young earth creationists believe it is, namely, only last week. Or even yesterday! From a naturalist perspective, perhaps the cosmos is very old. Or perhaps it is young with all the signs (i.e., arrangements of atoms in and throughout the cosmos) of being very old.
    I am leaning towards giving Clark here the benefit of the doubt of being consistent with his view of science espoused in A Christian View of Men and Things to his other writings on science.

  13. Michael Stephens Says:

    If scientific evidence contradicts scripture, then scripture wins. Science is garbage, and science based on anything that happened 5 minutes ago is suspect. Dating methods use exceptionally questionable assumptions. If you think something in science is so strong as to be refuted you have a misinformed idea of science and need to go review how those folks arrived at their conclusions…. Nothing makes me disbelieve science more than following their chain of thought from start to finish, especially at the start of scientific thought they begin with false propositions and construct their house on sand.

    Hey, now I have a question for the audience. I am trying to wrap my had around the exceptions to the WCF, which seems like an odd policy, either you agree with the document or you don’t. My assistant pastor disagrees with creation days, and the Sabbath and probably a number of other areas of the confession.
    But show me one person in the room who agrees with the WCF’s view of the Sabbath and adheres to it.

    I am not trying to start an arguement on the sabbath my point is we need to take the whole document or make a new one, if we are willing to budge on any issue then we end up bending on others. If the Sabbath is wrong in the confession because the reformers were dealing with issues of the time (which is one argument brought by PCA professors), what else might have been worded a bit stronger than necessary?
    Similarly, it seems to be a pattern for gospel deniers starting with small scriptural issues and ending with big ones, I guess it goes back to the idea of defending your ENTIRE system. I know scripture is our axiom, but certainly the WCF is the identifying document of our denomination… or was supposed to be. And for the life of me I can’t find a christian man around me who adheres fully to the document….The only Americans who seem to have are the puritans.

  14. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hi Michael. In Clark’s reply to Mavorodes (Clark and His Critics) he refers to his axiomatic position concerning Scripture as “the Westminster principle.”

    As far as the keeping the Sabbath, good question. I tend to fail regularly in keeping any of the 10 Commandments. However,Daniel Chew has started what looks like an interesting series on that very question:

    http://puritanreformed.blogspot.com/2010/08/sabbath-part-1.html

  15. Michael Stephens Says:

    Understood, I know we can’t live up to the law, and by the Grace of God I don’t have to. But I ought to know and understand the requirements.

    Our church brings up the WCF one time when you become a member and then never teaches it again. My church is FILLED with ignorant, immature Christians, and in some cases full Catholics, who come every Sunday because they hear a message of grace, but are never taught doctrine (we must have 4 people who wear crucifixes.. it drives me insane).

    We teach a whole lot of mercy and justice, marital and relationship advice, and talk a lot about Jesus, but without systematic theology no one can think for themselves.

    It’s like the church has become public education. Memorize this but don’t learn the basics and how to apply it. Its no wonder we accept elders and pastors who disagree with the WCF on any number of issues.

    If I was a teaching elder in the church I would be beating the WCF into everyone’s head, and when they rolled their eyes at me and said oh no not again, that would tell me they still didn’t get it.

  16. Denson Dube Says:

    Michael,
    The present apathy, neglect and down right hostility towards doctrine amongst Christians, is hardly surprising. As John Robbins wrote, this is the age of irrationalism, a rejection of the very idea of truth. The pious masquerade of asserting paradox and mysteries in Godś word that one hears or reads from self confessed evangelicals and reformed ministers is nothing but rejection of scripture and the God who has spoken there in, who is truth itself.

    Denson

  17. Lauren Kuo Says:

    Oh, what a tangled web the PCA has woven! What gets lost in all the presbytery wrangling with procedures, exceptions, and politically defending reputations is the pure simple message of the Gospel. The PCA seems to have lost her first love. One of the main reasons we left was because we were going to have to spend ridiculous amounts of time defending our position against the Federal Vision folks in our presbytery – time that would just leave us frustrated and upset and unable to minister the Gospel and worship in the Spirit of Christ.

    I would like to ask a question- has anyone come to faith in Christ in any of these FV churches? Or, is everyone who walks in the door and sits in the pew just all lumped together with saving benefits until they prove otherwise (whatever that means)?

    One minister friend was told by an FV elder not to include the gospel of salvation in his sermon because the congregation was, according to this FV elder, already saved. I guess that means they all received the same “saving benefits” at their baptism whether a believer or a reprobate. And, I suppose his sermons should have been all about how to “persevere”.

    How much perseverance does one need to keep from falling into apostasy? There’s the rub. That’s up to the elders to determine. You see if the elders keep you in suspense of any assurance of salvation, they can maintain control over you. Perseverance is living in unwavering and unquestioning submission to the elders. It is living in constant fear of falling from grace as determined by the elders. Federal Vision theology is the deceptive theology of cult leaders.

    And, who bestows these so-called “saving benefits” to both the elect and non-elect? Why the teaching and ruling elders, of course. They are the only ones who hold the office and authority to administer the sacraments and to preach. Why, with that kind of power, they become like the pope or Christ – the mediator between God and the peons in the pew. It’s no wonder the first order of business of our FV elders was to bamboozle the congregation into voting them in as “lifetime” elders. Who in their right mind would ever want to relinquish such divine authority?! They now have the power to brandish the sword of excommunication over every member’s head like the Queen of Hearts in “Alice in Wonderland” if they dare to question their authority.

    JC Ryle in the 1800’s warned the church:
    1. Beginning with a “little more about the Church”–You may one day place the Church in the place of Christ.

    2. Beginning with a “little more about the ministry”–You may one day regard the minister as “the mediator between God and man.”

    3. Beginning with a “little more about the sacraments”–You may one day altogether give up the doctrine of justification by faith without the deeds of the law.

    4. Beginning with a “little more reverence for the Prayer-book”–You may one day place it above the Holy Word of God Himself.

    5. Beginning with a “little more honor to Bishops”–You may at last refuse salvation to every one who does not belong to an Episcopal Church.

    These are the five pillars of the Federal Vision – the little leaven for which the PCA is paying a terrible price today.

  18. starlight Says:

    You are assumeing there is a slippery slope. The slippery slope idea is often a fallacy. It considers that one is unable to park themselves somewhere along the continuum. It assumes that once you budge from a particular postition, you’re automtically headed somewhere we don’t want to go. This is a misunderstanding. The Bible’s truths are often somewhere in teh middle. People will always disagree concerning exactly what certain parts of the Bible mean. It is unreasonable to expect people to share the same opiniions. If you hold everyone to the same confessional standards, you’ll repeat one ofthe errors of Romanism. You are not permitting people to quetion certain things because they are a part of an agreed upon tradition. But the Westminster confessional standards themselves are the product of disagreement within Christendom.


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