Covenant Seminary and the Federal Vision: Aiding and Abetting
Well, the evidence just keeps mounting that Covenant Theological Seminary is a Federal Vision friendly seminary, if not a downright Federal Vision seminary. It seems that at Covenant you won’t read Witsius, Turretin, Calvin, or Clark, but you will read a lot of N.T. Wright. Wes White first started to uncover some of the odd going-ons at Covenant here and here.
Now, let’s connect the dots. In September of last year, Federal Visionist Joshua Moon was defending fellow Federal Visionist TE Greg Lawrence over in the schizophrenic Siouxlands Presbytery. In his defense of Lawrence, Moon made the following statement:
There are those who want to remake the PCA in their own image, according to their own likeness, narrowing what is allowed with the Standards beyond anything our church has ever done. And if they had their way it would lead not only to the exclusion of TE Lawrence, but others in this presbytery and many men in many presbyteries. The fact is, what TE Lawrence says on baptism is held in various ways and with various nuances by a lot of people in our PCA: from ministers and elders here in this presbytery, myself included, to professors at our theological seminary, and even almost entire presbyteries. Some are wanting to drive them all out and are asking you to begin that exile (emphasis mine).
Notice, according to Moon there are Covenant Seminary professors who hold to the same views on baptism as does Federal Visionist Greg Lawrence, the guy whom James Jordan recommended to help plant Federal Vision churches in Russia. The question is, why should anyone believe Joshua Moon? After all, here is a man who claims he is not a Federal Visionist, has charged men with violations of the Ninth Commandment for saying that he is, yet publicly confesses the same doctrinal novelties as known Federal Visionists, including a belief in temporary justification, union with Christ via the waters of baptism, and the belief that our final justification is based on our ability to live up to the grace shown to us. Moon was even a dissenting member of a committee that was charged with examining whether or not Greg Lawrence wa a Federal Visionist (he is), yet he claims to have no knowledge of the Federal Vision. Clearly, Moon is a man not to be trusted, much less in the pulpit. However, I do find it interesting that Moon took great steps to hide the above paragraph. In the official version that appeared in the minutes of the Siouxlands Presbytery the above paragraph along with the reference to the “professors at our theological seminary” mysteriously disappeared and was surreptitiously expunged from the record (perhaps he got raked over the coals by his father-in-law, Rob Rayburn, for implicating Covenant). Could it be that Moon was trying to pull a Richard Nixon by playing fast and loose with the public record and with the full complicity of Siouxlands Presbytery?
The next bit of evidence comes from Rob Rayburn, who , besides being Joshua Moon’s father-in-law, is also an infamous defender of Federal Visionist Peter Liethart. Thankfully, Rayburn’s defense of Leithart went down in flames before the SJC. This might make you think that the PCA is taking a stand against Federal Vision. Not at CTS. According to Rayburn, during a recent trip to St. Louis he got major kudos for his defense of Liethart before the SJC. Here’s what he said:
They are now going after Missouri Presbytery and Covenant Seminary, as well as Metro New York and the ministry of Tim Keller…I was recently in St. Louis, and the men in Missouri Presbytery and at Covenant Seminary are fit to be tied. Lest you forget Covenant Theological Seminary is the seminary of the PCA, and my contribution to the defense of Peter Leithart has been as well received there as it has in my own Presbytery of Pacific Northwest.
You can watch an excellent video on Rayburn’s contribution in defense of known Federal Visionists here:
The final confirmation comes from James Jordan’s ultra secret Federal Vision list, the Biblical Horizons yahoo group. You can get a little peek into the duplicity of these rank heretics at Jordan’s Biblical Horizons group here. And who do we find mentioned on this list? None other than CTS professors Mike Williams and Jack Collins. Mark Horne said, “But everyone was real happy with me. Dr. Collins (the head of the Candidates & Credentials Committee was probably happier with me after Presbytery than he ever has been).” Notice, Dr. Collins (that’s Jack), was real happy with Mark Horne. There’s really only two options here. Either Dr. Collins is anti-FV but too blind to spot a Federal Visionist when he is right under his Candidates & Credentials Committee’s nose, or Dr. Collins (and probably Missouri Presbytery in general) are FV friendly and supportive.
But, there’s more. Apparently, Mark Horne thought Jack Collins was so happy with him that when the FV guys started feeling the heat, as when the Central Carolina Presbytery issued an overture requesting an investigation into Steve Wilkins, he thought he could call on Jack and these seminary professors for help:
Steve, with three of your friends missing from presbytery, what are the chances of this? How vulnerable are you?
PS. Any chance asking for advice from professors outside the presbytery. Doug Green, Jack Collins, Richard Pratt, John Frame, and Dave Wiliams come to mind.
Steve Wilkins responded saying he had already tried that. Here’s his account:
well, as you know, Rich, Jim, Doug W., and I talked with Doug G., Jack C., Pete E., Steven T., Reggie, Mike Williams, Al Groves, and Dan McCartney while they were here at the Pastors Conf. and they seemed to be sympathetic toward our predicament. I’m not sure what they can do at present, other than what they said they would begin to do — i.e. speak out and try to get everyone to calm down. This would be a good time for them to start doing that I think.
Notice, Jack Collins and Mike Williams (who Horne misidentified as “Dave”) are among those who told Wilkins that they would begin to “speak out and try to get everyone to calm down.” Isn’t it great to know that future Presbyterian pastors in the PCA are being trained by these stalwarts who conspire with Federal Visionists to make sure they can remain in Reformed denominations? I’m sure the guys coming out of Covenant are going to be staunch opponents of FV with guys like Collins and Williams “speaking out” and trying to “get everyone to calm down” as the Gospel continues to be shred in the PCA.
Also, I don’t want to give the impression that the PCA is the only FV friendly seminary. According to Paul Elliot, Doug Green mentioned above, who is also the Associate Professor of Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary, “is a self-confessed New Perspective enthusiast. In a January 2004 essay, Green revealed that he is not the only NP enthusiast on the WTS faculty, although he made it clear that some of his colleagues are not willing to admit their position publicly.” Green is also a man who publicly endorsed the book, A Faith that is Never Alone: A Response to Westminster Seminary California, which was edited by well known Vantilian and FV sympathizer Andrew Sandlin and includes essays from Federal Visionists such as Don Garlington, Mark Horne, Peter Leithart, Rich Lusk, and the FV granddaddy of them all, Norman Shepherd. Green said the book provides “thought-provoking exegesis with a deep indebtedness to Calvin’s emphasis on union with Christ” and that these Federal Visionists “engage in stimulating theological reflection on the relationship of faith and good works.”
Of course, the long and sad history of Westminster Seminary embracing and coddling Federal Visionists is nearly as long and as sad as their allegiance to the irrationalism of C. Van Til. However, what has seemingly gone unnoticed is Covenant Seminary’s role in the spread of the FV and their cozy relationship with the New Perspectives and FV crowd – even to the point where Federal Visionists can turn to Covenant as their ace-in-the-hole in order to help diffuse any heat that may come their way.
I suppose when all these FV men continually point to Covenant Seminary as their natural ally, it raises the question where is Bryan Chapell? Why isn’t he putting together the dots? Also, where are the PCA elders charged with maintaining not only the peace of the church, but also its waning purity? Don’t they have a responsibility to examine what is being taught at their denomination’s seminary? I suppose they’re all in the same boat with the rest of the elders in the PCA who are content with just moving their pieces around while their enemies continue to make all the right moves.