Archive for January 2011

Peter Leithart Waxes Pornographic

January 25, 2011

It is hard to make up the kind anti-Christian nonsense that emanates from Moscow, Idaho.  Doug Wilson launched the first major assault against the Christian faith in 2002 with his horrendous, Reformed is Not Enough.   Peter Leithart may have done his boss and benefactor one better with The Baptized Body where the miracle of baptism unites even unregenerate strumpets to Jesus Christ.   In Wes White’s continuing examination of Leithart he uncovered (no pun intended) this little gem:

I’ve argued that the New Testament . . . attributes virtually unbelievable powers to baptism. These wonders of baptism all arise from the fundamental fact that baptism initiates the baptized into the visible or historical church, which I have argued is the body of the Son of God, the Bride of Christ, and (one might add), the temple of the Spirit. Baptism is the water-crossing between membership in Adam and membership in Christ. Baptism grants the baptized a share in the great circumcision that occurred on the Cross, stripping away fleshly loyalties and habits and making us members of a new community. Membership in the corporate body never occurs without a personal connection with the Lord of that body. You can’t be part of the Bride without being married to the divine Husband. Coming into the body through baptism means entering into a personal relationship with the Triune God, a relationship in which we are favored, accepted, given access to the Father and the table of His Son . . . Everyone who is baptized — every one — is brought into the body of Christ, ordained to be a priest before God, married to Jesus, and brought into the family of the Father, into the circle of God’s personal favor (The Baptized Body, 83-84).

Sadly, many if not most of those stripped of their  fleshly loyalties and habits and who are personally and intimately united to the Lord and His body, are cast aside like some twenty dollar Time Square hooker before they even reach the West Side Highway.  As Leithart explains, the cosmic nuptials initiated by the magic waters of baptism and the powerful mumblings of some FV priest don’t exactly live up to even Rudy Giuliani’s  impressive refashioning of Great White Way into an upscale outlet mall:

But that favor does not last, or it does not produce fruit, without faith. Only those who respond in faith fulfill their priestly role rightly, persevere in the marriage covenant with Christ, stay in the family, remain in the circle of God’s favor. Faith is the proper response to the favor of being baptized, the proper response from first to last. It is only by faith that we remain in the body of Christ, and only by faith that the water of baptism poured out on the earth of our bodies will bear fruit. (Ibid., 84)

As Leithart explains, being united to Christ in baptism is a fickle thing:

God changes His view of and attitude toward the convert and the apostate, moving in one case from wrath to favor and in the other favor to wrath. (Ibid., 99)

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Complaint Filed

January 18, 2011

A complaint has been filed by TE M. Jay Bennett and TE Joseph E. Rolison against the Missouri Presbytery charging them with spiritual delinquency and incompetence (my words) in their pitiful handling and recent exoneration of Federal Visionist and false teacher Jeffrey Meyers (forgive the redundancy).   They write in part:

Missouri Presbytery … failed in its duty to condemn erroneous doctrines and practices that injure the peace, purity, and unity of the Church. Missouri Presbytery erred in determining that there was insufficient evidence to raise a strong presumption of guilt in TE Meyers….

TE Meyers stated:

“I do think the latest scholarly work in biblical theology demands that we go back and redo a great deal of the Westminster standards. They were written when people still thought of the covenant as a contract and believed that “merit” had some role to play in our covenantal relations with God. The whole bi-polar covenant of works/grace schema has got to go. And if that goes, the whole “system” must be reworked. (MICR, 67)”

Meyers and those who defend him seem to think that his rejection of the law/gospel distinction (what he calls the “works/grace schema”) has not place him outside of the Reformed faith as expressed in the Reformed confessions (something Meyers still pretends to be “bound to”).  Meyers and the MOP are both wrong.  His rejection of the “works/grace schema” has placed himself outside of the Christian faith entirely.

Meyers is a brazen wolf and the Missouri Presbytery in their exoneration of him have only demonstrated the depth of their own apostasy. The problem here, and what makes the MOP situation somewhat unique, is that I’m inclined to think that the likelihood for repentance is commensurate with a lack of power and prestige.   You know, blessed are the poor in spirit and all.  Seeing that a large portion of the MOP are Covenant Seminary professors and former professors, it could be that this time the PCA is in for a showdown.  This isn’t the Louisiana Presbytery after all.

Please read the rest of their complaint here.

Gordon Clark: The True Presuppositionalist

January 14, 2011

I just got the latest Trinity Review in the mail today.  In this issue  Dr. W. Gary Crampton reviews Greg Bahnsen’s posthumously published volume, Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended.   The review is intentionally limited to just the portion of Bahnsen’s book that deals with the Scripturalism of  Gordon Clark and on every count Bahnsen comes up short.  I have to say after wading through the complete horror show over at Wes White’s blog as people slog through the more than 160 pages of the  Missouri Presbytery report exonerating false teacher Jeff Meyers, it was a singular pleasure to sit back and read this latest review by Dr. Crampton.  It also is an excellent introduction to the presuppositionalism of Gordon Clark and will be an invaluable resource for those interested in understanding and furthering Clark’s Scripturalism.

Here is a small selection of Crampton’s review to whet your appetite:

According to Dr. Clark, this apagogic* methodology, consisting in a series of reductiones ad absurdum, is the principal method available to a Biblical apologist. The reason is that even though there is metaphysical common ground between believers and unbelievers, in that both are created in the image of God, there is no common epistemological ground. That is, there are no common theoretical propositions, no common “notions,” between Christianity and non-Christian philosophies. The ad hominem apagogic arguments are to be used against the unbeliever, who is a covenant-breaker and already in possession of the innate idea of the God against whom he is rebelling. The arguments are to be used in a fashion that will attempt to make him epistemologically self-conscious (and thus God conscious) of his covenant breaking rebellion.

After demonstrating the internal incoherence of the non-Christian views, the Biblical apologete will argue for truth and the logical consistency of the Scriptures and the Christian worldview revealed therein. He will show how Christianity is self-consistent, how it gives us a coherent understanding of the world. It answers questions and solves problems that other worldviews cannot. This method is not to be considered as a proof for the existence of God or the truth of Scripture, but as proof that the non-Christian view is false. It shows that intelligibility can only be maintained by viewing all things as dependent on the God of Scripture, who is truth itself. This is the proper “presuppositional” approach to apologetics.

Dr. Clark used the Augustinian “argument from the nature of truth” to reveal the systematic consistency of Christianity. Truth, he argued, must exist. That is, skepticism is false. Even to deny the existence of truth (that is, to say that it is “true” that there is no truth) is to assert that truth does and must exist. Further, it is not possible for truth to change. That which changes, by definition, cannot be true. To deny truth’s eternality (that is, to say that it is “true” that truth is not eternal or that it will someday perish) affirms its eternal nature. And since truth can exist only in the form of propositions, it must be mental (that is, being propositional, it can exist only in the mind). But seeing that the mind of man is not eternal and unchangeable, there must be a mind superior to the mind of man which is eternal and unchangeable: the mind of God. God, as Scripture testifies, and the Westminster Confession of Faith (1:4) (7) confirms, is “truth itself.” Therefore, if a man knows any truth, he also knows something of God, because God revealed it to him.

According to Dr. Clark, then, the defense of the Christian faith involves two basic steps. First, the Christian apologete must show the unbeliever that the axioms of secular systems result in self-contradiction. Second, the apologete should point out the internal consistency of the Christian system. When these two points have been made clear, the Christian will urge the unbeliever to repudiate the axioms of secularism and accept God’s revelation. This approach neither undermines the presupposition of Biblical revelation as foundational to a Christian worldview in general nor to apologetics in particular. Rather, it argues (ad hominem) from the standpoint of the unbeliever to show him the futility of his worldview and the consistent worldview presented in the Christian system. Dr. Clark’s “come now, and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18) approach, however, is not looked upon with favor by Greg Bahnsen who prefers a more heavy-handed “dogmatic criticism” method (as will be noticeable below).

* Apagogic: proving indirectly, by showing the absurdity, or impossibility of the contrary.

Why The PCA Will Lose Its Fight Against the Federal Vision

January 11, 2011


Admittedly, there are many reasons why the PCA will lose its fight against the Federal Vision.  I tried to outlined some of the major reasons in my book, Can the PCA be Saved? John Robbins outlined similar reasons pertaining to the OPC, lessons those in the PCA still need to learn, in his booklet, Can the OPC be Saved.   In both of these works we have tried to demonstrate how and why the unique epistemology of Cornelius Van Til provided the door through which the FV walked and why the position advanced by Gordon Clark is the antidote.  As James Jordan once noted in a rare sentient moment: “The FV controversy is the Clark controversy with feet on it.”

Of course, the failure in leadership is not restricted to just to followers of Van Til.  Dr. Robbins offered a rather stinging rebuke of his friend Cal Beisner in Why Heretics Win Battles. Reading that piece again I confess if it were directed at me I would be smarting.  I loved John Robbins but I would not want to be at the receiving end of one of his critiques (although, truth be told, I was once on the receiving end on a different issue that hit close to home and it did sting, even if I finally had to admit he was right).  So, long and short, there is certainly enough blame to go around.  I’m sure some could make the argument, and believe me some have, that I have contributed to the spread of the FV in that I’m not as irenic as I should be or that my opposition to this particular false gospel amounts to “bomb throwing” which might actually in some unintended way empower Christ’s enemies.  They might be right.

However, I want to focus on just one common misconception I think needs to be addressed again and that is the tendency of many to think that the battle over the FV is somehow an in-house fight or that it has to do with who is and who is not a real Presbyterian.

Recently PCA pastor, Andy Webb, commenting on the recent exoneration of FV pastor Jeff Meyers, and in repose to a tongue and cheek comment by someone who Webb evidently mistook as one of Meyers’ defenders, wrote:

For instance, I’m fairly certain you wouldn’t want presbyteries filled with Pentecostals, Congregationalists, and Baptists, regardless of the sincerity of their Christian profession or how nice they were.

Now, we’ve already condemned – as a denomination – the FV as an erroneous opinion, and insisted that a Presbytery discipline a TE (LA, Wilkins) because of it. So, either the MO presbytery is formally stating that they repudiate the official position of the PCA in regards to the FV or that they don’t believe Meyers own declarations regarding his FV allegiances.

The problem with statements like these, besides not being very helpful,  is that there is simply no parity between presbyteries filled with Pentecostals, Congregationalists, and Baptists and presbyteries currently protecting, defending, and exonerating Federal Visionists.  Despite their errors, and some are more serious than others, Pentecostals, Congregationalists, and Baptists are not by definition Christ denying heretics.  Sure, they are not Presbyterians and none of these folks have any place in any PCA presbytery, but last I checked Pentecostals, Congregationalists, and Baptists don’t by definition deny the truth of the Gospel, or the finished work Christ accomplished completely outside of us, or even that His finished work is applied or imputed to us by mere belief alone.   Now, some might do this, but denying the finished work of Christ is not a mark of any of these groups, however it is the mark of the Federal Vision.

That is why we simply have no reason to presume that Federal Visionists are our brother in Christ and it is certainly no act of charity, given what they themselves have written concerning the central truths of the Gospel, to presume that they are.   Now, some may be hypocrites, as in the example Paul gives us of Peter in the second chapter of Galatians.  However, as a signer of the Federal Vision Profession of Faith, PCA Pastor Jeff Meyers is no hypocrite.  Meyers signed the document because he believes it.  Meyers is not just going along to get along because he wants to drink beer with James Jordan and Doug Wilson or get invited to speak at Steve Wilkins’ Auburn Avenue FV pastors conferences.  Admittedly,  some might be going along to get along (after all, I think the Missouri presbytery would be a very uncomfortable place for any serious FV opponent, arguably even more hostile than, say, the Ohio, Siouxlands or the Pacific Northewest presbyteries), but I believe Meyers when he says that in order for faith to save it has to be “personally loyal” and “active.”  I believe him when he says that in order for a sinner to be righteous he must “do what the covenant requires of him.”  I believe him when he denies that righteousness in the bible refers to moral purity or conformity to a legal standard and that for him this is “the Lutheran mistake.”

I think when men like Andy Webb imply that ridding the PCA of FV men is similar to deposing Pentecostals, Congregationalists, or Baptists he is making a categorical error and one that the FV men are all too happy to see him make.  The goal of the FV men, particularly early on, was to convince men in the PCA and beyond that this fight was an intramural contest; a disagreement among Reformed brothers.  There can be no doubt that they have succeeded in accomplishing this and in spades.  Besides the PCA’s FV/NPP report which referred to “NPP and FV proponents in the PCA as brothers in Christ,” we recently saw Sean Lucas, who was one of the committee men who drafted the PCA FV/NPP report, say of FV PCA pastor Peter Leithart on another 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).

As a fellow signer of the Federal Vision Profession of Faith, Peter Leithart’s last problem is that he has a “high baptismal theology.”  Make no mistake, statements like these made by  Lucas and Webb, not to mention those found in the PCA’s FV/NPP report, are major concessions to the FV men and send a clear message to every TE and RE that all this squabbling is all much ado about nothing.

However, as R. C. Sproul said on the floor of the General Assembly that passed the FV/NPP report, “This is the Gospel people .”  Sproul was right.  If the FV is not about the Gospel, then it’s hardly worth fighting.

PCA Presbytery Endorses Federal Vision

January 10, 2011

This past week the Missouri Presbytery exonerated Jeffery Meyers on all counts basically denying that he is a Federal Visionist.  This in spite of the fact that Meyers, along with his assistant pastor  Mark Horne, was a signer of the Joint Federal Vision Profession of Faith.  You can read the MO Pres’ statement clearing Meyers here.

In every instance the MO Pres concluded  there was “insufficient evidence to raise a strong presumption of guilt that TE Meyers is teaching contrary to the Westminster Standards.”

So, for a quick review of just a few of the many notable exceptions to the Westminster Standards which no one in the MO Pres will hold him to, Meyers asserts in his profession of faith:

All who are baptized into the triune Name are united with Christ in His covenantal life, and so those who fall from that position of grace are indeed falling from grace.

And,

We affirm that God formally unites a person to Christ and to His covenant people through baptism into the triune Name….

Besides the glaring rejection of the Reformed doctrine of perseverance (according to Meyers a person can be united with Christ and yet “fall from that position of grace”), no Reformed confession, whether it’s the 3 Forms of Unity or the Westminster Confession of Faith, maintains that all baptized persons are “united with Christ in His covenantal life.” Further, the PCA’s FV/NPP report states in point 6: “The view that water baptism effects a ‘covenantal union’ with Christ … is contrary to the Westminster Standards.”

Meyers continues:

We deny that the faith which is the sole instrument of justification can be understood as anything other than the only kind of faith which God gives, which is to say, a living, active, and personally loyal faith. Justifying faith encompasses the elements of assent, knowledge, and living trust . . . We deny that faith is ever alone, even at the moment of the effectual call. [emphasis added]

Notice, Meyers denies justification by faith alone and says so.   He denies “that  faith is ever alone, even at the moment of the effectual call.”   This is bizarre.  Concerning the effectual call the WCF states that man “is altogether passive therein” and is the unilateral and fiat work of God.   The effectual call is what enables men dead in trespass and sin to savingly “understand the things of God.”   Faith is the result of the effectual call but this too is entirely passive as we receive and rest on Christ’s righteousness completely outside of us.   Not according to Meyers and his follow ne0-legalists.  According to Meyers faith is never alone, “even at the moment of the effectual call.”   Meyers professes the faith that saves is a faith which is “active” and includes our personal loyalty.   And, in case there was ever any doubt what Meyers means he states elsewhere:  “’Righteousness’ in the Bible means covenant faithfulness.  A person is righteous when he does what the covenant requires of him.”

This leads Meyers to deny of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.  Meyers asserts:

We deny that faithfulness to the gospel message requires any particular doctrinal formulation of the “imputation of the active obedience of Christ.”

Yet, the PCA’s FV/NPP report maintains “The view that Christ does not stand as a representative head whose perfect obedience and satisfaction is imputed to individuals who believe in him is contrary to the Westminster Standards.” Evidently this didn’t even cause the MO pres to pause and reflect.  In their minds one can simultaneously affirm and deny the imputation of Christ’s active obedience.   Meyers continues:  

We deny that correct formulations of the doctrine of sola fide can be substituted for genuine faith in Jesus….

Notice, Meyers believes that one can have genuine faith in Jesus Christ while denying the Reformed doctrine of sola fide.  Make sense, because he certainly does.

Examples like this can be multiplied many times over, but instead of dealing with what Meyers says he believes, and prior to their exoneration of him, the MO pres spent their time calling for Ninth Commandment investigations against anyone and everyone who would point out the gross and deadly heresies of one of their own.    Now they’ve taken the next logical step and  in their exoneration of Meyers they have publicly endorsed the FV false gospel.


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