Archive for February 2011

Jeffrey Meyers – Faith is Faithfulness

February 21, 2011

“Personally, I would like to see us out from under the straightjacket of the Westminster standards.” — Jeff Meyers

One of the most troubling aspects of the entire FV movement, and arguably the reason why their false doctrines continue to spread like cancer, is their inclusion of obedience as a necessary element of saving faith. First, the definition of justification given by the Westminster Confession (XI.1) specifically excludes all acts of obedience, evangelical or otherwise, as having any role at all in the biblical doctrine of justification. They’re off the table. Even the act of believing itself is excluded. The indisputable point separating Geneva and Rome, or, more specifically, life and death, is that the justification of sinners is something accomplished completely outside of and apart from anything that might be wrought in them. Justification will certainly result in sanctification, but sanctification has no part in justification. Or, to put it another way, we are not justified because we are sanctified, we are sanctified because we are justified. (more…)

Jeffrey Meyers – On the Alien and Abstract Law-Gospel Dichotomy

February 16, 2011

“Personally, I would like to see us out from under the straightjacket of the Westminster standards.” — Jeff Meyers

In our attempt to comply with the Meyers Investigative Committee request  that we consider Meyers’ “full corpus” (which is looking more like a full corpse and is starting to smell like one) we turn now to post #2527 from the Wrightsaid group.  In reading his comments, keep in mind that Meyers told the MIC: (more…)

Jeffrey Meyers – The Problem with RUF Guys

February 14, 2011

For those unfamiliar with Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), it is an outreach ministry of the PCA geared, as the name suggest, to college students.   I recently contacted an RUF minister because I am increasingly concerned about my eldest daughter’s Christian walk, or, better, lack thereof.  I guess it’s not totally unheard of, but  since breaking free from her “parental bonds” and going off to college my daughter seems more like a neo-pagan than a Christian.  An intelligent, funny and beautiful neo-pagan mind you, but not someone who seems at all enamored by the Christian faith.  Admittedly, and with what passes for the Christian faith on television and radio (think  Joel Osteen, CBN, words of knowledge, pink hair, pompadours,  and TBN in general), or some of the  infighting and general anti-intellectualism in the decaying P&R world, there is not a lot to be enamored with.  Truth in much of the visible church has taken a back seat to “relational” theology.  We’re told that knowing Jesus is deeper than doctrine and what that means no one can say since it’s  too deep for words as we spiral into the mystical abyss.  Jesus is a person not a proposition they tell us, even if you cannot even begin to know a person without knowing at least some of the propositions he thinks.   However, and despite the deplorable shape of the visible church,  when you see your child falling away you tend to wonder if they were ever a believer to begin with.  I guess I should have called Jeff Meyers instead.  He would have set me straight. (more…)

John Robbins Quick Quote

February 14, 2011

R. C. Sproul was once asked what 20th century theologians people would be
reading in 500 years, and he answered, “Gordon Clark.” I have it on tape.
John R.

— Yahoo Groups “Clark” list #1088

Jeffrey Meyers – Defense of What Saint Paul Really Said

February 10, 2011

The WCF and the bi-polar Cov of Works/Grace scheme needs to be subjected to some careful scrutiny by men who do not worship at the idol of Westminster. Maybe Wright is just the one to do that, not being a part of our tradition.

– Jeffrey Meyers 2002

Continuing my series examining  Federal Vision pastor Jeff Meyers’ “full corpus,” here is what Meyers said about N.T. Wright to the committee: (more…)

John Robbins Quick Quote

February 8, 2011

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in Heaven. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!’ ” —Matthew 7:21-23

The most disturbing thing about the entire Federal Vision and No Perspective on Paul movements infecting the church is the equating or leveling of faith and faithfulness.  For these men righteousness comes not through imputation, which most think is a redundant addition to union which is affected by baptism, but results from  our own acts of covenantal faithfulness.  Jeffrey Meyers put it this way; “‘Righteousness’ in the Bible means covenant faithfulness. A person is righteous when he does what the covenant requires of him.”  Their scheme is simple; our initial union with Christ is consummated at baptism (this is why they compare baptism to marriage)  and we are finally justified on the last day on the basis of our perseverance in covenant faithfulness (or simply by being a good spouse).

Their argument is that works done by faith, and which are the fiducial element that makes ordinary faith or belief salvific,  are non-meritorious acts of obedience.  This isn’t works righteousness.  This is what Federal Visionists mean by the “obedience of faith.”   They unanimously hate the idea of merit, whether it is the idea that Adam as our federal head could have merited life through his obedience in the Garden or even that Jesus could have merited life for us through his obedience “to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  For them our covenental faithfulness merits nothing.  Instead our covenantal faithfulness merely evidences the genuineness  or sincerity of our faith in Jesus Christ.  Therefore, when we stand  before Christ in the final judgment our faithfulness will shine forth as evidence that, yes, we too are good and faithful servants.   Federal Visionists and those who follow them will one day soon stand expectantly waiting to hear Jesus say: “enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”   Sadly, Jesus tells us in advance exactly what he will say —  “I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!”

Below is a selection from a powerful sermon by John Robbins delivered sometime, I believe, in 2001.  You can read his entire sermon here or listen to it here.  In either case, this is one sermon not to be missed.

Excerpt from Justification and Judgment:

Now here is the question: If none of us has done or will do anything like the works these men will have done, and if these men are lost, then what hope is there for us? If Jesus himself turns these men out of the Kingdom of Heaven-these many men who have performed such great works in the name of Jesus-what hope have we? If these very active, professing Christians, these church leaders, will be sent to Hell, what hope have we of gaining Heaven?

The answer is, We have no hope, if, like these men, we rely on our works. If we believe that our works help obtain our salvation, we have no hope of Heaven, no matter how great our works, no matter how faithful our obedience, regardless of whether we act in the name of Jesus, or whether we confess Jesus as Lord. If we rely on our obedience or our covenant faithfulness or our good works, we are lost.

This is the crux of the passage, and of salvation. When these church leaders give their defense at the Judgment, they will offer their works as Exhibits A, B, and C. Their plea to Jesus will be their works-works done in the name of Jesus, to be sure, but works nonetheless. And far from lessening their guilt, doing their works in the name of Jesus increases their guilt before God.

Far from teaching a message of works, Jesus warns us that anyone who comes before him at the Judgment and offers his works, his covenant faithfulness, or his life as his defense will be sent to Hell. Far from teaching that our works are necessary for our salvation, Jesus here teaches that all our works contribute not one whit to our salvation.

Why will many men not be admitted into the Kingdom of Heaven? What is wrong with their defense? Jesus tells us plainly: They will plead their own lives and Christian works.

What their defense should be is not their works, but the imputed righteousness of Christ. Many will be sent to Hell because they will not mention that they are sinners saved only by the righteousness of the Man Christ Jesus.

They will not mention the perfect life, sinless death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They will not mention the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to those who believe in him. They will not mention the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ for his people. They will not mention that Jesus Christ earned their salvation for them [that would be merit after all – SG]. They will not mention that Jesus Christ suffered the penalty of Hell due to them, that Jesus satisfied the justice of the Father in their behalf.

In short, they will not confess Jesus as Saviour, even while they confess him as Lord.

Jesus in his mercy has told us one thing that will happen on the Day of Judgment. This is not a parable; this is not a metaphor. This is prophecy. It is exactly what many scholars deny prophecy is: future history. When Jesus here uses the verb will, when he speaks in the future tense, he speaks literally, and these events must happen. We ought to heed his warning and realize that if we rely on anything we do-faithful church attendance, tithing, serving as a church officer, writing, speaking, teaching, holding crusades attended by millions, raising money, giving alms to the poor, building hospitals, Christian schools, churches, baptism, participation in the Lord’s Supper-we are lost. All our righteousnesses — Isaiah does not say unrighteousnesses — are as filthy rags.

Jesus tells us that many people at the Judgment will argue that they deserve Heaven, that they have a right to Heaven because they have done many wonderful works in the name of Jesus. They will not acknowledge their depravity, for they think they are good men. They will not acknowledge the Satisfaction and Atonement of Jesus, because they do not believe it. Their prayer will not be, God, be merciful to me a sinner, but, Jesus, I did many wonderful works in your name, and now you ought to reward me with Heaven. Whatever these churchgoers and church leaders may believe about themselves and about Jesus, they do not believe in their own depravity, nor in the imputed righteousness of Christ. They do not believe that the only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ. In short, they do not believe the Gospel, and that is why they are damned.

The vivid warning that Jesus gives us in this passage is not merely about the futility of working for salvation. It is also a warning about believing some things about God and Jesus, but not believing the Gospel. James tells us that demons believe in one God-and they are lost. That means that monotheism per se will not save anyone. Mark tells us that one demon recognized Jesus as the Holy One of God, and that demon was lost. That means that acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah per se will not save anyone. (And if anyone suggests that it is obedience that makes faith saving, it seems that no one obeys Jesus Christ more quickly in the New Testament than the demons to whom he speaks.)

Jeffrey Meyers – Justifed by Means of Their Baptism

February 7, 2011

Concerning the presumed relationship between Jeffrey Meyers told the investigative committee of the Missouri Presbytery:  (more…)

Jeffrey Meyers – Covenant Theology Bibliography

February 3, 2011

The  ad hoc Committee of the Missouri Presbytery that exonerated Federal Vision front-man,  Jeffrey Meyers, accused the signers of  the “Letter of Concern” (the document that started the ball rolling) of taking Meyers out of context.   The Meyers Investigative Committee (MIC) argued: (more…)

Sweet Relief

February 1, 2011

There was a time when Calvinists were sticklers for logic and believed emphatically in the inherent harmony of God’s Word. This belief is central to biblical Christianity (as if there were any other kind) and is the principle upon which every other Christian doctrine rests.   For example, concerning the method of interpretation the Westminster Confession of Faith 1.9 states: “when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture, (which is not manifold, but one,) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.” If the Scriptures consisted of a collection of conflicting and contradictory doctrines this principle of biblical interpretation would be impossible. Concerning the sufficiency of Scripture WCF 1.6 states; “The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from scripture….”   Even the belief in the truthfulness of Scripture itself  (WCF 1.5) rests, in part, on “the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole, (which is to give all glory to God)….”

Beyond Westminster and concerning the five points of Calvinism (TULIP) hammered out at the Synod  of Dort (1618-1619) and in response to the corrupting novelties of the Arminians, B. B. Warfield wrote: “They are, each and every one of them, essential elements in the Calvinistic system, the denial of which in any of their essential details is logically the rejection of the entirety of Calvinism; and in their sum they provide what is far from being a bad epitome of the Calvinistic system.”  Even the  “prince of theologians,” John Calvin, has been view by many throughout history as being “too logical,” as if such a thing were possible. One commentator I stumbled on recently characterized Calvin’s masterwork, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, as “the most severe, logical, and terrifying book of all Protestantism.”  Sadly, I don’t think those words could be used to describe the work of most modern day followers of Calvin or the system of doctrine he inspired.

Today most of those calling themselves “Calvinists” are what I would call pious misologists.  Wikipedia defines misology as “the fear or distrust of reason or logic.”  I recently came across an example of  “pious misology” very close to home.  While searching the website of a local PCA church I stumbled on a short piece by pastor William Harrell entitled, “Tensions in Scripture.”  In many ways the piece is the typical Van Til inspired attack on the sufficiency of Scripture.  However, for my purposes here I just want to focus on Harrell’s opening statement where he writes:

There are great tensions in Scripture.  For example, there are such teachings as divine sovereignty and human responsibility, as well as the clear teaching on the necessity of faith and good works being joined together in the believer’s life.  The supreme tension is found in the person and work of Jesus, who was and now is and shall forever be fully God and truly man, and whose work was one of His holy heavenly Father putting to death His only begotten Son for the sake of vile sinners.  These things and others like them are regarded by unbelievers as absurd contradictions in the Bible.  Even some believers endeavor to resolve the apparent contradictions by their opting to believe one doctrine, such as human responsibility, while denying or at least ignoring the companion doctrine of divine sovereignty.  Such endeavors issue from man’s reliance on their own powers of logic instead of their trusting in the Lord to reconcile such apparent contradictions.  Precisely speaking, these sorts of challenging doctrines are not contradictions, but rather vital companions.  How they go together may be mysterious to us, but their incomprehensibility does not make them untrue.  In fact, the intellectual and emotional tension that results when we assert the compatibility of such seemingly inconsistent doctrines provides the energy that drives us on prayerfully to explore the depths of the Word.  We do this not in a quest to discover a unifying principle so much as to embrace the person of God, who alone understands every jot of His Word and how all aspects of it cohere perfectly.

The first thing to notice is that for Harrell the apparent contradictions of Scripture are not difficulties or puzzles to be solved.  To harmonize, say, divine sovereignty and human responsibility, is to betray the Christian faith.  That’s because these seemingly contradictory and incompatible doctrines provide “the energy that drives us on prayerfully to explore the depths of the Word” even if it can’t  provide a solution.  What the prayerful exploration of God’s Word should do, at least according to Harrell, is cause us realize that God alone understands how His Word “coheres perfectly” even if we have no clue.  Harrell assures us that

Precisely speaking, these sorts of challenging doctrines are not contradictions, but rather vital companions. How they go together may be mysterious to us, but their incomprehensibility does not make them untrue.

Think about this for a moment.  Doctrines that appear to be contradictory to us are really “vital companions.”  Even more troubling, precisely how these “vital companions” fit together (i.e., are harmonized) “may be mysterious to us,”  but this unintelligibly “does not make them untrue.”   Now, it is correct that just because we may not know how certain doctrines logically cohere this does not necessarily make them untrue.  However, if paradoxical doctrines cannot be reconciled so as to be shown to be no contradictions at all (that is, after all, what the word paradox means), then the truth of at least one of these “vital companions” is, at best, suspect.

If we are to accept Harrell’s “vital companion” theory then the truth of the entire Christian system is suspect.  Normally when faced with a seeming contradiction the intellectually honest thing to do is to recheck our premises.  Perhaps we have misunderstood a particular doctrine or incorrectly defined one of our terms?  Historically “inconsistent doctrines” have provided the impetus that would drive theologians to attempt to resolve these seemingly contradictory doctrines of Scripture.  Not any more.  Modern day Calvinists like Harrell assures us that the Word of God provides no “unifying principle”  that can unite seemingly contradictory doctrines.  Could anyone imagine John Calvin making such a claim when defending “the necessity of faith and good works being joined together in the believer’s life”?  I would think the papist wolves would have torn Calvin to shreds, and rightly so, if he appealed to mystery and the unintelligibly of Scripture in his explication of the relationship between faith and works, or, more broadly, between justification and sanctification.  If Calvin held to the belief that in Scripture there is no “unifying principle” and that the teachings of Scripture do not logically cohere,  it is hard to imagine how the Reformation could have advanced beyond being just a minor blip in history.   Frankly, I am convinced that if Calvin abandoned logic at this point, a point on which the entire Reformation would stand or fall, we’d all be genuflecting before the effete derriere of the pope instead of fighting for the centrality of justification by faith alone (as if  anyone really fights for that anymore) or any other major Christian doctrine for that matter.

The rub is that since the Scriptures themselves do not logically cohere in any number of places and instead confront the believer and unbeliever alike with irreconcilable points of “tension,” how can Harrell or anyone else  know that for God all aspects of His Word “cohere perfectly”?   Can he appeal to Scripture?  Not at all.  Again, Harrell assures us that Scripture provides no “unifying principle.”  So what is the solution that Harrell proposes?  It is this; we are to have faith in faith that for God all aspects of His Word “cohere perfectly.”  But, the reality is this isn’t faith in God at all.  Rather, this is faith in what Harrell and those like him tell us about these doctrines and the apparent insufficiency of Scripture.  On what authority can Harrell assure us that these irreconcilable and apparently  contradictory doctrines are “vital companions” and not the contradictions he admits that they appear to be?   If they appear to be absurd contradictions to unbelievers and mysterious and incomprehensible points of tension to believers, isn’t Harrell just advocating a veiled form of “implicit faith”?

Concerning the Romanish doctrine of implicit faith Calvin writes: (more…)

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