Back With a Vengeance

I am a bit reluctant to write more about PCA TE Jeff Meyers as I would have thought that his words, many of which I have documented here on God’s Hammer,  would have been more than enough to have him defrocked in any Christian church in the country.  Sadly, that is not the case in the PCA where he was completely exonerated by the Missouri Presbytery (the same presbytery where the PCA’s Covenant Seminary is located).  That said, a few weeks ago Meyers’ trial transcripts were released and he has been making the rounds letting anyone who will listen that the Federal Vision has been vindicated as confessionally Reformed and perfectly within the bounds of theological orthodoxy according to the PCA.  And, if you don’t believe him, he has Federal Visionists like Mark Horne, Jon Barlow, and others, not to mention that bag of loose change James Jordan, helping him make his case (see the comments at Greenbaggins here).

Even without the aid of these unsavory FV characters coming out from under the floorboards to defend Meyers, I think he’s right.  Presbyteries in the PCA have exonerated one Federal Visionist after another and the Standing Judicial Commission, which is the final court of appeal in the PCA, has been moot.  Well, not totally moot.  The SJC has spoken on the FV controversy by upholding the findings of the Siouxlands Presbytery and their investigation of TE Joshua Moon clearing him of any presumption of guilt in his defense of the Federal Vision.

What I find interesting is the renewed virulence with which these FV men are now willing to defend their false doctrines, even their denial of justification by faith alone.  Their victories in the PCA courts have emboldened them and Meyers is particularly brash when he states:

I’ve never said that someone will not be saved if they believe in the truth of Christ and his finished work but “somehow lack personal loyalty.” The JFVS does not say, and I have never said that “believing the Gospel is not enough; to be saved one must be personally loyal too.” And I have never even remotely suggested that “personal loyalty is the sine qua non of saving faith.” I repudiate such formulations. I’ve never said these things and I don’t believe or teach them.

Yet, in that same thread where he seemingly disavows any notion of justification through personal loyalty he writes:

Sean: I don’t maintain that “personal loyalty” is the instrument of justification. I don’t believe in justification by personal loyalty. And the FB [should be FV] statement doesn’t say anything of the sort. Here’s the statement again:

“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 in accordance with the age and maturity of the believer.”

The words “living” and “active” and “personally loyal” all describe the kind of faith that justifies. They are adjectival. I don’t believe in justification by “personal loyalty” any more than I believe in justification by “living” or justificatioin[sic] by being “active.”

It would be absurd for someone to say that the JFVP is advocating “justification by living.” Right? Or that it was teaching “justification by being active.” The words “living” and “active” modify “faith.” It is just as absurd for someone to charge the JFVP with teaching “justification by personal loyalty” when the phrase “personally loyal” only describes the kind of faith that is instrumental in justification.

You may not like the adjectival phrase “personally loyal,” but the signers of the FV statement are not advocating some back-door justification by works. We’re just trying to describe the kind of faith that justifies and distinquish[sic] it from false faith. And we use the words “living” and “active” because these are the words James uses to describe the kind of faith that saves (James 2:14-26).

The first thing to notice in Meyers’ defense of the FV statement is how they define saving faith: “Justifying faith encompasses the elements of assent, knowledge, and living trust in accordance with the age and maturity of the believer.”  The deception here is that the FV statement employs what at first appears to be the traditional definition of saving faith that is comprised of three elements; assent, knowledge (or, more properly, understanding), and trust.  While the order of the first two elements in the FV definition are switched (as one must first have some understanding before they can assent to something as true), the third element, what is often called the “fiducial” element of saving faith, is rendered “living trust.”   

Next, it is important to keep in mind that according to Meyers a “living trust” is synonymous with “personal loyalty” and is “adjectival” of saving faith and is descriptive of the “kind of faith which God gives, which is to say, a living, active, and personally loyal faith.”  Of course, and contrary to Meyers, the adjectives the Westminster Confession use to describe the “kind of faith which God gives,” and the kind of faith that is the alone instrument in our justification before the Father and at the bar of God’s infinite justice, is the kind that “receives and rests” on Christ and his righteousness alone to the exclusion of all else.  According to the WCF, the faith that saves is not active at all. To be justified is to believe in Christ and his righteousness as the sole propitiation for our sins; completely outside of any personal loyalty we might have or anything else that might be wrought in us as a result of being justified.  To include “personal loyalty” or something as nebulous as a “living trust” as the third element of saving faith is to completely turn the tradition Protestant understanding of justification by faith alone on its head.  The faith that saves, or more properly the belief that saves (as faith and belief are translations of the same Greek word pistis in Scripture), is, according to the WCF, completely passive.  “Personal loyalty” or even the adjectives like “living” or “active” don’t describe saving faith at all.

Next, Meyers cites James 2:14-26 in reference to our forensic justification or legal standing before God.  However, James 2 nowhere deals with our justification before God, but rather our justification before men.  James is explaining the ways we can identify true believers from the feigned variety. James is not teaching that works done by faith is what makes faith “saving” or any such thing.  Put more simply, James is not dealing with forensic justification.  As O. Palmer Robertson writing on the current justification controversy argues:

According to the Reformers, James does not say that works must be added to faith or included in faith as the way by which men receive God’s judicial declaration that their sins are forgiven. In their understanding, James is not even discussing the way to pardon from guilt, as is Paul. To the contrary, James is describing how a man may show his faith to be genuine (James 2:18), and how faith inevitably will come to fulness or fruition in good works (James 2:22).

As anyone can see, Meyers has simply smuggled in works, evangelical and non-meritorious works to be sure, as the third element of saving faith.  So when Meyers protests that he is not including “personal loyalty” as an instrument in justification, or that he does not “believe in justification by personal loyalty,” there are only two possible conclusions we can draw from this.  The first is that Meyers is lying.  The second is that he has deceived even himself into believing he is not teaching justification by personal loyalty.

Yet, some will complain, and even whine (an FV specialty), that I have not understood these poor Federal Visionists like Jeff Meyers.  After all Meyers openly denies that he is affirming what I have attributed to him.  But how else can his words and the words Doug Wilson used in writing the FV statement be understood?  Consider the following from Wes White:

This is the Federal Vision Statement written by Douglas Wilson and signed by PCA Pastor Jeff Meyers [and Mark Horne].  It says:

“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.”

Now, notice that last phrase, “personally loyal faith.” Here’s how dictionary.com defines loyalty:

1. The state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations.
2. Faithful adherence to a sovereign, government, leader, cause, etc.

They tried to slip one past us by using the word “loyal” instead of “faithful,” but it means basically the same thing. Faithfulness to commitments and faithful adherence, according to the Federal Visionists, is included in the “sole instrument of justification.” This is justification by faithfulness, justification by obedience, and justification by works. This is a rejection of the sola fide of the Reformation.

White is exactly right, the FV statement positively affirms justification by works even if Meyers denies that it does.  Meyers is a liar.

More proof that Meyers includes personal loyalty as the third or “fiducial” element of saving faith is when he writes:

Here’s another stab at it. This is from Donald Macleod’s _A Faith to Live by_ (Mentor, 1998). I assume you guys have some respect for his theological acumen. Chapter 11, “What is Faith?” has this:

“What, then, is the nature of saving faith. It involves two basic elements. First of all, it means belief, or assent. It is an intellectual commitment: the submission of the mind to the truth of the Gospel. . . .

Secondly, faith is trust. It begins with belief, but it is always more than belief. It is a personal commitment to God in Christ. That has sometimes been disputed. . . . Trust is emphasized in the New Testament. With the heart we believe and because we believe we come to Christ. We turn to Christ and we look to Christ. Our faith is directional. It is dynamic. It is mobile. Faith is a leaning grace. It leans on God. Faith is a grace that wraps the soul around the Saviour, not all that far removed from love. It is a personal relationship. It begins with belief that, in the light of all the information we have, Christ is trustworthy. That is a proposition: “Christ is trustworthy.” But my faith moves on from that to actual commitment, and that is brought out fully in many biblical metaphors. We trust God as we trust our father. We trust Christ as a flock trusts it’s shepherd. We trust Christ as we trust a physician. . .”

Is Macloed’s use of “personal commitment” (extra-biblical language) to describe the nature of saving faith all that different from describing faith with the adjectival qualifier “personally loyal”? And as Macleod describes it, faith is not entirely passive but is “dynamic,” “mobile,” and “wraps the soul around the Saviour.” These are all extra-biblical ways of describing the nature of saving faith as “trust” (fiducia).

Notice what Meyers has done, he uses what is at best an ambiguous use of the word “trust” by Macleod to justify the Federal Vision’s definition of the fiducial element of saving faith as consisting in “personal loyalty” or a “living trust.”  Further, Macleod’s argument is tautological for to believe someone is to trust what they say.  Similarly, to trust someone is to believe that what they say is true. The words “belief” and “trust” are synonyms and Macleod’s explanation is far from helpful.  Macloed has provided a perfect illustration of the deficiency and weakness of the traditional tri-fold understanding of saving faith that FV men like Meyers have exploited for years and with enormous success.  However, and unlike Macleod, the FV profession of faith’s understanding of this third or fudicial element that is supposed to make ordinary belief saving is not tautological at all.  Their understanding includes “personal loyalty,” or what Federal Visionists elsewhere call “covenantal faithfulness,” as the sine qua non of saving faith.  I have to hand it to Meyers, he is a master at attacking the Reformed faith at one of its most unguarded points.  On the other hand, I don’t know why this would surprise anyone as it was the means by which Norm Shepherd was able to tie up the faculty and administration at Westminster Theological Seminary for years as O. Palmer Robertson observed:

For in his view the faith that justifies is itself a work of obedience which is an integral aspect of the larger covenantal response of obedience for justification. If justification is by obedient faith, it also is by the obedience of faith. If justification is by a working faith, it also is by the works of faith. Even the classic assertion that justification is by faith alone thus comes to mean that justification is by faith and by works, since the faith that justifies is understood as integral to good works done as the way of justification.

In his commentary on Galatians Calvin warned:

When you are engaged in discussing the question of justification, beware of allowing any mention to be made of love or of works, but resolutely adhere to the exclusive particle. Paul does not here treat of justification, or assign any part of the praise of it to love.

I would add to Calvin’s warning the word “loyalty.”

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131 Comments on “Back With a Vengeance”

  1. Stephen Welch Says:

    Sean, thanks for this post. I appreciate you taking a firm stand on this issue. I had to read some of these quotes by Meyers several times to understand what he is talking about. He seems to talk in riddles. The one thing that is always clear from all FV guys is that they are taken out of context or misunderstood. If they feel like they are misunderstood then learn to speak in clear, intelligent language. Meyers has said before that he does not like the language of the cov. of works, so we need to change the Westminster Standards. Well Jeff, that is not up for negotiation. He clearly does not affirm the standards no matter how much he claims he does. What amazes me is he got a pass by MO Presbytery. Where were all the elders who originally sent a letter calling for a trial. AWOL?

  2. LJ Says:

    It is interesting that often when I show Dr. Clark’s criticism of the tri-fold analysis of saving faith to a relatively theologically saavy presbyter they shrug and wonder what’s the big deal?

    The big deal is the difference in the Gospel and all non-reformed and Romish substitutes.

    Of all the insights Dr. Clark shared in his writings, of all the detailed arguments he stated, who would have thought he was prescient of the FV in his analysis of saving faith?

    I’m still floored by how such a simple error could take hold, like a dog worrin’ a bone, and sweep through the PCA the way it has.

    LJ

  3. LJ Says:

    Just to clarify, I don’t mean that the FV is simple. It’s not. Indeed it is very slippery and the cause of great confusion. The “simple” error is the traditional trifold analysis of saving faith that Clark easily exposed.

  4. Lauren Says:

    Let’s award the Olympic gold medal to the Federal Visionists for their semantic gymnastics.

    In my latest Just Bloggin’ post I address the consequence of this dangerous error of covenant faithfulness. It flies in the face of Jesus’ very own words on eternal security. The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints by grace is hated by the Federal Visionists. Check out “Where are the Mama Grizzlies in the PCA?” at http://www.rdkgal.blogspot.com


  5. Thanks for the post, Sean. Good stuff.

    “…James 2 nowhere deals with our justification before God, but rather our justification before men. James is explaining the ways we can identify true believers from the feigned variety. James is not teaching that works done by faith is what makes faith ‘saving’ or any such thing. Put more simply, James is not dealing with forensic justification.”

    The fact that James is talking about justification (being declared righteous) in the sight of men eliminates the so-called tension involved in James’ clear statement that justification is by works (not faith, and not faith + works).

    However, I would disagree that “James is explaining the ways we can identify true believers from the feigned variety.” Can we identify Samson as a believer by looking at his works? How about Solomon? David, the murderer/adulterer? Also, remember those who cry “Lord, Lord” in Matthew 7. They had many great works. Can we identify them as true believers by looking to see if their works line up with their words?

    Instead, I would say James is simply exhorting believers to do good works for two reasons: Because only acting on your faith will serve to deliver you from temporal, material affliction (James uses nakedness and hunger as examples), and because our works are what the world sees. The world will not give 2 seconds to someone who does not practice what he preaches.

    Again, great post.

  6. Stephen Welch Says:

    LJ, can you explain further Clark’s expose of the traditional understanding of faith or at least cite a reference to where he interacts with this? The 3 elements of saving faith: knowledge, assent, and trust are clearly within the confines of our Reformed faith. One must have knowledge of the truth before he can embrace it. Trust is simply resting in what Christ has done. The problem is not the traditional understanding but men who erroneously twist faith into something involving works or human merit. The Reformers clearly understood that conversion does not lie in our faith but that Christ saves through the means of faith i.e sola fide. Thanks for the interaction.

  7. Sean Gerety Says:

    @Patrick. While I don’t disagree that we cannot always tell who is a true believe and who isn’t (unless you’re a Baptist) 😉 , that doesn’t lessen the evidentiary sense in which James is using the word “to justify.” Also, don’t forget that one’s “works” include their theology too. I would hope that when reading the biblical account of David, even if only his Psalms, you can have no doubt that David was a saved man despite his various “mortal” sins. Speaking of “mortal” sins, in a new post responding to that ubiquitous Internet papist, Bryan Cross, Lane Keister wrote:

    “Dikaioo” can be used in more than one sense. When wisdom is justified by her children, it does not mean that wisdom was declared not guilty on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ. It means that wisdom was shown to be in the right. This is an evidentiary sense of “dikaioo,” not a declaratory. I would argue, therefore, that James is talking about showing faith to be genuine, when he uses the word “dikaioo.” This is supported by the contextual factors of the (false) claim to have faith in verse 14, and the explicit reference to “show me” (twice, no less!) in verse 18. James is not talking about being right before God, but about being shown to be right before God.”

  8. Stephen Welch Says:

    Sean,that papist, Bryan Cross is another wonderful graduate from our distinguished PCA Seminary, Covenant. It has been said so many times, but needs to be said daily, FV is the logical road to Rome. By the way Covenant is cranking out graduates as quickly as they come throught the door. Jeff Meyers will be able to train more interns.

  9. Sean Gerety Says:

    Interesting, I stumbled on a little tribute to Jeff Meyers and James Jordan by former WTS grad and fellow convert to Romanism, Taylor Mashal, who wrote:

    Justification through faith alone and the hermeneutic of Scripture as the sole authority for Christian doctrine are rightly identified as the sine qua non of the Protestant Reformation. Without sola fide and sola scriptura buttressing Protestantism, all roads lead to Rome, plain and simple. http://tinyurl.com/csdzao8

    As long as Federal Visionists can exploit the historic confusion in the Reformed understanding of saving faith, I see that doorway more in terms of a superhighway.

  10. LJ Says:

    @ Stephen Welch: “LJ, can you explain further Clark’s expose of the traditional understanding of faith or at least cite a reference to where he interacts with this? ”

    Basically and quickly, the tri-fold traditional explanation is a tautology, a needless repetition of an idea, statement, or word (faith and trust). Clark explains it best and I would at this point defer to his writing for your edification and reading enjoyment.

    One quick reference is in “What Do Presbyterians Believe?,” a book that every Christian should have on his shelf. If you’re not familiar with Dr. Clark that book is a commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith.

    Also, in “Faith and Saving Faith” just off the top of my head. As I recall he is also quoted in the book by Hoeksema, published by Trinity Foundation, on the Clark Van Til Controversy.

    I’m sure many who contribute here can point you to other sources.

    I hope that helps and if you’re new to Gordon H. Clark, and intend to read his works, you are in for a feast!

    LJ

  11. LJ Says:

    I apologize for my brevity, Stephen Welch, since I’m at work and it’s difficult to chat. Of course brevity on my part is a blessing on your part!!

    Cheers,
    LJ


  12. Sean,

    “I don’t disagree that we cannot always tell who is a true believe and who isn’t (unless you’re a Baptist)”

    I take it this is a joke, but I don’t get it.

    “…that doesn’t lessen the evidentiary sense in which James is using the word ‘to justify.”

    Agreed.

    “Also, don’t forget that one’s ‘works’ include their theology too.”

    Also agreed, but James is speaking of faith and works as distinct entities in the context of his conversation. I’m not necessarily disagreeing with the doctrine, I just want to make sure we get it from the right text, and that we don’t miss James’ point, which is to spur us on to good works, not provide us with tests of salvation.

    “I would hope that when reading the biblical account of David, even if only his Psalms, you can have no doubt that David was a saved man despite his various ‘mortal’ sins”

    Of course. I only meant that one’s works are an unreliable picture by which we may distinguish “true believers” from feigned ones. Samson is my favorite example. If it wasn’t for Hebrews, and if I was looking at Samson’s pattern of behavior, I’d say he was not a “true believer.”

    ““Dikaioo” can be used in more than one sense. When wisdom is justified by her children, it does not mean that wisdom was declared not guilty on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ. It means that wisdom was shown to be in the right. This is an evidentiary sense of “dikaioo,” not a declaratory.”

    Okay, that’s fine.

    “I would argue, therefore, that James is talking about showing faith to be genuine, when he uses the word “dikaioo.””

    James is calling us to demonstrate our faith by performing good works, yes.

    “…the (false) claim to have faith in verse 14…”

    There’s nothing in the text that says it is a false claim. The very next question is, “Can belief deliver him?” Note that it is not, “Can a profession of belief deliver him?” James is talking about real faith and temporal deliverance.

    I believe verse 18 is the words of James’ interlocutor – a hypothetical person arguing with James – not the words of James himself. James begins his reply in verse 20 by addressing the interlocutor as a “foolish man.” This fits the pattern of every single other instance of a hypothetical interlocutor in the New Testament.

    “James is not talking about being right before God, but about being shown to be right before God.”

    I know this is Keister’s quote, but as you said, this is about being justified before men, not God.

    I am working on a blog post (may end up being a series) about this passage in James 2, how it has been misunderstood by many Reformed theologians, and how that misunderstanding has let works in the back door (as you recently said).

  13. Sean Gerety Says:

    “James is not talking about being right before God, but about being shown to be right before God.”

    I know this is Keister’s quote, but as you said, this is about being justified before men, not God.

    IMO that’s exactly what Keister is saying. Not as clearly as I said it perhaps 🙂 but essentially he’s saying the same thing. If we’re justified we don’t need to demonstrate it to God. He already knows we are on the basis of Christ’s finished work not our own. How we live our lives testifies before men that we are children of God … or, a least it should.

  14. Hugh McCann Says:

    Without sola fide and sola scriptura buttressing Protestantism, all roads lead to Rome, plain and simple.

    Hooey! W/o the solas fide and scriptura, one IS Romish, already.

  15. Hugh McCann Says:

    Patrick – this is confusing: “Instead, I would say James is simply exhorting believers to do good works for two reasons: Because only acting on your faith will serve to deliver you from temporal, material affliction (James uses nakedness and hunger as examples), and because our works are what the world sees. The world will not give 2 seconds to someone who does not practice what he preaches.”

    So, how does this relate to Sean’s (and Lane’s and Reformed Christendom’s) view that means before men, and that James is talking about temporal deliverance? Does that include a “temporal justification”? I am sincerely confused.

  16. Hugh McCann Says:

    Correction: “So, how does this relate to Sean’s (and Lane’s and Reformed Christendom’s) view that DIKAIOO means before men, and that James is talking about temporal deliverance? Does that include a “temporal justification”? I am sincerely confused.”


  17. Sean, I re-read that last line from Keister, and I understand it now. Thanks.

    Hugh, I’m sorry, but I’m afraid I don’t understand your question.

  18. Hugh McCann Says:

    @ Stephen Welch – Hear, hear LJ, at 11:58 am!

    Clark, G.H. ~ ‘FAITH AND SAVING FAITH’ ~ http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/009a-SavingFaith.pdf

    Foretaste:

    ”Bare assent,” says [Thomas] Manton, “to the articles of religion doth not infer true faith. True faith uniteth to Christ, it is conversant about his person.” Two factors seem to be confused in Manton’s mind: the psychology and the propositions. Does this quotation mean that saving faith, in addition to belief in monotheism, must also include the Chalcedonian Christology? Certainly an assent to Chalcedon, however “bare,” is “conversant about his person.” Or does Manton’s statement mean that the devils themselves subscribe to Chalcedon, and that “conversant” is a psychological element in addition to assent? It would seem so because otherwise no contrast could be made between “assent to the articles of religion” and “conversant about his person.”

    Faith “is not only assensus axiomati, an assent to a Gospel maxim or proposition; you are not justified by that, but by being one with Christ. It was the mistake of the former age to make the promise, rather than the person of Christ, to be the formal object of faith.” The mention of the person of Christ is pious language. Similar expressions are common today. One slogan is, “No creed but Christ.” Another expression, with variations from person to person, is, “Faith is not belief in a proposition, but trust in a person.”

    Though this may sound very pious, it is nonetheless destructive of Christianity…

    It is necessary therefore to ask, which Christ, or, whose Christ? The Christian or Biblical answer is the Creed of Chalcedon. A person can be identified only by a set of propositions.

    This is what Manton refers to as “the mistake of the former age.” Thomas Manton was a Puritan of the seventeenth century, and when he speaks of “the former age,” he is not referring to apostate Romanism, but to the Reformers themselves. Hence he is a witness that they defined faith as an assent to the promise of the Gospel. By the same token, he wishes to introduce some other element into faith in addition to this act of will. What is it? He answers, “There is not only assent in faith, but consent; not only an assent to the truth of the word, but a consent to take Christ….True believing is not an act of the understanding only, but a work of all the heart.”

    A careful study of these words and of the complete context in Manton, plus a comparison with the Scripture, should conclude that Manton is confused…

    Manton himself acknowledges, “I confess some expressions of Scripture seem to lay much upon assent as 1 John 4:2 and 5:1; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Matthew 16:17; but these places [Manton strangely says] do either show that assents, where they are serious and upon full conviction, come from some special revelation; or else, if they propound them as evidence of grace, we must distinguish times.”

    …The crux of the difficulty with the popular analysis of faith into notitia (understanding), assensus (assent), and fiducia (trust), is that fiducia comes from the same root as fides (faith). Hence this popular analysis reduces to the obviously absurd definition that faith consists of understanding, assent, and faith. Something better than this tautology must be found.

  19. Hugh McCann Says:

    Hey Patrick,

    I’m asking how justification in James means a temporal deliverance from nakedness or hunger. Am I reading you correctly?

    BTW: I think Sean’s Baptist tease is that [some] Baptists claim that they can know which professors of faith are true possessors of faith.

    Looking forward to your illuminating James 2 blog!


  20. Ah, no, I did not mean justification in James is a temporal deliverance.

    When James asks, “Can faith save him?” he is not saying, as Sean seems to think, “Can a profession of faith save him from hell?” James is asking, “Can holding a belief while sitting back on your haunches feed the hungry or clothe the naked?”

    Another reason James exhorts us to works is to practice what we preach so we will be seen as righteous before men.

    Does that clear it up?

    I remember Clark saying in a lecture that Baptists baptized people upon their regeneration, and he talked to a Baptist pastor who claimed to be gifted by God to discern the elect from the reprobate. I have yet to run across a single Baptist (Reformed, Arminian, or otherwise) who says either of these things.

  21. LJ Says:

    Hi Patrick,
    I hope all is well with you and yours!

    You wrote: “I have yet to run across a single Baptist (Reformed, Arminian, or otherwise) who says either of these things.”

    Is that possibly because, thankfully, you run in decidedly Reformed circles? I have had several very close Reformed Baptist friends, one a Pastor for 40 years, and I don’t think any of them would hold to that notion of baptizing upon certainty of regeneration. But, and this is a big BUT, having grown up in the South where there are all kinds of Baptists, most all Arminian and worse, I suspect Clark’s acquaintance was of one from one of the Arminian Baptist sects (Billy Graham?). I’m sure you’re aware that one of his closest allies, a former student and friend, was the Reformed Baptist, Carl Henry, whom Clark seemed to be very fond of. Having read most of Henry’s works I don’t believe Henry would think he could “know” whether a person was regenerate or not.

    But I’m speculating here and cannot cite anything from Henry that would prove otherwise.

    Cheers,
    LJ


  22. LJ, I run in decidedly Reformed circles *now,* haha. I could see a charismatic baptist perhaps saying something like this, because they might claim special revelation (as Clark’s acquaintance did), but I certainly wouldn’t say it’s the normal baptist position. It seems to be an extreme minority.

    All is well with me and mine 🙂 I hope it is the same with you.

  23. LJ Says:

    @ Patrick T. McWilliams: All is well with me and mine 🙂 I hope it is the same with you.

    Well I’m not any taller, thinner, or younger but, aside from that, I’m blessed beyond anything I deserve since I seem to lack all the “covenant faithfulness” requirements of the FV. Thankfully, they preach a false gospel and I, even I, have assurance that I am safely in the bosom of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    Blessings,
    LJ

  24. Stephen Welch Says:

    Sean, the reference to the 2007 blog article by Papist emisary, Taylor Marshall is quite revealing. It is sad that it takes a papist to see that FV logically leads to Rome. He does raise some embarrasing points that are worth considering. The FV like Rome sees salvation in the church and not in Christ. It should grieve us to see the defection of so many, but certainly there were those Protestants at the time of the Reformation who departed from the faith and this sad reality will continue.

  25. Lauren Says:

    It is already well established that the Federal Vision is a heresy, so it should come as no surprise that these heretics use language that is befuddled and confusing. They have to – it’s the nature of heretics to deceive and twist the truth.

    The sad reality is that the heretics have won in the PCA. That reveals an even sadder truth; the PCA leadership is not committed to standing up to the truth of the Gospel. The leader who is committed has already left the PCA.

    Jesus tells us in John 10 that false teachers are thieves and robbers and He states that his sheep do not follow them but flee. They don’t hang around and have a court case or try to reason with thieves and robbers. Nor do they call theives and robbers fellow sheep as the PCA study report clearly stated. Jesus’ sheep understand the work of thieves and robbers – they are strangers who come to steal and destroy. That’s why the true sheep flee.

    The leaven of the Federal Vision has already spread throughout the PCA. It is now a loaf of bread that needs to be thrown out. So, let the heretics like Jeffrey Meyers and Bill Smith have their day. When the parasites have destroyed the host, they will have nothing left to do but to destroy and devour each other. Meanwhile, the true sheep will have left for other churches who are committed to the truth of the Gospel – churches in other denominations where Christ has not been replaced and where the sheep hear His voice..

  26. hughmc5 Says:

    L.,

    “When the parasites have destroyed the host, they will have nothing left to do but to destroy and devour each other.”
    >Perhaps – or, they’ll look to recruit more mutton, as do the LDS, Watchtowerites, & the papists.

    “PCA leadership is not committed to standing up to the truth of the Gospel.”
    >Sure enough. This is THE problem, of course. If the guardians prefer high teas to trying tough court cases, then, sip away they shall.

    “The leader who is committed has already left the PCA.”
    >This is self-contradictory. An “uncommitted leader” is an oxymoron. A leader by definition lays down his life for the sheep. He was no leader in the mold of our Chief Shepherd, the Bishop of our souls, who abandoned his post & flock.

  27. David Reece Says:

    Hugh,

    Are you saying it is wrong to leave the PCA if you are an officer?


  28. My pastor left the PCA (and so did the congregation) rather than be associated with a denomination that allows two gospels to be taught from its pulpits.

  29. Pht Says:

    … It’s amazing how these people are twisting language so badly that they can add (which means CHANGE) the definition of faith to include the WORK … of obedience.

    The really sad part of it is, they’re so slippery they seem to have even possibly convinced themselves they aren’t changing the biblical definition of faith, even as they preach their changed gospel.

    Those whom God would destroy, he first makes insane, it seems.

  30. Hugh Says:

    David (et. al.)

    My guess is that somewhere in the BCO ordination vows, there’s something about defending the flock over which one is placed. About protecting and feeding those under one’s care?

    I don’t see Paul advising either Timothy or Titus to have escape plans should their churches/ bishoprics get out of hand. Instead, they are called to contend for the faith and discipline the bad guys. Paul even names names to set a good & godly example!

    Recall Acts 20:28ff, where Paul prophetically promises the Ephesians that false teachers WILL ARISE FROM AMONG THEMSELVES, but he does not tell them to then bail on 1st Presbyterian Church of Ephesus. Does he not warn to encourage them, to steel them for the inevitable ensuing battles?

    Machen and Luther fought the law and the law “won” in that they were defrocked by apostatizing cliques. Good!

    Calvin bolted before ordination, I believe. Laity have that option. Clergy do not.

    So, yes, David, those who abandon their churches and presbyteries for supposedly safer havens (if they have vowed before God and men to protect and serve) are in serious, sinful dereliction of duty.

    Yours,
    Hugh

  31. Hugh Says:

    Patrick,

    In your pastor’s case, he protected and saved his flock by getting them unyoked from the sinking SS PCA. This sounds noble.

    I would hope he also battled HIS church (his presbytery) as well before seceding.

    Stateside Anglicans did it years ago. Faithful priests led their parishes out of the Episcopalian miasma into less liberally-infected waters. {Though, sadly, not enough less liberally-infected…}

  32. Lauren Says:

    My husband was a leader in the PCA who was ordained by God to defend the Gospel, not the PCA. When your garden is full of weeds, you pull them out or go and plant your flowers in another garden where there are no weeds. Another illustration comes from Genesis.

    When the higher authorities make a decision to approve and ordain heretics in your presbytery, that leaves a leader with only two choices. Give up defending the Gospel and stay and work alongside those who would trample on the truth and spiritually abuse the sheep or defend the Gospel by leaving and praying that others will follow. Since we were on the front lines of the Federal Vision controversy, those were our only two choices. We chose the latter and some have followed.

    So, we didn’t abandon the SS PCA; we were forced to walk the plank for the sake of the Gospel. 🙂

  33. Lauren Says:

    “Another illustration comes from Genesis”.
    oops – not another illustration from Genesis – pull that weed or phrase out – unless you would like to hear it!

  34. Hugh Says:

    My husband was a leader in the PCA who was ordained by God to defend the Gospel, not the PCA.
    >Lauren, I don’t know him. Was he an ordained officer?

    When your garden is full of weeds, you pull them out or go and plant your flowers in another garden where there are no weeds. Another illustration comes from Genesis.
    >Genesis IS illustrative, but not programmatic. Timothy & Titus are, and the Apostle’s Ephesus warnings in Acts are highly instructive, no?

    When the higher authorities make a decision to approve and ordain heretics in your presbytery, that leaves a leader with only two choices.
    >No, not necessarily.

    Give up defending the Gospel and stay and work alongside those who would trample on the truth and spiritually abuse the sheep or defend the Gospel by leaving and praying that others will follow.
    >False. One could stay & defend the truth (and flock), and either see change or be defrocked. As I indicated, both Luther and Machen steered this different course.

    Since we were on the front lines of the Federal Vision controversy, those were our only two choices.
    >Maybe they were your only two choices. I don’t know, of course. I suspect not, however. But so be it.

    We chose the latter and some have followed.
    >I sincerely hope he brought out the congregation committed to his charge. (Some brother presbyters would be a bonus, too!)

    So, we didn’t abandon the SS PCA; we were forced to walk the plank for the sake of the Gospel.
    >Forced to leave? Was your husband defrocked? Charged?

  35. Hugh Says:

    Why DO heretics win battles? Ultimately, because God’s gives over the institutional church to the devil.

    Three great examples from J.R.:

    The Apostle Paul lost some of his battles. When Paul preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the synagogues, he was persecuted by the original antichrist, Judaism. We do not know, but tradition says that Paul died a violent death. (Jesus himself was almost murdered on the Sabbath by devout synagogue-going Jews who did not like his sermon; see Luke 4.) Most of the Jews of the first century rejected Christ; only the remnant was saved. The wrath of God, exercised through an unbelieving and unwitting General Titus, ended the apostate Temple cult – the vaunted Second Temple Judaism of the New Perspective on Paul. It was only through the writing of new Scriptures, the divinely inspired New Testament, and the establishment of new institutions – churches to propagate the doctrines of the Scriptures, both Old and New – that the Gospel survived the first century. As a Christian, Paul did not use force (as Saul he had). He lost battles, but he won the war.

    The Reformer Martin Luther lost some of his battles. When he launched his doctrinal reform in 1517, he hoped to transform the Roman Church-State. Instead, the papal tyrant excommunicated him, burned his books, and murdered his followers. There was no significant reform of the Roman Church. Five hundred years later, the Roman Church-State is bigger and more heretical than ever. Only the writing of books, sermons, and tracts, and the establishment of Protestant churches and schools, ensured the survival of the Reformation. Most of the Romanists rejected Christ; only the remnant was saved. Luther lost battles, but won the war.

    The 20th century Presbyterian J. Gresham Machen lost some of his battles. In 1923 he wrote a book demonstrating that the Presbyterian Church in the United States was preaching two different messages, Christianity and Liberalism. His efforts to stop the Auburn heresies ended with Machen and others being excommunicated by the Presbyterian Church in 1936. Most of the Presbyterians rejected Christ; only the remnant was saved. Only the publication of more literature, and the establishment of new churches and schools, ensured that Biblical Christianity would not disappear in the United States. Machen lost battles, but Christ won the war.

    In the 21st century the institutions that resulted from the efforts of Machen are subverted by heretics. If history is any indication, the heretics will win, and only the publication of more literature, plus the establishment of new institutions, will ensure the survival of Biblical Presbyterianism in America. Most American Presbyterians will reject Christ, and only the remnant will be saved…

    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=207

  36. Hugh Says:

    I note, Mrs Kuo, that you wrote the following here* 4 years ago:

    “My husband also made the very difficult decision to give up his credentials in the PCA because he as a minister of the Gospel took to heart Paul’s warning to the Galatians: If anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed… if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ (Galatians 1:9-10). He did not want to forfeit his integrity and his bold witness for Christ by remaining in a presbytery that tolerated and promoted the Federal Vision. We pray that the hearts of PCA pastors would be stirred to heed this very serious warning as well.”

    Pious-sounding at first blush, Lauren, but were it not infinitely better for a man to honor his ordination vows, and thereby retain his integrity and his bold witness for Christ by remaining in a presbytery that tolerated and promoted the Federal Vision in order to FIGHT FOR CHRIST AND HIS GOSPEL?!

    I am sorry you and Vincent faced opposition, heresy, slander, and whatever else the enemy’s minions threw at you.

    But perhaps we don’t need “mama grizzlies” (in the PCA or elsewhere) as you recently put it, so much as we simply need godly men.

    * https://godshammer.wordpress.com/2008/08/20/why-we-left-the-pca/

  37. David Reece Says:

    Hugh,

    I think I agree in most cases that an officer should stay and fight, but I have three more questions for you if you will humor me.

    1) What do you think of John Robbins’ leaving the PCA as an elder?

    2) What do you think of a man becomes an officer in an apostate church who becomes converted or was already converted and then realizes that he is in an apostate denomination (like a roman priest or PCUSA minister)? Should men in this case stay and fight, or should they leave?

    I am inclined to think that they should make a public declaration of their cause for leaving, but not stay.

    I think it can be said that the PCA is now apostate. Perhaps you disagree. IF it is not apostate, then officers should stay and fight. IF it is apostate, then I think officers have the right and duty to leave, but they must look to bring their flocks out with them and make known more broadly their reasons.

    3) Do you think more is required? Should they take some more formal action?

    Thanks for the help.

  38. Hugh McCann Says:

    Hey David,

    Great queries.

    (1) Don’t know anything about it. Illuminate me (us).

    (2,a) Go down swinging like Luther and Machen.
    Make the bastards work for their apostasy.
    Never, never, never give up, to quote a certain British bulldog.

    Take their flocks, for sure. And a bro. presbyter or two would be nice, too!

    (2,b) The PCA’s apostasy is debatable. Another time…
    But it’s no worse than 16th Century Rome or early 20th Century UPC, is it?

    (3) Gotta think about it.

  39. Hugh McCann Says:

    John therein closed thusly:

    P. S. Lest someone accuse my family and me of breaking our membership and ordination vows by resigning from the Session and the church, the PCA Book of Church Order recognizes and permits such resignations. Furthermore, these actions are taken in fulfillment of my vow to “strive for the purity, peace, unity, and edification of the church.” There can be no Christian purity, peace, unity, or edification except on the basis of the Gospel. Subjection to the Elders is not absolute, but limited by the phrase “in the Lord.” When Elders refuse to correct men who are teaching a false gospel; when Elders criticize those who do their duty by identifying false teaching as false; and when Elders fail to warn the sheep of danger, to remain submissive to them is to be rebellious to Christ.

    Respectfully, I demur.

    If he were an elder, then the submission was to have been mutual.

    Of course, he must have felt his family’s pain to have been under goofy elders.

    But when elders refuse to correct men who are teaching a false gospel; when elders criticize those who do their duty by identifying false teaching as false; and when elders fail to warn the sheep of danger, an ordained servant of Christ, a sworn shepherd of a flock (as are all REs as well as TEs) is to battle the evil until either the evil desists or removes him.

    THE GOOD SHEPHERD LAID DOWN HIS LIFE HIS SHEEP.

    IMO, John should have made them earn it – made them try to try and excommunicate him for his holy recalcitrance.

    Otherwise, all the good guys leave because the going gets tough, and leave hapless sheep to hungry wolves.

    WWTAPD? What would the apostle Paul do?!

    {Interestingly, John’s resignation letter is dated 9 years ago almost to the day!}

  40. Hugh McCann Says:

    Guys, Gal(s),

    I fully realize and readily admit that judging messrs Kuo & Robbins is infinitely easier than going through (with one’s family!) what they did, and battling valiantly as they did.

    As a seemingly terminal (and interminable) armchair critic, I have no scarring in comparison to these men. Am I worthy to be compared to them? No.

    Have I the right and responsibility to speak the truth as I see it (as they did)? Absolutely.

    May God give us all in our several & diverse callings, the resolve and integrity to do battle against the principalities and powers behind such perfidious movements as the FV, etc.

  41. Cliffton Says:

    Ultimately Christ did not lay down His life as a victim, nor did evil remove Him. That would be a perverse thought, a thought from below.

  42. Hugh Says:

    Amen, Cliffton. From John 10 ~

    Then said Jesus unto them again, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:

    “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

    “But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

    “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

    “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

    “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”

  43. Cliffton Says:

    And for one to think that an imitator of Christ (ordained or not) must battle until the evil “removes him” is a perverted way to think, a way of thinking that does not even understand the battle which he claims is being fought, and the side for which he claims to fight. And that even before a course of action has been decided.


  44. Gotta side with Robbins & Kuo on this one. Sometimes it takes someone with the courage to publicly say, “No,” and walk out to start an exodus. I’ve seen it in varying situations before, and sometimes I’ve been that person. Fleeing in the face of opposition or persecution is one thing, and consciously declaring separation unto the gospel is another. Christian sheep are not defenseless, dumb animals. They follow their Shepherd and his undershepherds.

  45. Hugh Says:

    CLIFFTON: See ordination vows. Think about the calling to be a shepherd. It is not “perverted” to fight evil, and protect to the death or defrocking the flock one has vowed to protect and nourish. To flee in the face of evil is to risk Christ’s denunciation of “hireling-ism” in John 10.

    I’m not saying stay in and play nice.

    PATRICK: Were you ordained as were messrs Kuo and Robbins? They had vowed to feed and protect Christ’s bride in a way different that that of a chuch member.

    BOTH: You each unwittingly indict both Luther and Machen in your pious-sounding comments. Neither man was “perverted” to stay in his respective communion (as an ordained man) and fight the evil, while feeding the particular flock committed to his charge.

    I note that neither of you offer any biblical example or precept to contradict that which I above cite. Or an example from church history (apart from Robbins & Kuo).

    PATRICK: Fleeing in the face of opposition or persecution is one thing, and consciously declaring separation unto the gospel is another.
    ~ My point is that being ordained changes the game. Rules for ordained officers differ from those for laity as do those for a married man compared to a bachelor.

    Christian sheep are not defenseless, dumb animals.
    ~ I beg to differ. Those are two reasons why Jesus CALLS us “sheep,” are they not?!

    They follow their Shepherd and his undershepherds.
    ~ All the more reason to set a Christ-like example, no?
    Or a Luther-like example?
    Or a Machen-esque example?

    BOTH: I will venture to say that had the good guys not folded their hands and walked away from the fray, that the PCA & OPC would have either (1) been spared, or (2) we’d have at least seen and heard godly examples of Machen-like men go down fighting instead of going out complaining.

    The harsh reality is that shepherds Kuo & Robbins (PCA REs), and OPC RE Paul Elliott chose to flee, and left the wolves (FV & otherwise) in power to freely feast on mutton & lamb.

    Do you men honestly believe that is what the Apostle wanted the Ephesian elders w/ Timothy to do: Flee when they saw wolves rise up from among themselves?! Or cave in & bolt when church court cases don’t go their way?


  46. Hugh,

    “Were you ordained as were messrs Kuo and Robbins?”

    No.

    “They had vowed to feed and protect Christ’s bride in a way different that that of a chuch member.”

    I’m aware.

    “You each unwittingly indict both Luther and Machen in your pious-sounding comments. Neither man was ‘perverted’ to stay in his respective communion (as an ordained man) and fight the evil, while feeding the particular flock committed to his charge.”

    You assume I believe it is wrong for men like Wes White and Lane Keister to remain in the PCA and “fight the good fight.” I do not believe so, and to jump to that conclusion is a non sequitur.

    “I note that neither of you offer any biblical example or precept to contradict that which I above cite. Or an example from church history (apart from Robbins & Kuo).”

    With respect, I don’t feel like it, as first of all I’m not a presbyterian and thus I see denominational affiliations as something not found in Scripture. Did Robbins or Kuo break their vows?

    “My point is that being ordained changes the game. Rules for ordained officers differ from those for laity as do those for a married man compared to a bachelor.”

    And *my* point is that one could separate from an apostate denomination for the sake of the gospel just as Protestants separated from the false, man-made church structure of the RCC. This isn’t abandoning one’s duty; it is taking a stand in public. The sheep will go where they are supposed to. Your speculations about what “might have happened” in the PCA and OPC are just that: speculation. Did you read Robbins’ account of Midway?

    My pastor didn’t encounter oppression from his presbytery, he met with indifference. When the name “PCA” became a name that stood for a denomination that tolerated two gospels, I’d say the door opened up for godly presbyters to leave and invite their flocks to follow.

  47. Hugh Says:

    P: You assume I believe it is wrong for men like Wes White and Lane Keister to remain in the PCA and “fight the good fight.” I do not believe so, and to jump to that conclusion is a non sequitur.
    H: I agree – I realize you didn’t say Kuo & Robbins set a standard for Keister & White to follow, ASAP. But the tenor of your friends Cliffton & Lauren is that staying in the PCA is wrong. But I realize you merely said: Sometimes it takes someone with the courage to publicly say, “No,” and walk out to start an exodus. I’ve seen it in varying situations before, and sometimes I’ve been that person. Fleeing in the face of opposition or persecution is one thing, and consciously declaring separation unto the gospel is another. Christian sheep are not defenseless, dumb animals. They follow their Shepherd and his undershepherds. You’re just saying that ordained men have good cause to leave the PCA – “I’d say the door opened up for godly presbyters to leave…”

    P: With respect, I don’t feel like it, as first of all I’m not a presbyterian and thus I see denominational affiliations as something not found in Scripture. Did Robbins or Kuo break their vows?
    H: Yes. And yet a Baptist minister, facing opposition from his deacons, elders, or trustees, is to likewise called to stay and protect the flock he oversees by appointment of the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28). It’s not about “denominational affiliations” or loyalties, but about keeping one’s vows. Hence, my allusion to marriage.

    P: And *my* point is that one could separate from an apostate denomination for the sake of the gospel just as Protestants separated from the false, man-made church structure of the RCC. This isn’t abandoning one’s duty; it is taking a stand in public.
    H: If one is not ordained, granted. Calvin left prior to his ordination. Fr Luther stayed in to fight and was defrocked. These are both legit, imho. But ministers do not have the luxury of leaving when it’s too hot or discouraging. Until excommunicated, they still have the hope that others will repent as they bring rebuke. Paul withstood Peter to his face.

    P: The sheep will go where they are supposed to.
    H: Not the thinking of Paul or Jesus toward the church’s officers. What a disaster if church officers blithely took this tack!

    P: Your speculations about what “might have happened” in the PCA and OPC are just that: speculation.
    H: Of course. But an educated, sanctified speculation! 😉

    P: Did you read Robbins’ account of Midway?
    H: Yes.

    P: My pastor didn’t encounter oppression from his presbytery, he met with indifference. When the name “PCA” became a name that stood for a denomination that tolerated two gospels, I’d say the door opened up for godly presbyters to leave and invite their flocks to follow.
    H: And thus we differ. If the shepherds bail, the wolves simply feast. Jesus did not sanction this. Nor did Paul so instruct Timothy and elders @ Ephesus.

  48. Cliffton Says:

    Hugh,
    I never claimed it was perverted to fight evil. I claimed it was perverted to think that Christ was a victim and that evil removed him. You responded with an “Amen”. I then claimed that it is a perversion to suggest that an imitator of Christ must fight until evil “removes him”. Apparently you disagree. Yet the basis for both my claims is that darkness/evil cannot cast out or remove the light. You claim,

    “an ordained servant of Christ, a sworn shepherd of a flock (as are all REs as well as TEs) is to battle the evil until either the evil desists or removes him.”

    Your statement implies the possibility of evil removing good, of darkness casting out light. To think or imply such would manifest a way of thinking that does not even understand the battle which he claims is being fought, and the side for which he claims to fight. And that even before a course of action has been decided, a course of action that MAY or MAY NOT entail remaining. Hugh, your reference point is from below.

    The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome.

  49. Hugh Says:

    Thanks, Cliffton, for the clarification.

    Yes, I disagree with these two statements of yours:
    [1]for one to think that an imitator of Christ (ordained or not) must battle until the evil “removes him” is a perverted way to think…
    [2]it is a perversion to suggest that an imitator of Christ must fight until evil “removes him”.
    when it comes to an ordained officer.

    Your statement implies the possibility of evil removing good, of darkness casting out light.

    Of course, Christ wins in the end. Temporarily, of course, good guys do lose battles with bad guys. Evil does triumph temporarily.

    For evil to succeed in churches, one assist is from those who stop fighting the evil to flee.

    Please see JR’s “Why Heretics Win Battles.”

  50. Cliffton Says:

    Cliffton: Your statement implies the possibility of evil removing good, of darkness casting out light.

    Hugh: Of course, Christ wins in the end. Temporarily, of course, good guys do lose battles with bad guys. Evil does triumph temporarily.

    Cliffton: Your understanding of victory or “triumph” is therefore vain, fleeting, and ultimately false. Your statement also suggests that you are a spiritual looser (a least temporarily). However, the Word of the Lord always comes with power, endures forever, and never returns void. And the just live by faith in that Word. And faith IS THE VICTORY that overcomes the world. The implication(s) of your statement is
    1. Light does not always cast out darkness
    2. Faith is not always the victory
    3. Christ the King does not always triumph
    4. And the gates of hell do sometimes prevail over the church that Christ is building.

    Stop being a loser. And stop communicating your loser theology- sounds zealous but lacks knowledge.

  51. Hugh Says:

    Thanks, Cliffton, for the clarification.

    Good guys sometimes do lose battles with bad guys. Evil does sometimes triumph temporarily.
    Evil sometimes succeeds in churches.
    Do you deny the apostasy of Rome, for example?

    Please see JR’s “Why Heretics Win Battles.”


  52. Hugh, you are viewing the separation of these pastors as running, fleeing, abandoning, retreating, etc. I see it as a positive action of declaration of defiance in the face of a false gospel. You might disagree as to which course of action (staying or leaving) might be more profitable for the cause of Christ, but armchairs are seldom a good vantage point, brother.

    I’d be interested in Sean’s thoughts, particularly on whether or not John (Robbins) broke his ordination vows.

  53. Hugh Says:

    I agree, Patrick, about the armchairs (or keyboards), and that is why I’ve brought up the examples of Christ, Paul, Luther, & Machen, and similarly made mention of Paul’s instructions to the Ephesian elders and in his pastoral epistles. There appears nothing from Writ or church history to validate your claim that Kuo/ Robbins/ Elliott engaged in “a positive action” by abandoning their churches to what they perceive to be wolves.

    Rather, unlike Luther and Machen who tried to reform their communions (thereby attempting to fulfill at least part of their ordination vows), these men fled when it looked too hopeless.

    History will tell whether Elliott, Kuo & Robbins were precipitous in their secession (whether the PCA & OPC are as “apostate” as some claim them to be). But really I hope that Messrs Keister and White are not looked upon as being traitorous to Christ for staying in as TEs in the PCA!

    But the issue is fidelity to one’s vows. I will go with Lane, Wes, J. Gresham, and Fr. Martin.

    I concur that our opinions are just those: Our opinions.


  54. Hugh,

    “abandoning their churches to what they perceive to be wolves”
    “these men fled”

    That’s what our disagreement is about: whether or not such descriptions are fair. Do you think I’d defend a wolf-feeding pastor? Do you honestly believe John Robbins or Paul Elliot thought to themselves, “Oh no, it’s too hot in the kitchen! Forget about these poor hapless sheep; I need to save my own skin!”

    Your language is biased and begs the question of motive and deed. Robbins obviously can no longer defend himself here as he has gone to be with our Lord, but it is ironic that you keep recommending his own article as a condemning polemic. I’d be interested in Paul Elliott’s thoughts on your view of his actions.

    “But really I hope that Messrs Keister and White are not looked upon as being traitorous to Christ for staying in as TEs in the PCA!”

    Not by me, as I’ve said.

  55. Hugh Says:

    Patrick,

    Paul Elliott & I exchanged some fun emails on this when he left the OPC to found the ERPC. I will try to retrieve them.

    While I don’t think any of the three men we’ve been discussing left their positions without serious consideration and counsel, neither do I know what any of them were thinking apart from what they tell us.

    But an interesting question emerges:

    If Revs White & Keister are OK staying in the PCA and shepherd their respective flocks,

    and if Kuo & Robbins were right in their forsaking the PCA,

    is each free to do what is right in his own eyes, and judge the PCA OK or apostate — both are within reason?!


  56. Ah, but each man’s situation is not necessarily the same in black-and-white terms. Questions arise in each individual situation: How is Christ best served? In this specific context, how do I lead? What message is declared by my staying? What message would be declared by my leaving? What message needs to be declared?

    You seem to think there is no responsibility of sheep to heed the example of their shepherds. Are the sheep not also called to evaluate the doctrine of their teachers? Shepherds are shepherds, but they’re not Christ, nor are they the sole possessors of the Spirit, nor are they the only holders of the Word.

    Note carefully that I am not advocating a relativistic ethic. Rather I am simply recognizing that these men are in *different* situations, despite similar circumstances.

  57. LJ Says:

    Sean,
    I apologize since this has nothing to do with the thread. But I didn’t know how else to post it. I only do so because, well, actually because I like you guys. Well, most of you anyway (tee hee).

    LJ

    http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/just-open-up-your-eyes-and-look-65-signs-that-the-economic-collapse-is-already-happening

  58. Sean Gerety Says:

    @Patrick. I do not see anything in the ordination vows that would require an officer to remain in the PCA if he became convinced that the church will not or cannot discipline the false teachers in her ranks. If there is something I’ve missed in the vows, perhaps Hugh can point it out.

    I think Robbins did the right thing leaving the PCA and for the reasons he did. How many presbyteries have to state that the FV is acceptable in the PCA before men leave? Or, can they never leave and may only leave when they’re thrown out? Also, let’s not forget that Robbins started a church after leaving the PCA, so he hardly abandoned the flock.


  59. Sean, thanks. I agree.

  60. Hugh Says:

    from http://www.pcanet.org/bco/BCO20-23.htm

    1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as originally given, to be the inerrant Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?

    2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures; and do you further promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with any of the fundamentals of this system of doctrine, will you on your own initiative, make known to your Presbytery the change which has taken place in your views since the assumption of this ordination vow?

    3. Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in America, in conformity with the general principles of Biblical polity?

    4. Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?

    5. Have you been induced, as far as you know your own heart, to seek the office of the holy ministry from love to God and a sincere desire to promote His glory in the Gospel of His Son?

    6. Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the Gospel and the purity and peace and unity of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?

    7. Do you engage to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and a minister of the Gospel, whether personal or relational, private or public; and to endeavor by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the Gospel in your manner of life, and to walk with exemplary piety before the flock of which God shall make you overseer?

    8. Are you now willing to take the charge of this church, agreeable to your declaration when accepting their call? And do you, relying upon God for strength, promise to discharge to it the duties of a pastor?

  61. Cliffton Says:

    Hugh: Evil sometimes succeeds in churches.
    Do you deny the apostasy of Rome, for example?

    Cliffton: As an example of what Hugh? Only apostates apostasize.

  62. Lauren Says:

    Hugh, my husband remains an ordained minister but gave up his credentials in the PCA. He was an assistant minister under the authority of a senior minister. We were told to be silent on the Federal Vision. So we were “subject to the brethren” by leaving, for to stay would require us to violate our conscience and our vows by having to remain silent. Or, if we refised to remain silent, we would then no longer be subject to the brethren. And, to be honest, we were asked to leave and find another presbytery. Based on the way the PCA has dealt with the Federal Vision, we didn’t believe there was a presbytery that was wholeheartedly committed to the gospel. And, we saw no reason to uproot our family because of the desire of false teachers to get rid of us. We actually had an offer from our senior minister to buy our house just to appease these Federal Vision folks.. Yes, really.. So we kept our vow to be “subject to the brethren” by obliging them and leaving.

    We were no pious heroes, believe me. We know we said and did some things that were more out of frustration and anger than out of love. We invested ten years in the PCA and hated to leave. The PCA was very good to us and we loved the people. But, I don’t think you really know what it is like to serve beside elders who deliberately and blatantly mislead and deceive the members – especially the children. If you have any love for the gospel and any conscience, you can’t possibly keep silent.

    We also had our three children to think about as well. We could not possibly subject them to elders who were teaching and condoning a false gospel. Would you? We have seen the tragic results of the children who have had to stay under the false teaching of the Federal Vision because of their parents and it is not a pretty picture. How can we expect our children to worship in Spirit and in truth in an environment that is so hostile to the Gospel?

    You know when it is time to leave and move on – you get to a point where the gospel cannot move forward under that kind of hostile leadership. We did the PCA a favor by leaving: we were seen as troublemakers. God honored that decision and step of faith by opening up new doors of ministry for us around the world – opportunities beyond our wildest dreams. We know how difficult it would be for ministers in the PCA to leave their pulpits and their livelihood – we have been there. But, don’t you think that the PCA has now established and demonstrated a history of teaching and proclaiming and practicing and condoning a false gospel? When is enough enough?

  63. Hugh Says:

    Cliffton,
    What’s up with the tautological confusion?

  64. Cliffton Says:

    Hugh: Evil sometimes succeeds in churches.
    Do you deny the apostasy of Rome, for example

    Cliffton: As an example of what Hugh? Only apostates apostasize.

    Hugh: Cliffton, What’s up with the tautological confusion?

    Cliffton: Your refusal to accept what is true by definition and what is in accordance with the righteous judgment of God, that whats up. Unless you are intending to call righteousness unrighteousness, good evil, victory defeat, light darkness? But this would imply you are not even a Christian. So how do you understand the apostasy of Rome Hugh? Was it the righteous judgment of God? Truth triumphing over evil? God giving those individuals over to a debased mind? Light casting out darkness? The sheep being separated from the goats? Let’s see what you wrote again.

    Hugh: Evil sometimes succeeds in churches.
    Do you deny the apostasy of Rome, for example

    Cliffton: As an example of what Hugh, the success of Rome? Like I said before, your reference point is from below.

  65. Hugh Says:

    Lauren,

    We must agree to disagree.

    Are not all elders equal under PCA polity, whether assistants, seniors, associates, REs, TEs?

    One must choose in these situation which vows to break. Vincent and I would differ as to which we are to uphold and which we are to break. No doubt Machen was encouraged to leave, too.

    Based on the way the PCA has dealt with the Federal Vision, we didn’t believe there was a presbytery that was wholeheartedly committed to the gospel.
    ALL the more reason to stay and fight for Christ’s church!

    If you have any love for the gospel and any conscience, you can’t possibly keep silent.
    But… leave?!

    We also had our three children to think about as well. We could not possibly subject them to elders who were teaching and condoning a false gospel. Would you?
    If your “senior” pastor was preaching falsehood, then Vincent should have withstood him to his face. Publicly, if the sin was public. If its a matter of secondary separation (as it was in Robbins’ case) then, constant prayer and rebuke are in order, no?

    Were the “senior” pastor, and/ or the majority of the session promoting the Federal Vision? Out of the blue? Or were they merely tolerating the heresy in others (as was the case with Midway’s session)? Tolerating and teaching heresy are two different things and requite two different tactics/ responses.

    When is enough enough?
    For the ordained officers, enough is never enough.

  66. Hugh Says:

    Thanks, Cliffton, for the clarification.

    Of course Rome apostatized. That was the temporal triumph of evil over good. But only those professing orthodoxy can apostatize.

    Apostates are only apostates after they apostatize from the truth.

  67. Cliffton Says:

    Hugh: Apostates are only apostates after they apostatize from the truth.

    Cliffton: And for you, apostasy from the truth is victory, triumph, and success…with Rome as YOUR example. I believe in the resurrection of Christ from the dead. You have your example of victory, and the Scriptures have its example. That is my final word.

  68. Hugh Says:

    Thanks, Cliffton, for the clarification.

    Rome’s “victories” are only carnal and demonic, and in these she has cursed, terrorized, and killed the Lord’s saints.

    Of course, Christ ultimately gets the victory; amen.

    I do not know why you read me with so little understanding, and respond with such vitriol.

    Perhaps others here can enlighten me as to what I said or how I said it that so infuriated you. I guess that will be my final word to you, as well, sir.


  69. Cliffton has hit upon the root of the disagreement. Take two single acts (the apostasy of Rome; the resignation of Robbins). Hugh sees a temporary victory for Satan and a cowardly “breaking of vows”. The rest of us (I think) see those as God’s judgment and an upholding of vows (in ways Hugh has never considered). I read the vows you posted, Hugh, and I still don’t see how they were broken.

  70. Hugh Says:

    Thanks, Patrick.

    As for Rome, yes I see her apostasy as being both a temporary victory for the enemy as well as God’s judgment. He gave her over to the devil.

    I have considered your positionk on the vows, but I do not [yet] agree with you.

    On the vows:

    3. Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in America, in conformity with the general principles of Biblical polity?

    4. Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?

    5. Have you been induced, as far as you know your own heart, to seek the office of the holy ministry from love to God and a sincere desire to promote His glory in the Gospel of His Son?

    6. Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the Gospel and the purity and peace and unity of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?

    7. Do you engage to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and a minister of the Gospel, whether personal or relational, private or public; and to endeavor by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the Gospel in your manner of life, and to walk with exemplary piety before the flock of which God shall make you overseer?

    8. Are you now willing to take the charge of this church, agreeable to your declaration when accepting their call? And do you, relying upon God for strength, promise to discharge to it the duties of a pastor?

    #s 3 &4 include of course mututal accountability and reproof between the officers (TEs & REs) of the church.

    It appears I differ from others @ this thread on the extent to which a church official is to follow this, too. We differ here as to when and how one may demit from this high calling: “to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the Gospel and the purity and peace and unity of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account …to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and a minister of the Gospel, whether personal or relational, private or public…”

    I believe that Machen and Luther took views more akin to mine than thine, brethren (& sister).

    The Bible gives us no example (much less a command) of quitting one’s role as undershepherd. Paul’s example of tireless love and service in defense of Christ’s sheep speaks loudly. The scriptural silence on the side of the precipitous seceders is telling.

    Add Peter’s instructions to the elders (1st Peter 5) to those of Paul in Acts 20 & the pastorals. No escape clauses there.

    The questionable churches of Galatia and Corinth and the teetering congregations in Rev. 2 & 3 also bear witness that elders/ pastors are to stay and feed and fight for their flocks.

  71. Hugh Says:

    Let me ask this of Sean & Patrick & Lauren and anyone else snarling at the PCA: You claim that REs Robbins & Kuo were right to leave.*

    If the PCA is apostate, then they bound to leave, yes?

    Wouldn’t you argue that they had to leave in order to be faithful to Christ?

    Then are the likes of messrs Keister, White, R.C. Sproul Sr, Tim Keller, Cov’t, RTS, & Wesmintser Seminaries, et. al. in sin for remaining yoked with those tolerating or even espousing FV &/or other heresies?


  72. Hugh, once again, the disagreement is not over how far one should uphold his vows. We are all agreed that should be done. Where we differ is that you deny that leaving *is actually one way of upholding those vows and publicly defending the gospel and striving for true peace.* You’re still using biased, question-begging language of “escape” and “quitting.” One more time, the disagreement is *not* over whether or not elders are allowed to run and hide, which seems to be how you are framing it.

    As for whether they are bound to leave, I’ve already answered that question. Different men, different situations, different tools, different callings, different paths, different roles to play, different ministries…same ultimate goal. There’s more than one way to de-fur a feline, and more than one way to defend the gospel and fight the Federal Vision.

  73. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hugh, there is nothing in the above reproduced vows that Robbins violated by leaving the PCA. Clark left the OPC. Was he sinning when he left? I must have missed that vow which states that once you become an officer you are forbidden from ever leaving. Must be in the fine print. Have you read John’s resignation letter? It seems his PS was meant for people like you:

    Lest someone accuse my family and me of breaking our membership and ordination vows by resigning from the Session and the church, the PCA Book of Church Order recognizes and permits such resignations. Furthermore, these actions are taken in fulfillment of my vow to “strive for the purity, peace, unity, and edification of the church.” There can be no Christian purity, peace, unity, or edification except on the basis of the Gospel. Subjection to the Elders is not absolute, but limited by the phrase “in the Lord.” When Elders refuse to correct men who are teaching a false gospel; when Elders criticize those who do their duty by identifying false teaching as false; and when Elders fail to warn the sheep of danger, to remain submissive to them is to be rebellious to Christ.

    As for your list of other players and institutions, it’s kind of a mixed bag isn’t it? First, I’m not sure if RTS or WS are linked to anyone. I thought they were both para church organizations. Cov’t is another story. I have no idea why Keister, White or Sproul stay in the PCA. White seems to me like the ultimate optimist and perhaps thinks the SJC will one day jump in and make all things right re the FV and NPP. IMO that’s just wishful thinking. I’m guessing the same goes for Lane. Sproul I have no idea what he might think. Frankly, I wonder if he really thinks about the PCA much at all, but was a hero when it came to the passage of the FV/NPP report.

    Also, I’m not sitting in judgment of these men for choosing to stay, but I don’t know how you can sit in judgment of John, Vincent and others who have decided to leave over the failure of the PCA to discipline even one false teacher?

    As for Keller, I don’t see how staying in the PCA would violate his conscience at all. Things seem to be going his way.

  74. Hugh Says:

    Patrick: Hugh, once again, the disagreement is not over how far one should uphold his vows. We are all agreed that should be done. Where we differ is that you deny that leaving *is actually one way of upholding those vows and publicly defending the gospel and striving for true peace.* You’re still using biased, question-begging language of “escape” and “quitting.” One more time, the disagreement is *not* over whether or not elders are allowed to run and hide, which seems to be how you are framing it.
    Hugh: OK, then is the disagreement on HOW one may, (and WHEN one should) demit from the high calling of elder? Is that correct?

    6) …to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the Gospel and the purity and peace and unity of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account. 7) …to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and a minister of the Gospel, whether personal or relational, private or public…

    I will restrict my comments merely to Kuo & Robbins & the PCA vows.

    So, is the PCA apostate? Apparently not, in your view? So Sproul & Keister and White are not necessarily sinning by staying in and working from within?


  75. That seems to be the disagreement, I think. But I wonder how much there is a one-to-one correspondence with ordination to eldership in the PCA and eldership in the NT. One’s ecclesiology has significant implications in this matter. How is one ordained, and is it possible to be un-ordained apart from excommunication?

    This is why it is difficult for me to answer the question, “Is the PCA apostate?” Presbyterians look at the PCA as a single denomination; I look at it as a group of individual churches that have improperly structured themselves (no offense to my Presbyterian brethren/sistren). I would certainly not say all local congregations in the PCA are apostate. I would say that the PCA (regardless of its legitimacy as a form of government) has proved to be an utter failure in dealing with blatant heresy.

  76. Hugh Says:

    Sean, As I said above (after quoting John’s P.S.):

    Respectfully, I demur. …an ordained servant of Christ, a sworn shepherd of a flock (as are all REs as well as TEs) is to battle the evil until either the evil desists or removes him.
    THE GOOD SHEPHERD LAID DOWN HIS LIFE HIS SHEEP.
    IMO, John should have made them earn it – made them try to try and excommunicate him for his holy recalcitrance.

    I agree with John that the “PCA Book of Church Order recognizes and permits such resignations.” But vows 6 & 7 can also be read (rightly, imo) that one is to do as Sts Martin & J. Gresham did.

    6) …to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the Gospel and the purity and peace and unity of the Church, whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account. 7) …to be faithful and diligent in the exercise of all your duties as a Christian and a minister of the Gospel, whether personal or relational, private or public…

    Yes, my list is a mixed bag – THAT’S THE PCA! I included WTS, WSC, & RTS only b/c they have PCA ministers on their faculties.

    Also, I’m not sitting in judgment of these men for choosing to stay
    So, you are saying that Sproul, Keister, White, et. al. are NOT necessarily sinning by staying in and working from within?

    Thus, you would not argue that the PCA is apostate?

  77. Hugh Says:

    Patrick,

    By your saying, “I would say that the PCA (regardless of its legitimacy as a form of government) has proved to be an utter failure in dealing with blatant heresy,” are you saying that it is an illegitimate communion, one from which the saints must flee?

  78. Sean Gerety Says:

    “I will restrict my comments merely to Kuo & Robbins & the PCA vows.”

    But you haven’t demonstrated how either Kuo or Robbins broke their vows. I admit your use of bold lettering is impressive, but it isn’t an argument. Did Clark violate his vows by leaving the OPC? Now, Clark later in life regretted leaving and not continuing to fight, but was he sinning for not doing so? Again, where’s the argument? You seem to treat everyone and every situation as if they were the same. Is it your belief that the only way you can leave a denomination is to be defrocked and excommunicated like Machen and Luther? I think you have a pretty odd view of the requirement of church leadership. Frankly, I think Kuo & Robbins did lead precisely by leaving the PCA.

  79. Hugh Says:

    Have Sproul, Keister, and White sinned by so long staying in communion with the PCA?

    Was Machen sinning by remaining in his PCUSA?

    Did Luther sin in staying yoked to the Romish harlot as he did, vainly trying to reform the semper iedem church-state?

    I know these are three different situations, but can any of these be answered by anyone here?


  80. Hugh, you keep restating the question, and I keep giving you the same answer. I’m not sure what you want from me.

  81. Hugh Says:

    ‘I admit your use of bold lettering is impressive, but it isn’t an argument.’
    🙂

    ‘Is it your belief that the only way you can leave a denomination is to be defrocked and excommunicated like Machen and Luther?’
    >>Yes. Will you also answer my questions from 2:55pm, please?

    ‘I think you have a pretty odd view of the requirement of church leadership.’
    >>Here, apparently!

    ‘Frankly, I think Kuo & Robbins did lead precisely by leaving the PCA.’
    >>Back at ya: I think you have a pretty odd view of the requirement of church leadership, too.

    ‘..you haven’t demonstrated how either Kuo or Robbins broke their vows.’
    & ‘I don’t know how you can sit in judgment of John, Vincent and others who have decided to leave over the failure of the PCA to discipline even one false teacher?’
    >>I have to answer these, I know.

  82. Hugh Says:

    Patrick,

    I am missing your answer to my 2:47pm question. If you gave it earlier, I am sorry.

    The 2:55pm post is to Sean. my apologies.


  83. Aug 13, 3:09 is where I first said I was not claiming that everyone *must* flee the PCA. I repeated that sentiment several times after that.

  84. Hugh Says:

    Sean,
    Not to go too far down a rabbit trail, and I don’t know why Clark later regretted leaving the OPC, but acc. to all I can find, yes, he did not have biblical grounds – after having been ordained to the sacred office of elder – to jump ship.

    How different things would look today, OPC-wise, had GHC stayed, one can only speculate. *Sigh* But I shan’t.

  85. Hugh Says:

    Thank you, Patrick.

    Would it have been permissible -IYO- for Robbins and/ or Kuo to have remained REs in the PCA and stayed to fight?


  86. Do you need to ask that question, based on what I’ve said about White, Keister, et al?

  87. Hugh Says:

    Patrick,

    Part of my confusion (and I’ll own most of it, believe me!), came from this in that 3:09 Aug 13 post:

    And *my* point is that one could separate from an apostate denomination for the sake of the gospel just as Protestants separated from the false, man-made church structure of the RCC. This isn’t abandoning one’s duty; it is taking a stand in public. The sheep will go where they are supposed to.

    I thought you were comparing the RCC with the PCA, as I had been contrasting Luther [& Machen] with Kuo & Robbins.

    I now get it -finally- that you are not saying the PCA is apostate and that all God’s children must flee!

  88. Hugh Says:

    H: Would it have been permissible -IYO- for Robbins and/ or Kuo to have remained REs in the PCA and stayed to fight?
    P: Do you need to ask that question, based on what I’ve said about White, Keister, et al?

    So your answer is ‘Yes.’ Thank you.

    [For my clarification, it was necessary for me to ask.]

    OK, now I know that you allow Wes & Lane & R.C. the freedom to stay ordained in the PCA.

    Likewise you defend Robbins’ & Kuo’s right to secede.


  89. 😀

    I really think it’s not a simple black-and-white issue, and I’m willing to concede that my ecclesiology may have a large part to play in how I view things. That is, I tend to see/judge congregations on an individual basis rather than a denominational one. My church (formerly Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Heritage Presbytery, PCA, Cambridge, MD) is an utterly different animal than Redeemer Presbyterian Church, PCA, NYC.

  90. Hugh Says:

    Wow! What a line-up there @ RPC in Cambridge!

    B.S. they’re Presbyterian – THEY’RE ANGLICAN!

    Goodness! The Revs there wear a cotta, a collar, a tab collar, and a lavalier mic!

    What a throwback church! (Are you SURE you shoulda left?!)

  91. Hugh Says:

    oops- that Redeemer Pres (PCA) is in Austin, Texas.

    yours* is Cambridge, MD. 😦

    Are they @ 300 Mill St?

    * Redeemer is an independent congregation in the Reformed tradition. We are not affliated with a particular denomination on account of our desire to remain steadfast in the Reformed faith without the influence of denominational governance.

    INTERESTING…


  92. Yup, that’s us. In the process of dropping “Presbyterian” from the name.

  93. Hugh Says:

    “Redeemer Reformed Baptist Church,” then?


  94. Nope. We haven’t settled on a name yet, but “Baptist” will not be in the name. I’ll email you our statement of faith if you like!

  95. Hugh Says:

    Sure – thanks!

  96. Sean Gerety Says:

    >>Yes. Will you also answer my questions from 2:55pm, please?

    I did answer your question. Different situations are different. But, yes, ultimately if Luther and Machen continued to remain yoked to either church it would have been sinful. I’ve never read Calvin’s book on the Nicodemites, but I suspect he might have something to say in this regard too.

    ‘I think you have a pretty odd view of the requirement of church leadership.’
    >>Here, apparently!

    I’ve never met anyone, except perhaps a Romanist, who thought one would be required to remain in office against their conscience.

    ‘Frankly, I think Kuo & Robbins did lead precisely by leaving the PCA.’
    >>Back at ya: I think you have a pretty odd view of the requirement of church leadership, too.

    Why, because they were faithful to the biblical imperatives? I think these men provide the church with a great example. So, let me ask, if the SJC in the PCA determines to uphold the exoneration of Peter Leithart, Jeff Meyers, and Greg Lawrence – or even uphold one of them or any other combination – should all officers be required to remain in the PCA and submit to the judgment of the court? I just want to find out how Romanesque your ecclesiology really is. 😉

  97. Hugh Says:

    Sean,

    I’m not asking if it would have been “ultimately” sinful for Luther and Machen to have “continued to remain yoked to either church.” I am asking about what they did.

    I’m asking if you believe Luther & Machen were sinning because they chose not to leave their respective churches before they were defrocked? Unlike Kuo & Robbins, they stayed in dubious churches to fight until excommunicated.

    I said: Was Machen sinning by remaining in his PCUSA? And, Did Luther sin in staying yoked to the Romish harlot as he did…? They stayed in to be defrocked. Was that a sin?

    S: I’ve never met anyone, except perhaps a Romanist, who thought one would be required to remain in office against their conscience.

    H: Such is not my thought. My contention is that Robbins & Kuo suffered failed consciences in this area. They should have repented, stayed, and fought.

    S: Why, because they were faithful to the biblical imperatives? I think these men provide the church with a great example.

    H: That’s just my point: They FAILED to be “faithful to the biblical imperatives.” I tried to argue from citing Acts 20, the pastorals, Peter, and Revelation as evidence that ordained, sworn defenders of Christ’s bride are not to defect from that vow. I also used the examples of Machen & Luther as men whom I believe exemplified biblical integrity to their vows.

    S: So, let me ask, if the SJC in the PCA determines to uphold the exoneration of Peter Leithart, Jeff Meyers, and Greg Lawrence – or even uphold one of them or any other combination – should all officers be required to remain in the PCA and submit to the judgment of the court? I just want to find out how Romanesque your ecclesiology really is.

    H: 🙂 Funny – but all ordained PCA men (let’s again name 3 goodies: Keister, Sproul & White) ~ should the SJC uphold the exoneration of any FV-er[s]~ all officers are biblically required to remain in the PCA and honorably fight such a judgment of the court.

    Having vowed to protect the church, they must stay and fight and be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the Gospel and the purity and peace and unity of the Church, WHATEVER persecution or opposition may arise unto them on that account.

    And be FAITHFUL and DILIGENT in the exercise of ALL their duties as a Christian and a minister of the Gospel, whether personal or relational, private or public.

    Have you asked Lane &/or Wes their views?
    What they’ll do if the SJC blows it?


  98. Hugh, what do you think of PCA-ordained TEs who serve “out-of-bounds” by permission? Is R.C. Sproul’s duty to his congregation, or to the PCA?

  99. Hugh Says:

    Sean,

    You say in your piece, “the Standing Judicial Commission, which is the final court of appeal in the PCA, has been moot. Well, not totally moot.” [Did you mean mute, & not moot?] “The SJC has spoken on the FV controversy by upholding the findings of the Siouxlands Presbytery and their investigation of TE Joshua Moon clearing him of any presumption of guilt in his defense of the Federal Vision.”

    What are PCA officers now required to do?

  100. Hugh Says:

    Patrick,

    Of Sproul Sr, I think most highly, generally.

    What saith his denom? I know not the ins-and-outs of out-of-bounds.

    He of course has duties to each. You recall that as a Presby he is not necessarily a member of his congregation, but of presbytery. It is their jurisdiction as to what he may and may not do, is it not? Under Scripture, of course.


  101. Bingo. And Robbins’ & Kuo’s presbyteries allowed them to leave, freeing them to serve Christ as an example of how we have no truck with those who would endorse a false gospel.

  102. Hugh Says:

    Patrick,

    That Robbins’ & Kuo’s presbyeries colluded with these men and agreed with their failed consciences that the PCA would be better off without these gospel-defenders, is no evidence that either these men or their brother presbyters were RIGHT.


  103. So despite the fact that both Robbins and Kuo have not abandoned the Church, and seceded from the PCA with the approval of their presbyteries, and continued working for the cause of Christ (including directly opposing the Federal Vision), somehow you think them cowards with seared consciences?

    It’s funny that the same PCA that wrote the vows does not consider a lawful secession to be a breaking of those vows, but you do.

  104. Hugh Says:

    They abandoned their vows.
    They abandoned their congregations.
    Every man (even an elder) for himself!

    The PCA sessions they served may have been happy to see them go -they were no doubt headaches to their pastors & presbyteries- but that doen’t men they ought to have left!

    Sanctified headaches from our perspectives, but headaches to their brethren just the same!
    🙂

    Unlike Sproul, they were not TEs, but REs, correct? Therefore, they differed from Sproul.

    From the Wiki on Samuel Miller on ruling elders:

    The elders are persons chosen from among the congregation and ordained for this service. Beyond that, practices vary: sometimes elders are elected by the congregation, sometimes appointed by the session, in some denominations elders serve for life, others have fixed terms, and some churches appoint elders on a rotation from among willing members in good standing in the church.

    However in many churches, ruling elders retain their ordination for life, even though they serve fixed terms. Even after the end of their terms, they may be active in presbyteries or other bodies, and may serve communion.

    In addition to sitting on the session and other church courts, ruling elders have duties as individuals. Again, Miller (1831) explains,

    It is their duty to have an eye of inspection and care over all the members of the congregation; and, for this purpose, to cultivate a universal and intimate acquaintance, as far as may be, with every family in the flock of which they are made “overseers”.

    Presbyteries are responsible for the ordination of ministers and for preparing candidates for that office. In some denominations they are called Ministers of Word and Sacrament, and in others they are called Teaching Elders. Ministers called to a particular congregation are called pastors, and serve a function analogous to clergy in other denominations. (Because ruling elders are often ordained in a fashion nearly identical to teaching elders, the distinction between lay and clergy is not as clear under the Presbyterian system as in others.)


  105. As I said, it’s funny that the same PCA that wrote the vows does not consider a lawful secession to be a breaking of those vows, but you do.

  106. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’m asking if you believe Luther & Machen were sinning because they chose not to leave their respective churches before they were defrocked? Unlike Kuo & Robbins, they stayed in dubious churches to fight until excommunicated.

    … My contention is that Robbins & Kuo suffered failed consciences in this area. They should have repented, stayed, and fought.

    Hugh, where in the vows of ordination or the BCO (and highlight it in bold if it makes you happy) where an officer vows to stay in “dubious churches to fight until excommunicated”? Also, what was “dubious” about either John’s church in Jonesborough or Kuo’s?

    24-7. Ordination to the offices of ruling elder or deacon is perpetual; nor can such offices be laid aside at pleasure; nor can any person be degraded from either office but by deposition after regular trial; yet a ruling elder or deacon may have reasons which he deems valid for being released from the active duties of his office. In such a case the Session, after conference with him and careful consideration of the matter, may, if it thinks proper, accept his resignation and dissolve the official relationship which exists between him and the church.

    Not only did the session of John’s church accept his resignation, it seems clear from his letter that they very much wanted him to go. John wrote:

    We do not wish to continue as members of a church in which the leadership ignores men who are teaching a false gospel, and imputes sin to those who “note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them” (Romans 16:17-18). Ross has made it clear that if I continue to disagree with him on these issues, and to speak out about them, that he no longer wants me at Midway. In a Session meeting last Spring he invited my family and me to leave Midway and to attend or start another church.

    We intend to do exactly that.

    Seems that to be the case in Vincent’s case as well. Lauren said they were asked to leave and their senior minister even offered to buy their house to expedite the process.

    So, and no offense, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  107. Hugh Says:

    S: Hugh, where in the vows of ordination or the BCO (and highlight it in bold if it makes you happy) where an officer vows to stay in “dubious churches to fight until excommunicated”?

    I take the words in vows 6 & 7 to mean that.
    I take the Scriptural evidence to evince that.
    I take Luther & Machen to have had more guts, integrity, and courage than messrs Kuo and Robbins who chose to flee.

    S: Also, what was “dubious” about either John’s church in Jonesborough or Kuo’s?

    Their sessions were doing bad things or tolerating bad things, right?

    S: Not only did the session of John’s church accept his resignation, it seems clear from his letter that they very much wanted him to go.

    See first half of my reply to Patrick @ 6:28pm, today, above.

    Sorry to say it, but it reeks of cowardice. Learn from Luther! Hang the foolish pastor’s (or pope’s) desires if he’s in sin. Rebuke him before others that all may fear.

    Seems that was Vincent’s case as well. Lauren said they were asked to leave and their senior minister even offered to buy their house to expedite the process.

    S: So, and no offense, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    I’ve read John’s letter. He got desperate. He saw no hope of change in his session (and prolly presbytery and denom). He lost his two compatriots. I don’t say it was easy.

    But he was wrong to leave Midway PCA to fools, to those whom he saw as being at best incompetent, and at worst as wolves.

    I simply disagree with you both (all) that elders have the luxury of leaving when their efforts to get repentance or reform are failing. They should stay in and be defrocked as were our two examples.

    “Where’s Father Martin, who’s been standing against antichrist?”
    “Oh, he’s been given a buy-out option, and his bishop asked him to leave, so he Katie and the kids are leaving to found Lutheranism.”

    “What’s become of brave Machen, who’s so valiantly fought against liberalism in our church?”
    “Oh, he’s decided not enough people are with him (many of his brother presbyters are tolerating falsehood!) so he’s bailing to start a new work.”

    Kuo & Robbins each valiantly fought for truth for a season; things got hot; people failed them; things got very tough; they were asked to leave; one was promised perks if they’d flee. They fled.

    They gave more of themselves to Christ’s church than I have or probably ever will, but they failed to go the distance. They should have forced the toleraters of falsehood to defrock them.

    JESUS SAID,

    I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

    But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

    I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

    That’s our standard. I apply it differently than you all. I see our friends (in many ways our heroes) as having loved their own I-don’t-know-what more than Christ’s flocks.

    I do not call them hirelings or think they are/ were bad guys. Just good guys who failed to emulate Jesus for just a little bit longer.


  108. I’m curious as to exactly what “staying and fighting” looks like in those situations. Does it mean standing and shouting at the pastor mid-service weekly?

  109. Hugh Says:

    It looks [in part] like this:

    And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:24-26 ESV)

    As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. (1 Tim. 5:20 ESV)

    …preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Tim. 4:2-5 ESV)

    But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned… And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all… (Gal. 2:11, 13f ESV)

    Over & over again at each & every opportunity.

    A CRUCIAL TEXT: And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Gal. 6:9 ESV)

  110. Sean Gerety Says:

    I take Luther & Machen to have had more guts, integrity, and courage than messrs Kuo and Robbins who chose to flee.

    …I do not call them hirelings or think they are/ were bad guys. Just good guys who failed to emulate Jesus for just a little bit longer.

    What a load of bunk. Neither Robbins, Kuo or Clark violated their ordination vows, their BCO or the imperatives of Scripture by resigning. Further, John devoted his life, certainly the last years of it, fighting and exposing the false gospel that continues to be spread with the official blessing of the church. To call him, Clark or Kuo cowards is really shameful.

    “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,”

    “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.”

    “Now we command you, brethren, ain the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.”

    “…holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.”

    Sorry to say it, but it reeks of cowardice. Learn from Luther! Hang the foolish pastor’s (or pope’s) desires if he’s in sin. Rebuke him before others that all may fear.

    What should we learn from Luther exactly Hugh? Charles declared him a heretic and ordered his death. Was he a coward for not returning to Worms and martyrdom and instead took refuge with the protection of Fredrick? Calvin too when faced with persecution and certain death in France he fled to Geneva. Must have been a coward too.

  111. Hugh Says:

    Neither Robbins, Kuo or Clark violated their ordination vows, their BCO or the imperatives of Scripture by resigning.

    Here our opinions & readings on the vows differ.

    Further, John devoted his life, certainly the last years of it, fighting and exposing the false gospel that continues to be spread with the official blessing of the church. To call him, Clark or Kuo cowards is really shameful.

    John & Clark were valiant and often brilliant. They also erred at times.

    “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,”
    “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.”
    “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.”
    “…holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.”

    Right. And was Paul calling the Corinthian or Thessalonian or Ephesian elders to leave their churches if their brother elders erred or even apostatized? It’s an interesting topic for discussion.

    What should we learn from Luther exactly Hugh? Charles declared him a heretic and ordered his death. Was he a coward for not returning to Worms and martyrdom and instead took refuge with the protection of Fredrick? Calvin too fled the persecution and certain death in France and fled to Geneva. Must have been a coward too.

    Could have been. On sticking out sticking it to sinning ecclesiastical authorities, Luther did good at least once, didn’t he?

  112. Lauren Says:

    I would like to point out that my husband resigned and asked to have his credentials taken off the rolls of the presbytery. That did not affect his ordination vows whatsoever. He just removed himself from association with the PCA. He still fulfills his duties as a Christian and as a minister of the Gospel – just in a different place and associated with a different denomination.

    I would also add that the WCF contains a provision that protects a member from having to violate his conscience.

  113. Hugh Says:

    Glad no one’s conscience was violated. (Was that an issue in this thread?)

    Glad everyone was able to resign and all sides got what they wanted: The complainants to go away!

    AND, no one’s conscience was offended!

    Glad everyone was able to get their credentials so easily taken off the rolls of the presbytery, and that no one’s ordination vows were affected WHATSOEVER! Yippee!

    AND, all consciences could rest easy!

    Glad everyone could so simply just remove themselves from association with the PCA.

    That they could STILL fulfill their duties as Christian ministers of the Gospel – just in a different place and associated with a different denomination. Cool! Easy come, easy go!

    And best of all: All consciences are placated. Everyone can sleep well tonight, ’cause they did it according to the book (BCO).

    AND, I would also add that the WCF contains a provision that protects a member from having to violate his conscience!

    Y’all win. I concede nothing except that three against one has me plum tuckered out!

    I’ve said my piece repeatedly here today.*
    Great arguing with you today!
    G’night, saints.

    *I repeat myself when under stress.
    I repeat myself when under stress.
    I repeat myself when under stress.
    I repeat myself when under stress.
    I repeat…
    The more I look at it,
    the more I like it.
    I do think it’s good.
    The fact is,
    no matter how closely I study it,
    no matter how I take it apart,
    no matter how I break it down,
    It remains consistant.

  114. justbybelief Says:

    “Then are the likes of messrs Keister, White, R.C. Sproul Sr, Tim Keller, Cov’t, RTS, & Wesmintser Seminaries, et. al. in sin for remaining yoked with those tolerating or even espousing FV &/or other heresies?”

    Yes!!!

    –Eric

  115. justbybelief Says:

    “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Galatians 5:9

  116. Lauren Says:

    Easy come easy go? Let me tell you how “easy” it was. We gave up our livelihood – no job – no church – no ministry -no means to feed our three kids except what little savings we had. We invested 10 years of our lives in the PCA including starting a school, only to see it turned over to false teachers with the blessing of a presbytery that was warned ahead of time by us. We had to start all over again – not knowing if we would be serving in ministry or working at Walmart. We did it because the Gospel is worth it. Easy come, easy go. Really Hugh!

  117. Hugh Says:

    Lauren,

    I was unaware of these details. I was responding to what I took to be a rather blithe description @ 10:22pm yesterday.

    I am honestly sorry it caused such turmoil, discomfort, sorrow, and spiritual danger for your family.

    Do you still have your story online somwehere? Has it been or will it be published?

  118. Lauren Says:

    Hugh, thank you for your thoughtful considerate response. I knew you didn’t really mean it 🙂 Our story is sitting in a box of emails, judicial complaints, case records, and committee reports, byfaithonline editorials, blog posts, and letters including an encouraging one from the Mississippi Valley Presbytery. The story will most likely stay there or eventually be shredded. Just like official tax records, we think we have to hold onto them for a few years just in case it rears its ugly head again. I will tell you that our story has a very happy ending and a beginning. We are ministering in Chinese churches all over the world, training up church leaders in Europe and in Asia; our particular ministry wasn’t shut down – it was enlarged! Isn’t that the funny way God works? We stand amazed at God’s goodness, faithfulness, and leading.

    Perhaps one of the reasons the others you mentioned have not left the PCA is because they too realize it is not so easy to come and go when you have a family to support. But, they too each have their own story with details we know nothing about and we need to give them the liberty of conscience that the WCF affords.

  119. Hugh Says:

    Thanks Sean. I already posted some questions there.

  120. Hugh Says:

    Thanks, Lauren. May God bless Vincent’s ministry.

  121. Lauren Says:

    I just finished bloggin’ today. Thanks for letting me share this on your blog, Sean. If I get to be a pain, just let me know.
    http://rdkgal.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-pca-back-to-rome-as-ecclesiastical.html

  122. Sean Gerety Says:

    You’re never a pain Lauren. Thanks for the links.

  123. justbybelief Says:

    Lauren,

    I have to admit that when I first heard that elders could at one point be an elder and at another point not be an elder, barring anything being amiss, it struck me as quite odd. I always thought that being an elder was a lifetime thing as long as one met the criteria set forth in the Bible.

    So, In light of my thinking this would not be such a big issue if the church operated the way it was supposed to, that is, false teachers were disciplined and excommunicated in short order.

    Anyway, I’d be open for correction in this area of thought

    Eric

  124. Keith Says:

    Many in the PCA are adding to the Gospel.
    I hear “They’re not subtracting, like liberals! ”
    But the effect is the same.
    The Biblical Gospel is nullifuied both ways.
    It is getting to the point that “Reformed” means church-entered Federal Vision to many young people in my are.

  125. Jon Says:

    It’s important to point out that James is wisdom literature. It’s consequently very practical. It’s not meant ot offer a doctrine of justification by any means. So he’s sayin, “Look, if you’re justified you’ll express that with your life.”


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