John Robbins Quick Quote

Recently some of the unfounded comments made by Ron Gilbert on this blog and to me via email prompted me to again read John’s resignation letter from Midway Presbyterian Church.  In this “John Robbins Quick Quote” I would just like to focus on the unbiblical and very un-Presbyterian notion that John’s departure from the PCA was somehow a sinful breach of office while he was an Elder at Midway.  I would also recommend those interested to carefully read the reasons John gave for resigning his position here. However, since John’s good name has been attacked and he is no longer here to defend himself against one embittered former Trinity Foundation employee, and others who seem to think that it is somehow never proper. even sin,  for an elder to leave, you can call this “John Robbins Speaks From the Grave”:

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.

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19 Comments on “John Robbins Quick Quote”


  1. Dr. Robbins saw things very clearly.

    I miss his teachings.

    Benjamin

  2. Denson Dube Says:

    If we would hold fast that which is good, we must never tolerate or support any doctrine which is not the pure doctrine of Christ’s Gospel. There is a hatred which is downright charity – that is the hatred of erroneous doctrine. There is an intolerance which is downright praiseworthy – that is the intolerance of false teaching in the pulpit. Who would ever think of tolerating a little poison given to them day by day? If men come among you who do not preach “all the counsel of God,” who do not preach of Christ, sin, holiness, of ruin, redemption, and regeneration, and do not preach of these things in a Scriptural way, you ought to cease to hear them.

    ~ J.C. Ryle(from Knots Untied, chapter 3, Private Judgement)

  3. justbybelief Says:

    A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word!

    Thanks, Sean

  4. Hugh Glass Says:

    Mr. Gerety,
    I suggest you obtain a copy of Bacon’s “The Visible Church and the Outer Darkness.” It aptly demonstrates the separatism on the part of Robbin’s, Juodaitis, Elliott, and perhaps yourself in following their foolish ways and examples.
    “These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.”

  5. Sean Gerety Says:

    The real schismatics are those like your friend Ron Gilbert and the elders at Midway PCA and elsewhere who aid and abet false teachers who advance a false gospel. Worse, these men call those who teach such lies as salvation by covenantal faithfulness “pastors in good standing” and members of the “true church.” What a farce.

    Thanks for stopping by Mr. Glass.

  6. Sean Gerety Says:

    And, while Mr. Glass seems to be following Ron Gilbert in slandering John Robbins, Tom Juodaitis, and those who even associate with the Trinity Foundation, here is a little more from JR concerning the schismatics Mr. Glass defends:

    For a few years I was a Ruling Elder in the PCA, and I saw the abuse of authority up close and personal.

    For example, the local Session of which I was a member (Midway Presbyterian Church in Jonesborough, Tennessee) decided that its meetings were no business of the congregation, and the majority voted to hold meetings in secret. They called it “permanent executive session.” This ecclesiastical arrogance, which included ushering at least one peaceful church member out of the room so a secret meeting could proceed, continued for months, until a minority of Elders (routinely outvoted) drafted a written complaint against the Session for the Presbytery. At that point the petty tyrants backed down, but they never repented – that is, they never changed their minds about their “authority” to prevent ordinary church members from observing their meetings. Nor were those Elders ever rebuked by Presbytery (Westminster) for their abuse of authority. The Midway Session also defended the theology and persons of the leaders of the Federal Vision cult: Peter Leithart, Steve Schlissel, and Steve Wilkins. Their stubborn defense of the heretics led to the resignation of three Elders from the Session and congregation. The Midway Session has never been disciplined for or repented of its sins. Westminster Presbytery (PCA) of which the Midway Church was a part, though informed in writing and in detail of the problems at Midway, did nothing to correct them. In fact, the Presbytery made things worse by appointing a committee headed by a defender of Federal Vision theology to look into the matter (see http://www.trinityfoundation.org/midway.php).

    At the Presbytery level, an outlandish and arrogant view of the church and church discipline – coupled, as it always is, with a cavalier and un-Biblical view of sin – thwarted discipline of a Teaching Elder who had abused members of his congregation. (This is similar to what happens in the Roman Church-State: Its exalted view of its authority causes a lack of discipline for moral infractions by priests; and fornicators, homosexuals, and child molesters in the Catholic priestly class have been protected for centuries while they prey on their spiritual subjects.) Well, the explanation in the PCA Presbytery (Westminster again) for its lack of discipline of a Teaching Elder was as follows: Yes, the Teaching Elder has sinned, and he requires correction. Therefore, we will give him some counseling. If we proceed to try him, convict him, and depose him from the ministry, we are consigning him to Hell, and what he did does not deserve Hell. As a result, no trial occurred.

    Where this PCA Presbytery got the absurd notion that it had the power to send anyone to Hell is a good question. It did not come from Scripture, but most likely from Rome via Reconstructionist theology. This un-Biblical view of church authority is always coupled with an un-Biblical view of sin. Church authority is grossly exaggerated, and the seriousness of sin is deliberately minimized. Some sins do not deserve Hell. One finds the same attitude in Romanism, where some sins are venial, and some mortal, but the Holy Mother Church, outside of which there is no salvation, has the authority to send people to Hell by excommunicating them. This denigration of God’s holiness and law and the exaltation of church authority are thoroughly Antichristian.”Corban” is becoming the watchword in the PCA.

    – See more at: http://tinyurl.com/ko6o2p3

  7. Hugh Glass Says:

    Your errors are evident.
    Gilbert is not a friend; you take just one side of the issue [here and elsewhere]; you do not know the work I mentioned; you assume I countenance those who oppose Robbins; etc.
    http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/visible2.htm
    “What, then, may private Christians or even single church officers do when they see corruption in the churches of which they are members or officers? According to Durham, and Presbyterian authors generally, they must bring the charges and the proof before a court of Christ’s church following Matthew 18:15-20. For separation is rash and scandalous, “when either means have not been used to remove that ground if it is just, or when men so heighten some lesser defect in a church by aggreging it with such circumstances as may make it appear to themselves or others, a ground sufficient to bear and warrant separation.”[Ibid., p. 229.]
    It must be admitted, however, that there will be times when either sufficient evidence cannot be brought to convince a church court, or even times when the church court is itself corrupt. It is in times and circumstances such as those that a conscientious Christian is the most likely to become impatient and run to separation as the only “alternative.” It is also at such times that he is most susceptible to the arguments of Separatists. Yet it is at precisely such times that the conscientious Christian must be most diligent in the use of the God-ordained means of grace. It has often been the case that those Christians who are most insistent that discipline is a mark of a true church have been the least willing to make the effort of using it.
    Again, James Durham anticipated such a state of affairs as possibly existing within the church and gave advice to the private Christian.
    Either a private person must acquiesce, as being exonered when he has followed the action before the church, or he shall have no ground of peace anywhere, till he is out of the world, or out of all visible churches. And so also there can be no other way of keeping public order and ordinances, and of eviting scandal and confusion.[Ibid., p. 119.]

    It is one thing for a person to be dismissed from a less reformed church to a more reformed church. It is another for him to assume a stance of censoriousness and maintain that the means God has ordained to reform His church are less effective than the unlawful means the Separatist would choose.”

  8. Hugh Glass Says:

    “There should be, as Durham said, “rivers of tears running down our cheeks.” The offenses of division and schism abound in today’s church. Along with division has come party spirit and hardness of heart. How can we imagine that Christ, by His Spirit, does not cry out to us, as to the church of Ephesus, “Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” (Revelation 2:5).” http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/visible4.htm

  9. Sean Gerety Says:

    Again Mr. Glass, in your slanderous heart you have failed to identify the schismatic and the irony that you would quote from a piece of one of JR’s admirers is palpable. Funny that someone posting here with an IP address from Knoxville, TN and who isn’t personally acquainted with Ron Gilbert. Call me a skeptic.

  10. Bill Cary Says:

    the quotes appear to identify the schismatic as Robbins…gerety is confused. the ip argument: means surely everyone in Knoxville must know your Ron Gilbert.
    Stranger still that when it is simply suggested what your McCann does elsewhere–that Robbins did not take “the high road” and stay at his post–gerety rages.
    The fruit of anyones theology is evidenced in behavior, so if robbins separates, it is showing its deficiency in the root, according to the quotes above

  11. Sean Gerety Says:

    @Bill. You’re correct, just because some troll posts in defense of another troll from an ip from a relatively short distance doesn’t mean they actually know each other.

    However, in my experience when we have a man who is a known liar who violated his signed confidentiality agreement, is fired, and continues to harbor a grudge any number of years later as Gilbert has and is banned from a blog, his fellow trolls are often recruited to fill in the gap. Sort of like what you have done.

    Further, you’re view of the church is positively Roman. No one is bound to a particular church and, if conscience demands, men, even elders, are free to separate under certain circumstances. In the PCA those provision are outline in the BCO. So, to come here and libel a man who is no longer around to defend himself by calling him a “schimstic” and “a coward” is, in my view, the height of cowardice.

    It’s interesting to me that you talk about the fruit of a man’s theology, yet you have nothing to say about those who aid and abet the spread of gross Christ denying heresy. I think there might be something deficient in your own theology which would explain your own behavior.

  12. Steve M Says:

    Bill: “The fruit of anyones (sic) theology is evidenced in behavior”

    Please provide your biblical reference for that assertion.

    I fail to see how John Robbins behavior was inconsistent with his theology. John could never be accused of being timid about stating his views. In my opinion, his decision to leave “his post” was completely consistent with the theology that he espoused. The theology that he espoused was always biblical and logical. Simply reading your post tells me one thing. You are not in his league. You are not anywhere close

  13. Arch Craven Says:

    Steve M,
    Love and charity should not be separated from the service of God. While it is true that vital religion has as its foundation the true knowledge found in Scripture, and implanted in the heart by the Holy Spirit, it is no less true that Christianity also consists of a right application of the truth to one’s life, grounded on a right understanding in the heart, both the work of that same Spirit..
    If the fruit of one’s teaching is in sanctification according to the measure and rule of God’s Word, then it is likely the root of justification is whole. However, if the fruit of one’s teaching results in a denial of love—or other graces of the Holy Spirit—in doctrine or practice, then this is not the Christianity of the Bible, and we have a Biblical ground to question if a person is justified who is not also being sanctified by the Word of truth.
    Without doubt, we ourselves must be careful not to censure unjustly those who stray from the truth in word or deed, for we ourselves are admonished to take heed lest we ourselves fall .
    There are many false prophets in the world, and not every man who teaches in the name of Christ is to be considered a Christian. The spirit of antichrist is a spirit of falsehood, and more often than not falsehood is subtle, not blatant (such is the nature of the FV’ers).
    An example of such subtlety is the definition of Christianity given by John Robbins.
    In The Trinity Review of May 2004, Robbins defined Christianity as a set of propositions:

    Christianity is the propositions of the 66 books of the Bible together with their logical implications. Christianity is the set of Biblical doctrines (emphasis is Robbins).

    Without doubt Christianity is revealed in the explicit teaching of the Bible and all of its logical implications. However, this is an incomplete definition, for Christianity is more than just a set of ideas. Christianity also includes in its biblical definition the doing of God’s will, not just the knowing of it (hence, the Incarnation). True and vital religion is about faith and practice, belief and obedience. Contrary to the God-man Incarnate, Robbins either completely ignored the doctrine of sanctification in his definition, or it was absorbed into his definition, but in either case it disappeared. Christianity includes not only in logical but also practical implications.
    An example of this subtlety is Robbins overemphasis on the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

    Robbins wrote that the “Gospel of justification through belief alone is the central doctrine of Scripture” (A Companion to The Current Justification Controversy: The Trinity Foundation, 2003, p. 9).
    No doubt, a central doctrine of Christianity is justification by faith alone, and it, like many other doctrines due to their interrelatedness, illumines other doctrines. Yet, Robbins’ contention, at the least an overstatement, and, at worst a heresy, truncates Christianity, and justification in his theology and practice absorbs sanctification, and love is gone.
    Where, then, is his justification?
    Christianity is the truth, and it must be understood and believed. But in both words and deeds Robbins manifested that he had not “caught, felt, sensed, or encountered” this truth with his heart or his hands.
    Perhaps the most noticeable area in which Robbins’ idealistic approach to Christianity was evident was in his attack on Christian’s who offended his viewpoint. Robbins apparently made no efforts to contact men who printed or publicly stated what he believed were “heresies” or errors. Instead, Robbins publicly attacked the men in question with no regard to such Biblical texts as Galatians 6:1 , or other texts that admonish us to seek peace.
    God condemns constant and overbearing browbeating, not simply because of its harshness, but also because it is contrary to brotherly love, it is contrary to meekness, and does not seek reconciliation.
    Those who are held up by the Spirit will not beat their brethren down.

    They are commonly the most severe judges who forget their own weaknesses.

    Robbins often boasted, in writing and verbally, that his hero, Gordon H. Clark was “America’s Augustine.”
    The great Augustine wrote

    We should rebuke in love—not eagerly hoping to injure the person, but earnestly taking care to improve him. If we have such a mindset, we practice what Christ commanded: “If thy brother shall sin against thee, rebuke him between thee and him alone.” Why do you rebuke such people? Because you are grieved that they sinned against you? God forbid. If you do it out of love for yourself, you don’t do anything. If you do it out of love for the other person, you act in excellence. Notice what these words say about whom you should love in doing so—yourself or the other person: “If he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” Do it for other people’s sake then, so that you can “gain” them. If by doing so you “gain” them, they would also be lost if you hadn’t done it….Therefore, don’t let anyone disregard it when he sins against a fellow Christian [or many Christians]. For the Apostle Paul said, “But when ye sin so against the brethren, and would their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ,” because we have been all made members of Christ. How can you not sin against Christ if you sin against a member of Christ?

    As one looks at the fruit of John Robbins’ life, he cannot help but wonder if he understood love—or Christ—at all. In his review “Did C. S. Lewis Go to Heaven” Robbins suggested that because Lewis (supposedly) never explicitly mentioned the doctrine of justification by faith alone he may not have made it past the gates of Heaven.
    Some who are aware of the acerbic, vitriolic, and damning rhetoric employed by Robbins in his public writings cannot help but be braced by the same problem when we ponder Robbins doctrine and practice. The fruit of Robbins teaching clearly results—judging by the public behavior of himself and his followers—in a denial of love and other graces of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, their belief system is not the Christianity of the Bible, and we have Biblical grounds to question if these persons are justified when they apparently are not also being sanctified by the Word of truth.
    God knows. But, let us be warned.
    Many who espouse John Robbins views are keen but clueless. They commit themselves to the theologies of Clark and Robbins with too little reflection of their own, and with little if any engagement with sounder theologians who counter or inform them.
    As mimics they flatter each other’s intellectual conceit and encourage intellectual dishonesty, which adds up to a lack of spiritual, moral, and mental integrity.
    Relying on the assertions of narrow-minded quacks who evidence only the fruit of a barren and “arid hyper-intellectualism,” is unwise. Emulating an intellectual morale puffed up in knowledge but accompanied by moral laxity isn’t following Christ.
    Men’s thoughts should shape their actions. If the actions are not characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit, should we not conclude there is something rotten at the root?

    “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” James 3:13

    There is your text, Steve M.

  14. Steve M Says:

    Arch
    Thank you for your many kind words concerning John Robbins.

    I hope that I might one day be accused of an overemphasis on the doctrine of justification by faith alone. I would take it as a compliment. Actually, I would take any comparison someone might make of John Robbins and me as a compliment.

  15. Steve Matthews Says:

    Arch,

    Sanctification, contrary to what many believe, is not good works. Good works are the fruit of sanctification, not sanctification itself. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth.” Christians are sanctified by belief in the truth. And as a result of their belief, they are able to do some good works. Growth in sanctification is nothing other than one’s growth in the knowledge of the truth. This is why Paul and Peter both prayed that their readers would grow in the knowledge of God. They were praying for their sanctification.

    Contrary to what you say, Robbins’ definition of Christianity did not omit sanctification. Rather, his definition of Christianity – the propositions of Scripture together with their logical implications – implies the correct definition of sanctification.

    In his introduction to Clark’s book Sanctification, Robbins wrote,

    “God sanctifies his people through his Word. Unless we know that Word, we cannot by sanctified. Our imperfect and sin-stained obedience to God’s moral law, which is holy, just, and good, is not the cause of our sanctification, but the result. Unless we were already sanctified, we would find it in us neither to will nor to do God’s will. Sanctification is not by works, lest any man should boast. Nor, on the other hand, do we “Let go and let God” and in some mystical way become sanctified.”

    Robbins’ leaving Midway was the result of his prior sanctification by the word or truth. Unlike some, he understood from Scripture that the Christian’s first loyalty is to Christ, not to a church, a session or a presbytery.

  16. justbybelief Says:

    Awesome post, Steve Matthews!

  17. Sean Gerety Says:

    Ditto…too. 🙂

  18. Jon Says:

    I’m sorry to hear that Robbins spoke the way he did of C. S. Lewis. Of course Lewis never spoke directly about justification by faith. He was no theologian, but a literary scholar. He ventured into theological territory when he wrote apologetics, and he admitted he was in difficult terrain, and he never meant to promote a precise theological persuasion. He simply advocated Christianity. That was his value. One may consider it a drawback as well, but it is wrong to consider Lewis off the mark for it.


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