Archive for the ‘Siouxlands Presbytery’ category

Someone Gets It!

April 4, 2013

Federal Vision Figure Heads

Lane Keister, who was the lead witness in the most important and decisive case against the Federal Vision, has written a stinging rebuke of the Standing Judicial Commission’s failure to correctly adjudicate the most notorious Federal Visionists in the PCA, Peter Leithart. You can read his piece here, but I just want to highlight a couple of points.

First, Keister takes aim at what has become known as the Coffin rule (you can read about the Coffin rule here):

…the great deference normally shown to a lower court does not equally apply in matters concerning the interpretation of the Constitution of the Church. Does the Leithart case involve matters relating to the interpretation of the Constitution of the Church? It certainly does. The relationship of Leithart’s views with the Westminster Standards is most certainly a matter involving the interpretation, not only of Leithart’s views, but also of the Standards. So, in this case, the great deference normally shown to a lower court does not apply. There is clear error on the part of PNW Presbytery, and the case involves the interpretation of the Constitution, both very good reasons why the court should not defer to PNW Presbytery.

Next, Keister blasts the SJC for not holding Pacific Northwest Presbytery accountable for their failure to condemn the erroneous opinions of Peter Leithart:

One procedural error that is not mentioned in this decision, but which should have been addressed is the failure of PNW Presbytery to condemn erroneous opinion (BCO 13-9f). This is a procedural matter. Even though the wording is that it has power to condemn, in context all the actions noted are actions that Presbytery is responsible for doing. So it is not just that it has the authority to do so, but also that it has the responsibility to do so, especially when it involves views that endanger the peace and purity of the denomination, and there are few opinions more dangerous to the peace and purity of the denomination than the Federal Vision. I have never seen anything so divisive.

Finally, Keister reflects on his own study of Leithart’s errant and heretical theology and concludes:

But I do believe that my testimony alone is sufficient to prove the case. There were no holes in my research. Their conclusion is that there are no proofs anywhere that Leithart teaches anything contrary to the Standards, since my research, included in the ROC, brought together ALL the problematic quotations of Leithart. That constitutes no proof, according to this judgment.

Notice, you can study every nuance and doctrine of the Federal Vision from the writings of its chief proponents and if you find their doctrines wanting, even heretical, it can never be enough according to the SJC.  This is exactly what Federal Visonists have been saying all along and that their opponents, no matter how carefully they study their written words and no matter how many discussions and debates they have in order to clarify and understand the Federal Vision, they are forever unable to understand them correctly.  That’s because to understand the Federal Vision requires you accept the Federal Vision’s scheme of justification by faith plus works as an acceptable expression of the Reformed Christian faith.

Peter Leithart and the Federal Vision have won.

However, in the discussion following Keister’s excellent critique of the SJC’s complete failure to adjudicate this case correctly, Pastor Jim Cassidy made the following observation:

The judgment of charity here, I think, is that the SJC has been duped by Leithart’s distinctly dialectical methodology by which he can say the same thing in two contrary ways. Asking him to be more clear and precise, along with providing clarity and nuance, is to ask a leopard to lose his spots. Its nice of them to think Leithart can do better, and the only problem is that he was not as clear as he could be. But he’s a big boy who’s pretty smart – he knows what he’s doing. And this is precisely why the PCA remains wide open to the infiltration of Barthianism. It will succumb to the influence of modern theology, unless God intervenes in his grace. The SJC meant well – that is the charity. But, unfortunately, it was duped.

If we’re going to charitable at all to the men on the SJC, and I don’t know why anyone would be, Cassidy nailed it. Of course, this is something I have been saying to mostly deaf ears for nearly 20 years and is what John Robbins and Gordon Clark were both saying long before me.  Cassidy’s observation is why the answer to my little book Can The PCA Be Saved? has now been officially answered. The only difference I see is that the infiltration of Barthianism was not at all under the radar; it was wide open and being taught by one of the most revered and influential dialectical thinker in the history of modern Reformed thought; Cornelius Van Til.

The Verdict Is In

April 3, 2013

The false gospel of the Federal Vision is now an acceptable and protected expression of faith in the PCA.

No longer does one have to be an Evangelical in order to be a preacher and a teacher in the PCA.   As Lane Keister put it on his blog:

To say that I am disappointed in the decision would be a gross understatement. Aghast is more appropriate here. We are not talking about narrow Reformed versus broad Reformed. We are talking about evangelicalism versus what amounts to Roman Catholic teaching. At this point, it will not matter if the SJC decides to try to distance itself from Leithart’s theology. They will have allowed his theology to exist.

I’m sure there will be plenty more to say on this matter, but for now I think Lane has said it all.

Fading Lines in the Sand

April 27, 2012

Dr. Paul Elliot of Teaching the Word Ministries, and author of Christianity and Neo-Liberalism, has some harsh but timely words for  those in the PCA who consider themselves among the “Truly Reformed.”

Will they listen?

Here’s a sample:

The Federal Vision controversy is but the latest in a series of issues on which PCA “conservatives” have, for more than a decade, kept drawing lines in the sand and saying, “If the liberalizers are permitted to cross this line, it will be the last straw.” But always, when the liberalizers cross the line or simply obliterate it, the “conservatives” quietly step back and draw a new one….

The SJC to the Rescue?

Many professed conservatives insist that the PCA’s Standing Judicial Commission will come to their rescue and, in time, restore orthodoxy. But among its membership one finds men who are a long-standing part of the problem. Dr. Brian Chappell, president of the PCA’s heresy factory at Covenant Seminary, is a member of the SJC. Ruling Elder and SJC member Howard Donahoe has advocated permitting women to preach [10] and was a defense counsel for Peter Leithart at his heresy trial. Ruling Elder Terry L. Jones is a member of the Missouri Presbytery which virtually unanimously acquitted the heretic Jeffrey Meyers. Ruling Elder Bruce Terrell is a member of the session of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, where theistic evolutionist Timothy Keller is the pastor.

We could go on. Many other present and former members of the SJC have been men of the same ilk. They can hardly be called staunch guardians of orthodoxy. They would more appropriately be called foxes guarding the hen house. The bitter irony is that self-described conservatives, who claim to be guardians of Biblical truth, serve collegially with such men on the SJC.

You can read all of Dr. Elliot’s comments here, although I suspect many PCA conservatives will simply cover their ears (Acts 7:57).

Federal Visionist Found Innocent in the PCA

September 26, 2011

Federal Visionist Greg Lawrence has been cleared of all charges as the result of a trial in the Siouxlands Presbytery.    While the commission’s report still has not been released, you can read about the case here.   Suffice it to say the art of obfuscation has triumphed once again in the PCA.  Big surprise.  Is it me, or is the PCA looking a lot like Doug Wilson’s FV phony Presbyterian denomination, the CREC?

*Pictured – Greg Lawrence, James Jordan and a very unfortunate child.

A Standing Judicial Setback

November 3, 2010

While the verdict is still out on the question can the Presbyterian Church in America be saved, there was a recent setback in the attempt to require TE Joshua Moon account for his thorough defense of the Federal Vision being advanced by TE Greg Lawrence in the Siouxlands Presbytery(SLP).  The Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) denied a complaint charging that the SLP erred in not finding a “strong presumption of guilt” in their cursory and superficial examination of Moon.   This decision was a surprising reversal of the decision made by a preliminary panel of the SJC earlier this year that found that the Siouxlands Presbytery did err in “finding no strong presumption of guilt”  in the case of Moon.  It would seem that the dissenting arguments raised by David Coffin were enough to convince the entire SJC to reverse the panel’s decision.

I confess, when I first read Coffin’s dissent I can’t say I completely disagreed with his reasoning.  It seemed to me that Coffin’s argument was essentially that the investigative process was not necessary since the basis for the complaint against Moon was already part of the public record, and, as such, there was nothing to investigate. Rather than an investigation, which the SLP did conduct, albeit not to the satisfaction of the complaining party, charges should have been filed against Moon instead.  Again, and assuming I understood Coffin correctly, I can’t completely disagree with his reasoning.

Where I do find myself in disagreement with the SJC’s decision is their argument that Moon’s presumed guilt in his defense of Lawrence rests on a non sequitur.  They argued:

Complainants hold that TE Moon’s defense of certain views of TE Lawrence, as views within the permissible latitude afforded by the PCA’s standard for subscription, implies that TE Moon shares in the alleged errors of TE Lawrence. But this is a non sequitur. It may be illustrated as follows: it is widely held that paedo-communion is a permissible minority view within the PCA, but it does not follow that all who consider it permissible, hold to the position of paedocommunion.

First, I confess I did not know that paedocommunion was permissible within the PCA, which is troubling in itself seeing that WLC 177 states: “the Lord’s Supper is to be administered often . . . and that only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves.” However, even if paedocommunion is acceptable in the PCA, the situation with Moon is more akin to someone defending paedocommunion because he agrees that shoving bread and pouring wine into the mouths of unthinking children and infants is a good and God honoring thing to do.  After all, Moon said he agrees with the views advanced by Lawrence:

The fact is, what TE Lawrence says on baptism is held in various ways and with various nuances by a lot of people in our PCA: from ministers and elders here in this Presbytery, myself included, to professors at our (emphasis in original) theological seminary, and even almost entire Presbyteries.

Tellingly and subsequent to making the above admission as part of his floor speech in defense of Lawrence, Moon asked that the paragraph be removed from the Presbytery’s minutes arguing: “I had made these changes prior to submitting the paper to Mr. Golly [SLP’s stated clerk] in good faith, prior to any complaints or actions being taken against me.”  Clearly Moon was just trying to cover his backside.  But the above confession alone should have been enough for the SJC, at the very least, to require the SLP conduct a more thorough investigation of Moon.  Besides, there were  many other things Moon did say that weren’t  later expunged from the public record that should have been more than enough for any sound presbytery to find a “strong presumption of guilt” (see below). (more…)

Quick Update on the Siouxlands

September 29, 2010

Lots of activity in the Siouxlands Presbytery.  The first is that it looks like Federal Visionist Greg Lawrence will finally be tried for teaching doctrines that are contrary to the Standards (more specifically doctrines contrary to the Gospel).  To say that it’s about time is an understatement.  Wes White was exonerated by the committee appointed to examine him concerning the charge that he violated the Ninth Commandment on his blog and in references he has made to FV pastor Greg Lawrence.  According to White the committee  “stated that there was no Constitutional prohibition on the mere act of reporting public events and that they could find no misrepresentation in the material presented.” A different committee appointed to examine Brian Carpenter for the exact same charge did find a “strong presumption of guilt” that Carpenter violated the Ninth Commandment on his blog and in references he made to FV pastor Joshua Moon.   However, before proceeding to trial a committee was formed to attempt to convince Carpenter of his sin.

What is interesting in this last case is that a review of the charges leveled against Carpenter by Moon’s session at Good Shepherd church in Minnetonka, MN,  along with the respective evidence used to support each charge,  are virtually identical to the charges leveled against White.  Yet, in the one a committee exonerated White and the other came back with a strong presumption of guilt in the case of Carpenter.  Now, I have been following Carpenter’s blog postings at the Happy TR for some time and I assume the job of the committee now instructing Carpenter will be to convince him that there was willful and calculated misrepresentation in the material he presented.  Not an easy task since so far as I can tell there wasn’t any and what he posted in the past has been repeatedly corroborated by the public record (even if the Siouxlands Pres has tried to suppress much of it) and corresponding posts that have appeared on Wes White’s blog, Lane Kiester’s Greenbaggins blog, Scott Clark’s Heidelblog, and elsewhere.   So it  would seem that it is now a sin to tell the truth in the Siouxlands Presbytery, either that or just mentioning Joshua Moon’s name is a violation of the Ninth Commandment.

Interesting too my piece, Siouxlands Schizophrenia,  featured rather prominently in this case, as if  Carpenter was even remotely responsible for anything I wrote.  For example, in support of their complaint against Carpenter, Good Shepherd offered as evidence:

1. From Blog, “Puritanboard,” on 10-27-2009 05:14 PM:
TE Carpenter provides a reference to Sean Gerety’s post, “Siouxlands Schizophrenia God’s Hammer.” It’s an article laced with name calling and negative pathos. Gerety states, “TE Moon is insane,” and calls him a dog.[ii] Referring people to this article has negative results. This blog discussion lead to what the WLC describes as, “Backbiting, detracting, tale-bearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash…misconstructing [sic] intentions.” This correspondence has the overall effect of prejudicing the truth of TE Moon’s association with FV.

Carpenter’s sin is that he provided a link to my post.  What they don’t mention is that he also added this caveat when referring others to my post:

I don’t necessarily agree with every jot and tittle of S.G.’s post, and he does have a history of bomb throwing.

It is a fine line between grief and anger sometimes, and I’ve crossed it myself more than once.

Setting the issue of his invective aside, he does seem to have something of a handle on the issues.

Bomb throwing or not, nothing Brian Carpenter or Wes White or Lane Kiester have written played even the slightest role in my reference to Joshua Moon as “insane” or a “dog.”  Besides, anyone who is remotely aware of the Siouxlands Presbytery’s bumbling in their (mis)handling of the Lawrence case to date will certainly agree that it is hard to have any “positive pathos” concerning their ability to correctly adjudicate any case even against the most brazen false teacher.  Frankly, I think Joe Ratzinger could probably remain a pastor in good standing in that Presbytery.  What the men of Good Shepherd fail to grasp is that it is what Joshua Moon has said that gave rise to that very accurate observation and appellation.  First, concerning the charge of insanity, here is what I wrote:

According to the Aquila Report, this same Joshua Moon said on the floor of the Presbytery, and this time in his own defense,

“that he believes that no reprobate person ever gets justification, and that he believes that the baptized reprobate do get forgiveness of sin in some real sense.”

Now, read that again.  I certainly hope that those words attributed to Moon are accurate, because if they’re not then the folks at the Aquila Report have some explaining to do.  Of course, if they are correct, then not only is the Siouxlands Presbytery schizophrenic, but TE Moon is insane (I’m not exactly sure why Moon was mentioned by name in the earlier Aquila Report and not in the October, 26 Report when Moon’s defense of Lawrence was cited again with the above addition).

Notice that my calling Moon insane was contingent upon the assumption that Moon’s views as reported were correct.  At the time I was still open to the possibility that the report could in fact be inaccurate and that I was withholding final judgment in the matter of Moon’s grasp of reality.  However, it seems that Moon does hold to the above blatant contradiction concerning the imagined justification of the reprobate.  For example, Moon argued:

I do not believe that any but the elect are justified.  However one reads the parable of the unmerciful servant (which I do think is about forgiveness and its revocation), I think it is preposterous to assert that anyone but the elect are in fact justified by God in any effectual or saving sense at all.

And concerning the parable of the unmerciful servant Moon explains:

We are told by the complainants that you cannot attribute forgiveness of sins to the potential reprobate. But that is clearly wrong. The unmerciful servant, Jesus says, was ‘forgiven his debt.’  He moved from a state of condemnation to true and real forgiveness.  This was no pretended forgiveness. Yet the servant was finally apostate, failed to live up to the grace shown to him, and so the privilege of that forgiveness was revoked.

So, and according to Joshua Moon’s own words,  it is perfectly accurate to say that he believes that  “no reprobate person ever gets justification, and … the baptized reprobate do get forgiveness of sin in some real sense.”  That’s just crazy and if pointing that out is a sin I fail to see it.  Maybe someone should form a committee.

Concerning the appellation “dog,” and in fairness, I didn’t single Moon out by any means but included his former employer and mentor, Jeff Meyers.  Now, while I do consider Moon and Meyers “dogs,” I confess that name is probably not the most accurate.  Wolves would certainly have been more accurate and biblical as both of these men are wolves pretending to be sheep and who continue to play this charade with the blessing of their respective Presbyteries.  As Jesus warned;  “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”  And, let’s face it, any self-styled minister of the Gospel who claims that the apostasy of an individual entails a failure “to live up to the grace shown to him” and that  forgiveness is a “privilege” that can be “revoked” is quite properly classified as a member of the canine family.  So, unless I’m missing something, it seems to me that in the case of Moon and Meyers the name fits.

The other interesting thing concerning the charges against Carpenter is that the committee investigating him concluded that his

actions and character has had this result: “prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbor,” and “endeavoring or desiring to impair it,” before the PCA courts have made a ruling regarding TE Moon’s view.

If things couldn’t get any stranger in the Siouxlands their entire argument that Carpenter violated the Ninth Commandment comes down to the bizarre notion that nobody is a Federal Visionist unless the Siouxlands Presbytery say they are and saying otherwise is a sin.  Therefore, to publicly identify someone as being a Federal Visionist the Siouxlands Presbytery must first rule that the person is a Federal Visionist, of course making it logically impossible to ever charge anyone with being a Federal Visionist.  As I’ve said before, when it comes to the false gospel of the Federal Vision the Judaizers in Paul’s day never had it so good.

Secrecy in the Siouxlands

August 26, 2010

I have reported quite a bit on the strange behavior of the Siouxlands Presbytery (SP) in recent months.  One of the more disturbing bits of strange behavior is their attempt to bind bloggers and keep them from reporting on Presbytery’s actions.  Recently Wes White removed a number of documents from his blog after a member of the SP claimed that White was in violation of the following injunction: “[I]n response to the protest [of Good Shepherd PCA], Presbytery requires bloggers, who post the minutes, attachments, and appendices of a Presbytery meeting on the internet, to cease this activity and to remove their postings.”

White’s imagined “sin” is that he posted relevant documents pertaining to presbytery’s investigations of himself and Brian Carpenter (you can find a few of those banned documents here, here and here).  Maybe I’m missing something, but I fail to see how a person can be publicly investigated by a presbytery and not to be able to publicly discuss or display the relevant documents in public – even when they’re the one being investigated.  Also, by what right can a Presbytery gag bloggers?  Could White have posted those “offending” documents on a list serve or discussion group like Yahoo Groups or the Puritan Boards? If not, why not?  How about email?  Can a Presbytery bind a man’s conscious and forbid him from using that too?  I suppose next the SP will ban the use of the United States Postal Service and restrict its use to just Presbytery approved mailings.

What if the SP’s injunction was instead: “Presbytery requires pork eaters to cease this activity and remove all pork products from their home.”   Would anyone in their right mind be required to submit to such an injunction?  Of course not.  Consequently, I fail to see what biblical imperative is violated by posting public documents on a public forum like a blog?

Interesting, White says he doesn’t believe his posting of these various documents violates Presbytery’s injunction.  But, even if it did, he writes:

I do not believe that the Presbytery has the right to say that I cannot publish these items. I do not think that they have the right to say so even if they are part of the minutes, but, again, I do not want to make this a bigger issue than it needs to be.

White concludes his remarks by stressing; “we must be careful not to bind the conscience contrary to the Word of God.”  Yet, if White believes it’s within his rights to posts documents his Presbytery, for some odd reason, would rather not have posted, isn’t he permitting his conscience to be bound in a manner contrary to the Word of God?

Scott Clark has also chimed in on recent attempts to silence evil bloggers with some excellent practical advice including “develop a thicker skin.”  Admittedly, and somewhat hypocritically, Clark doesn’t exactly exemplify someone with a think skin as he has systematically banned Scripturalists from commenting on his blog, including yours truly, claiming followers of Gordon Clark are irritating and  “unreasonable.”   However, the big difference in all this is that Scott’s blog is his own and he’s free to ban anyone he wants.  So while I would drawn the line somewhat differently than Scott does, as irritating Vantilian irrationalists and assorted paradox mongers are always welcome to post their remarks and objections on my blog, I have banned Marc Carpenter and the one follower of his “Outside the Camp” along with one other person who just proved himself to be an incorrigible bore.  However, presbyteries and church officers acting in their official capacity as members of an ecclesiastic court have no such luxury.

James Thornwell wrote:

The scriptural view of the Church, as a visible institution, is that she is a mere instrumentality employed by Christ for the purpose of accomplishing His own ends. She has no will, wisdom nor power of herself. She is the instrument, and He the agent. She is not His confidential agent, to whom He communicates His will, and leaves it to be executed as she may see best. She is a positive institution, and therefore must show a definite warrant for everything that she does. It is not enough that her measures are not condemned. They must be sanctioned, positively sanctioned, by the power which ordains her, or they are null and void.

I see nothing in Scripture that could possibly warrant any Presbytery from restricting the discussion and dissemination of official church documents.  Is the PCA now a secret society like the Masons?  Evidently those in the Siouxlands Presbytery think they are.

However, in politics there is a saying that you can’t kick every barking dog, which simply means you need to pick your battles.  White was probably correct in pulling down the offending documents so that, in his words, “this does not become a distraction from the central issue, which is the teaching of Federal Vision theology.”  I think we can all agree to that.


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