CREC church in my area

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a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Doesn't the validity of the analogy come down, at least in part, to what one thinks of the FV? If one thinks the FV doctrine is wrong but not terribly dangerous, then one is more likely to be scandalized by the analogy. If one thinks that the FV doctrine is a soul-killing, church-wrecking error (as I do) then one is more likely to be attracted to the analogy.

Dr. Clark, I think this is true. Yet, if one is seeking to convince people who are not really aware of the evil involved, I would agree with Rich that a very strong analogy (which will necessarily be perceived as overblown by those who are not yet convinced) could stand in the way (perhaps more especially with us laypersons) of helping us to follow the reasoning and see either the exact points one is seeking to illustrate, or the real evil. If what you are seeking to convey is your own level of outrage, they can certainly be employed to that end: if you are speaking to a roomful of those equally outraged, I think they are probably somewhat dangerous (for I always find it somewhat dangerous to speak very strongly with a group people none of whom are disposed to check the rising temperature of the discussion). But they are not in themselves convincing to others of the level of evil involved; and the person who is not convinced of that, rather than seeing the points of contact for which the analogy may be useful, is probably more immediately hung up on all the ways in which the CREC and Iran are not alike.

Another point is that I think one can perhaps get away with more of these colorful and strong, and often very telling, analogies in obvious good humor. My husband had me laughing last night making some further and very telling points of contact with your CREC/Iran analogy. In this case I think what will communicate are the actual points of contact, rather than the burning sense of moral outrage: the usage of 'ultimate evil' is only a sort of prop, which works good humoredly to convey that you do think these people are really bad: but no one is all that hung up on having to compare them too closely and fully, with all the felt horror which unmasked and hideous forms of evil do inspire in us, to the terrorists.

Thank you for such a kind response. Again please take my words as those of a very mere housewife.
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
"How would you reply to such an argument? "

I am not sure.

Inspired men wrote things that I don't think I probably should. Is there a principle there, that extreme language and extreme analogy is allowed? That is one argument to be made. Then again there is Scripture that warns us about the misuse of our tongue (which I assume would include our keyboards).

My best guess is that we have to decide based on the Scripture that tells us there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent; or, answer a fool according to his folly and not according to his folly. In other words we have to assess each situation based on God's Word, the culture, the people involved, our authority, what we think the repercussions would be, our motivation, etc. Difficult to do.

I'd certainly say that ordained men in positions of authority get to be far more caustic than I do, if they think the situation warrants it. :think:
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Heidi, I do not wish to put you on the spot in a way that you may not be capable of performing. May you provide a better analogy that would be easier on the ears of those who do not fully understand the situation. I am not sure I can.

As I noted before, Dr. Clark did make a significant clear statement that he was pointing to a specific part of this analogy. Dr. Clark said, "They are to the FV what Iran is to terrorism: the ecclesiastical sponsor."

His initial post didn't seem to have the moral outrage. It just made a statement. In his clarification his thoughts became more apparent.
The CREC is not merely friendly to the FV. It is the home if the FV. It's where FVists from the URCNA and PCA go when they leave. They are to the FV what Iran is to terrorism: the ecclesiastical sponsor.
 
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R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Dr. Clark, I think this is true. Yet, if one is seeking to convince people who are not really aware of the evil involved, I would agree with Rich that a very strong analogy (which will necessarily be perceived as overblown by those who are not yet convinced) could stand in the way (perhaps more especially with us laypersons) of helping us to follow the reasoning and see either the exact points one is seeking to illustrate, or the real evil.

I see this but here's my problem. I've been opposing the FV since before it was known (and self-described) as the FV (c. 1999 and long before that when it was just "the Shepherdite theology" (after Norman Shepherd).

On this premise, that there are those who don't know what the FV is or why it's bad, one could never use colorful language or analogies and thus discourse is flattened out to the soft and bland. Of course, the best writers have never been bound to such a rule. This gets right to the heart of my present concern about rhetoric and education. The pressure mounts to appeal to the lowest common denominator intellectually and rhetorically for fear of offending the (in both cases) uninformed.

If what you are seeking to convey is your own level of outrage, they can certainly be employed to that end: if you are speaking to a roomful of those equally outraged, I think they are probably somewhat dangerous (for I always find it somewhat dangerous to speak very strongly with a group people none of whom are disposed to check the rising temperature of the discussion). But they are not in themselves convincing to others of the level of evil involved; and the person who is not convinced of that, rather than seeing the points of contact for which the analogy may be useful, is probably more immediately hung up on all the ways in which the CREC and Iran are not alike.

Don't apt analogies teach and move the emotions simultaneously? Rush (Limbaugh) often says that he refuses to assume the worst about his audience. That seems right, even though there are surely people listening who don't get it, he expects them to catch up and he doesn't worry about those who won't take the time to relieve themselves of their ignorance. Can't we do something like that? What if an ignorant (I'm not using this prejudicially but strictly) sees a provocative analogy and says, "Hey, this must be important. I need to find out more about the FV thing."? I fear that there's nothing I can do for someone who won't exert himself to click on a link (e.g., Resources on the Federal Vision and New Perspective on Paul).

Another point is that I think one can perhaps get away with more of these colorful and strong, and often very telling, analogies in obvious good humor. My husband had me laughing last night making some further and very telling points of contact with your CREC/Iran analogy. In this case I think what will communicate are the actual points of contact, rather than the burning sense of moral outrage: the usage of 'ultimate evil' is only a sort of prop, which works good humoredly to convey that you do think these people are really bad: but no one is all that hung up on having to compare them too closely and fully, with all the felt horror which unmasked and hideous forms of evil do inspire in us, to the terrorists.

I'm in favor of humorous, analogies but what if outrage is appropriate?


Thank you for such a kind response. Again please take my words as those of a very mere housewife.

No, sincerely, thank you. I'm always looking for helpful, thoughtful dialogue partners.
 
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R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
"How would you reply to such an argument? "

I am not sure.

Inspired men wrote things that I don't think I probably should. Is there a principle there, that extreme language and extreme analogy is allowed? That is one argument to be made. Then again there is Scripture that warns us about the misuse of our tongue (which I assume would include our keyboards).

My best guess is that we have to decide based on the Scripture that tells us there is a time to speak and a time to keep silent; or, answer a fool according to his folly and not according to his folly. In other words we have to assess each situation based on God's Word, the culture, the people involved, our authority, what we think the repercussions would be, our motivation, etc. Difficult to do.

I'd certainly say that ordained men in positions of authority get to be far more caustic than I do, if they think the situation warrants it. :think:

MR,

Thanks for this. Surely it's true that we're not inspired but this seems to be the first age, of which I'm aware, when we're restricted from making use of all the rhetorical tools in the box. The early church was not so bound. The medievals were not so bound. The Renaissance was so bound nor was the Reformation (or post-Reformation) nor the 19th-century Presbyterians.

What have we learned over the last 50 years that we didn't know in the centuries previous?

Do you think it's fair to say ask whether the rules need to be questioned?
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
Yes, I do think that is fair. Are we being subject to a spirit of this age, wherein we are afraid to voice strong and serious opinions? Or, was the church of the past generally in error for being too brusque/harsh with their speech?
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
Randy, I don't honestly know enough about the CREC situation to make the most informed analogy. I thought of a host organism for a virus? The host is both contaged and contagious -- sick and infected and in need of treatment, and at the same time enabling the reproduction and spread of the disease to other organisms. From there perhaps one could go on to speak of how the disease can be a deadly one, and have an opportunity to speak about the various ways in which this false doctrine is able to destroy.

Dr. Clark, I agree with Miss Marple that some situations will bear more than others, and each must be assessed separately. The Biblical writers spoke of false prophets in terms of predators, which would have conjured up much more of a strong reaction in their own day than it does in ours. I suppose I simply think that because of certain factors involved in our immediate response to these particular evils, and because of the way they are too commonly cited to bolster any sort of argument, analogies with terrorists or the Nazis are likely to come off as sounding overblown, and will often tend to clutter rather than effectively communicate the points of contact, even where they (and the moral outrage they inspire) really may be quite appropriate?
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
I should probably add that I think the virus analogy at least preserves the nature of the bond we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ in the CREC who are either unaware as yet of FV teachings or deluded by them. And I think this is the sort of vital aspect of our health in the body of Christ that tends to be too easily and readily destroyed by even 'the good guys' in controversy. It can be very difficult for a lay-person when that happens, to sort through all the rhetoric on both sides. And as things escalate, arguments tend to become less precise: any stick becomes good enough for beating one another with. And as we polarise everything about the controversy into 'them=bad guys, us=good guys' (which is one tendency of 'ultimate evil' analogies), it seems like we lose sight of any of the legitimate concessions that might be made to charity; and perhaps more significantly it seems we tend to cease to examine ourselves for our own errors. It has been a special help to me to read some clear and even handed critiques of the FV -- not mitigating the dangers, but not excessive in tone -- from Rev. Winzer on the board, and from some things put out by Mid-America. It has helped that there is a willingness to examine errors on our own side as well.

I don't feel competent to say much more than I have on this, but the internet probably has a fair amount of blame to bear by way of ruining the conditions for rhetoric. Since anyone of us can get up and spout wild analogies, and since all the rest of us can get up and twist them any which way they become most sensationalistic (a thing which some organisations seem to specialise in) -- it is hard for the small fry like myself to sort out the voices which have a right to speak strongly as those who are engaging in serious conflict with a very legitimate sense of what is at stake, from those that are merely indulging various aspects of our common humanity; in that climate, the voices I personally tend to trust more are the ones which speak with more caution and restraint.

Thank you again for your very kind interaction.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
The Reformers did speak harshly sometimes but so did the humanists and the medieval theologians. It has been argued to me that rhetoric changed after the 30 Years War in order to avoid such conflict but I'm not sure that's entirely true. I think rhetoric really began to be softened later than that, perhaps during the Victorian era and after that. I'm still working on it.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Randy, I don't honestly know enough about the CREC situation to make the most informed analogy. I thought of a host organism for a virus? The host is both contaged and contagious -- sick and infected and in need of treatment, and at the same time enabling the reproduction and spread of the disease to other organisms. From there perhaps one could go on to speak of how the disease can be a deadly one, and have an opportunity to speak about the various ways in which this false doctrine is able to destroy.

Dr. Clark, I agree with Miss Marple that some situations will bear more than others, and each must be assessed separately. The Biblical writers spoke of false prophets in terms of predators, which would have conjured up much more of a strong reaction in their own day than it does in ours. I suppose I simply think that because of certain factors involved in our immediate response to these particular evils, and because of the way they are too commonly cited to bolster any sort of argument, analogies with terrorists or the Nazis are likely to come off as sounding overblown, and will often tend to clutter rather than effectively communicate the points of contact, even where they (and the moral outrage they inspire) really may be quite appropriate?

I agree entirely, if we're thinking about the laity but when the prophets spoke about predators, they weren't thinking about the laity were they?

If we distinguish between laity and officers, those who should know better, is it appropriate to use strong language and analogies?

When I made the analogy between Iran and the CREC, I wasn't thinking of the laity. I was thinking of the officers and those who've been instructed, rebuked, and warned extensively.
 

a mere housewife

Not your cup of tea
That certainly does make a difference. And that seems a perfect example of one of those factors where someone like myself can very easily get hung up on a strong analogy, thinking of some way/various ways in which the two things are dissimilar, and not understanding that the analogy was not intended to convey similarities in *those* areas.

I will not argue with the apostles' usage of strong concepts in defending the flock :). As a woman, not a protector of the sheep, and woman who generally has more difficulty making strong statements anyway, I certainly don't wish to hold everyone to my own level of discourse. It's probably no surprise that I don't know the answer to some of your questions. I do think there were occasions when the fathers and reformers and puritans fell into errors in controversy that it seems controversy is always liable to (my husband read to me of a church council that sounded like pure chaos, with a lot of people shouting, if I remember correctly, something like 'God save the Empress'! as a way of drowning out the opposition). I can't help but think one of the greatest tragedies in history is that brothers in Christ went the length of actually killing each other in Scotland over their essentially ecclesiastical (since all politics were so) differences. I wonder if *some* reaction against these things is not wholly misplaced, and is part of ongoing reformation and learning the lessons of history? I'm very interested in this subject myself but also hesitant to offer too many of my own thoughts as they are merely my own: I can offer feedback from a lay perspective but not a very informed opinion, I'm afraid. So with that I will truly bow out; again with thanks for your zeal to defend us, and kindness in speaking with me, and prayers that God will bless your efforts to defend His sheep.
 

michaelspotts

Puritan Board Freshman
Doesn't the validity of the analogy come down, at least in part, to what one thinks of the FV? If one thinks the FV doctrine is wrong but not terribly dangerous, then one is more likely to be scandalized by the analogy. If one thinks that the FV doctrine is a soul-killing, church-wrecking error (as I do) then one is more likely to be attracted to the analogy.

That is my view. Those who are more enflamed by the comparison to Iran, which kills bodies, than by the FV in the CREC, which kills souls, must not view the FV/CREC partnership as the incredible evil that it is. < /lay-person >
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
That certainly does make a difference. And that seems a perfect example of one of those factors where someone like myself can very easily get hung up on a strong analogy, thinking of some way/various ways in which the two things are dissimilar, and not understanding that the analogy was not intended to convey similarities in *those* areas.

I will not argue with the apostles' usage of strong concepts in defending the flock :). As a woman, not a protector of the sheep, and woman who generally has more difficulty making strong statements anyway, I certainly don't wish to hold everyone to my own level of discourse. It's probably no surprise that I don't know the answer to some of your questions. I do think there were occasions when the fathers and reformers and puritans fell into errors in controversy that it seems controversy is always liable to (my husband read to me of a church council that sounded like pure chaos, with a lot of people shouting, if I remember correctly, something like 'God save the Empress'! as a way of drowning out the opposition). I can't help but think one of the greatest tragedies in history is that brothers in Christ went the length of actually killing each other in Scotland over their essentially ecclesiastical (since all politics were so) differences. I wonder if *some* reaction against these things is not wholly misplaced, and is part of ongoing reformation and learning the lessons of history? I'm very interested in this subject myself but also hesitant to offer too many of my own thoughts as they are merely my own: I can offer feedback from a lay perspective but not a very informed opinion, I'm afraid. So with that I will truly bow out; again with thanks for your zeal to defend us, and kindness in speaking with me, and prayers that God will bless your efforts to defend His sheep.

I'm grateful for your responses. This has been more helpful than you might know. As Mrs Clark can tell you, I'm not always as perceptive as I should be regarding how words sound and what affect they might create in others.

Gratefully yours.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
May not a “better”, maybe or maybe not, comparison be between the CREC and the PC (USA)? They both harbor officially theological errors, albeit different ones, but there is certainly good churches here and there. I mean I agree with Lane Keister that once we get the FV movement out of our churches we can relate more to them like we do to Lutherans.
The Federal Vision - Reformed Forum
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
May not a “better”, maybe or maybe not, comparison be between the CREC and the PC (USA)? They both harbor officially theological errors, albeit different ones, but there is certainly good churches here and there. I mean I agree with Lane Keister that once we get the FV movement out of our churches we can relate more to them like we do to Lutherans.
The Federal Vision - Reformed Forum

Perhaps but perhaps not. The PCUSA is deeply corrupt in virtually every way an ecclesiastical body can be but are the actively seeking to export their errors to others? Are they aggressively planting churches in E. Europe (and elsewhere)? Are they seeking to promote their distinctive theology among NAPARC congregations?

The confessional Lutherans, for all our disagreements with them, confess the gospel. I agree that the Lutheran view of perseverance is not utterly unlike the FV but the Lutherans distinguish law from gospel and the confessional Lutherans, in my experience, preach the good news on the Lord's Day. I understand Lane's point. We've talked about it.

Getting the FV out of our NAPARC churches has turned out to be a much bigger job than many anticipated in 2007 when the various NAPARC groups began speaking officially against it.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Perhaps but perhaps not. The PCUSA is deeply corrupt in virtually every way an ecclesiastical body can be but are the actively seeking to export their errors to others? Are they aggressively planting churches in E. Europe (and elsewhere)? Are they seeking to promote their distinctive theology among NAPARC congregations?

The confessional Lutherans, for all our disagreements with them, confess the gospel. I agree that the Lutheran view of perseverance is not utterly unlike the FV but the Lutherans distinguish law from gospel and the confessional Lutherans, in my experience, preach the good news on the Lord's Day. I understand Lane's point. We've talked about it.

Getting the FV out of our NAPARC churches has turned out to be a much bigger job than many anticipated in 2007 when the various NAPARC groups began speaking officially against it.

I didn't relize that this was the case. I agree with you on Lutherans though. What are the ways that the CREC is trying to "promote their theology among NAPARC churches"?
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
What are the ways that the CREC is trying to "promote their theology among NAPARC churches"?

The best thing I can do is to encourage you to talk to orthodox, confessional pastors in the Pacific NW to hear about their experience.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
What are the ways that the CREC is trying to "promote their theology among NAPARC churches"?

The best thing I can do is to encourage you to talk to orthodox, confessional pastors in the Pacific NW to hear about their experience.

Dr. Clark, is there still an appeal process to be handled with the Leithart situation. If so then I am willing to remain quiet on the situation. If not then maybe we can discuss the case and how he blatantly contradicts the Westminster Standards.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Dr. Clark, is there still an appeal process to be handled with the Leithart situation. If so then I am willing to remain quiet on the situation. If not then maybe we can discuss the case and how he blatantly contradicts the Westminster Standards.

I'm under the impression there's an appeal to the SJC but my PCA brothers can correct me.
 
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