Presbyterianism or Shenaniganism?

Status
Not open for further replies.

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
I'm certainly not an expert on the "federal vision" and its offshoots and variations.

But it's really hard to look at this as conservative/liberal or traditional/modernist paradigm because one of the hallmarks of this theology is confusion (and strident division). That's the fruits I observe.

On some issues, those promoting this errant theology are very conservative, saying they are even "more reformed" than the rest of us. But when you license God's truth with man's prideful imagination, that's modernism (human pride, and false witness).

The problem with being wrong biblically is that even though one can be right on many other things, the wrongness, left unchecked tends to blind and lead to greater error. And we have seen that within federal vision.

At its core, it's works, by self or controlled by the visible church, in some degree everything federal vision boils down to either confusing that or directly advocating it.

It's an attack on the simplicity of the gospel. And the gospel must be defended by God's people, in every generation... for His Honor and His Glory.
 

Sven

Puritan Board Sophomore
Dr. Clark, I read your post earlier before I posted mine. I appreciated the liberal/latitudinarian/conservative comparison. It was helpful in some ways, but not in others. But that is how comparisons go anyway. Where I find it not helpful is that the PCA is not at the same place the PCUSA was. The liberals were pretty much apostate, I don't consider many who hold to the FV apostate--not yet anyway. I hope and pray that they don't become apostate. Otherwise I found your post a worthy read.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Steven,

Have you read the history of the PCUSA in the 1920s? Are you really sure that things are as different as you assume?

How do you think the PCUSA got to where it did -- putting Machen on trial?
 

Sven

Puritan Board Sophomore
Dr. Clark,

Yes and yes.

The PCA is still largely a conservative body. The courts, so far, are not in favor of the FV. Something quite different from Machen's time. TE Carpenter, I am sure, will be exonerated, if not by the Siouxlands Pres., for sure by the higher courts. You once encouraged me to use not so shrill of tone. I am attempting to take your advice.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
I already have credible intelligence that FV guys and sympathizers are attempting to worm their way onto the higher courts.

I would assume that without any concrete evidence at all. It is the trend of history in everything. Plant a garden and you need to mulch and weed and spray and water and you still get the blight.

I really feel for you Brian. We were in a (Calvinist Baptist) church once that went way off the rails, and we've watched some individuals over the years go off. Gut wrenching. It is never the people that go off who really get to you, it is the ones who "enable" them that leave you grief stricken. It is fairly easy to accept and pray for a deceived person, but it is the ones who know exactly what is going on and won't do anything about it for whatever reason ( money, conflict avoiders) that rip you up. I can stand a heretic or a weak brother, but it is the elders/shepherds who see it and won't stomp on it that are hard to forgive.

We went through one thing a while back and a PCA pastor listened and said it was like a bug on the wall and you pick up the flyswatter and slap it and its done with, and why on earth didn't the elders just smack the thing? That's how I feel about the FV.

I also think sometimes about the saying "justice delayed is justice denied." I know there are processes and reasons for the processes, but I wonder if the speed itself is unjust. But thank God the GA is still solid.

Prayers.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
How very depressing! Now I have a whole new reason to pray for my PCA friends. Despite differences on baptism, I have often said that my expectation is to join a PCA congregation in retirement (if not sooner). This dilly dallying is sooooooo very sad!
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Steven,

The PCA GA was terrific in dealing with the FV but on the presbyterial level it's a little different. There are presbyteries where there does not appear to be any will to address this problem, where the presbytery seems to be willing to tolerate blatant, public doctrinal error. Now the men who are tolerating this error are themselves orthodox but they are latitudinarian about the errors of others. This is the very sort of thing that made it possible for the liberals in the PCUSA to drive out Machen. Their attitude was, "I disagree with them (the liberals/modernists) but they love Jesus and they are trying to work for social reform, so i won't confront them. Besides, Machen, you're just too militant."

Today, of course, most no longer remember the latitudinarian party of that period. We remember Machen because he was valiant for truth. When "crunch time" came, the latitudinarians were nowhere to be found. They deserted the field of battle in favor of non-existence "peace" in the church. They handed the keys of the PCUSA to the modernists.

That same thing could happen in the NAPARC churches. That sort of thing is happening, in some ways, in some of our NAPARC churches right now. Even in the presbyteries where the FV is being contested on the ground, as it were, the orthodox willing to stand up for the gospel seem to be in the minority. I trust that they are not but it would be re-assuring to see the defense of the faith not left to a few hardy souls.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Scott, your analysis of latitudinarians could be multiplied several times over in other denominations. In my former denomination, the emergence of liberalism during the 1920s, eventually surrendering the seminaries to them en masse, was facilitated and made possible only because of the latitudinarians and evangelical pietists. With the utmost irony, they did not learn from the consequences of their failures. Creating new seminaries as alternatives (e.g., Northern, Eastern, Central, and ABSW) rather than taking a stand for truth, they watched the same phenomenon take place in the new schools. Again, the latitudinarians could always be counted on to be the advocates of peace over truth. Today that denomination boasts nearly a dozen schools (including those with multiple alignments) and NONE of them stand for truth (a few profs here and there notwithstanding).
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
While I do think the OP does highlight a problem inherent to the Presbyterian system it does not mean as Rev. McFadden notes that it is restricted to Presbyterianism.

It also highlights the general lack of courage and "manliness" among men in our day.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Scott, your analysis of latitudinarians could be multiplied several times over in other denominations. In my former denomination, the emergence of liberalism during the 1920s, eventually surrendering the seminaries to them en masse, was facilitated and made possible only because of the latitudinarians and evangelical pietists. With the utmost irony, they did not learn from the consequences of their failures. Creating new seminaries as alternatives (e.g., Northern, Eastern, Central, and ABSW) rather than taking a stand for truth, they watched the same phenomenon take place in the new schools. Again, the latitudinarians could always be counted on to be the advocates of peace over truth. Today that denomination boasts nearly a dozen schools (including those with multiple alignments) and NONE of them stand for truth (a few profs here and there notwithstanding).
Please don't be disheartened. (We really want you in the PCA in your retirement or before!)

I'm not quite as pessimistic as Dr. Clark, but hopefully that is based on a realism here.

Man falling away to humanism (the vanity of his mind) is not a phenomena unique to the PCA (or URC). It's as the Apostle Paul said, sin is there crouching at the door. Always.

It's easy to say "latitudinalism" is "federal vision" is "modernism" and it's taking over. Somewhere, it is.

But in the PCA we have 77 Presbyteries (adding more soon). So if 5 Presbyteries are dealing with this (and in the end likely to get it right- don't forget Lane Kiester is in Siouxlands where this is going on), is that really a sure sign of "latitudianism" taking over.

When 95% of General Assembly adopts a rebuke of the theology, a presbytery is tried, repents and cleans it out (Louisiana) and now another is in process, what is that a sign of?

The kind of liberal takeover Mr. Machen wrote of and experienced?

I don't think so. Don't even think this is analogous.

Federal vision people are confused and strident above all else and very fractioned among themselves. Some of them are stridently "anti modernist" advocating an almost Roman "high" view of Church with strict obedience. Not sure what we call this, but it doesn't sound like liberalism or modernism.

These folks are often dogmatic over doctrine, thinking themselves more reformed than the rest of us. Not bringing "latitudinalism" best I know.

So, to say this is the mechanism for impending liberalism I don't see that. Bringing error and factions, maybe, but not staging a modernist takeover.

When you're ready to go PCA, please let me know and I'll steer you to the 90% of Presbyteries where this is not even on the radar screen.:graduate:
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
But in the PCA we have 77 Presbyteries (adding more soon). So if 5 Presbyteries are dealing with this (and in the end likely to get it right- don't forget Lane Kiester is in Siouxlands where this is going on), is that really a sure sign of "latitudianism" taking over.
But the tolerance of the latitudianiarians isn't just limited to the presbyteries wrestling with (or refusing to wrestle with) FV. In other presbyteries it might be deaconesses, or dispensationalism, or some other issue.

So the count of presbyteries where there is an excess of tolerance is rather more than 5.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Brian,

I have very little information on what you are going through with this there in Siouxlands Presbytery, but thanks for having the courage and integrity to do what is right for our Lord and for His Word.

A few questions, below if you would like to help us understand some of this:

Scott,

I'm convinced that FV men reside in more than the five presbyteries which are dealing with these things (BTW, there are five? Which ones?)

The Emergent-influenced guys are making common cause with the FV because they know that guys like me won't tolerate them, either. They are "modernists" in every sense of the word. There are even some guys who are both FV and Emergent. Kind of makes sense in a weird way.

Yes, commonality between these two groups does sound strange.

On the surface at least, the latter group does not even seem focused on finely interpreting points of doctrine or systematic theology at all- they just don't seem interested in the authority of Scripture at all- in what ways are they making "common cause" with a faction (federal vision) that would likely detest everything they stand for?

E.g. I don't see federal vision for arguing tearing down the formal structures of the church as the latter group does.

That is, federal vision is not arguing for "latitude" to allow the modernist emergent nonsense.

Do you have an example that that is what they are arguing for?

How are these groups united?


There's another group that Dr. Clark hasn't mentioned, possibly because there is some overlap with the Latitudinarian group. They're the lazy ones. They don't really know the issues. They don't read stuff before they come to presbytery. They don't really know the BCO and they don't want to. They view presbytery meetings as a sort-of-necessary evil, and really wish we could just be congregationalists in our polity. They also happen to be extremely conflict averse.

Isn't this always the case?

Add that to the natural tendency of a group of friends to hush up controversy

With all the high profile actions on federal vision in the PCA (e.g. citing a presbytery [that now has repented with word and action], a 95% study paper that gives usable guidelines for ferreting it out, the correct actions in your presbytery so far) can we really say this is "hush hush?"

and cover up mistakes and sins and embarrassing things, and it is a very potent cocktail for degradation and decline. I wasn't so alarmed before, but my experiences in the last two years are heightening my concern. I think it's worse than we know.

Of course, the nature of the problem is such that you don't know the reefs are there until you sail into them and rip a hole in the bow. All you can do is suspect until circumstances reveal what you suspect.
I'm sure in the midst of what you are seeing at the moment it might seem discouraging.

Let's pray God will rule and overrule.

Somehow I believe that will happen and in the end, your Presbytery will get this right, difficult though it is to remove a fellow elder.



---------- Post added at 07:48 AM ---------- Previous post was at 07:41 AM ----------

But in the PCA we have 77 Presbyteries (adding more soon). So if 5 Presbyteries are dealing with this (and in the end likely to get it right- don't forget Lane Kiester is in Siouxlands where this is going on), is that really a sure sign of "latitudianism" taking over.
But the tolerance of the latitudianiarians isn't just limited to the presbyteries wrestling with (or refusing to wrestle with) FV. In other presbyteries it might be deaconesses, or dispensationalism, or some other issue.

So the count of presbyteries where there is an excess of tolerance is rather more than 5.
Edward,

The thread topic linked to Dr. Clark's article and it focuses on federal vision as a result of "latitudinalism." If we're going to lump together other issues, this might be a different thread.

The focus here is the errant federal vision theology, in some people's assertion, not being dealt with sufficiently, setting the stage for a modernist takeover.

That's the connection I don't think is analogous.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
The Emergent-influenced guys are making common cause with the FV
Some of those Emergent types are really into NT Wright, and his view of justification is just as whacked out as the FV people.

I thought that "I thought I woke up in the OPC" was funny. The constitutions are almost the same, and during my PCA trial, on tape, in an official court meeting an RE said "You would fit better in an OPC". My complaint was them ordaining baptists and arminians. Well, I am in the OPC now, in a good church, and none of those who charged me are currently elders in any denomination.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
bouletheou


How are these groups united?
The FV and Emergents are making common cause in several ways. The most noticeable one is that they are conspiring and voting together to keep the FV guys out of trouble. They'll cash in those chips when it comes time for the deaconness issue to be dealt with. I will also say that just because two systems of thought have contradictory ideas in them, that doesn't keep a postmodern person from holding both simultaneously. Such is the (anti)epistemology of our age.
Something that doesn't compute here is that the federal vision are often extremely (unbiblically) "high church"- that seems exact opposite of the emergent nonsense. Also, the former often seems stridently against egalitarianism while the latter may openly want it.

A scenario example that is difficult to see is something like a federal visionist saying he will not vote to remove an "emergent" (modernist/liberal/humanist) and will vote for women to exercise diaconal authority over men, both things it would seem he stridently opposes if the "emergent" votes not to remove a "federal visionist."

Doesn't make sense, particularly when the latter can escape to a confederation of churches that is welcoming it.

I'm not doubting what you say here in the particular situations you are involved with- just that it is very difficult to see a pattern of these two factions wanting to be together, and I guess I don't see it denomination-wide at all.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
bouletheou

I think of it sort of like Cracker Barrel restaurants. Lots of authentic-looking downhome items for sale in the gift ship, all made in China.
I've noticed that too... except for Moon Pies and the Yankee candles!:lol::lol::lol:
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
Wierd. The PCA guy we know ( on staff in another state) with strong FV sympathies is also really into droning chants.

Scott, I have appreciated your posts. I think you are looking more clearly at the proverbial forest when it is easy to look at individual trees and think the whole woods is infected. Thanks.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Lynnie,

In the Black Hills we're fighting an ongoing battle against Pine Beetles. If you see a group of trees with an obvious infestation, it leads you to be concerned for the state of the whole forest.

I'm not claiming that the whole forest is infected. I am claiming that the state of the several individual trees I have examined leads me to be concerned about the rest of the forest. It would be most unwise, I think, to assume there's no problems elsewhere just because we haven't heard of problems elsewhere. I'm not for panic and witch hunts by any means. But neither am I for drowsing in the sunshine (not that I'm suggesting you or Scott are, mind you.)

Blessings,
Which is why it's important to remove the few infected trees, so it does not spread... and the rest of the forest is protected.

This is an ongoing part of the life of the visible church. It's why church discipline is an essential part of of a true church of our Lord, because the corrupting power of sin is always crouching at the door, dressed in sophisticated attire, sometimes.

It's never going to go away, yet God promises that it will not overcome those who persevere in the faith.

For His Honor and His Glory.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Edward,

The thread topic linked to Dr. Clark's article and it focuses on federal vision as a result of "latitudinal ism." If we're going to lump together other issues, this might be a different thread.

The focus here is the errant federal vision theology, in some people's assertion, not being dealt with sufficiently, setting the stage for a modernist takeover.

That's the connection I don't think is analogous.
No, the original post did not. It linked to a blog entry posted by Steven Carr. But, if you wish to limit discussion to Dr. Clark's posts:

My reading is that Dr. Clark was not saying that FV was a result of latitudinalism, but rather latitudinalism was one of the reasons that the error was not being opposed. (And, my apologies to Dr. Clark if I have misunderstood his article).

I agree with what Dr. Clark has said, BUT the disease that he has identified is not limited to the FV, and were FV to disappear tomorrow, the problem that he has identified will still enable toleration of other error.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Edward,

Yes, this is what I'm saying. Latitudinarianism is one of the reasons that the FV error is not being opposed as it ought to be.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Thanks, Wes for posting the link to reasoned defense of the other position.

As an outsider, looking in at this, without knowing any of the parties, and without formal theological training, here's what I notice.

There are red flags in both the conclusions and the reasoning used to get to the conclusions.

Here's one:

"In Defense of the Actions of the Siouxlands Presbytery"
[emphasis added]

Nothing TE Lawrence says in his definition of baptism is contrary to what the Confession actually states or what is within the bounds of our tradition.
The problem is the "or."

Yes, officers are bound by oath to the Confession.

No, officers are not bound by oath to "within the bounds of our tradition," whatever that might be defined as.

So, before getting to the substance of the alleged serious error or confusion being taught, as an outsider looking in, a wrong standard for appraisal is being set up.

Using an extreme example, we might say something like execution of heretics was "within the bounds of our tradition," though we do not in any way accept it as a denomination [nor does our Confession].

The response also makes every single belief or position of Mr. Calvin a standard:

But it is John Calvin himself, one whom I do not think we should cut off from those whose teachings are acceptable in the PCA.
But we know that is not the standard.

This is painful for us who absolutely respect Mr. Calvin as the greatest theologian ever, but he was not infallible. Apparently, he believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary, and had a few other views that came to be clarified as not biblically correct, and certainly not ones our denomination holds.

So, appeal to him as standard is not correct.

Imagine someone teaching the perpetual virginity of Mary with our doctrinal standards and then claiming there was no basis for accountability because it was "within the bounds of our tradition."

Another aspect of the stated defense here jumps out:

Or, that he fails to qualify his discussions of baptism in a way that leaves him open to confusion and in failing to qualify adequately he stands contrary to the Standards.
The standards are high for church officers (deacons and elders), as the Scriptures qualify them in I Timothy 3 and Titus I. Even the wife of an officer must be examined in order to qualify and discern those whom God would appoint as officers in His church.

The standard is not perfection. It is more like substantial compliance.

But a teaching elder must not characteristically confuse a central doctrinal issue. That is, he must be gifted to clearly and carefully handle propounding of God's Word. Yes, people will not always understand, some will react negatively to it, but confusion cannot be a hallmark.

When someone is creating confusing over what something as basic as water baptism does, something that is a distinctive of their denomination, it is unacceptable as a hallmark for a teaching elder.

From reading the response, it is as if after elaborate and extended and deep theological discussion, the other teaching elders finally understood the fine points the gentleman was making.

This is not acceptable for a teaching elder as a hallmark of his gifting must be clarity (not perfection), but clarity of key doctrine that are taught in the Confession (not "within the bounds of our tradition"). It should not require a study commission of teaching elders to figure out what he means happens with baptism- a sacrament administered frequently.

He must be gifted to articulate that publicly, in corporate gatherings, in a generally understandable way.
 
Last edited:

Wes White

Puritan Board Freshman
Right. Imagine this response to an exam.

"Well, you're confusing on the doctrine of election, the deity of Christ, the sacraments, and the infallibility of Scripture, but we're going to pass you anyway and send you to feed the flock committed to your care."

Confusion where the Standards are clear is contrary to the Standards.
 

bouletheou

Puritan Board Freshman
Everyone,

I'm taking a step back. I'm not going to write on these issues for awhile until I can get a handle on the anger I feel at my presbytery over the events at the January stated meeting. I'm not going soft or backing down, but those close to me have said that I'm getting too focused on this, and I need to work through some things and come back when I can discuss things with a measured tone and without sarcasm. I've attempted to remove everything I can remove.

Blessings
Brian
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top