Reformed Reaction to CT Cover Story (audio)

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R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Three URC pastors in LA have moved their radio show to the Web.

These are WSC grads. Adam is pastor of Ontario URC. Movses (pron. Moses) and John are church planters in Pasadena and Diamond Bar

They're a little hard on Mark Dever and they should give credit to John Piper for his recent work on justification (Counted Righteous and his forthcoming critique of the NPP, but they make an important central point: These folk who are becoming Calvinists in non-Reformed churches need to get out of such congregations and into confessionally Reformed congregations.

rsc

[Edited on 9-25-2006 by R. Scott Clark]
 

jaybird0827

PuritanBoard Honor Roll
Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
...
they make an important central point: These folk who are becoming Calvinists in non-Reformed churches need to get out of such congregations and into confessionally Reformed congregations.
...
:banana:

Next to being converted, best thing that ever happened to me.
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
but they make an important central point: These folk who are becoming Calvinists in non-Reformed churches need to get out of such congregations and into confessionally Reformed congregations.
So Scott are you saying that a Reformed Baptist church is not a legitimate church because it only holds to some of the doctrinal distinctives of the Reformed faith but not all the ecclesiastical distinctives?
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Hi Bob,

If the Reformed confessions (i.e., the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Standards) define what it is to be Reformed, then I must say that Reformed Baptists are not "true" churches. This is not a private opinion. The Belgic Confession Art 29 lists three marks of a true church.

The marks by which the true Church is known are these: If the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if it maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is exercised in chastening of sin; in short, if all things are managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the Church. Hereby the true Church may certainly be known, from which no man has a right to separate himself.
Most RB congregations have two of these marks, by denying the sign of covenant initiation, they miss the second mark. I've discussed this at length in other threads. I admit it's more difficult with confessional RB's than with the SBC or with genuine Anabaptists, but they do have one thing in common and that's a big problem for confessional Reformed folk, or it should be. It's for this reason, I think, that the Synod of Dort was careful to say in their church order that we ought not commune anyone except those who profess the "Reformed religion."

I get along well with my ARBCA brothers. I regard them as rebels. They ought to unite with a true church. They are Reformed in every other regard, so far as I know them, but they have an over-realized eschatology that requires them to insist of a kind of purity in the institutional church that causes them to exclude (in their case) children whom they acknowledge to be "covenant children," from the sign/seal of covenant initiation.

As I say, there are long threads on this somewhere here.

Best,

rsc

Originally posted by BobVigneault
but they make an important central point: These folk who are becoming Calvinists in non-Reformed churches need to get out of such congregations and into confessionally Reformed congregations.
So Scott are you saying that a Reformed Baptist church is not a legitimate church because it only holds to some of the doctrinal distinctives of the Reformed faith but not all the ecclesiastical distinctives?
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
The marks by which the true Church is known are these: If the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if it maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is exercised in chastening of sin; in short, if all things are managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the Church. Hereby the true Church may certainly be known, from which no man has a right to separate himself.
So where they miss out on legitimacy is not that they don't administer the sacrament but that they interpret the word 'pure' differently than the big 'R' Reformed.

You're still my hero Scott but that surprised me. :handshake:
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
This reminds me of friends in SBC churches that do their best to "buck the trends" (i.e., rock music 'worship,' women praying and reading Scripture during a consecrated worship time, etc ...), and get branded as divisive and troublesome. The problem is, though, they themselves aren't even "Reformed," because they are denying Reformed theology by even BEING in an SBC church, an autonomous, schismatic body that has separated itself from accountability to the visible church through its independence (not to mention lack of confessionalism, etc.). I feel bad for all those that stick around because they think it is THEIR responsibility to "change" the church for the better... when these people are not even ordained ministers of the gospel. They need to follow God's revealed will and be part of the true Church and worship God according to Spirit and Truth ... NOT act as something they have no place imitating.

The best decision I ever made was leaving my "home" SBC church and joining with the Reformed Church, only to await several years of training and spiritual growth before I could, myself, "go and change the Church." But, I won't be trying to change any church that has rejected the Confessions and tenets of Reformed Theology, I will be doing my best, by God's grace, to continue to reform the Reformed Church, according to God's Truth and our Confessions and Tradition.

[Edited on 9-25-2006 by WrittenFromUtopia]
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Hi Bob,

I'm a miserable hero! I don't just have clay feet, but clay legs etc.

They exclude their covenant children from the sacrament of initiation and conflate it with the sacrament of renewal. The Reformed regard(ed) that as a serious error.

I'm pretty sure I hold a minority view, For what it's worth.

rsc

Originally posted by BobVigneault
The marks by which the true Church is known are these: If the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if it maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is exercised in chastening of sin; in short, if all things are managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the Church. Hereby the true Church may certainly be known, from which no man has a right to separate himself.
So where they miss out on legitimacy is not that they don't administer the sacrament but that they interpret the word 'pure' differently than the big 'R' Reformed.

You're still my hero Scott but that surprised me. :handshake:
 

Formerly At Enmity

Puritan Board Freshman
Dr. Clark (or anyone else up to the task),
Could you expand your thoughts on the fact that you refer to them as brothers yet they are not part of a true church. What is living to Christ outside of the church? Help me if I have misunderstood.....
thx,
Theologygeek
 

polemic_turtle

Puritan Board Freshman
This smacks of inverted Landmarkism, in my opinion. Whatever side of the baptism question I find to be wrong, I believe I shall confess it to be mistaken, but not try to push them into becoming really reformed or really Reformed( either side might consider themselves to be "really" reformed, either in the historical sense or in the bare sense of what you hold to be more "reformed" ).

It's probably just about as appealing to most credos as it would be to you if we were to tell you you needed to join the radical reformers( anabaptist ) cuz' everybody knew they had less in common with the Roman church than anybody else and that's what really matters. Ultimately, historically true statements about theological trends must give way to what we each find to be in the Bible. As I believe the point of most Baptist confessions has been, we're not that different than you and usually acknowledge your contributions to Christian theology. Just a modified view of ecclesiology and the ordinances. No doubt it's a very good thing we're able to hold our own services in our own chapels, seeing as we disagree over how the church should be run, but I'm hesitant to appreciate statements which separate Christians to such a degree over temporary ordinances. :twocents:
 

polemic_turtle

Puritan Board Freshman
Maybe I've mistaken the general drift of this thread with those you'd find in the ecclesiology forum where you're expected to disagree. However, when someone uses the phrase "true church" and contrasts it with someone who at least looks like they're going in the right direction and sneers at their attempts to fix the church they attend rather than start off from scratch at another church with another paradigm, it has a tendency to irritate.

Some have a harder time with this than others, I reckon. I believe I've already reacted enough against Landmarkist sentiments from the baptist side to be disgusted when I see what appears to be the same smug attitude on the side I tried to incorporate into my Christian walk even if I never end up agreeing totally. Can you sympathize with what I'm getting at?

Now, I can smile with those that smile or groan with those who groan when Brother Piper is taken to be a Puritan born after his time or something like that. He's a leader in his own sense amongst his own people, but I don't really get the same things from him that I get from the good oldies. But, I can also feel a little perplexed when the word "narrow" is used to describe the scope of what is considered to make one "reformed" today, when what they include in their definition to make it truly "broad" is basically that what each counts as Christian baptism occurs at differing points of life. It happens once, usually, and once done, we walk through life with the same Christ, spending the majority of our Christian lives doing exactly the same things.

I hope it's not actually so big a deal that I can't walk in Christian fellowship with brothers of a different persuasion without being accused of only going "half-way" if I'm persuaded from the Bible that you've gone too far. I'm sort of biased against such arguments which are based upon historical theology rather than actual exegesis because it seems to put undue emphasis upon tradition. :2cents:

[Edited on 9-26-2006 by polemic_turtle]
 

Ivan

Pastor
Originally posted by polemic_turtle
Can you sympathize with what I'm getting at?
I agree with you 100%, but this is :deadhorse:. They ain't gonna change...we ain't gonna change. Don't worry about it.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Tyler,

In my view my ARBCA brothers (and they are that - this is the MOST difficult case for my pov) are rebellious Christians.

They worship in defective congregations. They hold a serious error and they are defective in practice. In the Belgic "sect" refers to the Anabaptists. The ARBCA folk are not that, but they do agree with the AB's on baptism.

Read Belgic Confession Articles 28-29 closely, carefully, phrase by phrase and tell me what I should conclude in the light of what we confess?

Is "predestination" a sufficient condition to be Reformed. No. If "Reformed" doesn't include church and sacraments, then the word has little use. Of course it includes those things. It always has. The rather loose way we use it today was unknown when we coined the phrase.

rsc

Originally posted by Formerly At Enmity
Dr. Clark (or anyone else up to the task),
Could you expand your thoughts on the fact that you refer to them as brothers yet they are not part of a true church. What is living to Christ outside of the church? Help me if I have misunderstood.....
thx,
Theologygeek
 

Ivan

Pastor
Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
If "Reformed" doesn't include church and sacraments, then the word has little use. Of course it includes those things. It always has. The rather loose way we use it today was unknown when we coined the phrase.

rsc
I remember talking about this before. Okay, I'm not reformed or Reformed. As I recall, you said that confessional was a better term.

Therefore, I am a confessional Baptist (LBCF, 1689). :pilgrim:
 

Archlute

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
If the Reformed confessions (i.e., the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Standards) define what it is to be Reformed, then I must say that Reformed Baptists are not "true" churches. This is not a private opinion. The Belgic Confession Art 29 lists three marks of a true church.
Just to clarify, WCF chapter 25 does not define "true and false churches" in the same way as the BC. I only bring this up because this debate is beginning to make itself more vocal in Reformed circles around here, and I think that it has the potential to bring about some unhealthy acrimony and unnecessary division.

WCF 25.4 & 25.5 allow for there to be a range of purity regarding the vital elements of a church, including the administration of baptism, which would then place those congregations under the lable of "less pure" regarding that function of the church.

I do not believe that many WCF churches would be willing to call our baptist brothers a "synagogue of Satan" due to a flawed administration of one sacrament.

Sorry, Dr. Clark, but on this one point I will have to voice my humble objection!
 

Ivan

Pastor
Originally posted by Archlute
I only bring this up because this debate is beginning to make itself more vocal in Reformed circles around here, and I think that it has the potential to bring about some unhealthy acrimony and unnecessary division.
:amen:

[Edited on 9-26-2006 by Ivan]
 

polemic_turtle

Puritan Board Freshman
"As for the false church, it assigns more authority to itself and its ordinances than to the Word of God"
( The priority of the mass over the preaching of the Word )

"it does not want to subject itself to the yoke of Christ;"
( But rather to the Pope or a magistrate. )

"it does not administer the sacraments as Christ commanded in his Word;"
( Though there is difference of opinion on how the ordinance of baptism is applied, to whom, and when, I don't believe we're dealing with an error on the level of the Mass, which is an ordinance bloated into the worship of physical elements. There is no false worship taking place, merely a difference of when the elect of God should follow the Lord in baptism and with how much water. Barely the doctrine of a church standing or falling, in my opinion. )

"it rather adds to them or subtracts from them as it pleases;"
( Like the seven sacraments of the Roman church, which we're united in repudiating. )

"it bases itself on men, more than on Jesus Christ;"
( The alleged apostolic succession of the Roman church from which they derive what they think to be authority to speak ex cathedra. )

"it persecutes those who live holy lives according to the Word of God"
( This is a charge which some of the earliest reformers who persecuted the Anabaptist folk could better be charged with than any Baptist than I know of. Some 3000 were executed, right? I know there were Libertines, but I don't think all 3000 that faced martyrdom were of that bent. The Baptist ecclesiology doesn't lend itself to union with the other kingdom, so I can't imagine a case where the Baptists would be guilty of this in a lethal sense. Let's not talk about Mister Munster, alright? What a nut. :p )

"and who rebuke it for its faults, greed, and idolatry."
( We're on the same page as far as I know. )

Well, that's what I think, anyway. I appreciate your sensitivity in responding as you did. I'll continue to think about it.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Adam,

I understand that American Presbyterianism has taken a broader view of this question, but I would be cautious about imputing our modern tolerant view to the divines.

As I've been reading the history of American Presbyterianism on worship, the American Presbyterians defaulted on the Directory for Public Worship by the middle of the 18th century. There is even ambiguity as to the status of the DPW in the adopting act of 1729.

I doubt that there was as much distance between the divines and the Belgic as you imply.

Why were there no baptists at the Westminster Assembly? Because they weren't invited. Why? Because they weren't regarded as Reformed? Anglicans were there, Independents were there, Presbyterians were there. but no Baptists.

Consider WCF 25.2:

The visible church, which is also catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.
This is substantially identical to BC 28-9. The verbiage is different, but the spirit is the same. Hence I give emphasis to the line concerning covenant children. This isn't Baptist language is it?

When the divines spoke in 25.4 of churches being

more or less pure
they were speaking first
according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced
and also of
ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.
If baptism is denied to covenant children is that "less pure" or less than less pure or are they even churches? Isn't this language retrospective, i.e., isn't it answering the Roman question: where was your church? Is it really answering the question we're asking? I don't think so.

rsc

Originally posted by Archlute
Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
If the Reformed confessions (i.e., the Three Forms of Unity and the Westminster Standards) define what it is to be Reformed, then I must say that Reformed Baptists are not "true" churches. This is not a private opinion. The Belgic Confession Art 29 lists three marks of a true church.
Just to clarify, WCF chapter 25 does not define "true and false churches" in the same way as the BC. I only bring this up because this debate is beginning to make itself more vocal in Reformed circles around here, and I think that it has the potential to bring about some unhealthy acrimony and unnecessary division.

WCF 25.4 & 25.5 allow for there to be a range of purity regarding the vital elements of a church, including the administration of baptism, which would then place those congregations under the lable of "less pure" regarding that function of the church.

I do not believe that many WCF churches would be willing to call our baptist brothers a "synagogue of Satan" due to a flawed administration of one sacrament.

Sorry, Dr. Clark, but on this one point I will have to voice my humble objection!
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
I can't help but notice that after while, not only do these baptism arguments go in circles but they sound a lot like Abbot and Costello doing "Who's On First?"
 

Founded on the Rock

Puritan Board Freshman
Dr. Clark, would you say the following are required to be truly Reformed:

What we have come to recognize as Calvinism, A Reformed view of the sacraments, and a Reformed view of Church polity (whether Anglican, Presbyterian, or Congregational), and a Reformed eschatology (wheter historic pre, post, or amil)?

Would this be an accurate representation of the classical definition? Or is the definition more specific or broad?
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Brandon,

The definition of "Reformed" is the Reformed confessions. That's it. The problem with the CT piece is that it uses a typically evangelical, minimalist approach to defining "us." CT doesn't get to define us, we do and we've defined ourselves as churches in our confession(s).

So, my answer to your question is to ask a question: What do we confess about each of those? If nothing, then it's not essential to being Reformed.

Does that help?

rsc

Originally posted by Founded on the Rock
Dr. Clark, would you say the following are required to be truly Reformed:

What we have come to recognize as Calvinism, A Reformed view of the sacraments, and a Reformed view of Church polity (whether Anglican, Presbyterian, or Congregational), and a Reformed eschatology (wheter historic pre, post, or amil)?

Would this be an accurate representation of the classical definition? Or is the definition more specific or broad?
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by BobVigneault
I can't help but notice that after while, not only do these baptism arguments go in circles but they sound a lot like Abbot and Costello doing "Who's On First?"
I don't know!

Third base!
 

ChristopherPaul

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by turmeric
Who turned this into another baptism thread?! Good grief, y'all!:lol::banghead::lol:
The audio clip in question is dedicated to this topic. The show is clarifying how the Christianity Today article lumps anyone who is agrees with Dort as Reformed when the reformation involved much more than soteriology.

Christianity today's "poster boys" for Calvinism are John Piper, Mark Dever, CJ Mahaney, Al Mohler, and Ligon Duncan (I think that was all of them). Except for Duncan, all these guys are Baptists who, as Dr. Clark pointed out, would not even be invited to the Westminster Assembly.

They agree with TULIP, but not with Reformed theology.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
To follow up the post above, The LBC does not use the same language in ch. 26, which is parallel in some respects to WCF 25. There is no line concerning children.

It's also interesting that the LBC uses Belgic-esque language re membership in "particular" congregations:

As all believers are bound to join themselves to particular churches, when and where they have opportunity so to do; so all that are admitted unto the privileges of a church, are also under the censures and government thereof, according to the rule of Christ.
It would seem fair to substitute "true" for "particular" since it seems hard to imagine that the LBC had paedobaptist congregations in mind. At any rate, this language is quite close to BC 28. So, confessional Baptists should have sympathy with at least some of my argument.

rsc
 

Formerly At Enmity

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
Brandon,

The definition of "Reformed" is the Reformed confessions. That's it. The problem with the CT piece is that it uses a typically evangelical, minimalist approach to defining "us." CT doesn't get to define us, we do and we've defined ourselves as churches in our confession(s).



O.K. I can dig this....I'm going to read the two chapters of the confession that you prescribed and get back w everyone...THX:book2:
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by R. Scott Clark
but they make an important central point: These folk who are becoming Calvinists in non-Reformed churches need to get out of such congregations and into confessionally Reformed congregations.

rsc
I just read this article today, and before I even listen to this discussion I already agree with them. The article mentions unity between the reformed and the non. I agree with the learned Owen that we should rather proclaim a Jihad against them and offer up true Christianity.

From his Introduction to "A Display of Arminianism":

Neither let any deceive your wisdoms, by affirming that they are differences of an inferior nature that are at this day agitated between the Arminians and the orthodox divines of the reformed church. Be pleased but to cast an eye on the following instances, and you will find them hewing at the very root of Christianity. Consider seriously their denying of that fundamental article of original sin. Is this but a small escape in theology?—why, what need of the gospel, what need of Christ himself, if our nature be not guilty, depraved, corrupted? Neither are many of the rest of less importance. Surely these are not things “in quibus possimus dissentire salvâ pace ac charitate,” as Austin speaks,—“about which we may differ without loss of peace or charity.” One church cannot wrap in her communion Austin and Pelagius, Calvin and Arminius. I have here only given you a taste, whereby you may judge of the rest of their fruit,—“mors in olla, mors in olla;” their doctrine of the final apostasy of the elect, of true believers, of a wavering hesitancy concerning our present grace and future glory, with divers others, I have wholly omitted: those I have produced are enough to make their abettors incapable of our church-communion. The sacred bond of peace compasseth only the unity of that Spirit; which leadeth into all truth. We must not offer the right hand of fellowship, but rather proclaim iJero<n po>lemon,[4] “a holy war,” to such enemies of God’s providence, Christ’s merit, and the powerful operation of the Holy Spirit. Neither let any object, that all the Arminians do not openly profess all these errors I have recounted. Let ours, then, show wherein they differ from their masters.[5] We see their own confessions; we know their arts, ba>qh kai< meqodei>av tou~ Santana~,—“the depths and crafts of Satan;” we know the several ways they have to introduce and insinuate their heterodoxies into the minds of men.
:Owen:
 
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