Why Some Are Attracted to the Federal Vision?

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R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Josh,

Mike's never used those terms in my presence and I've never seen him using them.

Clark, I know you don't think that DW and MH mean the same thing, but can you back me up that MH does use the terms?)
 

Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
Man is not saved by the confession of a doctrine, no matter how accurate one may think it is. You do not know the hearts of men. You don't even know the hearts of RC Christians worldwide. There are elect even among the RCC, as horrible as their theology may be.

This is shameful.

I want nothing to do with this kind of thinking.
Gabe,

No one is saved by believing in a certain set of doctrines, but one can certainly be considered not Christian and expected to be damned if remaining in that belief on a host of different doctrines, despite whatever sincerity the person has in religious exercise. While obviously not fully knowing the heart at the moment the person dies, we still do not call Muslims or Unitarians Christians I hope. By your logic, I'm afraid we could never ever classify any heretical or anti-Christian church and segment of professing believers because we can't know the heart of the believer.

Soteriology: Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, and outright 5-point Arminianism
Trinitarian or Nature of Christ issues: Arianism, Modalism, Nestorianism, Unitarianism etc...
Issues regarding the Resurrection
Issues regarding Scriptural Authority
The list goes on and on.

*Clarification to the first point* What I meant to say was that mere intellectual assent, no matter how orthodox, cannot save, but denial of cardinal doctrines can certainly lead the Church to say repent or you will be damned to an individual.
 
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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Let's remember that this thread is: "Why Some are Attracted to the Federal Vision"

It's not that I disagree that if somebody's full conclusions lead them to reject the Gospel they are lost but I honestly believe that it's at this point that any who might be on the edge of the issue stop listening. Can we not be those who attempt to persuade those who are confused and save our ire only for the demonstrably impenitent?
 

BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
SemperFideles;


It's not that I disagree that if somebody's full conclusions lead them to reject the Gospel they are lost but I honestly believe that it's at this point that any who might be on the edge of the issue stop listening. Can we not be those who attempt to persuade those who are confused and save our ire only for the demonstrably impenitent?
I have a question, from the various people who post here, how many within your congregations understand the issues at hand?

Meaning, if the average church goers don't understand what is going on, how can they discuss with or persuade someone THEY may know who is under one of these TE's?

I know many people know how to share with say Mormons or JW, and the like, but how can they share with those within their own denomination if they don't even understand there is a battle going on within?

My pastor has mentioned it a few times in terms of the fact we were sending one of the RE's to the GA to discuss the Federal Vision Issue, but had I not been reading here, I wouldn't have known what he was talking about.

And I imagine there are many within the congregations who don't have a clue as to whats going on. Unfortunately many probably don't care, but I'm sure there are some who if they knew and understood the issues would be lifting up prayers for those who are going into the front lines of the battlefield against these things.

Thats the main reason I am reading up on it, and trying to get a better understanding of the battle, so that I can KNOW how to pray more effectively for those who are on the front lines.

And yes, it is a battle, though not of the flesh; which is what I tend to see happening with some of the verbal attacks going on; it appears many are forgetting it's a spiritual battle and not a phyiscal one, and I believe if more congregants were praying, then this battle could be over sooner rather than still fighting it 5 or 6 years from now. I've only just heard about this pretty much since I've been posting here, while had I known and understood earlier I could have been praying about it and for those involved.

Just one more thing to discuss with my pastors.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Free CP Journals to FV Apologists

I discussed all this at length in the Conf. Presbyterian article. Did you read it? Have any of the FV folk actually read it?
Scott,
I can't say, but if they haven't, I will offer to give a free review copy of the 2006 issue to the Revs. Wilkins or Wilson if they post me at my [email protected] to request it noting this offer. Also, to sweeten the deal, I'll entertain a critical (i.e. scholarly interaction) response to run in the 2007 issue if either of them care to interact with the piece (I would need text due before April 1st). Of course you would be given space for a response Scott.:)
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Bobbi,

I think very few know what's going on actually. My pastor in CA is well aware but I know (from talking to them) that many in the congregation are oblivious. This is why I think we ought to be cautious in our speech because some of the sheep don't fully understand the issues and see similarities between themselves and those being accused. This is why the FV is so dangerous in many ways but also goes to the reason why we ought to draw out the differences very carefully and not resort to very quick pronouncements that they don't understand.

In other words, it may be apparently obvious to us what the final conclusion is in the matter but it helps others who are confused if we spell out the steps patiently to them so they can understand themselves. I'm the kind of person that, with technical things, can often connect the dots very quickly in my mind and arrive at the "...that won't work..." far before others that work with me. I don't presume that others understand my conclusion so I walk them to the same conclusion by explaining the steps along the way rather than presenting the conclusion beforehand presuming that they understand all the steps I've taken.

I'm not saying that all who are sympathetic to the FV are uninformed. I am saying, however, that there are the "run of the mill" sheep that might be influenced to stay away with it if the opponents are careful to avoid declaring the conclusion strongly and browbeating them that they don't see it as clearly as they. GA's and Synods will eventually rule the teaching out of bounds in good order but lets be patient with those we can persuade to stay away in the meantime.
 

turmeric

Megerator
So let me see if I understand this...
The FV folks claim that they are just saying that it's possible to be in the visible church and not actually be in the invisible church, something we all agree with.

But, for sume reason that isn't yet clear, they keep hammering this point, using language that seems to say that one can lose his salvation if he isn't faithful, anong other things. Then, when someone objects, after saying we don't understand them, they say something that sounds even less confessional.

I'm with Rich, if this is just a semantic issue, why do they keep on? There's got to be a substantive disagreement somewhere.
 

BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
Meg,


I'm with Rich, if this is just a semantic issue, why do they keep on? There's got to be a substantive disagreement somewhere.
This has been my conclusion as well, IF it were JUST semantics why has it been on going for FIVE years (or more)??
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
Gabe,

No one is saved by believing in a certain set of doctrines
Maybe for a different thread, and I think I get your point, but one is saved by believing a certain set of doctrines:

"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." The gospel, rightly understood, consists of some very specific doctrines, chief among them is justification which is by belief alone. Wilkins and other FV defenders and advocates deny this. They believe in justification by faithful obedience, which is another way of saying justification by faith and works. Certainly you don't think a person is saved by some sort of existential encounter or that belief in a person is somehow different from belief in what that person thinks? The man who you've chosen for your avatar didn't think so.

On a different note, I'm still unclear why Steve Wilkins has not been brought up on charges of heresy? If Gabe is correct and Wilkins and other FV men are good Christian men and brothers in Christ, then we should desire their coming under discipline all the more. As previously mentioned, aside from whether or not any of these men can even be remotely considered Christians much less brothers, I am more curious to see if the church courts in the PCA will or will not tolerate the preaching of another gospel along side the one true gospel like OPC courts have decided per the precedents set in their handling of the Shepherd controversy and the Kinnaird trial.
 

BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
Rich,


I think very few know what's going on actually. My pastor in CA is well aware but I know (from talking to them) that many in the congregation are oblivious. This is why I think we ought to be cautious in our speech because some of the sheep don't fully understand the issues and see similarities between themselves and those being accused. This is why the FV is so dangerous in many ways but also goes to the reason why we ought to draw out the differences very carefully and not resort to very quick pronouncements that they don't understand.
If your pastor is aware, has he considered writing up a statement or newsletter explaining the issues at hand and ask that your congregation be praying about this issue?

In other words..Sound the trumpet concerning the battle at hand, and ask that ALL be praying for those on the frontlines addressing these issues.


I'm not saying that all who are sympathetic to the FV are uninformed. I am saying, however, that there are the "run of the mill" sheep that might be influenced to stay away with it if the opponents are careful to avoid declaring the conclusion strongly and browbeating them that they don't see it as clearly as they. GA's and Synods will eventually rule the teaching out of bounds in good order but lets be patient with those we can persuade to stay away in the meantime.
it's not even about brow beating anyone to draw any conclusions, it's about informing those within their OWN congregations as to what is going on, and asking them to Pray.

I went in and discussed this with my pastor this morning, and asked if he would/could type up a newsletter for our congregation explaining the issues one by one--so that our congregation is aware of what is going on within the PCA as a whole, so that we as a congregation know what we NEED to be praying about. This being a spiritual battle, prayers need to be going up...for the Holy Spirit to go before and prepare the way those fighting the battle on the front lines.

Eph 6:10-24

Especially 18-24 concerning prayer and knowing what to pray for.
 
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Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
Maybe for a different thread, and I think I get your point, but one is saved by believing a certain set of doctrines:

"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." The gospel, rightly understood, consists of some very specific doctrines, chief among them is justification which is by belief alone. Wilkins and other FV defenders and advocates deny this. They believe in justification by faithful obedience, which is another way of saying justification by faith and works. Certainly you don't think a person is saved by some sort of existential encounter or that belief in a person is somehow different from belief in what that person thinks? The man who you've chosen for your avatar didn't think so.

On a different note, I'm still unclear why Steve Wilkins has not been brought up on charges of heresy? If Gabe is correct and Wilkins and other FV men are good Christian men and brothers in Christ, then we should desire their coming under discipline all the more. As previously mentioned, aside from whether or not any of these men can even be remotely considered Christians much less brothers, I am more curious to see if the church courts in the PCA will or will not tolerate the preaching of another gospel along side the one true gospel like OPC courts have decided per the precedents set in their handling of the Shepherd controversy and the Kinnaird trial.
Yeah, thanks for the corrective on that issue, I don't know why I missed making that point more clear. I guess I was trying to say that while you can never know ultimately about someone's salvation, no matter how orthodox he/she is, at least as far as the Church is concerned, on the other side of the coin, unbelief or heresy can certainly lead us and especially our congregations to make the judgment that unless the person repents of these views, he will not inherit eternal life.

Apologies for the lack of clarity earlier. :handshake:
 

Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
So let me see if I understand this...
The FV folks claim that they are just saying that it's possible to be in the visible church and not actually be in the invisible church, something we all agree with.

But, for sume reason that isn't yet clear, they keep hammering this point, using language that seems to say that one can lose his salvation if he isn't faithful, anong other things. Then, when someone objects, after saying we don't understand them, they say something that sounds even less confessional.

I'm with Rich, if this is just a semantic issue, why do they keep on? There's got to be a substantive disagreement somewhere.
Meg,




This has been my conclusion as well, IF it were JUST semantics why has it been on going for FIVE years (or more)??
:ditto: As a layman still very much trying to figure out what's being said, and not liking what I'm hearing one bit from that side as I do learn it, I totally agree with your points. Semantics is a great cover for egregious error, and has been throughout church history.
 

BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
Magma2;

On a different note, I'm still unclear why Steve Wilkins has not been brought up on charges of heresy? If Gabe is correct and Wilkins and other FV men are good Christian men and brothers in Christ, then we should desire their coming under discipline all the more. As previously mentioned, aside from whether or not any of these men can even be remotely considered Christians much less brothers, I am more curious to see if the church courts in the PCA will or will not tolerate the preaching of another gospel along side the one true gospel like OPC courts have decided per the precedents set in their handling of the Shepherd controversy and the Kinnaird trial.
Have you asked your pastor about this?

I asked my pastor this morning why if they hold to these views are they STILL TE's in the PCA, he said there are group of Theologians (an ad hock committee) that is being formed to address this. Not quite sure when all of this is to take place...but I'm curious why it's taken FIVE years to get it done.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
SemperFideles;

I have a question, from the various people who post here, how many within your congregations understand the issues at hand?

Meaning, if the average church goers don't understand what is going on, how can they discuss with or persuade someone THEY may know who is under one of these TE's?

I know many people know how to share with say Mormons or JW, and the like, but how can they share with those within their own denomination if they don't even understand there is a battle going on within?

My pastor has mentioned it a few times in terms of the fact we were sending one of the RE's to the GA to discuss the Federal Vision Issue, but had I not been reading here, I wouldn't have known what he was talking about.

And I imagine there are many within the congregations who don't have a clue as to whats going on. Unfortunately many probably don't care, but I'm sure there are some who if they knew and understood the issues would be lifting up prayers for those who are going into the front lines of the battlefield against these things.

Thats the main reason I am reading up on it, and trying to get a better understanding of the battle, so that I can KNOW how to pray more effectively for those who are on the front lines.

And yes, it is a battle, though not of the flesh; which is what I tend to see happening with some of the verbal attacks going on; it appears many are forgetting it's a spiritual battle and not a phyiscal one, and I believe if more congregants were praying, then this battle could be over sooner rather than still fighting it 5 or 6 years from now. I've only just heard about this pretty much since I've been posting here, while had I known and understood earlier I could have been praying about it and for those involved.

Just one more thing to discuss with my pastors.
Unfortunately, not many in the pews know much if anything about the Federal Vision, much less its implications. It may be that some pastors believe that if you ignore it then, like other fads, it will just go away. Some, I think, don’t really understand what all the fuss is about because they do no understand the implications of this view of Scripture.

Also, unfortunately, I and a number of folks in our congregation have had to deal with these issues up close and personal for many years. We understand FV and the implications.

For what it's worth, this is my take on all that I have read so far:

What JWD Smith noted about the FV, that “Their (the FV proponents) use of terms like "salvation," etc. are usually qualified by quotation marks or by the phrase "in some sense," by which indicators I take them to be using the language analogically…” to me goes to the heart of the issue. It’s the point that the AAPC Session makes in their statement on salvation and baptism. Unfortunately, using the phrase “in some sense”, which is used repeatedly in Rev. Wilkins written response to the LA Presbytery as well as his oral exam, can only leave one wondering “in what sense?” Mr. Smith says that he takes it in an analogical sense. How is everyone else supposed to take it? Why not in a real sense? A metaphysical sense? An existential sense? What sense??? Is the person in the pew suppose to guess? Is determining what sense Scripture is speaking suppose to be like taking a multiple choice test? What if you get it wrong? what are the implications? Can Eph chapter 1 really be speaking in two different senses about the same relationship? Do we have to through out the laws of non-contradiction?

What is the real difference between the decreed elect and the covenantal elect anyway? The FV pastor says that “since Paul did not differentiate between the decreed elect and the covenantal elect in his letters to the churches, we shouldn’t either. Therefore all those who are in the Church are elect, in some sense. Besides, how can we know the mind of God as to who He has decreed to be elect? So both have a real vital relationship with Christ and all the promises of Scripture are for both, in some sense. Both are called, justified and sanctified and baptized into Christ, in some sense. Both have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which has drawn them out of sin and death and into the Kingdom of Christ, in some sense. They are both in Christ’s Church out of which there is no ordinary means of salvation, in some sense.”

Unfortunately for the person in the pew, there is the ever present “BUT”. But, the FV pastor says, “you may only be covenantally elect not decretively elect!” So what!! There really is no difference! Remember how Paul addressed the Churches! They are all elect! “But”, the FV pastor will say, “There is a small but significant difference, which is that the covenantally elect are missing one promised gift from God, that is the gift of perseverance!” How do I know whether I have this gift? The FV pastor will tell you, “Don’t apostatize”, hold fast to the promises of Christ that you are His in faith, you have been baptized, you are a member in good standing in the Kingdom of God, hold on to these to the end and you will know that God has given you this gift!” But, the person in the pew may ask, “Does not Scriptures promise that “He, who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Php 1:6)?” Can not all the elect whether covenantally or decretively claim this promise of perseverance?” The FV pastor will say” In some sense yes, and in some sense no. It all depends on what sense Scripture is speaking to at that point. Either way you can claim it, BUT…I can tell you this, if you do all the other things that I have told you, you can expect salvation! But if you do not do these things, then the curse of the covenant will be upon you.” But Scripture tells us that many will say on the last day before the judgment seat of Christ, “Lord, Lord, I have prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name”. Didn’t they have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that made them capable of calling Christ Lord and do such miracles in his name? And Scripture give us no indication that these people ever apostatized during their time here in the historical church? So why are they being cast out? The FV pastor will say, “Well in “some sense”, they really didn’t have the gift of perseverance. The promise of Php 1:6 wasn’t really for them otherwise Christ would have welcomed them into their final rest. Ultimately we have to wait for our Final Justification to see who has been non-meritoriously faithful to the Covenant and let God sort out who He has given the gift of perseverance. Always remember Deut 29:29!” But this is not fair! God has promised all the benefits of Christ to me! I relied on those promises and did not apostatize. I was baptized; I was a member of the Kingdom! I had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, in some sense!

But what about Romans 8? Is Paul not talking to the whole church, ie; the elect, when he says that there is “no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus?” Have not all who are in the historical church been baptized into Christ? Doesn’t baptism signify that we actually have a vital relationship with Jesus and all the benefits ours?” The FV pastor will say” Remember what I said about baptism? I said in some sense! Regarding Romans 8, Scripture can speak covenantally or decretively. Look at the context, in some sense the passage is covenantal and in another sense it’s decretive. Maybe in one sense it’s both”.

So in a real sense, if the FV truly reflects the Reformed Faith, we can’t attain to a full assurance until the Final Judgment/Justification. So one might as well turn to Rome. If I fulfill their requirements I know I can be saved. I might have to spend a 1,000 years or so in the purifying flames of Purgatory, but after that I will be Justified and Glorified.
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
Magma2;

Have you asked your pastor about this?

I asked my pastor this morning why if they hold to these views are they STILL TE's in the PCA, he said there are group of Theologians (an ad hock committee) that is being formed to address this. Not quite sure when all of this is to take place...but I'm curious why it's taken FIVE years to get it done.

in my opinion reports by study committees are nice, but really don't accomplish anything. The OPC recently finished one that some have praised, others have criticized as pretty drapes over a coffin (see The Orthodox Presbyterian Cover-up @ http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=227). But what has the OPC's report accomplished, even if we agree with those who praise it? What defender or advocate of the FV has been removed from office or driven from the OPC to their proper home in Idaho? One of the report's authors is also one of Norm Shepherd's and John Kinnaird's most well known supporter and loyal defender, Richard Gaffin. Yet, I'm told by some that the OPC report proves the OPC is sound. I fail to see how this follows, but my guess it provides the excuse most need to accommodate errors rather than having to confront those who teach them. Plus, committee reports make nice wallpaper.

As for my Session, up until recently most of these men were almost completely in the dark. I did give them each a copy of Paul Elliot's "Christianity vs. NeoLiberalism" last year which evidently didn't fall completely on deaf ears, praise God. Besides, our church has seen a fairly significant influx of FV refugees from area churches like the one in Hampton and one right here in VA Beach so I think there is that added incentive to get up to speed.

Regardless, it's much easier to vent on boards like this one and endlessly discuss the nuances of FV and their use of the word "elect" than it is to confront these men in the courts and to do it correctly and in order so that it might be adjudicated properly and to God's glory. I don't have any expertise in this area, which is why I asked the question of the more able men on this forum. Still haven't gotten any answers, so maybe I will try my pastor after all. :handshake:
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
So in a real sense, if the FV truly reflects the Reformed Faith, we can’t attain to a full assurance until the Final Judgment/Justification. So one might as well turn to Rome. If I fulfill their requirements I know I can be saved. I might have to spend a 1,000 years or so in the purifying flames of Purgatory, but after that I will be Justified and Glorified.

:amen: :amen: :amen: :amen: :amen:

Simply a great post. Expand it send it to Trinity Foundation and I bet John Robbins will publish it. Of course, you can try always try New Horizons. :rofl:
 

BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
Magma2;

I fail to see how this follows, but my guess it provides the excuse most need to accommodate errors rather than having to confront those who teach them.
This is what makes me sad....how is that truly taking a stand for Christ??

Plus, committee reports make nice wallpaper.
This was funny...:rofl:



I know our session isn't in the dark about the issue, one of our RE's went to the GA to address the issue, but even with the Session knowing and understanding it doesn't help the average person in the pew not knowing...They really do (in my opinion) have a need to know, so they can be praying.

To me, it's like being infected with a deadly disease and the doctor never telling you, your infected, even though he knows. How can you effectively help fight the disease if you don't know you've been infected?
 

BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
wsw201;

Unfortunately, not many in the pews know much if anything about the Federal Vision, much less its implications. It may be that some pastors believe that if you ignore it then, like other fads, it will just go away. Some, I think, don’t really understand what all the fuss is about because they do no understand the implications of this view of Scripture.
What makes them think it will just go away? It's been ongoing for a number of years and hasn't "Gone away" YET!!

Same type of thing...in reverse, you've been told you have a disease yet refuse to acknowledge it's existance and thus refuse to do anything about it...
 

RiverCritter

Puritan Board Freshman
For the FV proponents ... redefine the church, redefine justification, redefine sacraments, redefine and/or exclude the active/passive obedience of Jesus Christ and His work ...
I have to agree somewhat with this summary. I too, for reasons I'd rather not get into, feel strongly drawn to what I hear from some FVers. I have been corresponding via e-mail with an FV pal for a years and still dunno what they mean. Early on it sounded little different from old Continental Reformed theology. Maybe even Lutheranism in a way. But with all the new meanings for common theological terms, it's like learning a whole 'nother language to get any sense of what they actually mean.

If it's no different from "visible and invisible," why invent new terms or redefine old ones to say the same thing?

Or is all this really just about paedocommunion? While I sympathize with paedocommunionists, it almost looks like they're willing to turn the whole Reformation on it's head just to get denominational rulings that prohibit paedocommunion reversed. I'm not suggesting that the issue of paedocommunion is unimportant - it surely is - (and sorry if this sounds really immature of me) but turning every other fundamental issue upside down just to "win" the paedocommunion argument is worse than separating over it. Is FV just an elaborate argument for justifying paedocommunion?

Fine, argue for paedocommunion.... but to overturn Sola Fide in favor of Sola Fide Formata is an assault on Protestantism itself, isn't it? I wouldn't go the stake for paedocommunion either way. But I'd like to believe I would die for Sola Fide.

Still trying to figure out what they've been trying to say for all this time,
Robin
 

gwine

Puritan Board Sophomore
Man is not saved by the confession of a doctrine, no matter how accurate one may think it is. You do not know the hearts of men. You don't even know the hearts of RC Christians worldwide. There are elect even among the RCC, as horrible as their theology may be.

This is shameful.

I want nothing to do with this kind of thinking.
Maybe you want nothing to do with this kind of thinking now, but you did, my dear brother. From this thread posted on 12/2/2005 at 02:35 AM you responded to a comment I made about using the word 'popish'.

I'm quite alright with using words like Papist and Romish, and you should be too, Gerry. They are not our brothers.
I have emphasized part of the quote - it was not so in the original.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Rich,

If your pastor is aware, has he considered writing up a statement or newsletter explaining the issues at hand and ask that your congregation be praying about this issue?

In other words..Sound the trumpet concerning the battle at hand, and ask that ALL be praying for those on the frontlines addressing these issues.

it's not even about brow beating anyone to draw any conclusions, it's about informing those within their OWN congregations as to what is going on, and asking them to Pray.

I went in and discussed this with my pastor this morning, and asked if he would/could type up a newsletter for our congregation explaining the issues one by one--so that our congregation is aware of what is going on within the PCA as a whole, so that we as a congregation know what we NEED to be praying about. This being a spiritual battle, prayers need to be going up...for the Holy Spirit to go before and prepare the way those fighting the battle on the front lines.

Eph 6:10-24

Especially 18-24 concerning prayer and knowing what to pray for.
A lot has been discussed in this thread since I posted and it's sometimes hard to get the sense of my words.

First, I believe Wayne captured the heart of the issue in his post. Great post Wayne. It actually compliments my post regarding confusion in the pews.

It's not that my former pastor is not laboring against this but there is a difference in the way you labor against something among Elders and the way in which you protect the uninformed against them.

Wayne draws out very clearly why I have found this so dangerous, regardless of whether or not you accept that the FV is all about parsing words (which I don't, I think there are consequences):
Wilkins written response to the LA Presbytery as well as his oral exam, can only leave one wondering “in what sense?” Mr. Smith says that he takes it in an analogical sense. How is everyone else supposed to take it? Why not in a real sense? A metaphysical sense? An existential sense? What sense??? Is the person in the pew suppose to guess? Is determining what sense Scripture is speaking suppose to be like taking a multiple choice test? What if you get it wrong? what are the implications? Can Eph chapter 1 really be speaking in two different senses about the same relationship? Do we have to through out the laws of non-contradiction?

What is the real difference between the decreed elect and the covenantal elect anyway? The FV pastor says that “since Paul did not differentiate between the decreed elect and the covenantal elect in his letters to the churches, we shouldn’t either. Therefore all those who are in the Church are elect, in some sense. Besides, how can we know the mind of God as to who He has decreed to be elect? So both have a real vital relationship with Christ and all the promises of Scripture are for both, in some sense. Both are called, justified and sanctified and baptized into Christ, in some sense. Both have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which has drawn them out of sin and death and into the Kingdom of Christ, in some sense. They are both in Christ’s Church out of which there is no ordinary means of salvation, in some sense.”

Unfortunately for the person in the pew, there is the ever present “BUT”.
Who really expects the man in the pew to make this distinction?! Some people are sometimes too smart for their own good but in some ways they're just downright dumb. They wave off this issue saying: "Well this is a debate among Pastors and such and they're supposed to be sophisticated enough to not draw the wrong conclusions...." No, it's not just being read by TE's and Pastors and those confusing have a responsibility to be clear! FV proponents will argue with me until they're blue in the face that the FV is not unconfessional but the opportunity for misinterpretation, even granting that it might be orthodox, makes it just as dangerous.

*BREAK, BREAK*

Now everyone can see that I'm passionate that the error be dealt with quickly.

But, I was arguing for how we ought to relate to the man in the pew who is confused by these things. As I argued, we ought to be gentle and patient and not presume that he understands the conclusion in the matter. If he has at all grown sympathetic to the cause and read a million posts from the FV saying "...they mischarecterize us..." then stating the conclusion of the matter before you've patiently discipled the man to understand the error could end up closing him down and making him think there is truth to "...all they do is mischaracterize..." thing.

As for those who are oblivious about it because they just don't read about such things - some of them need to be trained in the basics anyhow. I don't think it does any good to catalog all the errors in front of a Church body oblivious to the errors. Train them on the truth and deal with error that you know they've gotten themselves into it but don't expose them to error and try to get them to parse this debate.
 

nominalist747

Puritan Board Freshman
Horton on the historical/eschatological

From his article at http://www.modernreformation.org/mh04permadd.htm: (emphasis added)

Augustine, one of the key sources for this invisible-visible church distinction, can be improved on by reference to eschatology. In other words, the proper distinction is not between two types of churches, one "inner" and another "outer," but rather two eras of the one church's existence: "this present age" and "the age to come." This is the import of the parable of the wheat and weeds: Jesus will sort things out in the end. But for now, the visible church is a garden of wheat and weeds and sometimes we cannot tell them apart. In this age, the church is compromised; in the next, it is glorified -- completely purged of being, as we lament in the hymn, "by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed." The distinction between the present and the future condition of the church is the corporate analogue to the paradoxical life of the individual believer as "simultaneously justified and sinful." But just as we are definitively new creatures in Christ, despite our continuing battle with sin, the church really is the site of God's covenantal grace. Like any family, it has its problems, but because it is Christ's family, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). To this church Christ has entrusted the keys of the kingdom, so that "whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (v. 19). Just as the individual believer is a work in progress, so corporately the church even in its weakness is the place where the age to come breaks in on this present evil age. It is not because of anything intrinsic to the church itself, but because the ministry of the keys has been entrusted to her. It is through its ministry of Word and Sacrament, as well as discipline, that the Spirit makes us taste the heavenly reality of God's sabbath rest. Even the nonelect in the visible church experience through this ministry some measure of the kingdom reality, as they have been "enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come" (Heb. 6:4-5)...It [the church] is not a vague, abstract, invisible reality, but a tangible, concrete, visible one -- amid all the counterevidence.
There you go--I knew I'd heard it somewhere from MH. So you can't take folks out to the woodshed just for the terminology they use.

On the second emphasis, what is the kingdom reality? It is salvation (Rev. 12:10), forgiveness and adoption (Col. 1:13-14), etc. So MH holds that the nonelect experience these things "in some measure." The FV approach ("in some sense") seems very similar to me.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
JWD,

After everything that has been written, do you actually believe that this is about words? Have you actually been reading the threads where, over and over, it is repeated that the semantics are not the issue but the substance?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
And by the way, you asked Dr. Clark:
I have heard Mike Horton use the terms "historical" and "eschatological" for the church, so simply using new terms does not mean you've denied the confession (Dr. Clark, I know you don't think that DW and MH mean the same thing, but can you back me up that MH does use the terms?).
To which Dr. Clark replied that he hadn't heard Dr. Horton use those terms. In your quote, he does not nor does he ever imply that the benefits that are said to only accrue to the elect accrue to everyone in the visible Church in some sense. He is merely restating Confessional language that those who fall away do participate in benefits.

I would suggest you go back and read the thread about the difference between the historic use of Conditional election and the way the FV uses it here: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php?t=18377
 

nominalist747

Puritan Board Freshman
Reply to Scott Hooker

I think it is naive and dangerous to take questionable statements on critical doctrines (which justification really is) at their face value when dealing with an officer of the church. It is a sign and tendency of our speculative, individualistic age that everyone has to have his or her own specific "take" on this doctrinal matter and that we have to owe that person a lot of charity on this opinion, no matter how strong or weak it may be.
I think you've gotten me backward, here: I don't take the questionable statements at face value, but rather the unquestionable ones. When a guy says "faith is the alone instrument of justification," (which DW has said: http://www.dougwils.com/index.asp?Action=Anchor&CategoryID=1&BlogID=2923) I believe him, so that when he goes on to say that good works are necessary to salvation, I assume that by the latter he does not mean to deny the former. So I don't automatically believe everyone has a right to their specific take, necessarily, but I try to avoid speculation and individualism by believing a man, especially a pastor in good standing, to be telling the truth.

On critical doctrine, I would afford a teacher or pastor almost no charity if he/she started talking even remotely aberrantly about the Trinity or the Resurrection. While I have no sympathies with the FV movement as I have come to know of it, I do see why some might be drawn to it; nonetheless, when a whole group of teachers and pastors start using ambiguous language about one of the most critical doctrines of the Faith, I as a confessional presbyterian have absolutely no obligation to given them a benefit of the doubt. The burden of proof is on them before my denomination and its confessional standards. The standards stand, and challenges to them (implied or direct) must prove why the confessions should be amended, not why the confessions should just bend to their will. Don't like the inflexible standards of a confessional church? Fine, set up a different denomination or go to a church that is non-confessional, but do not try to redefine the confession to say something it does not say.
Granted, but in general the FV don't challenge the standards, they agree with them, but don't treat them as exhaustive. No one has said that the WCF should be done away with, or that in should be altered to change the definition of justification. Just thinking that the standards are not completely sufficient and exhaustive, however, is not grounds for heresy (e.g., there are WSC profs who think a new confession would be a good thing).


Every bit of rhetoric I've heard from FV advocates of using these words in unsusual ways smacks of liberalism and doctrinal compromise.
Except for the fact that only reason they want to use the words in those ways is that Scripture uses the terms in those ways, not because of some rationalism. And can I just observe that the accusation of liberalism and compromise sounds odd from someone who can refer to a "teacher or pastor" as "he/she"?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
On the second emphasis, what is the kingdom reality? It is salvation (Rev. 12:10), forgiveness and adoption (Col. 1:13-14), etc. So MH holds that the nonelect experience these things "in some measure." The FV approach ("in some sense") seems very similar to me.
There are kingdom privileges other than salvation and forgiveness. E.g., the Pharisees saw the miracles of Christ. Miracles were a sign the kingdom of God was amongst them -- the finger of God. Hence they experienced the powers of the world to come. One might speak assuredly (without vagueness) of kingdom privileges, such as baptism and the preached Word, as being given to those who do not belong to the eternal kingdom of heaven. This does not imply that the same people are partakers of what baptism represents or that they are doers of the Word and not hearers only.
 

nominalist747

Puritan Board Freshman
Reply to Rich

Rich,

You just said that MH never uses the terms "historical" and "eschatological," but he clearly means those things in substance. So now you're saying that MH doesn't say it because he doesn't use those words. Isn't this an instance of looking at the words instead of the substance? And the post I was replying to insisted that the problem was replacing the terms, while DW emphasizes in several places that he is trying to keep the substance of the distinction with different language. There, then, it did seem to be an issue of the words: the use of different words was taken to mean a denial of the substance, when it is not necessarily the case.

And MH does say that the nonelect experience the kingdom reality, but isn't the kingdom reality a benefit that only truly comes to the elect? And isn't the reality of the kingdom true forgiveness, adoption, and salvation? So "kingdom reality" can be taken to refer to the benefits that truly come to the elect. Again, you point out that MH doesn't use certain words, when it seems that the substance is there.
 

nominalist747

Puritan Board Freshman
There are kingdom privileges other than salvation and forgiveness. E.g., the Pharisees saw the miracles of Christ. Miracles were a sign the kingdom of God was amongst them -- the finger of God. Hence they experienced the powers of the world to come. One might speak assuredly (without vagueness) of kingdom privileges, such as baptism and the preached Word, as being given to those who do not belong to the eternal kingdom of heaven. This does not imply that the same people are partakers of what baptism represents or that they are doers of the Word and not hearers only.
Right, and the FV repeatedly say that the difference between the elect and nonelect in the covenant community is in fact the latter--the elect are doers of the Word, while the nonelect are hearers only. And 1 Cor. 10:1-6 says that those who fell away partook somehow in what the sacraments represented, i.e., Christ Himself.
 
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