Wilkins' Presbytery exam examined by Rick Phillips

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wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Friends, when did the reformed church insist that the exact terms must be found in Scripture? The idea of conditional election to temporary benefits is clearly revealed in holy writ. Our Lord has provided a parable which specifically teaches that the reprobate are partakers in the kingdom of God temporarily -- the parable of the wheat and tares. At the judgment, "the Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather OUT OF HIS KINGDOM all things that offend, and them which do iniquity," Matt. 13:41. The visible church enjoys special "privileges" bestowed by God, which the world does not receive, Westminster Larger Catechism, answer 63. To be in the visible church is to enjoy these benefits. If any are made partakers of these benefits it is because God chose them to it (temporary election).
The Standards have a better term than "conditional election" or "temporary election" and that is the "general calling". The definition in Chapt 10 on Effectual Calling is as follows:

IV. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word,[15] and may have some common operations of the Spirit,[16] yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved:[17] much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the laws of that religion they do profess.[18] And to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.[19]

Proofs:

[15] MAT 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

[16] MAT 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. HEB 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.

[17] JOH 6:64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. 65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. 66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

[18] ACT 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. JOH 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. EPH 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. JOH 4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

[19] 2JO 1:9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. 1CO 16:22 If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. GAL 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

One of the problems with the FV are the use of terms. Using "temporary election" only causes further confusion despite the fact that some theologian at some time used the term.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
If it is true that the WCF is saying that conditional election is under the heading of the "general call" as you quote above, then I would say the WCF is unScriptural on this point... Just a simple read of John 15 should show us that people can, in fact, be IN Christ and not be ultimately saved eternally.
 

AdamM

Puritan Board Freshman
Gabe, back in the early 80's I used to read a magazine published and If I recall correctly, editied by R. Emmet Tyrrell, called the American Spectator. One of the features I enjoyed the most was Tyrrell's "Strange New Respect" awards. Basically awards given out to folks who evidenced remarkable changes from their previously staked out positions. Things like Dick Gephardt suddenly becoming pro-choice after many years of being a leading pro-life stalwart in congress and so on. David Brock who once wrote for the magazine is another example.

No offense intended and I wish you well whatever, but you appear to have developed a rather amazing "strange new respect" for the Federal Vision (or maybe you've been body snatched)?
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Gabe,

Based on what Rev. Winzer cited, he is discribing a person who is in the church and shares some of the benefits of the church but is not elect to salvation no matter what they may do. What he is describing is a person who would fit the definition per the WCF as generally called. Being a Presbyterian, I think its best to use terms and definitions that are clear to all. I can point to Chapter 10 section 4 and say "that is exactly what I'm talking about". No fuss no muss.

Now you have to define what it means to be "IN Christ" since it can be taken a number of ways. Does it mean that a person is in the visible church but not elect, ie; generally called? or that they are actually elect, effectually called, but can lose their salvation?
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
To be "in Christ" is exactly what Scripture says.

It is to be born again into the kingdom of God -- the Church -- under the headship of Christ (cf. John 3). It is to be set apart from the world in covenant with God. It is to be called to faith and repentance and to rest in Christ all the days of your life (cf. John 15).

It is NOT the same thing as "salvation" in the WCF sense; that is, being "truly" saved, or "eternally elect."

Good Calvinism has to take into account (as Calvin did), both the covenantal/sacramental life of the Church (the visible church), and the predestination and eternal side of things (the invisible church, which is far less "important" to us in the "here and now"; cf. Deut 29:29 if you disagree with me).
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
If it is true that the WCF is saying that conditional election is under the heading of the "general call" as you quote above, then I would say the WCF is unScriptural on this point... Just a simple read of John 15 should show us that people can, in fact, be IN Christ and not be ultimately saved eternally.
Gabe,

To be blunt, I think you are behaving irresponsibly in this thread. It's as if you have your hands clasped over your ears and are simply charging: "You misrepresent, you misrepresent..."

You have so far:
1. Accused two Elders in the visible Church of bearing false witness without substantiating the claim.
2. You have accused all those who agree that Wilkins' statements are irresponsble as "...making haste to run to evil...."
3. You accused me of poisoning the well without explaining how I was being unfair with terms.
4. Having barely studied the WCF and wondering aloud "...if that's what it teaches...", you assume your "...on the surface of John 15..." is enough to pronounce that the WCF is wrong.

This is a dialogue on the issue. You may not agree with the conclusions others are drawing about Wilkins' teachings but to stop your ears and scream "...you're misrepresenting..." does not help anybody to understand.

If you have a case to present that his words are being misrepresented then demonstrate how Pastor Phillips or others have dones so by comparing meanings, analyzing, and critiquing. If you're expecting any of us to agree with you on the basis of your decretal authority alone then you're sadly mistaken.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
1. Then I guess I'm guilty along with the hundreds upon hundreds of people who simply regurgitate synopses of what they read online in order to engage in a blanket condemnation of any number of Elders in the visible Church. This is ad hominem tu quoque.

2. No I did not. That was directed at Robin who -- to be blunt -- has said some REDICULOUS things regarding Elders in the visible Church, with apparently no intent to understand someone's position, dialogue, or come to any sort of understanding... just throw rocks.

3. You were being unfair with terms because Wilkins and others are using regeneration in (what is arguably) a more Biblical-Theological manner (and there's nothing WRONG with that, as long as one is clear -- which Wilkins and others obviously haven't been clear enough in the past, and thankfully they're qualifying now... but still to people's discontent!); that is, regeneration as being born into the kingdom of God (the visible Church) through Baptism (cf. John 3, Titus 3, etc.). This is found in Calvin, Augstine, and especially in M.F. Sadler's book "The Second Adam and the New Birth," which is a defense of the Reformed view of the Sacrament of Baptism, straight out of Calvin and his contemporaries. WCF made regeneration to mean "conversion," which is fine by me, as a theological term, but I really am not sure if that's how Scripture ALWAYS uses the term. I'm still studying, and always will be. So, like I said, TO BE FAIR, you should read Wilkins in context, according to what he has said, not read a different -- but fine and good -- context into what he's saying and then throw stones at his statements about baptism and regeneration. He does not believe Baptism "truly saves" a person or makes them "eternally elect." He's completely confessional on this subject; that is, on the subject of God's eternal decree and the salvation of sinners.

4. This is just an insult, but I'll clarify anyway, giving you the benefit of the doubt, as a fellow layman in the Church. I said that "if that's what it teaches" because I don't believe that is what WCF's point was. I thought it was a bad reading, because it would seem to contradict clear Scriptures on being "in Christ" and how one can be "on the vine" and "a branch" but still be cut off from Christ (covenantally speaking, of course!!! not eternally).
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The Standards have a better term than "conditional election" or "temporary election" and that is the "general calling". The definition in Chapt 10 on Effectual Calling is as follows:
This call can be heard from Joe Blogs standing on a soap box in the centre of town.

Traditional Presbyterianism taught that Jehovah God manifests His gracious presence and acts according to His special providence for the good of the visible church. This privileged position is acknowledge by historic writers as an election, which distinguishes the members of the visible church from the world. To call it anything less is to detract from the significance of the church as an institution of divine appointment.

The Confession considers the visible church to be nothing less than "the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation" (chap. 25, sect. 2). Besides the special benefits of the sacraments, which apply only to the elect, the Confession states they are also instituted " to put a visible difference between those that belong to the church, and the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to His Word" (Chap. 27, sect. 1).

One of the problems with the FV are the use of terms. Using "temporary election" only causes further confusion despite the fact that some theologian at some time used the term.
It appears to me that the confusion arises because inexperienced theologians do not understand the adjectives "absolute," "unconditional" or "eternal," as being relative to the election which pertains to eternal life, and that such adjectives are stated for the express purpose of distinguishing this election from an election to temporal privileges.

I specifically chose the quotation of John Owen because he particularly refers to Christ's election of Judas to temporal privileges. Judas was chosen, being a devil; yet in terms of inward, spiritual blessings, he was not chosen. One is not at liberty to deny what the Bible so plainly teaches. The responsible thing to do is to explain the difference between these two elections, which is what historic reformed theology has done.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
1. Then I guess I'm guilty along with the hundreds upon hundreds of people who simply regurgitate synopses of what they read online in order to engage in a blanket condemnation of any number of Elders in the visible Church. This is ad hominem tu quoque.

2. No I did not. That was directed at Robin who -- to be blunt -- has said some REDICULOUS things regarding Elders in the visible Church, with apparently no intent to understand someone's position, dialogue, or come to any sort of understanding... just throw rocks.

3. You were being unfair with terms because Wilkins and others are using regeneration in (what is arguably) a more Biblical-Theological manner (and there's nothing WRONG with that, as long as one is clear -- which Wilkins and others obviously haven't been clear enough in the past, and thankfully they're qualifying now... but still to people's discontent!); that is, regeneration as being born into the kingdom of God (the visible Church) through Baptism (cf. John 3, Titus 3, etc.). This is found in Calvin, Augstine, and especially in M.F. Sadler's book "The Second Adam and the New Birth," which is a defense of the Reformed view of the Sacrament of Baptism, straight out of Calvin and his contemporaries. WCF made regeneration to mean "conversion," which is fine by me, as a theological term, but I really am not sure if that's how Scripture ALWAYS uses the term. I'm still studying, and always will be. So, like I said, TO BE FAIR, you should read Wilkins in context, according to what he has said, not read a different -- but fine and good -- context into what he's saying and then throw stones at his statements about baptism and regeneration. He does not believe Baptism "truly saves" a person or makes them "eternally elect." He's completely confessional on this subject; that is, on the subject of God's eternal decree and the salvation of sinners.

4. This is just an insult, but I'll clarify anyway, giving you the benefit of the doubt, as a fellow layman in the Church. I said that "if that's what it teaches" because I don't believe that is what WCF's point was. I thought it was a bad reading, because it would seem to contradict clear Scriptures on being "in Christ" and how one can be "on the vine" and "a branch" but still be cut off from Christ (covenantally speaking, of course!!! not eternally).
Well, at least I got you out of your pithy "one-liner" cocoon in this thread.

1. That's an interesting ethic. What others do is not normative. Others may accuse me of misrepresenting and the Lord knows I have much to learn but if I speak inaccurately I confess it when I know of it.

2. Take that up with Robin.

3. I didn't even write enough words to conclude everything you just accused me of. I summarized something that was true as far as it went. My point, at the time, is that you merely charged me with misrepresenting and now you engage in accusing me of concepts I did not express. Be careful of the standard with which you judge...

4. I would suggest you be more guarded in your speech the next time.

My comments were intended as a warning. I do not intend to give a tit for tat. I don't want this to become personal but others are not the only folks "poisoning the well" in this thread.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
This call can be heard from Joe Blogs standing on a soap box in the centre of town.

Traditional Presbyterianism taught that Jehovah God manifests His gracious presence and acts according to His special providence for the good of the visible church. This privileged position is acknowledge by historic writers as an election, which distinguishes the members of the visible church from the world. To call it anything less is to detract from the significance of the church as an institution of divine appointment.

The Confession considers the visible church to be nothing less than "the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation" (chap. 25, sect. 2). Besides the special benefits of the sacraments, which apply only to the elect, the Confession states they are also instituted " to put a visible difference between those that belong to the church, and the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to His Word" (Chap. 27, sect. 1).



It appears to me that the confusion arises because inexperienced theologians do not understand the adjectives "absolute," "unconditional" or "eternal," as being relative to the election which pertains to eternal life, and that such adjectives are stated for the express purpose of distinguishing this election from an election to temporal privileges.

I specifically chose the quotation of John Owen because he particularly refers to Christ's election of Judas to temporal privileges. Judas was chosen, being a devil; yet in terms of inward, spiritual blessings, he was not chosen. One is not at liberty to deny what the Bible so plainly teaches. The responsible thing to do is to explain the difference between these two elections, which is what historic reformed theology has done.
Rev. Winzer,

I understand what you are saying, but I do not believe it is apropos of the issue at stake here in this thread. To acknowledge that there is an "election" or "choosing" by God that amounts to common grace (which you have aptly described) is not the point. Owen is clearly describing an election to temporary gifting, such as Judas had. That is not what Wilkins is describing. He is describing a temporary election to salvific gifts, benefits. Owen is describing the exact opposite. He is discussing the giftings shown by those who manifestly do not have saving graces, in his effort to show that the work of the Holy Spirit (the selected text is from Owen's work on the Holy Spirit, Pneumatologia) in saving grace is distinct, different and not related to his work in gifting men.

Here is the quote in full context, from a section dealing with the difference between spiritual gifts and saving grace, which makes that point crystal clear (I'll bold the bottom line portions):

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SPIRITUAL GIFTS
AND SAVING GRACE.
THEIR nature in general, which in the next place we inquire into, will be
much discovered in the consideration of those things wherein these gifts do agree with saving graces, and wherein they differ from them.
First, There are four things wherein spiritual gifts and saving graces do
agree: —
1. They are, both sorts of them, the purchase of Christ for his church, the
especial fruit of his mediation. We speak not of such gifts or endowments
of men’s minds as consist merely in the improvement of their natural
faculties: such are wisdom, learning, skill in arts and sciences; which those
may abound and excel in who are utter strangers to the church of Christ,
and frequently they do so, to their own exaltation and contempt of others.
Nor do I intend abilities for actions, moral, civil, or political; as fortitude,
skill in government or rule, and the like. For although these are gifts of the
power of the Spirit of God, yet they do belong unto those operations
which he exerciseth in upholding or ruling of the world, or the old creation
as such, whereof I have treated before. But I intend those alone which are
conversant about the gospel, the things and duties of it, the administration
of its ordinances, the propagation of its doctrine, and profession of its
ways. And herein also I put a difference between them and all those gifts
of the Spirit about sacred things which any of the people of God enjoyed
under the old testament; for we speak only of those which are “powers of
the world to come.” Those others were suited to the economy of the old
covenant, and confined with the light which God was pleased then to
communicate unto his church. Unto the gospel state they were not suited,
nor would be useful in it, Hence the prophets, who had the most eminent
gifts, did yet all of them come short of John the Baptist, because they had
not, by virtue of their gifts, that acquaintance with the person of Christ
and insight into his work of mediation that he had; and yet also he came
short of him that is “least in the kingdom of heaven,” because his gifts
were not purely evangelical. Wherefore, those gifts whereof we treat are such as belong unto the kingdom of God erected in an especial manner by
Jesus Christ after his ascension into heaven; for he was exalted that he
might fill all things, ta< pa>nta, that is, the whole church, with these effects
of his power and grace. The power, therefore, of communicating these gifts
was granted unto the Lord Christ as mediator, by the Father, for the
foundation and edification of his church, as it is expressed, Acts 2:33;
and by them was his kingdom both set up and propagated, and is
preserved in the world. These were the weapons of warfare which he
furnished his disciples withal when he gave them commission to go forth
and subdue the world unto the obedience of the gospel, Acts 1:4,8; and
mighty were they through God unto that purpose, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6.
In the use and exercise of them did the gospel “run, and was glorified,” to
the ruin of the kingdom of Satan and darkness in the world. And that he
was ever able to erect it again, under another form than that of Gentilism,
as he hath done in the anti-christian apostasy of the church visible, it was
from a neglect and contempt of these gifts, with their due use and
improvement, When men began to neglect the attaining of these spiritual
gifts, and the exercise of them, in praying, in preaching, in interpretation of
the Scripture, in all the administrations and whole worship of the church,
betaking themselves wholly to their own abilities and inventions,
accommodated unto their ease and secular interest, it was an easy thing for Satan to erect again his kingdom, though not in the old manner, because of
the light of the Scripture, which had made an impression on the minds of
men which he could not obliterate. Wherefore he never attempted openly
any more to set up Heathenism or Paganism, with the gods of the old
world and their worship; but he insensibly raised another kingdom, which
pretended some likeness unto and compliance with the letter of the word,
though it came at last to be in all things expressly contrary thereunto. This
was his kingdom of apostasy and darkness, under the papal
antichristianism and woful degeneracy of other Christians in the world; for
when men who pretend themselves intrusted with the preservation of the
kingdom of Christ did willfully cast away those weapons of their warfare
whereby the world was subdued unto him, and ought to have been kept in
subjection by them, what else could ensue?
By these gifts, I say, doth the Lord Christ demonstrate his power and
exercise his rule. External force and carnal weapons were far from his thoughts, as unbecoming his absolute sovereignty over the souls of men,
his infinite power and holiness. Neither did any ever betake themselves
unto them in the affairs of Christ’s kingdom, but either when they had
utterly lost and abandoned these spiritual weapons, or did not believe that
they are sufficient to maintain the interest of the gospel, though originally
they were so to introduce and fix it in the world, — that is, that although
the gifts of the Holy Ghost were sufficient and effectual to bring in the
truth and doctrine of the gospel against all opposition, yet are they not so
to maintain it; which they may do well once more to consider. Herein,
therefore, they agree with saving graces; for that they are peculiarly from
Jesus Christ the mediator is confessed by all, unless it be by such as by
whom all real internal grace is denied. But the sanctifying operations of the
Holy Spirit, with their respect unto the Lord Christ as mediator, have been
sufficiently before confirmed.
2. There is an agreement between saving graces and spiritual gifts with
respect unto their immediate efficient cause. They are, both sorts of them,
wrought by the power of the Holy Ghost.
As to what concerneth the
former, or saving grace, I have already treated of that argument at large; nor
will any deny that the Holy Ghost is the author of these graces but those
that deny that there are any such. That these gifts are so wrought by him
is expressly declared wherever there is mention of them, in general or
particular. Wherefore, when they acknowledge that there were such gifts,
all confess him to be their author. By whom he is denied so to be, it is
only because they deny the continuance of any such gifts in the church of
God. But this is that which we shall disprove.
3. Herein also they agree, that both sorts of them are designed unto the
good, benefit, ornament, and glory of the church. The church is the proper
seat and subject of them, to it are they granted, and in it do they reside; for Christ is given to be the “head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all,” Ephesians 1:22,23.
But this “church” falls under a double consideration: — first, as it is
believing; secondly, as it is professing. In the first respect absolutely it is
invisible,
{N.B. the antipathy displayed even this week by FV types for the visible church, expressed by Owen here, and they refer to as "against the law of non-contradiction} and as such is the peculiar subject of saving grace. This is that
church which “Christ loved and gave himself for, that he might sanctify and
cleanse it, and present it unto himself a glorious church, not having
spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and
without blemish,” Ephesians 5:26,27.

This is the work of saving grace, and by a participation thereof do men
become members of this church, and not otherwise.
And hereby is the
professing church quickened and enabled unto profession in an acceptable
manner; for the elect receive grace unto this end in this world, that they
may glorify Christ and the gospel in the exercise of it, Colossians 1:6;
John 15:8. But gifts are bestowed on the professing church to render it
visible in such a way as whereby God is glorified. Grace gives an invisible
life to the church, gifts give it a visible profession; for hence doth the
church become organical, and disposed into that order which is beautiful
and comely.
Where any church is organized merely by outward rules,
perhaps of their own devising, and makes profession only in an attendance
unto outward order, not following the leading of the Spirit in the
communication of his gifts, both as to order and discharge of the duties of
profession, it is but the image of a church, wanting an animating principle
and form. That profession which renders a church visible according to the
mind of Christ, is the orderly exercise of the spiritual gifts bestowed on it,
in a conversation evidencing the invisible principle of saving grace. Now,
these gifts are conferred on the church in order unto “the edification of
itself in love,” Ephesians 4:16, as also for the propagation of its
profession in the world, as shall be declared afterward. Wherefore, both of
these sorts have in general the same end, or are given by Christ unto the
same purpose, — namely, the good and benefit of the church, as they are
respectively suited to promote them.
4. It may also be added, that they agree herein, that they have both the
same respect unto the bounty of Christ. Hence every grace is a gift, that
which is given and freely bestowed on them that have it, Matthew
13:11; Philippians 1:29. And although, on the other side, every gift be
not a grace, yet, proceeding from gracious favor and bounty, they are so
called, Romans 12:6; Ephesians 4:7. How, in their due exercise, they
are mutually helpful and assistant unto each other, shall be declared
afterward. Secondly, We may consider wherein the difference lies or doth consist
which is between these spiritual gifts and sanctifying graces
: and this may
be seen in sundry instances; as, —
1. Saving graces are karpo>v, the “fruit” or fruits “of the Spirit,”
Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9; Philippians 1:11. Now, fruits
proceed from an abiding root and stock, of whose nature they do partake.
There must be a “good tree” to bring forth “good fruit,” Matthew 12:33.
No external watering or applications unto the earth will cause it to bring
forth useful fruits, unless there are roots from which they spring and are
educed. The Holy Spirit is as the root unto these fruits; the root which
bears them, and which they do not bear, as Romans 11:18
. Therefore, in
order of nature, is he given unto men before the production of any of these
fruits. Thereby are they ingrafted into the olive, are made such branches in
Christ, the true vine, as derive vital juice, nourishment, and fructifying
virtue from him, even by the Spirit. So is he “a well of water springing up
into everlasting life,” John 4:14. He is a spring in believers; and all
saving graces are but waters arising from that living, overflowing spring.
From him, as a root or spring, as an eternal virtue, power, or principle, do
all these fruits come. To this end doth he dwell in them and abide with
them, according to the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ, John 14:17;
Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; whereby the Lord Christ effecteth
his purpose in “ordaining his disciples to bring forth fruit” that should
“remain,” John 15:16.
In the place of his holy residence, he worketh
these effects freely, according to his own will. And there is nothing that
hath the true nature of saving grace but what is so a fruit of the Spirit. We
have not first these graces, and then by virtue of them receive the Spirit,
(for whence should we have them of ourselves?) but the Spirit bestowed
on us worketh them in us, and gives them a siritual, divine nature, in
conformity unto his own.
With gifts, singly considered, it is otherwise. They are indeed works and
effects, but not properly fruits of the Spirit, nor are anywhere so called.

They are effects of his operation upon men, not fruits of his working in
them; and, therefore, many receive these gifts who never receive the Spirit
as to the principal end for which he is promised.
They receive him not to
sanctify and make them temples unto God; though metonymically, with
respect unto his outward effects, they may be said to be made partakers of him. This renders them of a different nature and kind from saving graces;
for whereas there is an agreement and coincidence between them in the
respects before mentioned, and whereas the seat and subject of them, —
that is, of gifts absolutely, and principally of graces also, — is the mind,
the difference of their nature proceeds from the different manner of their
communication from the Holy Spirit.
2. Saving grace proceeds from, or is the effect and fruit of, electing love.
This I have proved before, in our inquiry into the nature of holiness. See it
directly asserted, Ephesians 1:3,4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Acts
2:47, 13:48. Whom God graciously choosoth and designeth unto eternal
life, them he prepares for it by the communication of the means which are
necessary unto that end, Romans 8:28-30. Hereof sanctification, or the
communication of saving grace, is comprehensive; for we are “chosen to
salvation through sanctification of the Spirit,” 2 Thessalonians 2:13, for
this is that whereby we are “made meet to be partakers of the inheritance
of the saints in light,” Colossians 1:12. The end of God in election is the
sonship and salvation of the elect,
“to the praise of the glory of his grace,”
Ephesians 1:5,6; and this cannot be unless his image be renewed in them
in holiness or saving graces. These, therefore, he works in them, in pursuit
of his eternal purpose therein. But gifts, on the other hand, which are no
more but so, and where they are solitary or alone, are only the effects of a
temporary election.
Thus God chooseth some men unto some office in the
church, or unto some work in the world. As this includeth a preferring
them before or above others, or the using them when others are not used,
we call it election; and in itself it is their fitting for and separation unto
their office or work. And this temporary election is the cause and nile of
the dispensation of gifts.
So he chose Saul to be king over his people, and
gave him thereon “another heart,” or gifts fitting him for rule and
government. So our Lord Jesus Christ chose and called at the first twelve
to be his apostles, and gave unto them all alike miraculous gifts. His
temporary choice of them was the ground of his communication of gifts
unto them. By virtue hereof no saving graces were communicated unto
them, for one of them never arrived unto a participation of them.
“Have not I,” saith our Savior unto them, “chosen you twelve, and
one of you is a devil?” John 6:70.
He had chosen them unto their office, and endowed them with
extraordinary gifts for the discharge thereof; but one of them being not
“chosen unto salvation before the foundation of the world,” being not
“ordained unto eternal life,” but, on the other side, being the “son of
perdition,” or one certainly appointed unto destruction, or “before of old
ordained unto that condemnation,” he continued void of all sanctifying
graces, so as, unto any acceptation with God, he was in no better
condition than the devil himself, whose work he was to do. Yet was he, by
virtue of this choice unto the office of apostleship for a season, endowed
with the same spiritual gifts that the others were. And this distinction our
Savior himself doth plainly lay down; for whereas he says, John 6:70,
“Have not I chosen you twelve,” — that is, with a temporary choice unto
office, — chap. 13:18, he salth, “I speak not of you all; I know whom I
have chosen,” so excepting Judas from that number, as is afterward
expressly declared: for the election which here he intends is that which is
accompanied with an infallible ordination unto abiding fruit-bearing, chap.
15:16, that is, eternal election, wherein Judas had no interest.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I was careful in my original post to note the deficiencies of the FV in this regard. My concern is to ensure we do not throw out the baby with the bath water, that is, the important concept of temporal election in connection with visible church privileges. One should not oppose the FV on the basis that they use the term, but because they use the term inappropriately.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Do Wilkins and other FV proponents say that one is OFFERED the benefits of Christ, or is really and truly GIVEN those benefits?

Everyone in the covenant is OFFERED eternal life, justification, glorification, etc. etc. etc.

Whether or not they actually are truly GIVEN those benefits depends on faith.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Rev Winzer,

If you think that the definition of the general calling is not what you meant, all you had to do was say so.

It is interesting though that the Divines used Judas (as noted in the Scripture proof 17 sighting John 6) as someone who was generally called (just like you did. Imagine that!).

BTW, I don't think anyone will dispute that the basic definition of elect is to choose. And if you want to put and adjective with it? thats okay as well. Also that is a nice quote from Owen. But Owen, Calvin, Luther, Edwards, Hodge, Machen or any other teacher you want to quote is not the Church. Unless I missed somewhere that the Church declared that everything Owen's said was now dogma. The Church gets to establish doctrine for the Church, not anyones favorite teacher. So Owens aside, since the Standards, which I have taken a vow to subscribe to, do not use such terms as "conditional" or "temporary" election, I see now reason to muddy the waters with extranous terms.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
I was careful in my original post to note the deficiencies of the FV in this regard. My concern is to ensure we do not throw out the baby with the bath water, that is, the important concept of temporal election in connection with visible church privileges. One should not oppose the FV on the basis that they use the term, but because they use the term inappropriately.
Absolutely. I meant no disrespect, but just wanted to clarify. The FV advocates are already linking your post here in this thread as a vindication of their position.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Do Wilkins and other FV proponents say that one is OFFERED the benefits of Christ, or is really and truly GIVEN those benefits?

Everyone in the covenant is OFFERED eternal life, justification, glorification, etc. etc. etc.

Whether or not they actually are truly GIVEN those benefits depends on faith.
No, Gabe, you are wrong. Read the Knox Colloquium, read Federal Vision itself, and read Paedofaith (just among a few). If this were just about benefits being "offered" there would be no dispute, and frankly no need for the FV advocates to even write anything, since this is standard Westminster theology and language.

You can't have it both ways, either (as keeps being said over and over) Westminster is not broad enough, and not Biblical enough - which the FV folks have been so bold as to come out and say in the past six months - or there is no reason for them to be disturbing the church.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Absolutely. I meant no disrespect, but just wanted to clarify. The FV advocates are already linking your post here in this thread as a vindication of their position.
I hope that includes the part where I explicitly state their departure from the historic reformed position.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Rev Winzer,

If you think that the definition of the general calling is not what you meant, all you had to do was say so.

It is interesting though that the Divines used Judas (as noted in the Scripture proof 17 sighting John 6) as someone who was generally called (just like you did. Imagine that!).

BTW, I don't think anyone will dispute that the basic definition of elect is to choose. And if you want to put and adjective with it? thats okay as well. Also that is a nice quote from Owen. But Owen, Calvin, Luther, Edwards, Hodge, Machen or any other teacher you want to quote is not the Church. Unless I missed somewhere that the Church declared that everything Owen's said was now dogma. The Church gets to establish doctrine for the Church, not anyones favorite teacher. So Owens aside, since the Standards, which I have taken a vow to subscribe to, do not use such terms as "conditional" or "temporary" election, I see now reason to muddy the waters with extranous terms.
It is just good to remember that if the term itself is made anathema, then those orthodox teachers which used the term are anathematised with it, which should give pause before making such a commitment. Also, as words are symbols of meaning, it is to be hoped if the term is to be discoontinued that the idea it represents is not forgotten.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Do Wilkins and other FV proponents say that one is OFFERED the benefits of Christ, or is really and truly GIVEN those benefits?
Refer to the first post. They teach that persons forgiven can lose their forgiveness. Forgiveness is a spiritual benefit merited by Christ for the elect alone.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
judgment of charity.
So then, my question is, what is "wrong," Biblically speaking, with referring to Christians as elect and forgiven, and so forth? Especially consider Reformed liturgies where the Pastor declares the congregation's sins are forgiven after the prayer of confession! Of course, the Pastor is not saying that those who in the congregation that are not REALLY elect are forgiven, but it is given as a general declaration, based upon Scriptural truth. We can't lift up people's skirts to see if they're REALLY elect, so I think, with Paul, this is the best we can do. That doesn't make one wrong, does it? Or a liar? I am having a hard time seeing how.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Gabe,

Would you agree with Steve Wilkins and the AAPC Session that the Standards are speaking "Decretively" and the Scriptures are speaking "Covenantally"? And would you say that this would be the general position of most of the advocates of the FV position?
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
Traditional Presbyterianism taught that Jehovah God manifests His gracious presence and acts according to His special providence for the good of the visible church. This privileged position is acknowledge by historic writers as an election . . . I specifically chose the quotation of John Owen because he particularly refers to Christ's election of Judas to temporal privileges..
Rev. Winzer, you are confusing the forest for the trees. Which is ironic, since you are the one who wrote what is arguably the definitive refutation of the error of the so-called “well meant offer.” Where the WMO is Arminianism repackaged with Reformed gift wrap, the Federal Vision is the next logical step – Romanism wrapped in the powdered wigs of Puritans. The error of the latter is the working out of the logical implications of the former.

All Federal Visonists and their defenders like Wilkins, Wilson and Gaffin are united in their belief that all those who are baptized are in existentially united to Christ. Union with Christ is not through faith alone. It is not a change of legal standing and adoption. It is the result of the combination of water on the head and the murmurings of some designated prelate. As Doug Wilson said, baptism is always efficacious; "This consecration really happens [in baptism]. God really does it. His people are genuinely set apart; a visible difference is placed between them and the world. By means of baptism, baptism by water, grace and salvation is conferred on the elect.” Baptism is the wedding of a person to Christ and marriage comes with a whole new set of obligations and responsibilities. The lesson taught by the Federal Vision is that in order to be finally saved, to be counted among the “eschatologically elect” and not just the “corporately elect,” sinners must do their part. Salvation is not the result of Christ's work alone outside of them and on their behalf, but something worked in the church "corporately" as church members persevere and live out their lives in covenantal faithfulness. For Wilkins, Wilson and Co., Christians are saved by fulfilling the conditions of the covenant

Election and reprobation are not eternal decrees of God made before the foundation of the world, they are states which men enter as a result of their actions under the objective covenant -- they are covenantal outcomes. They are made elect by baptism, and reprobate by failing to fulfill the (unspecified) conditions of the objective covenant. For Wilkins election and reprobation are conditional and revocable. Each is conditioned on one's performance. Federal Visionist Joel Garver makes this idea even clearer as he reshapes the Arminian error of the "well-meant offer" in terms of the covenant:

If someone is in Christ by baptism -- united to the Head as a member of the Body -- then that person is elect. If that person apostatizes and no longer abides in Christ (like the branches in John 15), he is no longer elect in Christ, but is reprobate, should he never repent and return. Whatever time we abide in Christ is a manifestation of God's electing love for us and faithfulness to us.
Since God's love extends to the reprobate and elect alike, as both are "in Christ" by virtue of being "covenantally elected" at baptism, it follows that it is not God's eternal and immutable love and hatred which determines election and reprobation. It is not on the basis of Christ alone that God loves his own, for we see that both the elect and reprobate are in covenant relationship with Christ, and this is so regardless of the time we abide in Christ. The ones who, through their faithfulness, "meet the condition that God has set for the fulfilment of His promise," become sheep. In the objective covenant in which the sinner meets conditions and fulfills his covenantal obligations, thus qualifying himself for the salvation God has promised.

With all due respect, if anything like this was ever taught by Owen and “Traditional Presbyterianism,” then Presbyterian tradition along with Owen be damned.
 
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NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Rick Phillips has posted some interaction to the Warfield list.

I received an email today from an FV supporter that involved what I think is helpful interaction. He affirmed that the point of my paper (re: TE Steve Wilkens's answers) was that Wilkens teaches different doctrines from the Westminster Standards. What he did not see was my argument to this effect. I gave the following as an answer to this question, that is, my reasoning as to why Wilkens's answers involve not just differences in terminology but significant doctrinal differences with the Confession. I hope this advances the conversation and clarifies my earlier paper for some readers.

Rick Phillips

My answer consisted of four points:

1. Part of my criticism of Steve Wilkins's Answers is the way in which he defends his teaching. When challenged as to his teaching of a conditional election, he answers that where the Bible teaches election, it teaches something other than the doctrine of the Confession. This was a point I labored to make in my Comments. While I certainly realize that there is not always a correspondence between a word in the Bible and the doctrine of that name in our confessions, here is a case where they in fact have the same point of reference. So his way of defending his teaching is to assert that the Bible teaches differently than does the WCF. This, I argue, is not to affirm the Confession.

2. Moreover, what TE Wilkens says about election is contrary to the Confession. All Bible-believers agree that God elects people. But the point of the doctrine of election is in answering two questions: when the Bible relates election to salvation, on what basis we are elected, and to what we are elected. Arminians answer that the basis of our election is conditional (the condition being foreseen faith), and we are elected to glory. The Westminster Standards answer that our election is unconditional, and we are elected to glory. Wilkens answers that our election is unconditional (at least I think this is his position), and we are elected to covenant membership and its privileges. So we might line them up:

Position Election on what basis? Election to what?
Arminian Conditional To Glory
WCF Unconditional To Glory
Wilkens Unconditional To Covenant Membership

One thing this argues is that Wilkens's teaching is not Arminian; whatever else he is doing, he is not doing the same thing the Arminians are doing. For this reason, I do not believe that charges of Arminianism against Wilkens are either accurate or helpful. But the other thing this argues is that Wilkens teaches a doctrine of election that is different from that of the Westminster Standards. This is the point I am seeking to make.

3. Wilkens and his supporters argue that this is a both-and situation; what he is saying is true of church members who will not inherit glory, and what the Confession says of church members who will inherit glory is also true. I am arguing that it is in fact an either-or situation. When Paul wrote the Book of Ephesians, he spoke of election with reference either to those who are destined to glory only (the WCF position) or to all church members, regardless of their end. Surely we will all agree that in Eph. 1:4 (and similar passages), Paul is relating divine election to salvation, so Eph. 1:4 is not a use of election that belongs to a different doctrinal context. Either Paul is saying that those who are "saints" and "faithful in Christ" are chosen unto glory, or he is saying that church members are elected into the covenant, some to be saved through perseverance and others to be lost via apostasy. You cannot have it both ways, as if Eph. 1:4 is directed to two different kinds of readers. Is Eph. 1:4 is directed, as Wilkens says, to church members who enter into glory and to those who will not, or is written only with reference to true believers who can thus be assured of glory? This question yields two different doctrines of election. I maintain that the Westminster Standards teach one doctrine -- Paul is telling true believers that God elected them unto glory -- and Wilkens teaches another doctrine -- Paul is telling true and false believers that they are elected into covenant membership and privilege. We might go on to debate the correct interpretation of Eph. 1:4, but my point is that Wilkens' doctrine and the Confession's doctrine are fundamentally different. If one is correct, the other is in error, since Paul is making either one point or the other. As I indicated above, this is true not merely of Eph. 1:4, but of Paul's use of election throughout his epistles.

4. My Comments make this same point for the other doctrines -- especially perseverance and the visible/invisible church.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Good post. I just corresponded with Pastor Phillips today commending him on his work.

It is gratifying to see my reading of him is precisely how he intended to be read.

Perhaps I'm just an optimist but I've been trying to interact with some heavily ensconced FV proponents and pointing them to this couple of threads. My point is this:

Here is what we think guys - clearly laid out. Here's what the problem is. I think we've done a pretty good job of showing why we believe your view of conditional election differs completely from ours and the historic Reformed position. You don't have to agree with us but we are completely clear about what we believe the problem is:

We do NOT agree that Paul's form of address in Ephesians (and elsewhere) when he is speaking to the Elect can be used to infer what you're concluding: that Paul means to speak of the same things in a full sense for the "fully" elect and in a lesser sense for the "partially" elect.

I have to admit that, after just a few days of spending some energy on this, it gets pretty frustrating having some of the FV proponents just deal with that issue. They keep getting distracted by words. They want to keep qualifying terms and avoid the issue and get me to see that maybe there are some places where Paul means to say this or "this is like the Psalter...." I keep pointing them back here and the other thread because I don't think we could be any clearer.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Rev. Winzer, you are confusing the forest for the trees. Which is ironic, since you are the one who wrote what is arguably the definitive refutation of the error of the so-called “well meant offer.” Where the WMO is Arminianism repackaged with Reformed gift wrap, the Federal Vision is the next logical step – Romanism wrapped in the powdered wigs of Puritans. The error of the latter is the working out of the logical implications of the former.
John Owen wrote what is UN-arguably the definitive refutation of the well meant offer. He had no difficulty with "temporal election" and what it represents biblically. I have pointed out the key point where his use of the term differed from the way the FV use it; and I believe I have clarified more than once that it should be used with Owen's qualification.

With all due respect, if anything like this was ever taught by Owen and “Traditional Presbyterianism,” then Presbyterian tradition along with Owen be damned.
Thankfully Owen and traditional Presbyterianism have never taught anything like the FV, so there is nothing for you to get so worked up over.
 

Magma2

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thankfully Owen and traditional Presbyterianism have never taught anything like the FV, so there is nothing for you to get so worked up over.
Well, of course not. Which raises the question why you would even bring up Owen temporal election in the first place? It's not as if he provided justification for Wilkins' vacillations, redefinitions, equivocations and false gospel. What both men believe and teach are apples and oranges. in my opinion bringing up the fact that Owen used the phrase "temporal election" in this situation just muddied the water.

On a side note, Phillips is wrong, Wilkins does hold to a conditional view of the Covenant.
 
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