Slick Wilkie

[HT: PCA Report on Frank Valenti, footnote #62]

Recall how WCF X.IV says

Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: 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. And to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.

It seems pretty clear to me (since I am familiar with the language they call ‘English’), that Westminster intends to say that, if there is any sense in which the non-elect “come unto Christ”, it is not to be characterized as true.

In his famous presbytery examination, Steve “not very pernicious” Wilkins maintains that he takes no exception to WCF X.IV, with the following artful dodge:

When the confession says that these non-elect people “never truly come unto Christ,” it means that they do not receive Christ with a faith that perseveres unto final salvation. The confession does not address the question of whether they are able come unto Christ in some other sense and participate in some sense in the blessings of redemption that ultimately fall short of the fullness of salvation.

Further, when the confession says that these non-elect people “cannot be saved,” one must recognize that the Standards use the word “save” and its cognates almost exclusively to refer to the fullness of salvation inherited when Christ returns. In this sense, apostates are not saved because they fail to persevere and fall short of receiving the fullness of redemption as it is described in WCF 10-18.

As I anticipate above, Wilkins proposes to contrast “truly” with “some other sense” in which one may come to Christ. Yet in his Federal Vision article, he pretty clearly wants to express that this “some other sense” is “really and truly” true [my bold, Wilkins’ italics]:

The elect are those who are faithful in Christ Jesus. If they later reject the Savior, they are no longer elect — they are cut off from the Elect One and thus, lose their elect standing. But their falling away doesn’t negate the reality of their standing prior to their apostasy. They were really and truly the elect of God because of their relationship with Christ.

In fact, covenant is a real relationship, consisting of real communion with the Triune God through union with Christ. The covenant is not some thing that exists apart from Christ or in addition to Him (another means of grace) — rather, the covenant is union with Christ. Thus, being in covenant gives all the blessings of being united to Christ. — Federal Vision, p. 58

That’s contradiction number one. But look closer at this part:

When the confession says that these non-elect people “never truly come unto Christ,” it means that they do not receive Christ with a faith that perseveres unto final salvation

While focus is drawn to “truly”, Wilkins (in a sleight of tongue worthy of Slick Willie himself) redefines “never” as “not persevering”. It would appear that Slick Wilkie has coined a new contraction:

“n’ever” = Not Forever

Perhaps I should try telling my wife that I would “n’ever” cheat on her…


8 Responses

  1. If somehow you stumbled into this blog and are confused as to whether you can be saved, let me assure you that Jesus loves you and died for you. John 3:16 makes it clear that God loved the world so much that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life. The Bible says that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Make no mistake, Jesus loves you, suffered and died on the cross and rose from the dead for you. Call on Jesus today. Repent of your sins and ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. He wants YOU to be saved.

  2. If, however, you are a regular reader of this blog, then let me say that Wilkins is, in fact, pulling a Clintonesque move with his shameless parsing. Come on, dude, either believe the confession or don’t. Be honest. He even seems to infer a “perservering” that is dependent on man, something that flies in the face of the tenents of the confession. Weak.

  3. Thx for both ‘bino. I of course agree that nobody should ever “decide” not to become a Christian on the basis that “well, I’m not sure that I’m elect.” True enough, but neither can you be sure that you’re not elect! So believe and repent — and you will be saved!

    The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

  4. I’m brimming with anticipation for news of the PCA’s GA this summer. I simply can’t wait.

    Meanwhile, the OPC will be voting on their new Directory of Public Worship, which defines properly “handling the Word” of God as “ALWAYS setting forth Christ.” That means if you fail to set forth Christ (preach the gospel), you haven’t handled the Word of God properly. Goodbye, moralism, I hate you.


  5. Rube,

    In case you didn’t get the hint, I’m counting on your blog to inform me of the goings-on in the PCA’s GA.


  6. Well, like you, I am anticipating a thumbs-up vote for the FV report (and hoping for an overwhelming report), but it’s not like I’m going to the GA or anything!

  7. […] Don’t miss the mouse-over text: “The fifth panel also applies to postmodernists.”  I’d say it also applies to Federal Visionistas. […]

  8. […] those statements aren’t contradictory, then I don’t know what is.  (Wait a minute, yes I do!) Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Before I Go OnOf Covenants (1) – […]

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