Meritorious Faith

It was recently asked, “Does inward obedience include faith?” Prof. Clark succinctly answered, “Whatever ‘faith’ was required of Adam before the fall, as has been argued 12 dozen times since this stupid argument began 8 years ago, is not the same thing as ‘faith’ in a Mediator.” Then Ron thought he had Clark beat by asserting that Adam’s faith was indeed faith in a Mediator, but as you can see in the ensuing thread, I don’t buy it, since sinless Adam had an unmediated relationship with God, and was himself the mediator (federal head) between God and the rest of his creation.

So here’s what’s left for me to say: Yes, inward obedience includes faith. Adam needed faith, and Christ had faith, because rote, outward, disbelieving obedience would not have been meritorious, and would not have sufficed for them to claim the covenanted reward. Because the faith, as well as the works, had to be “personal, entire, exact, and perpetual” (else the reward would be forfeited) faith (+works) sufficient to claim the prize fits within the category of “meritorious,” where this is defined simply as “declared worthy of reward by God.”

So Adam, had he kept the covenant, would have been justified on the grounds of his meritorious faith and works.

Christ was justified on the grounds of his meritorious faith and works.

As for us sinners, however, we are denied any merit: not only is our justification by faith, and not of works, that faith itself is a gift of God. More specifically, we are not even saved by our faith, but we are saved by dGrace, through instrumental faith, grounded in Christ’s righteousness. And this instrumental faith is certainly not meritorious. Calvin reminds us (commenting on Rom 4:5)

I agree with Bucer, who proves that the argument is not made to depend on one expression, but on the whole passage, and formed in this manner, “If one merits any thing by his work, what is merited is not freely imputed to him, but rendered to him as his due. Faith is counted for righteousness, not that it procures any merit for us, but because it lays hold on the goodness of God…[v5] is a very important sentence, in which he expresses the substance and nature both of faith and of righteousness. He indeed clearly shews that faith brings us righteousness, not because it is a meritorious act, but because it obtains for us the favor of God.

And of course, even though we are commanded to believe so belief is obedience, WCF 11.1 notes that “Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies; not…by imputing faith itself…as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them.”

At this point, my question is, So what? So faith is required of Adam and Christ. How does that put them in covenants of grace instead of works? We all know well that the requirement for full, inward obedience does not in any way dissolve, but much strengthen obligation. So if there really was anybody out there who thought that Adam and Christ were in covenants that allowed outward, unbelieving obedience, and FV were to swoop in and save the day with “don’t forget about faith!” — then guess what, now instead of a rote covenant of works, we have a strengthened covenant of works!

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82 Responses

  1. At this point, my question is, So what? So faith is required of Adam and Christ. How does that put them in covenants of grace instead of works?

    Because as you noted Calvin say above, faith is not meritorious. Further, faith is resting in another, as we have also seen Calvin say the first Adam did and as we know the Second Adam rested in His Father. So where is the merit?

  2. Calvin didn’t say that all faith was unmeritorious, he said that our instrumental faith was not meritorious — it has no merit of its own, but it obtains alien merit. And you know where I say that alien merit comes from.

    Unlike our “own” faith, however, Christ’s faith was meritorious because it was intrinsically righteous on its own. I’m sure you want to quibble about whether Christ’s faith was also only a gift from God (nonsense! how can the trinity not have faith in each other and then give it to each other?), but even so, the alien faith, once given, becomes natively righteousness, which is precisely the opposite of the unmeritorious, alien-righteousness-obtaining faith that Calvin is talking about.

  3. Calvin didn’t say that all faith was unmeritorious, he said that our instrumental faith was not meritorious.

    I don’t see him make that qualification. He simply speaks of faith in general. “Faith is…” But note how he also says that faith “obtains for us the favor of God.” Sounds arminian… :)

    nonsense! how can the trinity not have faith in each other and then give it to each other?

    This question comes out of a fundamental misunderstanding of the Trinity. The three persons are distinct which is why they have a relationship with one another that is not scitzo. The Father *gave* the elect to the Son did He not? The Father gave the Son His Spirit did He not? Jesus was exiled in a sense from His Father during His humiliation, so the only way He could relate to Him during that time was by faith. He trusted His Father completely for everything, even His daily bread. Why can’t the Father graciously give the Son that faith?

  4. Because Christ was eternally the Son of God, before he ever became man, and if God wanted to give the Son faith, he would have had to first take it away (at which point, lacking faith, your own system would damn him as sinful)! I wish I could find it again, I think it was Carl Trueman that had a great line about the FV’s “Bourne Identity” version of Christ, completely at odds with Chalcedon.

    I don’t see him make that qualification. He simply speaks of faith in general.

    He doesn’t need to make a qualification, because in the context, Rom 4:5 is obviously talking about the justifying faith of the ungodly who have no work to their credit! (Jesus is described back up in Rom 4:4)

  5. Rube,

    Before the fall Adam wasn’t trusting in a Mediator or a Substitute to perform his obedience for him. Before the fall Adam needed no unmerited to demerited favor because he was created in righteousness and true holiness. He was created with the ability to keep the law and to meet the terms of the covenant of works/law/nature/creation/life.

    That said, I do think (and have argued) that, as Logos, God’s self-disclosure to humanity, God the Son mediated knowledge of the Father to Adam. It was the Son who walked with them in the garden and the Son who issued the covenant of works, the Son who covered them with blood (via skins) and promised to be a Savior. When he came as the Second Adam, the Last Man, he knew exactly what needed to be done and he came to fulfill the promise he himself made to Adam.

    After the fall, Adam was trusting in a Substitute to do what he, Adam, should have done in the first instance. The difference between the covenant of grace and the covenant of works/law/nature/creation/life is that the covenant of works demands perfect obedience to the law and the covenant of grace says: someone else (Christ) has performed that obedience for you and you receive the benefit of that work through faith (defined as resting and receiving or leaning or trusting) in that Substitute.

    Thus the office of “Mediator” after fall entails more than simply representing the Father to his people. After the Fall it entails representing the elect to the Father and before the bar of divine justice as federal representative and Substitute for those people performing the whole, perfect obedience they owed before the fall including the suffering entailed because of our law breaking.

    Moralists consistently ignore the consequence of the fall. That’s how they get away with their moralism. It’s always been that way. That’s what the semi-Pelagians did in Augustine’s day and for 1000 years after (with a few outstanding exceptions), it’s what Rome did in the Reformation, it’s what the Arminians did, it’s what Baxter did, it’s what the neonomians did, it’s what Shepherd does and it’s what his followers do.

    Reformed folk, however, don’t diminish the significance of the fall and they understand the difference between the role of a Mediator before the fall and the role of the Mediator as Substitute after the fall.

  6. Thx Dr. Clark, clarifying as usual.

  7. Funny, I totally agreed with Dr. Clark up until he started talking about “moralists”.

    I think it has been established by me, and now Dr. Clark (!) that Adam had a Mediator in Christ before the Fall, and that said mediation was not with regard to sin.

    Adam was certainly not relying on this Mediator to “obey in His stead”, but he had to rest in this Mediator in order to abide in his right standing before the Father. He did not rest but rather tried to stand out on his own, and thus fell.

  8. Yes, Adam’s faith+works definitely merited death.

    So where’s the grace?

  9. Grace was what Adam fell from. Perhaps you can’t see this because you think grace and obligation are opposed to one another. But that dichotomy does not stand up under biblical scrutiny. God never gives grace without obligation. And, of course, He graciously meets those obligations in the elect.

  10. Dr. Clark says:

    Moralists consistently ignore the consequence of the fall…

    And goes on:

    it’s what Rome did in the Reformation, it’s what the Arminians did, it’s what Baxter did, it’s what the neonomians did, it’s what Shepherd does and it’s what his followers do.

    So, first comment: AD HOMINEM!!! Take a look in particular at “Guilt by Association.”

    1. Moralists are bad
    2. Ron is a Moralist (bare naked assertion so far)
    3. Ron is bad

    Secondly, can somebody (preferably Dr. Clark) explain how a moralist (whatever that is) “ignores the consequence of the fall?” I don’t even know what he’s getting at here. I know that I don’t ignore the consequences of the fall, so I suppose that means I’m not a moralist. Hmm, actually I know that Ron doesn’t ignore it either, since he’s constantly talking about being Federally represented by Christ and as a result he was/is/will be saved from “the consequences of the fall.”

    Come to think of it, I was raised Roman Catholic, and I will NEVER go back to that despicable theology or fellowship, but it seems to me that they are constantly doing the things they do because of the consequences of the fall. I mean, re-sacrificing Christ every mass can’t be because they ignore the fall or its consequences, can it?

    Once again, just take out the paragraph with the ad hominem fallacy, and we’ve got a nice and very helpful post with substance.

    kazoo

  11. Secondly, can somebody (preferably Dr. Clark) explain how a moralist (whatever that is) “ignores the consequence of the fall?”

    Read all the comments, man, it’s everywhere. Most basically, no allowance for any categorical difference between the works of the sinless and the Fall-len. Just because our works are not meritorious, they claim Adam’s and Christ’s could not have been. Same for faith. There’s the whole discussion of mediation — what does that mean for the fallen vs. the unfallen? And all of this so they can trade some grace from our covenant, for some works from Adam’s covenant, leaving us with monocovenantalism, less grace, no imputed righteousness, and a more burdensome yoke of works. Re-read D-U-M pt III.

    Here’s a game you can play. Start an argument with an FV guy about whether the Covenant of Works was gracious, and time how long it takes for them to mention that pre-Fall “grace” is different than post-fall “grace”. It took Jacob about an hour and a half (and if you blink (your ears?), you’ll miss it). With Ron I’ve switched from watch to calendar.

  12. Believe me Rube, I’ve read carefully all of these posts. The appeal to the word “moralist” is just not clarified anywhere in them. And it seems to me that your list, e.g. adding works, less grace, no imputation, etc., is more like ignoring the consequences of Christ’s redemption toward us, not the “consequences” of the FALL.

    From what I see in many dictionaries, moralism seems to just be concerned with what is ‘moral.’ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/moralism?r=14
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/moralist

    So, does that mean Dr. Clark isn’t concerned with morals/morality? I doubt that very much. So, the standard definitions don’t seem to fit with his ad hominem.

    kazoo

  13. Just because our works are not meritorious, they claim Adam’s and Christ’s could not have been.

    Where have I made that “argument”? My argument is more like this:

    It is impossible for the creature to merit anything from the Creator. Therefore Adam, the creature could not have merited anything from God his Creator.

    As I said before, I have no problem with lines in general, just the unbiblical ones. For instance, I am happy to acknowledge that redemption under the Adamic Covenant had no element of reconciliation. But under the CoG, there is a reconciliatory function.

    With regard to Adams works and our works, the Bible doesn’t provide any distinction. Just a *glaring* parallel: *Like* Adam, they have transgressed the covenant. They have dealt treacherously with Me. Hosea 6:7

  14. Here’s a game you can play. Start an argument with an FV guy about whether the Covenant of Works was gracious, and time how long it takes for them to mention that pre-Fall “grace” is different than post-fall “grace”.

    There were various conditions surrounding the grace conferred on both pre-fall and fallen man. But this doesn’t change what grace is – unearned favor. The only reason I see to make such distinctions is to downplay the obligations under the Covenant of Grace. It’s to say, “Jesus took all the obligation, and now we get all the grace.” But if you really believe that, you are not being biblical or confessional. And if you *live* that way, as if God has not obligated you to obey Him, you will be cut off from the covenant. It is that simple. That is why this distinction is so important. Behold the goodness and severity of God (Rom 11).

  15. Ron, what do you think is foolish about the gospel?

  16. With regard to Adams works and our works, the Bible doesn’t provide any distinction

    There you go Jeff, that’s the lack of distinction I’m talking about. And because Ron claims that our works have the same role in our justification as Adam’s works had in his potential justification, Ron is a moralist.

  17. Rube,

    Ron and I, as you know, disagree on these things. However, you are stating that Ron believes we AND Adam are obligated to do “works.” But this isn’t quite an accurate representation of Ron. You are importing your term (with YOUR definition) of “works” that he clearly rejects into this statement. Hence the reason that neither one of you can get anywhere with each other.

    He says that there is obligation in the CoG.

    You say that what he is calling obligation is “works.”

    He says “I reject the ‘merit’ paradigm of ‘works.'”

    So, a big part of this is just that neither one of you will agree to a common definition of terms. Maybe you should do that first.

    Back to you though, don’t YOU think that as a Christian, God requires certain behavior from you? (please answer simply, I know all the caveats and tend to agree with them myself). If you say “yes,” then why wouldn’t you be a ‘moralist?’ If you say “no,” then you disagree with the Standards.

    kazoo

  18. Kazoo,

    Of course God imposes obligations in the Covenant of Grace. However, these obligations are not a condition of our salvation.

    That in lies, I think, what distinguishes a moralist. A moralist will impose conditions upon salvations in addition to saving faith (i.e. Roman Catholics).

    So the issue is… does our salvation in the Covenant of Grace rely on faith alone in Christ or not?

    S2C

  19. SSC,

    Having been raised RC, I do see their view as adding effort to Christ’s, and therefore wrong. I would call this one type of legalism, though. If you say the RC view of meritorious works through infused grace is ‘moralism,’ that’s fine. I’ll go with that for the purpose of this discussion.

    So now, the burden is to prove that Ron’s position is basically the same as the RC position. I’ll grant that it’s pretty close from my discussions with him, but not identical either.

    kazoo

    ps
    You say:

    “Of course God imposes obligations in the Covenant of Grace.”

    And these are not obligations that effect salvation. So, if a baptised member of a church doesn’t meet these obligations, then what? (Or maybe better put, “so what?)

  20. However, you are stating that Ron believes we AND Adam are obligated to do “works.” But this isn’t quite an accurate representation of Ron

    I repeat: “With regard to Adams works and our works, the Bible doesn’t provide any distinction”

    SO either Ron thinks too little of Adam’s works, or too much of ours (both, actually — which is the effect of flattening out two distinct covenants into one monocovenant). Do YOU believe there is no distinction between Adam’s (or Christ’s) works, and ours?

    Back to you though, don’t YOU think that as a Christian, God requires certain behavior from you?

    Yes.

    If you say “yes,” then why wouldn’t you be a ‘moralist?’

    Because I don’t see those works as instrumental to my justification as faith is (as Ron does).

    Adam (Christ) was required to have personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience, and if (when) he did, God would reward him . The obedience is grounds for justification. And simply by virtue of being the condition for reward, the obedience is meritorious.

    We are not required to have personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience for our justification. We are required to rest in faith in Christ’s personal entire, exact, and perpetual obedience, which is the grounds for our justification. And proceeding from and distinct from that justification, are sanctifying works, which are not meritorious, but defiled.

    That’s a distinction that Ron is unwilling to make, which is why he’s a moralist.

  21. Warning: I didn’t read the whole post or all the comments.

    If you look at this through the lens of “revelation”, then you might notice something interesting.

    Adam indeed needed some kind of faith, if the object of his worship was God. God cannot fully reveal himself in all his infinite glory to a finite human creature. Adam had revelation. God walked with him in the Garden, but it was the pre-incarnate Christ, the Angel of the Lord, capital A, which IS the Lord (Yahweh). Based on the revelation to him of Yahweh, he still had to exercise faith in the Father, based on seeing Christ. The revelation of the Father was mediated to him through the Son.

    For Christ, it’s different. Has he seen the Father? Does he know the Father perfectly? Yes and yes. No one mediates the knowledge of the Father to him. Christ did not have to exercise faith. He and the Father are ONE. Jesus Christ IS fully God and fully man. He is God himself revealing HIMSELF. Jesus cannot be said to have faith, unless this faith is in himself.

    Well, but wait a minute, didn’t he have to TRUST in the Father to raise him from the dead? No. As Paul explains, faith and sight are two distinct things. Did Christ have to believe that the Father would raise him from the dead, or did he KNOW that the Father would raise him from the dead from all eternity? What about when Jesus said that he had the AUTHORITY to lay down his life, and he had the AUTHORITY to take it up again?

    After his resurrection, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” But this was true of him even before his resurrection, even before his death. And he proved it by casting out demons, indeed, by creating the world. Jesus IS the Creator. All authority in heaven and on earth had been his from the beginning.

    Adam’s knowledge of God was limited to an analogy. His knowledge of God was analogous, not perfect. Only God can know God FULLY. But Jesus IS God. His knowledge of God is perfect, because he IS God.

    There is no mediator between Jesus and the Father, because God is one. Hear O Israel.

    This is Paul’s point in Gal 3:20. “A mediator implies more than one party, but God is one.”

    Silly Federal Visionists. Christ is divine!

  22. Very good point, Echo. Something I’ve tried to express myself before, but couldn’t find the right words.

    Christ’s ‘faith’ is not only meritorious, it’s also built-in, present and complete by definition.

  23. Ron,

    I’m sorry to say but you still aren’t paying attention. How many times have I said that Adam didn’t fall from grace? Adam broke the law. Period. Full stop.
    I don’t think I agree with you at all, unless you’ve repented of your moralism, in which case we wouldn’t be arguing.

    Second, I didn’t say that “Christ” was Adam’s Mediator but rather I said that God the Son was the Mediator. Jesus the Christ wasn’t incarnate until he was incarnate. It’s a technical thing but it’s important.

    You can’t ignore the fact that Adam didn’t need a substitute until the fall.

    You can’t manufacture consent where there is none by conveniently omitting key elements of orthodoxy.

  24. “what’s foolish about the gospel?

    It’s “foolish” to those who believe the glory story.

  25. Rube,

    You ask me:

    Do YOU believe there is no a distinction between Adam’s (or Christ’s) works, and ours?

    Yes. I believe that our relationship with God is different than Adam’s was. If I accept the merit paradigm, which I always have until this questioning of the CoW debate came along, and still tend to hold onto, then still “yes.”

    If I become swayed by the anti-CoW arguments, I tend to think there is STILL a distinction. Our works, even though they are obligatory (as our confessions teach), are not meritorious at all. They are FRUIT. And, they can only be called “justifying” in the “vindation” understanding that you mention on your earlier posts. I reject Roman Catholic type doctrine, just as I reject stomach contents when I have the flu. I do this, just as Bahnsen did.

    I think your last comment here in response to me clears up much with terminology, and now we just have to see how Ron responds. (He’s been asking me (pushing me) where I disagree with the FV lately. Now he has part of my answer.)

    Blessings to all,

    kazoo

  26. As to obligations in the covenant of grace, the old Reformed theologians (e.g., Olevianus) clearly taught that there are “stipulations” in the administration of the covenant of grace but not in the covenant of grace per se or it wouldn’t be grace any more would it? Witsius said that faith can be called a “condition” of the covenant of grace only improperly. It’s properly an “instrument.” This is why we speak of faith as the sole instrument of justification. We should resist the temptation (as Rube as been reminding us) to make faith into anything other than an empty hand. It is the object of faith, not faith itself, that justifies This is why we reject both the Roman definition of faith (as “formed by love”) in justification and the moralist attempt (e.g. Arminius, Baxter, neonomians, Shepherd, FV) to make faith justifying because of the other graces which attend it. Whether Rome or FV moralism, these are attempts to move the object of faith back to faith itself and human cooperation or Spirit-wrought sanctity or a combination thereof.

    The old Reformed theologians spoke of stipulations and conditions in the covenant of grace but by them they meant to speak of the outward administration of the covenant of grace. Those who profess faith must attend to the table, they must attend to the means of grace etc or face discipline. I discuss this in Caspar Olevian and the Substance of the Covenant: The Double Benefit of Christ.

  27. Dr. Clark,

    I agree with your last comment wrt faith. Faith is an instrument, and the object (Christ) is He who justifies.

    It is common to hear language today talking about the fruit expected in a believer’s life and the discipline to be handed out toward those that produce bad fruit (so to speak). We have read Rube’s posts pointing out that the “justification” we will see on judgment day is better understood as “vindication.”

    I’m going to go further than just my knowledge of Ron here, and ask about the FV itself. Is it possible that this is at least partly a problem with terms? I don’t mean to say in that case the problem is less important. Of course, terms and understanding of terms are extremely important, especially when dealing with issues of life and death. But, could it be that if we were to examine more deeply these folks, and assuming we get very honest answers, could they be meaning the same type of thing we are saying about justification, good n bad fruit, & vindication, but that they are just more sloppy with their terms?

    I haven’t read your link to the post, but will try and take a look at it tonight. If you answer some of this in there, then I can read that of course.

    I would still like to know if you are making up your own definition for “moralist” or where you got it from since the dictionaries don’t seem to comport with you. I would think the term “legalist” seems to better fit what you’re describing. But then it could just be my ignorance.

    kazoo

  28. Wow, y’all have been busy. Dr. Clark is right again, I haven’t paying attention (to this thread since last I posted.) But I know he doesn’t believe Adam fell from grace. I guess me rejecting his position is the same as “not paying attention” in his opinion. Perhaps this is because he cannot imagine anyone disagreeing with him after they have paid attention.

    Rube said:

    And because Ron claims that our works have the same role in our justification as Adam’s works had in his potential justification, Ron is a moralist.

    You only think so because you are a *pre-fall moralist*. But I am not. So if I am not a pre-fall moralist and I say Adam’s obligations before the fall are analogous to ours as our *method of perseverance* (Calvin’s own words, John 15), it doesn’t really make any sense to call me a moralist unless you follow it up with something like, “Raah! Polly want a cracker!” whilst you are perched upon Dr. Clark’s shoulder.

    You are reading your view of the Adamic Covenant into my view of the Covenant of Grace.

  29. Dr. Scott Clark,

    I really want to know your position on pre-lapsarian dominion. What sort of character did it have? How is faith involved? Was there no way that Christ needed to be a mediator? What about the angels that fell? What was in store for them had Adam not fallen? How much can we conclude?

    -Jacob

  30. Jeff said,

    If I become swayed by the anti-CoW arguments, I tend to think there is STILL a distinction. Our works, even though they are obligatory (as our confessions teach), are not meritorious at all.

    Sorry Jeff, but I don’t understand how those two sentences go together. If you “become swayed by the anti-CoW arguments”, then the fact that “Our works, even though they are obligatory … , are not meritorious at all” does not provide any distinction.

  31. you are a *pre-fall moralist*.

    I’m cool with that. After all, unfallen Adam and Christ were promised life upon condition of their perfect morality.

    Sorry Jeff, but I don’t understand how those two sentences go together

    If I may guess as to what Jeff means, I’m thinking he’d say that, our works are not obligatory for justification, but the justified are obliged to do good works, and are even to some extent rewarded for them in this life (positive sanctions) — but because we are still sinful, and our good works are defiled, they are not meritorious, so the fact that God may bless “because” of them is dGracious, and we can never expect that our good works can deterministically force God to bless us.

    Jeff, thumbs up/down?

    Of course, I just see the rain falling on the just as well as the unjust.

  32. I know you are cool with pre-fall moralism Rube. My point was that it is this “coolness” that leads you to call me a moralist. Can you at least see that, given my view of the Adamic Covenant, my view of justification is not “moralistic”?

  33. I can’t guess what you would even call a moralistic view of justification, but I’m sure your definition excludes yourself.

    OK, maybe I could guess that you would call RC merit theology moralistic. But for all I can see, you and RC endorse the same system of justification, RC calling it meritorious, and you calling it gracious. But at least you agree “Faith alone? What foolishness! C’mon, there’s gotta be more to it than that! What about works?”

  34. Mostly thumbs up Rube, but I kinda see what Ron is saying. Of course if one thinks that Adam’s works are not meritorious, then our works couldn’t be either. However, by saying “at all.,” I should have been more clear and qualified it more with a “in any way” or something like that.

    But, Adam’s obligations, even if they weren’t the type that earns reward, would still be distinct from ours for so many reasons. He would have been sinless and they would have been original to him. Our good works are a fruit of the Spirit in us and so are not original to our being. Ours are accepted by God because of Christ’s federal headship, Adam would not have needed the priestly mediator for god to accept his works. Etc.

    kazoo

  35. Rube,

    I think that more to the point is that Ron DOESN’T see the pre-fall Adamic covenant as “moralistic,” like you do, and therefore, given his worldview, it is impossible for him to see his own view of post fall covenant as moralistic.

    The only way you can call his view moralistic, is by showing that what he actually believes about good works justifying is the same thing as your definition of moralism. Which, I think is where the disconnect is. Still, I know Ron’s heart on this issue, and it is hard for me to say Ron is trying in any way to “earn” God’s favor.

    Ron, do you rest in your doing of good works as something that makes you or keeps you ‘justified?’

    kazoo

  36. The only way you can call his view moralistic, is by showing that what he actually believes about good works justifying is the same thing as your definition of moralism

    For me, it’s case closed that he asserts that Paul and James “are using the word ‘justification’ uniformly”.

    Calvin doesn’t mince words on this topic.

  37. Fair enough. That is a great passage from Calvin. If anyone disagrees with Calvin regarding verse 21, then I’ll go with Calvin (the theonomist). :)

    kazoo

  38. Kazoo,

    I can only answer your question with another question. Can you identify any baptized member who meets an obligation for his salvation? I can think of none, which is why we must flee to Christ and rest on Him alone.

    BTW, Calvin was definitely not a theonomist:

    “For the Lord through the hand of Moses did not give that law to be proclaimed among all nations and to be in force everywhere; but when he had taken the Jewish nation into his safekeeping, defense, and protection, he also willed to be a lawgiver especially to it; and as became a wise lawgiver – he had special concern for it in making its laws.” (IV.XX.16)

    S2C

  39. SSC,

    Ahhh, you’re changing the focus. I already agree that we don’t meet obligations for our salvation. Hence my statement preceding my question to you:

    And these are not obligations that effect salvation.

    Yes, we must flee to Christ and rest in Him alone. But my question to you still stands. You already agree that “of course” there are obligations in the CoG. I am asking you what are the repercussions to those that don’t meet the obligations?

    Regarding the theonomy comment, that was really just an inside joke, elbow to my friend Rube. Not an attempt to hijack the thread (I do that with my name, click on it). But, what you quote of Calvin is very out of context. See Josh Brisby’s blog at this post: http://joshbrisby.blogspot.com/2007/01/critique-of-theonomy-part-1-calvins.html and look at the comment from Paul Manata. Josh got smacked, and I am pretty sure he retracted in part 2 or 3. :)

    kazoo

  40. Thanks for that link to Ron’s blog. I cannot see any substantive difference between his errant view of James and the nature of faith with those of Rome. They’re the same. The only difference is Ron pretends to be a Christian.

    What I find interesting is how considerably less guarded and transparent the poor followers FV are in comparison to the false teachers they follow. The complete rejection of the Christian faith is summed up in Ron’s statement: “So, if by “Sola Fidelity”, it is taken that I am adding “faithfulness” to the “faith” which is the lone instrument of the believer’s union with Christ and justification, rest assured that I am only doing it in the sense that James does.”

    kazoo you need to wake up. For a man who claims to be former RC you seem sadly blind to its teachings. Ron’s doctrines are pure poison, anti-Christian, repackaged Romanism. I think comparing the FV with Arminianism is seriously misplaced since it is theoretically possible for someone to be an Arminian and still hold to JBFA. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Ron isn’t a good student of men like Leithart, Wilson, Wilkins, Meyers, Horne and the rest. He’s an excellent student. Scratch away the occasionally Reformed sounding wallpaper from any of these men and the FV is pure Romanism. Ron has just stated the underlying Romanish error at the heart of the FV more explicitly than most. It also explains how these men, all of them, can dishonestly parrot the orthodox doctrine of justification by faith alone while simultaneously denying it.

  41. what are the repercussions to those that don’t meet the obligations?

    The Holy Spirit is grieved, the Father is displeased, and because of your sin, additional wrath is (was) poured out on Christ.

    In our historical Christian lives, the sin/regret/confess/forgiveness/assurance cycle contributes to our sanctification, and part of the foolishness of the gospel is that Gospel is what truly motivates us to improve, not Law.

    In terms of temporal sanctions for sin, sometimes yes, sometimes no. If you fornicate, there might be a baby. If you embezzle a million dollars and retire to a beach in Thailand, you might live a long and happy life. God’s perfect justice is not currently intruding into this common-grace era.

  42. Wow, so now I am pretending to be a Christian. Why, because I don’t have all my theological *works* in order? What happened to Sola Fide?

    Rube, do you think I am pretending to be a Christian?

  43. Wow, so now I am pretending to be a Christian. Why, because I don’t have all my theological *works* in order?

    No, because you don’t know the Gospel.

    What happened to Sola Fide?

    Good question. I couldn’t find it on your blog either.

  44. magma

    Good question. I couldn’t find it on your blog either.

    ROFL!!! zing!

    Regarding RC doctrine, yes, I know it, and hate it. At the same time, I don’t go so far as to say that they aren’t Christians. They are Romish Christians, we are Protestant Christians. I know you may disagree with this, but I’m not willing to go so far as to say that any Catholic that happens to be elect is so in spite of his Catholicism. I think there are many RC followers that genuinely trust in Christ alone, yet are misled by the doctrine.

    Anyway, that’s another debate to be had elsewhere, I’m sure.

    Ron is a Christian, to be sure. There is no doubt in my mind that he knows and loves the Lord. Trusts in Him wholly and only. He is motivated to good works just like any other devout Presbyterian.

    This close friendship I have with Ron is why I’m so puzzled with these debates, and the willingness of some to call Ron a non-Christian.

    kazoo

  45. Rube, do you think I am pretending to be a Christian?

    I think you’re a Christian who is tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. FV gives you (you think) a certainty that none of your many, many children will fall away, and it caters to your predispostion to be in an embattled minority.

  46. It is impossible for the creature to merit anything from the Creator.

    You have never proven this assertion, which is equivalent to “It is impossible for the Creator to specify what behaviors of his creatures he values, and will reward.”

    With regard to Adams works and our works, the Bible doesn’t provide any distinction. Just a *glaring* parallel: *Like* Adam, they have transgressed the covenant. They have dealt treacherously with Me. Hosea 6:7

    Congratulations! You have successfully proven that Moses republished the Covenant of Works!

  47. Regarding RC doctrine, yes, I know it, and hate it. At the same time, I don’t go so far as to say that they aren’t Christians. They are Romish Christians . . . .

    Evidently you do not believe that the church stands or falls on the question of justification which is by faith (and not “faithfulness”) alone. I do. Regardless, I fail to see how a denial of the finished work of Christ completely outside of us in both practice and principle qualifies anyone as a Christian except in the most nominal sense. Maybe you can explain?

    Ron is a Christian, to be sure.

    How so? And how can you be so sure? Doesn’t he hold to the doctrine of “sola fidelity” in opposition to “sola fide” like those in the Roman church/state? Oh, that’s right, per you Roman cult members like their FV brothers are Christians and if Christians they are not to be evangelized, disciplined nor are they to be called to repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.

    There is no doubt in my mind that he knows and loves the Lord. Trusts in Him wholly and only.

    I admit I’m new to this blog and have only read a few pieces on Ron’s, but I don’t see how any of the above follows at all? What does follow is that replacing faith alone with faithfulness alone is an implicit and necessary denial of Jesus Christ and is an open admission of his dis-trust of Him. His distrust is evident in that he incorporates obedience (works) as an element of faith as he (wrongly) defines it. He trusts in a completely different Christ who is really no Christ at all. And, if you think I’m being harsh, perhaps you need to read Paul’s letter to the Galatians again. He was considerably harsher on those who would incorporate our faithful obedience as an element of saving faith along with those who would even subject themselves to such false teachings (see Gal. 2:5 for what our response should be).

    He is motivated to good works just like any other devout Presbyterian.

    I have no doubt that he is motivated to what he thinks are “good works” for without them he maintains no man will be saved, but rather will be cut off and thrown into the fire. However, if he is a Presbyterian office holder he should be brought up on charges. Actually, even as a fellow pew-on, if he actually attends a Presbyterian church and not one of the FV churches that merely ape Presbyterianism, he should be disciplined by his session. The sad fact is there are no devout Presbyterians any more, which is why he can write the trash he does on his blog with impunity.

    BTW, which Presbyterian denom does he belong to? Don’t tell me, is it the CREC?

    This close friendship I have with Ron is why I’m so puzzled with these debates, and the willingness of some to call Ron a non-Christian.

    I guess we just define what it means to be a Christian differently. However, if you were really his friend you should be calling for his repentance and praying for the same.

  48. Rube, Ron and I all belong to the PCA.

    Just to keep it short (I know I’m not responding to all your questions), “to whom much is given, much is required.”

    Followers in a theologically wrong Christian church can be deceived, and yet God has saved them and given them faith, in spite of their intellectual understanding of justification. If this were not the case, then mentally retarded persons (I don’t know the proper non-offensive term for this, sorry) couldn’t be saved if they can’t explain the proper doctrine of justification.

    The Romish church is Trinitarian, and they are followers of Christ and they teach Christ. But they have infected the true gospel. Nevertheless, followers in that church still look to Christ, and so I have no doubt that many are elect believers and will die elect believers AND Catholic (such as my father did 13 years ago).

    Anyway, there is much more to discuss. I think a ton of this relies upon definition and understanding of terms, and that’s why the big broo ha ha. The session at our church has examined Ron and declare him to be a member in good standing. That’s good enough for me. I trust the gifts that God has given me (in our session).

    kazoo

  49. Thanks Jeff for the brotherly charity.

    And thank you Rube for acknowledging the union we have together in Christ.

  50. While Ron’s errant and deadly beliefs do not rise to the same level of concern as the many teachers within the PCA who teach the same, I’d like to know what kind of Session it is that would consider his “sola fidelity” part of a credible profession of faith? So, Ron, does your Session agree with your doctrine of “sola fidelity,” are they even aware of it, and do they consider obedience part and parcel of saving faith?

    Kazoo, as for the Roman church, a better example of a church that is so utterly apostate that it completely qualifies as “a synagogue of Satan” (WCF XXV:5) would be hard to find. OK, any Session that would consider Ron’s profession sound is probably not far behind.

  51. magma, thanks for your support against the pernicious threat of FV, but please leave our session alone. Whatever goes on between Ron and our session, is between them. I don’t want to know, and you shouldn’t want to know. At least there are goings on — so our session is neither ignorant of the problem, nor unwilling to deal with it.

  52. Magma,

    I didn’t mean to drag our session into a suspicious light. I can tell you that they DON’T support, nor teach FV views. They are definitely aware of what FV teaches. Our pastor went through a time of study with them to make them aware of it, and again, they are NOT FV.

    My point was that, being aware of and NOT supporting FV, they have not found Ron to need discipline. He is a faithful contributing member to our fellowship, and we all are blessed to have him.

    So, I’ll repeat Rube’s plea: Please leave our session alone. There are more important fish to fry elsewhere.

    Thanks,

    Kazoo

  53. . . . please leave our session alone.

    I have no intention of bothering anyone’s session. If Ron is really a man tossed about by winds of doctrine then by God’s grace perhaps they will be able to restore him to the faith which, at least from his blog and comments here, he clearly rejects. Salvation by faith and works is taught just as effectively, and perhaps even more so, if works are made an element of faith and are even given the name “obedience” instead.

    Also, and FWIW, my family and I are in the process of leaving the PCA. Sadly, I can no longer in good conscience remain in the demon that allows the false gospel of the FV to be taught along side the true one. I don’t share Dr. Clark’s optimism that the PCA will be able to discipline the false teachers in her ranks. I think that should even one of these men be tried they’ll be exonerated for basically the same reason John Kinnaird was exonerated when tried in the OPC. As evidence, I would offer Lane Keister’s exoneration of Doug Wilson on the essentials of the faith a dry run.

  54. Magma2,

    You are speaking rashly. I am not a member of Rube’s church, nor even a member of the PCA. Nonetheless, even with such a distance between me and the matter at hand, I can see clearly that you’re speaking rashly.

    The session, and only the session, has the right to judge what is and is not a credible profession of faith. You have not sat in on a meeting of the session in which Ron has been examined, nor, apparently, are you called to that office. You don’t have all the facts, you don’t know the whole story. You are speaking rashly.

    And you’re doing the same thing when you talk about the OPC. Kinnaird was exonerated because he REPENTED. So yes, the OPC clearly believes in the gospel. And let the record show, when people in our own denomination didn’t understand why Kinnaird was exonerated, the denomination produced the justification report in response, to calm them. What more would you like the denomination to do? Would you like them to crucify Mr. Kinnaird for you? Will you then be pleased? Or can the poor man be allowed to repent and learn from his mistake without being crucified and judged by you, who by the way is NOT his judge?

    You need to relax, and realize that the wheels of the church turn slowly and cautiously, and the church is always ready to allow someone to repent.

    If people are to be excommunicated for teaching FV, ok, let’s do it, I’ll vote for it. But I won’t vote for it until such time as that person has been given ample opportunity to understand his sin and repent. You can’t excommunicate someone for refusing to repent of sin that they don’t understand is sin. You excommunicate them when they say, “Yes, I know it’s sin, but I don’t care.” That’s when you drive them out. But unless that happens, you have to be slow and patient and careful.

    So don’t be rash. Don’t be so quick to condemn. Men are appointed to office because they’re patient and careful and wise. You should aspire to such an office yourself.

    In the love of Christ,

    Echo

  55. The session, and only the session, has the right to judge what is and is not a credible profession of faith. You have not sat in on a meeting of the session in which Ron has been examined, nor, apparently, are you called to that office.

    So, let me see if I get this “Echo.” If session X were to affirm salvation by faith and works in wannabe member Y, I have no right to judge session X as being guilty of condoning and sanctioning serious error because I am not an elder and did not attended the meeting of session X where Y was examined. Are you saying session cannot and do not err and that because of their office good Christian men must submit to error? What sort of sick logic is this?

    And you’re doing the same thing when you talk about the OPC. Kinnaird was exonerated because he REPENTED.

    Actually, you’re wrong. Kinnaird did not repent of anything for the simple reason that he was not found guilty of anything other than not being “unclear.” Despite teaching “It is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous on the Day of Judgement” among other serious errors both in sermons and on the OPC Yahoo discussion list, the OPC court ruled:

    “While Mr. Kinnaird’s teaching should not be judged to be out of accord with the Church’s Standards, his teaching has not been as clear as should be expected from an elder.”

    Well, this might be a shock to you, but I disagree with the court of the OPC.

    So yes, the OPC clearly believes in the gospel. And let the record show, when people in our own denomination didn’t understand why Kinnaird was exonerated, the denomination produced the justification report in response, to calm them.

    The report would be better employed as toilet paper. The court has spoken and the right thing would have been to sustain the appeal and reversed their decision. Thankfully the men who formally protested the Kinnaird decision and who still understand the gospel weren’t fooled. The points raised in that protest still stand. Besides, are people in the OPC really that dumb? Have they forgotten that the much heralded justification report was not even adopted by the OPC?

    What more would you like the denomination to do?

    Stand for the truth of the Gospel.

    Would you like them to crucify Mr. Kinnaird for you? Will you then be pleased?

    I’m no expert on the OPC BCO, but last I checked crucifixion wasn’t an option in this case. That hasn’t been used since the Clark case. Besides, there were plenty of other avenues of discipline they could have exercised and chose not to.

    You need to relax, and realize that the wheels of the church turn slowly and cautiously, and the church is always ready to allow someone to repent.

    Where did Kinnaird repent of anything? I’ve read the minutes from the trial, I must have missed it. I’m hardly alone in my assessment of Kinnaird. As Dr. Clark points out on his blog:

    John cried and gave a reasonably orthodox account of his views so that the men voted on what he said on the floor and not what he had said. What he said at GA, from what I understand, bears little relation to what he had been saying or what he has said since.

    What was properly before GA was not what he was saying just then but what he had said, preached, and written. I suspect that people didn’t want to believe that such things were being taught in the OPC by an honored and respected member of the denomination and a former moderator of GA.

    I’ve read everything Mr Kinnaird said before GA and I was shocked at the vote in that GA. Immediately after Mr Kinnaird announced that his views had been “vindicated.” Things were not set right until the next GA when there was a re-assertion of justification sola fide and then in the GA study committee report.

    What John is saying now is what he was saying before GA. The difference is that people are paying attention now and understand what he’s saying. A lot of people didn’t begin paying attention until the Kinnaird case. In a way, even though it wrecked a congregation and hurt good people, I’m glad it happened because if it hadn’t (sort of like Pearl Harbor) I think it might have taken a lot longer for people to start paying attention.

    What was defended on the floor of the Phila Presbytery, however, was quite outside the bounds of Reformed orthodoxy, namely a two-stage doctrine of justification. Initial justification sola gratia, sola fide and a final justification grounded partly on Spirit-wrought sanctity. Not vindication coram hominibus but justification before God. This he derived from his doctrine of union with Christ and the necessity for Spirit-wrought, inherent righteousness in order to stand before God.

  56. Let me just add in reference to Echo’s assertion that Kinnaird repented of his teaching salvation by faith and works and that this was the basis of his exoneration. Brian Schwertley writes in “The Gospel Crisis in the OPC and PCA”:

    Elder John O. Kinnard[sic] was acquitted by the OPC General Assembly, after being convicted of teaching a doctrine of justification by faith plus works. Although Kinnard displayed some remorse for a lack of clarity in his teaching, he has never repented of teaching the Shepherdite/FV doctrine of justification by faith and faithful obedience (or works).

    If John Kinnaird has repented of his teachings, I confess I cannot find it documented anywhere.

  57. How utterly irritating. Do you HONESTLY think Ron, when examined for membership said, “Duh, I believe that justification is by faith and works,” and that then the session said, “hey, sounds good to us!” and that I said, “Hey, you’ve no right to judge them!” Do you HONESTLY think that’s what I’m advocating? Seriously? Do you honestly think that Kinnaird said on the floor of the GA, “Yes, I believe that justification is by faith and works”? Do you? If he did, then by all means, condemn the OPC. But the fact is, he didn’t, and he confused all who heard him. You don’t strip a guy of his ordination for being confusing. Is it possible that he took advantage of the way church courts operate, the principles which govern them? Yep. Did he? I don’t know, that’s between him and God. He may have been on trial for what he said previously, but what he says in trial has to be taken into account. That’s the way church courts operate. If you want to have a witch hunt, then go have a witch hunt, but that’s not what the OPC’s about, nor is that what the Bible advocates.

    You are even rasher than I thought. By the way, the minutes aren’t exactly a transcript. Furthermore, when you condemn the OPC for not adopting the report, you’re being downright silly. It’s not the kind of thing that SHOULD be adopted. To adopt it would have been to add it to our confessional standards, or at least to make it part of the BCO or something. We don’t need that. We already have the WCF which clearly supports the same teaching. By commending the report to the presbyteries and sending it to every session in the OPC, and by publishing it, the General Assembly gave their WHOLE HEARTED approval to the report. Even the good Dr Vandrunen, who WROTE the thing, said it wasn’t designed to be adopted. You don’t know much about these sorts of things if you fault the OPC for not adopting it.

  58. Echo, you’re typical of many OPC men I’ve met over the years who just ram their heads deep in the sand and pretend the OPC is the standard bearer of orthodoxy. Rubbish. Since the exoneration of Kinnaird, not one FV man has been tried in the OPC and none that I know of have left. I suspect you even believe there are no FV men in the OPC. Why, the OPC failed in disciplining Norm Shepherd and instead let him leave for the CRC as a pastor in good standing where he continued to promote his false gospel to those foolish enough to listen. Yet, in spite of this dismal record you get irritated at me. At least the PCA forced out Wilkins by threatening action against his entire bankrupt presbytery which did repent after getting a slap on the wrist.

    John Kinnaird taught justification by faith and works as clearly and as consistently as the pope himself. Yet, you pridefully assert, without even a shred of evidence, that he “repented” of his errant teachings and then get irritated at me when I show that he did no such thing. Pathetic.

  59. Interesting reading. I guess I need to bone up on my Presbyterian alphabet soup definitions. Nice to see the fur fly against somebody else for a change.

    For what it’s worth, I’m awfully glad no “session” sits in judgement of my salvation. Brrrrrrr….

    We have our weaknesses, but some days it feels awfully good to be interdenominational.

  60. I’m awfully glad a “session” of ordained elders stands on guard for my sanctification, and to protect me from error.

  61. Albino, there are many things that Presbyterians can and do disagree on and this is actually a good thing. Iron sharpening iron is a concept desperately lacking in independents along with biblical accountability. So you’re hardly in any position to point fingers. Even independent baptists, congregationalists and virtually every Christian denomination requires some sort of credible profession of faith. But why stop there, Romanists and other cultists also require prospective members give a credible profession of their religion.

    There is, however, one area where there is no room for discussion regardless of your form of government and that is concerning the doctrine of justification. When men disturb the peace and purity of the church by surreptitiously introducing a two tier scheme of salvation that includes works of obedience as a concomitant condition in justification, then those sharpened irons should be used for only one thing – cutting off the dead branches. I admit that most P&R denoms have failed horribly in this regard. Not only have sessions not protected their members, Christ’s sheep, from deadly error, they’re guilty of tacitly condoning these same errors by tolerating these false teachers in their midst.

    But, why stop there, let’s put a name on some of these false teachers. I’ve already named John Kinnaird (the man Echo defends) and Norm Shepherd. So how about one of the lesser known false teachers in the PCA, William Smith,Pastor, Community Presbyterian Church (PCA), Louisville, KY. Here is a man who seemingly can preach and teach with impunity and with the blessing of both his session and his presbytery.

    Admittedly, the Presbyterian system of government sometimes fails, but that doesn’t mean it’s not biblical.

  62. Magma2 – Clearly, you don’t know me. I am one of the biggest critics of the fruitcakes in the independent evangelical world and I take weekly whuppings for it from many friends in the ministry. Iron sharpening iron is my middle name. Like I said, though, even if we have our weaknesses, some days I’m happy not to be in a denomination, and this happens to be one of those days. Carry on…

    Rube….better you than me…

  63. I am Albino Hayford, “Albino” because I am white, and “Hayford” because I agree with almost everything that flows from the pen of Pastor Jack Hayford, founding Pastor of “Church on the Way”.

    You’re right I don’t know you, but as far as fruitcakes go, I thought Hayford and the folks at TBN had that covered ;)

    I found this on your man Hayford:

    http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/exposes/hayford/general.htm

  64. Ah, Magma, I knew it wouldn’t be long before your guns were pointed my way. Since you love to troll the internet so much digging up goodies on preachers, I’m shocked that you missed the Christianity Today cover story that featured Pastor Jack as the “Gold Standard of Pentecostalism”. Did you know he is a personal friend of John MacArthur and John Piper? No, probably not. Carry on.

  65. On second thought, Magma, you probably consider his friendship with those in other groups as heresy, so, forget it. Back to your OPC, PCA, CRC and LMNOP fun. FWIW…LOL!

  66. Iron sharpening iron is my middle name.

    LOL!

  67. Magma,

    I’m not defending Kinnaird. I’m defending the OPC. If it weren’t for the OPC and their justification report, similar reports might not have been pushed in other denominations. The OPC led the way on this charge. And I for one was very much in favor of such a report.

    Look, you’ve got to understand where the OPC was at in this matter. Should they have blasted Kinnaird for his teachings? Maybe. But because of the way he presented himself on the floor of the General Assembly, that didn’t happen.

    And that’s a good thing. It’s not a good thing because I think a heretic got away with his heresy. No, that’s not what I’m advocating. Believe me, I think that mixing works in with justification is heresy. And make no mistake about that. But it’s a good thing that church judicial bodies operate the way they do.

    You see, a church judicial body is not like a court of the state. A court of the state operates on principles of strict justice. You kill someone, you get put to death. You break into someone’s house, you get put in jail. You rape someone, you get a cell mate for 3-5 years. The state operates on a principle of eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. And rightfully so. The state is governed by the covenant of works, thanks to common grace.

    But the judiciary of the church operates differently. The church operates on principles of mercy. The church is a purveyor not of justice but of mercy. The governing principle of the church is the covenant of grace, the forgiveness of sins.

    That means, if you abandon your wife, you’ve done something horribly wrong, but in terms of the church, if you go before the session or the elders and say, “I’ve sinned. I hereby repent,” then you won’t be condemned, you’ll be forgiven. That’s the difference between the church and the state.

    Now, it’s true, as I said, that Kinnaird repented on the floor of the GA. What exactly he repented of remains to be understood. But regardless, he repented of something, even if it was just for being unclear. How could they then condemn him?

    I mean, you’ve gotta understand that while many of those who sit in the GA are ministers, who undoubtedly wanted to condemn the man, many are also elders, who have not been to seminary. Many of them might not have really understood Kinnaird’s errors. At the very least, they didn’t find his teachings to be clearly in the wrong, or at least they were satisfied with what he said on the floor.

    But some people in the OPC were concerned about what message this sends to the denomination and to the world. And their concern was properly placed. And they overtured the GA to publish a statement about justification, to erect a study committee to look into these things. And so they did, and so everyone in the OPC was educated.

    And there’s something else that you should see as very encouraging. Gaffin was an author of the justification report. Many people for a long time thought that Gaffin was friendly to this FV and NPP stuff. It turns out he’s not friendly to it at all, and now there can be no mistake about that.

    The denomination speaks with one voice against this stuff. Guys that were previously unsure what to make of it have now been educated. Now they know how bad it is. Should they have known better before? Perhaps. But they didn’t. Now they do.

    There have indeed been ministers that have left the OPC since the passing of the justification report. They have just done so quietly. And no, I’m not naming names. But more importantly, the denomination’s officers have been educated. Now, if someone starts saying things that are out of line, the justification report can be quoted on the floor of the presbytery to end the debate. And make no mistake, it does end the debate when that report is quoted. That report will bear fruit for a very long, long time.

    So I respectfully disagree with the good Dr. Clark, who says that Kinnaird was on trial for what he had said previously, not for what he said in trial. Not so. He himself was on trial. What he said was not on trial, he was on trial. So what he said previously in print was taken into account, as well as what he said before the body of delegates at the GA. He was shown mercy because he exhibited humility and repented, even if it was only of being unclear.

    Was it false humility, and can you point to his claims that his views were exonerated after the fact as proof of the false quality of his humility? Maybe. But like I said earlier, that’s between him and God. If he took advantage of the way the church courts operate according to the mercy of the gospel, then he’ll have to face the judgment seat of Christ, who looks upon the heart. God is his judge.

    But you and I can’t look upon the heart. If he deceived the body at the General Assembly, then it is on his own head. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. You have to take someone’s word for it when they repent. You have to, unless there is some certain proof that is put before you. That’s how church government operates according to the principles of the gospel.

    Did he make statements that were clearly unorthodox? Yep. I think so. I’ve read them. But what is crystal clear to me wasn’t crystal clear to everyone at the Assembly. They were confused. So he apologized for being unclear, and made some statements that calmed everyone’s fears, and they let him go. They have to do that, because that’s how church courts work.

    Believe me, I understand your feelings on the matter. I do. I have shared them with you, and probably with more zeal. But you’ve got to remember that God has set up presbyterian government to work this way, according to mercy. That’s how God wants it. As tough as it is to deal with, as maddeningly slow as it is, this is the weak and imperfect vessel that the Lord uses to rule over his church. And he knows what he’s doing.

    Do I proudly announce the OPC as the standard bearer of orthodoxy? No, but what denomination is better? I think the OPC is doing pretty well. And with the justification report, things are looking up. Trust me when I say, the Lord is purifying the OPC, and it’s a good thing to see. And through the OPC, whether you like it or not, other denominations were encouraged to pass similar reports, so that almost all of NAPARC has now passed these kinds of reports. And I rejoice, because now the NPP and the FV is a thing of the past. It’s getting old, and it’s dying out.

    As for Ron, neither you or I are his judge. Maybe his session is in dialogue with him. Rube seems to indicate they are. That they are in dialogue with him about it is encouraging.

    But remember, they can’t charge him with unrepentant sin until and unless he understands that he’s sinning, and then refuses to repent. Perhaps they’re trying to shepherd him slowly, and convince him of the error of his ways. What’s wrong with that? Doesn’t the session have the authority to do that? They do. They can. That’s their job. He’s not a teacher. He’s not a minister. He’s a layman. And having a blog doesn’t count. Even if what he’s advocating is wrong, that doesn’t make him a false teacher, because he’s not a teacher. He’s not an elder. He holds no office.

    And if he can still agree with his membership vows, then on what grounds can they really discipline him at this point? They can’t, not until they convince him of the error of his ways. He never took a vow to the Westminster Confession of Faith.

    If you’ve going to be an elder someday, then you’ll need to understand these things.

    Right now, you are being tempted to think that YOU are the standard bearer of orthodoxy, and you can critique every reformed denomination there is. Beware of these temptations. They will make you smug and arrogant, and you will never be the churchman you should be.

    The church that Machen helped start 70 years ago because presbyterians didn’t insist on the deity of Christ anymore has come a very, very long way. The Lord has been refining it, and it’s starting to look really good right now, even if it has a long way to go. So be encouraged and be glad.

  68. I apologize to Rube for taking up blog space in advance, but my response to Echo is in two parts.

    I’m not defending Kinnaird. I’m defending the OPC. If it weren’t for the OPC and their justification report, similar reports might not have been pushed in other denominations. The OPC led the way on this charge. And I for one was very much in favor of such a report.

    Two things. 1) you have been defending John Kinnaird. You have asserted that he “repented” of his Shepherdism which was untrue and is a point you fail to concede. You also seemingly defend his re-trial at the GA (which, as I understand it, was contrary to the OPC BCO). 2) How has the OPC “led the way”? Let’s see, they succeeded in letting Norm Shepherd leave the OPC as a minister in good standing and exonerated one of his talking parrots at the GA. Good job. Oh, but you do have that report. Now explain to me why I shouldn’t consider it wallpaper on a tomb? Former OPC elder, Paul Elliot, who was also intimately involved in the Kinnaird case early on, writes in The Orthodox Presbyterian Cover-up:

    . . . .the Report continues the conspiracy of silence that has prevailed in the OPC for three decades. It leaves the erroneous impression that the serious doctrinal problems are outside the denomination, not within it. The Report gives false comfort to those who think the OPC is still a bastion of Biblical orthodoxy. On the contrary, the Report, and the 2006 General Assembly’s commendation of it, both maintain the OPC as a safe haven for those who teach error.

    Men within the OPC, including at least one member of the Committee itself, teach heresy regarding the Gospel and many other fundamentals of the faith. Even the men on the Committee who have their personal doctrine right have facilitated the teaching of false doctrines by others for decades. Some will reject this as a blanket, indiscriminate indictment. But it is the truth, because those men have failed to speak out publicly against the errorists among them. Not one of the ministers appointed to this Committee has demanded, at any time, that the denomination rid itself of the cancer of neo-liberalism. And now the Committee – a coalition of conservatives plus neo-liberals and those who cooperate with them – has produced a “consensus report” continuing the conspiracy of silence.

    Maybe that report isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Of course, rather than even consider or deal with Elliot’s arguments in the above mentioned article or in his larger work on the growing apostasy in the OPC in his, Christianity and Neo-Liberalism, my experience has been that most OPC loyalists have viciously attacked Elliot instead. I guess most OPCer’s don’t realize that ad hominem is a fallacy.

    Look, you’ve got to understand where the OPC was at in this matter. Should they have blasted Kinnaird for his teachings? Maybe. But because of the way he presented himself on the floor of the General Assembly, that didn’t happen.

    And that’s a good thing. It’s not a good thing because I think a heretic got away with his heresy. No, that’s not what I’m advocating. Believe me, I think that mixing works in with justification is heresy. And make no mistake about that. But it’s a good thing that church judicial bodies operate the way they do.

    OK, you lost me. The courts of the OPC should have held Kinnaird responsible for his teachings (you’re not even sure about that), but they didn’t because he feigned orthodoxy on the floor of the GA, therefore his exoneration is a good thing? Huh?

    FWIW, when pressed ALL FV men feign orthodoxy. Spend some time interacting with Doug Wilson, Steve Wilkins, or any of the other Auburnites and Shepherdites. ALL contend they believe unequivocally in JBFA. ALL contend they believe in the Confessional doctrine of baptism and the covenant. ALL maintain that they are soundly Reformed. But these men are liars.

  69. But the judiciary of the church operates differently. The church operates on principles of mercy. The church is a purveyor not of justice but of mercy. The governing principle of the church is the covenant of grace, the forgiveness of sins.

    Fair enough. Therefore the OPC showed no mercy whatsoever on those poor souls who have been subjected to the false doctrines spread by false teachers like John Kinnaird within the OPC.

    Now, it’s true, as I said, that Kinnaird repented on the floor of the GA. What exactly he repented of remains to be understood. But regardless, he repented of something, even if it was just for being unclear. How could they then condemn him?

    I’m sorry Echo (whoever you are), but this is your most asinine argument yet. So if an adulterer cries when charged by his Session and says he’s sorry, yet never actually repents of his adultery, then he should not be found guilty as charged? Did everyone in your GA completely forget what exactly Kinnaird was TWICE found guilty of? He should repent of that! If he did not, and you claim it “remains to be understood” (which is an amazing admission), then you have no idea if Kinnaird repented of anything at all and the GA of the OPC failed in its duty. Case closed.

    But some people in the OPC were concerned about what message this sends to the denomination and to the world. And their concern was properly placed.

    Really? Here is the message that was sent to the world; one can flagrantly teach a two-tier system of justification by faith and works in the OPC with impunity. To those in the OPC the message was that the errors of John Kinnaird were not actual errors at all but were within the bounds of your constitution, even if they were just a “unclear.” Translation: the courts of the OPC affirms that false gospel made famous by former OPC minister Norm Shepherd through his surrogate John Kinnaird and it may be taught alongside the true gospel in the OPC.

    And there’s something else that you should see as very encouraging. Gaffin was an author of the justification report. Many people for a long time thought that Gaffin was friendly to this FV and NPP stuff. It turns out he’s not friendly to it at all, and now there can be no mistake about that.

    See Elliot’s piece above. Also, consider the following observations by Dr. Clark concerning the untouchable Mr. Gaffin here.

    I’m convinced too many in the OPC put their love of men above their love of the truth. Have you all forgotten Jesus’ words; “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple”?

    Did he make statements that were clearly unorthodox? Yep. I think so. I’ve read them.

    Yet, you have no idea whether or not he ever repented of these “clearly unorthodox” statements, statements I might add that strike at the very heart of the gospel, and yet you prattle on about what a great and wonderful job the OPC did in dealing with this teacher who should have known better. What kind of blindness and arrogance is this?

    FWIW I responded to the rest of your comments, but, what’s the point? You for some reason think the OPC’s handling of the Kinnaird case is above reproach. Whereas I think if Machen were alive today he would be heartbroken and appalled by what has happened to the OPC. I also think he would be sickened by those like you who would defend the denomination despite its complete failure in dealing with those who teach another gospel (which is no gospel at all).

    As for your other comments about Ron, I really have no argument. Until Rube made it clear that Ron goes to his church and that his session is sound, I had every reason to suspect that Ron learned his doctrine of justification in church. Why wouldn’t I? My previous church, which is also sound, experienced a major influx from folks fleeing the FV teaching they were being subjected to by a sister PCA church. I’m sure that other church is still producing like minded moralists like Ron who think their works of obedience contribute to their justification before God. It is tragic.

    I admit that ten years ago I would never suspect that any church in the PCA or OPC might be teaching the false gospel of the NPP/FV. Maybe I was naive?

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe for a second that when push comes to shove the PCA won’t fail the test just as the OPC has failed its test and for much the same reason. I consider PCA pastor Lane Keister’s public exoneration of Doug Wilson on the vitals of the faith a dry run.

    FWIW I believe the underlying problem for both the PCA and OPC, which is easily identified, goes considerably deeper than just the aberrant and deadly doctrines directly associated with the Federal Vision. On this question I am at serious odds with Dr. Clark and I would dare say most readers of this blog. I believe it has to do with the widespread acceptance of an anti-Christian epistemology and defective view of Scripture that dominates most P&R seminaries and circles. It is for this reason that I have no confidence at all that the PCA will ever be able to rid herself of the false teachers of the Federal Vision and the so-called “New Perspective,” whom are even identified in the PCA’s otherwise excellent report identifying the deadly nature of the FV/NPP as our “brothers in Christ.”

  70. Magma,

    Your pessimism is a reflection of unbelief. Christ is the shepherd of his church. Look, I told you before and I’ll say it again, I appreciate your sentiments. I really do. I have said the exact same things myself. But you’re letting yourself get too pessimistic. You’re getting carried away.

    About Gaffin, he’s not simply a grudging endorser of the OPC’s justification report. He’s one of its AUTHORS. If you read that report, what you are reading was written by him. He is clearly on record, therefore, in print, in the church, as denouncing both the Federal Vision and NPP, as well as Norm Shepherd, and specifically his book “Call of Grace”. Have you read the report?

    Do I find Gaffin’s understanding of union with Christ problematic? Yes. Do I regret his support for men like Kinnaird and Shepherd? Yes. Absolutely. I daresay that he regrets it now as well. While his endorsement IS on the back of Shepherd’s book, he also clearly denounces that book as unorthodox in the justification report. All questions about Gaffin are now answered. We need not appeal to private conversations, we need not guess where he’s at now. Read the justification report. That’s HIS work there. He wrote it. Granted, he didn’t write it alone, but he’s one of the authors. His name is attached to all of it. He provided no minority report.

    On the floor of the GA when the justification report was passed (I was there), some people were concerned that Gaffin’s views weren’t adequately expressed in the justification report. One guy even pushed the point on the floor, and Gaffin responded, “There is ONE justification based on the work of Christ ALONE!” It got very heated.

    In my personal opinion, Gaffin has realized his error. I think he regrets some statements he has made in the past, and I think he really regrets endorsing Shepherd.

    I think Gaffin has been wrong for a long time, but has finally woken up. I’m glad. I imagine he’s heartbroken to realize that he is partly responsible for some of the confusion.

    And I think he is a good representative of the OPC in this regard. I think that perhaps the OPC was misled by Kinnaird, but I’m not willing to say so for sure. And yet, again, according to how church courts operate, that’s how it goes.

    But look, here’s my point. Many men in the OPC that voted at the Kinnaird trial were taught by Gaffin in seminary. If they were confused by what Kinnaird said, and yet there was their seminary professor defending him, why should we be surprised if they just chalked it up to a lack of clarity? Kinnaird hasn’t been to seminary. He shouldn’t have been preaching anyway. If he thought his views were vindicated, he’d be wrong in that assessment. They weren’t. His views weren’t clear. The body was confused by them. It didn’t make sense. So when he made clearer orthodox sounding statements, and apologized for being unclear, what would you expect the men of the GA to do? It’s not a witch hunt.

    But now, something has changed. Now, the justification report has come out, and the education that was previously lacking has been rectified. Ok, so the OPC didn’t see things as clearly before as they could have. It’s not a perfect system. But its imperfections stem from the fact that it’s based not on justice but mercy, because if someone repents, they are forgiven.

    Look, Gaffin has been on the wrong side of things up till now. But I’m not sure he really understood that. He still may not. Nonetheless, he’s the professor of the Pauline corpus for almost all the older ministers in the OPC. If there was confusion about this stuff in the OPC, it’s no mystery as to why. This all started with Murray’s error on covenant theology way back when Westminster was first founded. And that’s been in the OPC ever since.

    But now that’s changed. Now things are different. Now people are beginning to pay attention, to understand. Things are changing. But they change very slowly. Very slowly. It takes a long, long time.

    But while you are so busy tearing up the OPC, you might consider taking another look at the PCA. The PCA has far more ministers in it that are blatantly teaching the NPP. Are there some in the OPC who are friendly to it? Probably some, but their days are numbered. Some have already been forced out, or they have gone underground. But the PCA is in serious trouble. Nonetheless, they are beginning to deal with it.

    You say the OPC has failed its test, but you’re wrong. Perhaps Kinnaird’s case needs to be revisited. I don’t know. But the OPC didn’t fail the test. If what you say about Kinnaird is in fact true, then what’s true of him is that he misled the body at the GA. He essentially misrepresented himself. If that’s true, then he will answer to God. But the church did the right thing. It did the only thing it could do.

    Nonetheless, Christ is the shepherd of his church. He will work it out. Reports are a first step. The false teachers have been put on notice, and they will get rooted out. But it won’t happen overnight.

    This is the church. This is how it works. It takes time. It moves slowly. This stuff has been entrenched in the church for a very, very long time. It will take even longer to get rid of it. Be patient with the process and be encouraged at steps in the right direction. Have you read the OPC’s justification report?

    Disciplining ministers is a tricky business. Someone has to bring charges against them in the presbytery. Unfortunately, most lay members are unwilling to do this. And most of the time, elders have worked so closely with the man for so long, that they try other methods, afraid of such a confrontation.

    All YOU can do is your part. If you’re this passionate about it, go to seminary. Be a minister. Or become an elder. It is the elders who really need to guard against false teachers. Otherwise, if your pastor is unsound, then speak to your elders. If you know people elsewhere whose pastors are in the wrong, encourage them to speak to their elders about it. A lot of times, the other ministers in the presbytery don’t know that a guy is friendly to this stuff. And if they do know, they can’t bring charges for lack of proof. So the proof has to come from the people, from the session of the local church, and brought to the presbytery, so that they can be corrected or removed from office.

    I don’t want to discourage you from being passionate about the gospel. Such passion is properly placed. But just don’t turn that passion for the gospel into a zeal for burning heretics. That’s not the right answer.

  71. Your pessimism is a reflection of unbelief. Christ is the shepherd of his church.

    Of course Christ is the shepherd of His church. That doesn’t mean that Christians should remain in churches that permit, as a matter of course and court precedent, the preaching of a demonstrably false gospel. 2 Cor 14 comes to mind. And, if I’m at all pessimistic about certain P&R denominations it is not without good reason. As for Christ’s church, I’m not pessimistic in the least. I just don’t confuse the one with the other.

    About Gaffin, he’s not simply a grudging endorser of the OPC’s justification report. He’s one of its AUTHORS. If you read that report, what you are reading was written by him.

    And if you read the piece by Elliot, not to mention his book which goes into great detail concerning the growing apostasy in the OPC, you’d realize that Gaffin’s involvement has more to do with the reports deficiencies (see Elliot’s discussion of Romans 2:13 for starters).

    He is clearly on record, therefore, in print, in the church, as denouncing both the Federal Vision and NPP, as well as Norm Shepherd, and specifically his book “Call of Grace”. Have you read the report?

    Yes, I did read it when it first came out and I thought it did a good job handling Shepherd’s objections to the imputation of Christ’s active obedience and the historically questionable claims made by Shepherd and others. Again, I would refer you to Brian Schwertley’s piece, The Gospel Crisis in the OPC and PCA, particularly his conclusion:

    Having briefly considered the OPC Report on Justification, we are compelled to conclude the following. The committee report of the OPC does not recommend that unrepentant Federal Vision teachers and advocates be deposed and censured, which is precisely what the OPC needs. Unless a church officer from the floor alters the recommendation and a motion passes to begin the admonition and censure process, then the report is little more than words that can and will likely be ignored. On the one hand, the Federal Vision doctrine of justification is said to contradict Scripture; but on the other hand, the proponents of this doctrine are tolerated as though it was a non-vital error. This is a scandalous sin, a sin so great that it justifies separation or secession on the part of those who want to be faithful to Scripture. How long are the Truly Reformed (TR) or “conservatives” in the OPC and PCA going to keep on tolerating blatant, serious and even deadly contradictions to Scripture and the Westminster Standards in their communions? There comes a time when the best method of reformation is to protest and secede, with denouncing of jurisdiction. Faithfulness at this hour requires it.

    Do I find Gaffin’s understanding of union with Christ problematic? Yes. Do I regret his support for men like Kinnaird and Shepherd? Yes. Absolutely. I daresay that he regrets it now as well. While his endorsement IS on the back of Shepherd’s book, he also clearly denounces that book as unorthodox in the justification report.

    I would say it was precisely on the basis of Gaffin’s own NPP that he not only glowingly endorse Shepherd’s book but vigorously defended his doctrines during the entire SEVEN years Shepherd’s heretical doctrines were being debated among the faculty and administrators at WTS. So I would say that his doctrine of union is more than just “problematic.”

    All questions about Gaffin are now answered. We need not appeal to private conversations, we need not guess where he’s at now. Read the justification report. That’s HIS work there. He wrote it. Granted, he didn’t write it alone, but he’s one of the authors. His name is attached to all of it. He provided no minority report.

    I hate to tell you this, but many view the OPC report as a whitewash job. Elliot is probably closest to the fact when he calls it a coverup. I also hate to tell you, but I agree with Clark’s assessment of Gaffin and there are still many unanswered questions despite the protests of his doting admirers and assorted sycophants. But then, I’m sure for you just him having his name on the report is enough. Just like Kinnaird’s crying and repenting of nothing in particular is enough to exonerate him for all his false teachings.

    In my personal opinion, Gaffin has realized his error. I think he regrets some statements he has made in the past, and I think he really regrets endorsing Shepherd.

    Pure speculation. Lane Kesiter tried to make the same argument but he couldn’t provide any substantive evidence to support his opinions either. The Gaffin question is still open.

    And I think he is a good representative of the OPC in this regard.

    I think you’re right. Which is why my criticism stands.

    I think that perhaps the OPC was misled by Kinnaird, but I’m not willing to say so for sure. And yet, again, according to how church courts operate, that’s how it goes.

    Not sure why you are unwilling to say so for sure? Where has Kinnaird repented of anything he has written or recanted those things which made up the substance of charges against him? From what I’ve read he considered his views vindicated, and, as I recall, said so publicly.

    But look, here’s my point. Many men in the OPC that voted at the Kinnaird trial were taught by Gaffin in seminary. If they were confused by what Kinnaird said, and yet there was their seminary professor defending him, why should we be surprised if they just chalked it up to a lack of clarity? Kinnaird hasn’t been to seminary. He shouldn’t have been preaching anyway. If he thought his views were vindicated, he’d be wrong in that assessment. They weren’t. His views weren’t clear. The body was confused by them. It didn’t make sense. So when he made clearer orthodox sounding statements, and apologized for being unclear, what would you expect the men of the GA to do? It’s not a witch hunt.

    Again, what I would expect the men of the GA to do is to stand for the gospel and hold one of their own heretical pastors to account for his false teaching. Shall we review some of Kinnaird’s teaching in this regard like. . .

    “If communion with God is to be restored, righteousness of a real and personal nature must be restored.”

    “On that Great Day of Judgement [sic], God’s righteous judgement [sic] will be revealed. God will then give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good (we Presbyterians call this perseverance) seek glory, honor, and immortality, He will give eternal life. For those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be eternal wrath and anger (Romans 2:6-8) and destruction from before the face of the Lord. It is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous on that Day of Judgment.”

    “Those who teach that the purpose of the Day of Judgement [sic] is not to reveal God’s righteousness in His judgements [sic] (judgments that will be unto eternal life or death in accord with what men have done on this earth), but rather only to determine types and degrees of rewards to be given to Christians, are in error.”

    “These good works are a required condition if we would stand in the Day of Judgment and they are supplied by God to all His people…. Who are these people who thus benefit — who stand on the Day of Judgment? They are those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”

    I don’t know how you OPC men could possible claim that Kinnaird was unclear or at all “ambiguous.” Frankly, he couldn’t be clearer.

    But now, something has changed. Now, the justification report has come out, and the education that was previously lacking has been rectified.

    Is this is what we’ve stooped to? Professing Presbyterians now consider non-binding reports a substitute for court action. Can’t you smell the apostasy. Also, did you really need the OPC report to understand the present danger of the FV? The report only came out in ’06, but folks like John Robbins of Trinity Foundation and others have been documenting and exposing the deadly nature of the FV for more than a dozen years.

    But while you are so busy tearing up the OPC, you might consider taking another look at the PCA.

    I have been focusing on the OPC only because of your persistence.

    You say the OPC has failed its test, but you’re wrong. Perhaps Kinnaird’s case needs to be revisited. I don’t know.

    What do you know? What on earth does a man have to teach in the OPC for his doctrines to be deemed out of bounds? Read those Kinnaird quotes again since you evidently can’t seem to grasp their import. Perhaps more will cure you of your blindness in this matter, but I doubt it.

    But the OPC didn’t fail the test. If what you say about Kinnaird is in fact true, then what’s true of him is that he misled the body at the GA. He essentially misrepresented himself. If that’s true, then he will answer to God. But the church did the right thing. It did the only thing it could do.

    You act like it is surprising that Kinnaird would misrepresent himself. The church did the right thing TWICE and that right thing was overturned thanks to the maneuvering, work and prestige of Richard Gaffin. Yet, instead of protesting or even lamenting your court’s error, you defend it the same way you defend the chief players in the whole sorry affair. You can’t even bring yourself to admit that the GA erred in the Kinnaird case. This is loyalty boarding on delusional.

    This is the church. This is how it works. It takes time. It moves slowly.

    I’ve been hearing that same song and dance for years. Evidently people never tired of having their ears tickled

    This stuff has been entrenched in the church for a very, very long time. It will take even longer to get rid of it.

    Gee, if we were to believe you the OPC has no Federal Vision problem and your non-binding meandering report made all the FV and NPP hobgoblins disappear from the OPC like magic. No wonder you’re so enamored with it.

    — Sean

  72. One last thing:

    Look, Gaffin has been on the wrong side of things up till now. But I’m not sure he really understood that. He still may not.

    Then he is not a man to be praised but rather pitied. And he certainly isn’t a man fit to train young men in theology much less inhabit any pulpit even as a fill in preacher. I am unconvinced that he’s even on the right side now, magical reports notwithstanding.

  73. I’m growing tired of this discourse. Echo, I appreciate your sentiments here and your defense of my sister denom, the OPC.

    I suggest that Rube closes this one down since it’s now just become a boxing battle between Echo and Magma.

    However, I have a whole new topic that Magma and Echo can agree on over at The Reformed Standard. And while they’re agreeing together, they can blast me! Go for it. I’m within the bounds of orthodoxy and not an FV adherent, so you can have some fun. :)

    http://theonomist.wordpress.com/2008/08/01/the-self-fulfilling-prophecy-of-the-amillenial-2-kingdom-camp/

    kazoo

  74. While this discussion might be tiresome to kazoo and a source of entertainment for Albino, I very much appreciate Rube’s allowing things to continue since Echo (does he have a name?) provides a great example of exactly why deadly and heretical doctrines continue to advance in P&R churches.

    One correction; I said the GA attempted to retry the Kinnaird case, but this was incorrect. There was an attempt by Gaffin and other Kinnaird supporters to retry the case at the Presbytery level. This was contrary to the OPC’s Book of Discipline and was a move successfully stalled by a conservative minority and the appeal went to the GA.

    One addendum: I just received in the mail (today) a copy of “A Denomination in Denial” which is an evaluation of the OPC justification report. In it I came across this written by John Kinnaird in 2006 — well after his heresy conviction was overturned by the OPC GA. This was published on the Yahoo “Presbyterians-OPC” yahoo forum (message # 34120). Here’s what John Kinnaird said about his trial:

    When the matter came to the GA I was rightly exonerated. The GA could do no less as my clear teaching on the subject was clearly in accord with the standards. [To say] that I “displayed some remorse for a lack of clarity in his teaching” is false. I expressed no such remorse . . . .”

    Echo needs to get his facts straight. The OPC is a safe haven for gospel denying heretics.

  75. Something just occurred to me: is there any other kind of heretic? I mean, can one be a gospel embracing heretic?

    :)

    kazoo

  76. Sure. I’ve been called a heretic because I am opposed to exclusive psalmody. Now, clearly one position is wrong, but which one (do you want me to tell you ;) . I’ve been called a heretic because I’m opposed to the nonsense of the so-called “Well Meant Offer” (which is just a variant of the same error advanced by the FV). I’ve been called a heretic because I hold to a two-fold as opposed to the traditional tri-fold definition of faith. Yet, even if my critics are correct, none of these things reach the level of undermining the very doctrine on which the church stands or falls.

    Strictly, any position not in conformity to Scripture is heretical and not all heretical position rise to the same level. The goal, of course, for all Christians is to purge, by God’s grace, all errors from their thinking and conform all their thoughts to Scripture. Heresy is defined as something that is characterized by, revealing, or approaching departure from established beliefs or standards. Of course, and since Scripture is the sole standard, may beliefs traditionally held, and the standards they are based on, could be in error. Regardless, not all heresies rise to the same level, that’s why the fight over the so-called “Federal Vision” and NPP is so important.

  77. Sorry for the obvious typos kazoo. It was a quick response and I didn’t take time to edit until after I hit “submit comment.” Not a good way to post.

  78. No problem on the typos. It was a light hearted comment from me anyway.

    I agree that Scripture is our sole standard, and I am not an exclusive psalmody guy either.

    I keep waiting for you to discover me and find all the neat inconsistencies about me that you can slam. I guess you’d call some of them heresy by your definition, which might be one of the best I’ve come across lately.

    Cheers,

    kazoo

  79. Well, Sean, you’ve got one fact wrong. Kinnaird is not a pastor. He’s an elder.

    As far as the numerous heretics that you imagine taking refuge in the OPC, name them. Better yet, join an OPC and bring charges against them. I’ll be right there with you.

    But I’ll have you know, when I chose to go to seminary, I didn’t choose Philadelphia for precisely the same concerns you have.

    I didn’t say you were wrong about certain facts, I said you were rash. You want to go on a witch hunt, a witch hunt that part of me would love to go on too. But that’s not how the church works.

    But the church is not going to set up some kind of committee to listen to all the OP’s pastors preach and evaluate them as to whether or not they’re friendly to the gospel. We don’t have the resources to do such a thing, and such a thing wouldn’t be in keeping with what it means to be an ordained minister.

    The ONLY way for these men to be properly removed from office is if charges are brought against them. Maybe such charges will come, maybe they won’t.

    I was also very concerned about this whole Kinnaird business. But the OPC is on the right track. That’s my point. So until such time as I run across a man who preaches heresy, there’s not much that can be done.

    But I say again, put your money where your mouth is. Go to seminary and become a minister. If you want to see the gospel preached, then say to God, “Here I am, send me.” If you’re not willing to do that, then your bad mouthing of ministers in good standing in reformed denominations will accomplish nothing. Nothing.

  80. By the way, Van Til also defended Shepherd.

  81. Well, Sean, you’ve got one fact wrong. Kinnaird is not a pastor. He’s an elder.

    Well, since the NT church only has two offices, elder and deacon, I’ve always considered all elders pastors charged with guarding and teaching Christ’s sheep. So please forgive me. Besides, the charges against Kinnaird were based, in part, on sermons he gave.

    As far as the numerous heretics that you imagine taking refuge in the OPC, name them. Better yet, join an OPC and bring charges against them. I’ll be right there with you.

    I would never join the OPC. I would never (knowingly) join a church that allows false gospels to be preached and taught alongside the one true gospel. Frankly, I just left a denom I had been in for years and that I loved for this very reason and they are not half as egregious in their dereliction as the OPC has been.

    As for FV men in the OPC, again, I would refer you to Paul Elliot’s Christianity and Neo-Liberalism: The Spiritual Crisis in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Beyond and his critique of the OPC justification report, A Denomination in Denial. In both of these books he provides the names of dozens of men in the OPC that support, promote and advance false gospels. But to whet your appetite, how about Tom Trouwborst, OPC pastor from NY who teaches, among other things, that “children of believers, even from infancy, have regeneration, salvation, and the forgiveness of sins.” Frankly, your own Richard Gaffin is not above the fray in all this either, despite the howls and protests of some of his sycophantic admirers.

    But I’ll have you know, when I chose to go to seminary, I didn’t choose Philadelphia for precisely the same concerns you have.

    I didn’t say you were wrong about certain facts, I said you were rash. You want to go on a witch hunt, a witch hunt that part of me would love to go on too. But that’s not how the church works.

    No, I do see how your church works, which is why it abdicated jurisdiction and oversight of one of its pastors, Norm Shepherd, to the oversight of administrators at WTS all under the guise of “academic freedom.” The long track record of the OPC abandoning its biblical mandate and responsibilities is as long as it is sorry.

    I was also very concerned about this whole Kinnaird business. But the OPC is on the right track. That’s my point. So until such time as I run across a man who preaches heresy, there’s not much that can be done.

    I see that calling the OPC a “denomination in denial” was really an understatement.

    But I say again, put your money where your mouth is. Go to seminary and become a minister. If you want to see the gospel preached, then say to God, “Here I am, send me.” If you’re not willing to do that, then your bad mouthing of ministers in good standing in reformed denominations will accomplish nothing. Nothing.

    First, I have no desire to go to seminary and become a minster. Second, implied in your remarks is a very unbiblical view of ecclesiology. All Christians have a responsibility to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

    All Christians, not just the seminary trained, are to expose, mark and avoid false teachers. Paul said:

    17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
    18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

    All Christians are to wary and on alert for those who would preach a false gospel:

    8 But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

    And All Christians, even those pew sitters in the OPC, should resist false teachers where ever they may be:

    4 But it was because of the false brethren who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.
    5 But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.

    Yet, reading your remarks it seems that theological matters, even matters that strike at the very heart of the gospel, should be left to professionals. Actually, that is one of the great and glaring faults of your lauded “justification” report. It was written in the language of specialists and does absolutely NOTHING to inform members of the OPC that the doctrine of justification is under attack even in the OPC and that they are in danger. Frankly, I would guess the majority of OPC elders don’t even grasp half of what is in the report. Worse, anyone reading your report would think that the problem of the FV and NPP is somehow “out there” and not within the confines of the OPC herself. It’s a very “us verses them” report. Perhaps that is why you seem so hopelessly in denial. Evidently you bought into the underlying message of the report.

    By the way, Van Til also defended Shepherd.

    Yes, I did know that and have read his remarks. Not surprising since VT’s analogical and paradoxical view of truth and Scripture, not to mention his contradictory view of the Trinity and the role he assigns it in apologetics (you may recall Fvers wrongly define the Trinity in terms of a ““covenant” relationship of divine persons implying tri-theism), provided fertile ground for the FV. The FV didn’t spring up in a vacuum. You might say the FV is Van Til’s epistemological errors coming home to roost.

  82. I see that “rash” is a monumental understatement.

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