Before proceeding, let us briefly review how we got here. Kevin said the following:
<< What?!? Note here the one who downplays the importance of the Confession on the issue of inerrancy of Scripture! This is no small point. In short, the Reformed faith and here the Westminster Confession in this seminary student’s point of view (as if it was a point of view worth listening to) is somehow inadequate to answer the claims of skeptics and others today regarding the inerrancy of Scripture.
I find that absolutely astounding and ridiculous. >>
Notice that Kevin flags my status as a seminarian. It is absolutely astounding and ridiculous that someone like myself, who is affiliated with a Reformed seminary, would stake out this position.
I then responded by merely pointing out that my seminary, as well as three other leading Reformed seminaries, also go above and beyond the Westminster Standards in what they require of their faculty. So there's nothing incongruous about my position.
Note that I framed my reply in the very same terms as Kevin chose to frame his objection. He is the one who chose to single out my seminary connection as his point of reference. So how does he react when I respond in kind?
<< So what?!? Since when do “the four leading Reformed seminaries in America” represent the bastion of Reformed orthodoxy? >>
Hear the grating, grinding gear-shifting? He suddenly retracts his original point of reference. So was his original standard of comparison sincere, but sincerely wrong--or was it insincere from the get-go? I report, you decide.
But that isn’t the limit of his duplicity. He now hustles in a new criterion:
<< Besides, it is the confessional churches, not her seminaries, that have any authority in this matter anyways. >>
Okay, so how long does his stick with this yardstick?
<< Of course, Mr. NiceTry will next point to the ordination vows in the OPC and the PCA as if that proved anything else in regards to what I have already said. >>
Aren’t the OPC and PCA confessional churches? So doesn’t the authority lie with them—according to Kevin’s aforesaid standard?
But, no, that doesn’t prove anything either.
So the pattern seems to be that whenever Kevin gets into a bind of his own making, he extricates himself by talking out of both sides of his mouth.
Kevin also doesn’t like what I said about the Federal Vision:
<< Speaking of the theology that was presented at the Auburn Avenue conferences over the last few years as “heresy” is just absolutely out-of-bounds. Why is it that those who profess to be the absolute ultra-orthodox among us seem to throw this word around AS IF it meant almost nothing? If only those who thought along these lines considered the Ninth Commandment as seriously as they considered their precious little propositional statements. Of course, Mr. NiceTry doesn’t demonstrate that the theology in question is heresy. He merely makes the claim. This is just such an old and tired approach by those who disagree with the likes of Wilkins, Wilson, Schlissel, Barach, and others.
Furthermore, charging so-called Reformed Catholics with “hyper-covenantalism” is also completely unjustified. Let him take the reins here and actually provide substantiation for his remarks.
There is a fair amount of theological diversity in Presbyterianism that allows for differences of opinion on these issues. >>
i) To begin with, I already referred the reader to William Young’s article, which surveys the historical background of hypercovenantalism.
ii) In addition, the case against the Auburnite heresy has already been presented in a number of different venues, so I hardly need to reinvent the wheel here. The New Southern Presbyterian Review, available online, is one place to start.
iii) Even more to the point from Kevin’s stated ecclesiology, are the actions of the OPC and PCA in relation to the Federal Vision.
For instance, just consider the preliminary action of the OPC:
<< The Assembly erected a study committee of seven “to critique the teachings of the New Perspective on Paul, Federal Vision, and other like teachings concerning the doctrine of justification and other related doctrines, as they are related to the Word of God and our subordinate standards, with a view to giving a clear statement to the presbyteries, sessions, and seminaries, and report back to the 72nd GA.”
Pay close attention to the verb. The GA didn’t appoint a committee to merely “investigate” the Federal Vision and cognate positions. No, it appointed a committee to “critique” the Federal vision and other suchlike. So the GA of the OPC has already rendered a summary judgment against the Federal Vision.
What is more, the Federal Vision is also in the cross-hairs of the PCA:
<< Several Presbyteries in the PCA, including Central Carolina, have formed special committees to study “the Federal Vision.” Already, Central Carolina Presbytery has formally asked Louisiana to investigate the theological commitments of men within its bounds who are associated with “the Federal Vision.” Mississippi Valley has adopted a report detailing several “new formulations” of “the Federal Vision” and other related perspectives.
Their report states: "We do believe that many of the positions being advocated by proponents of the NPP [New Perspectives on Paul], AAT [Auburn Avenue Theology], and FV [Federal Vision] are confusing, unbiblical, and contra-confessional. As such, we are ready to declare some of these distinctive teachings to be outside the bounds of acceptable diversity in this presbytery, and we trust also, in the PCA. Among these are their specific departures from our Confession's presentation of the Bible's teaching on election, covenant membership, individual regeneration, justification, imputation, and perseverance. We believe our Confession to be more faithful to the Scriptures than are these new formulations."
The same article goes on to note that:
<< In 2004 the faculty of Westminster Theological Seminary in California condemned these new paradigms and affirmed the commitment of WTS-West to the historic doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone. And the 2004 Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology featured seminars by Rick Phillips and Sinclair Ferguson that were critical of the New Perspectives. >>
When you consider that a number of the WSC faculty, including its president (Bob Godfrey), are affiliated with the URC, this is an ominous turn of events for the future of Auburnism in that body as well.
I would simply pose the following question to Kevin and his cohorts. If the ruling bodies of these confessional churches take disciplinary action against adherents of the Federal Vision, are they prepared to submit to the ministerial authority of those duly constituted churches? Or will they react in a schismatic and insubordinate fashion?
Remember, these are the guys who constantly play up catholicity, conciliarism, and ministerial authority. They draw invidious comparisons between their high church polity and the heirs of the Radical Reformation. What will they do if convicted by their own putative authorities?