Sunday, June 17, 2007

The PCA on the Federal Vision

From Steve:

Another body blow to the Federal Vision.

Given the degree to which some FV writers I've read talk up ecclesiastical authority and badmouth low-church polity, it will be very interesting to see if they submit to church discipline when the turf meets the surf. Or will they become just another schismatic splinter group?


  1. I am confused by the language of the decision.

    On the bright side, contrast this grappling with the arguably trite concerns of the many denominational assemblies...

  2. Surely you jest, I should think that the decision is quite clear. The NPP/FV is contrary to the Westminster Standards according to the General Assembly. In short, if that's the view of any ruling or teaching elder, session, or presbytery, they are promoting doctrine contrary to the Westminster Standards. It stops short of just plain disfellowshipping those churches, sessions, and presbyteries that affirm NPP/FV. By reminding those elders who hold dissenting views to notify their church courts, they are telling them to step up to the plate and stop hiding. Those courts, session, are reminded that they have a duty to enforce the Westminster Standards. In other words, if you hold to NPP/FV then now is the time to repent or leave.

    Those who have promoted such views are the ones that like to "talk up ecclesiastical authority." Well, they have now been soundly answered. Well they have the integrity to submit to their authorities, or will they break fellowship? It must be quite the pickle.

    After the committee made its report, a motion was made to postpone taking action on the recommendations at this GA, to add two new members to the committee, and to direct the committee to include more exegesis of relevant biblical passages in its report. This motion failed. After further debate the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to approve the recommendations.

    Speaking for myself, I find this somewhat ironic. Those who wind up supporting NPP/FV, at least in my experience, are usually the ones who wind up attacking the perspicuity of Scripture, so why bother to call for more exegesis? It's just a delay tactic, and one that I've seen many a liberal Baptist or anti-Calvinist use when soundly refuted. Oh, the juicy irony that those who like the NPP/FV, like a certain rC professor in Montreat, are on the same footing as Baptists! (Snicker)

  3. Gene,

    You really should get your facts straight about the man who made the motion. He doesn't agree with the FV and you had better stopping spreading rumors like that.


    I'm confused. Most of the FV men have been investigate by their prebyteries and found to be within the teaching of the WS. How is this report going to change things?

    In other words... it's not. They are not going to be tried again. Unless of course you are suggesting that entire presbyteries are going to have to excommunicated. But I'm almost certain that that day will never come. ;-)

  4. Glenn,

    I said nothing about the views of the person making the motion, so I am not spreading rumors about anybody. What I stated was that such motions were delay tactics akin to those used by SBC moderates and others that I have seen in times past, and, in this case the irony was that the motion called for "more exegesis," but the perspicuity of Scripture is something that, in my experience, FV supporters/NPP supporters eventually come to deny or muddy.

    More exegesis isn't going to persuade anybody on the other side. These are people who, in my experience, eventually deny the perspicuity of Scripture, so what benefit would it be to do more exegesis? In fact, those persons, I'm sure, were all for that motion if present, since it would only have served to delay the inevitable, while giving them time to "regroup." I've seen this before in the SBC. Motions like that display naivete for one party and duplicity for the other.

    And, I find it ironic to call for exegesis of relevant passages, as if that will change the minds of FV supporters. Since you chose to mention the man who made the motion, one also wonders where he's been all these years that the courts have been weighing in on these matters, not to mention several centuries of Reformed exegesis.

    Incidentally, Glenn, these aren't just my own personal observations. These are also observations offered to me by others who were there. I agree with them.

    There were in fact, several discussions after the motion was made. The man who made the motion does not favor the FV. True, but it is my understandng that buried in the discussions, we find some interesting material. So, in the spirit of "getting facts straight" perhaps we should look at them, Glenn.

    2:54 Motion by Joe Novenson to delay the report for a year, add exegesis,add indications of the positive contributions of NPP, add 2 additional members who are sympathetic to NPP / FV

    --This, Glenn, as I understand it was the content of the motion to add exegesis. So, let's get our facts straight, as you say. He is not a supporter of FV/NPP, and I don't believe Elder Loop, who spoke against it on the grounds of (lack of) exegesis, but the motion was, it seems, sympathetic to FV/NPP, and I am not the only one with that concern; and this is the same sort of posturing that I saw during the SBC Conservative Resurgence on a regular basis. I saw it from liberal Baptists; I hear it from anti-Calvinists in theological discussions; and I have heard it from naive messengers.

    Let's look a bit further:

    3:04 - Substitute motion to receive report yet allow the committee to add scripture proofs during the assembly - not allowed.

    3:07 - Dewey Roberts - speaks against the substitute - calls it a "smokescreen" that the FV / NPP claims they are not fairly understood. Issue "is the most important decision we've ever had to make because it deals with the matter of justification by faith." Says "this error is insidious."

    3:17 - R.C. Sproul - focuses upon justification, imputation speaks against the motion, the "purity of the PCA" is at stake. "This is the gospel that we're talking about, gentlemen." Motion is like "asking the accused to become members of the jury."

    3:30 - David Coffin - speaks against procedural motion - believes standards are sufficient, further exegesis is not needed, is "dubious" that there can be any credible expressions of "good things" that the NPP has to offer, finally argues against sympathetic members - uses analogy of inclusion of Arian on committee dealing with deity of Christ.

    So, let's get our fact straight. I voiced no concern that was not in some way addressed in the discussion of the motion. In fact, I gather that there was discussion of urgency on this as well, so the motion amounted, in the perception of these @ the assembly as a delay tactic, among other things.

    It would also be helpful in the future, if you believe I am engaging in libelous speech that you follow Matt. 18 and try to contact me directly, since my email is in my profile above.

  5. Gene,

    Thank you for clarifying what you believe. But your speech structure at the beginning still lends itself to leading others to believe that the motion was made by an FV supporter. But I digress...

    You seem to not see any good that has come from the teaching of FV and NPP. Do you believe that the NPP and FV have contibuted Biblical truth to the discussion and have actually helped in certain areas? I would like to know.

    And I did have all my facts straight before your reply. My point was to make sure that it was clear, since it wasn't, that the man who motioned was not an FV supporter as it sounded...

    You said... >>Those who wind up supporting NPP/FV, at least in my experience, are usually the ones who wind up attacking the perspicuity of Scripture, so why bother to call for more exegesis? It's just a delay tactic, and one that I've seen many a liberal Baptist or anti-Calvinist use<< in connection with the motion that you were quoting. It wasn't clear, but I think you have made it clearer. Thanks.

  6. Aside from the fact that many, if not most, FV men do not wish to be lumped in with the NPP, I believe many of them relish the opportunity to defend their beliefs in a court setting. They do not believe their beliefs were accurately portrayed at all in the report. They want the trials.

  7. I agree with the decision of the PCA, but there is something about the report that troubles me. In that report, it considered the FV men, the NPP men, and Norman Shepherd, "our brothers."

    What does this say about those who deny justification by faith alone? Is it the article on which the church stands or falls, or isn't it?

  8. The word we got from my pastor yesterday was that the decision was a popular one, with the vast majority of the attendees affirming justification through faith alone. I didn't think that there would even be any fallout from this, but looks like I was mistaken.