The Institute of Awesome...

(Tim) I've been privileged to attend several of the Ministers Conferences put on by Christ Church of Moscow, Idaho, and I commend them to you. So take a minute right now to go over to their web site and check out this year's conference. Speakers will include Doug Wilson, Ben Merkle, Toby Sumpter, and Nate Wilson--all speaking on the theme "The Institute of Awesome: Keeping Calvinism Sassy for the Next Fifteen Minutes."

And if you go, do as we've done and take an extra day to go up and hike in Glacier National Park, wondering at the beauty our Creator throws willy-nilly everywhere: the fall colors, the elk herds, and their bugling bulls.

Comments

Perhaps this video of Rob Rayburn could be applied to you as well. Why the FV support? Is it because gender issues are more important than the Gospel?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6awsDk5ryk

Tim,

This week, I'm listening to the "Father Hunger" conference from two (?) years ago. Excellent, most excellent teaching.

Kamilla

>Perhaps this video of Rob Rayburn could be applied to you as well.

Yes, another noble and manly fellow who hides his name.

>>Why the FV support?

Neither David nor I are supporters of Federal Vision. Never have been and still aren't.

But we do support the ministry and work of Doug Wilson. Always have and still do.

And we also support the signing of names, first and last, when dealing with men personally on this blog. For the record, Mr. Anonymous above hails from Ridgeland, Mississippi, and uses Comcast for his ISP.

Love,

"Neither David nor I are supporters of Federal Vision. Never have been and still aren't.

But we do support the ministry and work of Doug Wilson. Always have and still do.'

From observing and reading up on the Federal Vision for many years now, (I read Norman Shepherd's book "The Call of Grace" and a year or so later I read Doug Wilson's book "Reformed Is Not Enough", and there is a gnat's eyebrow of difference between them), it's clear that Doug Wilson, the CREC, and Canon Press, support Federal Vision and are in fact the main 'drawing cards" to it.

I agree very much with his excellent teaching on biblical manhood and womanhood (but wonder how he can so ardently support Sarah Palin who readily calls herself a feminist, albeit a pro-life one), however the overall trajectory of the Federal Vision obscures the clarity and simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and hence is very dangerous.

Blessings,
Nancy

Nancy,

Do you judge yourself to be more capable assessor of theological positions than John Piper who is, I'm sure you know, no friend of those who "obscure the clarity and simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

A number of years ago, John authored an excellent book on imputation ("Counted Righteous in Christ") and, more recently has answered Tom Wright's objections in a book length defense of the 16th century Lutheran-Reformed formulation of justification. His bona fides are well-established, are they not?

And yet Piper invited Wilson - the one who is at the very center of the movement that "obscures the clarity and simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ" - to speak at his Calvin symposium a year ago and speak about Calvin's view of preaching... hardly the kind of topic to place in the hands of a man who either is, or is on the 'trajectory' of heresy. But he did it anyway and the report was quite good from the folks at DGM.

When Piper was later asked - on the dais at a conference with Mark Driscoll and Matt Chandler - "Is WIlson orthodox?" he responded without hesitation, "Yes!"

So tell us, Nancy... what is it that you know, Nancy, that John (not to mention Tim and David) do not? Whatever Tim (or David) might think of some of Doug's theological formulations, they believe this man is up to good things in Moscow and don't hesitate to send men their direction. I bet Wilson would return them the compliment.

Some of us are wearied by the Reformed version of nervous nellies' "smear campaign" that is as much indebted to little men with little churches and even little-ler visions of the progress of the Gospel. One tiny church pastor-blogger recently said Wilson denied SOLA FIDE because of his particular formulation of the law-gospel hermeneutic. Puleeze!

Finally, if Sarah Palin cannot run for office, I'm not at all certain what place you - a woman - have addressing officers of the church on matters theological. Aren't you supposed to "ask your husband at home?"

On the other hand, if Wilson's support is less than "ardent" - say, pragmatic, in that he'd much rather have a man, but will take a woman with a spine - then your comments here are just fine.

What do you say?

Respectfully,
Matt Beatty

"Finally, if Sarah Palin cannot run for office, I'm not at all certain what place you - a woman - have addressing officers of the church on matters theological. Aren't you supposed to "ask your husband at home?"

Matt,
You actually addressed something I was thinking to myself this afternoon. I think Sarah Palin's position is unbiblical and makes her husband look like he wears a skirt, and so, in line with that, perhaps I, as a woman, have no place to be commenting on these matters on this blog. I will say that my husband and I have been discussing these things for years and we are in agreement, as well as the pastors at our local church, who came out against the Federal Vision quite awhile ago. So I'm not really out on a limb alone here, just having very deep concerns for the Reformed churches. But your point is taken that maybe it's not my place to be commenting.

As per your question regarding John Piper, he has people that he knows are controversial, having had Mark Driscoll and Tim Keller, so his having Doug Wilson is in the same vein I suppose. I can't speak for his reasons for having any of them. I will say, as an avid reader, that I have benefited from reading books from all of the above while not agreeing with them on every point, but I reserve my greatest concern for the Federal Vision.

I believe the Federal Vision could be characterized the same way as Shepherdism was at Westminster in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Quoting from Dr. Lloyd-Jones on Norman Shepherd's teaching - [Mr. Sheperd's] "teaching is a subtle form of legalism and eventually is "another gospel"". From O. Palmer Robertson's "The Current Justification Controversy" pg. 48.

Maybe I am passionate about this because I was raised Roman Catholic, and you have to be aware of how many FVers are heading to Rome. But I will bow out of this discussion.

However one last thing - to be fair to me,I'm not on a "smear campaign". I loved Doug Wilson's Credenda Agenda years ago, I had many of his books, and was excited to get his newest (at the time) book, "Reformed Is Not Enough". Yet after reading it there were many red flags which led me to an in depth study of this subject before it was widely known in any of my circles. So I am not ignorant of what I'm talking about nor am I doing this to "smear" anyone. Spending over 25 years as a Catholic, I know where legalism leads - away from Jesus and to despair. Isn't that worthy of your concern as well?

Blessings,
Nancy

Can we please not put Doug Wilson in the same category as Mark Driscoll or even Tim Keller?

Nancy,

As a recovering legalist (Catholic), I can see why you'd think - especially in certain PCA circles - that much of what Doug advocates SOUNDS like Catholic gibberish. But it's not.

Remember, it's DOUG - not your PCA pastor (or OPC, URC, etc.) - who affirms the original Confession - the one that identifies the Pope as the "Antichrist" - and not the one adopted by all mainstream, conservative American Presbyterian churches.

Forgive me if your "caution" regarding Doug (or Tim's endorsement of his conferences) looks like a "smear campaign." It does, although I'm delighted to hear that wasn't your intention. I can only imagine the outcry if some us went around calling the legitimacy of leading PCA/OPC's in question... with very little evidence.

In fact, I'm sure Doug's invitation to a PUBLIC and RECORDED discussion on these matters - the one he's issued many times to the likes of R. Scott Clark - is still good. Perhaps you know of a minister who'd like to defend the Gospel with the chance (just a chance) that he might be publicly taken to the woodshed? It is much easier to hide behind a keyboard and a WordPress account - much like the previous poster on this very thread.

By the way, Piper invited Driscoll and Keller to the conference AS BROTHERS whose ministries he supports, even where he disagrees with them. Public disagreement is one thing; calling someone's Christian confession (which you DIDN'T) do or the legitimacy of their ministry into question (did you?) is something else. You'd better be crystal-clear, it seems to be, that Wilson denies the Gospel before you go there. Otherwise, you're an accuser of the brethren and "divisive" one for sure.

Finally, I have no trouble with you posting here. I'm glad to see women engaged theologically... just pointing out that one could EASILY make the case, in light of your confusion re: Wilson on Palin, that you're way out-of-bounds yourself.

Sincerely,
Matt

I agree Kamilla - we wouldn't want good, solidly Reformed pastors like Keller and Driscoll lumped together with guys like Wilson.

Knowing the generosity of spirit with which Doug typically operates, he would find truthful and honestly-expressed commendation in his heart for both Keller and Driscoll, even if I disagreed with aspects of their program.

He would be slow - very slow - to issue "warnings" and fatwas about them.

Constantine, without the emoticons, no one can tell that you're being facetious. C'mon, now!

Whoops... "even if HE disagreed..."

Honestly, I tire of the shooting from the shadows of men and women who profess faith in Jesus Christ. Constantine Plamenatz is exotic enough to fool me, but because she (or he?) is attacking Doug Wilson, I decide to check up on her. So I sent her an e-mail requesting that she confirm that this was her real name.

Back comes a fatal error, so the e-mail address is a lie.

Well, there you have it. Most of the men and women here who have attacked Doug Wilson will not use their real names. What does that tell you? [ADDED LATER: Sorry for saying this categorically. I commend Nancy Wilson, here, for identifying herself. I wasn't thinking of her when I wrote this comment.]

And by the way, this Constantine commented from Montgomery, Alabama; area code 36114.

Now, again: if you are attacking the person, you are required to identify yourself with your first and last name. And no matter what, you are always required to use a true e-mail address. We don't allow lying.

Love,

Tim,

I am the anonymous one. How can you not support FV and yet support the ministry and work of Doug Wilson? It is like supporting the ministry and work of the Pope but not supporting Roman Catholicism.

Andrew

Constantine,

You mistake me. If Driscoll is a " good, solidly Reformed" Pastor, even if Keller is included in that, I will don my swim suit and make my way to the other side of the Tiber.

As for Doug Wilson? I love him, deeply admire him, and would gladly welcome him as my pastor were I ever to find myself living in Moscow.

Kamilla

"Remember, it's DOUG - not your PCA pastor (or OPC, URC, etc.) - who affirms the original Confession - the one that identifies the Pope as the "Antichrist" - and not the one adopted by all mainstream, conservative American Presbyterian churches. "

For the record, my church is not PCA, OPC, URC, etc. Its a Reformed, non-denominational church.

Regarding public debates, I don't see a need for one since there are stacks of books that have been written (on both sides), books which I have read, sometimes two or three times, so I'm not uninformed or seeing this as "gibberish". A public debate usually just falls on the side of the one who can sound the most "clever" during the debate and has the most "cheerleaders" present, so that's where reading books is much more informative IMO.

And I didn't say that Doug Wilson flat-out "denies" the Gospel, just that he nuances things so that it gets lost in the shuffle, and that he supports other FVers that are even more questionable.

Google "Does the FV lead to Roman Catholicism" and you'll see my other point.

As far as Doug Wilson's support for Palin, he's far from alone in this as many well-known Christian men support her, but doesn't the Bible call her, in Titus 2, to be a "keeper at home"?

Blessings,
Nancy

"Well, there you have it. The men and women here who have attacked Doug Wilson will not use their real names. What does that tell you?"

Pastor Tim,

You e-mailed me a long time ago and I e-mailed you back. For the record, Nancy Wilson is my real name and my e-mail address is real. And I'm not "attacking" Doug Wilson, having made the point that I've enjoyed much of his writing, but we part company when it comes to the FV, which I believe is a very serious error.

I've read his books such as Easy Chairs, Hard Words, The End of the Tether, (very good books BTW), and his books on Reforming Marriage, and one on raising children. It was his book "Reformed Is Not Enough" that raised huge red flags to me, and immediately brought to mind the book The Call of Grace by Norman Shepherd, which it was very much in line with.

I believe Shepherdism is very similar and probably a big influence in the Federal Vision. And look at the "fruit" of Shepherdism - read O. Palmer Robertson's first hand account of what happened at Westminster. Also realize that men such as Scott Hahn were studying at that time under Norman Shepherd, man who since that time have leaped the Tiber where they now stand attacking the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Blessings,

Nancy

[NOTE FROM TIM BAYLY: I apologize, Nancy, for not recognizing your honestly in identifying yourself. I've corrected my comment above.]

Dear Andrew,

I respect and thank you for identifying yourself.

So how can I?

First, about the Pope: years ago, I was reading a profile of one of Cairo's best-known Imams in which he was quoted saying how much he respected the Pope for his courage in opposing abortion and birth control. He went on to say how much he respected the Pope--and this Imam was about as rabid as they get in hatred for Christendom. It was fascinating to see how big he was in acknowledging courage serving truth right there in the Vatican.

We should be and do the same. Still I commend, and always I loved Don Bloesch. It was because of that respect and love that I argued with him and asked him not to publish his doctrinal sin. I'm absolutely opposed to Neo-orthodoxy's betrayal of the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture, but Karl Barth's proclamation of the Order of Creation and rebuke of feminism has been published and commended here on Baylyblog a number of times because it's stellar.

This isn't to say the F-V error is on the level of Trent or Neo-orthodoxy, although there are likely some who'd claim it is. This I deny.

But it is to demonstrate a certain method of approaching God's Truth that is humble enough to acknowledge courage and wisdom and perspicacity and hard work and good writing and stuff like that where they exist, and commend them to the people of God for who and what they are; even, and maybe especially, when they come from the mouth of Balaam's ass.

Am I saying F-V men are Balaam's asses?

No. They are not. David and I believe some of them are heterodox, but likely not heretical. Time will tell.

Still, this is not to say that Doug Wilson is either. We have read his close questioning on the subject and had many conversations with him, ourselves, and have found him faithful to the Word of God and within the bounds of liberty vis a vis the Westminster Standards as we have seen those bounds worked out in our own PCA presbyteries.

Yes, there are things we wish he had not written or not put that way or didn't think or didn't defend. And some F-V positions concern matters that are dangerous--like, for instance, the nature of the Sacraments. David and I believe few doctrinal errors have destroyed as many souls across church history as Sacramentalism, but we do not believe Doug is a sacramentalist.

Are other F-V men sacramentalists? Maybe (but David might want to say, instead, that this has more to do with a lack of understanding of the Holy Spirit's power among F-V men). But again, time will tell.

We acknowledge others would refuse to go where we go here on Baylyblog. Too, it's no news to any that David and I have set our faces like flint against Rob Bell, Bryan McLaren, and even some men within our own confessional fellowship. How could we condemn them and recommend our readers avoid them like the plague while not issuing the same warnings about Doug or some of his fringe friends?

We commend Doug, but you don't see us commending some of his friends, do you? And it's mutual: many of the men on the Biblical Horizons list would rather spit than cross the road to greet us, we suspect.

Keep in mind only Scripture is Scripture. At the same time, we commend Doug and his work again and again. For instance, and just incidentally, read his most-recent post and tell me how you could fail to give thanks for his ministry?

http://dougwils.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7988:millennia-of-bumpity-bumpity&catid=146:mere-christendom

Still, I know you don't agree with what I just wrote, so I apologize for pressing the point. But I have a sneaking suspicion that, not with you, but with many, many, the principle reason Doug is opposed is not his loyalty to a few close-to-the-edge friends, but his courage in the midst of the battle. And to point this out once more, we are willing to work to set up a meeting with any of the Reformed luminaries who believe he's a heretic and are willing to duel. Throw your handkerchief down and choose your weapon and seconds.

Please understand David and I believe there are F-V men who are playing footsie with serious error, and at times have themselves strayed into error--although it's hard to pin some of them down. For the umpteenth time, though, let us say publicly that we believe Doug is not one of them. Rather, Doug is a wise fellow soldier for the Kingdom of God who stands faithfully, issuing a clear note of warning precisely at the place where Satan has breached the wall. So, we love Doug and wouldn't dream of abandoning him to the moneymaking machines and personages and groupies of Reformed evangelicalism.

With love and affection,

* * *

And for those who live by a principle that they'll never, ever click through to Doug's blog, here's the text of the post I've linked to, above. I haven't asked Doug for permission to redistribute his writing, here; but then, unlike other Reformed luminaries, Doug has no five-thousand work copyright policy threatening those who take his words without pay that he'll sick the boogeyman on them.

* * *

Millenia of Bumpity Bumpity

At the point Christ came, the true faith had been kept alive up to that point, after a fashion, among the Jews. I say it was kept because of the many faithful believers among them who were looking in true faith for the Messiah. Jesus Himself said that Israel had teachers who sat in Moses' seat, and who should be respected, at least to a point. I say "after a fashion" for another reason. The downside, obviously, is that the leaders of Israel conspired to have their Messiah executed in a rigged trial. So the state of the world was pretty bad when Christ arrived -- the whole world was under the control of demonic darkness (1 John 5:19), and the Jews had made their peace with this arrangement. The harlot rode the dragon.

When Jesus rose and ascended, His disciples did not return to the upper room and unpack Christendom from the boxes He had left for them there. As has been pointed out repeatedly, Jesus did not give them a turnkey kingdom. The kingdom of God does not arrive as coup de main. The kingdom of God does not arrive like a tsunami. The kingdom of God does not arrive like the 101st Airborne. Jesus said, and He said repeatedly, that the kingdom was a slow growth affair, working through the loaf like yeast.

And now, two thousand years later, when we see that the Christian faith has grown and expanded throughout the world in just the way He said it would, should this be a cause for unbelief?

In retrospect, we can see the milestones we passed in the journey to the first Christendom, and future historians will be able to point to milestones in our era that marked our passage to the resurgent Christendom. But one of our current problems is that we are a convenience store civilization, and we want the next iteration of our civilization to be obtainable the same way we get coffee at the convenience store. We want to plonk our two dollars on the counter, and walk out of there with the coffee.

If somebody, a madman with a blog, say, says that if Jesus is the Savior of the world, this might necessitate the world getting saved, he is answered with demands that show us the constituent building blocks of Christendom now. We want to knock on them with our knuckles. We want to squirt the mixed metaphor flavor in from the pump jar, and drink the coffee now. We want the world to become Christian the way the devil offered to make it Christian, if only Jesus would bow down and worship him.

But God works a different calculus, and He had His only begotten Son hanged on a gibbet instead. What was He doing? He was making the world Christian, but He was doing it His way and on His timetable. But He was making the world Christian (John 12:31). Jesus, by and through His death, cast out the prince of this world. And, by the way, in the original Greek "cast out" does not mean "kept around."

With the vantage of centuries past, we can look back and see that when Ambrose had his famous conflict with Theodosius, this was a great moment in the formation of Christendom. But at the time, I doubt if Ambrose had any idea of what he was doing -- except standing faithfully at his post. And in the development of Christendom, we do not just see the church putting the magistrate in his place. It goes the other way as well. Frederick, Elector of Saxony, protected the gospel when the Church had decided to quit doing that, and opted for attacking the gospel instead.

So how is the process of discipling the nations to be accomplished? With centuries, nay, with millennia of bumpity bumpity.

I provided my real e-mail address and my real name. Feel free to write me at cplam55@hotmail.com to verify for yourself. This is the exact same address I provided originally. Maybe Tim Bayly wrote it incorrectly?

Also, why is my name being questioned? It's uncommon, I'll give you that, but to call into question its validity simply because it is unique is very narrow-minded. And I am a man - have you ever known a woman named Constantine? In my experience there are as many women named Constantine as there are Tim.

Lastly, Doug Wilson may have some good things to say on some topics, but his views on essentials like Election and Baptism have been determined out of accord with the Westminster Standards by the PCA, and the Federal Vision has been clearly rejected by every major Reformed denomination in America. No one, at least as far as I know, has quibbled with Keller or Driscoll on these fundamental issues.

Dear Constantine,

That's the exact address that resulted in a fatal error. I have the e-mail and would be happy to send it to a working e-mail address you provide.

>>why is my name being questioned?

Because something unusual happened when I typed that name into Google: not one hit was returned. Seeing that, I sent an e-mail requesting proof of the truthfulness of your name. This is something we do regularly here on Baylyblog, just to keep everyone honest.

Love,

[NOTE FROM TIM BAYLY: "I apologize, Nancy, for not recognizing your honestly in identifying yourself. I've corrected my comment above.]"

No problem, Pastor Bayly. And also thanks very much for your clarification regarding your understanding of the Federal Vision. I am not saying that there is nothing of value in some of their writings, but as a whole there are problems which I think will become clearer as time goes by. However Doug is standing firmly for biblical manhood and womanhood, which I very much agree with and appreciate. That indeed is a big "breach in the wall".

But if the FV trajectory (as a whole) leads away from the Gospel, it leads away from the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16-17). That's my honest concern with the movement.

Regarding the pope, the question isn't "is he right about his pro-life view?" (yes, he is), but does he not only have the life saving truth for babies in the womb, but does he have the eternal life saving truth of the Gospel? And the answer to that is, No, he does not. Isn't this the most important question? I say the pope is evil. He's pro-life, but leading people to hell in the end. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his very soul?

Blessings,
Nancy

>>What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his very soul?

Nothing at all. But the Pope's defense of the unborn isn't gaining him anything at all in this world. My point wasn't to deny Rome's doctrinal errors which are legion, and heresy; but to point out how Rome often has blessed the world with a righteous and courageous witness.

Warmly,

On a lighter note, love Glacier; my wife and I honeymooned there. Lots of good memories.....

....and agreed 100% on the dangers of sacramentalism. Left in hands not careful, it can certainly lead many to think they are saved because they were sprinkled as an infant, or ate a wafer--when as an adult, they're basically living the lists of things Paul says are incompatible with coming into God's Kingdom.

And hey, I'll be fair on the other side, too; there are a lot of non-sacramentalists trusting in dead works and driving fast on the highway to Hell. It can be HARD to keep one's eyes on the Gospel!

I hate to say it, but I prefer the Canadian side of the park - Waterton Lakes.

Kamilla

Nancy,

Would you care to substantiate the idea that it was Shepherd, and not Scott's GCTS professor, Meredith Kline, who was heavily influential in Scott's view of the covenant? The profs I had at GCTS believed that is was their own institution's broad ecclesiology that paved the way not only for Hahn, but a host of other converts to Rome and Constantinople. Please tell me how Shepherd weighed-in here.

And what were all the OPC young people who followed Hahn to Rome - the ones who were raised in the world-denying, neo-Puritan, strict Regulative Principle, verse-by-verse preaching OPC elders and pastors - what were THEY reading at home, school, and church? Shepherd?

And what was it that sent Joe Morecraft's son backstroking across the Tiber? He was weaned on Morecraft's Southern Presbyterianism... did it, too, prove ineffectual?

There are many circumstances that take one to Rome (or Constantinople, or Canterbury...). Tim himself admitted on this blog that some time ago he too struggled with conversion to Rome and I'm guessing it wasn't because Norm Shepherd was whispering in his ear (or DW, for that matter).

So, if the game is going to be played by simply pointing to a convert then pointing to the teachers or ideas he held in high esteem immediately prior to conversion... then the PCA (as an example) will have quite a story to tell.

And when PCA, OPC, or "independent Reformed" congregations begin adopting the 1647 Confession and arguing, in public, for the Lordship of Christ over the nations... including THIS one, then perhaps your claim to Reformed bona fides (and your denouncing as others as "questionable" will be taken by some of us more seriously.

Wilson takes chs 27-29 of the Confession seriously and straightforwardly... as in "they're important for the life of the Christian" and not something that, for all practical purpose, neither the celebrant nor the participants, attribute much meaning to.

Okay...took me awhile to figure out "Nancy Wilson" wasn't Mrs. Doug (Nancy) Wilson speaking 3rd person tongue-in-cheek (at least that's where I'm at currently, maybe I'm wrong?) That could really make a person wonder... I even have emails from Mrs. Doug Nancy Wilson signed "blessings." Well, thankfully, I'm all straightened out now-as far as I know!!!

i've included my full name and email for Tim's sanity- I hope the humor is coming through...

"Okay...took me awhile to figure out "Nancy Wilson" wasn't Mrs. Doug (Nancy) Wilson speaking 3rd person tongue-in-cheek (at least that's where I'm at currently, maybe I'm wrong?) That could really make a person wonder... I even have emails from Mrs. Doug Nancy Wilson signed "blessings." Well, thankfully, I'm all straightened out now-as far as I know!!!"

LOL:) Maybe I'm just a singer in a rock and roll band - (ala Heart), or maybe I'm a jazz singer..... If you ever heard me sing, you'd know how funny that is.

At any rate, sorry for any confusion. But obviously I'm not Mrs. Doug:)

Blessings,
Nancy

"Would you care to substantiate the idea that it was Shepherd, and not Scott's GCTS professor, Meredith Kline, who was heavily influential in Scott's view of the covenant? The profs I had at GCTS believed that is was their own institution's broad ecclesiology that paved the way not only for Hahn, but a host of other converts to Rome and Constantinople. Please tell me how Shepherd weighed-in here."

Matt,

I would suspect a variety of reasons for Scott Hahn's conversion to Rome, but Shepherdism played a big part. I would highly recommend to you O. Palmer Robertson's book "The Current Justification Controversy" as he was there at Westminster during Shepherd's tenure and gives eyewitness testimony that is quite fascinating.

I can't really comment on how much of an influence Meredith Kline may have been.

But, for instance, check this article by a Roman Catholic on the FV and why it would lead some to Rome -
http://pauliscatholic.com/2007/05/the-catholic-prespective-on-the-federal-vision/

Reading widely the writings of the FV, the New Perspective on Paul, and Shepherdism, one would have to be blind not to see many similarities between the three (note that I'm not saying they're identical), and that the trajectory leads some to Rome. And once again I would recommend reading "The Call of Grace" and "Reformed Is Not Enough" and comparing them for yourself to see how alike they are.

"And when PCA, OPC, or "independent Reformed" congregations begin adopting the 1647 Confession and arguing, in public, for the Lordship of Christ over the nations... including THIS one, then perhaps your claim to Reformed bona fides (and your denouncing as others as "questionable" will be taken by some of us more seriously."

My church formally subscribes to the Belgic Confession of Faith (if you're familiar with that one).

Blessings,
Nancy

Kamilla -

Keller and Driscoll may not be perfect, but they are spot on in their soteriology, and as far as I know have never been accused of being out of line with the vitals of the faith the way Wilson has. I would be interested to know specifically what would make you "cross the Tiber" to get away from their teaching? Yet you embrace a man who is unclear at best in his view of Baptism and Election. Strange....

Nancy,

Palmer gives eyewitness testimony concerning WHOM - Shepherd or Hahn? Hahn's "Rome Sweet Home" (his biographical account of coming home..." indicates that it was his wife reading Roman Catholic authors on natural family planning that began his trek toward the Tiber, but it was in the soil of general evangelicalism that his Roman views grew.

No doubt, the causes for Hahn's conversion were many; could we say the same for others today? Must we pin this all on Doug? Even primarily? The fact that he speaks about sacraments the way WESTMINSTER does and not the way 98% of PCA ministers do (which dies the death of 1000 qualifications...). Find me something Doug has said about the sacraments which I, you, Tim, David, etc. would find out-of-accord with Westminster. Go ahead - I double-dog dare you. :-)

Could we pin Joe Morecraft's SON's conversion to Rome on Dabney, given Morecraft's love of him? What about just "southern presbyterianism" more generally considered? Should we all not read Thornwell because, after all, SOMEONE said it led them, positively or negatively, to Rome?

Is there a danger in the recovery of liturgy, sacraments, etc. from stripped-down, 19thc. revivalistic piety? Absolutely. But what about the stripped down 19thc. revivalistic piety? I would bet if you made a list of "converts" to Rome and Orthodoxy, most are coming out of broad evangelical churches with little/no ecclesiological perspective, low view of sacraments, preaching, etc. A "TR-ish" neo-puritanism that is ANTI-everything (Christmas, fiction, good food, etc.) RATHER THAN so-called "high church" Presbyterianism.

C'mon, Nancy. I think that - as a paedobaptist - you've heard enough of these fallacious accusations from baptist brethren ("To baptize infants is Catholic...") to know better. SOMEONE, somewhere, has undoubtedly converted to Rome because, as they listened to Doug speak, (in spite of his example and words), they thought, "Nah, I think all of this naturally leads me to Rome."

But as a rule?

Perhaps Robertson would like to get on the dais with Wilson? Imagine having a disagreement with a friend and saying, "I'll not speak with you in public about this... let's confine our discussion to emails and letters."

Frankly, I think Doug scares the socks off of most/all conservative Presby pastors. R. Scott Clark even mounted a defense (of not discussing/debating in public) that said, "I'm just not good in that medium." Really? Isn't that part of the ordination vow, big boy? (2 Tim. 4:2-3). If Doug's a false teacher, shouldn't someone put him in his place... in public?!

The wolf is on the loose and all of a sudden everyone's not taking calls? Where's the man who will step forward and have a public (recorded for posterity) debate where they can go, point for point, and discuss/clarify/sharpen their thoughts.

We do the work of 2 Tim. 4 by COMMITTEE. Presbyterianism... geesh.

I've spent enough Tim defending Doug. This is one man who most certainly doesn't need my puny help.

Blessings to you, too, Nancy.

>Keller and Driscoll may not be perfect, but they are spot on in their soteriology, and as far as I know have never been accused of being out of line with the vitals of the faith the way Wilson has.

False accusations carry no weight. Keller certainly demonstrates rebellion against revealed truth in a way that Wilson does not. Driscoll is another kettle of fish entirely.

David,

Where's the false accusation? And where does Keller "rebel against revealed truth?"

>Where's the false accusation?

How about the folk who say Wilson denies sola fide?

>And where does Keller "rebel against revealed truth?"

His actions in his church which promote sexual egalitarianism and deny the biblical instructions for the exercise of authority in church.

"Find me something Doug has said about the sacraments which I, you, Tim, David, etc. would find out-of-accord with Westminster. Go ahead - I double-dog dare you. :-)"

How about this, Matt, from the PCA position paper on FV, taken from Wilson's blog:

"Doug Wilson has implied that all baptized covenant members are participants in Christ in the same "strong sense,” writing that “the person who did not persevere was not given less of Christ.”"

That is completely at odds with the WCF on several levels, which states that baptism is efficacious for believers only, and is a sign and seal of his "ingrafting into Christ."

David,

I haven't accused Wilson of denying sola fide. The PCA has deemed Wilson's views out of accord with the WCF. That's not a false accusation. Keller has deaconesses in his church, who are not ordained. That's not egalitarian. All of the pastors and elders are men. Talk about false accusations! Besides, bad soteriology and is much worse than bad understanding of gender roles, if that's even true of Keller or Driscoll...

Constantine, identify yourself.

Your refusal to honor my requests says much more than anything you write about others. To rehearse:

1. You comment under a name that, using Google, shows up nowhere on the web. I send you an e-mail asking you to prove the truthfulness of the name you're using.

2. My e-mail to you, using the e-mail address you posted under, is returned by Gmail with a fatal error, so I don't get confirmation of either your name or your e-mail address.

3. I point this out in the comments and you respond that you did, too, use your real e-mail address, and how could anyone question your name's legitimacy, and how could anyone think you were anything but a man?

4. I send you a private e-mail again, to the same address as before, attaching the prior e-mail showing a fatal error. For the second time, I ask you to prove the truthfulness of your first and last name.

5. This time, my e-mail doesn't come back with a fatal error, but you don't respond at all.

6. Still no indication that the e-mail is yours, nor that your first and last names are truthful.

7. You continue to comment.

So, I'm concluding that you are a liar. If you're able to respond to people on this blog, writing careful comments defending Tim Keller and attacking Doug Wilson, why should you not be able to honor the request of the owners of this blog that you demonstrate that you're using your real identity to say these things publicly?

According to People Finder, there are eleven Plamenatzs in the US, eight of whom are women. One lives in Chicago and the other ten live in California. None live where your ISP is--Montgomery, Alabama--and none have the name Constantine. Not even the initial 'C'.

Be truthful, brother, and tell the world who you are. And don't comment again until you do.

Tim Bayly

Really, I don't like responding to someone commenting here who doesn't play by the rules, but I must correct Constantine Plamenatz's repetition of the PCA study committee's egregious misrepresentation of Doug Wilson. Mr. Plamenatz quotes the PCA's F-V study committee (and the PCA) to have declared Doug to be in error as follows:

* * *

Doug Wilson has implied that all baptized covenant members are participants in Christ in the same "strong sense," writing that "the person who did not persevere was not given less of Christ."

* * *

Thus in his comment above, Mr. Plamenatz concludes:

* * *

(What Doug Wilson wrote quoted above) is completely at odds with the WCF on several levels, which states that baptism is efficacious for believers only, and is a sign and seal of his "ingrafting into Christ." David, I haven't accused Wilson of denying sola fide. The PCA has deemed Wilson's views out of accord with the WCF. That's not a false accusation.

* * *

On the contrary, Mr. Plamenatz, since the study committee and the PCA's paper are based upon a misrepresentation of Doug, this is a false accusation. Here's the proof.

Upon reading the committee's quote, Doug responded:

* * *

I read that (re and thought something like, "Huh, that doesn't sound like me." So I went to the footnote and found a thread on this blog cited, a thread called "Life in the Regeneration." Here is the section they footnoted:

"In order to take all baptized covenant members as participants in Christ in the "strong sense," we would have to distinguish what is objectively given in Christ, and not what is subjectively done with those objective benefits.

Perseverance would, on this reading, be what was subjectively done with what God has objectively given. In this view, the person who did not persevere was not given less of Christ. But this necessarily means that persevering grace is not an objective gift or grace. God’s willingness to continue "the wrestling" would depend upon what kind of fight we put up, or cooperation we provide, and because no one’s fundamental nature has been changed, those natures remain at 'enmity with God.' In this view, whatever total depravity means, it is not ontologically changed, just knocked down and sat upon. The Spirit pins one snarling dog, but not another. But this in turn leads to another thought—eventually at some time in the process we stop snarling and start cooperating (if we are bound to heaven), and what do we call this change or transformation. The historic name for this change has been regeneration, and I see no reason to change it."

In this section, I am arguing for the traditional use of the word regeneration, I am arguing against a particular view ("on this reading," "in this view"), and the PCA report here represented me as arguing 180 degrees from what I was in fact arguing. This is upside down and backwards. If they read that entire thread of posts, they would know that I believe it is incoherent to say that anyone receives "all of Christ" in the strong sense without receiving perseverance. This was simply sloppy.

* * *

Mr. Plamenatz, if you had downloaded the PDF of the study committee's report--the actual PCA position paper on F-V, you would have quickly found, as I did, that this quote is not there. Being a false accusation, it's been deleted. So wherever you see this quoted, you have an obligation to inform men that this accusation is false.

And had the study committee themselves had the courtesy to run their understanding of this comment by Doug prior to publishing it for all the world to see, they would have avoided having men like you all over the world believing falsely about Doug Wilson.

I'll also point out that, even though they've pulled this false accusation from the PDF text of the report, it remains in the html copy on the web for all to download. This will, I'm sure, be corrected by my dear friend, Wayne Sparkman.

Finally, contrary to Mr. Plamenatz's implication that the PCA's report condemned Doug, his name appears in the body of the corrected report only three times, and none of those times are what I would judge to be serious accusations against Doug's doctrine.

For the record, here are the three quotes:

Number one: "As Doug Wilson writes: 'The fact of decretal election is affirmed by every FV spokesman that I know of.'"

Number two: "As Douglas Wilson states, 'We have noted repeatedly that baptism in water is objective, and it establishes an objective covenant relationship with the Lord of the covenant, Jesus Christ.'"

Number three: "Doug Wilson has promoted the use of the alternative terms the 'historical' church and the 'eschatological' church."

Thirty-five pages and that's it, folks.

That one keeps coming up to bite him (Doug), Tim. Egregious work by the committee, indeed, when the stakes are as high as they are.

This is why sane people who disagree with Doug on this or that still find him, overall, very helpful and a comrade-in-arms.

Thank you for refuting this nonsense while I was away.

"Perhaps Robertson would like to get on the dais with Wilson? Imagine having a disagreement with a friend and saying, "I'll not speak with you in public about this... let's confine our discussion to emails and letters."

Matt,
Just to clarify, "The Current Justification Controversy" by O. Palmer Robertson is a nearly identical reprint of what he wrote during the time period in question (the mid 70's to the early 80's). The book neither mentions the FV nor Doug Wilson. Both would have been unknown at that time. It's referring to a time period of several decades ago, not to today's Federal Vision controversy. But most connect Shepherd's views as being a component of what morphed, over time, into the Federal Vision/New Perspective.

Also, once again, I'm not saying that everyone who converts to Rome went there via the Federal Vision, but the teachings are too close for comfort in certain aspects.

The point that you seem to be missing is that I'm not, as you seem to think, "pinning this all on Doug". He is one of the more sound of the Federal Vision teachers. But look at the CREC itself, and look at the names he's linked with that have opened the door to some of the less sound FVers.

"C'mon, Nancy. I think that - as a paedobaptist - you've heard enough of these fallacious accusations from baptist brethren ("To baptize infants is Catholic...") to know better. SOMEONE, somewhere, has undoubtedly converted to Rome because, as they listened to Doug speak, (in spite of his example and words), they thought, "Nah, I think all of this naturally leads me to Rome."

Actually I've never heard anyone say that about our church regarding our baptizing of infants (but I don't know that many people, being a "keeper at home" (Titus 2:5):) However, once again, you're taking everything I'm saying about the Federal Vision, in general, and applying it to Doug Wilson in particular. There are some pastors within the Federal Vision who are more sound than others. It's the movement as a whole that concerns me, and he's been one who has opened the door to the FV, being he's probably the most well-known of all the names affiliated with it.

As far as public debates, I personally don't see the need for it, but to each his own. I'm a person who prefers to read from the writings of each and compare what they've written over a period of time, not get my information from a two hour debate in which the one with the most clever speech and sound bytes is likely to be declared the "winner".

I have no doubt that Doug could wipe the floor in a debate with most pastors. He's very funny, has a finely tuned sarcastic wit (and I don't meant that in an insulting way), etc. But that would distract from the actual substance of the debate IMO. Reading the writings of both sides over a period of time gives a much more accurate and fair picture of what each side actually believes and teaches.

As far as your referring to 2 Tim. 4:2-3, most godly pastors do this Sunday by Sunday at their church as they quietly go about the immense responsibility God has given them to protect their own flock by accurately preaching the Word of God to them. I don't see this as calling for public debates. However another view on public debates could be found in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

Thanks, Matt, for a civil discussion on this issue.

Blessings,
Nancy

Nancy,

There is value to reviewing writings and debates are not devoid of pitfalls. But there is one huge advantage to debate (and I think it is why the anti-Wilson crowd avoid it) which is it is much, much harder to mischaracterize a man's position when he can interact with you. Hence the PCA's shameful FV report committee and its studious avoidance of anyone who could help ensure an accurate understanding of what someone like Wilson has written.

One other thing: it's important to remember that at the heart of what we consider precious about presbyterian, vs. episcopal and congregational polity, is the plurality of the eldership. And not only the eldership of the churches we've been called to serve, locally, but the council of Jerusalem.

Which is to say I have no doubt had men chosen to honor Doug by agreeing to meet with him when he offered, and maybe even requested to sit down with them and hear their requests, they would have been more accurate in their quotations--which is a very big deal; they would have learned from Doug--which is maybe what they were afraid of; and Doug would have learned from them--which is always what he is eager for. It's the very nature of a large-hearted man.

In other words, I believe the men critical of F-V who refused to sit down and knock it out with Doug would have corrected and perfected his doctrine and the way he expressed himself concerning his doctrine. Again and again, I've seen Doug willing to be redirected and improved by his fellow elders. Of course, this is what everyone wants to deny since a brash, arrogant, authoritarian, unreasonable, dogmatic, autodidact boogeyman is so much more boogeyman than a teachable, meek, humble, submissive, reasonable boogeyman.

Yes, it's scary to try to correct any one of the infinite number of men with greater self-discipline, larger brains, better reading diets, wider knowledge and experience, broader reputations, and deeper godliness than my own. But hey, think about Nathan confronting David.

Love,

Dear Matt Beatty,

I am not writing to weigh in on the FV issue, but rather to note what might be part of the reason FV supporters are not gaining a hearing (if they even want one, the strategy is not always easy to mark). When you write such sweeping and grand claims it becomes difficult to hear you through the reverb. For example,

Matt writes,

"And what were all the OPC young people who followed Hahn to Rome - the ones who were raised in the world-denying, neo-Puritan, strict Regulative Principle, verse-by-verse preaching OPC elders and pastors - what were THEY reading at home, school, and church? Shepherd?"

Now Matt, I am quite certain you didn't do tons of research to come to such a generalization about OPC congregations. Are they really all world denying, neo-puritan etc., etc.? I am pretty sure OPC men had quite an influence on Doug and others in the CRE if you do the historical tracing (Van Til, Bahnsen, Shepherd, Gaffin, and even Kline ask Jordan etc.) It is this sort of over the top demeaning rhetoric that made it hard for many to want to sit down and have a conversation about the original FV conference. And when the FV men found what they were saying was not being received well, they only turned up the volume and stepped down harder on the wah-wah pedal. I have yet to see one admission of any wrong doing concerning theology or strategy from one of the main FV proponents. “We shouldn’t have said those vitally united to Christ can fall from grace, that was unhelpful”. Such could have gone a long way, but instead we got months of “in a sense” and “you just don’t understand”.

You couple your generalization about the OPC with jabs about church size (when of course, we know that not all CREC are actually "big" unless your using amill math to calculate bigness…spiritually big!) and the assumption that you know men's heart state (namely that the opponents are all small hearted). I would caution you against all this, as it doesn't help the conversation it only helps men plant themselves more firmly on their own side.

You don’t find it odd, and a bit telling, that you are willing to be wide armed to Baptist John Piper while viewing the whole of the Reformed denominations so negatively? Is it at all possible that an heir of superiority has crept into the CRE, that they hold their reformed brothers in low esteem? Could it be that a bit of mutual encouragement and camaraderie might go a long way in having profitable conversations? What does reformed Catholicism look like when one dismisses the whole of the Reformed church as getting it wrong and being small hearted and pharisaical?

Dear Jesse,

Chuckling over your "stepped down harder on the wah-wah pedal" and "amill math" comments.

I wonder if any F-V man here will give you satisfaction on your suggestion some F-V man admit it's not helpful to say or imply those vitally united to Christ can fall from grace?

But I don't think Matt's rhetoric was demeaning, nor that he meant it that way.

Excellent comment: "What does reformed Catholicism look like when one dismisses the whole of the Reformed church as getting it wrong and being small hearted and pharisaical?" Thank you for wounding my own conscience, dear brother.

Love,

Jesse,

Regrettably, the "OPC jab" was meant to be a very localized and specific one. Hahn was the youth minister at an OPC congregation in the early 80's where my wife and I worshipped recently.

The congregation was filled with delightful folk, but the memory of Hahn's influence looms large (hard to blame them, really). After his departure for Rome, all but one or two of the covenant youth of a "generation" (say, a 4-5 year window) swam the Tiber with him. Some immediately; some took a while.

The background noise to their conversions was not just Hahn (as disingenuous as his witness appears to have been...), but something more relevant to most of us today. Congregations - and I'll highlight the OPC as having, in my experience, a disproportionately high number of these - who equate doctrinal precision with spiritual vitality.

The OPC congregation I'm thinking about STILL has a number of young people - including elders' kids - who just can't wait to get out. They're not mad, or openly rebellious... they just need the fresh air of the broader Reformed (and evangelical!) community and to stop hearing their elders speak so disdainfully of "baptists" and "sacramentalists" and "broad evangelicals" - they've grown weary of a culture of criticism and bunker-building.

That's all.

My experience in the OPC is admittedly limited. Although, from what I read in the denominational magazine... it doesn't appear to be that unique.

And none of my criticism should be taken as a statement that the Spirit is not at work in the OPC at large nor in the congregation of which I was a member. But more (much more) could be done!

As to the size issue... I'm a small church/many churches guy. A church of 2-300 is LARGE for me.. happy to see lots of 70-150 members churches with 8-10 godly elders, actively shepherding the flock, encouraging personal ministry of the saints, etc. But let's have 10-15 churches like this and not content ourselves with a SINGLE church and think that, because we sing out of the Trinity Hymnal (even the BLUE TH!), have evening worship, and see 2-3 kids memorize the catechism each year BUT SEE NO UNBELIEVERS BAPTIZED that we're O.K. (This criticism is just as pertinent to the CREC as it is the OPC... perhaps more so in some circles...)

And, yes, Jesse and Tim - as a CREC man I would be happy to say that the comment you refer to is unhelpful. Very much so.

I would agree with you, Jesse, that the way everything got started makes me sick. My life would've been a lot easier had this never happened. Still, it would appear that once the charge of "HERESY" gets thrown out, the train has already left the station. Even now, there are men in the PCA who believe that Douglas Wilson isn't just wrong, but is in grave error, denying SOLA FIDE. Men who Tim links to on the above left. I assume Doug is false-teacher to them. Not only is he not ordainable, but perhaps his eternal soul is in question? How did we get to that?!

I wish the folks in the CREC (and PCA sympathizers) would've been more like the sons of Issachar and known the times... the PCA (for example) is a deeply divided communion about a number of things... functionally, it doesn't seem very Presbyterian. Less true, I think about the OPC.

But I'm hardly a leading-light of the FV. My phone's not ringing for quotes on the 11 o'clock news.

Peace,
Matt

Jesse,

It's funny, most CRE pastors I know would say that the average PCA pastor is much more comfortable with Piper, Dever, etc. - the T4G crowd - than he would be with the Missouri Synod or 1662 Prayerbook Anglican down the street.

Indeed, many PCA churches are not recognizably "Presbyterian" let alone "high church Presbyterian" and some (many?) look like the non-denom/EvFree church down the road. (The OPC is a different ballgame in this sense, although in opting for the stripped-down, neo-puritanism, it plays its hand heavily toward American/Scottish puritanism and not the Continental churches.

The perception among CRE guys is that PCA catholicity can go in single direction (low-church) while the OPC is generally not very catholic at all. I don't mean that as a criticism, but many of these brothers were members of OPC churches prior to the CRE... wouldn't you agree that there's SOMETHING to this line of argumentation?

But your caution is a good one and one I've attempted to heed - perhaps not well enough.

Matt,

I appreciate the clarification and humility. Some of your stereotypes aren't far off I would imagine, though I know some great men in our ranks and I know that many of the OP folks in the pew arent quibblers, but rather just salt of the earth believers. Not many wise, noble and all that jazz. But I actaully think it our strength, not our weakness.

I will admit I am probably not stereotypically OP culturally and liturgically and at times I am one of her critics. But you know how it is, talking about your own family is one thing, someone else talking about them is another. Even if I agree with some of the perceptions, I tend to get in the "what did you just say about my mom" mode.

Though I do have a pretty good aresonal of CRE stereotypes we will have to talk about over a pint someday, as you likely know you and I have some interesting connections.

Blessings to you.

Oh, and one more thing. We have some excellent men on the ecumenical committee of the OP, truly catholic in the best sense of the Word. My prayer is that God will use them to spur many of us on in areas of reformed catholicity.

The connections are, as you say, "interesting." And I'd be more than happy to pour a pint and hear your take on CRE stereotypes... and even add a couple (in brotherly love).

It's nice to hear that there are men in the OPC like you describe. Again, my experience is limited.

Write me offline when you get a chance at mhbeatty AT mac DOT com and we can share a "virtual pint" or something. :-)

Matt

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