Where do F-V men worship when on vacation...

Searching Baylyblog just now for a story from my first pastorate, I came across this text written by Pastor Jeff Meyers of the Presbyterian Church in America. It seemed worth resurrecting here on the main page in light of my concern recently expressed that proponents of what some call "Oatmeal Stout" Federal Vision are more comprehensible when we think Lutheran rather than Reformed.

Myers wrote...

I was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran church (LCMS). I attended Lutheran grade school and high school. Some time after my M.Div at Covenant I spent 9 years in graduate school at LCMS Mecca (Concordia, STL). When I'm on vacation I mostly visit the local LCMS church and worship there. (Comment on July 14, 2006 at 2:59 PM.)

In the comment, Meyers went on to condemn Lutheran images.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Comments

Hearkens back to my comment on stage at Auburn Ave. II after the heresy accusation was made by folks on my side of the stage, the anti-fv side. I said, "Well, this may make you more mad than the heresy accusation. But I don't think you're heretics. I think you're Lutherans."

Yup. But it's the appearance of sneakiness that concerns me. Has there ever been a time when one of the leading lights of F-V explained his doctrinal comments, especially concerning the sacraments, by saying something along the lines of, "Well, if you just think of me as Lutheran, the fog will dissipate. Granted, it's not quite that simple, but you'll have a head start if you try to understand what I'm saying by starting with Lutheranism—not Presbyterianism."

You know, it used to be that the man who crossed the battle line wearing the uniform of his enemy was shot as a spy. (And no, I'm not proposing we shoot the oatmeal stouters, but only that we note carefully what uniform they wear and recognize the advantage it gives them in contending for superstitious sacramentalism.)

Love,

 

Superstition is what Dabney accused Calvin of being guilty of in Calvin's doctrine of the Lord's Supper. But then Calvin didn't think of Lutherans as the enemy.

Lutherans and Presbyterians have different Confessions, different doctrines re: the sacraments. If you have a Lutheran view of the sacraments, become a Lutheran. But don't cross your fingers when you say you subscribe to Westminster. Trouble is for the FV guys, any confessional Lutheran worth his salt would not want them for how they wobble on JBFA and mash up Law & Gospel.

It seems a tad simplistic to me to write off all the FV men as "clandestine Lutherans" simply because they enjoy attending Lutheran worship when out of town. Is it not possible that a whole host of other issues keeps them in a Presbyterian circle? Not least of which may be Calvinistic understanding of Real Presence, a Calvinistic understanding of monergism, and Presbyterian polity?

I would say Jeff Meyers' statement reveals exactly one thing: an appreciation of Lutheran liturgics. It is also possible in this regard that some (like myself) find Lutheran liturgy, while theoretically governed by a so-called "normative principle," to be practically more exemplary of the Regulative Principle than many Presbyterian orders of worship. This really does nothing to imply that deriving edification and enjoyment from a common liturgical viewpoint could in any way mitigate the areas of disagreement that still exist to the point where any one of them would feel comfortable joining the Lutheran church.

Christopher,
I agree with you. If all this was was where to worship on vacation it would be a stretch. The thing is that I see it as an interesting, not compelling observation that follows a pattern. Lutheranism affirms that the baptized are in Christ, have piece with God, are indwell by the Holy Spirit, and can lose all of that. Like oatmeal stout fv guys believe. There certainly are differences, which would make a simple transfer problematic. But being Lutheran on this issue, in my judgment, is a denial of the system taught in the Westminster Confession. They need to get out of Confessional churches.

>>If all this was was where to worship

Dear Christopher,

As I requested above, please take this post as an addendum to my earlier post. This is not about where confessional Presbyterians choose to worship on vacation. It's about where Lutherans choose to have their credentials when they're not on vacation. And it seems to me sacerdotalism and sacramentalism and justification by faith alone and the completed work of Christ are the vitals of any confession. Not liturgics and polity.

But even on the point of vacations, if a vacation is anything, it's pleasure. No man is a hypocrite in his pleasures.

Love,

Watch a few minutes of the recent BIOLA conversation with Leithart, Trueman, and Sanders...

http://watch.biola.edu/future-of-protestantism

...from 1:04:50 until about 1:07:00. Leithart is giving his definition of a sacrament and, after summarizing his view, says, "I don't think that's Catholic at all..." Trueman responds: "It's perhaps more Lutheran, would you say?" Leithart affirms...

A Dionne--I caught that, too, when I first listened to it.

I'm in agreement with RC, Jr. on this one, as subscribing to a specific confession has inescapable connotations with that man's ministry in the local Church. They (the congregation) understand what the confession means when it says "A", and if a pastor who has taken his oath of office on that understanding of "A" then changes his mind and adopts "B" instead, then of course he's in "denial of the system taught in the Westminster Confession" and should just admit as much.

The "stout" FV fellas have modified ch. 17 of the WCF ("OF THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS") without actually coming out and saying as much. Why not? Be a mensch, and out with it.

When I first heard some of these teachings, especially those that so bifurcated "covenantal election" and "decretal election", I did my best Groucho Marx impersonation and said "With an election like this, who needs Calvinism?"

Pastor Bayly said,

"This is not about where confessional Presbyterians choose to worship on vacation. It's about where Lutherans choose to have their credentials when they're not on vacation."

Exactly.

Tony,

I have been a congregant in the CREC for 13 years. I became reformed through the teaching of men in the PCA. I know wobbliness on JFBA. I've seen none of it. None. Might help to know what you think constitutes such a charge.

Bayly Brothers,
I haven't seen anything resembling contending for superstitious sacrementalism, and having been an RC growing up, I know what that looks like to. But misunderstanding the sacrements doesn't strike at the heart of the gospel (I know, I know...directly at the heart of the gospel), the way misunderstanding JBFA does.

Other than your unhappiness with FV, I like your blog. If you did not comment on FV on occasion, I would think you FV. You guys are that stout. Er., staunch. Anyway there is a complement in there somewhere. Like gold in Havilah...or something.

I was once a member of the Jeff Meyers' private list, and I can assure you that those men are not Lutherans, but Reformed. I am not aware that a single one of them believes in consubstantiation, not even a little bit. I may be mistaken on this, but I think one of the reasons that Jeff left the Lutherans was their over-emphasis upon justification by faith alone at the expense of holiness, by which is meant obedience to the commandments of God. You may not be aware that obedience to God's commands is a major emphasis of the FV.

As I recall, Jeff was persuaded by the merits of the Reformed Faith to change over to the PCA. I am sure he will not mind me sharing that bit of insider information.

The possibility of losing one's salvation is a mark of classical Augustinian theology traceable straight back through Calvin to Augustine. Augustine thought that it indicated a part of the mystery of election, and that thought was shared by most of the Reformers. This is not unique to Lutherans or even Calvin, who agreed with it. The English Church thought this way, and it is reflected in the liturgy of the classic BCP.

I agree that the WCF takes a much narrower view, stating that only the elect are regenerated. I believe that they erred on this point because of the abundant teaching of the Bible to the contrary.

My point is that if you want to make that into a heresy, then you will have to excommunicate Augustine, Calvin, the English Reformers, and just about any Protestant alive during the Reformation. Just take a moment to think about whether you would want to do that.

Roger, As far as I recall no one here has called of anyone to be excommunicated. Nor has anyone suggested that any hardcore FV guys believe in transubstantiation. The issue, as I have been saying for a decade, is perseverance of the saints. Am curious as to wear Calvin affirmed a person can be regenerated, indwell by the Holy Spirit, trust in the finished work of Christ alone, have his sins atoned for, progress in his sanctification and then lose it all. Do you know of any place Calvin affirmed anything like that? Thanks.

Sorry, in a rush. Should read, no one is calling for excommunication and later, consubstantiation.

>>I haven't seen anything resembling contending for superstitious sacrementalism...

Dear David,

I've posted a response to this here. Thank you for your kind prodding.

Love,

Dear Roger,

Concerning what Calvin, Augustine, and others believed and taught concerning the perseverance of the saints, although this doctrine has been severely abused by Evangelical Protestants of the past seventy-five years and is even more abused within conservative Reformed churches today, F-V is not the solution and can make no serious claim to being the restoration of the Reformers' commitments on this matter. And if I may say so, this is largely because the Reformers had the wisdom to speak BIblically rather than to try to come up with a systematic scheme that rejiggers all Reformed confessions of faith across the centuries.

Love,

Brother Tim, please understand that my intention is to testify to the truth about Jeff Meyers, which Christian love demands. I am saying to you from my knowledge of Jeff Meyers when I was a member of his list, that he said that he was persuaded by the Reformed Faith to move over from Lutheranism. I am answering the suggestion of this article of yours that he is a Lutheran at heart. He is not.

Concerning the issue of election and apostasy, I am simply making you aware that that affirming both is not a novelty, but a classic part of Augustinian predestinationism. That is a plain fact that needs to become widely known.

I agree that the WCF sees things more narrowly, but that is for you Presbyterians to sort out.

Your brother in Christ

Calvin on Hebrews 6:4

For it is impossible, etc. This passage has given occasion to many to repudiate this Epistle, especially as the Novatians armed themselves with it to deny pardon to the fallen. Hence those of the Western Church, in particular, refused the authority of this Epistle, because the sect of Novatus annoyed them; and they were not sufficiently conversant in the truth so as to be equal to refute it by argument. But when the design of the Apostle is understood, it then appears evident that there is nothing here which countenances so delirious an error. Some who hold sacred the authority of the Epistle, while they attempt to dissipate this absurdity, yet do nothing but evade it. For some take “impossible” in the sense of rare or difficult, which is wholly different from its meaning. Many confine it to that repentance by which the catechumens in the ancient Church were wont to be prepared for baptism, as though indeed the Apostles prescribed fasting, or such things to the baptized. And then what great thing would the Apostle have said, by denying that repentance, the appendage of baptism, could be repeated? He threatens with the severest vengeance of God all those who would cast away the grace which had been once received; what weight would the sentence have had to shake the secure and the wavering with terror, if he only reminded them that there was no longer room for their first repentance? For this would extend to every kind of offense. What then is to be said? Since the Lord gives the hope of mercy to all without exception, it is wholly unreasonable that any one for any cause whatever should be precluded.

The knot of the question is in the word, fall away. Whosoever then understands its meaning, can easily extricate himself from every difficulty. But it must be noticed, that there is a twofold falling away, one particular, and the other general. He who has in anything, or in any ways offended, has fallen away from his state as a Christian; therefore all sins are so many fallings. But the Apostle speaks not here of theft, or perjury, or murder, or drunkenness, or adultery; but he refers to a total defection or falling away from the Gospel, when a sinner offends not God in some one thing, but entirely renounces his grace.

And that this may be better understood, let us suppose a contrast between the gifts of God, which he has mentioned, and this falling away. For he falls away who forsakes the word of God, who extinguishes its light, who deprives himself of the taste of the heavens or gift, who relinquishes the participation of the Spirit. Now this is wholly to renounce God. We now see whom he excluded from the hope of pardon, even the apostates who alienated themselves from the Gospel of Christ, which they had previously embraced, and from the grace of God; and this happens to no one but to him who sins against the Holy Spirit. For he who violates the second table of the Law, or transgresses the first through ignorance, is not guilty of this defection; nor does God surely deprive any of his grace in such a way as to leave them none remaining except the reprobate.

If any one asks why the Apostle makes mention here of such apostasy while he is addressing believers, who were far off from a perfidy so heinous; to this I answer, that the danger was pointed out by him in time, that they might be on their guard. And this ought to be observed; for when we turn aside from the right way, we not only excuse to others our vices, but we also impose on ourselves. Satan stealthily creeps on us, and by degrees allures us by clandestine arts, so that when we go astray we know not that we are going astray. Thus gradually we slide, until at length we rush headlong into ruin. We may observe this daily in many. Therefore the Apostle does not without reason forewarn all the disciples of Christ to beware in time; for a continued torpor commonly ends in lethargy, which is followed by alienation of mind.

But we must notice in passing the names by which he signalizes the knowledge of the Gospel. He calls it illumination; it hence follows that men are blind, until Christ, the light of the world, enlightens them. He calls it a tasting of the heavenly gift; intimating that the things which Christ confers on us are above nature and the world, and that they are yet tasted by faith. He calls it the participation of the Spirit; for he it is who distributes to every one, as he wills, all the light and knowledge which he can have; for without him no one can say that Jesus is the Lord, (1Co_12:3;) he opens for us the eyes of our minds, and reveals to us the secret things of God. He calls it a tasting of the good word of God; by which he means, that the will of God is therein revealed, not in any sort of way, but in such a way as sweetly to delight us; in short, by this title is pointed out the difference between the Law and the Gospel; for that has nothing but severity and condemnation, but this is a sweet testimony of God’s love and fatherly kindness towards us. And lastly, he calls it a tasting of the powers of the world to come; by which he intimates, that we are admitted by faith as it were into the kingdom of heaven, so that we see in spirit that blessed immortality which is hid from our senses.

Let us then know, that the Gospel cannot be otherwise rightly known than by the illumination of the Spirit, and that being thus drawn away from the world, we are raised up to heaven, and that knowing the goodness of God we rely on his word.

But here arises a new question, how can it be that he who has once made such a progress should afterwards fall away? For God, it may be said, calls none effectually but the elect, and Paul testifies that they are really his sons who are led by his Spirit, (Rom_8:14;) and he teaches us, that it is a sure pledge of adoption when Christ makes us partakers of his Spirit. The elect are also beyond the danger of finally falling away; for the Father who gave them to be preserved by Christ his Son is greater than all, and Christ promises to watch over them all so that none may perish. To all this I answer, That God indeed favors none but the elect alone with the Spirit of regeneration, and that by this they are distinguished from the reprobate; for they are renewed after his image and receive the earnest of the Spirit in hope of the future inheritance, and by the same Spirit the Gospel is sealed in their hearts. But I cannot admit that all this is any reason why he should not grant the reprobate also some taste of his grace, why he should not irradiate their minds with some sparks of his light, why he should not give them some perception of his goodness, and in some sort engrave his word on their hearts.

Otherwise, where would be the temporal faith mentioned by Mar_4:17 ? There is therefore some knowledge even in the reprobate, which afterwards vanishes away, either because it did not strike roots sufficiently deep, or because it withers, being choked up. (98)

And by this bridle the Lord keeps us in fear and humility; and we certainly see how prone human nature is otherwise to security and foolish confidence. At the same time our solicitude ought to be such as not to disturb the peace of conscience. For the Lord strengthens faith in us, while he subdues our flesh: and hence he would have faith to remain and rest tranquilly as in a safe haven; but he exercises the flesh with various conflicts, that it may not grow wanton through idleness.

David, thank you for that. I confess as I read that I was concerned that you were providing the evidence I asked of Roger, that it might show that Roger was correct. And in this sense he is. Both stout fv men and Calvin (and me for that matter) agree from this text that there are those who receive gifts from God that are powerful, who fall away, who were never the decretally elect. The difference is that the fv men, contra Calvin and me put the difference at persevering faith, while Calvin, and the confession and I put it at regeneration. Yes, the non-elect in this text receive gifts, but they do not receive, as per stout fv, every grace in Christ save persevering faith. They do not receive regeneration (in its ontological sense). They are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Their sins are not covered. They are not adopted into the family of God. As I have been stating for years, the doctrine of perseverance of the saints is not a tautology- those saints who persevere persevere. Rather it holds that all those who are regenerated and trust in the finished work of Christ will always trust in the finished work of Christ. Which is just what Calvin is saying here.

My pleasure. I agree with your reading of Calvin here. It is worth bearing in mind that people fall away from Calvin on both sides of the issue. In reaction to FV stout I've seen men argue that reprobate members who are baptized and members of the visible church (and consequently receive the gifts you mention) are in all respects indistinguishable from the reprobate who have never been baptized and admitted into the visible church. That does violence to what Hebrews is saying here.

I would also say that Calvin is correct when he tells the visible church to take seriously warnings of apostasy.

"If any one asks why the Apostle makes mention here of such apostasy while he is addressing believers, who were far off from a perfidy so heinous; to this I answer, that the danger was pointed out by him in time, that they might be on their guard. And this ought to be observed; for when we turn aside from the right way, we not only excuse to others our vices, but we also impose on ourselves. Satan stealthily creeps on us, and by degrees allures us by clandestine arts, so that when we go astray we know not that we are going astray. Thus gradually we slide, until at length we rush headlong into ruin. We may observe this daily in many. Therefore the Apostle does not without reason forewarn all the disciples of Christ to beware in time; for a continued torpor commonly ends in lethargy, which is followed by alienation of mind."

The elect will not fall away yet we should take warnings of apostasy seriously.

"The elect will not fall away yet we should take warnings of apostasy seriously."

Yes, and the means God uses to keep His elect from falling away are those very warnings.

I'd prefer to say such warnings are "a" means rather than "the" means but that may be a shade pedantic.

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1513.htm

Here is Augustine's teaching on the subject, for your interest.

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