Doug Wilson and Biblical Horizons/Trinity Institute Lutheranism...

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In the post Accountability in the CREC..., I commend Pastor Doug Wilson, which leads a longtime, faithful commenter to this remonstrance:


From the standpoint of biblical truth, reformed theology and the Confessionalism that flows from it, this post is disappointing.

Not only do you endorse a leading proponent of the errant 'federal vision' theology, but by unnecessarily putting down a biblical, reformed communion as a means of doing it.

Not only has this man repeatedly been warned and hardened himself...

(Titus 3:10), but is a signatory of the near heretical "A Joint Federal Vision Profession."

You are right to upbraid the PCA's failure to effectively discipline a few proponents within her midst of this false, unconfessional and harmful teaching.

But you do so without acknowledging the excellent study report it did condemning it. While on the one hand acknowledging the harm of 'federal vision', you defend the ring leader of it.

Nor do you acknowledge that a few, granted not all, have been educated and disciplined about this error in the denomination. Nor do you seem to realize this is not over, there yet will be accountability for this.

As you are aware, the pseudo-communion CREC has been used as an escape from discipline, e.g. such as this individuals writing partner in wrong theology, and co-signatory of "A Joint Federal Vision Profession."

Your otherwise insightful biblical thinking and posts are undermined by associating with, and defending this false teacher.

May God open the eyes of all the brothers in the PCA that they might deal with this threat to the peace and purity of the church.

But may God open your eyes as to what your doing, no doubt with the best of reasoned intentions.


There's a lot in the text above that I could respond to. Because our dear brother says I've done a thing doesn't make it true and some of what he attributes to me leaves me looking cross-eyed thinking "where have I said that?" On the other hand, concerning Federal Vision and "PCA friend's" objections to our defense of Pastor Doug Wilson, his criticism is fair and faithful and deserves a response.

It's clear Doug has been disciplining the Federal Vision movement precisely at the point of the necessity of regeneration. Read his blog posts of the past two years culminating in his book, Against the Church, and the trajectory is clear. And this is the place F-V most needs discipline. Sacramentalists have never been big on the Holy Spirit's work of giving repentance and faith (what our Lord called new birth) to souls. In fact, one may argue sacramentalism is always in opposition to the necessity of being born again, to the reality of the distinction between circumcised foreskins and circumcised hearts.

I'm sure Doug would prefer I not speak this way. As he sees it, his work is not a repudiation of his past F-V work in favor of a restoration of the Sacraments, the doctrine of the Church, the objectivity of the Covenant, the necessity of good works and fruit, etc. to Reformed Evangelicalism. And certainly he has not backed down in his commitment to paedocommunion.

Yet to most of us watching the F-V wrecking ball swinging down there in what they call the Trinity House, we would respond to Doug saying that the trajectory of that ball has been clear for many years. And I have said to Doug that I would like him simply to say, "I was wrong about F-V" or "I should have recognized the danger of F-V's incipient sacramentalism long ago."

But you know, Doug is Doug and one of the traits I appreciate about him most is his loyalty. Unlike many Reformed bigwigs, he won't stick a knife in his friend's back and he won't fight like a girl. He's an old submariner (61st birthday tomorrow) and he knows what makes a fair fight and how to wear a uniform and keep shooting to the very end.

So, as David and I have said many times, we love Doug and will not stop declaring our commitment to him. And because of our respect for him, we will not stop our criticism of the pseudo-Reformed nature of the oatmeal stout wing of the F-V disembodied brains, either. So which side will Doug choose in the coming months and years?

We think he's already chosen and it will become increasingly clear.

But for ourselves, as we look at Trinity House (Steve Wilkins, Rich Bledsoe, Jeff Meyers, Peter Leithart, Jim Jordan, etc.), it's hard to imagine why they keep trying to remake the Reformed church into the Lutheran/Roman Catholic church. They say they have objections to Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism that keep them from simply joining those communions. This makes no sense to us since their objections to Reformed doctrine and practice are much larger than their objections to Lutheran/Roman Catholic sacramentalism.

Which is to say, since they're sacramentalists and they yack about how much they want peace with Rome, why not go for it. Like right now. Time's a-wasting.

It would be a charitable work. Indeed, it would be a work of supererogation that would clarify things immensely and allow all of us to move on. You've heard of the New Oxford Movement? We give you the New Horizons Movement.

You know, my friend Richard John Neuhaus was man enough to do it. Also my seminary friends Marcus Grodi and Scott and Kimberly Hahn.

And another seminary friend I will leave nameless who moved from the formalism of the Episcopal church to the less scandalous formalism of the Lutheran church, and then to full-blooded and honest Roman Catholicism. It happened a couple years ago and I did my best trying to hold him back. I asked him to read Buchanan's Justification, but he wouldn't and took the plunge.

In his case, though, there's a funny ending. After a couple years in the Roman Catholic church, we were talking and he told me he'd switched back to Lutheranism. 

I asked why and he responded (and these are his very words), "Tim, you wouldn't believe how mind-numbingly legalistic the Roman Catholic church is."

He and I were a part of a group of five who used to drink beer and argue theology in a small private library of illuminated manuscripts and paintings from the Middle Ages during seminary, so I responded, "Uh duh!"

Tim Bayly

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

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!