How do we evangelize the reprobate mind in light of our Leadership? Virtue Signaling?

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NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
This made my heart heavy. That's a lot of elders on that list. Unbelievable.
Progressives make up at least as significant a minority as conservatives; maybe more. I'd say confessionalists, but that I fear that may be a small subset of the conservatives.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
Progressives make up at least as significant a minority as conservatives; maybe more. I'd say confessionalists, but that I fear that may be a small subset of the conservatives.
What are liberals and conservatives in this context? Is this politics? Please further define these terms. How do liberals and conservatives hold to their confessions?
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
I guess my overall question is unless a certain pastor is deemed unfit and similar responsive actions how is the inevitable taken from the pastor’s tweet not realized? (There’s a huge opening & to my knowledge it hasn’t been closed)


  • All the PCA’s homosexual pastors and elders now have a seat at the table
  • Those opposed to homosexuality are old and getting older
  • Already this year, forty percent of the assembly commissioners opposed the Nashville Statement
  • The study committee just approved will write a report which will supercede the Nashville Statement
 
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NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
What are liberals and conservatives in this context? Is this politics? Please further define these terms. How do liberals and conservatives hold to their confessions?
I'm not using liberal, but progressive, which comes from the debate over terms the president of CTS used to define the groups in the PCA and TE Rick Phillips response. The latter prefers confessionalist over traditionalist for the conservative group but I frankly see conservative as more appropriate as the very author has a big stained glass depiction of Christ front and center in the church he pastors. So I don't know what confessionalist means in the PCA. See http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/05/dear-bryan-replying-to-the-sta-1.php
 

wcf_linux

Puritan Board Freshman
The problem with "virtue signalling" as a term is, in my eyes, twofold. First is that it makes a claim about someone's intent, that a statement or action is not about the claimed principle but is instead a act of social positioning. Sometimes people wear their intent on their sleeve. Sometimes it seems blatant that someone is being disingenuous. But most of the time imputing intent risks breaking the 9th commandment. It's completely true that people virtue signal, and it's good to examine yourself to see if you are just posturing. We can't see into someone's mind to know if they are engaged in empty signalling or are being sincere.

The second problem is that like so many popular-on-the-internet terms, its potential usefulness gets undermined by how easy it is to use it as a stick for beating one's opponents. :deadhorse: Not saying that anyone in this thread is doing that, but that is why so many uses of the term are hard to square with a proper definition of it.

As for the list, I was really disappointed at a couple of familiar names on it. I hope last G.A.'s burst of trying to shut down speeches with... strained... claims that the speaker was being intemperate doesn't become the norm. That would just inflame discussion further and make it even harder to unite around the truth. That's why I was so encouraged when that one TE on the last morning spoke up and tried to get the protest overturned.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
The problem with "virtue signalling" as a term is, in my eyes, twofold. First is that it makes a claim about someone's intent, that a statement or action is not about the claimed principle but is instead a act of social positioning. Sometimes people wear their intent on their sleeve. Sometimes it seems blatant that someone is being disingenuous. But most of the time imputing intent risks breaking the 9th commandment. It's completely true that people virtue signal, and it's good to examine yourself to see if you are just posturing. We can't see into someone's mind to know if they are engaged in empty signalling or are being sincere.

The second problem is that like so many popular-on-the-internet terms, its potential usefulness gets undermined by how easy it is to use it as a stick for beating one's opponents. :deadhorse: Not saying that anyone in this thread is doing that, but that is why so many uses of the term are hard to square with a proper definition of it.

As for the list, I was really disappointed at a couple of familiar names on it. I hope last G.A.'s burst of trying to shut down speeches with... strained... claims that the speaker was being intemperate doesn't become the norm. That would just inflame discussion further and make it even harder to unite around the truth. That's why I was so encouraged when that one TE on the last morning spoke up and tried to get the protest overturned.
Good points, my other concern is that it feels like liberal progressive terminology. Maybe I’m not educated enough but both the term and definitely the tactics you mention are liberal progressive in nature and practice, especially in the political realm. Maybe I do engage in a much milder form of the aforementioned (I never thought of it as VS) on my very limited, non-official platform, but I try to join other much more established and probably more polite voices calling us back to the confessions and church founders. I guess these developments are taking concerned outsiders by surprise. We expect these things in some quarters of Christianity but definitely not others. It feels like a lot of this is really getting ramped up.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
Yeah, it just doesn’t seem like a helpful and appropriate/applicable term.

“The term was popularised by James Bartholomew in an article in The Spectator on 18 April 2015 to mean "public, empty gestures intended to convey socially approved attitudes without any associated risk or sacrifice".


I invented ‘virtue signalling’. Now it’s taking over the world
I invented the term ‘virtue signalling’ in The Spectator. Now it seems to be taking over the world... https://www.spectator.co.uk/2015/10/i-invented-virtue-signalling-now-its-taking-over-the-world/

My first instinct is to run
 
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wcf_linux

Puritan Board Freshman
Yeah, it just doesn’t seem like a helpful and appropriate term.


I invented ‘virtue signalling’. Now it’s taking over the world
I invented the term ‘virtue signalling’ in The Spectator. Now it seems to be taking over the world... https://www.spectator.co.uk/2015/10/i-invented-virtue-signalling-now-its-taking-over-the-world/

My first instinct is to run
Not a bad instinct. It is kind of ironic the way the term has been adopted by a lot of conservatives in online discussion as a catch-all term for putting down progressives. But for better or worse it comes from the world of academic social theory. One of the less dangerous parts of that world, in my opinion, but still the kind of theorizing that gets used to explain away biblical teaching. Doesn't mean there aren't good uses for it in some cases, but handle with care. (Or run. It's a matter of prudence either way. :))
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think confessionalists and progressive-confessionals both ‘virtue signal’ in different ways. I’d rather just refer to it as espousing, but everything is politicized and culturalized, thus this type of lingo.

Today’s progressives are modern adherents of the social gospel, and they always seek to add .... inclusive diversity laws in the areas of race, gender, sexuality, etc,

The confessionalists merely seek to conserve and preserve. They aren’t looking to add anything. They would prefer existing confessions stand and speak for themselves.

When progressives virtue signal it is always in defense of a so-called minority class or group, while the confessionalists virtue signal in their proud promotion of long held views of the individual and humanity as unified in their depravity.

One is very complicated while the other, maybe a bit simplistic, attempts to let the word and confessions speak without over- and/or faux applications.
 
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CovenantWord

Puritan Board Freshman
The problem with "virtue signalling" as a term is . . . that it makes a claim about someone's intent, that a statement or action is not about the claimed principle but is instead a act of social positioning. . . . [M]ost of the time imputing intent risks breaking the 9th commandment.
Hypocrisy may be justly condemned, I suggest, by highlighting moral contradiction between a person's statements and his actions. Jesus founds His condemnation of the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees on the observation that "they say, and do not do" (Matt. 23:3 NKJ). Likewise, Paul accuses Peter of hypocrisy, because his selection of dining companions contradicted the Gospel he was preaching (Gal. 2:12-14).
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Not a bad instinct. It is kind of ironic the way the term has been adopted by a lot of conservatives in online discussion as a catch-all term for putting down progressives. But for better or worse it comes from the world of academic social theory. One of the less dangerous parts of that world, in my opinion, but still the kind of theorizing that gets used to explain away biblical teaching. Doesn't mean there aren't good uses for it in some cases, but handle with care. (Or run. It's a matter of prudence either way. :))
A good term is a good term. Richard Dawkins popularized the term "meme" after all, and that is also a very useful term.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hypocrisy may be justly condemned, I suggest, by highlighting moral contradiction between a person's statements and his actions. Jesus founds His condemnation of the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees on the observation that "they say, and do not do" (Matt. 23:3 NKJ). Likewise, Paul accuses Peter of hypocrisy, because his selection of dining companions contradicted the Gospel he was preaching (Gal. 2:12-14).
Of course. In addition, I think there’s not as much straight talk being offered. I think the waters become so muddied by jargon, emotions and unorthodox applications (like lgbt lingo) that the only hypocrisy that is clearly established is how far our words, concepts and ideas are drifting from their scriptural and confessional foundations.

At the end of the day, is God concerned that our carnal needs & desires are addressed or even empathized with? (or wholly replaced by something infinitely greater?) Or is this a later human construct that undervalues the reality of the fallen human condition. Why would we want to embrace any part of our fallen condition outside a desire for deliverance?
 
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ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
The virtue signaling(VS) meme speaks to the act signaling more than having virtue. It is the modern, often secular, example of what is described in Matthew 6:2, 5. It requires no character, only the desire to advertise character, to show off. It shouldn't surprise us that VS thrives in shallow, quickly updating social media platforms. Why bother with patient research and careful thought when you can fire off quick VS statements that will gain you currency with a select type of people and maybe ruin somebody to top it off.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
It’s sad times. Even calling out virtue signaling can be a type of virtue signaling. “You can argue for something that happens to make you look virtuous because you genuinely think it is the best solution. That’s the case, for example, with most religious beliefs.” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jan/20/virtue-signalling-putdown-passed-sell-by-date

I would hope nobody viewed Steven Warhurst’s response as a form of VS. But maybe some did perceive it that way. I thought he spoke with charity, sincerity, consistency and conviction. It’s unfortunate that it was necessary. But these matters aren’t as clear as they once were it seems. I don’t think we necessarily have better insights.
 
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A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
“Christianity, for example, is filled with pairs of concepts that orthodoxy holds “in tension”: trinity and unity, free will and predestination, grace and works, and so on. Indeed, heresy has been defined as emphasizing one element of one of these pairs at the expense of the other, and throughout Christianity’s history it has been heretical movements of just this sort that have been filled with the fervent zeal of the piety contest. “Tension” might frustrate the reductionist who drives for consistency above all, but irreducible pairs like this serve a prophylactic function in preventing ideologically (and often physically) destructive piety contests.

Even outside of the religious context, modern Western moral philosophy has tried to transplant the success of science – where reductionism has proven powerful and useful – across the is/ought gap and into the normative realm. Rather than the four cardinal virtues of ancient moral philosophy – prudence, courage, temperance, and justice – we have a number of philosophies competing to reduce everything to a single ur-virtue, such as happiness (utilitarianism), or equality (socialism), or self-love (objectivism), and so on.” - Cameron Harwick, Quillette
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
A dear brother called me yesterday and we spoke about his daughter's situation. My brother and his wife raised all his children in a Christian home. Unfortunately, his oldest daughter strayed and wound up marrying a Roman Catholic. The young couple has been consistently attending mass. My brother is asking if I know of any resources for evangelizing Roman Catholics. I recommended that he keep the main thing the main thing. That may seem like a simplistic approach but the Gospel is not meant to be complicated. When the Philippian jailer asked what he should do to be saved, he was told to believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. When Paul wrote to the Ephesians he stated, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." I told him to resist the temptation to change their understanding of papist doctrine as a substitute for declaring the Gospel. I also told him that none of my advice should be interpreted as an unwillingness to address issues that his daughter and son-in-law bring up to deflect from the Gospel.

So, how does this apply to the OP? The Gospel never changes. The only thing that changes is how it's presented. While we should be concerned about the social justice movement, critical race theory, same-sex marriage, virtue-signaling, et. al, the Gospel still remains the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. The Gospel's substance never changes.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Here is that phrase again.... Virtue Signaling.
"“Charity helps people. Corporate social responsibility is virtue signaling by capitalists to anti-capitalists. Unlike charity, corporate social responsibility isn’t about helping people, but ticking off ideological and identity politics boxes like diversity and the environment,” he added."
https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/...t-nobody-noticed-until-it-caved-to-lgbt-lobby

I noticed this because of the Chik-Fil-A thread. This isn't really a war of Culture as much as it is a War of who we worship and against Him in my opinion.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think virtue signaling is primarily a political practice that has gotten ridiculously exacerbated by social media. I’m probably guilty. But that elder surely is not!
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
I hope nobody considers this a virtue signal, but this position must have support in some PCA circles. Wondering if anyone here could make their case for the Side B position and a general defense for the pastor under scrutiny.

“Presbytery noted further that, “The self-conception of a Christian being defined as a homosexual is no different than the self-conception of a Christian being defined as a pedophile, a racist, or as a drunkard, covetous, or swindler (1 Cor. 6:10). We believe there is enough evidence to question the legitimate status of...”
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
Collectively things sound worse than I thought...
Reasons Our Church Will Be Withdrawing From the Presbyterian Church in America

https://www.theaquilareport.com/rea...wing-from-the-presbyterian-church-in-america/
“1. The toleration of Side B Gay Christianity, to include the hosting of the Revoice conference at a PCA church, the continued organizing and participation in Revoice conferences by members of the PCA, the presence of PCA pastors who have very publicly declared themselves to be “gay but celibate,” and the presence of other Side B gay-Christian candidates at the PCA’s seminary.

2) The continuing presence of openly Federal Vision (FV) pastors within the PCA despite that theology having been condemned as erroneous by the GA.[2]

3) The fact that the presbyteries of the men I mentioned above approve of this belief and practice, and because “Good Faith” subscription [3]allows presbyteries to determine what beliefs and practices they will allow within their bounds by a majority vote, there is precious little that can be done about it. The Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) treats any decision made by a presbytery using the proper procedure as practically inviolable. I warned that this would be the bad fruit of a decision to adopt “Good Faith” subscription at the GA in 2003. At the time I said:

“Brothers, we are about to make a decision we have arrived at as quickly as we possibly could, without the erection of a study committee or even the benefit of perfecting language. Once we have made it, I fear we will never be able to take it back. Once we pass this, our presbyteries will be empowered to grant exceptions to any doctrine we confess is taught in Scripture by a simple 51% vote. Once those exceptions are granted, precedent is set, and that doctrine will never again be an impediment to the ordination of any man. Gradually, but inevitably, our standards will be eroded.”

I believe that what I feared would happen then, is in fact occurring now.” .....
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
Every person I’ve ever respected and appreciated has been guilty of virtue signaling. Isn’t that what espousing and discerning the word of God amounts to? Martin Luther was probably the king of virtue signaling and we are better for it.

The author of this piece would probably have shut down the Reformation if provided the opportunity. I think an argument could be made that not all are qualified and tone and timing are key. But only sharing links does not a discussion make. Quoting the great virtue signalers of the past is probably the way to go.

https://gentlereformation.com/2019/12/12/anti-virtue-signaling/

What if we see things going in a wrong direction and it requires correction? Can the charge of virtue signaling stand in such a context ? I support those men who are well qualified and willing to do so.


Also, how is the following not VS of a passive aggressive variety?
(We are not like ‘those guys’, we are closer to TGC in charity and cultural relevancy....)... https://gentlereformation.com/about/

“Our blog is intentionally styled:

  • to be persuasive rather than polemical(seeking to avoid the condescending pride that is, sadly, too often seen in R&P circles among those who, of all people, should be able knowledgeably to say “by the grace of God I am what I am”);
  • to speak in a tone that is pastoral rather than pejorative (though Biblical faithfulness demands that we cry “Wolf!” on occasion (see Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:29-31), we will be sure to do it only when warranted and not so often that we start sounding like that proverbial boy);
  • and to consider the people in the pews rather than professors and pastors as our primary audience (though many of us, being such ourselves, love pastors and professors and invite them to read along!).”
 
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Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Every person I’ve ever respected and appreciated has been guilty of virtue signaling. Isn’t that what espousing and discerning the word of God amounts to? Martin Luther was probably the king of virtue signaling and we are better for it.

The author of this piece would probably have shut down the Reformation if provided the opportunity. I think an argument could be made that not all are qualified and tone and timing are key. But only sharing links does not a discussion make. Quoting the great virtue signalers of the past is probably the way to go.

https://gentlereformation.com/2019/12/12/anti-virtue-signaling/

What if we see things going in a wrong direction and it requires correction? Can the charge of virtue signaling stand in such a context ? I support those men who are well qualified and willing to do so.


Also, how is the following not VS of a passive aggressive variety?
(We are not like ‘those guys’, we are closer to TGC in charity and cultural relevancy....)... https://gentlereformation.com/about/

“Our blog is intentionally styled:

  • to be persuasive rather than polemical(seeking to avoid the condescending pride that is, sadly, too often seen in R&P circles among those who, of all people, should be able knowledgeably to say “by the grace of God I am what I am”);
  • to speak in a tone that is pastoral rather than pejorative (though Biblical faithfulness demands that we cry “Wolf!” on occasion (see Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:29-31), we will be sure to do it only when warranted and not so often that we start sounding like that proverbial boy);
  • and to consider the people in the pews rather than professors and pastors as our primary audience (though many of us, being such ourselves, love pastors and professors and invite them to read along!).”
Virtue signaling is typically used as a pejorative. Intent matters more than content. When Paul wrote, "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1), was he virtue signaling in order to gain praise from men or was he instructing the believers in Corinth to follow his example? Compare Paul to the hypocritical Jews that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 6:2-5, "2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full." Hopefully, this helps.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
Virtue signaling is typically used as a pejorative. Intent matters more than content. When Paul wrote, "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1), was he virtue signaling in order to gain praise from men or was he instructing the believers in Corinth to follow his example? Compare Paul to the hypocritical Jews that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 6:2-5, "2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full." Hopefully, this helps.
That is a good point. Much tweeting, retweeting and so on is a kind of virtue signaling. Responding to the latest emerging thing despite know very little about it, with the 'correct' statement as soon as possible is a modern street corner prayer. Remorseless, wicked and unfounded dog piling are all in the same vein. The SJW Left doesn't have a lock on these behaviors but they have used them well to the destruction of good people in recent years while advancing their agendas overall.
 

Susan777

Puritan Board Sophomore
That is a good point. Much tweeting, retweeting and so on is a kind of virtue signaling. Responding to the latest emerging thing despite know very little about it, with the 'correct' statement as soon as possible is a modern street corner prayer. Remorseless, wicked and unfounded dog piling are all in the same vein. The SJW Left doesn't have a lock on these behaviors but they have used them well to the destruction of good people in recent years while advancing their agendas overall.
It’s not called “the twitter mob” for nothing!
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
That is a good point. Much tweeting, retweeting and so on is a kind of virtue signaling. Responding to the latest emerging thing despite know very little about it, with the 'correct' statement as soon as possible is a modern street corner prayer. Remorseless, wicked and unfounded dog piling are all in the same vein. The SJW Left doesn't have a lock on these behaviors but they have used them well to the destruction of good people in recent years while advancing their agendas overall.
Zack, agreed. I'm guilty of hitting that "like" button or sharing a Facebook post because I agree with it as soon as I see it. While my motive is not to prove how virtuous I am, it may still have the same effect. But you're right about the SJW Left. They use such behavior intentionally and they do it effectively.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
That is a good point. Much tweeting, retweeting and so on is a kind of virtue signaling. Responding to the latest emerging thing despite know very little about it, with the 'correct' statement as soon as possible is a modern street corner prayer. Remorseless, wicked and unfounded dog piling are all in the same vein. The SJW Left doesn't have a lock on these behaviors but they have used them well to the destruction of good people in recent years while advancing their agendas overall.
Fair enough. Unfortunately, I'm suspicious of motives. I know what Jordan Hall is, just like I know who Donald Trump is. They don't scare me. I guess it is the people who don't 'virtue signal' and seek to shut down those who do that scare me.

Ive pretty much weened myself off the polemic blogs. I no longer use social media including twitter (save for posting a few family pics on Instagram).

I do follow Aquila Report. They have plenty of edifying articles.

I agree with walking the walk, but I don't see why we cant do both?

Zack, let me ask you, do you have a problem with this article? It being made public? And it being shared? In some sense, this is a place where I seek a form of validation. Like is anyone as alarmed over this as me? Or has these issues always existed? Not because I put myself above any of it, but because Im assuming this will reach everyone at some point. Now that this article has been posted I know to no longer be surprised and leave it alone. It will be what God wills it to be....
Reasons Our Church Will Be Withdrawing From the Presbyterian Church in America

https://www.theaquilareport.com/rea...wing-from-the-presbyterian-church-in-america/

Also, do you think Elder Steven was virtue signaling before the assembly? Is it wrong to voice support and share the video? Is that also virtue signaling? Why?

I will take into account that there may be a reaction against my personal tone or presentation on these matters, if I come on too strong, and for that I apologize. Maybe it is the way I was raised outside the church so I will continue to work on that.
 
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ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
Fair enough. Unfortunately, I'm suspicious of motives. I know what Jordan Hall is, just like I know who Donald Trump is. They don't scare me. I guess it is the people who don't 'virtue signal' and seek to shut down those who do that scare me.

Ive pretty much weened myself off the polemic blogs. I no longer use social media including twitter (save for posting a few family pics on Instagram).

I do follow Aquila Report. They have plenty of edifying articles.

I agree with walking the walk, but I don't see why we cant do both?

Zack, let me ask you, do you have a problem with this article? It being made public? And it being shared? In some sense, this is a place where I seek a form of validation. Like is anyone as alarmed over this as me? Or has these issues always existed? Not because I put myself above any of it, but because Im assuming this will reach everyone at some point. Now that this article has been posted I know to no longer be surprised and leave it alone. It will be what God wills it to be....
Reasons Our Church Will Be Withdrawing From the Presbyterian Church in America

https://www.theaquilareport.com/rea...wing-from-the-presbyterian-church-in-america/

Also, do you think Elder Steven was virtue signaling before the assembly? Is it wrong to voice support and share the video? Is that also virtue signaling? Why?

I will take into account that there may be a reaction against my personal tone or presentation on these matters, if I come on too strong, and for that I apologize. Maybe it is the way I was raised outside the church so I will continue to work on that.
There was nothing wrong with Steven’s address. I’ll clarify further tonight or tomorrow but I’m on my phone now.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Sophomore
To add, I think we can draw a clear parallel with Machen. If I recall from reading Hart's Defending the Faith, one of the main tactics used to defeat him was to dismiss him, shut down his ability to defend his position or have any kind of voice, and essentially throw him out of the church. He was completely silenced.

Charges of VS are an effective tactic that can be applied to shut down the old school confessionalist defense of the gospel, especially when there is no legitimate counter-attack. On account of this, I am prone to dismiss charges of VS almost entirely out of hand. Are there some with self-serving motives who engage in such practices, like a JD Hall (not to pick on him) ? Of course. Will their authoritative legitimacy fall by the wayside regardless? Of course. JD Hall is a threat to his own credibility, but I could see VS being very broadly applied as an effective tool to disqualify even the most sound defense of Reformed faith. That’s really where Im coming from, and I think there are many, many, (obviously the majority) here, who are coming from entirely the same place and do so much more effectively.

More on Machen:
"a southern, Old School confessionalist who was suspicious of church union schemes..to him, they sacrificed confessional integrity to the dubious purpose of achieving greater social influence.

Simultaneously upholding the “spirituality of the church” and tolerating diversity in society..his Christianity and Liberalism exposed a fatal flaw in the Presbyterian Church that did not sit well with liberals or evangelicals, both of whom presumed that America depended on the fortunes of their church. ...Machen not only argued that liberal Protestantism is a different religion than historic Christianity, but raised the less-than-flattering observation that liberal ministers were disingenuous in subscribing to creeds that they no longer believed. Many within the church thought that mentioning such a thing in polite company was unbecoming of a gentleman.

...the General Assembly was quick to deny him a promotion at Princeton, to break up the Old School majority at the seminary and to order him to trial.

...the unwillingness to listen to Machen laid the groundwork for the present, where the church is not so much debating theology but morality...
Machen would not have been surprised; he would predict that once a denomination functions as if ordination vows and confessional standards do not matter, it will in subsequent generations begin to function as if...

Liberals may feel the most heat from Machen, who believed that intellectual honesty required them to resign their church offices because they could not in good conscience represent a church that maintains public confessional standards with which they disagree.
...Even today, as ministers no longer “subscribe” to a system of doctrine but promise to be “guided” by a Book of Confessions, many liberals still show little interest in submitting to a higher standard.
...the 1967 constitutional changes vindicated Machen’s concerns about disingenuousness, those weakened vows nonetheless function the same way Machen maintained: making a minister accountable to a confessional tradition, not the other way around.

Likewise, liberals could learn from Machen about the futility of seeking to use the church as an instrument of social progress ...

Evangelicals also have things to learn from Machen. Sharing with liberals the same New School pedigree, they suffer from the same weaknesses. Oblivious to the “spirituality of the church” (in Lutheran terms, the doctrine of the two kingdoms), evangelicals also exhibit an instrumental view of the church that results in confusing the sacred and the secular, bent on making the church relevant to the here and now. Whereas liberals want to be relevant to elite opinion, evangelicals want to be relevant to popular culture, witness their embrace of the megachurch and liturgy that takes cues from Hollywood and Nashville not Westminster and Edinburgh. Like all good confessionalists, Machen would look askance at what D. G. Hart calls this artificial, industrial approach to church growth, preferring the organic means that take the covenant, sacraments and procreation seriously.
...he knew that nothing substitutes for a vigorous embrace of a confession, like the Westminster Standards, that touches on “all things” that Christ commanded his apostles to observe."

https://pres-outlook.org/2004/01/machen-and-the-presbyterian-predicament/

"What a wonderful open door God has placed before the church of today. A pagan world, weary and sick, often distrusting its own modern gods. A saving gospel strangely entrusted to us unworthy messengers. A divine book with unused resources of glory and power. Ah, what a marvellous opportunity, my brethren! What a privilege to proclaim not some partial system of truth, but the full, glorious system that God has revealed in His Word, and which is summarized in the wonderful Standards of our Faith! . . . What a privilege to present our historic Standards in all their fullness in the pulpit and at the teacher’s desk and in the Christian home! What a privilege to do that for the one reason that those Standards present, not a ‘man-made creed,’ but what God has told us in His holy Word! What a privilege to proclaim that same system of divine truth to the unsaved! What a privilege to carry the message of the cross, unshackled by compromising associations, to all the world! . . . What a privilege to proclaim it to the souls of people who sit in nominally Christian churches and starve for lack of the bread of life! Oh, yes, what a privilege, and what a joy, my brethren!"

Machen’s contribution to conveying the Reformed Faith from one generation to another consisted chiefly in his exposure of Theological Liberalism. Entering the war zone in a ‘condition of low visibility’ (Francis Patton’s phrase), Machen, with the Word of God as his light, saw immediately that this counterfeit faith rejoices in the pious use of traditional Christian phraseology, regardless of its meaning, while undermining the true faith of God’s people. The conflict, therefore, is between true Christianity and ‘a totally diverse type of religious belief, which is only the more destructive of the Christian faith because it makes use of traditional Christian terminology.’

Machen saw Liberalism as a return to ‘naturalism . . . the denial of any entrance of the creative power of God’ in the salvation of men. In attempting to reconcile Christianity with modern scientism, Liberalism ‘has really relinquished everything distinctive of Christianity,’ rendering itself a totally different religion to Christianity. By so doing, it ‘represents a return to an un-Christian and sub-Christian form of the religious life.’ All who embrace it, therefore, despite the vast material benefits of modern life, are being terribly impoverished. Socialism, Utilitarianism, Hedonism, Collectivism, Obscurantism, State Paternalism, and dangerous pseudo-scientific Psychology are their inheritance, rather than the truth as it is in Jesus.

Neither is Machen under any illusion about the radical and comprehensive nature of Liberalism. It would demolish all Christian doctrine, the authority of the Bible, the uniqueness of Christ as Saviour, the fact of Salvation, and the very Church of the living God.

From time to time in his writings we discover a scenario such as a trained lawyer would set up in which Machen pursues his theological enemies with ruthless logic. One such scenario envisages the proposal to let Theological Conservatives and Theological Liberals live side by side within the Church, sinking their doctrinal differences in the interests of unity and peace.

Those who speak in this way, he comments, neither understand where their Conservative opponents are coming from, nor perceive the radical dishonesty of their own proposals. He envisages someone standing up on a conference platform and saying: ‘I think, brethren, that we are all agreed about this . . .’ ‘and then proceeds to trample ruthlessly upon the things that are dearest to my heart.’ He much prefers the frankness of the man who calls him ‘a miserable, narrow-minded conservative . . . whose views he intends to ridicule and refute.’ As the same kind of disingenuous talk is still with us, we need to be warned by Machen’s trenchant criticism.

Starting with the premise that ‘the distress of the world is due clearly to an evil that is within the soul of man,’ Machen outlines a programme of doctrinal and moral education that with God’s blessing would lead men back to their Maker. This is foundational, for our ‘relation to God is the all-important thing.’ ‘It is impossible to deal successfully even with these political and social problems until we have come to be right with God.’

It is, then, no truncated gospel that Machen offers as the remedy lor the ills of both world and church. Beginning at the beginning, with God’s revelation of himself as the only source of true knowledge, both in nature and Scripture, he weaves his way deftly through the maze of objections likely to mystify his readers, stating winsomely the doctrines of Verbal Inspiration, Absolute Truth over against Relative ‘truth,’ the Triune God as our Creator, Christ as our Divine Saviour, the Holy Spirit as the Divine Author of all spiritual life in the churches, the Majesty of God’s Law, the Sinfulness of Sin, the Fall of Man, the Decree of Predestination, the wonder of God’s Covenant of Grace, the necessity of doctrinal Truth as the basis of a godly and moral Life, the nature of Faith in God and Christ, and its relation to the Gospel of Salvation, Hope and Good Works. No modern substitute can even begin to address the problems that entangle the human race in its estrangement from God.

If we are really convinced of the truth of our message, then we can proclaim it before a world of enemies’, and can ‘even rejoice that God did not place us in an easy age, but in a time of doubt and perplexity and battle.’

This leads us to the only motive that will sufficiently animate and activate us into defending the Faith in our day. That motive is the love of Christ. In a sermon on 2 Corinthians 5.14 entitled ‘Constraining Love’, Machen assures us that when Christ’s love for us (not our love for Christ) reigns in our hearts, ‘we shall be constrained . . . not to weaken in the stand which we have taken for the sake of Christ.’ How many churches and societies have begun with such a resolve, but ‘then have been deceived by Satan . . . into belittling controversy, condemning sin and error, seeking favour from the world or from a worldly church, substituting a worldly urbanity for Christian love.’

Further,
the love of Christ will preserve us from ‘seeking unworthily our own advantage or preferment, and from being jealous of the advantage or preferment of our brethren.’ Moreover, we shall be preserved by the love of Christ ‘from stifling discussion for the sake of peace, and from (as has been said) “shelving important issues in moments of silent prayer.” May Christ’s love constrain us from such a misuse of the sacred and blessed privilege of prayer!

“...problems...must be solved in the spiritual realm before we can take their solution to the world that lies in wickedness.

"If . . . before the conflict, [the Church] would descend into the secret place of meditation, if by the clear light of the Gospel she would seek an answer not merely to the questions of the hour, but, first of all, to the eternal problems of the spiritual world, then perhaps, by God’s grace, through His good Spirit, in His good time, she might issue forth once more with power, and an age of doubt might be followed by the dawn of an era of faith
." https://banneroftruth.org/us/resour...013/john-gresham-machen-defender-of-the-faith
 
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