Overview of New Perspective on Paul

Status
Not open for further replies.

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
How serious do we take the N.P.?

This is a question that the elders (in my church) have been questioning. Like Lordship Salvation and Open Theism, it seems that these doctrines occur at the bible college and seminary level. This means, that if left unchecked, they will infiltrate the church 5, 10 or 15 years down the line through the medium of the pulpit. To the credit of astute biblical scholars, the aforementioned heresies were countered and exposed. The N.P. is certainly not new, but it is current reemergence threatens future generations. That is, of course, if it is left unchecked. Thankfully there are those who are standing up for the truth of God's word.

Although this is not a biblical argument, I have to wonder how much new biblical truth we are going to uncover, nearly 2000 years after the bible was written. Apology of the text must be exegetical, but I cannot wonder how the church as missed such an important issue for nearly 2000 years.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Scott:

Just the name itself is a giveaway. They took the name upon themselves, so it is indicative of their view: that it human derived or human dependent, not divinely mandated. The words, "new" and "perspective", and that they refer to "Paul", all show the subjectivity of the foundation. It is just using the Bible, not reading it for what it says.

We have the same difficulty with other views, such as Dominion Theology, which is presupposing Postmillennialism upon theology. Just the idea alone goes against sound elementary Biblical interpretation. But that doesn't seem to bother the proponents of it. I don't need to read what its all about to know that it is nonsense right from the start.

As far as I'm concerned, the name is the same as an admission that they are not serious about the Bible as God's Word.
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
I don't think the NPP will appeal to the rank and file in large numbers, because it does not address issues they deal with. One of the points Wright made in his Romans in a week series was that NPP stuff is hard to preach about. It is complicated and hard to distill into sermons (especially the 15 minute Anglican variety). Its extreme contextualization localizes much of its relevance to first century Jewish/Christian relations. This is largely irrelevant to ordinary Christians today.

Still, some intellectually-oriented people find the work mentally stimulating.

[Edited on 9-14-2005 by Scott]
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by JohnV
Just the name itself is a giveaway. They took the name upon themselves, so it is indicative of their view: that it human derived or human dependent, not divinely mandated. The words, "new" and "perspective", and that they refer to "Paul", all show the subjectivity of the foundation. It is just using the Bible, not reading it for what it says.

We have the same difficulty with other views, such as Dominion Theology, which is presupposing Postmillennialism upon theology. Just the idea alone goes against sound elementary Biblical interpretation. But that doesn't seem to bother the proponents of it.
John, I like you, but I really take offense at your statements above. First, you are being pretty high-and-mighty to dismiss the likes of Bahnsen, Gentry, Rushdoony, etc., as if they were lightweights in Scripture, and didn't really care much about God's Word. I myself have studied the Bible quite a bit, and I think postmillenialism comes through quite clearly from the text of Scripture itself, so your statement is an attack upon me, as well, and upon a number of people on this board.

Originally posted by JohnV
I don't need to read what its all about to know that it is nonsense right from the start.
Amazing! After having the audacity to basically say "big me, little you" regarding both postmillenialists and dominion theologians, you then turn around and say that you "don't need to read what it's all about". Incredible! So you have the God-given ability to determine an argument's worthiness without even bothing to read and consider it? Amazing!

Originally posted by JohnV
As far as I'm concerned, the name is the same as an admission that they are not serious about the Bible as God's Word.
And as for this comment, I am sick and tired of hearing the vitriolic comments being hurled toward all NPP people, as if they were all a homogenous group, and as if none of them are really "serious about the Bible as God's Word". Olliff, for instance, *only* pays attention to God's Word, and doesn't even refer to 2nd temple Judaism sources. Nevertheless, some of the conclusions in his Galatians article fall right in line with some of the NPP stuff. Here is the Olliff article.

So, does that automatically make Olliff a full-fledged NPP guy and therefore a "heretic" in your eyes?

Since I like some of what Olliff has to say regarding Galatians, does that mean that you are now going to suddenly lump me in with all the NPP guys, and call me a heretic too? Are you going to tell me that I don't take God's Word seriously?


If you want to offer some specific Biblical arguments against postmillenialism, dominion theology, NPP, or whatever, then great. But please stop carelessly throwing around the vitriolic blanket condemnations upon huge groups of theologians. A lot of those theologians happen to be your brothers in Christ, and they happen to be working really hard to understand the Scriptures. Some of them just happen to disagree with you on some points that *don't* affect their salvation or yours.





[Edited on 9-14-2005 by biblelighthouse]
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by biblelighthouse
Originally posted by JohnV
Just the name itself is a giveaway. They took the name upon themselves, so it is indicative of their view: that it human derived or human dependent, not divinely mandated. The words, "new" and "perspective", and that they refer to "Paul", all show the subjectivity of the foundation. It is just using the Bible, not reading it for what it says.

We have the same difficulty with other views, such as Dominion Theology, which is presupposing Postmillennialism upon theology. Just the idea alone goes against sound elementary Biblical interpretation. But that doesn't seem to bother the proponents of it.
John, I like you, but I really take offense at your statements above. First, you are being pretty high-and-mighty to dismiss the likes of Bahnsen, Gentry, Rushdoony, etc., as if they were lightweights in Scripture, and didn't really care much about God's Word. I myself have studied the Bible quite a bit, and I think postmillenialism comes through quite clearly from the text of Scripture itself, so your statement is an attack upon me, as well, and upon a number of people on this board.

Originally posted by JohnV
I don't need to read what its all about to know that it is nonsense right from the start.
Amazing! After having the audacity to basically say "big me, little you" regarding both postmillenialists and dominion theologians, you then turn around and say that you "don't need to read what it's all about". Incredible! So you have the God-given ability to determine an argument's worthiness without even bothing to read and consider it? Amazing!

Originally posted by JohnV
As far as I'm concerned, the name is the same as an admission that they are not serious about the Bible as God's Word.
And as for this comment, I am sick and tired of hearing the vitriolic comments being hurled toward all NPP people, as if they were all a homogenous group, and as if none of them are really "serious about the Bible as God's Word". Olliff, for instance, *only* pays attention to God's Word, and doesn't even refer to 2nd temple Judaism sources. Nevertheless, some of the conclusions in his Galatians article fall right in line with some of the NPP stuff. Here is the Olliff article.

So, does that automatically make Olliff a full-fledged NPP guy and therefore a "heretic" in your eyes?

Since I like some of what Olliff has to say regarding Galatians, does that mean that you are now going to suddenly lump me in with all the NPP guys, and call me a heretic too? Are you going to tell me that I don't take God's Word seriously?


If you want to offer some specific Biblical arguments against postmillenialism, dominion theology, NPP, or whatever, then great. But please stop carelessly throwing around the vitriolic blanket condemnations upon huge groups of theologians. A lot of those theologians happen to be your brothers in Christ, and they happen to be working really hard to understand the Scriptures. Some of them just happen to disagree with you on some points that *don't* affect their salvation or yours.
Joseph,

You are right in that there are differences and not necessarily links between the New Perspective(s) and Federal Vision, et al. But I will say that regardless of how one gets to the NPP type conclusions, they are dangerous and unbiblical. Olliff may get to his heterdox opinions differently than Sanders or Dunn (Wright has few original thoughts, he is for the most part a popularizer who is unfamiliar with the primary literature), but they are dangerous none the less.

There is no place for such in Reformed (or evangelical) churches.
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by fredtgreco

Joseph,

You are right in that there are differences and not necessarily links between the New Perspective(s) and Federal Vision, et al. But I will say that regardless of how one gets to the NPP type conclusions, they are dangerous and unbiblical. Olliff may get to his heterdox opinions differently than Sanders or Dunn (Wright has few original thoughts, he is for the most part a popularizer who is unfamiliar with the primary literature), but they are dangerous none the less.

There is no place for such in Reformed (or evangelical) churches.
Fred, have you read Olliff's article? Or did you just dismiss it out of hand?

I personally liked his article. What exactly is heterodox about it? And since I liked the article, are you saying that there is no place for me in a Reformed or evangelical church? That is a pretty hefty slam.

I have hardly looked at any of the NPP stuff out there. Most of what I have learned about it has come second-hand. I liked Olliff's article strictly because of his exegetical considerations. I did not base my decision on any pro or anti NPP sentiment that may or may not be in it.

I still believe in justification by faith alone, Covenant Theology, monergism, etc. So what's the problem?

What is in that article that should get a person thrown out of church?
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Joseph,

His analysis of the Pharisees and their problem is off, and as such leads inevitably to "covenant faithfulness" and, further on, to a tacit denial of assurance and justification by faith alone. The Pharisees were not simply accretionists. They limited the law in many contexts (this is wat Christ deals with in the sermon on the mount), they expanded it in some others. All this was done in the context of their belief that they had kept the law and thus had no need for salvation. That was at the core of their rejection of Christ, not some "we don't like Gentiles and Jesus does."

In my opinion, which I hope will also be expressed by the PCA, OPC and other reformed denominations in the near future, any man who desires to teach the New Perspective views or Federal Vision views should not be allowed to do so or have credentials.

This is a classic case of how heresy gets into the Church. Even the early liberals did not "deny justification by faith alone" outright. It is a process. We are living in the first stages of this process.

In your particular case, I believe that you are simply naive about these views. Olliff's article is a good case in point. Without coming out and saying it, he is denying (just as Mark Horne has done and has been pointed out by my friend David Bayly here) the traditional Reformed and evangelical understanding of how one is right with God.

But then again, perhaps that does not even matter, since Wright could care less how a person is right with God; he is all about who is in the people of God.
 

biblelighthouse

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by fredtgreco
In your particular case, I believe that you are simply naive about these views. Olliff's article is a good case in point. Without coming out and saying it, he is denying (just as Mark Horne has done and has been pointed out by my friend David Bayly here) the traditional Reformed and evangelical understanding of how one is right with God.
Thank you for your kind assessment of me. I am glad you are not lumping me in with people you consider heretical. And I do not mind being called "naive" on this particular topic, since I have readily admitted that I have not studied the NPP much at all.

Thanks for the link. I look forward to reading that article. It will be interesting to see what Bayly has to say about Horne.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by biblelighthouse
Originally posted by fredtgreco
In your particular case, I believe that you are simply naive about these views. Olliff's article is a good case in point. Without coming out and saying it, he is denying (just as Mark Horne has done and has been pointed out by my friend David Bayly here) the traditional Reformed and evangelical understanding of how one is right with God.
Thank you for your kind assessment of me. I am glad you are not lumping me in with people you consider heretical. And I do not mind being called "naive" on this particular topic, since I have readily admitted that I have not studied the NPP much at all.

Thanks for the link. I look forward to reading that article. It will be interesting to see what Bayly has to say about Horne.
Joseph,

I also want you to know that I used "naive" in its best sense - I am naive of a good many things myself! In point of fact, the vast majority of the Reformed Church (maybe 90%+) has never heard of NT Wright, merit legalism vs. covenant boundary markers and the like.

I would also suggest that you read the response to Louisiana Presbytery by Pipa, Robbins, Hutchenson, and the rest. They do an excellent job of dealing with some of Wilkins' double talk.

http://www.tulipfaith.com/files/LA_Pres_Response.pdf

[Edited on 9/14/2005 by fredtgreco]
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Joseph,

His analysis of the Pharisees and their problem is off, and as such leads inevitably to "covenant faithfulness" and, further on, to a tacit denial of assurance and justification by faith alone. The Pharisees were not simply accretionists. They limited the law in many contexts (this is wat Christ deals with in the sermon on the mount), they expanded it in some others. All this was done in the context of their belief that they had kept the law and thus had no need for salvation. That was at the core of their rejection of Christ, not some "we don't like Gentiles and Jesus does."

In my opinion, which I hope will also be expressed by the PCA, OPC and other reformed denominations in the near future, any man who desires to teach the New Perspective views or Federal Vision views should not be allowed to do so or have credentials.

This is a classic case of how heresy gets into the Church. Even the early liberals did not "deny justification by faith alone" outright. It is a process. We are living in the first stages of this process.

In your particular case, I believe that you are simply naive about these views. Olliff's article is a good case in point. Without coming out and saying it, he is denying (just as Mark Horne has done and has been pointed out by my friend David Bayly here) the traditional Reformed and evangelical understanding of how one is right with God.

But then again, perhaps that does not even matter, since Wright could care less how a person is right with God; he is all about who is in the people of God.
Fred,

This has been my understanding of the NPP being advocated today. In short, the one thing that all adherents of this view agree upon is that 1) our Reformers misunderstood Paul on justification, 2) the various, different forms of Judaism, as practiced around the early Christian era, did not teach obedience to the law as a way of salvation, and 3) that the main concern of Judaism then was to maintain its cultural identity. The emphasis is on covenant faithfulness as a means of "staying in" the covenant. This term "covenant faithfulness" seems to me (at least) to be what Calvin addressed, among other things, in his Commentary on Habakkuk, except he called it "righteousness by covenant." Your post made me recall his words, and I'll reproduce them here...

John Calvin commenting on Habakkuk 2:4: They go astray still more grievously as to the remission of sins; for as it is well known, they obtrude their own satisfactions, and thus seek to expiate the sins of men by their own merits, as though the sacrifice of Christ was not sufficient for that purpose. Hence it is that they will not allow that we are gratuitously justified by faith; for they cannot be brought to acknowledge a free remission of sins; and except the remission of sins be gratuitous, we must confess that righteousness is not by faith alone, but also by merits. But the whole Scripture proves that expiation is nowhere else to be sought, except through the sacrifice of Christ alone. This error, then, of the Papists is extremely gross and false. They further err in pleading for the merits of works; for they boast of their own inventions, the works of supererogation, or as they call them, satisfactions. And these meritorious works, under the Papacy, are gross errors and worthless superstitions, and yet they toil in them and lacerate themselves, nay, they almost wear out themselves. If they mutter many short prayers, if they run to altars and to various churches, if they buy masses, in a word, if they accumulate all these fictitious acts of worship, they think that they merit righteousness before God. Thus they forget their own saying, that righteousness is by covenant; for if it be by covenant, it is certain that God does not promise it to fictitious works, which men of themselves invent and contrive. It then follows, that what men bring to God, devised by themselves, cannot do anything towards the attainment of righteousness.

There is also another error which must be noticed, for in good works they perceive not those blemishes which justly displease God, so that our works might be deservedly condemned were they strictly examined and tried. The Papists rightly say, that we are not justified by the intrinsic worthiness of works, but afterwards they do not consider how imperfect our works are, for no work proceeds from mortal man which can fully answer to what God´s covenant requires. How so? For no work proceeds from the perfect love of God, and where the perfect love of God does not exist, there is corruption there. It hence follows, that all our works are polluted before God; for they flow not except from the impure fountain of the heart. Were any to object and say, that the hearts of men are cleansed by the regeneration of the Spirit, we allow this; but at the same time much filth always remains in our hearts, and it ought to be sufficient for us to know that nothing is pure and genuine before God except where the perfect love of him exists.

As, then, the Papists are blind to all these things, it is no wonder that they with so much hostility contend with us about righteousness, and can by no means allow that the righteousness of faith is gratuitous, for from the beginning this figment about free-will has been resorted to "” "œif men of themselves come to God, then they are not freely justified." They, then, as I have said, imagine a partial righteousness, they suppose the deficiency to be made up by satisfactions, they have also, as they say, their devotions, that is, their own contrived modes of worship. Thus it comes, that they ever persuade themselves that the righteousness of man, at least in part, is made up by himself or by works. They indeed allow that we are justified by faith, but when it is added, by faith alone, then they begin to be furious; but they consider not that righteousness, if obtained by faith, cannot be by works, for Paul, as I have shown above, reasons from the contrary, when he says, that righteousness, if it be by the works of the law, is not by faith, for faith, as it has been said, strips man of everything, that he may seek of God what he needs. But the Papists, though they think that man has not enough for himself, do not yet acknowledge that he is so needy and miserable, that righteousness must be sought in God alone. But yet sufficiently clear is the doctrine of Paul, and if Paul had never spoken, reason itself is sufficient to convince us that men cannot be justified by faith until they cast away every confidence in their own works, for if righteousness be of faith, then it is of grace alone, and if by grace alone, then it cannot be by works. It is wholly puerile in the Papists to think, that it is partly by grace and partly by the merits of works; for as salvation cannot be divided, so righteousness cannot be divided, by which we attain salvation itself. As, then, faith acquires for us favor before God, and by this favor we are counted just, so all works must necessarily fall to the ground, when righteousness is ascribed to faith. Calvin´s Commentaries, Vol. XV, trans. John Owen, Commentary on Habakkuk 2:4, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, reprinted 1979), pp. 80-82.
Blessings,
DTK
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
This is just a general impression and could be wrong. But from my rather distant view of things, it seems to me that the NPP teaches that the chief texts for major reformation propositions on justification and other matters do not actually support the reformation position. They don't necessarily contradict it either. So, people who were reformed prior to reading Wright seem to embrace his reinterpretation and then keep reformed dogma (and sometimes they don't even do that), but just with little exegetical or textual foundation. Often these people have vocations or jobs that require affirmation of the WCF or similar standards and so they go to great lengths to try and show consistency b/t the NPP and reformed views - else they would have to give up their jobs. So, basically two reasons keep these people affirming reformed view, inertia and personal incentive.

Anyway, it would seem hard to convince later generations to accept reformed positions would be hard to do. As Fred mentioned, things happen with a process. Later generations to to work out and more logically embrace the consequences of new theologies or philosophies. They are not committed by the inertia of the founders.

For example, outside the theological realm we have Darwinism. Darwin's behavior did not change much from his English sensibilities. Yet, later generations of Darwinists used the materialistic views as a source of all sorts of moral changes.

Anyway, just musing aloud. I could be wrong and am not asserting anything dogmatically.

Scott
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by Scott
This is just a general impression and could be wrong. But from my rather distant view of things, it seems to me that the NPP teaches that the chief texts for major reformation propositions on justification and other matters do not actually support the reformation position. They don't necessarily contradict it either. So, people who were reformed prior to reading Wright seem to embrace his reinterpretation and then keep reformed dogma (and sometimes they don't even do that), but just with little exegetical or textual foundation. Often these people have vocations or jobs that require affirmation of the WCF or similar standards and so they go to great lengths to try and show consistency b/t the NPP and reformed views - else they would have to give up their jobs. So, basically two reasons keep these people affirming reformed view, inertia and personal incentive.

Anyway, it would seem hard to convince later generations to accept reformed positions would be hard to do. As Fred mentioned, things happen with a process. Later generations to to work out and more logically embrace the consequences of new theologies or philosophies. They are not committed by the inertia of the founders.

For example, outside the theological realm we have Darwinism. Darwin's behavior did not change much from his English sensibilities. Yet, later generations of Darwinists used the materialistic views as a source of all sorts of moral changes.

Anyway, just musing aloud. I could be wrong and am not asserting anything dogmatically.

Scott
Scott,

I think your "impression" and Fred's observation are both helpful. When language needs to be subjected to the death of a thouand qualifications in order to yield, at the very least, lip service to it, then something is amiss. The adherents of the NPP among the ranks of those who still profess conformity to our doctrinal standards (and with whom I'm somewhat familiar) often complain that they are misunderstood and/or misrepresented, even by many of the "best lights" among us. Either they cannot communicate effectively what they're trying to say, or the rest of us are too dim-witted to understand them.

One should and must extend graciousness to them, as much as is possible according to the dictates of Christian charity. But that does not mean that we are compelled thereby to yield to them in their proffered nuances and corrections, and accept what we discern to be novelties and aberrations to our standards. I, for one, have grown rather tired of the explanation often offered to us for our relunctance to embrace their views, viz., that we're just a bunch of rationalists imprisoned by our enlightenment presuppositions.

One of the constant emphases from some of these same folk is that of conciliar authority; and they're all for it, i.e., so long as they constistute the magisterium. One notable example comes to mind of a minister called to a PCA Church in Alabama, but when the Presbytery upon his examination refused to receive him, that church forsook its magisterium and left the PCA to find affiliation elsewhere. Perhaps, now, Scott, this gives you somewhat of an insight as to where I've been coming from in some of our discussions with respect to conciliar authority. Private judgment can wreak horror, no doubt. But conciliar authority hasn't fared much better in ecclesiastical history. In reality, conciliar authority is as much dependent on, and only effective to the extent, that the collective individuals under it acquiesce in humble submission, which is itself rendered by multiple acts of private judgment. This is why I think that we must maintain conciliar authority to the extent we find it supported by biblical prescription. On the other hand, appeal to the church as the official interpreter of Holy Scripture, under what Obermann has identified as "Tradition I" must be assessed for what it is as well, viz., an arbitrary appeal when viewed against the panorama of the history of the church. In his monumental work, The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice, 2nd ed., (London: John Henry Jackson, 1853), Vol. II, p. 58, the Evangelical Anglican, William Goode (who was arguing against the Tractarians of his day) observed...
Even the Romanist himself, who begins with the doctrine of the infallibility of his Church, begs you to examine the credentials of its infallibility, and thereby grants, in that point at least, the right and duty of private judgment.
Nonetheless, we must have the norma normans (a normed norm) of doctrinal standards such as those of Westminster, as well as others that have been and remain very helpful, and which have come to us historically from the Church, in order to define and set boundaries, while recognizing at the same time that Scripture alone is the norma normans non normata (the norm that norms [but] is not normed) by any other authority, not even the Church. I think this is the reason for the wisdom of the Westminster divines themselves when they warned in Chapter 31 of the Confession that "All synods or councils since the Apostles´ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith or practice; but to be used as an help in both." They underscored here the arbitrary nature of the appeal to conciliar authority.

Nonetheless, that has not prevented many of the adherents of the NPP among the "Reformed" to appeal to the Church as "a rule of faith," but then, in the actual outworking of its implications, to abide by it only insofar as they themselves constitute its magisterium.

Well, as always, thanks Scott, for patiently enduring my own ramblings.

Blessings,
DTK
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Joseph:

You said,
If you want to offer some specific Biblical arguments against postmillenialism, dominion theology, NPP, or whatever, then great. But please stop carelessly throwing around the vitriolic blanket condemnations upon huge groups of theologians. A lot of those theologians happen to be your brothers in Christ, and they happen to be working really hard to understand the Scriptures. Some of them just happen to disagree with you on some points that *don't* affect their salvation or yours.
If you read carefully, I did not at all argue against Postmillennialism, Bahnsen or Gentry or the others. What I said was in direct reference to views that directly contradict the concept of Sola Scriptura, or Scripture interpreting Scripture. When we put man's theoretics as a crucial, critical point in theology, we've undermined the principle. If you are saying that Bahnsen, Gentry, et al, taught the vital importance of human presuppositions for theology, then you are saying that, not me. All I said was that this is an obvious mistake.

The Dominion Theology that was presented to me required Postmillennialism as a basic root concept, that this was the import of New Testament teaching and impact. I am not saying that Postmillennialism is itself Biblically wrong, for that is more than I know; what I am saying is that giving it a critical place in theology is an error clearly addressed in our standards. Neither the witness of the church, nor the traditions of man, nor the most advanced theories of man, not even a resurrected Apostle, nor even an angel from heaven, as authority in interpreting the Word of God. It is very clear: Scripture interprets Scripture, not man's theory interprets Scripture. I would say the same if a theology were based upon Amillennialism.

Don't get me wrong, it is good to have all these ideas, and to have them because that is what the Bible appears to us to say. That is one thing. It is quite another the misplace the importance of them, to place them overtop of the universally accepted teachings of Scripture. I understand the sentiment that all men must make presuppositions in order to begin to reason. But if someone can critique my presuppositons, then why cannot I also critique my own? And what better anchor for my soul have I than than the unspoiled Word of God, unspoiled by anything I have to add to them? So it is my aim in life to make havoc of my presuppositions, not to hang theology on them. I will have no other presuppositions than Christ's, that is my aim.

If you find Postmillennialism taught throughout the Bible, then that is how the Word is impacting you. As long as it is your aim to submit yourself the the Bible at every opportunity, even to the point to being ready to toss out your own favourite ideas for the sake of submission. Just know that any millennial view belongs at the end of theology, not at the beginning.

So I was not criticizing any one view, I was criticizing the fact that some do not find themselves at all discredited when they freely put men's theories at the front of theology. I'm not elevating myself overtop of anyone; I'm just saying what the church has always said:

Belgic Confession, art. VII,
We believe that those Holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe unto salvation is sufficiently taught therein. For since the whole manner of worship which God requires of us is written in them at large, it is unlawful for any one, though an apostle, to teach otherwise than we are now taught in the Holy Scriptures: nay, though it were an angel from heaven, as the apostle Paul says. For since it is forbidden to add unto or take away anything from the Word of God, it does thereby evidently appear that the doctrine thereof is most perfect and complete in all respects.
Neither may we consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, since the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself. Therefore we reject with all our hearts whatsoever does not agree with this infallible rule, as the apostles have taught us, saying, Prove the spirits, whether they are of God. Likewise: If any one cometh unto you, and bringeth not this teaching, receive him not into your house.
BC, art. XXVIII
...The marks by which the true Church is known are these: If the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if it maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is exercised in chastening [1] of sin; in short, if all things are managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the Church. Hereby the true Church may certainly be known, from which no man has a right to separate himself....
As for the false Church, it ascribes more power and authority to itself and its ordinances than to the Word of God, and will not submit itself to the yoke of Christ.
Westminster Confession of Faith, Ch. 1, art. IV
The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.[9]

9. II Peter 1:19-20; II Tim. 3:16; I John 5:9; I Thess. 2:13; Rev. 1:1-2
Having views and discussing them is a sign of health in the churches; placing them in crucial position in theology is not.

I have every right to conclude that, when theologians place human importance in a pivotal place in their theology, that all it is is interesting reading, no more. But they are teaching it in churches, and that is dangerous.

[Edited on 9-15-2005 by JohnV]
 

smallbeans

Puritan Board Freshman
Pastor King,

That interpretation of events in Birmingham, AL is certainly one interpretation that could be argued for, but I thought in the interests of fairness that we should probably also introduce, into evidence, the testimony of the church itself about the matter:

http://www.trinity-pres.net/pastoral-letters/summer2005.php

I think the PCA's presbyteries deal very differently with issues, and so it is important to get both sides of the story when you hear about a minister's problems with a particular presbytery.

-Jonathan
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by smallbeans
Pastor King,

That interpretation of events in Birmingham, AL is certainly one interpretation that could be argued for, but I thought in the interests of fairness that we should probably also introduce, into evidence, the testimony of the church itself about the matter:

http://www.trinity-pres.net/pastoral-letters/summer2005.php

I think the PCA's presbyteries deal very differently with issues, and so it is important to get both sides of the story when you hear about a minister's problems with a particular presbytery.

-Jonathan
Thank you for the link. It makes my point very eloquently, the difference was between not only the examining committee of that Presbytery and this pastor, but between the PCA and this pastor on the issue of covenant children, and more to the point, paedocommunion. He disagreed with the magisterium of the PCA and left on what he regarded as the best terms possible. Thank you kindly for both sides of the story. I think it expresses my point even more clearly than I did. It was the magisterium of one vs. the magisterium of many.:)

Blessings,
DTK
 

pduggan

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by JohnV
I am not saying that Postmillennialism is itself Biblically wrong, for that is more than I know; what I am saying is that giving it a critical place in theology is an error clearly addressed in our standards.
Where do you see the clear idea that biblical theologies developed to maturity after the standards were written may not occupy a critical place in theology?
If you find Postmillennialism taught throughout the Bible, then that is how the Word is impacting you. As long as it is your aim to submit yourself the the Bible at every opportunity, even to the point to being ready to toss out your own favourite ideas for the sake of submission. Just know that any millennial view belongs at the end of theology, not at the beginning.
That's begging the question proposed by postmillenial theologians. A faithful adherent of postmillenialsm likely considers his view as accurate a summary of biblical teaching, and as important for proper theologizing and exegesis as his view of sanctification or effectual calling. So you don't get very far by just saying "well, that's mans theology". Unless we want to simply argue "no creed but Christ" it's all "man's theology" in one sense or another.

Luther had to place his human reading of scripture at a crucial place in his theology to have even had a Reformation. Are there excesses of taking a generalized account of biblical teaching (a human 'theology' like the law/gospel hermeneutics)? Surely there are. Has every law/gospel theologian gotten every text correct using that heremeneutic? Certainly we must say no.

Oh: hello to everyone. Clearly I'm new here. Hope i didn't violate protocol jumping in with no introduction.

I attend Tenth PCA in Philadelphia as a member, and was raised at Knox OPC, American home of John Murray when he was on earth.

[Edited on 9-15-2005 by pduggan]
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
welcome, PDuggan:

If I may answer your post,
Originally posted by pduggan
Originally posted by JohnV
I am not saying that Postmillennialism is itself Biblically wrong, for that is more than I know; what I am saying is that giving it a critical place in theology is an error clearly addressed in our standards.
Where do you see the clear idea that biblical theologies developed to maturity after the standards were written may not occupy a critical place in theology?
You are talking here about "biblical theologies", not matured theories. Postmillennialism is the latter, not the former. By its very nature it cannot be a theology, because it is speculative at best.

As I recall, the OPC and the PCA allow three different millennial views as not contravening the WCF. That means that, at best, there are three non-mutual dogmas, and that means that they cannot be doctrinal.
If you find Postmillennialism taught throughout the Bible, then that is how the Word is impacting you. As long as it is your aim to submit yourself the the Bible at every opportunity, even to the point to being ready to toss out your own favourite ideas for the sake of submission. Just know that any millennial view belongs at the end of theology, not at the beginning.
That's begging the question proposed by postmillenial theologians. A faithful adherent of postmillenialsm likely considers his view as accurate a summary of biblical teaching, and as important for proper theologizing and exegesis as his view of sanctification or effectual calling. So you don't get very far by just saying "well, that's mans theology". Unless we want to simply argue "no creed but Christ" it's all "man's theology" in one sense or another.
A faithful adherent of Postmillennialism would remember the place of eschatological speculation, and would not build theology upon tenous ground. Doctrinal theology must be built only on the solid ground of revelation, not man's speculations about that revelation. Just because we may dig out a theory that does not contradict Scripture, and can even find some Scriptural warrant for it, that does not make it revelation. Theology is doctrinal, and doctrine must be unquestionably God's teaching alone.

Luther had to place his human reading of scripture at a crucial place in his theology to have even had a Reformation. Are there excesses of taking a generalized account of biblical teaching (a human 'theology' like the law/gospel hermeneutics)? Surely there are. Has every law/gospel theologian gotten every text correct using that heremeneutic? Certainly we must say no.
I'm not sure what you are saying here, but it was not Luther's human reading that brought about the Reformation. It was clearly the demand of Scripture, and Scripture alone, that compelled him to advocate salvation by faith, not his theorizing. Placing these extremes in juxtaposition does not negate the necessity of bowing before Scripture, even in our theorizing and presupposing. Bibical doctrine cannot be dependent in any way upon man's input into it. Theology has developed because churches have opposed error by faithfulness to Scripture; it has developed because godly men faced each other to deliberate upon Scripture, and to submit themselves to it. The trail of faith is littered with the theoretical remnants and refuse cast out by godly men themselves.

Oh: hello to everyone. Clearly I'm new here. Hope i didn't violate protocol jumping in with no introduction.

I attend Tenth PCA in Philadelphia as a member, and was raised at Knox OPC, American home of John Murray when he was on earth.
Well, its OK to jump right in. But one of the moderators will remind you about signatures. We'd like to know at least your first name, so I'll know how to address you.

This is not the forum for it, but :welcome:
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
David: I agree with what you wrote about conciliar authority above. I have always suspected that our disagreement was likely on emphasis over substance. I think the rubber-to-the-road test would be what model does one use to handle serious theological disagreements in the church. We would both utilize the model of Acts 15 and would agree that the decision of a lawful synod has authority because the synod was convened as an ordinance of God. This authority is in addition to to being consistent with the Word. People have a duty to obey these decisions. Like most duties towards authorities (say, child/parent or citizen/government), the duty to obey is high but qualified. Neither of us would say that any church council is infallible.

To me there are striking parallels between church courts and civil courts. Civil courts interpret constitutional and statutory text, which are authortative. Courts have no authority to add to, substract from, or misinterpret the texts. The courts are not infallible and they are reformable. Yet, they have actual authority. They are charged with interpreting the texts and administering them. Individuals have a high duty to act in accordance with the court's rulings, although this duty is qualified.

Scott
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by DTK
Originally posted by smallbeans
Pastor King,

That interpretation of events in Birmingham, AL is certainly one interpretation that could be argued for, but I thought in the interests of fairness that we should probably also introduce, into evidence, the testimony of the church itself about the matter:

http://www.trinity-pres.net/pastoral-letters/summer2005.php

I think the PCA's presbyteries deal very differently with issues, and so it is important to get both sides of the story when you hear about a minister's problems with a particular presbytery.

-Jonathan
Thank you for the link. It makes my point very eloquently, the difference was between not only the examining committee of that Presbytery and this pastor, but between the PCA and this pastor on the issue of covenant children, and more to the point, paedocommunion. He disagreed with the magisterium of the PCA and left on what he regarded as the best terms possible. Thank you kindly for both sides of the story. I think it expresses my point even more clearly than I did. It was the magisterium of one vs. the magisterium of many.:)

Blessings,
DTK
Exactly.

I love the fact that the view on covenant children was so critical that it required affiliation with a denomination that allows a complete rejection of covenant theology and paedobaptism (i.e. credobaptism is permitted).
 

pduggan

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by JohnV

Theology is doctrinal, and doctrine must be unquestionably God's teaching alone.
Nobody who affirms postmillenialism is going to conceed that their doctrine (in its broad outline: perhaps specifics are presented as more tentative conclusions) is not composed of God's unquestioned teaching alone, or that the fact that rival theologies exist is any more a challenge to their Biblicity than RC theology's existance are to protestant theologies.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Paul: (thanks for that)
I am not saying that Postmillennialism is not derived from the Bible. Indeed, it is. But that doesn't make it Biblical in the sense that it is God's intended teaching. If it were that, then churches would not only have the right to demand adherence to it, but would be found to be unfaithful if they neglected to demand adherence to it. The fact that the OPC and the PCA allow three non-mutual views on the millennium shows that it cannot be determined which God teaches. And neither of these denominations would say that God teaches one in one church and another in another church: that would be ridiculous. What they are saying is that the church does not know, and cannot say which God intends to teach. The fact that some people make up their minds for the church does not make it any more doctrinal.

Millennial views, specifically, are matters of conscience for which you have liberty in the churches to believe one or the other of the three (not the fourth one). But as matters of liberty of conscience, it would violate another's liberty to impose your own upon him, even if, and especially if, you are an officer in the church. (As an officer in the church, he represents Christ, not himself; and he clearly violates the passage where Jesus says that they should not do as the Gentiles "to lord it over them to exercise authrity over them". Matt. 20:25; 2 Cor. 1:24)

All this to say that when I hear of people propounding theology which confesses human necessity upon it, that I believe it to be discredited from the get-go (to bring this back to the subject. )
 

smallbeans

Puritan Board Freshman
Well, I see your point, certainly, but I think there is a an issue of catholicity here that is being made on both sides. You're portraying situations such as that one as a conflict between one person and a "magisterium" but in reality, we're talking more about a conflict between a church that called a minister in line with its commitments, and a presbytery which examined the minister in a way that not all other presbyteries do. To put it differently, that church could have stayed in the PCA in a different presbytery while still calling the same minister. So from one perspective, that church has left the PCA, and from another perspective, the presbytery has chosen a standard that is not held by all presbyteries of the PCA. Certainly, under presbyterianism, it is their right to do so, but there are not simply two magisteriums in the picture - one, an individual, and another, a whole denomination or something. The situation is a bit more complicated.

I too think it is sad that a Presbyterian church would need to join a church that countenaces credobaptism in order to be able to practice its views consistently, but I think that points really to the liberality which which the CREC approaches sacramental practice (which, from what I understand, has a genetic basis in the founding church of the CREC) more than it says that this church is somehow sub-Presbyterian. After all, that Birmingham church could get along fine in many other PCA presbyteries. Thus, the voice of one presbytery is not the voice of the PCA.

In short, I think we would all grant that there are various voices in the PCA right now that oppose some beliefs and practices that other parts of the PCA do not oppose, and some even promote. We have a disunity of vision and purpose, and that's certainly a sad thing from a certain perspective. And I certainly think we have no room to be smug about the CREC vis a vis covenant theology. We have quite a few pockets of baptists in the PCA (some may say there is a particular concentration in Birmingham) who begrudgingly baptise infants and spend more time at baptisms explaining what isn't happening than what is (that was the kind of PCA Presbyterianism I grew up in, in Mississippi).

[Edited on 9-15-2005 by smallbeans]
 

smallbeans

Puritan Board Freshman
One more thing - it doesn't seem really kosher to me that the definition of the bounds of presbyterian doctrine within the PCA should differ that greatly from presbytery to presbytery. We essentially lost a congregation by the accident of geography. I think we can do better.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by smallbeans
One more thing - it doesn't seem really kosher to me that the definition of the bounds of presbyterian doctrine within the PCA should differ that greatly from presbytery to presbytery. We essentially lost a congregation by the accident of geography. I think we can do better.
I agree. It is not kosher for Louisiana Presbytery to countenance all the aberrations it does, causing problems for a myriad of other presbyteries. It is very likely that the only reason Lusk was never brought up on charges was because he was in LA Presbytery.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Well, I see your point, certainly, but I think there is a an issue of catholicity here that is being made on both sides. You're portraying situations such as that one as a conflict between one person and a "magisterium" but in reality, we're talking more about a conflict between a church that called a minister in line with its commitments, and a presbytery which examined the minister in a way that not all other presbyteries do. To put it differently, that church could have stayed in the PCA in a different presbytery while still calling the same minister. So from one perspective, that church has left the PCA, and from another perspective, the presbytery has chosen a standard that is not held by all presbyteries of the PCA. Certainly, under presbyterianism, it is their right to do so, but there are not simply two magisteriums in the picture - one, an individual, and another, a whole denomination or something. The situation is a bit more complicated.
I made the point, and it stands. He knew it was a PCA church to which he was called. After the presbytery refused to receive him, which it had every right to do, He decided to resign from his presbytery in order to leave the PCA, and to lead that church out of the PCA and seek affiliation elsewhere. If he had a problem with the decision of presbytery, he should have appealed to the PCA general assembly, which he did not. Apparently, conciliar authority is only important when it doesn´t conflict with one´s own interests.
Another thing I want to point out is that you brought up paedocommunion here, but nowhere in that pastoral letter did I see a mention of paedocommunion - it was simply said that the sticking point in the minister's examination related to the church's view of covenant children. In my experience, most of the time when people disagree about paedocommunion they are disagreeing over the nature of the communion rite, not over the nature of covenant children. Both sides agree that children cannot engage in adult forms of self-examination, and so the nature of the self-examination requirement gets a lot of attention. Disagreements about the "nature of covenant children" tend to be about our appraisal of a child with respect to salvation or with respect to a capacity for faith. I think those issues are in principle separable, though I grant that they often go together, as they probably did in this case. But I could imagine, as a though experiment, a Zwinglian approach to paedocommunion coupled with a commitment to the normalcy of regeneration in infancy for covenant children.
If you didn´t see the reference to paedocommunion, you need to re-read the letter.
I too think it is sad that a Presbyterian church would need to join a church that countenaces credobaptism in order to be able to practice its views consistently, but I think that points really to the liberality which which the CREC approaches sacramental practice (which, from what I understand, has a genetic basis in the founding church of the CREC) more than it says that this church is somehow sub-Presbyterian. After all, that Birmingham church could get along fine in many other PCA presbyteries. Thus, the voice of one presbytery is not the voice of the PCA.
Yes, that is the problem isn´t it, the double-standard. Accuse their fellow Presbyterians of being subconfessional, and then rejecting the same standards for the sake of countenancing credobaptism and the exercise of "œliberality." Yes, and the Birmingham church didn´t leave the PCA until one pastor decided to resign from his PCA presbytery. One could turn your whole argument around and insist that he should have stayed in his former PCA presbytery, since the voice of another presbytery is not the voice of the PCA. However, in the PCA, the voice of individual courts are regarded as the voice of the church until challenged.
In short, I think we would all grant that there are various voices in the PCA right now that oppose some beliefs and practices that other parts of the PCA do not oppose, and some even promote. We have a disunity of vision and purpose, and that's certainly a sad thing from a certain perspective. And I certainly think we have no room to be smug about the CREC vis a vis covenant theology. We have quite a few pockets of baptists in the PCA (some may say there is a particular concentration in Birmingham) who begrudgingly baptise infants and spend more time at baptisms explaining what isn't happening than what is (that was the kind of PCA Presbyterianism I grew up in, in Mississippi).
No one was trying to be smug. I have listened to the adherents of the FV/NPP and members of the CREC complain repeatedly that other Presbyterians are subconfessional and baptistic in their perspective, but we are smug to point out the double-standard?

Cheers,
DTK
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Originally posted by DTK
Originally posted by smallbeans
Pastor King,

That interpretation of events in Birmingham, AL is certainly one interpretation that could be argued for, but I thought in the interests of fairness that we should probably also introduce, into evidence, the testimony of the church itself about the matter:

http://www.trinity-pres.net/pastoral-letters/summer2005.php

I think the PCA's presbyteries deal very differently with issues, and so it is important to get both sides of the story when you hear about a minister's problems with a particular presbytery.

-Jonathan
Thank you for the link. It makes my point very eloquently, the difference was between not only the examining committee of that Presbytery and this pastor, but between the PCA and this pastor on the issue of covenant children, and more to the point, paedocommunion. He disagreed with the magisterium of the PCA and left on what he regarded as the best terms possible. Thank you kindly for both sides of the story. I think it expresses my point even more clearly than I did. It was the magisterium of one vs. the magisterium of many.:)

Blessings,
DTK
Exactly.

I love the fact that the view on covenant children was so critical that it required affiliation with a denomination that allows a complete rejection of covenant theology and paedobaptism (i.e. credobaptism is permitted).
Now now; play nice Fred.



On a more serious note, I've always wondered how Steve Schlissel can remain friends with people who embrace credobaptists within their federation and then rebuke Westminster West for allowing Reformed Baptists on their campus.



People will begin to understand the difference, except maybe those among the Reformed who are really Baptists in disguise. And there are many such. That´s why Westminster Seminary has an institute on the church led by so-called Reformed Baptists, an oxymoron if ever there was one. Calvin and Calvinism thoroughly repudiate those who repudiate 99% of the baptisms performed in the world. Yet that is exactly what Reformed Baptists do. Somehow, though, these Baptists have their own institute on the church within Westminster Seminary, while at the same time a truly Reformed Westminster subscriber such as Norman Shepherd can´t even be mentioned there. But the Baptists are accepted. There is a sorting out going on. Some people are not getting it yet. But they will. If you´re Reformed, you can´t be Baptist.
-Steve Schlissel being interviewed in the Christian Renewal April 28, 2003

[Edited on 9-16-2005 by poimen]
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top