Posted by: Grover Gunn | July 18, 2008

FV Theology and the Credible Profession

I recently “happened upon” an Internet statement which strongly criticizes as too lenient the action which the 35th PCA General Assembly took on the New Perspective on Paul and the Federal Vision.  The report of the Ad Interim committee, using the judgment of charity after the example of the Apostle Paul, stated that the committee viewed the NPP and FV proponents in the PCA as brothers in Christ. The Internet critic disagrees strongly with this judgment of charity. In contrast to this critic, I believe that a person can have a credible profession and yet lack in his theology the clear and precise distinction between justification and sanctification that is found in the Westminster Confession of Faith.

I am reminded of a paragraph I recently read in the document found here: http://www.bbmhp.org/neatby/neatby.pdf :

A friend, extremely well acquainted with Irish affairs, related that a conference was held between the Walkerites and the Kellyites to discuss terms on which a union between the two communions might be effected. The negotiations were broken off by the absolute refusal of Kelly and his friends to entertain a term of fellowship on which the other side peremptorily insisted. The article of belief to which the Kellyites declined to commit themselves was “that John Wesley is in hell.”

The report states that nine doctrines which some NPP or FV proponents may believe, are contrary to the Westminster standards. This means that those who hold these doctrines do not qualify for ordination in the PCA. This does not mean that someone who holds any of these doctrines cannot possibly be a Christian.

In his sermon “Free Will — A Slave,” Spurgeon gave the benefit of the doubt regarding their salvation to some whose preaching contained error:

Ah, when they are preaching and talking very slowly, there may be wrong doctrine; but when they come to pray, the true thing slips out, they cannot help it. If a man talks very slowly, he may speak in a fine manner; but when he comes to talk fast, the old brogue of his country, where he was born, slips out.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. It is very sad how many people equate being truly reformed with being truly saved.
    Although I think they are actually more charitable with the pastor of the local Calvary Chapel than they are with those who ‘stray’ ever so slightly from their interpretation of the confessions.

    I wish Calivin had added a 4th mark of a true church: “You shall love one another.” People might be a little more careful (cause Calvin is more important than Scripture).

  2. Thanks for the comments, Gary, about the double standard you have noticed. We do need to keep a sense of doctrinal proportion. A person can have a credible profession without meeting the doctrinal standards for ordination.

    Grover

  3. Hi Grover,
    Another good post. I agree. We are not saying the FV guys are not saved, they are just not qualified for ordination in our denomination. I think Wilkens was right in pulling out. But he, and many others, should have done so long before being brought on trial. That would have been the honorable thing to do, in keeping his word to uphold the standards.
    Blessings

  4. The report states that nine doctrines which some NPP or FV proponents may believe, are contrary to the Westminster standards. This means that those who hold these doctrines do not qualify for ordination in the PCA. This does not mean that someone who holds any of these doctrines cannot possibly be a Christian.

    Unless I missed something when I read it, but I thought the nine declarations had to do with such doctrines as justification by faith alone and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness? I thought the doctrines advanced by the FV/NPP men struck at the vitals of the faith – the very issues by which the church stands or falls? Are there multiple schemes of salvation in the bible and can anyone believe in any one of them as still be a saved man, a Christian?

    Can a man hold to a moralistic scheme of salvation based on a combination of faith and works, or, as they put it, our “faithful obedience,” and still be a Christian? Or, to put it another way, can someone reject the heart of the gospel, as we have seen in such men as Steve Wilkins, Peter Leithart, Doug Wilson, and many other FV teachers, and are we just to assume these men are Christians? I don’t see how that follows? I don’t even see how that is being charitable? Christian charity would seem to require pointing out to such teachers that they are in danger of the fires of hell.

    Also, let’s not forget the report was addressing FV teachers, not their victims. I would have thought these men were to be held to a higher standard even in the PCA? Was Paul wrong or even rash for cursing the Judaizers to hell? After all, they believed in Jesus Christ and salvation by faith too, much like the FV men do. Also, like the FVer’s they thought that mere faith alone wasn’t enough and something more was needed. Their concerns seemed to parallel the FV in that they were guarding against antinomianism and “easy believism.”

    You seem to like to draw fuzzy lines Pastor Gunn. Perhaps this explains why the PCA has failed to prosecute even one of these false teachers disrupting the church.

  5. The Reformed held a mediate position between those who drew the simplest and clearest lines on both sides of this question: those who multiplied the doctrines necessary for salvation (Rome and to a lesser degree some Lutherans) and those who eliminated practically all of the doctrines necessary for salvation (Socinians and to a lesser degree some Arminians). I agree with the Reformed mediate position even though it is much fuzzier, to use your language.

    I once heard someone argue that we must not become so narrow in our doctrine that we would reject someone such as St. Augustine of Hippo in an ordination examination. I disagree totally with that statement and argument. St. Augustine had some doctrinal positions which should clearly disqualify him from ordination in our presbyteries. Yet I do not question his godliness nor his great contributions to theology and the church. All of us who believe in the doctrine of sovereign grace are in a sense Augustinians.

    Take Richard Baxter as another example. He is often presented as the model Puritan pastor. Yet his neonomianism confused justification and sanctification. What is your position on the salvation of Richard Baxter?

  6. I have no opinion of Baxter salvific state, and, while I’m no expert on Baxter, if he confuses and conflates justification and sanctification in a manner similar to those you call your “brothers,” I would have feared for his soul too. Not everyone given the name “Puritan” can be trusted any more than everyone who calls themselves “Reformed” can be trusted.

    Also, this debate isn’t about Reformed orthodoxy at all, it’s about the very heart of the gospel which is completely gutted and overturned in the FV and NPP. This is deadly heresy of the first order. Yet, the response of the PCA is to say in spite of such deadly heresy these men are still our “brothers.” I think this was a definite weakness in the report and I’m encouraged that others have pointed this out even if you disagree.

    I think it ironic that the PCA which correctly identifies the central and deadly errors of the FV/NPP men, particularly as it pertains to the very heart of the gospel, also considered these same teachers as “brothers” and that this is somehow a “charitable” assessment. Must be that ectype/archtype thing 😉 Clearly there are no doctrines so damnable in the PCA that such men won’t still be considered “brothers.”

    However, where is the charity for those who have suffered under the teaching of these demonstrable and noted heretics? I belonged to a PCA church where we had a major influx of refugees from an FV church in our area which still goes by the name New Life, but in reality is No Life. Or how about the charity toward those who currently suffer under the teaching of men like William Smith of Community Church in Louisville, KY? Here is a man who, following Rome’s exegesis of James 2, teaches that works done as the result of faith are required in order for sinners to be justified before God! And this was part of his written response to the PCA declarations!

    FV men continue to thumb their noses at the Gospel and the PCA in general and you’re more concerned about those who object to calling these men “brothers” rather than addressing the bile they preach. I will tell you from my interaction with the FV men and their sympathizers since passage of the report, that this is one affirmation in the entire report that they’ve all hung their hat on. It is amazing how that one little statement in an otherwise excellent study has provided so much cover for such bold false teachers.

    If any of these men are truly brothers in Christ then why doesn’t anyone in the PCA hold them to account for what they are teaching? Only then we will know if they are our brothers and if God grants them repentance.

    Anyway, I appreciate your patience with me. I am convinced that the false gospel of the FV/NPP will continue to be preached along side the one true gospel in the PCA with impunity.

  7. I appreciate your concern for the purity of the gospel. Some presbyteries have adopted the policy of requirning all ordinands and transferring ministers to declare their views regarding the nine declarations as part of their examination before presbytery. The presbytery to which I belong passed such a policy in October 2007. You could talk with your pastor and find out what action your church’s presbytery has taken in this regard.

    Members of PCA churches who are exposed to concrete instances of heretical preaching in their churches have access to a system of church courts.

    Go to Google.com and then go to Google books. Look up The Rise of Moralism: The Proclamation of the Gospel from Hooker to Baxter by C.F. Allison. Go to the table of contents and click on chapter 8, which deals with Richard Baxter. Then start reading on page 156. I could give you a quick summary of Baxter’s views but I encourage you instead to read a few pages starting with page 156.

  8. Thanks for the reference. I read it and I agree with the author that it is difficult to distinguish Baxter’s position from Trent. I also would agree how similar Baxter’s neonomianism and understanding of faith tracks with the false gospel of the FV. Brian Schwertly made that point in his excellent book on the Auburn Ave. Theology, so your citation was helpful fleshing that out for me.
    It is amazing the mischief caused by the unbiblical and tautological three-fold definition of saving faith. Like Baxter the FV men smuggle obedience as the supposed “fiducial” element of faith. This also explains how these men can affirm justification by faith alone while at the same time denying it.

    Gordon Clark provided a much needed and biblical remedy to such a defective and, at least in the case of the FV, deadly view of faith. That is one reason why James Jordon said the FV controversy is “the Clark controversy with feet on it.” But, then, Clark also provided a simple solution untying your “knot” which has resulted from trying to juggle the contradictory ideas entailed in the WMO discussed in the combox to your other post.

    Finally, you are correct and there are courts that ought to be used to combat false teachers like Jeffery Meyers, Mark Horne, Peter Leithart, William Smith (mentioned above) and others. I believe the PCA BCO also provides a means for others from other Presbyteries to bring charges against such pastors when Presbyteries are delinquent in holding these men to account. That is why Andy Webb publicly threatened to bring charges against Mark Horne on the Greenbaggins blog some months ago, but nothing ever came of it. I guess the question is where are all pastors? If only Wilkins wasn’t forced out of the PCA through the back door and had been actually charged instead. I guess then we would have really known where the PCA stands on the FV. After all, most FV men claim to not even “see themselves” in the nine declarations. So, let’s face it, the report is a dead letter in Presbyteries that allow FV men to continue to remain in the pulpit.

    Frankly, after Lane Kesiter exonerated Doug Wilson on the questions of JBFA and imputation, I really have no hope that there are any in the PCA who have the epistemological framework by which to successfully adjudicate any of these men on charges of heresy. I think most in the PCA find themselves very much at home in the epistemic dissonance you identified in the combox to your other post. FWIW, you correctly identified what separates us.

  9. One more thing . . . .

    You talk about those “who are exposed to concrete instances of heretical preaching in their churches . . . .” That’s the problem isn’t it? How do you really pin these FV teachers down when they so easily speak out of both sides of their mouths? These men are expert in tickling the ears of their critics when cornered and men are willing to accept their dishonest affirmations of Christian orthodoxy as a matter of “charity.” I think this is why you see Christians fleeing FV PCA churches or just fleeing the PCA.

  10. I understand divine omnipresence to mean that God is everywhere and that wherever God is, all of God is there. I don’t understand how that is possible, and I think the reason I don’t understand goes beyond my having only limited information on the subject. I think much of the information I don’t have is information no creature could comprehend anyway. I believe there is much God hasn’t revealed to us for the same reason I never shared a good joke with my dog when I was a boy. This understanding that God is knowable yet incomprehensible was the understanding of the 17th century Reformed Orthodox. This understanding significantly predates twentieth century controversies over doctrine and philosophy.

  11. Of course there are many things which God has not revealed (John 30:20), but what God has revealed coheres. That’s where we disagree.

    As Gordon Clark wrote, which certainly stands in stark contrast to the passionate embrace of paradox and antinomy that we find for example in students and followers of Van Til , “God is a rational being, the architecture of whose mind is logic.” In addition, Jesus said the Scriptures “cannot be broken” and the WCF states that the Scriptures present to the mind of men a “consent of the parts” which is one of the chief evidences that the Scriptures are the Word of God.

    The question is one of coherence, not comprehension, and whether or not there is a univocal point of contact between God’s thoughts as He has revealed Himself to man and the thoughts of man. You clearly deny such a point of contact and the abject skepticism, not to mention irrationality, implied in your position is something Clark exposed back in the ’40’s and is an argument he repeated against Vantilianism throughout his career.

    So, and to put this one to rest, the idea that in order to know anything our knowledge must be comprehensive is a straw man.

    As to the 17th century Reformed Orthodox I disagree. Your reading of them is clearly through the obtuse lens of Richard Muller (as you made clear in your defense of the incoherence of the WMO per your other post). As proof, Roger provided you a very nice and pointed citation from Owen that better exemplifies the “seventeenth century Reformed approach.” Owen’s arguments against the same underlying premise found in Arminianism applies equally, and, as anyone can see, with just as much force to your position. Sadly, and from your reply to Roger, it appears you have no interest in actually “owning” much less interacting with either alternative this 17th century theologian has offered in light of your position.

    Instead of drawing out the clear and undeniable implications your position requires, and as Owen has masterfully done, you instead retreat into “mystery” and assert that your position is somehow not “irrational” then you back up your assertion with a citation from Muller. That wasn’t an argument. It was an evasion.

    Also, if you were merely claiming ignorance per your appeal to “mystery” there would be no argument. There are many things none of us can know. But that is not what you’re saying at all. For example, you claim to know – even as a matter of Reformed orthodoxy and historic Calvinism — that God desires that which you admit He has not decreed. The only mystery is why you would hold to such an untenable position when the biblical solution and answer to this question is so simple?

    For starters, I would argue that the picture Job gives us of God is the correct one when he said, “what His soul desires, that He does.” Not so says Pastor Gunn.

    Frankly, your philosophic position, which is shared and expressed so clearly by Van Til and his followers, has made submission to nonsense the high watermark of Christian piety. It is intellectual suicide and it has revealed itself beautifully in the completely ineffectual way churchmen in the PCA and OPC have failed to deal with the heretics advancing the FV/NPP within their own denominations and presbyteries.

    At least the OPC as a matter of court precedent affirms the FV as an acceptable expression of the gospel, even if only slightly confused, in their exoneration of John Kinnaird. FWIW I don’t think the PCA will fare much better, assuming any of the false PCA teachers like William Smith, Jeffery Meyers, Peter Leithart or any others are charged with teaching heresy. Which, BTW, is something I strongly doubt will ever happen, and, even if it does my guess is the outcome will be no different from what we witnessed in the OPC. As mentioned, I consider Lane Keister’s exoneration of Wilson a dry run.

    Returning the favor, I suggest you read “Paradox as a Hermaneutical Category” in Reymond’s systematics.

  12. It is amazing how that one little statement [that the FV/NPP pastors are to be viewed as “brothers” in Christ] in an otherwise excellent study has provided so much cover for such bold false teachers.

    Excellent point! However, it’s probably better characterized as “quite predictable” rather than “amazing” wouldn’t you say?

  13. Of course there are many things which God has not revealed (John 30:20), but what God has revealed coheres. That’s where we disagree.

    Which is why I wrote the following in the Amyraldianism thread earlier:

    “Everything that God has revealed in His word is comprehensible — meaning that we are fully capable of understanding the concepts proposed in Scripture. If our ‘theology’ produces blatant contradictions, then we need to reexamine our exegesis and premises, for we have surely made a mistake.”

    Perhaps I should have used the word “coherent” rather than “comprehensible,” but I think the main point is the same. A theology that is incoherent is incomprehensible by definition, since contradictory propositions are nonsensical. It is one thing to say that God is “incomprehensible” — meaning that finite creatures can never know everything about the infinite God; it is another thing to say that God’s revelation of Himself in Scripture is “incomprehensible” — meaning that God’s word appears to be partially contradictory and nonsensical, and therefore certain doctrines cannot be fully “comprehended” or understood. Vincent Cheung has written a great article on this very topic: The Incomprehensibility of God. I would highly recommend that you read it.

    Also, once a hermeneutical category of “paradox” is accepted — meaning that apparently contradictory teachings are to be accepted as true — then why not apply this same principle to the FV teaching that we are saved by “faith” and “works?” Scripture clearly teaches both (e.g., Romans 3:28; James 2:21-22). Therefore we should accept both as true, even thought they appear to be contradictory. After all, we wouldn’t want to become “imbalanced” in our exegesis. Right?

    If that is not a proper approach for interpreting Scripture regarding “faith” and “works,” then why should it be a proper approach for interpreting Scripture on any other topic?

  14. Sorry, the link for the Vincent Cheung article should be:

    The Incomprehensibility of God.

    http://www.vincentcheung.com/other/incomprehend.pdf

  15. I have loaned my autographed copy of Dr. Reymond’s Systematic Theology to my older son to read. I am aware that I do not fully agree with Dr. Reymond on epistemology. Yet I appreciate his work as evidenced by my recommending it to my son.

    If you want to discuss Dr. Clark’s philosophy, I am sure there are blogs for that specific purpose.

    I have greatly benefited from Dr. Muller’s books and I highly recommend them. I think his discussion of the Reformed distinction between the archetypal knowledge which God has of himself and the ectypal knowledge which God has revealed to us is especially relevant to this discussion. If interested, I would recommend his discussions on “Theology as Communicated to Human Beings” and “Our Theology: Revealed for Sojourners in Via” starting on page 255 of the first volume in his series Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics.

    The repeated quotations stating that God’s decrees are neither contradictory nor conditional were relevant to the discusssion on the free offer only if they necessarily contradict the understanding of the free offer of the gospel held by persons such as Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Robert Dabney and John Murray. I don’t believe that they do, and there is no need to go around in this circle again and again.

    The doctrine of divine simplicity also does not necessarily imply that only God’s decretive will is real and that his preceptive will is metaphorical. One also has to reconcile the doctrine of divine simplicity with the fact that God has revealed himself to have attributes and personal properties and with the belief that God’s revelation of himself reflects ontological realities about himself.

    To me, the two statements “God is everywhere” and “wherever God is, all of God is there” do appear contradictory. I know they are not truly contradictory by faith and not through human reasoning. I could remove the apparent contradiction by concluding that God is everywhere only in sovereign authority or power and has only a localized personal presence. Yet that would be elevating reason over revelation, which I regard as a serious error. Reason should have only a servant’s role as an instrument for understanding what God has revealed.

    I fully accept the doctrine of God’s sovereign decrees. If I were then limited to human reasoning with no other revelation, I would deduce from that doctrine that there is no sense in which God grieves over anything which does happen or desires anything which doesn’t happen. Yet there are Scriptures which I understand to teach clearly otherwise. Again, I do not allow human reason to rule over revelation, and I accept by faith that there is no real contradiction here from God’s perspective, which is the ultimate defining perspective. The limiting factor on such mysteries is the teaching of Scripture. Accepting Scripture alone as one’s only infallible rule does not open the door to every possible absurdity.

    When Christ expressed his sorrow over the unbelief of Jerusalem, I believe he sorrowed in both his human nature and his divine nature, though in different forms of sorrow. When God says that he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, I don’t try to explain this away as entirely metaphorical. When Jesus suffered on the cross, I believe God the Father in some sense grieved. When God’s people suffer, I believe I can rightfully assure them that God empathizes with them beyond our ability to measure.

    I read long ago that some have taught that the sorrow Christ felt over unbelief was limited to his human nature. I have never accepted that, even though it makes for a tidier system of belief with fewer complexities and mysteries.

    I enjoy the discussion, but I don’t have time to go around in circles and to respond to the same basic assertions repeatedly.

  16. I don’t believe that they do, and there is no need to go around in this circle again and again.

    You don’t believe that the WMO entails contradictory ideas, but you have not demonstrated that it doesn’t. Two different things entirely.

    Simply asserting that God desires the salvation of all in the “preceptive” sense what he does not desire in the “decretive” sense not only does not assuage your little intellectual “knot,” but it (as Reymond rightly states) imputes irrationality to God. Besides, the WMO destroys Calvin’s concerning the simplicity of God and that God’s will is one. When you get your autographed copy back look up the footnote in reference to 1 Timothy 2:4 and his criticism of Murray on this point. Until then, I would suggest the only one going around in circles is you because you have not addressed the argument.

    I will say that Spurgeon is a good example since per his exegesis of 1 Tim 2:4 he rejects “the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text.” Instead of the word “all” being a references to “all” classes of men, i.e., to include Kings and those in authority (see verses 2:1,2), he maintains that “all” is a universally distributive term applied to all men in general. What is telling is that Spurgeon admits his position is *incoherent* and states; “My love of consistency with my own doctrinal views is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture.” He thinks the traditional or “older Calvinistic” exegesis of this verse is guilty of altering the text to suit their theological system. But, of course, Spurgeon is the one altering the text to suit his (a)systemic preconceptions as he adopts the typical Arminian understanding of the verse which he admits is (big surprise) *inconsistent* with his own Calvinism.

    He even anticipates the obvious objections raised by his position and states “I have never set up to be an explainer of all difficulties . . . .” Sound familiar?

    Consequently, to the question of how his view coheres with the rest of Scripture, Spurgeon says “This is one of those things which we do not need to know.” So much for the Puritan idea of the “analogy of faith.” While VT put this rejection of the biblical and confessional hermeneutic in much more philosophic terms, the result is the same and rather than a “consent of the parts” what we have is an incoherent view of Scripture where virtually any novel and contradictory idea may be advanced (see the current justification controversy). You, of course, will not say “any novel and contradictory idea,” but you have no epistemological reason for opposing any. You accept antinomy as being inherent in the doctrine of the atonement, why not justification too? After all VT said “all Scripture is apparently contradictory” and Frame made it clear in his piece, Van Til the Theologian, that this includes justification as well.

    If I were then limited to human reasoning with no other revelation, I would deduce from that doctrine that there is no sense in which God grieves over anything which does happen or desires anything which doesn’t happen. Yet there are Scriptures which I understand to teach clearly otherwise.

    Then you should adduce them and let us see if they say what you think they say. Where do the Scriptures teach that God desires the salvation of those He has decreed not to save? Since I’m happy to dispose of 1 Tim 2:4 would you like to try that verse for starters? I’m happy to demonstrate for example that Spurgeon was wrong even with the aid of a 17th century Calvinist like John Owen.

    Again, I do not allow human reason to rule over revelation, and I accept by faith that there is no real contradiction here from God’s perspective, which is the ultimate defining perspective. The limiting factor on such mysteries is the teaching of Scripture. Accepting Scripture alone as one’s only infallible rule does not open the door to every possible absurdity.

    Perhaps not every possible absurdity, just some absurdities which is why for you logic must be curbed. But now you’re in an even deeper pickle. You say you “accept by faith that there is no real contradiction” from God’s perspective. Well, how do you know that Pastor Gunn? Not from Scripture for Scripture is what gave rise to this little absurdity of the WMO in the first place. Since the truths of Scripture in this case do not cohere, i.e., cannot be harmonized at the bar of human reason (which is why for you reason is a “limiting factor”), why couldn’t we just infer that God is eternally confused? That would seem to be the necessary inference from your position. Or, are we suppose to limit reason to such an extent that we can’t even raise this obvious question based on your own epistemology?

    But if you are willing to abandon reason here on what basis can you maintain it in light of fighting some of the other absurdities raised by the FVists? As mentioned, you have no epistemological reason to do so, but I guess we should be thankful for the blessed inconsistencies of some Vantilians. Of course, not the firm foundation one would hope for, particularly when combating heresy. Thank goodness we don’t have to fight the papacy like those old dead Calvinists Spurgeon eschews. We just have absurd men with no real power like Doug Wilson, Norm Shepherd and James Jordan.

    When Christ expressed his sorrow over the unbelief of Jerusalem, I believe he sorrowed in both his human nature and his divine nature, though in different forms of sorrow. When God says that he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, I don’t try to explain this away as entirely metaphorical. When Jesus suffered on the cross, I believe God the Father in some sense grieved. When God’s people suffer, I believe I can rightfully assure them that God empathizes with them beyond our ability to measure.

    You may believe any number of things which may or may not be biblical. Me too. That is why Scripture is the standard right? But passages like Matthew 23:37 and Jesus’ cry of “Jerusalem, Jerusalem” and Ezekiel 33:11 have been explained in light of the analogy of faith along with the other passages you reference that do no violence to either the passages in question, right reason or the system of faith taught in Scripture which is Calvinism.

    Frankly, and ironically, the passages you allude to have been dealt with repeatedly in answer to, you guess it, the Arminians who have also cited these verses in favor of their universalism. This is well covered territory. Evidently for you it is better to kill logic. You’re not alone, which is why I would argue that the Reformed faith is so anemic and is why those in the PCA and OPC are unable to deal with gross heretics in their ranks. Which, perhaps isn’t fair, since the OPC has dealt with them by letting Shepherd go and by failing to discipline one of his most notable students, John Kinnaird. The jury is still out on the PCA, but it doesn’t look good.

    I read long ago that some have taught that the sorrow Christ felt over unbelief was limited to his human nature. I have never accepted that, even though it makes for a tidier system of belief with fewer complexities and mysteries.

    But why would this be problematic? There are any number of instances where we must attribute aspects of Jesus’ life to his humanness. We see Jesus increasing in wisdom and even dying on a tree. The Second Person is omnipotent and cannot learn nor can He die. Also, I am not saying there are not “full-bucket” difficulties in Scripture, but the WMO is not one of them. It is a view based on a clear exegetical error, which, with the advent of Van Til, has found an unbiblical epistemology for support.

    The fact is God does not desire the salvation of vessels of wrath who He is fitting for destruction. If God desired their salvation then they would be saved for all that God desires that He does. The God of Scripture is a God who does all his good pleasure (Is 46:10) not just some of it.

    Similarly, Dr. Clark argued that there are no contradictions in Scripture, for if there were, and rather than having faith in faith, we could know that at least some of Scripture was false. Clark believed that “apparent contradictions” arising from our study of Scripture are red flags calling us to recheck our premises. Any apparent contradiction can and should be removed through a proper exegesis and scriptural comparison. Clark argues God’s revelation is not, at any point, irrational or contradictory and any problems that we may have reconciling the Scriptures rest not with Scripture (as your position implies and requires) but with our own understanding. Per the book the Clark/Van Til Controversy we find this observation:

    “[The Van Tillians argue] the preacher must say that God sincerely seeks the salvation of the reprobate through the preaching of the Gospel. Dr. Clark answers: That is not true; the preacher may never say that in the name of God. And, in the light of Scripture, he should say: God seeks his own glory and justification in preparing the reprobate for their just damnation even through the preaching of the Gospel.”

    It was because of Clark’s answer here that Murray and Stonehouse wrote their defense of the WMO. Yet, in spite of their efforts, Clark’s position is correct. Besides, you’ll notice Clark’s solution contains no “knots,” which is why Van Til and his associates slandered Clark as a “rationalist.”

  17. Thank you, Sean, for taking the time to express your opinion. I am giving you the last word. Anyone who wants my answer to your last comment can refer to my earlier comments. I believe we have made clear our different understandings and our arguments for them.


Categories

%d bloggers like this: