Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Buzz

The buzz about the 2005 Auburn Ave Pastors Conference is in. It seems apparent from my reading of the many bloggers who participated that the conference was a great success. Around 500 people attended the conference to hear Bishop N.T. Wright and Dr. Richard Gaffin speak on the theology of Paul. Apparently some small differences between the two men exist, but all was handled in a polite and courteous way. As a side note, I am not sure if I have ever seen so many pastors write about what a magnificent speaking ability Bishop Wright has been given before in my life. It must be concluded that Bishop Wright truly must be a wonderful orator. The conference concluded with a standing ovation for the two men.

The lecture by lecture notes are appearing on the web. The general flow of the conference can be found in them, if you do not want to purchase the audio version. Let the discerning reader decide for himself the teaching of these men.

It should be noted that Rev. Norman Shepherd preached in the Auburn Ave pulpit the Sunday prior to the conference, and he stayed in attendance the whole time, as did the previous four speakers.

Now allow me to ‘rant’ for a moment. The AAPC has started a whirlwind of trouble in the Reformed churches. Trials have occurred, accusations are thrown about, and it cannot be denied that it started in earnest with the 2002 AAPC. Since then the men adhering to the New Perspectives on Paul and the Federal Vision have been quite sensitive to any sort of condemning speech from their opponents. The affectionately refer to the word ‘heresy’ as the ‘H-bomb’ and constantly denounce the idea of their views being outside the pale of orthodoxy. Usually they admit that the traditional views are also inside the pale. Indeed, Reformed Catholicity argues many people are inside the pale of orthodoxy. After reading the posts from those who attended, I am beginning to see that sort of ‘peace-talk’ disappear. They are becoming a community within a community, and a community longing to lash out, if you ask me. Take a few examples if you will. Dr. James Jordan apparently wore a John Robbins nametag. John Robbins of course is no friend to the movement. This sort of mocking is always a first step, and a sure sign of a growing identity that does not include those outside of the Federal Vision. So much for everyone in the pale of orthodoxy. Doug Wilson openly states that he believes people will not be careful with the words of those at the conference, and that a new sort of Salem Witch Hunt is on. Tim Gallant seems to argue that Guy Waters, in his new book, butchers the view of those he critiques. Others show their low view of J. Ligon Duncan III, who has argued against the NPP. The ‘can’t we all just get along’ rhetoric is over.

I for one am glad for it to be gone. The views appear to be diametrically opposed to one another. The Protestants and Romanists anathematized each other over the doctrine of justification, and now a new doctrine has arisen. Can any change in the Protestant position be peacefully lived with? No. No it cannot. Historically, it never has been. The complete re-working of theology that the Federal Vision is, cannot stand together with the Traditional Reformed views. They are not able to share the same space, the same denominations. Not that we have to be rude to one another, but we should at least be honest about doctrine and unity with one another. The talk of large pails and peaceful unity at any cost is a dangerous one. The people who always take the denomination to liberalism or corruption are not the true liberals. They never win on their own. The people who take denominations down are those who want peace above all else. Those who prolong the stalemate, who put off the fight, end up giving victory to the innovators, the liberals. I submit to you Charles Erdman of Princeton Seminary. A self proclaimed Old School man, who just wanted unity. He helped take apart Princeton Seminary, and he was the moderator who forever gave control of the General Assembly to the true liberals. He opposed them theologically, but he wanted that giant pale of orthodoxy that can never truly be. Maybe now the debate can be joined in earnest.


Anonymous said...

Dear Lee,

I wholeheartedly agree with your views. The "community within a community" is very insightful. I would add however that the Shepherd/FV/NPP portion of the reformed churches are the ones that are most active in the church heirarchy. I found this true when I brought charges in the Kinnaird trial in the OPC.

It is much better that the true views of the men become apparent. Apathy is the enemy of the true church. It was only as active resistance to the heresy was mounted in our old congregation that the people of God in that congregation could distinguish properly what was going on. Of course, this lead to us being pushed out/us leaving.

Many have castigated us for being divisive. This is the great fear of the church and seems to be viewed as a worse sin than heresy. Who is the one who divides? Is it the one who departs from the clear teaching of Scripture on the central issue of justification by faith alone (but denies the departure), or the one who attempts to bring discipline in the church?

I think of a private conversation I had with an elderly man of God some time ago. He likened the present day of the reformed churches to the times of the Judges in which everyone (theologically) "does what is right in this own eyes." I think he is correct.

When will Christ's true church exercise the authority of the true church by bringing discipline?

In Christ,
Arne Wilkening
RE-Calvert Reformed Presbyterian Church
(currently independent)

David said...


I agree with you and Arne. Thank you for your excellent post. The following quotation from Machen is also to the point:

"When a great and true revival comes in the church, the present miserable, feeble talk about avoidance of controversy on the part of the servants of Jesus Christ will be swept away as with a mighty flood. A man who really is on fire with his message never talks in that feeble and compromising way but proclaims the gospel plainly and boldly in the presence of every high thing that is lifted up against the gospel of Christ."

pduggie said...

Jodan has been mocking Robbins since the 1980s, since Robbins has been described Jordan and Van Til and others as heretics.

So nothing new there.