Sunday, September 25, 2005

James Jordan on the attack

Dr. James Jordan has made some provocative comments in his Biblical Horizons newsletter. I do agree with Jordan on one point. It is a shame that great theological works are not being turned out as they may have in years past. When was the last great Systematic Theology written? I do wish that more of the great thinkers of our day would look to put their thoughts in print; however, I disagree with Jordan’s conclusion on such a matter. He states,

It seems no longer so. The controversies over the so-called "federal vision" and "new perspective on Paul" are but two examples of the closing of the Calvinistic mind, at least in many parts of the Reformed world. Men with little knowledge of history, evidently incapable of thinking presuppositionally, and sometimes (not always) rather obviously motivated by political concerns (if not by sheer envy), have not hesitated to distort and even lie about this thing called "federal vision" (which, as they discuss it, is largely a product of their own minds).

This is a bold claim with no support. Who is attacking the Federal Vision merely of political concerns? Point them out! Instead Jordan cowers under mere innuendo. There are people attacking the Federal Vision, but to say that men like Dr. Joseph Pipa and Morton Smith know nothing of history and can’t think presuppositionally is preposterous. I had both of these men in seminary, and I can personally attest to their knowledge of history and presuppositional thinking.

Jordan in the next article continues his blatant attack on all who oppose him and his thinking. After chastising all who oppose the Auburn Ave. Theology, he tells us all "to grow up." He then continues,

Having said that, I’m going to take the gloves off and point out that those critics who accused us of being Eastern Orthodox, etc., knew full well that we were not anything of the sort. They knew that they were lying about us. They were motivated by evil desires, often envy, and for that reason sought to tear us down. It was not ignorance. It was not really juvenile thinking. It was just envy and evil. Why should I sugar-coat it and pretend that this is not so, when everyone involved knows that it is?

While I have no knowledge of the events he is discussing here, it again seems odd that even with the gloves off, no names can be found. Who are these myesterious men who oppose people for political gain? Finally, we see names in the next paragraph.

A second large problem connected with the current noise is deceptiveness. The Mississippi Valley presbytery of the PCA has issued a report on FV and related issues, again erroneously lumping the NPP with the FV.

Jordan believes that the Mississippi Valley Presbytery is part of the slander campaign. He even seems to give proof with the “lumping of the NPP with the FV.” But, there is one problem with that assesment, the report did not lump them together. The report deals with the New Perspectives on Paul and the Federal Vision, but it does so in separate sections. The report also deals with N.T. Wright and Norman Shepherd in separate and distinct sections. One can argue, as I have, that the report tries to take on too many topics, but I do not think that one can argue they are lumped together. They are even under different headings.

Sadly, Jordan’s no-name rant on all that oppose the will of Federal Vision People has really rallied the troops. Those excited about Jordan’s claim that all who are not with him are anti-intellectual include, Mark Horne, Sibboleth, and Barb. Those are just the blogs I frequent, so there could be many more.

It upsets me a little that these rants are accepted among Federal Vision adherents, all the while clamoring for more dialogue, as Jordan does. If someone on the other side of this debate did such name calling and finger pointing at no one in particular, it would be condemned (see reaction to John Robbins), and it would be used as proof of a corrupt church system only out for political gain. If anyone thought that the Federal Vision feud was over, think again. This appears to be a controversy that will be around for quite some time.


Fred Carpenter said...

Jordan," He could point out that there is no “merit theology” in the Bible. He could say that he preferred to speak of being united to the whole risen Christ rather than speak in the abstract about an imputed righteousness separated from that union. He could argue that the book of Romans is not after all a kind of proto-Berkhof systematic theology, but a book that is to a considerable extent about how Jew and Gentile, torn apart and dead to each other, were now reunited through resurrection in the kingdom of the Resurrected One."

Re: merit theology scheme, I believe Jordan is dead right on; I was taught,I believe, wrongly, that Adam was out to earn, to merit eternal life, and the reformed taught me that we, too,could earn our way to heaven if we could do it perfectly; since we can't Christ earned it for us.

No, I no longer believe in a kind of quasi-catholic merit system as if Jesus is a tool of merit to accomplish salvation; am glad more reformed are moving from that form which they constantly critique RC theology on...Fred

Fred Carpenter said...

To just add another thought to Jordan's piece, I found a quote last night by Sproul that further supports my view that the Reformed (and, fo course standard Lutheran today)are quasi-catholic in their view of law and justification:

Man's relationship to god in creation was based on works. What Adam failed to achieve, Christ, the second Adam, succeeded in achieving. Ultimatley, the only way one can be justified in by works."

Sproul, 'Getting the Gospel Right'

So, I agree with Jordan and others, that 'merit theology is not found in the Bible' and that it is part and parcel of the Roman Catholic paradigm that was continued in the Protestant movement of Luther /Calvin