The importance of the third party is best seen in the Civil War, but before we examine that point, let us look at the election of Andrew Jackson first.
The 1824 election had only one party, and the party nominated John Quincy Adams, a Nationalist. The anti-federalist were not going to sit for this, and John C. Calhoun threw his name into the hat, as did a Southern Federalist named Crawford. Henry Clay, a lesser Nationalist also ran in 1824. Just to make the race even more interesting Andrew Jackson a Federalist was nominated by some friends at the Tennessee state convention. The one party had told people to vote for Adams, the people had listened when they put forth James Monroe twice. Yet, this time the people voted the way they felt rather than the way their were told by their party. Calhoun bowed out before election day accepting the only Vice Presidential nomination instead. He threw his support to Andrew Jackson, the next alliance of the anti-Federalists, and Jackson won the popular vote and the electoral count, but because Crawford and Clay also grabbed electoral votes, it went to the House where Adams was made President. Jackson went on to create the Democratic Party, which still exists today, and the National Republican party of Adams disappeared after two Jackson victories in 28 and 32, along with his Vice President, Martin Van Buren winning in 36. The electorate disregarded the party and while losing the actual election, created a party that rode into power easily in four years.
The three way ideological split is easily seen in the Civil War’s three great Senators.
William Seward was the Nationalist who favored banning slavery from the territories and viewed military struggle with the South as inevitable.
Stephen Douglas was the Federalist who favored the rights of those living in the Territories to decide the question not the federal government.
Jefferson Davis was the anti-Federalist who viewed the territories as belonging to the States in general; thus, slaves could be taken into any territory and only when the territory became a state did it have the right to settle the slavery question.
Both the Whig and the Democrats were alliances between these ideologies, and the existence of third parties like the Free Soil showed the discontent of the Nationalists. The Free Soil party merged with the Know-Nothings and gained some unhappy Whigs like Seward and made the Republican Party. This was a completely nationalist party. The first election for the Republicans showed their strength in 1856 even though they lost the election. By 1858 they had control of the House of Representatives, and in 1860 they won the Presidential election. They replaced the Whig Party which died out because it would not take a stand. Thus, one ideological group left and voted for a party more in line with its thinking, and it won out. The same can be said of the Democratic Party. It put forth a Federalist, Stephen Douglas and the anti-Federalist group walked out. They put forth John Beckonridge, and they finished second. The Federalist finished last because the leftover Federalist Whigs failed to support Douglas and put forth John Bell as a Constitutional Union candidate. The Federalist party failed to find a place to stand and thus with the Nationalists in control of the North and the anti-Federalist controlling the South it ended in bloodshed.
The third party point in all of this is that people voted their conscious and major changes ended up occurring. It may have taken many years to actually achieve a victory, but victory was achieved. The Free Soil party had been around for decades, and finally enough people saw their point, and voted with them to win the Presidency. It should be noted that Abraham Lincoln was not on the ballot in every state because the Republican Party was a regional party. Yet, people voted for them anyway, and victory came. If people had the attitude of you need to be on every ballot Lincoln would have lost and slavery might still exist in Utah. Principle was more important the electability. Voting for principles beginning the process with the Free Soil Party, ended up changing the face of America forever. A point well worth remembering when trying to decide where to cast your vote.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
The importance of the third party is best seen in the Civil War, but before we examine that point, let us look at the election of Andrew Jackson first.
Thomas Jefferson was elected President in 1800, and that was the beginning of the end for the Nationalist Group (then called the Federalist Party). The Democratic-Republicans (an alliance between Anti-Federalists and Federalists) began its long road to eventually becoming the only political party left in America. This occurred because of the death of Alexander Hamilton who was the main organizer of the Nationalists, and because of the treasonous stand that many New Englanders took during the War of 1812. The Federalist Party disappeared, so that even John Quincy Adams was a Democratic-Republican, although they soon became known as Republicans.
However the divide between the Federalists and Anti-Federalist becomes apparent as both Jefferson and Madison show their Federalist leanings while President. Jefferson does several things to increase the power of the Chief Executive and Madison charters the Second Bank of the US, something he thought unconstitutional while in the House. This leads to a visible break in party unity as John Randolph, a Representative from Virginia and an Anti-Federalist often voted against his party along with a few other Anti-Federalists in Congress. It was the beginning of a long search for a new political alliance for the Anti-Federalists that sadly ended in the Civil War.
With the Presidency of James Monroe the ‘Era of Good Feelings’ began where there was only one party in America. Yet, this one party contained men as diverse as Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and John C. Calhoun. In fact the three most famous Senators of all time illustrate quite well the three party system.
Daniel Webster – A senator from Massachusetts who was an extreme Nationalist. He ended up in the National Republican Party, and then later the Whig party. He argued for a loose construction of the Constitution that allowed the government to fund internal improvements within a state, chartering of a bank of the US, high protective tariffs, and against a state’s right to depart from the Union.
Henry Clay – A Representative and then Senator from Kentucky. He was also more a Nationalist than anything else, but his love for Union could have him considered a Federalist. He favored a loose construction allowing for Internal improvements and a Bank of the US. He also desired Protective Tariffs but was willing to sacrifice them in order to save the Union during the Nullification Controversy in South Carolina. He was against abolitionism because it interfered with State’s rights, but did think Congress had the right to legislate it in the territories, but never pushed it because he knew it was a contested right.
John Calhoun – A representative and then Senator from South Carolina. Calhoun was the model anti-federalist, and most of the South followed his lead. He was a strict constructionist. He argued tariffs were for revenue, not protection, was against government funded internal improvements, against a central Bank of the US, and favored not only a state’s right to leave the union but a state’s right to nullify laws that were unconstitutional.
One could also add to this Andrew Jackson as a better example of a Federalist than Clay. Jackson allowed high tariffs, viewed the Bank of the US as unconstitutional and destroyed it, vetoed internal improvements, did not think a state could nullify Federal laws and was willing to use military force to enforce those laws. But also he thought a state was sovereign over those within its boundaries, which led him to move the Indians to Oklahoma against the attempt at legislating laws from the Supreme Court’s leading Nationalist John Marshall.
This era also regularly had more than three parties on the ticket. Even three Presidential Candidates was a regular occurrence. The Republican Party dies, the Democratic Party and the Whig Party are born. The Free Soil Party is born, as is the American or Know-Nothing Party. The Democratic Party was an alliance between Anti-Federalists and Federalists, while the Whig was an alliance between Federalists and Nationalists. The Free Soil Party and American Parties were mostly Nationalists.
The next post will show how voting for third parties influences and eventually changes all other parties, which is why one should be voting for third parties when they more correctly line up with your beliefs.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Did I say three party system? Yes, I did. I have heard people over and over again say that voting for a third party is a waste of a vote because there are only two parties with a chance to win, and our country is founded upon a two party system. I disagree. I believe the country is founded upon at least a three party system and occasionally sustaining four. Now there are not always three parties in name, but there are always at least three parties in number. Hopefully over the next few blogs I will show that fact, and hopefully be able to draw applications from it. Admittedly this is not theological in nature, but a little variety on the blog never hurt anyone.
I should also say up front that I think the two party bias that circulates has colored a lot of history text books as well. For example, most books will tell you of the Federalists and the Anti-federalists at the Constitutional convention, and then again during the reign of Washington as President. Yet, this view falls into conflict with the facts. One good problem that the two party view encounters is James Madison. Which side did James Madison take? He was the author of the Constitution and a co-author of the Federalist papers, so he must be a Federalist. Yet, he led the opposition to fellow Federalist writer Alexander Hamilton in the House, introduced the Bill of Rights into Congress and worked closely with Thomas Jefferson. Those credentials would make him an anti-federalist. Most books try to solve this dilemma by claiming Madison did the first ever political flip-flop to curry favor with the voters. I have a different solution. The three party view.
The Constitutional Convention had three parties that continued into Washington’s Presidency. The anti-federalists did not want any real changes in the Articles of Confederation and were led by men like Patrick Henry, who refused to serve in the Senate because he so hated the Federal government, and George Mason, who walked out of the Constitutional Convention because it took too much power from the states. The Federalists wanted a new government that had more power, but still wanted to retain individual state rights. George Washington, James Madison, and even Thomas Jefferson fall into this category. Here many wanted different things, most of which show up in the Constitution. Washington wanted a chief executive because he had experienced the trouble of running an army that answered to a legislative body. Madison wanted the power to tax because a government had no authority without it. So on and so forth. The third party is the Nationalist party, who would have been happy to rid the nation of states completely. Alexander Hamilton and John Adams fall into this group. These men lost in the Constitutional Convention, but manage to pull the early republic more their direction. Hamilton won passage of debt assumption after a compromise was worked out about the location of the capital. Hamilton argued for loose construction to help win passage of the Bank of the US. Adams passed the Alien and Sedition Acts which criminalized speaking against the government. A lot of this happened because the true anti-federalists refused to participate in the Federal government, like Patrick Henry. However, by the Adams administration we see anti-federalists take a more active role, and the passing of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions opposing the sedition acts are a good example of anti-federalist thinking.
In summary we can see in the early years of the Republic there were three ideological parties.
Nationalists: Held to a ‘loose’ or ‘broad’ construction of the Constitution, and generally tried to gain more power for the Central government.
Federalists: Held to a ‘strict’ or ‘narrow’ construction of the Constitution, and tried to balance the Central with the States.
Anti-Federalists: Held to the state constitutions as above the Federal Constitution, and they tried to keep power in the state level.
Now the extreme anti-federalists faded as the first generation of Americans grew up under the Constitution. Less extreme Anti-Federalists, such as Richard Henry Lee, joined forces with the Federalists to oppose the power grabs of Hamilton and later Adams. The Nationalists made the political party known as the Federalists and Anti-Federalists made up the group known as the Democratic-Republicans.
I promise this will get to a point in some future blog.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Presbyterians and Presbyterians Together is a document that gains signatures daily. Its main focus is to promote charity in theological discourse. The charity is not only in how we discourse with one another, but also in recognizing divergent views within the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition. The following list of doctrines where it is “acceptable” to deviate is taken from their website, but put in my own words for the sake of space.
- the chronology and timing of creation
- the characterization of the Adamic covenant and its relation to the covenant of grace
- the priority of biblical theology, historical-grammatical exegesis, apostolic typology, and ancient contexts
- the role of conversion experience
- the spiritual life of covenant children
- whether sacraments are instruments or occasions for imparting grace
- what the bible teaches concerning worthy participation in the Lord’s Supper (read paedocommunion).
- application of the Regulative Principle of worship
- application of the 4th Commandment in the new covenant
- church polity
- relation between the church and culture as well as the civil magistrate (read theonomy)
- the application of election to the visible church
- how we view the second coming of Christ and the millenium.
We can see that this list covers almost everything that has been debated in Presbyterianism over the past several decades. It goes from the things where the creeds allow wiggle room such as the millenium to places where the creeds are clear such as paedocommunion. It allows for divergent views on the sacraments and exegesis along with creation. One wonders after reading this what is left to discuss. One can have charitable discourse on these subjects, but if signing this document means allowing all views on these things to be acceptable, what is the point of discourse? The end conclusion is already granted by the mere act of signing. All of these differences are acceptable.
It was pointed out to me that this tactic was used once before. The idea of claiming many biblical doctrines non-essential, able to be disputed, and calling accepting that reality ‘charity’ was used in the Auburn Affirmation in 1924. That declaration said that many theories about one subject, such as the virgin birth, could be deduced from Scripture. Thus, all were acceptable, and the church should accept all the views. This was basically made the position of the church in 1926. The Presbyterian Church in the United States has really never been the same sense. Within a decade Princeton was dismantled and rebuilt in the image of the new PCUSA, and men like Machen were expelled from the ministry. While, I cannot speak to the outcome of Presbyterians and Presbyterians Together, I do believe that the two documents are similar in nature. Each declares the Scriptures are unclear and multiple legitimate theories can be deduced from them. The bible does not clearly state for us how God wants to be worshipped, what the sacraments do, who is to partake of the Lord’s Supper, how God created the world, nor how his church should relate to the culture or magistrate. These are just a few of the places where the Scriptures teach many different things, or at least unclear, according to the PPT document. I will not be signing, and I hope many others will consider exactly what they are doing when they put their name on a document. This is not a call to be nice in discussions, but a statement about the Bible itself.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
I am back from Synod. It was a fun time and while not quite as productive as I had hoped, it was a meeting filled with remarkable unity. The issue we expected to divide and cause rifts (the idea of a denominational seminary), did not. We did recommit our Federal Vision report to make it stronger with more proofs, which did disappoint me a little. I did think the report was not up to usual standards, but I hoped we would make an effort to make some sort of statement. Older and wiser men than I prevailed, and we made no such statement. However, the unexpected highlight of the meetings was the passing of a salary for a missionary to Uganda in joint co-operation with the OPC. Apparently two men in our denomination now are praying about it, and we approved money for one to go for four years and teach in a seminary in Uganda. This is quite a high moment in the RCUS history as we have committed to foreign missions. It was a wonderful time over all.
And just to prove it was not all church politics and crunching numbers, I thought I would share a thought that was shared with me about the ‘word of the Lord’ phrases often used in the OT. I want to open this up for comment because it was an idea that had not occurred to me in the past, and I want the thoughts of others.
Places such as Genesis 15:4 or 2 Samuel 7:4 use the phrase, ‘the word of the Lord came unto him, saying’ and then follows the prophetic statement. Notice the statement literal claims the word of the Lord said something to the prophet. It is also similar in other places such as 1 Samuel 3:21 where the Lord is revealed to Samuel by the ‘word of the Lord’. Here the word of the Lord reveals Jehovah to Samuel. Do these type of references, which are common place, have any connotation of Jesus Christ being the agent or teacher or revealer. We know the Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1) and that Christ. So the term ‘word’ is not a difficulty. It may also fit with 1 Peter 3:18-20 where Christ preached in the days of Noah.
I would like to hear the thoughts of those more skilled in Hebrew, and those who have more commentaries than I do. It is an intriguing theory, but I am not yet convinced it is exegetically possible or sound. I look forward to comments.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
I read The American Gospel by Jon Meacham, who is the chief editor of Newsweek, because of his media blitz. I saw him on everything from Tim Russert to the Colbert Report. The premise of the book is America has always had its own gospel, a religious center that allowed public religion (ie. invoking God), but favored no religion. Meacham proclaims that America is not a Christian nation, and that freedom and liberty ruled the founders not Christianity. The book reports to prove this theory. Sadly it fails on many fronts. It fails so bad in fact, I have to say it was an absolutely awful book. My major critics of this book fall into several major categories.
Stylistic: This book is written in a halting style. He has a new topic or a new time period or person to deal with every four paragraphs or so and he chooses sub-chapter divisions to show this change. It also leads to very little connection between this sub-chapters. So much so in fact that the thesis of the book is sometimes lost, and one has to look back in the book to see what the point this disconnected stories are supposed to be proving. Perhaps this is the best way to deal with such a vast time period, but I did not enjoy it. I will admit this may simply be a preference of mine to enjoy connected paragraphs, but it is still my preference.
Scholarship: It is one thing to pile up examples that you think prove your point, but anyone can do it. The question is can you deal with the examples that do not fit your model. Of course Meacham loves to quote Jefferson, Paine, and Franklin. He has some quotes from Madison and Adams, and as history progresses he gets more ammo. He does a good job of making Jerry Fawell look like an idiot, but not once does he deal with contrary evidence. One can easily find quotes from Deists who think America is not a Christian nation, but what about those who thought it was a Christian nation. Thomas Jefferson may support his argument, but what about Patrick Henry or Samuel Adams? How do they fit in? It is fine to quote Jefferson’s Religious Freedom Statute in Virginia or a Treaty with Tripoli, but what Holy Trinity Church v United States or public days of prayer and thanksgiving or chaplains in Congress, or state churches that existed long after the First Amendment. Meachem does not deal with these things at all. Not once does he take on what one might call evidence for the Christian heritage of the nation. That is poor scholarship in my opinion.
Theological: It is often a bad sign when non-Christians start writing about Christianity. If they do not understand it, can you trust their conclusions? I do not know the religious standing of Mr. Meacham, but he did make a few off hand comments about the ‘myth’ of sin and redemption that leads one to think he does not highly esteem Christianity. He makes a fundamental mistake, in my opinion, when evaluating our nations history. He does not understand the difference between a country founded on Christian principles and a Theocracy. He thinks Christian nation is a synonym for Established Church. That is not the case. Meacham wastes countless pages juxtaposing religious liberty and a Christian nation never stopping to consider that maybe a Christian nation is the foundation for religious liberty. I would argue that is what the Declaration of Independence is claiming when it invokes God and says ‘liberty’ is an inalienable right. Meacham comes away thinking the phrase liberty is there to protect us from Christianity. Meacham quotes Alexander Hamilton who states, “morality must fall without religion”, but fails to connect the dots. Meacham thinks all religions are acceptable standards of morality, and the founders wanted it that way. Yet, the morality of the Christian religion conflicts in many areas with the morality of Islam. Islam sees many times when it is okay to kill innocent people, but there is not a state in the Union that allows that morality. I have no doubt the founders wanted Jews, Christians, and Muslims to live together in a new nation, but that does not mean they were indifferent about the moral system used to set up our country, or that at some point ‘smiting infidels on the neck’ would be deemed acceptable behavior because any moral system will do. The vast majority of Meacham’s arguments and proofs are proof that the founders did not want Congress to establish a state church, and have very little to do with modern debates about the morality of homosexuality, abortion, and prayer in schools.
Political: I am not a big fan of modern conservatives, but in the later chapters of the book Meacham comes across as a man with an ax to grind. He praises Billy Graham’s inclusive move in his later years, and vilifies Jerry Fawell. I mean he does not waste an opportunity to jump on Jerry or Pat Robertson. I do not care for them that much either, but those two men do little to advance the cause of his book. Besides he has a hard time wiggling out of the conflict that he creates after praising Martin Luther King Jr., and criticizing Fawell.
In the end, I disagree with Meacham’s conclusions. I feel he did not interact with any evidence that might make his case look bad, and I think it was a slow read without much bang for the buck. It saddens me to think that he is being considered a scholar and speaking authoritatively on the subject on talk shows.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Lately I have been thinking a bit about immigration and English as the official language of America. I have heard the arguments on both sides. Some say that English is the language of the American culture and if you want to be a part, you need to speak the language. I know people who cannot get jobs as teachers because they are not bi-lingual and that seems unfair. Others claim that it is not merciful to make old men learn new languages, and that one culture is not necessarily better than another. Both make some good points.
I do believe that I am in favor of making English the official language and requiring those who wish to immigrate here learn English. The reason is because multiculturalism is dangerous. Do not mistake what I am saying. I am not trying to say there is something superior about cultures that speak English, but rather any time two cultures try to exist side by side, they eventually war. Language is very related to that subject. Different languages prohibit one from entering the culture. A non-Spanish speaker can never really be a part of a Spanish speaking culture until he learns the language. The same goes for any language. Different cultures with differing languages or even dialects have tried to exist side by side before, and it has not worked. Take Quebec and Canada for example. Quebec has always tried to separate from Canada because it has its own language and its own culture, and it does not like being part of Canada’s English speaking culture, and the feeling goes both ways. In fact, that problem can be traced all the way back to the American Revolution and the ‘Intolerable Acts’. One of the Intolerable Acts was allowing the newly acquired Quebec to remain French speaking and Roman Catholic. The colonists hated this idea, and during the revolution tried to invade Quebec. Even here in America the Southern accent is still viewed with disdain because at one time it was the sign of a completely different culture, a culture that the Civil War wiped out. The Southern and the Northern cultures could not exist because they were radically different. The same can be said for Ireland, and their they speak the same language. One need not look past modern Israel in this debate either. Two separate cultures cannot exist together in peace. Requiring the learning of English has worked to assimilate many different cultures already. American has always been the great melting pot. America does not have as big a problem with Islamic radicalism because we do a much better job of giving them access to American culture. England and France stand as very recent examples of violence that was homegrown. Thus, I believe it is more merciful to make that old immigrant learn English than to let his children or grandchildren die in a great deal of violence because we did not.
I look forward to some discussion on this topic.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Joseph Minich has written a paper called Within the Bounds of Orthodoxy. It is a paper about the current controversy regarding the Federal Vision. It has been endorsed by John Frame and Steve Wilkins and commented upon favorably by many other bloggers both pastors and laymen.
It is an interesting paper. It seeks to establish the faithfulness of the Federal Vision to both the historic Reformed positions and to the Bible. Although it concentrates on showing the Federal Vision to be a historically held position. The paper has an abundance of quotes and must be admired for its scholarship and research. Thus in evaluating this plea we must carefully look at the historical record he provides.
I do believe that a few glaring historical quotations have been taken out of context and twisted to fit a Federal Vision view point when what they really do the opposite. For example, Mr. Minich quotes Turretin as supporting the view that Jesus offers the Rich Young Ruler the gospel. First no one denies that Jesus offered the gospel, the difference comes in whether or not the offer of obedience to the law was the gospel or showing him the need for the gospel. Turretin says Rich Young Ruler must follow Christ, which is not the same as saying the ‘Law is Gospel and Gospel is the Law’ as Steve Schissel put it.
Minich next quotes Ursinus as saying, “Good works are necessary to salvation”, which he does say on page 485 of his commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism. But the Federal Vision relates good works not to salvation in general, but justification specifically. The same paragraph quoted by Minich of Ursinus says, "To say that good works are necessary in them that are to be justified, is to speak ambiguously, because it may be so understood as if they were required before justification, and so become a cause of justification." This is a fairly harsh condemnation of the language used by many Federal Vision men as well as an outright rejection that good works are a cause or ground of justification in anyway. Salvation and justification are not necessarily interchangeable and Mr. Minich has missed that point.
In discussing the Covenant of Grace and the issue of conditions, Mr. Minich argues that the Federal Vision does not claim man must fulfill conditions in anyway. To show the Federal Vision asserts Christ kept the conditions for us he turns to Rev. Rich Lusk:
He [Lusk] says further, "Any and all covenant conditions must be understood within this wider framework of union with Christ, the One who has already kept the covenant in full on our behalf, and who shares that covenant keeping (as both status and life) with us. All covenant conditions are intrinsic to our union with Christ, not extrinsic (as though they had to be met from outside of union with Christ). The conditions are not… ‘Do this and live.’"
Yet the fact that one can be in Christ and then fall out of Christ, and whether or not that implies conditions intrinsic to our union with Christ is not discussed at all. Thus, the major issue in the debate about conditions is artfully avoided.
When dealing with the objection that the Federal Vision makes justification a process with an initial justification and a final justification, Minich states that having a beginning and an end does not make something a process. This may very well be true, but Minich fails to deal with the most significant objection, and evidence that the Federal Vision makes justification a process. All advocates of the Federal Vision make clear that one can loss his status in Christ. He can be initially justified, but may not be finally justified. Thus, not only is there a beginning and an end, but also an ability to have started, but not finish. It is hard to deny the claims of a process when that element is considered. This fact should also be remembered when evaluating his quotes from old reformers. If they did not mean one could start and then not finish, they do not support the Federal Vision view of justification. When the paper does get around to the subject of apostasy it rejects the idea that one stays in the covenant by work. The paper does quote the Auburn Ave. Church by saying, "Those elect unto eternal salvation are always distinguished by their perseverance in faith and obedience by the grace of God." Yet, the fail to see this as work. What that quote reveals is that the difference between those who have only an initial justification and those who have both an initial and final is perseverance in faith and obedience. In fact, the same statement goes on to say that those who are not ordained to eternal life have all the benefits of Christ crucified except the gift of perseverance. The paper does not attempt to reconcile the idea of persevering obedient faithfulness being the sole difference between apostates and elect with the idea that remaining in the covenant is not of works.
When addressing the denial of imputation of the active obedience of Christ, Minich states that all affirm the doctrine. He specifically lists James Jordan as affirming the imputation of the active obedience of Christ. One cannot find such support when reading Dr. Jordan. He states,
But merit theology often assumes that Jesus’ earthly works and merits are somehow given to us, and there is no foundation for this notion. It is, in fact, hard to comprehend what is meant by it. . . . What we receive is not his earthly life and His death, but His death and His glorified life. What we receive is not Jesus’ merits, but His maturity (Federal Vision. Pg. 194-195).
Minich does admit that the model of imputation is not the same with many favoring conjoining imputation with union with Christ. Mr. Minich fails to recognize that implantation or participationism is different from imputation. The mode is important in this discussion.
The paper concludes unhappily with a slap at American Presbyterianism pointing out that the Federal Vision controversy does not rage in Europe. The sad state of European Christianity should not be the standard to which we measure anything. Yet, later in that same paragraph Mr. Minich contradicts his own thesis by showing the Continental tradition does have conflicts about the Federal Vision by showing that both Norman Shepherd (Christian Reformed Church) and David Englesma (Protestant Reformed Church) are on opposite sides of the Federal Vision debate. He also argues for the Mercersburg duo of Schaff and Nevin, but fails to point out that their theology created the United Churches of Christ, hardly a Reformed entity at all. I will admit the Federal Vision is a much bigger deal in the American Presbyterian Churches. I could go on to argue for the superiority of the Three Forms of Unity, but that would cause needless anguish. The paper then goes on to state that the critics of the Federal Vision have never once accurately represented the Federal Vision. His proof? When critical statements come out the condemned speak out against it. Hardly convincing proof. Next, he claims that the Federal Vision and the New Perspectives are not movements, but rather they are "impulses". The distinction between the two is not elaborated. He then pleads for better communication and more open understanding as well as letting biblical theology be the guide and allow the ‘dynamic’ nature of language and words their rightful place.
In the end this paper designed to show the Federal Vision as within the bounds of orthodoxy is not a fair treatment of the debate at all. It should not surprise us that Federal Vision men were willing to so quickly endorse it. I can wholeheartedly endorse the need for further and better communication. Yet, the communication cannot simply be denying that critics understand the Federal Vision or its implications. Maybe the do, maybe they don’t, but denials do not make it so. The hard consequences of the Federal Vision thought must be laid bare on the table, which this essay avoids doing in every circumstance. It is good that they deny justification is a process, but is the result of all aspects of their thought that justification is a process. One does not have to outright affirm a process in justification to be teaching a process in justification. I hope Mr. Minich will consider that fact in any future writings.
A few links to keep you reading.
Tim Challies has a nice post on the importance of catechizing.
Johannes Weslianus has a nice piece about theology, its importance, and discussion of it.
The Chicago Sun Times reports that some immigrants are against a boycott on May 1st for fear that it might cause a backlash against the immigration cause. I bet it is too little too late to call of the boycott now. Whoever decided to put the boycott on the Communist May Day anyway? Why not wait until Cinco de Mayo and then you could at least claim a cultural heritage to it? Just some thoughts.
I have been at a workshop put on by Heidelberg Seminary. It was an enjoyable time. I will get something up later today.