There has been a lot of back and forth between the Federal Vision men and those who are against the Federal Vision. The pro-FV side has often claimed they were never understood by the anti-FV men, and they have often claimed to have been wronged by all of the committees that put out reports and condemn the FV. They especially like to tout the idea that they were never contacted personally. In that respect, Jim Jordan’s rant on Douglas Wilson’s blog is nothing new. I have not read the article to which Dr. Jordan is primarily responding, but I do want to address his snarky comments about not being contacted personally. Here is how he puts it.
The worst aspect of this whole debacle is the fact that neither the OPC committee, nor the PCA committee, nor the MARS faculty ever made any contact with the "FV" people they criticize. Had they made even one phone call, they could have found out that we don't believe most of what they accuse us of believing. I find this behavior appalling.
I have three responses to this. First, Study Committees are designed to respond to what has been written, not what people may currently believer or the nuances of some particular writer’s phraseology. This is because the committee reports are meant to be used by the member churches to protect the people in the pew. That is why almost every report is usually followed by a recommendation that this report by covered in each church, or something to that effect. If a person writes in a book, “Baptism saves,” or “Baptism is not a picture of salvation, it is salvation”, but what they mean is “baptism, the rite of water, saves only in the sense that it connects us to the local church, which is the body of Christ, but does not decretally save one forever and ever, but rather it merely puts us in the right place to practice, live out, or experience salvation.” The author of said comment may be upset when a report comes out that attacks the first two comments, but does not mention the third. They may even say, ‘If they had just called me on the phone . . .” But the point is that the people in the pew are not going to call the author on the phone either and they need to know what is wrong with the first two statements (not that I am approving of the third comment), which is all they are going to ever see. I would have thought such things were obvious to all.
Second, the church has never held such an odd position as that people must be called prior to publication. Anything in the public domain is fair game. Did Irenaeus speak to the author of the Gospel of Judas, which he does attack and refute, to make sure he was reading the Gospel correctly? Was it wrong for him to write a book called Against Heresies if he did not contact each and every individual he would quote from? Augustine condemned the works of Pelagius without ever having met him after reading his Commentary on St. Paul. Was this wrong? Should have Augustine allowed the Pelagian error to circulate while he tried to reason face to face before writing his letters? Can the same not be said of Jerome, who also attacked Pelagianism? What about all those men who sat in judgment of Pelagius at the Council of Ephesus? Were they all wrong? This history of the church would look very different if no one ever spoke against a heresy without first checking with the author to make sure everything was in place. We have many heresies or view points today that bear the names of men who probably disagreed with those positions. I, as well as others, agree that the Memorialistic view of the sacraments commonly called Zwinglianism does not reflect the view of Zwingli himself. I, along with others, think that Nestorius did not agree with the heresy known as Nestorianism (Nestorius proclaimed the Tome of Leo the truth of the gospel). Does that mean Nestorianism is not a heresy? No, it is a heresy, and it rightly goes under his name. A heresy spread and formed with writings that bore his name, and they had to be refuted immediately. Thankfully they were. I seriously doubt that Dr. Jordan wants to decry all of these events in Christian history as wrong because they did not speak with the author first, rather they simply interacted with the written word.
Third, Dr. Jordan himself does not practice this policy, and thus his moaning and whining is nothing more than selfish, pompous, bombast. See the following quote from his letter:
And it's no surprise that the heirs of Kohlbruegge in the RCUS also dislike Norman Shepherd and the FV -- after all, if you are suspicious of the whole Reformed doctrine of sanctification, you are not going to welcome people who say that faithful Christians are obedient Christians.
Now it is true that the RCUS was once dominated by Kohlbregge and his teachings. God used the teaching of Kohlbregge, mainly his high regard for the word of God, to preserve the church from liberalism and joining the church that eventually became the United Church of Christ. However, the modern day RCUS is far from the "heirs of Kohlbregge" nor are they "suspicious of the whole Reformed doctrine of sanctification". In fact, I will just point to the action of Synod of the RCUS a mere two years ago. A man wishing to publish works against the FV movement asked the RCUS for permission to publish some of Kohlbregge’s works. Kohlbregge being so far on the side of justification by faith alone without works that he diminishes sanctification, and that was seen by the person asking permission to be a good antidote to the FV teaching. The RCUS turned down this application because we do not approve of the Kohlbregge doctrine. Refuting one error with another is not an option, so we voted it down. Perhaps, if Dr. Jordan had just contacted any minister in the RCUS, he would know we are not Kohlbreggian any longer. Perhaps if Dr. Jordan would have followed his own advice he would not print this attack on the RCUS on a blog and in a Christian magazine. Perhaps, if he would have simply read our Synod abstract, he would know. If only he would have picked up the history of the RCUS in the You Shall be My People, he would understand the RCUS and the role and place of Kohlbregge. Alas, Dr. Jordan is full of venom and advice to his opponents, advice that he himself never intended to follow. That behavior is what I find appalling.