What a Difference Three Decades Make

In 1981 the PCA turned down the OPC’s decision to join the PCA. The context was something called J&R, joining and receiving. The PCA had invited the RPCES (denominational patron of Covenant College and Covenant Seminary) and the OPC to join and be received by the PCA into one denomination. The RPCES cleared the hurdle. The OPC did not mainly because the PCA had reservations about the teaching of Norman Shepherd and his influence within the OPC.

This week the word came that the PCA has upheld a lower court ruling that exonerates Peter Leithart’s teaching. It is an odd ruling because the PCA had approved a study report that argued the Federal Vision theology, of which Leithart is a proponent, was outside the bounds of the communion’s confessional standards.

It is also odd because the affinities between Shepherd’s theology and the Federal Vision are numerous if not always obvious.

This takes the question of how to fix the PCA to an entirely different dimension.

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  1. Richard Smith
    Posted April 7, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Kent: I view Reformed Theology as an attempt by man to put a containing grid on Scripture and the Ways of the Holy Trinity. There are very large leaps that RT takes on a matter such as election. We are cautioned in the 3FU to not be cavalier about them or use them to hurt people.

    Mark Mcculley: But unless your pastors proclaim that Christ died only for the elect, they encourage people to make their faith (not a work, not a work, not a work, but still the Arminian difference) into that “little something” which makes the difference between life and death.

    RS: Yes, this is to be done with care, but according to Canon 14 this must be done for the glory of God and the lively comfort of His people. Apart from the clear teaching of election and the total inability of man, there is no real teaching of grace alone.

    Canons of Dordt:
    Article 14: Teaching Election Properly

    Just as, by God’s wise plan, this teaching concerning divine election has been proclaimed through the prophets, Christ himself, and the apostles, in Old and New Testament times, and has subsequently been committed to writing in the Holy Scriptures, so also today in God’s church, for which it was specifically intended, this teaching must be set forth–with a spirit of discretion, in a godly and holy manner, at the appropriate time and place, without inquisitive searching into the ways of the Most High. This must be done for the glory of God’s most holy name, and for the lively comfort of his people.

    Article 15: Reprobation

    Moreover, Holy Scripture most especially highlights this eternal and undeserved grace of our election and brings it out more clearly for us, in that it further bears witness that not all people have been chosen but that some have not been chosen or have been passed by in God’s eternal election– those, that is, concerning whom God, on the basis of his entirely free, most just, irreproachable, and unchangeable good pleasure, made the following decision: to leave them in the common misery into which, by their own fault, they have plunged themselves; not to grant them saving faith and the grace of conversion; but finally to condemn and eternally punish them (having been left in their own ways and under his just judgment), not only for their unbelief but also for all their other sins, in order to display his justice. And this is the decision of reprobation, which does not at all make God the author of sin (a blasphemous thought!) but rather its fearful, irreproachable, just judge and avenger.

  2. Posted April 8, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Wayne, thanks. To be clear, my point was that Shepherd’s views on justification were not at issue in 1975.

  3. Posted April 8, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I hear he was more concerned with Disco and the Big Red Machine in ’75.

  4. Wayne Sparkman
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    DG: Thanks. I stand corrected and now have better posture as a result.

  5. Posted April 9, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink


    Just started a several month series on the Canons of Dort so we’ve got your back:


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