Mike Horton is More Fun Than Mark Dever (though Mark has his moments)

Justin Taylor made me do it.

He linked to Ray Ortlund’s blog from a couple days ago at the Gospel Coalition – calling it a “classic” in which the he warns TR’s (i.e., Truly Reformed) about the danger of falling into the Judaizer trap. Ortlund writes:

The Judaizers in Galatia did not see their distinctive – the rite of circumcision – as problematic. They could claim biblical authority for it in Genesis 17 and the Abrahamic covenant. But their distinctive functioned as an addition to the all-sufficiency of Jesus himself. Today the flash point is not circumcision. It can be Reformed theology. But no matter how well argued our position is biblically, if it functions in our hearts as an addition to Jesus, it ends up as a form of legalistic divisiveness.

This is truly an amazing assertion by the Nashville pastor. Even though Reformed folks think they are following Paul in their teaching and ministry (let’s not forget the Jerusalem Council or the pastoral epistles which say something about presbyterian polity), they become Judaizers by following Paul and insisting that the church heed everything Christ commanded – from theology to worship and polity. I feel like I am in a Coen Brothers movie where up is down, white is black, and rodents are felines.

Ortlund’s post is standard fare among evangelicals who look for a lowest-common-denominator approach to Christian unity and so regard sticklers for doctrine and practice – like the Reformed – as sticks in the mud and unloving sectarians to boot. (Ortlund fails to remark that Baptists, Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Lutherans, who insist on the correctness of their distinct teachings and practices, are also would-be Judaizers. Rather than acknowledge that differences exist within the church because different parts of the visible church interpret the Bible differently, Ortlund, like many a pietist before him, disregards actual differences and chalks up resistance to unity as a lack of love – for both Christ and for other Christians. As the Church Lady might say, “isn’t that charitable?”

But the neat trick that Ortlund adds to this standard kvetch about Reformed particularists is a claim about the psychology and sociology of being Reformed. He comments on Gal 4:17 – “They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them” – in the following paraphrase:

“When Christians, whatever the label or badge or shibboleth, start pressuring you to come into line with their distinctive, you know something’s wrong. They want to enhance their own significance by your conformity to them: ‘See? We’re better. We’re superior. People are moving our way. They are becoming like us. We’re the buzz.’”

Ortlund adds, “What is this, but deep emotional emptiness medicating itself by relational manipulation? This is not about Christ. This is about Self.”

Isn’t that charitable, indeed.

Is it so hard to imagine that other people with whom we disagree may actually have good reasons for what they hold, and that they may actually be trying to honor, serve, and love the Lord and his church? Apparently, Ortlund would rather speculate on motives and psychology.

Ortlund concludes with this plea to Reformed Protestants:

My Reformed friend, can you move among other Christian groups and really enjoy them? Do you admire them? Even if you disagree with them in some ways, do you learn from them? What is the emotional tilt of your heart – toward them or away from them? If your Reformed theology has morphed functionally into Galatian sociology, the remedy is not to abandon your Reformed theology. The remedy is to take your Reformed theology to a deeper level. Let it reduce you to Jesus only. Let it humble you. Let this gracious doctrine make you a fun person to be around. The proof that we are Reformed will be all the wonderful Christians we discover around us who are not Reformed. Amazing people. Heroic people. Blood-bought people. People with whom we are eternally one – in Christ alone.

Brother Ray, I have been around the non-Reformed and they are not nearly as much fun as Reformed folks are. As much as I do enjoy Mark Dever’s company (sorry for name-dropping), I refuse to smoke a cigar or drink a Gin & Tonic in his company, not because I find him unworthy of such camaraderie but because I know my smoking or imbibing could get Mark in trouble. Baptists still bulk large in the prohibitionist camp and for that reason the merriment supplied by leisurely conversation over a pipe or a pint (better with both) is off limits to many of the Christian groups that Ortlund wants me to hang out with and have fun.

This may seem like a trivial point but it actually bears much more on the passage to which Ortlund appeals than it might seem at first. Paul’s battle with the Judaizers was over the misapplication of Scripture. In the Judaizers’ hands formerly God-made rules had become man-made norms because the work of Christ introduced freedom from the old covenant norms. In other words, the Judaizers were effectively substituting man-made rules for being Christian than the gospel that Paul was preaching. The Judaizers were denying Christian liberty in the way that contemporary believers do when they conclude that smoking or drinking is sin with (erroneous) appeals to Scripture. Without a proper biblical justification for their prohibitions they wind up enslaving Christians and thus burden the very gospel that Paul was out to protect among the Galatians.

In my own knowledge of church history, it is the Reformed (and other confessional Protestants) who understand much better than the “Jesus only” evangelicals the difference between the word of God and the words of men. And it is this difference that makes Reformed Protestants (with apologies to my friend, Mark Dever) more fun.

Advertisements

201 thoughts on “Mike Horton is More Fun Than Mark Dever (though Mark has his moments)

  1. Dr. Hart, you quoted Dr. Ortlund here:

    “When Christians, whatever the label or badge or shibboleth, start pressuring you to come into line with their distinctive, you know something’s wrong. They want to enhance their own significance by your conformity to them: ‘See? We’re better. We’re superior. People are moving our way. They are becoming like us. We’re the buzz.'”

    My first reaction was to wonder why they wouldn’t. I mean, if something is true and beneficial, wouldn’t you want them to take part in order to reap the benefits? But as I thought about it, the thing that really bothered me was that this is assuming an individualistic approach to ones system of belief that confessions are supposed to avoid. Wouldn’t you say that this is the problem with movement-based systems of doctrine, because they inevitably change and morph, which is why they become “the buzz,” only to then lose that status later? Plus I have to wonder at what point 17th century confessions become, “the buzz.” Sorry, they never passed as cool at my school.

    The number one reason I am being pulled to confessionalism is because, as an ecclasiastical form, it does not rely on one person or group of persons doctrinal statement, reduced to the bare skeleton; it is the result of a corporate body agreeing upon certain points of doctrine and the interpretation of Scripture, but not so reduced that it could belong to virtually any Christian entity (including Roman Catholicism, it seems like sometimes). I often hear of Pres/Reformed as sectarian as well, yet I’ve heard it argued that confessionalism is actually better equipped to recognize the church universal; do you have any thoughts on this? Does being confessional make interactions with other theological camps more or less productive?

    On your final paragraph, I simply say that modern day Baptists should be taking their cues from Spurgeon. Nuff said.

    Like

  2. Dr. Hart–to quote that great theologian, Rodney King: “Why can’t we all just get along?”

    Like

  3. Well I’m not with you as far as pipe smoking & drinking are concerned (I’m reformed & tee-total, a rare breed) but your article is a good one and your point is well made. To argue as Ortlund does that the Reformed are the modern day equivalent of the Judaizers is not only absurd, it’s downright insulting.

    Like

  4. “Jesus-only”- I’m for it if that means using only the Lord’s Supper elements that Jesus used: real wine and real bread! Sadly, the grape juice churches are often as weak as their unbiblical, substituted element. Wishing our (and their) churches to be more biblical in as many ways as possible is not an attack. It is love. Keep loving ’em, Darryl.

    Like

  5. Oh, I don’t know, when he was here last he refrained from the sprinkles and that awesome looking blue whipped cream at the ice cream bar (how fun was that? Mmmm, blue).

    But old school presbies aren’t the only ones who are fun. My own wedding brought together WASPs/Catholics (my side) and Ortlund-esque-fundies (hers). Since the latter orchestrated things in a such a way that fun was out of the question, it required seperate receptions. Mine pitched a beer tent that went well past the witching hour. Hers, I think, went home for some Sprite and an afternoon nap. But I can’t be sure, since I was at the beer tent with the WASPs and Catholics. For some reason, when Ortlund suggests that “The proof that we are Reformed will be all the wonderful Christians we discover around us who are not Reformed. Amazing people. Heroic people. Blood-bought people. People with whom we are eternally one – in Christ alone,” I don’t think he means WASPs and Catholics. But they sure were fun to hang around with.

    Like

  6. Zrim, surprisingly, my non-church going charismatic parents and family are also quite fun, compared to my wife’s fundie relations. Why are church folk so often so uptight?

    Like

  7. Why are church folk so often so uptight?

    Carter,

    It may be more accurate to ask why are low church folk so uptight, while high church folk seem less so? At any rate, if my experience is any measure, beer tents with high church WASPs, Catholics and Calvinists always beat big tops with no-creed-but-Christers.

    Like

  8. Dr. Hart, while you make a number of good points in response to Dr. Ortlund’s post, you do sound a little defensive and seem as though you’ve missed his overall point.

    My reading of his post is that he’s saying that to be like Jesus is to humbly love, respect, and interact with Christians in other doctrinal traditions. And although he singles out the Reformed (I think because he holds a Reformed view on justification), I don’t hear him advocating the setting aside of doctrinal differences. I hear him warning against pride. Seriously, what’s to argue with here? The very act of arguing is needless defensiveness – why not just say yes and let it lie?

    Like

  9. Tim Graham: Here’s what he writes: “Today the flash point is not circumcision. It can be Reformed theology. But no matter how well argued our position is biblically, if it functions in our hearts as an addition to Jesus, it ends up as a form of legalistic divisiveness.”

    Granted, he inserts “can be.” But his point is about Reformed theology functioning in the Reformed the way that circumcision did for the Judaizers.

    Which means that Ortlund does not appear to leave room for Reformed churches to discipline wayward teaching (theology) or practice. He implies that letting Reformed teachings and practices get in the way of fellowship with other Christians is to be guilty of legal divisiveness. But the only way for a Reformed church to discipline ministers or members is on the basis or Reformed faith. So Ortlund paints Reformed (and other communion that practices discipline) in the corner of being mean if they don’t have fellowship or communion with Christians outside their membership or fellowship.

    Like

  10. I agree with Tim. I think you’ve possibly taken Ortlund as pronouncing a definitive judgment against all TRs, when in fact he’s presenting a (pointed) “if the shoe fits” analysis. Certainly there’s nothing in the piece that argues against church discipline; he’s talking about our informal interactions with those of other denominations. And I see Ortlund’s piece as following a classic Jack Miller analysis: if we believe in grace, oughtn’t our speech reflect grace? If we see ourselves as truly saved sinners with whom God has infinite patience, oughtn’t we have patience with those who have not yet “arrived” theologically?

    Here’s the bottom line: If we are truly Reformed, we ought to be the first to agree that our hearts are idol factories, capable of perverting even Reformed theology to wrong ends. Servetus, anyone?

    Since that is the case, I agree with Tim: Say “Yes”, check the shoe size, and move on.

    Like

  11. DGH

    ‘Ortlund paints Reformed (and other communion that practices discipline) in the corner of being mean if they don’t have fellowship or communion with Christians outside their membership or fellowship.’

    If Reformed churches do not recognise other churches of believers as churches and refuse to have communion fellowship with them they are not mean, they are schismatic and sectarian.

    John

    Like

  12. Gonna grab a bite and do some “chewing and spitting.” Some Red Man. An occasional recreation on my part.

    The parallel will go undeveloped in print, but is developed in the mind.

    Ortland can take an hike. Is he a sectarian Baptist?

    Like

  13. Yes, it looks like a well meant Kumbaya moment is happening over at the Gospel Coalition, regarding that post by Dr. Ortlund.

    I do not doubt the doctor’s good intentions. In fact, to the extent that Dr. Ortlund intends to stir up mutual love for Christ’s body, and the unity we have in faith, I am thankful for his initiative. However, I too am frustrated at the assumptions and ultimate consequences embedded in his reasoning.

    Please bear with my quoting Dr. Ortlund,

    “When Christians, whatever the label or badge or shibboleth, start pressuring you to come into line with their distinctive, you know something’s wrong. They want to enhance their own significance by your conformity to them: ‘See? We’re better. We’re superior. People are moving our way. They are becoming like us. We’re the buzz.’” What is this, but deep emotional emptiness medicating itself by relational manipulation? This is not about Christ. This is about Self.”

    I am forced to wonder, is the doctor serious? This generalization borders on absurd and reveals incredible lack of perception towards his Reformed brothers as a whole. I am not Reformed in the historic confessional sense of the word, but even I can discern their energetic desire for others to share “their view” is not because they consider it theirs at all, but to be that of scripture! They rightly believe Christ’s commission, to teach “all things whatsoever I commanded you,” includes subsequent Apostolic revelations. Does it not? And to the minds of these Reformed men, by an large, I believe they are only acting in continuance with Christ’s decree to the best of their knowledge. They believe Christ instituted infant baptism and the Apostles preferred Presbyterianism, and thus the Reformed are conscience bound to confess, teach, and urge their brethren to these views, and others.

    Again, I am not confessionally Reformed but in God’s providence I have spent three years in one of the most distinctive of their American churches, that of (pardon name dropping), Dr. R. Scott Clark, and Rev. Daniel Hyde, respective authors of “Recovering the Reformed Confession” and “Welcome to a Reformed Church. Needless to say, I have experienced much exhortation, and some friendly ribbing, to give more thought to the scriptural basis for your positions, but have never in the least traced it to a selfish desire to build a club. I recognize and affirm their belief that Christianity is not so mysterious as we cannot confess and teach it.

    Doesn’t Paul instruct Titus to “stop the mouths” of opponents, not only in matters directly pertaining to the gospel, but also in regards to other essential elements of the Christian faith? Or am I to believe there are no other essentials?

    I am concerned the underbelly of Dr. Ortlund’s argumentation, however well-meant, relies on indistinct sentimentalism that cannot contend for the faith in any lasting form. He seems to think that one cannot both vigorously defend and promote his beliefs and maintain a charitable attitude towards dissidents. Thus he minimizes contending in order to prevent contention. Historically, the long-term results of such tactics tend toward broad-minded Liberalism or mysterious, truth-negating Pietism in a generation or two.

    May Christ bless His Church as they seek to arrive at the unity of the Faith, and not just the most stripped down remnant of the greater whole.

    Like

  14. Jeff, I think Ortlund didn’t consider the ecclesiological consequences of his post. He wants to be nice. What does nice mean for paedo and credo baptists? Are they in fellowship? Can Baptists preach in Presbyterian pulpits or vice versa? Does a Baptist transfering to my congregation need to make a reaffirmation of faith? And if he comes with kids who aren’t baptized, what’s he going to think of session members who are constantly after him to bring along his children to baptism? Is that mean?

    So John Thomson, it always comes to this. The open and affirming wind up barring those who are exclusive. When Reformed do it it’s mean and sectarian. When you do it, it’s just Jesus and loving. Wow, I wish I could also live in the land of chocolate. And here I thought your “Cave” was open to everyone.

    Like

  15. DGH: Jeff, I think Ortlund didn’t consider the ecclesiological consequences of his post. He wants to be nice.

    I disagree. I think Ortlund is angling for something profoundly more and different from “nice.” He’s using “nice” (and “fun”) as diagnostic tools, much as Paul in Gal. 5 points to the deeds of the flesh as diagnostic tools; but his aim does not seem to be “nice.”

    Rather, I read it as

    (1) If you find yourself emotionally or sociologically treating other Christians as if they were not brothers, then
    (2) You should consider whether your “doctrine” has become an faction marker, and
    (3) If so, then repent.

    I think he’s aiming at “repentance from factionalism”, not “nice.”

    We need not grant the pulpit to a Baptist. I wouldn’t; nor expect to be allowed in the pulpit of my parents’ church. But in our social dealings with Baptists, I treat them presumptively as Christians.

    Like

  16. DGH: The open and affirming wind up barring those who are exclusive. When Reformed do it it’s mean and sectarian.

    There is a difference, you know, between telling your older brother that he’s blown a call, and telling him that he can’t come to family dinners any more.

    Both can be mean; but one of those is almost always over the top.

    Like

  17. Jeff,

    I’m not altogether sure where this idea comes from that old school Presbyterians are “emotionally and/or socially fractious.” That seems to be the abiding presumption on Ortlund’s part and, evidently, yours. And not only do I find it mystifying, it’s beginning to get not a little perturbing. But if we’re going by experience, that’s precisely what I found amongst the no-creed-but-Christ crowd when I (reluctantly) converted but (happily) married into it. And, though smallish, it’s one aspect that pushed me to confessional Protestantism, where it seemed there was a much more magnanimous spirit toward other belivers. I still attend no-creed-but-Christ-esque Thanksgivings where there is plenty of spitting and cursing of Roman Catholics, WASPs and polite undertones against institutional Presbyterians and Lutherans. Too bad it also includes no drinks, since I could use a few to take the edge off all the religious bigotry sometimes (yeah, I said it).

    In other words, at least in my experience, it’s the precise opposite of the picture Ortlund’s assumptions paint–the pride and prejudice he seems to assign us belong to the no creeders. And, FWIW, why not just treat others civilly instead of “presumptively Christian”? I mean, if you finally consider them Christian why keep them out of your pulpit? It just seems like when people say what you do it’s an overcompensation for old-fashioned incivility and (here it comes again) religious bigotry. Maybe it’s more, no right hand of fellowship but also no left hand sucker punch?

    Like

  18. DGH

    ‘So John Thomson, it always comes to this. The open and affirming wind up barring those who are exclusive. When Reformed do it it’s mean and sectarian. When you do it, it’s just Jesus and loving.’

    I am not quite sure where this comes from. I have not barred those who are ‘exclusive’. I am not suggesting withdrawal but it seems you are. I believe I have the duty to accept all professing Christians who do not reveal gospel betraying beliefs or practices. By gospel betraying beliefs or practices I mean such things as give serious cause to question that the individual is a believer. What I apply to individuals applies also to churches.

    ‘Wow, I wish I could also live in the land of chocolate. And here I thought your “Cave” was open to everyone.’

    Now, is this not precisely the kind of talk that Ortlund is concerned about? Is it engaging with the issues. Is it a firm but courteous way to respond? Is it anywhere near firm but courteous? Is it in tune with Paul’s instruction to Timothy

    2Tim 2:24-25 (ESV)
    And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

    Don’t get me wrong. I am capable of, and guilty of such responses all too often. But I am wrong when I do so and evince the spirit that Ortlund criticizes. We gain nothing for our cause and hinder the cause of Christ in doing so. The only people we impress are fellow pugilists who chortle in a fleshly way from the sidelines at our excoriating wit.

    Like

  19. So Jeff, is it mean to exclude a Baptist from a Reformed church or might it be based on principle? What seems to be lost over at Ortlund’s post is the capacity to recognize that being faithful or unfaithful with matters of church life may be as sinful as stealing or illicit sex. It may be an indication, in fact, of how modern Christians have become that they have lost sight of the import of the church. And when it comes down to it, what often makes the Reformed seem narrow is their holding on to aspects of church life that non-denominational types simply find bizarre. But Dutch Calvinists when they arrived in the U.S. found the parachurch methodism of American Protestantism bizarre. It goes both ways.

    John Thomson, you used the words sectarian and schismatic to describe the Reformed practice of church discipline. Those are truly loaded words. Maybe you don’t feel the weight of them because of a different ecclesiology. But what you don’t seem to appreciate on my part is an understanding of Christianity in which the institutional church bulks very large. You seem to have an individualistic approach that allows YOU to make all the calls of who is in and who is not. I find that to be very modern and not necessarily biblical. But I wonder if you can make room in your Cave for those who have a high view of the church and feel bound to operate according to the rules and practices of the communion in which they are members.

    Like

  20. DGH: So Jeff, is it mean to exclude a Baptist from a Reformed church or might it be based on principle?

    Do you walk to school or take your lunch?

    The general principle might be, Any exclusion that communicates to a believer, “You are not a believer” is unacceptable exclusion.

    Excluding a Baptist from the pulpit obviously does not fall in that category.

    Excluding a Baptist from communion … well, I suppose that hinges on the proper reading of 1 Cor 10.16 – 17, whether Paul’s criticism in 1 Cor 11.18 is related to his criticism in 1.10 – 17, and whether that is relevant to denominational division.

    Excluding a Baptist from social gatherings or treating them with contempt probably would fall in that category.

    But in any event, Ortlund is talking not so much about formal decisions like fencing the table, but about our social interactions. You seem to see a “church discipline” subtext, as if Ortlund were really talking about church discipline. Is there something he says that leads you in that direction?

    In the PCA, of course, members are not required to subscribe to the Confession in their membership vows. So we do not as a practice exclude Baptists from membership in our churches.

    Like

  21. Jeff,

    Didn’t Dr. Hart state in the post that he likes to kick it with Mark Dever (smoke free albiet)? Maybe I am reading him wrong here but I don’t hear him saying that these gentlemen aren’t believers. I do hear him criticize the evangelical mandate for niceness coupled with the pull towards the lowest common denominator mode of evangelical feel-good ecumenism. All from the guy who grew up and apparently likes at least some baptists (isn’t Wendell Berry a baptist?).

    So who are you accusing here?

    Like

  22. Jed: Not accusing anyone. My only point is, Ortlund’s piece isn’t written directly at Dr. Hart, and I don’t think he should take it personally. I’ve probably said more than I should on the topic, so let’s leave it.

    Like

  23. Jeff wrote: “Ortlund is talking not so much about formal decisions like fencing the table. . .” Are you kidding me? He quotes from Paul in Galatians where the apostle anathematizes the Judaizers. This isn’t a social situation. And it’s hardly remote from the church. I cannot believe that you and Justin Taylor can’t see how flawed this analysis is apart from major qualifications like those that allow the apostle to exclude the Judaizers from fellowship for “preaching another gospel.”

    I also understand that Ortlund probably wasn’t thinking of me when he wrote this. He was thinking of Reformed Christians, though. I am a Reformed Christian. So I don’t get why you are inclined to defend him. Attack me all you want. But the implications of this piece are wretched and the irony is that it’s supposed to be nice. Wouldn’t you at least say he failed the nice test if he presented something so objectionable to Reformed believers.

    Like

  24. Jeff,

    Like Billy Grahamism, Ortlundism helps distinguish the confessionally Reformed from the evangelically Reformed (the latter are quite favorable, the former not so much). Other boundary markers are things like justification priority and two-kingdom theology. The interlocution on these latter things could be construed as pedantic (worse, pharisaical), but in keeping with my point above about confessionalism’s more magnanimous and civil posture toward those outside its tradition, I think it’s just a Reformed evangelical doing his job at staking out his camp. I wonder if the favor could be returned? It could start with not picking a fight and then telling this side to “move on” and “drop it.”

    Like

  25. Thank you, Dr. Hart.

    Over 40+ years, for every 1 article I’ve read or message I’ve heard urging men to be distinctively Reformed in everything, I must have encountered 10 that wag the finger with a stern warning about walking too close to the abyss of the TR/Pharisee/loveless/heartless/confessional fanatic. I agree with some of what Ortlund says, and have given similar counsel to a few younger men over the years. You’ve given us a fine counterbalance, though, and a much-needed one.

    To my mind, the implication with the Ortlund-type message is always, “Now, now, young fellers, just settle down a little and don’t push this thing too hard. I need to warn you that great dangers lurk around every corner. When in doubt, always come down on the touchy-feely side, and you’ll be OK.”

    All right I admit that’s a little harsh. Yet the warnings, it seems to me, are nearly always directed toward the TR-types, not toward the doctrinally indifferent lowest-common-denominator really sweet guys (who apparently don’t need much counsel, since they’re already sufficiently “in love with Jesus”).

    I wish Ortlund’s blog had been more claear that if you’re really Reformed, and really a committed 5-pointer, you will be more humble, more patient, and more loving to others. Rather than pitting doctrine against life, tell us that truth is always in order to godliness. That is, if you truly understood and embrace your Reformed theology, you won’t “let it reduce you to Jesus only” (a most unfortunate phrase in the context), but will you know more and more the power of Christ working through the fullness of His truth, and will become a more fruitful Christian in mind, heart, and life.

    Like

  26. Here’s an appropriate passage from Martin Luther:

    “Doctrine is heaven; life is earth. In life there is sin, error, uncleanness, and misery, mixed, as the saying goes, “with vinegar.” Here love should condone, tolerate, be deceived, trust, hope, and endure all things (I Cor. 13:7); here the forgiveness of sins should have complete sway, provided that sin and error are not defended. But just as there is no error in doctrine, so there is no need for any forgiveness of sins. Therefore there is no comparison at all between doctrine and life. “One dot” of doctrine is worth more than “heaven and earth” (Matt. 15:18); therefore we do not permit the slightest offense against it. But we can be lenient toward errors of life. For we, too, err daily in our life and conduct; so do all the saints, as they earnestly confess in the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed. But by the grace of God our doctrine is pure, we have all the articles of faith solidly established in Sacred Scripture.”

    Like

  27. The entire assumption that goes into Ortlund’s statement is that Reformed distinctives are not “Jesus only.” Could we not simply flip Ortlund’s statement on its head? The reason why the Reformed have had such an emphasis on word and sacrament is precisely because they believe that this is what Jesus and His apostles taught us as the means through which we receive Christ and His benefits. I have great difficulty making ecclesiastical peace with individuals who do not share that same passion for Christ. When the typical evangelical service surrounds itself not around the means through which it is promised that lives are changed (the word) and where believers participate in Christ (the Lord’s supper), but around the band on stage (Which is not an understatement, people have told me on a number of occasions how much they knew God was present based upon how they were feeling during the praise band sessions. I grew up in charismatic churches where I can recall specific services where it was decided that there would be no sermon given because the Spirit was moving so wonderfully during the praise band session). The praise/worship band time of such churches is arguably their sacramental life, where they self-consciously understand this time especially as communing with God. It is an unstated and unquestioned assumption that being close to Jesus, having an experience with Jesus, means that one has had an emotional, often euphoric, feeling during worship time. This is simply self-projection masked as intimacy, a distinctive that simply adds to (or distracts from) Jesus. This is not enough Jesus for me.

    I am not better than the people who attend such services, not even remotely. I am most definitely not the buzz. And I most certainly have idols bigger than their praise bands. Which is why I need Jesus, and Him alone.

    Furthermore, Ortlund does not actually engage in any distinctive, but merely judges character: Reformed have Judiazing tendencies, which means they are legalists. But what honestly is honestly worse, barring the Lord’s supper from some, or never (okay, maybe once a year) actually offering the Lord’s supper to any?

    Like

  28. Zrim: It could start with not picking a fight and then telling this side to “move on” and “drop it.”

    If you’re referring to me, I don’t consider you to be on “another side.”

    Like

  29. Jeff,

    That’s very ecumencial of you. But I think it’s pretty clear that there are those who are sympathetic to Ortlund’s point, and there are those sympathetic to Hart’s counter-point. I know in Ortlund’s world we’re not supposed to take sides (even as he does?), but to act as if this simple reality doesn’t exist seems a bit naive, perhaps even deliberately naive. I’m not wild about our side’s potential to be deliberately spitty, but I’m not sure deliberate naivete is much better.

    Like

  30. Zrim: I’m not sure deliberate naivete is much better.

    I hear you. There is a kind of “Jesus only” minimalism that is naive because it assumes that we can get past doctrine and to some kind of essential or pure Christianity without doctrine. This kind of naivete is erm … preConfessional.

    But there is a kind of realism that says, Hmm, Jeff affirms the WCoF; Zrim affirms the 3FU; at some point, the catalog of our similarities matters more than the catalog of our differences.

    As for Ortlund, he declares his team in the very first sentence: he’s on your team. And as a team-member, he’s saying to his team, Let your doctrine inform your social behavior. He’s not arguing “Jesus only”, but “Jesus at the center.”

    If you want to view that point as creating two sides, well, I can’t stop you, but I can say with a high degree of confidence that that’s not Ortlund’s point.

    Hart’s counterpoint is that doctrinal differences still matter. And they do (see … I’m sympathetic to both points). But in treating my nonReformed Christian brother, I can’t let the doctrinal differences cause me to snub him; I have to draw lines without starting fires.

    Like

  31. You’re a fan of drawing distinctions, right? There’s a distinction between the policies we create and the tone we use in enforcing them. There’s a distinction between declaring full agreement and declaring enough agreement to treat someone as a brother in Christ.

    And if we can’t make those distinctions, either on the evangelical end of things, or on the TR end of things, then we’re in trouble.

    Like

  32. It seems to me there’s two things going on here: (1) Ortlund and others are arguing love at the expense perhaps of some truth. (2) Many Reformed folk have often earnestly contended for truth without love.

    If Ortlund had simply left his message at this: “Love the deep theology of grace that you confess, and let that guide how you interact with those who don’t understand it like you,” he would have said something quite helpful. That would probably have even been a good reminder to us Reformed folk that are so convinced about the truths of Scripture (which we believe are summarized in the Confession).

    Like

  33. Jeff, Rich Mouw says he’s Reformed. And since he is in a Presbyterian communion and Ortlund appears to be in an independent church, Rich may likely be more Reformed than Ortlund. Ah, but then it gets complicated since Rich is in the PC-stinkin’-USA, a church where liberalism swamped the Reformed faith.

    So what does Ortlund’s profession mean in the context of the church, which is the only reality that embodies the Christian religion?

    I suspect you have imbibed too much of Frame’s Warrior Children thesis. Liberalism happened and it is no more so we don’t need to fight any more. Maybe. But if liberalism and errors need to be fought, which I suspect you think they do, then where will folks like Ortlund stand in the fight? Looks to me like he’s picking a fight with the fighters, much like good evangelical Reformed did in the 1920s and 1930s, and Frame does today.

    Sorry, but chalking up the fighting to bad manners my work with Emily Post but it needs a little more care with respect to the convictions and responsibilities of TR’s than Ortlund came in his evaluation of the fight.

    Like

  34. Jeff,

    The naiveté I was referring to wasn’t so much the “Jesus only” stuff (though, we agree, that’s pretty naive at the very least), but rather the idea that there aren’t two sides to this discussion. I know you want to be all things to all men, but what I’m saying is that this discussion distinguishes confessional Reformed from evangelically Reformed. And, to the extent that we understand that American Protestantism breaks down along evangelical and confessional lines, it really isn’t anything very new. This is actually a much more significant distinction than you seem to imply.

    You want to make this a social concern, saying to let doctrine inform social behavior. Well, who could disagree with that? But it seems to me that Ortlundism wants to emphasize the invisible nature of the church instead of the visible nature. The problem is that we live in the militant age yet, not the triumphant. I want the triumphant to come as much as the next guy (more so, I think, some days), but that’s a form of theologia gloriae instead of theologia crucis. I understand Ortlund is saying “Jesus at the center,” but as long as we live in the militant age to criticize militant postures makes “Jesus at the center” look an awful lot like “Jesus only.” After all, “Jesus at the center” is precisely what Reformed confessionalism and theologia crucis is after in the militant age.

    Like

  35. Zrim: You want to make this a social concern, saying to let doctrine inform social behavior. Well, who could disagree with that?

    Ortlund’s point is that our doctrine should inform our social behavior, and yet here we are.

    Brother Zrim, there’s much more that could be said, but it’s impossible to say it across the ‘Net.

    Christians in general, not merely Reformed, not merely TRs, are much better at pounding their fists at Marburg and yelling “You have a different Spirit!”

    They’re not so good at asking, “Did I really get it right? Did I really understand what he was saying?”

    Pity Luther. His pig-headedness prevented the unity of the Spirit, made an opening for Roman Catholic military action against Protestants, and set the template for the Herman Hoeksemas of every age.

    Too bad he confused the word of Luther for the word of God.

    What I find most disturbing is that I’m drifting into the “Reformed blogospheric mindset” myself. It’s tragic and stupid, IMO, that for the sake of my own faith that I need to disengage from talking theology with Reformed theologians.

    Like

  36. Jeff,

    Not to get the last word, but it does seem to me that whatever else might be going on in these sorts of discussions there seems to be an unfortunate confusion of doing the work of militancy with being uncharitable. But it seems to me this might be like saying a prosecuter doing his job is being persecutory. Now, it’s certainly true that Jack McCoy has his moments and can go too far. But that’s a function of being human, not a District Attorney. And it’s the same here. And until the Lord sets all things new, the DAO will have its work to do, and so will the church militant. And I suppose both will just have to learn to live with some thinking they’re meanie-heads for doing it.

    But if the point is that confessionalists can be unnecessarily pugilistic (or whatever), I’d rather think Scott Clark has it over Ray Ortlund. I mean, sometimes it’s just being a jerk (and every group’s got those), which isn’t the same as always being pharisaical:

    I don’t think we confessional Reformed folk should back down one inch from the things we confess, but I do think we should seek to live out all that we confess, including the virtue of humility. When folk talk about “dead orthodoxy” they’re really describing partial orthodoxy. They’re not really describing real, full-orbed, confessional Reformed theology, piety, and practice. At least sometimes they’re describing the jerks in our movement and churches.

    http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2006/12/30/why-some-reformed-people-are-such-jerks/

    Like

  37. Jeff

    ‘You’re a fan of drawing distinctions, right? There’s a distinction between the policies we create and the tone we use in enforcing them. There’s a distinction between declaring full agreement and declaring enough agreement to treat someone as a brother in Christ.

    And if we can’t make those distinctions, either on the evangelical end of things, or on the TR end of things, then we’re in trouble.’

    This is just one of many comments on this blog that you put so well. Thanks.

    Like

  38. Jeff: Thank you for your irenic attitude tone and attitude displayed in your posts here. I wanted to encourage you by saying that your insightful posts are an encouragement to me. I agree with you that Dr. Ortlund’s primary point is about the unfortunate tone with which we Reformed sometimes defend our theology. A review of the comments to Dr. Ortlund’s blog in question and the comments on this blog is evidence enough. If we took our high view of grace seriously enough to let it inform our behavior, we would have a lot less sarcasm, ridicule, and snarky comments.

    The TR pats himself on the back for vigorously defending confessional theology, piety, and practice. He doesn’t see that it’s possible to defend these important things without the ugly and ungodly tone. The tone of so much of the Reformed blogosphere is so snarky and unnecessarily pugilistic that, as I see it, it reflects a heart problem. I read a lot of comments that are quick to criticize any Christian who earnestly attempts to display the kind of love that Christ said would mark us. They are dismissed as “pietists” and assumed to be doctrinally indifferrent, a threat to orthodoxy, and must be attacked. What I appreciate about Dr. Ortlund, whom I’ve known personally for many years, is that he is stoutly Reformed and a brilliant OT scholar, a strong believer in the Westminster standards. And he sees nothing inconsistent with combining that confessionally Reformed commitment with a loving spirit and a gentle and affirming tone. His love for the brethren makes him quicker to find something kind and affirming to say than something negative. For every point of critique, he finds at least two points of agreement. That is a gracious heart, a loving spirit. I don’t find that kind of heart and spirit on display in many Reformed blogs. But I do find it in your posts, and I am so appreciative.

    Like

  39. Amen, Sullivan.

    But in these circles, snarky is a godly characteristic. It’s “boldness for truth”

    Apparently you can’t be thoroughly orthodox and thoroughly gracious at the same time. Since some TRs have so much light that they, after all, shined upon themselves in gaining such in-depth knowledge of Scripture…

    Like

  40. Raja, I don’t feel the love.

    Sullivan, can you not see that your recourse to discussions of heart problems could be objectionable? What if I said that your comment reflected a head problem? Would you take that the wrong way?

    Look, I don’t know Ortlund and I’m sure he didn’t mean to give offense. What he doesn’t see is that his discussion fails on two grounds. He compares TR’s to Judaizers. How is that irenic? Second, his understanding of love doesn’t make room for genuine disagreements that exist between Christians and communions. He makes it seem as if those differences, and holding on to them, is to lose sight of Jesus. This is simply naive. As Raja says, I’m only observing when I say it’s naive.

    Like

  41. DGH, I respectfully disagree. I so appreciate your passion for the truth and your brilliant mind and eloquence by which you express yourself. I learn a great deal from your blog and from your books, so please allow me to say thank you. It is with trepidation, therefore, that I disagree with your interpretation of Dr. Ortlund, and other Reformed men perhaps who are trying to say what he says.

    As I see it, the burden of Dr. Ortlund’s essay was that TRs usually exhibit a harsh, ungracious tone that is inconsistent with the wonderful theology of grace they rightly defend. I’m sure most of the time this is due to exhuberance and enthusiasm, and is always meant well, but sometimes, I’m very afraid, it can evidence a heart problem when it is long and persistent. But Dr. Ortlund’s understanding of love is simply the biblical understanding of love (e.g., 1 Cor. 13), a gracious disposition and liberality of spirit that springs from humility and awareness of the grace we have received. We have received grace, and so we are called to show grace toward others, aren’t we? A loving, gracious spirit of the kind that Dr. Ortlund advocates, and exemplifies, overlooks others’ sins and weaknesses. It doesn’t ridicule or mock them because they may, in our view, have a few mistakes in their theological system. It doesn’t speak or write in a harsh tone, but rather is kind and promotes peace.

    I’m happy to say that Dr. Ortlund’s understanding of love does indeed make room for genuine disagreements between Christians and communions. For example, if one were to read his other posts in his blog, or listen to his sermons, one would find that he articulates biblical truth with eloquence, and from time to time points out where the (Reformed) position he articulates differs from certain other positions. He explains where the points of disagreements are, and the differing starting assumptions that explain the divergent conclusions. But rather than ridicule or heap sarcasm on the folk with whom he just publicly expressed disagreement, he does something different. He goes on to add that he considers them brothers and sisters in the Lord, he points out that he doesn’t consider himself a superior person, he exhorts his flock to love these mistaken brothers and he makes clear that he understand that they may not have had the benefit of the same kind of teaching so far, and so forth. I think that is a kind way to approach differences. The Peacemakers ministries are very good at helping us all understand how to approach disagreements, and Dr. Ortlund models that approach very nicely, I believe.

    The late Dr. Ed Clowney took a similar approach. He was once on a national radio talk show where the hosts were discussing eschatology and laughing at the dispensationalists’ views about the millenium, especially at the fundamentalist callers who would call in. There was much chuckling and sarcasm among the four hosts. But Dr. Clowney would have none of it. He gently rebuked the hosts, reminding them, and the listener, that he understood that “this is hard.” He helped the listeners understand that many have grown up with nothing but this [dispensational] teaching” and that we need to be patient with them and love them. I found that very Christ-like, and certainly more of a godly approach than the hosts exhibited.

    In other words, I would just suggest that vigorous defense does not have to be angry defense. Bold contending for the faith doesn’t have to be strident contending for the fatih. It can be loving and sweet spirited. We can display the love of Jesus in our heart by the kind and gracious words we choose in disagreeing gently and kindly, with gentle words and with affirmations of love. I’ll grant that there may come a time for tough language, with the hardened Pharisee who won’t open his eyes or heart though he ought to know better. All pastors have found it necessary on rare occasion to use blunt language toward an unrepentant sinner. But I at least think that should be the rare, rare exception. It shouldn’t be our default setting. If we exhibit the love of Jesus toward others, I think we will, most of the time, be more persuasive and more likely to get a hearing. Dr. Clowney was much loved and respected by non-Reformed folk, and his gentle, loving heart made many more willing to consider the Reformed faith, and eventually find it.

    Thank you so much for your defense of our wonderful Reformed faith.

    Like

  42. DGH,

    Will that be your only rejoinder? Since I am defending minimizing minor differences between brethren and promoting a Christian unity that is not necessarily framed by your particular Confession of Faith, you don’t feel the love? I’m not excluding you from the kingdom. How about you and the non-Reformed? Where do they fit on your depth chart?

    The very fact that you frame these issues as “head problems” speaks to a strain of arrogance among some TRs. You and yours, of course, have superior head knowledge and know your Bibles oh so much better than other Christians. It could never be that you are wrong about any number of given topics, right? An explanation in the WCF with a few prooftexts makes it official truth. Judge other Christians by it…

    The reason he compares TRs to Judiazers is because they both have a tendency to do the same thing–judge others by their applications of God’s commandments rather than by the commandments themselves. Again, I cite the example of the Pharisees wanting to kill Jesus because he broke their Sabbath rules (which weren’t in Scripture). Some TRs would put brethren outside of the Christian community because of their view of the relationship of the Law to the believer, or any number of other things.

    Ortlund makes room for genuine disagreements among Christians and communions, he is just making the point (a very important one) that Jesus is central. Minor issues should not cause us to lose sight of this.

    Like

  43. Raja,

    I might add that Dr. Ortland’s actual words in his post were: “But no matter how well argued our position is biblically, if it functions in our hearts as an addition to Jesus, it ends up as a form of legalistic divisiveness.” From the rest of the context, it seems clear to me that Dr. Ortland’s stress was upon how the truth issue functions in the heart. That is, the Reformed TR can be technically correct in his/her point of doctrine, but Dr. Ortland asks, “What is the heart motivation in arguing the case?” He suggests that it can be a spirit of haughtiness, or know-it-all-ness, or show-off attitude, or the venting of anger, rather than a sincere desire to help an erring brother or sister come to the knowledge of the truth.

    In other words, a TR can be technically right but still be wrong because of the wrong heart motivation. Out of the heart the mouth speaks, and the harsh words can reveal a harsh heart. I think Dr. Ortland’s argument is not that “minor” theological differences are unimportant; he in fact has argued many of them, and I know he regards all confessionally Reformed distinctives as important. But sometimes it’s not necessary or helpful to pull out the Howitzer on every “minor” point of doctrine due to time and place issues. Maybe a gentle word would be enough. And sometimes it’s wise to simply affirm a brother with whom we disagree and, in the interest of displaying unity, keep our debate weapons in their holster.

    Like

  44. Sullivan,

    Well said. In seeking to emphasize my point, I should not have downplayed the minor differences to the degree I have in my above comments…

    Thank you.

    Like

  45. Sullivan and Raja,

    After going round after rude round with some recently, I can’t help but wonder if you’re mistaking the Reformed confessionalists (sorry, “TR” is way too loaded for my comfort) with the self-appointed Reformed philosophers, apologists and logicians roaming the earth seeking whom they may devour. They are quite antagonistic toward the confessionalism that something like WSC or OldLife represents. But it doesn’t stop there, everyone is in their cross-hairs. The point seems to be like that of Muscle Beach: kick sand in the scrawny faces of those who cling to their confession or otherwise don’t bow the knee to the gods of logic. What they don’t seem to realize is that Paul contended as much with them as he did the super-apostles: one wants a hermetically sealed argument, the other an experience with the risen Christ (while others want signs). And it’s all theologia gloria.

    Like

  46. DGH didn’t feel the love above and neither do I. Apparently I was rude. I guess it is therpeutic to say the kinds of loving things Zrim says about me. When one is imbibing in therapry, rudeness and unloving lies are fine.

    Like

  47. Seems to me that there are really 2 issues being discussed here regarding TRs, but they are sometimes being conflated in the discussions. Those 2 issues are the uncompromising position that pretty much all TRs take with regards to doctrinal purity and the “we are the true remnant church” attitude that a subset of TRs possess.

    The former group represents much of what is good about the Reformed community but are often overshadowed by the latter group that seems really to call everyone heretics or at least treat them as such. It seems to me that Ortlund is really addressing the second group when he warns about the Judiazing tendencies of TRs.

    For that reason, I think the majority of TRs are better off abandoning that label completely and going with Confessional Reformed or Old School Reformed. At least until those terms get co-opted by another less than charitable group.

    Like

  48. Sullivan and Raja, As I’ve said, Ortlund may have the best of intentions and the worst of experiences for writing what he does. But Sullivan, your defense only makes the matter worse. You write that “the burden of Dr. Ortlund’s essay was that TRs usually exhibit a harsh, ungracious tone that is inconsistent with the wonderful theology of grace they rightly defend.” This is the theological equivalent of racial profiling. Unless he actually gives specific examples of the Reformed who are guilty of this, then all Reformed are condemned of sin — and without a hearing I might add. (One of the things that Reformed are good at is ecclesiastical litigation.) So I can’t for the life of me understand how this is supposed to make me feel any better.

    Raja, the fact that you keep defending this sort of accusation only suggests all the more that your loving way is as ungracious as the one that you condemn. But you still haven’t grappled with the fundamental problem of Ortlund’s post — the inability to understand that Reformed Protestants may have good grounds for criticizing other Christians. You think your grounds are good. Why won’t you let Reformed Christians into the good-grounds-for-condemning-other-believers club? Please, please, please, I really want to join.

    Like

  49. DGH,

    You may have good grounds for disagreeing with others on any number of topics. Disagreement is a lot different than exclusion. The kingdom is not limited to your particular communion.

    Like

  50. The real story here is that dgh has capitulated to the prostitution of naming blog posts for the exclusive purpose of increasing his google search rank.

    Not only is there no defense of the claim that Horton is more fun than Dever, or that Horton is fun at all… there is no mention of Horton whatsoever, other than the title and the tags. Huh? Who is this Horton guy, and why might he be more fun?

    This is either a bad thing (he’s becoming pragmatic) or a good thing (he’s becoming proficient at his new medium), depending on your perspective.

    Like

  51. Raja, I have never said that the kingdom was limited to my communion. What you’ve not taken into account, nor did Ortlund’s piece, was what his ideas about loving other “brothers” does to assertions like those in the Westminster Confession that the “visible church is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ outside of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.” If Ortlund and you had considered more the nature of communion and fellowship within a discipline visible church you may not be casting aspersions (lovingly, of course) on Reformed Protestants. (If you’re Reformed, does that make you a self-hater?)

    Like

  52. DGH: Thanks for your reply. With all due respect, I don’t read Dr. Ortlund’s blog to call for discipline against or an ecclesiastical trial of mean-spirited TRs. I also don’t read him to assert that angry TRs are outside the kingdom. I know he doesn’t feel that way toward any Reformed men. He is a very sweet-spirited man who does not wish anyone ill nor hold a grudge against any person. On the contrary, he states, and I agree, that we all of us must examine ourselves to see if the shoe fits; expecially we all need to examine our hearts and our secret intentions. It’s too easy for sinners like us to make a good thing — defense of orthodoxy, what could be better? — into an idol of the heart by inappropriate tone and words, or by inappropriate intent. I too have been guilty of unnecessarily harsh rhetoric at times and have needed constantly to repent. It’s easy in the Reformed blogosphere, where ideas and rhetoric can become detached from real inter-personal relations, to forget these issues of the heart.

    Dr. Ortland’s blog was first directed primarily to his church congregation to address pastoral issues prevailing within that body and the surrounding Nashville community. He does not throw stones at “all Reformed,” but does want to pastorally counsel his congregation, as he does himself, of the need to guard our hearts even as we defend and contend for the faith. I really think the warning to us all about these matters is simply meant in love and is for the good of the church.

    Like

  53. Sullivan,

    You mis-read me, I was not referring to Pastor Ortlund or his church. I was referring to the disposition of some TRs toward the non-Reformed.

    DGH,

    Church discipline is for sin, not theological disagreement within the bounds of orthodoxy. Do you view other, non-Reformed churches as “true churches of Christ”? And on the same level as your own?

    Like

  54. Hmm. I’m going to jump in a few days late and leave a slightly different perspective. I didn’t read this particular piece as being aimed at the Reformed in general; I read it as being aimed at the “YRR” crowd—guys in their 20s and early 30s who have gotten on the Reformed bandwagon to one extent or another, and gotten really passionate about it (which is a good thing) and then started beating up on their fellow believers.

    And you’d better believe it’s a real issue; I left a church a few years ago in part because of the extraordinary degrees of intellectualism and arrogance that followed in the wake of the embrace of Reformed doctrine by a lot of the college guys (not helped by the example of a similarly self-assured college minister). That was when I was already solidly in the Reformed camp myself. A lot of those guys have since grown out of it, praise God, but it was ugly.

    Accordingly, I read Ortlund as direccting his discussion more at that sort of thing than as being a general critique of Reformed thinkers’ thoughtful and gentle separation. Perhaps he should have been clearer if indeed that was his intent, though!

    Is it possible that it’s true both that a lot of Reformed folks, especially the young ones who feel like they were told nonsense for the first 20 years of their life, have now gotten a bit unChristlike in their militancy, and that given some time and some good discipleship, their doctrine will lead to real humility?

    Like

  55. Chris, that’s an insightful observation, and hits the mark. We’ve all run into the “YRR crowd” as you say, though many are great young men and women. The untempered enthusiasm can become over the top.

    As for whom exactly Dr. Ortland had in mind doesn’t seem to me as important as recognizing that we Reformed, an embattled minority, are, like any embattled minority, tempted to hostility as our default setting, tempted to pugilistic tones that don’t help persuade. That can be any of us. Dr Ortland is too much the gentleman and gracious saint to name names, so painting with a broad brush is the only godly way to address the problem, and surely better than leaving an important matter unsaid at all.

    The “angry Reformed” are all too common, it pains me to say, and we do the faith no favor to pretend it isn’t so. They don’t always get over it by the passage of time. I’ve been in Reformed churches, some very large and well-attended ones, where the pastor and much of the congregation are still angry because some fundamentalist pastor taught them Arminian theology and dispensational pre-millennium eschatology 30 years ago. The anger bubbles up to the surface in the bitter tone and sarcasm, and the snarky put-downs of evangelicals, which fall from their mouth as casually as clanking lead pipes falling off the back of an open truck bed. It’s a spiritually unhealthy environment, in my judgment. There seems to be a false assumption that vigorous defense of orthodoxy must be angry defense.

    By no means can this be said of all Reformed persons, of course. On the contrarty,I’m convinced that the majority of Reformed persons are gracious, humble men and women who are enthralled by the Reformed faith. They are an example and model for us to follow.

    Like

  56. Chris,

    I tend to think that the “cage phase” YRRs represent New Calvinism, not Old Presbyterianism. Whoever he has in mind specifically, it would seem wise for Ortlund to try and distinguish these two before pulling the Judaizing trigger.

    Sullivan,

    I’m no fan of incivility or “cage phase” either, but since Ortlund compares Reformed militancy to the Judaizing in Galatia, I wonder what you make of Paul’s own tone and tenor toward the Galatians for having departed a very particular doctrine for another particular doctrine? It may sound odd to say, but I can’t help but feel more understood by Trent in its leveling of anathemas than by Reformed voices that charge Judaizing. I mean, if Ortlund really thinks narrow Reformed confessionalism is tantamount to adding to Jesus shouldn’t he be doing more than blog-wrapping knuckles and advising Kumbaya?

    Like

  57. Sullivan, sorry to sound persnickety, but if Dr. Ortlund wanted to address his congregation and the Nashville community, why post at Gospel Coalition which has a national-and-around-the-world audience?

    Raja, I do not view non-Reformed churches as true churches. Neither do I regard them necessarily as false. It’s a case by case thing. But if you think you’ve walked me into a corner on that one, what do you think the marks of the church are and if they are lacking, then what do you do? I mean, the Reformed churches teach that preaching, sacraments, and discipline are the marks of the church. Rome has those marks, but it does exhibit those marks faithfully according to the Word. So what exactly are you asking?

    Like

  58. DGH: Dr. Ortlund’s personal blog was at another site and was intended primarily for his congregation. He was pursuaded to migrate it to the Gospel Coalition site, which he did, but it remains the same blog, i.e., by intention primarily directed to a local congregation. As you’ll note from a review of his posts, he makes references to local events in the life of his church church. Of course, anyone anywhere can benefit from the very thoughtful and insightful posts found there.

    Zrim: I believe you have misread Dr. Ortlund. He did not say that “Reformed confessionalism is tantamount to adding to Jesus.” He believes and teaches the Westminster Standards. He was a pastor in the PCA, and as such was examined on and subscribed to the Westminster Standards. Rather, the burden of his essay is: “But no matter how well argued our position is biblically, if it functions in our hearts as an addition to Jesus, it ends up as a form of legalistic divisiveness.” That is, the stress is upon the heart intentions of an individual doing polemics. He does not oppose polemics, only the doing of polemics with a wrong spirit or wrong intention. I’m sure you don’t doubt that many in the Reformed community are fond of polemics and debate more as a sport or pasttime, much like a fun intellectual puzzle, than a tool lovingly to help steer erring brothers to the truth. That’s what he’s getting at. He is greived that confessionally Reformed persons have received the reputation in the broader Christian community for being unduly pugnacious, argumentative, contentious, and he wants to help steer the Reformed pugilists away from this argumentative spirit to a more productive and godly enterprise. I hope that helps.

    Like

  59. Sullivan, yes, I agree that it’s at least a noticeable tendency among Reformed people (whether in the New Calvinism or in Old Presbyterianism). Calvinists don’t have a reputation as angry and arrogant for no reason. Of course, to argue that those few who give the reputation are actually representative of the whole is to do the whole quite an injustice… but the tendency is there, and we need to be careful to avoid it, whether “YRR” or just plain old-school (in a good way).

    On which note, Zrim, I agree that there is a meaningful distinction there, but one that perhaps ought not be made too much of when coming at it from an “outside” perspective, so to speak. You and I can see that difference, and fairly clearly; but we’re on the inside, where such distinctions are inherently more visible.

    I remember when I was in high school, I introduced a few of my high school friends to the young men I had grown up with—more brothers than simply friends—and was astounded to find that my high school friends that these guys and I were all incredibly similar on first impression. From our perspective, we couldn’t be more different. It forced me to take a step back and recognize that, from an outsider’s point of view, the similarities would be far more obvious than the small (but so important) differences that shaped our relationship. Of course, as the friends from high school got to know all of us better, they saw those differences; the point stuck with me, though.

    I think the same is true here, and worth remembering. It’s true that a lot of the YRR guys aren’t confessional. (I’m kind of halfway there myself, but I fit more in the historic reformed baptistic tradition, so obviously I differ with Westminster in a few places.) And it’s true that there are other, meaningful distinctions between the New Calvinism and the Old Presbyterianism. But truth be told, from the outside (to people like my parents, for example), those differences mostly look like a difference in temperament, but with the same underlying character. For that matter, I think a lot of evangelicals—the Bible churches, the SBC, etc.—mentally lump the PCA with the mainline Protestant churches. It doesn’t help that the PCUSA usually backs that impression of “Presbyterians” up in their minds. There are a lot of other factors, too, including the modern influence of the charismatic movement (and that’s a topic for another day if ever there was one!). Suffice it to say, however clear that distinction is to us, it’s not to outsiders.

    That said, I agree that if Ortlund wanted to make a comment on one particular group, the nuance would have helped. On the other hand, I think Sullivan’s response to my original comment is also well taken: the reputation Reformed folk have as fighters and sometime-jerks is much older than the YRR movement. Perhaps Ortlund painted with a broader brush than we might like—but unfortunately, his comments also ring true to many people’s experience of the Reformed movement, including some of us on the inside of it.

    Like

  60. Sullivan,

    In case you missed my post above (to which Paul Manata responded), yes, I am quite aware that there are “many in the Reformed community are fond of polemics and debate more as a sport or pasttime, much like a fun intellectual puzzle, than a tool lovingly to help steer erring brothers to the truth.” These folks tend to be as antagonistic to the sort of Reformed confessionalism championed here as Ortlund does; I have the black and blue marks to prove it. That’s the ironic thing to me, and it is why I wondered in that post if you are mistaking Reformed confessionalists with Reformed pugilists. I can see how the confusion can be, but pugilism isn’t militancy any more than quartz is diamond.

    But I suspect you haven’t latched onto my point. Ortlund is suggesting Judaizing. That’s pretty serious. That’s the sort of thing Paul angrily anathematizes. If Reformed confessionalists are adding to Jesus in their militancy (which again isn’t pugilism), then shouldn’t he be raising his game to Trentian proportions instead of imploring Kumbaya? I mean, Trent may be wrong on content, but it sure seems to understand the stakes involved in getting the gospel wrong. Does Ortlund?

    Like

  61. On which note, Zrim, I agree that there is a meaningful distinction there, but one that perhaps ought not be made too much of when coming at it from an “outside” perspective, so to speak. You and I can see that difference, and fairly clearly; but we’re on the inside, where such distinctions are inherently more visible.

    Well, my point is that if one is going to charge Judaisim it seems like he should at least show he understands better all that is involved. Like I just said to Sullivan, that is pretty serious. If Ortlund doesn’t want to make the distinction between New Calvinists and Old Presbyterians, fine, but maybe he should pack the Judaizing stuff away. After all, seeing your friend walking with another woman is one thing, but wouldn’t you want to have all the facts before breezily suggesting he’s an adulterer?

    Like

  62. Zrim: I’ll give it one more try. You are misreading Dr. Ortlund. I’d suggest reading his post again, or his follow-up posts. By “Judaizing” he did not mean to charge that any Reformed pugilist, no matter how impious, is not a Christian. He did not mean that Reformed theology is not Christian. Plainly he could not have meant this because in the same post he said he subsribed to Reformed theology, as indeed I know he does. His post was very clear that he meant this in the metaphorical sense at the level of “Galatian sociology” (his term), not Galatian theology; at the level of the heart, not the doctrine. His is an effort to bring unity among Christians, and he implores us to let the “tilt of our heart” be toward loving and affirming those with whom we disagree rather than hating and being quick-on-the-draw to condemn them; enjoying their company rather than separating from them; loving them rather than criticizing them. He wants to maintain a visible unity among believers where, on occasion, we holster our theological disagreements and our polemics, and affirm and enjoy brothers and sister whom Christ loves.

    And he suggests that those who insist on the harsh pugilistic polemics, with no visible love for the brethren, are evidencing a spiritual malaise.

    Like

  63. I neglected to add … it would not have served Dr. Ortlund’s purpose to name names or to distinguish categories (“Old School, New School”). Rather, his point is to charge all of us, himself included, and implore all of us, himself included, to examine our heart motivation and thus our rhetoric. The point isn’t to condemn, but to exhort us all to more godly speech and actions. I include myself in that, and I’m sure you do too. Now I have to return to sermon preparation. Blessings.

    Like

  64. Sullivan,

    If it’s “Galatian sociology” he (and you are) is concerned for I guess I still don’t understand. Some of this Reformed confessionalist’s best times have been with Catholics, Episcopalians and even some Baptists. Heck, I even happily attend my Baptist’s baby dedications when the latter refuse to attend baby baptisms. Sure, I much prefer the parties my Catholics throw after Mass weddings, but I don’t want to show favoritism.

    So is that sort of disposition conducive to Christian unity in your mind? In mine it isn’t. It’s the sort of disposition that comes from properly distinguishing between a table and the Table. Christian unity is begotten by doctrinal distinctives, not by heart religion.

    Like

  65. DGH,

    Ultimately, I really don’t care what the Reformed churches teach. I care about what the Bible teaches, which is that church discipline is for sin. Disagreement on the subjects and mode of baptism, for example, is no sin. Disagreement on the elements used for the Lord’s Supper is no sin (some use wine, since that is what the Lord used when He instituted it. However, most churches these days substitute grape juice).

    So, I guess you need to expand your “true churches” list.

    Like

  66. Raja, you write, “Ultimately, I really don’t care what the Reformed churches teach.” I think that goes beyond self-hatred to Reformed indifference.

    I don’t understand how you can be so dismissive of people who are trying to follow Christ — after all, baptism is part of the Great Commission. I understand you may not think the Bible reveals all that the Reformed churches say it does. But if someone does think the Bible reveals matters about worship, polity, and theology, can you so nonchalantly dismiss it? You’d think that an earnest desire to follow Christ would at least make you consider what another believer is saying about obeying Christ. Why, I’d even think with your position you’d want to be loving to the other person.

    I don’t know about you, but when I say to my wife, “I don’t care what you think,” chances are I’m going to face a few days of difficulty.

    Like

  67. Zrim,
    I don’t think that Dr. Ortland had in mind necessarily attending Roman Catholic Masses or Baptist baby dedications, but rather living out Christ’s command to love one another and his declaration that we would be known by our love for the brethren. That can be manifested in many ways, including by our irenic speech and tone, our affirmations of love and support, and our sacrificial caring. John 17 and Eph. 4 speak of our unity in the truth of the gospel. That doctrinal unity is a fact. But it’s also a fact that Christ has sheep for whom he died that are not confessionally Reformed. We’re called to love those sheep too. Dr. Ortlund’s concern is that some confessionally Reformed split the doctrinal hairs so finely that they give appearance of withholding love and fellowship from brothers and sisters who don’t share all of our doctrinal distinctives. And so he rightly asks, “what is the tilt of our heart?” Are you able to enjoy the company of, able to respect and admire, able to love and care for those with whom your disagree? he asks. The answer to that question determines whether we have the mark of the Christian, which, according to Christ, is our love, not our doctrinal distinctives. brethren.

    Like

  68. DGH,

    I have and continue to consider what other believers say about obeying Christ, however even the apostle Paul didn’t receive acceptance of his words from the Bereans without them being compared to the Scriptures. Shall I give the framers of the confessions, and the TRs of today a privilege that the apostle Paul didn’t receive? A sincere desire to follow Christ does not necessarily mean that desire is in accordance with the truth as it is in Jesus.

    I said “Ultimately, I really don’t care what the Reformed churches teach”. Notice the qualifier “ultimately”. I do care about what they teach, but my ultimate authority is Scripture. You have no biblical argument to assert that church discipline is required by God for disagreements about the subjects and mode of baptism. zero. That is all built on your Confession. The command is to baptize. The Presbyterian application is to baptize believers and their children. The Baptist’s application is to baptize believers only. In each case, the command is being obey. Both sides have biblical arguments for their position. For one side to “discipline” the other because that side is unconvinced is ungracious and rigidly dogmatic about a matter which centers around the level of unity and disunity between the covenants. I think there is room for differences between “true” churches on this issue.

    I’m sure you wouldn’t “discipline” your wife over legitimate disagreements, would you?

    Like

  69. Raja, still fighting? Haven’t you read Ortlund’s post?

    You may not be able to connect the dots, but when Paul writes about one faith, one Lord, one baptism, how is this a rationale for two ways of baptizing — either on the basis of the covenant or on that of credible profession? Why is it not the case that if I think the Bible requires infant baptism for the children of believers, that then a paedo-baptist communion won’t discipline credo-baptists? Has it not occurred to you that Baptists and Presbyterians are in separate communions for a reason, and that such separation is a form of church discipline.

    What you fail to recognize, as well, is that discipline and correction are gracious and loving — they may actually reflect a concern for the well-being of the other (“wrong”) party.

    So this isn’t a legitimate disagreement. Nor was Paul’s complaint with the Judaizers.

    Raja, your categories are not Reformed, but I still love you.

    Like

  70. I don’t think that Dr. Ortland had in mind necessarily attending Roman Catholic Masses or Baptist baby dedications, but rather living out Christ’s command to love one another and his declaration that we would be known by our love for the brethren….Are you able to enjoy the company of, able to respect and admire, able to love and care for those with whom your disagree? he asks. The answer to that question determines whether we have the mark of the Christian, which, according to Christ, is our love, not our doctrinal distinctives.

    Sulliavn,

    I hope you believe me when I say that I’m not trying to be obtuse. But, if the point is to be “able to enjoy the company of, able to respect and admire, able to love and care for those with whom your disagree” then why wouldn’t attending their religious ceremonies count? How much more tolerant and respectful can one get than to show up to (but refrain from participating in) ceremonies that include repugnancies (Masses, baby dedications, altar calls)? If one can do that can’t he do whatever Ortlund is calling for?

    But I agree that we are known for our love for the brethren. The question is, Who is our brother? Isn’t he who holds to our confession? Isn’t there a difference between natural love (biological family and friends who hold to theological errors) and supernatural love (spiritual family and friends who by definition don’t)?

    Like

  71. Zrim, the “bretheren,” in historic Christian understanding, are mere Christians. They are those who have saving faith in Christ. They trust in Christ alone for theri salaation. They are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and thus united to Christ by faith and joined in a bond with other brothers and sisters because the are joined together as living stones in the true temple. This can be said of your Baptist friends as well. But Zrim, I take it that you believe that “brethren,” i.e., true Christians who are saved, are limited to those who can affirm or subscribe to Reformed confessions. By that reasoning, all others outside of Reformed confessionalists are lost and doomed to perdition.

    I personally don’t know any Reformed confessionalist who pushes things that far, though I’ve encountered one other in this blog. In my understanding, to say that there are no true Christians outside of our Reformed, confessionalist tradition I would find to be, with all due respect, a very crabbed view of the body of Christ and an uncharitable attitude toward Christians outside our tradition. I am only one man, but I would suggest to you that that view is outside of the mainstream Reformed tradition, and certainly the Christian tradition.

    Like

  72. DGH,

    Could it be that the “one baptism” Paul was referring to is the one in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? So, which one would that be, credo or paedo?

    It’s occurred to me that Baptists and Presbyterians are in separate communions for practical reasons, since they disagree on ecclesiology and the sacraments.

    Such correction would be “gracious and loving” were the salvation of the ones being corrected in the balance. However, that could hardly be said in this case (unless you’re prepared to assert otherwise). So, in the end, this is just intramural squabbling over a theological point.

    My categories are biblical, whatever label you put on them is of minor importance.

    I love you too, brother.

    Like

  73. Zrim, I am sorry but I forgot to answer the first part of your post. How we manifest love for the bretheren and our catholicity is not subject to hard and fast rules, as I see it. It’s a matter of the heart and wisdom. For most Reformed, worshipping at a Catholic mass would be forbidden by conscience. But it costs nothing to use kind and gracious speech, to do practical acts of charity, and if we must criticize as a last resort, we do so graciously. It seems to me that Christ’s counsel is on point: “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”

    Like

  74. Raja, so the only correction that is loving is if the one needing correction is in jeopardy of losing his salvation? Is a believing adulterer in jeopardy of losing his salvation? Will any sin cause us to lose our salvation? Or is it still possible for someone to be a saint and a sinner?

    If the latter is the case — I suspect that you yourself would admit you’re a sinner — then correcting sin is right and good even if it does not go to the question of a person’s salvation. You may have missed it when Mark Dever said that paedo-baptism was sinful. Of course, I disagree. But I respect his convictions (and this makes him fun — if only he smoked). You, however, dismiss both Mark and me as merely squabbling over an inconsequential point. In which case, you have a fairly inadequate doctrine of sin, and possibly of salvation.

    love, dgh

    Like

  75. Sulliavn,

    Re brethren, so then the Pope is our brother?

    But here is what I think gets lost in the point you are trying to make: the distinction is between the visible and invisible church, not true and false individuals. Despite how you might want to characterize what I am saying as outside the pale, I hold to that old view that just as there are hypocrites within there are also sheep without. I expect to be quite perplexed in glory, which is to say by the presence of those who I’d’ve sworn in this life wouldn’t be there and by the absence of those who I swore would. So I would rather speak much more cautiously about those who are outside a Reformed communion; I see no need to reckon them necessarily lost, but by the same token I don’t see what is to be gained by reckoning them necessarily found. To speak of them as either lost or found seems to me to be doing the invisible/triumphant in the age of the visibility/militarist. But I think we do better to speak of true/false churches instead of true/false individuals, and then petitioning true souls to adhere to a true church.

    So where I have no problem attending my natural cousin’s Catholic wedding (and refraining from the Mass) while also maintaining that his spiritual brotherhood is dubious, you’d have me refrain from his wedding but reckon him my spiritual brother? And I’ll explain my absence in one of the momentous events of his life with lots of gracious speech and acts of charity, etc. (whatever that might mean)? Sure seems to me that if I wanted to be gracious and charitable then my refraining Protestant presence at his Catholic wedding would convey this much more than my Koombaya absence.

    Like

  76. DGH,

    An incorrect understanding of the subjects and mode of baptism is not sinful. It is not adultery, it is not murder, etc. Which one of the Ten Commendments is being broken by not baptizing the children of believers?

    with brotherly affection,

    RD

    Like

  77. Zrim, I wouldn’t presume to advise you on the specifics of your cousin’s Catholic wedding since I don’t know you or the circumstances. I’d encourage you to speak to your pastor about that.

    I also find the Roman Catholic example more problematic, and more so than a Protestant since Rome officially anathomotizes the gospel. Well-taught Catholics do not profess to believe the gospel of salvation by grace alone by faith alone on the merits of Christ alone. But most non-Reformed Protestants do, even though they may be Arminian.

    Christ’s call to love the brothers is not as complicated as you make it, I’d suggest. I did not suggest, and Dr. Ortlund doesn’t suggest, that you make definitive judgments or pronouncements about whether someone is recorded in the Book of Life or not! That’s not our place. And we’re not speaking about a Conistory interviewing candidates for membership.

    Outside of passing eternal judgments or accepting candidates for membership into our communion, I think the judgment of charity calls for us to accept and treat as a Christian brother the one who makes a credible profession of faith in Christ alone. The burden of Dr. Ortlund’s essay was simply that we treat those outside our own communion with grace and charity, manifesting love through our speech and actions. For the Reformed polemicist, that may translate to adopting a gracious tone, and showing them the love of Jesus by our gracious words and actions. That doesn’t mean we don’t disagree with them when appropriate, but it does mean that we do so like Christians who love them and care for them, rather than see them as sparring partners or objectis of ridicule. This seems to me to be a mandate from our Lord himself, and something you would heartily say AMEN to! It’s not clear to me, brother, why you dig in heals to resist and equivocate about accepting this exhortation from our Lord. I am at any rate happy that you demonstrated love for your counsin, whether he is a Christian or not. We can be gracious to unbelievers too! Thanks for the helpful interaction.

    Like

  78. Sullivan,

    I also find the Roman Catholic example more problematic, and more so than a Protestant since Rome officially anathomotizes the gospel. Well-taught Catholics do not profess to believe the gospel of salvation by grace alone by faith alone on the merits of Christ alone. But most non-Reformed Protestants do, even though they may be Arminian.

    Well, the Reformed confess three marks of a true church. The first pertains to the correct formulation of the gospel, the second to the correct administration of the sacraments. Rome loses on the first, Muenster on the second. From a Reformed perspective, I don’t see how Roman churches finally fare any more problematic than Credo churches, unless we want to dispense with the second mark as negligible.

    Christ’s call to love the brothers is not as complicated as you make it, I’d suggest. I did not suggest, and Dr. Ortlund doesn’t suggest, that you make definitive judgments or pronouncements about whether someone is recorded in the Book of Life or not! That’s not our place.

    Well, what he said was: ”The remedy is to take your Reformed theology to a deeper level. Let it reduce you to Jesus only. Let it humble you. Let this gracious doctrine make you a fun person to be around. The proof that we are Reformed will be all the wonderful Christians we discover around us who are not Reformed. Amazing people. Heroic people. Blood-bought people. People with whom we are eternally one – in Christ alone.”

    It’s that last part, the part that refers to non-Reformed Christians as “blood-bought people, people with whom we are eternally one in Christ alone.” That sounds like a pretty definitive judgment about non-Reformed Christians to me. What I am suggesting is something much more cautious. Ortlund seems to be suggesting one side of a skewed coin: where one side definitively and eternally condemns non-Reformed people he definitively and eternally affirms them. Those are bad choices, it seems to me.

    The burden of Dr. Ortlund’s essay was simply that we treat those outside our own communion with grace and charity, manifesting love through our speech and actions. For the Reformed polemicist, that may translate to adopting a gracious tone, and showing them the love of Jesus by our gracious words and actions. That doesn’t mean we don’t disagree with them when appropriate, but it does mean that we do so like Christians who love them and care for them, rather than see them as sparring partners or objectis of ridicule. This seems to me to be a mandate from our Lord himself, and something you would heartily say AMEN to! It’s not clear to me, brother, why you dig in heals to resist and equivocate about accepting this exhortation from our Lord.

    On the one hand, I am not as persuaded as others that strong speech is also always ungracious or unloving, and I’m skeptical of what I perceive to be a predominantly effete disposition amongst Protestant religionists, always swooping in with feigned love and affection. On the other, I am just as skeptical of the bare-knuckled pugilism that certain Reformed polemicists think is warranted. It’s always something. And I’m not wild about either telling me the Lord is behind his particular brand of emotionalism, nor my honest inquiries about their respective assumptions or tactics being a form of ungodly resistance. I just don’t accept that there are only two options: Kumbaya Christianity or Muscle Beach Christianity, that’s all.

    Like

  79. DGH,

    I should also ask, “Does Mark Dever think that Presbyterian churches are not true churches of Christ?”

    I don’t personally know a single Baptist who would assert such a thing.

    Like

  80. Zrim, thanks for your reply. Here are my thoughts for your consideration.
    1. I think you’re confusing categories. There are many evangelical churches that don’t pass muster under our Reformed “marks of the church.” Many, for example, don’t have membership, and without membership, there can be no true church discipline, and they withhold baptism from covenant children. Doesn’t matter for me from the standpoint of the duty to love the brothers. It doesn’t follow that because the person who sits in the pew at Calvary Chapel is necessarily lost to perdition just because his church is not a true church. I assume he is in fact a Christian. The thief on the cross didn’t belong to a true church either.

    2. You’re misreading Dr. Ortlund. He called non-Reformed Christians “blood-bought people” not because he was making an eschatalogial, divine judgment, nor admitting them into church membership, but making the judgment of charity (i.e., giving the benefit of the doubt, assuming they are what they credibly say they are). Sam, your barber, goes to an evangelical church with his family every Sunday and claims to be a Christian, you have no evidence to the contrary, so you speak kindly and gently with them as if he’s a believer rather than a hostile pagan. You exchange theological ideas, and you help him understand the Reformed perspective. But you do it gently and kindly rather than offensively and rudely and arrogantly. That’s all we’re saying. Where’s the harm?

    3. I guess we disagree here, Zrim. By “strong speech” I think you mean strident, angry speech of the kind that TRs are notorious for. I do think it is ungracious and unloving and, when directed against brothers, it is wrong. And also ineffective. I find it much easier as a pastor to convince evangelicals to give Reformed churches a chance if I smile and speak irenically and affirmingly with them as we discuss theological differences. Strident rhetoric doesn’t persuade anyone to become Reformed. It is unattractive and a turn-off to more people than it attracts. Thus, on sheerly pragamatic grounds, it fails.

    3.
    2.

    Like

  81. Raja, why are you fighting this? Your reasoning is as selective as your appeal to the 10 commandments. I mean, if baptism is only a theological point, then Ortlund’s piece is also only a theological point. Where do the 10 Commandments say “don’t add to Jesus”? So the very piece that you keep coming back to defend is guilty of making a point every bit as arbitrary as paedo baptism. In other words, you have your criteria for love and fellowship and the Reformed churches have theirs. The problem for you is that you keep making them up as you go.

    No Reformed church that I know says that Baptist churches are not the true church. Nor do I know of a single Baptist church that is in fellowship with a Presbyterian or Reformed communion. We do have categories between your black and white of “I love Jesus”/”the Reformed conservatives don’t”. But if fellowship and fraternal relations mean anything to you, then not having fraternal relations with a Baptist church does mean something — like that it is not a church of like faith and practice.

    I know that sounds harsh. I just wish you could see that your criteria are equally unforgiving and intolerant.

    Like

  82. Sullivan,

    1. You know what they say about assuming though, right (he said with love)? Again, I am not sure how one can assume something so decisive of an individual outside the communion of what you and both affirm to be a true church. I don’t assume our CC friend is either lost or found. I like to think that’s a function of being able to live with mystery instead of trying to solve it. I would point out, though, that my caution cuts both ways, which means I don’t assume the worst either.

    2. Sort of the same here. But I’ll see your Sam and raise you a Calminian-credo-revivalist father-in-law, which is a much more sensitive relationship than a barber. I’d like to think that the greater balance of twenty years of healthy familial ties in the midst of vigorous theological disagreement might attest to the fact that the call to graciousness and away from rude offense is not lost on me. Why, just last week as we discussed the topic of worship I was able to suggest that altar calls are equivalents to Roman Masses and it drew not much more than a puzzled look right before a civil dinner. And when he refused to attend his own grandchild’s baptism I don’t recall any ugliness.

    3. If I might be blunt, that’s not very charitable, to assume the worst of what I mean by “strong speech.” I understand it, but as a Reformed confessionalist who has maintained very civil relations with his extended evangelical family, I just don’t perceive myself in the cross-hairs of this ongoing exhortation. I know you think that is to be a stiff-necked “TR,” but if we’re going by experience I just don’t know what you’re talking about. Truth be told, we us all, regardless of particular devotion, can be jerks. That’s because we’re sinners, not because we’re Reformed (or Baptist, or Catholic, or whatever).

    Like

  83. DGH,

    I never asserted anywhere that Reformed conservatives don’t love Jesus, your hyperbole is confusing the argument. Ortlund is simply asserting that non-Reformed Christians are brothers in the faith–not second class citizens of heaven, that we should love as blood bought children who have the same standing as the Reformed do in the kingdom of Christ. For some reason you have a problem with that assertion.

    You may think my reasoning is selective, but you still have not attempted to make a biblical case for the sinfulness of credo baptism or the requirement of church discipline for it. However, you have continued to assert it. That is a confessional position, but not one found in Scripture. Sin is any lack of conformity unto or transgression of the Law of God. Where does credo baptism come into play in light of this?

    Since I have no problem counting the Reformed and the non-Reformed as brethren, and their churches as true churches of Christ, I hardly see where I’m unforgiving and intolerant (unless you consider disagreeing with you as such).

    love, RD

    Like

  84. Raja,

    Since you and I gained a little ground at GB on this with regard to Ortlund’s overstating matters, I wonder if we can here as well.

    Do you understand that to assert that “non-Reformed Christians are brothers in the faith–not second class citizens of heaven, that we should love as blood bought children who have the same standing as the Reformed do in the kingdom of Christ” is to say that the Protestant Reformation is appreciably over (and for that matter so is the Radical Reformation)? How can that be when Rome still anathematizes us? But until you can formally extend the right hand of fellowship to the Bishop of Rome, which he will never accept until you sumbit to his construal of justification mind you, to speak this way is to overstate things to mind blowing proportions.

    Also, I don’t understand how the onus is on confessional Reformed to make “a biblical case for the sinfulness of credo baptism or the requirement of church discipline for it.” A biblical case already lies behind confessional formulation. So the onus to make a biblical case is on those who disagree with Belgic 29 and WCF 25:4 which raise the violation of the second mark (incorrect administration of baptism) to the vulnerability of the third mark. But do you understand that baptism is included in the Great Commission, and that submitting to the command and particular teaching concerning baptism is a “work of gratitude” that is unlike any other good work we can perform? You seem to think that good works are only of a moral nature, but have you considered that they are also of a ritual nature, such that it can be a good work that is superior to any moral work? Unlike moral codes, true worship and baptism are only things true believers can do, which makes those works very special and not quite as relative as you are suggesting here.

    Like

  85. Raja,

    I don’t want to impose on this verbal slapfest (done in brotherly love of course) between you and Dr. Hart. However, I think that the Reformed position on paedo-baptism is akin to circumcision in the OT. Because we see the inherent connection and transferability between baptism and circumcision, to us withholding baptism from our covenant children would be the same sin as an Israelite withholding circumcision from a son of the covenant. Failure to baptize our babies is to say that they have no part in the covenant community. This, as I understand it is why refusal to baptize covenant children is such a grave sin.

    This is why there is a separation between Baptists and Reformed communions. The fundamental disagreement over who is and is not part of the visible community is a reasonable ground for separation. I am not necessarily inclined to deny that Baptists are not part of the one holy catholic church, but to downplay the crucial reasoning behind the separation and to insist we all come vaguely together under the canopy of brotherly love is to ask your brothers (on both sides of the issue) who rightly hold strong convictions on baptism to go against their consciences and disobey one of Christ’s fundamental commands to his church.

    Like

  86. Zrim,

    I did not intend to include the RCC in my discussion as I consider that communion (as understood in it’s official teachings, not necessarily every individual Roman Catholic) to be an apostate church. I was referring to Protestants communions.

    The Great Commission commands baptizing and making disciples. That is not the first place I would go to defend paedobaptism. Confessional formulations still have to stand in the light of Scripture. If you assert the sinfulness of credo baptism, and not just it’s sinfulness but its worthiness of church discipline, you can’t just point to the appropriate chapters in the confession.

    Where is the chapter on “works of gratitude”?

    Like

  87. Jed,

    Welcome.

    You said:

    “I think that the Reformed position on paedo-baptism is akin to circumcision in the OT.”

    It’s well and good that you *think* that, but you will admit there is legitimate disagreement on the one to one relationship between circumcision and baptism, right?

    You are absolutely certain without a doubt that your foundational premise is correct? What if you’re wrong? Wouldn’t that put egg on your face?

    I’m not saying Presbyterians and Baptists be in the same communions, I understand there are practical reasons why they are not. I am saying that we should not look down on non-Reformed churches as not being true churches of Christ over theological differences. We all have errors we hold to for what we believe to be biblical reasons. I have a position on the biblical subjects and mode of baptism, but I’m not going to judge the rest of the churches by it. It is a minor difference in comparison to our fellowship in the gospel and our union to Christ.

    Best,

    RD

    Like

  88. that should have been, *over theological differences of this nature* at the end of the 3rd sentence in the last paragraph of my previous comments. sorry

    Like

  89. Raja,

    But isn’t the RCC included in the category of non-Reformed? But even if your comment is Protestant-only isn’t that sort of self-contradictory insofar as you are excluding certain Christians from the love? If you might, tell us why you’d exclude Roman Christians, otherwise it sure seems arbitrary, which doesn’t seem very loving.

    I’m not going to the GC to make the case for paedobaptism, I’m going there to say that baptism is a lot more significant than you’ve been suggesting. Credo’s worth their salt, though quite wrong sacramentally, understand this much. And why can’t I point to the confessions to make the case about the sinfulness of credo-baptism? Those aren’t just nice, helpful guides you know, they the binding and authoritative articles by which Reformed Christians have bound themselves with regard to church polity. Your assertion that I “can’t just point to the appropriate chapters in the confession” is like telling an attorney, who has bound himself to its authoritative stipulations, that he can’t just point to the Constitution and state laws to make his case against law-breakers. What you seem to be demanding is the case for paedobaptism, but that isn’t really the point. The point is that sacramentologies have been agonized over, just like justification, and some say this and others that.

    It’s intersting that you suggest to Jed that paedo’s could possibly be wrong, implying that this is why we should take it down a notch on baptism. What keeps the same reasoning from being applied to justification? Are you absolutely sure of sola fide, to the point of excluding Roman Christians in your “all non-Reformed Protestants” sentiment? If not, you could end up with egg on your face. I’m willing to take that risk on both the first and second marks.

    The whole third section of the Heidelberg catechism covers works of gratitude. That’s why it’s titled “Of Gratitude” (or thankfulness) and includes the delineation of the Decalogue.

    Like

  90. Zrim,

    I already stated why I exclude the RCC in my previous comments. They have the gospel wrong, that should be clear enough.

    The GC commands the baptism of believers, if anything. However, the command is to baptize, which most Protestant denominations do.

    Confessions are useful guides, they are not binding. That is dangerous thinking, as if the confessions are equal with Scripture. I thought they were subservient to Scripture. Guess not, eh? Would you like me to respond to polemical disagreements with “consult chapter 7, section 3.”?

    You ask:

    “What keeps the same reasoning from being applied to justification?”

    Justification is integral to the gospel. Are you suggesting baptism is on the same level? That’s what happens when you give all doctrines with same weight of importance.

    You ask:

    “Are you absolutely sure of sola fide, to the point of excluding Roman Christians in your “all non-Reformed Protestants” sentiment?”

    Yes, aren’t you? This has to do with the essence of the faith. Are the subjects and mode of baptism of the essence of the faith?

    Like

  91. Raja,

    The GC commands the baptism of believers, if anything. However, the command is to baptize, which most Protestant denominations do.

    Again, the point in bringing up the GC is not that it goes to paedo- or credo-baptism. The point is that baptism is so vital that it finds its way into the explicit command. So, what do you do with those who claim Christian faith but deny water baptism or even that baptism is necessary altogether? If you doubt their profession then why blame me for doubting those who deny infant baptism?

    Confessions are useful guides, they are not binding. That is dangerous thinking, as if the confessions are equal with Scripture. I thought they were subservient to Scripture. Guess not, eh? Would you like me to respond to polemical disagreements with “consult chapter 7, section 3.”?

    Ah, so here we have it. You have an evangelical view of confessional formulations, not a confessional view. But contrary to the evangelical assumption, the confessional view is that the fallible forms are derived from the infallible Scripture; binding and authoritative are not the same as inspired and infallible. All texts which are inspired and infallible are also binding and authoritative, but not all texts that are binding and authoritative are inspired and infallible.

    Justification is integral to the gospel. Are you suggesting baptism is on the same level? That’s what happens when you give all doctrines with same weight of importance.

    I’m saying that my confessions say that the correct administration of baptism is the second mark of the true church. It is not a trifling matter. If a church doesn’t get this right there is enough ground to doubt its trueness, just as much as when it gets the first mark wrong. If you don’t like that then don’t bind yourself to Belgic 29 or WCF 25:4.

    “Are you absolutely sure of sola fide, to the point of excluding Roman Christians in your “all non-Reformed Protestants” sentiment?”

    Yes, aren’t you? This has to do with the essence of the faith. Are the subjects and mode of baptism of the essence of the faith?

    Short answer: Yes, infant baptism is of the essence of the Reformed faith. All the Reformed churches confess it. We discipline people for not baptizing their children. Extended answer: The confessions to which I have bound myself speak of three marks, not one. I think what underlies you’re thinking here is the common modern assumption that there are Catholics and then there’s everyone else and we call them Protestants (big top). But there is more to being Protestant than not being Catholic. The Protestant Reformation was a battle on two fronts, one against Rome and the other against Muenster (the Radical Reformation). And not only did Muenster deny sola fide, they also denied a whole raft of Protestant teachings, not least was mode and subjects of baptism.

    Like

  92. Zrim,

    You said, “The point is that baptism is so vital that it finds its way into the explicit command.”

    Right. Baptism. Which most Protestant denominations do. If a denomination refuses water baptism or baptism all together, it is not a true church because it is denying the sacrament. I don’t see what the problem is.

    You said:

    “But contrary to the evangelical assumption, the confessional view is that the fallible forms are derived from the infallible Scripture; binding and authoritative are not the same as inspired and infallible. All texts which are inspired and infallible are also binding and authoritative, but not all texts that are binding and authoritative are inspired and infallible”

    Huh? Could you flesh this out with examples so it makes sense? I would like further details on the intricacies of the differences between binding/authoritative/inspired/infallible.

    You said:

    “I’m saying that my confessions say that the correct administration of baptism is the second mark of the true church. It is not a trifling matter. If a church doesn’t get this right there is enough ground to doubt its trueness, just as much as when it gets the first mark wrong. If you don’t like that then don’t bind yourself to Belgic 29 or WCF 25:4.”

    I know what you’re saying. I know what the confessions say. I’m just not convinced what you and the confessions say is what the Bible says. I don’t bind myself to Belgic 29 or WCF 25:4. I’m bound by Scripture.

    You said:

    “Short answer: Yes, infant baptism is of the essence of the Reformed faith.”

    Yes, the Reformed faith, not necessarily THE faith.

    I don’t believe in “big top” Christianity, but I also don’t believe in “pup tent” Christianity either. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

    Like

  93. Raja,

    To echo Zrim’s remarks, these doctrinal distinctives are consequential. Sure I could have egg on my face, but the only other option is to endlessly suspend judgment because golly both sides have good arguments. Like I said earlier, I am not questioning the catholicity of Baptist brothers who maintain a credible confession of faith, nor am I out on a witch-hunt to identify baptist churches as false churches. As I have come into the Reformed fold, I have found their doctrine to be convincing. That means that I have abandoned some of my broadly evangelical convictions because I am now convinced that they are false. I am fully willing to live with the consequences that flow from the positions I have taken.

    From someone who has been there, I find your argument “I’m bound by Scripture” to be simultaneously admirable since Scripture is our canon of truth, and almost totally wrong-headed since you have eschewed a confessional/corporate reading of Scripture for an individualistic reading. This is more symptomatic of the individualistic spirit of the age than it is a reflection of orthodoxy. There are plenty of individuals and groups who are “bound by Scripture” and are still heretical, so by distancing yourself from a mutually agreed upon confession of Orthodoxy you have a lot of qualifying to do in order to distance yourself from some of the whackos out there (I ain’t sayin you are a whacko). Sooner or later, you will have to formulate some sort of statement of what you believe the bible does and does not say about the doctrines you deem essential to the life of the church and individual believers, or you will have to agree to one that has already been articulated, but biblicism frankly puts you on shaky ground because saying you believe the Bible doesn’t say much about what you believe the bible says.

    This seems to feed into Dr. Hart’s original post as well. In the long run, distinctives matter a great deal. Can Christians in different communions seek to be more charitable, sure. But at the same time, if you study Evangelical history, the general problem in the last couple of centuries hasn’t been a lack of charity it has been a lack of doctrinal caution that has worn down the confessional distinctives of most denominations, and this has muddied the ecclesiastical waters and, in my opinion weakened the ministry of the Church. Unless you want to say that all is for the most part well in the Evangelical melting pot, you are going to have to grapple with the reality that maybe the defensive posture of those who seek to maintain their faithfulness to their Confessions of faith is understandable. Any overture that insists the confessionalists are mean and nasty for insisting that they are right and other Christians are wrong is going to cause them to put up their dukes and start swinging. After all they have been on the run for a couple hundred years from the homogenizing machine that is peitistic evangelicalism .

    Like

  94. Raja, the reason to baptize infants is that the covenant is made with believers and their children. That’s clear in the OT, and it’s maintained in the NT in Acts 2, for instance. Not following Scripture is a sin, right?

    And that’s one reason for not being in the same communion with Baptists. In fact, the sins of others is the only reason. If it’s only practical reasons that separate Baptists and Presbyterians, as you say, then you are more guilty of the errors identified in Ortlund’s post than I am. Your reasons have to do with levels of comfort, or something other than a biblical reason. What’s up with that?

    You also wrote: “Ortlund is simply asserting that non-Reformed Christians are brothers in the faith–not second class citizens of heaven, that we should love as blood bought children who have the same standing as the Reformed do in the kingdom of Christ.” But Ortlund actually wrote this: “But their distinctive functioned as an addition to the all-sufficiency of Jesus himself. Today the flash point is not circumcision. It can be Reformed theology. But no matter how well argued our position is biblically, if it functions in our hearts as an addition to Jesus, it ends up as a form of legalistic divisiveness.” Your fighting way more over someone’s opinion than over biblical teaching. Could it be that you’ve added Ortlund to Jesus?

    Like

  95. Raja,

    If a denomination refuses water baptism or baptism all together, it is not a true church because it is denying the sacrament. I don’t see what the problem is.

    The problem is that, evidently, you can declare with ease that a church which denies water baptism is false. I agree, but why are you faulting me for saying with equal ease that a church that denies infant baptism is false? Maybe it’s because you’re credo and resent it, but at least my credo’s understand enough to consider my childrens’ baptism’s to be insufficient (read: false) and demand they be re-baptized. That’s a respectable sacramentology (just like Rome’s anathema’s are a respectable soteriology).

    I would like further details on the intricacies of the differences between binding/authoritative/inspired/infallible.

    http://www.modernreformation.org/default.php?page=articledisplay&var1=ArtRead&var2=19&var3=main

    I know what you’re saying. I know what the confessions say. I’m just not convinced what you and the confessions say is what the Bible says. I don’t bind myself to Belgic 29 or WCF 25:4. I’m bound by Scripture.

    But as soon as you begin to tell me what Scripture teaches you are doing precisely what a confession (and a confessionalist) is doing. Why do you get to claim being bound by Scripture and may teach what you think it teaches but we don’t? Is it that you think the confessions were dreamed up without any reference to Scripture?

    Yes, the Reformed faith, not necessarily THE faith.

    If one doesn’t believe that the Reformed expression is THEE superior expression of biblical and historical Christianity on earth then what’s the point of subscribing it?

    Like

  96. Jed,

    This is not about suspending judgment because both sides have good arguments, it’s about allowing for the fact that your judgment (and the judgment of your communion) is not infallible, and that there is really more room within the bounds of orthodoxy than you are comfortable with. Do you think that your beliefs (and those of your communion) are perfectly in line with Jesus? If so, you certainly are one of His favored ones. However, I am much more comfortable being wrong about who I include as “true churches of Christ” than being wrong about who I exclude.

    As far as eschewing a confessional/corporate reading of Scripture, you would not embrace any doctrine unless you were convinced in your personal judgment that it’s taught in the Bible. No Protestant would. So your charge of “individualism” falls to the ground like a brick. You just happen to be convinced by the confession, otherwise you wouldn’t hold to it on every point either.

    I hold to the Reformed confessions, however I don’t revere them as if they fell out of the sky or were delivered by angels. I don’t read the Bible through the lenses of my confession, so that when I come to a verse that doesn’t appear to fit into my a priori theological assumptions, I make it fit anyway. I refuse to be stuck in a confessional box. The men who wrote and formulated our Reformed confessions were fallible men of their times. They were written in the heat of battle, many times with Rome in mind. This makes them at times reactionary and imbalanced. Shall we adopt those aspects down through the ages because of a blind adherence to confessionalism? No thanks.

    I was a part of a strictly confessional church for over ten years. I know from personal experience how simple Christians, either because they couldn’t grasp everything in the confession, or because they were unconvinced on some points, got crushed by their pastors and were separated from the people they love and the flock they were a part of, over issues that were no where close to the essence of the faith. Does that sound please to the Lord to you?

    Like

  97. DGH,

    You certainly totally demolished the Baptist position in your opening statement, eh? I don’t know why volumes have been written about this issue from both sides when we could have just appealed to Acts chapter 2. Oh, wait a second, it says the promise is “for you and your children AND for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself” Hmmm. Sounds like those who are far off are in the same position as “you and your children”. Well, it’s a sin not to follow Scripture, right?

    I never asserted that Presbyterians should be in the same communion as Baptists, only that they should regard each other as true churches of Christ–even though they disagree on basically two items.

    The gospel doesn’t stand or fall on those two items either.

    Like

  98. Zrim,

    The validity or genuineness of a church does not sit upon it’s doctrine of the subjects and mode of baptism. There is room for disagreement. If it were not so, the Lord would have made the subjects and mode of baptism abundantly clear. I have a position on the matter, but I recognize there is another competing position which excludes a subject of baptism I would include. Doesn’t make the church invalid.

    You said:

    “But as soon as you begin to tell me what Scripture teaches you are doing precisely what a confession (and a confessionalist) is doing. Why do you get to claim being bound by Scripture and may teach what you think it teaches but we don’t? Is it that you think the confessions were dreamed up without any reference to Scripture?”

    No, I’m not. A strict confessionalist cannot speak outside of his confession, he has to take his confession’s interpretation of Scripture as the only true and valid one. He can let no light in that wasn’t shining 400 years ago when his confession was written. He has to make every Scripture fit into his confessional system whether it contradicts it or not. I am not so bound.

    You said:

    “If one doesn’t believe that the Reformed expression is THEE superior expression of biblical and historical Christianity on earth then what’s the point of subscribing it?”

    Oh, I believe the Reformed expression is the superior expression of biblical and historical Christianity, just not the only one.

    Like

  99. Raja,

    You said to Jed: “I hold to the Reformed confessions…The men who wrote and formulated our Reformed confessions were fallible men of their times. They were written in the heat of battle, many times with Rome in mind. This makes them at times reactionary and imbalanced.”

    Why do you hold to formulations you are clearly so highly skeptical (cynical?) about? I can’t decide yet who you sound more like, the evangelicals in my CRC who are proposing castrating revisions to the Form of Subscription and mistake high opinions of the confessions for high views, or like (Presbyterian) Finney who conveyed a low opinion when he called them “paper popes.” Either way, you sure don’t have a high view of them (which is different from an infallible view, BTW, which is what Rome has of her ecclesiastical formulations. Curious how Protestants are mistaken by Romanists for being evangelicals and evangelicals mistake us for Romanists).

    The validity or genuineness of a church does not sit upon it’s doctrine of the subjects and mode of baptism. There is room for disagreement. If it were not so, the Lord would have made the subjects and mode of baptism abundantly clear. I have a position on the matter, but I recognize there is another competing position which excludes a subject of baptism I would include. Doesn’t make the church invalid.

    So subjects and mode of baptism are unclear from Scripture. You realize that one could say the same thing about justification, or about the nature and person of Jesus, right? Romanists and Arians have what they consider clear biblical arguments for their construals of justification and Christology. Why do you think soteriology and Christology are crystal clear but sacramentology isn’t? That sure seems arbitrary. Is there a verse that tells us the former two are plain and the third is up in the air?

    No, I’m not. A strict confessionalist cannot speak outside of his confession, he has to take his confession’s interpretation of Scripture as the only true and valid one. He can let no light in that wasn’t shining 400 years ago when his confession was written. He has to make every Scripture fit into his confessional system whether it contradicts it or not. I am not so bound.

    My point isn’t landing here. What I am asking of those who say they are solely bound by Scripture (solo scriptura as opposed to sola) is why they can open their mouths about what it teaches but when a confessionalist does the same by way of his confession he’s all of a sudden faulted? My thought is that whatever else is going on it owes to autonomous individualism that has real fundamental problems with ecclesiastical formulation, institutional deliberation and authority/submission. I understand the reticence to admit to something like “autonomous individualism,” but it might go easier if you admitted being skeptical of institutionalism instead of the feigned piousness which comes with all the solo jazz.

    Oh, I believe the Reformed expression is the superior expression of biblical and historical Christianity, just not the only one.

    Obviously, it’s not the only one. But that’s what it means to qualify something as superior (it’s a comparative phrase that assumes there are others). But back to your holding to something you’re also not wholly convinced of: huh?

    Like

  100. Zrim,

    You asked:

    “Why do you hold to formulations you are clearly so highly skeptical (cynical?) about?”

    I hold to them to the degree that I see they square up with Scripture.

    You said:

    “You realize that one could say the same thing about justification, or about the nature and person of Jesus, right?”

    Yes, I do. However, those doctrines you site as examples are “of the essence of the faith” and have to do with the gospel itself. I would say those are a little more important than who gets baptized and whether they get immersed in water or have it sprinkled on their head. Why do I have to even argue this point?

    You asked:

    “Why do you think soteriology and Christology are crystal clear but sacramentology isn’t?”

    Because it isn’t. Don’t most Protestant denominations basically have soteriology straight? How many Protestant denominations are labeled by their positions on soteriology? And how many labeled by their position on baptism (i.e. Baptist, Presbyterian)

    You ask:

    ” What I am asking of those who say they are solely bound by Scripture (solo scriptura as opposed to sola) is why they can open their mouths about what it teaches but when a confessionalist does the same by way of his confession he’s all of a sudden faulted?”

    I do not believe in solo scriptura, I just don’t elevate confessions to the level of Scripture. I’ve explained why a confessionalist is at fault when he opens his mouth and will only speak what the confession says.

    I do hold to something I am wholey convinced of, that no confession is perfect.

    Like

  101. Raja,

    Yes, I do. However, those doctrines you site as examples are “of the essence of the faith” and have to do with the gospel itself. I would say those are a little more important than who gets baptized and whether they get immersed in water or have it sprinkled on their head. Why do I have to even argue this point?

    Well, because for one thing you say that those who deny water baptism are false. That’s pretty strong language (are you listening, Sullivan?) Don’t you think you owe an argument to those whom you claim are unduly pedantic and divisive about baptism? So baptism has nothing to do with the gospel itself is what I hear you saying. Amongst all the different views on baptism I have never thought anybody had such an odd assumption. But if it doesn’t have anything to do with the gospel what accounts for all the divisions? It would seem that most think it does have something to do with the gospel.

    “Why do you think soteriology and Christology are crystal clear but sacramentology isn’t?”
    Because it isn’t. Don’t most Protestant denominations basically have soteriology straight? How many Protestant denominations are labeled by their positions on soteriology? And how many labeled by their position on baptism (i.e. Baptist, Presbyterian).

    Wait, so Christology is crystal clearer than sacramentology? Wow, I always though tit was pretty difficult, not to say unclear but way more obscure than baptism. I think the CREC has some soteriological problems. Presbyterians are named after church polity, not sacramentology. But now you’re bringing up a point about (credo) Baptists I have always wondered. They seem to take sacramentology so seriously they actually name themselves after their sacramental views (to the extent that paedocommunionism is the flip side error of credo-baptism, when will we see the Communionists?). Shouldn’t you go after the credo’s with at least as much vigor if not more, since they raise their sacramentology to such divisive levels? We call ourselves Reformed, which is a broad term which takes into account many different aspects of theological outlook.

    I do not believe in solo scriptura, I just don’t elevate confessions to the level of Scripture. I’ve explained why a confessionalist is at fault when he opens his mouth and will only speak what the confession says. I do hold to something I am wholey convinced of, that no confession is perfect.

    All due respect, but, when you keep suggesting that confessionalism conceives of confessional formulation as infallible you haven’t shown that you understand confessionalism/sola scriptura. I think you need to read that Mathison piece again. If you’re not solo, I am not sure what is.

    Like

  102. Zrim,

    Those who deny baptism, which by definition requires water, are denying the sacrament all together. They are not disagreeing about the subjects and mode of baptism, they are denying baptism.

    Baptism is a symbol. It saves no one. An error about the subjects and mode of baptism is not a fatal error, nor does it make your church false–it just makes it mistaken.

    I don’t think Christology is unclear, are you sure you’re really orthodox?

    Baptists used the term as definitional partly because it was the primary issue of disagreement with paedobaptists. Not to mention, some of them gave their lives for it. Sounds like both sides had quite an imbalanced view, doesn’t it?

    If you judge other churches in the light of your confessional standards, how is it in practical terms (you know, reality) not viewing your confession as infallible?

    Like

  103. I guess saying that your confessional standards are authoritative and binding but not infallible is like saying, “well, we could be wrong (there is an eency weency chance of it) but we’re going to act like we’re not.”

    Like

  104. Raja, you’re only digging your hole deeper. You say that Baptists and Reformed existing in separate communions is okay. What would be the possible grounds for that on the “only Jesus” model. I mean, if baptism is only a theological point, and not Christian truth, then why wouldn’t these two groups be in the same church?

    In point of fact, on matters that are adiaphora, we allow them within the church and don’t discipline. So the ones we don’t allow in the church, are not up for grabs as you have them. I guess you’re more suited for the EV Free church where you have the option of infant baptism or dedication. But watch out — not only is your snark in violation of Ortlund’s post — I don’t think it goes with EV Free piety.

    Like

  105. DGH,

    The assertion I made is that Reformed and non-Reformed churches should regard each other as true churches of Christ, and love one another in spite of their differences about secondary matters.

    Simple.

    However, you and others want to make minors into majors and fight over them to the bitter end. You want to label non-Reformed churches as false churches. You want to label Baptist churches as false churches over essentially 2 issues of disagreement (ecclesiology and sacramentology). You like being the gladiator.

    Like

  106. I imagine this kind of in-fighting is what gave birth to the saying, “The Reformed churches eat their own”

    Like

  107. Raja,

    I think what we’ve established is that you believe baptism to be of little importance in order to be able to maintain that confessional paedobaptists are unduly divisive, yet at the same time you may render those who deny water baptism false. I think I give up trying to understand this level of convenient arbitrariness. It seems to be more and more common anymore though.

    If you judge other churches in the light of your confessional standards, how is it in practical terms (you know, reality) not viewing your confession as infallible?

    You seem to be setting up a false dilemma: if I actually take the confessions seriously this means I think they are infallible. But I don’t see how judging other churches as sub-Christian based upon the Reformed confessions is any different from judging other countries as sub-American that deny the Constitution or Bill of Rights, etc.

    I guess saying that your confessional standards are authoritative and binding but not infallible is like saying, “well, we could be wrong (there is an eency weency chance of it) but we’re going to act like we’re not.”

    I get the implication of arrogance, but I can work with that. Or like saying, “I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.” So what? People do this with all sorts of things every day. I could fall on my face when I get out of bed, but each morning I’m pretty sure I’m right that I can do it. Am I arrogant for having that “infallible assurance” and getting up? Or take marriage vows. In my vows I tell my wife that I could very well fail, but I’m pretty sure I won’t. Is that arrogant, or simply the way adults approach their mature relationships? It seems to me childish to suggest that people who get married, or bind themselves in these ways the midst of their fallible humanity, are being arrogant. Maybe they’re just being grown-ups? Don’t you think there is an important difference between being arrogant and being confident?

    But remember that the Reformed and Presbyterian world has seen fit to edit their confessions in their histories as they have been deemed wanting. It’s not as if that is beyond us. If we really thought our formulations were infallible would we have edited them? I don’t know the last time we edited the Bible.

    Like

  108. I imagine this kind of in-fighting is what gave birth to the saying, “The Reformed churches eat their own.”

    Boy, that’s bleak. I’m more inclined to think it spawned, “Reformed and always reforming.” Who says confessionalists can’t be optimistic?

    Like

  109. Zrim,

    I didn’t say it was of *little* importance, I said it was of *secondary* importance. So, I wouldn’t put it on the level of whether the carpet in the sanctuary should be beige or blue, or if we should have church bulletins or not.

    You said:

    “…if I actually take the confessions seriously this means I think they are infallible”

    How is this position any different than that of the Roman Magisterium, which *infallibly* interprets the Scriptures for us?

    You asked: “So what? People do this with all sorts of things every day.”

    You don’t see the dicrepancy between judging whether you can get up out of bed every morning and judging whether other Christian churches are “true churches of Christ”? Wow. Well, for starters you’re making eternal judgments regarding churches Christ built. Seems like there would be a little more care involved.

    You asked: “Maybe they’re just being grown-ups?”

    Mature grown ups are those aware of their own faults and short comings. Confidence without love and humility IS arrogance.

    You said:

    “But remember that the Reformed and Presbyterian world has seen fit to edit their confessions in their histories as they have been deemed wanting.”

    Wait a second, I thought the confessions were infallible? Hmmm. All those poor Christian folks who disagreed before the editing sure got the short end of the stick…

    Like

  110. “Reformed and always reforming.”

    Are you kidding? Reformed–past tense. Always Reforming? When? The few times editing has taken place?

    Like

  111. Raja,

    I don’t think any confessionalist argues for the infallibility of the confessions. In my denomination (PCA), many teaching elders take exceptions with various portions of the WCF. That doesn’t necessarily mean that these pastors denigrate the value of our confession, or the prominent place it holds in the church. You’re whipping up on a straw-man here. And why is it wrong to hold a strong confessional stance anyway? Churches outside of the Reformed tradition still hold to doctrinal statements that ultimately determine who can and cannot be part of the congregation. Are they being nit-picky and pedantic?

    If I am hearing you right, it seems like one of your biggest points of contention is that Reformed Confessionalists are not inclined to acknowledge other non-Reformed churches as true churches, or individuals belonging to these denominations as true believers. The problem is that I am not seeing DGH or Zrim making those sort of arguments. I do see them exercising more caution in whom they would welcome as a brother than you (or I for that matter) are inclined to. What’s the rub here though, aren’t they free to hold these convictions that they derive from their reading of Scripture and the confessions?

    This protracted conversation, however, has proved Ortlund wrong on this account. As I have observed, I have seen a lot of strong disagreement, but none of the incivility the Ortlund lays at the Reformed doorstep. It really makes me wonder if the real motivation in alleging the Reformed inclination to arrogance and myopic sectarianism stems less from the real presence of these character flaws (since Christians of any tradition are equally vulnerable to this), and more from the fact that evangelicals simply don’t like the severity of confessionally Reformed convictions because they fall short of the evangelical insistence upon being nice.

    Like

  112. I don’t know, Raja, you sure seem to do a lot of nasty fighting for such a lover.

    So sacramentology is secondary, while soteriology and Christology are primary. But if you hold to the confessions, as you say you do albeit in an unbinding manner, what do you make of Belgic 29 and WCF 25:4 which seem to make it clear that it is primary?

    You seem to suggest that to have the sort of confidence in the confessions as a confessionalist does is to also be without love or humility. This seems awfully close to the revivalist critical method of the confessionalists. The former said of the latter that they were unconverted. Sorry, but it’s virtually impossible to honestly engage someone who presumes that by virtue of his views he’s as good as pagan or morally bankrupt.

    But, no, the confessions are binding and authoritative, not infallible. You’ve lost me–when did I say they were infallible? My point all along has been to contrast the confessional views from not only evangelical views but also Romanist views.

    Like

  113. Raja, so what part of Ortlund’s post to actually identify with (sorry for the dangling preposition)? Let me try Ortlund on you:

    “My anti-confessional friend, can you move among confessional groups and really enjoy them? Do you admire them? Even if you disagree with them in some ways, do you learn from them? What is the emotional tilt of your heart – toward them or away from them? If your theology has morphed functionally into Galatian sociology, the remedy is not to abandon your theology. The remedy is to take your theology to a deeper level. Let it reduce you to Jesus only. Let it humble you. Let this gracious doctrine make you a fun person to be around. The proof that we are loving will be all the wonderful confessional Christians we discover around us who are committed to being Reformed. Amazing people. Heroic people. Blood-bought people. People with whom we are eternally one – in Christ alone.”

    Is your conscience burning, Raja? Remember, you’re the second-mate on the Love Boat.

    Like

  114. Jed,

    I don’t think most confessionalists argue for the infallibility of their confessions either. However, in reality, when churches and/or people are judged in light of them what can we conclude? Pronouncing another church as “not a true church of Christ” because they don’t meet your confession’s criteria is serious business.

    You said:

    “The problem is that I am not seeing DGH or Zrim making those sort of arguments.”

    Have you been reading their comments? DGH flat out said that he doesn’t consider non-Reformed churches to be true churches of Christ.

    You said:

    “This protracted conversation, however, has proved Ortlund wrong on this account. As I have observed, I have seen a lot of strong disagreement, but none of the incivility the Ortlund lays at the Reformed doorstep. It really makes me wonder if the real motivation in alleging the Reformed inclination to arrogance and myopic sectarianism stems less from the real presence of these character flaws (since Christians of any tradition are equally vulnerable to this), and more from the fact that evangelicals simply don’t like the severity of confessionally Reformed convictions because they fall short of the evangelical insistence upon being nice.”

    Sure, it has been civil here. There are other places where it’s not so civil, trust me. This is not necessarily about being nice, it’s about telling Christians that disagree with you their church is not the real deal–when everyone there loves Jesus, has repented of their sins, their pastor opens the Bible to preach God’s word, and they practice church discipline and administer the sacraments (just not according to your convictions, of course).

    Like

  115. Zrim,

    You said: “I don’t know, Raja, you sure seem to do a lot of nasty fighting for such a lover.”

    Hey, this subject makes me cranky. Sorry

    You asked:

    “So sacramentology is secondary, while soteriology and Christology are primary. But if you hold to the confessions, as you say you do albeit in an unbinding manner, what do you make of Belgic 29 and WCF 25:4 which seem to make it clear that it is primary?”

    I disagree with them.

    You said:

    “You seem to suggest that to have the sort of confidence in the confessions as a confessionalist does is to also be without love or humility. This seems awfully close to the revivalist critical method of the confessionalists. The former said of the latter that they were unconverted. Sorry, but it’s virtually impossible to honestly engage someone who presumes that by virtue of his views he’s as good as pagan or morally bankrupt”

    I was not making a blanket statement about confessionalists who have confidence in their confession. I was also not suggesting you or anyone else here is a pagan or morally bankrupt–no way. Confidence in the confession should also be accompanied by love and humility as a Christian. You have nothing you have not received from God. Perfection of doctrinal understanding is not a requirement of individual Christians or of churches.

    As far as the infallibility issue, I misread you on this comment: “if I actually take the confessions seriously this means I think they are infallible.” You did make a qualifying statement about me making this a false dilemma. I thought you were making a statement. My apologies.

    Like

  116. DGH,

    “My anti-confessional friend, can you move among confessional groups and really enjoy them? {YES} Do you admire them? {YES} Even if you disagree with them in some ways, do you learn from them? {YES} What is the emotional tilt of your heart – toward them or away from them? {Toward them} If your theology has morphed functionally into Galatian sociology, the remedy is not to abandon your theology. The remedy is to take your theology to a deeper level. Let it reduce you to Jesus only. Let it humble you. Let this gracious doctrine make you a fun person to be around. The proof that we are loving will be all the wonderful confessional Christians we discover around us who are committed to being Reformed. Amazing people. Heroic people. Blood-bought people. People with whom we are eternally one – in Christ alone.”

    Amen. Whoever said I didn’t? This is a “disagreement” discussion. Even MMA fighters hug after a sparring match. I’m just asking you to consider the fact that your *convictions* may be wrong in some aspects, and that they are not necessarily right just because they’re your convictions.

    with love,

    RD

    Like

  117. Raja,

    I think you need to re-read the comments, DGH has asserted, “Raja, I do not view non-Reformed churches as true churches. Neither do I regard them necessarily as false. It’s a case by case thing.” (6/18, 8:34PM). I don’t read this as blasting away at all of the Baptist congregation as necessarily false churches. While it may seem harsh, maybe the state of some of the churches in N. America would be better served to be evaluated with more scrutiny. The message and role of the church is too crucial for deference for the sake of getting along. The eternal destiny of countless congregants are at stake, and if the confessions are correct in identifying the marks of the true church (I believe they are), then it is nothing less than a loving act to assert that certain churches are false, so that parishioners can take part in churches that do faithfully maintain the marks of the church.

    Like I have said earlier, as well as in other posts, I am more inclined to receive baptist churches as true churches than some others here, so you are preaching to the choir here. I do, however value some of the more stringent critiques here because they are warranted even if I am not inclined to hold the same convictions as some of my brothers who by biblical and confessional reflection hold their convictions in good conscience.

    As to the militancy you have encountered elsewhere, that is a shame, but these guys (and most confessionalists) aren’t guilty of that here and shouldn’t be lumped in with those who cannot maintain civility in the face of strong disagreement. If the Reformed and belligerent were who Ortlund had in mind, he would have been better off to be more specific, rather than impugning an entire confessional community. And, if the confessionalists believe they are right, and that they are heralding the Christian faith in its purest and most biblically faithful form, then shame on them for not trying to get everyone they possibly can on board.

    Like

  118. Jed,

    I appreciate your comments.

    Just this one point about this quote from DGH, ““Raja, I do not view non-Reformed churches as true churches. Neither do I regard them necessarily as false. It’s a case by case thing.” (6/18, 8:34PM).

    If you’re going to assert your Confession is the true expression of biblical teaching (binding and authoritative), you are not allowed to stand in the middle of the see saw like DGH is attempting to do here. Is DGH asserting that *some* Baptist churches are true churches? Then he is refuting himself, because he also said that correct administration of the sacraments is one of the marks of a “true church”. Well, which is it? Are the true churches those that hold to the Reformed Confessions AND the ones DGH determines fit the bill?

    Like

  119. This is not necessarily about being nice, it’s about telling Christians that disagree with you their church is not the real deal–when everyone there loves Jesus, has repented of their sins, their pastor opens the Bible to preach God’s word, and they practice church discipline and administer the sacraments (just not according to your convictions, of course).

    But there are those who will tell you they love Jesus, have repented of their sins, their pastor opens the Bible to preach God’s word and practice church discipline and teach a Christology (just not according to your convictions, of course). They’re called Mormons. I can hear you gasping for air, but my point isn’t so much to say that Baptists are closer to Mormons than to Presbyterians as it is to say that the criteria you set up here just isn’t good enough to stake out true from false.

    I know you think sacramentology isn’t nearly as important as soteriology or Christology (!), but do you understand that to emphasize heart religion over sacramentology makes things that much safer for Arians, which is to say Christological heretics, which is the very criterion you get confessionalish about? And Arians who are also credo’s, by the way. Under my scheme, Mormons are even further off the reservation because they miss on Christology and sacramentology. What I think this all turns on, of course, is sacramentology: it’s either a test for orthodoxy (Belgic 29, WCF 25:4) or it isn’t. And if it isn’t then Belgic 29/WCF 25:4 need to be revised. I think your views represent the larger, informal balance of Reformedville. But the formal view places sacramentology way up high, and until you all revise these confessional I stand by what I have said here. But, then again, to revise would require a high view of the confessions in the first place because that would suggest that they actually matter. So that brings us back to square one again.

    Like

  120. Zrim,

    “I think your views represent the larger, informal balance of Reformedville.”

    Right. Why would that be? Because we all really know sacramentalology is a secondary matter. You keep trying to elevate it in your examples (i.e. make it of equal importance to Christology) but it just won’t get off the ground.

    I agree. The Confessions need to be revised.

    Like

  121. Zrim,

    “I think your views represent the larger, informal balance of Reformedville.”

    Right. Why would that be? Because we all really know sacramentalology is a secondary matter. You keep trying to elevate it in your examples (i.e. make it of equal importance to Christology) but it just won’t get off the ground.

    I agree. The Confessions need to be revised on this point.

    Like

  122. Raja, methinks thou doth comment too much for you to qualify as loving as Ortlund understands it. I can’t believe you’re still after this. Good for you. I appreciate the fight. But in the name of love that anathematizes? Yikes.

    As for your thought that my view waffles like a see saw, have you not heard of grades? Where I teach you can take a course pass/fail, but most students opt for A, B, C, D or F. The analogy with the churches follows from what the Westminster Confession teaches about true and erroneous churches. Rome gets an F. Baptists get a C. But to be a church of like faith and practice you need to get an A or A-. That means, following through on the love connection, that Baptists are not in fellowship with Presbyterians. Does that mean I’m happy about that like most meany Reformed confessionalists? You’ll have to take my “no” as genuine. But this is what was at stake for some of us in Ortlund’s post. If we disfellowship other Christians we are not loving and have de-centered Jesus. Wrong. We only disfellowship other believers with regret out of allegiance to our Lord, must like Paul “disfellowshiped” the Judaizers.

    Like

  123. Right. Why would that be [that your views represent the larger, informal balance of Reformedville]? Because we all really know sacramentalology is a secondary matter. You keep trying to elevate it in your examples (i.e. make it of equal importance to Christology) but it just won’t get off the ground. I agree. The Confessions need to be revised.

    Raja,

    You are familiar with parliamentary procedure, yes? Majority and correctness don’t always go together. It’s pretty awesome when they do, but it doesn’t happen nearly as often as most of us would like.

    Still, the formal Reformed view is that sacramentology is a standard for orthodoxy. So it’s a matter of being in accord with our formal standards. And, until those with low views of sacramentology can change the standards, rendering Baptist churches as false isn’t being unduly divisive as much as being thoroughly and consistently Reformed. Indeed, as thoroughly Reformed as a Baptist church is thoroughly Baptist, for any respectable Baptist pastor, when asked to baptize a child will flatly refuse. What would you say if I suggested Ortlund was being Galatian for not being more inclusive toward covenant children?

    You do realize, of course, that to change the standards per your views is to be Evangelical Free, right? Sure seems a whole lot easier, to say nothing of respectable, for an individual to just to change denominations than to try and make Reformed something we’re not.

    Like

  124. At least the Rev. Dr. Ortlund confesses:

    “I believe in the sovereignty of God, the Five Points of Calvinism, the Solas of the Reformation, I believe that grace precedes faith in regeneration. Theologically, I am Reformed.”

    Hopefully, these continue to inform his and his congregation’s views on Jesus!

    See my concerns in posts at his site.

    Yours,
    Hugh

    Like

  125. DGH,

    We can let this drop if I have exhausted you with my comment count.

    One final point, your grade scale analogy contradicts your confessional position. For a strict confessionalist, a church is either an A or an F, either a pass or fail. A church either biblically administers the sacraments or it doesn’t, and if it doesn’t it does not have all the marks of a true church. There is no middle ground. There is no C grade.

    You said:

    “We only disfellowship other believers with regret out of allegiance to our Lord”

    Yes, disfellowship other believers for Jesus. Certainly regrettable.

    love,

    RD

    Like

  126. Zrim,

    Thanks for the interaction.

    I wouldn’t expect a Baptist pastor to baptize children, that was never my point. My point was to recognize non-Reformed churches as true churches of Christ.

    I think we have furthered this discussion as far as we can.

    best,

    RD

    Like

  127. Raja, sorry to burst your ever so loving bubble, but a strict confessionalists who subscribes the Westminster Confession needs to allow for D’s, C’s, and B’s. According to the Confession:

    “This catholic church hath been sometimes more, sometimes less visible. And particular churches, which are members thereof, are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.

    “The purest churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated, as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. Nevertheless, there shall be always a church on earth, to worship God according to his will.” (WCF 25..4-5)

    Again, you have this odd tick of rushing in to tell me what is biblical and now what is confessional when I’m not sure you’ve considered all the options for what is biblical or what is confessional.

    Like

  128. DGH,

    So, are you now admitting Baptist and other non-Reformed churches are indeed true churches of Christ? It’s a yes or no question, not A, B, C, or D.

    Like

  129. Thank you, Pope Raja.

    And so I guess Ortlund’s point was that if you’re not fun you must be mean and vile because in Pope Raja’s world its all black and white.

    Like

  130. I wouldn’t expect a Baptist pastor to baptize children, that was never my point. My point was to recognize non-Reformed churches as true churches of Christ.

    I realize you think we’re done here, but you either need to wrench my hip, or explain why a Baptist pastor who refuses to baptize a child gets a pass on the divisive scale but not a Reformed layman who doesn’t recognize non-Reformed churches as true. (But you do realize, don’t you, that to reckon the visible status of a church false isn’t the same as reckoning the invisible status of one of its members the same? Somehow I think that might be at play here.)

    Like

  131. DGH,

    Why the consternation? *You* assert, along with the Confession (que the lights and angels singing) that one of the marks of a true church is the biblical administration of the sacraments. Why are you flinching now? There’s no grey area here…

    BE consistent. You’re trying to soften your stance without contradicting the confession. If Baptist churches aren’t true churches, just say so. Don’t give them a “C” to make it sound better…

    from the Vatican,

    RD

    Like

  132. Zrim,

    I never denied the right of Presbyterian churches to practice their convictions regarding the sacraments, nor have I denied non-Reformed churches the same right. My assertion, once more, is that Reformed and non-Reformed churches should consider one another “true churches of Christ” and brethren in the Lord.

    I didn’t say Presbyterian, Baptists, etc. should all go to the same church and practice anything they want…

    Like

  133. Raja,

    I understand you don’t deny the right of Presbyterians churches to practice their convictions regarding the sacraments, nor non-Reformed the same. My question had to do with your apparent antagonism toward Reformed believers speaking their confessions’ convictions that to practice incorrect administration of the sacraments (i.e. credobaptism) means the church is less-than-true. And yet no apparent antagonism toward those who would say that my childrens’ baptisms were false (and need to be “repeated”). It’s not that I want to fault Baptists for speaking their convictions (because I respect it even as I reject it), it’s that I want to know from you why my speech/actions is unduly divisive and the Baptist’s isn’t?

    Like

  134. Zrim,

    They’re only unduly divisive when they (or you) start calling one another’s churches “false”. I don’t place the validity of a church upon it’s correct understanding of the unity or disunity of the covenants. One can be wrong and the other right on this issue, but both are true churches of Christ.

    Are you so immersed in your confessions that you can’t see this?

    Like

  135. Ah, but Pope Raja, I’m being biblical just like my confession is. Some churches are more in error than others. Paul condemned the Judaizers but praised the Phillipian pastors who preached out of envy and strife. You want consistency where Scripture doesn’t give it.

    Ultramontanists never understand that subtlety. It’s either black or white, unless the pope says that black is white.

    Like

  136. DGH,

    Is this where the “TR” in you starts to show itself? Where’s the love?

    You said that the proper administration of the sacraments was one of the marks of a true church. Now is that true or not? Or is inconsistency one of the marks of a true Christian?

    ex cathedra,

    RD

    Like

  137. Raja,

    So, calling another’s church false based on an understanding (and subsequent praxis) of the unity or disunity of the covenants is unduly divisive, but calling another’s baptism false on the same grounds isn’t?

    Like

  138. Raja,

    Well, I’d rather the Baptist calling my baptism false than you calling me schismatic and him (downgraded to) mistaken. Sort of like the Catholic anathematizing for sola fide. They both understand the importance of doctrine instead the importance of “understanding.”

    Thanks for the tussle.

    Like

  139. Raja, so if I cop to Baptists being in error the way that Mark Dever said that Presbyterians were in sin by baptizing babies do you win? Baptists are in error. They are not false churches the way Rome is — feel the love?

    So what does that prove? You already knew that Presbyterians regard Baptists as being in error and that I am not loving — Ortlund’s post remember?

    So what? You went through all these comments for the obvious? Hey, buy that pope a cigar!

    Like

  140. DGH,

    This isn’t about winning. I am making the point that there is room for differences among true churches on secondary matters–which you adamantly deny.

    Odd that you would label me a pope when you are the one declaring the correct interpretation of Scripture from the Reformed Magisterium, and excluding all who disagree.

    Who’s acting like the Pope here?

    Regardless, thank you for the interaction.

    love,

    RD

    Like

  141. Raja, what you don’t see is that you “win” when you get to determine what the “secondary” matters are. Liberals told fundamentalists that the Virgin Birth was a “secondary” matter. Fosdick actually called it tiddly winks. So if I am concerned about a “secondary” matter, then I’m not loving. But you’ve begged the question so that you win even if your repeated responses here show that you don’t know it. But you’ve won — congratulations — only because you and Ortlund established the rules without consulting TR’s. That may not be unloving, but it’s not very sporting.

    Like

  142. “Raja, so if I cop to Baptists being in error the way that Mark Dever said that Presbyterians were in sin by baptizing babies do you win? Baptists are in error. They are not false churches the way Rome is — feel the love? ”

    Please explain. My reading of the Belgic Confession states that “churches” that do not properly adminster the sacraments are in fact “sects,” and ordinarily there is no salvation outside the (true) church. Denying God’s covenant sign and seal to our infant children seems to me to be the equivalent of denying them Christ Himself. Isn’t it better to have a large millstone be placed around one’s neck and be thrown into the sea than to do such a thing?

    Catabaptists existed in Calvin’s day and I have a hard time believing he didn’t see them as members of false churches. Of course, I could be misunderstanding you and what you meant is that, “Baptists are members of false churches, but their churches are not false in the way of Rome.”

    The Reformed Confessions don’t seem to leave much hope for “believers” who are life-long members of false churches. I’m not trolling with this comment, btw, or trying to start unnecessary controversy.

    Like

  143. Walt, I was trying to follow Ortlund and be “fun” to Raja. You, sir, are downright mean (but I do agree with you).

    Like

  144. DGH,

    The Virgin Birth is not a secondary matter. You can’t seem to make a simple distinction between the essence of the faith that almost all Christians hold to (our common confession), and secondary matters where there is (and has been, and will always be on this side of heaven) disagreement.

    Walt rightly points out your inconsistency, and then you “agree” with him. Well, which is it? Letter grade distinctions based on your confessional assessment or agreeing with Walt that “The Reformed Confessions don’t seem to leave much hope for “believers” who are life-long members of false churches”.

    Your previous statements contradict Walt’s point. You can’t have it both ways…

    Like

  145. Raja, like I said you win since you get to define what is primary and secondary. But as Zrim said, if the Virgin Birth is essential say hello to Rome (which is fitting given your papal decrees). Where Walt and I may disagree is over admitting Baptists to the Lord’s Supper. Some Reformed communions practice close communion and will not let non-Reformed participate. I am a member of a communion, though, that loves.

    Like

  146. DGH,

    Oh, I see. The charges of papal authority are based on my assesment of what is primary and secondary. Well, I think the Apostle’s Creed sums up the primary stuff pretty well. Did the Pope write that? Any way, I do appreciate your work, and enjoyed the discussion.

    Peace,

    RD

    Like

  147. “Some Reformed communions practice close communion and will not let non-Reformed participate.”

    Glad you’re not a part of such a communion, since the Lord’s Supper is a Christian sacrament, not a Reformed one.

    Like

  148. Raja,

    I hate to be a fly in the ointment (yet again), but the Lord’s Supper is understood vastly differently in Christian sects vs. Christian churches. You can compare the Baptist position on the Lord’s Supper to the Reformed position by comparing the London Confession to the WCF where both discuss the Lord’s Supper.

    Also, Rome (a Christian sect) observes the Lord’s Supper as well but they understand it completely differently than do the Reformed, so I’m not sure you’re making much of a point.

    Of course, I’m not saying all of this stuff to be divisive. I truly find the Reformer’s doctrine of the church and their position on the sacraments to be biblical and I believe them when they say, “ordinarily, there is no salvation outside the church.” That last point tends to cause me much more worry than it causes Baptists and evangelicals though.

    Like

  149. Walt,

    The only point I was making is that fencing the table to only those who hold to the WCF is divisive, the sacrament is for Christians–Baptists, Presbyterians, etc.

    I have in view Protestants, not Roman Catholics as I don’t consider the RCC to be orthodox.

    I agree with the last point generally, however I view non-Reformed and Baptist churches to be true churches of Christ if they preach the gospel.

    best,

    RD

    Like

  150. Raja,

    I’m back.

    Your contention is that sacramentology is entirely secondary, so Reformed paedobaptists who say that credo-baptism is to take one giant step away from orthodoxy is “unduly divisve” (the credo-Baptist who calls the infant baptism “false” is merely “mistaken,” which is a curious disproportion by the way). And so you say that where the confessions elevate baptism to marks of orthodoxy should be revised.

    Since communion is the other sacrament, does that mean you think Heidelberg 80 should also be revised, where it says that “…the mass teaches, that the living and dead have not the pardon of sins through the sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is also daily offered for them by the priests; and further, that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine, and therefore is to be worshipped in them; so that the mass, at bottom, is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry”?

    IOW, if Belgic 29 creates undue divisions over baptismal sacramentology then doesn’t HC 80 do the same over eucharistic sacramentology? And, if so, it would seem to me that while the revision of the former might bring Baptists into closer communion with Presbyterians then so would the latter bring us closer to Rome. But maybe your arbitrary decree that sacramentology is secondary only counts for baptismal sacramentology, but that seems like piling arbitrariness atop even more arbitrariness.

    Like

  151. I just saw the below post over at Triablogue. Perhaps you guys can go over there and beat them up 😉

    “Thank you for your comments. We also agree that there must be essential unity in the church of Jesus Christ and that Christians must strive for such so as to maintain a strong and effective witness to a lost and dying world. However, I have several disagreements that I would like to share:

    1. Paul was not warning against denominations in 1 Cor. 1:10-17, for such a reading would be anachronistic. Instead, he’s condemning sectarianism/factions within the local church at Corinth. This is not the same thing as denominationalism as it has been historically understood. Denominationalism has been historically rooted in a core set of Protestant beliefs; i.e., The Five Solas of Protestant Reformation, the doctrine of the Trinity, the virginal conception of Christ, and the literal resurrection of Christ and of all people at His second coming. In other words, various local churches could have different views on say the mode and subjects of baptism but in order to be considered a true church of Christ they had to adhere to certain cardinal doctrines of the faith in order to be considered truly Christian.

    Being Christian means believing that Jesus is the one savior, that should be what brings us together, denominations should not get in the way. We may have different approaches to things, but we can still worship together, love each other, and love the world, together, we still believe the same core beliefs, we all believe in Jesus, the trinity, and the apostles creed, these are what matter, not the the different ways we go about believing in them. Jesus is not divided, nor should we be.”

    Maybe DGH will give them a “C”!

    Like

  152. Raja, actually I’ll give you an F for two reasons. First you keep signing off than then you keep coming back. Second, ahem, the apostle’s creed is not the confessional standard of Reformed Churches. There is something called a bit of intervening history that fleshed out AC’s affirmations. Funny, liberal Protestants affirmed the AC to avoid all that difficult theology of the 16th and 17th centuries. Where are you Raja? First Pope, then apostle, now liberal? My, I hope you don’t lose your head.

    Like

  153. Raja,

    There’s good reason you resonate. Like Ortlund represents the pietist wing of Reformed evangelicalism, Triablogue represents its philosophic-apologetic wing. Neither has the high view of the ecclesiastical expressions that Reformed confessionalism does and both eschew those who cling too much to their churchly religion. Pietism resembles Paul’s super-apostles and subjects the forms to the evaluation of certain personalities and their heart religion, and the philosophers-apologists resemble the Greeks and employ their favorites. This is all still the difference between ecclesiastical Reformed and movement Reformed.

    And I’ll see DGH’s point about the AC and raise another: good as they are, the five solas are what we call a slogan; they don’t even rise to the level of creed. So to make them unifying the way the Three Forms of (here it comes) Unity are is even more dubious.

    Like

  154. Sorry Zrim,

    We’ll have to joust over the Lord’s Supper another time, I’m afraid I have worn out my welcome from our gracious host.

    Until then,

    RD

    Like

  155. Sorry Zrim,

    We’ll have to joust over the Lord’s Supper another time, I’m afraid I have worn out my welcome from our gracious host.

    DGH, I cited the T-Blog post because every little label you want to slap on me you have to slap on them as well (and I happened to see it after my last comments here, sorry) The T-bloggers are not exactly known for being “nice”, but at least they get it.

    best,

    RD

    Like

  156. DGH,

    They get this:

    “Being Christian means believing that Jesus is the one savior, that should be what brings us together, denominations should not get in the way. We may have different approaches to things, but we can still worship together, love each other, and love the world, together, we still believe the same core beliefs, we all believe in Jesus, the trinity, and the apostles creed, these are what matter, not the the different ways we go about believing in them. Jesus is not divided, nor should we be.”

    You understand IT, but reject IT on confessional grounds (which, I know, I know, you think are biblical grounds).

    Like

  157. Raja,

    Clearly neither you nor DGH think you have worn out your welcome. So, if you don’t mind, please go ahead with your answer to my query on eucharistic sacramentology.

    (Re the T-blog, the label they get is the same one you get: Reformed evangelicalism. But how “nice” was it of Ortlund to charge Galatianism against confessionalists? I guess the pietist RE’s and the philo-apolo RE’s are just taking after the revivalists who charged the confessionalists with being unconverted.)

    Like

  158. Zrim,

    In all fairness, I have tried to bow out. DGH loves me too much to let me go!

    Just one comment on baptism, I would consider Baptists who deny that Prebyterians are true churches of Christ the same way I do paedobaptists that do the same to credos.

    In my opinion, Heidelberg 80 doesn’t need to be revised. Again, I reject the RCC as a true church of Christ for gospel reasons.

    You asked:

    “IOW, if Belgic 29 creates undue divisions over baptismal sacramentology then doesn’t HC 80 do the same over eucharistic sacramentology?”

    No, not undue divisions–necessary ones.

    Like

  159. Also, I would never suggest that confessionalists are unconverted based on their confessionalism. That’s nonsense…

    Like

  160. Raja,

    …I would consider Baptists who deny that Prebyterians are true churches of Christ the same way I do paedobaptists that do the same to credos.

    Well, assuming by “the same way” you mean “unduly divisive” (which is an upgrade from your previous “mistaken”) I suppose that’s something. Still, though, the credo would demand my daughter be re-baptized because her infant baptism was “false.” I’ll still take his sacramental chutzpa over your koombaya evangelicalism. I remain perplexed, however, over Ortlund’s (credo) koombayaness co-existing with his (credo) chutzpa.

    In my opinion, Heidelberg 80 doesn’t need to be revised. Again, I reject the RCC as a true church of Christ for gospel reasons.

    I reject the RCC as a true church of Christ for gospel reasons, too. But I also consider that soteriology and sacramentology are necessarily linked, as in orthodoxy begets orthopraxis: the Mass is consistent with the theology. Now, as Walt has pointed out, when the credo rejects baptism for his covenant child he effectively denies Christ, even if he formally confesses sola fide. He’s inconsistent. He’s given us reason to doubt his formal confession by his action. But you must think that soteriology and sacramentology aren’t necessarily linked when it comes to baptismal sacramentology (since Belgic 29 needs revision), but it is when it comes to eucharistic sacramentology (since you think HC 80 doesn’t).

    I would never suggest that confessionalists are unconverted based on their confessionalism. That’s nonsense…

    Hmmm, but suggesting that confessionalists are “Galatian” is ok? That’s what Ortlund did, and when we raise our hands in dissent we’re being difficult (in fact, you might recall Sullivan saying I was resisting godly exhortation).

    Like

  161. Zrim,

    “orthodoxy begets orthopraxis”

    This goes back to the rigidity of what you consider to be orthodox. I try to leave the borders as wide as the Bible allows. There is believers baptism in the Bible.

    I think that when a church turns the Lord’s Supper into idolatry, I have reason to question that church’s orthodoxy.

    “Hmmm, but suggesting that confessionalists are “Galatian” is ok?”

    It was a suggestion, not a dogmatic pronouncement. Feel free to raise your hand in dissent.

    Like

  162. Raja,

    Paedobaptism includes believer’s baptism. Indeed, if it’s maximizing one wants then how much more can one get than with paedobaptism? It’s credo-baptism that unduly excludes.

    I think that when a church turns the Lord’s Supper into idolatry I have reason to question that church’s orthodoxy, too. I also think that when it denies grace and the sign of the covenant to members of the covenant I also have reason to question that church’s orthodoxy. What I can’t figure out is why you think baptismal sacramentology is so radically different from eucharistic sacramentology, so I’ll ask bluntly: why?

    How is suggesting Galatianism less offensive than dogmatically pronouncing it? Isn’t that like saying, “Well, I didn’t come out and call you a racist, but that is what I’m suggesting”? Still, we’re talking about Galatianism here, so shouldn’t the mode match the content and be a dogmatic pronouncement? Or is it possible that Ortlundism simply waaaay overtstates its case and means old-fashioned incivility and gracelessness instead of the sort of thing that gets apostles and angels condemned?

    Like

  163. Raja, I also reject IT on historical grounds. That sentiment not only narrows the Bible to a lowest common denominator but is the seed of liberalism and an undisciplined church. You might want to check out today’s post about Ortlund’s ally in the Gospel Coalition, Tim Keller.

    Like

  164. Mike Horton may be ‘more fun’ than RayO, and just as wishy-washy:

    Mike wrote on April Fools Day this year:

    “I admire Rick Warren’s zeal for reaching non-Christians and concern for global challenges. I respect him for giving away much of his income for charitable purposes.

    “At the same time, I believe that his message distorts the gospel and that he is contributing to the human-centered pragmatism that is eroding the proper ministry and mission of the church. Judging by The Purpose-Driven Life, Pastor Warren’s theology seems to reflect run-of-the-mill evangelical Arminianism, especially with its emphasis on the new birth as the result of human decision and cooperation with grace. There are also heavy traces of Keswick “higher life” teaching throughout the book. None of this disqualifies him from being an evangelical statesman. After all, much the same can be said of Billy Graham.”

    & “While I applaud his concern for social justice, I am concerned that he confuses the law with the gospel and the work of Christians in their vocations (obeying the Great Commandment) with the work of Christ through his church in its ministry of Word and sacrament (the Great Commission).”

    Quoting JewishJournal.com: “Warren managed to speak for the entire evening without once mentioning Jesus — a testament to his savvy message-tailoring.”

    & “Getting the gospel right and getting the gospel out, as well as loving and serving our neighbors, comprise the callings of the church and of Christians in the world. However, confusing these is always disastrous for our message and mission.”

    Translation: “I admire & respect & applaud Rick Warren. Though he distorts the gospel & confuses law & gospel, it’s not enough to bother about.”

    In June 2010, Horton spoke at the Lausanne “Global Conversation” held at Saddleback Church and hosted by its pastor, Rick Warren. Says Horton, “It’s great to be able to discuss our differences as well as our common convictions in a spirit of friendship as well as mutual challenge. Our mission at White Horse Inn is to go to any forum that invites us where we have a chance to clarify what we are convinced is the proper message and mission of the church.” http://www.whitehorseinn.org/archives/522/cpage/1.html#comment-1463

    Judge for yourself whether you hear any “challenge,” “clarification,” or “the proper message” of the church (i.e. the gospel)! See http://www.saddleback.com/webcast/12cities12conversations/

    We can say, “gospel, gospel, gospel” all day long, as Mike did this month with the Warrenites, but w/o reproving those who promote a false one (one distorted or confused), we fail to honor Christ, edify his saints, or confront his enemies. Titus 1:9 and all that…

    Mike sounded tough in print, but folded at S-back! (I have written this email to him, too.)

    Online he gives back with the left hand what he appeared to take away with the right, and when given the opportunity to “hammer” in person, he failed to DEFINE the gospel with McPherson, Belcher, Mrs. Warren, et. al., much less CHALLENGE those who are distorting and confusing the gospel!

    … we keep running away from the gospel in the name of ‘gospel’!

    Q: Why the uncertain sounds?!
    A: Luther is dead.

    Mike says he had “a great time” with one whom he says “confuses the law with the gospel,” a man whose “message distorts the gospel,” and who “is contributing to the human-centered pragmatism that is eroding the proper ministry and mission of the church.”

    He was all hugs and smiles for one whose “theology seems to reflect run-of-the-mill evangelical Arminianism, especially with its emphasis on the new birth as the result of human decision and cooperation with grace.”

    But, “None of this disqualifies him from being an evangelical statesman.” So it’s all O.K.!?

    Horton’s blog posts on Warren at http://www.whitehorseinn.org/archives/tag/rick-warren.html are conflicting at best.

    Very sadly yours,
    Hugh McCann

    Like

  165. Yesterday I sent emails with and posted at blogs the false accusation that Michael Horton in his Saddleback appearance “failed to DEFINE the gospel with McPherson, Belcher, Mrs. Warren, et. al.”

    But as has been pointed out to me, in Part One* of “The Conversation Gathering,” Mike says,

    “Jesus Christ is the only gospel. He did it. He fulfilled the law in our place, bore the curses for our not having fulfilled it, and rose again as the firstfruits of the redemption of the world order. THAT is the gospel, and it’s wonderful good news because it’s not about me; and it’s not about my plans for making the world a better place.”

    I therefore stand corrected and retract my statement above, apologize to Dr. Horton and anyone else offended by my false accusation, and ask the forgiveness of any and all offended by this.

    Thank you,
    Hugh McCann
    * http://www.saddleback.com/webcast/12cities12conversations/ at 61:19 & following.

    Like

  166. It’s sadly funny how gullible today’s neo-reformed leaders can be:

    Rick Warren whispers the magic word “Edwards” in John Piper’s ear and he gets invited to DesGod. What better shibboleth (or “Open, Simsim”) could Warren have chosen to get Piper to open his doors?

    Mike Horton wrote in response to Piper’s invite of RW (April 1, 2010):

    “…Pastor Warren tailors his appeals to his audience. To Calvinists, he stresses his support for the ‘solas’ of the Reformation… Rick Warren endorses a host of books, from New Age authors to Emergent writers to conservative evangelicals. So why not include Calvinists?…”

    And why not Westminster Seminary profs, too?

    Dr. Horton apparently thought twice about his condemnatory stance toward Rick Warren, since he participated in the June “Saddleback Conversation Gathering,” held in the run-up to the October Lausanne Conference.*

    Horton gives this cheery update from June 23rd:

    “I had a great time at the Lausanne ‘Global Conversation’ held at Saddleback Church and hosted by its pastor, Rick Warren. It was a privilege to be part of a distinguished panel of evangelical leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds. Before the panel discussion, Rick Warren interviewed me for his Purpose-Driven network. …It’s great to be able to discuss our differences as well as our common convictions in a spirit of friendship as well as mutual challenge. Our mission at White Horse Inn is to go to any forum that invites us where we have a chance to clarify what we are convinced is the proper message and mission of the church…”

    Dr. Horton apparently missed his own warning! He attacks Warren as a man-pleaser, and as a distorter of the gospel, and then strangely changes strategy, feeling “privileged” to speak at a conference hosted by Warren @ S-back!

    If Warren is as nefarious as Horton painted him on April Fools Day, then Horton’s embrace (literally) of Warren is akin to Luther calling the pope the antichrist one day and kissing his ring the next, or Paul hugging a Judaizer after writing that such should be “cut off” & ananthema!

    See http://www.trinityfoundation.org/horror_show.php?id=51 for a piece the editor calls “Horton’s Hypocrisy.”

    I have also challenged Dr. Horton in private. I call on his friends and fans to do the same. May he be granted repentance of his capitulation to pragmatism and of his hypocrisy toward Warren.

    Yours for Christ & the gospel,
    Hugh McCann

    * The list of endorsers of Lausanne is a who’s-who of Evangelicaldom: Graham, Hayford, Orombi, Stott, Tada, & Warren, along with Campus Crusade, Evangelism Explosion, & The Navigators. Rick Warren and others promote the conference in short videos at http://www.lausanne.org/.

    One readily sees how pervasive this movement is, as many putatively “Reformed” seminaries participate: Covenant, Fuller, Gordon-Conwell, & TEDS. A number of “Reformed” folk are speaking in pre-Lausanne conversations: Belcher, Chandler, Chapell, Duncan, Guinness, Horton, Keller. Also, Mark Dever recently discussed justice with Jim Wallis at the http://www.12cities12conversations.com website.

    Like

  167. Hugh, so what’s your point? I get it. Mike is inconsistent sometimes. Let’s say he’s 90% right and 10% inconsistent, and if Warren is 10% right, and 90% inconsistent, does that make them equally bad? I guess they would be if you’re God. But I’ve read the Bible, and you’re no god.

    So why don’t you start a Mike Horton Waffles blog?

    Like

  168. Dear DGH,

    Well, given his pass of Rice (Anne, not Condi), and now schmoozing Rick W., we are concerned. I support WHI and have bought loads of Putting Amazing, X-less Xianity, & Gospel-Driven to give away. But he’s a teacher of pastors.

    Mike has been such a leader; he denounced RW as a gospel-perverter but then pals with him.

    We want Luthers, Cranmers, Tyndales, and Calvins these days. That’s all.

    Again, thanks.

    Hugh

    Like

  169. I’ve wanted to say this ever since I first saw the posting and I don’t see where anyone else has picked up on it. The man on the right in the cocktail party picture IS Mark Dever! Sure looks like him to me. Maybe he has some confession to make.

    Like

  170. dgh: Even though Reformed folks think they are following Paul in their teaching and ministry, they become Judaizers by following Paul and insisting that the church heed everything Christ commanded from theology to worship and polity. I feel like I am in a Coen Brothers movie where up is down, white is black, and rodents are felines. Ortlund’ s post is standard fare among evangelicals who look for a lowest-common-denominator approach to Christian unity and so regard sticklers for doctrine and practice“ like the Reformed as sticks in the mud and unloving sectarians to boot.

    Like

  171. Ray Ortlund
    July 21, 2008 at 9:41 am
    Ray Ortlund— And maybe you’re right. But I think we can side with the Galatian legalists at a functional level even as we side with Paul at a theoretical level. My sinful heart is capable of abandoning the gospel in one nanosecond. It happens whenever I use my allegiance to the doctrine of justification by faith alone for emotional purposes of self-justification. And that masterpiece of iniquity is the essence of the Galatian problem — self-justification. But because I’m using Reformed doctrine, maybe even expounding Galatians, I am blind to myself. But the problem shows itself in the form of emotional aloofness from other true Christians. Relationships reveal what we really believe, as opposed to what we think we believe

    mcmark: I agree that our reliationship to the Arminians who pay the bills and who don’t want to hear anything about definite atonement for the elect alone does indeed reveal more about us than does our formal subscription to the Reformed dogmas of the WCF.

    Like

  172. Should right doctrine (the five points, which are confessional) be compared with wrong doctrine (Galatianism)?

    Orlund: People who disagree with me are not only wrong but they are people who “need other people to be wrong” When I judge (without naming names) as Galatianists those who disagree with me about the gospel, this is not because I need them to be wrong. Nor do I criticize others as Galatianists because I am looking for someone to judge. I don’t do that. I don’t need other people to be wrong, so that’s why I can say they are wrong. I don’t ever look for other people to judge, which is why I can so freely accuse certain folks with being Galatianists.

    Now when other people compare themselves to other people, and call others “sectarians”, that’s nothing but a projection of their own self-hatred onto other people, but when I do it, I do it in a friendly way and never doubt anybody salvation even when I call them legalists for insisting on the WCF. In my case, my comments are not a transfer of my self-hatred.

    There are two kinds of people, the kind that says 2 kinds of people, and then there’s the kind like me that doesn’t say that…

    Like

  173. Scott Clark–Of course there are great difficulties in applying the Reformed critique of the Anabaptists to modern Baptistic evangelicals. However, they do have that one thing in common and it is one of the things that the Reformed mentioned consistently in their treatises against the Anabaptists and in their confessional documents. The question is whether the modern Baptist repentance of the other Anabaptist errors is enough to rescue them from the category of “sect.” Another way to put it is ask whether the administration of the holy sacraments may be so marginalized that they are not a mark of the church any longer. …The reader should be aware that the view I’m advocating here is not widely accepted, even within my own NAPARC circles.

    Scott Clark– Baptists continue to share with the Anabaptists this fundamental conviction—that however valid infant circumcision was prior to the incarnation, the New Covenant is such that there is no place for infant baptism as a proper recognition that the children of believers are members of the covenant of grace This rejection of the status of Christian children as such introduced (and continues to perpetuate) a principle of radical discontinuity between Abraham and the Christian. This denial of the fundamental unity of the covenant of grace as symbolized in the administration of the sign and seal of the covenant of grace to covenant children, is serious enough to warrant saying that any congregation that will not practice infant baptism)into the administration of the covenant of grace is not a church. ..Denial of infant initiation is a denial of the catholicity of the church stretching back to Abraham

    http://heidelblog.net/2013/04/on-churchless-evangelicals-pt-3/

    Like

  174. Tom Chantry—Neo-Evangelicalism, emphasized inter-church cooperation on the basis of a minimalistic doctrinal platform. In the end, one group emphasized the purity of the church while defining purity as perfection, while the other eventually increasingly downplayed the idea of purity. Of course, another path was available, for the confessional Reformed denominations were properly speaking neither evangelical nor fundamentalist. The Reformed confessions lay out what cannot be called a minimalist platform, yet at the same time they do not draw the boundaries of the universal church inside their own decrees.

    Chantry—Robert Godfrey points out that the Westminster Confession acknowledges as much in its discussion of the purity of churches, which “are more or less pure, according as the doctrine of the gospel is taught and embraced, ordinances administered, and public worship performed more or less purely in them.” (WCF 25:4)…..Indeed, this distinction between more pure and less pure true churches is necessary for sound theology. If this distinction is rejected, we must either say that only one denomination and its practices manifest the true church or that all differences among true churches are matters of indifference. The former position is sectarian and the latter is latitudinarian. Neither is taught by any of the Reformed confessions or has ever been held by sound Reformed churches.”

    https://chantrynotes.wordpress.com/2015/11/12/reformed-baptists-and-the-purity-of-the-church/

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s