Posted by: reformedmusings | January 6, 2008

PCA Indictment of Lousiana Presbytery

The indictment that follows is as close to the original formatting as possible given the time available at the moment to post it. I added the dots in the header to try to get the columns to align like they were in the original. The dots themselves are not original. I also tried to preserve all the bold and italics from the original and as much of the indenting as possible, but the latter didn’t come out exactly right. I apologize for my incapacity in these regards.

I will have some comment on all this later today.

Actually, I will make one quick comment. It’s clear from all this, both the case summaries and the indictment, that Louisiana Presbytery, in addition to its other failings, has failed to protect the reputation of TE Wilkins. Had LAP done its job properly, the indictment alleges that a fair and impartial trial was the likely outcome. Such a trial would have put the entire issue to rest for Wilkins. If he is innocent as he alleges, then he would be exonerated with his reputation intact. Instead, LAP shirked its duty and in doing so harmed the reputation of one of its officers. That is truly sad.

————————————–

 

BEFORE THE
STANDING JUDICIAL COMMISSION
OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN AMERICA

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN AMERICA………………………………………………………………………………ACCUSER
VS. ………………………………………………………………………………….CASE 2007-14
LOUISIANA PRESBYTERY……………………………………………………ACCUSED

INDICTMENT
IN THE NAME OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN AMERICA, the General
Assembly, by and through its Standing Judicial Commission, charges
Louisiana Presbytery with violating BCO 21-4 and 21-5 and RAO 16-
3(e)(5), when it failed properly to handle a member’s differences
with the Westminster Confession of Faith and Larger and Shorter
Catechisms (the “Confessional Standards”); and BCO 13-9(f), 40-4,
and 40-5, when it failed to find a strong presumption of guilt that
some of the views of TE Joseph Steven Wilkins (“TE Wilkins”) were
out of conformity with the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church
in America (the “Constitution”); which failures constitute a
fundamental neglect of the Biblical responsibilities of the
eldership (2 Timothy 1:13-14; 2:15-16; Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 4:16)
and are against the peace, unity and purity of the Church, and the
honor and majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the King and Head
thereof.
Charges and Specifications

1. Louisiana Presbytery failed properly to handle TE
Wilkins’s differences (some of which are evidenced in the Appendix)
to determine whether or not his views are out of accord at key
points with the system of doctrine summarized in the Confessional
Standards, which are “standard expositions of the teachings of
Scripture in relation to both faith and practice,” and as such has
failed adequately to protect the peace and purity of the Church.
Please note that the term “differences” as used above does not
assume pre-adjudication of the case. The term “differences” is
being used as defined by RAO 16-3(e)(5).

Louisiana Presbytery has failed to understand properly (and
appropriately act upon) what it means to have a “difference” with
the Constitution (BCO 21-4 and 21-5 and RAO 16-3(e)(5)), and in the
application of the meaning of “difference” in the examination of a
presbytery member’s views. For instance, Louisiana Presbytery’s
own record of TE Wilkins’s statements establish that TE Wilkins
did, at the very least, have numerous and potentially significant
semantic differences with the Constitution. (Record of the Case
[hereafter “RoC”] 2007-8, pg. 205-206) Further, Louisiana
Presbytery demonstrates its failure to exercise these duties by
stating “Thus far, no one has brought forth evidence demonstrating
that TE Wilkins has actively denied the system of doctrine” (RoC
2007-8, pg. 187, emphasis added). As the Standing Judicial
Commission has ruled, inconsistency with the Confessional Standards
is not limited to explicit denial, but may also include
formulations that subvert by less explicit means.

Louisiana Presbytery was required to investigate these
differences and classify them under RAO 16-3(e)(5). Louisiana
Presbytery failed to comply with this requirement.
Louisiana Presbytery should have gone beyond TE Wilkins’s
assertions that he did not take exceptions to the Confessional
Standards (other than those delineated), that he did not consider
his views as being out of accord with the Confessional Standards,
that he affirmed the Confessional Standards, and that he did not
deny or contradict the Confessional Standards. A fair and
impartial court should have recorded and classified all of TE
Wilkins’s differences. It was the duty of Louisiana Presbytery to
determine what the differences with the Confessional Standards
were; and whether the differences were merely semantic, more than
semantic (but not out of accord with the fundamentals of our system
of doctrine), out of accord and hostile to our system of doctrine
or striking at the vitals of religion (BCO 21-4, 21-5, RAO 16-
3(e)(5)), all of which determinations Louisiana Presbytery has
failed to make.

2. Louisiana Presbytery failed to find a strong presumption
of guilt that some of the views of TE Wilkins were out of
conformity with the Constitution, and thus was derelict in its duty
under BCO 13-9, 40-4, and 40-5, and has thereby caused much
unresolved pastoral confusion and harm.

TE Wilkins’s views, as articulated in the Record of the Case
in 2007-8 and in the following examples, clearly constitute a
strong presumption of guilt that his views are out of accord with
the Constitution and require a fair and impartial court to proceed
to trial.

What follows are brief quotations, in TE Wilkins’s words,
which constitute evidence that should have created a strong
presumption of guilt on the part of TE Wilkins, such that Louisiana
Presbytery should have brought TE Wilkins to trial. More
quotations can be found in the Appendix, in addition to
argumentation for why said quotations are out of accord with the
Confessional Standards and Scripture.

Concerning Election

“The elect are those who are faithful in Christ Jesus.
If they later reject the Savior, they are no longer elect
– they are cut off from the Elect One and thus, lose
their elect standing” (The Federal Vision, p. 58).

“This [i.e. the above] statement comes in the context of
a discussion of how the word ‘elect’ is used in the
Biblical text. God calls Israel His ‘elect or chosen’
people (p.56). Paul calls the members of the church in
the New Covenant ‘elect and chosen’ as well. On page 58,
I discuss Paul’s statements in Romans 8 and II
Thessalonians 2:13-14 where he calls the members of the
church in Thessalonica ‘chosen from the beginning for
salvation.’ I then ask the question, ‘How could Paul say
this?’” (p.57). In light of the decree of predestination
and the reality that not everyone in the church is chosen
in the Westminster sense of the word, how can he call the
members of church in Thessalonica ‘chosen before the
foundation of the world’”? If I didn’t believe the WCF
Chapter 3 to be true, I would have no problems at this
point. My question arises in light of the fact that I am
convinced that WCF 3 is correct!” (RoC 2007-8, pg. 37-38)

“Thus, the questions I’m addressing do not in any way
deny what the Confession says in chapter 3. In no way
should this discussion be interpreted to mean that I deny
what I just affirmed (and still believe) on p.56. In the
passage cited I am focusing the discussion upon how the
term is used in the text of God’s Word where over and
over again, entire congregations are addressed as ‘elect’
or ‘chosen’ or with some equivalent term (e.g., Col.
3:12; 2 Th 2:13; 1 Pe 1:1-2). I go on to suggest that we
must understand Paul’s language covenantally rather than
decretively. To make this distinction in no way requires
that I reject one in order to embrace the other.” (RoC
2007-8, pg. 37-38)

Concerning Perseverance and Apostasy

“The apostate forsakes the grace of God, and all that was
granted to him by virtue of his covenant relationship
with Christ. He forsakes the Savior, therefore he loses
all hope of salvation. And that’s why the Bible speaks
of apostates as losing real blessings, not potential
blessings, or blessings we thought they had, but
blessings that were actually theirs, that they just
forfeited, they gave up, they gave away. They lost the
kingdom. They were cut off from Christ like branches in
the vine. They were cut off from the olive tree like a
branch. They are punished even though they were
sanctified by the blood of Christ, why? Well, because
they trampled the Son of God underfoot, and counted the
blood of his covenant a common thing and insulted the
spirit of grace. They are punished even though they were
bought by the Lord, Peter says, that there were some
false prophets who deny the Lord who bought them. They
are punished even though they were cleansed from their
former sins, Peter says about these men, he says these
men have forgotten, they are shortsighted even to
blindness, and they have forgotten that they were
cleansed from his old sins. And they are punished even
though they escaped the pollutions of this world, and
even though they knew the way of righteousness.”
(“Covenant and Baptism,” 2003 AAPCPC Lecture).

“When the Confession says that these non-elect people
‘never truly come unto Christ,’ it means that they do not
receive Christ with a faith that perseveres unto final
salvation. The confession does not address the question
of whether they are able to come unto Christ in some
other sense and participate in some sense of the
blessings of redemption that ultimately fall short of the
fullness of salvation.” (RoC 2007-8, pg. 34).

Concerning the Distinction Between the Visible and Invisible Church

“[TE Wilkins references Rom 8:28-34] Clearly Paul is not
stating promises that are true only for some unknown
group called the ‘elect.’ Nor is he speaking only to a
portion of the congregation whom he judges to be
‘regenerate.’ Rather, he is applying these promises to
all members of the Church who have been baptized and
united to Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection
(Rom. 6).” (The Federal Vision, p.57).

Concerning Baptism

“Baptism is the seal of union with Christ, membership in
His body, the Church. It is not an exercise in wishful
thinking
or merely symbolic dedication of the child to
God. It is significant of a glorious reality. It confirms
what is actually true of this child (or man) – He is
joined to Christ and is now solemnly obligated by his
baptism to fight against the devil, the world, and the
flesh
. He no longer belongs to the world of unbelief but
now is a member of the household of faith and bound to
honor the gracious God who has claimed him for himself.
The kingdom of heaven belongs to him really and truly.
God is his Father and may be addressed as such and looked
to and trusted in as a father. He is a recipient of all
the promises of salvation and covenant blessing that God
gives His people and this is actually real! It is not a
mere symbolic ceremony of what can become true if the
child has an emotional experience later in life – it is
true now. This is true because God says so.” (“Apostasy
and the Covenant [II]”)

Concerning the Covenant

“The apostate doesn’t forfeit ‘apparent blessings’ that
were never his in reality, but real blessings that were
his in covenant with God.

This seems to be the point of John 15:1-8. Jesus here
declares that He is the vine and His hearers are branches
united to Him. He then exhorts them to continue abiding
in Him so that they might bear fruit. If they refuse to
abide in Him, they will be fruitless and incur the wrath
of the Divine husbandman and, finally, will be cast into
the fire. Here, then, we have those who are joined to
Christ in a vital union (i.e. a union that could and
should be fruitful) and yet who end up cursed and
condemned.

Often this passage is interpreted along these lines:
There are two kinds of branches. Some branches are not
really in Christ ‘in a saving way,’ but only in an
external sense – whatever fruit they bear is not genuine
and they will eventually be destroyed. Other branches are
truly joined to Christ inwardly and savingly, and they
bear more and more fruit as they are pruned and
cultivated by the Father. As Norman Shepherd has noted,
‘If this distinction is in the text, it is difficult to
see what the point of the warning is. The outward
(‘external’) branches cannot profit from it, because they
cannot in any case bear genuine fruit. They are not
related to Christ inwardly and draw no life from him. The
inward branches do not need the warning, because they are
vitalized by Christ and therefore cannot help but bear
good fruit. Cultivation by the Father, with its attendant
blessing, is guaranteed.’

The Calvinist embraces this implausible interpretation
because he (understandably) does not want to deny
election, effectual calling, or the perseverance of the
saints. The exegetical problems one must embrace with
this position, however, are nearly insurmountable. If the
branches are not truly joined to the vine, how can they
be held accountable for their lack of fruit? The
distinction of “external’ and ‘internal’ union seems to
be invented and is not in the text. All the branches are
truly and vitally joined to the vine. All can and should
be fruitful. The pressure to preserve the Scriptural
teaching of God’s sovereignty in salvation ought not be
allowed to push us to deny these obvious points. But in
order to resist this pressure the text must be
interpreted as it is intended to be interpreted – i.e.,
covenantally.” (The Federal Vision, pp. 62-63. The rest
of the quotation is listed in the appendix)

“In fact, covenant is a real relationship, consisting of
real communion
with the triune God through union with
Christ. The covenant is not some thing that exists apart
from Christ or in addition to Him (another means of
grace) – rather, the covenant is union with Christ. Thus,
being in covenant gives all the blessings of being united
to Christ. There is no salvation apart from covenant
simply because there is not salvation apart from union
with Christ. And without union with Christ there is no
covenant at all.” (“Covenant, Baptism, and Salvation,” in
The Auburn Avenue Theology, pg. 262)

Amends

Louisiana Presbytery, by neglecting its duties to handle
properly TE Wilkins differences and by not finding a strong
presumption of guilt on the part of TE Wilkins, and thus either
embracing his views or refusing even to being open to considering
his guilt therein, has evidenced its refusal to deal with the views
of TE Wilkins that differ from the Confessional Standards and
Scripture; thereby creating an impasse that can only be resolved by
Louisiana Presbytery either repenting (and showing its repentance
by bringing TE Wilkins to trial in a fair and impartial way or by
referring the matter pursuant to BCO 41), or failing which, having
the ecclesiastical connection between Louisiana Presbytery and the
Presbyterian Church in America dissolved by the General Assembly,
with the geographical bounds of neighboring presbyteries being
expanded to cover the geographical area of Louisiana Presbytery,
with said neighboring presbyteries, after due examination of elders
and deliberation, being responsible for receiving any elders and
churches desiring to be reunited with the Presbyterian Church in
America.

Witnesses: TE Paul Lipe, TE Jim Jones, TE Howard Davis, TE Guy
Prentiss Waters, TE Richard D. Phillips, TE Joseph A. Pipa, Jr.

Documents: Louisiana Presbytery Minutes: December 9, 2006,
January 20, 2007, April 21, 2007, Louisiana Presbytery’s Response
to the Dissent of Howard Davis (RoC 2007-8, pp. 24-30), Steve
Wilkins’ Exceptions to the Westminster Standards, dated 12/8/2006
(Roc 2007-8, pg. 14), Louisiana Presbytery’s Examination of TE
Steve Wilkins, dated 12/9/2007 (RoC 2007-8, pp. 68-186), Rationale
for Louisiana Presbytery’s Decision Regarding the Vindication of TE
Steven Wilkins (RoC 2007-8, pp. 187-206) Louisiana Presbytery’s
Briefs, Responses, and Requests, The Federal Vision, Knox Seminary
Colloquium, TE Wilkins’s lectures/Sunday School lessons, Auburn
Avenue Pastors Conferences, Standing Judicial Commission Opinions
and Decisions, re: Case 2006-02 and 2007-8.

The Prosecution reserves the right to use additional witnesses and
documents, with due notice of the same being given to the Accused.

____________________________
Moderator of the General Assembly

___________________________
Chairman of the Standing Judicial Commission

____________________________
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

___________________________
Secretary of the Standing Judicial Commission

Date:_______________________

Appendix

A. Additional Quotations of TE Wilkins:

Concerning Election:

“It seems clear to me that Peter in particular views the ‘elect’ in
the same sense that the term was used of Israel under the Old
Covenant since he applies the same descriptive terminology used for
Israel to the Church (1 Pe 2:9). Paul and Peter do not appear to
use the terms ‘elect’ and ‘chosen’ to apply exclusively to those
who were chosen to eternal salvation (i.e., in The Westminster
Confession sense
).

It seems (at least to me) to be plain that Paul and other Biblical
writers have no hesitation in identifying those who are members of
the Church as ‘elect.’ This apparently was based upon the fact
that the Church is, as our Confession states, ‘the household,
family, and kingdom of God’ (WCF 25.2) and is the body of Christ
Jesus, God’s chosen/elect Son. Thus, those who are members of the
body of the Elect One are viewed as ‘elect’ themselves. The writers
of the New Testament, in numerous places, appear to use the word to
those who are united to the visible body of God’s people and
persevere therein by grace through faith.” (RoC 2007-8, pg. 37-38).

Concerning Perseverance and Apostasy

“In fact, covenant is a real relationship, consisting of real
communion with the Triune God through union with Christ
. The
covenant is not some thing that exists apart from Christ or in
addition to Him (another means of grace) – rather, the covenant is
union with Christ. Thus, being in covenant gives all the blessings
of being united to Christ. There is no salvation apart from
covenant simply because there is no salvation apart from union with
Christ, and without union with Christ there is no covenant at all.
Because being in covenant with God means being in Christ, those who
are in covenant have all spiritual blessings in the heavenly
places. Union with Christ means that all that is true of Christ is
true of us. This seems clear by how the apostles address the
churches. Note, for example, how Paul addresses the historic church
in Corinth in his first epistle:

They are sanctified in Christ Jesus (1:2).
They are called to be saints (1:2) with everyone who calls on
the name of Jesus Christ.
They have been given the grace of God (1:4) by Christ.
Because of this, they have been enriched in everything by Him
in all utterance and knowledge (1:5
He assures them that they will be confirmed to the end
blameless in the day of Christ (1:7-8).
He says that they have been called into the fellowship of
Jesus Christ by God (1:9).
Being ‘in Christ’ they share in his wisdom, righteousness,
sanctification, and redemption (1:30-31).
They have received ‘the Spirit who is from God’ so that they
might know the things that have been freely given them by God.
The ‘natural’ man cannot receive these things but they can
since they have been given the mind of Christ (2:14-16).
They are the temple of God because the Spirit of God dwells in
the Church (3:16-17).
All things belong to them, because they are Christ’s and
Christ is God’s (3:21-23).
Through Paul’s ministry, they have been ‘born’ through the
gospel (4:15, ‘in Christ Jesus I have begotten you [gennao]
through the gospel.’).
Christ has been sanctified for them (5:7).
They have been washed (or baptized) which has brought about
sanctification and justification in the name of Christ, by the
Spirit of God (6:9-11).
They will, therefore, be raised up just as God raised up the
Lord Jesus (6:14).
The Holy Spirit is in the body and, therefore, they must
remember that they are not their own; they have been bought
with a price (6:19-20).
The Corinthians are the ‘children’ of the Fathers of Israel
who were also ‘redeemed’ out of Egypt, baptized in the Red
Sea, and granted fellowship with God and communion with Christ
– yet, God was not well-pleased with them; thus, they must not
imitate them (10:1-5). These things were written to teach us
not to do what Israel did in breaking covenant: lusting after
evil things, becoming idolaters, committing sexual immorality,
tempting Christ, murmuring against God (10:6-11).
They have communion with the body and blood of Christ and are
thus one body with Him (10:15-17).
They have all been baptized into one body by the Spirit
(whether Jews or Greeks) (12:13).
He emphasizes that they are the body of Christ and
individually members of it (12:27).
Paul emphasizes that Christ died for ‘our’ sins (including
those of his hearers; (15:3).
Paul declares these things to be true of the members of the
church in Corinth in spite of the fact that he knew of their
sins. He was not able to speak like this because he had some
special insight into the secret decrees of God. He was
speaking about what was true of these people objectively by
virtue of their union with Christ in covenant. All this was
true of each of the members, but, like Israel, they were
required to persevere in faith. If they departed from Christ,
they would perish like Israel of old. All their privileges and
blessings would become like so many anchors to sink them into
the lake of fire. This is his point in chapter 10. Note,
however, Paul’s method: he declares what is objectively true
of them by virtue of their covenant union with Christ and then
calls upon them to be faithful because of this union. ‘How can
you who are members of Christ do these things?’ (1 Cor. 6:15-17)

You see the same sort of language throughout the epistles. Paul and
the other apostles addressed the Church in this way and did not
feel compelled in the least to qualify or hedge their statements –
even when they knew about serious sins within the particular
churches.

The apostles did not view the covenant as a place of potential
blessing or a place of fantastic opportunity – they viewed it as
salvation, because it meant fellowship and communion with the
Triune God. It is union with Christ in His obedient life, His
sacrificial, substitutionary death, triumphant resurrection, and
glorious ascension and session at the right hand of the Father.

All in covenant are given all that is true of Christ. If they
persevere in faith to the end, they enjoy these mercies eternally.
If they fall away in unbelief, they lose these blessings and
receive a greater condemnation than Sodom and Gomorrah. Covenant
can be broken by unbelief and rebellion, but until it is, those in
covenant with God belong to Him and are His. If they do not
persevere, they lose the blessings that were given to them (and all
of this works out according to God’s eternal decree which He
ordained before the foundation of the world). Thus, when one breaks
covenant, it can be truly said that he has turned away from grace
and forfeited life, forgiveness, and salvation. For this reason the
Scriptures describe apostates as those who:

‘possessed the Kingdom’ (Matt. 21:42-45)
received God’s gifts (Matt. 25:14ff., the parable of the
talents);
received the word with joy (Matt. 13:20) and believed for a
while (Luke 8:13);
bore fruit (thought not to maturity, Luke 8:14);
had union with Christ as branches in a vine (John 15);
had real communion with Christ (1 Cor 10:4-5);
had the Spirit’s work within them (being ‘enlightened, tasted
of the heavenly gift, made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
tasted the Word and the powers of the age to come,’ Heb.
6:4ff.);
received the knowledge of the truth (Heb. 10:26);
had been sanctified by the blood of Christ (Heb. 10:29ff.);
had been made members of the heavenly city, sprinkled by the
blood of Jesus (Heb. 12:22ff.);
had been cleansed from former sins (2 Pet. 1:9);
were bought by the Lord (2 Pet. 2:1);
escaped the pollutions of the world (2 Pet. 2:20);
knew the way of righteousness (2 Pet. 2:21); and
had ‘the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the
law, the service of God, and the promises’ (Rom 9:4).

…This [i.e. failing to persevere and having one’s name ‘taken from
the Book of Life’ (Rev. 22:19)] is not a hypothetical impossibility
but a very real possibility for those who are in covenant with
Christ and members of His Church. We must not view these and
similar warnings as mere devices which are placed in the Scriptures
in order to frighten the elect into heaven. The clear implication
of these passages is that those who ultimate prove to be reprobate
may be in covenant with God. They may enjoy for a season the
blessings of the covenant, including the forgiveness of sins,
adoption, possession of the kingdom, sanctification, etc., and yet
apostatize and fall short of the grace of God.

The apostate forsakes the grace of God that was given to him by
virtue of his union with Christ. It is not accurate to say that
they only appeared to have these things but did not actually have
them – if that were so, there would be nothing to ‘forsake’ and
apostasy is bled of its horror and severity. That which makes
apostasy so horrendous is that these blessings actually belonged to
the apostates – though they only had them temporarily, they had
them no less truly. The apostate doesn’t forfeit ‘apparent
blessings’ that were never his in reality, but real blessings that
were his in covenant with God.”
(The Federal Vision, pg. 58-61,
62)

Concerning the Visible/Invisible Church

“Baptized children do not have to ‘join the church,’ they are
members of the church by their baptism. And they must grow up
understanding this glorious fact.” (“Apostasy and the Covenant
[II]” 2001 AAPCPC Lecture).

It is nothing less than despising the gracious reality of the
covenant to imply or to teach that they [i.e. covenant children]
are somehow only externally joined to the church, but somehow not
truly members of Christ. When God says, ‘I will be a God to you and
to your children after you,’ is He speaking of a reality or merely
a potential[?]. The Scripture says it is a glorious reality. So
real that if one turns his back on it, he falls from grace,
tramples underfoot the Son of God, and causes Him to be crucified
afresh.” (“Apostasy and the Covenant [II]”)

“Even the great Dabney stated, ‘The Church recognizes the majority
of its minor citizens when they show that spiritual qualification –
a new heart.” (Systematic Theology, p.762). But how are we to know
that our children have a ‘new heart’? We have fallen to the
temptation of playing God and that must end. This [i.e. Wilkins’s]
view gets us out of this practice. It takes seriously Deut. 29:29.
We cannot operate by assuming that we can discern the ‘secret
things’ of God. We must live on the basis of those things that can
be known for certain and act in terms of those things.” (“Apostasy
and the Covenant [II])

“Contrary to the assertion of the [Central Carolina Presbytery]
memorial, I wholeheartedly affirm this distinction as the
Westminster Confession defines the invisible church. The ‘invisible
Church’ is not a parallel entity that exists above or beyond the
visible church but rather is the ‘whole number of the elect, that
have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the
Head thereof;’ – in other words, the invisible Church does not yet
exist though it is surely foreordained by God and will surely and
certainly exist at the last day (but then of course, it will exist
as a very visible body). It is only ‘invisible’ in that we can’t
see all the members of it now… It seems better to speak of the
‘invisible’ church simply as the ‘eschatological church’ – i.e. the
church in its perfection as it will exist at the last day.” (RoC
2007-8, pg. 39a).

Concerning Baptism

“The Bible teaches us that baptism unites us to Christ and by his,
and to his body by the power of the spirit. By one spirit we were
all baptized into one body whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves
or free, we’ve all been made to drink of one Spirit.
Paul says that at baptism you are clothed with Christ Jesus. For as
many of you as are baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Union
with Christ is a real, vital blessed union. The clothes make the
man. With our union with Christ, we have all spiritual blessings.”
(“The Legacy of the Half-Way Covenant”)

“[B]y the blessing of the spirit, baptism unites us to Christ and
his church and thus in him gives us new life [Rom 6:11, 2 Cor 5:17
cited] By our baptism we have been reborn, in this sense, having
died with Christ, we have been raised with him [Rom 6:3-4 cited]
You have been given new life by virtue of your union with him.
Christ’s baptism meant that the old things were passed, the sin and
the curse of the law had passed away and all things had become new.
The same is true for all who are baptized. You die to the old
covenant relationship to the world, you are resurrected to a new
covenant relationship with the Savior and henceforth are required
to walk in newness of life. So Paul says, you must live like you
are. Be what you are. You have been buried with him in baptism, you
have been raised now with him, you have been united to Christ,
therefore, you are dead to sin. Don’t live in it anymore. It’s
wrong. You have been brought alive by, in Christ. Be obedient. And
so you read Romans 6 and that is exactly his argument. Our old man
had been crucified, so now the body of sin has to be done away
with. We can’t live in it anymore. We can’t be slaves to sin,
therefore don’t let sin reign and don’t present your bodies as
instruments of unrighteousness. Be what you are.” (“The Legacy of
the Half-Way Covenant”)

“All the things that you and I are rightly concerned about,
externalism, presumption, things we see all around us, the covenant
prevents that when it’s preached in its fullness. We belong to
Christ. Baptism is the infallible sign and seal of this, and now we
must learn to live faithfully and never depart from him. In
worship, we are really and truly confronted with the living Christ
by the power of his Spirit, and so the actions of the minister are
the actions of our Savior, when they are faithfully carried out. In
regard to our assurance, we are pointed away from ourselves, and
what we think we perceive to be true of us inwardly, which no one
can know. And pointed to Christ, the only ground of your assurance.
(“Covenant and Baptism”)

“And so Paul is not presuming anything. He’s not giving the
judgment of charity to anyone. He’s not saying something he can’t
know for [certain], he’s rather stating the objective reality that
is true of [the Corinthians] by virtue of their baptism and union
with Christ. The glorious reality of the covenant which is
established at baptism is that our children and all who are
baptized have this real, living, objective, gracious relationship
with God. It is a relationship that exists until they break it by
rebellion and unbelief, but until then, God is their God. They
belong to him.” (“Covenant and Baptism”).

“So when we are baptized, we are united to him in his work, we
receive his spirit, even as he did at his baptism, and our baptism
is the sign and seal of sharing in his baptism. Calvin says, there
is one baptism, one lord, one faith one baptism, and it is the
baptism of Christ, and all of us are incorporated in a sense into
that baptism, we share in his baptism, and our baptism is the sign
and seal of sharing that, not only uniting to him, but it’s sharing
in his work on our behalf. We are united to him, Paul says, in his
death, in his burial, in his resurrection, and we are made
partakers of his Spirit.

Baptism, then, is the sign and seal of this reality. In baptism, we
are transferred by the power of the spirit, from the old Adam, and
the wrath and curse of God which rested upon the old man, into the
new man, which is Christ Jesus. We are made new creatures in that
sense, by the power of the Spirit, being restored to living
communion with God.” (“Covenant and Baptism”)

“When I say ‘everyone who has been baptized is a Christian,’ I am
speaking of the objective covenant reality – i.e., the one baptized
has been baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy
Spirit and thus bears the name of the Triune God and has been
brought into covenant union with Christ by the power of the Spirit
as Paul says in I Cor. 12:13. Paul doesn’t seem to view this as
something true only for some of the baptized but rather this is
true for all (note v.27, ‘Now you are the body of Christ, and
members individually’)” (RoC 2007-8, pg.63)

“Biblically, a ‘sign’ is not a picture but a powerful act of God
which results in deliverance for God’s people (note the ‘signs’
that God did in Egypt for example). Thus, baptism is a ‘sign’ in
that by this means the Holy Spirit transfers the baptized from
union with the old Adam into Christ Jesus (The Confession’s
scriptural proofs cite Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:5 at this point),
transferring him into Christ, the ‘new creation’ (2 Cor. 5:17).
Thus it is a sign and seal of regeneration (the proofs cite John
3:5; Titus 3:5 to prove this point). By the Spirit we are ‘given up
unto God – i.e., bound to walk in ‘newness of life’ (repenting of
our sins, trusting and obeying the Savior all our days).” (RoC
2007-8, pg.56).

Concerning the Covenant

“Those in covenant with God are warned against breaking the
covenant that has been established by God. The reality of covenant
is gloriously held forth and men are exhorted to beware of breaking
this covenant by impenitence and unbelief. God doesn’t deny the
objective, real nature of union with Christ, rather, He upholds the
reality which covenant has given to His people and on that basis,
calls them to repent and believe and warns them of judgment if they
don’t. Paul therefore pleads with the Corinthians ‘not to receive
the grace of God in vain’ (2 Cor. 6:1). They have a real,
objective, blessed relationship with God which must be preserved.

Covenant, therefore, is a gracious relationship, not a potentially
gracious relationship. To be in covenant is to have the treasures
of God’s mercy and grace and the love which He has for His own Son
given to you. But the covenant is not unconditional. It requires
persevering faithfulness.” (The Federal Vision, pg. 63-64)

“According to the Bible the privileges of covenant membership go
far beyond opportunity, mere opportunity, or privilege. According
to the Scriptures to be in covenant with God is to really and truly
be swept up into the glorious communion and fellowship of the
Triune God, and be part of His family. Being in covenant involves
then a concrete, substantial reality, and thus the Apostles could
declare the blessings of salvation that are true of everyone who is
a member of Christ, and declare them to be true without
qualification, even though they didn’t know the decrees.”
(“Covenant and Baptism”)

“[Paul is] speaking to a particular, living group of people – real
people
, who were sinners, that he didn’t know the decrees of God
about, but what he knows is what the covenant means. That’s what he
knows. He didn’t know the decrees, he didn’t know their hearts, he
didn’t know the genuineness of their conversion, or the genuineness
of their faith. He didn’t know any of that. What does he know? How
could he talk like this?
Because he knows what the covenant means.
The covenant is communion – living communion – with the triune God.
It’s a living relationship with the living God. (“Covenant and
Baptism”)

B. Argumentation

a) The Constitution and Confessional Standards

TE Steve Wilkins’ views differ from the Constitution and
Confessional Standards, which result in the raising of a strong
presumption of guilt on his part, i.e. contrary to or out of accord
or redefining doctrinal terminology or arbitrarily limited the
meaning of the Confessional Standards to make room for his
interpretation, as follows:

Concerning Election

Whereas WCF 3.5 relates election to the eternal and immutable
purpose of God, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His
will, TE Wilkins ties election to one’s baptism (“By baptism the
Spirit joins us to Christ since he is the elect one and the Church
is the elect people, we are joined to his body. We are therefore
elect.” “The Legacy of the Half-Way Covenant”); Even though TE
Wilkins means something different by the term “election” than the
Confessional Standards mean by it (TE Wilkins means by it a
corporate, covenantal election), there is no indication either in
the Confessional Standards or in Scripture that such an election is
tied to baptism.

Whereas WCF 3.6 declares that “God hath appointed the elect
unto glory,” TE Wilkins holds out the possibility that one may
“lose [his] elect standing” (The Federal Vision, pg.58). This
statement of Wilkins involves a category fallacy. Although the
Bible does use the term “elect” to refer to Israel as a whole, even
in that sense election is irrevocable. The corporate sense of
election in the Bible is just as irrevocable as the individual
sense. Nor can an individual lose a corporate election.

Whereas WCF 3.5 holds election to be conditioned upon nothing
in the creature, TE Wilkins claims that election is conditioned
upon the creature’s faithfulness (“The elect are those who are
faithful in Christ Jesus. If they later reject the Savior, they are
no longer elect – they are cut off from the Elect One and thus,
lose their elect standing,” The Federal Vision, pg. 58). See above
on the distinction in terms of how Wilkins is using the term
“election.” The corporate sense of election noted above is also
unconditional.

Concerning Perseverance and Apostasy

Whereas WLC 68 teaches that the non-elect person at no time
enjoys the saving benefits of Jesus Christ, and that these benefits
belong to the elect and to the elect only; TE Wilkins declares that
the apostate forfeits “all the blessings of being united to
Christ,” which means that “all that is true of Christ is true of
us.” “They may enjoy for a season the blessings, including the
forgiveness of sins, adoption, possession of the kingdom,
sanctification, etc., and yet apostatize and fall short of the
grace of God.” (The Federal Vision, pg. 58-61, 62); and TE Wilkins
declares that WLC 68 teaches that non-elect persons “do not receive
Christ with a faith that perseveres unto final salvation. The
confession does not address the question of whether they are able
to come unto Christ in some other sense and participate in some
sense of the blessings of redemption that ultimately fall short of
the fullness of salvation.” (RoC 2007-8, pg. 34)

Whereas WCF 16.1 teaches “They, whom God hath accepted in His
Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by His Spirit, can
neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but
shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally
saved;” TE Wilkins declares that an individual may “enjoy for a
season” and may forfeit the “forgiveness of sins” – a blessing that
the Westminster Standards teach belongs to the elect and to the
elect only (WLC 68, 69, 70) and cannot be lost or forfeited (WCF
11.5)

Concerning the Visible/Invisible Church

Whereas WCF 25 recognizes a distinction between the church
invisible, which “consists of the whole number of the elect, that
have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the
Head thereof” (25.1); and the church visible, which “consists of
all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and
of their children” (25.2); TE Wilkins’s teaching fails to sustain
this distinction. TE Wilkins, having referenced Rom 8:28-34, states
“Clearly Paul is not stating promises that are true only for some
unknown group called the ‘elect.’ Nor is he speaking only to a
portion of the congregation whom he judges to be ‘regenerate.’
Rather, he is applying these promises to all members of the Church
who have been baptized and united to Christ in His death, burial,
and resurrection (Rom. 6).” (The Federal Vision, pg.57). TE
Wilkins has elsewhere stated that “baptized children do not have to
‘join the church,’ they are members of the church by their baptism.
And they must grow up understanding this glorious fact.” (“Apostasy
and the Covenant [II]”) TE Wilkins’s teaching contravenes this
distinction; and the confessional affirmation that the church
invisible is presently gathered under Christ the Head. He states:
“Contrary to the assertion of the [Central Carolina Presbytery]
memorial, I wholeheartedly affirm this distinction as the
Westminster Confession defines the invisible church. The “invisible
Church” is not a parallel entity that exists above or beyond the
visible church but rather is the “whole number of the elect, that
have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the
Head thereof;” – in other words, the invisible Church does not yet
exist though it is surely foreordained by God and will surely and
certainly exist at the last day (but then of course, it will exist
as a very visible body). It is only “invisible’ in that we can’t
see all the members of it now… It seems better to speak of the
‘invisible’ church simply as the ‘eschatological church’ – i.e. the
church in its perfection as it will exist at the last day.” (RoC
2007-8, pg. 39a). The visible/invisible church distinction is not
the same distinction as the historical/eschatological distinction.
The former is a synchronic distinction (a cross-section), whereas
the latter is a diachronic distinction (a distinction in time).
Plainly, Wilkins’s teaching tends toward affirming the latter at
the expense of the former.

Concerning Baptism

Whereas the Westminster Standards affirm the parts of the
sacrament as follows, “The parts of the sacrament are two; the one
an outward and sensible sign, used according to Christ’s own
appointment; the other an inward and spiritual grace thereby
signified” (WLC 163); TE Wilkins’s teaching contravenes the
confessional definition of “sign”: “Biblically, a ‘sign’ is not a
picture but a powerful act of God which results in deliverance for
God’s people (note the ‘signs’ that God did in Egypt for example).
Thus, baptism is a ‘sign’ in that by this means the Holy Spirit
transfers the baptized from union with the old Adam into Christ
Jesus (The Confession’s scriptural proofs cite Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:5
at this point), transferring him into Christ, the ‘new creation’ (2
Cor. 5:17). Thus it is a sign and seal of regeneration (the proofs
cite John 3:5; Titus 3:5 to prove this point). By the Spirit we are
‘given up unto God’ – i.e., bound to walk in ‘newness of life’
(repenting of our sins, trusting and obeying the Savior all our
days).” (RoC 2007-8, pg. 56).

Whereas the Westminster Standards affirm baptism to be a sign
and seal of certain specified inward and spiritual graces (WCF
28.1; WLC 165), and affirms that one may receive the sign without
receiving the thing signified (WCF 28.4), and that the efficacy of
baptism is not tied to the moment of time wherein it is
administered (WCF 28.6); TE Wilkins maintains an inexorable
connection between the sign and the thing signified for all
recipients of the sacrament of baptism:

“The Bible teaches us that baptism unites us to Christ
and by his, and to his body by the power of the spirit.
By one spirit we were all baptized into one body whether
Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, we’ve all been
made to drink of one Spirit.

Paul says that at baptism you are clothed with Christ
Jesus. For as many of you as are baptized into Christ,
have put on Christ. Union with Christ is a real, vital
blessed union. The clothes make the man. With our union
with Christ, we have all spiritual blessings.” (“The
Legacy of the Half-Way Covenant”)

“[B]y the blessing of the spirit, baptism unites us to
Christ and his church and thus in him gives us new life
[Rom 6:11, 2 Cor 5:17 cited] By our baptism we have been
reborn, in this sense, having died with Christ, we have
been raised with him [Rom 6:3-4 cited] You have been
given new life by virtue of your union with him.

Christ’s baptism meant that the old things were passed,
the sin and the curse of the law had passed away and all
things had become new. The same is true for all who are
baptized. You die to the old covenant relationship to the
world, you are resurrected to a new covenant relationship
with the Savior and henceforth are required to walk in
newness of life. So Paul says, you must live like you
are. Be what you are. You have been buried with him in
baptism, you have been raised now with him, you have been
united to Christ, therefore, you are dead to sin. Don’t
live in it anymore. It’s wrong. You have been brought
alive by, in Christ. Be obedient. And so you read Romans
6 and that is exactly his argument. Our old man had been
crucified, so now the body of sin has to be done away
with. We can’t live in it anymore. We can’t be slaves to
sin, therefore don’t let sin reign and don’t present your
bodies as instruments of unrighteousness. Be what you
are.” (“The Legacy of the Half-Way Covenant”)

“So when we are baptized, we are united to him in his
work, we receive his spirit, even as he did at his
baptism, and our baptism is the sign and seal of sharing
in his baptism. Calvin says, there is one baptism, one
lord, one faith one baptism, and it is the baptism of
Christ, and all of us are incorporated in a sense into
that baptism, we share in his baptism, and our baptism is
the sign and seal of sharing that, not only uniting to
him, but it’s sharing in his work on our behalf. We are
united to him, Paul says, in his death, in his burial, in
his resurrection, and we are made partakers of his
Spirit.

Baptism, then, is the sign and seal of this reality. In
baptism, we are transferred by the power of the spirit,
from the old Adam, and the wrath and curse of God which
rested upon the old man, into the new man, which is
Christ Jesus. We are made new creatures in that sense, by
the power of the Spirit, being restored to living
communion with God.” (“Covenant and Baptism”).

TE Wilkins fails to acknowledge the sacramental use of
language laid out in WCF 27.2, wherein the names and effects of the
one (the thing signified) are attributed to the other (the sign).
The Westminster formulation here guards against too close an
identification of the sign and the thing signified, even while
affirming the union between the sign and the thing signified.
Wilkins by no means makes it clear that he is using such language.
Rather, he attributes new birth, union with Christ (undefined), and
even the reception of the Holy Spirit to baptism as the sign (see
above quotes) without qualification. And in other places, Wilkins
does not make clear whether the sign is meant, the thing signified,
or the entirety of both.

Concerning the Covenant

Whereas the Westminster Standards formulate its teaching
concerning the covenant of grace with reference to election, as
well as the visible church:

“This covenant was differently administered in the time
of the law, and in the time of the gospel: under the law
it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices,
circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and
ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all
foresignifying Christ to come; which were, for that time,
sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the
Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in
the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of
sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the old
Testament” (WCF 7.5);

“God doth not leave all men to perish in the estate of
sin and misery, into which they fell by the breach of the
first covenant, commonly called the Covenant of Works;
but of his mere love and mercy delivereth his elect out
of it, and bringeth them into an estate of salvation by
the second covenant, commonly called the Covenant of
Grace” (WLC 30);

“The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the Second
Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed” (WLC
31);

“The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant,
in that he freely provideth and offereth to sinners a
Mediator, and life and salvation by him; and requiring
faith as the condition to interest them in him, promiseth
and giveth his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in
them that faith, with all other saving graces; and to
enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence of
the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as
the way which he hath appointed them to salvation” (WLC
32);

“Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of
the visible church, and so strangers from the covenant of
promise, till they profess their faith in Christ, and
obedience to him, but infants descending from parents,
either both, or but one of them, professing faith in
Christ, and obedience to him, are in that respect within
the covenant, and to be baptized” (WLC 166).

TE Wilkins’s teaching concerning the covenant of grace
contravenes the invisible/visible church distinction, as well as
the doctrine of election:

“In fact, covenant is a real relationship, consisting of
real communion with the triune God through union with
Christ
. The covenant is not some thing that exists apart
from Christ or in addition to Him (another means of
grace) – rather, the covenant is union with Christ. Thus,
being in covenant gives all the blessings of being united
to Christ. There is no salvation apart from covenant
simply because there is not salvation apart from union
with Christ. And without union with Christ there is no
covenant at all (“Covenant, Baptism, and Salvation,” in
Auburn Avenue Theology, pg. 262).

TE Wilkins changes the definition of covenant from the WCF’s
definition as being an agreement unilaterally given to fallen
humanity, having promises and stipulations (see WCF 7.2), to being
the relationship of God and man through Christ.

“According to the Bible the privileges of covenant
membership go far beyond opportunity, mere opportunity,
or privilege. According to the Scriptures to be in
covenant with God is to really and truly be swept up into
the glorious communion and fellowship of the Triune God,
and be part of His family. Being in covenant involves
then a concrete, substantial reality, and thus the
Apostles could declare the blessings of salvation that
are true of everyone who is a member of Christ, and
declare them to be true without qualification, even
though they didn’t know the decrees.” (“Covenant and
Baptism”);

“[Paul is] speaking to a particular, living group of
people – real people
, who were sinners, that he didn’t
know the decrees of God about, but what he knows is what
the covenant means. That’s what he knows. He didn’t know
the decrees, he didn’t know their hearts, he didn’t know
the genuineness of their conversion, or the genuineness
of their faith. He didn’t know any of that. What does he
know? How could he talk like this? Because he knows what
the covenant means. The covenant is communion – living
communion
– with the triune God. It’ a living
relationship with the living God.” (Covenant and
Baptism”).

“Traditionally, the Reformed have said, we have to view
our children as presumptively elect or presumptively
regenerate. And therefore, Christian, if we are willing
to take the Scriptures at face value, there is no
presumption necessary. Just take the Bible. And this is
true, of course, because by the baptism, by baptism the
Spirit joins us to Christ since he is the elect one and
the Church is the elect people, we are joined to his
body. We are therefore elect. Since he is the justified
one, we are justified in him. Since he is the beloved
one, we are beloved in him … Children are joined to
Christ by their baptisms and must be viewed and treated
in the light of this reality. They are to be nurtured in
the faith …” (“The Legacy of the Half-Way Covenant” 2002
AAPCPC Lecture).

b) Scripture

TE Steve Wilkins’ views differ from Scripture, which result in
the raising of a strong presumption of guilt on his part, i.e.
contrary to or out of accord or redefining doctrinal terminology,
as follows:

Concerning Election

Whereas Paul speaks of those whom God “foreknew” as those whom
“he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,” whom
“he also called,” whom “he also justified,” and whom “he also
glorified (Rom 8:29-30); and of the “chosen” as “chosen from the
beginning for salvation” (2 Thess 2:13-14 NASB); TE Wilkins does
not understand this group of persons to refer “exclusively to those
who were chosen to eternal salvation [i.e. in The Westminster
Confession
sense],” but rather to “those who are members of the
Church … those who are united to the visible body of God’s people
and persevere therein by grace through faith.” (RoC 2007-8, pg. 37-
38).

Concerning Perseverance and Apostasy

Whereas the Scripture says of those who are “elect … according
to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1 Pet 1:1-2) that God has
“caused us to be born again to a living hope through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that
is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you
who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation
ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet 1:3-5); TE Wilkins
declares that such elect persons are “united to the visible body of
God’s people” (RoC 2007-8, pg. 38), and that this class of persons
who “enjoy for a season the blessings of the covenant, including
the forgiveness of sins, adoption, possession of the kingdom,
sanctification, etc.,” may “yet apostatize and fall short of the
grace of God.” TE Wilkins expressly excludes the possibility that
“they only appeared to have these things but did not actually have
them;” that the apostate “forfeit[s] ‘apparent blessings’ that were
never his in reality.” Rather, he forfeits these “real blessings
that were his in covenant with God.” (The Federal Vision, pg. 62).

Concerning the Visible/Invisible Church

Whereas the Scripture says that the “elect” (Rom 8:33) –
namely those whom God has foreknown, predestined, called,
justified, and shall glorify (Rom 8:28-29) – are those who are
justified (8:33), who will never fall under divine condemnation
(8:34), and are those for whom Christ has died, was raised, and
continually intercedes (8:34), plainly referring these passages to
the elect, the invisible church; TE Wilkins, having referenced Rom
8:28-34, states, “Clearly Paul is not stating promises that are
true only for some unknown group called the ‘elect.’ Nor is he
speaking only to a portion of the congregation whom he judges to be
‘regenerate.’ Rather, he is applying these promises to all members
of the Church who have been baptized and united to Christ in His
death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6).” (The Federal Vision,
pg.57). Wilkins denies that Romans 8 refers to the invisible
church, despite the fact that the categories are inviolable from
calling to glorification. The categories are precisely the same in
verse 30 of Romans 8, the end result being that all those who are
elected are glorified. Plainly, this passage cannot mean what
Wilkins thinks it means.

Concerning Baptism

Whereas the Scripture teaches that, under the Old Covenant,
reception of the covenant sign (circumcision) neither was
inexorably accompanied by a communication of redemptive grace to
the recipient nor ensured that the recipient would come to possess
the redemptive benefits and blessings that belong solely to the
elect (Gen 17:23 with 17:18-22; Rom 9:6-13, esp. 9:13, Heb 12:17);
and that this same state of affairs continues under the New
Covenant (Acts 8:13 with 8:20-23); TE Wilkins teaches that every
recipient of the sacrament of baptism comes into possession of “all
spiritual blessings”:

“The Bible teaches us that baptism unites us to Christ
and by his, and to his body by the power of the spirit.
By one spirit we were all baptized into one body whether
Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, we’ve all been
made to drink of one Spirit.

Paul says that at baptism you are clothed with Christ
Jesus. For as many of you as are baptized into Christ,
have put on Christ. Union with Christ is a real, vital
blessed union. The clothes make the man. With our union
with Christ, we have all spiritual blessings.” (“The
Legacy of the Half-Way Covenant”)

Concerning the Covenant

Whereas the Scripture restricts the redemptive blessings and
benefits of the covenant of grace to the elect, or the invisible
church, and to them only (Rom 5:12-21; 8:28-34; Gal 3:16, 23-29;
John 10:14-16, 27-29; 17:9-10, 20); and maintains that non-elect
persons are in the covenant of grace in a different respect – in a
strictly outward and non-saving sense (cf. 1 Cor 7:14; John
15:2a); TE Wilkins maintains that standing or status in the
covenant of grace must be understood unilaterally or in an
undifferentiated sense: “In fact, covenant is a real relationship,
consisting of real communion with the triune God through union with
Christ
. The covenant is not some thing that exists apart from
Christ or in addition to Him (another means of grace) – rather, the
covenant is union with Christ. Thus, being in covenant gives all
the blessings of being united to Christ. There is no salvation
apart from covenant simply because there is not salvation apart
from union with Christ. And without union with Christ there is no
covenant at all.” (“Covenant, Baptism, and Salvation,” in Auburn
Avenue Theology
, pg. 262)

Advertisements

Responses

  1. […] posted the indictment itself over on my blog. I did this to keep the documentation separated from Lane and his blog. However, I think that […]

  2. […] Here’s the text of the indictment. […]

  3. […] nose at the PCA and our process of dicipline. Now, as the entire Louisiana Presbytery is facing indictment, I believe they’re beginning to realize that they can no longer buck the system because the […]

  4. […] Judicial Chamber either. It is the Standing Judicial Commission. You can read more about it here. PCA Indictment of Lousiana Presbytery Reformed Musings Reformed […]

  5. […] to put the pleas it into perspective. Louisiana Presbytery (LAP) had decided its answer to their indictment and citation by the PCA’s Standing Judicial Commission (SJC). LAP has pled “not […]


Categories

%d bloggers like this: