Posted by: reformedmusings | October 5, 2008

Federal Visionists apparently never learn

TE Jason Stellman noted in this post that PCA Federal Visionist TE Peter Leithart was given a pass by Northwest Presbytery (NWP). Jason was kind enough to provide a more detailed perspective on the proceedings in this follow-on post. This latter post has links to the majority and minority reports, to which I’ve also linked here for convenience. For additional perspective from another individual present at the presbytery meeting, read this comment by Adam Myer over at The PuritanBoard. These two eyewitness accounts provide a sad picture for the state of Northwest Presbytery. My hat is off to Jason and his minority team for the great job they did on their minority report. It’s nice to see that there are at least a few men in NWP who are still confessional.

As you read the NWP majority report, realize that you cannot get a true picture without consulting the original documentation which they excerpt. I say this because they seemed to go out of their way to quote the least controversial parts they could find in those documents. Reading the sources in their entirety provides a very different perspective. You can find Leithart’s letter to his presbytery requesting an examination here, Leithart’s response to the 35th General Assembly’s Nine Declaration here, his Credenda article here, and an index of TE Lane Keister’s analysis of Leithart’s chapter on justification in the book The Federal Vision here. You’ll have to buy the book to get the whole essay. Leithart also has an illuminating essay in the book The Auburn Avenue Theology: Pros and Cons which has some relevant points, some of which I critique here.

Having reflected on this since last night, I believe that I’ll write some posts over on GreenBaggins taking the NWP Majority Report to task. It won’t be hard, but it will take time to write. I will avoid duplicating Lane’s excellent work on justification, so it will take some extra effort to review Lane’s old posts on the subject. Providentially, I’ve already dealt with several of Leithart’s issues on this blog in the past: the Federal Vision’s so-called “final judgment” here, here, and here; and the issues of baptismal efficacy and reprobates in the broader covenant here and other places. There is probably enough analysis on this blog and GreenBaggins alone to convict TE Leithart. But then, the NWP Minority report should have been more than enough to do that.

I want to be clear that I respect TE Peter Leithart’s openness, although I certainly disagree with his theology. He took the initiative to provide his views to his presbytery, and then to follow up by asking, together with Jason, for a committee to study those views in light of the Westminster Standards. Short of simply transferring to the CREC (where he works anyway), he’s done all that one can ask. Leithart could save a lot of effort and embarassment for his presbytery by simply transferring to the CREC now.

Speaking of which, the usual suspects are foaming at the mouth over the situation, obviously disdaining the PCA process to which they swore to uphold. Jason has already declared that the minority on the committee (and maybe others) will appeal the presbytery’s decision to let TE Leithart skate. Should that appeal not be successful, which is the result that Jason anticipates, then they will follow-up by appealing to the General Assembly. One Federal Visionist has declared this a witch hunt. As TE Stellman points out in great detail, TE Leithart set this process in motion himself and even jointly asked for the study committee. So, is it still a witch hunt if the individual involved requests the hunt? If a Federal Visionist whines in the woods, does anyone still care?

This case has amazing parallels to the Louisiana Presbytery (LAP) case over Steve Wilkins. LAP gave Wilkins three skates before being taken before the Standing Judicial Committee and spanked (you can read most of the details on this blog). Their reasoning was pretty much the same as NWP with Leithart. Wilkins bolted for the CREC as a prosecutor was being assigned to write up his indictment, but only after wasting several years of effort and precious church funds that could have gone to missions or evangelism. As Santayana once said, those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. I wonder if may in the NWP have heard of Santayana.

On the good side, brothers in the LAP repented of their Federal Vision theology after the SJC took action. The PCA judicial process worked as it was intended. Now, with the Northwest process started, one has to wonder if Missouri and Ohio Presbyteries are getting the hint yet.

Oh, one more precious point. At least one (and I know more) Federal Visionist thinks that, against 95-98% of the commissioners at the 35th PCA General Assembly, six other orthodox Reformed denominations, and several seminaries (see the right side panel for links to those reports), God will vindicate them (see the “witch hunt” link above). I’ve already addressed this delusion in this post and this one. Of course, I’m still not his presbytery.

Watch for my coming posts on the Northwest Majority Report in the coming days.



  1. […] Reformedmusings has his take here. Classic line (remind me never to get in the way of your pen Bob; or keyboard!): One Federal […]

  2. […] A pretty comprehensive link summary in Federal Visionists apparently never learn. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Nail on the HeadBiometricsFederal Vision debate […]

  3. […] Adam Myer gives a first-hand account of the discussion on the floor of presbytery. (HT: Bob Mattes) […]

  4. […] background links at the Heidelblog link as well. You can catch my summary post on the situation here. For convenience, here are links to the presbytery’s majority report and the excellent […]

  5. […] background links at the Heidelblog link as well. You can catch my summary post on the situation here. For convenience, here are links to the presbytery’s majority report and the excellent […]


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