11 May 2007

NPP/FV Report

The PCA Report on the New Perspective and Federal Vision can now be accessed in the online By Faith, the magazine of the PCA.

I find the quibbling sadly necessary but increasingly wearisome.

8 comments:

Mark said...

Thanks for posting this. There is also a response by a minister in MO presbytery:

http://federal-vision.com/htmldocs/jjm30reasons.html

Eric Ortlund said...

Dane -

Thanks for the heads up on this. I understand the legitimate need for a demonination to official ask in a new cluster of ideas is in line with its own self-understanding; on the other hand, I sympathize with your weariness. In taking official stands on things, my guess is it is hard for people to avoid saying, "I am a New Perspective Christian," "I am a Wrightian Fresh Perspective Person," "I am a traditional Westminster Christian," etc., and in so doing, miss out on critical reflection which is thankful for another Christian's labor, takes what is good, and leaves behind what isn't. (And what about once reformed, always reforming? Why does Westminster have to function as an absolute standard, never to be changed?)

-Eric

Dane Ortlund said...

Yes.

And, semper reformanda is precisely the battle cry of several of the FV guys. It is threatening to many in the PCA.

Eric Ortlund said...

Dane - I know it is easy to criticize as an outsider, but I can't help but find an ironic similarity, in the absolute, unshakable place which the Westminster creeds have (wise as they are), such that you never disagree with them - an ironic similarity to the Catholicism from which the Reformers broke away.

One of my favorite theologians once said, "Every institution tends to become its opposite."

This underscores (in my mind) the importance, not just of the content of doctrine, but the "how" of it - how you relate to it and hold it is important. Sometimes you need to hold it lightly, for the sake of the Truth!

-Eric

Dane Ortlund said...

Couldn't agree more. I love the Confession and its big view of God and sacred view of the Church and clear view of the components of salvation, but the truth is I have yet to hear a man getting ordained have as many exceptions to the WCF as I will have if I seek ordination in the PCA, and those exceptions may rule out service in this denomination I have grown to love. And the very fact that the relatively minor differences I would share with some covenant theologians might preclude service in some PCA presbyteries diminishes my desire to serve with such a group, honor though it would be.

I am grateful for Cov Seminary, where love is held high and quibbling is held to a minimum and, when needed (and it often is), prefaced with the appropriate statements of brotherly accord, etc.

I would love to serve in the PCA, if they'll let me, and bring a voice of the importance of doctrine FOR THE SAKE OF JOY (not for the sake of fence-setting). The response to the doctrinal nitpicking which is done with pride or defensiveness (and which i have been guilty of) is not decreasing doctrinal clarity (a la Emergent e.g.) but increasing the happiness and humility which robust doctrine is intended to fuel. Then, perhaps, the world would stop smirking at our intra-denominational bickering and sit up and take notice.

Eric Ortlund said...

Dane - Wow, thanks for sharing. I totally understand how that can be really deflating. I've been very encouraged at how God has opened the right door at Briercrest, a place where I can get behind the institutional vision 100% (it is full of conviction, but not strict in the wrong ways, and not absolutizing human creeds!). I'm sure he can do the same for you!

Just remember that you're in good company: the only evidence that Ezekiel was ever taken seriously is that his book was copied down. That is the only shred of evidence we have that he was met with anything other than incomprehension and mockery.

God has important things to do through your life, Dane! And part of his provision is giving you a place where you can do and say what he's sown in your life.

-Eric

Ortlund Family said...

I think the WCF itself speaks well when it says, "All synods or councils, since the apostles' times, whether general or particular, may err, and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith or practice but to be used as a help in both." That would include the assembly of Westminister divines. They are not the rule. Only the Bible is. But their work can be used as a help.

Dad

Ortlund Family said...

I view theological summaries/doctrinal statements/confessions of faith as functions of psychological inevitability, because (1) the Bible presents itself in a basically narrative framework, but (2) the human mind naturally asks questions that can only be answered within a systematic framework. Our minds move toward confessions of faith as useful shorthand for objectifying the theological substructure of the biblical narrative, which we long to grasp with personal clarity and missional transferability.

Our confessions just have to remain subordinate to the Bible, that's all. Which is to say, we have to keep our own mental patterns subordinate to scripture. It isn't the fault of the WCF. It's ours.

My opinion. What's yours?

Dad