Guy Waters Lectures at WSC

waters1b.jpgIt was a great joy to have Guy on campus and to spend time with him again. He is a scholar and a gentleman. You can see more photos and hear the three lectures for yourself here.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Interesting, when I heard Guy Waters about 2 years ago. One of his arguments for overcoming the FVers objections to the classic reformed formulation of Sola fide, was that the fvers were using Kline’s concept of strict merit as being representative of the majority opinion of the reformed community, and lampooning this concept of imputed righteousness.

    Water’s was eager to point out to the fver’s that Kline’s concept of strict justice/merit in the edenic situation was NOT necessary to reformed soteriology and that they could essentially hold to their monocovenantalism and emphasis on grace in the edenic situation and still come to an more traditional understanding of second adam imputed righteousness. IMO, once you give up the concept of strict justice in Eden you’ve surrendered the battlefield even if you allow your ST and confessional commitments to save you from the inevitable logical consequences of your monocovenantalism. If you aren’t going to repudiate Murray’s recasting and while admonishing Shepherd, allow Gaffin to continue along these lines, I quite frankly think your objections to FV begin to ring hollow.


  2. Sean,

    At WSC we don’t stick a gun in the ribs of our guest speakers and tell them what they have to say.

    Guy’s conviction of and his body of work in defense of orthodoxy is beyond question.

    I quite agree, and I think that Guy agrees, that monocovenantalism, i.e. denying the WCF on the covenant of works, is highly problematic and one of the sources of the current crisis.

    Still, it is the case that some have held “softer” views of the prelapsarian state and remained orthodox on justification.

    Are you saying that you won’t accept a person as orthodox on justification if he gets there the wrong way?

  3. Dr Clark,

    I am less inclined to be tolerant of the doctors of the church on these issues. This is at least part of what they do for a living, they have the opportunity to develop these doctrines to an extent and in a more thoroughgoing way than the rest of us, and I expect them to do so.

    Presbyterianism, unlike congregationalism or independent bodies asks of it’s members a level of respect and submission to it’s elder’s that while biblical, demands a commensurate level of competence on the part of those in authority particularly those who hold themselves out as doctors of the church and trainers of those who fill the pulpits.

    I very much agree with the structure, but I find lacking the competence and intellectual rigor perhaps even the honesty such reverence asks of those in submission. It is this lack of competence and I think in the case of many at WTS, honesty, that makes me scoff at such concepts as “confessional maximalism.”

    Give me the prime hours of the day, and a paycheck in support of the endeavor and one should expect of me more than a orthodox conclusion, but also an consistent and biblical route to that end.


  4. Sean,

    No one here is “holding himself” out as anything. I’m called as a minister in Christ’s church. I’m called by my congregation to be a seminary prof. When the church of Christ becomes dissatisfied with me she has two options. She can complain against me (or Guy or whomever) and adjudicate my theology, piety, and practice in the courts of the church. If the courts/assemblies of the church(es) find me lacking in theology, piety, and practice and/or impenitent she may revoke my call at any time.

    You are welcome to complain to my consistory or to Guy’s session any time you wish. If your complaint is compelling they will take it up.

    For my part I don’t see any inherent tension between holding to confessional maximalism, which I do, and arguing as you say Guy did, that even if one dissents from WCF 7 and 19 on the covenant of works, it’s still possible to hold the doctrine of justification.

    “Possible” isn’t the same thing as “best case.” Would it be best for the churches to insist that all her ministers hold the confession entirely? Yes! I’m the one who argued in CJPM that Mr Murray’s views should have been tested in the courts of the church. Perhaps the same is true for Dr Gaffin’s — though he agreed publicly with the OPC Report. Perhaps he should be asked to reconcile his published writing with his affirmation on the floor of GA, but I’m happy for progress.

  5. Dr Clark,

    I’m glad to hear you don’t “hold” your position with any sort of aristocratic entitlement. To be honest, I didn’t assume that you did. My experience with people at WSC (is it just a California thing, much like the calvary chapels :-), I lived there half my life), whether through personal communication, books, articles, radio, blogs, personal contact, has been much more enjoyable and edifying/encouraging than those from other reformed institutions. Yes, there are exceptions, but I think anybody with any sort of broad experience/exposure to the different reformed institutions would tell you that there are distinct differences in emphasis, culture, and “atmosphere”, for lack of a better term, between WSC and WTS and those institutions looking to be like WTS or who view WTS as their older brother in the enterprise. Gordon Conwell seems to be an eastern exception, but my exposure to that institution is very limited.

    As far as confessional maximalism is concerned, and the process by which one may bring a dissident to heel, is, IMO, somewhat “pollyana”. Having participated in two judicial processes, not as an accused, I can tell you I don’t have much confidence that schoolmates or peers have the willingness to be self-critical enough to actually take definitive action against an offending colleague. Particularly on a theological issue such as traditionally understood COW, where the bi-covenantal view (actually more but you get the drift) is rapidly going into decline. It’s a little disingenuous, IMO, to suggest that a ruling body that is largely constituted of former pupils and sympathetic participants, is willing to take decisive action against their mentor/s in the faith or ministry.

    You may tell me that I am guilty of the sin of “suspicion”, and you’d probably be right, but having played the part of the fool, I’m rather more comfortable in this role.


  6. Sean,

    I understand disappointment with the discipline process. I’m disappointed when we place people under discipline and they do not respond as we hope and pray they will. Otoh, in two cases laity have brought cases to the highest/broadest courts/assemblies in the OPC and the URC with (after all) happy results. In the case of the OPC, the Wilkenings did not “win” but the Kinnaird case awakened the OPC to the reality of the FV and related errors and it produced a very good report and a strong consensus on justification. In the URC a lay family complained all the way to Synod and it awakened the ministers and elders to the reality of the FV and it produced a brief statement in one Synod and a much stronger statement in the next which has even more force than the OPC’s report.

    The URC is now four-square against the FV and the NPP. A report is coming but there’s little doubt what they will say. It took a long time but this is a fallen, sinful world.

    I’ve been a minister since 1987. I could be cynical. I’ve seen plenty that would give me warrant for cynicism. I’ve seen late-night, unconstitutional meetings where elders tried to fire a minister for disagreeing with them over bible translations. I’ve been the recipient of verbal abuse. I’ve seen churches decimated by power struggles. I’ve seen churches turn away from the Reformed faith to various forms of moralism. I’ve seen ministers fall from the ministry. I’ve seen a good deal of nominalism. I’ve seen worship services in nominally Reformed churches that are indistinguishable from Calvary Chapel services. I’ve lived through the theonomy craze and now the Federal Vision heartache.

    I’ve seen a lot of dark things in the church done in the name of Christ, but I’ve also seen a lot of wonderful things. I’ve seen people brought to faith by the Spirit through the foolishness of gospel preaching. I’ve seen churches become more Reformed and biblical. I’ve seen teen-agers knocking on doors inviting neighbor children to VBS. I’ve seen people drive hundreds of miles every Sabbath just to be in a Reformed congregation or to attend a Reformed Bible study. I’ve seen amazing acts of grace and charity and selflessness. I’ve seen elders do their duty, even when it was miserable and gut-wrenching. I’ve seen deacons perform remarkable acts of charity — and I’ve been the recipient of such. I’ve seen the “light go on” in catechism classes, when suddenly the faith makes sense. I’ve seen ministers’ wives on their hands and knees scrubbing the entryway of the church, while their husbands were mowing the lawn, getting the building ready for Sunday.

    These are the sorts of things that encourage me not to become cynical. The visible, institutional church is a broken, truly human place but it’s Christ’s place and it is the only institution to which he has attached promises, chief among which is: “Lo, I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.”

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