The FV Making Inroads in E. Europe?

One of our graduates, a Reformed pastor and church planter in the Mediterranean region, pointed me today to a troubling blog.
The Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC) is planting congregations in Europe, exporting the FV to Europe, and attempting to recruit congregations there. They’re publishing materials in Polish including essays by Peter Leithart, James Jordan, Ralph Smith, and John Frame, among others with whom the reader might be familiar. According to their blog, James Jordan, arguably a godfather of the FV movement, was a speaker at their conference held in Budapest this Spring. The HB has noted before the attempts of the FV movement to expand into Europe and this new site is more evidence that the movement isn’t going away nor is its primary ecclesiastical home: the CREC. In North America Doug Wilson may be positioning himself as the defender of mere Christianity against the New Atheists and as John Piper’s champion against Tom Wright but it appears that he’s attempting to do in Europe what he’s already done in Moscow (ID).

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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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62 comments

  1. Scott
    A more appropriate name for this subversive group is the ‘Feral Vision’. We really should not allow them to defalcate a perfectly good word like ‘Federal’.

  2. Dr. Clark:

    Given that there are also dispensational, Pentecostal, arminians working to plant churches in Eastern Europe (and a lot more of them then there are from the CREC); why should we be particularly concerned about the CREC planting churches and/or spreading its teaching there? Is the concern about confusion over the meaning of being Reformed?

    David

    • Hi David,

      As I tried to suggest in the earlier piece (linked above) on the CREC, it’s not just “another” Reformed federation. It’s the primary home of the FV movement. A blog can only do so much. One of the things to which the HB is dedicated is the clarification of the adjective “Reformed” and more profoundly to the recovery of genuine, confessional, biblical theology, piety, and practice The FV constitutes a significant challenge to that objective. Now, as it seeks to stretch its tentacles to Europe the FV is positioning itself to do the same damage there as its done here and perhaps more. This is truly concerning. Yes, the spread of Pentecostalism and Arminianism are a concern but as they lie mostly outside the sphere of the Reformed churches, there’s not much I can do about that, but insofar as Reformed folk read the HB and might reconsider their naive support for the FV movement and its ecclesiastical home in North America (and now Europe) well, perhaps the HB can do some good.

  3. My thinking is along the lines of David. Better a Reformed-esque church that is a little messed up on the ordinary means than one that is confusing the extraordinary means for the ordinary means (Pentacostals). The confessions of the CREC (Westminster or 3 forms) are orthodox, even if they are a little off in how they view them. For Pete’s sake, I’m in the PCA where hundreds of pastors have a Baptist view of the sacraments, but I believe they can be called back to our confession.

    But if you are worried about it, maybe you can get your denomination to plant churches there. 🙂

    • Jared,

      Thanks, but actually I was asking a question because I had a question – rather than asking a question in an attempt to make a point.

      I routinely deal with those issues that are most likely to impact the people in my local church (OPC) that are totally out of proportion to the influence that these movements have in the Church as a whole. The reason for this is obvious: Members of my congregation are far more likely to be attracted to the CREC or to Family Integrated Churches than they are to Joyce Meyer. I was simply wondering why the HB was concerned to alert us to the spread of the CREC in Europe.

      Given the prestige of WSC within the Reformed world, and the potential reach of the HB among those interested in learning more about being Confessionally Reformed, Dr. Clark’s answer makes complete sense to me.

    • I don’t think it’s accurate to say that the CREC is just a little messed up on the ordinary means. The FV is far more insidious and dangerous than that. This soft stance toward the FV is wrong-headed. The FV is a profound corruption of the gospel masquerading as the Reformed faith.

      As I suggested in my earlier post on the CREC there are other significant reasons to be concerned about the CREC as an institution.

    • Jared,

      Are you aware that the CREC allows confessing Baptist congregations. The PCA confesses the Reformed faith. At a confessional level there are significant differences between the two.

      • Yes, which also may indicate that it may be more accurate to view the CREC as tolerant towards FV rather than identifying as an FV-confessing organization, since Baptists by definition can’t be FV.

        I think it is important not to be FV and understand the need to correct error. Yet, I also would be happier with a Lutheran Church (of a Missouri/Wisconsin Synod variety) growth overseas than Pentacostal and Catholic growth. I see it similarly with FV. I’d prefer they be TR, but am not as concerned as the others. Is that a wrong perspective to have? If so, why?

        • Jared,

          Obviously I don’t want to see the Pentecostals, the Arminians, or the FV (or the JWs or the Mormons etc) grow anywhere but particularly not where churches are being founded for the first time. It’s important to lay a good, strong, foundation for them. “In by historic, conditional, temporary baptismal union with Christ” and “stay in by faith and works” is a horrible foundation upon which to build.

          That said, I know some Arminians (Tom Oden comes to mind) who get the gospel. I don’t know any FV folk who get the gospel.

          Second, I have grave concerns about the very nature of the CREC. There are FV folks, or at least those who are sympathetic to the FV, who also have concerns about the very nature of the CREC.

          There can be little question that the CREC is the de facto home of the the FV. When the FV guys left the URCs they went to the CREC. When the FV guys left the PCA they went to the CREC.

          Baptist and CREC? I guess the couldn’t be utterly consistent with the FV but they could certainly teach “in by grace, stay in through faith and works.” Lots of baptists have done that!

    • Jared:

      I think you may be on to something by invoking the Pentecostals. After all, the FV has demonstrated that the chief article of their confession has more to do with snake handling than any written creed.

  4. Any way for Ministers from the USA to warn the people in E. Europe about the dangerous theology that they are allowing to enter their midst? Like through Inter-Church Commitees, Mission organizations, and such of the various denominations that may have some outreach in E. Europe?

    In other words, besides letting us know about the danger, what can be done to let THEM know about the danger?

    By the way, thank you Dr. Clark for alerting us to this event. This is terrible. Especially when people do not realize the gravity of the situation and just paw at it, instead of swinging a sharp sword to cut it down.

  5. Jared,

    Don’t confuse FV with confessional Lutheranism. They are not the same. FV says that apostasy is caused by lack of perseverance. Confessional Lutheranism says that apostasy is a mystery. The former is a damnable heresy; the latter is consistent with what St. Paul says in Romans 9, even though single predestination is embodied in the Book of Concord, notwithstanding. Also, the FV maintains its theological framework according to a covenantal understanding. Lutherans are not bothered by the covenants. The Sacraments are oral proclamation of the Gospel. The Gospel gives life; the Law kills.

  6. Dr. Clark, have you visited the mission fields of Europe? The Reformed denominations in France (EREI in particular) are past even discussing things like women in the pulpit (there are ordained women pastors). My father (PCA pastor and missionary) was almost alone in his strong stance against ordaining women to the ministry. Even granting your concerns about FV, are you sure it is not disproportional? Should we not rejoice that the gospel is preached?

    Ironically, some of the more faithful churches in France are Brethren churches…bad theology, but they are on their hands and knees for the gospel. If you ministered in France long enough, you would appreciate even mediocre theology.

    • Daniel,

      If “the gospel” was being preached, I would rejoice. That’s the issue. That’s why most of the NAPARC churches have rejected the FV (and why the CREC is not in NAPARC) — because the gospel isn’t being preached!

  7. Daniel, as one who is/lives on the mission field that is Europe, I do not appreciate your argument that being worried about the FV in Europe is “disproportional”. Do you mean to intimate that the situation in Europe is so bad that they (we) should be happy with whatever crumbs from the table of (American) mission endeavors we are getting? Better FV than no gospel at all? – Not quite! Sounds a lot like pragmatism to me!

  8. Sebastian,
    No, I don’t feel like EU should be happy for the “crumbs” of theology. On the contrary, their theology is so bad, they need indeed good theology! What I feel is disproportional is the focus on FV as an evil. Dr. Clark’s response to my comment is what I was talking about. It is a very serious accusation to bring against fellow pastors to say that they are heretics who don’t preach the gospel. If indeed the accusation that Dr. Clark has brought against the church is correct, that is, that the CREC churches do not preach the gospel, then I would not wish them to be anywhere. For Dr. Clarks’ sake, I wish he were right. But I have heard far too much Gospel from CREC pastors that I cannot in good conscience call them heretics.

    I understand that there may be legitimate concerns about FV. I have my own, for certain. Like every denomination, they have their sins, inconsistencies, their over-emphases’, etc. But do they preach the gospel? Absolutely! And because of this, I want them in Europe!

    • Daniel,

      Most of the NAPARC churches disagree radically with your assessment. I don’t operate on implicit faith. You can say what you want about what you’ve heard, but there’s too much evidence, in print, about what the self-described FV movement teaches. Temporary, historical, baptismal union with Christ, temporary, conditional election, temporary, conditional justification etc is not good news according to the Reformed faith. Justification through faith and works or faith because it works or through obedient faith none of these is good news.

      I’m aware enough of FV preaching to think that either your experience is not representative or you don’t understand the issues or we have different definitions of the good news.

      Whatever the case the movement of the FV into Europe is bad news for the future of the Reformed churches there. I hope they look closely at the the American confessional churches have done and that they act to protect themselves against this virus and these wolves.

      • Dr. Clark,

        As far as my experience: 4 years at Christ Church (Doug Wilson), and 4 years at New Saint Andrews. My experience not representative? I doubt it.

        Since you have read the FV writings, surely you know what they say. I read what you just wrote in your comment, and it sounds very bad indeed. That WOULD be bad news! Bad news for the US and bad news for Europe.

        But that is not what I have been taught, or what I have read in the joint FV statement. They are very clear. Justification is by faith alone plus nothing. You have turned their description of the nature of true faith, or rather, the result of true faith, into the cause of Justification. But to put it in Calvin’s words, God sanctifies those whom He justifies. Not the other way around.
        That is what I’ve been taught.

        And you mention election, but fail to mention that when the FVers talk about election, they have differenciated between two kinds: God’s people generally speaking, and the decretally elect. If you fuse these together, then of course FV sounds bad.

        That we might not talk past each other, do you not agree that FV speaks of “election” in two different ways?

        Respectfully,
        Daniel

  9. The Reformed Faith is clear. Romans 9 is clear. One does not interpret predestination in light of the covenant. It is the other way round. Predestination ‘cuts right across’ the covenant in its concrete application. If there are two types of election, then the promises of God is useless. Pastorally, it is useless to say that you are baptised, therefore you in Christ. It is useless to tell the parishioner who comes to you and say, Rev. or Pastor, I have a problem in assurance that he or she should believe in the promises of Christ in the external Word of God, especially as proclaimed from extra nos. The FV is about as useless pastorally as … Arminianism is.

    • Jason, I agree. Predistination DOES cut across the covenants. And yet covenant is something. That is why it is helpful to speak of the “general election – God’s general people, covenantal people,” that is to say, the visible church (no, I have problem with that term), and the “special or decretal election,” or, the invisible church. Both are part of the covenant, but you’re right: Predestination “cuts right across.”

      -Daniel

  10. Daniel
    The FV ( Feral Vision) teaches that there are people who are actually in Union with Christ, have all the benefits of redemption including justification , the forgiveness of sins, etc.-but lack the gift of perseverance and end up losting their salvation. Non of the Reformed confession sanction this and the number of Reformed churches who have condemned the FV should make you extremely wary of the whole thing.

      • Yes, this language:

        “4. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the laws of that religion they do profess. And, to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.”

        depends upon the very distinction which the FVists deny: the distinction between two ways of being in the one covenant of grace, i.e., the “internal” and “external” relations to the covenant of grace.

        For more on this see this popular booklet:

        http://www.wscal.edu/bookstore/store/details.php?id=1341

        or this more technical essay:

        http://www.cpjournal.com/articles/r-scott-clark-baptism-and-the-benefits-of-christ/

        Those who have only an external relation to the covenant of grace, through baptism, are subject to the “common” (as distinct from the “special” or “saving”) operations of the Spirit. This is the confession’s way of dealing with Heb 6 where those who have only an external relation to the covenant of grace are said to “taste of the powers of the age to come.” Contra the Baptists, baptized persons really are in the covenant of grace outwardly, the participate in the administration of the covenant of grace but contra the FV no reprobate person is ever elect or united to Christ or justified in any sense.

  11. GLW, the only FV person who used the words you just used (to my knowledge) is Steve Wilkins. I am at the least uncomfortable with that wording myself, specifically, Justification being given to the baptized.

    But how about if I put it this way: There is a universal call, by which God, through the external preaching of the word, invites all men alike, even those for whom he designs the call to be a savor of death, and the ground of severer condemnation. Besides this there is a special call which, for the most part, God bestows on believers only, when by the internal illumination of the Spirit he causes the word preached to take deep root in their hearts. Sometimes, however, he communicates it [i.e., the special call] also to those whom he enlightens only for a time, and whom afterwards, in just punishment for their ingratitude, he abandons and smites with greater blindness.

    As a Calvinist, can you go with that or not?

    -Daniel

  12. To complement what Gary said, in the end what the Feral Vision says is that apostasy is to be atributed ultimately to Christian, not the predestination of God. This contradicts Romans 9, amongst other passages and the Reformation confessions.

  13. Hi Dr. Clark.

    Above you wrote:

    …”The FV is a profound corruption of the gospel masquerading as the Reformed faith.”

    …”I know some Arminians (Tom Oden comes to mind) who get the gospel. I don’t know any FV folk who get the gospel.”

    …”If “the gospel” was being preached, I would rejoice. That’s the issue. That’s why most of the NAPARC churches have rejected the FV (and why the CREC is not in NAPARC) — because the gospel isn’t being preached!”

    But, on the Puritan Board on 8/17/09 you wrote:

    I agree with Lane [Keister]. The FV is, as William Ames said of Arminianism, an error tending to heresy but not heresy itself.

    So, which is it?

    Is the FV “a profound corruption of the gospel masquerading as the Reformed faith” … or, is it “an error tending to heresy but not heresy itself”?

    • I don’t see how what I said on the PB contradicts what I said here? Armininianism is a profound corruption of the gospel. Both the FV and Arminianism tend to heresy but are not, strictly defined, heresy. They are gross errors.

      Tom Oden is exceptional. Wesley is more typical of evangelical Arminians. It’s pretty hard to get the Protestant gospel out of Wesley but it’s easy to do with Tom Oden. I’m happy when an Arminian gets the gospel right.

      The tragedy is that the FV is impenitently corrupting the Reformed confession and passing itself off as Reformed.

      Sent from my iPhone

  14. Dr. Clark,

    I’m not trying to be difficult, but would you classify the Federal Vision as “heresy” and should someone who embraces FV theology be dealt with as a heretic and disciplined if there is no repentance?

    Jim Butler

  15. Sorry, I re-read your post and saw you classify it as a “gross error.” Would church discipline be necessary for someone embracing this error?

    jim

    • Yes!

      If someone in the OURC congregation confessed the FV impenitently, after patient correction, yes, we would discipline them. If one of our ministers confessed the FV I would seek to have him disciplined. I sought for years, in the early days of the URCNA to find a way to have John Barach disciplined. Early on I was told that our polity did not permit it. I brought repeated overtures to classis to try to address it. I’m profoundly thankful that Synods in ’04 and ’07 rejected the FV and embraced the biblical doctrine of justification as confessed by our churches.

  16. Jim,

    As I suggested in my reply to Sean (see above) I doubt that the FV is “heresy” strictly defined. In the narrow definition, heresy is a denial of the two natures of Christ, the Trinity, the existence of original sin, or something on that order.

    If we make the FV “heresy” in the strict sense then we would have to condemn the entire medieval church, all the Arminians, and about 90% of the church today to eternal perdition. I can’t do this. It’s not necessary.

    We might call the FV heresy in the broad sense as in a “serious deviation from the Reformed confession on an essential Reformed doctrine.”

    It is definitely a corruption of the gospel, but as I understand heresy in the narrow sense, it is impossible for a heretic to be saved unless he repent. I don’t know that all the FV folk are eternally condemned just as I don’t know that the Arminians or Romanists are necessarily eternally condemned.

    I hope that the FVists are orthodox on their knees, just as I hope the Arminians are orthodox when they pray. I hope that, despite their corrupt confession, the FVists are actually trusting in the finished work of Christ imputed to them alone as the ground of their justification and that they are not actually trying to contribute anything to it. I hope.

  17. I don’t see how what I said on the PB contradicts what I said here? Armininianism is a profound corruption of the gospel. Both the FV and Arminianism tend to heresy but are not, strictly defined, heresy. They are gross errors.

    Admittedly, I must be slow. So, please be patient because I want to make sure I understand you correctly.

    The FV is “a profound corruption of the gospel” and is similar in this respect to Arminianism which is also a profound corruption of the gospel. Good so far. However, unlike some variants of Armininianism that in some cases get the gospel right, the FV churches of the CREC don’t even do that and consequently do not preach the gospel. However, the FV system of doctrine that contains no gospel and that is being preached from the pulpits of the CREC now making inroads in Europe isn’t heretical only that it tends toward heresy? Have I got it?

    I just want to be clear because I fail to see how someone can preach a system of doctrine that feigns to be both Christian and Reformed and that has no gospel yet not be heretical? Admittedly your argument seems a bit queer, and I don’t know how this might square with what Paul taught in Galatians, so if the FV isn’t heresy, what would you call it?

  18. As I suggested in my reply to Sean (see above) I doubt that the FV is “heresy” strictly defined. In the narrow definition, heresy is a denial of the two natures of Christ, the Trinity, the existence of original sin, or something on that order.

    So…a denial of the gospel and what some might call the vitals of the faith isn’t heresy strictly defined? Again, seems queer to me. One can affirm the two natures of Christ, the Trinity, OS and yet deny the truth of the Gospel and yet somehow not be relegated to eternal perdition? How is that possible?

    Paul said in Galatians 1:8 …. Well, you know what Paul said and I don’t think even the most fawning admirer of Doug Wilson, Peter Leithart, Steve Wilkins or any of the other FV teachers and preachers would confuse any of these men with angels.

    So, is it safe to say that you limit your definition of heresy, strictly speaking, to any break from the so-called “ecumenical creeds” and a denial of the Gospel is therefore not heretical? I admit if that’s the case then you’re right, you have not contradicted yourself, but it sure does explain why the FV continues to spread unabated and why the men of the PCA and elsewhere continue to embrace these teachers, even Doug Wilson, as their brother in Christ [see Lane Keister on the Greenbaggins blog and more recently John Piper].

    • Sean,

      FWIW, for me the question “who is my brother” is an confessional and ecclesiastical question as much as personal. The CREC does not make a Reformed confession. Wilson does not make a Reformed confession. The FV Statement published in ’07 and Reformed in Not Enough do not confess the Reformed faith. Further, There are no ecclesiastical relations between the CREC and the URCs or anyone in NAPARC as far as I know. Certainly, anyone coming to OURC from a CREC would not be admitted to table because we don’t recognize the CREC as having the marks of a true church whereas we do admit members of NAPARC churches.

  19. It is definitely a corruption of the gospel, but as I understand heresy in the narrow sense, it is impossible for a heretic to be saved unless he repent.

    One more question: Can someone deny the gospel or preach another gospel (which really isn’t another, but rather is no gospel at all) and still be saved? Don’t those who believe in the non-gospel of the FV, even its teachers, need to repent in order to be saved? Or, are you saying they are saved men, Christians, in spite of believing in and teaching another gospel?

    FWIW, and perhaps this is due to a lack of seminary training, but I thought one was saved by believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone and one was damned if they believed even in a clever fraud whether it’s the one taught by Rome or Moscow, Idaho. Silly me.

    • Sean,

      I distinguish between clergy and laity and between doctrinal error (what people profess to believe) and what they actually believe. I’m not anxious to see folk in hell. I hold the laity to a different standard than I hold the clergy, even self-ordained types in home made ecclesiastical entities posing as churches.

      The FV is another gospel. To the degree an FV man is consistent with the FV he is preaching another gospel but not all FVists are equally consistent. There are blessed inconsistencies.

      Is the entire medieval church eternally condemned? Are all consistent Arminians eternally condemned? Are inconsistent Arminians eternally condemned?

      • Dr Clark, you wrote >>I distinguish between clergy and laity and between doctrinal error (what people profess to believe) and what they actually believe. I’m not anxious to see folk in hell. I hold the laity to a different standard than I hold the clergy, <<
        I would expect that from a Presbyterian, even the OPC, but from a Reformed minister, "laity"? Wow (or whoa). What happened to confessional membership? Don't all members of the URC profess the 3 Forms of unity, like in the Canadian/American Reformed Churches? I regard the "confessional nature" of Presbyterians to be lacking and partial in this aspect, in comparison to the Reformed federations. I would say, in practice (pastorally speaking), you will treat ordained officers differently from general office believer, based on greater/deeper duties/expectations for those with greater scope of training, etc. Along the lines of 9th grade algebra student compared to one finishing B.S. or M.S. in Math. Just struck by the starkness of your statement.

        From one who was Canadian Reformed for many years. Sorry for subverting the thread .

        • Cris,

          I’ve argued at length for confessional subscription by the laity. Please see Recovering the Reformed Confession, ch. 4.

          I was only reflecting the fact that, whereas when we examine men for ordination we test them on the floor of classis for 5 hours and only after 3-4 years of seminary, we receive members on the basis of their subscription to and affirmation of the faith taught in the standards after a few weeks of instruction and perhaps a 30 min interview by consistory.

          American Presbyterians, as you say, have a somewhat different practice. When I write here I have to try to account for the variety of practice in the NAPARC world. I can’t assume that everyone knows the praxis of the confessional Dutch Reformed churches.

          • Dr. Clark: Thanks for taking the time to reply. Guess RCC needs to get on my ToBeRead list. Regards, -=Cris=-

  20. I distinguish between clergy and laity and between doctrinal error (what people profess to believe) and what they actually believe. I’m not anxious to see folk in hell. I hold the laity to a different standard than I hold the clergy,

    Amen. And, I do too as does Scripture. I too worry about Christ sheep subjected to the teaching of the FV/NPP men in the PCA, OPC, CREC, and elsewhere – now evidently in Europe too. However, I’m still trying to wrap my small, and some would say narrow, mind around what you’ve written.

    So, tell me, point blank: Do you consider Doug Wilson, the unquestionable head of the CREC — the very denomination now making inroads in Europe — a heretic?

    The FV is another gospel. To the degree an FV man is consistent with the FV he is preaching another gospel but not all FVists are equally consistent. There are blessed inconsistencies.

    Again, Lane Keister insists Wilson, despite and even in answer to the call to repentance by the RPCUS in 2002, is just “ambiguous” when it comes to the very heart and center of the Gospel. In Lane’s mind Wilson is IN-consistent with the FV and those FV/NPP teachers that he considers somehow more egregious, most of whom are also perched quite safely in the CREC.

    So, and to very much put you on the spot, do you agree with Lane’s conclusion after a year of debate over Wilson’s response to the RPCUS’s call to repentance that Wilson is no heretic, believes the Gospel, is your brother in Christ, and is definitely, at least when it comes to the essentials of the faith even the Gospel, no heretic?

    Given your strict definition of heresy above, I just want to find out what you consider a heretic, and since Wilson unambiguously affirms ALL of the ecumenical creeds and even, at least out of one side of his mouth, the doctrines of imputation and JBFA, if you consider Wilson a heretic in need of repentance in order to be saved?

    I think you and I can agree on this much, Wilson is no lay-person.

    FWIW, I sincerely desire to learn your unvarnished answers to my questions above even more than I longed to read Keister’s concluding thoughts after a year public debate and discussion of Wilson’s Reformed is Not Enough.

    Thank you in advance, and despite all our differences, in the love of the Lord, your friend and annoying brother – Sean Gerety

    • Sean,

      I’ve made my views of the CREC and its putative head very clear in this space. He could not be a minister in a proper Reformed church. His views are ever shifting. If you’ll search this space you can find my views on him and the CREC. He certainly wishes to be regarded as orthodox but to do so apart from actual repentance demonstrated by fruit is unwise.

      The “H” word is a very serious word and it is, in my view, an ecclesiastical word. I don’t know that any Reformed Church has declared him a “heretic” in the narrow or broad sense of the word. It’s not my business to go about declaring who is and isn’t a heretic.

      When it comes to the groups such as these and views such as these, confessional churches would do well, however, to guard their sheep very carefully.

  21. As I suggested in my reply to Sean (see above) I doubt that the FV is “heresy” strictly defined. In the narrow definition, heresy is a denial of the two natures of Christ, the Trinity, the existence of original sin, or something on that order.

    RSC:

    Do you use the word “heretic” differently than Paul in Titus 3:10? — “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject.”

    And where do you categorize a professing believer who suffers from extreme megalomaniac delusions of grandeur, oftentimes mistaking their person with Almighty God? Is he a heretic or just plain nuts?

    • C,

      I think we all know the answer to the second question!

      Yes, the strict definition is narrower than Paul’s use in Titus 3:10. There, I think, Paul is using the word more broadly than it has come to be used in post-canonical theological and ecclesiastical usage. There he’s describing someone creating divisions (haereses). Error has that result but not all division is born of theological error. Sometimes it’s just politics or personal gain (which are moral errors to be sure and to the degree ethics is a branch of theology, then….)

      • RSC,

        If we can make these sorts of distinctions between “heretics” and “megalomaniacs,” I wonder if you might be willing to re-visit the suggestion that Mormons are closer to “false religionists” than “cultists.”

        • Zrim,

          I don’t get it.

          I doubt we’ll agree on this one. For me “sect” and “cult” are roughly equivalent and they are theological-ecclesiastical terms not civil terms. You seem to load “cult” with civil force and thus it’s a question of freedom of religion. For me, it’s not a matter of whether the Mormons are free to practice their religion. Fine. I don’t question that and I realize that “cult” is a disputed term in some respects but I do think that the Mormon pose as a kind of Christian sect, they claim (like Islam) to have a later, superior revelation, and they pose a grave spiritual danger.

          I don’t know that I was distinguishing between pychosis and heresy, in the broad sense. I think C was suggesting that some folk, he probably has a certain FVist in mind, are both heretical in the broad sense and psychotic.

          • RSC,

            It’s not really a matter of freedom of religion to me, it’s more a matter of having to have some way to distinguish Squeaky Fromm from Donny Osmond or Richard Reed from Cat Stevens.

      • Thanks.

        Presumably, the “admonition” would come from an ecclesiastical court. What, then, does “reject” mean? How does it look like in real life?

  22. Dr. Clark,

    Did not the Synod of Dort condemn the articles and opinions of the Remonstrants as heretical doctrines? And if so, do not the reformed Churches still consider them to be heretical, strictly speaking? Thanks.

    • Well, in RE 2.3, the Synod said that Remonstrants “bring again out of hell the Pelagian error.” I’m not sure that the Reformed churches confess that Arminianism is heresy strictly defined.

      In RE 2.6 it accused: “they pretend that they present this distinction in a sound sense, seek to instill into the people the destructive poison of Pelagianism.”

      In CD 3/4.10 it speaks of “the proud heresy of Pelagius…”

      I think this is the only place the CD uses the word “heresy.”

      • Dr. Clark, I mean this partly as tongue-in-cheek, but never the less…

        You seemed to answer Brenden’s question, as well, no, they didn’t really label it as heresy, (since the CD only used that label once) so by necessary consequence, there is no way for the contemporary Reformed Churches to “still” consider it heresy.

        So how many times does a synod have to use the word heresy before it sticks? You seem to be arguing that once is not enough. Do you require two, three or seven uses of the word for it to really apply? Just in case there is some heresy that does arise in the future, you could answer that so that Reformed Churches will know what they have to do to really declare something as heresy.

  23. Just to press this a little further and to make sure I follow…

    Doug Wilson, who heads up a phony Reformed denom that has no gospel and who is the leading FV salesman is not a heretic, and the FV, which also has no gospel and teaches a scheme of justification by faith and works, only “leads” to heresy but itself is not heresy. Consequently, neither these religious leaders nor the system of doctrine they profess, defend and preach is heresy. To call a system heretical or call any of it’s teachers heretics is an “ecclesiastic determination” and is not to be used to identify these men or their dangerous (your word) system now spreading into Europe.

    Further, since the word “heresy” can only be applied to those who deny or are at odds with the so-called “ecumenical creeds,” and, so far as I know, all of these FV gospel deniers all affirm every one of the “ecumenical creeds” even the Reformed creeds (admittedly carefully redefined and with a few exceptions like the idea that Christ “merited” anything for those he died), therefore the designations heresy or heretic does not apply.

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t think of any Reformed ecclesiastic body that has officially stated that Roman Catholicism is heretical or even the pope himself a heretic (admittedly Rome declared Pope Honorius I a heretic posthumously, so perhaps this is the only heretical pope in your mind). Therefore, would you say that the system of doctrine taught in the RCC is not heresy but only tends toward heresy? And, would you also say the pope of Rome, identified as that Antichrist by at least an earlier version of the WCF to the exclusion of the ecumenical creeds, is, while perhaps Antichirst, not a heretic?

    I realize you don’t want to consign anyone to hell, and I’m quite sure you don’t have that power, but I’m trying to figure out how you might actually use or apply the word and towards whom? Now, I understand how Lane Keister uses the word and that is with a big “H” and a little “h.” Big “H” heresies strike at the vitals of the faith, while little “h” heresies not so much. In his view Wilson is at best little “h” because he’s too accepting of, I assume, big “H” men like Wilkins, but maybe he too wouldn’t call Wilson a heretic in either sense. I never asked him.

    So, since you would not call Doug Wilson a heretic or the FV denomination he heads heretical, would you call him a false teacher and the CREC a false church?

    • Sean,

      You’re forgetting the broader/narrower distinction. Wilson and the FV can be said, in the broad sense, to be heretical relative to Reformed theology. I don’t know that Wilson his a heretic in the strict or narrow sense. He may be, I just haven’t seen it.

      As far as I can see and tell from what I’ve seen, experienced first hand from CREC types, and from what I’ve read, the CREC is a sect according to the Belgic Confession, Art 29. It’s a false church.

  24. ἀλλὰ ἴτωσαν,
    εἰδότες ὅτι κακίους εἰσὶ περὶ ἡμᾶς ἢ
    ἡμεῖς περὶ ἐκείνους.

    • Long time since I’ve looked at Xenophon! 3rd semester Greek with Dr Winter. This might have been a good strategy for Cyrus but I’m not sure it’s a good strategy for the mission of the church. The evangelical movement (in the old-fashioned sense of those words) in post-communist Europe is fledgling and they don’t need wolves circling about them just now pretending to sheep.

  25. Dr. Clark,

    Can you honestly say that Doug Wilson is a heretic who does not preach the gospel? I’m still looking for the “works salvation” that he supposedly preaches…


    (the rest of the sermon was superb as well)

    Is this what you desperately want to keep out of Europe?

    Blessings,
    Daniel

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