I’ve been trying to follow recent events in the Siouxlands Presbytery but I’m confused about what’s happening. I’m not expert in the Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America (and I’m not going to become so) so I assumed that there was some technical matter that I was missing. Upon making inquiries, however, it turns out that it’s not a technical matter. Presbytery has taken some strange actions recently. According to recent reports (e.g. in the Aquila Report) presbytery has repented of its “hasty” action in absolving one alleged federal visionist for teaching the Federal Vision errors. Having repented, presbytery erected a committee to further investigate the teaching of this TE (teaching elder). In the same meeting of presbytery, however, members also voted that “no strong presumption of guilt” be found in the teaching by another member of presbytery “attributing to all the baptized some form of union, adoption, new life, and forgiveness….” This TE also affirmed both the nine points of the PCA General Assembly’s Federal Vision report and that no reprobate person ever gets justification and that the baptized reprobate do get forgiveness of sin in some real sense.”
If these reports are true, then this is simply incoherent. The Nine Points adopted by the PCA GA categorical oppose the notion that all baptized persons have “some form” of union etc. The FV doctrine of temporary, conditional baptismal union with Christ is contrary to the Reformed confession both in our ecclesiastical documents and in the teaching of our theologians. That much is clearly evident and easy to understand. What is not easy to understand is how a presbytery could listen to flatly contradictory testimony by a TE that both affirmed and denied the same error and simply ignore it. What does the TE believe? How could presbytery find no strong presumption of anything if a man said “A” and “not A” about the same thing at the same time?
I understand that people want to “move on” from the FV debate. Believe me, no one wants to move on from this more than I. This business started for me 2000! (for some, however, it started in 1974). What is happening in the Pacific NW Presbytery and in the Siouxlands Presbytery is more prima facie evidence that the FV controversy is not behind us. Decisions by GA and Synod are a great starting point, but they are only that. The FV ideas are still being advocated on the web and in books and nothing ever dies on the web. People stumble across it and think it’s the greatest thing since sliced cheese. There are FVists in our NAPARC churches who have, since 2007, taken a lower profile but who continue to teach the FV. Those folk need to face church discipline.
There are links to the left to a book and a booklet that directly explain these issues and why they are a problem and what can be done about it, Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry and Baptism, Election, and the Covenant of Grace. Both are available from the Bookstore at WSC.