You can find the text of the letter here. More coverage here. The letter was signed by 27 PCA teaching and ruling elders, including Joey Pipa, Jeffrey Hutchinson, Nick Willborn, Bob Mattes, Wes White, and Lane Keister.
You can find the text of the letter here. More coverage here. The letter was signed by 27 PCA teaching and ruling elders, including Joey Pipa, Jeffrey Hutchinson, Nick Willborn, Bob Mattes, Wes White, and Lane Keister.
how ugly and wrong.
Can you clarify your comment?
This is wonderful. Thank you for posting this. Now all we need is WSC to send alumni to Missouri Presbytery who can get the ball rolling on prosecuting Meyers. Praise God in sending out WSC alums to rid the church of this heresy.
“Coordinated strikes against the church require coordinated strikes in return.”
AMEN brother! I’ve tried to encourage seminary students who are anti-FV to consider calls in presbyteries like Missouri, PNW, Siouxlands, South Texas, and Metro for the main purpose of rooting out FV heretics and bringing them to the courts. If the FV can be unified, then we can too!
Dr. Clark, it seems your post has attracted some unseemly allies.
Your brother in Christ, Jeff Meyers, has had no charges brought against him, is a TE in good standing in Missouri Presbytery, and is one of the most humble servants of Christ I have had the privilege to know, yet according to the Amen Section, here, he is a “heretic” who deserves not Christ-like, but Putinesque treatment.
I’m not looking for allies. I’m reporting what happened. People are commenting. I wouldn’t speak the way some of have but I understand their frustration. They see their denomination being torn apart by false doctrine and they’ve waited a long time for someone to do something about it.
What is at issue here is not Rev Myers’ piety but rather his doctrine. Pelagius was pious. Arminius was said to be pious in his personal conduct. If Rev Myers is found to have been corrupting the faith as alleged in this letter then, in a very important sense, he cannot be said to have been godly, can he? That remains to be proved in the courts of the church but personal conduct, while necessary, is not a sufficient condition for a minister of the gospel.
The reality is the the Rev Mr Myers publicly identified himself with and aligned himself with a movement that is contrary to the confession of the church and contrary to the express teaching of the church on these disputed questions. That deserves some investigation.
There were three clauses in my sentence, only the last of which had anything to do with Pastor Meyers’ piety. The previous two had to do with his standing in his presbytery, which is the rightful judge of his doctrine. And they have brought no charges against him.
Yes, Jason, I understand. The point of this letter is to ask his presbytery to investigate his views. That a presbytery has failed hitherto do anything means little. We’ve already seen how presbyteries (PCA PNW and PCA Siouxlands) are capable of error and correction by the SJC/GA.
I’ve edited C’s post and deleted another. I’ve deleted your recent post quoting C.
I don’t have time to police the comments. I’m trying to write.
The Pharisees were the considered the conservatives of their day (we all know what they did), you are in good company Mr. Clark.
Well, Rick, they also taught justification through cooperation with grace, which I deny but the FV affirms, so where does that leave us? Are you identifying with the Sadducees? I assume you and I both affirm the resurrection, which makes us both Pharisees! Maybe your analysis doesn’t work here?
…if you think Meyers is one of the most humble servants of Christ you have had the privilege to know, then I hope that the scope of your privilege enlarges soon.
An interesting question was asked on Jason Stellman’s blog:
And an interesting answer was posited on Wes White’s blog:
Jason Stellman has some interesting questions about why Missouri Presbytery hasn’t done anything yet: http://www.creedcodecult.com/2010/03/concerning-concern.html. Also, Wes White posted a reply to Jason about how some Covenant Seminary professors have been teaching these things for a while: http://johannesweslianus.blogspot.com/2010/03/why-covenant-seminary-hasnt-done.html. I told Wes that Jack Collins and Michael Williams have both expressed sympathy to several FV persons.
Thanks for all your time on this,
Speaking of Rev. Jeffrey Meyers’ humility, I think his post recommending Rob Rayburn’s SJC Brief in reply to the SJC panel report, is a good indicator of the extent of his humility. This “humble” man graphically characterizes the SJC panel, and also, presumably, the complainants who appealed the PNWP decision to the SJC, as men who are on a witchhunt. “Burn Witch Burn.”
Funny thing – soon after this comment, the graphic of “Burn Witch Burn” disappeared from his blog.
Sorry. I realized after I posted that you had already figured it out!
The copy on the “Burn Witch Burn” poster asks, “Do the undead demons of hell still arise to terrorize the world?”
I see Meyers has now removed the “Burn Witch Burn” graphic from his blog. Not long after he wrote that post in January I wrote a comment on his blog taking him to task for his belligerence. He simply deleted my comment.
The request for an investigation of Pastor Meyers involves serious charges. We should therefore diligently pray for the peace and purity of the Church including that both Pastor Meyers and those bringing the accusations would be open to correction in accordance with the word of God.
This leads me to two suggestions:
First, the first quotation of Pastor Meyers used to support the accusation that he denies the bi-covenantal structure of the standards (1a) is from a nearly seven year old blog comment. Hopefully Pastor Meyers has retracted this view as that notion that covenant and contract are mutually exclusive terms has been repeatedly refuted since then. Yet, we should be reticent (to say the least) about putting too much weight on a 7 year old blog comment until Pastor Meyers is given an opportunity to respond.
Second, while I’m sure that the men sending this letter did not do so without serious prior consideration, I do wish we would be more careful in how we word such complaints to make sure that we are not saying more than we should. For example:
(1b). The letter confuses the teaching of WCF 7.1. The fact that God uses a covenant as a means to express His condescension toward man does not mean that all covenants involve condescension. I, like a significant portion of Reformed theologians, believe in a Covenant of Redemption – which being inter-Trinitarian does not involve any condescension. It is therefore wrong to say that condescension is intrinsic to the definition of covenant (note also that covenants are made between man and man in the Bible). In theory, it could be possible for both “the triune God (to be) the archetype of all covenantal relations” and WCF 7:1 to both be true. I do believe that Meyers (following Ralph Smith) is entirely wrong regarding “the triune God being the archetype of all covenantal relations”; but my objection is exegetical and theological and not based upon WCF 7.1
(1e.) The letter states that WCF 7.2-3 teaches “the covenant of grace is a second covenant with an entirely new structure”. Actually, WCF 7.2-3 clearly teaches bi-covenantalism without saying anything about the structure of either covenant. It could very well be argued that the structure for both the covenant of works and the covenant of grace is 1. Provision 2. Stipulations 3. Consequences. What makes the two covenants so radically different isn’t their structure but the nature of the provision and stipulations. The CoW required perfect and personal obedience (stipulation) and made no provision for the forgiveness of sins. By fulfilling the CoW in our place, Christ creates the provision for the Covenant of Grace (His perfect righteousness and the forgiveness of sins) which are received by faith alone (the stipulation).
Yes, the investigation of TE Meyers does involve serious charges, but we either take our calling and the work of the church seriously or we find some other field or service. Those who filed the charges with MO Presbytery are solid men, who have no agenda. They represent different Presbyteries and congregations, so this is something that was coming to a head.
As of 2006 the ‘humble’ Meyers had not retracted any of this. In his review of G.P. Waters book on the Federal Vision he boldly wrote, “To the consernation of strict confessional Presbyterians,Waters included,the reason so much of this resonating with people is because the sixteenth and seventh-century confessions and catechisms are no longer sufficient guides for the modern church…If we want to be an enclave of ecclesiastical romantics living in the 17th century,a tribe of irrelevant theologues, then by all means let’s continue to multiply conferences and books on the glory of Westminster. Let’s continue to demand subscription to every jot and tittle of our precious unreformable tradtion. Let’s attack anyone who suggest updates and changes. If, however,we desire to minster to people in our world,we need to stand on the shoulders of our glorious forefathers in the faith and do what they did-preach,write, and formulate answers from the Bible for people of our generation!…I do not believe that I am required to believe and confess all the details in the confessions andcatechism. Nor am I bound to their form. The chapter on the covenant, for example, is filled with problems. So much progress has been made in the last century on the biblical theology of the covenants. There are still things to be learned from the Bible, which necssitates updatingand correcting our our theological formations. The form of the Shorter and Larger Catechisms(definitions,definitions,definitions,ad nauseam) has lead to much warfare that it seems to be endemic to Presbyterianism and is pedagogically questionable for little children. I know that statement is controversial, but as good as one might think the Catechisms are, they are cultural artifacts of the 17th century scholastism.” I cited this in my chapter, ” Warfield and C.A. Briggs: Their Polemics and Legacy” in the book I edited ‘B.B. Warfield:Essays on His Life and Thought’ (P&R 2007) The foreword, by the way was by Covenant seminary professor of Church History, David B. Calhoun.
It begins on p.223. Endnote no.81.
Thanks for the reference.
The line, “The chapter on the covenant, for example, is filled with problems”, would perhaps have been a better refernce for the letter requesting an investigation than to quote from a 7 year old blog post.
BTW – I do think that the old blog post was sufficient to ask for an investigation (which is not the same thing as bringing charges); it just surprises me a bit that they didn’t send a letter to Pastor Meyers asking for clarification and use that as the basis for requesting an investigation at this point (Of course, I have no idea what level of contact the men signing this letter had with Pastor Meyers behind the scenes).
If a minister makes a public statement of error and says the same repeatedly (he signed the FV Joint Statement) then why isn’t the onus on him to correct the error?
As a matter of principle the courts of the church have to operate like courts and not like good-old-boys networks. This was my great problem with the way the OP GA handled the Kinnaird case. Had he been judged on what he said and wrote, he would have been convicted. But they didn’t judge him on that basis. They judged him on the basis of what he said. In so doing, the court failed to do its duty to protect the church by issuing a clear witness against his errors. The good news is that it led to the study committee but judicially it would have been much better for his errors to have been condemned by the OPC rather than to have a study committee (which produced an excellent report) whose report has no real judicial teeth.
If a minister doesn’t want to find himself answering for public doctrinal errors he shouldn’t contradict the standards of his church or he should get out and go somewhere more sympathetic to his views (the St Louis airport used to be a nice one. A plane to Boise and a rental to Moscow should work).
It is reasonable for the letter writers to believe that his views have not changed since he has reiterated his support for the FV at regular intervals. Further, no judicial process has actually begun. I guess he has a computer. I guess he has a pulpit. I guess he has opportunities to retract his errors at will.
I agree, the onus is on Pastor Meyers to retract his erroneous views. That is why I wrote: “Hopefully Pastor Meyers has retracted this view as that notion that covenant and contract are mutually exclusive terms has been repeatedly refuted since then.” Notice the past tense “Hopefully Pastor Meyers has retracted …”
It just strikes me as a bit odd to base an accusation on a 7 year old blog comment (or whatever they do on the “Wright said list”). As far as I can see, there are only two ways to have confidence that Pastor Meyers hadn’t subsequently retracted his erroneous teaching: (1) To have read or listened extensively to Pastor Meyers’ teaching. But if this were done, it would make more sense to me to have quoted from these other writings (as Gary Johnson has done) rather than 7 year old comment on a list-serve; or (2) Directly contact Pastor Meyers and ask for him to clarify his views. I recommended this course only because it is simpler than the first. I probably would only have done the first if there seemed to be a genuine gap between the clarification and his other published comments.
I hope that my sensitivity to procedural issues simply flows out of a desire to follow the golden rule. If I am oversensitive at this point, I suspect that this flows from seeing how difficult it can be to restore someone’s reputation for orthodoxy in practice – even after he has been cleared of accusations.
I don’t want to run too far down this rabbit trail. I’m sure that we can all agree that the substance of the issues that the PCA TE’s are raising concerning Pastor Meyers’ teaching are the important point.
Church courts cannot operate on the basis of “hopefully pastor so-and-so has retracted his public statement.”
Either he has or he hasn’t. If he has, it would be equally public. There is no public retraction, ergo it is reasonable for the letter writers to believe that he continues to hold what he said because, in fact, so long as the statement remains, he is still saying it.
You seem to be asking the letter writers to operate on the basis of wishes and I am encouraging them to act on the basis of facts.
Do you see the difference? It would be one thing were there only rumors but we’re not dealing with rumors. We’re not dealing with private statements. We’re dealing with public statements by office holders.
I fully agree: “Church courts cannot operate on the basis of “hopefully pastor so-and-so has retracted his public statement.” But we are not talking about Church courts – I was specifically addressing what happens before a matter is brought to a Church court (i.e. what was done prior to the TE’s sending their letter).
What is the downside to directly contacting a fellow pastor about his errors first – prior to asking his Presbytery to investigate him? As you note, Pastor Meyers has e-mail. We are not talking about having to ride a horse half way across the country to talk with him.
If someone hears something they think is wrong in one of my sermons or in some comment that I have made somewhere … I really do hope that they would bring it to my attention first rather than sending a letter to my Presbytery. Jeff Huchinson has already noted on your blog that he had done this.
In defense of the men who wrote the letter asking for an investigation, it is important to realize that Pastor Meyers has done far more than make a passing comment on some listserve. He has spoken at FV related conferences and signed the joint FV statement. I just find it a bit odd, therefore, to make a request for a formal investigation based in part on a seven year old list-serve comment.
So I return to my question (and this is prior to asking the Church courts to get invovled): What is the downside to directly contacting a man for clarification of his views prior to asking for his Presbytery to investigate him?
There’s nothing wrong with contacting him but I resist the implication that it’s a moral duty when dealing with public error.
Does his signature on the FV statement count for nothing?
Jeff”s comment about wanting to rewrite the WCOF because the Puritans who laboured long and prayerfully were not as knowledgeable as he, was a recent statement and has not been retracted. If he does not believe such an outlandish thing as wanting to rewrite the WCOF then he needs to state that. The reason why many have asked for an investigation is because of statements he has made that are unconfessional.
It should be noted that perfectly orthodox men in NAPARC denominations have also called for writing a new confession. While I don’t share enthusiasm for this project – in part because I fear we would write a worse one – the desire to rewrite the WCOF is not the root issue. After all, we are disciples of Jesus and not disciples of the Puritans.
The root issue is what Paster Meyers wants to change and why. For example, to express my personal judgment, I am willing to fight vigorously to ensure that any new Confession maintains the understanding of the Covenant of Works and Covenant of Grace found within the current Confession and Catechisms.
Thanks, David. I always appreciate both your tone and the substance of your comments. Speaking for myself, I have corresponded directly with Jeff Meyers about these things over the years (dating as far back as that 7 year old blog post) and felt that it was appropriate to now ask his Presbytery to conduct the appropriate investigation.
This may be a bit off topic, but on one occasion I asked my own Presbytery to investigate “reports affecting my Christian character” (our BCO 31-2), and was very thankful for that provision of our Book of Church Order which either leads to a formal trial OR complete exoneration (assuming that exoneration was upheld by the General Assembly, which in my case it was). I really and genuinely (though I’m not naive enough to believe that everyone will believe me) have been seeking to apply the golden rule to the FV men in the PCA, i.e. seeking to treat them the way I myself would like to be and have been treated in God’s kindness.
(Providing a link on a comment thread on a blog to a comment thread on another blog from three years ago as one example among many seems to me to be another demonstration of the truth of Ecclesiastes 1:7, but on the other hand there might be something mildly helpful by so doing, so here goes: http://www.barlowfarms.com/index/cm_id/1867749)
Interesting Jeff, the post in question waas pulled today. Might you summarize for those of us who missed it, and aren’t sure of the point you are making?
Whatever you think is appropriate.
Too bad it got pulled, because it was a great thread that made me look 100% pure and upright and wise in every respect and made the FV men look like the vile, heinous, spawns-of-Satan that every pure person knows them to be.
That was a lame attempt at a joke, by the way.
I’ve got a copy of the thread and could email it to you if you’ve got nothing better to do. It was simply one example (of many) of the sorts of interactions some of us have had with Jeff Meyers over the years, and the sorts of invitations made for him to correspond further (and offline). Further, a lot of the exact points David Booth has been speaking to on this thread were on that thread as well. I thought that he, in particular, would find it encouraging if he were able to give it a read.
Nah, would only encourage fleshly curiosity. I’ve no real biblical need. Thanks though.
Pastor Meyers provides an initial response to the Letter of Concern:
what a beautiful response by Jeff Myers. His view of COW is spot on. But more importantly, what a great display of respect and care given by this pastor. His presbytery and the PCA should be thankful to have such a servant counted amongst us.
I have had the opportunity to visit Jeff’s church and to have a breakfast with Jeff to discuss his views re: federal vision (although it has been a few years now). Jeff’s comments to me have been completely consistent with his March 31 letter. He strongly affirms the standards, but has openly admitted two exceptions to the standards (1. he does not see that Christ’s active obedience has been credited to us, positively, although He believes that Christ was 100% obedient in order to be the sinless sacrifice, and 2. he affirms paedocommunion). The MO Presbytery knows of his two exceptions and considers him within the bounds of the standards.
I was glad to hear this from Jeff, and I believe him. What I told Jeff at breakfast that I still found troubling, however, was that he openly advanced FV principles by hiring openly FV men like Mark Horne (when I visited Jeff’s church, Mark was listed on the bulletin as “Assistant Pastor”– called not by the congregation, but hired by the session– presumably with Jeff’s consent– to help Jeff).
So… I do not think that the investigation will go very far, since Jeff has been open about his own views and his vows. HOWEVER (Mr. Cho), it is curious that Jeff has promoted and aided FV men in their teaching FV doctrine. If there is such a thing as “guilt by association,” that would be an easy case to prove (unless Jeff has changed his mind on things from three years ago– a distinct possibility).
I think, therefore, that Jeff will be exonerated by MO Presbytery. HOWEVER, just because Jeff does not publicly teach FV doctrine does not mean that he is not advancing FV principles. I told Jeff that he should just be honest about his convictions and join the CRE (unless his goal is to encourage as many PCA men to sympathize with FV as he can– which is NOT admirable, Mr. Cho).
Two questions: 1) What was his response to leaving the PCA and joining the CREC? 2) Wouldn’t denying the active obedience of Christ cause serious changes to one’s view of justification and sanctification, making one’s justification be more of a ‘final justification’ that you would see in Roman Catholic theology? If true, then wouldn’t one’s justification not be based on faith alone (although like Roman Catholics you could say ‘faith alone’ where faith = faith/works), but based largely on one’s own works/merit? Would this not then be something that is striking at the vitals of the Gospel, Scripture, and our Standards? If so, why would MO Presbytery approve such exceptions?
It is unfair (i.e. wrong) for you to accuse Pastor Meyers of being dishonest with respect to his convictions.
If I claim to oppose women’s ordination, but then hire an outspoken advocate for women’s ordination to be my pastoral assistant, what would you think?
Better yet, what if you said:
“I was glad to hear this from Jeff, and I believe him.”
And then said, “I told Jeff that he should just be honest about his convictions.”
Which of these two statements should I think you didn’t mean?
To give a more direct question to your question, what you are suggesting goes on all the time (with some difficulties) in the EPC. It also occurs in the PCA over the issue of women deacons.
To give a more dramatic example, Regent College used to have a debate in front of the students every year over women’s ordination. For several years the man who argued against the ordination of women was Bruce Waltke. Yet, Bruce Waltke attended a church with a woman pastor. That may seem odd to many people, but I don’t think there is any reason to doubt Professor Waltke’s integrity in this matter.
There is no reason to doubt Pastor Meyers’ honesty either.
I saw that as well and understood “convictions” as synonymous with “principles” in the preceding sentence, and both struck me as a sub-current running in Meyers’ theology, beneath his outward profession of faith. Todd identified this dichotomy when he noted Meyers’ practice of advancing FV principles is difficult to reconcile with his affirmation of the standards. To paraphrase John Bolton’s observation vis-à-vis President Obama’s policy toward Iran, I suspect that soon enough we’ll see whether Meyers’ ability to hold two contradictory thoughts simultaneously is evidence of mental agility or of an excessively tenuous acquaintance with reality.
The example of Regent and women in office isn’t necessarily a good parallel to the Federal Vision issue since most people regard women’s ordination as an error rather than damnable heresy — unless the intent of the parallel is merely to show that there is a difference between personal beliefs and firm convictions.
When people take actions which appear to deny their professed principles, or which call their principles into doubt, they raise legitimate questions that need to be answered. One can tell a great deal about a Christian leader’s integrity by whether he’s willing to answer those questions, and how he answers them.
How Jeffrey Meyers handles this letter will say a great deal about him.
But rather than citing other people, in the interests of full disclosure I’ll use myself as an example when my own beliefs were called into legitimate question.
Anyone who knows me knows I am an opponent of the ordination of women. I spent a decade fighting that issue in the Christian Reformed Church as a reporter for Christian Renewal, for all of that time personally being a member of a denomination (the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference) which tolerates women’s ordination and has a few women pastors even though nearly all of the churches would not call a women minister and most of the pastors oppose women’s ordination. It’s also public knowledge that I pastored two congregations with women on the local church board (not elders), and it’s public knowledge that the publisher of Christian Renewal also owns Paideia Press, which republished a book by one of the women ministers in the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference which had nothing to do with women’s ordination but was rather on John Newton’s conversion from being a slave trader to becoming the author of Amazing Grace.
I would be very unhappy if people accused me of being a covert supporter of women’s ordination while claiming to oppose it. That accusation would be false. I never tried to hide my beliefs or the fact that I serving a local church with (unordained) women on its church board for almost half of the time I was working at Christian Renewal.
However, my conduct did raise legitimate questions about just how much I really was opposed to women’s ordination.
To answer those questions, I clearly stated multiple times and in print:
1. that I am open to women deacons and think a biblical and historical case can be made for women deacons as long as they have no ruling authority in the church,
2. that I don’t think women in office is the worst thing in the world and is an error rather than a heresy,
3. that I disagree with but can tolerate views of women’s ordination that do not proceed from a denial of inerrancy,
4. that I am therefore willing to work with evangelical female ministers in other denominations just like I will worth with Lutherans, Pentecostals, and other non-Reformed people if they’re evangelical, but will not work with liberal ministers whether they’re male or female, and
5. that under Congregational polity, I can tolerate things going on in other churches that I cannot and would not tolerate in my own church, and could not tolerate in my own denomination if I beleived in Presbyterian polity.
The end result was that I got asked hard questions, fully agreed those questions were legitimate, gave a full and complete anwer to the questions, and I pretty much satisfied everyone who didn’t believe women in office is heretical. People who do believe women’s ordination is heretical wickedness cannot and did not believe my views were acceptable, and generally were happy that I was not a member of the United Reformed Churches since some of them believed they would have had to bring charges against me if I joined their denomination.
Jeff Meyers has been asked legitimate questions. He’s responded to those questions. Whether that response will be considered adequate is something we’ll see over the next few months and years.
We’ll be able to tell a great deal about him by how he handles this request to publicly explain himself.
You claim Meyers take on the CoW is “spot on’. What makes it so? I cited Meyer’s own words on this-if he had his way he would revamp the Standards on the Cow and end up in the process of gutting them like a fish. This is no minor issue-it affects the structure and framework of the WCF. It is interesting to note that Norman Shepherd no longer thinks the WFC should be used as a confessional guide Reformed and Presbyterian churches ( he mistakenly thinks The Three Forms Of Unity are more in harmony with his own views). So we let the FV guys form a committee for revising the WCF ? What do you think that would look like?
The Letter of Concern states:
TE Meyers believes “the triune God is the archetype of all covenantal relations” (Joint Federal Vision Profession [JFVP], 2). This is contrary to the Standards which state that the covenant is a way by which God voluntarily condescends to man so that man can have God as His blessedness (WCF 7.1).
I don’t follow this. Would you have time to elaborate, Dr. Clark? I would have thought from you discussion of archetypal vs. ectypal theology in RRC that saying God is the archetype of something wouldn’t be denying voluntary condescension (ectypal), but recognizing an important distinction. Am I confused?
Yes, he’s not using the word “archetype” in the strict, technical sense but one of the idiosyncratic features of the FV covenant theology is its movement toward some sort of doctrine of “participation” in the deity.
They don’t understand the intended sense of “voluntary condescension.” They’ve turned it into grace. One effect of using this language was to avoid making the covenant of works into a covenant of grace. It was a way of emphasizing the divine freedom. They could have said that God graciously made a covenant of works but they didn’t do that. They certainly didn’t say that God made a gracious covenant of works.