When Pastors Do Not Pay Attention

Remarkably, after a decade of controversy over the self-described Federal Vision movement, there are pastors and teachers who do not seem to understand it. One can see why one might have been confused in the early days of the discussion but now, after the URCs, the OPC, the RCUS, and multiple confessional seminaries have opposed it, and several books, booklets, and many articles have been published, it is a little harder to see how pastors do not yet understand the basic problem of the FV: unless they are not paying attention.

I want to address the broader issue of how pastors should spend their time and set their priorities. Pastors are pulled in many different directions at once. I was pastor of a small congregation. We had a staff of one. Some weeks I mowed the lawn. My predecessor mowed the lawn every Saturday. There are counseling crises, issues in consistory/session, sermon prep, catechism prep, Bible study prep, hospital visitations, house visitations and many other things that could give pastors grounds for passing over a difficult theological issue.

The Federal Vision theology is not just another problem. This one is different because it goes right to heart of the gospel. It is a Galatians 2 issue. It is also about what your vocation is. If a minister does not understand the gospel and a fundamental threat to the gospel, he is not fulfilling his vocation at its core, in its most essential way. Above all else, if the minister fails to do anything else he cannot fail to preach the gospel and to defend the same (and his congregation) from corruption. If you are a pastor still wondering whether it is worth it to invest the time to understand the FV issue (maybe you are just coming into the ministry and they did not talk about this at seminary) the answer is yes. You must understand the issue.

What should you read? Well, the link above will get you started. Should you read the FV guys themselves? Ideally, yes but the difficulty is that they follow their master Norman Shepherd (a theologian who was dismissed from his post as a seminary prof because he was unclear about the gospel) in being vague, fuzzy, and ambiguous (and sometimes downright misleading). Sometimes they say true things (so did the Judaizers and so did the medieval church). Sometimes they identify real problems. It is the solutions they offer that create the crisis. It is difficult to get from them an unequivocal statement of exactly what it is they think and how they differ from the Reformed confessions and historic understandings. Usually that is because they do not seem to know how they differ from the confessional and historic view. Some of these fellows are bright, most of them seem to be industrious, but most of them seem to lack much grounding in the confessions and in the Reformed tradition. These fellows think they have a new idea and they are going to revolutionize Reformed theology.

Well, it is a revolution alright in the same way driving a car over a cliff is a revolution. It will rock your world and your congregation’s world but not in a good way. Unhealthy doubt, fear, and anxiety fueled by works righteousness will not do your congregation any good and that is what the FV is  selling. They want your congregation to be good. So do you. They think they can get your congregation to be good by putting them on the hook for their justification (whether in this life or in the next) by teaching them that all baptized people are at least temporarily united to Christ and have a temporary election, justification, adoption etc. that must be retained by grace and cooperation with grace. They teach that, if a baptized person perseveres (by doing his part) he will turn out to have been eternally elect. They do not seem to realize that this scheme was tried for more than 1000 years before the Reformation and that it did not produce the expected results: sanctity. See the reports from the Roman church herself at the turn of the 16th century when a council complained about corruption “in head and members.” The gospel mystery of sanctification, to borrow a phrase, is that God the Spirit uses the good news to sanctify his people. This is one reason Paul called preaching the gospel “foolishness.”

Yes pastor, you are busy but this is a problem about which you need to be informed. Fortunately, much of the work has been done for you. It will take some time but not as much as it seems. It is about the gospel: is justification freely given by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone or by grace and works or by grace and cooperation with grace? That is the question. If you believe what we confess then you know the answer. If you are not sure what you believe about acceptance with God then you need to ask your session/consistory for an immediate sabbatical because you’re not qualified to hold office. I mean that sincerely. If there are only two things a minister must know it is what the law says to sinners and what the gospel says to sinners and if you are confused about those two things and how they relate then you lack the most basic prerequisite to minister God’s Word. If a sabbatical is impossible then find some orthodox sermons to read to your congregation until you figure out the law, the gospel, and justification. I am not accusing you here. There may be reasons why you are at this place but whatever the reasons you need to do something about it today. Right now. It is that urgent. If you are confused about these things you’re as dangerous as a two-year old with a chainsaw. You are bound to do harm to yourself and to others.

If you get the basics but you are not sure about the FV movement take a few hours to work through some of the material linked above. Start with this essay, “For Those Just Tuning In: What Is The Federal Vision?”  If you want more go to the resource page linked above. I know you love the ministry. I know everyone wants a piece of your time but for the sake of your ministry and your congregation you need to get this right.

    Post authored by:

  • 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. Great post, Scott! But I wonder if, at this point, there really can be anyone still ignorant as to what the movement is. I suppose this could be the case, but I wonder if in fact many of these ministers generally know what is being said, and just have no problem with it. That would be the greater tragedy.

    • I can imagine several scenarios. If it wasn’t addressed at sem (let’s say one went to a broadly evangelical sem and then became Reformed) or one comes from another tradition (was a Baptist pastor and then became Reformed) or just wasn’t paying attention or knows he should have looked into it but hasn’t faced it directly, locally.

    • I was an observer at an ordination exam a couple of years ago. One of the examiners asked, “What is the Federal Vision?” The examinee answered, “It’s similar to the NPP.” And, that was his whole answer. The examiners ended up asking him to read more on the topic. He passed his ordination by the way.

    • Yes, Rev. Gordon, there **ARE** lots of Reformed people who do not understand the Federal Vision theology, or who are in a community with a strong Federal Vision church that is doing a lot of good things, are one of the better examples of a growing Reformed church in their area, and say, “Can these people really be that bad?”

      I was personally encouraged by members of a URC consistory to join a Federal Vision church. I don’t blame the consistory for being federal visionists; I think they viewed it as the best choice in a bad situation.

      I do not have a huge agenda against the Federal Vision. I know too many FV-ers who are in a FV church for many of the same reasons people join a strong and growing evangelical church of any type — **WRONG REASONS** to be sure, but not heretical reasons. I also know lots of people who join a Federal Vision church because of its support for Christian schooling or home schooling. That’s not my campaign, but I spent enough time in the Dutch Reformed world to understand why Christian schooling is so important to so many people.

      I think the vast majority of people in the Reformed world, especially if we want to consider the PCA part of the Reformed world (which I realize many do not), still have no idea what the Federal Visionists teach.

      • Again, I am thinking of Reformed pastors. You see, if the pastor is doing his job, the sheep will be warned and protected. It would be unthinkable that someone in the LURC, by now, would have absolutely no idea about what the Federal Vision is. Why? Because they have been told about it and warned against it. Maybe my ignorance here is due to a regional sort of thing, the Pacific Northwest appears to have been bit hard by the movement. But if there are that many ignorant people out there concerning FV teachings, could it not be that such ignorance is a direct result of pastors who in fact see nothing wrong with the theology of the FV and refuse to warn their sheep? We might be surprised.

        • Rev. Gordon, you’re in Lynden, Washington. That’s a little Dutch community which is full of Reformed people and is basically a miniature Grand Rapids. Up there, I can understand why with a high level of theological knowledge, the Federal Vision would be understood and attacked.

          Move into PCA circles, and you’ll find pastors who are struggling to even explain infant baptism and the Five Points of Calvinism to their members — and perhaps even to their elders. The Federal Vision is so far off the radar screen for most pastors I know, including Reformed pastors, that it might as well be on Pluto.

          And that’s not just in lukewarm kinda-sorta-Reformed PCA circles. When my local URC was about to close, we were advised to join the CREC or a Reformed Baptist congregation. We did neither, we stayed open, and not wanting to be in either of those two options was probably the main reason we’re still here. Personally, I was furious to see URC elders advising us to join a Federal Visionist or Reformed Baptist church, but if this church had closed, I’m not sure what choice we would have had, and I can understand that they thought it was better to be in a CREC church or a Reformed Baptist church than something that is not Reformed at all.

          Unfortunately, the largest and strongest Reformed church in the whole metro Springfield area as a CREC church, and it’s filled with ex-Presbyterians who didn’t want to attend a Reformed Baptist church. Apart from the small ex-URC I attend (formerly pastored by your predecessor in Lynden, BTW), a tiny Cumberland Presbyterian sub-congregation with about a dozen people, an EPC that just started, and several nondenominational semi-Reformed churches (perhaps three or four pointers, maybe not even that much of Calvinist) that are generally hostile to infant baptism, the CREC is basically the only Reformed option in this area, and for the average person visiting from a typical PCA, it looks like a much better option than anything else around.

          • Hi Darrel,

            Thanks for the interaction. Out of curiousity, when is the last time you have been to Lynden? Reformed? There is little left here that is “Reformed” according to the historical definition. It’s an uphill battle, like everywhere else–and in someways more difficult. What happens when you have 14 Reformed churches in one city all wanting identity and feeling pressure from American evangelicalism? You can only imagine.

            You said, “Move into PCA circles, and you’ll find pastors who are struggling to even explain infant baptism and the Five Points of Calvinism to their members — and perhaps even to their elders.” Sigh…you may be correct, and I must be really ignorant, but having a hard time with this one.

            We supported the Spingfield work, and I trust you were warned about FV teachings, correct? Those involved knew what it was. But you were told to join the CREC? I’m saddened to hear this. So do you really believe my concern is misstated, for instance, in your case, that those involved (Rev. Dejong) condemned the FV and instructed your church against its theology? I’m not trying to be difficult (and I do think highly of my predecessor) just observing that the problem of wilful neglect on the part of pastors to address the FV is greater than we are willing to admit. I still think the same problem is present in the PCA to a greater degree than we might expect.

            • Thank you for your own comments, Rev. Gordon.

              Regarding Lynden being Reformed: I was born and raised in Grand Rapids as an Italian and an outsider to the Dutch Reformed culture, so rest assured that I do know what it means to be in a city which is historically and ethnically Reformed but has departed from historic Reformed theology. On your blog, you call Lynden the most churched city in the world, and you may be right. One of my professors at Calvin College told me decades ago that the CRC can be explained by sociology but not by theology, and he was absolutely right. That likely applies to Lynden as well as Grand Rapids and other areas where the Dutch Reformed are or once were strong.

              You would find much of the same thing in post-Puritan New England, by the way. Many of the social externals of the Reformed faith (anti-liturgical worship, whitewashed meetinghouses, a strong work ethic, and close attention to thrift and frugality) were studiously maintained for a long time, well into the mid and even late 1800s, as part of New England culture while the underlying theology was destroyed. When Calvinistic theology collapses, the positive social effects it produces tend to stay around for a while since they have some value in and of themselves, entirely apart from the Reformed doctrines which gave them their birth.

              Now on to your question: Did the Springfield members get warned about Federal Vision? I don’t remember an explicit sermon on the Federal Vision issue, but I’m not saying one was not preached. It may very well have been, and quite frankly, there were much more important things to preach about. I rather strongly suspect that the underlying issues of the Federal Vision theology were preached without being explicitly named, and that’s fine.

              Regardless of how often the subject came up, it didn’t keep the supervising URC elders in another city from recommending that members join the local Federal Visionist church or a local Reformed Baptist church. I have major problems with that advice. So did the large majority of the Springfield members. That’s why the church refused to close and is now seeking admission to the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, a conservative Southern denomination which will probably be a lot better fit than the URC in Southern culture.

              I want to be very clear that I am not accusing ordained officebearers of being bad shepherds by failing to teach and preach against Federal Vision. In fact, such sermons and teaching may very well have happened. I do have a major problem with the supervising consistory recommending that we consider joining a Federal Vision church or a Reformed Baptist church, but again, what choice was there if the church closed? The only alternative was to keep the church open and seek a different denomination, and that’s what happened.

              Furthermore, the situation with the local Federal Vision church in Springfield is complicated. Personalities are involved, and sometimes they are far more important than theology. While I personally drive a very long distance to attend the Springfield church because I have no other Reformed option within a one-hour drive except a PCA which is not Reformed and a Southern Baptist church which has a Reformed pastor but which is not itself Reformed, I am painfully aware from my time attending PCA churches that many and perhaps most people, even those who call themselves Reformed, make decisions on what church to attend based mostly on factors that have very little to do with theology.

              One of the founders of the Springfield URC has a list of more than a hundred people who attended the church for half a year or more, and then left for a variety of reasons, nearly all of them bad. It has become clear over the last half-decade that many of the people who left the Springfield URC for Christ the King CREC (the local Federal Vision church) or the local Reformed Baptist church left for reasons that were due to URC distinctive practices that would not be issues in the OPC, conservative PCAs, or most other Reformed denominations which are not Dutch. Other people, rather than being driven out by URC distinctives, were attracted to the Federal Visionists, not by their theology but rather by their emphasis on Christian education and particularly on strong family life, and the local Reformed Baptist church is also a good model of a family-oriented church which has a lot to attract solid families.

              It’s pretty hard to effectively preach covenant theology when there are churches down the road which are doing a very good job of living in accord with covenant theology despite their official doctrines, and providing programs and fellowship for children and youth which a small church cannot possibly provide.

              Now back to Lynden not being Reformed — please be careful and count yourself blessed. There are a lot worse places out there.

              I know too well what goes on in the PCA. I think some of the worst of your local churches in Lynden might be better than what I’ve seen in the PCA — up to and including mostly female church councils, and (male) officebearers saying Calvinism is sort of like Islam because both oppose pictures of Christ. I’ve been in PCAs where I don’t think anyone in the church other than the pastor, me and my wife had ever heard of John Calvin. I argued long and hard against the Springfield church going into the PCA based on years of bad experiences in the PCA, and I didn’t do that because I don’t like grits. I happen to like many things about Southern culture, but the PCA is anything but a good example of a Reformed denomination reaching the South.

    • Thanks Darrel,

      I appreciate the background and history–very helpful.

      I want you to know, even though I mentioned challenges here, I do count myself blessed. Lynden is a wonderful place to live and there is a sense of community here like no other place I have ever witnessed. I wouldn’t trade where I am for anything–unless, of course, I was called by the Lord elsewhere. I have a very committed bunch here in Lynden who come every week to hear the gospel and fellowship. So..I actually deeply cherish my setting. Challenges in Lynden observed does not mean challenges in Lynden despised. I often tell the people in the LURC that I have the best call in the entire federation. Being raised CRC, I understand the culture, and love the challenge of calling people to see how wonderful their heritage is. A lot are seeing what they have, Praise Christ! Blessings, Chris

      • Amen, Rev. Gordon.

        It is no secret that I have major problems with much of the ethnocentric bigotry of the Dutch Reformed. I grew up in Grand Rapids, I am a Calvin graduate, and I know what I am talking about.

        Having said that, moving out of the Dutch Reformed world and seeing just how horrible things are in a lot of other so-called Reformed churches (I’m thinking mostly but not exclusively of the PCA) has given me a renewed appreciation for the Dutch Reformed emphasis on passing the faith from one generation to another. Yes, a church in which most people are related to each other and in which children are expected to remain in the same denomination for life generates insularity and often generates an inability to effectively evangelize. Yes, it creates many of the problems for the church that existed in Old Testament Israel (along with the benefits). Yes, it makes it difficult for outsiders to be accepted, and sometimes outsiders are marginalized or actively driven out.

        But when the do Dutch get things right, they **REALLY** get things right. The benefits of that should not be minimized — and I’m saying that as one who used to do that a lot.

        Seeing professedly Reformed churches here in the South with elders who have never read the Westminster Standards shocked me the first time I saw it because I was used to seeing even young children having the catechism memorized in the CRC. I used to get really upset when I saw elders like that. I finally realized that near-complete ignorance of the Reformed faith really isn’t that unusual and has to just be accepted if you’re going to be in a lot of PCAs, and often there is absolutely no other choice besides the PCA.

        I’m well aware of how the CRC is destroying its foundations, and even the remnants are probably gone in some churches, but I do not think it would be an exaggeration to say that the typical elders or even laypeople I knew in liberal CRC churches in the 1980s and 1990s knew more about Reformed doctrine than what I have seen with too many PCA elders who are evangelical but are not Reformed.

        Given the choice between a PCA elder who loves the Lord and believes in an inerrant Bible but doesn’t care whether kids are baptized and might not be able to name all of the Five Points of Calvinism, or a CRC elder who knows his catechism by heart and has learned to hate doctrine because he thinks it’s dead orthodoxy, is looking for something new, and had found “something new” that is not only non-Reformed but also opposed to historic evangelical orthodoxy, the choice seems obvious.

        Unfortunately, in large parts of the United States, even that choice isn’t present and a very bad PCA may be the the only option.

        In a situation like that, I think we need to recognize that not only the elders but also the pastor likely know absolutely nothing about the Federal Vision. The real danger is that if the local PCA is not Reformed, if the community is large enough, sooner or later someone is going to start a church which is aggressively Reformed. Often that means a Reformed Baptist pastor, and I personally don’t think that’s a bad thing. God can and does use Baptists when consistent Calvinists aren’t doing our jobs.

        However, in Springfield, it has meant a lot of people have ended up in a Federal Vision church who should be somewhere else. How much of that happened because laypeople weren’t being taught about the Federal Vision in their former PCA or OPC or other church in a different city? How much of it is because the local Federal Vision church is doing lots of things right despite its bad theology? How much of that is people who are already homeschooling and were never Reformed but joined the CREC because they liked its family emphasis? How much of it is because of other local Reformed churches, including mine, not doing our jobs? I don’t have the answers to those questions.

        I do know that it is simply not correct to say that most Reformed people understand the issues involved in Federal Vision. In my experience, not only do most Reformed people **NOT** understand the issues, most have never even heard of the Federal Visionists.

        • Darrell,
          Several weeks ago a young couple on vacation visited our church. Ours was the first reformed church they had attended and they have become interested (via the White Horse Inn, etc.) in finding a good reformed church. They live near Springfield and as we communicated subsequent to their visit, I tried in vain to find a reformed congregation near them. One thing I clearly did was steer them AWAY from Christ The King – the CREC church you refer to.
          I would be interested to know about the small congregation you are attending. Is there contact info? I’d like to be able to send them your direction.
          Thank you

          • I’m glad to help, Dan.

            The church’s website is here: http://www.gospelofgracechurch.com/

            The website includes directions; the church meets in the building of Mt. Carmel United Methodist Church on 1001 North National, which is one of Springfield’s major streets, and is within walking distance of both Drury University and Evangel University, as well as a few minutes drive from Missouri State University.

            If your visitors are readers of World Magazine, they already know one of our members, Janie Cheaney, who has been a writer for World for many years and has been attending this church for about half a decade.

            You mentioned that your visitors live “near Springfield,” which implies some distance away. We have numerous people who live up to an hour and a half away from Springfield, though most are within a 45-minute radius. If your visitors live to the east of Springfield, anywhere near Seymour or Marshall, two of our three elders live in that area and some occasional visitors live in that area as well, so there has been serious consideration given to church planting in that general vicinity at a future date. Contact information for that area may be helpful: Dr. Marshall Snodgrass, a local dentist in that community, can be reached at 417.767.4057. We have other people who live in communities in other directions around Springfield, so it may be possible for your visitors to have some local fellowship if they feel a bit uncomfortable with a longer drive than they may be used to doing.

            Our pastor-elect, who has been serving for a little more than a year, is a Mid-America Reformed Seminary graduate, Zech Schiebout. Contact info is on the web, but I’m repeating it here:

            Church Phone: 417-887-8944
            Pastor’s Home: 417-886-2129
            Pastor’s Email: Pastor@GospelofGraceChurch.com

            The Mississippi Valley Presbytery of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church expects to examine him for ordination in the near future pending reception of the church into the presbytery; I add this detail just to explain why I’m not using the term “Rev. Schiebout,” and to clarify that he’s not by any means brand-new to the church. While Zech could have been ordained in independency, pretty much everybody agreed that it would be better to wait until denominational affiliation issues were settled so there would never be a question of whether his ordination exam was sufficiently rigorous.

            “Small” may require definition. Attendance goes up and down like any church, but has averaged 30 to 50 on a typical Lord’s Day in recent months. That’s tiny for a URC congregation, but compared to the typical Southern Baptist church where I live, it’s about average in size, but obviously nowhere near the huge megachurches.

            Hope this helps!


            • Thank you, Darrell.
              I’m familiar with Zech Scheibout. He exhorted at our congregation once while he was still in seminary. The website is helpful in getting a feel for your vision & commitment. I’m glad the congregation didn’t end up folding.
              I’ll pass this information along.
              May the Lord bless you and and the others as He builds His church in Springfield.

            • Thanks, Dan… I alerted Pastor Schiebout and Dr. Snodgrass to your visitors’ inquiry at church yesterday, and passed on a link to this section of the Heidelblog so they can see it themselves.

              One more item may be helpful: For better or for worse, this church in Springfield is almost entirely composed of young families with children. That’s unusual in what I’ve seen of Reformed churches which tend to be skewed toward an older demographic. Personally I think it’s a nice problem to be in a church where nearly everyone is younger than me; I’m not used to that, and it may be a good thing since you mentioned that your visitors were a young couple.

  2. Yet another scenario is an ill-informed laity that thinks it knows enough about these issues to push them within a given congregation. This has been especially true with things like NPP thanks to the efforts of N.T. Wright, who was largely responsible for shifting the debate over NPP between theologians to one that laymen could understand.

    In many instances a pastor may feel threatened by certain strong-willed members of his congregation who want their specific agendas heard. An example would be a women’s group studying material from Beth Moore and advocating attendance at one of Moore’s workshops. If the pastor feels that his job might be on the line if he pushes back to hard on some of these things, he may tend to straddle the fence. This is not a good thing, but it happens.

    • Bishop Nicky Tommy, as he is affectionately known down here in the NASCAR Belt, has more than a few fanboys among Calvinistic Baptists (I didn’t call them Reformed!) They have developed a fondness for his notion of an eschatological justification, so no wet babies are required to become a neo-Galatian.

      • One of the leading proponents of a version of the FV is Don Garlington, who is a baptist. I guess it doesn’t matter when one starts the clock when the scheme is “in by grace, stay in through faith and works.”

        • Timmo, here.

          Two questions, Pastor Clark. 1) Do you think run-of-the-mill FVers say that staying in through faith and works is not gracious from beginning to end? Wouldn’t even them most hard-case FVer *thank* God for working in him both to will and do? 2) Don’t faith and works both play a necessary part in our sanctification, and can we be saved (in ordinary circumstances) without them?

          • Timmo,

            Well, you can read the FV boys for yourself. The point of a doctrine of justification by cooperation is that cooperation becomes essential. I’ve been told repeatedly FVists “there are two parts to every covenant” (which is true) and “you have to do your part” by cooperating with grace. Grace begins the process but the point of putting the sinner on the hook is to give them sufficient incentive to behave. They don’t believe or get the biblical and Reformed doctrine that God uses the gospel to create sanctity and a desire to be sanctified and therewith gives the grace to be sanctified. It makes no sense to them. That’s because, at root, they’re rationalists (which is why I categorize their movement under QIRC).

        • As long as we’re talking about Federal Visionists and Baptists, I just got my copy of the Baylor University Press catalog, noting the “recently published” book by Peter Leithart on “Deep Exegesis; the mystery of reading Scripture.”

          Before I get blamed for reading stuff from Baylor, remember that I’m in the South, Baylor is hugely influential in liberal Baptist circles, and several members of my own church have attended there. It’s sort of like reading stuff from CRC Publications — you just have to do it if you want to work in a Dutch Reformed environment, and try not to gag too often.

          I guess Leithart doesn’t have a problem with being published by a liberal Baptist publishing house, right along with titles such as “Robust Liberalism” by Timothy Beach-Verhey, “A Company of Women Preachers” by Curtis Freeman, and “Liberalism without Illusions” by Christopher Evans.

          I guess I now have another reason besides paedocommunion and problematic soteriology to object to the Federal Visionists — a key leader at New St. Andrews has decided to play footsie with liberal Baptists.

          I’m not unaware of the difficulties of the Christian publishing world, and I realize it’s very difficult to get things published in a day when the internet is progressively destroying the profit margins of traditional print publishers. Sometimes that makes for strange bedfellows in the publishing world.

          However, maybe I should be glad that Leithert had to be published by the Baptists since it might just possibly show that the Reformed and broadly evangelical publishing houses are showing more discernment than they sometimes do.

          • Actually, this makes some sense. Peter Leithart advocates what he calls deep exegesis which is really eisegesis, and so it is really not exegesis at all. Liberals, Baptist or otherwise, also avoid exegesis and its consequences at all costs up to and including outright denial of scripture. The end result is the same–the authority of scripture is defeated.

            Baylor deeply wants to be accepted and respected as a scholarly institution first and a denominational one secondarily, if at all. Academics and academic institutions have to be either liberal or edgy, or preferably both, to achieve that, it seems.

            Personally, I think “Peter Leithart” is Jack Handey’s nom de theologie and “Deep Exegesis” has about as much to do with exegesis as “The Baptized Body” has to do with baptism.

  3. Sadly, the ideas of the NPP are coming in among Baptists as well. I recently had a friend tell me about conversations he had with a Baptist youth pastor who had learned the NPP ideas at the school he attended. No, my friend, legalism can enter even without the pretense of infant baptism.

  4. I just listened to a podcast where T.David Gordon explained how our culture as a whole is so distracted the various forms of communication and as an additional side-effect the reading habits of the average adult American are probably on a third grade level. I’m wondering if this is a contributor to problems like this one where the discipline necessary to understand the issue, whatever it is has to do with this defect.

    I was in a bible study at work a couple of years ago and offered to have a couple sessions on FV and NOBODY in the group ever heard of it or the Paul controversy. They were not reformed, but I was still surprised. I’m also wondering if they took the time to really understand the confessions and catechisms if this would have ever been raised.

  5. Dr. Clark,

    When the under-shepherds refuse to protect the flock, what shall the flock do? From my perspective, there are no acceptable excuses for a pastor not knowing what is going on and/or for not confronting it, since this past-middle-age woman knows what’s what with the FV.

    One FV pastor I personally know, along with his Ruling Elders, took his church out of the PCA and joined the CREC. In their view, the Federal Vision maximalist hermeneutic practiced by James Jordan is the only way to develop a serious Biblical Theology. This church became FV (and proudly so) incrementally via theonomy.

    Another FV church of which I have personal knowledge and which is currently in the PCA, is pastored by a TE who denies (in my mind very unconvincingly) that he is FV, and the session of this church thinks that everything is just groovy with him and the trajectory of the church. He is very “evangelistic” and desires to expand the influence of his church through various means. The church has a distinctly Lutheran/Anglican/EO flavor that appeals to young intellectuals burned out by modern evangelicalism. However ironic, these young intellectuals are as emotionally driven by that form of worship as any revivalist. Go figure.

    • That’s what I’ve seen Eileen.

      As I keep saying, there’s an orthodox way to deal with the problems that the FV sees in evangelicalism.

      There is a certain rationalism in the FV, which is why I lump them in the QIRC. Rather than trusting in the foolishness of gospel preaching they short-circuit the divinely ordained process by trying to put people on the hook for their own (eventual justification.

      The same rationalism fuels theonomy. If only we could implement the Mosaic civil law….

      An over-realized eschatology is really just a form of rationalism and both the FV and theonomy have it in spades.


      • Dr. Clark,

        In the two cases I mentioned, you are absolutely correct, and QIRC is a big part of the problem. Another part of the problem is that the pastors in both cases are hardshell Constantinians which reflects the over-realized eschatology behind theonomy/FV, as you note.

        Peter Leithart, Ray Sutton, and James Jordan were among the Tylerites during the height of theonomy, and it seems that Tyler was the incubator of much of what we are seeing now. There also seem to be some connections to RTS Jackson during the 70’s and 80’s at about the same time that Norman Shepherd’s teaching was leavening Westminster Philly. I think that your theory that theonomy/FV arose from and in reaction to the turmoil and uncertainty of the late 60’s and 70’s is quite plausibly correct.

  6. Scott,

    I have a question: how would you differentiate the theology that William Perkins articulated (with his notions of temporary faith and such) from the Federal Vision guys? And then how would you relate the “Orthodox” view to the kind of theology that someone like Perkins or Ames forwarded?

    Do you see Perkins and /or Ames fitted better to the FV or to the “Orthodox” (i.e. your tradition)?

  7. Bobby,

    Its interesting that John Calvin expressed an idea of temporary Faith as well. You can find his discussion of temporary faith in the reprobate in the Institutes Book 2, Chapter 3, sections 11&12.


  8. Scott,

    Just so you don’t think that I can only find fault, this was excellent. I totally agree. If one can’t get the gospel right and understand the difference between the law and the gospel, then it’s a big problem. If ministers don’t care enough that many are advancing such an anti-gospel like the FV, I wonder what they DO care about?

  9. It’s not only pastors/teaching elders that are at fault here; ruling elders have responsibility for protecting the sheep from false doctrines as well. I think that most ruling elders know as little about the FV and the NPP as your typical laity, which is to say not very much at all.

    As I posted on my blog recently, it is the responsibility of every ecclesiastical body to educate their leaders, including ruling elders.

  10. From Canons of Dort, Rejection of Errors 7: PARAGRAPH 7
    Who teach: “That the faith of those who believe for a time does not differ from justifying and saving faith except only in duration.
    For Christ Himself, in Matthew 13:20, Luke 8:13, and in other places, evidently notes, besides this duration, a threefold difference between those who believe only for a time and true believers, when He declares that the former receive the seed in stony ground, but the latter in the good ground or heart; that the former are without root, but the latter have a firm root; that the former are without fruit, but that the latter bring forth their fruit in various measure, with constancy and steadfastness.”

    Further, temporary faith is constantly distinguished from justifying faith. That is, temporary faith does not unite us to Christ such that those who have it possess union with Christ that procures forgiveness of sins and new life. Instead, they remain under the wrath of God and dead in their trespasses and sins.

    What the Reformed Church recognizes is that certain people can assent to the truths of the Gospel for a time and even find some joy and light in them. These points are fairly standard in Reformed theology, as I’ve shown here:


    I’m sure that R. Scott Clark, William Ames, and William Perkins would agree with the Reformed tradition here and reject the idea that the reprobate can have a temporary faith that procures for them forgiveness of sins and new life in Christ.

    • Per Wes’s reply about temporary faith (especially in reference to Mat.13:20 and Luke 8:13) it seems that the main difference between this condition and saving faith is a matter of duration – or endurance, if one wants to use that term. Paul certainly does when he refers to running the race, fighting the good fight, etc., enduring to the end.

      Is it not also fair to say that one of the ways that one endures to the end is daily contrition and repentance? That is, death to self, as Luther saw it, perpetually acknowledged by the faithful who, staring at the Law, realizes his inability to keep any of it and therefore hangs his head, beats his chest, and cries, “Lord be merciful to me, a sinner.” It also seems that Luther continually stressed the daily remembrance of one’s baptism as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us in His covenant (Lutherans, of course, would say BR, but I’m not sure whether Luther himself ever referred to it that way).

      Finally, although we train to run the race and fight the fight, just as an athlete, through study of the scriptures and the confessions, it also seems that we can’t finish the race by ourselves, but require God’s help. Is not this help from God the means of grace brought about by the power of the HS? If this is true, how is it that we “cooperate” with the HS other than by receiving the means of grace through faith?

  11. Perkins’s formulations predate the Synod of Dort, but there is no doubt he would say that the faith of the reprobate differs qualitatively from that of the elect.

    But when the PCA condemned a “parallel soteriological system” my first thought was of Perkins who very literally has a parallel track for the churched reprobate who receives an “ineffectual call” and goes through the various steps of enlightenment, tasting of the heavenly gift, etc., on the way to their damnation.

    The “reformed tradition” in England is a much wilder west than the previous comment implies. The 39 articles were not really a confession, and only if you eliminate certain figures do you get to sketch a consensus on the temporary faith issue. If the issues clarified by Dort had been clear prior to Dort, there wouldn’t have needed to be a Dort. Same with England and Lambeth in 1595, but Lambeth wasn’t received well. Dort shut down some arguably live theological options in the low countries. And plenty of English churchmen had quibbles with points 5 and 6 of Lambeth. I think there is probably room to argue that the English delegates didn’t all agree with the rejection of errors, 7, para 7 above, but I would need to go back and look that up.

    • Jon,

      See my post. The PCA was exactly right. The FV have set up a parallel soteriological system. The key here is “soteriological.” For Perkins the reprobate have no saving faith and no saving benefit. The FV (and your comment) persist in ignoring the crucial distinction, which has now been available to them, in print and online, for years: the internal/external distinction. By ignoring the distinction that Calvin and the orthodox made, they (and your comment) completely distort the intent and effect of what they wrote.

      Yes, the elect and reprobate are parallel but they aren’t in parallel soteriological systems. The FV has it that one can actually have the saving benefits of Christ by baptism. That’s not what the Reformed said or say.

  12. Anyone who suggests that Perkins formulations parallel the FV simply have not spent time reading him. His Reformed Catholik is an entire polemic against the RC view of faith, and everything he condemns in the Roman view we find a correlate to the FV.

  13. Well, my comment says exactly what you say – that Perkins would have agreed with the PCA; I’ve ignored no distinction.

      • I wrote “but there is no doubt he would say that the faith of the reprobate differs qualitatively from that of the elect” which is the PCA’s position (and Dort’s) – i.e., not just duration of faith, but the kind of faith. That next paragraph was just an observation about what the “parallel” thing made me think of because of the structure of Perkins’s chart (following Beza’s chart). It was autobiographical, in other words, narrating what it made me think of. Obviously Perkins doesn’t mean that the non-elect are saved in a parallel way. But to discuss the fates of the elect and the non-elect is to have a “soteriological” discussion. I didn’t mean to imply that Perkins believed in the salvation (temporary or otherwise) of the non-elect. Anyway, sorry for any confusion I may have caused.

  14. “Per Wes’s reply about temporary faith (especially in reference to Mat.13:20 and Luke 8:13) it seems that the main difference between this condition and saving faith is a matter of duration – or endurance, if one wants to use that term. Paul certainly does when he refers to running the race, fighting the good fight, etc., enduring to the end.”

    It’s not just a matter of duration but of quality also. In other words, a faith that doesn’t endure is not true faith, which is to say, not justifying faith.

  15. “Is it not also fair to say that one of the ways that one endures to the end is daily contrition and repentance? That is, death to self, as Luther saw it, perpetually acknowledged by the faithful who, staring at the Law, realizes his inability to keep any of it and therefore hangs his head, beats his chest, and cries, “Lord be merciful to me, a sinner.” It also seems that Luther continually stressed the daily remembrance of one’s baptism as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us in His covenant (Lutherans, of course, would say BR, but I’m not sure whether Luther himself ever referred to it that way).”

    Daily contrition and repentance is solely the result of the work of the Holy through Word and Sacraments. They are “responses” to and “manifestations” of our justified state, and contribute nothing to justification. When Luther appealed to his Baptism, he was simply appealing to the Justifying God Who baptised him into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And yes, he held to baptismal regeneration or baptismal justification although it could well be argued that it is arguable that Luther taught BR without exception.

  16. “Finally, although we train to run the race and fight the fight, just as an athlete, through study of the scriptures and the confessions, it also seems that we can’t finish the race by ourselves, but require God’s help. Is not this help from God the means of grace brought about by the power of the HS? If this is true, how is it that we “cooperate” with the HS other than by receiving the means of grace through faith?”

    We don’t. We are passive. God alone is the operator. This is meaning of monergism: God alone is the author of our salvation, from start to finish … Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith. Coram mundo, in the sight of this world, we cooperate with God in fulfilling His will in the family, church and society.

  17. Okay, guys,

    What is this distinction being made between the FV and “Orthodox?” So the FV say according to what has been asserted here, that “temporary faith” is actually “effectual,” but then isn’t really effectual, but ineffectual, since they don’t “endure.” Is this really what FV is saying?

  18. Hey guys,

    Thank you for the lively and engaging discussion.

    Here are a few thoughts from PCA territory in the very deep South (Hattiesburg, Mississippi):

    There are four PCA churches in our metropolitan area of about 80,000. There’s also a large Southern Baptist Church in town whose Senior Pastor is a solid Calvinist of the “Young, Restless, and Reformed” breed. If there were no Reformed church in town, I would gladly embrace him as my pastor, in spite of the church’s “contemporary” worship. (Enough said about that.)

    I serve as a Ruling Elder on the Session of First Pres. Hattiesburg, the largest of the four PCA congregations in the area. Each year, we conduct a six to seven month Officer Training Class. (We have a rotation system of four-year terms, with a mandatory one year off between terms. Full strength on the Session is 16 Ruling Elders; the Diaconate averages around 20-25).

    Officer training is quite extensive. For the past four years, right in the middle of the training I’ve taught a rapid-fire, six-week survey of the Westminster Confession of Faith. I have one primary goal in this survey: To expose every officer at least one time to every statement of the Confession. The time allotted is entirely inadequate, of course. We don’t have a chance to prove the doctrines from the Scriptures, or even to quote the Bible often. Some of the most critical matters seem to fly by in a blur. Only occasionally do I refer to the Catechisms. I make application to contemporary attacks on the faith, such as the Federal Vision, as often as I can, but it’s still not extensive. But at least we can say that our officers know that the Reformed faith is not just TULIP + infant baptism + rule by elders. They understand something of the principle that Reformed = The Reformed Confession and Catechisms. At the most basic level, I emphasize that if you’re going to subscribe to the Westminster Standards, you’d better know exactly what’s in them.

    In my view, the real problem comes after ordination and installation of officers. We all get so wrapped up in the busy life of a growing church (approx. 400 regular Sunday morning attendance, 50-60 babies born in the past five years, extensive new building program), that we slip into a deadly pattern: We begin to ASSUME things. Basic Reformed doctrine? Everybody’s on board, we think. Federal Vision threat? That wouldn’t touch us, our pastors are strong (which they are), and we’re all pretty well grounded. We tend to fall into the comfortable zone of ecclesiastical inertia. (This problem is writ large in the PCA as whole, but that’s another story.)

    It’s very difficult to keep the Big Things continually before the officers and the people. It’s wearying sometimes to go over the same ground again, year after year. Yet our ministry be always be line upon line, precept upon precept. I’m constantly reminding my fellow officers, “You can’t say this too much. We may need to review this or that doctrine, press home this or that warning, for the hundredth time, before we and our people really get it.” I may be viewed as the “confessional curmudgeon,” but I don’t care. May God deliver us from the deadly “three B’s” of bodies, buildings, and budgets, and and may He lead us to keep the purity of the Gospel first in our hearts.

    So, to return to the topic at hand: We can’t fortify our churches against the FV by an occasional, surface reference. We must dig deep. and often. I have suggested, for example, that we cover Justification extensively in next year’s weekend Officers’ Retreat. My view is that this would be much more valuable than one more presentation on how to be “real men.” We’ll see how that works out.

  19. Just maybe it is possible that people are informed but just don’t see the problem that some say exists, but just keep their opinions about the FV to themselves because most don’t want to make any waves or be noticed.


    • Terry,

      So, the OPC, the PCA, the RCUS, the URCs (at three different synods for nearly a decade), the RPCNA, Mid-America Sem, Greenville Pres Sem, and Westminster Seminary California have all publicly rejected the FV erroneously?

      Have you done even the most basic reading about this?

      Have you ever talked to anyone suffering under FV preaching? I have. The spiritual effects of covenantal moralism are devastating. It produces either pharisaical arrogance (“Well, we’ve got the law in hand”) or ungodly fear, anxiety, depression of the sort Luther experienced before the Reformation. In a way, the latter is the correct response since folks in the FV are being put back “under the law” of accomplishment in order to be accepted with God. If one accepts that premise then one should be afraid, very afraid.

      • Mostly the fruit I’ve seen *very* personally has been quite akin to the Pharisees. “We’re the only ones doing serious theology” or “our form of covenant renewal worship is the only worship that is acceptable to God.”

        As you rightly say, this is scary stuff. A close family member in an FV church tells me I should be a covenant-keeper and that I will bring down the curses of the covenant if I don’t. If he’s right, then I’m toast, and you can stick a (pitch)fork in me–I’m done. The fact is, I break God’s law every hour of the day, but I’m thankful that I can rest in the One who never broke any covenant.

  20. “And yes, he held to baptismal regeneration or baptismal justification although it could well be argued that it is arguable that Luther taught BR without exception.”

    That is, theologically it is arguable that Luther might *not* have actually taught BR without exception.

  21. Dr. Clark wrote: “Are you holding me responsible for every comment? Do you realize that there are 18,000 comments here?”

    The short answer is no, definitely not.

    However, the short answer isn’t enough. You’ve raised a really, really important question.

    This is a broader issue than just gay marriage, and it goes to the heart of the nature of such issues as what academic freedom means in a Christian college, university or seminary, as well as what it means to be a Christian in the publishing world who takes biblical authority and confessional integrity seriously.

    First, let me say that I understand your problem. My business partner runs an internet forum, on which I am an administrator, which as of this morning has had more than 20,000 topics posted since 2007 (the last time the board software had a major update on a ten-year-old forum) and has had 231,212 individual messages since 2007. The hottest of those topics, our local sheriff’s column on crime, has 1,032 replies and 57,388 pageviews. A long-running discussion on our county prosecutor, which was a major factor in defeating her re-election bid last week in which she got barely 20 percent of the vote, has had 518 replies and 24,519 pageviews as of this morning.

    There are comments posted here on your blog, and also posted on my news articles, that obviously are in total disagreement with you or with me. Nobody in their right minds would blame you for **EVERY COMMENT** on here, and I personally commend you for putting up with some really, really obnoxious attacks.

    But that’s not the point.

    You (and I) should be asked for clarification of your views when somebody who generally agrees with you or me posts something that raises concerns. I get that problem all the time in the secular media when people post comments on one of my news articles and those comments create problems. I then have to make a decision of whether to ignore the comment, respond to it, or in extreme cases, delete it.

    Personally I almost never delete comments unless they are libelous or spam, but I would have a different policy with an explicitly Christian operation. So you know that I understand your problem, just two weeks ago, I had to deal with people posting comments on one of my articles — a doctor’s wife got on there, posted a comment urging Democrats to cross over to the Republican Party primary to defeat a certain Republican candidate because of who was paying for his campaign, and then the past president of our county’s ministerial alliance who also pastors the county’s largest charismatic church chimed in and said similar things. A number of police wives did the same thing, with the obvious support of their husbands, since the major donor is not known to be a supporter of law enforcement and the leading Republican candidate he was supporting would probably have cut the sheriff’s department budget. The end result is that even though I posted a response opposing crossover voting by Democrats, the Republican candidate from a well-known Republican family lost his primary race to a pro-law-enforcement challenger by 31 votes and I have several local Republican leaders furious with me for not more actively opposing crossover voting. I’m now getting blamed for or praised for being a factor in defeating not just one but two Republican candidates — in one case, I’ll accept the compliments because I editorially opposed and actively worked to defeat an incumbent county prosecutor I believe was incompetent and seriously harming the county, but in the other case, I’m being blamed or praised merely because I wasn’t aggressive enough in responding to comments on the internet!!!!

    As my example perhaps points out, we also need to deal with the radical changes that have been brought by the internet — today, virtually anybody can create a WordPress account and spout virtually anything out to the entire wired world. We no longer have the “blockers” of publishing houses and newspaper/magazine editors who decide what does and does not get printed. Furthermore, I don’t know if we can realistically handle comments on an internet blog the same way newspapers were held accountable for letters to the editor. Some say that just as we held editors accountable for letters to the editor, so you, as a blog owner, should be held accountable for every person commenting on your blog. I’m not sure I agree. The only way to enforce that is to have prior moderation of all comments, and once an internet forum gets beyond a certain size, that’s simply impossible because it would require dozens of staff doing nothing but policing the comments policy.

    There’s one answer to this which says that yes, as a seminary professor and ordained officebearer in a Reformed church, you **ARE** responsible under the form of subscription for everything you write or allow to be written on a publication you run, much like letters to the editor of a church-run newspaper. Remember all the attacks on the Banner from people who said a CRC-owned publication should not be allowed to print certain things? Some went further, and said that even if the Banner wasn’t church-owned, ordained officebearers should be held accountable for what they write or allow to be written in privately owned publications. Dr. Nelson Kloosterman of Mid-America Reformed Seminary wrote a number of years ago about how one should handle official and semi-official church publications, ranging all the way from stocking a church library and running the church bulletin to more substantial questions like seminary-run theological journals.

    It is no secret that I disagreed with his stance on that issue at the time. (Unfortunately I did so verbally, not in print, because back then I was trying to resolve the issues quietly and not get involved in a public fight.) I repeatedly pointed out that the relevant article of the original Church Order of Dort on prior review of theological books before publication was removed from the church order by both the Afscheiding and Doleantie traditions, and only the Netherlands Reformed Congregations/Gereformeerde Gemeenten still maintain it today — but even there it’s an unenforced article of the church order.

    After more than two decades working in both the Christian and the secular media, I’ve developed some fairly detailed views on how confessional Christians should handle these matters. Many of my views are based on the Puritan use of the printing press; the Puritans were forced to work out the question of how to cope with the Anglican censorship of books and then how to handle the machinery of the state once Cromwell won the war for Parliament.

    A bit later in our own American secular history, it is not an irrelevant point that the man whose anti-government newspaper in colonial New York City gave us the First Amendment was not an atheist or irreligious man, but rather an organist in the Dutch Reformed Church of New York City — Reformed Christians struggled with the question of how to handle confessional integrity in the printed page, and that debate transferred over quite directly to the role of the printing press during the American Revolution, using principles that had been established a bit more than a century earlier during the parliamentary war against an earlier English king.

    Our Reformed theological tradition actually has some really good answers to how to handle dissent in church and state without overthrowing all ecclesiastical and civil authority. Modern conservatives sometimes adopt the tactics of community organizing — Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” are just as bad when used by conservatives as when they’re used by liberals. English-speaking Reformed Christians have faced those questions at least two times — the days of the Puritans and the days of the American Revolution. I happen to think we would do well to go back to our history and see if writers in the 1600s and 1700s might have some good answers to the problems we face today with the role of internet publishing.

    • DTM,

      I doubt that any Reformed seminary prof in N. America has made his views more accessible on line than I have. If people are reasonable and gracious I generally let them speak their mind here. I don’t have time to censor 18,000 comments. This is an unpaid gig.

      No reasonable person could possibly think that every comment represents my views. If that were I would have deleted a couple of dozen of your comments! 🙂

      I could close down comments (as was the case on the first edition of the HB when it was hosted on Danny Hyde;s blog) but that doesn’t seem satisfactory. That I am a confessional, Reformed sem prof does not mean that all the comments here have to conform to that standard. They can’t contradict the holy catholic faith. They can’t deny the gospel and they can’t be unreasonable or immoral. I’m happy to ban people. I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I’ve thought about banning you until you do some serious, careful, unprejudiced reading on the two kingdoms and federal vision but I’ve not done it yet.

  22. Alright, Dr. Clark… I’ve been saying all along that you’ve got a valid point that if I’m going to do scholarly criticism of a scholar, I need to do the reading first. I’ve been saying for a long time that I remain uncertain whether ZRim and others represent an extreme version of 2K theology or whether what they’re writing is a logical conclusion of the 2Ker theologians themselves.

    What you don’t know is that I had to order a book today on Christian politics that I know in advance that I am not going to like, one written by the woman who just defeated an “establishment conservative” Republican state senator to win the Republican nomination to challenge the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee for his congressional seat.

    Given what’s going on in the United States right now and locally for us in Missouri, it is well within the realm of possibility that we’re going to be targeted by the national media as “ground zero” of a Christian conservative revolt against President Barack Obama that leads to expelling one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, despite the economic devastation that risks to the district and specifically my own county if Fort Leonard Wood gets on the federal target list for base realignment and closure. I’m also going to have to read Sarah Palin’s book, which I’ve been avoiding until recently but now have no choice but to read.

    If I’m going to be reading books like hers, I have no good reason not to be reading your books.

    I’ve done far more reading on the internet about 2K theology than I’ve let on in my discussions here, mostly because I know how difficult it is to evaluate someone’s doctrine based on snippets from a blog unless somone is an active reader and sees most if not all of what the blogger writes. I think I could probably come up with a printed-book list of reading material fairly quickly from what I’ve already read, but rather than do that and maybe miss things I should read, can you give me a list of what you consider to be the key resources I should be reading, both your books and others, to understand 2K theology?

    It’s no secret that I’d rather spend my time reading Dr. Marvin Olasky and World Magazine if I’m going to be reading much of anything theological written after the Puritans, but I have to read massive amounts of non-Reformed things in my work and you’ve got a fair point that a URC minister has a better claim on my time than Sarah Palin.

  23. RE: Frank Aderholdt, on August 15, 2010 at 5:20 am

    Frank: Some good insights, and good to hear of the training for prospective officers. But could part of the situation you lay out be lessened by dropping term-eldership, or perhaps making room to let elders stand for back-to-back terms with out the required year off?

    I was in Canadian Reformed church for many years, that federation is all term elders. Most of my knowledge of OPC churches has been life-time elders (not term-elders). What’s the norm in the PCA? Term elders or otherwise?

    Both approaches have pros and cons; but for myself, even when out of office I thought of myself as an elder in some sense. Ruling elders are under-shepherds too, ruling elders have (ought to have) pastoral hearts and responsibilities. Those things are not easily switched off & on based on term limits. Not for me anyway.

    Just a thought and question…

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