Heidelcast 25: With Lane Keister On The Federal Vision In The PCA

Here’s a flashback to the Federal Vision controversy, in the PCA, as it was 2010. The is the first of five episodes with Lane on the FV and related questions. It’s interesting to time travel, as it were, and listen to the way things seemed in the PCA just three years ago. Mercy! How things have changed. In March, 2010, not quite three years after the PCA GA had strongly rejected the FV theology, the Standing Judicial Commission of GA sided with the minority in the Pacific Northwest Presbytery ruling that the presbytery “erred in not finding a ‘strong presumption of guilt’ that the views taught by Peter Leithart are out of accord with the Westminster Confession of Faith.” Now, Leithart’s prosecutor has left the PCA and the Protestant faith for Rome and the SJC has ruled in Leithart’s favor. At the moment, anyway, it appears (there are overtures coming to GA this year to address the SJC decision) that those in the PCA who favor tolerating the FV theology and practice have reversed the momentum against the FV. The voices of the 2007 GA—does anyone remember R. C. Sproul standing to address the assembly in defense of the gospel?— seem distant now.

There are reasons elsewhere to be discouraged. Wes Bredenhof, a minister in the Canadian Reformed Churches, reports:

URC brothers who are paying attention will undoubtedly read some of this with concern. Three local churches wrote letters to our synod stating that “some points of Federal Vision can find sympathy in the Canadian Reformed Churches.” One church wondered whether the URCNA “has a clear picture of the Federal Vision movement.” Though for the sake of honesty and transparency it’s necessary that these sentiments be expressed, I deeply regret that they live in our federation. At least now the URCNA will have a clear justification for their concerns about pursuing full federative unity with us. There are now official CanRC documents stating that there is sympathy for “some points of FV” in our churches.

This was a bit of surprise. Last Autumn a few of us from the URCs met informally with an ecumenical delegate from the CanRCs, who stoutly insisted that, despite questions from the URC side of the table, there is no sympathy for the FV in the CanRCs. We were told that the FV was solely a URC matter but apparently that’s not so. Wes is probably right. It seems hard to imagine that ecumenical relations can improve so long as the FV theology

The news is brighter elsewhere. The URCs still seem resolute against the FV. The rest of the NAPARC world does not seem to be weakening in its resolve.

Here’s the episode:

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  1. Here’s the line I’m getting in PCA circles in the Northwest: Leithart’s presbytery isn’t pro-FV, they just found the prosecution’s case insufficient to prove that Dr. Leithart’s teachings contradicted the PCA’s confessional standards. It’s similar to the SJC ruling: they’re not commenting on Leithart’s theology (in fact, he ought to be careful how he expresses himself!), just the failure of the prosecution to make the case. See http://theaquilareport.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/SJC2012-05ProposedSJCDecision.pdf

    I for one think you’re not only defined by what you’re for, but also what you’re willing to tolerate.

  2. I am happy to report that RCUS still will not tolerate the FV nor any of its ilk, which is why I left the PCA for the RCUS in the first place.

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