“To all whom this these presents do come, I hereby declare that I really and heartily believe in form and substance what the Reformed churches confess, that God declares sinners righteous sola gratia, sola fide, only on the ground of the imputation of the whole and perfect obedience of Christ. I also confess that being caught up in the fever of the moment, I was attracted to the anti-revivalist rhetoric of the Federal Vision movement and my enthusiasm for their anti-revivalism and anti-subjectivism lead me to embrace doctrines and practices I now recognize to have been mistaken.
I confess now that I embraced the movement without fully understanding the implications of their theology and practice. I hereby repent of failing to distinguish the law and the gospel as Reformed folk have done for four-hundred years, of denying the covenant of works, of confusing it with the covenant of grace, of teaching viz. the ordo salutis, a temporary, conditional election alongside the eternal unconditional election and of sometimes conflating the two, of teaching temporary possession of baptismal benefits such as union with Christ, adoption, and justification that are said to be conditioned upon my faithfulness and thereby implicitly denying the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. I hereby repent of denying the visible/invisible distinction, of denying that there are two ways of being in the one covenant of grace, of attempting to revise the definition of faith in the act of justification to include Spirit-wrought sanctity.
I repent of trying to smuggle into the doctrine of justification the doctrine of condign merit whereby God reckons me righteous partly on the basis of Spirit-wrought sanctity, and of trying to smuggle into the doctrine of justification the doctrine of congruent merit whereby God is said to approve graciously of my best efforts to cooperate with grace toward justification. I repent of equivocating about justification as present and future in the same sense. I admit that all believers are fully justified now and shall be vindicated as such at the judgment. I repent of trying to enlarge faith in the act of justification to be more than simply “receiving and resting” on Christ and his finished work, of trying to include fruit and sanctity in the act of justification in either faith or the ground of justification rather than simply allowing them to be fruit and evidence of justification.
I repent of confusing baptism and the Lord’s Supper as signs and seals of initiation and renewal and thereby trying to commune infants and others before their catechizing and credible profession of faith. I repent of troubling the churches before bothering to learn the rudiments of Reformed theology, before learning the basic distinctions of the Reformed confession, of wasting the time of the church courts and assemblies, in forcing them to teach me in committee reports what I should have learned in seminary had I paid attention. Most heartily of all I repent of being confusing about the one thing about which a minister should never ever be confusing, about which our confessions are completely and utterly unambiguous, about which the entire Protestant Reformation agreed: how sinners are right before God.
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.”
That should about do it.
Don’t say that I never did anything for you.
First published in 22 August, 2008.