Pooh’s Think

… with comments

Wow Wilkins: And may the Judges judge well.

Yipes. To follow up on my first post on Steve Wilkins and the PCA: I’m afraid that Wilson has rhetorically spun the nature of the questions posed by the PCA. I have now gone to the link he provided to the PCA’s questions to Wilkins and Wilkin’s answers. You can go to them directly here.

A prefatory note (I wouldn’t write posts if I couldn’t have a prefatory note): If I was still in the business of attempting to quibble about Reformed Theology with men who either supplant Reason with narrow, splintered Tradition or else with the will to political power, I would have had a good deal to say about all continued contemplation about the word ‘covenant.’ But I’m not in that business anymore, and my future planned work on the nature of religious language, language meaning in general, the tension between natural/religious and philosophical/Hellenistic ways of speaking, and the role of metaphors and symbols in the Pentateuch in particular, will have to be where I attempt to get some of my concerns and questions addressed–questions I have thus far raised only in the narrow bounds of the small yet typically arrogant reformed tradition in America. I should mention that I have sought out what are now ten ministers/professors within the reformed tradition, including Peter Leithart and Ralph Smith, and I think it would be safe to say that my argumentative challenges have gone unanswered—although Leithart has offered some uncanny silence along with some appreciation for my work; and I do tip my hat to the abstract coherence in the way James Jordan and Ralph Smith have decided to respond. I think this coherence is in a platonic la la land; but it is at least attempting to cohere in a sophisticated and it would seem honest way. And since those attempts at challenge and debate, it seems as though my point of view and available argumentative resources have only grown. So I’m not going quibble about ‘covenant’ here.

However, I do want to direct you to what is apparently going on here in the question and answer dialog between Steve Wilkins and the PCA. There is a possible discrepancy between the exceptions Wilkins took to the Confession as stated in the minutes and what Wilkins claims where the actual exceptions at the time. There is also the question as to what exceptions have been added to the mix since his ordination. This is complicated due to the fact that Wilkins refuses to use the same word consistently in this discourse. Wilkins is attempting to use the word “quibble” and “exception” in the same manner whilst making it clear what the usage of “quibble” is in this context. This apparently dishonest equivocation is masked by Wilkins’ ironically subtle dispute about the different ways “quibble” can be used, depending on the conversational context. At one point, he explains that he is only having “quibbles” with “the words” of the Confession. With this in view, notice the following:

3. Do you believe any of your public teaching or writing since the beginning of the “Auburn Avenue Theology” controversy either contradicts or is inconsistent with the Standards? (Besides your registered exceptions).

No I do not. My concerns I have not been with the Confession’s statements or definitions but rather with how we read the texts of Scripture which appear to contradict some of the statements and positions set forth in the Confession and Catechisms. I do not believe the scriptural texts do contradict the standards in fact but they are simply using terminology in a broader way than it is defined by our Confessional standards. This means that we must consider carefully the meaning of these terms in the particular contexts in which they are used. That has been my concern in regard to the so-called “Federal Vision” issues.

I’m sorry folks, but until reading this document, I have not questioned Wilkins’s honesty. Given the clear attempt by the Federal Vision thinkers to undermine their tradition by claiming to have recovered the “real” reformed tradition—while adding the most wild additions to it (e.g. Eternal Covenant)—this should come as a bit of a surprise to some of you. But I can no longer allow my evidence with respect to Wilkins’ continued associations and the thrust of many Federal Vision thinkers from protruding itself into this implicit discussion over honest subscription.

Besides your registered exceptions?:

“No I do not.”

That is a fairly clear statement. However, from where then did the Federal Vision guys get all their passion, angst, and sensational rhetoric from? If all they were in the business of was “quibbling” with words, then from where did their subversive strength come?! I find this particularly fascinating given the fact that Wilkins is here taking the same approach as I did at unifying some of the better strains of Federal Vision use of scriptural language and the formal systems of theology; but my attempt to do just this was fully rejected by Doug Wilson two years ago. Now, apparently, this same compatiblist experiment is Wilkins’ glorious claim to “orthodoxy.” (And in these strange debates over narrow subscription, I certainly hope to never be found orthodox at all!)

Canon press published a book calling for a change in the language of the Confession, and it wasn’t because the book was quibbling over words. Do you recall what book I am referring to? Wilkins has presented a heretical Eternal Covenant view, explicitly rooted in this book by canon press, and the debates have clearly rested on the nature of the Trinity, the definition of “the covenant” and “a covenant,” and the nature of God’s relationship with Adam. I’m sorry folks, but from my read of this, it would seem that it is more likely than Wilson suggests that the CREC will have their replacement for the COTK if the PCA judges judge wisely—and that is certainly an understatement given Wilson’s strong, manipulative threat to the judges currently deliberating.

More irony: certain elements of the Federal Vision thinking are necessary reforms to a traditionalist, abstract, and hyper-Hellenistic handling of scriptural language. Yet, we didn’t have intelligent and honest men pushing it through….but where is Rich Lusk these days?

December 15, 2006 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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