2007December27, Thursday

Louisiana Presbytery Rationale (Official Document)

Posted in Quotables, The Church, Theology at 23:42 by Trey Austin

In all the debate i have heard over Rev. Steve Wilkins and his accusation of teaching things contrary to the Confession of Faith, as well as the current (or soon-to-be) trial of Louisiana Presbytery for finding that there was no “strong presumption of guilt” that Wilkins holds or teaches views contrary to the Confession of Faith, one document i have not seen cited at all by either side (for whatever reason) is the officially documented rationale (Word Document) of their finding. Reading through it, i find their rationale very compelling, and having read the indictment of Louisiana Presbytery, i find that many of the accusations of the presbytery’s finding being unsubstantiated are themselves unsubstantiated.

The popular notion around the internet is that Louisiana Presbytery just said “No strong presumption of guilt” and said nothing else about it—and that’s all you’d think they did if all you read was the Puritan Board or Green Baggins. However, on April 21, 2007, they officially adopted this lengthy statement that addresses not only what they view as faulty methodology of the Central Carolina Memorial, but also the actual contents of the memorial and how the presbytery as a whole views Wilkins’ theological positions (based on his written and oral responses) in light of the accusations proffered by Central Carolina Presbytery.

Whether you’re pro-FV, anti-FV, or just non-FV but somewhere in the middle (like i am), i encourage you to read the statement and allow Louisiana Presbytery to have a chance to answer in their own words why they did what they did. Most compelling to me are their quotes from John Murray. For those who may not take the time to read the whole report, here are the wise words from Dr. Murray that all Presbyterians should heed:

“The creeds of the church have been framed in a particular historical situation to meet the need of the church in that context, and have been oriented to a considerable extent in both their negative and positive declarations to the refutation of the errors confronting the church at that time.  The creeds are therefore, historically complexioned in language and content and do not reflect the particular and distinguishing needs of subsequent generations.”  (“The Theology of the Westminster Confession of Faith,” Collected Writings, IV, p. 242).

“There is the progressive understanding of the faith delivered to the saints.  There is in the church the ceaseless activity of the Holy Spirit so that the church organically and corporately increases in knowledge unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ . . . the Westminster Confession . . . is the epitome of the most mature thought to which the church of Christ had been led up to the year 1646.  But are we to suppose that this progression ceased with that date?  To ask the question is to answer it.  An affirmative is to impugn the continued grace of which the Westminster Confession is itself an example at the time of its writing.  There is more light to break forth from the living and abiding Word of God.” (Ibid. p. 242). 

“When any generation is content to rely upon its theological heritage and refuses to explore for itself the riches of divine revelation, then declension is already under way and heterodoxy will be the lot of the succeeding generation. … A theology that does not build on the past ignores our debt to history and naively overlooks the fact that the present is conditioned by history.  A theology that relies on the past evades the demands of the present (Ibid.  p. 248).

We may not agree with Steve Wilkins on what he says and what he advocates, but we should see him and the interaction that we should have with what he says as part of the ongoing activity of God the Holy Spirit in the Church to refine our knowledge and to bring us closer to “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13, ESV). Constant accusations of heresy (for fear that something happening like what happened with the Liberals in the PCUS) do us no good. My own denomination, the ARP Church (it is still my home and the Church that ordained me, though i am currently a member of a PCA presbytery), combatted Liberalism successfully against great odds (e.g, an official statement by the General Synod in the mid-70s dismissing the whole notion of inerrancy outright, about which one of the leading advocates of moving toward a more liberal position said outside of the meeting, “Fundamentalism is dead in the ARP Church”), and they did it without a single heresy trial and without a church split. It’s certainly worth a try in this current controversy.


1 Comment »

  1. Al said,

    That whole thing, including the Murry quote, was very edifying. Thanks Trey for posting the link.

    al sends

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