Collision – Part Four

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This for now will be my last post on the movie coming out soon, “Collision.” I may post something after watching the video at the Desiring God National Conference which is September 25-27 of this year, and I may not. I’m not exactly sure how much more I will say after this post. For those that are interested in buying the movie, COLLISION, it will be released on October 27, 2009. It will be available on DVD and will screen at selected theaters in New York City and Los Angeles. The DVD is available now for pre-order on Amazon.com.

I’ll be a bit honest and say that I have really slacked off of studies and reading this past summer taking it quite easy before I start my Th.M. at Puritan Reformed, which I started this week. The past two to three weeks of August I have spent a fair amount of time in reading three volumes of Christopher Hitchens works like; God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, and Is Christianity Good for the World? I have now watched at least 50% of Christopher Hitchens debates on Youtube, he is extremely intelligent but what hit me the most was his knowledge of the Scriptures. It is hard to believe that someone that could know, quote and read so much of the Holy Scriptures would but yet be so against it. But a few thoughts came to my mind for you to think about,

COLLISIONKeyArt-11. Do we study Science, Philosophy, History, Logic, Critical Thinking as much as Mr. Christopher Hitchens studies our Bible that we believe so much?

2. Do we know the Scriptures as well as a atheist like Mr. Christopher Hitchens? To be able to quote passages of Scriptures left and right, knowing them by heart and memorization?

3. Are we able to stand for truth today in a time and age that truth means nothing to the secular-humanist?

4. How well do you know what you believe in the Scriptures? Not that you have to be as smart as Mr. Christopher Hitchens, but it would seem if we confess a faith that believes in absolute certainty, then we would know that faith better than anything else, better than your wife, your husband, or your own children, right?

Lastly, seeing individuals like Dr. John Piper, Evangelical circles like Christianity Today, and Evangelical Blogs like Justin Taylor’s promote Mr. Doug Wilson scares me, a lot! I honestly wonder what they are thinking when seeing blogs, individual people and magazines that claim Evangelicalism, promote Mr. Doug Wilson in some positive way. Okay Mr. Wilson is obviously a Theist, believes in the 66 books of the Bible as absolute Truth, the God of the Bible, Jesus as a Savior and the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But what about other major issues in the Gospel, like; his book Reformed Is Not Enough which clearly show his differences in Covenant Theology, his views on Peadocommunion, leanings toward Federal Vision, and wish-washy views on the Trinity that still seem not solid in anything that I have heard, read, or saw (too covenantal and no ontological?).

Here is what I think the issue is, and maybe I am wrong but you tell me!?

The problem is the lack of theological knowledge and the power that popularity has in Evangelicalism today.

Let me give some examples;

Paedocommunion– means nothing to the every day Evangelical because if doesn’t effect their circles and nine times out of ten they do not even know what that is.

Federal Vision – because what Doug Wilson had to say in January 2002 Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Monroe, Louisiana, never affected their circles and they never saw the damage it had done in the denominations of the OPC, PCA, and URCNA.

Many Evangelicals today I believe are lacking two main areas;

1. A solid, confessional theological standing on God’s Word.

2. A overview of Church history, knowing their roots in Christianity.

Without both, I honestly do not see how one can properly preach, and teach the Bible. But this is a blog, it is my personal blog, and so therefor it is only my opinion. What do you think?

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7 Comments on “Collision – Part Four”

  1. Dave C. says:

    I don’t think that Piper invited Wilson lightly and it seems like your questioning of the wisdom of Piper kinda shows a bit of arrogance and disrespect toward someone who is your elder. Also, Wilson has repeatedly stated that his critics are arguing against a straw man. Piper methodically went through Reformed is Not Enough in an effort to be equitable and just and agrees that Wilson’s critics argue against a straw man. Have you read ‘Reformed is not enough?’ What particular issues do you have with it and why?

  2. Kyle Borg says:

    Dave,
    While I can appreciate your charity it is interesting to note that Piper has gone against the rulings and decisions of over half a dozen denominations in NAPARC. Hundreds of faithful men have spent countless hours pouring over Wilson’s theology and he has been weighed in the balances and found wanting. For Piper to declare that Wilson errs in the same way every other Presbyterian errs is just plain silly. Piper is WRONG on this one and his Independent church polity stinks.
    Also, even if (and that’s a big if) Wilson’s opponents don’t understand him, then we can at least say Wilson et al are not being clear in their presentations of the gospel, and what is pastoral or biblical about that? Isn’t this the same danger Piper warned Wright of in The Future of Justification? If Wilson claims to be a man called of God to feed the sheep and shepherd the flock, he had better know how to clearly state his doctrines. To argue that no one understands him doesn’t do a whole lot in his favor.
    Grace.

  3. Dave C. says:

    I don’t quite understand what is unclear about Wilson’s positions when many of them are almost verbatim what reformers like Calvin and Luther said. If he’s unclear, then they must’ve been unclear. Wilson has also volunteered multiple times to submit himself to an examination. What’s ironic is that the folks that are accusing him of being ‘on the road to Rome’ or whatever are making such pronouncments from ecclesiastical ivory towers that reek of the papacy. Since when is it just to call someone a heretic because they are unclear? No, the overwhelming majority of Wilson’s critics made up their minds long before they heard any evidence.

  4. Kyle Borg says:

    Dave, I think you need to go back and reread not only what Calvin and Luther said, but also how they defined their terms. Wilson et al are notorious for redefining terms.
    “If he’s unclear, then they must’ve been unclear”….non sequitor (see above). I’m curious, who is it that has called Wilson a “heretic”? I don’t see that word being thrown around much by opponents of F.V., maybe you could help me. I certainly didn’t. I granted that *if* Wilson is orthodox, then he is at least being unclear, but I didn’t see the word heretic get thrown in there.
    Secondly, what substantial proof do you have that his critics made up their minds prior to hearing evidence? I mean, that’s a big charge, you must be basing it on something. Or, as I suspect, it’s just a rhetorical jab that doesn’t mean very much.
    Grace.

  5. Dave C. says:

    Kyle, I think I could’ve been more careful with my terms and I don’t want this to degenerate into a pointless flame war. And so, with that said, let me unpack what I said a bit more.

    First of all, I think much that preceded this debate can be traced back to Vern Poythress’ book Symphonic Theology. In it Poythress argues that because the word of God is deep and multifaceted and argues against a simplistic one dimensional reading. What it seems to me based on my observation of the whole situation is that some pastors were seeking to interact with some problem passages and offering models that would make the most sense of these passages within their broader biblical context. There was not a singular position espoused, but a variety of men preaching on various ways to alleviate confusion. Some of those men were generous to some of N.T. Wright’s work and some were not as generous. However, many other pastors latched on to the references of N.T. Wright and overnight it became ‘The Federal Vision Controversy’. Perhaps the problem is that there wasn’t a unified ‘vision’ to begin with. The pastors of the conference were lumped together and immediately put on the defensive. What I see as the problem was the fundamental lack of basic Christian brotherly confrontation present initially as well as a lack of desire for unity all along. None of the ‘Federal Vision’ pastors are seeking to subvert the gospel or to soften the power it has. They aren’t starting a new ‘liberal’ wing of the church. They’re trying to mine the Bible for truth that gives new depth to the scriptures. Symphonic Theology.

    So, with all that said, I think that what you said about redefining terms is basically a non-starter. I don’t think that the Bible can be summed up with a series of definitions and Cliffs Notes. God is bigger and deeper than that. That is what the Federal Vision pastors are guilty of. They are guilty of assuming that we as a church haven’t arrived yet and that there is still work to do, studying and learning to be done, and more depths to be discovered. If you have problems about particular conclusions they have reached, then interact with those particular conclusions carefully, honestly, and judiciously but frankly developing some platonic label and then slapping it on them is neither helpful nor fair. It also isn’t Christian.

    I used the term heretic because the RPCUS has. Also, it seems to be thrown around rather lightly whenever Federal Vision discussions come up so I suppose I was just being pre-emptive. My bad if you personally wouldn’t go that far.

    As far as proof that his critics made up their minds prior to hearing evidence, I point again to the RPCUS. I’d also point to the PCA resolution that lumped the Federal Vision, NPP, and ‘Auburn Avenue Theology’ together in one category stating that they were contrary to the Westminster Standards. This is despite the numerous criticisms ‘Federal Vision’ men have of the NPP. In addition, Wilson has never had the opportunity to publicly defend himself regarding any of these allegations. Perhaps before making pronouncements on someones teaching you should actually allow them to defend themselves? So I’ll admit, instead of saying that they made up their minds before hearing ‘ANY’ evidence, I should have said, they made up their minds without hearing the accused. Normally, wouldn’t the accused be put on the stand in their own trial? But hey, the church can cut corners that the civil magistrate can’t right?

  6. Kyle Borg says:

    Dave,
    Thanks for the clarification. Ironic you should bring Poythress’ book into this. I’ve had to conversations on that book today. While many at WTS latch on to this kind of thinking (Enns being a good case in point) I think it’s safe to say it’s not the common view of the Reformed Church (whatever else Frame may think). While I think it’s a bit misleading to say that the F.Vers are “mining” for more clarity and that the church still has work to do (after all the battle cry of the Reformed church is Semper Reformanda), I’ll agree that none of the F.Vers are intentionally trying to rape the gospel of its power. But I’m not so interested in intentions (after all, Arius, Nestorius, and Arminius) had for all practical purposes “good intentions.” What I care about is whether or not what they say is Biblical and how we respect the authority of the church.
    Secondly, I’m not sure I see how contending that the F.Vers have changed definitions is a “non-starter.” You urged that Wilson says the exact same thing as Calvin and Luther. Well, Nestorius said the same thing as Nicea but was still held to be unorthodox for his reworking definitions. Many have argued, and I think well, that Wilson has redone definitions on election, covenant, etc. That’s not a minor point. If the guy is going to claim to be “Reformed” he should be gracious enough to work within the Confessional boundaries of Reformed theology. It’s unhelpful at best, and dubious at worst to rewrite your own terms. Especially if he wants to convince the Reformed world he’s Reformed.
    I don’t see much of a need to interact with his conclusions. I readily admit Wilson is smarter than me. But then again, plenty of men equal to and better than Wilson have interacted with his conclusions and found them severally lacking. Do you really feel NAPARC has slapped “platonic labels” on all of this?
    Earlier you accused Michael of being “arrogant” for questioning Piper. Now I return the question to you. You assume that none of the one/two year study committees took Wilson on his own terms or understood his position. You assume that they were all biased and misinformed. Interesting enough too, is that some of Federal Vision’s opponents have been men who would have previously identified themselves with F.V. (i.e. Siouxlands Presbytery Study Report). Did they misunderstand everything too? How do you escape the same charge you just leveled against Michael? When the unanimous voice of the Confessionally Reformed Church is that Wilson, et al have crossed the boundary I’m apt to think Wilson is either not defining himself clearly, or is indeed guilty of the very thing he is charged with.
    But my main contention here is not whether Wilson is right or wrong. I think the OPC, PCA, URC, and individuals like Scott Clark, Lane Kiester, Lig Duncan, and Cornelus Venema have done a fine job showing this. My concern is the blatant irresponsibilty of John Piper declaring “Wilson errs in the same way every Presbyterian errs…” It is undermining the consent of the Reformed Churches…I know, I know, call me a high church activist 😉
    Grace.

  7. Amick says:

    Kyle, I think I could've been more careful with my terms and I don't want this to degenerate into a pointless flame war. And so, with that said, let me unpack what I said a bit more.

    First of all, I think much that preceded this debate can be traced back to Vern Poythress' book Symphonic Theology. In it Poythress argues that because the word of God is deep and multifaceted and argues against a simplistic one dimensional reading. What it seems to me based on my observation of the whole situation is that some pastors were seeking to interact with some problem passages and offering models that would make the most sense of these passages within their broader biblical context. There was not a singular position espoused, but a variety of men preaching on various ways to alleviate confusion. Some of those men were generous to some of N.T. Wright's work and some were not as generous. However, many other pastors latched on to the references of N.T. Wright and overnight it became 'The Federal Vision Controversy'. Perhaps the problem is that there wasn't a unified 'vision' to begin with. The pastors of the conference were lumped together and immediately put on the defensive. What I see as the problem was the fundamental lack of basic Christian brotherly confrontation present initially as well as a lack of desire for unity all along. None of the 'Federal Vision' pastors are seeking to subvert the gospel or to soften the power it has. They aren't starting a new 'liberal' wing of the church. They're trying to mine the Bible for truth that gives new depth to the scriptures. Symphonic Theology.

    So, with all that said, I think that what you said about redefining terms is basically a non-starter. I don't think that the Bible can be summed up with a series of definitions and Cliffs Notes. God is bigger and deeper than that. That is what the Federal Vision pastors are guilty of. They are guilty of assuming that we as a church haven't arrived yet and that there is still work to do, studying and learning to be done, and more depths to be discovered. If you have problems about particular conclusions they have reached, then interact with those particular conclusions carefully, honestly, and judiciously but frankly developing some platonic label and then slapping it on them is neither helpful nor fair. It also isn't Christian.

    I used the term heretic because the RPCUS has. Also, it seems to be thrown around rather lightly whenever Federal Vision discussions come up so I suppose I was just being pre-emptive. My bad if you personally wouldn't go that far.

    As far as proof that his critics made up their minds prior to hearing evidence, I point again to the RPCUS. I'd also point to the PCA resolution that lumped the Federal Vision, NPP, and 'Auburn Avenue Theology' together in one category stating that they were contrary to the Westminster Standards. This is despite the numerous criticisms 'Federal Vision' men have of the NPP. In addition, Wilson has never had the opportunity to publicly defend himself regarding any of these allegations. Perhaps before making pronouncements on someones teaching you should actually allow them to defend themselves? So I'll admit, instead of saying that they made up their minds before hearing 'ANY' evidence, I should have said, they made up their minds without hearing the accused. Normally, wouldn't the accused be put on the stand in their own trial? But hey, the church can cut corners that the civil magistrate can't right?…


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