Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Presbytery Exonerates Member Suspected of Federal Vision Teaching

Sad news from PCA folks in my hometown. Though an investigative committee voted 4-2 to find the teachings of TE Greg Lawrence beyond the boundaries of the Westminster Confession of Faith, Siouxlands Presbytery took the easy way out and voted 24-13 not to adopt the committee's findings.

Apparently the sacrament of baptism is at the center of this debate. Allegedly Lawrence has taught that baptism, in some sense, creates union with Christ and adoption, even for those who never profess faith in Christ. Defending Lawrence was TE Josh Moon who argued that Lawrence's teaching was consistent with a broad interpretation of the Westminster Confession of Faith. Oh really?

What does the confession teach? With regard to baptism (WCF 28:1) it teaches that one is admitted to the visible church through baptism. It is also a sign and a seal of the covenant of grace, of ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, and of remission of sins. The first benefit (admission to the visible church) happens without faith. The other benefits do not become benefits without saving faith. Outwardly, God is working through the sign (water) by physically separating the recipient from the world. Inwardly He is also making a promise to that recipient to be his/her God if he/she walks according to His Word. But if there is no faith these promises become curses. WCF 28:6 affirms this interpretation by stating that "the efficacy of baptism is not tied to the moment wherein it is adminstered." I'm not sure what TE Moon and TE Lawrence don't understand about this.

With regard to adoption, WCF 12 is crystal clear: only those who are justified are adopted. Again, what part of this is murky?

Does TE Lawrence teach Federal Vision theology? At best, I'd say that he is mixing categories and not being clear. At worse, I think that he is being deceptive.  I fail to see how the presbytery could overturn the investigative committee's findings. 

For now this matter is being handled by those in Siouxlands Presbytery. A complaint against the actions of presbytery has been filed and it may go beyond there to the Standing Judicial Commission. You can read the entire report at the link below:

The Aquila Report

2 comments:

Steven Carr said...

Dave,

I thought that the evidence that the committee brought against TE Lawrence was pretty clear. I hate to say it, but I think many in the Presbytery don't have the stomach for Church discipline.

Good to see you at the Calvin Conference. Hopefully we will meet up again, when I'm back in GR for classes.

Dave Sarafolean said...

Steven,

Given that the investigative committee voted 4-2 in favor of finding him guilty, I'm sure that they had a lot of evidence and good exegetical support to prove that he is wrong.

I really can't speak to Siouxlands' unwillingness to exercise church discipline. I do know that the Rayburn's have a lot of clout. Just look at Pacific Northwest - almost single-handedly Robert Rayburn caused that presbytery to vote in favor of Peter Leithart. We'll see how the appeals play out.