Thursday, February 11, 2010

Are Teaching Elders More Qualified to Deal with FV than Ruling Elders?

PCA pastor and colleague, Wes White, has written a very thoughtful piece about the role that ruling elders play in checking the spread of theological error in the church.  Some ruling elders are very astute and/or well read in a theological sense.  When they attend presbytery they serve with gusto and often have much to contribute.  Others are more passive either not attending presbytery at all (i.e. don't like the politics, don't understand the theology, or just cannot get the time off from work).  In my experience about 25% fall into the first category while the rest fall into the second category.  I am not criticizing anyone but rather making a general observation about the state of affairs in the church. 

Just like pastors, ruling elders are called to be shepherds of the flock.  That means caring for souls via home visits, hospital visits, one-on-one counseling, AND guarding the flock from theological errors that may creep into the church.  Those errors may enter through a well-meaning layman, a Christian education curriculum, or a PASTOR. 

Ruling elders, you are on the front line to protect your flock in the event that your pastor strays from the confessions.  How will you know whether or not he is straying unless you are familiar with those standards and the issues of the day?  You have taken vows to maintain "the peace, purity and unity of the church" and that calls for being ever vigilant. 

I am grateful for the ruling elders of my church who are anything but "Yes Men."  They are serious and sober-minded, thoughtful, willing to learn, and willing to serve - in the church, at presbytery, and General Assembly.  I am blessed. 

Pastors, encourage your ruling elders to read the following post.  Dust off your BCO and remind them that there is more to being an elder than voting on budgets and programs.  Teach them about their calling to be shepherds.  Teach them as well, about the theological issues of the day.

We need more solid ruling elders to stand in the gap and defend the church.

Are Teaching Elders More Qualified to Deal with FV than Ruling Elders?


Rev. Brian Carpenter said...

I spent some time with GI Williamson this past Sunday. He told me about a time a number of years ago where a farmer from Maine debated Professor John Murray at the General Assembly of the OPC. The farmer won.

Oh, for a phalanx of men of that sort in the PCA! We would have the rascals out of here before the end of 2010.

Dave Sarafolean said...


Great story. R. Scott Clark had a good post on the same topic:

I'm blessed to have an RE in my church who battled FV in Southern Illinois before anyone knew what FV was. The person in question was Burke Shade who fled PCA prosecution for the CREC.

We need more RE's who will study and be active at presbytery.

Anonymous said...

Here is a good view of Federal Vision from an Anglican 'View'. I believe this guy teaches an Moore, the same college Mei is going too.


“1. The concern to insist on the indispensability of Christian obedience appears to lead to an inflation of the definition of faith so that it includes obedience. Martin Luther famously insisted upon good works as the necessary consequent of our justification but most definitely not a condition of our justification. Calvin wrote that while faith alone justifies, the faith that justifies is never alone. However, many Federal Visionists go further and routinely qualify the word faith, as ‘obedient faith’, ‘new heart faith’ or ‘living faith’. Here the debt to Norman Shepherd’s theology is often openly acknowledged.”

Ken e said...

My trouble with Federal Vision is how they add obedience on faith being "obedience faith". Isn't obedience, doesn't that come from a regenerated heart? The confession clearly says it's not by any evangelical obedience, "not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them,[2] they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God."

'We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only, is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification."

1 Peter 1:2, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

I do like some of the work of Leithart and Wilson's sermons which I've listened to on and off for years now, but I'm troubled by adding obedience to faith after thinking about what Scripture says about it.