Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Green Baggins in the Black Forest

Sometimes I fear that lil’ ol’ Green Baggins is an orphaned waif who has lost his way in the Black Forest, not knowing that the Prince of Darkness trails him ever so closely. Last night he wrote a post titled “On Boundaries and Creativity,” which called on a certain sect of dysfunctional theologians to control their creativity by containing it within confessional boundaries.

If only Lane knew that these guys’ creativity is so clever that they’ve anticipated this criticism from afar and preempted it with a stroke of creative genius. You see, the lead Federal Visionist has already declared that they are well within confessional boundaries because they affirm the Westminster divines’ original intent. Indeed, he even goes so far as to declare his critics out of conformity with Westminster. Consider these quotes, for example:

Steve holds to the Westminster Confession of Faith. If we are talking about original intent, he is far more in conformity to the Westminster than are his accusers. (“Kicking This Particular Can Down the Road”)

Now when a man subscribes to the Confession and his beliefs are not in conformity with what the Westminster theologians intended when they adopted it, there are two possibilities. One is that he is a dishonest man, saying that he believes things he does not believe. This is the way of liberalism — the same liberalism, incidentally, that prides itself on openness, transparency, and honesty. This is confessional rot, and it is a character issue. It is dishonest subscription.

But there is a “conservative” way to do this also. The problem is in the adverb, as I pointed out earlier, and it is usually done through ignorance, not dishonest malice. But ignorance can get you as far away from the original intent of the Westminster Assembly as dishonesty can. If a man gets off the right road, and is barreling along in the wrong direction at 75 mph, his speed is not affected by whether the choice to get off the right road was deliberate or accidental. In either case, his car still has eight cylinders.

And this brings us to Steve Wilkins. Steve really believes that through a right use of the ordinance of baptism, the grace of that baptism is really exhibited and conferred on those who whom it properly belongs (Westminster 28.6). He subscribes to this portion of the Confession intelligently and honestly. To speak in theological categories, he agrees with it. His opponents say they subscribe to this, but they really do not, and they do not give any kind of reasonable explanation for how they can take these words. They don’t need to give an explanation because we, on the other side of this divide, would like to debate with them, not prosecute them. (“Honestly. I Ask You.”)

Now, let’s talk about this. We have not objected (at least not too much) when you all swipe the original intent of the Westminster divines, and acted like it lined up with what you teach. Civility in theological debate means that you have to overlook certain things like that. (“What Would Hodge Do?”)

Now, I ascribe to Lane all the sincerity in the world, but can somebody please send a search and rescue team to find Green Baggins; I fear he’s lost his way.

Thank you.