Thursday, November 29, 2007

Speaking of Linden

On January 27, 2003, Steven Machen Wilkins posted this little nugget on the “members only” Biblical Horizons email list, and I think it’s important for the Reformed church to see that the Federal Visionists have had the martyr-victim complex for over five years, which means that their strong delusion is deeply embedded. This email also demonstrates that they have never had any intention of moving off their doctrine, no matter what anyone says. Notice that it’s dated before the Knox Colloquium when everyone was supposed to get on the same page. But here you see Wilkins kicking against goads long before the FV reached its present crisis.

By the way, Biblical Horizons is a Yahoo Group, and in this case I believe the word “yahoo” is especially fitting. Steven Machen Wilkins wrote:

Y’all, David Linden has written requesting permission to make transcripts of our messages at the Pastors Conference. He is doing it, of course, to continue his war against John B. I am weary with him playing the role of the “friendly assassin” so I wonder if something like this (answering him as he likes to do to others) would put him back on his heels (haven’t sent it yet, just having fun thinking about doing it):

Dear Mr. Linden,

Thank you for requesting permission to transcribe the messages given at our most recent Pastors Conference. Before we respond I am compelled to raise a matter of concern that has been brought to our attention regarding your own views on the nature of faith. I do this with the greatest reluctance, having become somewhat acquainted with the painful nature of theological disputes among honored brethren.

I am sure, however, that you are able to sympathize with our concern over being charged with heresy by men who themselves seem to hold various aberrant views (if not heretical views) on other issues. We have received denunciations from a man who has publicly (in print) departed from the orthodox faith regarding the nature of Christ (he seems clearly to hold what appear to be distinctly Nestorian views of Christ’s nature). This, as I’m sure you can see, is of great concern to us.

What is of greater concern is that these men who hold these heterodox views do not seem to receive the attention from others that you have focused upon the views of one of our speakers. Indeed, it has been our impression that not even you have sought to bring any attention to this man’s views at all (though they are patently heretical according to the declaration of the historic Christian Church). If we are mistaken here, we would be most thankful to be corrected.

This has led us to be somewhat concerned over your own motives as well as your views. Indeed an article you have posted on the internet regarding the nature of faith (“Justification by Faith Alone”) has only made us even more concerned. It does appear to be a rather serious departure from your own confessional position (specifically Belgic Confession Article 22) and taken on its face, we would be forced to conclude that you stand in rather serious violation of your subscription vows as an elder. We certainly do not want to be hasty in bringing charges against you publicly, but it does seem to us at least, that your views as stated, are a rather serious departure from the historic Reformed understanding of faith. Having been the victim of what appears to be an intentional unwillingness to try to understand our position, we want to give you the opportunity of clarifying your views before we make any determination over your orthodoxy. Furthermore, since we are very concerned to defend the truth as it has been “once for all delivered to the saints” we do want to be careful (as I’m sure you can understand) about those with whom we are dealing in these matters.

Historically heretics have led the way in charging others with heresy (and here I must be careful to say that we are emphatically *not* calling you a heretic, but you do understand, I’m sure, our concern on this point). Because of this reality, we have become much more cautious about allowing men to use material who themselves may be trying to deflect attention from their own heterodox views by carelessly charging other men with heresy. We are not saying that you are doing this, and I certainly don’t want to impute such evil motives to you, but you must understand given your apparent departure from the historic Reformed faith at the point above mentioned, why your motives have come into question. Your views have raised some serious concerns among us here as I’m sure you can understand. This concern has been confirmed by others (some of whom are in your own confederation) but we do not want to act on the opinions of others regarding your views — we would rather have your own words and make our judgments based solely upon the explanation you give us.

Thus, if you would be so kind as to provide us with a more detailed explanation of your views regarding the nature of faith, it would be most helpful to us. We don’t want to be guilty of twisting your words, even words you have apparently carefully crafted, to mean something you don’t intend. Thus, I hope our intentions are clear: Please provide us with some detailed exegetical and historic theological rationale for the distinction you are making between “saving faith” and “justifying faith” so that we can be assured that you are indeed orthodox on this most fundamental point. Errors on such a fundamental issue as the nature of the faith that justifies can certainly be among the most serious errors of all — endangering the souls of millions. Further, as you will surely understand, we don’t want to be assisting anyone who is a latent antinomian or one who is seeking to spread confusion in the church at large on such a foundational matter — and I’m sure you can fully sympathize with our position.

Thank you very much for your kind consideration of our request. As soon as we receive this documentation and a thorough explanation of your position so that our own minds can be brought some ease over the disturbing questions your paper has raised among us, be assured that we will give your request serious consideration.

Warmly in the defense of the faith,

Steve Wilkins

Thank you.