Monday, December 31, 2007

Where does he get this stuff?

A friend called the other day to ask if I was interested in pursuing the scandal where Douglas Wilson and the Kirk elders used fraudulent documents to “vindicate” Wilson from wrongdoing (Dr. Gier alluded to these two incidents in his post). I replied, “We have enough documented scandal here to blog for an entire year without invoking the phony minutes or the letter without signatures.” And that’s not hyperbole.

For example, I just noticed that someone on the Warfield list asked for a church referral in Salt Lake City to which a brother recommended Christ Presbyterian Church, OPC. Of course, Christ Presbyterian Church is just one more assembly of Christians in a seeming endless parade of believers who caught Wilson playing fast and loose with the Ninth Commandment. This particular false witness involves the case reported in this story by P&R News. The letter was written by CPC’s clerk of session in response to falsehoods that Christ Church uploaded to the web.

May 27, 2003

The Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals
C/o Brett Baker, Moderator
P.O. Box 1158
Woodinville, WA 98072 1158

Dear Brothers:

Our attention was recently brought to the minutes of your 2002 meeting as they appear on your website. In those minutes is a false report from Christ Church, Moscow, concerning their controversy with Christ Presbyterian Church, Salt Lake City, and, the Presbytery of the Dakotas (OPC). There are several misrepresentations, but the most serious is that, “some time after [Mr. Maneri] left, charges were brought against him in the OPC.”

We have attached the text of the correspondence between our churches. As you can see, we have repeatedly told the elders in Moscow that Mr. Maneri was charged individually and before witnesses while a member and an elder. Mr. Maneri had attended worship on the previous Sunday and was leading a meeting of the pulpit committee when he was charged before witnesses. After being charged, but before a trial could commence, Mr. Maneri resigned his office and asked that his name be erased from the rolls of the church. The Book of Church Order he vowed to receive does not allow a resignation to automatically stop a discipline case. We went forward with a trial to protect the church and in hope of restoring our brother.

When Mr. Maneri was publicly circulating advice from Doug Wilson not to appear at his trial, we contacted Mr. Wilson and then his session. Our hope was that their goals would be the same as ours. As you can see in the attached correspondence, our complaints have been met with sophistry and word games that should be an embarrassment for elders of a Church of Christ. Our goals in all of this have been to shepherd the Church of Jesus Christ and to restore a brother whom we love. We have continued to pray for him with tears, even after his excommunication. It is our hope that despite the interference of Mr. Wilson and the Moscow session that he will yet be restored.

We ask that you read the attached correspondence and remember that no one on our session had previously communicated with Mr. Wilson. A friend of Mr. Wilson was accused of grave sin. Mr. Wilson made no attempt to determine the facts of the case from us before advising him not to attend his trial. When we challenged that advice, we were told that we would have to prove that we had risen above the contemporary Reformed norm” before Mr. Wilson would reconsider his advice. We do not accept that our discipline should be presumed defective. It is up to Moscow to demonstrate its illegitimacy before they counsel our members to reject it. We understand that at the time, Moscow had the same provisions against unilateral resignation. How can Doug Jones state in a recent letter to the Moscow church that “in the covenant bond of membership, both sides are obligated to agree to severing membership covenants,” but then portray us as disciplining a “nonmember”?

We have been told that we have no standing to appeal to your court, but we ask that you remove this false report from your website. We send this directly to you, because you are perpetuating a false report. We do not believe we can do anything more to prevent Moscow’s misrepresentations, but we ask that you not join them. We would be happy to detail the other errors, if you would like. Though we have no official standing before you, we do implore you as Christian brothers to deal with the larger situation. We do not believe that you would want us treating your churches as Doug Wilson and the Moscow session have treated us.


Lou LaBriola, Clerk of Session

And on this fully documented note of yet more fœdero-schismatic activity, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year, hoping that next year the Church will have put away from among us that wicked person and his Federal Vision.

Thank you.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


A couple of weeks ago Prince Blog wrote an extended post that appeared to wave a truce flag at his “enemies.” Of course, he only calls a truce when he needs time to reload, but that’s not the point here. The point is that he closed his post with these words:

In short, I want to be active in this controversy to the extent I need to be — I don’t want to shirk — but neither do I want to be defined by this. If any my friends out there see that definition forming, please feel free to say so. (“All Wolves, All the Time,” emphasis original)

This statement is interesting for a number of reasons; I want to consider one. After the post went up, it moved a friend of mine (who knows Wilson very well) so much that he called to say, “For the first time in my life I actually feel sorry for the man.” Not having read the post I said, “Okay, you have my attention — why do you feel sorry for him?” My friend played off Orwell, saying, “By the time a man turns fifty, he has the reputation he deserves. Doug has systematically defined himself over the last decade with one scandal after another, particularly this Federal Vision mess and his hostile disruption of the PCA’s process. It’s as though he specifically intended to make a spectacle of himself all these years and despite this, he wrote, ‘neither do I want to be defined by this.’ I pity him. He is so self-deceived that he has no idea he is defined.”

This leads to another interesting quote, which I took from Dr. Clark who quoted an article written by Dr. Darryl Hart on the Federal Vision in the Nicotine Theological Journal. Dr. Hart wrote,

Never before have such heavy guns as the church’s highest courts and multi-year study committees been used to defeat a meagre and frivolous theological novelty.

Consider this. Dr. Hart is Adjunct Professor of Church History at Westminster Seminary California and he probably has more letters after his name than all the CREC ministers combined. In other words, he’s not a popular story teller. He doesn’t imagine historical revisions and self-publish his fantasies in book form calling them factual accounts. Moreover, he’s not an anonymous attack blogger who fully documents each of his posts. And as long as we’re on it, he isn’t even a self-willed autonomous attack blogger who pretends his federation of marionettes holds him accountable. Dr. Hart is the real deal with real credentials, and he wrote, “Never before have such heavy guns as the church’s highest courts and multi-year study committees been used to defeat a meagre and frivolous theological novelty.”

This leads to yet another fascinating quote from Prince Blog, who just the other day posted this comment on Green Bagginses:

All the refutations of FV I have read that maintain an FV/Westminster contradiction generally get that result by misrepresenting what FV is saying, or Westminster, or both.

Of course, we all know that these words have served as the FV party line since the beginning, but the remarkable thing is that (1) they still repeat it, and (2) it’s possible that Wilson actually believes it, which is an extremely frightening thought for him. Read the two quotes back to back:

Never before have such heavy guns as the church’s highest courts and multi-year study committees been used to defeat a meagre and frivolous theological novelty. (Dr. Darryl Hart)

All the refutations of FV I have read that maintain an FV/Westminster contradiction generally get that result by misrepresenting what FV is saying, or Westminster, or both. (Douglas Wilson)

A church historian (who is also an officer in the church) observes that the Church has never used such heavy guns to defeat such a deficient theological novelty, and Wilson cavalierly accuses every one of these big guns of misrepresenting his doctrinal frivolities and the Westminster Confession of Faith, as if the two stand side by side.

On my sidebar to the right there’s a section called “A Great Cloud of Witnesses: Fœdero Links.” Beneath it there’s a long list of articles and official reports published by various Reformed denominations, presbyteries, federations, and seminaries. Every one of them, without exception, repudiates the Federal Vision in unmistakable terms. More specifically, five denominations — the BPC, the OCRC, the OPC, the PCA, and the RPCUS — identified Douglas Wilson by name in their reports, yet he steadfastly maintains that all of them, without exception, have misrepresented the FV and/or the Westminster divines.

These facts lead me to believe that my friend is on to something. Douglas Wilson really is pathetic. Self-deception can’t run much deeper than this — can it? He pays magnificent lip service to Mother Kirk with grand, exalted language, but when Mother Kirk replies to him — by name — condemning his doctrine with overwhelming judgments of breathtaking proportions, he accuses her of misrepresentation instead of repenting of his sins. And yet he does not want this to define him. Yo mama.

Prince Blog of the land of Mablog may deceive himself, esteeming his “meagre and frivolous theological novelty” greater than the unanimous opinion of the Church’s highest courts. Indeed, he may delude himself by thinking that this monumental folly — this catastrophic error in judgment — has not defined him. To be sure, he may even fix his madness in stone by mocking the Church and her ministers all day long to his heart’s delight. But the future does not bode well for Prince Blog because all his self-deceit cannot change the one simple truth that these things are defining moments and they have defined him. Even worse, Scripture offers no cure for his definition, or condition, as the case may be, for Solomon warns, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” Just ask Saddam Hussein.

Thank you.

Another Anniversary

“So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified.” — Esther 7:10

I almost let this wonderful anniversary pass. One year ago today Saddam Hussein was hanged after the Iraqi Special Tribunal found him guilty of crimes against humanity. That same day the Fearless Leader was seen celebrating the demise of his sole competition to rule the world, by randomly shooting his shotgun at his congregation from the rooftop of Anselm House.

Thank you.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Here’s a link

I don’t know anything about Talk To Action, except that they invited Dr. Nick Gier to write a history Douglas Wilson’s polarization of Moscow. He titled the first installment “The Seeds are Sown for a Culture War in Moscow, Idaho.” It’s an accurate piece written by a man whose history with Wilson goes way back to Wilson’s education at the University of Idaho. Nick is a kind and honest man, and I am an eyewitness to some of the abuse he’s suffered at the hands of Doug’s Thugs. Simply unconscionable.

Thank you.

I just received this comment:

Better a friend should say this:

All due criticism of Wilson aside, the article is written by a Unitarian and posted on a site dedicated to opposing evangelical Christians. The web site advocates in favor of homosexuality, among other evils. I also found Gier’s article itself to be disjointed. All of which I’m sure you observed.

And none of the above detracts from appropriate criticism of Wilson, but my point is to note with great sadness just how much he has given our enemies tools with which to smear us all.

Lesson learned: each of us must walk circumspectly, with great integrity, praying humbly that we don’t, in our own way, repeat the errors of others.


Excellent Comment

Someone left me an excellent comment about Dr. Clark’s post that deserves front-page coverage:

Finished reading the piece by Dr. Clark and I have to say I was struck but this insight:

Along with this package the FV movement also offers paedocommunion (infant communion) which enticed Baptists newly converted to paedobaptism (infant baptism) who do not yet see the Reformed distinction between baptism as a sign/seal of initiation into the visible covenant community and the Supper as a sign/seal of covenant renewal, i.e. taking up the promises of the covenant by grace alone, through faith alone.

I have myself noticed this same thing among many who have taken up with the FV. These folks are simply reversing their previous Baptistic assumptions about the nature of the Church. I think this may also actually be the case with the whole “NECM/ECM” problem in FV. To reduce it a bit, Baptists think that only those who have faith should be admitted to the Church, and therefore infants are not the be baptized; FV reverses this logic and says infants are to be admitted to the Church through baptism, therefore infants who have been baptized have faith. The problem is a fundamental rejection of the visible/invisible distinction.

Thank you.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Speaking of EEF: Groupthink

I’m preparing a series on the origin and history of the CREC (which is incredibly colorful for only one decade of high jinks), and in my research I discovered a fascinating “position paper” written by a student in Wilson’s Greyfriars’ Hall ministerial program, which he established to train men for ministry in the CREC. If you scan through any of these papers, the first thing that will grab you is the students’ obvious regurgitation of Wilsonisms in lieu of well-reasoned arguments. This indicates to me that Greyfriars’ Hall is a cloning factory designed to replicate its founder rather than actually train men to serve.

Anyway, the paper caught my attention because it was written by a young man named Jerry Owen, whom the Kult recently ordained and sent to Trinity Church (EEF) in Kirkland, Washington, to help shore up all that leaky comradery on the comradeship. Eleven officers in four years is some serious seepage, which may account for Mr. Owen’s subject. I do not know this, but I suspect he wrote this paper because he anticipated a call to Kirkland. There is no date on the paper.

Now, before you read it, please note the definition and symptoms of “groupthink,” which is a term coined by Dr. Irving L. Janis. Wikipedia states:

Groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. During Groupthink, members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking. A variety of motives for this may exist such as a desire to avoid being seen as foolish, or a desire to avoid embarrassing or angering other members of the group. Groupthink may cause groups to make hasty, irrational decisions, where individual doubts are set aside, for fear of upsetting the group’s balance. The term is frequently used pejoratively, with hindsight. . . .

Causes of groupthink
Highly cohesive groups are much more likely to engage in groupthink. The closer they are, the less likely they are to raise questions to break the cohesion. Although Janis sees group cohesion as the most important antecedent to groupthink, he states that it will not invariably lead to groupthink: “It is a necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition” (Janis, Victims of Groupthink, 1972). According to Janis, group cohesion will only lead to groupthink if one of the following two antecedent conditions is present:
  • Structural faults in the organisation: insulation of the group, lack of tradition of impartial leadership, lack of norms requiring methodological procedures, homogeneity of members’ social background and ideology.

  • Provocative situational context: high stress from external threats, recent failures, excessive difficulties on the decision-making task, moral dilemmas.
Social psychologist Clark McCauley’s three conditions under which groupthink occurs:
  • Directive leadership.

  • Homogeneity of members’ social background and ideology.

  • Isolation of the group from outside sources of information and analysis.
Symptoms of Groupthink
In order to make groupthink testable, Irving Janis devised eight symptoms that are indicative of groupthink (1977).
  1. Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.

  2. Rationalising warnings that might challenge the group’s assumptions.

  3. Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.

  4. Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, disfigured, impotent, or stupid.

  5. Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of “disloyalty.”

  6. Self-censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.

  7. Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.

  8. Mindguards — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.
Now read Jerry Owen’s pastoral position paper titled “Sessional Solidarity” and let the stunning absence of critical thinking shock you. It looks like it was written for Brainwashing 101 — the Making of a Monkey Boy. This is what Wilson instills in his disciples. This is the fruit of his ministry. These are the rubber stamps he’s creating to minister in the CREC. And he sent this mindless robot to EEF to help repair the ruins. “Pass the Kool-Aid!”

If I get time, I’ll write a post matching the formula for groupthink to Owen’s statements. Until then, here’s a very helpful essay called “Groupthink: A Sinister Snare for Elders and Congregations Alike” from the Chalcedon website (warning: most of Chalcedon should be read with extreme caution and discernment).

Thank you.

You’d Think He’d Get the Hint

Since I mentioned Rev. Jason Stellman earlier, let me share another story related to the area where he’s planting a church.

Trinity Church in Kirkland, Washington, is a charter member of the CRE (now called the CREC and since we’re on it, Trinity Church used to be called Eastside Evangelical Fellowship or EEF). And as a charter member, EEF enjoyed some success for its first five years in the confederation. Things changed, however, in 2003 when serious doubts about the CRE’s founder began creeping into the minds of EEF’s leadership. And very slowly, one officer after another began resigning their office and their membership from EEF, and since 2003 they have lost 5 deacons and 6 elders.

Here’s the catch. While some of these men stepped down for personal reasons, most of them cited concerns over the church’s direction and some of them specified the unhealthy influence of the CREC’s founder as their primary reason for leaving. EEF used to have 300 to 400 members but now they’re down to 75 to 150 (depending on the source). Call it addition through subtraction or church growth CREC style. But whatever you call it, you’d think the CREC’s founder would get the hint.

Nevertheless, I am thankful that God sent Pastor Stellman to Washington because I am sure that his Calvary Chapel background combined with his seminary training has helped minister to a few of these wandering sheep. May God bless them all.

Thank you.

Branch Dougidians

In a weird sort of way this is the perfect time to relate this story.

Wilson devotee Andy Dollahite just posted a comment on Green Bagginses that places great emphasis on the word “BRANCH” as opposed to “sap.” So as long as we’re talking about new words, a couple of years ago Evan Wilson (Beelzeblog’s brother) coined the name “Branch Dougidians” to describe the Christ Church Cult.

Maybe it’s just me, but this is both funny and ironic, and I thought you might like to hear about it.

Thank you.


I posted this on Green Bagginses earlier today and am thankful it made the cut:

Regarding the whole “sap” issue, Dr. Beisner wrote this on page xxii of his Introduction to Auburn Ave. Theology: Pros and Cons:

There is no better justification for an appeal to “sap” as a sign that the fruitless branches had a “vital” union with Christ than there would be for an appeal to “bark” as a sign that all the branches enjoyed the immunity to disease and pests provided by bark and therefore none could apostatize. The parable mentions neither sap — much less “gracious sap” — nor bark. It is dangerous enough to draw doctrines from parables; it is more dangerous to draw doctrines from details within parables; it is exegetically fatal to draw doctrines from details that are not even there!

Dr. Beisner’s argument should have ended this particular thread of the so-called Federal Vision “conversation,” because to my knowledge no one has refuted it. Nevertheless, I believe that Pastor Stellman may be on to something when he suggested that the “FV’ists simply coin some new term to denote membership in the visible church.” After all, these men have spawned a great deal of confusion as they have replaced the precise language of Reformed theology with all sorts of sappy words, such as “non-decretal,” “Bapteryian,” “Federal Vision,” etc., which probably fall into Churchill’s category of “terminological inexactitude.”

Therefore, to help the conversation along, I have coined the term “saptistic” to denote the “functional union [from baptism] between Christ and the fruitless branch,” to use the lead FVist’s words. Obviously this word joins the unbiblical word “sap” with the biblical word “baptism,” and answers that vexing question raised by the non-existent “sap” of Holy Scripture. The Federal Visionists are “Saptists.”

Thank you.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Heidelblog

Dr. Clark furnishes us with an excellent survey of the history of the Federal Vision in a post titled “For Those Just Tuning in: What is the Federal Vision?” As you read it, notice the dearth of colorful metaphors, false analogies, and ad homs, which have been the FVists’ primary means of communicating their message. This is a pastoral piece written by an officer in the church who is also an academic, contra any of the FVists who think themselves medieval ecclesiastics and scholars when they’re more like Elmer Gantry in Roman collars.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Great Logic Fraud

Over at Green Bagginses they’re throwing strikes faster than Roger Clemens on steroids; so I figure it’s best to put this here rather than risk a call on the inside corner.

The Great Protector has appealed to his self-published book on logic to suggest that he has actually applied logic in the Federal Vision controversy. Interestingly, Dr. Beisner also appealed to Wilson’s self-published book on logic in his Introduction to Auburn Ave. Theology, concluding that Wilson should practice what he teaches:

Anyone who embraces this historic commitment of the Reformed faith and its great theologians to logic must greet the Federal Visionists’ objections, in principle, to logical critique of their statements with skeptical concern. Wilson, who co-authored an introductory text on logic, (FN: Douglas Wilson and Jim Nance, Introductory Logic, 3d ed. (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1997).) ought to know better. Yet, in his overview paper for this volume, he seeks to shield the Federal Visionists’ inconsistent assertions about how covenant, election, salvation, baptism, and assurance are related from criticism . . . . Wilson’s attempt to justify such inconsistencies by appeal to “levels of discourse” does not suffice. What it really leads to is precisely the sort of upper-story/lower-story dualism against which the late Francis Schaeffer indefatigably warned. Does Wilson, after all, mean to tell us that at one “level of discourse” — whatever that means — all children of believers are saved, while at another “level of discourse” some are not saved? What parents crave regarding their children is not “Well, on this level of discourse, your child is saved, but on another level, he might not be.” What fretting church members crave regarding their own assurance is not “Well, on this level of discourse, your baptism assures you that you’re saved, but on another level it doesn’t.” Such equivocation is not the responsibility of the minister of the Word of God, who is called to sound a clear trumpet (1 Corinthians 14:8), whose “Yes” should be “Yes” and whose “No” should be “No” (Matthew 5:37), whose message is to be ‘not Yes and No, but . . . always Yes” because in Christ “all [not just some!] of the promises of God” are “Yes” and “Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:19–20). No one will spend eternity blessed in heaven in one “level of discourse” and cursed in hell in another. (Cal Beisner, “Introduction,” Auburn Ave. Theology: Pros and Cons, pages xxxi, xxxii)

Thank you.

Anonymity Part III: The Great Protector

I hoped to work this into another post at another time, but given the present circumstances now’s as good as time as any. About 18 months ago Douglas Wilson filed a frivolous complaint with the Moscow Police Department that alleged someone had vandalized his home. Despite furnishing no evidence of any crime, the Bishop of Moscow asserted that, included among these alleged acts, someone placed a used condom in his mailbox. Furthermore, the Great Protector identified in writing the names of four possible suspects (three of them friends of mine), alleging that they publicly criticized him and his church, which in his mind meant that they would therefore also commit a defiling felony.

This incident created no small stir in Moscow because as a high-ranking police officer told me, “I don’t know why he put any names there, half the town hates him.” Not ironically, one of the persons that Wilson identified teaches Sunday school at the church where the Assistant Police Chief serves as a deacon. Ooooops.

Regardless, I note this historic fact because it constitutes one more reason for anyone interested in honest discourse on this matter, such as me, to leave their name out of the conversation rather than incite the Fearless Leader to commit a random act of defamation. He has demonstrated that when it comes to defending his “good” name, he will stoop to all-time lows in order to soil someone else’s.

Thank you.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Feliz Navidad

Heres’s another excellent comment from Dr. Johnson, which is worthy of front-page exposure:

GLW Johnson said,
December 24, 2007 at 9:11 am


I find your reply completely and totally unconvincing and your take on Calvin is just spin and nothing more. Furthermore your defense of the FV and the “outrage” they feel when dealing with critics like yours truly is highly ironic, and I’ll tell you why. We have heard ad nauseam the refrain from the FV that we “constantly” misinterpret, misrepresent, misread and so end up distorting them. Here the rich irony — I, and a great many others, see the FV doing this very thing when they appeal to Calvin and others in the Reformed tradition to substantiate their views!

Equally egregious is the way that many in the FV have throw distain on anyone and everyone who dares to raise questions over their claims that they are recovering the REAL Reformed tradition. I sat on the sidelines when this controversy first erupted. I made no public comments and, as stated here before, I attempted to resolve the concerns that I had with the FV in general and with Doug Wilson in particular, by direct correspondence — which, as I have also rehearsed here, proved fruitless. However, after watching the assault on my friend Guy Waters (for his book on the Federal Vision) and the abuse he was subjected to — including having the wrath of God invoked against him for daring to write such a book — I entered the fray.

May I point out that at no time during this controversy have I singled out for criticism (here or elsewhere) Peter Leithart, who all would consider one of the more prominent names associated with the FV. Why, you ask? Peter and I graduated in 1987 from WTS (Phil.) with our ThM degrees. Peter went on to Cambridge and I entered the PhD program at WTS. I have over the years read with much appreciation Peter’s writings in Credenda/Agenda and even though I didn’t always agree with what he was saying I appreciate his tone and the matter in which he wrote. He didn’t make snide or inflammatory remarks about those with whom he disagreed (he was the only FVer who acknowledged that Waters had indeed correctly represented his views and interacted with Guy’s book in a fair and courteous fashion). He didn’t insult them and call them names and he most certainly did not suggest that his views were the only ones that really were true to the Reformed tradition. As such I respect Peter. In this way, and in so many others he stands in sharp contrast to his colleague Doug Wilson, who revels in ridiculing his opponents and delights in heaping derision on any who would dare disagree with him (don’t take my word for it — just pick up practically any past issue of C/A and see for yourself or read his recent response to Andy Webb on his blog where he, the preeminent presbyterian, relishes calling the FV critics “Baptyrians”). Regrettably, Wilson has had far more influence of the FV peanut gallery than has Leithart.

Witness the way Stellman, Kline, and Piper were recently vilified as hopeless nominalists by a greenbehind-the-ears seminary student (when Wilson declared that this was “a battle for the hearts and minds of second-year seminary students” then he has at least one recruit he can claim). In particular the late Meredith Kline, one of my most cherished professors at WTS, has been subjected personal abuse — being called, among other things, “hateful” on this blog by one of the more scurrilous defenders of the FV. Kline was one of the most significant OT scholars of the 20th century and for him to be treated this way is positively contemptible — but he isn’t the only one to be on the receiving end of the FV scorn. Go back and read the nasty assessments the FV threw at the study committees of both the OPC and the PCA, as well as the faculties of MARS and Westminster Seminary, Calif. But I have come to expect this from the FV — since they take their cue from their fearless leader who had the hubris to denigrate one of the most significant Reformed theologians of all time — BB Warfield — as falling into “refried Gnosticism” because BBW clearly saw the difference between sacramentalism and sacredotalism — something that DW lacks the ability to see, which should not come as any big surprise since DW’s formal theological training could be listed on the back of a postage stamp.

I share Pastor Reed’s perspective — I am weary of dealing with this and I see no use in constantly having to restate the obvious over and over again. The FV and their sympathizers are convinced, despite being overwhelmingly rejected by multiple Reformed denominations, that they will prevail and that their enemies (which is the language Wilson uses to describe his critics) will be routed in due time (they are after all rabid postmils). It does not matter to them one bit that among their critics are men of great theological stature and deserving respect. They will disregard them simply because they are not sympathetic to the FV and only people who are sympathetic to the claims of the FV are true scholars. This is the mindset of sects. Adios.

Merry Christmas!


The Federal Visionists are quick to say that they are teachable and open to correction. Unfortunately, none of them, to a man, has ever allowed their critics to instruct them nor have any of them conceded any error of significance. Perhaps they could learn a lesson from Dr. Gary Johnson, who admitted the other day that I actually “improved” his excellent comment from Green Bagginsess.

Unfortunately for Dr. Johnson, he must now pay the price for defying the Fearless Leader’s holy decree to ignore my fully documented anonymous attack blog. Thankfully, though, he counted the cost beforehand and has braced himself for the Kult’s automatic punishment against all those who dare resist Beelzeblog’s papal bulls — shunning.

GLW Johnson said,
December 22, 2007 at 8:43 am

I am going to submit all future comments for editoral review to “Mark T.” He did a really nice job of making my extended comment (#97) much improved. However, I am somewhat worried that my association with “Mark T.” might render me “persona non grata” at the next Trinity Fest.

Nevertheless, I encourage all you Federal Visionists who are reading this to take a lesson from Dr. Johnson’s example. Admit your mistake, incur the wrath of the Perfect One, and show a little gratitude — learn to say “Thank you.”

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Point of Order

Beelzeblog posted the following comment on Green Bagginses in response to this comment here:

Douglas Wilson said,
December 23, 2007 at 5:49 pm

Point of order? Who is moderating this thread? Is the allegation that Christ Church is cult-like within the bounds that have been set for discussion here?

But as long as we are on the subject, you may rest assured that if you attend a church where the sanctuary is emptied two minutes after the benediction, and the parking lot is empty five minutes after that, you will never have to answer the charge of a cultish love for one another.

Memo to Beelzeblog:
No one compared your cult to other non-Christian cults because of your “cultish love for one another.” Rather, one of the similarities noted between your cult and typical non-Christian cults was your “antagonistic and critical outlook toward unbelievers and the majority of churches.” Perhaps you deem this well-documented antagonism towards others the same as “cultish love for one another,” but most people on the receiving end of your “cultish love” probably disagree. Ask Robert Dickow. Other than that, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas.

Thank you.

Characteristics of a cult: Monkey boy see, monkey boy do.

Two weeks ago the local listserv, Vision 20/20, heard about monkey boy Mike Lawyer’s apology to Bob Mattes. Most of the locals took it as I did, which is to say they didn’t believe a word of it. One guy wrote, “And the real bonus to all of this is that the dupes on the other side are actually buying it.” Like me, they’ve witnessed too much of Wilson’s abusive antics to ever grant him the judgment of charity. But I want to remind you of something that Lawyer wrote in his so-called apology:

Fourth, there has been some discussion about whether I said anything about going after you with the Air Force or the Pentagon. I don’t remember saying or writing anything about that. I don’t think that ever entered my mind. If, I did say anything like that you need to know that I had and have no intention of doing anything with regard to your job. That would be worse than reprehensible. (December 7, 2007, emphasis added)

I call this to your attention because of something that happened on the listserv just two days after Lawyer apologized, and you have to remember that Wilson and his monkey boys police the dialogue on Vision 20/20 no less than they police it elsewhere.

On December 10, someone generated a thread on 20/20 discussing Christ Church’s reputation for abusing former members of the Kult, as well as certain members of the community. A gentleman named Robert Dickow contributed to the thread and it’s important to note that, to my knowledge, Mr. (Dr.?) Dickow has never been a critic of the Kult. I do know that for the most part, he has stayed away from those threads. Nevertheless, he posted the following email to the listserv (if you don’t read the whole list, please jump to the end of the list):

[Vision2020] Characteristics of a cult
Robert Dickow dickow at
Mon Dec 10 08:49:15 PST 2007

Hi all, A minister friend of mine in England provided me with this rather comprehensive list of characteristics of a cult (or “destructive group” — defined more generally). Does this stuff remind you of anything?

Bob Dickow, troublemaker

Characteristics of A Destructive Group

While not all groups exhibit all these traits, destructive groups will have many of these characteristics and attitudes:
  • Authoritarian hierarchal control;
  • Black and white thinking: either or, we they, us them;
  • Centralized power structure;
  • Child abuse and neglect;
  • Competition with other members or with outsiders;
  • Conflicting opinions viewed as moral assaults and disloyalty;
  • Control of information within group environment;
  • Criticism of group, system or leaders is discouraged;
  • Different beliefs or ideas are perceived as threatening;
  • Discrimination (economic, emotional and psychological): race, gender, age, religion, politics;
  • Effusive praise and flattery for leaders;
  • Enemy making, a common enemy outside the group: other business groups, other religions, other countries, other life styles, other races;
  • Fear (or feelings of guilt) about the prospect of leaving the group;
  • Feelings of superiority and exclusiveness;
  • Gender-based abuse in any form;
  • Group becomes like a family and is more important than individual’s family and outside friends;
  • Group has the “truth” (the answers) others don’t;
  • Group (system) mission is more important than the individual;
  • Group’s doctrine repeated over and over, lots of repetitious lectures and meetings;
  • Group leader(s) are looked to for answers involving personal choices in life;
  • Labeling: Dissenting members, other groups, and different belief systems are given negative labels/names;
  • Large pay and power gaps between members and leaders;
  • Loaded language: the group has its own clichés, jargon and slogans that become simplistic explanations for complex situations;
  • Missionary consciousness: converting others to group ideology, product, beliefs, trying to persuade others to be like “us”;
  • Need leader(s) permission for everything;
  • Overuse of plural pronouns: we, us, they, them;
  • Peer pressure: non group ideas receive icy silence, ridicule, or condemnation;
  • Propaganda used to persuade members and internalize group ideas;
  • Public humiliation or embarrassment in any form;
  • Public sharings, testimonials, confession, witnessing;
  • Scapegoating within or outside the group;
  • Secrecy between members or between different levels of a group’s structure;
  • Selfishness is putting yourself above the group;
  • Strict dress codes, everyone looks alike;
  • Suppressing legitimate feelings when they do not fit the group’s mind set;
  • The need to be like leaders or like others in the group;
  • There is always something to do, excessive business;
  • There is a group explanation for everything;
  • Thought control: there are “good” and “bad” thoughts;
  • Unquestioning obedience to authority.
Emotional and Psychological Aftereffects From Membership in a Destructive Group:
Note: Aftereffects will vary depending on the specific type of group and the length of time spent in the group.
  • Feelings of guilt, shame, and self-blaming;
  • Difficulty making decisions and simple choices.
  • Excessive doubt;
  • Short term memory loss;
  • Anxiety and panic attacks;
  • Depression and anger;
  • Loneliness and feelings of detachment and isolation from others;
  • Loss of self-esteem;
  • Lack of self-confidence;
  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing attention;
  • Inability to think critically and “uncritical passivity;
  • Posttraumatic Stress:

  • Flashbacks including images, thoughts, and perceptions.
  • Recurrent nightmares or distressing dreams.
  • Efforts to avoid places or people that arouse memories of the group.
  • Significant diminished interest in important activities.
  • Sense of a foreshortened or non-existent future.
  • Irritability and angry outbursts.

  • Hyper critical of others, other ideas, other philosophies, other life styles;
  • Loss of a sense of self and identity;
  • Difficult or impossible to stop mental or other group ritualistic practices;
  • Feelings of emptiness and loss of a unique mission in life;
  • Disassociative episodes, floating, feeling spaced out;
  • Afraid to join other groups or make commitments;
  • Difficulty forming a new value system or philosophy toward life;
    Nervous tics — often induced by meditative techniques used in the group;
  • Fear of the group;
  • Estrangement (also while in the group) from family and former friends;
  • Difficulty making and expressing opinions.
No sooner did Mr. Dickow post this email (which never identified Christ Church by name) than one of Douglas Wilson’s most virulent monkey boys sent this email to Mr. Dickow and his superior at the University of Idaho (he has done this to several people in the last four years). And please notice the response time: Farris sent this email within 18 minutes of Mr. Dickow’s post:

- - - Original Message- - -
From: heirdoug at
Sent:Monday, December 10, 2007 9:07 AM
To: Robert Dickow
Cc: Kevin Woelfel
Subject: Non Official use of University Property and Computers.

Mr. Dickow,

I see that you posted your attempt at joining “the group” on Vision 2020 this morning utilizing your university computer. Is this post part of the music functions of the Lionel Hampton School of Music?

If it is personal time that you are spending doing this sort of activity maybe you should re-read your rules and regulations pertaining to the proper use of Government property.

I have attached the post with your University of Idaho email firmly attached at the top of the page. I was curious as to when works starts over at the U of I?

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Doug Farris
Heirloom Electric.

But Farris didn’t do his homework; he just shot off before he had his facts (which is common for him). Here is Mr. Dickow’s public response to Farris:

[Vision2020] FW: Non Official use of University Property and Computers.
Robert Dickow dickow at
Wed Dec 12 22:49:34 PST 2007

Mr. Farris:

While there are explicit laws applicable to contacting someone’s employer or supervisor with the aim of undermining the employment or status of an individual with regard to their employment, there are no laws or policies against sending email the way that I do. My outgoing mail in this case came from my home, while I was enjoying my morning coffee and correcting papers, on my personally owned computer, and the mail passed through’s smtp servers — an independent IPS — and not directly through any state-owned servers or equipment or software of any kind.

Robert Dickow

So while monkey boy Mike Lawyer made concessions to Bob Mattes for PR’s sake, Wilson’s monkey boys, who you would think answer to Lawyer’s authority or at least follow his example, continued their antics here in Moscow. Monkey boy see, monkey boy do.

Wilson, by your own standard you and your vicious disciples are “worse than reprehensible.”

Thank you.

The Christ Church Cult

Pastor Todd Bordow nails it again, this time outlining two common traits of cults. Before you read his comment, however, please note that Beelzeblog now uses his blog to openly recruit people to move to Moscow. He has lost all credibility with the locals; he couldn’t evangelize them even if wanted to. So he must keep his base in tact by recruiting souls to move to Moscow. Also note that about two years ago folks in Moscow gave a new name to the local sect, calling it The Christ Church Cult. The name sticks to this day. I republish this comment on my anonymous attack blog without permission:

A number of you are uncomfortable describing the DW/FV movement as cult-like, but if you have worked with cults you will recognize the two similarities listed below, and don’t worry, you will see as you read that this is on topic.
  1. People quitting their jobs to relocate to Moscow, ID, not because DW preaches the gospel clearly, but for other reasons; i.e., joining the law-abiding spiritually “elite.” This elitist feeling of being among the faithful few is intoxicating and addicting.

  2. Once committing emotionally to the movement, whether because you need the guarantee of faithful children unstained by the world, or DW’s antagonistic and critical outlook toward unbelievers and the majority of churches resonates with you (both common cult characteristics), you are forced to justify and explain away the most ridiculous claims made by the leaders — anyone remember Harold Camping?
For example, consider the claim by DW that God not only justifies and sanctifies individuals, but justifies and sanctifies his visible church, even though some within it might not be inwardly justified and sanctified. Think about how irrational and nonsensical that is. How is an entity “forgiven and declared righteous” while people within it not really forgiven and declared righteous? How do you take this stuff seriously? You do so when you are emotionally attached to the movement, and since in this movement a clear gospel message is not valued, followers are willing to allow the gospel to be obfuscated for the sake of continuing the movement and justifying its leaders. That is why no matter the logic or facts used to correct the statements of the FV leaders, the FV supporters continue on unabashed. Most true Christians in this movement need to crash first before they are courageous enough to walk away from the movement and still know they are okay spiritually.


Todd Bordow
Pastor — Covenant Presbyterian Church of Fort Worth (OPC)
Fort Worth, TX

Thank you.

Friday, December 21, 2007

No Tolerance

Last night I was looking for my copy of RJ Rushdoony’s The Institutes of Biblical Law, to see what he says the Bible demands for plagiarizers. I found volumes 2 & 3, but I couldn’t find the first volume. So I looked around the web and while I couldn’t find anything on plagiarism, I inadvertently fell on this little nugget that explains why the Federal Visionists will not bend one bit as they impose their doctrine on the Reformed church with extreme prejudice. In short, they have adopted a policy of no negotiation because they believe any concession amounts to “suicide”:

2. The Law as Revelation and Treaty
Law is in every culture religious in origin. Because law governs man and society, because it establishes and declares the meaning of justice and righteousness, law is inescapably religious, in that it establishes in practical fashion the ultimate concerns of a culture. Accordingly, a fundamental and necessary premise in any and every study of law must be, first, a recognition of this religious nature of law.

Second, it must be recognized that in any culture the source of law is the god of that society. If law has its source in man’s reason, then reason is the god of that society. If the source is an oligarchy, or in a court, senate, or ruler, then that source is god of that system. Thus, in Greek culture law was essentially a religiously humanistic concept. In contrast to every law derived from revelation, nomos for the Greeks originated in the mind (nous). So the genuine nomos is no mere obligatory law, but something in which an entity valid in itself is discovered and appropriated. . . . It is “the order which exists (from time immemorial), is valid and is put into operation.”[1]

Because for the Greeks mind was one being with the ultimate order of things, man’s mind was thus able to discover ultimate law (nomos) out of its own resources, by penetrating through the maze of accident and matter to the fundamental ideas of being. As a result, Greek culture became both humanistic, because man’s mind was one with ultimacy, and also neoplatonic, ascetic, and hostile to the world of matter, because mind, to be truly itself, had to separate itself from non-mind.

Modern humanism, the religion of the state, locates law in the state and thus makes the state, or the people as they find expression in the state, the god of the system. As Mao Tse-Tung has said, “Our God is none other than the masses of the Chinese people.”[2] In Western culture, law has steadily moved away from God to the people (or the state) as its source, although the historic power and vitality of the West has been in Biblical faith and law.

Third, in any society, any change of law is an explicit or implicit change of religion. Nothing more clearly reveals, in fact, the religious change in a society than a legal revolution. When the legal foundations shift from Biblical law to humanism, it means that the society now draws its vitality and power from humanism, not from Christian theism.

Fourth, no disestablishment of religion as such is possible in any society. A church can be disestablished, and a particular religion can be supplanted by another, but the change is simply to another religion. Since the foundations of law are inescapably religious, no society exists without a religious foundation or without a law-system which codifies the morality of its religion.

Fifth, there can be no tolerance in a law-system for another religion. Toleration is a device used to introduce a new law-system as a prelude to a new intolerance. Legal positivism, a humanistic faith, has been savage in its hostility to the Biblical law-system and has claimed to be an “open” system. But Cohen, by no means a Christian, has aptly described the logical positivists as “nihilists” and their faith as “nihilistic absolutism.”[3] Every law-system must maintain its existence by hostility to every other law-system and to alien religious foundations, or else it commits suicide. (Rousas John Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, “Introduction” [Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 1973] 5, 6)

[1] Hermann Kleinknecht and W. Gutbrod, Law (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1962), p. 21.

[2] Mao Tse-Tung, The Foolish Old Man Who Removed Mountains (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1966), p. 3.

[3] Morris Raphael Cohen, Reason and Law (New York: Collier Books, 1961), p. 84 f.

FV in One Paragraph

The brothers on the Warfield list picked up the question of how to describe the Federal Vision in one paragraph. Pastor Andrew Webb offered his thoughts and at the same time threw his hat in with the “Dead Rats Behind the Fridge Club” (DRBFC) by invoking the name of an evil anonymous attack blogger who thoroughly documents his posts as much as possible with credible sources and grounds his opinions in those well-documented facts.

RE: [bbwarfield] Can you define FV in one paragraph?

Hi Ken,

I’m tempted to simply quote JC Ryle’s summary of the version of the FV he was dealing with:

Religion is a mere corporate business. You are to belong to a certain body of people. By virtue of your membership of this body, vast privileges, both for time and eternity, are conferred upon you. It matters little what you are and what you feel. You are not to try yourself by your feelings. You are a member of a great ecclesiastical corporation. Then all its privileges and immunities are your own. Do you belong to the one true visible ecclesiastical corporation? That is the grand question.

But the definition is far too general and misses several of the charmingly post-modern features of modern FV theology such as:

Federal Vision Theology is constantly developing and that development occurs in the context of individual teaching. In the FV, as in the modern world, doctrine follows and attempts to explain practice. FV theology is not subject to peer review. It is thought up and immediately preached to a congregation, taught at a conference, and/or put into print. The purpose of Confessional Statements and the writings of Reformed theologians in the FV is purely to provide a few cherry-picked quotations to support what is already being taught, even if the use of those quotations in support of the FV author’s claims contradicts what that confession or theologian clearly teaches elsewhere. Apparent contradictions or paradoxes are not considered a problem within Federal Vision theology and precision is not desirable, so that while historic Reformed theology spoke it terms of doctrines, affirmations, and denials, FV theology speaks with an intentional vagueness that supposedly “reflects Scripture” rather than dogmatizing. Hence in FV theology it is possible to speak of people as being saved “in some sense.” It denies the deniability of its teachings. FV theology is also either uncomfortable with or openly scornful of an internal and subjective and necessary experience of the working of the Holy Spirit in regenerating individuals, or in regenerating large groups in the most scorned of all events — a revival. (In the FV a revival is an unnecessary, tedious, and boorishly uncultured event easily explained as some form of mass hysteria or ridiculous enthusiasm.) The FV welcomes ecclesiastical authority, but only if it concurs with or protects the teaching of the particular FV advocate in question, as such it would be useful as a means of silencing FV critics, but so far it has not been working properly. Consequently ecclesiastical authority must always be considered subordinate to the individual autonomy of the FV theologian and of limited usefulness at best. All FV theologians must be free to find more light in the Scriptures and immediately teach what they have found. Thus the FV maintains a delicious synthesis of high church liturgy with thoroughly Anabaptist, or more correctly Emerging, ecclesiology. The restraints on ecclesiastical authority, however, do not apply to individual congregations where the authority, and occasional inerrancy of the senior FV pastor (for life), should be considered almost absolute. Please note this is the senior FV pastor. Congregants under non-FV pastors have the same freedoms accorded to all FV theologians. Additionally, no one but an enthusiastic advocate of the FV may define the FV, until he leaves the FV (usually for the Roman Catholic church) at which point it is made clear to everyone that he never really was FV and thus is no longer able to define it. When FV advocates speak to one another at conferences called “The Federal Vision” or publish books under that title it is THE FEDERAL VISION (say it loud, say it proud) when they speak to those outside the camp it is “The So-Called ‘Federal Vision’” (pronounced with curled lip*).

* Thus creating a situation reminiscent of discussions of the La Cosa Nostra in the 1970s. Members of the organization coined the term and felt free to use it amongst friends, and everyone knew it existed, but in public discourse its very existence was denied as a hallucination on the part of those biased against people of Italian heritage (even when the people in question had names indicating their own roots were Italian).

Anyway, the above is obviously too large to work as a definition, but the truth is that while the movement has certain common features and goals, it is constantly in a state of flux adapting every day. For instance, now the current buzz is “temporary justification,” this doctrine will be incorporated and the movement will continue to adapt. The bizarre thing is that it has been up to observers rather than proponents to systematize the movement by observation, and every time they do the proponents deny the system has any relation to the theology. At this point we should be forced to conclude:
  1. Attempting to interact with the system is not just pointless, it’s for all practical purposes impossible.

  2. A review of history of the FV movement to this point, should lead us to the conclusion (and I know this is going to be unpopular) that the problem is not the FV system, which is less of a system and something closer to a Lego creation constantly being added to by its “designers.” At this point we should realize the problem is the FV people and work to insulate orthodox denominations from them. I’m no fan of working anonymously (then again I don’t have to live in Moscow) and wish he’d identify himself, but I think this point that Mark T. has been harping on at Fœdero Schism is worth considering. After all, the Bible doesn’t direct us to interact with and cast out “false prophecies” and “false teachings,” it warns us away from their sources, i.e. “false prophets” and “false teachers.”
I know at this point everyone will say, “No, we must tolerate them, that’s all they want us to do,” rather than “rending the body!” To which I would answer:
  1. Since when is maintaining a false peace more important than true purity?

  2. Where are we instructed to accommodate theological error and heresy?

  3. What kind of communion do we have when we consider one another to be in error and freely contradict one another’s teaching?

  4. As Presbyterian history shows, “tolerance” is a tool used to manipulate moderates into allowing errorists to remain in the tent until they can gain ascendancy. Then the much vaunted tolerance disappears and the conservatives are told to conform or leave. I just spoke with a former PCUSA pastor who was shocked when his own past willingness to tolerate men who believed in women as elders was not repaid in kind when he declined to adopt the position in his own church.

  5. Tolerance will have the inevitable effect of entrenching the FV in Reformed Denominations and Seminaries so that it will be impossible to remove it regardless of how odd the ever-changing FV theology becomes. This in turn will make it almost impossible to address any form of theological declension. A little leaven leavens the lump.

  6. From a pragmatic viewpoint, this amounts to an entrenching of nominalism, which is a death sentence for evangelicalism in denominations.
Your Servant in Christ,

Andy Webb

Thank you.

Greatest Christmas Album of All Time

This post has been in the back of my head since Thanksgiving, but one thing after another pushed it aside. Regardless, A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Original Sound Track Recording of the CBS Television Special is hands down the best Christmas album I’ve ever heard. Don’t let the cartoon fool you. The Vince Guaraldi Trio puts a smooth jazz edge on each track that does no insult to the original, including “What Child Is This?” and “Hark the Herald the Angels Sing.” Check out the reviews on Amazon — 210 total with a well-deserved 5 stars.

The second-greatest Christmas album of all time is Portraits of Christmas by Wind Machine. We play it whenever we have company during the holidays and without exception it always captures their attention: “Who is that?” But good luck trying to find it, it’s out of print.

Thank you.

Seducing Souls

I received a thought-provoking comment that deserves front-page attention. This person wrote:

Over on The Shepherd’s Scrapbook there is this quote which, I think, applies well in explaining the influence that Wilson exerts over his followers:

There is no question that there aren’t very many writers out there more gifted than Philip Pullman and of course that’s what makes it the more disturbing when the gifts are abused. . . . We [he and his Senior college class] spent a lot of time talking about what’s involved in reading a world-making author like this. It’s an enormously seductive experience. As you come to trust in the author’s ability to make a compelling and fascinating world it becomes harder and harder to mistrust that author’s leadership and direction in moral matters. And so it’s very hard to sort these things out. If you begin to suspect the moral tendency or direction that the book is taking the imaginative wholeness of the vision becomes less compelling to you as well. So I think many readers who love and relish being put into these secondary worlds, who love to immerse themselves in the textures and shapes of a world different than ours, those readers are faced with a great temptation to turn off their moral and spiritual discernment so they are not disturbed in their immersion in this world. It’s a tough thing to try to keep those moral and spiritual antennae working to discern the spirits because you want so much to have an enjoyable reading experience. You don’t want it all to collapse all around your ears. (“The pull of Pullman”)

I agree with this as it applies to someone who willingly allows a tempter to seduce them. But you can’t forget the tempters in all this because they make their world so tempting, which is where Wilson enters the picture. Dr. Johnson noted below that Wilson said he was “very sympathetic to Wright’s contention that ‘justification is on the basis of the completed life lived.’” Of course, we all know that these are code words for salvation by works, though dishonest men refuse to admit it.

Nevertheless, here lies the seduction. Wilson cannot affirm outright that holds salvation by works because of its obvious ramifications. Therefore he floats the idea that he’s sympathetic to “justification is on the basis of the completed life lived” in order to condition his readers — in order to seduce them. He’s desensitizing them to something that normally would revolt them. So he feeds them a little bit of poison at a time, incrementally, which makes it easier to swallow over the long haul and strengthens their tolerance as well.

A friend of mine has an axiom: “Whenever Wilson floats an idea, it’s because he already landed there and wants the people to adjust.” For an example of this, consider his serrated-edge theology. If Pastor Lane Keister ever treated another human being in public the way Wilson regularly treats others, I daresay he would horrify every one of his readers. Honestly, imagine Pastor Lane breathing out threats and slaughter in a fit of rage on his blog, as Wilson does on a daily basis — how long would his massive readership last? It would disappear overnight.

But in Wilson’s case he has conditioned his readers to accept his abusive conduct as normal Christian behavior for him, which is the point. Wilson had to prepare his followers for this inevitable conclusion, and he could not do it at the snap of a finger. He had to slowly desensitize his disciples with one outrageous act after another, always dehumanizing his target (prey) with vicious humiliating ridicule, so that now anything goes and no one asks any questions. In fact, the monkey boys approve it and defend it — because he trained them, like Pavlov’s dogs, to expect it.

So the moral of this story is that Wilson isn’t sympathetic to “justification is on the basis of the completed life lived”; he holds it. And I can say this with absolute certainty because he doesn’t float new ideas to test the waters — he floats them because he’s in the water and, like the Tempter, he intends to seduce as many souls as possible into joining him.

Thank you.

Give me a break

By far and away Green Bagginses has the finest commentators on his blog, and Pastor Gary Johnson is one of them. This morning he had an excellent comment that moved someone to request that he insert a few paragraph breaks in his posts. You see, Pastor Johnson has a tendency to type one complete thought en masse — typos, punctuation errors, et al — and hit “Submit Comment.”

Therefore, with the hope of encouraging Pastor Johnson to insert paragraph breaks in his comments, I have re-posted his comment without permission, though with corrections and appropriate paragraph breaks:

I want to commend Norman Shepherd for his straightforward admission that the Westminster Standards (WS) are really not in harmony with his views. It would be refreshing if his disciples in the Federal Vision would follow suit.

Shepherd, for example, readily acknowledges that the bi-covenantal structure of the WS, especially the centrality the divines placed on the Covenant of Works (CoW), clearly leads to a pronounced emphasis on the imputation of the active obedience of Christ (IoAOC). No CoW, no IoAOC. Instead [for him] the first covenant is entirely a gracious covenant. But, as has been observed many times, there really is a bi-covenantal structure embedded in this view after all — because the end result is that a covenant of works now surfaces in the Gospel in terms of “covenantal faithfulness” that now constitutes the condition for final justification.

Why just recently Doug Wilson, in his overview of Piper’s critique of NT Wright, said that he was very sympathetic to Wright’s contention that “justification is on the basis of the completed life lived.” Now Wilson is quick to add, “This is not the same thing as affirming justification by works, and is fully consistent with sola fide.” No, it is not, Doug, and your saying so does not make it so. Why even Trent affirmed that justification in their system was entirely of grace and gave “faith” THE place of prominence — going so far as to declare that anyone who would seek to be justified by works deserves an anathema. Wilson, however, ends up following a very similar path as did Trent by appealing to Rom. 2:5–7 ala Wright and confidently declares, “This is consistent with ‘sola fide’ because we receive everything God gives by faith from first to last. The righteousness of God is revealed ‘from’ faith ‘to’ faith (Rom. 1:17), and the just shall ‘live’ by faith (Rom. 1:17), not the ‘just shall make a good start by faith.’”

It should be noted that NONE of the Reformers or the Westminster divines interpreted Rom.2:5–7 the way that Wilson is suggesting. I also want you to note what this amounts to in the final analysis. A distinctive covenant of works is now imported into the scheme of how one goes about securing one’s final justification. You can jump up and down and stomp your feet and howl at the top of your lungs, “Sola Fide all the way Baby!” But it ceased to be what the Reformers and the Westminster divines meant by that when you introduced a conditional final justification that has any reference to “the totality of the life lead.” Please see Calvin’s indignant response to the 6th session where he again and again repudiates any notion that justification is in the slightest contingent on the life lived after one embraces the Gospel, declaring — “as if God, after justifying us once freely IN A SINGLE MOMENT, left us to procure righteousness for ourselves by the observance of the law during the whole of life” (my emphasis).

Clearly Calvin rejected outright the “covenantal nomism” that the New Perspective on Paul advocates like NT Wright are proposing, and to his credit Wright openly admits that he does not follow the Reformers in their understanding of justification, but as it turns out this is the path that Norman Shepherd and the FV is traveling as well.

You see, it looks cleaner, reads easier, and an excellent comment just got better.

Thank you.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Theonomic Plagiarist

From P&R News, Volume 6 Number 2, March—April 2000, page 7:

Steve Wilkins: “Is theonomy Reformed? Of course it is, or why would I embrace it? That’s the pro hominen argument.” * * * * Speaking of contemporary civil magistrates: “They are very good at regulating the price of milk, and what should go on a pizza, but they can’t catch a thief and they don’t know what to do with him if they do.”

Two questions:
  1. If theonomy is Reformed and “Reformed” is not enough, then is “theonomy” enough? Okay, bad question. Let’s try another:

  2. If the civil magistrate can’t catch a thief and wouldn’t know what to do with him if they did catch him, then what should a theonomic presbytery do with a plagiarist in their ranks?
Of course, I ask my second question with the assumption that plagiarism is theft.

Thank you.

Chapter Two

I don’t want anyone to think that success has gone to my head after WORLD Magazine reported the stunning revelations disclosed on my anonymous attack blog Fœdero Plagiary. Far from it. Therefore, today we shall resume our series on the literary theft of the first Federal Vision martyr, Steven “Machen” Wilkins, as we consider chapter 2 of his book Call of Duty: the Sterling Nobility of Robert E. Lee.

The keen observer will notice that this chapter does not have as much yellow highlight smothering its pages, but this is for two reasons. First, I’m too lazy to go to WSU and check out a book and, second, I had a mini-graphic-artist rebellion. So you will see two full pages without highlighted text — the first, page 40, I’m sure Wilkins plagiarized from the book Presbyterians in the South by Ernest Trice Thompson, because he devoted the whole page to the religious history of Lee’s hometown and he stuck a footnote at the bottom of the page, which is a sure sign that he plagiarized most of the text. The second is page 43, which has lots of little phrases pinched from Freeman’s R.E. Lee, but my graphic artist refuses to nickel and dime his time and my bandwidth. Consequently, you’ll have to make do with these few morsels of cherry-picked words, straight from that noble martyr of Federal Visionism — Steven “Machen” Wilkins. Check out Fœdero Plagiary.

Post Script: I just love the words “toddling about” on the last page of the chapter.

Thank you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lies Within Lies

I find it “astonishing” that Beelzeblog can chastise Guy Waters for not acknowledging the exam he took in front of a few hand-picked confederates, when he insists on misrepresenting the CREC’s form of government as a “presbytery” even though, as its founder and chief architect, he knows it’s a “confederation”:

One of the things that became obvious throughout this review of Waters’ book on the Federal Vision was the extraordinarily sloppy job done by Waters in representing my views fairly or accurately. Unfortunately, this pattern continues in the footnotes and bibliography.

An astonishing ommission [sic] in the bibliography is the doctrinal examination I took before my presbytery in order to address these question. That examination can be found . . . . (“Making the Necessary Qualifications”)

Thank you.

Make That “Post-Enlightenment Hypocritical Gnostics”

Yesterday we saw that the words “spiritually authoritative, but practically advisory,” taken from the CREC Constitution, reveal the CREC’s true nature — they’re Gnostics calling themselves presbyterians despite officially naming themselves a confederation. They’re Gnostics because their constitution limits their “spiritual authority” to “practical advice,” which, if you ask me, is not a particularly big bragging point for the confederates — especially when the Fearless Leader regularly parades the decisions of his “presbytery” before the world, as though it actually exists. In fact, the absence of any mechanism in the CREC Constitution to hold its confederates accountable reveals that, in addition to being Gnostics, they’re flaming independents, or individualists, if you will. Yes, that dreaded sin of individualism. They adopted it whole hog into their founding document, all the while calling themselves “presbyterians.”

But just in case you think the absence of any effective accountability clauses in the CREC Constitution is a confederate oversight, please consider the second paragraph of Article IV, section O, which states:

If a complaint against a member session is brought by someone who is not a member of a CREC church, the CREC, in presbytery, Church council, or through its appropriate moderator, can agree to hear the case if all of the following conditions have been met.
  1. The moderator has a letter from the accused session in question declining to hear the case, or a letter advising him that the case was heard and rejected.

  2. The moderator has a letter from the government of the church where the complainant is a member saying that the church affirms the truth of the Apostles’ Creed, and agrees to hold the complainant accountable if the decision goes against him. If the complainant is an independent church, the moderator must have a letter of commitment from that church expressing their willingness to give due weight, respect and consideration to the decision of the CREC, and agreeing not to pursue the matter beyond the CREC decision.

  3. The charges as framed have two or three available and accountable witnesses listed for each specified complaint.

  4. The complainant has not overtly discredited himself in his manner of bringing the charges. (CREC Constitution)
I call this the “retaliation clause” because it demonstrates that the CREC confederates know how to use the principles of accountability to insure retribution. To be sure, while the CREC Constitution confers no authority on its members to hold one another accountable, it positively guarantees that non-members of the CREC cannot bring charges against a CREC church unless their church government agrees to hold them accountable if (when) the CREC decides against them. Furthermore, the complainant must agree to submit to the CREC’s ruling as the final decision if (when) the CREC rules against them. Notice the specifics of subsection (2):

The moderator has a letter from the government of the church where the complainant is a member saying that the church affirms the truth of the Apostles’ Creed, and agrees to hold the complainant accountable if the decision goes against him. If the complainant is an independent church, the moderator must have a letter of commitment from that church expressing their willingness to give due weight, respect and consideration to the decision of the CREC, and agreeing not to pursue the matter beyond the CREC decision. (emphasis added)

Therefore, we may conclude that the CREC confederates affirm the importance of holding others outside of their confederation accountable to biblical authority while they have thoroughly insulated themselves from any accountability to biblical authority, which fits the textbook definition of hypocrisy: “Do as we say, not as we do.” We may also conclude that the CREC confederates are not always Gnostic individualists; they’re only Gnostic individualists when it’s “practically advisory” to protect the Fearless Leader’s best interests, which appears to be at all times.

Thank you

Make That “Post-Enlightenment” Gnostics

According to the New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge,

The term “church federation” has come into use in recent years to designate the spirit and methods of cooperation and unity that in varied ways are bringing Protestant Churches and Christian bodies into organized affiliation and united action in matters of common interest and service. . . . Historically the federation movement is the United States is linked with the development of the spirit of unity which found expression in the nineteenth century through the American branch of the Evangelical Alliance (q.v.). A conference held in New York, Dec. 3, 1899, took steps which resulted in the organization of the National Federation of Churches and Christian Workers. . . . The difference between federated union and organic church union is clearly defined in the stipulation that “this Federal Council shall have no authority over the constituent bodies adhering to it: but its province shall be limited to the expression of its counsel and the recommending of a course of action in matters of common interest to the Churches, local councils, and individual Christians.” (New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, vol. 3, ed. Samuel Macauley Jackson [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1952, digital facsimile edition] 90, 91, emphasis added)

Did you catch the date of the first “federation” of churches? They’re nineteenth century. This means that the CREC’s form of government is not only Gnostic, it’s post-Enlightenment Gnostic!

It gets better. Notice the words “this Federal Council shall have no authority over the constituent bodies adhering to it: but its province shall be limited to the expression of its counsel and the recommending of a course of action,” which are taken from the NFCCW Constitution, and compare them with this line: “The decisions of the assemblies with regard to the local congregation are spiritually authoritative, but practically advisory,” which is from the CREC Constitution.

At least the National Federation of Churches and Christian Workers didn’t mistake itself for a presbytery.

Thank you.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Gnostic Accountability

Continuing my thread on Douglas Wilson’s so-called “accountability,” today we shall consider his accountability to the denomination that he founded, the Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals (CREC), which requires us to examine the CREC Constitution. And whenever you discuss CREC constitutional matters, the first issue you must contemplate relates to honesty and competence. I say this because the CREC Constitution specifically identifies the CREC as a “presbytery” fifty-three times, whereas it only uses the word “confederation” a total of seven — once in the title and six times in the “Preamble.”

Obviously this should concern anyone interested in truthful discourse because these men have front loaded the conversation with false witness before it ever begins and if they don’t have the capacity — moral or mental — to accurately identify their assembly, then at that point the question that all interested parties must answer is whether the CREC confederates incorporated this falsehood into their founding document because they are dishonest or incompetent. I suppose the judgment of charity would argue for incompetence but I am willing to hear other positions.

This brings us to the CREC and the “accountability” clause in its constitution, which you have to read carefully because there is only one article that vests limited authority in the confederates to act in a disciplinary capacity. It states:

Article IV. The Broader Assemblies. . . .
L. After a fair and open judicial hearing at presbytery, a congregation may be removed from membership in the presbytery by a two-thirds vote of the presbytery. Upon such occasions, the removed congregation retains the full right of appeal to council.

M. Issues relating to the local congregation which may lawfully be brought before the broader assemblies are specified in this section. All matters not itemized here must be adjudicated and resolved at the level of the local church.

Before any appeal is made, a matter must be first addressed at the local church level. Appeal may be made (1) when the session of elders is accused by two or more of the church members of participating in or tolerating grievous dishonesty in subscription to the doctrinal or constitutional standards of the local church; or, (2) when the session of elders is accused by two or more of the church members of gross misbehaviour. In any case where at least two witnesses are from the same household, three witnesses are required to hear the case. The broader assemblies must refuse to hear frivolous or unconstitutional appeals.

Appeals to council do not necessarily have to first be heard by presbytery. However, council may choose to remand the case to presbytery.

N. When an appeal comes to presbytery, a simple majority at presbytery is necessary to decide the issue; the decision of presbytery shall be considered settled and binding unless and until it is proved by a council to be in conflict with the Scriptures or the Constitution of the CREC. The matter may be appealed further to the council by the appellant. The council must refuse to hear frivolous or unconstitutional appeals. A simple majority at council is necessary to decide the issue; the decision of council shall be considered settled and binding unless and until it is proved by a future council to be in conflict with the Scriptures or the Constitution of the CREC. Decisions of council can be appealed to a future council, though the future council is not obligated to receive such an appeal.

O. The decisions of the assemblies with regard to the local congregation are spiritually authoritative, but practically advisory. If the elders of a particular congregation choose to refuse the instruction of the broader church, they may do so without deprivation of property. However, if their disregard of godly counsel is particularly egregious, they may be removed from membership in the CREC, in accordance with Section M and O. (CREC Constitution, Article IV, sections L—O)

Notice the details. Everything pivots on the qualification in section M: “Issues relating to the local congregation which may lawfully be brought before the broader assemblies are specified in this section.” In other words, the CREC Constitution prohibits the confederates from hearing anything other than what section M specifies and, accordingly, the CREC can only hear cases brought by members of a CREC church and those members must bring charges against their entire session of elders. That’s it. No mas. Therefore, if an elder, a session of elders, or even a “presbytery” (the CREC has two, so called) in the CREC took offense at Wilson’s reprehensible conduct or his false doctrine, the CREC Constitution gives them no standing to pursue remedy. And even if they had standing to bring charges, the CREC Constitution grants no authority to the confederates to take disciplinary action. Section O states:

The decisions of the assemblies with regard to the local congregation are spiritually authoritative, but practically advisory. If the elders of a particular congregation choose to refuse the instruction of the broader church, they may do so without deprivation of property. (emphasis added)

Make careful note of the words “spiritually authoritative, but practically advisory.” This is the sum total of the confederation’s constitutional power. It is purely “spiritual,” which the constitution defines as nothing more than “practical advice,” except in egregious cases when the CREC Constitution authorizes the confederates to expel a member church.

For you CREC monkey boys reading this, here lies the difference between a “presbytery” and a “confederation.” While these sections of the CREC Constitution continually refer to the CREC as a “presbytery” (because of dishonesty or incompetence), the governing document never vests authority in its members to exercise discipline. They are completely powerless to act in any biblical capacity. They cannot censure; they cannot excommunicate; they cannot restore; they cannot comment on standing — good or bad; they can only expel. They have absolutely no authority to discipline. Simply put, they’re Gnostics.

Thank you.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Puritan Board

Every now and then I scan the Puritan Board; I admit that at times the archives seem difficult to navigate, but that’s probably operator error. Anyway, they have three interesting threads going on right now:

  1. “Why did Bahnsen shave his beard?” Good question.

  2. “Describe FV in one paragraph” I like the sentence on my sidebar: “A small faction of self-professed ‘medieval Trinitarians’ bent on modernizing the Westminster Confession of Faith to conform to their contemporary standards, which they have yet to define.”

  3. “Bob Dylan!” The only reason I threw Dylan in there is because it gives me an excuse to plug Weird Al Yankovic. This video is hilarious:

This Is “My Town” Hall Meeting

Okay, last “DUMB and Tan” post for a while; but it’s important to fill the archives with these federal facts.

I cannot overstate the awful polarizing effect of Douglas Wilson’s Southern Slavery scandal on the Palouse. We have seen the in-your-face ads that Christ Church purchased to rehabilitate their public image, and we have also seen that the Kirk’s mother church — the Evangelical Free Church of Pullman — warned its congregation about Wilson during this time because of his reckless antics in public over one of those essential Christian doctrines — Southern slavery. I have noted before that you can witness him antagonizing the community by reading the Vision 20/20 archives for the months October 2003 – February 2004. But perhaps the best way to establish the psycho environment that Wilson created at that time is to consider the “Town Hall Meeting.”

On December 4, 2003, Wilson changed his strategy towards the Palouse by inviting the public to attend his “Town Hall Meeting” to discuss the Southern Slavery scandal. The evasive op-eds didn’t work; the insulting ads didn’t work (twice); the cutting remarks on 20/20 didn’t work; so Wilson called a “Town Hall Meeting” to see if it would work. Rosemary Huskey, as usual, saw through Wilson’s spin and she called him on it here. Many others in the community didn’t buy it either. Nevertheless, the event took place on December 11, 2003; here is the Spokesman Review’s article from Friday, December 12, 2003.

Church, town test tolerance
Pastor clears Moscow air about stand on slavery
Hannelore Sudermann, Staff writer

MOSCOW, Idaho — A controversial Moscow church held an open forum Thursday night to address accusations of being pro-slavery, homophobic and opposed to public education. “Meeting face to face and speaking about misunderstandings is an important thing to do,” said Csaba Leidensfrost, one of 13 elders at Christ Church, a nearly 30-year-old group that members describe as a Presbyterian/Christian church. “We think there have been some serious misunderstandings.” The church pastor, Doug Wilson, went a step further. “I believe we have been erroneously, slanderously lied about,” he told about 300 people at the Kenworthy Theater.

The recent controversy arose with the announcement of a conference Christ Church members are sponsoring at the University of Idaho in February. Wilson and a man named Steve Wilkins will be speakers at the conference. They have been criticized for their stance on slavery. They co-authored a book on Southern slavery and in it described the situation as “harmonious” and “based on mutual affection and confidence.” Wilkins is a member of the League of the South, which is considered a neo-Confederate organization, and an author and pastor.

Though the topic of the conference is history, not slavery, several UI faculty members and students have spoken out against the men being allowed a forum on campus. Negative attention toward the church has spread to businesses owned by church members. The owners of a bakery say their business has been spit on and vandalized. Some community members have urged a boycott of the businesses.

“We really would like this town meeting to put the controversy to death,” said Wilson. Diving into the heart of the controversy, Wilson addressed the subject of slavery. He said he believes it is sinful and wrong, but that the slavery that took place in the South prior to the Civil War wasn’t as bad as the slavery in ancient Rome. He also said that slavery in the United States could have ended in a more peaceful manner.

Most of the forum took place in an organized fashion, with people talking about philosophy and Scripture and questioning the church’s positions. But a stir went through the audience when Ruth Drollinger stepped up to the microphone. Last spring, she pulled her children out of Logos, a private school in Moscow that many Christ Church children attend. “I’m going public tonight,” she said. “I’m here to say Christ Church is in control of that school.” She said her children were spanked for challenging the teachers’ beliefs, and she feels what is taught about the Civil War at Logos is one-sided. “They celebrate Robert E. Lee’s birthday,” she said. “But not Lincoln’s.” While some in the audience wanted Drollinger to continue, others shouted that she was out of order and called for her to sit down. One man tried to lead her away by the arm.

Others, like John Dickinson, questioned Wilson and the church about their stance on homosexuality. Wilson said he’s opposed to homosexual marriage, but he doesn’t think gays should be executed, as the biblical book of Leviticus advises.

As for public schools, Wilson, calling them “government schools,” said he and members of Christ Church believe they are antithetical to their values as Christians. He said that parents, not the government, should be responsible for educating their children and that he didn’t want to pay taxes to support the public system.

Wilson said he and others see Moscow as a place of faux tolerance. People “really want diversity until they actually get some,” he said. “Here we are.”

Hannelore Sudermann can be reached toll-free at (866) 332-3674 or by e-mail at

You can see footage of the meeting below, where the opening scene captures Evan Wilson, estranged brother of Douglas, the other scenes capture glimpses of an outraged community determined to vent on Wilson. But in the end, none of these things mattered. The Town Hall Meeting remedied nothing because Wilson answered no one questions and so he returned to his natural man and began insulting the community once again, as we shall see in future posts.

Thank you.