Archive for the ‘John Otis’ Category

>Did Otis and/or Aquila Misrepresent Higgins’ Views?

October 4, 2010

>In “Discerning Roman Catholic Tendencies Among Professing Reformed Churches,” published by Dominic Aquila, John Otis gave strong warnings about Craig R. Higgins, calling him a “very dangerous man” and “equally dangerous” with the Federal Visionists such as Peter Leithart.

Otis summarizes his lengthy and detailed analysis this way:

To recap Craig Higgins’ theological errors, they are:

  1. He advocates observing Romish traditions, such as observing Lent as something wise for Presbyterians to do.
  2. He advocates a form of “Reformed Episcopacy,” which is really an advocating of episcopacy rather than Presbyterianism. He even suggests the Pope of Rome ought to be the presiding bishop in an ecumenical visible church.
  3. He denies the distinction between the visible and invisible church.
  4. He advocates a Romish understanding of baptism. He believes in baptismal regeneration- that those in the visible church actually have the benefits of Christ’s redemptive work at their water baptism.
  5. He denies the Reformed understanding of the perseverance of the saints.

These areas warrant church discipline for this teaching elder.

Now, the Metro New York presbytery of the PCA has complained against the publisher, Mr. Aquila, sending a letter to his presbytery declaring that “one of your presbyters, Dominic Aquila, publishes a website entitled “The Aquila Report” ( in which we believe he allows one of the brothers in our presbytery, Craig Higgins, to be slandered.”

You can read the entire letter here (link to copy of letter), but what is glaring is the dissimilarity between Otis’ paper and the MNY’s letter. The former is full of detailed and reasoned analysis and explanation. The latter is little more than handwaving generalities and unsupported accusations. Not one single mistake in Otis’ lengthy analysis is identified with any particularity.

The gist of the complaint amounts to the idea that since Higgins is in good standing with MNY, Aquila shouldn’t be publishing an article that suggests that Higgins is a dangerous false teacher. There is no Biblical or rational basis upon which this ground could be sustained.

Moreover, in order for anyone to take MNY’s complaint against Aquila seriously, they would first need to provide some sort of meaningful response to Otis’ analysis. It’s possible, of course, that a committee of the MNY presbytery has actually prepared such a response in secret. If such a response exists, I would be delighted to read it. Without such a response, however, Otis’ analysis is quite compelling.

Likewise, I’m unaware of any public response from Higgins disputing with particularity even one of the five main points that Otis sought to establish, much less any of the minutia. One would think that such a response would be necessary at a minimum for someone to conclude that Otis’ otherwise apparently sound critique was inappropriate.

Does Otis’ analysis contain mistakes? Perhaps – he is human. But can we find those mistakes? MNY and Higgins have not even told us where we should look to find the mistakes, much less actually demonstrate that any point Otis has raised is either unsupported or in error.

MNY’s letter seems highly imprudent under these circumstances. If MNY’s letter is truthful, and Otis’ analysis does misrepresent Higgins’ views, they have simply ensured that more people will read Otis’ analysis, as they have provided no reason for anyone to disbelieve what Otis has written. On the contrary, if MNY’s letter is untruthful, they have compounded their errors by not only failing to properly discipline Higgins, but also false accusing those who have been exhorting them to do their duty.


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