Archive for the ‘Peter Leithart’ Category

Assurance and Baptism – Leithart Should Read 1 John

December 8, 2014

Peter Leithart should read the First Epistle of John. Peter Leithart writes: “Justification by grace through faith cannot be sustained, either in theology or in our experience, without confidence that God works in the sacraments. We cannot get assurance unless we’re convinced that God declares me His beloved child in the water of baptism. Which means, No baptism, No justification.” (link)

But read 1 John. That book’s raison d’etre is expressed this way:

(1:4) … these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full … (5:13) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

John mentions a lot of things that help give us confidence, the primary one being that we have faith in Christ. John never mentions baptism in this epistle.

Leithart should learn from 1 John that Baptism is not what provides us our assurance.

-TurretinFan

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Leithart Asks – on Justification and Baptism

December 3, 2014

Peter Leithart has a question that every child who has memorized the Westminster Shorter Catechism should be able to answer: “If baptism is not a public declaration of justification, where and when does that public declaration take place?” (link)

Westminster Shorter Catechism #38
Q: What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
A: At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory,1 shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment,2 and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God,3 to all eternity.4

[1] 1 Corinthians 15:42-43. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.
[2] Matthew 25:33-34. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Matthew 10:32. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
[3] Psalm 16:11. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
1 Corinthians 2:9. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
[4] 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. [See preceding context.]

As Matthew Henry puts it:

4. Shall they be openly acknowledged in the day of judgment? Yes: Him will I confess before my Father which is in heaven, Matt. 10:32. Will God own them as his own? Yes: They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in that day when I make up my jewels, Mal. 3:17. And will that be their honour? Yes: If any man serve me, him will my Father honour, John 12:26. Shall they be openly acquitted? Yes: for their sins shall be blotted out when the times of refreshing come, Acts 3:19.

Westminster Larger Catechism

Q. 90. What shall be done to the righteous at the day of judgment?

A. At the day of judgment, the righteous, being caught up to Christ in the clouds,[389] shall be set on his right hand, and there openly acknowledged and acquitted,[390] shall join with him in the judging of reprobate angels and men,[391] and shall be received into heaven,[392] where they shall be fully and forever freed from all sin and misery;[393] filled with inconceivable joys,[394] made perfectly holy and happy both in body and soul, in the company of innumerable saints and holy angels,[395] but especially in the immediate vision and fruition of God the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, to all eternity.[396] And this is the perfect and full communion, which the members of the invisible church shall enjoy with Christ in glory, at the resurrection and day of judgment.

[390] Matthew 25:33. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Matthew 10:32. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

[391] 1 Corinthians 6:2-3. Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

[392] Matthew 25:34, 46. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

[393] Ephesians 5:27. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Revelation 14:13. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

[394] Psalm 16:11. Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

[395] Hebrews 12:22-23. But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.

[396] 1 John 3:2. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 1 Corinthians 13:12. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Into the Church or Into the Visible Church?

November 10, 2011

Rob Rayburn (in his closing argument in the Leithart trial) stated: “Baptism is a means of grace. It brings a person into the church, the family of God as the Confession itself says.”

Actually, the Confession says “Baptism is a sacrament of the new testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church … .” There is an important qualifier there: “visible.”  It is a merely external admission.  But is that what Leithart teaches?  Or does Leithart affirm that all those who are baptized have more than a merely external union with him?  The Federal Vision Joint Statement (which Leithart signed) seems to suggest the latter in its section on apostasy.

-TurretinFan

Expert or Not? Jason Stellman Then and Now

November 2, 2011

In the first part of 2011, Jason Stellman solicited for contributions for the expenses of “expert witnesses” (the description used at the time) who were to testify at the trial of Peter Leithart (evidence here).  During the trial, as reported by Stellman himself, Stellman identified his witness as an expert witness:

MODERATOR O’BAN: Well, let me ask the prosecutor, why, what’s the nature of this witness’ testimony if it’s not expert testimony?

STELLMAN: Well, he has read every single theological piece of literature or writing that Leithart has written. He’s read every single book, every single journal article, every single theological book I should say, every journal article. He probably has read as much of Dr. Leithart’s work as anyone else except perhaps Dr. Leithart himself. And so why his competence is called into question here is an answer I would like to hear.

MODERATOR O’BAN: No, I think the question more narrowly framed is in what capacity is this witness being called. He didn’t overhear a statement made by Dr. Leithart that no one else would know but for this witness and in that sense he would be a fact witness. It seems to me you’re calling him because he is conversant on Dr. Leithart’s theology through his writings

STELLMAN: Yes.

MODERATOR O’BAN: And you’re asking him not just simply to regurgitate those writings, but in fact to render and opinion on the nature of those writings vis-à-vis the standards. Correct?

STELLMAN: Correct.

MODERATOR O’BAN: Well, that, that is, I’ll just simply rule, is the capacity of an expert witness. So the question is, is he an expert witness that, it just simply may be that your witness doesn’t, didn’t understand maybe that fine distinction. So you’re calling him here as an expert witness, correct?

STELLMAN: Insofar as I understood what you just said. Yes.

(source)

The cross-examination of Stellman’s witness, however, seems not to have gone as Stellman would have liked, in that the defense suggested that Stellman’s witness was not particularly more expert in theology than anyone else in the presbytery before whom was testifying.

Now Stellman has post talking about how there are no expert witnesses in PCA courts (link to post). That is all well and good, and perhaps – after the fact – he is right.  But what was he doing soliciting for contributions for a role that doesn’t exist in the PCA?  Why didn’t he know that there are no expert witnesses in PCA courts during this trial that was so important that he flew what he then considered an “expert witness” to be a part of the trial? I thought Stellman was the prosecutor for the trial?  Shouldn’t he have familiarized himself with the rules of the PCA before the trial began?

It may not be a lost cause.  Stellman’s witness was really called as a fact witness – someone who had carefully read everything that Leithart wrote and could report on that.  Stellman was simply outwitted by those sympathetic to Leithart in his own presbytery. 

Whether or not Stellman knew the rules, the presbytery is charged with following the rules, and while the presbytery’s error in discounting the testimony of a fact witness on grounds that are not really relevant to the fact witness’s role may be in some sense an understandable error under the circumcstances, it is still an error.

One question that the presbytery needed to consider was whether Stellman’s witness or the defense’s witness had a better understanding of Leithart’s teachings.  While theologically training may not be entirely irrelevant to that question, having actually read what Leithart has written seems like a very important consideration, and Stellman’s witness actually read what Leithart wrote.

-TurretinFan

Federal Vision and Temporary Faith / Temporary Forgiveness

February 14, 2010

Joshua Moon, pastor of Good Shepherd PCA in Minnetonka, provided (publicly, from the floor of presbytery) a speech in defense of Pastor Lawrence. During the speech he made the following statement: “we are the ones who speak of ‘temporary faith’–not pseudo-faith, but faith that is temporary and so, in the end, not effectual for salvation.”

On the issue of temporary forgiveness (which he seems to connect with temporary faith), he relies improperly on the parable in Matthew 18 that Rayburn also relied on. So does Jeff Meyers, who ties temporary faith and temporary “justification” together (albeit unclearly). Matthew W. Mason at Biblical Horizons provides a more elaborate explanation (including criticism of the real Francis Turretin) in a post he calls “Temporary Faith is Real Faith.”

PCA Pastor (serving in the CREC), and Federal Vision Joint Statement signatory, Peter Leithart contains a similar discussion in his book, Baptized Body (for example, at p. 102). Like Mason, Leithart criticizes the Reformed position taught by the real Francis Turretin.

However, as Leithart himself notes, the rejection of errors at the Council of Dordt included the rejection (canon 7 of the section on Perseverance) of the following group:

Who teach that the faith of those who believe only temporarily does not differ from justifying and saving faith except in duration alone.

For Christ himself in Matthew 13:20ff. and Luke 8:13ff. clearly defines these further differences between temporary and true believers: he says that the former receive the seed on rocky ground, and the latter receive it in good ground, or a good heart; the former have no root, and the latter are firmly rooted; the former have no fruit, and the latter produce fruit in varying measure, with steadfastness, or perseverance.

Yet Joshua Moon’s statement was: “we are the ones who speak of ‘temporary faith’–not pseudo-faith, but faith that is temporary and so, in the end, not effectual for salvation.”

Joshua Moon’s speech alleged that the views of PCA Pastor Lawrence (whom he was defending) are not out of accord with the broad Reformed tradition. Before we address other problems in Moon’s speech, I’ll provide some additional testimony on the subject of temporary faith – and how it is not true faith, but rather a pseudo-faith.

– TurretinFan

Leithart and the SJC of the PCA

December 10, 2009

The Standing Judicial Commission of the PCA has ruled that the Presbytery of the Northwest (PNW) erred with respect to Peter Leithart:

The error made by PNW was twofold. First, PNW erred in judging Leithart’s views “to be not out of accord with the fundamentals of our system of doctrine.” Second, PNW also erred in not finding a strong presumption of guilt that some of the views of Leithart are “out of accord with the fundamentals of the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards.”

(source)

As you may be aware, Leithart is one of the signers of the Federal Vision Joint Statement. The expectation is that if Leithart continues to maintain the same positions and continues to remain in the PCA he will come under discipline.


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