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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Book Review: The True Profession of the Gospel: Augustus Toplady and Reclaiming Our Reformed Foundations


At every Coronation for over three hundred years, British Monarchs have promised to maintain, 'the true profession of the gospel . . . the Protestant Reformed religion.' At a time when many Evangelicals and Anglicans are questioning their theology and re-thinking their identity, it is more important than ever for us to remember this gospel of sovereign grace.” --Lee Gatiss--


A Critical Review of THE TRUE PROFESSION OF THE GOSPEL: AUGUSTUS TOPLADY AND RECLAIMING OUR REFORMED FOUNDATIONS, by Lee Gatiss

Charlie J. Ray

[See Latimer Trust Dot Org].

Lee Gatiss. The True Profession of the Gospel: Augustus Toplady and Reclaiming Our Reformed Foundations. (London: Latimer Trust, 2010). 131 pages.

Anglo-Reformed Evangelicals will appreciate the work of Lee Gatiss in this concise survey of the Reformed theological tradition in the Church of England from the time of the English Reformation up to the eighteenth century Arminian and Calvinist controversies between John Wesley and George Whitefield and between Wesley and Augustus Toplady. The material comes from Gatiss' studies for a series of lectures given for the Fellowship of Word and Spirit conference in 2009. The lectures then inspired Gatiss toward this focus in his thesis for a master of theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He did his undergraduate work in the United Kingdom at New College, Oxford and Oak Hill College, London.  [I mistakenly called New College an evangelical college earlier.  I believe Oak Hill College is evangelical.]

What I particularly like about this book is Reverend Gatiss' irenic tone while at the same time making pointedly critical observations about the state of the Anglican church primarily in the United Kingdom; his observations apply with equal ultimacy to the Anglican Communion around the world. He begins with an assessment of the modern situation in the Evangelical and Anglican movement and how it relates to the more latitudinarian and liberal parties as well as the Anglo-Catholic and Tractarian parties within Anglicanism. In particular, the controversies over the biblical, moral and ethical stances taken by the Global South against theological relativism and omnisexuality or pansexuality in the more “civilized” provinces in the U.K., U.S.A. and Canada has heated things up considerably. Gatiss describes this conflict as a midlife crisis:

No-one can deny that paroxysms of doubt and division, fuelled by lust (for illicit sex or simply money and power), have wracked both constituencies on a global scale. The result is a confusion about the character of Evangelicalism and the identity of Anglicanism—who is 'in,' who is 'out,' what is authentic and what an intrusive novelty? This should be unsurprising given the levels of theological experimentation and cultural accommodation that have been tried. (P. 3).

The real point or thesis of the book is the discussion of what true Anglicanism is or at least should be given its historical roots in the English Reformation and even before the Reformation. For Lee Gatiss what constitutes “true” Anglicanism is the oath taken by the monarch at Coronation services in the Church of England. Yes, that still implies a divine connection between rulers and their accountability to God. The oath taken by Queen Elizabeth II was “to the utmost of her power” to uphold “the true profession of the gospel . . . the Protestant Reformed religion” (p. 5). Unfortunately, revisionists will always seek a way to spin or revise that concept to justify their departure from it. This also raises the question of the reification of the term “Reformed” as Carl Trueman discusses historical fallacies in his new book, Histories and Fallacies: Problems Faced in the Writing of History, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010).


Given the brevity of this book, Gatiss expertly summarizes the modern situation, the history of the unique English expression of the Reformed theology which was taking place throughout the world during the English Reformation, and the subsequent Evangelical revivals in the eighteenth century. Moreover, the latter part of the book gives an overview of Augustus Toplady's life and his contribution to the apologetic for the Anglo-Reformed tradition in the Church of England. I found the discussion of the polemical rhetoric between John Wesley and Augustus Toplady particularly stimulating since I did my seminary training at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky.  [Asbury is part of the Wesleyan holiness tradition and was started in reaction to the modernist controversies of the 1920s.]

Gatiss' supervisor for his Th. M. was none other than Carl Trueman, professor of historical theology at Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia. His other supervisor for his dissertation was Dr. Garry Williams of the John Owen Centre in London. As I noted in an earlier post, Trueman has a high view of English common sense philosophy and empirical philosophy in the telling of history. Undoubtedly, however, depending on who is doing the telling, there are presupposed assumptions so that there is no such thing as a reified “objectivity” in doing historiography. This is no less true of Gatiss in his telling of the Anglican Reformed history and the remarkable influence of Augustus Toplady during his short life (November 4, 1740 – August 11, 1778). In this case, those who lean toward Evangelicalism and a broader tradition of Reformed theology in the Church of England and Anglicanism at large will find the book uplifting and validating. Gatiss convincingly argues that the Anglo-Reformed movement is the real position of the Church of England and it is upon this bedrock that the Anglican Communion thrived during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

On the other hand, liberalism, according to Gatiss, is an insidious and parasitic disease that “will ultimately suck the life out of any ecclesiastical witness to Christian truth so that it becomes little more than a pious spiritualised veneer for worldliness and moralism” (p. 4). He rightly points out that “inclusivism” and “pluriformity” are no marks of the “genius of Anglicanism” but instead are the Achilles heel which cripples any attempt to bring the church back to its Reformed roots. Even more pointedly he observes that those in power are often the modernists and revisionists and their telling of the history amounts to what I myself can only call propaganda designed to marginalize Evangelicals and the ministers who preach sovereign grace.

History is so often written by the victors as a way of manipulating their defeated opponents into accepting a new self-identity as the weak and deservedly marginalised losers. This is what coaxes many Evangelicals to leave behind the simple faith of their youth . . . Once they have gained entry into the 'inner circle,' too often they willingly connive at the marginalisation of those with whom they were formerly associated.

This is the familiar story of those who sell out the Gospel in order to attain worldly success as “company men” faithful to the more “tolerant” and “moderate” religion of the elite liberals. I can testify to this personally since I was at one time ordained as a deacon with the Reformed Episcopal Church and was eventually forced out by an Anglo-Catholic minister who was at one time a minister with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The REC has in recent years gone completely over to the Tractarians and the Anglo-Catholics, a development which Allen C. Guelzo documented in his book, For the Union of Evangelical Christendom: The Irony of the Reformed Episcopalians, (University Park: Pennsylvania State University, 1994). Guelzo's book predicted the apostasy of the REC into Tractarianism and that prognostication has come to full and complete fruition. The irony, of course, is that the raison d'être of the REC in 1873 when it seceded from the Protestant Episcopal Church was that Evangelicals and their theology were not tolerated by the high church Anglo-Catholics. The issue causing the final split was that the Evangelicals were having open communion and open pulpits with Presbyterians, something the Tractarian bishops of nineteenth century America could not and would not tolerate.

But Gatiss argues that genuine Anglicanism was always Reformed and the revisionists simply have an agenda to dissimulate.  His book focuses on Augustus Toplady's defense of the Reformed tradition in the face of the Arminian attacks leveled against it by John Wesley and his followers.  Moreover, Wesley's vitriolic rhetoric was over the top, often provoking a similar response from Toplady, although the author admits that Toplady should have handled himself better in his response.

The book argues that prior to the eighteenth century Calvinist/Arminian controversy the overt connection between Arminianism and the movement back toward a more Roman Catholic position is exemplified in Archbishop Laud. This is perhaps why modern “orthodox” high churchmen and Anglo-Catholics reverence Laud above measure and denigrate the magisterial English Reformers as “Puritans”. Gatiss seems to agree that the English Reformers were indeed Puritans. However, I would want to make a distinction between the more extreme Puritans who rejected all vestments including the cassock and surplice which the author does mention in his discussion of the normative principle of worship in contrast to the regulative principle of worship.  (Pp. 15-16). Cranmer's genius was in not advocating the rejection of the prayer book altogether but in teaching the law and gospel and the doctrines of grace in a completely reformed liturgy. This has been argued convincingly in Samuel Leuenberger's article at the Churchman, Archbishop Cranmer's Immortal Bequest and in his book, Archbishop Cranmer's Immortal Bequest: The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England : An Evangelistic Liturgy, (Wipf & Stock, 2004). I would have liked to have seen more discussion of Toplady's understanding of the use of the 1662 Prayer Book and how it in fact teaches the Reformed and Evangelical faith as Cranmer understood it. To be fair, the author does say that Toplady utilized the Thirty-nine Articles to defend the Reformed character of the English church.  

However, it should be pointed out that how we worship and pray teaches theology, lex orandi, lex credendi.” If Reformed Anglicans are serious about the Protestant and Reformed religion then they ought to be serious about teaching the laity the Reformed faith via the Scriptures and the Anglican Formularies, which would include re-emphasizing the use of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer in the liturgy and re-emphasizing catechesis, as James I. Packer has argued in his “last crusade”. Moreover, Toplady's gifts as a writer of poetry and hymns shows his concern to teach theology through worship.


The discussion of the Thirteen Articles and the Henrician connection to the “Philipist” Lutherans is excellent. Gatiss effectively rebuts the contention by modern high churchmen that the English Reformation was primarily in agreement with the Lutherans on predestination, the sacraments, and the so-called “adiaphora” of statues and icons. Furthermore, in the section where Toplady defends the Reformed view Gatiss shows convincingly the weaknesses of Nowell's and Heylyn's Arminian perspective. Advocates of the more semi-pelagian side of the Lutheran tradition in Philip Melanchthon tend to read that into the English Reformation in an attempt to undercut the clearly Calvinistic center of English theology. Some in that school of thought find Arminianism everywhere including the sermons of Latimer and Ridley and in the Homily on “declining from God.” While it is true that Latimer was somewhat ambiguous and tended toward what could be called a “pre-Arminian” view, to then extend that to the rest of what was going on in England at the time of the Reformation is overreaching. The Arminians' abrupt dismissal of what could only be called a strong pre-Reformed theological tradition and presence in the English church and the nation at large even prior to the actual Reformation is soundly refuted by Toplady and his legacy continues today.

Gatiss' rebuttal of the Laudian revisionists is stinging:

Yet the Laudian agenda was more positively presented by its most prominent propagandist Peter Heylyn as the rediscovery of the original foundations of the Reformation. Over time Heylyn developed patterns of defence for the new theology and ecclesiastical style which would be used well into the future. One popular Arminian ploy (borrowed from Romanist polemics) was to intimate that Reformed theology was an insidiously 'foreign' influence, emanating particularly from Switzerland but also from the foreign wives of men like Cranmer, Hooper, and Coverdale. Yet in an attempt to distance the Church of England from Calvinism, Heylyn enthusiastically linked Laudianism to Melanchthhonian Lutheranism.

Heylyn made this link for several reasons. First, the Lutherans had retained images in churches as well as 'Popish' apparel which was popular with the Laudians, while remaining firmly Protestant. Second, post-Luther Lutheranism owed more to Luther's successor, Philip Melanchthon, on the topics of free will and predestination than to Luther's own 'Calvinism avant la lettre' as will be seen in his great exchange with Erasmus in The Bondage of the Will. Melanchthon's early work, the Loci Communes (1521), shows certain affinities at points with the common Protestant thrust of the Thirty-nine Articles, but later in his career Melancthon changed his mind . . . Third, there was polemical distance between the German Lutherans and the Reformed due particularly to their inability to agree on the Lord's Supper . . .

For these reasons, a link between later Lutheranism and Arminianism was often embraced by polemicists such as Heylyn. (Pp. 21-22).

The connection between the high church Arminians and popish tendencies is one that should not be overlooked. Gatiss 'work is particularly helpful here in flushing out the deceptions of high churchmen who are working against Evangelicals and the Anglo-Reformed movement and who are in collusion with the Tractarians. Co-belligerence with conservative Anglo-Catholics and high church Arminians against theological liberalism, according to Gatiss, must not be mistaken for agreement on soteriological issues:

Alliances for limited co-belligerence are one thing: expressions of full communion and fellowship with those who deny the basic tenets of Reformed (and therefore truly Anglican and Evangelical) theology, however, would give away something extraordinarily precious. That could be a step in the direction of the doctrinally latitudinarian (or as it is called today, 'generously orthodox') stance of Gilbert Burnet and John Wesley . . . History demonstrates that a liberalising tide is not easily turned back. (P. 125).

While I found the telling of the historical theological perspective and the historiography of Toplady compelling and convincing, I must admit that Gatiss is preaching to the choir here. The Anglo-Catholics and high church Arminians will be unconvinced. But it is useful that Gatiss defends Toplady's thesis that Arminianism is inherently opposed to the doctrines of grace and the sovereignty of God and therefore is an overt move back toward Roman Catholicism. The connection to the conspiracy theory of Jesuit encouragement of the Remonstrants and of their working through the high church Laudians under Charles I cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Additionally, Gatiss' rebuttal of the Anglo-Catholic hijacking of Richard Hooker for their cause is also commendable:

Richard Hooker (1554-1600) is often seen as the theologian of the via media (between Geneva and Rome) thanks in part to the revisionist efforts of the Oxford Movement in the nineteenth century. Yet properly set in his own context, Hooker can also be seen as standing within this mainstream of sixteenth century Reformed orthodoxy. . . . “Hooker, and the Church of England, embraced the Reformation and in fact willingly adopted a Reformed position in all cardinal tenets.” (See p. 17).

I first noticed this when reading through a publication of one of Hooker's writings at the 1928 Prayer Book Society and compared their edition with a classical edition in Google books which proved that the edition used by PBS was indeed an expurgated, censored copy removing any references to anything that would contradict the revisionist reading of Hooker.

Although The True Profession of the Gospel is only 131 pages it is chock full of historical facts and events. What is especially enjoyable is Gatiss' discussion of other contemporary events going on at the same time Toplady was engaged in the Calvinist/Arminian debates. This tends to bring the whole contemporary era to life and made an indelible impression in my mind as to what was actually happening and why. This is the greatest strength of the book in my opinion. Gatiss is able to tell the story in its historical setting in such a convincing way that it becomes obvious that the “true profession of the gospel” is indeed “the Protestant and Reformed religion.”

The greatest weakness of the book, however, is that the Reformed center is never clearly identified. What I did like was that Toplady clearly showed that the English Reformed tradition was not simply an import from Geneva or Zurich. Rather, the English Reformed tradition was home grown. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! What Gatiss says he has tried to argue is that

Toplady defended the idea that Anglicanism and Evangelicalism were Reformed. Indeed, how they could trace their roots back many centuries to anti-Pelagianism within the mainstream church and not just to the traditional radical succession of Wycliffe, the Lollard, and Hus. This descriptive task is undertaken in imitation of Toplady's own conviction that what once was Anglican and Evangelical now ought to be considered authentically so again. To be Reformed in either movement is not to be a gate crasher but to assert a rightful claim to the doctrinal heritage. This claim needs pressing more firmly, more often. (P. 122).

My only complaint is that sometimes too broad a view of what is “Reformed” Anglicanism can give too much leeway to the moderate Calvinist view or Amyraldianism. The trouble with Amyraldianism is that for all practical purposes—where the rubber meets the road—it leads back in the Arminian direction and not in the more Reformed direction. Gatiss realizes this and argues strongly for double predestination and particular atonement while advocating unity with the moderates. He also argues strongly that the British delegation to the Synod of Dort (1611-1618) shows the English Church had a vested interest in Reformed theology and represented a tradition committed to both double predestination and particular atonement, although Gatiss does concede that some of the delegates were likely moderates on those issues. (Pp. 18-20).

Finally, his perception on the situation with the New Perspectives on Paul are hinted at toward the end of the book. I particularly liked his observation on the compromise of any idea of a “future justification”:

To those who speak of a second justification by works at the last day, Toplady says (while expounding Latimer's writings) that “works . . . will not be the ground even of that public and declarative justification, which will be predicated of the elect at that awful season.” . . . and digresses a little . . . to establish that “If righteousness, either justification itself, or any part of the righteousness which justifies, come by the law, accrue, though ever so remotely, to any sinner, by or through his own conformity to the moral law; then it would follow that Christ is dead in vain.” (Page 111).

However, Gatiss seems to be unaware that John Piper holds a version of justification as a future “vindication” which is not that far removed from the same view espoused by N. T. Wright:

Piper: Present justification is based on the substitutionary work of Christ alone, enjoyed in union with him through faith alone. Future justification is the open confirmation and declaration that in Christ Jesus we are perfectly blameless before God. This final judgment accords with our works. That is, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives will be brought forward as the evidence and confirmation of true faith and union with Christ. Without that validating transformation, there will be no future salvation. (See: Piper on Future Justification and Christianity Today: The Justification Debate).

Unfortunately, in Gatiss' list of international “Reformed” stars or “charismatic” leaders he has chosen men who have in one way or another compromised conservative adherence to Reformed teaching, including John Piper (future vindication) and Tim Keller (triperspectivalism). (p. 123). He also too lightly overlooks the inherent problems the “Reformed” Baptists have when they accept an Anabaptist view of the sacraments and credo-baptism, both of which have more in common with Arminianism than with a strictly Reformed understanding of election (infant baptism) and the magisterial Reformers' emphasis on a “right” preaching of the Law and Gospel and “duly” administering the two sacraments. Mono-covenantalism is another problem for “Reformed” Baptists which leads to an excessive emphasis on personal examination rather than looking to the cross. Gatiss sees this in the Arminian doctrine of universal atonement but fails to see the same problem with the hyper-pietism of some branches of Puritanism and the Reformed Baptists. Moreover, rejecting the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper and assuming they are mere memorials leads to this kind of depersonalized emphasis:

The idea of Christ's personal atonement for 'me' in Galatians 2:20 becomes entirely impersonal if universalised, and the cross is thus evacuated of any special importance in assuring the believer, who may turn elsewhere for assurance instead (such as to their works or experience) rather than to the particular love of God to his people as demonstrated at the cross. (P. 85).

Of course, this is not to say that Cranmer's view is real presence but only that Cranmer's view would have been in complete accord with Calvin's carefully worked out Consensus of Tigerinus.

It seems to me that Gatiss has been overly influenced by what I would call “Evangelical” ecumenicalism, although he does not go as far as a Mark Noll. It is true that we should not be overly narrow in our fellowship. At the same time we ought to judge our fellowship case by case. As the old saying goes, “The devil is in the details.”

I was pleased to note that Gatiss did see that GAFCON's foundational documents conveniently left out the word “alone” in the doctrine of justification by faith. (P. 5, footnote 6.). His strong allusion that perhaps the Sydney Anglicans were too quick to enter full fellowship and communion with the largely Anglo-Catholic GAFCON and Anglican Church in North America is a warning we all need to hear:

A global attempt to make the Anglican Communion merely Christian again (without distinctively Evangelical and Reformed emphases such as justification by faith alone) is seen by many as a spiritual advance . . .

In historical perspective this reveals just how much ground has been lost.  Co-belligerence in the face of aggressive liberal intolerance is not necessarily a bad thing, though it has its dangers if not kept in proper perspective. . . . Alliances easily forged in time of need can become insidiously corrupting. (P. 5).

While some of the discussion about the dispute between Whitefield and Wesley is well known, the way Gatiss tells the story is fresh and invigorating. His portrayal of Wesley's use of atheistic arguments against the sovereignty of God are priceless. I completely agreed with his assessment of Wesley as a Pelagian, a title Wesley seemed to wear proudly. (P. 77). It seems to me that the general view that Arminianism and Anglo-Catholicism are at heart Pelagianism revived is an accurate one. It could be that the natural born Pelagianism of most people makes Wesley more successful than Whitefield in preserving the results of revival rather than his organizational skills. Human pride can be deceiving. But that should be no surprise to those who understand the biblical doctrine of total inability.

I highly recommend this book and this review barely scratches the surface of the material covered, including an enlightening discussion of Whitefield's view of the covenant of redemption or pactum salutis. (Pp. 45-47). Although there is no extensive bibliography, the material has thorough footnotes to sources. The possibilities for further studies supporting the thesis that the Anglican Communion is most Anglican when it is faithful to its Reformed roots in the indigenous English church are endless. More studies in the direction Gatiss has presented are crucial to promoting an Anglo-Reformed perspective and bringing this perspective home to local congregations. I would hope that this book will be read far and wide by those who wish to bring vitality and truth back to the Anglican Communion. Ecclesia semper reformanda est!




--
Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer

7 comments:

Reformation said...

Most excellent. I suppose I ought try to get Lee's book.

Regards.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I had some extra copies but I've already given them all out. Sorry about that:(

I think it should be reasonably priced, though. It's only a thin paperback.

It's well worth reading, though.

Peace,

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

Hi Charlie,

I’m grateful to you for posting such a long and detailed review, and for your mostly warm appreciation for The true profession of the gospel. I am glad that the book found such a positive response, and that you enjoyed it so much. I hope it will be useful to the cause of the gospel Stateside.

You should note a few small things though:

1. The opening quote you use and attribute to Carl Trueman is actually mine. I thought Carl Trueman’s words on the back of the book were clearly distinguished from my blurb by means of italics? You refer to this later as well, I think: “For Carl Trueman and Lee Gatiss...” (Actually, just me!).

2. The Church Society conference is different from the Fellowship of Word and Spirit conference. Two different organisations.

3. New College, Oxford is by no means an evangelical theological school. Not since the 16th-17th centuries anyway!

4. I wouldn’t call the English Reformers “puritans”.

5. I’m not sure what you mean by “the Reformed center is never clearly identified.” I thought it was pretty clear on numerous occasions where I define it, and by the number of references to Reformed doctrines like predestination, the bound will, and limited atonement (as well as covenant theology, community not just individualism, and other things).

6. I am happy to call Amyraldians or moderate Calvinists “Reformed”, even though I disagree with them. Like John Owen and Francis Turretin were also happy to do. More about this of course in my two articles in Reformed Theological Review last year, on the Westminster Assembly and Particular Redemption.

7. Some of the delegates to Dort were definitely more moderate on the atonement. The Brits for a start!

8. I’m not unaware of Piper and others on justification. But it wasn’t pertinent to go into detail on it. But you’re right that I was certainly interested in alluding to this issue, of course.

9. My list of international “Reformed stars” is descriptive. It lists who conservative Anglican people here and in places like Australia do actually value. I’m entirely aware of the many problems some of them bring with them! Especially the Baptists (against whom I wrote From Life’s First Cry: John Owen on Infant Baptism and Infant Salvation and edited The Anglican Evangelical Doctrine of Infant Baptism).

10. I entirely agree that “the devil is in the details” re: fellowship amongst evangelicals. But think that some is possible, especially where we share Reformed soteriology. You don’t?

Thanks again for being so positive about the general thrust of the book, and for encouraging others to read it, despite your small reservations (which you are of course entirely free to express!). What sort of things do we need to do next, to help the cause along?

Every blessing.

Lee.

Charlie J. Ray said...

In light of the e-mail from Mr. Lee Gatiss I'm making the corrections concerning the quote from the back cover of the book. Sorry about that gaff.

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

I would argue that Amyraldianism is a move in the direction of Arminianism. While it might be true that some of the British attendees at the Synod of Dort were universalists on the atonement, it might be because they had not fully understood yet the implications of such a position.

It seems to me that Scripture is the final authority in these matters and no where does Scripture teach that Christ died for every single individual, including those already in hell at the time of his crucifixion. Universal atonement is incompatible with the doctrines of providence, the sovereignty of God, and absolute predestination of both the elect and the reprobate.

I might add that neo-Kuyperian theology and Van Tillian theology are rationalistic capitulations to Arminianism rather than representative of classical Reformed theology.

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

Hi Lee,

On 3/5/2011 7:58 AM, Charlie J. Ray wrote:
> 10. I entirely agree that “the devil is in the details” re: fellowship amongst evangelicals. But think that some is possible, especially where we share Reformed soteriology. You don’t?
Yes and no. I don't believe that compromising my own position simply to get along with others should be a condition I have to meet for said getting along with others. For example, when Mark Thompson at Moore College continually insists that I'm being too logical while at the same time using logic to justify the Amyraldian position, I'm not for one minute going to concede the point. The Synod of Dort is more biblical and more logically consistent in my opinion. Amyraldianism was condemned by a local synod in the Formula Consensus Helvetica precisely for those reasons.

I also disagree with the three points of common grace and neo-Kuyperian theology because I believe it is at root latitudinarian and revisionist. In fact, I would point to both of these movements as the foundation for the current state of apostasy in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.--which was at one time the denomination of the Old Line Princeton theologians. Ironically, Westminster Seminary PA seems to be headed down that same road.

I would also contend that this neo-Kuyperian theology is inherently Arminian and leads to Anglo-Catholicism in Anglican circles. It is one thing to be irenic with one's opponents. It is another to concede them to place in the "Reformed" center since there seems to be no solid consensus on what a "Reformed" center actually is.

I liked your book because in an indirect way you seem to be making similar points. Although you're probably an advocate of the irrational "common grace" doctrine, I think what you've said in your book is helpful.

Sincerely in Christ,

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

It seems to me that it is better to wear one's own labels clearly and prominently rather trying to blend into some reified "Reformed center" that does not exist.

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