One of the most strident voices raised against the Federal Vision is the Green Bagginses blog. I eventually realized after months of engaging the folks there in biblical argument and debate that it was a waste of my time.
I also found myself in a near constant state of agitation at what was happening with the lynching of Steve Wilkins. The Rev. Wilkins is one of the best Presbyterian exegetes living today, and he was being forced out of the PCA by Lane Keistner and his gang of exegetical illiterates. His offence is reading the Bible through the lens of the historical covenants – the Federal Vision.
For a reason that I cannot explain I posted at the Bagginses site this week. My intention was to remain pure by simply making a comment, and refusing to be drawn into another pointless discussion. Instead, I found myself interacting on two threads.
I have put my finger on something that may explain the impossibility of an accord between the FV and its Reformed enemies – a crippled and malformed exegesis driven by rigidly systematic, not literary, considerations.
For example, in the parable of the sower, the Lord uses the picture of a plant that grows, but is strangled by weeds and thistles, so that is becomes fruitless. I pointed out that a plant can only become fruitless if it was fruitful before. Otherwise we have a meaningless statement.
Keistner’s brilliant reply was to point out that ginomai also means to be, to support his assertion that the plant always was fruitless.
It is true that ginomai san sometimes mean to be, BUT, it depends on the context and the way it is being used. There was no acknowledgment of this elementary, pre-school, fact.
Keistner’s blanket drag and drop has the effect of turning the parable into a non sequitur: the plant was strangled and it was fruitless. No link between being strangled and fruitlessness, just strangling of an already fruitless plant. Why put these two things together if there is no link between them?
Do you see what I mean by crippled exegesis? Strictly speaking it isn’t exegesis at all, but plain incompetence.
What drives this kind of response is the prior commitment to the doctrinal view that there is no such thing as true apostasy. There are only two kinds of people in the world – the elect and the rest – and only the elect can ever be called true Christians. It is impossible under any circumstances for one of the others to be regenerated and bear fruit, and then fall away.
Texts mean nothing, the doctrine is everything.
The result is the pitiful handling of the sacred text that we have seen. They treat the word of God the way a sow treats a bag of corn, in Martin Luther’s memorable phrase.