John Robbins is in red. My comments are in black (with other quotes in green).
As the controversy over the doctrine of justification heats up in Presbyterian and Reformed churches,
There is no controversy over the doctrine of justification in any true church.
it is imperative that every Christian become better informed, for he will be called upon to make judgments about both men and ideas.
Oh? JUDGMENTS? Not only about ideas, but about MEN? Wait a minute. Didn't I read the following statement: "One must keep in mind the distinction between a system and a person"? Yes, I sure did. And it was from you, Mr. Robbins, when you said that an Arminian get the doctrine of justification straight and can understand the resurrection, imputation, substitution, the alien righteousness of Christ, and believe them. So, even though ArminianISM is a deadly heresy, an ArminiAN can be a saved person, because "one must keep in mind the distinction between a system and a person."
So where do the judgments about MEN come in? How about liberals? You promote and agree with J. Gresham Machen's book, Christianity and Liberalism, in which Machen says this (emphasis added):
"We are not dealing here with delicate personal questions; we are not presuming to say whether such and such an individual man is a Christian or not. God only can decide such questions; no man can say with assurance whether the attitude of certain individual 'liberals' toward Christ is saving faith or not. But one thing is perfectly plain - whether or no liberals are Christians, it is at any rate perfectly clear that liberalism is not Christianity."
So there goes judgment about MEN -- liberals in this case. One must keep in mind the distinction between liberalISM and individual liberALS. Thus, you cannot judge all liberals to be unregenerate.
How about neo-liberals? In a recent issue of your Trinity Review, you published an excerpt from Paul Elliot's book Christianity and Neo-Liberalism (that you are endorsing and selling below). In that excerpt, Elliot wrote this (emphasis added):
"But on the authority of Scripture, one thing is perfectly plain even now: whether or not some neo-liberals are Christians, neo-liberalism is not Christianity. "
So there goes judgment about MEN -- neo-liberals in this case. One must keep in mind the distinction between neo-liberalISM and individual neo-liberALS. Thus, you cannot judge all neo-liberals to be unregenerate.
How about MEN who do not accept the doctrine of plenary inspiration? How about MEN who believe that the Bible contains many errors? Again, here is Machen in Christianity and Liberalism (emphasis added):
"It must be admitted that there are many Christians who do not accept the doctrine of plenary inspiration. That doctrine is denied not only by liberal opponents of Christianity, but also by many true Christian men. There are many Christian men in the modern Church who find in the origin of Christianity no mere product of evolution but a real entrance of the creative power of God, who depend for their salvation, not at all upon their own efforts to lead the Christ life, but upon the atoning blood of Christ--there are many men in the modern Church who thus accept the central message of the Bible and yet believe that the message has come to us merely on the authority of trustworthy witnesses unaided in their literary work by any supernatural guidance of the Spirit of God. There are many who believe that the Bible is right at the central point, in its account of the redeeming work of Christ, and yet believe that it contains many errors. Such men are not really liberals, but Christians; because they have accepted as true the message upon which Christianity depends. A great gulf separates them from those who reject the supernatural act of God with which Christianity stands or falls."
So there goes judgment about MEN -- those who deny plenary inspiration in this case. Thus, you cannot judge all MEN who deny plenary inspiration to be unregenerate. So much for your claim that an inspired, errorless Bible is the foundation of Christianity.
How about MEN who profess that men are justified by their own righteousness? The following is a quote from YOUR OWN WEB SITE in a letter from the Mississippi Valley Presbytery (MVP) in which YOU SAY that the MVP rejects neo-legalism. This quote is from none other than Jonathan Edwards. He is quoted favorably by the MVP to show that they "continue to esteem and love our brothers ... There are many in our midst with deep love for and fraternal bonds with ministers and elders associated with the FV [Federal Vision -mdc]." Here is the Edwards quote (emphasis added):
"How far a wonderful and mysterious agency of God's Spirit may so influence some men's hearts, that their practice in this regard may be contrary to their own principles, so that they shall not trust in their own righteousness, though they profess that men are justified by their own righteousness -- or how far they may believe the doctrine of justification by men's own righteousness in general, and yet not believe it in a particular application of it to themselves -- or how far that error which they may have been led into by education, or cunning sophistry of others, may yet be indeed contrary to the prevailing disposition of their hearts, and contrary to their practice -- or how far some may seem to maintain a doctrine contrary to this gospel-doctrine of justification, that really do not, but only express themselves differently from others; or seem to oppose it through their misunderstanding of our expressions, or we of theirs, when indeed our real sentiments are the same in the main -- or may seem to differ more than they do, by using terms that are without a precisely fixed and determinate meaning -- or to be wide in their sentiments from this doctrine, for want of a distinct understanding of it; whose hearts, at the same time, entirely agree with it, and if once it was clearly explained to their understandings, would immediately close with it, and embrace it: -- how far these things may be, I will not determine; but am fully persuaded that great allowances are to be made on these and such like accounts, in innumerable instances; though it is manifest, from what has been said, that the teaching and propagating [of] contrary doctrines and schemes, is of a pernicious and fatal tendency."
So there goes judgment about MEN -- those who profess that men are justified by their own righteousness in this case. And you obviously agree with the MVP's letter that says that there are brothers in Christ who are associated with the Federal Vision heresy. Thus, you cannot judge all MEN who profess that men are justified by their own righteousness or all MEN who speak peace to those associated with the Federal Vision heresy to be unregenerate.
So where, pray tell, are your judgments about MEN?
Where is your judgment of J. Gresham Machen? Of Paul Elliot? Of MVP? Of Jonathan Edwards?
To aid you in becoming informed, we are offering a collection of 9 books and 5 lectures at an unbeatable price: $70. The list price of these items is over $110. Here is what you get in The Federal Vision Package:
Lectures by Dr. Robbins:
1. The Doctrine of Revelation
2. The Doctrine of Justification
3. The Theology of N. T. Wright
4. The Theology of Richard Gaffin & Norman Shepherd
5. Auburn Avenue Theology
Books by various authors:
The Changing of the Guard, Mark W. Karlberg
The Current Justification Controversy, O. Palmer Robertson
A Companion to The Current Justification Controversy, John W. Robbins
The Everlasting Righteousness, Horatius Bonar
God's Hammer, Gordon H. Clark
Justification by Faith Alone, Charles Hodge
Not Reformed at All: Medievalism in "Reformed" Churches, John Robbins and Sean Gerety
What Is Saving Faith? Gordon H. Clark
Christianity & Neo-Liberalism, Paul M. Elliott
If you order the Federal Vision Package during February, we will pay the shipping to any U. S. address.
Here's all this stuff against the Federal Vision, but what does it really matter? After all, your brothers in the Mississippi Valley
Presbytery don't count all who are associated with the Federal Vision heresy to be unregenerate! SO WHAT if the Auburn Avenue
Theology is heresy! You don't count all who believe in the Auburn Avenue Theology to be unregenerate! You think that one must
keep in mind the distinction between SYSTEMS (Federal Vision, Auburn Avenue Theology, etc., etc.) and PERSONS (those who
hold to Federal Vision, Auburn Avenue Theology, etc., etc.)!! You are nothing but a flaming hypocrite!
Simply mail your check for $70 to The Trinity Foundation, POB 68, Unicoi, Tennessee 37692. Or purchase the Package on line at our website, Collection 13: The Ronald W. Taber Memorial Lectures 2005, The Justification Controversy.
Thank you very much, and God bless you as you study his Gospel.
January 31, 2006
I am very glad that I'm finding more and more people who are noticing your hypocrisy. May God's curse be upon your "ministry."
To God alone be the glory,
Marc D. Carpenter
E-mails, Forums, and Letters