Monthly Archives: May 2007

Not a warning after all

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2.12, 13).

I have believed for a long long time that this was a warning (a mild one but still) followed by a “calvinist” point about God’s sovereignty. The calvinist point is still there, but there is nothing in the context that allows me to think this is a real warning. Consider that this is really a restatement of what he has said before:

I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (1.6).

Paul is encouraging the Philippians to reach their appointed destiny (collectively, by the way, the pronouns are plural) by encouraging them that it is theirs by God’s grace.

The “fear and trembling” then is simply the attitude of reverence and respect for God rather than only caring about what Paul or other men might witness. Whether Paul is there or not the point is that God is there.

I distinctly remember a professor lecturing in this direction when I was in seminary, but I resisted it. My loss. I’m glad I’m finally teaching this in a Bible study so I could rethink it.

Classic mob justice

Over and over again critics of FV selectively ignore FV defenses and vindications from scholars and in preferences, point to incredibly biased groups, and then mock “FVers” for claiming “no one understands us.”

So a guy points out on one of the no-“FVers”-allowed “Reformed” sites that,

A group of ten ministers has written a “pastoral letter” concerning the Federal Vision study committee report releasedto be considered in June at the PCA’s General Assembly in Memphis, TN. More details at

And immediately comes the reprimand,

Shouldn’t you state that a group of ten ministers, sympathetic to the Federal Vision, have written a letter?

Well, there you go.  Van Til had it right, except that he applied his metaphor to unbelieving scientists rather than sectarians:  The FV critics say our net catches all the fish in the ocean–all the Reformed people analyzing FV.  The question: But what about that one that got through your net?  The answer: Whatever our net does not catch is not a fish.

So, even while they refuse to acknowledge how much support FV gets (not agreement, since it is not a “position” anyway, but defense against misrepresentation and against narrow impositions of party positions that pretend to speak for the whole of the Reformed heritage), they continue to expand their picture of the vast FV conspiracy which now seems to have spread everywhere.  I doubt they will be able to stop at a mere eighty-five churches.

It is a presupposition that interprets reality: there can be no Reformed FV defenders, only “sympathizers” that are themselves part of the problem.

Thus the membership of the PCA’s study committee.

Some links on the “emerging/ent church” and the PCA in no order whatever