Why criticism of the Westminster Standards does not mean you are failing to use the Wesminster standards (a problem with the lens analogy)

Whose Lens Are You Using? « Green Baggins.

There is much wrong in this, either, radically skeptical, radically relativistic, or quasi-Newmanesque Roman Catholic view of the role of the Westminster Confession and catechisms in interpreting Scripture.  But I want to mention something basic.

If you use a lens faithfully to an examine an object, such use does not preclude you from realizing if the lens is smudged in some places.

This is a pretty silly point, except it exposes a silly strategy among Protestants.  Rather than dealing with exegesis, some “protestants” prefer to point out that the person that they disagree with is failing to conform to the Westminster Standards and is thereby in violation of some sort of “rule of faith.”  But the exact opposite is the case.  A person may be in disagreement with the Westminster standards in some place in some degree precisely because he has been more diligent in using them.

Saying that at some point the Westminster Confession and Catechisms vary from Scripture (paedocommunion, say) does not mean that one doesn’t use the Westminster standards as a “lens” for interpreting Scripture.  It could mean the opposite.  The interpreter might have been very careful in studying Scripture via the interpretation of the Westminster documents and noticed a tension that led him to embrace paedocommunion.

5 thoughts on “Why criticism of the Westminster Standards does not mean you are failing to use the Wesminster standards (a problem with the lens analogy)

  1. Pingback: Mark Horne » The Amazing Spiritual and Converting Power of the WCF!

  2. Lane Keister

    I find it highly ironic, Mark, that as I was talking with another pastor about this issue, I brought up the exact same point you do here in seeking to insure that the confessions were not infallible. The lenses can be corrected. That’s what makes the analogy work so well. So instead of making an allowance that I might actually have thought of this point (since it hasn’t been hammered on by ANY FV guy before you wrote this post), you assume that I am a confessional idolater. The problem is that people like you won’t put on these lenses at any point.

  3. mark Post author

    “The problem is that people like you won’t put on these lenses at any point.”

    That is stupid and false Lane, and applies to yourself more than me. (I’m a costless target because I actually track and honestly reveal where the “lens” is smudged. Such honesty and integrity must be hunted down in the Reformed ghetto, it seems.)

    But the rest of your comment is helpful. But I didn’t get that sense at all from your post. I thought I was extrapolating from the idea of the analogy, not revealing your intent.

  4. Lane Keister

    It isn’t stupid and false, when what I mean by “put on the lenses” is taken into account. You guys refuse to view the confessions as a hermeneutical help in reading Scripture. You do not read Scripture with the help of the confession. You would view that as a Procrustean bed chopping off the feet of exegesis. Where you spend almost all your time is on the things that “the confession doesn’t deal with.” That’s what you teach your congregations. My comment was not saying that you disagree with the confession at every point. It was saying that you do not use the confession hermeneutically.

  5. mark Post author

    I’ve been using the confessions as a hermeneutical help long before you ever heard of them. You’re definition of lens is a Procrustian bed, so of course I don’t meet your standard. Whether you are aware of what you are doing or simply don’t want to admit it for strategic reasons is a mystery I will never solve.

    You belong in a sect, Lane, not in a healthy church that actually cares about the Bible, or, for that matter, about the history of the Church and the heritage we have in her.

    For all the evidence I have Lane, if you think conforming to orthodox Westminsterian definitions is good, then you don’t bother to learn what they say about the faith that justifies. Just an example I happen to have in my mind, but it is a breathtaking one. Without hesitation or shame you totally deny the uniform Reformed heritage and the Westminsterian statements that living faith is obedient faith and give James to the Roman Catholics.

    You are in no position to judge anyone Lane.


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