Monday, March 17, 2008

CONTINUED UPDATE

Thank you again to all who have been praying for us. I wanted to update you on some developments in our church search.

We appreciated the reverence of the worship at the URC, and we appreciated the children's program and the preaching at the PCA we visited yesterday. However, the URC is too exclusive for us (they consider non-Reformed churches and even Reformed Baptist churches as "not true churches," although they consider them Christians; they are also close communion), and we weren't quite used to the worship style at the PCA we visited. Angela and I agreed that we need something kind of in between them.

It looks like, Lord willing, the OPC is where we will land. Last night I visited Harvest OPC in Vista ( http://www.hopc.org/ ), which is only 4 minutes away. That went very well. We will also be visiting the Escondido OPC this Sunday morning ( http://www.escondidoopc.org/ ), which is a little over 20 minutes away. In the evening, I will be visiting the Providence OPC in Temecula (http://www.temeculaopc.org/ ), which is 38 minutes away.

Oh how I wish these churches had the Table weekly! We are 100% convinced that weekly Lord's Table is a *must*. We see in Acts 2:42 and 20:7 that the early church was devoted to it. Indeed, it was a regular pattern of their worship. It grieves my soul to know that, in all of North San Diego County, there are only two churches that practice it weekly: GBC and the Oceanside URC.

So, at this point, it looks like we will be joining an OPC, but we will be enjoying the Table with GBC in the evening. I will explain to the elders of whatever church we join that for this reason we will need a dual membership. Furthermore, since on the last Sunday of the month, GBC has the Table in the morning, we will be at GBC in the morning for that Sunday. This is all we can do; we see the Table as a vital means of grace in which we truly feed spiritually on the Body and Blood of Christ. We see Calvin's view as robustly Scriptural. The OPC sees it that way too--for which reason I wonder why many of them only do it monthly. I need to feed on Christ *at least* weekly!

Please continue to pray for us. We will keep you updated.

19 comments:

bj77 said...

Josh,
Duel membership? How will that work for the examination of your children before they partake of the meal? Which elders will you submit to?

Anonymous said...

Hey Josh,

I know this will sound selfish (and of course it is a little), but how many minutes drive is it to New Life La Mesa?

We celebrate the table weekly, and you would probably very much enjoy the style of worship. If you remember, we went to GBC for a few months and I think that NLPCA LM is pretty similar.

kazoo

Josh Brisby said...

B.J.,

I realized that that wouldn't work out, so you're right. Dual membership just wouldn't work. The only way we would be able to go to GBC in the evening would be if we joined a church that didn't have evening service. I'm realizing that (surprise!) I'm going to have to compromise somewhere. :0) I can't' be nit-picky; but I can do what I think would be best for my family, hopefully with wisdom God grants.

Jeff,

To tell you the truth, brother, I'm a little concerned about the FVers in your church, so I'm not sure it would be the best place for my family to be shepherded. I could be wrong, but those are my concerns at this point.

Anonymous said...

Josh,

I'm only aware of one FV'er. Is there another I don't know about?

Gosh, there's only two theonomists I know about (the FV'er and me).

If that is your only concern, then come on down this Sunday. :)

kazoo

Gospel.or.Death said...

Josh,

You are right to have such concerns about the PCA. However, note that the PCA is not monolithic (though it should be), and there is a lot of diversity in individual churches.

The denomination is bringing Wilkins to trial. It's only a matter of time.

E

Josh Brisby said...

Jeff,

But the fact that one FV'er has gone undisciplined for so long (and we both know this person is not quiet about their thoughts) distresses me greatly. This makes me wonder whether my family would be adequately shepherded there or not. I do thank you for the invitation though brother.

Ron Smith said...

"To tell you the truth, brother, I'm a little concerned about the FVers in your church"
And here I thought I was the only one...

I am concerned about all the non-fvers everywhere.

Ron Smith said...

On second thought, I would like to add that I am concerned for me too, just as I am concerned for the souls of all of God's people.

That is what FV is: a soteriology of concern.

Josh Brisby said...

Ron,

I see a big difference between orthodox Arminians and the FV. The FV goes beyond Arminianism. Ron, do you believe that Roman Catholicism has another gospel? Or do they have the same gospel that the pre-Reformers, Reformers, and many of the Puritans spilled their blood for?

Gospel.or.Death said...

Ron,

The Bible doesn't teach a soteriology of concern, but one of comfort and peace in the cross, where Jesus said, "It is finished."

Jesus bids us to sleep soundly and confidently at night, knowing that it's not a matter of "what would Jesus do?" but a matter of "what DID Jesus do?" In him, our salvation is finished once and for all. Our salvation cannot now be doubted, but is to be rested in.

E

Anonymous said...

Josh,

Wow. I'm quite surprised. I think you've got two things wrong. Of course you need to do what that Lord leads you to do, but I think you definitely have the wrong impression. Talk to Rube. I don't think there can be much stronger dislike for the FV than found in him, maybe.

But the first thing you have wrong is the session. They're a great group of men that take shepherding very seriously.

Secondly, I'm surprised that you think that our common FV friend should be disciplined. Can you tell me exactly what you think he's guilty of that is worthy of discipline? And, he might be unashamed of his beliefs, but he's not annoying about it to everybody he can go up to.

Anyway, I'll just have to chalk this one up to "your loss" and I pray that you land in a place of great blessing for you and yours.

kazoo

Josh Brisby said...

Jeff,

I like, and indeed love, our common FV friend. But I think that FV goes beyond orthodox Arminianism. The FV conflates faith and faithfulness, and for this reason they can say we are justified by "faith alone." (Faithfulness alone.) However, many of them see no difference between the "gospel" of justification in Roman Catholicism and what they believe to be the gospel.

A disciplinable offense, of course, is when one denies the gospel. Does the FV deny the gospel? Implicitly, yes. Sometimes explicitly.

It's never fun, especially since we have close friends who are FV; indeed, I had a falling out with a friend who was Shepherdite, and I tried carefully to be respectful toward that person. They were upset because I said Shepherd did not hold to justification by faith alone, but by faithfulness alone. They wanted me to apologize and tell everyone that Shepherd really does supposedly hold to justification by faith alone.

You see, I find in the FV the same kind of thing I find in cults. Cults try to redefine terms and claim they hold to certain beliefs. They also many times have a disdain for authority. Again, I can't speak for all who are FV, but it does seem to be a common tendency. The Auburn Avenue guys should have discussed this quietly with those in authority over them. Instead, they have disturbed the peace of Christ's church and have troubled the Reformed community.

I had several friends who were dabbling in the FV (especially from www.postmillennialism.com), and many of them became Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or Anglican. One who is Anglican is now heavily leaning toward Eastern Orthodoxy.

Of course, the above greatly distresses me. When I was talking about my friend who was Shepherdite who I had a falling out with, one person said to me, "But is he a nice guy?". I of course said yes, and I'm sure Norman Shepherd is a nice guy as well. But just because someone is a nice guy or our friend does not change the fact that they are in serious theological error.

I have studied the FV quite a bit, and I always keep coming back to wondering how their thought differs from Rome. I know they say they don't believe in merit, but at the end of the day, they still believe in a final judgment based upon our works, rather than seeing our works as vindicatory.

Anyways, I've rambled on enough. The situation at your church is really none of my business. I am not the one who has the authority to declare our friend in heresy or not. That is the duty of your session. I'm sure your session are great men as well. I'm just concerned about the situation is all. At the end of the day, we will all have to answer to God about the way we proclaim His gospel and shepherd our flocks. May He grant us wisdom.

Ron Smith said...

Echo says, "The Bible doesn't teach a soteriology of concern, but one of comfort and peace in the cross, where Jesus said, "It is finished."

Echo, did the Apostle Paul, in his repeated fear and concern for all the churches, fail to see this comfort and peace in the cross?

Romans 11:19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

2 Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

2 Corinthians 12:21 I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.

Galatians 4:11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

1 Thessalonians 3:5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.

Ron Smith said...

Josh says, "The FV conflates faith and faithfulness..."

So does WCF 11.2. There is no such thing as a dead, workless faith that justifies. Only a living faith that works in love justifies. What's the difference between a living faith that works in love and faithfulness?

Ron Smith said...

Josh says, "You see, I find in the FV the same kind of thing I find in cults. Cults try to redefine terms and claim they hold to certain beliefs."

Sure, but that doesn't make them a cult. Even if all cults behaved this way, to then reason that FV is a cult is affirming the consequent.

For example, the Westminster Confession of Faith is the first in history to refer to the pre-lapsarian covenant as a covenant of works. The idea of a meritorious pre-fall covenant is not found in the works of the early reformers like Calvin. Did the Westminster assemblymen establish a cult?

It is possible that the FV is simply trying to reclaim the biblical and confessional doctrine of fide victus.

Josh Brisby said...

Ron,

The very fact that you only see a tiny difference in Rome's view of the gospel and in the Protestant view of the gospel shows that you are akin to Rome or the East.

Again, pre-Reformers, some Reformers, and many Puritans died for this gospel. Do you really think they just thought it was semantics?

solafidelity.com said...

Josh asks, "Do you really think they just thought it was semantics?"

What I really think, Josh, is that the Reformation was more about the authority of the Roman Bishop and the general wickedness and lawlessness of church officers than it was about Sola Fide. We have made it about Sola Fide because we have come to define ourselves by our doctrine. This is why we are so ready to split over the smallest disagreement.

The PCA and the OPC are a good example of this. You considered calling churches from both denominations home, so they must not be that different in your view, but there they are: two separate denominations.

Luther's 95 theses do not contain the word "faith" once, much less the phrase "faith alone". The word "trust" is used once in number 49: "Christians are to be taught that the pope's pardons are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God."

But the document refers to the Bishop of Rome as "pope" 36 times. It mentions purgatory 13 times and indulgences 11 times. This is the document that sparked reformation.

Also, here is a good article you should read by a catholic who asserts that justification by faith has always been the catholic teaching and that Luther had a right to be angry at the sale of indulgences and attributes the cleaning up of the priesthood at Trent in part to Luther's work.

http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0027.html

Gospel.or.Death said...

Ron,

Why defend the Roman Church? Why not just join them? Seriously. What's keeping you from joining the one catholic church?

When I said that the Bible teaches a soteriology of comfort and restful sleep, I was of course speaking in regard to our own assurance of salvation. God would have us be assured of our salvation.

You have quoted Paul's concerns for OTHER PEOPLES' salvation. It's not the same thing. When can we have assurance of anyone ELSE'S salvation? Never. But God bids us to have assurance of our OWN salvation based on the finished work of Christ.

Which assurance the wicked FV heretics would ROB us of!

Yes, I said heretics, yes I know what the word means. Yes I said wicked, yes I know what the word means. Yes, I'm familiar with the FV teachings, and I really, really, really understand what they're saying. They're saying that we need to add to the work of Christ. Period.

Why AREN'T you a Roman Catholic?

E

Paul Manata said...

Ron,

Surely you don't think the totality of the Reformation is contained in the 95 thesis, do you!? That's just historically ignorant. There were pre-reformers even before Luther. And, the reformation continued beyond Luther. To intimate that the reformation was contained in the 95 thesis is just plain ignorant and is an attempt to minimize the differences between us and Rome. I mean, c'mon, where does *Rome* anathematize us for not partaking in "indulgences?"

Where, pray tell, do the famous "Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation" come into play???!!! Why are they called that? And, what of the reformers who claimed that the doctrine of justification by faith alone was the articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae?

Though this isn't right for Luther to have done, by why, pray tell, did Luther call the epistle of James and "epistle of straw" if all of this was just over the authority of the Pope and indulgences?

Ron, it would be one thing to go against your Reformed heritage and the godly advice of almost all your friends and all your elders in warning you to stay away from the FV, *if you were a learned man.* It is altogether completely different when you reject the sound advice of your elders, the warnings of the most prominent and learned men in contemporary reformation scholarship, based on an obviously ignorant view of these issues.

You seem not to understand basic Protestant teaching. You seem to not understand history very well save the self-serving quotes you mine on a regular basis, you seem to not understand Rome that well, and, finally, you seem to not understand your Bible that well.

What would Solomon say of you, Ron? Are you being wise? Or have your itching ears laid hold of the latest fad? You are not ready to have these debates. You need to drop everything, start over from scratch, that is, from Christ alone, and submit to your elders and go through some basic training workshops. Have someone disciple you. Something along those lines.