All right, then. More on Steve Wilkins.
Actually, this is more on the sociology and demographics of the thing. From where I sit, in the Idaho nickel seats, this is what the lay of the land looks like.
I have urged every Reformed believer who has had any interest whatever in the federal vision controversy to follow this particular chapter of the story very closely. The early indicators show that this is exactly what is happening. Each day, the web traffic for this site averages between three and four thousand visitors (and between 16,000 and 19,000 hits). Last Thursday, when I posted the first of this series on Steve, I had over six thousand visitors that day — in short a spike unheard of in these parts. There were almost 25,000 hits. Lots of people are following this.
On paper, the folks involved with the Standing Judicial Commission can do whatever they want to do with Steve. Their decision would be final; there is no appeal to GA. They don’t have to have their action approved by GA — all they have to do is report what they have done, and the GA would say oh. This is a body that carries the full authority of the entire PCA. Whether that was a good idea is a discussion for another time, but right now that is just the way it is.
This being the case I am urging everyone with a dog in the fight to watch these developments very closely, and it is important for the SJC to know that they are being watched closely in this way. And more people have a dog in the fight than you might think. Ministerial candidates who are under the care of various presbyteries need to follow this. Seminarians need to be following this.
Ministers in the PCA need to follow this because everything that is happening to Steve could happen to them — with no charges ever having been brought and no appeal possible. Nice set up if you can arrange it. These guys know their onions. This could happen even if a minister jots and tittles his way through the entire Westminster Confession of Faith.
If this travesty happens (as it certainly could), it needs to happen with many thousands of informed observers looking straight at it, in the broad light of day. From what I have gathered thus far, thankfully that is what is happening.
As I have written earlier, this is not at all inconsistent with what I have urged people to do in other judicial situations (e.g. the RC Jr. situation). When a judicial body is charged with sorting out a host of did-too-did-nots, the last thing that needs to happen is for Internet-land to form a committee of the whole, with the loudest quadrant of that committee being made up of anonymous and scurrilous railers. This is because the nature of the dispute has to do with particular situations and about what happened, or did not happen, at a session meeting last August, say. But this situation with Steve is a public dispute about doctrine, a public dispute about what Steve teaches and has taught in public. What does he affirm? What does he deny? In this situation, Christ’s words to the high priest are far more apropos. “Go ask the Temple crowd about that parable. They heard me.”
Steve holds to the Westminster Confession of Faith. If we are talking about original intent, he is far more in conformity to the Westminster than are his accusers. Ask any of those who are worked up about his teaching if they believe the two sacraments are effectual means of salvation. They will respond that they believe the sacraments are means of grace, but they are means of sanctifying grace, not saving grace. So then ask them why the Catechism question put it the way it did, instead of asking how the two sacraments are effectual means of sanctification. You will get a reply that amounts to them having an interpretive wand that they wave over certain words to make them mean, a la Lewis Carroll, what they want them to mean. They will perhaps add that this is why nobody wants to debate you. You keep getting off the point, which is that you are a heretic, and keep gravitating to extraneous material, like how the early Reformed fathers made almost all the same points you guys are making. “Like, man, who cares?” This is a postmodern era, and the TRs are now going in for advocacy history — the cheap and easy way of being historic and confessional. But they would rather not know about this because they still like believing that they are genuine conservatives.
I got distracted. The central point remains this: read Steve’s written responses to the questions put to him by presbytery. Listen to the audio if you need to. Without any judgment on these responses having been made by any judicial body, make up your mind on what Steve is teaching and saying. And then wait for the decision of the Lousiana Presbytery next month. After that wait and see what the SJC does, if anything.