Question and Answer

Laymen and the Justification Report

Question:

One of the recommendations of the special committee convened to study the biblical and confessional doctrine on the issue of justification was that presbyteries, sessions, and pastors be proactive in addressing the NPP (New Perspectives on Paul) and FV (Federal Vision) issues (Recommendation 2, p. 89 of the Committee report). As a member of the congregation, what am I able to do in order to insure this happens in a timely and edifying manner?

Another recommendation was that the OPC denominational magazine, New Horizons, publish popular critiques of NPP and FV (Recommendation 3.b.4, again on p. 89 of the Committee report). What progress has been made on that?

Answer:

Greetings in the Name of our Lord! Thank you for your pair of questions for us. Let me answer the second one first. The February 2007 issue of New Horizons was in fact dedicated to the doctrine of justification, giving popular critiques of the FV and the NPP. Included in that issue of the magazine (which can be found online here are the following articles:

JUSTIFICATION:
"Justification: What the Debate Is All About" by David M. VanDrunen
"Justified Now and Forever" by Richard B. Gaffin, Jr.

JUSTIFICATION AND THE NEW PERSPECTIVE ON PAUL (NPP):

"Getting the Gospel Right" by Cornelis P. Venema

THE "FEDERAL VISION" (FV):

"Understanding the 'Federal Vision'" by Alan D. Strange

THE NEW PERSPECTIVES ON PAUL (NPP):

"A Review Article: Paul for Everyone, by [N.T.] Wright" by J. V. Fesko

David M. VanDrunen, an OP (Orthodox Presbyterian) minister, teaches at Westminster Seminary, California. Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., an OP minister, teaches at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia. Cornelis P. Venema teaches theology at (and is president of) Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Alan D. Strange, an OP minister, teaches at Mid-America Reformed Seminary. J.V. Fesko is pastor of Geneva OPC in Woodstock, Georgia.

The justification report is available online in PDF format here. In addition, the Christian Education Committee has published the Assembly's report in pamphlet form. That pamphlet can be ordered online here.

The recommendation to which you refer in your first question stands as such—a recommendation. Though the General Assembly commended the paper to the church for study, it did not (and cannot) mandate such. And, even in churches addressing the issues as recommended, no particular mechanism was specified or suggested.

Some churches may choose to address the issues directly by sermons or by special conferences, others may choose to simply make applications at particular points; in yet other churches, the matter may be ignored. I can only encourage you to speak to your elders and to your pastor asking them to make clear and pointed warnings against the serious errors in these views. You might make greater head-way with them if you, having studied the FV and NPP report, ask them to address particular problems. Specific requests receive specific answers, while general requests receive general ones.

Thank you again for your questions, and for your concern for the Gospel.


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