The rC Campaign Presses Downward

   Ever intent upon demonstrating that the “r” part of “rC” is a meaningless addition, the boys of the oxymoronic blog have provided some hum-dingers of late. Both Kevin Johnson and Tim Enloe have used the “post something that is ultra nasty and names names and demonstrates we are as sectarian as they come and detest conservative Calvinists with a passion but then pull it so you have some kind of deniability but make sure it is up long enough to get noticed anyway” ploy of late to go after yours truly and others of my “ilk.” Enloe continues to seethe in his detestation of his former allies and friends, a sad state of affairs that many of us had hoped time, marriage, and family, would at least minimize if not alleviate. We were wrong. Just a few days ago Enloe posted a long diatribe that included these paragraphs (which I had in the logs of our chat channel: the post disappeared later in the day):

   Note: I know we’re all trying to let this sort of stuff go, but it seems best to put it up here, where I know it will be seen. Comments on this post will remain closed, because there’s no sense in inviting another spontaneously-degenerating non-discussion with White’s followers
   In the name of accountability for myself, I want to modify one thing I recently said about White in a comment thread on Crimson Catholic’s blog. I said that White seems unacquainted with intellectual alternatives and gives very simplistic presentations that lead his puppy-dog like Internet followers astray. I even went so far as to say that in many ways White and his like-minded followers “are, as a general rule, a blot on the serious discipline of Christian theology and apologetics.”
   Instead, you will find 8 in 10 who appear to suck up every simplistic thing White says as if it’s gospel-truth itself–and then rush vigorously to his defense on message boards all over the Internet anytime anyone says something against him. Of course, it is the responsibility of these lemming-like people to do some serious work for themselves, but it’s exactly the point that they don’t do any serious work for themselves.

   Wow, can you feel the love? The “catholic spirit”? I sure can. The rest of the post was just as bad. That warm, “catholic” spirit was exemplified just a few weeks ago by Kevin Johnson, the coffee maker who has spent his recent years dogging Douglas Wilson, and now John MacArthur and Phil Johnson, when he posted this winner:

I listened in horror today to James White and Rich Pierce of Alpha and Omega “Ministries” cackling over an errant suicidal man who called their ministry offices ( you can listen here, the comments were made somewhere after 47min). I don’t normally listen to this broadcast anymore but I caught someone linking to it in agreement about something else. After listening to the mocking tone and carelessness with which these guys talked about this suicidal institutionalized man that dared to try to reach out to these so-called apologists, I just sat dumbstruck wondering whether it would be better to describe these guys as the Beavis and Buttheads of the apologetic world or the sort of cackling witches mentioned in Macbeth I’ve mentioned elsewhere in noting what I considered to be ministerial abuse. The care of errant souls outside the purview of proper apologetic concerns. Hmmm.

   Again, isn’t it wonderful to experience such an open hearted ecumenism? Johnson pulled the paragraph a few hours later, just like Enloe. I guess for the rC’s, it is their loving, open-hearted form of unity, or none at all.
   Meanwhile Paul Owen has been demonstrating how far off the radar screen from where he once claimed to be he currently is. Nothing new there.

   But today Jonathan Bonomo chimed in with some “clarifications.” Now, I had thought about commenting on something Bonomo had said a few weeks ago, but had refrained, but since I am addressing this now, I thought I would note it:

   In light of Wyman Richardson’s post from yesterday on Baptist catholicity and the conversation which has insued in the thread, I thought it appropriate to offer some thoughts on this issue here.
   My answer to the question is, Yes and No. In my opinion, the only way that unity would be possible between traditional Protestants and Baptists is for Baptists to forsake official Baptist doctrine on the issue. That is, they need to cease being Anabaptist. If this were to take place, then paedobatpists [isc] would have to sit up, take notice, and ponder the possibility of unity between the two groups.

   In other words, “Sure we can have unity, as long as the Baptists…stop being Baptists!” I got a lot out of that discussion. Of course, Bonomo uses the far more charged, far less accurate “Anabaptist” for good measure. That comes up in his “clarifications” as well. In any case, a few brief citations and replies:

Flowing from the above, it should be self-evident that the assertion that the term or the idea “Reformed Catholicism” is oxymoronic is itself moronic. The Reformers themselves claimed to be such.

   Obviously, when I speak of the inherent contradiction of the title of the “movement” (I am being generous to use such a term) I am referring to the impossibility of darkness dwelling with light. To be Reformed is to emphasize the very things Rome has officially denied and which the rC’s have so often de-emphasized themselves. It is very easy to talk about a bland “catholicism” but the fact is that Roman Catholicism is self-definitionally an attack upon the gospel and everything that gives life to the Reformed faith—the sovereign freedom of God is subjugated to the sacramental system; the finished work of Christ directly denied and turned into a repetitive and imperfect sacrifice; the veil sewn back up and a priest put back between God and the people, and so forth. The rC’s want to play footsie with Rome. That is their right. But it is my right to say they are as Reformed as I am a Laker’s fan (GO SUNS!).

Over against the above, we reject that those who are Anabaptist or Dispensational in their thought are “Reformed” in the historic sense of that term, and that the claiming to be Reformed by such groups is itself what is truly oxymoronic and historically dishonest.

   Given that I am neither Anabaptist nor Dispensational, there is nothing here to respond to. If Bonomo wishes to play games with the Anabaptist label and ignore my confession as a covenant theologian, well, I will leave him to that game. Nothing is to be accomplished by playing it.

To be properly Reformed, in our view, is necessarily to be also Catholic.

   When that leads to the denigration of the heart of Reformed theology in the sovereign freedom of the grace of God, call yourself what you will: you are still an enemy of the Reformation.

We also embrace the Baptist churches which find their identity in historic, orthodox Christianity, and urge them to discard their schismatic practice of re-baptism, as this is a deviation from creedal orthodoxy.

   I’d encourage Bonomo to listen very carefully to the debate on the subject that took place last October.

We hold the Bible as supreme in authority. But we also see that the Reformation doctrine of Sola Scriptura has been badly misunderstood, misrepresented, and misapplied in our day. This Reformation doctrine is not that every man has the right to his own private interpretation as separate from the catholic Church. The Reformers acknowledged this, and thus claimed the traditions of their catholic fathers as their own. God has given the Scriptures to his Church to be her source of authority, by which she will be led by the Spirit of Truth into all the truth. But it is just this which is missed in popular applications of Sola Scriptura in our day. The Scriptures are for the Church, to be interpreted and expounded upon within the context of the church’s life, as she is led along by the working of the Spirit to reveal to her the glorious truths contained therein. Thus, it is imperative that the Church look to how she has understood the Scriptures in previous ages and hold such historic teachings in reverence. It is also imperative that we adhere to the regula fidei, as contained in our historic Creeds, as the guiding principle to a proper, orthodox interpretation. Thus, it is not for every man to simply exercise his own private opinion as the supreme authority, for this is not what Sola Scriptura is, much less what it was for the Reformers.

   We again find the rC’s using flowery language that, when put in the fire, vanishes quickly under testing. I have often spoken against “me and my Bible under a tree in the woods” viewpoints of the faith, so I must not be the one being referred to here, which is wonderful. But we are still left to wonder, just as when Kevin Johnson tried exegeting the text of Scripture by “the church,” what it means to invoke the “catholic Church” in the reading of Scripture. Which of the zillion conflicting “traditions” is to be normative? We know Rome’s take. Is it the rC’s take? If not, why not? Who gets to decide? Rome claims to have been led by the Spirit into the truth of the Marian dogmas. Sorta makes that identification of which church important, doesn’t it? In fact, it might just require the same kind of discernment shown by John in recognizing that those who had gone out from them were not of them. False churches? Well, Bonomo admits there are some–just that the gospel is not what defines the differences! So you have one big church…that hasn’t a clue what the gospel is. How does Bonomo define this “regula fidei?” Who determines it? When did it come into existence? Is it theopneustos? How much of the “ancient creeds” are authoritative?

We fully acknowledge the rightful place to defend the propositional truths of orthodox Christianity and we hold such defense to be invaluable in our fight against the schemes of the evil one. Nevertheless, we recognize that Christ is just as much—perhaps more so—glorified in the manifest, visible unity and concord of His Body as he is in the proclamation of propositional truths.

   Again, those words sound so wonderful, so comforting. But…what do they mean? What do you do when you try to pretend a unity exists amongst a bunch of folks who simply do not hold to the same propositional truths? Ignore the differences and just hope no one asks you about it? “Oh, we are all united and one…just don’t ask us anything about what we believe.” That is hardly helpful. And isn’t it odd that the Apostles had to struggle with schisms and divisions and the like? Did they give us an example of providing an ever smaller spectrum of propositional truths so that we could have the illusion of unity? Or is the only unity that is a true witness one that comes from a common Spirit-borne commitment to truth itself?