1) I do not know if Mr. Johnson is just being difficult or just does not understand much of what I am saying, but it would be a great exercise in futility to go back over each of the many “no, you completely missed the entire point of what I just said” portions of his response.
2) As someone in our chat channel summarized one aspect, “We cannot determine the validity of someone’s baptism by parsing their doctrine, but we can determine the validity of a person’s baptism by parsing their doctrine.” Either it is wrong to examine one’s profession of faith, or the theology of the ones thusly baptizing, or the history of the church doing the baptism, or it isn’t. The “cake/eat cake” problem here is Mr. Johnson’s, not mine. I have been consistent: without the gospel, it isn’t Christian. Period, end of debate.
3) Seemingly one can determine that the origins of Mormonism are improper, yet, the issues relating to Rome’s claims of authority (and all the problems inherent thereto) are swept aside and Rome is granted existence, seemingly, to at least the second century. By what standard are we to operate here? We are not told. Was the CRE started “properly” in Mr. Johnson’s view? Has he examined each modern denomination for “proper starting procedures” so as to know if their baptism is valid? Hard to give much credence to this kind of concept.
4) Johnson says my ecclesiology is “defective.” I simply note that next month a new book will be released from Broadman/Holman in which five views of church government will be presented. Robert Reymond presented the Presbyterian view, I defended the plurality of elders view. I doubt, honestly, that Mr. Johnson is overly aware of the particulars of that debate, and invite the readers to obtain that book and judge for themselves.
5) Johnson wrote, “Instead, Dr. White sees Mormonism and Roman Catholicism as “outside the Gospel”, not just outside the Church. For Dr. White, the Church is defined exclusively by faithfulness to doctrine.” I don’t think Mr. Johnson understands the views of those he is so certain are in error, and here is a good example of that. God’s people, in whom His Spirit dwells, love the truth. They are not saved in falsehood. Christ prayed they would be sanctified by the truth. There is no question that during her sojourn on earth the church is troubled by false sons and apostates. But the fact remains that from a biblical perspective, we can say with John, “they went OUT from US, because they were not OF us.” The church knows the gospel, and without the gospel, there is no Christian unity, no Christian worship, no Christian faith. The Church exercises discipline so that she may truly strive to be on earth what her Savior will truly make her in heaven: pure and spotless. That discipline is not limited to “doctrine,” but without “doctrine,” there is no discipline, nor does she have any message for the world. There is a reason why we are given apostolic command to stand for sound doctrine.
6) Mr. Johnson believes what one holds about justification is not definitional of the gospel. Upon this issue we will, and must, remain not only at odds, but actively so. This is not a matter of, “Well, we will just have to disagree agreeably.” If the very standing that is ours in Christ is a matter of opinion without clear, revelatory foundation, there is absolutely no reason for any of us to be doing what we are doing in discussing these things. We have no gospel message, as we are seeing now in the monochromatic, unidimensional proclamation forced upon consistent adherents of NPism. Unlike the many who once pretended zeal and love for the old truths contained in a fully orbed understanding of sola fide and sola scriptura and soli Deo Gloria, but who now have stars in their eyes for other things, I do not believe justification is a “dispensable” aspect of Gospel truth, especially in a day like ours. Without the truth of justification, including all its rich aspects, Christ is robbed of His glory, and man-centered gospels like Rome’s can be identified as “Christian.”
7) As was demonstrated by a good friend of mine recently on the NTRMin web board, merely claiming to be the guardian of “Reformed” orthodoxy is no guarantee you are. I reject Mr. Johnson’s one-sided view of things, believe the position of the Reformers on many issues is significantly more complex than the current group of rC’s are willing to admit, and beyond all of this, I think there is a little phrase called semper reformanda which, especially when dealing with issues that have evolved since the days of the Reformation, means we should go back to the foundation in answering those questions: the Scripture. That is something I don’t see most rC’s rushing to do, sadly.
8) The citation of Calvin offered by Johnson has, truly, nothing whatsoever to do with the Roman priest as an alter Christus.