Saturday, August 13, 2016

ESS, Partisan "Confessionalism" and True Confessionalism

It has been some time since I have addressed anything much less the issue of ESS or EFS. On the latter, it is simply discouraging to see the usual suspects lie about other believers, and then they get into their usual echo chambers to reinforce their slanderous accusations against the brethren. Slander and lies are not particularly edifying, and after some time hashing out my views on the topic and on the controversy, I am all for leaving the dogs to their own vomit. I have stopped following Reformation 21, and probably there are a few others I will block off in order to leave the sewer of "confessional" discourse. The childish tweet of Mark Jones did once again remind me of how bad the situation has become. As my last parting shot, since I was taught the value of creeds and confessions, I see the need to disavow these "confessionalists" and stake out a confessionalism different from where these slanderers are going. In other words, this is what I view as true confessionalism, and I will not let the noble quest of treasuring the creeds and confessions of the church to be besmirched by EFS-denying-hound-dogs.

True Confessionalism focuses on the treasures of the creeds and confessions as the doctrinal constitution of the church. It is a positive good, a beautiful thing in the life of the church. It is focused on the truth, as Scripture is true. Confessionalism exists because that is the best way to be biblical, not because it is one more tribe among others. It is the TRUTH that matters, not sides. That is why I believe confessionalism is a "big tent" when it comes to denominational affiliation such that there can be Anglicans and Baptists and Lutherans in this tent, because it is not denominational affiliation per se that marks one as confessional or as Reformed, but rather the truth. Truth of course excludes error, so the "big tent" is obviously not a broad tent. But the criteria for exclusion is not one's "tribal" allegiance, but the degree to which one holds to the truth.

It seems however that the "Confessional" movement has evolved into just another tribe. Thus, we see the call to join forces in denouncing the "ESS error." The "in group," consisting of the MoS/ Ref21 guys like Carl Trueman, Todd Pruit and Aimee Byrd, together with Liam Goligher and Mark Jones, are intent on "weeding out" the "ESS error" which is a priori regarded as wrong. Quotes either out of context or wrestled out of their original paradigms are taken to suggest heresy. Nowhere among these folks is there any attempt at truth, thus there is no self-critical reflection on whether they are going about the issue all wrong. Thus, there is no real engagement with what their critics are saying. To this end, I once again repeat my challenge to any from these groups to actually interact with what I have said so far, but I'm not holding my breath for that to happen.

True confessionalism pays heed to truth. It is truth that is important, not side. Partisan "Confessionalism" however pays heed to which side one is affiliated with. Anyone who takes a different method (i.e. biblicism) is of another tribe and does not deserve to be treated fairly. True confessionalism is about stating one's position as true; partisan "confessionalism" is about stating one's method as the only legitimate one for all truth. True confessionalism desire others to embrace confessionalism because that is the best biblical position; partisan "confessionalism" desire others to embrace confessionalism because confessionalism is the only legitimate position.

I am a confessionalist, because I love the creeds and confessions and treat them as my secondary authority. But I am not their kind of confessionalist. God will one day judge them for their slander, and by distancing myself from them, I state that I have no part in any of their sins.


Reformed Apologist said...

Thank you for this. One of my biggest concerns has been the cavalier manner in which the ninth commandment has been trampled under foot.

Daniel C said...

Reformed Apologist,

you're welcome