There goes Tullian Tchividjian under the bus! I can certainly wish that Greenbaggins would be one blog above cheapshots about some sort of, maybe, kind of connection between Tullian’s fall and his doctrine of sanctification. Lane Keister, after all, knows well what it’s like to go into the lion’s den and get utterly smeared by the PCA’s liberals. I hate to say it, but I think Lane has taken the line of poor taste and used Tullian’s personal flop as a chance to write off his views on sanctification. We get all we need from Lane’s piece– which is nothing. He doesn’t try to demonstrate a causal link between Tullian’s views and his affair because there isn’t one. It’s all very confusing and sad when a minister (especially a prominent one) falls into sin. But at another level it’s rather simple. Tullian certainly knows just as much as his critics that having an affair is wrong. He blew it. Do we really want to go this way? I mean, is every ministerial scandal an occasion for the poor chump’s ideological opponents to say “See, I told you so!”? Well somebody could bring up Mark Driscoll but the Mars Hill debacle is really about a long string of unforced errors.

Lane ought to remember that this same thing played out after Jason Stellman shocked his supporters and gratified his enemies by joining the false church of Rome. Failures like those of Tullian and Stellman just confirm that they were flawed men fighting for a good cause. It’s sad that their theology has to get the blame for their personal failures. We are witnessing that popular fallacy– the circumstantial ad hominem– in all it’s glory. Those of us who want to challenge burgeoning legalism in Reformed circles can’t give up before one of the classic cheapshots. We certainly have a lesson to learn here. Not the platitudes like “But for the grace of God go I” but rather “Vain is the help of man.” We feel the blow of Stellman’s sell-out and Tullian’s scandal just so far as we’ve bought into the folly that the justness of our cause depends on the spotless reputation of our point men. We might as well give in and join the legalists if outward appearance matters so much to us. After all, those who think they can stand before God in their own works are the masters of hypocrisy, the gurus of appearance. But that’s not what we stand for. We know man looks at the appearance but God looks at the heart and in that way we know we have to stand in Christ or fall in our works.

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I don’t think I could have said this any better so I will defer to a wise comment over at Greenbaggins. Here is an excellent run-down of why only those who just want Leithart off the hook can really be satisfied with the outcome of his trial:

The main arguments advanced by his supporters in the trial seem to be: “the PCA is too small already, we need to make sure the boundaries of what’s acceptable are large enough to include Leithart”, and “some reformed person at some time in history held one view similar to one of Leitharts, therefore he’s ok” (never mind the fact that finding someone who held to his system of doctrine would be difficult indeed, and that said view is contrary to the standards), and “our witnesses have more degrees than yours, please ignore the fact that they haven’t actually studied what he has written”. If those who support Leithart were loving of their confessional brothers in a Biblical manner, they would have at the trial demonstrated that a plain reading of Leithart and of the WCF (which we have all vowed is a faithful exposition of Scripture) are similar, rather than making the arguments that they did, and thus convince their confessional brethren of their error.

One thing I would add is that partly because Leithart’s defense counsel capitulated to the standards of secular courts did they spend so much effort flaunting the academic credentials of their witnesses (and their own) and playing presbyterian politics in the filth of personal destruction, especially the personal destruction of Lane Keister. Mark B. finishes strong, telling it like it is about the Leithart defense fund in the PCA:

Ask yourself this: Who are those decrying those who oppose the FV the loudest? Is it not those who would like to view our standards as something antiquated and restricting, who have to search for ways to show how they are in agreement with the standards, whose list of exceptions is almost as long as the confession, or who think that the WCF needs an update or rewritten, or maybe just CWAGA folk? Who are those who oppose the FV? Are they not those who see the WCF as faithfully summarizing what Scripture teaches? If we are a confessional denomination, how are we faithful to our vows?

Thanks, Mark B. Those following the judicial phase of the PCA’s FV woes should expect the outcome desired by the big-tent, latitudinarian, evangelicalism-friendly, Westminster-is-passé coalition. By all means pray, but I think it’s just sensible to expect the worst.