Select Page

I recently read a blog entry at Barlow Farms: A Response to Richard Phillips’s Comments, Part One.

In the words of Mubatu from Zoolander: “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!”

If we ever hope to understand each other then I want to make sure I break down what I believe Pastor Phillips clearly articulated because it is my estimation that this “response” doesn’t even enter into the same neighborhood as the criticism. I ask those who have read both to make sure I’m not stating this improperly.

Here is the substance of the response from Barlow (I’m summarizing):

Pastor Phillips wants to try and convict Pastor Wilkins for not being a strict subscriptionist to only ONE confessional use of the terms election and perseverance. Pastor Wilkins does not deny election or perseverance in the way that the WCF use them and wholeheartedly agrees with them BUT merely denotes that the terms are used in a broader sense.

He goes on to use an analogy of using the word trinity in another way (i.e. “Shadrach, Meschach, and Abegnego made up a trinity of dissent in the empire.”) and then being accused of denying the Trinity.

Thus, according to Barlow, the substance of Pastor Phillips critique is over the use of terms: you cannot use the word election or predestination in any other way than the Confession uses or we’re going to put you up on a pole.

Now, I ask the critics of the critics of the FV: Does this accurately represent Pastor Phillips critique? I thought Pastor Phillips was very cogent in his analysis. I’m constantly told that men are not dealing honestly with each other’s views. If there is going to be a response to Pastor Phillips’ critique then let it be on the substance of the critique.

The substance of Pastor Phillips’ critique is this:


Neither the Scriptures, nor the confession, admit to a doctrine of conditional election.

Neither the Scriptures, nor the confession, admit to a temporary perseverance.

Neither the Scirptures, nor the confession, admit to a temporary union with Christ.


You see, it one thing to admit that the Scriptures use a term to address a larger body that includes both elect and non-elect. It is quite another to form a doctrine based on this syllogism:

1. Paul calls a Church body “elect” in some passages
2. Paul knew it consisted of both the regenerate and unregenerate
3. Therefore, Paul must mean that everyone there is elect in some way…

Barlow seems to completely miss the fact that Pastor Phillips convincingly demonstrates that the Reformed completely reject this in their confession. They do NOT conclude 3 in the way that Wilkins and others do and, on the contrary, reject the idea.

Would they admit to points 1 and 2 above? Certainly, they would believe it is Pastoral language. This is why there is the idea of presumptive regeneration where you treat and talk of people as if they are regnerate not knowing either way. Jesus still treated Judas as if he were a disciple when He knew from the beginning who truly believed even before He called Judas.

Thus, I find Barlow’s response to utterly obfuscate the critique. I thought Pastor Phillips critique was a scholarly and clear examination of the issue and am shocked that Barlow so utterly misrepresents the substance of the critique.

Are there any responses out there that do a better job of answering the actual charges?