Jeff Meyers on AAPC/FV/NPP Part 3

Part of the problem here is that many of the critics define the Reformed tradition extremely narrowly and do not appreciate any insights from outside the English-Scottish Presbyterian and Puritan world. So to them, these views really are “new” and challenge their comfort zone. They haven’t encountered this kind of Presbyterianism in their narrow reading and study. At the same time, I’d want to insist that even the things that might be genuinely new (e.g., I think Peter Leithart and Jim Jordan have truly broken new ground in several areas over the years) are essentially organic outgrowths of the tradition. In other words, this is not a de novo trajectory; we’re just riding out old trajectories to a further point. The example of paedocommunion is a good case study: it has a history, tracing back to the early church; it’s also consistent with the basic principles of Reformed ecclesiology, even if virtually none of the Reformers believed it. It’s at once old and new.

Those who think they are just confessing the “vanilla Westminster tradition” are, in my opinion, a bit naive. John Leith’s book on the Westminster Assembly does a really fine job showing how embedded the WCF is in the culture and philosophy of its day. Jordan dealt with this in the essay I referenced in Part 3. There is not a single person in 21st-century America who actually thinks like a mid-17th century British person. We cannot recreate the past; history is a river that only flows in one direction. Even those who are most rigidly traditionalist are really mentally updating the confession in a variety of ways, whether they are aware of it or not.

Read the whole of part 4 here.

About Alastair Roberts

Alastair Roberts (PhD, Durham University) writes in the areas of biblical theology and ethics, but frequently trespasses beyond these bounds. He participates in the weekly Mere Fidelity podcast, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged.
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