Monday, October 04, 2010

Did Otis and/or Aquila Misrepresent Higgins' Views?

In "Discerning Roman Catholic Tendencies Among Professing Reformed Churches," published by Dominic Aquila, John Otis gave strong warnings about Craig R. Higgins, calling him a "very dangerous man" and "equally dangerous" with the Federal Visionists such as Peter Leithart.

Otis summarizes his lengthy and detailed analysis this way:
To recap Craig Higgins’ theological errors, they are:
  1. He advocates observing Romish traditions, such as observing Lent as something wise for Presbyterians to do.
  2. He advocates a form of “Reformed Episcopacy,” which is really an advocating of episcopacy rather than Presbyterianism. He even suggests the Pope of Rome ought to be the presiding bishop in an ecumenical visible church.
  3. He denies the distinction between the visible and invisible church.
  4. He advocates a Romish understanding of baptism. He believes in baptismal regeneration- that those in the visible church actually have the benefits of Christ’s redemptive work at their water baptism.
  5. He denies the Reformed understanding of the perseverance of the saints.
These areas warrant church discipline for this teaching elder.
Now, the Metro New York presbytery of the PCA has complained against the publisher, Mr. Aquila, sending a letter to his presbytery declaring that "one of your presbyters, Dominic Aquila, publishes a website entitled “The Aquila Report” (www.theaquilareport.com) in which we believe he allows one of the brothers in our presbytery, Craig Higgins, to be slandered."

You can read the entire letter here (link to copy of letter), but what is glaring is the dissimilarity between Otis' paper and the MNY's letter. The former is full of detailed and reasoned analysis and explanation. The latter is little more than handwaving generalities and unsupported accusations. Not one single mistake in Otis' lengthy analysis is identified with any particularity.

The gist of the complaint amounts to the idea that since Higgins is in good standing with MNY, Aquila shouldn't be publishing an article that suggests that Higgins is a dangerous false teacher. There is no Biblical or rational basis upon which this ground could be sustained.

Moreover, in order for anyone to take MNY's complaint against Aquila seriously, they would first need to provide some sort of meaningful response to Otis' analysis. It's possible, of course, that a committee of the MNY presbytery has actually prepared such a response in secret. If such a response exists, I would be delighted to read it. Without such a response, however, Otis' analysis is quite compelling.

Likewise, I'm unaware of any public response from Higgins disputing with particularity even one of the five main points that Otis sought to establish, much less any of the minutia. One would think that such a response would be necessary at a minimum for someone to conclude that Otis' otherwise apparently sound critique was inappropriate.

Does Otis' analysis contain mistakes? Perhaps - he is human. But can we find those mistakes? MNY and Higgins have not even told us where we should look to find the mistakes, much less actually demonstrate that any point Otis has raised is either unsupported or in error.

MNY's letter seems highly imprudent under these circumstances. If MNY's letter is truthful, and Otis' analysis does misrepresent Higgins' views, they have simply ensured that more people will read Otis' analysis, as they have provided no reason for anyone to disbelieve what Otis has written. On the contrary, if MNY's letter is untruthful, they have compounded their errors by not only failing to properly discipline Higgins, but also false accusing those who have been exhorting them to do their duty.

-TurretinFan

7 comments:

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"The gist of the complaint amounts to the idea that since Higgins is in good standing with MNY, Aquila shouldn't be publishing an article that suggests that Higgins is a dangerous false teacher. There is no Biblical or rational basis upon which this ground could be sustained."

I agree.


Likewise, I'm unaware of any public response from Higgins disputing with particularity even one of the five main points that Otis sought to establish, much less any of the minutia. One would think that such a response would be necessary at a minimum for someone to conclude that Otis' otherwise apparently sound critique was inappropriate."

That sounds right to me, too.

Daniel Foucachon said...

Hi! Maybe it's posted somewhere and I missed it, but what is your name/who are you?

I see your name come up on comments a lot. I'm assuming you aren't "anonymous" (due to the nature of your interactions), but couldn't find your name.

Thanks,
Sincerely,
Daniel Foucachon

Turretinfan said...

Why are you asking?

natamllc said...

TF, he asks for probably the same reason I asked what your name is, long ago. If he is privileged enough to be told your name, you will then have to tell me! Or not? :)

Turretinfan said...

There seem to be two groups who want to know my name - those who are fond of me, and those who are oppositely inclined. Those who are fond with me managing to endure my pseudonymity, but it seems to pose a stumblingblock to those with different feelings.

Rachel said...

Considering the well documented attacks by those in the FV and NPP camps against those who dare oppose them, I don't blame this blogger or any other for maintaining anonymity.

natamllc said...

TF,

my qualifier:

"I once wanted to know your name and in fact, as I recall, once I thought you to be a female after some comments left in the combox some time back, maybe a year or so? Ha! Now that I have come to know you and who you represent, it is far better that I get to know Him better and power of His Name in Word and Deed!"

After all, you, my friend, seems to me, have learned just Who is and who is not so important in the tasks at hand? Such as:

Php 4:9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me--practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

After reading such as that, one gets the same idea about you as was what Paul wrote there about himself; that is, he was more concerned with his friends and students knowing his God more than knowing him! He was obliged and so wholeheartedly willing that they come to know Him more and more, him less and less, he did not much care so much about himself. He learned and so lived to decrease that He might increase by what he taught and spoke, said and did:

Act 20:22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there,
Act 20:23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me.
Act 20:24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Act 20:25 And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again.
Act 20:26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you,
Act 20:27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.