PCA’s Siouxlands Presbytery Finds TE Greg Lawrence Not Guilty of Federal Vision Charges

TE Greg Lawrence, pastor of Christ Church (PCA) in Mankato, Minn., was found not guilty of five charges related to Federal Vision by Siouxlands Presbytery at its meeting on September 22.

The trial was conducted by a Presbytery judicial commission on September 12-14. The Presbytery approved the judicial commission’s recommendations by a vote of 24-6.

These were charges brought against TE Lawrence with respect to doctrines associated with Federal Vision theology:

1. Regarding the Covenant of Works—That TE Lawrence holds, defends, and teaches a view of covenant theology that is contrary to the covenant works and covenant of grace distinction as set forth in the Westminster Standards (WCF 7:2-3; WLC 20-22, 30-34; WSC 12, 20; Jer. 31:31-34; Rom. 7:9, 10:5-10; Gal. 3:10-12; Phil. 3:8-9).

2. Regarding the Benefits of Baptism to the Elect—That TE Lawrence holds, defends, and teaches a view of baptism in which the elect receive saving benefits such as union with Christ and new life by means of their water baptism contrary to the Westminster Standards (WCF 27.1; 28.1; WSC 91, 92, 94; WLC 165, 168; Matt. 3:11; Acts 2:41, 10:44-48, 16:31-34; Rom. 4:11; 1 Pet. 3:21).

3. Regarding the Benefits of Baptism to the Non-Elect—That TE Lawrence holds, defends, and teaches that the reprobate receive at baptism union with Christ, new life, and forgiveness of sins in some sense thus creating a parallel soteriological system contrary to the Westminster Standards (WCF 27.1; 28.1; WSC 91, 92, 94; WLC 165; Matt. 3:11; Acts 2:41, 10:44-48, 16:31-34; Rom. 4:11; 1 Pet. 3:21).

4. Regarding Perseverance and Apostasy—That TE Lawrence holds, defends, and teaches the view that some can receive saving benefits and then lose them thereby overturning the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints contrary to the Westminster Standards (WCF 3.6, 3.8, 11:5, 17.1; WLC 64-66, 68, 79; Isa. 54:7-8; John 5:24-25, 10:25-30; 1 Cor. 1:8-9; Phil. 1:6).

5. Regarding Assurance—That TE Lawrence holds, defends, and teaches the view that assurance is grounded primarily in baptism, contrary to the Westminster Standards, thus minimizing or denying the subjective grounds of assurance and the possibility of an infallible assurance (WCF 3.8, 18:1-3; WLC 80; Rom. 8:16; 2 Cor. 13:5; 2 Pet. 1:10; 1 John 2:3, 3:14, 4:13, 5:13).

The trial against TE Lawrence came after a lengthy number of actions; the following is a partial summary of facts taken from the indictment. The first request for an investigation of TE Lawrence’s views with respect to Federal Vision was made at the April 24-25, 2008 meeting of Siouxlands; this request was not approved. As a result, a complaint was filed alleging that the Presbytery erred in not conducting an investigation under the Book of Church Order (BCO) 31-2. The complaint was denied.

The complaint was carried to the General Assembly, alleging that Siouxlands Presbytery erred in not investigating the views of TE Lawrence under BCO 31-2. The Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) ruled the complaint was in order and sustained it (see Judicial Case 2008-14) in October, 2009.

At its January 22, 2010 meeting, the Presbytery heard the report of a second investigative committee that recommended 6-0 that the Presbytery find a strong presumption of guilt against TE Lawrence. However, before the Presbytery acted on the recommendation TE Lawrence requested that Presbytery appoint a committee to instruct him; this motion was approved. The committee was charged with helping TE Lawrence clarify his statements with regard to and in light of the nine declarations of the PCA General Assembly’s Report on “Federal Vision, New Perspective, and Auburn Avenue Theology” (see here and here). The Instructional Committee gave a provisional report on its work at the April 22-23, 2010 meeting but no action taken.

The Instructional Committee gave its report at September 23-24, 2010 meeting of Presbytery, which was received as information. The second investigative committee also reported and its recommendation that a finding of a strong presumption of guilt against TE Lawrence was approved.

The prosecutor filed the formal Charges and Specifications against TE Lawrence at the February 20, 2011 meeting of Presbytery and the trial was conducted September 12-14. The prosecutor, TE Kevin Carr, called as witnesses TEs Joseph Pipa and Wes White, and RE Jock MacGregor. The defense counsel was TE Joshua Moon, and he called as witnesses TEs Will Barker, Jack Collins, Max Rogland, and Bart Moseman.

The Commission’s statement of rationale for its decision not to convict has not been released to the public and will be provided as soon as it is available.
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