We can all find problems with everyone’s “local church.” Some are even pretty bad. But reviewing the Vision Forum debacle one thing kept coming up in my mind: a local church in network (presbytery?) with other churches can minimize the danger of cult figures hijacking the show. This is especially true with “start-up” denominations, for while having the form of presbyterial government, they are often run by a Pope-figure. By contrast, established, perhaps even “bourgeoisie” networks generally have a way of stifling wacky ideas that come up (and this is a good thing!). I’ve sat in Presbytery meetings where word got out that such and such church is starting to follow the teachings of a certain Federal Vision guru and they were summarily investigated. (I don’t know what happened in the end result, but since this was an OPC presbytery it’s not hard to imagine how they handled it, and good for them).
This reminds me of an excellent tape by David Chilton on the Ecclesiastical Abuse of the Tyler People. I realize the article is by John Robbins, but it’s accurate enough. If anyone is interested in the audio, let me know.