It is being argued by some that a tactical error was made by the prosecution, that they argued from the Confession more than Scripture. I think arguing from the Confession was the right move.
Peter Leithart vowed to uphold the system of doctrine taught in the Confession. Accordingly, in many ways it is much more efficient (and effective) to argue from the Confession and not Scripture.
Consider, not all who embrace the Confession use the same verses as proof-texts to demonstrate particular confessional doctrines. Yet those doctrines the Confession teaches are to be upheld regardless how one arrives at them. Yet if one arrives at them in an unsatisfactory manner, it weakens his case. Consequently, tactically speaking it’s safer to reference the clear statements found in the Confession.
What became a slightly more tricky part of the case is that although the WLC Q&A 68 mentions common operations of the Spirit that unbelievers may have, the Confession does not say too much about it; yet the writings of the Federal Vision, including Leithart’s, use this slice of doctrine as a kind of launching pad for their confusion over union with Christ. Their tactic has been to weave into the Federal Vision fabric (i) equivocal statements regarding baptism, (ii) the blurring of the visible and invisible church distinction and (iii) the common operations of the Spirit in the life of unbelievers. Yet even with all that to deal with, the Confession is sufficient to argue against such sophistry because the Confession not only does not affirm what Leithart has written it unambiguously denies his writings on these matters. That’s why I think using the Confession as a primary standard in the case was not only acceptable but even the best course of action.
That brings me full circle. I think it’s disgraceful, this Monday morning quarterbacking regarding what the prosecution did not do. The reason being is that it's most of the same people who are blaming the SJC for not upholding for the prosecution. Yes, the whiners want to have it both ways. They want to find fault with the prosecution's case and with the SJC for not agreeing with the case the prosecution delivered. What's even worse is the SJC is not only being faulted for the outcome of the case, but in the process the committee members are being accused for not being confessional and even worse being dishonest for not siding with the prosecution.
I can only wonder if the SJC would have responded differently to another approach, one that didn’t put Leithart’s beliefs on trial (whether intentionally or unintentionally), but instead ended up prosecuting him for his writings. When Leithart interpreted his writings in a very selective way that was more agreeable with the Confession, it should have been argued that the literal interpretation of his writings do not comport with his exegesis of them. That, of course, would have led to an impasse of sorts, unless something extraordinary happened. Then it might have been established that his writings both presupposed and implied that he thought he had discovered or rediscovered something novel for the church, but given that he really hadn’t it could have been proved that he was, therefore, unaware what Reformed theology has affirmed all along, that the visible church is to be regarded as God’s people. So, either Peter Leithart never understood the Reformed faith to begin with or else his writings were not intended to have been in concert with the Reformed faith in the first place (yet he now interprets them as such.) Again, I only mention this Monday-morning approach to the case because I don’t think the SJC was handed Leithart on a silver platter by any stretch, but they are being accused as though he had been.
Finally, after reading the transcripts I can say that I would not have wanted to have been in Jason’s shoes (or on the stand either). I thought some of Jason’s statements were very good and downright clever at times. I have no hard feelings over how the case was prosecuted and I have nothing but respect for the SJC and all those who poured their hearts into this matter these past several years.