Can someone please summarise federal vision theology for me?

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TheDeepFryer

Puritan Board Freshman
It's honestly so hard to find a fair representation of what proponents of federal vision theology believe.

Can someone please give me a brief summary?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
It's honestly so hard to find a fair representation of what proponents of federal vision theology believe.

Can someone please give me a brief summary?
Welcome DF to the PB. Please fix your signature so folks will know how to address you. The instructions and minimum required are under useful links at the bottom of the page.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
It's honestly so hard to find a fair representation of what proponents of federal vision theology believe.

Can someone please give me a brief summary?

I am curious as to why you are asking for a brief summary if you have not found "a fair representation of what proponents of federal vision theology believe." This implies that you are well acquainted with the movement. Is it not more accurate to say, then, that you are a looking for a critique, not a summary?
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
I've seen a lot of criticism of the naparc reports so I'm doubtful of whether they give a fair representation. Pastor Wedgeworth had been involved with the fv movement before leaving (he's now a naparc pastor), and he gives a summary and criticism of its history and teaching here. (Link to the final article in a six part series. The whole thing is worth reading.) Of note is that Doug Wilson commended it as a fair representation and criticism of the movement (take that as you will; I know that some would be less likely to read it after hearing that, but to me it speaks highly of its fairness.)
 

Charles Johnson

Puritan Board Sophomore
All of them? Criticism from whom? Lane has been around through a lot of this. Maybe he can weigh in. @greenbaggins
I have seen criticism of all of them, even from reputable, non-FV sources. To be clear though, I have not read either the reports or the federal visionists, so this is an expression of skepticism rather than criticism. Some of the criticism is not public, so I probably shouldn't name names.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
I have seen criticism of all of them, even from reputable, non-FV sources. To be clear though, I have not read either the reports or the federal visionists, so this is an expression of skepticism rather than criticism. Some of the criticism is not public, so I probably shouldn't name names.

The earliest one from the OPC might be seen as inadequate, but that's because the FV wasn't fully developed. They were still making things up as they went along.

And while it is true that there are different strands of FV (even though they all still, and this includes Wilson, unite around the 2007 statement), that doesn't negate the criticisms. Rich Lusk came out and said that we get in by "grace" (usually baptism) and stay in by being good.

Jordan said we should mature like Jesus did. Jordan and Leithart reject the category of nature. Even Wilson for all his madness balked at that.

Wilson broke off from the sacramental branch because he saw how goofy it was. However, he still affirms the 2007 statement.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Years ago T.E. Wilder made the interesting observation that some criticisms fell flat because they assumed that FV was an adjustment to the Reformed system of doctrine, and criticized it as such; when in reality, it was an entirely different system, under construction from a different starting point and with a different plan. In other words, criticizing it in terms of inability to clearly affirm justification by faith alone identified a problem, but didn't go nearly deep enough in terms of exposing and contradicting the roots of that inability.

It may be giving too much credit to say it was a system; it was a chaotic bundle of ideas, held together as much by shared enmities as by internal harmonies.
 

Andrew Hall

Puritan Board Freshman
The FV as I see it is a high-church movement that values the doctrine of the church to such salvific power as the body of Christ to such an extent that it collapses the administration and the substance of the covenant of grace, so that all who are baptized (believers and their children) are considered temporally (but not necessarily eternally) elect. Baptism objectively and really confers to all recipients the substance of God's grace in Christ (perseverance notwithstanding). To remain in communion with the benefits of Christ, one must remain "faithful" to the Lord. Only the decretally elect will remain faithful to the Lord and be justified eschatologically. (I see this in many ways akin to modern Lutheranism, in which the Holy Spirit uniformly grants saving faith in water baptism, but that faith must be exercised all life long to remain justified and in communion with Christ.)

The FV follows the Mosaic Covenant and Norm Shepard's view of the Adamic covenant, that is, placed in the land and covenant by grace, but then you stay in by faithfulness. It is, essentially, "monocovenantal" and denies in effect the covenant of works/covenant of grace distinction.

Check out the book Reformed is Not Enough: Restoring the Objectivity of the Covenant by Douglas Wilson. It's been years since I read it, but Wilson claims that the FV accurately follows the Westminster Standards and Calvin. And Peter Leithart, The Baptized Body, would be a necessary book too. Early into my foray into Reformed Christianity c. 2006 I loved these guys, but I learned this perverted the law/gospel distinction and ran away from it.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
The FV as I see it is a high-church movement that values the doctrine of the church to such salvific power as the body of Christ to such an extent that it collapses the administration and the substance of the covenant of grace, so that all who are baptized (believers and their children) are considered temporally (but not necessarily eternally) elect. Baptism objectively and really confers to all recipients the substance of God's grace in Christ (perseverance notwithstanding). To remain in communion with the benefits of Christ, one must remain "faithful" to the Lord. Only the decretally elect will remain faithful to the Lord and be justified eschatologically. (I see this in many ways akin to modern Lutheranism, in which the Holy Spirit uniformly grants saving faith in water baptism, but that faith must be exercised all life long to remain justified and in communion with Christ.)

The FV follows the Mosaic Covenant and Norm Shepard's view of the Adamic covenant, that is, placed in the land and covenant by grace, but then you stay in by faithfulness. It is, essentially, "monocovenantal" and denies in effect the covenant of works/covenant of grace distinction.

Check out the book Reformed is Not Enough: Restoring the Objectivity of the Covenant by Douglas Wilson. It's been years since I read it, but Wilson claims that the FV accurately follows the Westminster Standards and Calvin. And Peter Leithart, The Baptized Body, would be a necessary book too. Early into my foray into Reformed Christianity c. 2006 I loved these guys, but I learned this perverted the law/gospel distinction and ran away from it.

I, too, used to be a Wilson fan. The external/internal distinction of the covenant is what led me away from FV.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Guy Waters has probably the most comprehensive treatment at the time. Cornelius Venema has recently written on it as well in his Christ and Covenant theology book.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
Serious question, couldn't it be said that Federal Vision is similar to Lutheran theology? That is what I am gathering from what is being stated. The Lutheran belief in baptismal regeneration seems to be similar, even though I don't think FV people would affirm that. Also, Lutherans believe you can lose your salvation, which doesn't make any sense since they also claim to be monergists. It seems like both have a lot of contradictions when trying to affirm sola fide.
 

Susan777

Puritan Board Sophomore
Although some might say that Piper believes in a form of covenantal faithfulness as well. Question for you Jacob: how do good works figure in for the Orthodox?
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
It's honestly so hard to find a fair representation of what proponents of federal vision theology believe.

There are several views when folks look at Federal Vision.

Some Christians say that it is heresy.

Others disagree and say that it is merely grave error.

Can someone please give me a brief summary?

If you are interested in the subject, you owe it to yourself to look at substantive materials.

 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Them easterners......

It's Semi-Pelagian, but not exactly the same as Rome. Short answer: man is made in the image, but not the likeness of God. By being baptized into the Orthodox church and doing ascetic deeds, and participating (in the Platonic meaning of the term) in the life of the church (where grace is found), you become transformed into the likeness of God. You might get to heaven.
 

Susan777

Puritan Board Sophomore
It's Semi-Pelagian, but not exactly the same as Rome. Short answer: man is made in the image, but not the likeness of God. By being baptized into the Orthodox church and doing ascetic deeds, and participating (in the Platonic meaning of the term) in the life of the church (where grace is found), you become transformed into the likeness of God. You might get to heaven.
So, works. Seems like Rome at least has hammered out the system more fully. Less nebulous. Thanks for the reply.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
So, works. Seems like Rome at least has hammered out the system more fully. Less nebulous. Thanks for the reply.

While I disagree with Rome entirely, I can at least see the logic in their merit system. It makes sense from a human point of view. And it doesn't keep you wondering if you are "really saved" or not. A good EO will tell you "I Hope I get to heaven" but he isn't sure. A Roman Catholic just needs to die in a state of grace. Sure, you have to go to Purgatory and that's not fun, but technically "you made it."
 

TheDeepFryer

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for all these helpful responses guys. I think I'm getting my head around it now.. Still a bit confused, so by the grace of God I will come to a greater understanding in the future!

Thanks also for sharing the older posts that address this question.

James
MTS Apprentice, PCNSW,
Sydney, Australia
 

Wretched Man

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for all these helpful responses guys. I think I'm getting my head around it now.. Still a bit confused, so by the grace of God I will come to a greater understanding in the future!

Thanks also for sharing the older posts that address this question.

James
MTS Apprentice, PCNSW,
Sydney, Australia
Thanks for asking this question... I also am still struggling to understand the main gist of FV... :scratch: I guess I will have to dig into some of these referred links when I find the time.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Thanks for all these helpful responses guys. I think I'm getting my head around it now.. Still a bit confused, so by the grace of God I will come to a greater understanding in the future!

Thanks also for sharing the older posts that address this question.

James
MTS Apprentice, PCNSW,
Sydney, Australia
They are also enamored with NT Wright and largely Iet him do the lifting (save James Jordan's bizarre code...) despite the fact that he doesn't really exegete.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
The FV, in the more heterodox form (e.g., Leithart), is Roman Catholicism with a thin veneer of Reformed terms (changed in their definitions) laid over the top of it. The FV, in the less heterodox (but still heterodox) form, is more like Lutheranism with a thin veneer of Reformed terms laid over the top of it. However, the latter must still be distinguished from Lutheranism by the fact that it rejects the law/gospel distinction, something Lutheranism never does.

It is a supposedly new way of looking at the covenant. It externalizes just about everything having to do with covenantal membership. It flattens the distinction between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. It ascribes uniting-to-Christ power to baptism. It is Calvinistic when it comes to the decretally elect, but Arminian when it comes to the non-decretally elect covenant members. It redefines terms in mono-covenantal ways that the Reformed have used for centuries to refer to things in the order of salvation. And most of the practitioners deny the perseverance of the saints.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
It's Lutheranism minus justification by faith alone. Or rather, it is Lutheranism with first justification by faith alone but final justification by congruent merit.
 
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