Conditional Election - Where does FV differ from Historical Reformed Usage?

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by Semper Fidelis, Jan 9, 2007.

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  1. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I think if all he meant was temporal benefits, in the same sense that we began this thread with (i.e. Owen) then nobody would be batting an eyelash even if he called them saving benefits. I don't think the language is important.

    Note carefully what he says:
    That's completely different than the temporal benefits that Owen is speaking of. Pastor Wilkins is assuming that:

    -because Paul's called the Church the elect of God, holy and beloved
    -beause Paul has spoken of the inheritance of the saints
    -because Paul spoke of the forgiveness of sins
    -and addressed a Church body that he knew consisted of elect and reprobate
    -it is true fully of the absolute, sovereignly elected
    -it must be also true partially (somehow not sure how exactly but true) of the ultimately reprobate
    But he does is what his critics are saying because he applies benefits that are only given to those who are absolute, sovereignly predestinated to the reprobate on the basis of a form of address.

    Now, one might argue that Owen and the WCF and Presbyterianism in general are all wet on this subject.

    What you cannot do with that statement, however, is just say "Well, it's exactly the same thing as what Owen wrote."
  2. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    His terms are expressing an error. He says that forgiveness can be lost. This means he is intentionally teaching that those who fall away were REALLY forgiven for a period of time. In historic reformed theology, forgiveness of sins belongs to the elect alone.
  3. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    This is exactly the issue, and David King is perfectly correct. In go-around (at least) number 3 with Wilkins, several men responded to Louisiana Presbytery's Ad Hoc Committee on FV by pointing out the main errors in Wilkins' formulations were in the areas of assurance and perseverance. This is because it is not just a problem of terms, but of substance. If it were just a problem of terms, even then why should we allow a teacher of the Scriptures - whose call is to make things clear - to obfuscate and confuse Presbyteries, churches, seminaries and so many for so long after so many engagements by critics? What is the real benefit to all this, if what is actually being said is "temporal benefits" which the Confession itself says and Owen says (like 100 times more clearly)? Here is the relevant section from the response to LA Presbytery:

  4. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Wow! This doesn't even mix terms here and makes the benefits indistinguishable temporarily.

    Gabe: I'll even give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he's retracted the above notion. Even assuming that, however, it simply does not jive that moving a little bit in this direction (only some sense not all) is very problematic.
  5. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    Cannot someone who is in covenant with God, part of the visible Church, lay claim to forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus? Isn't forgiveness of sins offered to all who are in the covenant? Of course, faithful reception is the key to actually HAVING forgiveness, being united to Christ, but isn't the offer still there? Isn't it part of the covenantal arrangement, conditional upon faith alone (a gift of God)?

    Maybe that is more along the lines of what Wilkins is getting at. *shrug*
  6. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Are we forgiven on the basis of:
    a. the imputed righteousness of Christ
    b. being in visible Covenant with God
    c. both a and b are the same thing
  7. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    We are forgiven if we are united with Christ by faith. By faith then, we rest in Him and are counted righteous based on Christ's righteousness.
  8. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Exactly. So how does an unregenerate person have their sins forgiven - even temporarily? How does their participation in the visible Covenant make them even partial recipients of this benefit?

    The scary part of the quote above, that I just realized, is that Pastor Wilkins says that while a person is in the Covenant they have union with Christ and the benefits of forgiveness. As you correctly articulated, the Scirptures teach that it is faith that is the instrument of our justification. It is a gift of God that imputes to us the righteousness of Christ and the taking away of our sins. How does an unregenarate person ever have any faith with which to procure even a temporary forgiveness of sins?

    It seems the only way to get the idea of a temporary forgiveness of sins would be to admit that the regenerate would have some capacity in themselves to believe truly for a season to receive that forgiveness of sins.

    To say that it is because they're in Covenant temporarily doesn't address the question unless the grounds of our forgiveness is changed from the imputed righteousness of Christ through faith to being part of the Covenant (which Wilkins either says above or implies very dangerously).

    I am thinking about a new thread in this direction: some of the problems are beginning to open themselves up to me.
  9. Kaalvenist

    Kaalvenist Puritan Board Sophomore

    Only those who "have" forgiveness of sins can "lay claim" to forgiveness of sins. As you say, Gabe, one does not "have" forgiveness simply by virtue of the offer; one must receive it by faith. But Mr. Wilkins is saying that those in the church who have not received the offer by faith, in some sense, "have" forgiveness of sins, and can therefore "lay claim" to forgiveness of sins.
  10. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    This is complete and utter nonsense. If Christ has forgiven all the members of the visible church then they are all forgiven!

    So the point is again made, Wilkins believes in a different system of doctrine than the one taught in the Confession. Nowhere in the Confession, or in Scripture, are we taught that the sins of the reprobate, even the baptized reprobate (temporally elected or otherwise), are forgiven. Yet, Wilkins says the sins of all members of the church are forgiven by Christ.

    What good is Presbyterian Tradition if it allows a minister of the Word to continually get away with such transparent equivocations and subterfuge. It is the tradition which embraces the contemptible idea that Scripture is paradoxical and apparently contradictory in all its teachings and that this somehow evidences of the Creator/creature distinction to which all men must bow. The Vantilian love of paradox come home to roost.
  11. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

  12. non dignus

    non dignus Puritan Board Sophomore

    We walk by faith, not by sight.
  13. non dignus

    non dignus Puritan Board Sophomore

    The Federal Vision proponents apparently wish to walk by sight.
  14. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    The following is from the Auburn Avenue Session regarding their position on Covenant, Baptism and Salvation (Revised):

    "3. God works out His eternal decree of salvation in history by means of His covenant. Salvation, therefore, may be viewed from two basic perspectives, the decretal/eternal and the covenantal/historical. The Bible ordinarily (though not always) views election through the lens of the covenant. This is why covenant members are addressed consistently as God’s elect, even though some of those covenant members may apostatize, proving themselves in the end not to have been among the number of those whom God decreed to eternal salvation from before the foundation of the world. Thus, the basis for calling them God’s “elect” was their standing as members of the Church (which is the body of Christ) and not some knowledge of God’s secret decree. The visible Church is the place where the saints are “gathered and perfected” by means of “the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God” (WCF 25.3).

    We cannot separate covenant and election, but, to do full justice to the Biblical teaching, we must distinguish them. Following the Biblical model, it seems that we must view fellow church members as elect and regenerate and, at the same time, hold before them the dangers of falling away. This does not contradict the decretal/eternal perspective, because our knowledge of God’s decree is only creaturely. We can never, in this life, know with absolute certainty who are elect unto final salvation. For this reason, we have to make judgments and declarations in terms of what has been revealed, namely, the covenant (Deut. 29:29). The covenant is the visible, historical context in which the eternal decree of election comes to eventual fruition. "

    If you understand this then you understand all the terminology of the FV and how they come up with their view of Scripture. They view Scripture via the lens of the Covenant (ala Norm Shepherd). The problem to solve is "where do the Scriptures speak covenantally (which is the ordinary way) and where do they speak decretively (the not so ordinary way)?

    Anyone want to hazard a guess?
  15. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    No takers?
  16. non dignus

    non dignus Puritan Board Sophomore

    Perhaps the ordinary way is by use of analogy. The Vine. The Olive Tree. The parables of Jesus.

  17. BJClark

    BJClark Puritan Board Doctor

    This is throughly confusing, and I truly respect all the men who are throughly sifting through all the information to get at the truth...

    Now, my comments on what I *think* the arguement to be about (which I'm really not sure about) but after trying to read through just a little bit of all of this...this is my very limited grasp of it...and the only thing I can come up with to help me understand this would be looking at it in terms of unequally yoked marriages (though I'm sure it is much deeper than this) but it seems like it would apply at least on the most basic of terms for me as a lay person.

    is whether to use the term "temporarily elect", which I would disagree with.. either a person is elect or they are not...however, I could agree to use the term the Bible uses to describe (at least some)

    We see this in 1 Corinthians Chapter 7:14 in reference to unequally yoked marriages.

    "For the unbelieving husband is 'sanctified' by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is 'sanctified' by the husband: else were your children unclean: but now they are Holy."

    it doesn't refer to them as elect in any way shape or form, but it does say they are 'sanctified'. so what does that mean, in reference to this arguement? Do they believe a person to be 'temporarily elect' just because they are 'sanctified' by virtue of the fact they are married to someone who IS elect?

    Main Entry: sanc·ti·fy

    1 : to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use : CONSECRATE
    2 : to free from sin : PURIFY
    3 a : to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to b : to give moral or social sanction to
    4 : to make productive of holiness or piety <observe the day of the sabbath, to sanctify it -- Deuteronomy 5:12(Douay Version)>

    Feel free to correct me if my understanding of this is off....
  18. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    I gotta go back to chopping up the Scriptures? I left Dispensationalism for this?

    Don't we do this anyway without all the fuss? We extend the judgment of charity to everyone in the visible church until they act otherwise, then we are supposed to practice church discipline, and if they repent, we go back to the judgment of charity, right? Do we have to talk like Arminians to do that?
  19. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Meg, it's interesting that you brought up dispensationalism. I've been talking to a dispensationalist friend who takes statements made to OT Israel, sees that they were made to a "mixed multitude" and thereby concludes that the statements must have some reference to unbelieving Israel. Is that not what Wilkins seems to be doing, as Rich pointed out? Because statements are made to the visible church, they must be true of everyone in the visible church; but what if statements are made to the visible church according to the judgment of charity but are actually applicable to that church in its ideal condition --they actually have exclusive reference to those who will never go out from us, because they are of us?
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