Does NPP/FV lead to Catholicism?

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louis_jp

Puritan Board Freshman
An article in Christianity today had some interesting quotes about NPP/FV and the road to Roman Catholicism:

Not All Evangelicals and Catholics Together | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction

"I have no doubt that the New Perspective and Federal Vision have had an effect on the Protestant-Catholic debate," Beckwith told Christianity Today. "I have met several former evangelical Protestants who have told me that Wright's work in particular helped them to better appreciate the Catholic view of grace."

Referring to former-protestant and blogger Taylor Marshal:

"Marshall said he speaks with new Catholic converts every month, about half of whom have been "deeply influenced" by Wright.

'If you buy into Wright's approach to covenantal theology, then you've already taken three steps toward the Catholic Church. Keep following the trail and you'll be Catholic,' said Marshall".

What do you think of this? Granted that not everyone who subscribes to the FV will end up at Rome, is there really a credible connection here? If so, why?
 

Soonerborn

Puritan Board Freshman
I was just reading about this myself. I found an article by Taylor Marshall who writes about the FV from a Catholic perspective.

Marshall was a fomer member of the PCA and now is a Catholic. He attended Westminster Theological Seminary.


Taylor Marshall gives “The Catholic Perspective on the Federal Vision” Journey to Rome

Anyone who doesn't think FV is dangerous should read this article. Marshall, a Catholic, in the last paragraph states:

Ultimately, I think that younger Presbyterians will gravitate toward what the Federal Vision offers. Many will sink their teeth into it and many will find it wanting. Many will discover that the Catholic Church is their true home, and many will discover her in a great moment of joy. This Federal Vision is really only a peek into the keyhole of the Catholic Church. The Federal Visionist has a vision of the beautiful things inside, but they have not yet appreciated the warmth of a true home.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
For a Presbyterian seminarian to say, in effect,

the gospel doesn't matter,

let alone the authority of Scripture, the mediatorial reign of our Lord, the authority of the Lord over His Church on earth... is not an example of "coming home."

And also, keep this in perspective- there are many people going from the Roman Church toward evangelical Christianity. Most reformed churches see this happen on a regular basis.
 

Romans 9:16

Puritan Board Freshman
I had a Reformed friend who started to get heavy into NPP and FV. He is now an Episcopalian priest. It's not just theoretical. Lives are changed for the worse by this stuff. Its too bad it wasn't just a 'theological debate.' Nothing ever is. We are what we think (Prov 23:7)
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
Answer: Yes, with a van full of candy and an Xbox 360. (kidding, I have no idea what I am talking about.)
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
The NPP and the FV IS Popery.

The fact that NPP and FV think in corporate categories, while Romanism operates largely in personal categories with respect to justification and righteousness should give us pause about so strong an assertion; the fact that Romanism speaks of justification as an infusion of a habit of charity, while the NPP specifically refutes such a notion should give us pause about so strong an assertion; &c. The differences between the two are vast and deep.

This does not mean that we can't draw parallels between the two; or that we can't assert a connection between leaving Reformed churches for the FV and for Rome. Many things which the NPP has brought forward were also condemned in previous ages of the church. But, simply put, the "movements" are far from the same thing.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
The NPP and the FV IS Popery.

The fact that NPP and FV think in corporate categories, while Romanism operates largely in personal categories with respect to justification and righteousness should give us pause about so strong an assertion; the fact that Romanism speaks of justification as an infusion of a habit of charity, while the NPP specifically refutes such a notion should give us pause about so strong an assertion; &c. The differences between the two are vast and deep.

This does not mean that we can't draw parallels between the two; or that we can't assert a connection between leaving Reformed churches for the FV and for Rome. But, simply put, they are far from the same thing.

I'm no expert in the details of this but think I understand what you are saying. On a very thoughtful, philosophical level there might appear to be a different approach.

But I'm afraid they both get to the same place.

When someone in any sense comes to believe that they are "earning" salvation, whether by going to church or being baptized, there is a similarity with the Roman system.

The idea that one is "united" to Christ, but might lose it if they go outside the church or don't do enough sacraments or works is one thing this set of teachings really confuses.

Confusion is one of the hallmarks of this serious error. Some within it are stridently false, but more than anything they confuse basic biblical truths.

We know confusion, particularly through those who would presume to lead God's people, is not a godly characteristic or fruit.

That confusion, which is about the gospel, at its heart, leads one to believe that in some way, perhaps corporately they are earning their salvation, or keeping up their salvation.

This shift away from faith in Christ's righteousness alone is the commonality with Rome.

It comports with our sin and the effects of the fall to believe that in some way we can be "good enough" or "do enough" to merit God's perfect standard.

If the whole of Scripture reveals one thing- it is that man cannot possibly do that and desperately needs grace and a Savior.

Nothing bothers self-centered, self-justifying sinners more than the fact they are absolutely, totally dependent on God's grace to save them.
 

Rich Koster

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Bad doctrine, in the end, always leads away from true Christianity. What camp of error (fringe denomination/cult/movement etc.) you end up in is determined by the tenets of defective teaching you package together. Paul cried in Acts 20 (my emphasis v31) because he knew what was in store for those in the future.
 

Puritan Scot

Puritan Board Freshman
Louis DiBiase in opening this thread quoted Tayor Marshall.....

'If you buy into Wright's approach to covenantal theology, then you've already taken three steps toward the Catholic Church. Keep following the trail and you'll be Catholic,' said Marshall".

asks if there is really a credible connection here

False doctrine in due time will lead down the road to false ecumenism and eventually to denominational apostacy. It is our duty as watchmen to take heed and sound the alarm lest the leaven, infect the whole lump.

The afore mentioned Evangelical Bishop of Durham N. T. Wright, following a visit by a Vatican representative to Durham University last Spring has in lieu of the Pope's proposed visit to England invited him to preach in Durham Cathederal. This invitation has the backing of Bishop Seamus Cunningham of the Catholic diocese of Hexham and Newcastle and a partnership of Anglicans and Roman Catholics. Bishop N.T.Wright has stated that "Durham has in recent years become a major global centre for ecumenical work and the close interlinking of cathedral and university means that Durham is well placed to host an event which is simultaneously and acedemic and ecumenically spiritual"

It is not for us to question the state of a man's soul as the Bible reminds us - "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" 1Corinthians 10v12

However there is a connection between A Tree and Its Fruit and the Bible also reminds us that we "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of throrns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" Matthew 7v15-20.
 

Oecolampadius

Puritan Board Sophomore
The NPP and the FV IS Popery.

Statements like this are overboard and more inflammatory than illuminating to doctrinal errors. I do not believe this to be true.

I myself would not want to simply dismiss the FV and the NPP as Popery. I believe that this kind of approach make us sound like the Fundamentalists back in the days when they were still battling Modernism. However, although I have yet to see whether the same is true for FV as well, there is a sense that the NPP is Popery.

Read the following paragraphs that I quoted from Pope Benedict's address on The Doctrine of Justification: from Works to Faith:

So what does the Law from which we are liberated and which does not save mean? For St Paul, as for all his contemporaries, the word "Law" meant the Torah in its totality, that is, the five books of Moses. The Torah, in the Pharisaic interpretation, that which Paul had studied and made his own, was a complex set of conduct codes that ranged from the ethical nucleus to observances of rites and worship and that essentially determined the identity of the just person. In particular, these included circumcision, observances concerning pure food and ritual purity in general, the rules regarding the observance of the Sabbath, etc. codes of conduct that also appear frequently in the debates between Jesus and his contemporaries. All of these observances that express a social, cultural and religious identity had become uniquely important in the time of Hellenistic culture, starting from the third century B.C. This culture which had become the universal culture of that time and was a seemingly rational culture; a polytheistic culture, seemingly tolerant constituted a strong pressure for cultural uniformity and thus threatened the identity of Israel, which was politically constrained to enter into this common identity of the Hellenistic culture. This resulted in the loss of its own identity, hence also the loss of the precious heritage of the faith of the Fathers, of the faith in the one God and in the promises of God.

Against this cultural pressure, which not only threatened the Israelite identity but also the faith in the one God and in his promises, it was necessary to create a wall of distinction, a shield of defence to protect the precious heritage of the faith; this wall consisted precisely in the Judaic observances and prescriptions. Paul, who had learned these observances in their role of defending God's gift, of the inheritance of faith in one God alone, saw this identity threatened by the freedom of the Christians this is why he persecuted them. At the moment of his encounter with the Risen One he understood that with Christ's Resurrection the situation had changed radically. With Christ, the God of Israel, the one true God, became the God of all peoples. The wall as he says in his Letter to the Ephesians between Israel and the Gentiles, was no longer necessary: it is Christ who protects us from polytheism and all of its deviations; it is Christ who unites us with and in the one God; it is Christ who guarantees our true identity within the diversity of cultures. The wall is no longer necessary; our common identity within the diversity of cultures is Christ, and it is he who makes us just. Being just simply means being with Christ and in Christ. And this suffices. Further observances are no longer necessary. For this reason Luther's phrase: "faith alone" is true, if it is not opposed to faith in charity, in love. Faith is looking at Christ, entrusting oneself to Christ, being united to Christ, conformed to Christ, to his life. And the form, the life of Christ, is love; hence to believe is to conform to Christ and to enter into his love. So it is that in the Letter to the Galatians in which he primarily developed his teaching on justification St Paul speaks of faith that works through love (cf. Gal 5: 14).

Now, if you're gonna tell me that this doesn't sound almost exactly like what the proponents of NPP are saying about what Paul meant about the works righteousness of the Law, then I must say that you've got to be kidding me.

Or, maybe I am wrong. Maybe it's the other way around. Maybe the Pope is NPP.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Scott,

Thanks for reminding us of your insightful pieces on the topic! I am ALWAYS happy to have a real church historian weigh in on these disputes. Indeed, while there are too many nuances to simply call Error X = Error Y, the susceptibility of evangelicals and (evidently) a good number of the Reformed (and their seminaries) to this kind of nonsense scares me more than the McLaren-talk of the young evangelicals.

Packer and Colson may find it warmly comforting to make nice with Rome, but spiritual damage is real and more than mere impending via the NPP etc. Thanks for setting it in an historical context.
 

Reformed City Rockers

Puritan Board Freshman
Yeah I read Taylor’s piece sometime ago. I’ve seen my friends who were hard core theonomist get smitten by the Federal Vision fad and then go home to Rome. I am in the midst of dialoging with one of my best friends ever, who I have come to the conclusion that maybe he was never saved to begin with. He had a zealous preoccupation with the law and theonomy and then peado communion and then federal vision and then Rome. Sadly he never had a preoccupation with Jesus Christ and the Gospel of free grace as spelled out by the bible, reformed creeds and reformed guys like at Westminster Seminary California.

If you ever revisit Scott Hahn’s early testimony and teachings from the early 90s you’ll hear a lot of NT Wright and NPP in him. I think this is why he took a lot of people by surprise because of the lack of familiarity with his presentation, it wasn’t quite text book Rome, though it fit wit in the teachings of Rome. Yeah in my opinion FV is a fast track or an express way so to say to Roman Catholicism. That’s my nickels worth
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I'm not NPP fan. I'm no FV fan. I'm no RCC fan. I think they are all serious error and fundamentally undermine the Gospel of grace.

What I have a problem with are facile arguments.

George was Federal Vision and became a Roman Catholic.
Therefore, Federal Vision is Roman Catholicism.

Fred was attracted to the NPP and became a Roman Catholic.
Therefore, NPP is Roman Catholicism.

Look, we might as well add this category:

Joe was FV and became Eastern Orthodox.
Therefore, FV is Eastern Orthodox.

Steve was attracted to NPP and became Eastern Orthodox.
Therefore, NPP is Eastern Orthodox.

AND

Eastern Orthodox is Roman Catholic

VOILA!

I'm sorry but this is simply beneath a thinking person who wants to understand these issues. I can "name names" of all the above and, in fact, it seems the flood to EO is more prevalent.

I actually think there are other things going on than direct theological parallels. A lot has to do with the instability of the individuals and an intellectual hubris that is common in nearly all cases.

That said, I think the FV and NPP do share a basic understanding where Covenant overshadows faith as the instrument of justification and union with Christ. It ultimately confuses things and creates a synergistic theology no matter how many times its proponents try to state otherwise. While realizing that the issues are very complex, I think the thread that connects all of the theologies is synergism whether explicit or implicit.
 

Dao

Puritan Board Freshman
An article in Christianity today had some interesting quotes about NPP/FV and the road to Roman Catholicism:

They must be on the road to something. Click HERE for the PCA report on FV
in PDF.

Their conclusion was that FV does not
conform to the Westminster Confession.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
I think it can be said that a belief in active justification on the part of the believer shares similarities with Roman Catholic theology. If the individual explores it further it could lead him across the Tiber, if he buys into the logical progression of Rome's argument.
 
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