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Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by Weston Stoler, May 10, 2013.
Would you say that FV is against the Gospel? Why or why not.
Yes. Here are two good reasons:
The "good news" isn't very good without imputed righteousness. On that basis alone, much Federal Vision teaching has a deficient view of the gospel. To be charitable, I think I'll leave it at that... "deficient" regarding the gospel. "Against" the gospel is probably a term better suited for teaching that denies Jesus or justification by faith outright. There are degrees to which one can miss the gospel, and the Federal Vision folks have not erred nearly as far as some.
I would say this, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed."
FVists believe in no Covenant of Works, thus they deny the imputation of Christ's active obedience. No need of Christ's perfect life of obedience.
FVists do not believe in the invisble Church, but only the Visible through which one enters upon being Baptized. Through water baptism one receives the blessings of Christ (saved), but not finally as one can be 'saved' and yet lose that salvation if they are not faithful.
FVists believe that justification is sanctification. That is they would define justification as one would define sanctification. That is they believe justification is by faithfulness (not faith alone).
So I say this again, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed."
If it is a deficient Gospel it is no Gospel and so it is against the Gospel and a false Gospel.
Today I read a Richard Muller essay on Arminius' view of Reformed Theology. There appear to be a lot of parallels between FV and Classic Arminianism. Do we view Dort's naming of Arminianism as a heresy somewhat normative (searching for the right phrasing here) for how we view aberrant teachings today? If so, and if FV is similar to Arminianism, well then....
Practically speaking, many FVers have a hard time distinguishing between sign and thing signified when it comes to the sacraments.
Jacob, I will bow out and let you explain the FV doctrine if needed. You will know it better. But yes, I agree. But it is only because of FV that I have a greater knowledge and understanding of the Sacraments. So I am thankful for that.
I know it better only to the extent that there is a single FV teaching (but thanks for the kind words). Once you start to pin them down, you'll hear Wilson say he is different from Lusk who is different from Schlissel who is different from Jordan. But the above comments do flesh out a lot of the differences. The biggest danger it posed to me was that it undermined confidence in the magisterial Reformed tradition. It paralleled the Barthian narrative of Calvin vs. the Calvinists. The Reformed tradition, at least in the minds of some, began to crack. To quote our worst/greatest president (who plagiarized Jesus), a house divided against itself...
That sounds like an awfully strong way to put it. If you were to contend that the Federal Vision deficiency is so serious that it constitutes an "anti-gospel" position, I could understand that. But your statement seems to say that any deficiency is against the gospel. Doesn't that go a bit too far?
I mean, my understanding of the gospel and my teaching of the gospel was deficient ten years ago, or even one year ago, compared to what it is today. Does that mean I had no gospel a year ago? That I was against the gospel a year ago? And given that I expect I will continue to grow and will understand the gospel still better ten years from now... does that mean I'm against the gospel today?
I don't think so.
Don't we need to acknowledge that some are deficient regarding the gospel (perhaps to an extent that their teaching must be strongly guarded against) but are still more on our side than are those who're outright hostile to Jesus. For example, as a Presbyterian, I think Baptists are deficient in their understanding of the gospel. But I don't lump Baptists in with, say, Satan worshipers... who are clearly against the gospel. That's an extreme example, but my point is that it can't be so simple as saying deficient = against.
(Please keep in mind, my Baptist friends, that I believe my own understanding of the gospel is surely deficient, too.)
My reason for bringing this up is not to defend Federal Vision. I believe its deficiencies are serious and must be refuted. But if we were to think and talk as if any error we detect—any deficiency at all—means that person is on the "anti-" side, we would end up more eagerly militant and less humble than we ought to be.
I suppose it depends on how you define 'deficient'.
I'd be happy just to say that it is not the Gospel thus it is a false gospel and against the Gospel.
The FV men (for the most part) were established Reformed ministers in largely Confessional Churches. That is different from the American Evangelical, who also has a deficient understanding of the Gospel (and pretty much everything) who is slowly learning the Reformed faith.
If we the gospel is that God the Son became incarnate, obeyed, died, to accomplish salvation of the elect, was raised for their justification, and ascended to the right hand of the Father to intercede for his people, then yes, the Federal Vision theology is against the gospel.
The FV doctrine says that Jesus came to make salvation available to those who do their part. That's not good news for sinners. That's bad news because sinners, even with the help of grace, cannot "do their part" to be accepted with God and saved from the wrath to come.
There is some diversity in the FV movement but there is substantial unity on the basics. Most of the diversity is window dressing. E.g., Doug Wilson, the de facto leader of the FV movement and the leader of the Communion of the Reformed Evangelical Churches (formerly the Confederation of REC) teaches the imputation of active obedience but, because of the nature of the FV theology, it has no effect on his theology except to give the appearance of orthodoxy to the uninformed.
There are certain basic views shared by all Federal Visionists. Here is the FV system in a nutshell:
As has been noted, the FV teaches a two-level theology. On one level, there is the eternal, unconditional decree. On the level of history, in the administration of the covenant, however, things are different.
In their covenant theology, in baptism, all the benefits of the order of salvation are said to be conditionally, temporarily conferred to the baptized. Thus, baptized persons are, by virtue of the baptism, conditionally elect, justified, united to Christ, adopted etc. To retain those benefits the baptized person must "do their part," i.e., they must cooperate with the grace given them in baptism. Thus, they teach the Remonstrant view of apostasy (compare the FV Profession of 2007 with the Fifth Point of the Remonstrants. The similarity is remarkable).
Thus, when they speak about the eternal, unconditional decree, they sound like the orthodox. When, however, they speak about the administration of the covenant, they sound like Arminians. The FV system is, in fact, a system of covenantal Arminianism. It is covenantal moralism, it is covenantal nomism: in by (baptismal) grace, stay by faithfulness. This is the system of Norman Shepherd and it is also quite like the system of the medieval church, which system was utterly rejected by the Protestant Reformers as contrary to the Word of God and a corruption of and contrary to the gospel.
This is why several of the NAPARC churches, since 2007, have rejected the FV as contrary to the Reformed faith.
Here are some resources:
For Those Just Tuning In: What is the FV?
Baptism and the Benefits of Christ
An HB FV Resource Page
Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry e-book
Three Ways of Relating to the One Covenant of Grace
More FV Resources on the HB
My interview with Guy Waters on the FV
My interview with Lane Keister on the FV
FV Resources on rscottclark.org
I actually listened to your interview with Dr Waters today before I read your post. Thanks for bringing up the Remonstrants. I read Muller's article on Arminius yesterday and saw a lot of parallels. Even when I was sympathetic to some FV guys, when I read Leithart's book on baptism and apostasy, I couldn't escape the fact that there was no way he could reconcile his views with Westminster.
Sounds to me that the FV standpoint is actually a subtle "return to Rome" in a way, as regards justification.
I'll put it this way, I think my Anglo-Catholic (and just flat out Catholic) friends would like me alot better if I was a FV guy.