FV is so confusing!

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danmpem

Puritan Board Junior
I'm just now being introduced to the ideas of FV, but they seem to be just several very small deviations from the orthodoxy of the Reformed faith. In the thread "Baptismal Regeneration and FV???", many people posted comments bringing light to the fact that proponents of the FV deny they are fighting for some said view (like Baptismal Regeneration) but in fact they really are, just using different words. If this is just repeating what was on that thread, then I am sorry. I just feel that I need it simplified a little more. Are FV advocates just pushing the Lord's Supper, Baptism, and Eschatology in a slightly unorthodox direction? Or are they actually saying that God reveals one system of baptism or eschatology to be right while another says God has revealed another to be right, but the two parties are okay with this because in the FV, God would reveal two opposing views to His children? This would have a strange shadow of the charismatics in it.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
Are FV advocates just pushing the Lord's Supper, Baptism, and Eschatology in a slightly unorthodox direction?

They are leading people off into a very Orthodox position, the problem is just that it is Eastern. :p

A Refutation of the Auburn Avenue Theology’s Rejection of Justification by Faith Alone
A Defense of Reformed Orthodoxy Against the Romanizing Doctrines of the New Auburn Theology
A Defense of The Active Obedience of Jesus Christ In The Justification of Sinners
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Steve Wilkins said concerning his views on baptism:

Traditionally, the reformed have said, we have to view our children as presumptively elect or presumptively regenerate. And therefore, Christian, if we are willing to take the scriptures at face value, there is no presumption necessary. Just take the Bible. And this is true, of course, because by the baptism, by baptism the Spirit joins us to Christ since he is the elect one and the Church is the elect people, we are joined to his body. We therefore are elect. Since he is the justified one, we are justified in him. Since he is the beloved one, we are beloved in him. Since he was saved from sin in death, in the sense that Hebrews 5 says, "who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with vehement cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death and was heard because of his godly fear," he was saved from sin and death, so are we.

2002 AAPC "The Legacy of the Half-Way Covenant

Whatever one might make of it, he clearly contrasts his views with those of the Reformed world. This is a startling admission since most of the time the FV men have trumpeted their views as classical, Reformed theology.

In any case, I think the best place to start are some of the overtures that the various denominations have written. Dr. Scott Clark of Westminster West has compiled a list here (among other resources):
 

clstamper

Puritan Board Freshman
The FV is a conditional covenant. Infant baptism puts you in a state of grace by incorporating you into the institutional church. You are only regenerate conditionally, because you must persevere to the end in order to be justified at the last judgment. Justification and sanctification are linked, so that you work out your salvation with grace-enabled works or be blotted out of the Lamb's Book of Life as an apostate.

The Lutheran version of baptismal regeneration is a different animal. An infant has faith and so the ordinary operation is justification by faith at baptism. The new believer can stand on the promises and look forward to spending eternity with Christ after death.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Hi Dan,

You are right to be concerned. This movement has been around, in various versions, for about 30 years. It began when Norman Shepherd, a former professor at WTS (Phila), began to teach that we are justified by "faith and works. He then modified his rhetoric by speaking of our "faithfulness" or "covenantal faithfulness." According to Shepherd Jesus had faithfulness and God approved of him and you need to have faithfulness and God will approve of you. Shepherd also reconfigured covenant theology so that there are not three distinct covenants: covenant of redemption (between the Father and the Son from eternity), the covenant of works (before the fall between God and Adam (and all humanity in Adam), and the covenant of grace after the fall. Now, according to Shepherd there is a covenant of works/grace before the fall and grace/works after the fall.

Shepherd's followers have denominated themselves "the Federal Vision," as if they are the first folk to think about "Federal" (or covenant) theology! They have it that every baptized person is, by virtue of their baptism, united to Christ, elect, justified, adopted etc. The catch is that all these benefits are, as Chris Stamper mentioned, conditional. What's the condition? You have to do your part. You have to keep your part of the covenant. If you do, then you'll persevere. If you don't then you'll fall away and lose all the benefits you were graciously given in your baptism.

This movement also tends to push paedo (infant) communion and not a few of its adherents have actually become Roman Catholic. Others seem to be headed toward forms of Eastern Orthodoxy. I've chronicled some of these events at the Heidelblog. The archive is here. Unfortunately, Squarespace has done something goofy and I have to re-assign manually all 139 entries in that category so it may take some time.

The errors of the FV movement have been categorically and specifically ejected by most of the NAPARC (National Association of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches) denominations including the OPC, PCA, URC, RCUS, and OCRC.

Dan Kok already provided a link to the resource page at my sem site.

There is a popular pamphlet here:
becogcvr.jpg


that introduces these questions, which you can find there. I've also just completed an Exposition of the Nine Points adopted by the URC last summer during its Synod.

Our faculty has also published a book on these questions:

CJPMcvr3.jpg


I know people are tired of this question and no one is more tired of it than I (!) but covenantal moralism is like a weed. If you don't keep after them, they spring up again and over run the whole yard.

Blessings on your studies.

rsc
 

sotzo

Puritan Board Sophomore
You have to do your part. You have to keep your part of the covenant. If you do, then you'll persevere. If you don't then you'll fall away and lose all the benefits you were graciously given in your baptism.[\QUOTE]

Dr. Clark, when these fellas say if you don't do your part , you'll fall away, what exactly do they mean by "your part"? What quantity and quality of works needs to be done after baptism to retain salvation?

I'm not meaning this rhetorically...I'm really concerned to know what the FV view holds as to what has to be done after baptism in order to be saved???
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Joel,

Unfortunately, the FV guys don't seem to be willing always to spell out what this means but they tend to speak of "covenant faithfulness" and "covenant keeping."

The pre-Reformation church spoke of grace and cooperation with grace. This is the mess of pottage that these fellows are peddling. If you do your part, if you obey enough, you get to keep what was given you in baptism. If you say, "But my obedience is imperfect," they say, "That's okay, God imputes perfection to your best efforts. It's your intent to obey that counts." Rome says: Yes! Welcome home. Rome calls that "congruent merit."

It's as if by cloaking moralism with the noun covenant or adjective "covenantal" it's okay. This is why I like to call their program "covenantal moralism." It has no more to commend it than "covenantal nudity" or "covenantal adultery." Modifying a mistake or a sin with the adjective "covenantal" doesn't make that mistake or sin not a mistake or sin.

rsc
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Joel,

Unfortunately, the FV guys don't seem to be willing always to spell out what this means but they tend to speak of "covenant faithfulness" and "covenant keeping."

The pre-Reformation church spoke of grace and cooperation with grace. This is the mess of pottage that these fellows are peddling. If you do your part, if you obey enough, you get to keep what was given you in baptism. If you say, "But my obedience is imperfect," they say, "That's okay, God imputes perfection to your best efforts. It's your intent to obey that counts." Rome says: Yes! Welcome home. Rome calls that "congruent merit."

It's as if by cloaking moralism with the noun covenant or adjective "covenantal" it's okay. This is why I like to call their program "covenantal moralism." It has no more to commend it than "covenantal nudity" or "covenantal adultery." Modifying a mistake or a sin with the adjective "covenantal" doesn't make that mistake or sin not a mistake or sin.

rsc

Good point. I think the reason why they'll keep on saying "...but you're misrepresenting us..." is that I've met a ton of people like this that to prefer to talk in vague notions that "...we're a Covenant Church...." It becomes such a common word and so terribly ambiguous that they can just use it like a "band aid" to cover over any area where they're terribly imprecise and don't know what to say. Because everybody is used to hearing "Covenant" describe so many different things, without giving any definition to it, that they become enculturated to it.

But then you diagnose what they're really doing and saying with the word and describe it in real terms that normal people, outside of their "clique", will understand and they say: "No! You're misrepresenting us."

No, you're not being misrepresented. I just didn't use the word "Covenant" in a vaccuous way to broad brush all the things that you're telling your people and that they're concluding from them.

But, unless you speak their "vague speak" you're misrepresenting them.
 
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