How do you spot FV Theology?

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Osage Bluestem

Puritan Board Junior
How do you know if you're being fed FV theology at your church? What are the signs to look at? I am confused by this FV subject.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
In their own words, this is the FV. If you want to dig deeper, google "federal vision" on my blog or on Scott Clark's blog. I have an index of FV posts here.
 

bill

Puritan Board Freshman
The OPC has a report in-depth on the NPP and FV. It was a two year study they started at the 71st GA and submitted it at the 73rd GA. It is 89 pages and well thought out.
 

Romans 9:16

Puritan Board Freshman
There are many signs that the FV virus (worse than the HIV virus) has infected your church. Here are a couple:

1)Using indiscriminate ‘salvation talk.’ That is, speaking of the entire visible church as ‘in Christ,’ ‘redeemed,’ ‘justified,’ etc. Soterological nomenclature should be reserved for those for whom it is actually true (the elect / ‘invisible church’). Thus, if your church is on the right track you ought to hear qualified language as one finds in Paul:

“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

2) Heavy stress on connecting sacrament to salvation. This is, of course (and again), contra Paul:

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Faith in the biblical word is the means of salvation. Baptism does not confer any supposed ‘covenant salvation.’ How many times does one need to read sentences like, “whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (which recur in the gospel of John at an incredible frequency) before we start to believe it actually is that simple. Those bible tracks given out by street preachers with megaphones, though tasteless and tactless are nevertheless essentially correct in saying, ‘believe or burn.’ It is really not that difficult. FV have (against Paul in the Corinthian passage above) have made the cross of no effect.
 
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TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
When your head's spinning around trying to understand these things, if you read enough, often something will jump out at you and you say "Hey! I'm probably not a dumb as I think I am! I finally understand at least a bit of this!" Take this, from the PCA paper Lynnie linked to

Moreover, to affirm the Standards, and then redefine the terms used in the Standards, is not to affirm the Standards. For example, to affirm the decretal view of election, and then to say that the Bible teaches that the elect may fall from their election, is to set the Bible over against the Standards.
They may be right, and the Standards are wrong. OK, now where does that leave you if you swore to uphold the Standards?
 

daver

Puritan Board Freshman
Should a sermon which set forth that view justification has present and future components as well as being described as a process cause concern? Is it a FV view?
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
Should a sermon which set forth that view justification has present and future components as well as being described as a process cause concern? Is it a FV view?
Rather, justification means that sinners “are declared in the present, to be what they will be seen to be in the future, namely the true people of God.”
Yes, it's a NPP/FV thing. The PCA paper linked to above in Lynnie's post covers that very well.
 

Michael

Puritan Board Senior
How do you know if you're being fed FV theology at your church? What are the signs to look at?
Look for booster seats or high chairs at the communion table. It's a dead giveaway.

ps Assuming you're in a presbyterian church, that is...
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Should a sermon which set forth that view justification has present and future components as well as being described as a process cause concern? Is it a FV view?
Not necessarily. It depends on how that is formulated. If there is a "forgiveness" aspect that is future, then it is problematic. However, if the future element is limited to showing the world that the justified are in fact justified, then it is not problematic. The WCF even speaks of this future aspect of proving to the world that the justified are in fact justified. But in no way are the elect justified only partially. They are fully forgiven now. So, it depends on the formulation.
 

daver

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you Rev Keister for your response to my question. I think the problem was simply a violation of the K.I.S.S principle while preaching to dense people such as myself.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
At last year's General Synod, the ARP's Committee on Theological and Social Concerns issued a position statement (approved by the Synod) along with a list of resources concerning the FV. Here is a link to this at my blog.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
The doctrine that justification is in two stages, initial and final is a mark both of Roman Catholic and Federal Vision theology.

Reformed theology teaches that there is one justification by grace (unconditional acceptance as righteous) alone, through faith (resting, receiving, leaning, trusting) alone, in Christ alone. At the judgment all those who have been justified on the basis of Christ's righteousness (active and passive obedience for us) imputed to us and received through faith alone shall be vindicated, i.e., it shall be made clear (as in James 2) that they were Christ's people.

Frankly, any sermon that does not make this distinction unequivocally clear is a cause for concern. That minister's consistory or session should sit down with him immediately to discuss with him to discover without any confusion or doubt whether that minister means to teach that, at the judgment, there is any other basis of our acceptance with God than the righteousness of Christ imputed to us.

For these reasons and others, one of the points of "pastoral advice" adopted by Synod 2007 by the United Reformed Churches says,

9. who teach that there is a separate and final justification grounded partly upon righteousness or sanctity inherent in the Christian (HC 52; BC 37).
There's a published explanation of this point here:

Westminster Seminary California clark

Here's the URCNA Synodical Committee Report:

http://www.wscal.edu/clark/urcnajustificationrepfinaljune09.pdf

Here's a talk I gave on this topic:

Audio: Exposition of the Nine Points (pt 9)-Two Stages of Justification? Heidelblog

I didn't have much time (approx 25 minutes) so it's not very detailed.

Here are some other resources:

“Justification” and “Vindication” Heidelblog

Caspar Olevianus on “Final Justification” and “Spirit-Wrought Sanctity” Heidelblog

A “Decisive Break with the Ordo Salutis Thinking”: A New Perspective on Union with Christ? Heidelblog

Trent, Sungenis, Shepherd, and the FV Heidelblog

What Henk Navis Means to Me Heidelblog
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Dr. Clark, where would you recommend a person go to see the two-stage approach explicitly stated in RC theology? I'm assuming that there are sections of Trent which deal with this, but I'm not sure if I recall that precise language. If it is used in Trent, however, that would (or should) be deadly to any FV proponent, one would think.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
I don't know contemporary Roman dogmatics well enough to know where to send you but there are a couple of observations to make. Rome may not express the doctrine explicitly but that is because she does not have to do. For the same reason there's no proof text I can think of in the Canons and Decrees of Trent. For Rome there is (see below) "initial grace" in baptism and then subsequent grace following baptism. There is no complete justification in this life after baptism. There is only sanctification. In Roman theology, final justification is God's recognition of one's Spirit-wrought sanctity (and one's cooperation with that sanctity. In other words, a distinction between "intial" and "final" justification is inherent to Roman soteriology.

Nevertheless, a contemporary Roman apologist Dave Armstrong defends the distinction between initial and final justification:

"We never deny grace alone as the efficient cause of all good and all salvation. We deny faith alone for anything beyond initial justification because it places faith in isolation without works, contrary to much Scripture."
The Roman Catechism, para. 2010 says,

"Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion."
When the Roman catechism says "conversion," it means "sanctification," not "moment of awakening from death to life." This language reflects the traditional medieval distinction between the grace of justification given at baptism and final justification which is granted on the basis of divinely wrought (de merito condigno) sanctity and our cooperation with that grace, to which God free imputes perfection (de merito congruo). As I understand our faith, in contrast to Rome and the FV doctrine of future justification, we believe that, at the last day, believers will stand before God only on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ.

In confessional Protestant theology a believer is as justified today as he shall be at the last day. On that day, that he was really a Christian (Romans 7.15) shall be vindicated (theologia crucis will be theologia gloriae) but it shall not be improved. As a matter of fact, it is Rome who distinguishes between initial and final justification. Paul begs to differ: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom 8.1). The Heidelberg Catechism Q. 21, 56, 60 and the WLC Q 70-73 know nothing of a two-stage doctrine of justification.

Please remember the blessedly plain language of WLC 70: "...not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by faith alone." Nowhere in the process of salvation, as distinct from the punctiliar event of justification, does Spirit-wrought sanctity become anything more than the evidence of the Spirit's gift of justifying faith (Belgic Confession Art. 24 is equally clear on this matter).

It is the case that believers must and shall show fruit, and the reality of their faith shall be vindicated at the last day, but it is not the case that fruit ever becomes either the ground or instrument of justification. The "way" here encompasses justification and sanctification as two elements of a process of the progressive deliverance from sin which will be consummated at the last day. Nowhere, however, in does faith ever become anything more than a mere instrument of justification.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Thanks, Dr. Clark. This section makes it very clear, particularly the emphasized sentences:

For Rome there is ... "initial grace" in baptism and then subsequent grace following baptism. There is no complete justification in this life after baptism. There is only sanctification. In Roman theology, final justification is God's recognition of one's Spirit-wrought sanctity (and one's cooperation with that sanctity. In other words, a distinction between "initial" and "final" justification is inherent to Roman soteriology.
 

bouletheou

Puritan Board Freshman
The easiest way to spot FV theology is to go up to the person and ask, "Are you Federal Vision?" If they say anything other than "No, I'm not," then they're Federal Vision.
 

beej6

Puritan Board Sophomore
Years ago before the NPP and FV became known to us poor laymen, my former pastor said that most doctrinal/theological dustups could be traced to confusion on either justification and/or sanctification. Clearly both NPP and FV fall under this as well.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
final justification which is granted on the basis of divinely wrought (de merito condigno) sanctity and our cooperation with that grace, to which God free imputes perfection (de merito congruo). As I understand our faith, in contrast to Rome and the FV doctrine of future justification, we believe that, at the last day, believers will stand before God only on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ.

The FV guy we know is into this sort of thing....he would be thankful to God that God gave him the Holy Spirit and now he is infused with it and has the fruit of works, but he comes off like maybe there is a bit more to his stand before God than just imputation.

But this recent FV debate seems to be about "partial" baptismal regeneration, and not final justification. I never heard our FV friend mention the Baptismal thing at all, just the works thing. Do they always go together? Can you be FV on works w/o the Baptism imputation? Is that a sub category in the FV? Just curious.

Also, is this mostly in the PCA? I don't know all the denominations that go with the names. Do credo baptists have it, or is it mainly in paedo Baptist groups? How bad is it out there actually? Do you think a lot of people are into this and just keep quiet? I look back at when our friend got hired on a PCA staff and told us about all the folks he knows sympathetic to NT Wright and a few others. Am I the only one who knows of a TE's wife reading Tommy Howard and sticking up for the RCCs? Just wondering. It gives me the creeps ( and we didn't think Norm Shephard was FV, ha; if it gives me the creeps you know it must be off :) )
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
One of the things that was an early indicator of FV theology came something that Steve Wilkins (if memory serves) said at the original Auburn Avenue conference: the idea that we need to move away from a focus on election to the covenant when we think about salvation. Of course, that doesn't mean that everyone who talks about covenants is a FVer, but for a while, whenever I heard someone use that phraseology (election to covenant), the alarm sirens went off.
 

bouletheou

Puritan Board Freshman
If you articulate the proper Reformed paedobaptistic understanding of the nature of baptism, election, and covenant, and they call you a Baptist, then they're FV.
 

puritanhope

Puritan Board Freshman
This is somewhat off topic, but I usually know when someone is FV based on the way they communicate. If they're constantly insulting, or mocking you, the chances are that they're FV.
 
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