How should we consider NPP and FV folks?

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ubermadchen

Puritanboard <strong>Outlaw</strong>
The Piper thread got me thinking about my MANY friends, sadly most, who are being drawn away from the Gospel to NPP and FV. For the friends who have become full blown NPP and FV, how should I consider them? Heretics? Should I fear for their souls? What about the leaders of these movements? I know it's wrong to judge someone's salvation but should I still consider these folks brothers and continue in fellowship with them? I consider my Arminian friends saved just very wrong about their theology. Is NPP and FV along this line or is it something much worse? I'm just really confused about this. Mods may move this if this is in the wrong forum.
 

Sven

Puritan Board Sophomore
The PCA General Assembly considers Federal Visionists to be brothers in the Lord, but their doctrines are out of line with the Church's standards. This is an appropriate way to consider them. The teaching of the FV and NPP is not a damnable heresy, but it does have serious errors. We ought neither to consider them outside the bounds of the Church, nor should we consider their views to be a small matter that doesn't need any correction or discipline.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
The Piper thread got me thinking about my MANY friends, sadly most, who are being drawn away from the Gospel to NPP and FV. For the friends who have become full blown NPP and FV, how should I consider them? Heretics? Should I fear for their souls? What about the leaders of these movements? I know it's wrong to judge someone's salvation but should I still consider these folks brothers and continue in fellowship with them? I consider my Arminian friends saved just very wrong about their theology. Is NPP and FV along this line or is it something much worse? I'm just really confused about this. Mods may move this if this is in the wrong forum.

One of the main difficulties with answering this question is that there is such a range of opinions on various issues, and (as the FV and the NPP proponents so often remind us) there is no one single position on a lot of the issues involved. Personally, I think comparing them to Arminians or to Roman Catholics is probably appropriate.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
The Piper thread got me thinking about my MANY friends, sadly most, who are being drawn away from the Gospel to NPP and FV. For the friends who have become full blown NPP and FV, how should I consider them? Heretics? Should I fear for their souls? What about the leaders of these movements? I know it's wrong to judge someone's salvation but should I still consider these folks brothers and continue in fellowship with them? I consider my Arminian friends saved just very wrong about their theology. Is NPP and FV along this line or is it something much worse? I'm just really confused about this. Mods may move this if this is in the wrong forum.

One of the main difficulties with answering this question is that there is such a range of opinions on various issues, and (as the FV and the NPP proponents so often remind us) there is no one single position on a lot of the issues involved. Personally, I think comparing them to Arminians or to Roman Catholics is probably appropriate.

A correspondent in the other thread noted that Doug Wilson
has articulated an orthodox position on justification by faith alone, rather than the unorthodox "final verdict of justification" [works] that is related to federal vision." Is this correct, and if it is where does Wilson disagree with the FV boys?
 

Montanablue

Puritan Board Doctor

New Perspectives on Paul

New Perspective on Paul - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

-----Added 8/17/2009 at 10:53:56 EST-----

:oops:

Kathleen posted right before I posted.

This page has good resources on the Reformed response to NPP:

INDEX to Modern unbiblical challenges to trad ref covt theol

-----Added 8/17/2009 at 10:55:07 EST-----

And so does this site:

Westminster Seminary California clark

Yes, but you provided helpful links! Thanks, as I'm still in the midst of figuring out what all this means myself.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
I agree with Lane. The FV is, as William Ames said of Arminianism, an error tending to heresy but not heresy itself.

We should pray for those seduced by the FV. Often they are bright, curious, and dissatisfied with the status quo but who don't seem to understand the historic, confessional Reformed faith and who veer from fundamentalism to the FV and sadly, to Rome or Greek Orthodoxy.

As a pastoral matter it has had devastating pastoral and spiritual consequences in many congregations. Some young people who were involved have matured and re-considered their views and returned to orthodoxy but others aren't.

It's quite disturbing to read your report that many of your friends are being taken in by this pseudo-Reformed movement.

"In by grace" (i.e., baptism which is said to confer and temporary, historical, conditional union with Christ) and "stay in by faith and works" is not good news at all for sinners. It is sacerdotalism (religious, priestly magic) and moralism.

There have been a number of good books, articles, and ecclesiastical reports and statements on the FV movement. Most recently the United Reformed Churches released a report strongly rejecting the FV root and branch. We adopted Nine Points in 2007 rejecting it as did the PCA. The OPC has produced a report that is strongly critical too. The RCUS has rejected it and so has the RPCNA. The virtual unanimity in NAPARC against the FV is striking and bears considering.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
A correspondent in the other thread noted that Doug Wilson
has articulated an orthodox position on justification by faith alone, rather than the unorthodox "final verdict of justification" [works] that is related to federal vision." Is this correct, and if it is where does Wilson disagree with the FV boys?

Timmo,

In my reading, Wilson can tend to affirm and deny the same point. It appears to be an attempt to maintain the Creator/creature distinction of van Til fame, but (in Wilson's case) seems to tend toward Nominalism. If memory serves, Wilson is a Nominalist as far as mathematics goes, but I think he may be in regard to some theological issues. Thus, with Abelard, he can indulge in Sic et Non at times.

Cheers,
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner

The "NPP" (New Perspectives on Paul) began 30+ years ago with a British Theologian (N.T. Wright) who popularized his idea of a "new" way of reading Scriptures written by the Apostle.

FV (Federal Vision) is really an offshoot from that, more recent, and was popularized particularly in Presbyterian and reformed communions by the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church (Monroe, LA) lectures and conferences in the early 2000's. It is also sometimes called "Auburn Avenue Theology" for that same reason.

Bottom line, at best all these teachings confuse justification by faith alone. At worst, they deny it. Justification by faith alone is the gospel.

Neither is acceptable.
 

Hamalas

whippersnapper
Good, question. So what would y'all think of going to an FV school like New Saint Andrews? Would it be the same as attending an Arminian college or a Catholic university? As pastors/parents, would you encourage a young person to go there?
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
I know very little about FV but don't they believe in faith plus works? If so, then this would be another gospel according to St. Paul when he talked about some Jews insisting that Gentiles be circumcised in order to be saved. Would St. Paul state that those Jews were spreading heresy since he said they were speaking of another gospel?
 

TeachingTulip

Puritan Board Sophomore
Good, question. So what would y'all think of going to an FV school like New Saint Andrews? Would it be the same as attending an Arminian college or a Catholic university? As pastors/parents, would you encourage a young person to go there?



Definitely not.

Denying Justification by faith, alone . . . is very serious error that undermines the true Gospel of Grace.

-----Added 9/17/2009 at 06:33:14 EST-----

I know very little about FV but don't they believe in faith plus works? If so, then this would be another gospel according to St. Paul when he talked about some Jews insisting that Gentiles be circumcised in order to be saved. Would St. Paul state that those Jews were spreading heresy since he said they were speaking of another gospel?

You are exactly right, Sarah.

FV proclaims another gospel, which should be condemned.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
Without meaning to affirm FV at all, it is error, and the PCA paper on it was excellent, I do know that the people we've met who are attracted to it actually believe the book of James is canon :p ( not just Romans and Galatians :) ) and there really is such a thing as living faith and dead faith, and that faith without works is dead, and they are trying to figure it all out.

I may not agree with their conclusions, but they ask good questions that can make the standard TR lingo sound almost antinomian, as if works and obedience don't matter. They do matter.

I don't think approaching it with smacking them over the head with more verses about justification by faith alone is necessarily helpful, even if true. They want a reasoned theology based on James and all the other verses that command our obedience.

What I think they need is some of the materials I've seen by guys like Piper about how when you stand before the throne on judgment day, NOTHING but the active and passive obedience of Jesus allows you into heaven. Nothing. Any sanctification the holy spirit has worked in you, and any infused righteousness, is worthless in that moment. It is all the work of Christ as the only basis to enter into God's presence, nothing in you at all. But then Piper ties in how much it matters to obey.


I don't really know what TRs have written up a good treatment of James and works and living and dead faith, that answers the questions these people are struggling with. A while ago on some Norman Shepherd thread, Greenbaggins (PB mod) had some links to his own blog posts that were excellent. Maybe if he sees this he can link them for you. I found them helpful to me personally.
 

TeachingTulip

Puritan Board Sophomore
Without meaning to affirm FV at all, it is error, and the PCA paper on it was excellent, I do know that the people we've met who are attracted to it actually believe the book of James is canon :p ( not just Romans and Galatians :) ) and there really is such a thing as living faith and dead faith, and that faith without works is dead, and they are trying to figure it all out.

I may not agree with their conclusions, but they ask good questions that can make the standard TR lingo sound almost antinomian, as if works and obedience don't matter. They do matter.

I don't think approaching it with smacking them over the head with more verses about justification by faith alone is necessarily helpful, even if true. They want a reasoned theology based on James and all the other verses that command our obedience.

Indeed. I have bolded their agenda, which you accurately state.

What they are attempting, is to redefine justification according to James, rather than according to God's grace and gift of faith.

The "justification" James taught, is not forgiveness of sins and imputation of Christ's righteousness, which regenerated believers realize and receive by faith alone.

Rather, James teaches that professing believers are obligated to evidence their faith to justify their testimony before men . . .not before God!

A very serious theological difference that places emphasis on practice and works rather than grace and faith. Obedience is made a means (again) to pleasing God according to good works, rather than depending upon the imputed obedience of Jesus Christ, and not one's own.

It is totally amazing to me that the core doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is being redefined, weakened, and those doing so are being excused and whitewashed by the churches.

This is what the Reformation from Rome was all about to begin with. :soapbox:
 

Curt

Puritan Board Graduate
The short answer to this question is, individually. Is their fruit indicative of their profession?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Jude 20-25, "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
T Tulip....

I am not too familiar with the movement, but from the little I do know, you are entirely correct about the hardcore adherants and their agenda.

However, hub went to WTS as the whole mess was starting up with Shepherd in the mid 70s (they let him go in 82), and I can assure you that there was a very faithful, confessional, Reformed group that even Van Til was part of, that was horrified by an almost antinomian attitude among some TRs, and they kept hammering away in response that justifying faith is never alone.

And yeah, somewhere along the line it seems like confessional people slid off into works earing merit before God and the FV error took hold. But I still maintain that it doesn't help to fight it, unless you have a clear and well articulated position that includes defining living faith and dead faith.
 

TeachingTulip

Puritan Board Sophomore
T Tulip....

I am not too familiar with the movement, but from the little I do know, you are entirely correct about the hardcore adherants and their agenda.

However, hub went to WTS as the whole mess was starting up with Shepherd in the mid 70s (they let him go in 82), and I can assure you that there was a very faithful, confessional, Reformed group that even Van Til was part of, that was horrified by an almost antinomian attitude among some TRs, and they kept hammering away in response that justifying faith is never alone.

And yeah, somewhere along the line it seems like confessional people slid off into works earing merit before God and the FV error took hold. But I still maintain that it doesn't help to fight it, unless you have a clear and well articulated position that includes defining living faith and dead faith.

The church has a clear and well articulated definition of living faith. WCF XIV:I-III and XVI: I-VI

Dead faith is also clearly defined by the WCF, thusly:

"Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others: yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God: and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God." XVI: VII

We do not need to hammer doctrine into their heads, or go apologetic about what James is teaching.

The church simply needs to hold FV'ers to the Confession and the Holy Scriptures, and insist that they, under discipline, explain their own revisionist theories accordingly.

They are the ones wandering from the historic, orthodox, Reformed faith. And they should be held accountable by the faithful; not pampered or excused.
 

ubermadchen

Puritanboard <strong>Outlaw</strong>
Without meaning to affirm FV at all, it is error, and the PCA paper on it was excellent, I do know that the people we've met who are attracted to it actually believe the book of James is canon :p ( not just Romans and Galatians :) ) and there really is such a thing as living faith and dead faith, and that faith without works is dead, and they are trying to figure it all out.

I may not agree with their conclusions, but they ask good questions that can make the standard TR lingo sound almost antinomian, as if works and obedience don't matter. They do matter.

I don't think approaching it with smacking them over the head with more verses about justification by faith alone is necessarily helpful, even if true. They want a reasoned theology based on James and all the other verses that command our obedience.

What I think they need is some of the materials I've seen by guys like Piper about how when you stand before the throne on judgment day, NOTHING but the active and passive obedience of Jesus allows you into heaven. Nothing. Any sanctification the holy spirit has worked in you, and any infused righteousness, is worthless in that moment. It is all the work of Christ as the only basis to enter into God's presence, nothing in you at all. But then Piper ties in how much it matters to obey.


I don't really know what TRs have written up a good treatment of James and works and living and dead faith, that answers the questions these people are struggling with. A while ago on some Norman Shepherd thread, Greenbaggins (PB mod) had some links to his own blog posts that were excellent. Maybe if he sees this he can link them for you. I found them helpful to me personally.


This is the thread that just keeps on coming back. :D Oh, and I did not get the memo that James was not canon. I know Martin Luther wanted to leave it out but I didn't know we had decided go with that decision. A little help here?
 

Spinningplates2

Puritan Board Freshman
The Piper thread got me thinking about my MANY friends, sadly most, who are being drawn away from the Gospel to NPP and FV. For the friends who have become full blown NPP and FV, how should I consider them? Heretics? Should I fear for their souls? What about the leaders of these movements? I know it's wrong to judge someone's salvation but should I still consider these folks brothers and continue in fellowship with them? I consider my Arminian friends saved just very wrong about their theology. Is NPP and FV along this line or is it something much worse? I'm just really confused about this. Mods may move this if this is in the wrong forum.

One of the main difficulties with answering this question is that there is such a range of opinions on various issues, and (as the FV and the NPP proponents so often remind us) there is no one single position on a lot of the issues involved. Personally, I think comparing them to Arminians or to Roman Catholics is probably appropriate.

Who else thinks that Arminians are equal with the Roman Church? I do not and hope this was a typo.
 
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lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
The average Arminian, if asked about what hope of heaven he will have when he stands before the great white throne, will say something about Jesus on the cross. Generally if you ask them and really pin them down, they will say their only hope is the blood of Jesus. They may claim in discussions about election that THEY decided and THEY asked the Lord into their heart, but when you get talking about going to heaven they'll admit it is all the work of Jesus that grants us eternal life.

Now the catholics I have known, with only a few exceptions.....eye yei yei...they all say they have lived a good life and that sort of thing. All works. So I do not equate Arminians and RCC.

uber..cynical joke, sorry. You had to be there when the James fights about living and dead faith were going on......

T Tulip....I guess we are thinking of two different FV groups. You are talking about the leaders of it leading people astray, and yes I'd agree.

The church simply needs to hold FV'ers to the Confession and the Holy Scriptures, and insist that they, under discipline, explain their own revisionist theories accordingly.

They are the ones wandering from the historic, orthodox, Reformed faith. And they should be held accountable by the faithful; not pampered or excused.


I am thinking of the young ones who are confused and struggling and reading their materials and trying to figure it all out. And with them, I'd use a gentler approach that starts out with listening to their verses about commands to obey and living faith and all that stuff. You don't whack them over the head with the WCF during the first five minutes of conversation. You ask them how they fit Romans and Galatians into their thinking eventually, and ask about our merit and works and the basis for eternal life and how the cross fits in.

This may seem clear to you but it isn't clear at all. It was a BIG DEAL when Luther started the Reformation and when people started to grasp the solas. It wasn't clear to a lot of priests or people until God began to open their eyes; almost the whole chuch was in bondage to works even worse than FV.
 

TeachingTulip

Puritan Board Sophomore
T Tulip....I guess we are thinking of two different FV groups. You are talking about the leaders of it leading people astray, and yes I'd agree.

What other group is there? These are the ones holding positions in the seminaries and preaching from pulpits. Who else do you refer to?



I am thinking of the young ones who are confused and struggling and reading their materials and trying to figure it all out.

Me, too.

And who are they reading and whose sermons do they sit under, and what kind of theological education will they receive if they enter the Reformed seminaries?



And with them, I'd use a gentler approach that starts out with listening to their verses about commands to obey and living faith and all that stuff. You don't whack them over the head with the WCF during the first five minutes of conversation.

Why not? Ha!

Are we talking about a PR campaign, or sound Reformed teachings?

No "young person" being a member of a Reformed church, should be without instruction in all the Holy Scriptures and the Confessions.

There is no such thing as a "gentler approach" than the word of God and the wisdom of the church fathers.



You ask them how they fit Romans and Galatians into their thinking eventually, and ask about our merit and works and the basis for eternal life and how the cross fits in.

Sorry, and maybe I am old-fashioned, but my husband and I never asked the opinions of our students. We told them the truth, and expected them to respond to that biblical/confessional truth with belief . . .or else!

Young people want to hear the straight and honest truth. They do not want to be coddled and "wooed" into the faith of Jesus Christ.

If we elderly people fail to give the truth, and fail to withstand subtle errors within our churches, we will answer to God for such failures, for such failures of faithfulness would amount to nothing less than unbelief in the revealed truths of God already provided to His church.

This is a very serious subject, that should not and must not be swept under the rug . . .
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Another distinction that should be made is between those who teach FV contrary to the unity of the church and those who are simply 'bewitched' by said teachers.
 

charliejunfan

Puritan Board Senior
FV confused me back before it was well known as heresy, I used to look to works for assurance of salvation, and as you can imagine, I had no assurance. I know now that Christ is the only one who can give me assurance while my works direct me to His work alone, because mine is too filthy.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
The PCA General Assembly considers Federal Visionists to be brothers in the Lord, but their doctrines are out of line with the Church's standards. This is an appropriate way to consider them. The teaching of the FV and NPP is not a damnable heresy, but it does have serious errors. We ought neither to consider them outside the bounds of the Church, nor should we consider their views to be a small matter that doesn't need any correction or discipline.

Justification which is not by faith alone is not a damnable heresy?

Roman Catholics don't believe in justification by faith alone. Those who are ignorant of what they believe as RC's can be Christians, but anyone who knows what they are saying...how can they be Christians? RC (probably because I am a former RC) is heresy. Heresy in the general sense (not official sense). Of course maybe we could call it the official sense since the Divines said the Pope is the antichrist. And the NPP and FV are very closely linked to RC, (one might even say EO).

I don't agree with the PCA's 'pastoral report', although most of it I like. I don't like the part where they deemed them still brothers in the Lord. I don't think we can state that, nor does their doctrine show that.

NPP/FV proclaim another gospel...and I think we all know what our Lord says about that in Galatians 1.
 
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greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
It was no mistake comparing FV with Arminians and Roman Catholics, when it is understood that both are semi-Pelagian. Both can talk about the need for grace. It just isn't grace alone. Works has to make an appearance there somewhere. And, to be cautious here, I don't believe all FV'ers are semi-Pelagian.

Andrew, you say that it isn't helpful for us to compare the FV to RCC. But then you argue that neither teach the Gospel, neither teach justification by faith alone, and both are heretical. Exactly how is it unhelpful, then, to compare the FV to RCC? I think when one considers their emphasis on the visible church, their views of baptism, and their view of final justification, it is VERY similar to RCC. In fact, I have often summarized the FV by saying that it is a fundamentally Roman Catholicizing tendency.

When the report called them "brothers," it was a judgment of charity, saying that, since we don't know their hearts, it is more than possible that some of them are actual believers. It was thought best to give them the benefit of this particular doubt.
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Lane you are very right, my mind went crazy apparently, I was thinking of some other group. :) Don't know how that happened.

I think I was more answering the heresy part of it. I believe NPP/FV, RC (I can't add the other C here because they aren't a church in my opinion) are heretical (in at least the general sense of the term --> Galatians 1). I'm going to delete what I posted above. HA!
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
Keep in mind that the FV claim to base their position on scripture and are not holding papal doctrines up as equal in authority. In fact they look at us and say that we (deep in our hearts) put the confessions on the level of canon. The do hold to sola scriptura and argue from that position. That is a huge difference with the RCC.

That is why I think you need a solid bible based approach. If you start in with the WCF they will look at you the same we we look at Rome...adding something to scripture as equal in authority. I think it is a mistake to appeal to Reformed tradition and confessions when talking to an FV. When I got saved I was immediately introduced to Arminian dispensationalism, and it was scripture itself that eventually forced me into the Reformed positions. Not confessions. ( although Piper and Edwards did help :) ). I have talked a long while several times with an FV/NPP who went to WTS and I have to talk bible, confessions don't cut it.

Sola scriptura is a huge distinction from the RCC, and you ought to be ready to debate it on that level in my opinion, and only on that level.
 
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