The practical problems of FV?

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by jwright82, Jul 25, 2010.

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  1. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Beyond the obvious teaching of heresy, is there any practical problems that a church can face because of FV? Does this heresy affect the practice of the church at all or is it more of a theological problem? What practical affects does this heresy have in the life of the church?
  2. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    I'm not an expert in the many aspects of this topic.

    Suffice it to say, this severely errant theology, uses "double meanings" of words and terms that are commonly understood in reformed theology. That leads to error in theology such as confusing justification by faith alone, which is at the heart of the gospel.

    At best, "federal vision" theology confuses the gospel. At worst, it denies it. Neither is acceptable.

    Were that not bad enough, it also causes division and confusion over several other major commonly understood terms such as "visible church," "perseverance of the saints," and "union with Christ."

    Remember, a key principle of reformed theology is that the unity of the church must be grounded in doctrinal agreement.
  3. MRC

    MRC Puritan Board Freshman

    My understanding is that the natural outworking of their theology of baptism would be paedocommunion. This would be a practical problem for sure!
  4. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    An excellent question: one thing I have learned about the FV is that it is not simply a theology but a way of life (as all good theology should be). But the FV way is not the way of the serious Christian, (though I would not say that all FV people are not Christians). For the way of the FV is to follow men and movements, not Christ. They talk a lot about the church and men whom they fellowship with who are eloquent and learned, but I wonder if they understand the simpler, harder aspects of discipleship such as self-denial and sacrifice.

    Finally, witness the response of the FV and their followers when a church group speaks out against it: anger and hostility and little (as I have seen) in the way of an intelligent response. They are also very defensive if questioned, almost thinking themselves above such things. I see much pride and arrogance and little humility and love for God and neighbour.
  5. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Good posts. Yeah I know and agree that doctrinal heresy is very serious, and I am glad that the various denomenations are dealing with this heresy. But my angle here was to find out if there was ever any changes in the day to day church life in these church's or are there other practical problems that may have arisen by putting their theology to practice, or is it buisseness as usual with only a change in language? Now I firmly believe that a view point that is labled heretical should be dealt with whether or not it produces any practical problems for the church at all. The paedocommunion thing was a nice example of this MRC.
  6. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I don't know that this would be true in every instance, but certainly in a lot of cases if you had the misfortune to hire an FV pastor you would run into covenant renewal worship and at least some emphasis on courtship with overtones of patriarchalism.
  7. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Thanks, could you possibly explain what you mean by covenant renewel worship, courtship, and overtones of patriarchalism in this context or do they retain their normal meanings?

    ---------- Post added at 02:49 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:24 PM ----------

    I was also thinking that maybe you would have churches that either erred on the side of antinomianism or legalism, I'll explain. With their use of the word faithfullness as it relates to justification and perseverance it seems inevitable to me that each church must define concretly just what it means to be faithfull. Since faithfullness is an abstract or formal term it has no concrete meaning outside of a practical list of works that are defined as good or faithfull works. But just what sort of list is there? None that I know of so every church must come up with its own list of what is good faithfull works, since this list is desighned to keep people in faithfull status it will probally over or under react on what is a faithful act producing either antinomianism or legalism. Either way these churches will probally end up violating chp. 20 "Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience" in some way shape or form.

    They will have to decide what sins are not as important as others thus a distinction between mortal venial sins would become necessary for the church to decide whether or not its members were behaving in such a way that would prove to be unfaithful. This is yet another example of Roman Catholic tendencies in this movement. Now they may say that they follow Theonomy and thus that would be their list, they still end up in the same boat because for Theonomy keeping the law is not to keep oneself in faithfullness to the covenant demands but for FV it is, so how much of the Mosaic law can I violate without becoming un faithfull? Bam back to the mortal/venial sin and antinomian/legalism problem I mentioned. This transition is inevetable because their spiritual lives are dependent on staying faithfull to the covenant, which is up to them.

    I don't know I am just shooting from the hip here but what do ya'll think of this?
  8. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I don't know that the FV have a particular spin on those things, except that they might take covenant renewal worship more realistically than some.
  9. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Some sure have raised some fine children. One could wish for some more repentance on the part of mainstream Reformed thinking that helped cause the over reaction of the FV in the first place. Many of the thoughtful critiques of the FV are very careful to point this out.
  10. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Tim V
    I thought it was only going since about 2003. I suppose it could have an influence on fine children in that time.
  11. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    The CREC's first annual Presbytery was in 1998. Where did you get that date?
  12. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    I'd only heard of the Auburn Avenue Conference, though no doubt this type of theology had been in incubation long before.
  13. EricP

    EricP Puritan Board Freshman

    Another potential practical effect FV might have on the life of a church is on the basis and efficacy of mercy ministries. Justification based on the work of God through Jesus is, at the end, a great source of peace; anything less can leave a believer with little assurance of ultimate salvation. The weaker FV/RCC positions are potentially causes of great anxiety at the end of life, hence the RCC stress on final unction/last rites and the unbiblical middle ground of purgatory.
  14. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    One of the reasons I started this thread was because it seemed to me that perhaps one of the reasons that Presbyteries are not taking as much action as some would feel necessary is because there is no practical issues that have arisen. It might be a well their not upsetting the boat at all so whats the problem. If the only thing that changes in a FV church is the language than most people will not care about it. We live in an action oriented society where it is more important what you do verses what you believe. Now I am ussually very gracious and paitant when it comes to dealing with so called heresy because I think that charge is very serious so I take caution in making that claim. But when it came to FV I noticed immediatly in reading their papers and Presbytery examinations that the critics are dead on in their assement of FV. So I have no problem with calling it heresy because it is.
  15. Idelette

    Idelette Puritan Board Graduate

    Well, first of all it tends to be divisive and exclusive. A huge practical problem that I've seen within FV groups, is that they often begin to forsake corporate worship to have "home worship" instead. This is a huge problem in my opinion, as worship is commanded by God and it is our Utmost Highest Priority! There couldn't be a greater practical problem in my opinion! Many within these circles leave churches, or refuse to become members anywhere, and instead favor "home churches" without the oversight of elders or a Pastor. There is a low view of the Church and a lack of recognizing and submitting to the authority of the Church. Rather the "authority" is often placed on the Federal Head of the family who interprets Scripture as he likes. There is a low view of the Preached Word and an overemphasis placed on the sacraments. It leads to incorrect practices of The Lord's Supper and Baptism. It will effect the preaching and the way that they teach their children.... whether they will actually call them to repentance and faith. It will effect the way that they deal with those outside of the Covenant.... and whether they will actually share the gospel or not. It gives a false assurance to those who are not decretally elect and it deprives those who are decretally elect of the assurance that is rightfully theirs in Christ. I could go on and on with how many practical implications there really are!
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  16. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Read Colossians for the "practical problems" when someone is led astray by vain philosophy. A few things that are very practical:

    1. Destruction of souls.
    2. Heartbreak for those that love them in the Church.
    3. A tremendous amount of work by Elders who have to defend against it.
  17. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    Here are some of the very serious practical outworking problems that I've seen:

    1. Churches split apart because of the divide in doctrine that was not debated in the church courts first, but simply inserted into the church's life, seeking to fly in under the radar screen. Not only churches, but also Presbyteries have been split apart by it.

    2. Worship tends in a much more Anglo-Catholic direction in covenant-renewal worship.

    3. Church discipline becomes extremely hierarchical, with a resulting heavy-handedness towards the members who raise red flags about the doctrine. There is a definite tendency towards spiritual tyranny in the FV.

    4. However, when the system of church government doesn't favor them, they thumb their noses at it and call their opponents tyrants. As a result, they will not simply leave and go to the CREC. Rather, they stay in the PCA in order to make people go after them. This allows their martyr complex to kick in so that they can make the confessionalists look bad.

    5. The tendency towards neonomianism, which is part and parcel of the FV, actually results in license, since there is no actual dealing with people's guilt in a way that produces assurance. They have the same problem in this regard as Catholicism: salvation by works inevitably produces spiritual license, since people can't measure up and therefore stop trying.

    6. There is a closed attitude about everything having to do with FV. What I mean here is that any discussions about it have to be behind closed doors. Secrecy rather than openness is very characteristic of the FV. They have their top-secret discussion groups so that they can avoid true accountability.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  18. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Great post brother! Very good points.

    ---------- Post added at 05:29 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:24 PM ----------

    Wow there you go, that is what I was dying to know. I pretty much guessed that your number 5 would happen, it follows from justification by works like you said. I was hoping you, with an on the frontline perspective, would answer but I didn't want to bother you.
  19. Austin

    Austin Puritan Board Freshman

    All well said, y'all. As an EPC minister serving in a growing suburban area of a large metropolitan area I noticed many of these practical outworkings of the FV & AAT. Paedo-communion was well dealt with in our Presbytery there, where, on the recommendation of our Ministerial Committee our Presbytery allowed the ordination or transfer of ministers & elders with paedo-communion ideas, but forbade them from preaching, teaching, or practicing their views. Of course, the warm, Confessional collegiality of our Presbytery in the Central South, paired with the ethos of the (best/healthiest portion) of the EPC probably allowed us to resolve the problems more easily than the more contentious PCA Presbyteries in the area.

    My biggest practical/pastoral problems with the FV was wrapped up in an unwillingness among its adherents to submit to the teaching position of the church and the church session. Home church was common, in which the FV families would have their own Bible studies led by their chief paterfamilias. They would also tend to use our church membership to recruit to their cause. The families were wonderful, in the sense of having well-raised & -educated children, seemingly happy families, etc. In that regard they seemed to be above reproach. However, the patriarchalism was oppressive. The children were prohibited from attending Sunday School (where we used that nefarious Great Commission Publications stuff). Also, one family had several older girls (14-18), but the father only brought his son (11) to the adult Sunday School class to check it out & make a determination as to our relative orthodoxy before even considering allowing his wife & daughters to come. It was odd. Another family attended Sunday School, but something very weird came up while I was doing a 3 month class on engaging culture, and particularly the sinful structures in society, for Christ. My point of departure was Philemon. I was discussing how Paul addressed the sinful slave system in the Greco-Roman world with the Gospel in order to show Christ in even the most depraved of Classical systems. The 2nd week, the father of one of these families (having read a lot of Wilson & Wilkins) announced to the class that if I was saying that chattel slavery was wrong, then I was calling God a liar. Wow. He called me out in front of everyone and accused me of heresy. Amazing. (Note: I am a RTS Jackson grad and hold to a very strict subscription to the Westminster Standards & to inerrancy. I've never before been called a liberal, let alone an heretic!)

    One other thing I noticed was that these families are also huge fans of the God-&-Country homeschool movement. Their source seems to be the Vision Forum stuff. And, while at 1st the two movements (FV & VF) don't seem to have a lot in common, in the hands of the FV guys it becomes disturbing. They're also fans of the romanticized Lost Cause view of the Old South & of the Confederacy. (In the interests of full disclosure, I am also a lover of the Lost Cause. I have my grandaddy's grandaddy's CSA-issue musket mounted in my church office & I believe that, Constitutionally, the South was right on the legal issues.) That said, these folks seemed to idealize a mythological Christian America that never existed as they envision it. And somehow in the hands of the FV guys it becomes a very winsome, yet not entirely healthy, affection.

    Last comment: I was always bothered by the fact that as an adherent of the Regulative Principle & of Calvin's views on the Lord's Day worship, I was always viewed skeptically in regard to worship. I wear a Geneva gown, and we always followed a very Reg. Princ. pattern of worship. We called is "Called Worship," or "Lord's Day worship," for that's what it is. But the continual emphasis on this "Covenant Renewal Service" language was unpleasant at best. I always thought to myself, "WE aren't renewing anything!" King Jesus is calling His people, through the ordained leadership of His Church sitting as a Court of the Church, to come, worship, serve, glorify, and enjoy Him. The whole idea that the Covenant is being renewed smacks of Catholicism & the sacrifice of the Mass. It is, in my understanding, a foretaste of the eschaton & New Earth, not some sort of Mt. Ebal & mt. Gerizim reading of the Law in which God's people cringingly say, "All these laws will we keep, and may it be unto us & moreso as it was to the Egyptians in the day we break these vows."

    In sum, my biggest questions are these: Where's the grace? Where's the 'Law of Love/Liberty? Where's the emphasis on the Gospel that is so amazingly free & powerful that we fools finally give up lawkeeping as a goal in favor of loving Christ till obedience flows like a river from our midst?

    (And yes, I am a Sonship fan, for which I endured no end of grief from the FV guys.)

    Well, 'nuff said. Thoughts?

    ---------- Post added at 09:54 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:49 AM ----------

    One more comment: I LIKED these people. I really did. Nice families, smart, with a passion for Truth. But weird. Weird and, in my humble opinion, dangerous. I appreciate the PCA's determination a few years back at their GA. But, as one of y'all noted, they just renounce jurisdiction & move on when confronted. Mais c'est la vie, n'est-ce pas?
  20. KensingtonerRebbe

    KensingtonerRebbe Puritan Board Freshman

    It seems to me that one of the grossest outworkings of the FV is legalism in the home. Oftentimes the roles of church and family are confused. Take for example the highly prescriptive manner FV authorities dictate how family worship is to be done. The exact manner of children's education is tacitly implied and enforced. The manner in which a husband treats his wife, a wife treats her husband and how both raise their children is spelled out in lurid detail. I agree with Pastor Kok, it is a lifestyle and that's the problem.
  21. Emmanuel

    Emmanuel Puritan Board Freshman

    If their discussion groups are top-secret, then how do you know about them? :confused:
    I do agree that there is a tendency among FV proponents to deny the existence of the Federal Vision, but that doesn't mean that they meet in groves at night wearing black hoods. (Hyperbole mine)
  22. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Great summary above. I have said the same thing myself. In many ways they're like the Anabaptist radicals of the Reformation. Ironically, they claim to uphold the principles of true Godly government but no government is perfect enough for them so they become a government unto themselves in every sphere. They expand the sphere of sovereignty regarding liberty of conscience so wide that it eclipses the spheres of state and Church government.

    It's not fair to all when I generalize but most men that I've met that are heavy into this are just weird. They tend to lack authority in other areas of life and make their homes a place where they can exert maximal and unquestioned authority. They also assume far too much of their own sanctification insisting that wife and children should hang on everything Dad teaches while neglecting the axiomatic fact that indwelling sin clouds our apprehension of the Word. While assuming a lack of illumination in every other man (and lecturing you as an example) they demand papal infallibility for themselves as the "Family Priest".
  23. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Wow that is weird. I always wondered how their theology played itself out in practice, bad theology begets bad practice. I didn't know that they had such extreme patriarchal views, where's the love?

    ---------- Post added at 01:55 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:41 PM ----------

    I haven't actually met anybody who thought this way. I find it very disturbing that some or most of them would have such extreme views about the home. That cannot be good for the selfesteems of their kids. I like your reference on the liberty of conscience issue, every christian should do lots of selfexamination to determine whether or not a particuler issue is actually under the scope of freedom of conscience. This thread has been a revealation to me on how divisive they can be in ordenary contexts.
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