Who is more vocal in opposition to FV?

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by Particular Baptist, Jun 23, 2010.

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  1. Particular Baptist

    Particular Baptist Puritan Board Freshman

    One of things that I've seen, in regards to the Reformed community's response to the FV, is that those from paedo circles seem more vocal about their opposition to the FV. Whereas R.S. Clark, Michael Horton, and whole paedo denominations are going after the FV, it seems that there is less vocal opposition from the credo camp. I'm not saying that I support the FV, because I'm very far from it, being a Baptist and all. But, it has prompted me to think about why this seems to be.

    Is is perhaps because the FV SEEMS to be the logical conclusion to the Presbyterian/Paedo view of covenant theology? When one views the church as believers and their children, it seems to me, the FV view is the logical conclusion that the covenant is objective. Even Dr. C. Matthew McMahon's catechism on baptism, though I'm not at all suggesting that he's in this camp, would seem to give creedence to the FV. Baptists are worried about the FV, but perhaps we are somewhat looking from the outside in on this issue, since it seems to be a discussion of mainly of ecclesiology (in particular Presbyterian/Paedo-Reformed ecclesiology), though soteriology is in play as well.

    One more thing to add. I do think that the FV distorts the gospel. It does do that, and that is very wrong and heretical. But the question I'm asking is if paedo-ecclesiology is playing a role in the vehemence of the response.
  2. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    If I could use an analogy. When Van Til layed out his criticism of neo-orthodoxy, Barth and Brunner mainly, he was accussed of being too rough on them. After all they talked the talk and walked the walk in regards to theological language. They used the same words that we conservetave christians use so what if they took them to a new level. But what Van Til noticed was that underneath all their language was a different gospel altogether. Many of the fears, so I've read, that Van Til had about neo-orthodoxy, especially Barth, ended up being true. Just because they claimed to be a recovery of biblical reformed theology didn't make it so.

    With FV, those of us in the paedo-reformed camp see that although they use the same language that we do they mean fundamentally different things. We speak of an objectivity to the covenant but mean something totally different by that.
  3. Particular Baptist

    Particular Baptist Puritan Board Freshman

    I don't doubt that you have differences in regards to objectivity of the covenant, there's no argument there. But, is the FV the logical conclusion to objectivity beyond a person's profession of faith?
  4. alhembd

    alhembd Puritan Board Freshman

    Federal Vision can no more be the logical conclusion that all the children of the sign of the covenant are in the covenant, than Ishmael's being circumcised meant that he was elect. Think of it. Circumcision placed Ishmael under the covenant, but not in it. Infant baptism is a continuation of the same sign as circumcision. Infant baptism places the children of believers under the same covenant as they themselves are in. But it places the children under the covenant, but not in it. The LORD, under the old form of the covenant had to make the internal circumcision of the heart, by the power of the Holy Spirit. That was regeneration. Regeneration is the cutting away of the old nature, spiritually. It is the inward circumcision of the heart, Romans 2.29, and the circumcision of Christ, Colossians 2.11. Would you as a Baptist say that believers under the Old Testament were not regenerate? that they did not have the circumcision of the heart? What then, would have been the relationship of the sign that male infants had received at eight days old, been with the actual regeneration of some of them, in most instances, after their having the received the outward sign of the covenant?

    Really, Federal Vision has nothing at all to do with the historic understanding of the significance of infant baptism. Federal Vision is a natural consequence of Kuyperianism, not infant baptism. It was Kuyper who first taught that one brings infants to the laver, because they are to be presumed regenerate, albeit dormantly. I grant that some seemed to hold to this view before, but it certainly was not the view of the majority of the Reformed divines. Not at all of the Westminster divines.
  5. Particular Baptist

    Particular Baptist Puritan Board Freshman

    I would say that the distinction that you have just made about being under the covenant and not in the covenant, is a distinction that many on this board would not agree with. Many, perhaps most, paedobaptists believe that the New Covenant can and will be broken until Christ returns to establish his eternal reign. That is how they interpret the warnings given to believers in Hebrews and also in one of the Corinthian letters.

    As a Baptist, I don't believe that the Covenant of Circumcision given to Abraham was the covenant of grace. Abraham was in the covenant of grace, as were King Mel, Shem, and other godly men then alive at the same time, but the covenant of circumcision is not the covenant of grace. Therefore, yes, we can say that believers in the OT were regenerated.

    Also, the Kuyperianism that you speak of is found within Presbyterians as well. As I said before, Dr. McMahon, whom I respect greatly, has written a Catechism on Infant Inclusion and seems to point to the same conclusion, though in a rebuttal to this accusation he denies that it does so. Here's the link to the catechism A Catechism on Infant Inclusion in the Covenant of Grace
  6. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I would say that a person's inclusion in the covenant in a truely spiritual way is determined by the objective gift of faith by the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that I subjectivly choose Christ and then are allowed in the covenant, armienianism. This makes a distinction between people who are only in the visible external covenant, non-elect in church, and people who are are in the true spiritual and thus internal or invisible aspect of the covenant, elect, as well as the external covenant. People can proffess faith all day long but not be saved. They may and will receive external blessings that are given to the church, like God blessing a particulier church in some way. The FV people make the internal and invisible blessings of the covenant objective to all people in the external covenant elect or not. They basically collapse the whole internal/invisible and external/visible dinstinction that I understand historical covenant theology to hold to.

    So I see your point that maybe FV represents the great skeleton in the closet for presbyterians and that would explain such percieved vehemence on the part of some. But what I'm saying is that this criticism is not unlike Van Til's criticism of Barth because we recognize FV not as a logical conclusion of our ideas but as a neo-understanding of covenant theology, meaning they change the meaning of words and that results in a fundemental seperation of classic presbyterian covenant theology and their own. Your question is a good one but I think the people you mentioned are right in their criticism and are doing the right thing by distincing themselves from FV as much as possible.

    As far as Kuyper goes I wouldn't collapse his view of infant baptism with FV's view because they again disagree on a fundemental level. Presumptive regeneration is just a view that a parent, pastor, church member can hold about an infant being baptized that may not be true. The presumption of regeneration on the persons part can be wrong but like election in the Canon of Drordt first part article:17 "godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in infancy." Now this article is not talking about baptism but a godly parents assumption of election and salvation of their children who die in infancy. But I think that the principle carries over. When my daughter reaches the appropriate age in my church to be examined for inclusion in the Lord's Supper, and I hope she is found to be ready, I will assume that she receives the same strenghtaning of faith that I recieve in the Lord's Supper. But 10 years from now she could become an atheist or something and prove that my assumption was wrong.

    In baptism there is the same principle at work in that I can assume the Holy Spirit to be at work in His mysterious way not to be tied down to the moment of baptism but in the sacrament itself when my daughter was baptized, but again my assumption could prove to be wrong one day. FV make the spiritual blessings of both sacraments objectivally given to all who recieve them whether or not they are elect or non-elect. I would call this actual regeneration not presumptive regeneration. My assuming regeneration of my baptized child may or may not be actual but beleiving that each and everyone who is baptized is regenerated are two fundementally different views. That is just my take on it but sometimes I have trouble explaining what I mean here because of my lack of real historical understanding of the vocabulary used to explain these things but that is how I understand the differences.
  7. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The answer is simply that paedobaptists are more vocal against FV because the battle against FV has occurred in paedobaptist denominations, e.g. the PCA. It is not the logical outcome of the paedo view; however, it is a distinctly paedobaptistic heresy. It wouldn't fit in a credobaptistic context, in the same way that there are heresies among credobaptistic groups that would not be possible for a paedobaptist to hold.
  8. LawrenceU

    LawrenceU Puritan Board Doctor

    Amazingly there are some Baptist churches that are flirting with FVish theologies. I know that does not make sense. It does however point to a fact about false doctrine. If it is embraced by some it will appeal to others who will morph the application of the kernel to fit their situation.
  9. Particular Baptist

    Particular Baptist Puritan Board Freshman

    Soteriologically speaking, as far as election goes, I would say that the FV's have the same view as we all do in that God's elect will be the only ones saved in the very end. Of course, many FV'ers are wrong in their view of justification and imputation, but as far as election and who is saviningly in the covenant they are the same.

    In my opinion, and this is as a Baptist, the FV'ers are simply taking the idea of infant presumptive regeneration and objectivity in the covenant to its logical end, they are very consistent, yet very wrong. As a Baptist, in a way I can understand that they give infant communion because we believe that once one has recieved one ordinance, they should recieve both. The FV'ers also seem to be consistent, again yet wrong, in their reading of the Passover in Exodus 12, whereas many paedos must do jumping jacks and use extra-Biblical material to say that infants, or even those who didn't understand the meaning of the meal, were not included in the Passover meal.

    You are very correct, James, that the FV'ers change words and terms to fit their understanding, but I see this as an effort for consistency. They are trying to take the idea of presumptive regeneration to its logical end, or what seems to be the logical end.
  10. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Well, not all paedobaptists believe in presumptive regeneration. In fact, I dare say the majority of Presbyterians don't.

    ---------- Post added at 05:38 PM ---------- Previous post was at 05:37 PM ----------

    My mind is short circuiting trying to figure out what such a church would believe.
  11. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Logical extremes are not necessarily biblical truths and they're not always truly logical anyway. They're sometimes idols.

    It's clear right through the Bible that there are those who are circumcised that show themselves to be just/righteous and those that reveal themselves to be wicked, and are identified as such by God's true people.

    How the Visionistas can ignore this, just shows the power of the idolisation of the "logical" extremes of man's fallen, fallible and finite mind when pitted against Scripture.

    They're completely off-the-wall on this. For a start only adult males were required to attend the Passover Commemoration in Jerusalem, and that's only a start. See Venema.

    I think many Covenantal (Paedo) Baptists would agree with this. See Berkhof on the Duality of the Covenant. Some might use other language e.g. being in the covenant but not of the covenant.

    We can't and shouldn't presume that an infant is regenerate, but there is always the possibility that it may be e.g. John the Baptist. It is to be baptised because its parents have acredible profession of faith, not because we are infallibly certain that they are elect or even regenerate.

    The Visionistas play games with words like "elect"; dangerous games. E.g. We know that all the Israelites were God's chosen people, but were they all "elect"? A similar analogy applies to the New Covenant visible and Invisible Churches, and clear distinctions should be maintained.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2010
  12. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Well if I remember corectly they call the unregenerate church elect, albeit meaning or claiming to mean a different thing, which is very much at odds with traditional presbyterian theology.

    Well you definantly make an impressive argument, your whole general point is very clever but I do believe you are mistaken. Lets focus on the issue of presumptive regeneration. As I understand it, in what I explained above, it only really has meaning for the parent you could say. Any covenant parent is well withen their rights to assume that their baptized child is or could one day be regenerate but, and this is very important, that doesn't mean they are. They could well be an unbeleiver and that unbeleif will become manifest later in life. The difference with FV is that they make the sacraments objective to all. That is a fundemental difference between the two:
    1. Presumptive regeneration is an alloweble, not mandetory, subjective response by the parent to their child's baptism. So the emphasis is primaraly subjective in nature, though based on percieved objective promises by God (given our own presuppositions about the covenant as paedo's).
    2. FV beleives the sacraments are objectivly means of grace to all participents, their subjective respone being the deciding factor in the sacrament's benifet or not.

    So logically the difference between the two points of view is this:
    1. (Presumptive Regeration) logically the order of importance is this: primaraly subjective (parent's faith in God's general covenant promises), secondary objective (God's covenant promises). Subjective-objective order of importance.
    2. (FV) logically the order of importance is this: primaraly objective as means of grace to all recipents, secondaraly subjective as benifencial to the truely faithful beleiver. Essentially a Lutheran view of the sacraments.

    That is in my opinion two different logical points of view not a straight logical line from one to the other.
  13. DMcFadden

    DMcFadden Puritanboard Commissioner

    Spencer, you focus more on the paedobaptism nexus. I'm more concerned about the NPP associations (denied by some FV folks, affirmed by others, and defended by a bunch of them) and the denial of the imputation of Christ's active obedience. Insofar as the FV bears an historical connection to Shepherd, his particular take on justification and covenant obedience seems more to the point than the issue of infants. Could it be (asked the ignorant Baptist) that the genesis of the FV was in other areas than ecclesiology and that because they were paedobaptist, they began to apply their new "insights" to that as well?

    When it comes to the issue of imputation, I'm with Machen: "I'm so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it."
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