The view from Rome is a little fuzzy

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by nominalist747, May 25, 2007.

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  1. nominalist747

    nominalist747 Puritan Board Freshman

    I'd like to respond here to Taylor Marshall's perspective on the FV, since my response is directed chiefly toward the Reformed community.

    First, did anyone notice the warm glow of hopeful optimism that suffused Taylor's "analysis" of the FV?

    Some of their great minds will become Catholic...Many will discover that the Catholic Church is their true home, and many will discover her in a great moment of joy. This Federal Vision is really only a peek into the keyhole of the Catholic Church. The Federal Visionist has a vision of the beautiful things inside, but they have not yet appreciated the warmth of a true home.

    Marshall very sincerely wants this to be the case--he wants everyone to come home to Rome. While that by itself does not make a case against his perspective, it should at least make us read him more critically. If we do so, we find some problems.

    Second, please notice closely what he has to do to make the FV sound similar to the RCC. The most glaring example is the following:

    [According the the FV] A person is Christian if they are baptized – they are either a “good Christian” or an “apostate Christian.” This somewhat approximates the way Catholics understand being in a state of grace or mortal sin. (emphasis added) So, if we use language that none of the FV writers uses, we find that an important element in the FV "somewhat approximates" RCC teaching. That means that the FV idea here is "not entirely close to" the RCC--this really sounds like stretching terms to make them fit.

    It is also necessary not only to stretch terms, but to redefine them or ignore them.

    Federal Visionists believe that justification is best understood as “union with Christ” and not as the imputation of righteousness in a strict merit/demerit transaction. Very biblical and very Catholic. How on earth is the rejection of merit in accordance with the RCC? Marshall himself, in another place, draws attention to the RCC teaching:

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches this about the Treasury of Merit:

    1476 We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints the Church's treasury, which is "not the sum total of the material goods which have accumulated during the course of the centuries. On the contrary the 'treasury of the Church' is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ's merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. In Christ, the Redeemer himself, the satisfactions and merits of his Redemption exist and find their efficacy."

    1477 "This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission in the unity of the Mystical Body."

    After I made plans to be received into the Church, I was reading in the New Testament and crossed these words that I had read and heard hundreds of times:

    Matthew 6:19-20
    Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.

    The word "treasures" jumped off the page. Christ is teaching that we can indeed store up "treasure in heaven." Everytime we do something good for God, we "lay up treasure in Heaven." And thus there is truly a treasury of good deeds in Heaven.

    This is a principle reason why the FV is so uncomfortable with merit (e.g., Wilson's repeated emphasis on rejecting a medieval view of merit)! For Marshall to say that rejecting a merit/demerit system is "very Catholic" seems absurdly inaccurate.

    So, on a couple of key points, FV is similar to RC theology--if you stretch the meaning of your terms and/or describe theology in a totally inaccurate manner. This really looks like a case of wishful thinking.
  2. Redaimie

    Redaimie Puritan Board Freshman

    The fuzziness begins with FV theology by blurring the role of works in salvation. The imputation of the active obedience of Christ in my opinion is not negotiable.
    As a former Roman Catholic it is in my opinion a small & somewhat natural step over to where the Roman Catholic church draws the line on justification from the FV.
    FV theology is confusing (at best) it confuses the gospel & teaches contrary to the OPC & many other denominations.
  3. etexas

    etexas Puritan Board Doctor

    I agree I went to a RC school, and it is smoke and mirror Roman "logic".:book2:
  4. Gryphonette

    Gryphonette Moderator

    I was RC, adult convert, AAMOF....and have been struck for years by the similarities between the FV and RC doctrine.

    And you know what else? Off the top of my head I can't think of a single ex-RC-turned-Reformed that doesn't see those similarities.

    So we've got those who have come out of the RCC issuing warnings regarding how much it resembles the FV, and we've got new converts to the RCC chirping about how the FV's doctrinal distinctives resemble the RCC's.

    But the ex-RC's and the new RC's are assumed to not know what they're talking about and are shrugged off by FV supporters.

    Y'know, that's really rather irritating.
  5. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    It also should be of interest (at least it is to this ex-altar boy) that no one in the forefront of the FV movement comes out of a Roman Catholic background. As far as I know (and I could be corrected here) they are to a man from fundamentalist/baptistic and/or pentecostal/charismatic backgrounds.

    But hey, how would I know anything about Rome? I only went to Catholic school for a decade, have a cousin who is a priest, and have 90% of my extended family in the Roman church.
  6. Gryphonette

    Gryphonette Moderator

    Y'know, I'd wondered about that.

    I daresay there are surely a few FV theologians (as opposed to internet inhabitants such as me) who come from a long line of Presbyterian pastors, but for the most part it's as you say....they're comparatively new to Reformed theology.

    Unlike, who is it, Ligon Duncan, who is one in a series of Presbyterian elders? Or am I thinking of Rick Phillips? Or does it pretty much apply to both of them? Men who were Presbyterian from the egg, so to speak.

    Yeah, why would anyone wanna listen to duffers like those? :banghead:
  7. DaveJes1979

    DaveJes1979 Puritan Board Freshman

    Nominalist said "So, on a couple of key points, FV is similar to RC theology--if you stretch the meaning of your terms and/or describe theology in a totally inaccurate manner. This really looks like a case of wishful thinking."

    No, the point is that FV is an unstable compromise between Reformed theology and Rome. It is a hybrid, neither fish nor foul, so we wouldn't expect Rome and FV to be identical on points of doctrine.

    You are apparently having a hard time seeing the obvious trajectory - for instance, in replacing legal aspects of the covenant and justification for filial ones. This key "insight" from N. Shepherd helped Scott Hahn in his apostacy. Now this sort of formulation won't get you to Tridentine Rome, but it "lowers the bar" enough so that we get a kinder and friendlier Law, one that doesn't demand so much and we can fulfill (with God's grace helping, of course!), and so now it is not absurd to say that our works can be instrumental in our justification. See what's happened? The structure of our theology has shifted so that what was once not plausible is at least plausible. But while this is not Roman theology at this point, properly speaking, it also is not Reformed. As an unstable compromise, usually the person holding to such an error will move further along the trajectory from where he started - that is, closer to Rome. That seems, historically, to be the rule on the biographical and psychological realities relating to doctrinal error, a rule that sadly has very few exceptions.

    "How on earth is the rejection of merit in accordance with the RCC?"

    You aren't being careful here. Our Roman friend here didn't reject merit, but rather the imputation of Christ's merit.

    Nominalist, it seems to me (and to a number of others here) that you are far too sympathetic to the Federal Vision movement to be here and I'd encourage you to follow your conscience and leave this Board, as the Board rules requires. If you honestly wish to discuss and work through these issues for your own sake, then by all means do so and I'm sure we'd all be glad to help (and you are more than welcome to e-mail me privately if I can help), but this is not the place to be defending the Federal Vision. I take it that the Board rules don't require us to agree w/ every critique of FV (Trinity Foundation, cough, cough), but you are clearly setting a pattern here.

    Peace - DG
  8. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    Your post is OBE (Overcome by Events). This already happened.
  9. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Hey, we have too much in common. I was Catholic for most of my young life and most of my family (90% or greater) is RC.

    As of late, it does seem that many people even outside of FV are being attracted by either RCC or EO. Most of them say that they choose this path because of the historicalness (if that is a word). They have been around and are linked from the Bible.
  10. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Aye, former altar boy meself. More than 90% of my family is RC. They're not the garden variety that just go to Church on Easter and Christmas either. My Nana prayed the rosary every day.

    I have a lot in common with Fred. We both have an R, E, and O in our name. He's a former lawyer and I've talked to some lawyers. He knows Latin and I know pig Latin.
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