Why Some Are Attracted to the Federal Vision?

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by NaphtaliPress, Jan 10, 2007.

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  1. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    One of the Warfildeans posted a recent seminary graduate's explanation of why he is FV; it must be somewhere but all I have is the Warfield version. I'll only post a link since the text is not attributed.
    Why Some Are Attracted to the Federal Vision?
  2. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    I agree with 95% of what he said.

    I also believe in Justification by Faith alone, the imputed righteousness of Christ, that Westminster is the greatest Confession of Faith in the Church's history apart from the ecumenical Creeds (although not PERFECT, no theology this side of glory is or can be), that profession of faith must precede Communion (but not a doctoral dissertation of the faith), that there are 3 Covenants (the Covenant of Life, the Covenant of Redemption, and the Covenant of Grace), and that faith alone makes the sacraments efficacious in any way.
  3. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I know exactly where this was copied from because Jon Barlow was responding to ME here:


    Find post 84.

    I've been dialoguing with him and had pointed him to the two recent threads about the FV. I was tied up all day and hadn't been able to respond with all the things he wrote. One thing I appreciate, however, is that he was man enough to distinguish himself rather than mixing terms.
  4. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    Jon Barlow's whining about people commenting publicly on his public comments not withstanding:

    The only way to have apostasy is to obliterate the internal/external distinction.

    This is the same sort of realism that the Reformation rejected. It's the same sort of realism that says, "the only way for God to say of us, 'righteous' is if we are actually, intrinsically, righteous by Spirit-wrought sanctity. This is the same realism that says the "is" of the institution means "becomes."

    So there is now no distinction between "of" and "not of" us? They went out from us, because they WERE of us? In what MSS does one find this reading?

    Yes, Judas seemed to be in! That's we've been saying for centuries, but he wasn't IN the covenant of grace in any substantial way. Why is is this so blinking hard to understand? He seemed to be in because he was really a hypocrite and he wasn't ever actually united to Christ except in a formal, outward way.

    This is galling. I don't even know where to begin with this one. Jon, when you squint, try reading what I write. My name isn't spelled ZWINGLI.

    Believers eat the body and blood of Christ. It's not a funeral. Full stop.

    Christ brings to reality everything promised in baptism for every elect person through faith alone.

    Baptism isn't communion. Christ gave two sacraments to do two different things.

    Why is this difficult?

    If I'm a Zwinglian then Barlow is a Baptist who can't tell the difference between initiation and renewal.

    This is really appalling and demands an apology. We exclude the disabled? Where has he been attending church? Not in any confessional congregation that I know!

    The bible says "discerning." Whatever the context, whether it refers to the congregation or the risen, proper, natural body of Christ (- so no the Belgic Confession is Zwinglian?) on which we feed truly by the Spirit (the correct interpretation). That's a cognitive act.

    Maybe there's a reason why some of these notes haven't been struck? They're sour? They're off key? They don't belong in the music.

    The idea that this lot has rediscovered the "Federal Vision" is arrogant beyond belief. What do these people actually know about the tradition? I see precious little evidence of any serious work in the tradition among them.

    Meredith Kline invented the covenant of works? Hold the phone! No, call Witsius, Wollebius, Polanus, and Olevianus. Tell 'em not to say anything for hundreds of years until MGK writes. Please. This is such a red herring. See this page. Facts boys. Facts.

    This is another appalling caricature. Jon, I hope you don't write this sort of stuff for your comps. Are you at St Louis U? If so, PLEASE talk to Patrick O'Banion. He can help you. He's one of our grads, so he's actually read the primary and secondary lit on this stuff. We do that at WSC. If my students tried to submit this drivel in a paper I would hand it back and require them to re-write. Our students, however, know better. They know that Kendall has been discredited for years. They know to read Dever. They know to read modern scholarship and not to repeat tired old canards.

    The FV is not the only alternative to revivalism. See Hart, Horton et co. For all my criticisms of the Doctor re revivalism, no one ever accused him of compromising the gospel with moralism.

    See the Westminster Confession. You boys can be uncomfortable with catholic Reformed theology all you wish, but you can't do it and be Reformed. If you fellows actually read the Reformed tradition you would know that we don't have to choose between the militant/triumphant distinction and the visible/invisible distinction. They are different categories accounting for related but different truths.

    To be perfectly honest, I have a hard time distinguishing between the Federal Visionists and the Socinians, the late Remonstrants, and the New Haven Theologians.

    So "is" means "unequivocally true of everyone in the covenant community in the same way"?

    Great. Thanks for sorting this one out for us.

    Tell me again? Why are people attracted this movement?

    Gabriel, you're WAY too sharp for this lot.

  5. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    One more word for Jon:


    Please. Your post is really embarrassing or should be. You cannot continue to ignore Christ and the Decree and Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics and After Calvin.

    Okay, one more word, well two: Old Side.

    Was the Old Side not "churchly"? Did they not oppose the Revivalists at every turn? See Marsden's biography of Edwards.

  6. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    Dr. Clark,

    I bet you get flogged in somebody's blog for that one! :p
  7. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Evidently Mr. Barlow doesn’t know when to shut up; http://www.barlowfarms.com/

    He writes:
    Fair enough. Makes sense to me.

    He also writes:

    Well, if the Pastor Meyers is the one I found linked to his blog at http://www.jeffreyjmeyers.com/ can there be any wonder why he finds such warm support from his pastor?

    On a side note, it was interesting (nauseating) to tool around a little bit around the FV blogosphere. I came across a number of replies from our own William Hill including this one on Jeffery Meyer’s site in defense of Wilkins:

    I recall getting into it a bit with Mr. Hill toward the end of my brief stay on Barry Hofsetter’s little discussion list before getting the left foot of fellowship from Barry and the Mods. At the time Mr. Hill who is a virtual neighbor of mine here in Tidewater, presented himself as being quite on the fence concerning the whole FV controversy. He really took me to task for being so boorish, dogmatic and generally mean. While I might still be boorish and dogmatic, certainly not mean ;) it seems Mr. Hill is off that fence.
  8. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    Sean, I respect your right to your opinion, but I would encourage you not to be so dismissive or insulting of a PCA Pastor in good-standing, such as Rev. Meyers, who is friends with my pastor, and a great man of God. That, you don't have the right to do. Talk about theology all you want, but not Elders in Christ's Church.
  9. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    Boy howdy! I must be a prophet!!! Clark gets flogged in a blog!!

    BTW, this is why I do not Blog.
  10. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    Also, Dr. Clark, thanks for your vote of confidence. But, as an aside, there ARE skilled exegetes and theologians among the "FV", pastors who have been pastors in good standing of the PCA and so forth for nearly twice as long as I've been alive!

    Yes, there are the seminary students or grads or "internet theologians" that don't quite have the "knack" for serious, researched, polemics, but don't let that be a sweeping generalization at the same time!

    More than anything, I would want this whole controversy to be settled through understanding, peacemaking, and charity ... not separation! I think many of the mature pastors and laypeople among the FV movement want this as well, but are somewhat "caught off guard" at the moment because what some of them have been preaching for 20 years is all of a sudden being assaulted by some people, rather than being discussed calmly at Synods or at coffee shops among friends casually.

    And I think both the FV proponents and opponents share the blame in this regard. The beginning and continuation of this controversy was not handled well by either side, and that needs to change first and foremost. Then we can discuss the history of Reformed thought and so forth.

    Just my thoughts!

    Peace all.
  11. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    Well, if you've listened to any of the programs on Covenant Radio, you'll recognize that neither of the hosts (despite what they say) is on the fence with regard to FV. There is a clear commitment to essentially all the points that FV folks typically bring up - and no amount of saying "we aren't taking any position" can make it true that there isn't a position that they both hold. Don't know if any of you listened to the program with Wilkins on it, but it was softball after softball... and if true "investigative reporting" were going on, I'd think there would be a different feel to those programs.
  12. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    As to the question posed by the thread title.... my twocent answer:

    because it's got all the old attractions of ROME.
  13. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    How has Bill handled the non FV guests?
  14. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist

    Um, let's see... (facetious hat on)

    Covenant Radio guests:

    Gregg Strawbridge (11/14, 12/28) FV
    Rich Lusk (11/21) FV
    Steve Wilkins (11/29) FV
    Don Preston (12/7) FV? (full preterist, anyway)
    Jeff Meyers (12/14) FV
    Steve Schlissel (12/20) FV
    Andrew Sandlin (1/4) not really FV, but FV-friendly


    Sam Frost (1/20) no clue who he is
    Doug Wilson (1/25) FV
    Tim Gallant (2/1) FV
    RJ Gore (2/8) ? though he's quite anti-RPW As far as I know
    Mark Duncan (2/15) non-FV

    So to answer your question, Chris: I don't know. Unless I'm mistaken, they've not had any non-FV
    folks on yet, really.
  15. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Well Todd, I guess it will be interesting to see how Duncan fairs.;) I sent a PM to Bill suggesting some show prep via The Confessional Presbyterian for the Gore interview (who rejects the RPW so that is pretty anti in my book;)).
  16. Ravens

    Ravens Puritan Board Sophomore

    As far as I recall, I've never posted on this topic before. I hesitate to, simply because I'm simply a church member, and am not as informed on these issues as others on here. But laypersons do form opinions, so I suppose elders and what not might be semi-interested to know what "the little people" were thinking (hence 85% of the posts on this board).


    Regardless: One thing I've wondered as all this has taken place, is how many of these older FV advocates, pastors, elders, etc., come from confessionally strict backgrounds. I could be easily mistaken, but it seems that not many do. If anything, it seems that many come from the PCA, OPC, etc.

    I don't know what significance that has, but I wonder if there is meaning tucked away there. From the impression I get (and obviously there's not an exhaustive survey on these issues), F.V. advocates also tend to be a little "looser" on the RPW, whether its EP or even something most should agree on, "images in worship."

    All in all, in a lay-person's opinion, I think most of it is a spin-job. Study and piety is hard. And often in true spirituality, God leaves you in very dry places for seasons. Studying theology requires effort, and we don't always understand things as quickly as we'd like. The FV seems to "circumvent" clear, rigorous thought, with appeals to "misunderstandings", etc. Also, there's a lot more loaded words in their discourse... i.e., "covenantal" and "incarnational" becoming "larger than life" and taking in an indefinable semantic field.

    I'm just blathering, in a rush to get to work. Regardless, to summarize, many of the younger adherents seem to be taken by the spin, and by the eloquence and wit of the pastors and elders who promote FV. But heathens and heretics are normally craftier at language than the orthodox. I think Luther said that Erasmus carried around dung on fine vessels of gold and silver, or something to that effect. And most of the older adherents seem to be those who never really came out of a strictly confessional, 1646 style background to begin with. So maybe their dissastisfaction is more with "broadly Reformed evangelicalism" more than the historic Reformation.

    Regardless, I'm thankful for the "harsh" dealings with it, and they probably haven't been harsh enough. Its ironic that half of the time we criticize the PCA and OPC for being too loose when it comes to Reformation truth, and when they take a couple years to make an action on something as fundamental as justification, all of a sudden we are rushing to judgment, and not acting in a brotherly manner.

    I dunno. I think this thing will dissipate in and of itself, and become more of a fringe type thing under the leadership of a few charismatic personalities. In the end it will wither due to its own internal confusion and lack of virility.

  17. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    Dr. Clark, I am someone whom the FV ideas have a strong appeal. So here are a few honest searching questions.

    I thought Judas did perform works of grace:

    Is the "fruit" spoken of here more acts of mercy and marks of godly character than things like supernatural phenomenon ? Can we take this to mean that one can exorcise demons in the name of Christ and not be "in" Christ ? God would then be actively expelling the demonic spirit from an individual, by the means of an apostate believer.

    By Judas receiving covenant blessings, does not that simply mean the inner fellowship of the twelve ? Like having the parables explained to him with the others even though he was apostate.

    Every brach "IN" Christ.
    Already CLEAN.
    ABIDE, or REMAIN . .

    What is the cleansing received by the word that they should abide in ?
    Is that not a supernatural grace ?

    I am not trying to argue. I really do not see what is at stake here regarding apostasy ? Did Judas indeed forfeit the taste of the heavenly gift, and "Partake" of the Spirit as Hebrews 6 indicates ?
  18. ChristopherPaul

    ChristopherPaul Puritan Board Senior

    Good to see you back Mark!
  19. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior


    So the only way for Judas to have done anything was to have been united to Christ in the same way a believer is?

  20. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member


    Read the long selection I quoted from Owen above. He deals specifically, and exhaustively, with the differences between gifts of the Spirit (Judas) and graces from the Spirit (the other 11)
  21. BertMulder

    BertMulder Puritan Board Junior

    Amen! Let us stand guard on the walls of Zion!
  22. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    I can't find my original post (that Bert quotes in part) to edit it - where did it go?

    At any event, I should make clear by my reference to MARS that Norm taught there immediately or shortly after leaving Phila (c. 1981) and that they have no sympathy for his views now.

    President Venema has published two excellent books repudiating covenant nomism and showing that it is incompatible with the Reformation gospel. Mark Beach just returned from doing a conference in the frozen north on the same topic.

    The other edit I would make is that I repent of my remark re: Gabe's possible relations to the FV. I don't know for a fact where he stands and I shouldn't have spoken so at least in public.

    Last edited: Jan 11, 2007
  23. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    Thank you; exactly.
  24. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    If someone is denying the gospel, they should be handled appropriately. For what it's worth, I do not personally think the handfull of FV proponents I have encountered have done so, although it may be the case that SOME of the less-informed "followers" of the FV *HAVE*.
  25. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    I am not saying Judas was united to Christ the same way John was. And neither is any FV proponent that I know of. But there was a union. I am curious about what that union entails. Obviously it was enough spiritual gift or grace to walk away from and "betray" or deny.


    I do not see the Owen quote. Am I missing something ?
  26. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

  27. nominalist747

    nominalist747 Puritan Board Freshman


    Dr. Clark, if Gabe has the smarts for which you compliment him, why on earth does he find the FV so much less problematic than you? If you are correct in not only the FV errors, but also in how clear, obvious, and contrary to the gospel they are, it makes no sense for you to think of someone as smart who agrees with 95% of Jon Barlow's post. Just be consistent--as snarky as Gerety is here (he has already called my orthodoxy, intelligence, and honesty into question, when none of my Westminster professors or pastors has ever done so), he at least has that virtue: if you agree with or defend any part of any writing by anyone connected with the FV, he'll blast you as an idiot or a heretic, or probably both, not say "Hey, man, you're smart...but the position you agree with is as wrong and stupid as they get." If Gabe is smart, perhaps the position he agrees with is not that bad or stupid. If the position is as stupid and wrong as you say, then Gabe is hardly smart for agreeing with any of it. You can't have it both ways.
  28. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior


    I can't speak to your personal conversations, but I'm talking about leaders of the FV movement and their published work.

    The very FV, covenantal nomist, scheme is per se a denial of the gospel. In by grace, stay in by cooperation with grace, is not the gospel. It's the very mess we left behind in the Reformation.

    If anyone doubts that's what at stake, read Jon Barlow's latest posts.

    Yes, he and they say, "grace," "faith" and "Christ," but where are the solas?

    Where is imputation of anything? Lusk says it's out.

    Where are Christ's merits? Lusk and Jordan and Barach say: out.

    Where is sola fide (defined by the WCF and BC as receiving and rest or resting and relying)? Norm Shepherd says: out.

    Where is the imputation of Christ's active obedience? Shepherd says: out.

    Where is the distinction between law and gospel? They ALL say: out.

    Aren't these established facts?

    You really should read CJPM. If you send me your surface address I'll send you one at no cost. [no this is not a global offer, but I don't have Gabriel's email address or phone so this is the only way to contact him]


  29. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    Oh, that's good for the Reformed churches!


  30. nominalist747

    nominalist747 Puritan Board Freshman

    Judas' union

    Mark is right in his 5:40 post. Wilkins, Wilson, & Leithart all say there is a real and qualitative difference between Judas' union with Christ and John's, but that this different kind of union is a still a real one that confers real benefits, and those benefits are in some sense similar to those experienced by believers. This fits well with Matthew 7, and Heb. 6--the grace received by the apostate looks an awful lot like that given to the truly elect, for the time being.

    And can I just say again that Wilson at least explicitly affirms the internal/external distinction in the union with Christ? "He is not a Christian who is one outwardly...But he is a Christian who is one inwardly..." (RINE, p. 18)
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