Why Some Are Attracted to the Federal Vision?

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

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior


    Mike's never used those terms in my presence and I've never seen him using them.

  2. Theoretical

    Theoretical Puritan Board Professor


    No one is saved by believing in a certain set of doctrines, but one can certainly be considered not Christian and expected to be damned if remaining in that belief on a host of different doctrines, despite whatever sincerity the person has in religious exercise. While obviously not fully knowing the heart at the moment the person dies, we still do not call Muslims or Unitarians Christians I hope. By your logic, I'm afraid we could never ever classify any heretical or anti-Christian church and segment of professing believers because we can't know the heart of the believer.

    Soteriology: Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, and outright 5-point Arminianism
    Trinitarian or Nature of Christ issues: Arianism, Modalism, Nestorianism, Unitarianism etc...
    Issues regarding the Resurrection
    Issues regarding Scriptural Authority
    The list goes on and on.

    *Clarification to the first point* What I meant to say was that mere intellectual assent, no matter how orthodox, cannot save, but denial of cardinal doctrines can certainly lead the Church to say repent or you will be damned to an individual.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2007
  3. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Let's remember that this thread is: "Why Some are Attracted to the Federal Vision"

    It's not that I disagree that if somebody's full conclusions lead them to reject the Gospel they are lost but I honestly believe that it's at this point that any who might be on the edge of the issue stop listening. Can we not be those who attempt to persuade those who are confused and save our ire only for the demonstrably impenitent?
  4. BJClark

    BJClark Puritan Board Doctor


    I have a question, from the various people who post here, how many within your congregations understand the issues at hand?

    Meaning, if the average church goers don't understand what is going on, how can they discuss with or persuade someone THEY may know who is under one of these TE's?

    I know many people know how to share with say Mormons or JW, and the like, but how can they share with those within their own denomination if they don't even understand there is a battle going on within?

    My pastor has mentioned it a few times in terms of the fact we were sending one of the RE's to the GA to discuss the Federal Vision Issue, but had I not been reading here, I wouldn't have known what he was talking about.

    And I imagine there are many within the congregations who don't have a clue as to whats going on. Unfortunately many probably don't care, but I'm sure there are some who if they knew and understood the issues would be lifting up prayers for those who are going into the front lines of the battlefield against these things.

    Thats the main reason I am reading up on it, and trying to get a better understanding of the battle, so that I can KNOW how to pray more effectively for those who are on the front lines.

    And yes, it is a battle, though not of the flesh; which is what I tend to see happening with some of the verbal attacks going on; it appears many are forgetting it's a spiritual battle and not a phyiscal one, and I believe if more congregants were praying, then this battle could be over sooner rather than still fighting it 5 or 6 years from now. I've only just heard about this pretty much since I've been posting here, while had I known and understood earlier I could have been praying about it and for those involved.

    Just one more thing to discuss with my pastors.
  5. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Free CP Journals to FV Apologists

    I can't say, but if they haven't, I will offer to give a free review copy of the 2006 issue to the Revs. Wilkins or Wilson if they post me at my [email protected] to request it noting this offer. Also, to sweeten the deal, I'll entertain a critical (i.e. scholarly interaction) response to run in the 2007 issue if either of them care to interact with the piece (I would need text due before April 1st). Of course you would be given space for a response Scott.:)
  6. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    I think very few know what's going on actually. My pastor in CA is well aware but I know (from talking to them) that many in the congregation are oblivious. This is why I think we ought to be cautious in our speech because some of the sheep don't fully understand the issues and see similarities between themselves and those being accused. This is why the FV is so dangerous in many ways but also goes to the reason why we ought to draw out the differences very carefully and not resort to very quick pronouncements that they don't understand.

    In other words, it may be apparently obvious to us what the final conclusion is in the matter but it helps others who are confused if we spell out the steps patiently to them so they can understand themselves. I'm the kind of person that, with technical things, can often connect the dots very quickly in my mind and arrive at the "...that won't work..." far before others that work with me. I don't presume that others understand my conclusion so I walk them to the same conclusion by explaining the steps along the way rather than presenting the conclusion beforehand presuming that they understand all the steps I've taken.

    I'm not saying that all who are sympathetic to the FV are uninformed. I am saying, however, that there are the "run of the mill" sheep that might be influenced to stay away with it if the opponents are careful to avoid declaring the conclusion strongly and browbeating them that they don't see it as clearly as they. GA's and Synods will eventually rule the teaching out of bounds in good order but lets be patient with those we can persuade to stay away in the meantime.
  7. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

    So let me see if I understand this...
    The FV folks claim that they are just saying that it's possible to be in the visible church and not actually be in the invisible church, something we all agree with.

    But, for sume reason that isn't yet clear, they keep hammering this point, using language that seems to say that one can lose his salvation if he isn't faithful, anong other things. Then, when someone objects, after saying we don't understand them, they say something that sounds even less confessional.

    I'm with Rich, if this is just a semantic issue, why do they keep on? There's got to be a substantive disagreement somewhere.
  8. BJClark

    BJClark Puritan Board Doctor


    This has been my conclusion as well, IF it were JUST semantics why has it been on going for FIVE years (or more)??
  9. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    Maybe for a different thread, and I think I get your point, but one is saved by believing a certain set of doctrines:

    "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." The gospel, rightly understood, consists of some very specific doctrines, chief among them is justification which is by belief alone. Wilkins and other FV defenders and advocates deny this. They believe in justification by faithful obedience, which is another way of saying justification by faith and works. Certainly you don't think a person is saved by some sort of existential encounter or that belief in a person is somehow different from belief in what that person thinks? The man who you've chosen for your avatar didn't think so.

    On a different note, I'm still unclear why Steve Wilkins has not been brought up on charges of heresy? If Gabe is correct and Wilkins and other FV men are good Christian men and brothers in Christ, then we should desire their coming under discipline all the more. As previously mentioned, aside from whether or not any of these men can even be remotely considered Christians much less brothers, I am more curious to see if the church courts in the PCA will or will not tolerate the preaching of another gospel along side the one true gospel like OPC courts have decided per the precedents set in their handling of the Shepherd controversy and the Kinnaird trial.
  10. BJClark

    BJClark Puritan Board Doctor


    If your pastor is aware, has he considered writing up a statement or newsletter explaining the issues at hand and ask that your congregation be praying about this issue?

    In other words..Sound the trumpet concerning the battle at hand, and ask that ALL be praying for those on the frontlines addressing these issues.

    it's not even about brow beating anyone to draw any conclusions, it's about informing those within their OWN congregations as to what is going on, and asking them to Pray.

    I went in and discussed this with my pastor this morning, and asked if he would/could type up a newsletter for our congregation explaining the issues one by one--so that our congregation is aware of what is going on within the PCA as a whole, so that we as a congregation know what we NEED to be praying about. This being a spiritual battle, prayers need to be going up...for the Holy Spirit to go before and prepare the way those fighting the battle on the front lines.

    Eph 6:10-24

    Especially 18-24 concerning prayer and knowing what to pray for.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2007
  11. Theoretical

    Theoretical Puritan Board Professor

    Yeah, thanks for the corrective on that issue, I don't know why I missed making that point more clear. I guess I was trying to say that while you can never know ultimately about someone's salvation, no matter how orthodox he/she is, at least as far as the Church is concerned, on the other side of the coin, unbelief or heresy can certainly lead us and especially our congregations to make the judgment that unless the person repents of these views, he will not inherit eternal life.

    Apologies for the lack of clarity earlier. :handshake:
  12. Theoretical

    Theoretical Puritan Board Professor

    :ditto: As a layman still very much trying to figure out what's being said, and not liking what I'm hearing one bit from that side as I do learn it, I totally agree with your points. Semantics is a great cover for egregious error, and has been throughout church history.
  13. BJClark

    BJClark Puritan Board Doctor


    Have you asked your pastor about this?

    I asked my pastor this morning why if they hold to these views are they STILL TE's in the PCA, he said there are group of Theologians (an ad hock committee) that is being formed to address this. Not quite sure when all of this is to take place...but I'm curious why it's taken FIVE years to get it done.
  14. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    Unfortunately, not many in the pews know much if anything about the Federal Vision, much less its implications. It may be that some pastors believe that if you ignore it then, like other fads, it will just go away. Some, I think, don’t really understand what all the fuss is about because they do no understand the implications of this view of Scripture.

    Also, unfortunately, I and a number of folks in our congregation have had to deal with these issues up close and personal for many years. We understand FV and the implications.

    For what it's worth, this is my take on all that I have read so far:

    What JWD Smith noted about the FV, that “Their (the FV proponents) use of terms like "salvation," etc. are usually qualified by quotation marks or by the phrase "in some sense," by which indicators I take them to be using the language analogically…” to me goes to the heart of the issue. It’s the point that the AAPC Session makes in their statement on salvation and baptism. Unfortunately, using the phrase “in some sense”, which is used repeatedly in Rev. Wilkins written response to the LA Presbytery as well as his oral exam, can only leave one wondering “in what sense?” Mr. Smith says that he takes it in an analogical sense. How is everyone else supposed to take it? Why not in a real sense? A metaphysical sense? An existential sense? What sense??? Is the person in the pew suppose to guess? Is determining what sense Scripture is speaking suppose to be like taking a multiple choice test? What if you get it wrong? what are the implications? Can Eph chapter 1 really be speaking in two different senses about the same relationship? Do we have to through out the laws of non-contradiction?

    What is the real difference between the decreed elect and the covenantal elect anyway? The FV pastor says that “since Paul did not differentiate between the decreed elect and the covenantal elect in his letters to the churches, we shouldn’t either. Therefore all those who are in the Church are elect, in some sense. Besides, how can we know the mind of God as to who He has decreed to be elect? So both have a real vital relationship with Christ and all the promises of Scripture are for both, in some sense. Both are called, justified and sanctified and baptized into Christ, in some sense. Both have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which has drawn them out of sin and death and into the Kingdom of Christ, in some sense. They are both in Christ’s Church out of which there is no ordinary means of salvation, in some sense.”

    Unfortunately for the person in the pew, there is the ever present “BUT”. But, the FV pastor says, “you may only be covenantally elect not decretively elect!” So what!! There really is no difference! Remember how Paul addressed the Churches! They are all elect! “But”, the FV pastor will say, “There is a small but significant difference, which is that the covenantally elect are missing one promised gift from God, that is the gift of perseverance!” How do I know whether I have this gift? The FV pastor will tell you, “Don’t apostatize”, hold fast to the promises of Christ that you are His in faith, you have been baptized, you are a member in good standing in the Kingdom of God, hold on to these to the end and you will know that God has given you this gift!” But, the person in the pew may ask, “Does not Scriptures promise that “He, who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Php 1:6)?” Can not all the elect whether covenantally or decretively claim this promise of perseverance?” The FV pastor will say” In some sense yes, and in some sense no. It all depends on what sense Scripture is speaking to at that point. Either way you can claim it, BUT…I can tell you this, if you do all the other things that I have told you, you can expect salvation! But if you do not do these things, then the curse of the covenant will be upon you.” But Scripture tells us that many will say on the last day before the judgment seat of Christ, “Lord, Lord, I have prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name”. Didn’t they have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that made them capable of calling Christ Lord and do such miracles in his name? And Scripture give us no indication that these people ever apostatized during their time here in the historical church? So why are they being cast out? The FV pastor will say, “Well in “some sense”, they really didn’t have the gift of perseverance. The promise of Php 1:6 wasn’t really for them otherwise Christ would have welcomed them into their final rest. Ultimately we have to wait for our Final Justification to see who has been non-meritoriously faithful to the Covenant and let God sort out who He has given the gift of perseverance. Always remember Deut 29:29!” But this is not fair! God has promised all the benefits of Christ to me! I relied on those promises and did not apostatize. I was baptized; I was a member of the Kingdom! I had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, in some sense!

    But what about Romans 8? Is Paul not talking to the whole church, ie; the elect, when he says that there is “no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus?” Have not all who are in the historical church been baptized into Christ? Doesn’t baptism signify that we actually have a vital relationship with Jesus and all the benefits ours?” The FV pastor will say” Remember what I said about baptism? I said in some sense! Regarding Romans 8, Scripture can speak covenantally or decretively. Look at the context, in some sense the passage is covenantal and in another sense it’s decretive. Maybe in one sense it’s both”.

    So in a real sense, if the FV truly reflects the Reformed Faith, we can’t attain to a full assurance until the Final Judgment/Justification. So one might as well turn to Rome. If I fulfill their requirements I know I can be saved. I might have to spend a 1,000 years or so in the purifying flames of Purgatory, but after that I will be Justified and Glorified.
  15. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    in my opinion reports by study committees are nice, but really don't accomplish anything. The OPC recently finished one that some have praised, others have criticized as pretty drapes over a coffin (see The Orthodox Presbyterian Cover-up @ http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=227). But what has the OPC's report accomplished, even if we agree with those who praise it? What defender or advocate of the FV has been removed from office or driven from the OPC to their proper home in Idaho? One of the report's authors is also one of Norm Shepherd's and John Kinnaird's most well known supporter and loyal defender, Richard Gaffin. Yet, I'm told by some that the OPC report proves the OPC is sound. I fail to see how this follows, but my guess it provides the excuse most need to accommodate errors rather than having to confront those who teach them. Plus, committee reports make nice wallpaper.

    As for my Session, up until recently most of these men were almost completely in the dark. I did give them each a copy of Paul Elliot's "Christianity vs. NeoLiberalism" last year which evidently didn't fall completely on deaf ears, praise God. Besides, our church has seen a fairly significant influx of FV refugees from area churches like the one in Hampton and one right here in VA Beach so I think there is that added incentive to get up to speed.

    Regardless, it's much easier to vent on boards like this one and endlessly discuss the nuances of FV and their use of the word "elect" than it is to confront these men in the courts and to do it correctly and in order so that it might be adjudicated properly and to God's glory. I don't have any expertise in this area, which is why I asked the question of the more able men on this forum. Still haven't gotten any answers, so maybe I will try my pastor after all. :handshake:
  16. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    :amen: :amen: :amen: :amen: :amen:

    Simply a great post. Expand it send it to Trinity Foundation and I bet John Robbins will publish it. Of course, you can try always try New Horizons. :rofl:
  17. BJClark

    BJClark Puritan Board Doctor


    This is what makes me sad....how is that truly taking a stand for Christ??

    This was funny...:rofl:

    I know our session isn't in the dark about the issue, one of our RE's went to the GA to address the issue, but even with the Session knowing and understanding it doesn't help the average person in the pew not knowing...They really do (in my opinion) have a need to know, so they can be praying.

    To me, it's like being infected with a deadly disease and the doctor never telling you, your infected, even though he knows. How can you effectively help fight the disease if you don't know you've been infected?
  18. BJClark

    BJClark Puritan Board Doctor


    What makes them think it will just go away? It's been ongoing for a number of years and hasn't "Gone away" YET!!

    Same type of thing...in reverse, you've been told you have a disease yet refuse to acknowledge it's existance and thus refuse to do anything about it...
  19. RiverCritter

    RiverCritter Puritan Board Freshman

    I have to agree somewhat with this summary. I too, for reasons I'd rather not get into, feel strongly drawn to what I hear from some FVers. I have been corresponding via e-mail with an FV pal for a years and still dunno what they mean. Early on it sounded little different from old Continental Reformed theology. Maybe even Lutheranism in a way. But with all the new meanings for common theological terms, it's like learning a whole 'nother language to get any sense of what they actually mean.

    If it's no different from "visible and invisible," why invent new terms or redefine old ones to say the same thing?

    Or is all this really just about paedocommunion? While I sympathize with paedocommunionists, it almost looks like they're willing to turn the whole Reformation on it's head just to get denominational rulings that prohibit paedocommunion reversed. I'm not suggesting that the issue of paedocommunion is unimportant - it surely is - (and sorry if this sounds really immature of me) but turning every other fundamental issue upside down just to "win" the paedocommunion argument is worse than separating over it. Is FV just an elaborate argument for justifying paedocommunion?

    Fine, argue for paedocommunion.... but to overturn Sola Fide in favor of Sola Fide Formata is an assault on Protestantism itself, isn't it? I wouldn't go the stake for paedocommunion either way. But I'd like to believe I would die for Sola Fide.

    Still trying to figure out what they've been trying to say for all this time,
  20. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    How about Biblical Horizons? ;)
  21. gwine

    gwine Puritan Board Sophomore

    Maybe you want nothing to do with this kind of thinking now, but you did, my dear brother. From this thread posted on 12/2/2005 at 02:35 AM you responded to a comment I made about using the word 'popish'.

    I have emphasized part of the quote - it was not so in the original.
  22. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    A lot has been discussed in this thread since I posted and it's sometimes hard to get the sense of my words.

    First, I believe Wayne captured the heart of the issue in his post. Great post Wayne. It actually compliments my post regarding confusion in the pews.

    It's not that my former pastor is not laboring against this but there is a difference in the way you labor against something among Elders and the way in which you protect the uninformed against them.

    Wayne draws out very clearly why I have found this so dangerous, regardless of whether or not you accept that the FV is all about parsing words (which I don't, I think there are consequences):
    Who really expects the man in the pew to make this distinction?! Some people are sometimes too smart for their own good but in some ways they're just downright dumb. They wave off this issue saying: "Well this is a debate among Pastors and such and they're supposed to be sophisticated enough to not draw the wrong conclusions...." No, it's not just being read by TE's and Pastors and those confusing have a responsibility to be clear! FV proponents will argue with me until they're blue in the face that the FV is not unconfessional but the opportunity for misinterpretation, even granting that it might be orthodox, makes it just as dangerous.


    Now everyone can see that I'm passionate that the error be dealt with quickly.

    But, I was arguing for how we ought to relate to the man in the pew who is confused by these things. As I argued, we ought to be gentle and patient and not presume that he understands the conclusion in the matter. If he has at all grown sympathetic to the cause and read a million posts from the FV saying "...they mischarecterize us..." then stating the conclusion of the matter before you've patiently discipled the man to understand the error could end up closing him down and making him think there is truth to "...all they do is mischaracterize..." thing.

    As for those who are oblivious about it because they just don't read about such things - some of them need to be trained in the basics anyhow. I don't think it does any good to catalog all the errors in front of a Church body oblivious to the errors. Train them on the truth and deal with error that you know they've gotten themselves into it but don't expose them to error and try to get them to parse this debate.
  23. nominalist747

    nominalist747 Puritan Board Freshman

    Horton on the historical/eschatological

    From his article at http://www.modernreformation.org/mh04permadd.htm: (emphasis added)

    There you go--I knew I'd heard it somewhere from MH. So you can't take folks out to the woodshed just for the terminology they use.

    On the second emphasis, what is the kingdom reality? It is salvation (Rev. 12:10), forgiveness and adoption (Col. 1:13-14), etc. So MH holds that the nonelect experience these things "in some measure." The FV approach ("in some sense") seems very similar to me.
  24. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    After everything that has been written, do you actually believe that this is about words? Have you actually been reading the threads where, over and over, it is repeated that the semantics are not the issue but the substance?
  25. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    And by the way, you asked Dr. Clark:
    To which Dr. Clark replied that he hadn't heard Dr. Horton use those terms. In your quote, he does not nor does he ever imply that the benefits that are said to only accrue to the elect accrue to everyone in the visible Church in some sense. He is merely restating Confessional language that those who fall away do participate in benefits.

    I would suggest you go back and read the thread about the difference between the historic use of Conditional election and the way the FV uses it here: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php?t=18377
  26. nominalist747

    nominalist747 Puritan Board Freshman

    Reply to Scott Hooker

    I think you've gotten me backward, here: I don't take the questionable statements at face value, but rather the unquestionable ones. When a guy says "faith is the alone instrument of justification," (which DW has said: http://www.dougwils.com/index.asp?Action=Anchor&CategoryID=1&BlogID=2923) I believe him, so that when he goes on to say that good works are necessary to salvation, I assume that by the latter he does not mean to deny the former. So I don't automatically believe everyone has a right to their specific take, necessarily, but I try to avoid speculation and individualism by believing a man, especially a pastor in good standing, to be telling the truth.

    Granted, but in general the FV don't challenge the standards, they agree with them, but don't treat them as exhaustive. No one has said that the WCF should be done away with, or that in should be altered to change the definition of justification. Just thinking that the standards are not completely sufficient and exhaustive, however, is not grounds for heresy (e.g., there are WSC profs who think a new confession would be a good thing).

    Except for the fact that only reason they want to use the words in those ways is that Scripture uses the terms in those ways, not because of some rationalism. And can I just observe that the accusation of liberalism and compromise sounds odd from someone who can refer to a "teacher or pastor" as "he/she"?
  27. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    There are kingdom privileges other than salvation and forgiveness. E.g., the Pharisees saw the miracles of Christ. Miracles were a sign the kingdom of God was amongst them -- the finger of God. Hence they experienced the powers of the world to come. One might speak assuredly (without vagueness) of kingdom privileges, such as baptism and the preached Word, as being given to those who do not belong to the eternal kingdom of heaven. This does not imply that the same people are partakers of what baptism represents or that they are doers of the Word and not hearers only.
  28. nominalist747

    nominalist747 Puritan Board Freshman

    Reply to Rich


    You just said that MH never uses the terms "historical" and "eschatological," but he clearly means those things in substance. So now you're saying that MH doesn't say it because he doesn't use those words. Isn't this an instance of looking at the words instead of the substance? And the post I was replying to insisted that the problem was replacing the terms, while DW emphasizes in several places that he is trying to keep the substance of the distinction with different language. There, then, it did seem to be an issue of the words: the use of different words was taken to mean a denial of the substance, when it is not necessarily the case.

    And MH does say that the nonelect experience the kingdom reality, but isn't the kingdom reality a benefit that only truly comes to the elect? And isn't the reality of the kingdom true forgiveness, adoption, and salvation? So "kingdom reality" can be taken to refer to the benefits that truly come to the elect. Again, you point out that MH doesn't use certain words, when it seems that the substance is there.
  29. nominalist747

    nominalist747 Puritan Board Freshman

    Right, and the FV repeatedly say that the difference between the elect and nonelect in the covenant community is in fact the latter--the elect are doers of the Word, while the nonelect are hearers only. And 1 Cor. 10:1-6 says that those who fell away partook somehow in what the sacraments represented, i.e., Christ Himself.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page