WLC 161 and FV

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by Romans922, Feb 17, 2006.

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  1. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Please help me in understanding this question/answer from the WLC, with special consideration to the FV view. That is, someone help me understand this concerning FV proponents who continue to use this q/a.

    Q. 161. How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?
    A. The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not by any power in themselves, or any virtue derived from the piety or intention of him by whom they are administered, but only by the working of the Holy Ghost, and the blessing of Christ, by whom they are instituted.
  2. Casey

    Casey Puritan Board Junior

    This may or may not be an answer to your question, but it's something to think about. I have noticed that most churches in the FV movement seem to have tons of creeds, confessions, and catechisms that they subscribe to. With so many documents, I can't see how they can all represent a true and living confession of the church. So, in other words, perhaps they view the confessions more as a "historical stream" that they are flowing through? I mean, how many churches that practice paedocommunion also subscribe to the Westminster Standards, which are obviously opposed to such a practices?
  3. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    I don't know if you have read "Auburn Avenue Theology Pros and Cons" but the chapter Joe Pipa wrote in response to Steve Wilkins put this issue about the sacraments in perspective for me. To understand this question from an FV view (and remember, there is no standard FV view!) is to look at the sacraments from a Lutheran point of view (not RC!). When you hear FV guys talk about "Union with Christ" or a "vital Union with Christ", think Lutheran!
  4. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    The FV may or may not have a "standard" view, but a number of them treat the sacraments in a way that is quite close to the medieval/Roman ex opereview so that every baptized person is ex opere operato (which Rich Lusk misspells! as ex opera) united to Christ. Grace having been given (in a way not too far from the Lutheran confession) it is up to the united/regenerated/justified to keep those benefits given in baptism by trusting AND obeying.

    (Let's all sing:

    "Trust and obey,
    for there's no other way,
    to be righteous in Jesus,
    but to trust and obey"

    By contrast, the Standards put the efficacy of the sacraments in the context of election so that only the elect receive the saving benefits of Christ and thus the sacraments are efficacious only for the elect.

    The Standards also distinguish justification and salvation. The latter is a broader category than the former. Salvation denotes "deliverance" as a general category. Justification denotes "declared righteous before God."

    So, to the elect, to those who believe, the sacraments are efficacious in communicating grace. God the Spirit does use them to deliver his people. For the elect, he brings to fruition the promises made in baptism and he brings to fruition the common grace given. Through the preaching of the gospel the Spirit works true faith ("receiving and resting") and through the supper the Spirit strengthens our union and communion with Christ, confirms the divine promises and works sanctity.

    NB all the qualifications the answer makes as to how they are effectual means of salvation. They seize on the language "effectual means of salvation" but it is precisely the qualifications that follow that the FV fellows ignore. They take that phrase and re-contextualize it in their "baptismal benefits" scheme and thus change the meaning of the phrase radically.

    They must do this, because as the language stands in its original context it contradicts the FV "system" at least relative to the baptismal benefits.

    And now a message from our sponsor: Look for the latest number of The Confessional Presbyterian:: A Journal for Discussion of Presbyterian Doctrine and Practice due to appear in June (Dv) wherein this issue will be considered at length; some might say at too much length, but the editor, who is really good chap, was generous.

  5. Magma2

    Magma2 Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think Dr. Clark´s explanation is in general very good. OTOH in my opinion there is much more unanimity among these Neo-Liberals than most let on. I think if you want to get a handle of how these FV men define and redefine key terms, and which will give you a very good idea of how they understand WLC 161, read Doug Wilson´s manifesto Reformed Is Not Enough (free at http://www.christkirk.com/Literature/ReformedIsNotEnough.pdf).

    Here´s a sample from Wilson´s book:

    Clearly Wilson cannot distinguish a sign of the covenant from the covenant the sign represents. As a consequence, in Wilson's theology everyone from Judas Iscariot to the pope to the Apostle John is a "visible saint, a Christian." But baptism no more makes a person a Christian than dressing an ape makes it a man.

    Baptism is always efficacious, Wilson says: "This consecration really happens [in baptism]. God really does it. His people are genuinely set apart; a visible difference is placed between them and the world. By means of baptism, baptism by water, grace and salvation is conferred on the elect" (107, emphasis in the original).

    Now, this sentence sounds almost Biblical, but you must remember, and you´ll see it if you read his book, that Wilson has already redefined "elect." Wilson writes that everyone baptized is a "saint," a "Christian," and "elect." It is important to keep in mind that in Wilson's medieval theology, all terms are redefined: The elect are not those whom God has chosen for salvation, and who will be "finally" saved, but those who have been baptized. As John Barach proclaimed at the Auburn Conference in his lecture, "Covenant and Election:" "Who are the elect? This is as visible and obvious as your church membership roll...." The elect in this scheme come in two flavors: the "covenantally elect" and the "specially (or decretally) elect." Once again, the Covenant of Grace is emptied of its Biblical meaning by these men who claim to uphold the covenant. In the Moscow neoliberal theology which these men share, what makes a person a Christian is not the divine propositions believed, but holy water, which "confers grace and salvation."

    If you´d like to read a complete response to Wilson´s manifesto that I co-wrote with John Robbins, please find, Not Reformed At All at http://www.trinitylectures.org/product_info.php?cPath=21&products_id=136 (unfortunately, this one isn´t free).
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