Articles

An Open Letter to the Federal Vision

I’ve decided to post this here to formulate more clearly a thought that has been slowly developing over time given the controversy.

I readily admit that I have dear friends who are sympathetic to the Federal Vision and take great umbrage, at times, that I have criticized those who are most visible in the movement.

I was reading the comments on Dr. Clarks blog post here.

The consistent refrain from Pastor Wilson and others who defend him is this: Critics of the FV are slanderous. The FV believes in all the right Reformed stuff, we’re told. I have to admit that I become concerned that some might be guilty of mischaracterization. I wonder, after almost 5 years, why nobody can get it right!

Let’s all pretend, for the moment, that the Federal Vision is correct in their insistence that they are orthodox and Reformed. Let’s assume that all scrutiny suddenly disappears and all are found orthodox. Let’s go further and turn the tables for a bit and pretend that the FV is in the mainstream and it is the rest of us who are the true quasi-Reformed and we must defend our position.

Here’s the question: What do we believe that is out of accord with Reformed or Biblical orthodoxy?

Surely this whole debate isn’t about us all being the same and all you’re arguing for is the right to use different words to believe the same thing. You’re not simply arguing for the right to quit being misrepresented are you? You haven’t divided Church against Church and disrupted every Conservative Reformed denomination simply to have us agree that you are Reformed just like we are, are you? Surely you must be arguing AGAINST something that we believe in. I shudder to think that so much division has been caused over semantics and your unwillingness just to use the same terms as we.

Perhaps it would clarify what you are FOR by criticizing the rest of us and telling us what you are against. Please, please, somebody in the FV camp step forward and write an article that accurately describes what we quasi-Reformed believe and then critique it. I’m sure you would understand our sensitivity to being accurately represented after all.

I think if we could determine where you believe that we are unorthodox it might help us to understand what you’re for and why you believe this fight is worthy of so much disruption within the Body of Christ.

  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous01-08-2007

    There’s a reason why this won’t get answered. The FV thinks that condemning people for theological variation is what’s killing the reformed world, now. The FV is in favor of greater catholicity. See John Frames “Machen’s Warrior Children” and Presbyterians and Presbyterians Together.

    One thing you might get is that the FV would say that you are inconsistent with the genius of covenant theology and common theology opf baptism by not also admitting children to th etable. But not all FVers would say that. Schlissel wouldn’t, for instance. He would accue the mainstream of putting too many roadblocks to the doctrine of assurance and confusing people by seperating obedience (which, as a fruit of faith, is evidence of faith) and faith.

    But all the FV folks are willing to just take exceptions on Paedocommunion and live and let live.

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous01-11-2007

    One day a bully began beating up a boy. The boy protested loudly that the bully was doing wrong. At one point when the bully thought others might begin sympathizing with his victim, he stopped pummeling for a moment and said, “I know I think I’ve got just cause to be doing this, but since you think my reasons are invalid, you should at least explain your own reasons. Why are you involved in this violent struggle with me? What is you disagreement with me that caused you to do this?”

  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous09-21-2007

    You said:
    “You haven’t divided Church against Church and disrupted every Conservative Reformed denomination simply to have us agree that you are Reformed just like we are, are you? Surely you must be arguing AGAINST something that we believe in. I shudder to think that so much division has been caused over semantics and your unwillingness just to use the same terms as we.”

    My response:

    The FV has not divided a single church. The TRs have done that!

    The FV has not disrupted a single denomination. The TRs have done that!

    In general, it is NOT a matter of FV people arguing “against” what you believe. Rather, it is a matter of FV people believing the *same* as you do, and then simply proposing something else *in addition* to that. Just for example, no FV person is going to tell you that your view of election is unorthodox, because every FV person *agrees* with your view of election. All FV people agree that God elected a definite number of people to salvation before He ever created the world, and that number of elect people cannot be changed. So FVs and TRs are in agreement on that point. Then, *in addition* to that agreement, some FV people *also* argue that the *word* “election” is used differently in some Biblical contexts. That suggestion does not nullify the fact of individual election before the creation of the world. Rather, it merely means that the Bible does not always use particular words in the precise way that a systematic theology text uses those words.

    If the FV believed the TRs were “unorthodox”, then they would say so. But they agree with TRs on matters of orthodoxy, so there is no animosity there from FVs to TRs. It is very sad that the reverse is not true. TRs accuse FVs of denying election, believing in ex opere operato baptismal regeneration, etc., even though FVs believe no such thing.

    Yet, it is not a mere matter of “semantics”. If that was it, then the FVs probably would just keep talking identically to the TRs. There are two issues here. First, FVs are trying to get their semantics more closely in-line with Scripture. For example, if Scripture can use the phrase “baptism saves”, then a person should be able to use this phrase as well, without being accused of heresy. Second, while FV people are not generally teaching things that are *against* TR teaching, much of the FV *is* teaching things that are *in addition* to TR teaching.

    In other words, the FV is not breaking down the foundation of Reformed theology and rebuilding it. Rather, the FV is building further upon the foundation of Reformed Theology. To use election as an example again, the FV is not arguing that the TR doctrine of election is wrong. Rather, they are arguing that there is more to be learned about election in the Bible, and that the doctrine of election should therefore be augmented. The basic TR foundation is left intact. The FV is simply trying to build further upon that good foundation.

  4. Anonymous
    Anonymous09-23-2007

    Walking with both eyes shut and hands covering them….. proclaiming I see you.

    I appreciate Joe but if the doctrine of Election where the only problem then he might have a small point, but it isn’t the only problem. He looks like he is closing his eyes to the problems. New doctrinal aberrations concerning the efficacy of the sacraments and a reconstruction of Covenant Theology has been introduced by these guys. Sure there may have been a few who propagated these teachings before but that doesn’t mean they are accepted. And Norm Shepherds views of justification are praised by many in this group. Views which got him forced out of WTS. They are disrupting the church whether they want to acknowledge it or not.

    Plus, the PCA was not sinful in their process or condemnation of the FV doctrines that the study committee gave recommendations concerning. Maybe someone is guilty and just wants to believe he is so correct that he is actually the one who is in sin.

    Most of the bullying I have seen is from the FV proponents introducing these unconfessional stances. And they are not teachings that enhance reformed theology as they want to believe. They are unconfessional and unbiblical.

    I am saddened by this.

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