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Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Federal Vision Just Got Owned. Again.

Praise be to God for the good work He has granted today, through the PCA's General Assembly, that adopted the PCA's REPORT OF AD INTERIM STUDY COMMITTEE ON FEDERAL VISION, NEW PERSPECTIVE, AND AUBURN AVENUE THEOLOGY. For those who have been following the Federal Vision Theology (FV), this is consistent with its track record in just the last year:

1. Last year the OPC General Assembly adopted the Report critical of the Federal Vision, which rejected FV as being compatible with the Westminster Standards.

2. The Synod of Bible Presbyterian Church adopted a resolution to reject FV.

3. The RCUS rejected FV in their report.

4. Just a few weeks ago, Mid-America Reformed Seminary published a statement against the Federal Vision doctrines.

The PCA, being the super-hip and technological denomination they are, have webcast their GA. Please check out the proceedings on the Federal Vision Report. You'll find good debate in there, along with R.C. Sproul at his best! Dr. Scott Clark recaps the proceedings on his blog here.

My brother Lane Keister/GreenBaggins commented on the development here, calling it a Triumph of the Gospel:
The motion was defeated by about a two to one majority. The recommendations themselves passed by approximately 95%. Indeed, that is probably a conservative estimate. It was a resounding triumph for the study committee report.

Tim Wilder made a pertinent comment at Lane's blog about the matter concerning Joel Garver's response to the Report's adoption:

Garver is already pooh-poohing the vote:

“The report is merely commended as useful and the nine declarations should be pretty innocuous for anyone ordained in the PCA.”

What these guys mean is that are going to force long, painful judicial processes everywhere, fighting every step, causing maximum damage on their way out of the PCA.

In response, Doug Wilson gave a fairly gracious response. This, however, is somewhat undercut by the implicit assumption that the PCA delegates couldn't read a 36-page report. He condescendingly stated:

If Christ can tell us to bless those who despitefully use us, then how much more should we be able to see our way to bless brothers in Christ who thought they were doing nothing more than affirming sola fide?

Um, the Report said a bit more than that. And this comes on the heels of Wilson's disgusting arrogance (quoting his son-in-law) toward presbyterian FV critics:

The Reformed always managed to be orthodox and intellectually engaging. But with the death of Falwell and the retirement of that generation of evangelicalism, it seems like our presbyterians, with their willful ignorance on the FV issue, are shifting over to take the place of orthodox shallow thinkers. If that happens it is going to leave a real vacuum for orthodox believers looking for challenging thinkers.

Oh, yes, if only we could all be like those sophisticated, erudite folks from Moscow, ID and Monroe, LA, (BTW, can someone remind me where Doug Wilson and Rich Lusk went to seminary, I can't seem to recall) since apparently the army of folks who actually pastor in confessionally-reformed denominations and have doctorates (like Ligon Duncan, R.C. Sproul, Robert Godfrey, Guy Waters, Gary Johnson, Joseph Pipa, R. Fowler White, Calvin Beisner, Robert Reymond, George Knight, Mike Horton, Scott Clark, T. David Gordon, David VanDrunen, etc.)are too dense and shallow to understand the glories of the Federal Vision theology.

On Wilson's blog, someone suggested that the PCA Report had made slanderous accusations against the Federal Vision proponents:

The implicit assertion that the FV writers deny the 9 declarations is effectively a violation of the 9th Commandment not to bear false witness.

To which I responded:

Gosh, where could they have gotten that idea? [Steve Wilkins wrote:]

The reprobate may be in covenant with God. They may enjoy for a season the blessings of the covenant, including the forgiveness of sins, adoption, possession of the kingdom, sanctification, etc., and yet apostatize and fall short of the grace of God.

But the Report stated:

The view that an individual is “elect” by virtue of his membership in the visible church; and that this “election” includes justification, adoption and sanctification; but that this individual could lose his “election” if he forsakes the visible church, is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

The view that water baptism effects a “covenantal union” with Christ through which each baptized person receives the saving benefits of Christ’s mediation, including regeneration, justification, and sanctification, thus creating a parallel soteriological system to the decretal system of the Westminster Standards, is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

[And Rich Lusk wrote:]

Final justification, however, is according to works. This pole of justification takes into account the entirety of our lives -- the obedience we’ve performed, the sins we’ve committed, the confession and repentance we’ve done

But the Report states:

The view that justification is in any way based on our works, or that the so-called “final verdict of justification” is based on anything other than the perfect obedience and satisfaction of Christ received through faith alone, is contrary to the Westminster Standards.

Category: Theoblogia


  • Lusk is regarded as one of the FV's fringe elements, though, isn't he? I mean, he's not really representative of the FV?

    I didn't think declaration #2 was accurate as a representation of most of the FV'ers thoughts regarding election, as they separate it into two types, "sovereignly placed in the Church" and "predestined to eternal life."

    Trouble is, they rarely take the trouble to specify which definition is in play, just saying "election". Then they get upset when they're misunderstood.

    So the declarations were not always as accurate as they could have been, but then the reason for the inaccuracy is sloppy writing by the FV'ers themselves.

    ISTM they've been hoist with their own petard, as the very sloppy writing which was intended to minimize their departures from the WS has instead only increased their condemnation.

    Had they taken care to write with painstaking accuracy they'd still be in deep weeds over some of their doctrinal distinctives (such as the supposed monocovenant and baptism effecting a true union with Christ), but others probably wouldn't be such a problem for them.

    Anne Ivy

    By Blogger The Clinging Vine, at 7:29 AM  

  • Nice post Dave. Am I to understand, that Doug's son in law (which one btw?) said he was arrogant?

    I thought the Mighty Wilson couldn't be criticized by anyone in his close circle?

    Sometimes DW reminds me of an old 60's song by Dylan.

    I think he would want us all to come running to him.

    "When Doug the philosphizer/theologian gets here everyone is going to run to him."


    By Blogger Zachary, at 6:20 PM  

  • Anne,

    Welcome to my neck of the woods.

    Yes, Lusk is certainly "fringe", but I would say he is also representative of the movement. Some folks, like Wilson, aren't as whacky as he is, but you see where the FV "trajectory" ends up as a system. If he was not representative, then how'd he end up in the Federal Vision book, and why hasn't any FV advocate objected to anything he has ever said, no matter how nutty.

    Also understand, Anne, that most of the PCA Report's language was SPECIFICALLY targeted towards Lusk and Wilkins' specific errors (especially the "parallel soteriology" of Wilkins). They couldn't have gotten any closer except to spell out the names. I think it was indeed "accurate" in that it honed in on a few very specific targets, even though not every FV-type would "sign on" to those errors.

    Indeed, if they were so far off, why is Leithart having such a hard time with the 9 declarations (see his latest blog post).


    Welcome, friend. No, Doug's son-in-law was criticizing the PCA in that quotation (for being anti-intellectual). Doug quoted his son-in-law (Ben M., I believe) approvingly. My evaluation is that this was an arrogant snipe (on the part of Wilson and his son-in-law).

    BTW, nothin' wrong with Bob Dylan, except for the fact that everyone who covers Dylan makes his songs sound better. Don't know why he didn't just write songs for other people.

    Cheers, all.

    By Blogger David Gadbois, at 7:56 PM  

  • Praise God, from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him, all creatures here below. Praise Him above, ye heavenly host. Praise Father, +Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen

    By Blogger CB in Ca, at 9:20 AM  

  • Dvid,

    No one got owned regardless of what you assert...

    When someone gets "owned" they actually are on the playing field when it happens. The REport was lopsided (I know, you won't agree but oh well...). It was completely biased and represented the FV position, especially on the issue of election, terribly.

    If you want to hear the FV guys speak for themselves go listen to Covenant Radio when they talk about the Report for 1 HR 15 MIN. Reposnd to their words during that discussion...

    By Blogger William, at 3:06 AM  

  • The seminary comment is a cheap shot.

    By Blogger Xon, at 5:11 AM  

  • We orthodox Lutherans are THRILLED to see the rise of the "Federal Vision" in Reformed circles. However, we Lutherans have another term for it: Lutheranism!

    God be praised that the Reformed are coming back to accepting "Repent and be baptized...for the forgiveness of sins" as EXACTLY what God meant and not a mistranslation by Catholic/Anglican/Lutheran translators.

    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals

    By Blogger Gary, at 2:37 PM  

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