It is only natural that there are some federal vision questions. Of course there are.
I have been asked a number of times what the response has been to my Federal Vision No Mas post. As best as I am able to gauge, there have been three visible responses. The first has been relief and gratitude. “Thanks much. I think this is a good move.” This comes, I think, from friends of our ministry who are grateful that they don’t have to start explaining an esoteric doctrine to their friends if they happen to commend something else we have said or are doing. Say that a student in their classical Christian school decides to come to New St. Andrews, and some concerned folks in the church start wondering aloud whether that is entirely wise, because they heard that they teach something out there called “federal vision,” and while they do not know what it is exactly, it sounds dubious. Our friend can now, without getting into the weeds, simply say no, that’s not true. This is not evasion because the concerns were pretty nebulous to begin with, and the answer addresses it at that same level. What do they teach there? We are Reformed evangelicals in the historic Westminster tradition.
The second response has been something like, “I’m a Baptist, and all that stuff is kind of ‘inside baseball’ to me. Glad you guys worked it out.” To which I say, thanks. Appreciate it.
The third response has been to raise specific questions. These come from folks who have followed the controversy and who, not unreasonably, have informed questions. Here is how I hope to approach that. I have said that the Federal Vision Statement was a consensus document, and was laboring to bridge two positions that I have now decided can’t really be bridged in that way, at least not successfully.
One of the things I hope to get to in the near future is the production of a statement of faith that runs parallel to the original Federal Vision statement (topic by topic) so that I can lay out my non-consensus-ified positions with as much clarity as I can. Depending on the time demands, I may do this piece by piece, paragraph by paragraph, and publish it here as I go.
As I do this, the two places that will require the most careful examination are the places that will deal with, respectively, paedocommunion and the objectivity of the covenant. Everything else will be pretty standard issue Reformed and evangelical. And even in those places that do need to be examined carefully, I will be seeking to locate what I believe within the historic Reformed continuum. And I am sure that there will be many out there who wish me the best of luck. Right, Lane?
One other thing should be noted. There are other aspects of our ministry that can seem “radical” to outsiders but this is not because we are departing from the total world and life view of the Reformers, but rather because we are in the process of recovering that view. If Calvin were Compton, that stuff is straight outta Calvin.