Straight Outta Calvin

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.

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Aaron Zasadny
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Aaron Zasadny

Many of us are looking forward to these clarifications! When I read Leithart and Jordan and Co., they usually make a ton of sense. But still something seems off. Thin. Stretched.

Like theological butter scraped over too much typological bread.

Gabe Wetmore
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Gabe Wetmore

A fourth category of people just wish you’d stop blogging about this.

Katecho
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Wilson wrote: As best as I am able to gauge, there have been three visible responses. My concern was with those who stood by the Federal Vision label and defended it to their own detriment. Some paid a very heavy price within their own church or denomination. I am concerned that Wilson’s distancing himself now, from something that he was so instrumental in defining at the time, may seem to be far too casual, particularly since he implied that he is not backing away from the consensus FV Joint Statement. Wilson wrote: I have said that the Federal Vision Statement… Read more »

firststep
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firststep

Unless there now (i.e., since from when Doug wrote Federal Vision No Mas) is a substantial shift from the content of what Doug believed on this topic, it truly seems very important for that student to admit to “those concerned folks” that “out there” “they” still do teach or believe the content of what was formerly indexed/labeled/categorized/called ‘federal vision,’ but that they in this recent “lexical shift” essentially/”substantially” just don’t index/label/categorize/call that content ‘federal vision’ no more/mas since Doug wrote (in Federal Vision No Mas) that: “This statement [/announcement of recent lexical shift] represents a change in what I CALL… Read more »

Brian Marr
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Brian Marr

I look forward to future posts, but I wonder if the systematic theology is really where your position is unique. It seems that the Federal Vision was fueled by some pretty massive exegetical changes that then were taken and turned into systematic theology issues. Plus, postmillennialism, though certainly not outside the tradition, does explain some of the complications. It would be nice to see some explanations of how you agree with some of the new exegesis, but disagree with the systematic theology conclusions of Leithart and Wright. Thanks!

Qodesmith
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Qodesmith

And by “Lane” do you mean William Lane Craig?

AeroBob
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AeroBob

pretty sure he means Lane Keister.

somethingclever
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somethingclever

Lane Kiffin?

Lane Benton Keister
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Lane Benton Keister

Funny you should say that. I have been accidentally confused with Lane Kiffin before.

somethingclever
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somethingclever

I’d definitely take his paycheck.

antexw
Member

Lane Keister has thus so far in three blog articles given his take on Doug’s lexical shift away from Federal Vision, which can be found after Googling:
Green Baggins Douglas Wilson: Federal Vision No More?
Green Baggins An Open Letter to Doug Wilson
Green Baggins Straight Out of Calvin?

Denise Dorminy
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Denise Dorminy

I would appreciate ANY and ALL further clarification on FV. It’s very helpful as many of my family are “all in” the CREC, and I’m a member in a church that wonders if “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.” In fact, they are beyond the word “dubious” to “possibly heretical”, with nothing but Mr. Clark’s rhetoric to stir in the google pot. Let’s just say, it could clear up alot for me and my family. I am… Read more »

Occidoxy
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Gone are the days of “cash me ousside.”

Noah
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Noah

Doug, I think some of us would be greatly helped by a post summarizing what Federal Vision is in the first place. I’m a part-time theology student (and a Baptist) and when folks ask me “What’s Federal Vision?” I have to punt to “Uh… something about covenantal objectivity, disagreement over imputation, and communion for babies. I think?”

Rick Davis
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Rick Davis

Noah, this is basically the sort of thing that went down at the beginning of the controversy: Presbyterian 1: I believe that we are saved by grace alone. Presbyterian 2: So do I. Presbyterian 1:But, of course, in addition to meaning “God’s favor toward sinners,” grace can also mean “ease or suppleness of movement,” in which case, we are not saved by that kind of grace. Presbyterian 2: Wait, so you deny salvation by GRACE ALONE?! Presbyterian 1:No, I affirm salvation by grace alone according to one definition, but also affirm that there is another kind of grace possessed by… Read more »

Josh
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Josh

Lol, that is actually more accurate to how it went and continues to go then most will want to admit.

antexw
Member

This led me to imagine the desired Judicial Committee huddled around the Boston Creams sipping on coffee in a nearby foyer waiting to be summoned for some new work to get started on. I do hope Doug soon writes about: (1) How to better “bridge” the various propositions/notions in the Federal Vision document; (2) How to refine any propositions/notions (if indeed any) in the Federal Vision document, especially to aid in their successful bridging; (3) What additional distinctives associated with the Federal Vision (Statement) to be on guard against that work against such propositional/notional refinement or improved bridging; and (4)… Read more »

Billtownphysics
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Billtownphysics

LOL, I think there are a group of people out there that will be significantly more upset at you about comparing the early reformers to NWA than they will about you trying to defend paedocommunion.

Nicholas Barnes
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Nicholas Barnes

I guess the Federal Vision folks are still just so misunderstood. Conversation with them still gets no where because apparently nobody even knows their actual position, even after sitting under their churches for 5 years, studying the movement for 6 years, and attending the Pastoral Conferences, and interning at Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church. Thank God this movement was condemned with all its continued lack of clarity and disturbing the peace of the church (which denominational reports still apparently not hitting the mark). I am confessional, yes, I believe in the Trinity, yes. I believe that Christ is fully man and… Read more »

JP Stewart
Member

You sure love to drop “H” bombs. I can assure you my beliefs are within the boundaries of the ancient creeds (Nicene, Athanasian, Apostles). There’s nothing the slightest bit heretical about my views of the Trinity or Christ.

You’re totally confusing true creedal orthodoxy with your particular brand of Reformed hyper-sectarianism. I agree that there’s no more point debating this. I hope you’ll grow up a bit and learn that Christendom is larger than your tiny slice. Best, mkt.

insanitybytes22
Member

Don’t get grumpy,you’ve made some really good points and helped to clarify some things for me. Rather pathetic of me really, but I actually follow some of these theological debates to de-stress and get some comic relief. I’m not trying to be disrespectful of these discussions, it’s just that when our paedocommunion starts throwing a tantrum right next to our objectivity of the covenant, and people start responding, “where’s my wrath of God?” No wrath, no authority! Now all the grace filled people are going to start doing bad things, just because they can! That’s so not fair! Then our… Read more »

Katecho
Member

Apparently Barnes wasn’t able to gather enough of his notes to be able to respond to my direct question to him about John 15. Likewise, Barnes wasn’t ever able to cite any actual quotes from any of the FV Joint Statement signers suggesting justification by our works. I quoted where they have all very plainly denied justification by works in the FV statement. Barnes wasn’t able to deal with these facts, I guess. So instead he tosses a few more grenades before he runs, dragging in everything from the Trinity to Christology to the kitchen sink into the discussion. Did… Read more »

Kilgore T. Durden
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Kilgore T. Durden

Here is a helpful look at a topic very relevant to this discussion.

http://www.ligonier.org/blog/early-symptoms-spiritual-danger/

Here is a taste:

The truth and the power of the gospel were experienced. But “experience” in itself is not regeneration unless gospel grace penetrates into the heart.

Katecho
Member

The word regeneration is only used twice in Scripture. Once it is used with reference to the general bodily resurrection, and another time is used in reference to baptism (“washing of regeneration”). I’m increasingly persuaded that the word regeneration refers, not to spiritual heart conversion, but to the future bodily resurrection, of which Christ is the Firstfruits. I believe that those who are baptized may be referred to as elect, and as regenerate, in the covenantal sense that they are united with Christ, the Elect, and the Regenerate firstfruits, in His death and resurrection. However, those baptized must abide in… Read more »

john k
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john k

If the term “regeneration” is used in Scripture to refer to two different things, why should we limit it to only one thing? The biblical-theological concept of regeneration (as “spiritual heart conversion”) is not limited to the one term used in Matthew 19 and Titus 3. In the passage most widely cited as referring to regeneration as a spiritual rebirth–John 3:3-8–Jesus uses the phrase “born again” (or possibly translated “born from above”). His defining it as of water as well as of the Spirit has indeed led the church to associate baptism in some way with Spiritual regeneration, especially in… Read more »

Hugh McCann
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Hugh McCann

Why is are there questions? You’ve been absolutely clear:

It does not represent any substantial shift or sea change in the content of what I believe…

This represents no change in my friendships or personal commitments, or denominational relationships…

I would still want [to] affirm everything I signed off on in the Federal Vision statement…

I believe the statement was fine as far as it went…

Sean Gerety
Guest

Spot on Hugh. Doug says “…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. ” Um, no they can’t say that. Saying you don’t like to be associated with the Federal Vision yet still hold to its theology (whether pale ale or brown stout or whatever other beer or alcohol analogy Doug prefers) doesn’t cut… Read more »