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Thread: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

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    A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    For those who wish to exercise their minds further on this issue, I definitely recommend listening to the podcast at the following link. I disagree most emphatically with Lane's views on what constitutes the 'church' (EKKLESIA) and his Westminster dogmatism but he does a very good job of explaining the FV doctrine. Please reply with any evaluation or comments.

    http://www.reformedforum.org/ctc23/
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    I am certainly no expert when it comes to the Federal Vision or indeed Covenant Theology.

    Coming from a covenant theology childhood as it were, I was "baptised" as a baby, and became in covenant with the church, through the covenant of grace.

    Having heard a part of the primer on the federal vision, and reading a part of a Wikipedia article/definition on this subject, I can safely say that I am 100% opposed to this "vision". I think that the idea of "having a personal relationship with God", and focusing on that is far more important than focusing on some vision of a church that makes some kind of hypothetical elect that "don't make it to heaven" because they are not decreetal elect . What is the point of focusing on such nonsense? None, is my answer.

    This is why since the Lord saved me, I believe that baptism is dipping by full immersion or believers baptism. We read in 1 Peter 3:21,22 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the ressurection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

    I see the like figure in that verse, as the death, burial and ressurection of Jesus Christ. I believe paedobaptism to be wrong, because it is done on the basis that there is a hypothetical means of grace transmitted through water or h 2 0. Grace is transmitted ONLY to His elect by Christ Himself!

    It sounds to me like a link to some form of common grace which cannot be right. Maybe someone might like to enlighten me on any parts I may have wrong here.

    Blessings to you ALWAYS!

    Love in Christ,

    Kevin.

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert R. Higby View Post
    For those who wish to exercise their minds further on this issue, I definitely recommend listening to the podcast at the following link. I disagree most emphatically with Lane's views on what constitutes the 'church' (EKKLESIA) and his Westminster dogmatism but he does a very good job of explaining the FV doctrine. Please reply with any evaluation or comments.

    http://www.reformedforum.org/ctc23/
    Thanks greatly for that informational podcast. It was very good and I think gave many distinct statements that distinguished what the FV is truly all about.
    Some of the points:

    The fact that their particular view of the covenant (all members ‘in the church’ are in covenant but doesn’t mean you are going to heaven) affects their thinking of works/grace//election/justification/union with Christ/perseverance and much more.

    Reduces union with Christ to church membership (RCC tradition)

    The above in turn offers visible ‘assurance of the moment’ because they are baptized into the church and visibly joined/in covenant with the church. (Undermining true assurance by faith)

    The distinction between covenant of works and covenant of grace is rejected/flattened.

    Several questions/thoughts that perhaps you can answer or address:

    I understood that they believe there are two types of election; decretive elect and non decretive elect. The decretive has salvation the non decretive does not although they have actual benefits from the death of Christ. I wondered what the non decretive elect are elected to and I don’t think they addressed that? Also as to the benefits they would receive, do you think they may liken those to the Jew who had the Word of God but was not a true Jew? Perhaps they think the benefits are the ‘visible church’ and all that is attendant with that…………baptism, sacraments, etc. and that is what they were elected to.

    I think I will have to listen again to understand a little more in-depth (the scholastic part perhaps) where they were coming from when they were talking about the FV keeping systematic theology separate from exegesis. Could you explain what that might look like? I will look up the differences between biblical theology, systematic theology and exegesis as they addressed that and maybe that will give me some insight.

    What did you think of Lane’s closing statement that some of their errors are no more serious than the Lutheran/Episcopal ones (baptism?) but the justification error is more akin to Rome. Aren’t they all perversions of the Gospel?

    Good information, thanks!

    Eileen~
    "To those who have no works-phobia, I will state that you are not trembling before the gospel" Robert R. Higby

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    The FV makes the distinction between decreetal and covenantal election as anybody who reads the Bible has to at some point. The Bible clearly speaks of election of nations and people that aren't necessarily to salvation. Calvin made the distinction and so did other after him. The real debate is really over which texts should be understood covenantally/decretally.

    There is a constant barrage of contradictory critiques of the Federal Vision and I don't expect them to end any time soon. The loudest critics of the FV are completely outside of the bounds of the Westminster Standards when it comes to the sacraments. The only clear case in which the FV is outside of the bounds of the Westminster Standards is on the issue of paedocommunion. That's not to say that I agree with them on all the issues but heresy must be determined based upon agreed upon Confessional standards--not on private opinion. They would be outside of the bounds of the Lutheran confessions when it comes to justification but they're not Lutheran.

    I really still don't understand why a forum such as p-net that is opposed to the Westminster Standards would be interested in the FV movement at all. Wouldn't it be easier to critique the standards than those who claim to subscribe to them?
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    The FV makes the distinction between decreetal and covenantal election as anybody who reads the Bible has to at some point. The Bible clearly speaks of election of nations and people that aren't necessarily to salvation. Calvin made the distinction and so did other after him. The real debate is really over which texts should be understood covenantally/decretally.
    Did you listen to the podcast? In context of that conversation I asked what the non decretive were elected to and you didnít answer that question. I imagine you are talking about the texts/book of Hebrews and how you see that as part of the FV distinctions.

    Quote Originally Posted by wildboar
    I really still don't understand why a forum such as p-net that is opposed to the Westminster Standards would be interested in the FV movement at all. Wouldn't it be easier to critique the standards than those who claim to subscribe to them?
    Iím not sure exactly why you would ask this type of question, it really does seem strange to me. It seems as if you are saying that believers shouldnít understand or even try to understand the false teaching that has arisen in Christendom in our day. It seems that you are making distinctions as to sects and denominations and you need only worry about heresy if you belong in that certain sect or denomination. It doesnít matter that the FV is only a part of the confessional Westminster Standard denominations, it matters that their teaching on justification is false and therefore they teach a false Gospel. That should and does matter to me.

    The Apostle Paul is specific about that as written in the book of Galatians. I read that book and understand it to be speaking to me as my instruction. I think we are to be aware of any who preach a false Gospel. Thatís what happens isnít it? People become accustomed to their own little corner of Christendom and donít pay attention to the heresies running about and soon the little heresy is in their own midst and they donít even know it. In this day and age where information is so easy to obtain every believer, man, woman and child should be a good berean.

    Eileen~
    "To those who have no works-phobia, I will state that you are not trembling before the gospel" Robert R. Higby

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    It may seem like stating the obvious, but it is important that we understand what these denominations teach, so that we can protect our families against the heresies of our modern day. As Eileen says, we have to be Berean in our approach.

    When we fail to do this, we can ultimately be taken in by someone who would tell us to drink kool aid, and believe that by committing suicide that we are committing a revolutionary act. Unbelieveable! I find it really hard to believe that people could be taken in by such, but we have all been taken in by stuff perhaps to a lesser degree.

    We have to guard and feed ourselves with the Word of God, that we are able to demolish the strongholds of the enemy.

    Blessings in Christ,

    Kevin.

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    Right now I am preparing for tonight's conference but I want to second the observation of Eileen and Kevin. We need to know the details of ANY false teaching gaining prominence that affects gospel believers so that we can effectively stand against such dogma! Most people who are constantly confronted with the essentials of this doctrine have no idea of how it differs from the true gospel. I, for one, have seen how the teachings of Mark Horne and Jeffrey Meyers have deceived people in the area in which I live--their church is in my neighborhood.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    What I find particularly interesting, is how similar FV and the Lutheran position are in regards to their views on who is part of the covenant.
    Isaiah 45:7, (KJV), I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    Charles: The FV makes the distinction between decreetal and covenantal election as anybody who reads the Bible has to at some point. The Bible clearly speaks of election of nations and people that aren't necessarily to salvation.

    Right. But the distinction in the Bible is between the OLD COVENANT and the NEW COVENANT! The Old Covenant is with Israel, earthly, conditional, not a covenant of eternal salvation. The New Covenant is with the elect only, heavenly, unconditional, eternal, unfailing, and not one of its members will fail to be saved!! According to the elements of the new covenant, God fulfills ALL of the terms unilaterally--it is wholly promissory.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    For those who want to understand what the FV means when it speaks of covenantal election vs. decretal election the following might be helpful: http://www.auburnavenue.org/document...nsResponse.pdf

    This distinction even in the realm of the New Testament existed in the minds of Calvin and at least some of those at the Westminster Assembly. The WCF was a consensus document designed so that a broad range of people could subscribe to it. I admit to not having listed to the podcast but I've read about six anti-FV books and I just don't expect a podcast which has the inability to provide citation to be all that helpful. It's church politics. Those who want to read everything through the lens of Berkhof or some other theologian are frightened when faced with in some cases what may have actually been the original intent or at least a view which fits within the original intent of the original confession.

    Quote Originally Posted by Highly Favored
    What I find particularly interesting, is how similar FV and the Lutheran position are in regards to their views on who is part of the covenant.
    I really don't see how this is the case. The covenant is the central focus of the FV. The covenant plays very little role in Lutheran theology. Lutheranism is focused on the work of Christ and views all other subjects such as the covenant as being fulfilled in Christ.
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    Krister Stendahl was historically the teacher who most convincingly defended the cause of NPP from a Lutheran perspective. See especially his work 'Paul Among Jews and Gentiles' which I read in 1982. At that time, I felt that Stendahl was the most deceptively convincing on NPP, far more subtle than Sanders or Dunn. He is the one who convinced scores of my former colleagues in theology to depart from the historic Reformed categories of defining salvation/justification.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krister_Stendahl

    In my estimation, the mystery theology of sacramental Lutheranism more naturally lends to reinterpretation of the New Testament language than the more logical theology of the Reformed tradition. The 'Reformed' NPP proponents have had to work a lot harder to re-define their doctrinal tradition in such a way that it will be palatable and deceptive in convincing the masses!

    What Lane has attempted to do is get to the crux of what the differences are & ignore the attempts of FV to claim 'technical' agreement with the historic confessions by a certain use of language.

    If someone doesn't want to talk about the issue in covenantal language, it is very easy to talk about it in terms of 'those finally saved' vs. 'those finally damned.' Forget FV, forget NPP, this is the doctrine of conditional-time salvation which has been a tenet of the great apostasy since its inception. The NPP and FV only bring forth a re-arrangement of the technical dogmatic basis in favor of a doctrine of salvation that is 'unconditional' in some mysterious way in the realm of God's self-existence but fully 'conditional' as it operates within history.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Higby
    Krister Stendahl was historically the teacher who most convincingly defended the cause of NPP from a Lutheran perspective. See especially his work 'Paul Among Jews and Gentiles' which I read in 1982. At that time, I felt that Stendahl was the most deceptively convincing on NPP, far more subtle than Sanders or Dunn. He is the one who convinced scores of my former colleagues in theology to depart from the historic Reformed categories of defining salvation/justification.
    Stendahl was a bishop in the Church of Sweden which is a fairly liberal church body. They subscribe to the Augsburg Confession and the ancient creeds but regard the rest of the Book of Concord as non-binding. Stendahl's work is for the most part in agreement with the early work of Kummel. Stendahl's central message is that in Romans, Paul was not dealing with the issue of salvation and his own guilt under the law. Stendahl argues that Paul is only concerned with Jew/Gentile relations and how to unite them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Higby
    In my estimation, the mystery theology of sacramental Lutheranism more naturally lends to reinterpretation of the New Testament language than the more logical theology of the Reformed tradition. The 'Reformed' NPP proponents have had to work a lot harder to re-define their doctrinal tradition in such a way that it will be palatable and deceptive in convincing the masses!
    I don't think that's true in real life. The Lutheran approach has been to read the Bible Christocentrically which bars against works righteousness. The Lutheran Creeds are also far more in-depth when it comes to the doctrine of justification. I'm not saying false views on justification aren't preached in Lutheran churches--I just haven't heard them. The ELCA is the largest and perhaps the most liberal Lutheran church body in America and despite their openness to homosexuality and women's ordination and their low view of the Scriptures, I've actually heard some excellent sermons on the doctrine of justification come out of their pulpits. I've visited a number of LCMS churches that I wouldn't necessarily join but which teach the correct view on justification every Sunday in every sermon. I just don't think that anybody who has spent time visiting both Lutheran and Reformed/Presbyterian churches would come away thinking that you are more likely to hear the correct view on justification in the Reformed/Presbyterian camp.

    The critique by many in the Eastern Orthodox camp is that Lutherans are far too concerned with the doctrine of justification. From all the stories I've heard even those ministers who have left the Lutheran church to go EO in recent years never ended up denying justification by faith alone. They were responding to problems that they saw in their own church body and the doctrine of justification by faith alone did not seem to be as important in their minds as the problems they saw around them. They were then told by the EO church that they could teach their new congregations the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

    I think by far the best critique of the NPP is Westerholm's Perspectives on Paul Old and New. Westerholm is a Lutheran and thoroughly quotes the various authors and provides a lot of documentation. Doug Wilson gave the book a good review too.

    Just for comparative purposes, here's what the various confessions of the church bodies in question teach about justification:

    Quote Originally Posted by Westminster
    Chapter XI.
    Of Justification.

    I. Those whom God effectually calleth, He also freely justifieth;(a) not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous, not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness, but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them,(b) they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.(c)

    II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification;(d) yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.(e)

    III. Christ, by His obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to His Father's justice in their behalf.(f) Yet, inasmuch as He was given by the Father for them;(g) and His obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead;(h) and both freely, not for anything in them; their justification is only of free grace;(i) that both the exact justice, and rich grace of God, might be glorified in the justification of sinners.(k)

    IV. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect,(l) and Christ did, in the fulness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justificationm) nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.(n)

    V. God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justifiedo) and although they can never fall from the state of justification;(p) yet they may, by their sins, fall under God's fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of His countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.(q)

    VI. The justification of believers under the old testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the new testament.(r)

    Quest. 33. What is justification?
    Ans. 33. Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins,(1) and accepteth us as righteous in his sight,(2) only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us,(3) and received by faith alone.(4)


    Q. 70. What is justification?
    A. Justification is an act of God's free grace unto sinners, in which he pardoneth all their sins, accepteth and accounteth their persons righteous in his sight; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by faith alone.
    Q. 71. How is justification an act of God's free grace?
    A. Although Christ, by his obedience and death, did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God's justice in the behalf of them that are justified; yet inasmuch as God accepteth the satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them, and did provide this surety, his own only Son, imputing his righteousness to them, and requiring nothing of them for their justification but faith, which also is his gift, their justification is to them of free grace.
    Q. 72. What is justifying faith?
    A. Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assenteth to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receiveth and resteth upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.
    Q. 73. How doth faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?
    A. Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, not because of those other graces which do always accompany it, or of good works that are the fruits of it, nor as if the grace of faith, or any act thereof, were imputed to him for his justification; but only as it is an instrument by which he receiveth and applieth Christ and his righteousness.



    Quote Originally Posted by Reformed Confessions
    Article 22: The Righteousness of Faith
    • We believe that for us to acquire the true knowledge of this great mystery the Holy Spirit kindles in our hearts a true faith that embraces Jesus Christ, with all his merits, and makes him its own, and no longer looks for anything apart from him. For it must necessarily follow that either all that is required for our salvation is not in Christ or, if all is in him, then he who has Christ by faith has his salvation entirely.
      Therefore, to say that Christ is not enough but that something else is needed as well is a most enormous blasphemy against God-- for it then would follow that Jesus Christ is only half a Savior. And therefore we justly say with Paul that we are justified \\"by faith alone\\" or by faith \\"apart from works.\\"^53
      However, we do not mean, properly speaking, that it is faith itself that justifies us-- for faith is only the instrument by which we embrace Christ, our righteousness.
      But Jesus Christ is our righteousness in making available to us all his merits and all the holy works he has done for us and in our place. And faith is the instrument that keeps us in communion with him and with all his benefits.
      When those benefits are made ours they are more than enough to absolve us of our sins.


    Article 23: The Justification of Sinners
    • We believe that our blessedness lies in the forgiveness of our sins because of Jesus Christ, and that in it our righteousness before God is contained, as David and Paul teach us when they declare that man blessed to whom God grants righteousness apart from works.^54 And the same apostle says that we are justified \\"freely\\" or \\"by grace\\" through redemption in Jesus Christ.^55 And therefore we cling to this foundation, which is firm forever, giving all glory to God, humbling ourselves, and recognizing ourselves as we are; not claiming a thing for ourselves or our merits and leaning and resting on the sole obedience of Christ crucified, which is ours when we believe in him.
      That is enough to cover all our sins and to make us confident, freeing the conscience from the fear, dread, and terror of God's approach, without doing what our first father, Adam, did, who trembled as he tried to cover himself with fig leaves.
      In fact, if we had to appear before God relying-- no matter how little-- on ourselves or some other creature, then, alas, we would be swallowed up.
      Therefore everyone must say with David: \\"Lord, do not enter into judgment with your servants, for before you no living person shall be justified.\\"^56
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    I had intended to post what the Lutheran Confessions teach in regards to justification by faith alone but then realized that it would be too lengthy even to post. Just the Apology to the Augsburg Confession by itself would be too lengthy. For those interested start here and then go on to the next article as well.
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    My intent was not to state that conservative Lutheranism agrees with the NPP on justification but to point out that the original NPP 'movement' (if we want to call it that) included proponents from the 'liberal' Lutheran as well as 'liberal' Reformed tradition. Those professed 'conservatives' of today who embrace a form of NPP 'baptized' into a proposed harmony with confessional tradition still are using the arguments of their 'liberal' predecessors; they have only re-arranged the furniture into a presentation more acceptable to those who are comfortable with 'conservatism.'

    However, the views of traditional 'conservative' Lutheranism that one may fall from justification by unfaithfulness in the matter of participation in the sacraments is in complete harmony with a conditional-time salvation persepective on salvation/election.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Higby
    However, the views of traditional 'conservative' Lutheranism that one may fall from justification by unfaithfulness in the matter of participation in the sacraments is in complete harmony with a conditional-time salvation persepective on salvation/election.
    Lutherans do believe that a person can fall from salvation and that position has been historically held in the church. The FV focuses more on the idea of covenant and falling from the covenant. Both are dealing with the passages that speak of falling away from the faith in somewhat different ways. The NeoCalvinist that simply blows off the passages and says that the warnings are artificial is a rather new post-Dort movement in the church. However, none of these issues is central to the debate over the NPP. The NPP as a whole is centrally concerned with a new perspective on the Pharisees and believe that the Pharisees were not actually teaching works-righteousness. Wright views baptism centrally as a means of entrance into a covenant community and there is similarity between his position and Leithart's in that respect. Lutherans view baptism as the means of regeneration. The NPP as a whole has rejected the Biblical witness concerning the Pharisees but the FV and Lutherans have not. So there are so many differences and starting points that I don't think that comparing the perspective of the FV which finds its roots in historic Calvinism and the position of the Lutherans which find their roots in historic Christianity with the NPP which find their roots in modern Biblical scholarship since they all have different starting and ending points.
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    The NeoCalvinist that simply blows off the passages and says that the warnings are artificial is a rather new post-Dort movement in the church.

    You have not supported the notion that these 'warnings' are given to the true elect of God. They are not. They are given to those assemblies that include persons who make a profession and identify externally with Christ but hold to doctrines of devils that prove their profession to be false. The book of Ephesians contains the core doctrine of the EKKLESIA; 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and Hebrews deal with external situations that appeared to go against that core doctrine.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    Robert Higby:

    I'm not buying it but I'll play by your rules for a bit. Let's suppose that you are correct. We are still left with the warning passsages contained in the book of Ephesians such as:

    Ephesians 5:3-5 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

    But all of this is still irrelevant since it is not unique to the NPP anyhow, nor is the NPP really concerned with such things.
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    I disagree strongly with the claim that the NPP is not intimately related to ALL of the current trends supporting conditional-time salvation, whether FV or any other system. You can point out some differences but that does not change this fact: the notion that Paul's doctrine of justification is concerned not with the issue of eternal salvation but with the temporal earthly 'covenant status' or 'horizontal righteousness' is a huge catalyst to the doctrine of conditional salvation and an abolition of the law/gospel distinction.

    The exhortation in Ephesians is not a warning against apostasy toward elect persons but rather a command to avoid living like those who have no gospel inheritance in God's kingdom.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Higby
    I disagree strongly with the claim that the NPP is not intimately related to ALL of the current trends supporting conditional-time salvation, whether FV or any other system. You can point out some differences but that does not change this fact: the notion that Paul's doctrine of justification is concerned not with the issue of eternal salvation but with the temporal earthly 'covenant status' or 'horizontal righteousness' is a huge catalyst to the doctrine of conditional salvation and an abolition of the law/gospel distinction.
    There are points of contact between the NPP and the FV but there are points of contact between Predestinarian.net and the Roman Catholic Church as well. Any good Jehovah's Witness would point out that they both believe in the Trinity.

    Some within the FV have arrived at similar conclusions to that of the NPP but it does not appear to be by direct influence. Schlissel sounded the most like a proponent of N.T. Wright for instance at the Auburn Avenue Conference that resulted in the whole controversy, however he had not read anything by N.T. Wright at that point and there certainly are differences. As far as I know none of them outrightly deny that Paul is speaking of salvation in the extreme way that the NPP does. The NPP has noticed some minor details and missed the big picture. The best of those associated with the FV have been able to incorporate some of the missing details in modern theology without losing sight of the big picture. The acceptance of theonomy probably plays a bigger role in the loss of the law/gospel distinction within the FV than the NPP does. It also appears that at least some within the FV do not understand what the law/gospel distinction means but in reality are critiquing a caricature of it. Some of their opponents have accepted the caricature. The law/gospel distinction is not a confessional in Reformed/Presbyterian theology. It is in Lutheran theology. Even in more liberal branches of Lutheranism, the law/gospel distinction seems to have a pretty good foothold.

    I've listened to some Lutheran hermeneutics classes at the seminary level and the law/Gospel distinction is prevelant as well as justification by faith alone and a Christocentric reading of the Scriptures. The deviation from a Christocentric reading of the Scriptures to something else such as a covenantal reading of the Scriptures or an election-centered reading probably has a more prevalent and detrimental effect on all of Reformed/Presbyterian theology than the NPP. The fact that all books of the canon are on the exact same level and have the same importance in Reformed/Presbyterian theology doesn't help either. In Lutheran seminary classes students are taught to distinguish between the disputed and the universally accepted books. They are also taught to use the Gospels as the interpretive lens for reading the rest of the New Testament. Furthermore they are taught that the canonical order of the books have interpretive significance and that the book of Romans provides the interpretive framework for reading the rest of the Epistles. If James is accepted it must be interpreted in light of the book of Romans. I'm sure that there probably are Lutheran ministers in conservative synods that hold to some false view on the issue of justification--but open teaching of a false view in the Lutheran church is more difficult than it would be in Reformed/Presbyterian churches. There are some extremely conservative Presbyterian churches that deny an objective justification on the cross completely--they falsely interpret the WCF to teach that subjective time justification is the only real justification and they are completely opposed to the NPP and the FV.
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: A Federal Vision 'Primer'

    There are points of contact between the NPP and the FV but there are points of contact between Predestinarian.net and the Roman Catholic Church as well. Any good Jehovah's Witness would point out that they both believe in the Trinity.

    This is like saying that P-net has an affinity with Muslims because we both teach a doctrine of One God. Absolutely irrelevant. To say that NPP and FV have no more similarity than this is absurd logic of the highest sort. N.T. Wright is so lauded in most Presbyterian and Reformed churches that his books are prominently featured on their tables for sale and their library shelves for borrowing every Sunday! His material is freely used as a basis of their Sunday School classes and quoted liberally in their sermons.

    The acceptance of theonomy probably plays a bigger role in the loss of the law/gospel distinction within the FV than the NPP does.

    The two go hand in hand. I don't see how one plays a bigger role than the other.

    The deviation from a Christocentric reading of the Scriptures to something else such as a covenantal reading of the Scriptures or an election-centered reading probably has a more prevalent and detrimental effect on all of Reformed/Presbyterian theology than the NPP.

    How can you propose that Christ is on one side of the issue and covenant/election on the other side? This is exactly what the NPP does--contrast biblical categories or terms (such as JUSTIFICATION) with Christ.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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