“If Only You Had Read…”

In the Federal Vision, it has been my experience that there is an ever-burgeoning literature from their side of things pointing out what they believe. Further than that, if one hasn’t read all of it, one is not really qualified to comment on any of it, if one believes their side of things. This is evidenced by their use of the argument “If only you had read this, you wouldn’t have said that.” By the way, this is definitely true of N.T. Wright as well. I have been accused of not understanding N.T. Wright because I hadn’t read this of him or that of him. As Peter Schickele would say, “irrelevancy alarm!” Whether I have read one article really doesn’t have anything to do with whether I have understood a different article. Of course, one article might help to understand another, but then again it might not. What is most frustrating about this, however, is the certainty of some who use this argument. They think that they have somehow capped the argument with an irrefutable answer, when in fact, the argument is completely irrelevant. If an article cannot be understood on its own terms, but must be read in conjunction with 3 million other articles, then that one article either shouldn’t have been written in the first place, or it should have been placed in a book. If the writing is really all that unclear, such that someone else cannot understand it on its own, then that is the fault of the author, not the reader. Published material in its current form is fair game for criticism. The other tendency among Federal Vision advocates is to quote these articles instead of arguing their own arguments. Of course, it doesn’t occur to them that the critics might have already read the articles referred to, and (shocker!) not have been convinced by them!

The other related point that needs to be brought into the picture here is the unbearable tendency of FV proponents to whine and complain all the time that they have been misunderstood. You know, this is so amazingly tiring. This is why I am so tired of the whole wretched debate. The arrogance iof the FV here is almost unbelievable, since the only way the Federal Vision can be understood, if you believe their side of things, is if you agree with it. I have not seen one single instance of a Federal Vision author saying that the critic has understood his position, while disagreeing with the Federal Vision with the possible exception of Joel Garver, whose position vis-a-vis the Federal Vision is not clear anyway. Whose fault is this general misunderstanding, if it is true? Can it be that the Federal Vision author might be unclear? Self-contradictory? Dialectic in Hegelian terms? This does not occur to any Federal vision proponent. They have much more than half the PCA screaming at them “heresy,” and they don’t even stop to think whether it might be true. They plunge on in arrogant determination not to listen to their betters. The path of humility would be this: “Okay, I’ve got many of the best minds in the PCA screaming at me that I’m a heretic. The thing to do is a complete re-examination of my theology in the light of Scripture, the Confession, and Reformed theology as it has held on to these old truths. What I especially need to do is to lay out my theology in front of not just my presbytery, but other presbyteries, especially the suspicious ones, and have them comment on it. And I need to seriously reconsider my position if they are still unhappy with it.” This is submission to our brothers in the Lord. I don’t see even one Federal Vision advocate doing this. All I see is arrogance, elitism, and whining, whining, whining. Grow up, Federal Vision, and realize that you’re not only behind the 8-ball; you’ve already scratched.

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80 Comments

  1. Seth McBee said,

    November 29, 2006 at 1:44 pm

    Lane.
    I am completely ignorant to what Federal Vision is, do you have an article on it somewhere on your site?

  2. Gomarus said,

    November 29, 2006 at 2:05 pm

    Your post not only made me smile, but chuckle out loud. I am not associated with a confessional body, although I personally relate to the WCF and London Baptist Confession. I see much of the FV criticism relating to deviation from the WCF, which for the PCA is of course critical. I personally could accept a deviation from the WCF if it were supported by sound exegesis of Scripture. But I have not seen this done by the FV crowd either — although I’m no expert. I’ve seen a lot of double talk and redefining of terms/concepts that seem more like a smokescreen than anything else.

    Seth, there is a brief intoductory article at Theopedia: http://www.theopedia.com/Federal_Vision

  3. Gomarus said,

    November 29, 2006 at 2:06 pm

    Oooops. pardon the double post. delete as necessary.

  4. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2006 at 2:22 pm

    Seth, you can also go under my category “Federal Vision,” and find posts related to it. There are three books that are essential reading, “The Auburn Avenue Theology: Pros and Cons,” edited by E. Cal Beisner; “The Federal Vision,” edited by Steve Wilkins and Duane Garner (that would be the FV in its own words), and “The Federal Vision and Covenant Theology,” by Guy Prentiss Waters. Note the “and” in that title, plainly contrasting FV and Covenant Theology. Gomarus, I will only delete your first comment, as the second one has an extra link in it.

    But, plainly put, the FV sees covenant theology as objective primarily. They tend to deny the distinction between visible and invisible, and they invent a whole category of terms related to covenant. What winds up happening is that they confuse the covenantal terminology with the ordo salutis terminology, and wind up functionally Arminian.

  5. November 29, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    You can find a great deal of info about it at David’s favorite website: [url]http://www.biblicalhorizons.com/[/url]

  6. November 29, 2006 at 2:30 pm

    How do you do links in comments?

  7. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    Oh, Lane! The tone had been so positive around here lately!

    The FV guys claim that they are being misrepresented, much more often than they claim that they are being misunderstood. And misrepresentation is an objective, verifiable claim. It’s not whining. It’s debate.

    http://www.federal-vision.com

    Special attention to the responses of specific authors to the Waters book.

    Arrogance? I wonder. It could be argued that more of that is coming from the critics, but it would be a weird thing to debate.

    The best minds of the PCA are the ones screaming heresy? Really?

    Presbytery? Mark Horne has been approved by his presbytery twice, right?

  8. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2006 at 2:37 pm

    Look at how to do them in your posts. Put a link in, and then look at the html, and type in the same type of html in the comments. It might look a tad different. But that is how to do it. Most of the time, I’m too lazy to do it. I think you might even be able to copy and paste, and then change the url inside the paste after you have pasted.

  9. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2006 at 2:41 pm

    Oh yes, the best minds in the PCA are screaming (metaphorically) “heresy.” Dominic Aquila, Lig Duncan, Rick Phillips, R.C. Sproul, Phil Ryken, and many others.

    Maybe I’m just tired of being accused of it myself, when I know I have understood them. I have certainly seen it in many of the FV proponents. I really wonder at the responses to Waters’s book, for instance, when half of the book is direct quotation of FV sources.

  10. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 2:48 pm

    The report of the Missouri Presbytery at the above link is worth taking seriously, I think. If the best minds of the PCA have congregated anywhere on this topic, it’s in that report.

  11. November 29, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    Have you been accused of heresy Lane?

  12. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2006 at 2:54 pm

    No, not of heresy, but of misrepresenting, and constantly (much more often) of misunderstanding the FV.

  13. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    Here’s the conclusion of Bill Smith’s review of the Waters book:

    As I mentioned at the beginning, this critique could have been book length. Waters will win many, I am sure, by his innuendo, extensive quotes, and seemingly damning critiques and appearances. But the fact is, that while he may win a battle here and there, he loses the war. He has not justly critiqued these men. He has sought to defame good ministers of the gospel with charges they constantly deny. He has assumed the position that he understands their arguments better than they do by not recognizing their qualifications and nuances. As I said at the beginning of this review, even if these men are guilty of being outside the pale of the confessional Standards, they may still be in God’s favor. Those who defame, slander, and libel brothers in Christ–especially after having denied the invitation to discuss these matters–will stand before the judgment seat of Christ one day to give account for these matters.

    Here’s the whole review:

    http://www.federal-vision.com/pdf/billsmith_waters.pdf

    Perhaps Lane would want to deal with specific aspects of this specific review.

  14. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    I am not going to interact with Bill Smith, because of personal reasons. I could not be fair or impartial.

  15. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2006 at 3:01 pm

    I will just say that I think Bill Smith’s review is completely and utterly off the mark.

  16. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 3:11 pm

    OK. But surely you’re not asking your readers to simply take your word for it! Are you?

  17. November 29, 2006 at 3:13 pm

    Can anyone provide any sources where a critic of FV has been said to have clearly and correctly articulated the FV or clearly and correctly articulated an advocate’s view?

  18. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2006 at 3:13 pm

    You provided the link, Todd. They can read it for themselves. I’ve read FV material, and I’ve read Waters’s book, and think Waters’s book is right on the money. I think that is precisely the reason why everyone on the FV is protesting it so much. If Waters wasn’t such a formidable foe, they wouldn’t take him seriously.

    But I have other reasons for not interacting with Smith.

  19. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2006 at 3:15 pm

    I assume that you mean, Andrew, a place where an FV proponent has said that the critic has understood and represented his position clearly? If so, there isn’t one. Unless you count Joel Garver as an FV proponent. He is not without criticisms of Waters’s book. However, in the main, he says that he has been fairly well represented.

  20. November 29, 2006 at 3:17 pm

    Todd, he said he wasn’t going to interact for personal reasons, he was just sharing his opinion. I’m sure people can do whatever they want with his statement. Besides, who cares what Bill Smith has to say?

    You are doing exactly what this post is tired of; specifically that which is found in the first paragraph especially found in this:

    “In the Federal Vision, it has been my experience that there is an ever-burgeoning literature from their side of things pointing out what they believe. Further than that, if one hasn’t read all of it, one is not really qualified to comment on any of it, if one believes their side of things. This is evidenced by their use of the argument “If only you had read this, you wouldn’t have said that.” By the way, this is definitely true of N.T. Wright as well. I have been accused of not understanding N.T. Wright because I hadn’t read this of him or that of him.”

  21. November 29, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    I would not say that Joel Garver is a FV proponent, especially when considering his ties.

  22. November 29, 2006 at 3:22 pm

    I just have this to point out then, if this is the case:

    “Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

    Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

    So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” – 2 Timothy 2:14-26

  23. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2006 at 3:25 pm

    How are you applying this passage, Andrew? You are exactly right in comment 20, by the way.

  24. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    “Besides, who cares what Bill Smith has to say?”

    The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.

  25. November 29, 2006 at 3:37 pm

    Well correct me if I am wrong in my youthfulness, but it seems that a lot of what FV does is quarrel about words. It is a personal opinion but I think saying ‘you misrepresented me’ to everyone who critiques them (FV advocates) is quarreling over words, because then they turn around and whine about being called heretics. They also don’t seem to handle rightly God’s Word because of their eisegesis concerning words (e.g. the word ‘covenant’).

    Many leaders in my presbytery have told me of many FV advocates or sympathizers who are asked at Presbytery or Credentials committee, ‘What is the gospel?’ And the persons babbles on for 30 minutes, and they stop them and ask them again, ‘what is the gospel?’ and they can’t even answer. Sounds like irreverent babble to me.

    Now to me it seems that FV people would deny this: “The Lord knows those who are his.” because apparently when God says, “I will keep your soul” in Ps 121 and the ending to Rom 8 is there, and then the FV turns around and believes in a Final justification, all that is thrown out!

    Quite frankly, I pray that God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

    That is all… :)

  26. November 29, 2006 at 3:39 pm

    Doug Wilson has an open invitation for anyone (of noteriety) to debate him on FVT. With all the supposed “misrepresentation” out there I wish someone would take him up on it.

  27. November 29, 2006 at 3:42 pm

    My case can be stated by MVP [http://www.msvalleypresbytery.com/documents.html] (since I am a candidate in this Presbytery) and by the Standing Judicial Commission of the PCA, which you can find their work here:

    http://asubmergingchurch.lifewithchrist.org/permalink/27797

  28. November 29, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    No one from my presbytery is allowed to debate doug wilson or any FV advocates at this time until the PCA settles the issue.

  29. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 3:46 pm

    Isn’t much of the “quarrelling about words” and the supposed “redefining” of terms a matter of the difference between the biblical use of terms and the systematic tehological use of those same terms? Is pointing out the older uses of a work like regeneration really a matter of redefinition?

    This is an area in which the report of the Missouri Presbytery is so strong. It is sensitive to this issue, while remaining loyal to the WS’s use of these terms. A great balance, in my opinion.

  30. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2006 at 3:51 pm

    Oh, sure, Todd, drive a big fat wedge between biblical and systematic theology. That’s what all you guys do so well. Never mind that the WS’s don’t. I would say that the ST definition *is* the biblical definition. This is the danger that Lee has pointed out before: we cannot *replace* ST with BT.

  31. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 3:51 pm

    Holding onto my belief that suggesting more reading is not the same as whining, here’s the link to the report of the Missouri Presbytery:

    http://www.federal-vision.com/pdf/mopres.pdf

  32. November 29, 2006 at 3:52 pm

    Well a FV would say that a covenant is a relationship, at least if I’m not misrepresenting them. Where in fact, no it isn’t a relationship, it is a bond in blood sovereignly administered which ESTABLISHES a relationship.

    The FV advocate, if I am not misrepresenting them, is eisegeting their current view back into the word covenant to fit their system and it ends up redefining it. It takes something that is the effect of a covenant to be the covenant itself.

  33. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 3:59 pm

    Covenant as relationship? John Murray, long before the FV:

    From the beginning of God’s disclosures to men in terms of covenant we find a unity of conception which is to the effect that a divine covenant is a sovereign administration of grace and of promise. It is not compact or contract or agreement that provides the constitutive or governing idea but that of dispensation in the sense of disposition…. And when we remember that covenant is not only bestowment of grace, not only oath-bound promise, but also relationship with God in that which is the crown and goal of the whole process of religion, namely, union and communion with God, we discover again that the new covenant brings this relationship also to the highest level of achievement. At the centre of covenant revelation as its constant refrain is the assurance ‘I will be your God, and ye shall be my people’. The new covenant does not differ from the earlier covenants because it inaugurates this peculiar intimacy. It differs simply because it brings to the ripest and richest fruition the relationship epitomized in that promise.

  34. November 29, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    But the covenant itself isn’t a relationship, it establishes a relationship.

    When I got married, I didn’t make a relationship I made a vow/oath before God and before witness to do something. That vow/oath established a relationship.

  35. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    Do you believe that the Missouri report drives a big fat wedge, Lane? I believe it is simply sensitive to the issue in a way that many critics are not. But I would encourage you to deal with specific claims rather than generalities and paraphrases.

  36. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    “But the covenant itself isn’t a relationship, it establishes a relationship.”

    Are you asking us to take your word for it, Andrew? What Reformed author makes this distinction?

  37. November 29, 2006 at 4:08 pm

    Here is the best treatment (from an opponent) I have found of FV.

    Here

  38. November 29, 2006 at 4:09 pm

    Here’s the link, I coundn;t inbed it

    http://www.alliancenet.org/partner/Article_Display_Page/0,,PTID307086%7CCHID559376%7CCIID1787572,00.html

  39. November 29, 2006 at 4:12 pm

    I bet a FV advocate would say they were being misrepresented by Rick Phillips view.

  40. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2006 at 4:14 pm

    They have said it ad nauseum (nauseatingly).

  41. November 29, 2006 at 4:54 pm

    To further substantiate my claim the J. Garner is not a FV proponent, take a look at his blog. http://sacradoctrina.blogspot.com/

    I would assume that anyone has some of the links that he has on his blog, are not to close to the beaten path of orthodoxy. Or at least getting into some thorn bushes.

  42. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2006 at 4:58 pm

    Your comment is a bit contradictory: did you mean that Garver is close to the beaten path of orthodoxy or not?

  43. Lee said,

    November 29, 2006 at 5:18 pm

    Mr. Barnes,
    I am interested in why no one in your Presbytery is allowed to debate Rev. Wilson? Can a presbytery really bind what a minister does in his spare time? If he went, not as a representative, but just as an opponent, would that make a difference? And what does until the PCA settle the matter have to do with anything? PCA ministers are allowed exceptions, right? I think the PCA is oppossed to infant communion, but PCA ministers publish books about it all the time. I guess what I am asking for is more clarification on the reasons for restricting the ministers who may want to engage in a debate? Since when is debate a bad thing?

  44. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 5:49 pm

    And here’s a response to Phillips.

    http://www.berith.org/essays/covenantal_confusion.htm

    Remember, a clear and reasoned response is not whining.

  45. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 5:56 pm

    Here are Joel Garver’s writings about the sacarments:

    http://www.joelgarver.com/writ/sacr.htm

  46. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 6:06 pm

    Another response to Phillips, with a focus on covenant as relationship:

    http://www.berith.org/essays/defining_the_covenant_what_consensus.htm

  47. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2006 at 6:07 pm

    Smith’s essay is very interesting, but fails to convince me. Here’s why. He claims that Phillips has misunderstood him. Then he begins the describe his own argumentation, which is precisely what Phillips said that Smiths said! This is not a question of misunderstanding. This is a question of disagreement.

    Smith says that the WCF is not a litmus test. What, pray, would be a litmus test for orthodoxy if not the WCF?

    He says that the Dutch tradition is broader than the WCF tradition in its definition of covenant. Has he read Witsius? He didn’t quote a single Dutch theologian in support of that thesis. The five points in the first section are ones that he doesn’t even remotely answer. Instead, he spends several paragraphs talking about Kuhn. By the way, Murray is not so hot as a theologian. I think he has some very serious and deep-rooted problems. Smith is wrong in his estimation of the relationship vs. agreement argument. Phillips is right. Besides, Phillips understood Smith very well indeed on this issue.

    Allowing people enough confessional room to move is a far cry from denying what the WCF says altogether. Smith just got finished saying that the WCF needs radical revision, and then says we need room to move within confessional bounds? Double-talk!

  48. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 6:15 pm

    “Smith is wrong in his estimation of the relationship vs. agreement argument. Phillips is right.”

    I am ready to be convinced, but not as ready to take your word for it.

  49. November 29, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    At this time I believe the MVP is being wise and letting the denomination do what it is designed to do. After the PCA settles the matter, there will be less room for debate for ministers in the PCA because being faithful to their denomination they will exercise its stance. I am not the MVP, but it would seem like everybody in the free world would tune in to such a debate, and I am sure many (especially passionate people) would think that their side won after the debate, and I am pretty sure that it would distract away from what the denomination is doing at this time.

    Basically, my answer is, in my opinion (i am not my presbytery) that it isn’t a wise thing to do at this particular time.

  50. November 29, 2006 at 6:27 pm

    I am sorry, I just remembered this, but I heard what I have just been talking about from an outside source (who is reliable in my eyes), so please act wisely concerning this information, which would be contrary to what I did.

  51. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2006 at 6:55 pm

    WCF 7.1 implies that we can have no relationship without covenant, implying simultaneously that the relationship is different from covenant. 7.2 is obviously an agreement. 7.4 is perhaps the clearest with the “testament” (“will”) language.

    Every time in the OT where God says “I will establish my covenant with you,” (e.g. Gen 6, 9, 15, 17) God already had a relationship with the person. What was being entered into was an agreement (“I will be your God, and you will be my people”).

    In Covenant theologians, Robertson’s definition is “a bond in blood sovereignly administered” (CC, pg. 4). Even though he says on pg. 5 “bond or relationship,” he clarifies later on pg. 6 with “The result of a covenant commitment is the establishment of a relationship.” Bavinck’s definition is that a covenant is defined by three things: oath or promise (includes stipulations), a curse for violation, and a cultic ceremony that represents the curse (RD III, pg. 193). This definitely puts covenant in the realm of agreement, and not relationship. Witsius says (pg. 43 of volume 1) “properly, it signifies a mutual agreement between parties, with respect to something.” Horton describes it as a constitution (Covenant and Eschatology, pg. 15). A constitution is not a relationship, though it describes one. Berkhof, pg. 264 “A covenant is a pact or agreement between two or more parties.” Hodge, volume 2, pg. 354 “it means a mutual contract between two or more parties.” Turretin, vol 2, pg. 170 “it peculiarly denotes a testamentary disposition with a federal agreement…it is a covenant because after the manner of a covenant there was an agreement between parties and conditions were laid down on both sides.” ISBE I, pg. 790, “that which bound two parties together…agreements between men.” Weinfeld (Jewish) says that it is an imposition of laws and obligations upon the people (TDOT II, pg. 255). By the way, one does not cut a relationship, but one does cut a covenant. NBD, pg. 234 says this, “usually refers to the act or rite of the making of a covenant and also to the standing contrast between two partners.” Quell in TDNT II, pg. 110 says this, “the religious covenant is not constructed in a specifically religious way but according to the juridical pattern of legal agreements; it has a basic logical element which is suppressed if it is described as a religious covenant.” Williamson (P.R., not G.I.) says this, “it is a solemn commitment guaranteeing promises or obligations undertaken by one or both covenanting parties” (DOTP, pg. 139). That ought to be enough to get on with for now.

  52. November 29, 2006 at 7:21 pm

    So would the Missouri Presbytery either be wrong with what they say (Pg. 3, Line 37, 38; Pg. 4, Line 6) or should we then interpret what they say with what we have above? Or does the MOP FV Report seem just like all FV writings and when you say something you are automatically misrepresenting them because they didn’t clearly define what they are saying and/or redefined common words?

    Can we make a poll?

  53. November 29, 2006 at 7:26 pm

    I have found this book to be a great help: Auburn Avenue Theology: A Biblical Analysis by Brian M. Schwertley.

  54. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 7:29 pm

    OK. That was helpful, Lane. But where do these authors say, as explicitly as Phillips, that “a covenant is not a relationship”? Certainly there are several ways to describe covenant, but are these authors really denying the propriety of equating covenant and relationship? Explicitly? Or was Phillips overstating his case?

    Phillips’ claim is this: “There are very few matters in which one can find so widespread agreement among biblical scholars and theologians as that a covenant is not a relationship.” Your quotations, although helpful, do not establish the kind of consistent denial that Phillips is claiming.

  55. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2006 at 7:32 pm

    But all the quotations that I have given manifestly state that a covenant is an agreement. By its very nature an agreement cannot be the relationship. The oaths taken at a wedding ceremony are not the relationship. This is a matter of logic.

  56. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 7:32 pm

    Andrew, I don’t think I understand your question, man. A bit convoluted.

  57. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 7:36 pm

    The logic’s not working for me. A marriage is both an agreement and a relationship. Why not both? And I’d still love to see a Reformed author before Phillips who makes the denial as explicitly as he claims.

  58. John Dekker said,

    November 29, 2006 at 7:37 pm

    Lane, I haven’t commented here on the FV issue, but this is an appropriate time to do so. The concern I have is a lack of substantial arguments against FV. Though, being in Australia, I’m not part of the controversy in the Presbyterian Church in America, I’m happy to describe myself as Federal Vision. And I haven’t as yet heard any convincing arguments to dissuade me from carrying that label.

    Obviously, I haven’t followed all the links in all of these comments, but in the comments themselves there is still nothing that points out what might be wrong with FV.

    He says that the Dutch tradition is broader than the WCF tradition in its definition of covenant.

    Well, I got my views of the objectivity of the covenant from Klaas Schilder…

  59. November 29, 2006 at 7:39 pm

    The marriage covenant is not a relationship, it is a word, an agreement…it however establishes a relationship…a relationship I would not have had unless I entered into covenant with my wife.

  60. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 7:42 pm

    Entered into covenant? Phillips says that the covenant is not a container, not something in which someone can be. Do you disagree?

  61. November 29, 2006 at 7:47 pm

    No, sorry, I meant by ‘entered into covenant’ what most mean when they say that. “…a relationship I would not have had unless I made a bond/agreement with God and my wife.” That which was also witnessed by others (an important part of Covenant making ceremonies).

  62. Todd said,

    November 29, 2006 at 7:54 pm

    Come on, Andrew! Don’t let Phillips talk you out of a wonderful and biblical way to talk. Of course your entered into covenant with your wife! You’re in!

  63. November 29, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    I changed for the purposes of this discussion because it seemingly was throwing something/one off. I will revert back later, unless I read his article and am convinced.

  64. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2006 at 10:44 pm

    To John, one book to read is Guy Prentiss Waters’s book _Federal Vision and Covenant Theology_, despite what Todd and a few others would say. It is a great book, and shows what is at stake.

    But the best book is still undoubtedly the Auburn Avenue Pros and Cons Book, edited by Cal Beisner.

    I will post tomorrow on the reasons why you should not be Federal Vision, and why the Federal Vision is heresy.

  65. greenbaggins said,

    November 29, 2006 at 10:46 pm

    Todd, you are equivocating on the word “marriage,” just as FV guys equivocate on the word “covenant.” What I mean is the wedding ceremony, not the marriage as a whole. The wedding ceremony is not the relationship. The relationship started long before the wedding ceremony (in most instances!). But it is the wedding ceremony which functions on the level of covenant here.

  66. John said,

    November 30, 2006 at 3:32 am

    Well, I can tell you that Waters does seem to have misunderstood me, at least at this point. Is it whining to point that out?

  67. Todd said,

    November 30, 2006 at 7:10 am

    Why equate covenant with the ceremony rather than the marriage as a whole? You’re asserting and not demonstrating.

  68. Todd said,

    November 30, 2006 at 7:18 am

    “I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel.” A new ceremony or a new relationship?

    “For they did not continue in my covenant.” Continue in the ceremony, or continue in the relationship?

  69. November 30, 2006 at 7:27 am

    The covenant is a bond, it has obligations/stipulations. Saying that one did not continue in the covenant is saying that one did not follow the stipulations/obligations. Therefore cursing is necessary.

  70. greenbaggins said,

    November 30, 2006 at 9:08 am

    Todd, I already demonstrated with mucho quotations that covenant was an agreement, or a contract. That is precisely what the wedding ceremony is and marriage as a whole isn’t. So, to say that I’m asserting and not demonstrating shows the utter unwillingness on your part to go even two steps to connect what I said in comment 51 with what I said in comment 65. Logic.

  71. Todd said,

    November 30, 2006 at 10:05 am

    I will establish a new contract with the house of Israel? For they did not continue in my contract?

  72. Gomarus said,

    November 30, 2006 at 11:10 am

    I have not been commenting, but I am following along as one outside the ring. Thanks, Lane, for your patience and determination.

  73. greenbaggins said,

    November 30, 2006 at 12:36 pm

    Yes, Todd, exactly: “I will establish a new contract, because they did not keep the terms of the old contract.”

  74. Todd said,

    November 30, 2006 at 1:16 pm

    “because they did not keep the terms of the old contract.”

    But that’s not what it says. You’re developing a Rick Phillips paraphrase of the Bible! They did not *continue in* my covenant. You’ve imported the “terms of” language. Eisegesis, right?

  75. greenbaggins said,

    November 30, 2006 at 1:26 pm

    Whatever, Todd. You were trying to make my language sound strange, and I was refuting you. I was not engaging in exegesis at that particular moment. I was only showing how the terms that you were trying to make fun of could actually work.

  76. Todd said,

    November 30, 2006 at 1:31 pm

    Lane, your narrow definition of covenant does not fit the way God actually uses the word in Scripture. Whatever covenant it, God says it is something that can be “continued in.” Contract is too narrow.

  77. Kyle said,

    December 2, 2006 at 12:33 pm

    To “continue in” a covenant (or a contract, for that matter) is nothing other than to “continue in” the particular agreements and obligations of the covenant. Thus, for example, one “continues in” a marriage covenant by remaining faithful to his spouse. The covenant defines obligations and restrictions in the relationship; it is not the relationship itself. If I have any sort of covenantal or contractual relationship, it is a relationship defined and established by the terms of that covenant or contract.

  78. greenbaggins said,

    December 2, 2006 at 1:04 pm

    Thanks, Kyle. That’s it in a nutshell.

  79. Todd said,

    December 2, 2006 at 1:46 pm

    So is the new covenant a new contract?

  80. Kyle said,

    December 3, 2006 at 12:22 am

    So is the new covenant a new contract?

    Insofar as a covenant is a special type of contract, yes. Both covenants and contracts are composed of agreements and obligations. If we wanted to draw a distinction we might say that covenants, as opposed to contracts, are solemnized by a special rite or ceremony that invokes divine justice.


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