Wilkins does not answer the substance of the seventh declaration. The seventh declaration declares that there is no union with Christ except saving union. This plainly declares “temporary saving union” to be a contradiction in terms. Wilkins plainly holds that there is a temporary saving union. Even if the qualities of that temporary saving union are not the same as the qualities of the saving union, it does not matter. Temporary saving union is a contradiction in terms. Further, Wilkins obviously holds that temporarily saved people have benefits of Christ’s mediation that are either identical to or visibly indistinguishable from the benefits (that go by the same name) that saved people have. This is precisely the target of the seventh declaration. Wilkins says that he doesn’t believe that the communion that the elect have with Christ can be lost. Goodie. That isn’t the issue in the seventh declaration. Not one bit. The issue is whether someone can have some of the benefits of Christ’s mediation without having all of them. It’s funny that Wilkins uses the term “non-effectual union,” because that is directly contradictory to what he has said before in _Federal Vision_, pp. 58ff. I keep on directing people to those pages, because they are the most unqualified and worst pages in all of the Federal Vision corpus.
Further, Wilkins makes the difference between elect and non-elect to be in perseverance. It isn’t. The difference is in God’s decree. Of course, the decree of God will result in the elect persevering (or, shall I say, being preserved by God).
Wilkins repeats his tired old argument about the warnings. He really should have read enough of the critics by now to know that not only do they not buy this argument, but that it actually has several answers.
He says that the differences between elect and non-elect may not be discernible until the non-elect apostatize. What if they don’t in this life? How would Wilkins answer this? I know how Wilson answers this, and it is not consistent with his view of the church. Furthermore, I’m rather sure that Wilkins would answer differently from Wilson on this one. According to Wilkins’s own admission, if the differences don’t come out until one apostatizes, and someone never leaves the church, then what does differentiate them?
One last problem. Wilkins says that covenant relationships are dynamic. Theologians love to use this word, as it makes them seem “hip” and “relevant.” Does this dynamic quality extend to the covenantal relationships that the elect have with God? If so, how dynamic are they? Are they dynamic enough so that the elect can lose this relationship?
I just thought of a huge problem for Wilkins’s interpretation of the warning passages. If Wilkins wants these passages to apply to the entire church in the way he wants it to (namely, that it applies to all in the church the same way), then there is no foundation for assurance left. Since then the warnings must apply to the elect the same way they apply to the non-elect. If they do, then implicitly Wilkins is allowing for the possibility that the elect could fall. If they do apply to the elect in this way, then the elect must always be questioning their salvation. Therefore, this idea completely undermines any ground for assurance that any elect person might have.