The Glue That Binds, Why the FV is arminian-like

It’s been said before. Yet it’s never been adequately challenged, merely just denied. So it may deserve being said again: the FV is arminian-like.

This is not to say that the FV is equal to Arminianism. Nor is it to say that the FV is a version of Arminianism. If this were all that were being said in such a charge, then facetious retort and assertive denials would suffice, as anyone can see that such a charge is ludicrous.

No, the charge is not that the FV and Arminianism are the same, share similar arguments, or follow even a similar hermeneutic. Rather they share (at least) these two characteristics:

 Both posit a real possession (although differently) of the ordo salutis (generally and particularly, not comprehensively) by these fallers-away.

 Both posit the loss of whatever ordo salutis possessed (however possessed).

To be sure, some FV proponents (interestingly not all) will maintain that the FV does not posit the possession of any of the ordo salutis by the fallers away. Instead, the FV offers that these fallers away possess benefits of the Covenant of Grace; benefits described using terms and formulations functionally non-distinguishable from the comparable ordo salutis benefits.

Such equivocation does not alter the arminian-like charge however. As a study of Arminianism will show, equivocation is but a glue that holds the inconsistencies of that system together. And so too with the FV. It too relies on the glue of equivocation to hold its system together – yet a third characteristic it shares with Arminianism.

Thus the charge that the FV is arminian-like, in that it shares these three characteristics, sticks like “super”glue.

Reed DePace

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108 Comments

  1. greenbaggins said,

    January 4, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    Good stuff, Reed.

  2. Reed Here said,

    January 4, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Thanks. And thanks for catching my inscription mistake. Just went into the dashboard to fix it, and found my John Hancock had “magically” appeared.

  3. tlkeene said,

    January 4, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    So should we NOT “offer an explanation … to explain the reality of those who ‘fall away from faith.’” Do Reformed folks not do this (albeit differently constructed).

  4. Reed Here said,

    January 4, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    After a second thought, it appears to me that the comment in no. 3 is a helpful crticism that I should heed. Accordingly, I’ve adjusted the main post here, taking into consideration that comments.

    Thanks tlkeene.

  5. Tommy Keene said,

    January 4, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    I’d be curious to know what you think of the following:

    http://www.sbts.edu/docs/tschreiner/2.1_article.pdf

  6. Reed Here said,

    January 4, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Tommy:

    I’m sorry, but at present I do not have the time to do justice to Mr. Schreiner’s article. My brief review suggests to me that the topic he is discussing is tertiary at best to what I am saying here.

    With reference to those who fall away, the common reformed answer is found in 1 John 2:19-20:

    1 John 2:19-20 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.

    Notice that verse 20, explaining verse 19, demonstrates that the key difference is possession of Christ, the Holy One. This possession is something those in view in 19 (fallers away) never had.

  7. January 4, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Not Arminian, but Arminian-like? Why would this be a problem? If I believe in absolute predestination, and I do, and I also take at face value passages like Hebrews 6, 10, 2 Peter 2, and so forth, which, come to think of it, are also Arminian-like without being Arminian, how would that put me out of accord with the WCF?

  8. jared said,

    January 4, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    Doug Wilson,

    I’ve already made the point (in another thread) that the charge of “arminian-like” is, for all practical intents, without substance. It’s like saying Reformed theology is Roman Catholic-like. Sure they share some elements, but how is this a meaningful criticism (assuming that’s what it’s supposed to be)?

  9. Pete Myers said,

    January 5, 2009 at 3:26 am

    #7 & #8,

    I think the issue is, not

    “The FV theological system affirms that faith is logically dependent upon decretal election.”

    Which is what you, Jared, have been pointing out until he’s blue in the face. And I’ve read you say that lots and lots too Doug. i can really, honestly understand your frustration here… I am very sympathetic to you both – I have been phenomenally blessed by reading much of your work Doug.

    But… the issue that Reed has seems to me much more in line with the right concerns of the FV proponents as his concern is not simply in “what theological proposition can you affirm”, but “what is the practical/pastoral consequence of your theological system”.

    I’m reading The Auburn Avenue Theology Pros and Cons at the moment – and again I’m really struck by this absolutely right emphasis (which I find very attractive) in the FV concern for not just a dead orthodoxy, but a living working out of the Story.

    Reed’s big issue is that – with the way “faith” is being handled in our conversations at the moment – the way The Great Story works out in The Individual Stories of our lives seems to be practically the same as Arminianism.

    Let me illustrate this in an “FV way”, being myself someone who has appreciated lots that has come out of the FV camp (well mainly stuff from Doug):

    Chris the Christian with a Crummy Conscience
    Chris was a young guy, with a sensitive conscience. He grew up in a hip hop happening Evangelical Church called Camel Creek Community (I heard a very good story about that once)… but in many respects he didn’t quite fit the mould there. As he hit his teenage years, he felt restless at Camel Creek, he didn’t know why.

    Coming to the end of High School, he had that teenage urge to “break out” and go somewhere else, despite his parents reservations, he applied for college in another State. It was a good college, and could lead to a good career. Secretly his dad (who secretly worshipped the god Ca-reer anyway) was really happy to see Chris better set up for the job market of the “real world”.

    Chris went to college, and while there, stopped going to church altogether – at least for his first semester. But one Sunday after the Christmas break, after a particularly big pang of guilt (Chris always did have a sensitive conscience), he found his way to a nearby church called “Federal Reformed”. When he walked in, he’d never seen anything like it. The service was very strange – nothing like Camel Creek… the teaching was, well, deep… and the service was more formal – but also in a weird way, somehow, more friendly. People’s welcomes and smiles felt less plastic somehow,… someone invited him to stay for Sunday lunch, but being a bit freaked out by such unusual hospitality, he made his excuses and left quickly.

    Anyway, despite himself, and the culture shock, Chris went back next week – and this time, stayed for the meal.

    A year later, Chris is now a regular member of Federal Reformed. But his conscience, rather than resting, has just got more and more troubled. He talks to his pastor about it.

    “Pastor, I’ve got to be honest, my conscience is troubled.”
    “Really, Chris, well do you want to tell me about it?”
    “Yeah,” says Chris, “the thing is – I’m just not sure if I’m a real Christian.”
    “Ok” said Chris’ pastor “well, do you trust in Jesus Christ?”
    “Yes, I think… I’m trying… I hope I trust in Jesus Christ”
    “Are you growing in godliness in line with that trust?” said the pastor.
    “Well, I suppose I’m a bit better at this, and not so guilty of that than I was”
    “Well then,” said Chris’ pastor “looks like you’re a real Christian.”

    …Chris went silent for a moment

    “But how do I know if I will always be a real Christian? How do I know I won’t stop being a real Christian next week?”
    Chris’ pastor smiled, “Because, salvation isn’t down to us… that’s the great thing about grace. God is utterly gracious and utterly giving. Faith isn’t something that we can muster up in ourselves – it’s something that God gives us.”
    Chris brightened “So, because God gives me faith, he’ll keep me walking in the faith?”
    “That’s right, you’ve got it! Keep looking to Christ, trust him, he will keep you walking in the faith.”

    …Chris was feeling a bit better, but he paused again. He cocked his head slightly, and slowly drew his breath in, inside that young head, cogs were whirring away…

    “But, what about people who fall away?” He asked
    “Well,” began Chris’ pastor “not everyone perseveres. That’s because God is absolutely sovereign, it’s ultimately down to him who is and isn’t saved. This is called election, which means that God chooses who will be-”
    “But how do I know I’m chosen?” Interjected Chris.
    The pastor took one of those ‘pastoral pauses’, that every pastor takes now and again. It allowed him to look wise, while also stalling for time, and had been a good friend through many a difficult conversation, finally he said “Introspection isn’t a healthy thing to do. All we know is what Scripture tells us, and Scripture tells us to look to Christ.”
    Chris was clearly unhappy with this answer. His sensitive conscience riled “But, what if I’m not chosen… I mean… how can I look to Christ and trust him, if I don’t know he’s going to keep me persevering?”
    …there was a pause, Chris then Chris continued “How do I know if I’m chosen? Is there any difference between those who are chosen and those who aren’t?”
    “Of course there’s a difference,” replied his pastor “those who are chosen persevere in the faith, but those who aren’t chosen don’t persevere.”
    Chris was, by now, exasperated “BUT HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M GOING TO PERSEVERE? That’s my problem….?? If those who persevere and those who don’t persevere both trust in Jesus – then what’s the difference that tells me if I’m going to persevere or not?”

    Who cares about an orthodox theological system with no bite?
    The illustration above is the reason why Reed keeps saying “The FV is similar to Arminianism”. It doesn’t matter what I affirm, it doesn’t matter how orthodox, or Calvinistic, my theological system is… the key thing is that Chris will never find peace unless he can be assured that he is elect.

    1) Classical Calvinism says to Chris “you can know you are elect because you have true faith… true faith is marked by these things x, y, z, … and if you have these things, you can look to Christ and rest in Christ’s promise, that he will keep you persevering.”

    2) Classical Arminianism says to Chris “you are elect because you have faith… but your conscience can never rest – you can never be guaranteed of perseverance”

    3) Federal Vision (or at least what I hear Jared) is saying to Chris “you cannot know whether you are elect, because there’s no difference between the faith that is temporary and the faith that perseveres – other than the fact that it’s temporary or that it perseveres. Therefore you must keep looking to Christ.”

    The problem with (3) is that it does not provide the rest and assurance of (1), but leads to the lack of comfort of (2). This is Reed’s “Arminian” accusation.

  10. Pete Myers said,

    January 5, 2009 at 4:10 am

    #5 on Schreiner,

    The problem with Schreiner is that he’s a baptist. A great baptist, a baptist whom I’ve learnt a lot from, and who’s recent book he edited on baptism I benefitted from reading.

    However, being a baptist, I disagree with him, and disagree with him particularly on the issues of the nature of the New Covenant, and of Apostasy.

    In fact, I’d suggest (and this is not to be flippant) but some of the FV positions that I’ve now changed my mind on, are simply results of baptistic thinking working through into Covenant theology. I say this as someone, who is not keen in any way to even go near the h-e-r-e-s-y word, because I’m too English, and I still really enjoy reading lots of FV blogs.

    But, basically, baptists think that the New Covenant is only made up of the elect, and that the covenant doesn’t have visible and invisible elements (so they divorce the church from the covenant). Because of this, baptists always have rather “creative” explanations for the apostasy passages.

    The FV’s way of treating the Covenant of Grace is actually far more similar to the “Reformed Baptist” way of treating the New Covenant than it is to anything else, and the result is the same… lots of “creative” explanations for the apostasy passages.

    Because of this, you will find lots of work by excellent baptists that supports an FV-lite (note, not meant antagonistically – my position only a few weeks ago) reading of things like Hebrews 6, 10; 2 Peter 2, etc.

  11. GLW Johnson said,

    January 5, 2009 at 6:21 am

    DW
    The PCA, the OPC and a bunch of other Reformed denominations do not consider the FV to be in harmony with the Westminster Standards-protests to the contrary by you notwithstanding.

  12. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 5, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Similarities between doctrinal systems are not of themselves damning. After all, hyperCalvinists charge ordinary Calvinists with being like the Arminians in affirming God’s common grace. And ordinary Calvinists shrug off that criticism as the fallacy of “guilt by association”, which it is.

    BUT

    When two systems are similar, they may share weaknesses. In this case, if the similarities Reed has drawn are valid, then their cash value is that the refutations of Arminianism will apply equally, or with small modifications, to FV theology. If those refutations do *not* apply, then the similarities between FV and Arminian theology will turn out to be non-fatal.

    Pete M seems to be making a stab in the direction of carrying those criticisms over. It will be interesting to see how it pans out.

    Jeff Cagle

  13. jared said,

    January 5, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Pete (#9),

    I’m pretty much done with this whole “Arminian-like” thing I think. I have not said, nor do I think the FV says, that you cannot know if you’re decretally elect. I don’t know how many times I have to say this before it stops being attributed to me, personally. Maybe if I use all caps:

    YOU CAN KNOW THAT YOU ARE DECRETALLY ELECT (WCF 18)

    But you, Pete, you cannot know if I am. You cannot have any absolute knowledge about my eternal status. So guess what, if you are a pastor you cannot know who in your congregation is elect and who is not. At it’s base, the only kind of counseling you can give “Chris the Christian” is to tell him to look to his faith (his baptism, his obedience, his repentance, his prayer, etc.) because you can’t know his eternal status. This is exactly what FV leads to and it’s exactly what Reformed theology says to do. And all of this because the “only” difference between temporary faith and real faith is perseverance. Maybe Reformed theology is just as “arminian-like” as FV, that would be odd, now wouldn’t it?

  14. Zrim said,

    January 5, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Jeff,

    That might be one good argument for why ordinary Calvinists might do better to employ the language of providence over common grace—it cuts down the confusion factor.

    Pete,

    Speaking as an ordinary Calvinist, has it occurred to the fictional Chris that the opposite of faith is not doubt but sight? True faith includes both assurance and doubt. And when we speak of assurance we don’t mean certitude. The discomfort with doubt is to be ill-at-ease with faith itself. If the litmus test is to run doubt out on a rail then violence is actually being done to true faith. The tension of true faith ought not be despised, which is exactly what the illegitimate religious quest for certainty is.

    Fictional Chris’s worries are like the guy who is going to Rome for the first time and worrying if the plane will fall out of the sky because his faith in a place called Rome actually existing have, up to this point at Gate 2A, been based on everything but sight. I’d tell Chris I understand his fright, but better pilgrims must learn to relax.

  15. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 5, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Jared (#13):

    If FV doctrines are dealing only a problem of knowledge, then it’s actually right in line with Reformed doctrine.

    But at least one FV proponent, Wilkins, explicitly denies that this is so. Others have done so also.

    It may be that other FV proponents view it in this way, which is why (again) we should deal with individuals rather than the movement as a whole.

    Jeff Cagle

  16. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 5, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Zrim (#14):

    I don’t follow. As I understand it, “Providence” is God’s ordering of all things; “Common grace” is God’s granting of low-level blessings (like the sun shining and the rain falling) to the believer and the unbeliever alike.

    The first concerns itself with God’s decretive will. The second concerns itself with God’s benevolence.

    Help?

    Jeff Cagle

  17. Zrim said,

    January 5, 2009 at 11:54 am

    Jared,

    You can know but someone else can’t? That is what’s quite odd. If nobody knows the secret things of God (Dt. 29:29), how did you slip in under the wire? And what need have we of pastors or means of grace if we have that sort of absolute knowledge?

  18. Zrim said,

    January 5, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Jeff,

    Re 16, Insofar as this ordinary Calvinist sees no appreciable difference between how you define CG and providence (so why different words?), I think what many of us mean by CG is what the old-timers meant by providence. When hypers hear the language of CG employed I think they infer we are talking in the categories of special revelation instead of natural revelation, like the Arminians.

    But, I could be wrong.

  19. Vern Crisler said,

    January 5, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Here’s an example of an early proponent of FV theology:
    http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/a_pdfs/newslet/sutton/8803.pdf
    Chilton was under the influence of Jim Jordan and much of what he writes is regurgitated Jordanism.

    Notice how he sells his flat covenantalism by claiming its a balanced view, avoiding extremes. It was originally written in 1982 for the Biblical Educator, a year before the Tyler church went all excommunication-happy, and started the process of losing half its members, and then eventually going from Presbyterian to Episcopalian.

    Snake oil is still snail oil, even if sold as Turkish delight.

    Vern

  20. Reed Here said,

    January 5, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    No. 8, Jared: you’ve made the point by offering facetiousness and assertion-denial. That is not substantive. You may be persuaded otherwise. You see unable to explain why, or at least unable to get through my thick skull.

    I sense a growing frustration in your responses Jared (I may be wrong). I’ve tried to document in simple terms the nub of the problem, (from my perspective). I remain unsatisfied that you are understanding and responding to what I am actually saying. I remain willing to engage further, willing to pursue humility and offer as much clarification as a I can.

    I hear what I think is the “you don’t get it,” charge, that I continue to hear ordo salutis when I should here CoG. Fine, if I’ve got it, then you need to address me at the location of where I believe is the problem: that of equivocation (i.e., the functionality issue).

    Again, I recognize you are free to say that this is not the problem, but it resides somewhere else. Feel free to tell me why you think I’m wrong, and where the problem really resides.

  21. Reed Here said,

    January 5, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    No. 7, Doug: you continue you pattern of saying a lot and not offering any clarity. I respect you intelligence. I grow increasingly sadden by the evidence you keep providing of your inability (unwillingness?) to work with those of us “not getting it”. I recognize this is not your pattern in other areas of your ministry. It has been my experience of you on this subject.

    It would be very simple for you, or some other FV proponent, to effectively and pastorally remove the question posed by my challenge:

    1. Do both systems (FV and Arminianism) propose a real possession of any of the ordo salutis by those who fall away? If yes, then why is this not inimical to the FV, proof of the charge? If no, explain why.

    2. Do both systems propose ultimate loss of what ordo salutis is lost? Same kinds of yes or no responses would suffice here.

    I think I can anticipate how you will respond:

    1. No, because the FV does not propose possession of benefits the ordo salutis, but possession of the CoG.

    2. Therefore no, as this does not apply.

    And my response you then is, defend against charge no. 3:

    3. Both equivocate, expressing CoG benefits as functionally indistinguishable from the ordo salutis equivalents.

    Your response may be, “been there, done that till I’m sick.” My response, to echo a challenge of Lane in a recent post here, how about a simple series of answers expressly directed at the question?

    You may be very tired of responding to folks like me, insisting I will never get it. I am equally tired of the apparent inability to offer simple answers to simple questions.

    Still, why could you not get together another Knox Colloquium, and deal specifically with this issue of functional equivalence? Might it be that your FV-lite variety will experience some helpful correction of expression (assuming the integrity of your insistence of the biblical soundness of you position)? Might it also be that you could be used to bring together the FV critics and the FV dark-ale proponents to see that the differences are after all rhetorical?

    I suggest that an unwillingness to do something like this, or even effectively respond here to simply proposed challenge, is evidence (from silence to be sure) that the charges here are stuck like super-glue.

  22. Reed Here said,

    January 5, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    No. 13: Jared, I want to thank you for continuing to provide exceptional examples of the confusion of the FV. I do mean that sincerely, as it provides me helpful opportunities to explain why I’m so concerned, and not simply trade comments back and forth.

    You say, “You can know you are decretally elect (WCF 18)”, referring to the individual’s own sense of his covenantal-only verses decretal-also awareness. I agree with you.

    The problem is what kind of pastoral advice you offer the Christian who does not know, Pete’s Chris. Your response is here, “So guess what, if you are a pastor you cannot know who in your congregation is elect and who is not. At its base, the only kind of counseling you can give “Chris the Christian” is to tell him to look to his faith (his baptism, his obedience, his repentance, his prayer, etc.) because you can’t know his eternal status. This is exactly what FV leads to and it’s exactly what Reformed theology says to do.”

    This is exactly not what I tell Chris. I expressly do not tell him to give himself to looking to his own subjective or objective experience. Rather I tell him to look to Christ – and only Christ! I tell him to look the objective person and work of Christ – and rest only in Him. I expressly do not tell Chris to rest in his efforts to trust in Christ, or even his experience of trusting in Christ.

    Now, the ordinary FV response is to say, “We’re not saying anything different.” So I ask, o.k. please clarify for me, what does “resting in Christ mean?” The ordinary response is, “resting in Christ means resting in one’s baptism, one’s obedience, one’s repentance, one’s prayer, etc.,” exactly the definition you’ve offered here.

    You can say as much as you want, “that’s not what I mean Reed.” Yet that is what you keep saying, and when asked to clarify, you keep saying the same kind of thing. The FV proposes that “Chris” rest in his efforts or experience of trusting in Christ, rather than resting in Christ alone.

    Jared, it is possible that I’m not getting it. It is equally possible that you are not getting it. This is an example of the equivocation in the FV which demonstrates why I believe you are not getting it.

    I remember reading Shepherd’s Call of Grace, and appreciating what I’d read. Then I heard some criticism, and I thought, “What’s the big deal?” So I re-read the book, and said “what’s the big deal?” You see, I was reading into Shepherd’s arguments my own nuances, and ending up thinking what he was saying was sound. It was only when I read more of Shepherd, where he removed some of the lack of clarity, that my own equivocation in reading became clear.

    I suggest you are doing the same thing Jared. I’m really neither trying to put you down, or simply use you as a sparring partner to make points with other readers. I really do believe these are serious issues, and that the FV is seriously wrong.

    What must I do to make this more beneficial for you? Or are you so persuaded that I need to just let it alone?

  23. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 5, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Let me change Pete’s parable (Pete’s Parables–has a ring to it, anyone for some marketing!) a little:

    So, Chris is uncertain if he is elect, and Pastor Reed says: “Chris, look to Christ, who died for the ungodly and who gives you his perfect righteousness through faith.” Chris says, “But Christ only gives his perfect righteousness to the elect! What if I’m not elect?” Pastor Reed: “Are you looking to Christ and to him alone for your righteousness before God?” Chris: “I think so, but what if I start trusting in my works some day? That would show that I’m not resting in the objective work of Christ on my behalf!” Pastor Reed: “Chris, look to the objective work of Christ on behalf of the elect.” Chris: “But what if I’m not one of the elect? Then his objective work was not for me…How can I know if I’m one of the elect for which Christ’s limited substitution was made?”

    I don’t see how this is any less frustrating for Chris than Pete’s example. Simply being directed to the objective Christ does not solve the problem: “How do I know that I’m elect?” The traditional Reformed answers were:
    1. the practical syllogism: “Do you find any sorrow for sin, any vestige of a desire to please God, any sense of desire for true godliness? Then those are the fruits of true faith.” But, how is this less “Arminianesque” than looking at one’s repentance or one’s obedience? Also, a truely tortured conscience can always find a reason to doubt: “I do, but what if that’s just temporary, like the seed that fell on stony ground, or among the thorns? ‘Cause what if I don’t have a root and don’t ever produce any fruit? Or what if the concerns of the world rise up and choke me off?”
    2. the mystical syllogism: “Do the Holy Spirit testify with your spirit that you are a true son, saying ‘Abba’?” But here, you are looking to your experience of Christ’s work again, not “the objective Christ.” so that doesn’t seem any less “Arminianesque.” And, the doubter can say, “But the heart is deceitful and wicked above all things! I learned that when we talked about the T of TULIP…so what if I’m deceiving myself? I knew Pentacostals in college who were sure that the Holy Spirit was speaking to them, telling them they could be bisexual–clearly one can be deceived about what the Spirit is telling them!”

    As in seminary, my out was this: “But I’m just HT [i.e., in the Historical Theology program].” So, I’m going on what kinds of things we were introduced to generally, not on actual pastoral experience. I could be wrong, and I’d love to be corrected if I’ve made a straw man or missed a key element of pastoral counseling.

  24. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 5, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Sorry, that should be “any less frustrating for *Chris*” not Christ…one little letter!

  25. greenbaggins said,

    January 5, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    I fixed some more problems (Chris was Christ several times before I edited it).

  26. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 5, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    I don’t know that I would consider myself an FV proponent–maybe just not an FV opponent–but I’ll try to give the answer that I see in the FV works.

    I would say that the CoG benefits enjoyed by the NEVCM are functionally different from those enjoyed by the EVCM, because the function of the benefits for the EVCM is to bring them to eternal peace and glory, while the function of apparently similar benefits for the NEVCM are only temporal.

    But, of course, this is going to bring back the “but it’s only a difference of duration” critique. To which I say:

    No, it’s not, because of the “narrative ontology.” Duration–how the story ends–demonstrates the real nature of the thing: one is truly eternal, eschatological, while the other is, like other things in the world, of the sort of nature that it passes away. Wilkins follows Leithart on exactly this idea, with the analogy to marriage: how the marriage ends (duration) shows what kind of marriage it really was all along (ontology). So the “qualitative” difference that Wilkins asserts is an escatological one: blessings that result in condemnation are functionally different from blessings that result in glory.

    So, with the issue of “forgiveness,” the NEVCM has, I would say “temporal remission.” Or, perhaps “covenantal longsuffering.” That is, God is patient with the NEVCM’s sins, not punishing them instantly, because of the NEVCM’s participation in the covenant, just as God did with Israel (e.g., Heb. 3:7-19). It has much more in common, perhaps, with God’s general longsuffering toward rank pagans, in that it is just longsuffering, not true remission.

  27. Pete Myers said,

    January 5, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    #13, Jared,

    I’m pretty much done with this whole “Arminian-like” thing I think.

    I’m sorry if you feel a little beaten up… it was probably unwise to have bracketed your name in the post. I’m not intending to beat up. Please accept my apology.

    However – in all honesty – either I’m seriously misunderstanding you (and I apologise if that’s the case), or there are holes in things you’re saying that you haven’t quite seen.

    YOU CAN KNOW THAT YOU ARE DECRETALLY ELECT

    My issue is – that I haven’t heard you answer (I am trying to listen to hear if it’s there) – that:

    a) From the doctrine of faith that you’ve outlined, I cannot see how it’s possible for you to know that you are decretally elect
    b) I’ve heard you assert over and over that you can know you are decretally elect – but until (a) is answered, your assertion doesn’t seem to stand… but you don’t seem to even recognise that (a) is my real problem, not your lack of assertion.

    A quick reminder/run down of the problem in (a):

    Your distinctives between true and false faith:
    1 – Some are elect, some are not
    2 – Some persevere, some don’t
    3 – Some are eternally saved, some are not eternally saved

    Unless there is another distinction between true and false faith, then, I simply can’t see how Chris can know that he is decretally elect, and therefore have confidence that Christ will enable him to persevere.

    If the only other distinction is that the elect know they are elect – then my grounds for “assurance that I will persevere because I am elect”, is my “assurance that I am elect” – but where does the assurance that I’m elect come from in the first place?

  28. greenbaggins said,

    January 5, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Joshua, I have seen this narrative ontology before. I’m not convinced that it is a biblical concept. To me it seems like a way for the FV to say that there is a difference without actually defining the difference. I mean, it is certainly obvious that the outcome will demonstrate that there was a difference. But that doesn’t help us define the difference.

    As to temporal longsuffering, I am fine with that language. I am not fine with remission/forgiveness terminology, for the reasons outlined in the body of the posts. Steve Wilkins actually posits justification and sanctification for NEVCM’s. I simply cannot go there. Scripture doesn’t go there. The confessions don’t go there.

  29. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 5, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Narrative ontology doesn’t seem to me too far off from “eschatology precedes soteriology.” One doesn’t know what kind of story it is until the end (e.g., Much Ado About Nothing could stop with the first wedding, and it would be a tragedy…but it doesn’t stop there). So, the definition of those two genres of literature is in their ending (thus, e.g., Erasmus’ quip about Luther’s marriage).

    I actually think the narrative ontology is biblical in certain respects, but that’s a different topic, I think.

  30. Pete Myers said,

    January 5, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    #14, Zrim,

    This is the point of the parable, as clearly and succinctly as I can possibly put it:

    Chris’ problem is not that there is doubt in his faith.
    Chris’ problem is that he has faith in a doubt.

    This is the basic pastoral problem that I’m having with the idea that my faith, and a reprobates faith is exactly the same right now, and is only objectively different in that he will lose his faith.

    Doubting your own faith is a different pastoral problem.

    If I tell Chris: “You can be assured of your salvation (i.e. that you will persevere) because God elects people to salvaiton, and all those with faith are elect.” Then Chris will be at peace.

    If I tell Chris “You can be assured of your salvation (i.e. that you will persevere) because God elects people to salvation, (but I’m not going to tell you how you know whether you are elect or not, and not all who have faith are elect).” Then Chris will be really troubled.

    The difference is in the promise given to Chris that he’s being asked to put his faith in.

    1 – Is it a promise to save ALL those who have faith?
    2 – Or is it a promise to save SOME of those who have faith?

    1 is defo “classic Calvinism” as far as my feeble understanding goes.
    2 would not be nearly so bad, if only someone who holds this position can tell me how it is that I can know that I’m elect?

  31. Reed Here said,

    January 5, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    No. 23, Joshua: I appreciate both your tone and your efforts. Bear with me if I disagree with your adjustments.

    First, while I would rather insistently point Chris to Christ, I would not do it with the sense of “sorry, that’s the best that I can tell,” tone that appears to underlie the words you put in my mouth. Rather, I would do so in confidence, that as I am pointing the sheep to the correct answer, as I am expressing my faith in that which Christ has promised to use, He will not leave Chris empty of the assurance we are talking about.

    This I think is clear in the doctrin summarized in WCF 18.2:

    “This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God, which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.”

    Notice that this is all very subjective, and nevertheless a real assurance that will be possessed by Chris. This assurance is rooted, not in the experienc of Christ, but in the objectivity of who Christ is and His work – the Spirit testifies to our possession of the gospel.

    Paragraph 4 of the same chapter summarizes the ways in which this assurance can be shaken, means that are all related to Chris’ personal experience. Yet here again, such assurance is not lost in that the Spirit is still present to work in such a way that Chris’ subjective assurance is renewed.

    The critical point to observe is that never in view as the source, the foundation, the root of Chris’s assurance is anything of him; it is in all ways and only Christ.

    If the FV even suggests, “look to Christ through the means of your own faithfulness (efforts) and/or experience,” then it offers a deficient basis. Faith, the means by which we receive Christ in the first place is always the means through which we continue to receive Him in the Christian life, and such faith always has as it’s immediate and sole object: Christ.

    Is this not what sola Christus means?

  32. Reed Here said,

    January 5, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    No. 26, Joshua: Lane’s doubt about narrative theological hermeneutic aside, this is yet another example of the problem of functional equivocation.

    The FV argues, as the decretal theological hermeneutic cannot not objectively be known, all we have to operate on is the narrative (the covenantal) hermeneutic. This is the approach that maintains the visible evidences, the eschatological results seen on a day by day basis, are all that is available for judgment. Thus the Christian is urged to pursue such evidences ( I refer you back to Jared’s explanation of where one is to look for assurance, self).

    The FV insists that it believes yes in the decretal. Yet for all practical purposes (all pastoral purposes) it does not see any way to apply such. All application flows from the covenantal (FV consistently applied).

    This then brings us back to Lane’s critique, which I tend to share. I’ve tried saying this a number of times before (without substantial response), but this is not how Scripture works. It enters our story, our visible only world, and calls to look by faith on that which cannot be seen by eye. This “sight” is notmetaphorical. It truly exists, and is the experience of all those united by faith (vital) to Christ.

  33. TurretinFan said,

    January 5, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    First of all, thanks Reed for a provocative and yet concise post. Granted, I am reading it after several revisions, but I am impressed. I’d like to take a second to comment on someone else’s comments.

    Wilson wrote:

    Not Arminian, but Arminian-like? Why would this be a problem? If I believe in absolute predestination, and I do, and I also take at face value passages like Hebrews 6, 10, 2 Peter 2, and so forth, which, come to think of it, are also Arminian-like without being Arminian, how would that put me out of accord with the WCF?

    I answer:

    a) Why is it problematic to be “Arminian-like”? It is not problematic in itself. It’s problematic in that it is differs from the Reformed (Calvinist) position in similar ways to Arminianism.

    b) “Absolute Predestination” isn’t really a standard theological term. Arminians (the thoughtful ones, anyhow) use the term predestination to describe their own theology as well. That is moot, though. The question here, though, isn’t about whether the Federal Vision denies predestination.

    c) “I also take at face value passages like Hebrews 6, 10, 2 Peter 2, and so forth … .” When Arminians say that, they mean that when they read those passages in light of their traditions, without exegetical analysis, they arrive at particular conclusions. To the extent “face value” means that we take a passage according to the first explanation that pops to mind when read through the lenses of our tradition, taking things at “face value” is not doing justice to the text. Now, I cannot really be sure that’s what Wilson means … because he doesn’t go on to explain what means by “face value” or what he thinks those passage mean (not here, anyhow).

    d) “how would that put me out of accord with the WCF?”

    This question really is the follow-up/clarification question that should be asked. Relative to this question, perhaps the best way to identify the difference is to turn to WCF X:IV (aka 10:4):

    IV. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come to Christ, and therefore can not be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the law of that religion they do profess; and to assert and maintain that they may is without warrant of the Word of God.

    and to WCF XVII:I (17:1):

    I. They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.

    and finally to WCF XXVIII:I & VI (28:1 and 6):

    I. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life: which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in his Church until the end of the world.

    VI. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time.

    In contrast, JFVS (p. 7):

    Apostasy
    We affirm that apostasy is a terrifying reality for many baptized Christians. All who are baptized into the triune Name are united with Christ in His covenantal life, and so those who fall from that position of grace are indeed falling from grace. The branches that are cut away from Christ are genuinely cut away from someone, cut out of a living covenant body. The connection that an apostate has to Christ is not merely external.

    We deny that any person who is chosen by God for final salvation before the foundation of the world can fall away and be finally lost. The decretally elect cannot apostatize.

    That’s an area of disagreement. For the WCF (a statement of the Reformed/Calvinist position) there is no falling from a state of grace into eternal perdition. For the Arminianism and the Federal Vision (and, we should not hesitate to add, Romanism), there is falling from a state of grace into eternal perdition.

    Likewise, Romanism and the Federal Vision (and certain species of Arminianism) share ground against the Reformed position by way of apparently viewing the sacrament of Baptism as automatically conferring grace by the operation of the ritual. Thus, Romanism and the Federal Vision appear to assert that there may be reprobate who actually receive grace from baptism, but are nevertheless lost, whereas the Reformed position is that grace of God that is symbolized in Baptism is a sign and seal of regeneration, remission of sins, and of conversion – which only the elect partake in.

    There may be very important differences between Arminianism and the Federal Vision, but they share a very important difference from the Reformed position as expressed by the Westminster Confession of Faith.

    -TurretinFan

  34. Reed Here said,

    January 5, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    And here we are:

    33 comments later,
    1 repetition of my charges,
    Numerous FV-friendly responses,

    And not yet a simple refutation of my charges. I told you this was super-glue. The FV IS arminian-like!

  35. Reed Here said,

    January 5, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    TF: good stuff.

  36. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 5, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    Re: # 30

    Pete, although you’re replying to Zrim, the point I was trying to make in my post was that I don’t see how your version 1 is any better indication of Chris’ status as elect than the other. Am I misunderstanding or misrepresenting something?

    Re: # 31

    Questions of tone are more or less entirely subjective, since all you have are the words on the page. I didn’t mean any kind of “sorry, that’s all I have” tone, so I’ll leave it at that.

    As for the rest, I am perhaps filtering my pastoral understanding of the FV through my experience of Wilson’s own pastoral practice, having been a member at his church for some time, back around 2000. For example, when he preached a series on the seven deadly sins, he concluded each devestatingly convicting sermon with some like this:

    “The solution to this sin is not vain resolution. You cannot make yourself better, no matter how hard you try. Rather, flee to Christ, look to Christ, for in Him alone is forgiveness and freedom from this sin to be found.” [NB: that's not a direct quote from one particular sermon, but a pastiche of phrases that were characteristic of how he concluded.]

    Also, in giving me pastoral counsel, he was often pointed about how I was trying to accomplish my own atonement, making up for what I did, instead of accepting what Christ has done for me.

    So, all of his discussion of baptism, etc., I put in the context of that kind of experience of his pastoral activity.

    Now, the Reformed tradition has emphasized the “means of grace” as the places where Christ has guaranteed to be present to His people. He might work through an Ivan Ilytch-type experience, but He has not guaranteed that He will be there. He has guaranteed that He is present in baptism and in the Supper, so that is why the FV says to look there–since the sacraments are part and parcel of the Word.

    As for faithfulness and other elements of experience, you’ve already admitted the connection between our subjective experience and the objective work of Christ. The portion of the WCF you quote says that assurance is “founded upon,” in part, “inward evidence” of grace. That’s the practical syllogism, as I mentioned. So, the fact that the FV takes into account the sacraments, and one’s faithfulness does not mean somehow that those things are replacing the objective work of Christ. Rather, those are how we know and see the objective work of Christ: He has atoned for us by His death (we see this in the sacraments), He has earned for us the Holy Spirit (we see this in our own repentance and any small steps we make in faithful obedience).

    So, for a variety of reason, I don’t see the FV as replacing Christ with other things as the object of faith. Rather, where is Christ seen so that I can put my trust in Him? In the Word, the sacraments, the work of the Spirit, etc.

  37. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 5, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Okay, so maybe I’m off the deep end and need to inform my session of it, but I don’t think that I can know that I am decretally elect. Don’t shout and throw things yet.

    By “know” I refer to modernist epistemological certainty, in which the knowledge is grounded in the results of one’s own rationcination, or an inuitively clear idea. I would not say “I know I am one of the decretally elect.” I’m not sure how I would “know” that, since I don’t have access to the actual list of names in the Book of Life.

    So, I don’t “know.” Rather, I *believe*. On what grounds? On the grounds of the decree, to which I have no access? No, but I believe because Christ has said so in His word (and continues to do so), and has sealed me in baptism, and feeds me with himself in the Supper, and gives me life in the Spirit.

    You seem to be saying: “But those are all just by sight.” No, actually they are not. Look at the water. Do you see Christ? Is He standing right there, putting his hand on you to claim and bless you, in your physical vision? No, so to see Christ in baptism is the eye of faith. Ditto for the Supper, and for the Word, and for my own small steps in sanctification. Do I see the eschatological life of the Spirit? No, but I trust that He who begins a good work in me will be faithful to complete it…

    I don’t how “eschatological” and “day by day” or “visible” are at all the same. The whole point is that what is not yet cannot be seen, but only known by faith. So, the visible, day by day steps are what are seen, and it is faith that looks to the end: “…it has not appeared, as yet, what we shall be. We know that, when he appears, we shall be like him…”

  38. Pete Myers said,

    January 5, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    #36, Josh,

    Does this clear it up?

    If “elect faith” and “non-elect faith” are indistinguishable to Chris until Chris either perseveres or falls away… then Chris has no basis for being assured that he will persevere.

    If “elect faith” and “non-elect faith” are distinguishable to Christ before he either falls away, or perseveres… then Chris has a basis for being assured that he will persevere – his faith is evidence of God’s election. (in this situation non-elect faith is actually non-faith… this is a crucial distinction, between the FV and non-FV positions)

    So…

    If ALL the faithful are elect (i.e. only the elect get faith)… then when God gives me faith, I can have assurance that I will persevere.

    But if only SOME of the faithful are elect (i.e. some non-elect get the same faith too, but just for a time)… then when God gives me faith, I can’t have assurance that I will persevere.

    This feels to me remarkably straightforward, and I’m sorry that there’s so much confusion! Do please push me for clarification, Josh, because this seems to be much more obvious to me than it is to many I’m talking too (and therefore I’d appreciate any pointers to where that’s my fault).

  39. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 5, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    TurretinFan,

    The difference between RC and Arminian, is that there are not two levels of covenant grace. State of grace is state of grace.

    The FV says that being the covenant is real favor, real “grace.” The apostate really loses something, some actual benefit given by God (just as common grace is real grace, real blessing and favor). What he does not lose is something that is the same as the elect, however, as the denial in the Apostasy section makes clear (as well as the affirmations in the “Assurance of Salvation” and the “Divine Decrees” sections).

    I’ll use Lane counterfeit example. The RC and the Arminian both say that the apostate received the exact same, pure-gold coin that the true believer received, and then they give it back. The FV says that the reprobate receives a debased coin: but it still does much of what the real coin does (but groceries, look nice in a coin collection, etc.), and so that coin is really better than having no coin at all. But God will finally test all the coins, and only those who have the pure-gold coins that He gave them will be received into glory. So, there is a fundamental difference between the FV and RC/Arminianism.

  40. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 5, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Pete, thanks for putting so simply.

    I would say this: if Chris is looking at the nature of his own faith, then he’s looking at the wrong thing. You can’t tell, I would say, by the quality of the faith itself whether it is persevering or not. That’s the problem when faith looks at itself. I think Reed would agree with me here in telling Chris: “Dude, stop looking at your faith. Of course your faith doesn’t look strong, because it’s not–but Christ is: He will not let any of His own fall away. He tells you so in His word, so listen! He offers to eat with you and feed you each Lord’s Day, so come and eat! He teaches you to pray ‘Father,’ so pray ‘Father…’” Maybe that wouldn’t help Chris…it helps me, and I know I have the same struggles at times that Chris does.

  41. Pete Myers said,

    January 5, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    #39 Josh,

    So, there is a fundamental difference between the FV and RC/Arminianism.

    Yeah but the fundamental sameness is this: the holder of the coin doesn’t know if the coin will be accepted by the banker or not, until it actually happens.

  42. Pete Myers said,

    January 5, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    #40 Josh,

    But the problem is not with Chris’ faith.
    The problem is with the promise that Chris has been told to have faith in.

    If only SOME of those who have faith are saved, then the promise becomes “have faith and you might be saved”… (which is actually Islamic incidentally, I just realised).

    But if ALL of those who have faith are saved, then the promise is “have faith and you will be saved”

    I’m not telling Chris to look at his faith. In fact, the big problem Chris had way back when he chatted to his pastor was not with his faith – read the dialogue – the promise is with what his faith is placed in. That is what should bring him comfort, but isn’t.

  43. Pete Myers said,

    January 5, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Josh,

    I have tried to illustrate this here: http://www.metepyers.com/tempfaith.png

    Look at both systems – they’re both sooo similar, but sooo different pastorally.

    The person at the green spot is Chris. The solid blue bar is “faith”. The solid red bar is “false faith”. In the FV system, Chris cannot be promised salvation. In the non-FV system, he can be.

  44. Zrim said,

    January 5, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Pete,

    So, if I follow, Chris wants to know if he has a false faith or a true faith. (Worry seems like a trait of true faith, while apathy over it seems like a trait of false faith.)

    I have had similar discussions with Roman Catholics before who seem quite fixated on, “What’s the difference between me and the guy who apostasized years ago? We looked the same in 1982, then in 1989 he went AWOL-atheist. What’s to say I’m not next?” No matter how many rounds one goes with this, the rub is always the same: a quest for absolute certainty about the nature of true faith. But an “infallible assurance” is simply not the same as an absolute certainty. Moreover, employing an apostate’s faith as the template seems misguided in the first place. Thus, looking to Christ instead of an apostate seems like the most straight-forward answer to your staright-forward question.

  45. Reed Here said,

    January 5, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Joshua:

    Thanks for your personal anecdote concerning the ministry of DW. I suspect similar anecdotes can be offered concerning the ministry of other FV men, Meyers, Wilkins, et.al.

    I will simply observe that such anecdotal evidence is not consistent with the FV expressed in writing. This is more so with Wilkins, less so with DW. Given the underlying equivocation in the FV, one should not be surprised to find such inconsistencies between what is written and the pastich you offer of DW’s sermons. It actually supports the equivocation charge.

    I might also add that your reference to the “de-based” coin is exemplyfing of both the need and opportunity for the FV. To date, no FV proponent has sought to simply and clearly differentiate between the grace possessed by the NEVCM and that possessed by the EVCM. Instead, those like DW who insist there is a difference, find neither the need to explain, nor the need to correct their fellow travelers whose words say that it is the same grace possessed by both.

  46. Reed Here said,

    January 5, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    45 and counting; still no refutation! Super-glue; the FV IS arminian-like!

  47. Pete Myers said,

    January 5, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    #44, Zrim,

    So, if I follow, Chris wants to know if he has a false faith or a true faith.

    No… you don’t follow. Probably because you’re not reading my comments in the context they’re given.

    Here is a visual illustration of the position that I am disagreeing with:
    http://www.metepyers.com/tempfaith.png

    Blue blocks are “faith”, in a true sense.
    Red blocks are “false faith”.

    You’ll see immediately that the FV has the same colour block for those who are elect and non-elect – the only difference is that one falls away the other doesn’t.

    It is this position that people have been putting forward on these comment threads – that the only difference between temporary and persevering faith is that one is temporary and the other one perseveres.

    Chris is the green dot. Now, let me state the heart of what you haven’t understood me saying:

    The problem is not with Chris’ faith.
    The problem is with the promise that Chris has been told to have faith in.

    If only SOME of those who have faith are saved, then the promise becomes “have faith and you might be saved” (this is the top picture, the FV picture)

    But if ALL of those who have faith are saved, then the promise is “have faith and you will be saved” (this is the bottom picture, the non-FV picture)

    For the bottom picture, assurance works like this: (syllogism A)
    1) All the elect are guaranteed salvation.
    2) Only the elect have faith in God’s promise of guaranteed salvation.
    3) Therefore, if you have faith in God’s promise of guaranteed salvation, you know you are elect, which gives you assurance that you are guaranteed salvation.

    For the top picture, assurance fails, even though the FV are not denying God’s sovereignty in election: (syllogism B)
    1) All the elect are guaranteed salvation.
    2) Both elect and non-elect have faith in God’s promise of guaranteed salvation.
    3) Therefore, if you have faith in God’s promise of guaranteed salvation, you don’t necessarily know you are elect, which therefore cannot give you assurance that you are guaranteed salvation.

    My conversations with a particular FV proponent on these comment threads about this particular issue have come to an impasse because he denies the conclusion of syllogism B.

    He does so, because, he asserts that you can know you are elect. He is right in saying that you can know you are elect – but the problem is the FV position that temporary and persevering faith are the same (except in duration) leaves the FV without an explanation as to HOW you can know you’re elect.

    That is precisely the point that I keep trying to make over and over and over… the fact that you can know you are elect, proves that there must be a difference between temporary and persevering faith other than duration.

  48. Pete Myers said,

    January 5, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    #46, Reed,

    We’re actually in a situation where it seems almost impossible to get people to articulate the charges in your post, no matter refute them.

    #45, Josh and Reed, and anyone who’s listening.

    I’d just like to say, that I say often, publicly, privately and loudly that I have been greatly blessed by DW’s writing and ministry. I really have – I really, really have.

    That doesn’t stop me from (I hope irenically/gently/Christianly) saying that he’s wrong on some issues, despite the gloriously wise and godly brother in Christ that he is.

  49. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 5, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Well, you say it supports equivocation, I say it gives me a context in which to interpret Wilson in a charitable light, especially when we’re talking about the pastoral application of the FV.

    Once again (and this is the point I have made over and over again), on the “there’s no difference but duration” thing: duration is one major evidence of the nature of the faith. “Eternal” and “temporal” are not simply a difference of length, as though “eternal” is just “really, really, really long.” Eternal, in the Greek, is literally “of the age,” i.e., the age to come. So, there is a faith that truly ushers one into the age to come, and that is one that will necessarily persevere because of its ontological nature (i.e., “eternal” or “of the age”). The difference between gold and dross is not that the gold survives the fires longer. The difference is that one is gold and the other is dross, and therefore one endures and one is consumed.

    So, the blue bar that stops short of eternal glory should not be blue at all, but red, since the fact that it stops short shows that it has a different nature entirely.

    I simply don’t see why the FV promise is modally different (maybe I’m just stupid–R.S. Clark would probably say so). The promise is “All those who have true and living faith will be saved.” And that “true and living faith” is given only to the elect. How, in the FV scheme, does one know that one has this true and living faith? By looking to Christ in the Word, in the sacraments, in sanctification, in the life of the Church. Same as in WCF 18.

    Notice that one does not have to know one is elect to actually be elect: assurance is not part of the essence of faith. If one who has true faith dies in the midst of his struggle with assurance, that does not negate his faith. So, he doesn’t have to know that he is among the decretally elect.

  50. Reed Here said,

    January 6, 2009 at 12:52 am

    Joshua:

    It’s more substantive than, “you say tomato, I say tomahto.”

    The charitable light is nothing more than a smokesecreen for ignoring the need for substantive responses.

    Take up the challenge as outlined, or not. But please, no more bloviating and blathering. :-)

  51. David Gadbois said,

    January 6, 2009 at 1:10 am

    Reed is correct in his characterization of FV. If you are a predestinarian who believes you can be predestined to lose your salvation (defined, in part, by ordo salutis benefits), you have set up a halfway house in between Arminianism and Reformed theology. That is to say, you are not Reformed. Yes, it is true that Arminians don’t believe in predestination, but the denial of the Fifth Canon of the Synod of Dordt is one of the distinctives of the Arminian Remonstrants.

    If Reed’s characterization is inaccurate, I would only suggest that it would refined by calling it a Roman Catholic or Lutheran error. There are, after all, quarters of Roman Catholicism that have a strong predestinarian belief, yet reject perseverance of the saints. The same would hold true of our Lutheran brethren, and some of the Anglican communion. But that still is not Reformed theology.

    I won’t get in to it in detail now, but I’d also say that FV is closer to Rome on justification (see especially Lusk and Leithart on that issue). So at least our Lutheran brethren get that one right (they have an unequivocal sola fide and law/gospel distinction). You’d think that FVers would at least be embarrassed by the fact that they don’t even have the virtues of our Lutheran friends while sharing their vices. But it seems it is impossible for FVers to show any shame whatsoever.

    Lane and I have both talked with Xon on this issue before. The ‘out’ that FVers like Xon try to take is by categorizing the ‘justification’ or ‘forgiveness’ of the non-elect differently than the forgiveness the elect receive. They try to circumvent a contradiction by saying ‘forgiveness A is not forgiveness B.’

    But then when they are forced to coherently define what forgiveness B is, they are at a loss for any meaningful definition. They can’t get beyond a formal distinction. Merely saying something to the effect of ‘they are different because they are different” or saying “well, there is a qualitative difference” is hardly meaningful or honest. Or couching the differences in terms that are reducible to chronological terms (‘the verdict of justification given to the NECM is not the same as the verdict given to them at the Last Judgment’).

    We wouldn’t consider men orthodox who can’t do better than that in regard to distinctions within the Trinity, would we? No, we expect that they distinguish, positively and coherently, the sense in which God is one, and the sense in which God is three.

    The problem with positing some sort of ‘forgiveness’ with God, in regard to the non-elect, in some temporary and different sense from the forgiveness that the elect receive, is the fact that God’s justice is unitary. There is only one courtroom where we stand trial before God. The benchmark is perfect obedience to all of God’s commandments. If we are to be forgiven *in any sense* before God, it must be in this courtroom, and according to this one standard (given in the rather clear-cut and unitary Covenant of Works). There are not two courtrooms or two covenants of works. So there cannot be two kinds of ‘forgiveness’ that are meted out to God’s creatures: one that is temporary to NECMs, one that is eternal to the elect.

  52. jared said,

    January 6, 2009 at 1:37 am

    Zrim (#17),

    You say,

    You can know but someone else can’t? That is what’s quite odd. If nobody knows the secret things of God (Dt. 29:29), how did you slip in under the wire? And what need have we of pastors or means of grace if we have that sort of absolute knowledge?

    This is quite a misreading! I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not, but nevertheless. I didn’t “slip in under the wire” because I don’t know the secret things of God. I don’t know who else is elect besides me. That I am elect is secret to all but myself (and there’s still the possibilitythat I am deceiving myself, but I’m not). That you are elect is secret to everyone but you, and so on. So God’s eternal decree of election in general is unknowable by me (and everyone else) but that he decreed my election in particular is quite knowable (to me).

    Reed (#22),

    You say,

    No. 13: Jared, I want to thank you for continuing to provide exceptional examples of the confusion of the FV. I do mean that sincerely, as it provides me helpful opportunities to explain why I’m so concerned, and not simply trade comments back and forth.

    Glad I can be of some service. I’ve said that the only thing we can tell Pete’s “Chris the Christian” is that he must look to his faith. You respond,

    This is exactly not what I tell Chris. I expressly do not tell him to give himself to looking to his own subjective or objective experience. Rather I tell him to look to Christ – and only Christ! I tell him to look the objective person and work of Christ – and rest only in Him. I expressly do not tell Chris to rest in his efforts to trust in Christ, or even his experience of trusting in Christ.

    So you tell him to look to Christ, and only to Christ. You tell him to look to the objective person and work of Christ and to rest only in Him. What is telling someone to look to their faith if it is not, at base, this very thing? How is it that “Chris” can look to the objective person and work of Christ if not by his faith? How can he rest only in Him without his faith? I can see that my mistake was that I was taking this for granted and including all those other external elements (baptism, repentance, prayer, etc.). As an aside, what do you do when “Chris” responds to what you say to him by asking you “How does that assure me? How do I know I’m really looking to Christ and not just deceiving myself?”? Pete’s approach isn’t any less problematic. You say,

    Now, the ordinary FV response is to say, “We’re not saying anything different.” So I ask, o.k. please clarify for me, what does “resting in Christ mean?” The ordinary response is, “resting in Christ means resting in one’s baptism, one’s obedience, one’s repentance, one’s prayer, etc.,” exactly the definition you’ve offered here.

    Except I wasn’t asked (and haven’t been asked) “what does ‘resting in Christ’ mean?”. I would say resting in Christ means knowing, assenting to and trusting that Jesus has obtained salvation for you. Understanding what “resting in Christ” means doesn’t seem to be “Chris the Christian”‘s problem. His problem seems to be that he doesn’t know what it looks like, i.e. “How do I know that I am resting in Christ?”. So I’ve not offered any such definition as you attribute to me. You ask,

    What must I do to make this more beneficial for you?

    Show me where I (me, Jared) am equivocating.

    Pete (#27),

    You say,

    My issue is – that I haven’t heard you answer (I am trying to listen to hear if it’s there) – that:

    a) From the doctrine of faith that you’ve outlined, I cannot see how it’s possible for you to know that you are decretally elect
    b) I’ve heard you assert over and over that you can know you are decretally elect – but until (a) is answered, your assertion doesn’t seem to stand… but you don’t seem to even recognise that (a) is my real problem, not your lack of assertion.

    I think true faith is “accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.” I think false faith is a facsimile of true faith; it, in fact, does none these things even though it looks like it does. You can know that you are decretally elect only by possessing true faith and by being granted such assurance via the Holy Spirit (and according to whatever method He deigns). How do I know I’m elect? Well, I have true faith which accepts, receives and rests on Christ alone for justification, sanctification and eternal life. I have the Spirit’s testimony with my spirit. I endeavor to walk in good conscience before Jesus and I love Him in sincerity. In short (and ultimately), I have assurance because God has given me such a measure of true faith that I have no doubts. In other words, assurance comes from God and His promises. I’ve said my piece here and I’ll not bare any more accusations of groundless assertions or of not recognizing some supposed problem with this (“my”) particular formulation. If you say this looks like Arminianism, then fine. I’m an Arminian. If you say it looks like Roman Catholicism, then fine. I’m a Roman Catholic. If you say it looks like Federal Vision, then fine. I’m a Federal Vision advocate. I care not what you (or anyone else, for that matter) think it looks like because I know perfectly well what actually is: Reformed, orthodox and Confessional (see WCF chapters 14 & 18).

    Reed (#34),

    Is it really so amazing that glue you’ve created holds together a formulation of the FV that you’ve also created? But I’ll humor you anyway; you say,

    Both posit a real possession (although differently) of the ordo salutis (generally and particularly, not comprehensively) by these fallers-away.

    Lane says (in his post “Sign and Seal” on July 30, 2007):

    The elect participate in the ordo salutis and the non-elect don’t, even if they are all participants in the administration of the covenant of grace. I’m not sure that Wilson would disagree with this. And least, I hope he doesn’t.

    DW responds (in his post “Continued Rejection of Westminster” on July 31, 2007):

    No, I don’t disagree. But let me make this qualification. The ordo is not a car you ride to heaven. Rather, presupposing election, it is a description of what happens to a person throughout the process of his salvation. I do agree that it accurately describes what happens to the elect, and does not at all describe what happens to the non-elect.

    So the FV does not posit that “these fallers-away” possess the ordo salutis at all; hence this is a false premise. You say,

    Both posit the loss of whatever ordo salutis possessed (however possessed).

    Since the FV does not posit that the “fallers-away” possess the ordo salutis this is another false premise. Whatever the “fallers-away” possess, it isn’t the ordo salutis. Of course then there’s the qualification, you say,

    To be sure, some FV proponents (interestingly not all) will maintain that the FV does not posit the possession of any of the ordo salutis by the fallers away. Instead, the FV offers that these fallers away possess benefits of the Covenant of Grace; benefits described using terms and formulations functionally non-distinguishable from the comparable ordo salutis benefits.

    But they are functionally distinguishable: the “fallers away” aren’t regenerated by the Holy Spirit; rather they are illuminated (as Turretin would say). They don’t accept, receive and rest on Christ alone for their justification, sanctification and eternal life. They were not elected before the foundations of the earth. They aren’t predestined to be glorified. Their response to the gospel call and the inward call is shallow and rootless. I’d say these are all quite a bit different than the ordo salutis benefits.

    Voilà

  53. Pete Myers said,

    January 6, 2009 at 4:39 am

    I declare the debate settled.

    At least in substance.

    I don’t know if it was my utter failiure to understand what Josh and Jared were originally saying, or whether they have just shifted their position without realising it, or whether it’s on of the myriad of other explanations – I don’t care.

    What I do care about, is, the substantive point we’ve all been debating is now settled.

    Josh said:
    So, the blue bar that stops short of eternal glory should not be blue at all, but red, since the fact that it stops short shows that it has a different nature entirely.

    And Jared said:
    I think false faith is a facsimile of true faith; it, in fact, does none these things even though it looks like it does. You can know that you are decretally elect only by possessing true faith and by being granted such assurance via the Holy Spirit (and according to whatever method He deigns). How do I know I’m elect? Well, I have true faith which accepts, receives and rests on Christ alone for justification, sanctification and eternal life.

    Brothers – we are all in the same place on this now. These statements are exactly the kind of statements that I was having trouble hearing you say. I am sorry for where this was an uncharitable reading on my part, and a failure to listen properly – I really am trying to be charitable and listen properly – I am sorry for where I’ve failed to do so.

    It is fair to say, then, that we are all agreed: true faith is not false faith. Temporally speaking, there is a difference in the nature of the faith itself at the particular point in time when that faith is being espoused by both the elect and the reprobate. This is a settled point that we all share in common.

    Observations for moving forward
    Since we are all agreed on this:

    1. Let’s not use confusing language that implies, or may inadvertantly communicate that true and false faith are the same. I haven’t been to seminary yet – but I have been working for churches for several years, and had a moderate amount of theological training. If I can get confused, then my congregation can get confused too. So shall we take this as a lesson in being very careful not to speak in a way that can confuse our hearers that we might think that true and false faith can be the same at any point?

    Josh – in the case of Wilkins, I would gently ask him to be a little clearer. I know that he cares very much about using the language of scripture, and scripture seems very clear to me in distinguishing between the inward life of the faithful and the unfaithful. That clarity doesn’t seem reflected in the things you tell me he’s saying.

    2. If any in the FV are saying that true and false faith are basically the same at the point at which they are held by the elect and non-elect, then, I think we’re all agreed with disagree with them… and we should gently encourage them to change their position.

  54. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 6, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Jared and Joshua (#misc.):

    Set aside “The FV” for a moment, since they aren’t monolithic and since neither of you see yourselves directly in their camp.

    In your view, does the term “covenantal election” and the blessings attendant to it properly refer to a problem of knowledge only?

    In other words, do we speak of the “covenantally elect” *only* because we on the outside do not know who is truly decretally elect?

    OR

    Do we speak of the “covenantally elect” and assign to them certain blessings for another reason?

    If the first, then does notion of “judgment of charity” adequately deal with the problem of knowledge? Or, is something additional needed?

    Here’s why I ask: Wilkins and Barach explicitly deny that FV theology is addressing a problem of knowledge only. See Wilkins’ response to the “Nine Declarations.”

    As long as I interpret the FV theology as a solution to the problem of knowledge, it (mostly) works. But if I take Wilkins seriously on his denial, then it becomes much more complicated, to the point of overthrowing my capacity for reason. I wonder whether you two have also been reading the FV theology through that lens.

    Jeff Cagle

  55. Todd said,

    January 6, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Why does it seem like everyone who tries to defend FV adds the disclaimer that they themselves are not FV? So who actually identifies themselves as FV? Sort of reminds me of the Seinfeld episode; “Me, I’m not gay personally, not that there’s anything wrong with that.” :-)

  56. Reed Here said,

    January 6, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Jared: before getting to some responses, I really do want to know, are you o.k.? Its one thing to debate vigorously given topics. Its another to sense that the debate is not one’s doctrine, but oneself.

    Let me assure you of my kind intentions and well wishes. I do recognize that you and I are a mix: both our understanding of doctrine is a mix (of right and wrong), and our application in our daily lives is a mix (of right and wrong). And even more importantly for both of us, our hope, our security, and our comfort rest not in us, but in Christ.

    I know I’m not saying anything you don’t know. I’m posting in hopes that my affirmation will encourage of where my heart is in these things.

    You have been willing to take on the role of defending something you don’t completely agree with, but which you nevertheless believe is being fundamentally misunderstood by the critics. I understand, and have tried to respond with that in mind. To the degree my words have tended to conflate and ignore this please forgive me.

  57. Tommy Keene said,

    January 6, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Reed, #56. Maybe you could respond to Jared’s point, namely, that DW has specifically denied that the fallers-away possess the ordo salutis. And as a side note, I don’t see how to point Jared is making would cause you to think he is not “ok”.

  58. Tommy Keene said,

    January 6, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Sorry, should be “the point Jared is making.” This blog really needs some sort of comments plugin, like intensedebate: http://www.intensedebate.com/

  59. Reed Here said,

    January 6, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Jared: you say, “So you tell him to look to Christ, and only to Christ. You tell him to look to the objective person and work of Christ and to rest only in Him. What is telling someone to look to their faith if it is not, at base, this very thing?”

    I.O.W., when you say, “look to your faith,” you mean look to the object of your faith, Jesus Christ. “Look to your faith,” is merely shorthand for telling someone to trust in the content of their faith, not their response or experience.

    I appreciate the distinction. I would only respond that in light of the conversation here, and the nature of the question of equivocation, please appreciate that it is not fair to assume we understand your short-hand. It is neither an unwillingness to read you charitably, nor is it a desire to put words in your mouth.

    The FV has effectively adopted Shepherd’s faithful obedience paradigm. At best, when one who holds this says, “look to your faith,” they are saying look to the evidences of your faith, because they offer you “proof” of the work of the Spirit in your life.

    I won’t be obnoxious and paste quotes from some of your recent comments Jared. I will offer you, without any intention of rubbing it in, or trying to prove my point at any expense, some of your comments (other threads more than this one) have had these kinds of “look to the evidences because they show,” constructions in them. If I’m being fair here, this suggests maybe some need for clarification in your thinking, or maybe simply in your expressions. I offer that with good will.

    Some of Joshua’s “charitable” explanations of DW’s conviction, to wit, concerning (sense quote) “looking to the Word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, because in them you see Jesus,” actually sounds quite good to me. Let me note (not that I am anything, but for the sake of the discussion here) I accept not simply Joshua’s remembered “pastiche,” I accept that this is what DW meant. I.O.W. I am willing to charitably believe that DW meant exactly what the Bible means, look to the object of your faith.

    The problem is that this is not consistent with the “faithful obedience” formulaitons (and I think some other baptism formulations, but I can’t remember if this is a fair criticism). In this (these?) example, the FV at best is muddled, (sense quote), “look to your faith, that is look to the evidences for in them you see Jesus.”

    That this is deficient is best seen from the analogy of how we know the Scriputre really is the infallible/inerrant word of God: the evidences, those things which are materially apprised (covenantal orientation to use the FV category) help us to this conclusion (they support it). Yet the real proof is the objective testimony of the Spirit subjectively apprised in the soul of each believer.

    (You may see some inferences here as to why I think the FV is an unhelpful construction, even in the most charitable reading. It contrasts things more strongly than Scripture does, covenantal vs. decretal, and then conflates, functionally makes them equivalent).

  60. Todd said,

    January 6, 2009 at 10:44 am

    On a lighter note – if you want a great summary of all the major American news of 2008 in one minute, check this out:

  61. Reed Here said,

    January 6, 2009 at 11:05 am

    No. 57, Tommy: the answer is the issue of equivocation. If DW (the FV) is not guilty of equivocation, then my challenge falls flat.

    However, if equivocation exists, a functional equivalence between the covenantal and decretal formulations offered by the FV, then my challenge is proven.

    It does not help that we are not dealing with a cohesive, consistent position with which all speak. Even the Joint FV statement seems written as an exercise in post-modern hermeneutics, in that all FV proponents can agree to it, can say it means different things, and then can turn around and say they all agree with each other’s explanations.

    Hmm, I’m wondering if this post-modern charge might be sufficient to prove the point that the FV is at best an unhelpful construction, and possibly something much, much worse.

  62. David Gadbois said,

    January 6, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    I sense a big part of the trouble both Jared and Pete (to a lesser extent) are having here is that they simply are not familiar with the literature and history on the FV side. For instance, Jared naively said:

    So the FV does not posit that “these fallers-away” possess the ordo salutis at all; hence this is a false premise.

    This came after he provided a quote from Doug Wilson to that effect. The problem is that Wilkins and Leithart have said otherwise. It is in the Federal Vision book as well as their other writings. Wilkins was pressed on this specific issue by his presbytery (shortly before he left). It is a major issue the FV have, even if FV proponents are not unanimous on it. This issue was a big part of why Wilkins departed the PCA for the CREC. Anyone familiar with the FV controversy ought to know this.

  63. Pete Myers said,

    January 6, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    #62 David,

    I’ll fully admit that I don’t know that much about the FV, I’m reading through The Auburn Avenue Theology at the moment. I’m basically only familiar with some of Doug’s stuff.

    My comment in #53 is simply to try and affirm to Josh and Jared that I have no disagreement with them if they are happy to say that the reprobate never have a faith that is the same at any moment as that of the elect. With them, the debate is therefore settled. If they both claim never to have said anything different, then, I wanted to be gracious and say that it was obviously my mistake for misreading them then.

    If Wilkins or Wilson say differently – then I disagree with Wilkins and Wilson.

  64. jared said,

    January 6, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    David Gadbois,

    You say,

    This came after he provided a quote from Doug Wilson to that effect. The problem is that Wilkins and Leithart have said otherwise. It is in the Federal Vision book as well as their other writings. Wilkins was pressed on this specific issue by his presbytery (shortly before he left). It is a major issue the FV have, even if FV proponents are not unanimous on it. This issue was a big part of why Wilkins departed the PCA for the CREC. Anyone familiar with the FV controversy ought to know this.

    Irrelevant to my argument. Wilkins and Leithart are proponents of Federal Vision, to be sure; but to defeat Reeds argument requires only that at least one person not “fit the bill” of arminian-like. This was easily done (and I don’t imagine DW is the only example). Now, if Reed had said some of the FV proponents are arminian-like, well that would be a bit more difficult (perhaps impossible) to disprove. I don’t naively assume that no one in the FV posits the possession (to some extent or another) of the ordo salutis; I’m quite well aware that some do. But that some do is not grounds for labeling the entire “movement” as arminian-like, which is what Reed seems to be doing (and what I demonstrated is false).

  65. David Gadbois said,

    January 6, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    But that some do is not grounds for labeling the entire “movement” as arminian-like, which is what Reed seems to be doing (and what I demonstrated is false).

    Wrong. You demonstrated one lone exception. If it is an exception to the rule, then it is still fair to call FV *as a movement* arminian-like. To call FV arminian-like, as Reed has done is a generalization. Generalizations admit of exceptions. But Reed’s label is still true as a generalization.

    Every FV critic at this site would admit that DW’s position is relatively moderate. That’s part of why he is such an effective public face for FV. He runs the press relations office for FV. He has to say relatively moderate things in order to distract from the more blatant heterodoxy of his buddies.

  66. Reed Here said,

    January 6, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Jared:

    Let’s say, for the sake of debate, we agree that the FV-variety that Wilkins, and others affirm is indeed arminian-like. Let’s further affirm, for debate sake, we agree that the FV-variety that DW affirms is not arminian-like.

    Therefore, since not all FV-varieties are arminian-like, then the general conclusion that the FV is arminian-like cannot apply. (This appears to be your argument).

    Such surgical dissecting is disingenuous. You ignore the validity of David’s point, that of generalization. But even assuming you are right, then the FV is guilty of the worst kind of post-modern fodderal.

    > Both Wilkins and DW affirm that the FV Joint Statement accurately describes their own FV position.
    > Yet (according to you here), in that their individual positions do not agree with each other, one can be called arminian-like and the other cannot.

    So which is it, “yes,” “no,” “maybe,” or “I don’t know and it doesn’t matter.”?

    How about one or both of them are equivocating, using terms in their arguments in a shifting manner? Thus, one quote says one thing, and another go exactly opposite. Meanwhile they claim they’ve been consistent, both with their own position, and each other.

    Nor will it do to note that one of them (DW) will offer some scruples concerning some particulars of a given FV proponent. This is because they all affirm the particular FV hermeneutic (covenantal only). This is why DW can affirm essential agreement with the rest of the FV propopents, and why it is eminently fair for me to likewise challenge at the general level.

    Finally, equivocation is fundamental to the FV, no matter the variety. Super-glue!

  67. Reed Here said,

    January 6, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Jared: with reference to responding to my challenge in this post, you say, “But they are functionally distinguishable:” and then you go on to offer some distinguishing between the experience of the NEVCM and the VCM. If I might offer some assistance in destroying my challenge, the critical point is the issue of equivocation. The prior two points do not follow if the equivocation charge is false. In my estimation, this is the Achilles Heel of the critics opposition to the FV.

    I applaud your efforts to offer some differentiation to disprove equivocation. If I might, let me take the list you’ve offered here, plus some other stuff you’ve said, and try to present it in a systematic format, one that I hope you will agree demonstrates both accurate understanding and fair representation. Using no particular redemptive benefit, but offering just a generalized list, you’ve noted:

    NEVCM (fallers away)
    Covenant elect only
    Experience HS ministry (illumination)
    Respond to external call only (shallow/rootless)
    Receive CoG benefits only
    Temporary experience (no perseverance)

    EVCM (secure)
    Covenant & decretal elect
    Experience HS ministry (regeneration)
    Respond to external & internal call (real root)
    Receive CoG & Ordo Salutis benefits
    Eternal experiencec(perseverance)

    Is this a fair summary? I’ve left off the list such controversial subjects as initial-final justification, as I don’t remember this being a part of the FV position with which you are comfortable.

    Assuming this list is accurate and fair, let me agree with you when you say, “I’d say these are all quite a bit different than the ordo salutis benefits.” I’d also add that these differences do not remove my charge. That is because the list is insufficient to deal with the challenge of equivocation. In fact, your conclusion (“Viola”) that you have proven your point demonstrates that you’ve simply ignored this issue.

    As to your request in another post that I “prove” your equivocation, remember Jared that my argument has not been with you, but with the FV. I do not think you are guilty of equivocation per se. Instead you are guilty of ignoring the charge (as you do here,), you do not agree that the FV equivocates. Nothing you’ve said disproves the equivocation examples offered by others here, and illuminated to some degree on previous threads here at GB (going back 3 years now, I think). To date, such examples have not been adequately addressed.

    Let me suggest again that the solution is to be found in explicating the difference between what it means to possess CoG benefits only, and OS benefits as well. And critical to this differentiation will be to identify the seminal distinctions between the work of the Spirit in the NEVCM vs. the EVCM.

    I.O.W., in my estimation, we’ve come full circle. We’ve been down these roads before. I’ve asked numerous times for these particular answers. (You have said you agree with Turretin’s take on temporary faith; knowing this is a start in that I know at least in part what you disagree with.)

    To summarize:

     What is the exact nature of the differences between CoG only benefits and CoG+OS benefits?
     What are the differences between how the Spirit works in the NEVCM and the EVCM?

    Until the equivocation charge is shown to be false:

     The FV proposes a functional equivalency between CoG benefits and OS benefits.
     This is equivocation.
     Therefore when the FV’s explanation of faller’s away is functionally equivalent to the Arminian explanation (both possess, both ultimately lose).
     Therefore, the FV is arminian-like.

    Super-glue.

  68. Reed Here said,

    January 6, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Jared, do you have any sympathy with the following illustrative fictional conversation?

    FV: the NEVCM and EVCM both experience real union with Christ.
    ME: what do you mean, that both experience real union with Christ as in decretal?
    FV: no, no, you’re not listening. The NEVCM experience real covenantal union, whereas only the EVCM experience real decretal union.
    ME: o.k., (ignoring the fact of the equivocation on “real” for the sake of the conversation), so how is covenantal union different from decretal union?
    FV: well one lasts, and the other doesn’t.
    ME: Is that all?
    FV: Essentially. Both are works of the Spirit in applying Christ. Both are real experiences of redemption.
    ME: Uhhh … do you mean something different by the work of the Spirit, like you did with “real union” (i.e., are you equivocating again and not telling me)?
    FV: No, no, no, look, you’re asking the wrong kinds of questions. Real is real, no matter how you look at it. The real issues that we can only objectively know the covenantal about anyone. Therefore, since there is a real difference between the covenantal vs. the decretal, that difference cannot be known. Therefore the difference between real vs. real really doesn’t matter.
    ME: Uhhh … that’s equivocating.
    FV: now you’re just demonstrating you’re ___________ (fill in the blank, none of the judgments are all that kind).

    Admittedly Jared, I conflated a lot of conversation. Yet I think this is a fair representation of what we’ve heard. For just another example, take a look at Lane’s “forgiveness” challenge to DW. They got far enough into it that Lane asked for the agreement that there is no forgiveness for the NEVCM. So far, no response. It will be interesting to see if DW directly responds or not.

  69. Pete Myers said,

    January 6, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    #67 Reed,

    I would be very grateful if you would outline for me a similar list of NEVCM and EVCM benefits that you would hold to… a summary of your own position.

    I’m still trying to think my way around what it is that NEVCM fall from – partly from a pastoral point of view for when I next get asked by someone who’s read Hebrews 6, and is feeling worried.

  70. Reed Here said,

    January 6, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Pete:

    The critical issue is not the list. It is with reference to differentiating the Spirit’s work in the NEVCM vs. EVCM. I refer you back to the Temporary Faith posts, where these things are substantially spelled out.

    Basically, it comes down to what is meant by the “common operations of the spirit.” The FV wants to maintain that this is a subset of the Spirit’s work in the EVCM. Thus temporary faith is a temporary version of vital faith.

    I maintain that this is a completely separate work, that temporary faith is categorically a different kind of faith altogether, not in any manner to be understood as internal, inward, vital, or spiritual, anything that the EVCM experience. (Jared seems to agree with this, some confusion notwithstanding. It is not clear that any FV proponent would.)

    Thus, regardless of any adjustments I might make to the list, the critical issue is how one understands what the Spirit does in the CoG benefits.

    As well, by now you should be aware that Jared’s delineation here is a substantial conflation of positions. I doubt any FV proponent would agree with his assessment, that is after they had finished qualifying the terms used (if they would).

  71. Reed Here said,

    January 6, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    As to Heb 6, the traditional position presented by Calvin is sufficient. The markers in the text make it clear, to some of us at least, that the warning in Heb 6, as other such passages, are intended to drive the believer to Christ. The text is not talking about a real possibility for a believer (one vitally united to Christ).

    When I speak with concerned souls (having been one myself), I ask the same question I ask after fencing the table in the Lord’s Supper. The warnings of the fencing are intended to get you to answer one question, in who are you trusting? If the answer is Christ, then all is good.

  72. Reed Here said,

    January 6, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    No. 55, Todd: yeah, I wondered some myself about how common that characteristic seems.

  73. Reed Here said,

    January 6, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Pete:

    Heb 6 again; the NEVCM fall away from the CoG, not the OS. As long as we’re not talking about the FV equivocation, I see nothing wrong with this understanding.

    There are real – external, outward, fleshly* (not internal, inward, spiritual-vital) benefits in the CoG. We simply need to maintain the separation of these from the OS.

    * Paul’s notion of this world order, as opposed to the next. See Ridderbos’ Outline of Paul for a good explanation.

  74. jared said,

    January 6, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    David Gadbois (#65),

    Oh, right; forgot about the generalization thing. Those FV dogs!

    Reed,

    Re: 66,

    See my above response to David.

    Re: 67,

    You say,

    Assuming this list is accurate and fair, let me agree with you when you say, “I’d say these are all quite a bit different than the ordo salutis benefits.” I’d also add that these differences do not remove my charge. That is because the list is insufficient to deal with the challenge of equivocation. In fact, your conclusion (“Viola”) that you have proven your point demonstrates that you’ve simply ignored this issue.

    I think the list is accurate and fair (though certainly not complete). So, if offering differentiation doesn’t disprove the charge of equivocation then it will be pretty impossible to offer a solvent for your super glue. You confirm this,

    Nothing you’ve said disproves the equivocation examples offered by others here, and illuminated to some degree on previous threads here at GB (going back 3 years now, I think). To date, such examples have not been adequately addressed.

    Basically I am not able to offer enough differentiation to deflect your charge. Right, I get it. And I shall not continue attempting. So long as everyone is clear that Jared isn’t FV even though he agrees with much of what “they” say (okay, okay, much of what DW says anyway).

    Re: 68,

    No, not much sympathy for that conversation at all; it presumes equivocation. You expect to see the FV equivocating and so you see them doing so all over the place. For instance, how on God’s green earth did you conclude that they are equivocating on “real”? Sorry, I just don’t buy that the confusion brought about by the FV is a result of inherent equivocation. As for forgiveness, DW says this in his most recent response to Lane:

    “And I respond to it this way — the reprobate covenant member is unforgiven. He does not have the root of the matter in him. He is a tare, not wheat. He is a cleaned-up pig, not a lamb. He is son of Belial and the devil too, not in that order. He is damned and going to hell. His baptism places greater covenantal condemnation on him, not lesser. The only kind of [forgiveness] he could possibly have is a forgiveness that is consistent with the common operations of the Spirit, whatever those are.”

    But sense he’s an exception (or the pretty and deceitful face of the FV, as some would say), so I suppose this isn’t helpful to you.

  75. Xon said,

    January 6, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    I am largely responding to Lane’s #28 here, and have not read all comments. Though I have read many of them, and some of my comments will be relevant to things outside of #28.

    I

    Lane, “narrative ontology” (itself a particular spin on “relational ontology”) is hardly something that FVers are just making up so they can say they affirm a difference between EVCMs and NEVCMs. I worry your zeal for refuting FV has caused you to miss a large move in contemporary theology.

    My own dissertation on Jonathan Edwards, and I am not alone in this, sees his TRINITARIANISM as entialing a relational/narratival ontology. Because God is Triune, and because He makes the world to be a reflection of His own glory, created being is itself fundamentally inter-related, and things are significantly constituted in their essence based on their relations to other things. Chief among these “relational” essence-defining qualities would have to be an entity’s relationship to God. If a person is eventually and everlastingly cut off from God, then he is very different (throughout his entire “story” of existence) than the person who is eventually and everlastingly reconciled with God.

    In any case, “relational ontology” has a LOT of people arguing for it these days (on both philosohpical/theological and biblical grounds) from across the wider Christian tradition. EO’s, RCs, some liberal Prots, some conservative prots, etc. To dismiss it as some ad hoc invention by FVers to get themselves of the hook is simply uncharitable (probably born out of haste and not malicious intent). There are currents of argument which these FVers find persuasive, and that is why they go in a “relational” or “narratival” direction. And, since they have gone in that direction, it does offer at least part of an answer regarding the difference between ECVMs and NECVMs.

    II

    As to the FV being “unable to define” the difference (a difference beyond that implied by a narratival ontology, that is), I remain confused as to what the theological or practical benefit is that you think they are losing.

    (And, to be clear about what I am arguing vs. what I am not, I actually think that FV has resources at its disposal to “define” the difference, and certainly pale-alers like Wilson have already done so. But I am taking up the hypothetical case of the FVer who openly admits to being unable to define any difference between a NEVCM and an EVCM other than a durational difference or a difference entailed by narratival ontology. I am, without committing myself in any way to that position, asking a question about its implications).

    We have the following difference between the TR and the “dark ale” FV positions (highlighting the exact same phrases in bold, leaving the differences as normal text):

    TR: Besides differences of duration and differences entailed by narratival ontology, NEVCMs and EVCMs differ in that EVCMs possess a whole host of benefits that NEVCMs never do possess, and these benefits make up a list that is usually called the “ordo salutis” (so, things like regeneration, justification, sanctification, etc.). However, it is impossible for humans in this life to discern whether any particular VCM (other than oneself) is in fact a NEVCM or an EVCM.

    dark ale FV: Besides differences of duration and differences entailed by narratival ontology, NEVCMs and EVCMs differ in at least one of the following ways:
    a. both share certain benefits but the EVCM experience them in a stronger way (and these include things typically relegated to the “ordo salutis,” at least in a typological sense); or
    b. EVCMs experience certain benefits that the NEVCMs never experience, but either:
    i. not all traditional “ordo salutis” benefits are among these, or
    ii. some of these are in fact outside the traditional “ordo salutis” list, or
    iii. some combination of i. and ii.; or
    c. some combination of a and b; or
    d. some undefinable difference that is present but incapable of being described.
    But, no matter which of a – d are affirmed, it is impossible for humans in this life to discern whether any particular VCM (other than oneself) is in fact an NEVCM or an EVCM.

    Now, BOTH TR and dark ale FV agree that we cannot identify who is elect and who is not in this life. The difference comes down entirely to how this difference that is in fact unidentifiable should be defined. What is the use, theologically or practically or biblically, of using the TR definition over any of the dark ale FV definitions a – d? Arguments against dark ale FV on this point frankly do not make this clear, and more problematically they often go off-track and either claim something for the TR position that the TR position does not actually deliver on or they impute something to the dark ale FV position that the dark ale FV position does not actually hold.

    III

    Finally, straying a bit into other comments that have been made, notice from my definitions of TR and FV above (which I think are decent) that there is NO disagreement b/w the two camps regarding whether an individual believer is able to know whether he himself is elect or not. I’d like to see a citation of any official, academic, or published statement from an FV author saying that it is not possible to know one’s own election. I think we’ve gotten completely off topic with this one. The controversial assertions of FV regard things like a. HOW assurance of one’s election is normally gained, b. the best pastoral strategy, most in line with Biblical data, for dealing with a person who is struggling with such assurance, etc. But the simple fact THAT believers can know their elect status is not in dispute, so far as I’ve ever seen.

    Thanks for listening. :-)

  76. Reed Here said,

    January 6, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    Jared:

    You’ve unfairly portrayed my responses to you. I’ve offered explicit means for a solven to the super-glue. No need for a sarcastic tone, empty of substance. (I.e., I’m glad to bear with sarcasm offered with substance, as it suggests the offerer intends to bless me. Mere sarcasm suggests otherwise).

    As to you’re not buying the coversation, I guess you’d say I’m unfairly characterizing the FV? I wish I were.

    As to DW’s agreement, now let’s see him take it full length: respond to Lane’s “Finally, A Contradiction,” and then either demonstrate how the FV is misunderstood (and he’s not been equivocating), and say “oops” (something GLJ would long to hear).

  77. Reed Here said,

    January 7, 2009 at 12:04 am

    No, 75: hello Xon. Good summary. While I dislike the TR label because of how it has been used by others as a mark of disparagement, I recognize you do not mean that here.

    I actually find your summary of the positions very helpful, and much with which I can agree. I don’t think anyone here disputed whether or not one can know of oneself; rather I think there was some misunderstanding between a few that was relatively quickly cleared up.

    I also appreciate your explanation and discussion of the relevance of the narrative ontology approach. I may be missing something, but I think Lane’s criticism was a little more broad/general than your response. Still, it may be something to which he may like to respond.

    As to your notion of helpful vs. unhelpful with reference to the TR presentation, interestingly I ask the same question of the FV presentation. I know we’ve discussed this before, but:

    > I am at a loss to see the weaknesses of the TR position that the FV sees. This most likely is due to a combination of anthropological factors (me, them, others). What I think this suggests is that the FV observed weaknesses are not necessarily endemic to the TR position. As has been noted elsewhere, the problem is us more than the system.

    > To the degree that the FV is an effort to counteract “supposed” weaknesses, it will demonstrate its own weaknesses. Responding to ersatz-weaknesses will only result in ersatz-solutions. Obviously this is where my head leans.

    > The FV will say many things in a manner similar to what I am convicted should be said (Joshua Smith’s recent post is evidence of that). I am encouraged by that. My concern continues to be all those un-revised remarks that are at least so easily misunderstood, if not evidentiary of my contention, equivocation. I’d be willing to back off equivocation, if there were some willingness to offer some mea culpa’s and then correct.

    > Finally, if, as you suggest, narrative ontology is so avant garde, how wise is it to base your system on it, and use this as the dominant expression of your ministry? Frankly, if I were in the pew of an FV pulpit, and I heard, “now you who are united to Christ, elect in Him, look to Him with faith,” I’d be strongly tempted (the less mature I was, the more tempted) to ask myself, “does he mean covenantal or vital union, covenantal or decretal union, temporary or vital faith?”

    In the end I gues I could just live with a post-modern reader-centered (hearer-centered) aproach, and assume he meant whatever made me happy. But then what do I do with the faithful obedience applications?

    I guess Xon, a year later, I’m still persuaded that the FV is more trouble than it’s worth, more dirt in the air, than breeze blowing away the clouds. I still find the TR “look to Christ” much simpler, clearer, and more compelling.

  78. Xon said,

    January 7, 2009 at 12:24 am

    Reed, quick thing right now. I don’t think anyone is “basing their system” on relational or narratival ontology, as though they are doing everything with that in the forefront of their minds. Again, the orthodox Christians (Nicean orthodoxy, that is) who use it are OFTEN drawing it from the Trinity. It is itself an implication of the Trinity, and not a fundamental axiom of the system. That said, it has useful and interesting applications, which some FVers are wiling to use in their discussions.

    As to what you would think if you were in an FV pulpit, I fear that anthropological factors you recognize are playing into your description. Why do we assume that the archetypal “FV pulpit” would just throw out “look to Him” comments with not background teaching of the other things that are necessary to make such admonitions helpful? This person sounds to me more like someone who is already tortured over their own status in God’s sight, has learned basic terminology of Reformed theology about election and such (vital vs. “external” or “covenantal”, etc.), which they have then twisted to confirm their self-doubts (and this would happen in any church that used that basic terminlogy), and has never been exposed to (or it didn’t take for some other reason) any more in depth thinking and conversation on the subject of assurance. And the notion that such a person is going to be somehow deeply comforted by your “TR” presentation of “look to Christ,” but not the FV presentation of “look to Christ,” rings hollow to me. But you are right that a lot of this comes down to our different ears for what good music is.

    Finally, I don’t know if it’s a lack of care resulting from the quick typing often involved in blog comments, or what, but your examples of ‘troubling’ distinctions are hardly unique to FV. FV favors the word “covenantal” over more traditional Reformed words like “external”, but a basic vital/not-vital distinction runs all the way through the tradition. As does the notion of a temporary faith. FV is not really a disagreement over the validity of such distinctions.

  79. David Gadbois said,

    January 7, 2009 at 3:16 am

    Xon, regarding ‘relational or narratival ontology’, the Canons or Dordt reject errors of those Who teach that the faith of those who believe only temporarily does not differ from justifying and saving faith except in duration alone.

    For Christ himself in Matthew 13:20ff. and Luke 8:13ff. clearly defines these further differences between temporary and true believers: he says that the former receive the seed on rocky ground, and the latter receive it in good ground, or a good heart; the former have no root, and the latter are firmly rooted; the former have no fruit, and the latter produce fruit in varying measure, with steadfastness, or perseverance.

    The ontological differences the Synod of Dordt had in mind in differentiating the elect from apostates included specific moral/psychological characteristics – a ‘good heart’ and ‘firmly rooted’, and included specific moral possessions (‘fruit in varying measure’). Differences defined by interpersonal relations or ‘narrative’ were not in view. It is all cute and fun if you want to roll all of that up into ontology (worthy or debate, perhaps, in another forum as far as I am concerned), but that’s simply speaking an anachronistic language if we try to import this into our confessions. So it is not Reformed theology

  80. David Gadbois said,

    January 7, 2009 at 3:40 am

    Xon said As to the FV being “unable to define” the difference (a difference beyond that implied by a narratival ontology, that is), I remain confused as to what the theological or practical benefit is that you think they are losing.

    Perhaps you would benefit from reading the 5th Canon of Dordt, both the Articles and the Rejection of Errors. It mattered to the Synod greatly, both from a theological perspective and a pastoral one, the unique benefits that the elect saints enjoyed.

    Now, BOTH TR and dark ale FV agree that we cannot identify who is elect and who is not in this life. The difference comes down entirely to how this difference that is in fact unidentifiable should be defined. What is the use, theologically or practically or biblically, of using the TR definition over any of the dark ale FV definitions a – d?

    Well if (as you seem [?] to admit), in the TR scheme we can identify ourselves as elect with reasonable (yet not rationalistic) certainty, and I would add we can identify our brethren as elect with reasonable confidence (I take it our judgements of others is more than just a leap of faith in the dark, considering especially the church’s possession of the keys of the kingdom), then we (along with our brethren) can be comforted by the unique ordo salutis blessings we have been given, and be comforted by the fact that God will not take away his good gifts from his children. We can give God praise as we understand that he infallibly works this salvation in us, and will not fail or back out. He will not allow us to be snatched from His hand. That He has left his Holy Spirit as our Comforter with us, who guarantees and seals our salvation to come. We give Him praise that He is faithful, even when we are faithless.

    In other words, election (and the benefits that come with it) is not *absolutely* unidentifiable as to its presence in individuals. We believe in ‘infallible assurance’ while not rationalistic certainty. So if the unique benefits of the elect are *definable*, then they are of practical use, in that by ‘infallible assurance’ we can apply and understand those benefits *in us*.

  81. Pete Myers said,

    January 7, 2009 at 3:53 am

    #70 Reed,

    I refer you back to the Temporary Faith posts, where these things are substantially spelled out.

    Yep, and I agree with your position on this, Reed. I wasn’t trying to shift sides in the discussion. As it is, I was focusing on just the one issue – and thought I’d sit back and watch you deal with all the collateral bigger issues, partly because things Jared has said have made me think he’s feeling a little beaten up, and therefore it would be more gentle for just one of us to discuss with him. I got agreement on the issue we were discussing (well, at least affirmation of the basic substantive point that I was discussing, but I haven’t yet read Xon’s replies, who may hold a different position).

    All I wanted was your thoughts on how to understand the list in Hebrews 6 just out of curiosity, if you wanna say “just read Calvin”, that’s fine, I’ll just read Cavlin (actually, I’ll probably read Owen). It’s not because I’m waivering on whether temporary and persevering faith are the same, I’ve spent several days arguing that they’re not.

  82. Pete Myers said,

    January 7, 2009 at 4:06 am

    #80, David,

    (1) Well if (as you seem [?] to admit), in the TR scheme we can identify ourselves as elect with reasonable (yet not rationalistic) certainty,

    Amen. (Though the certainty comes by means of our faith, which is why it comes through our reason.)

    (2) and I would add we can identify our brethren as elect with reasonable confidence (I take it our judgements of others is more than just a leap of faith in the dark, considering especially the church’s possession of the keys of the kingdom)

    Question of context for you here. I’m reading “Auburn Avenue Theology Pros and Cons”. Doug’s summary of the FV concern, is to take seriously God’s promise to our children. However, our personal certainty of salvation (1) is more certain than our confidence of our brethren’s salvation (2)… and in the “TR” system we would put our confidence of our children’s salvation in (2) as well.

    Is part of the contextual “big issue” here, that, broadly speaking FV people aren’t happy with us thinking about the promises to our children in a (2) sense, because they want us to have the same confidence of their salvation as of our own (that’s not an entirely fair summary, but it will do as a ham fisted one).

    Therefore, by moving (1) closer to (2) [perhaps unconsciously], and moving (2) closer to (1), it’s possible to say I have the same confidence about my salvation as my children’s salvation… but that’s only because I’ve lowered, in some way, the confidence I can have about my own.

    In coming to terms with this movement that is far bigger and more complicated than I first thought – am I on the right lines here?

  83. TurretinFan said,

    January 7, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Joshua W.D. Smith,

    Thanks for your response.

    You wrote:

    The difference between RC and Arminian, is that there are not two levels of covenant grace. State of grace is state of grace.

    I think what you are saying is that the RC/Arminian position is that “state of grace is state of grace” but that the FV position is that there are are “two levels” of covenant grace. If I have misunderstood you, please correct me.

    You continued:

    The FV says that being the covenant is real favor, real “grace.” The apostate really loses something, some actual benefit given by God (just as common grace is real grace, real blessing and favor). What he does not lose is something that is the same as the elect, however, as the denial in the Apostasy section makes clear (as well as the affirmations in the “Assurance of Salvation” and the “Divine Decrees” sections).

    I assume that you just made a typo by leaving out “in” in the expression “being [in] the covenant is real favor …”. It’s worth noting, however, that the reprobate are only outwardly members of the covenant, they are not true members. That’s an area where the Federal Vision and Reformed/Biblical theological part ways. It is precisely because not all outward members of the covenant administration are true members, that Paul explains “they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:” and John says “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
    Undoubtedly there are real blessings of hearing the preached word, etc., associated with being outward members of the New Testament administration of the covenant of grace. Nevertheless, those that apostatize were never members of the covenant – they were never members of the Body of Christ. Christ doesn’t lose any members.

    You continued:

    I’ll use Lane counterfeit example. The RC and the Arminian both say that the apostate received the exact same, pure-gold coin that the true believer received, and then they give it back. The FV says that the reprobate receives a debased coin: but it still does much of what the real coin does (but groceries, look nice in a coin collection, etc.), and so that coin is really better than having no coin at all. But God will finally test all the coins, and only those who have the pure-gold coins that He gave them will be received into glory. So, there is a fundamental difference between the FV and RC/Arminianism.

    I’m not sure what your authority is to speak for the FV. I’m judging the FV based on the JFVS, which seems to be the only thing that the FVists can all agree upon. There is nothing in that statement to give me the conclusion that they are saying that the membership of reprobates in the covenant is a “fake” membership – to the contrary it seems to say that they were real, true members of Christ’s body.
    On the other hand, while there is much advantage to being associated with God’s people, but it is worse to be lost after all that then never to have heard the gospel preached.
    -TurretinFan

  84. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 7, 2009 at 8:44 am

    Xon (#75 II):

    It strikes me that the one single difference between the “TR” and the “FV-dark” on your account is what God sees. (And possibly, what the person himself sees on introspection). If we therefore define “what really is” or “truth” as “the way God sees things”, then we can now understand what that “indefinable difference” ought to be.

    On the TR account, what God sees in the NECM is an unbeliever, under wrath, on account of his being outside the kingdom by virtue of his unbelief.

    On the FV account, what God sees in the NECM is an unbeliever under temporary stay of wrath on account of his being temporally (and thus temporarily) within the kingdom of Christ by virtue of his temporal participation in the church.

    Clearly, two facts are true, agreed to by FV and TR alike: all unbelievers are under wrath (eternally speaking); and unbelievers now experience a stay of execution.

    But two questions emerge now: (1) Is it true that unbelievers experience a stay of execution because of their participation in the Church?

    And, (2) even if (1) is “yes”, does Jesus encourage his disciples to think in this way, or in the TR way?

    I would argue that the FV position (specifically, what you’ve articulated above) conflates two things and thereby gets a false True to question (1).

    Yes, unbelievers get a stay of execution. God has not yet judged the world, sepcifically because He wants “all to come to salvation” in the words of Peter (with the scope of “all” to be determined by exegesis and comparison to other Scriptures). In fact, Charles Hodge argues from John 3.16 – 18 that this stay of execution occurs because of the cross.

    And yes, NECMs have a kind of “experience” of salvation, like the seeds in the rocky and thorny soils.

    On the FV account, these two facts are connected to each other — but actually, I think they aren’t. It’s not merely NECMs who get a stay of execution, but all unbelievers. AND, the false “experience” of salvation is not a part of that stay of execution, but rather a piece of self-deception that stores up even further wrath to come.

    So the point of the the “stay of execution” is to delay so that people may be saved; the point of the “experience” is to allow the damned to prove themselves damned. The two facts are related to two different goals.

    I would argue that the controlling verse here, the lens through which we ought to view the NECMs, is Matt. 7.23:

    “Depart from me! I never knew you.”

    Far from a “kind of relationship with God”, the NECM has had all the time a faux relationship with God. I think Matt. 7.23 answers (2) with a No.

    How does this strike you? And, if the “problem of knowledge” is the real pastoral cash prize, do you think that FVers would be willing to modify their beliefs so as to think in terms of “judgment of charity”?

    Jeff Cagle

  85. jared said,

    January 7, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Reed (#76),

    You say,

    You’ve unfairly portrayed my responses to you. I’ve offered explicit means for a solven to the super-glue. No need for a sarcastic tone, empty of substance. (I.e., I’m glad to bear with sarcasm offered with substance, as it suggests the offerer intends to bless me. Mere sarcasm suggests otherwise).

    Reed, the solvent you suggest is impossible to procure; that’s what I was getting at in my response. I can offer numerous examples (not just from DW) of FV making the kind(s) of differentiation that you request. But every single example is skewed in your vision because you believe that they are merely equivocating in their differentiations! What other solvent is there for equivocation? If the FV is seen as equivocating in their attempts to show you that they aren’t equivocating, how is it even remotely possible for them to be fairly (or charitably) heard? I would submit that this is the “substance” of my sarcasm. Let me ask this, how many exceptions to the generalization does it take to prove the generalization false?

  86. Reed Here said,

    January 7, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    No. 85, Jared: I think this is unfair and unjust (no rancor in my voice or heart in making that assessment).

    There are three options before us:

    1. I’ve stacked the deck, or so structured the argument that the FV (or any proponetn, or even a friendly reader – you) are “damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.”

    2. The FV is in essence wrong and either unwilling or unable to see it. I say essence because I do not want to be misunderstood to be making a comprehensive accusation (never have, don’t think it’s called for). Rather, the system, in it’s fundamentals, is essentially flawed.

    3. There is a mix going on. That is, in some ways I’m not getting it, and not realizing I’m not getting it, and in some ways the FV is flawed, and not seeing it.

    Your response here settles for option no. 1. Thanks for your judgment of me. I do understand why you think this is fair. My response is that you’ve pigeon-holed me – you are guilty of the very unwilling/unable to listen to what I am really saying of which you accuse me. When parties reach that point, grounds for effective conversation are almost gone.

    In terms of direction towards of solvent, I’ve offered a number of pointed posts outlining said direction. Either I’m not good at drawing maps, you’re not good a reading them, or both of us are cartographic participants here. I will note that I do not see any pointed responses to any of the map-markers I’ve offered; not even a “what are you talking about when you say ____” kind of response from you.

    I’m eager to try and draw better. You seem stuck on simply denying I’m either sincere, or have the wherewithall no matter any sincerity. Does it help at all, even by way of brotherly admonishment, to point out to you Jared that this has been a common FV response pattern – dismissiveness of their critics? I do get the frustration you are feeling; I do suggest this is not the best way to handle it.

    So, if I’m getting the substance of you’re sarcasm, you’re saying I’ve so structured things here that no matter what the FV, or even you a non-FV friend are willing to say, I’ve got it all set up to simply prove you wrong, again!? Nice use of sarcasm, why not simply call me a name or something ? (Said with a smile on my face).

  87. Reed Here said,

    January 7, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    No. 85, Jared: you say, “Let me ask this, how many exceptions to the generalization does it take to prove the generalization false?”

    As I think I’ve noted, I quite agree with you that this is not direction to disproving the charge. A generalization is only as good as it generally applies to the particulars. I do assume you understand how this works, but because of your question and a desire to work together, a few thoughts.

    In view is a principle that seems to me to be generally present in much of the FVparticulars, that of equivocation. By this term, I’m refering to the appearance of the use of terms with fluid definitions. Thus, covenantal election is the same as decretal election, until some questions are answered, when it is said to not be the same, and yet still functions, operates, appears to be the same. This is just one example of the general principle. I’m not trying to be pejorative, or unfair in observing this. I’m trying to be transparent that you might be able to work with.

    Similar examples can be found with reference to the key parts fof the FV. I simply refer anyone to the points in the FV statement. A herculian task to be sure, but if one were to collate each individual point with what a given FV propoent says, this fluidity would easily demonstrate itself. And this is not just in comparison from one proponent with another. There have been examples in which a given FV proponent demonstrates his own fluidity.

    The rub comes when the critics ask for the differentiation, e.g., (repeated now a number of times Jared) the difference between the work of the Spirit in terms of the CoG benefits (viewed externally, as the possession of the NEVCM) vs. the OS benefits (viewed internally, as the possession of the EVCM).

  88. Reed Here said,

    January 7, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    N0. 85 Jared (thinking it might help both of us if we break these down into little more bite size pieces):

    One angle of challenging my “equivocation” charge has been to note that I am forciing a “systematic” oriented hermeneutic on a “covenantal” oriented reading of the FV arguments. I think Xon’s “narrative ontology” discussion recently is a good illustration.

    I actually do have some very, very strong sympathies with that. I’ve made it no secret that I am very fond of Richard Gaffin, and am comfortable with them hermeneutical heritage that flows via him (Ridderbos, Vos, Calvin – Gaffin is something of a Calvin expert, although I don’t think he’d say that).

    I do get how reading things from the covenantal hermeneutic leads one to:

    > Ask the kinds of questions of the text that the FV ask,
    > Offer then kinds of insight the FV offers,
    > Even preach some of the challenges (warnings) the kinds of challenges the FV makes.

    In fact I agree that such a covenantal approach is to be a part of the full preaching of Christ in all of Scriptures.

    My main concern with the FV here is that they have spoken in an unbalanced manner, to wit that this covenantal reading is dominant. This skews everything, and leads to the functional equivalence, the very equivocation problem. I.O.W., as I offered previously, it’s a function of the system. If I’m right in my critique here, then the unbalanced role given the covenantal reading (the narrative ontology approach), results in the equivocation problem.

    Please remember the issue of functional equivalence. I agree that the FV says it maintains the necessary NEVCM-EVCM distinction. Yet in that the covenantal approach is practically absolute, such distinctions disappear.

  89. Reed Here said,

    January 7, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    No. 85, Jared: to bring in a point Xon made, with reference to this last observation, I do realize that it is very possible, and probably more widespread than I have personal knowledge, that the reason there appears to be an imbalance, more than there actually is. After all, most of this involes digital ink between otherwise total strangers.

    I simply observe that the AAPC pastor’s conferences did quite a bit to demonstrate the the key FV proponents themselves thought this stuff was important enough to begin to offer “discipleship” to other pastors in it. As well, anecdotal evidence to be sure, but there are way too many reports that have nothing to do with the FV responding to its critics, reports which demonstrate that the FV does in fact take on a prominent role in the life of many a pulpit.

    Lane’s blog is not as popular as it is because the usual suspects have made it so.

  90. Reed Here said,

    January 7, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    No. 85: Jared: finally, to offer you the terms that would “satisfy” me, go back to that pivotal question, the Spirit’s CoG vs. OS work, and apply it to temporary faith (TF).

    1. Let the FV define TF in terms of the covenantal hermeneutic.
    2. Let the FV define TF in terms of the decretal hermeneutic.
    3. Demonstrate a co-inhering application of these two definitions (this is what Scripture does).
    4. Make it clear enough that even the simplest get it (this is what Scripture does).
    5. In particular, demonstrate how what the Spirit does in TF is/is not the same as justifying faith (JF), i.e., how TF is exclusively CoG-external, and in no way ontologically associated with JF-OS.

    Point no. 5 is the key. If the result is to argue that TF is in some manner ontologically related to JF, then by definition you have an arminian-like construction. Both posit a real possession, a vital, internal, inward, Spirit vs. flesh possession, of a redemptive benefit.

    I’m completely o.k. with the FV coming down on the side of saying, “but the Bible says that TF and JF are ontologically related in such and such a manner.” I’m completely fine with the FV saying, “and that does not mean it is Arminian.” Intellectual consistency however would require that the FV admit that it functions the same way as Armininiasm (my first to challenges in the initial post).

    Let me be clear, show how something like TF is not ontologically related to JF, and the issue of equivocation goes away like super-glue meeting the super-solvent.

  91. Pete Myers said,

    January 7, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    #90, Reed,

    Let me be clear, show how something like TF is not ontologically related to JF, and the issue of equivocation goes away like super-glue meeting the super-solvent.

    Jared has said this:

    I think false faith is a facsimile of true faith; it, in fact, does none these things even though it looks like it does. You can know that you are decretally elect only by possessing true faith and by being granted such assurance via the Holy Spirit (and according to whatever method He deigns). How do I know I’m elect? Well, I have true faith which accepts, receives and rests on Christ alone for justification, sanctification and eternal life.

    Which is Jared showing that TF is not ontologically related to JF. He said that ages ago, which is why I stepped out of the discussion.

    Now – I’ll be honest and find the sheer amount of text that’s passed between you two since has made it hard to read it all (I’ve skim read quickly). But it seems to me that Jared has actually said the big thing that needs to be said.

  92. Reed Here said,

    January 7, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Yeah Pete, I know Jared has said this, and I trust him in saying it. However, in seeking to defend the FV here against my challenge, he is not coming to grips with the fact that the FV has not done so.

    A good demonstration of this was the exchange attached on the Temporary Faith posts. We got very, very close, but were unable to close at ths crucial point.

    Even more, the issue is not Jared’s personal convictions in view, as he has maintained he is not an FV proponent. The issue is the view of the FV, at the very least key proponents.

    What Jared has offered concerning the FV’s demonstration of this have been insufficient. What he has demonstrated is his own charitable reading of the FV. This does not demonstrate that his charity is warranted.

    I still remain persuaded on functional equivalency. Further, the day that one major FV proponent clarifies to the degree he removes it, he will have some mea culpas, and some challenges to his fellow travelers.

  93. Pete Myers said,

    January 7, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    #92, Reed,

    However, in seeking to defend the FV here against my challenge, he is not coming to grips with the fact that the FV has not done so.

    Yeah, I thought that might have been the case, but, couldn’t see that in my skim reading, and the posts were mounting up faster than I could read them properly. Just didn’t want to assume that was what’s happening.

    I added some numbers to this:
    Further, (1)the day that one major FV proponent clarifies to the degree he removes it, (2)he will have some mea culpas, (3)and some challenges to his fellow travelers.

    My outside observation, which has got me into trouble for saying before, I hope it’s taken well, is that while (1) really is significant. The reality is that men, being men, find (2) VERY hard. I pray lots about trying to be good at (2), because I find it extremely hard. Perhaps the way that the FV are pressed, before changing their mind, and the implication of the way they’ll be treated after changing their mind, can make (2) harder for them humanly speaking. This encourages them not to do (1).

    I find with some older, perhaps less gracious than they could be, guys at church (actually everyone at church is older than me – I’m 25)… when they change their mind on an issue it’s very, very, very rare that they’ll do so admitting they were wrong previously. They usually want to construe it in the most favourable light for themselves. While that isn’t healthy in many respects, I’ve found it’s just a reality, that, if I take good note of can help me move people on with the Lord much more smoothly with less obstinacy and digging in of heels.

    Having said that – reading this “Auburn Avenue Theology Pros and Cons” book, everyone seems phenomenally gracious, and the TR guys aren’t shrill, or shouty at all – they’re incredibly balanced and temperate.

    The TR voices I’d heard filter over here to the UK before I began commenting on Green Baggins had all sounded pretty shrill. And therefore being British, I was immediately drawn in empathy to the underdog.

    (3) is necessary. I wonder if there are areas already where Doug could actually do (3). I don’t know why he hasn’t done so.

  94. Pete Myers said,

    January 7, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Sorry for using the TR label just then – I forgot.

    I’m not using it in a negative way, and, feel that having a positive label, rather than a negatively defined one, seems much more healthy.

    Negatively defined: anti-FV and non-FV are negatively defined, as they’re saying “we’re not this”, rather than “we are this”.

  95. Reed Here said,

    January 7, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Pete: no offense taken. You’ve come to this conversation without the context most of the rest of us have.

    Let me stress that I hope (it is my prayerful intention) to offer easy forgiveness, to willingly and eagerly be reconciled on these matters.

    Let me stress this even further by noting that if it weren’t for the amount of things put into print (digital or otherwise), such mea culpa’s would have been an awful lot easier to offer as well. As the FV proponents however serve (mostly) in called positions, there is an added obligation on them, to clarify any errors they may have helped perpetrate/perpetuate.

    Even more, I do fully recognize that we might not ever this side of eternity fully resolve these things. I am one who has not be convicted that I need to categorically label the FV as outside the pale of orthodoxy. I use the phrase heterodoxy on purpose. I do this even though, and with sympathy for, the criticism of some critics who see things much more black and white than I do.

    I really am willing to be “at peace” with FV proponents, and not make issues where there do not need to be issues. In fact, I posted one post a while ago (about a year ago) in which I suggested that since it appeared we all had reached a substantial impass, maybe the godly thing to do was agree to disagreee, and to go our separate ways. In that, in keeping with my denomination’s FV report (PCA), I suggested that this would mean if a man is persuaded that the FV is sound, for conscience’s sake he should seek another denomination.

    (I was very disappointed that the only response was some private communication, checking on my own background and credentials – still not sure what the intention was. It was disappinting that this was the only response. No response would have been more saluatory).

    All this to note, that in spite of the intensity engendered by the amount of keystrokes we click, the real desire for a Christ-honoring peace with my brothers.

  96. jared said,

    January 7, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Reed,

    Re: 86,

    I’m not intentionally being unfair or unjust to you, so I apologize for giving off that vibe/demeanor. I’d rather go with option 3 with me being in no position to do anything about it. Or I’d take option 1 and add the qualification that you don’t realize you’ve “stacked the deck” against the FV. I think I do get what you are saying, i.e. the charge of functional equivocation. But I also think you see functional equivocation because of certain “unchallengeable” noetic categories (e.g. the inseparability of real and vital union with Jesus).

    Oh, and simply calling you a name is (1) too “low-brow” for me and (2) not as much fun. ;-)

    Re: 87,

    You say,

    In view is a principle that seems to me to be generally present in much of the FVparticulars, that of equivocation. By this term, I’m refering to the appearance of the use of terms with fluid definitions. Thus, covenantal election is the same as decretal election, until some questions are answered, when it is said to not be the same, and yet still functions, operates, appears to be the same. This is just one example of the general principle. I’m not trying to be pejorative, or unfair in observing this. I’m trying to be transparent that you might be able to work with.

    Fluid use of terms is not the same as equivocation. I don’t know any FV proponent that would say covenantal election and decretal election are functionally the same given that one necessarily results in eternal salvation and the other does not; this alone makes them functionally different regardless of how the ordo salutis is distributed. You say,

    The rub comes when the critics ask for the differentiation, e.g., (repeated now a number of times Jared) the difference between the work of the Spirit in terms of the CoG benefits (viewed externally, as the possession of the NEVCM) vs. the OS benefits (viewed internally, as the possession of the EVCM).

    Right, I get it. This is exactly the reason for my sarcastic response(s) of late. I’ve offered some differentiation(s) which I see the FV making but since I’m not a proponent I am merely glossed over as reading them too generously. “Of course you are making differentiations, Jared, our point is that they are not; and where they are making them, clearly they are equivocating.” Or, in your case Reed, perhaps its, “Jared, you’re reading your differentiations into the FV; they aren’t really there if you look more closely at them.” I understand that saying is not the same thing as showing but if all the FV “showing” is simply viewed as “saying”, how are they supposed to be persuasive?

    Re: #90,

    And, as I stated earlier, I am utterly unable to propose or submit terms that will satisfy you because (1) I’m not a FV proponent, (2) I’m apparently being far too kind in my reading of them so my attempts at offering the kind of differentiation you’re wanting are merely the result of me reading my own views into the FV and (3) even if I was a FV proponent you would see me as an exception (like DW and Xon, perhaps).

  97. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    January 7, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Reed, I find your comment #50 offensive. I have been seeking to address various topics of discussion substantively, and for you to characterize that as “blathering” is, frankly, acting like an ass, all clever-punctuation-that-looks-like-a-smiley-face aside.

  98. Pete Myers said,

    January 8, 2009 at 5:04 am

    #95,

    Yeah – sorry I didn’t necessarily have you in mind, nor did I intend to lecture.

  99. Reed Here said,

    January 8, 2009 at 8:42 am

    No. 97, Joshua: I apologize that my choice of words offered an offense I did not intend. Please forgive.

    My point was to note, aside from the substantialness of what you said in that post, it did not obviously and immediately apply to the topic of this thread. I’m sure you believe it does. My opinion is that you have not made that clear -and used quite a few words in doing so.

    This is a common complaint I would offer for lot’s of comments that are FV friendly; far too often they don’t seem to get to the point. Admittedly this is not a characteristic inimical to the FV. Yet at least in my experience here I’ve seen it most often from the “other” side.

    As I noted in numerous posts on this thread, it is relatively easy to meet my challenge. I am persuaded that the FV cannot meet the challenge. Posts such as your’s, not obviously on target, demonstrate this. I’ve been pressing in hopes that if I’m wrong, it would be easily shown; and if not that would be shown.

    Having had many interesting and valuable discussions with you previously, I anticipated that my short words would communicate more than they did. That it my fault, not your’s. Please forgive me.

  100. Reed Here said,

    January 8, 2009 at 8:47 am

    No. 96, Jared – great responses! You say,

    I’m not intentionally being unfair or unjust to you, so I apologize for giving off that vibe/demeanor.

    Thanks for the clarification. Please consider any sense of offense gone. And do forgive the weakness of my effort to deal with this properly. I easily step over the line between reconciliation and a pound-of-flesh.

    I especially appreciate,

    Oh, and simply calling you a name is (1) too “low-brow” for me and (2) not as much fun. ;-)

    Eternity is going to be fun when we can do this face to face, and with out any presence of the flesh that contaminates all it touches. :)

  101. Todd said,

    January 8, 2009 at 8:53 am

    # 93 You are only 25! I guess when you said you were a minister I was assuming you were older. My apologies indeed- you just be fairly new to all this controversy. At 25 I was still a fairly new believer, playing guitar as a Young Life leader, and still thinking Keith Green was the most sold-out Christian in America.
    (anyone relate?)

    Todd

  102. Reed Here said,

    January 8, 2009 at 10:46 am

    No. 96, Jared – great responses! You say,

    I’d rather go with option 3 with me being in no position to do anything about it. Or I’d take option 1 and add the qualification that you don’t realize you’ve “stacked the deck” against the FV. I think I do get what you are saying, i.e. the charge of functional equivocation. But I also think you see functional equivocation because of certain “unchallengeable” noetic categories (e.g. the inseparability of real and vital union with Jesus).

    I hear and acknowledge the possibilities of my own inherent weakness here. I’d be willing to explore that more, in that if it is there, it might remove some onus I have for the FV. Admitting I don’t expect such, I’m still open to the notion that it’s me, not the FV.

    Just a few brief comments:

    1. As to fluidity, agreed that this in and of itself is not equal to functional equivalency. If I Context must be taken into consideration. I think a great example is when the Scripture speaks of “baptism saving.” Context is necessary if we are going to avoid the conclusion that the Bible is self-contradictory, when we compare this with the passage that says the water [i.e., baptism does not save].

    2. It is here that I grant the FV the right recognition that it is speaking from a different context. i.e., covenantal, and that this contextual reading is not contradictory to the contextual reading via the decretal. For me, the strongest example the FV here is John 15 and it’s notions concerning election. I admit that it was DW’s treatment of this in RINE that caused me to initially conclude that the hullabaloo over the FV was much ado about nothing.

    3. The problem, at least as far as I’ve been able to focus it, is that the FV speaks “cross” context if you will. I find this particularly relevant with reference to the application of the FV’s convenantal reading. Taking again John 15, I’m all for the covenantal election reading, up to and including the realness of the warning in view. Yet when it comes to application, I see the FV in some manner “skipping” over the decretal reading and going to an application that is “pure” covenantal.

    Glossing here, the FV would say something like this, “The warning of being cut off is real, something for real Christians really united to Christ to worry about. So you need to look to your abiding.”

    So far so good. But then, the FV seems to either presume or skip over the decretal reading that is essential in rightly informing exactly how one goes about abiding in Christ. Instead it immediately moves to considerations of faithful obedience.

    One thing I’ve learned, and am persuaded from the Scriptures, we are not consistent with the Scriptures if we do not immediately precede every imperative with the indicative. This is what Scripture always does. And when we fail to do it, we leave the Christian unequipped with the only Resource that will suffice. Even in worse, in the presumption that the Christian will turn to Christ, we leave them in a position where they default to the only resource ready and ever present, their flesh.

    To conclude here, my sense is that, even taking into consider the artificial context of the conversation (academic vs. pastoral, i.e., the FV is more theory than practice), the FV proponents have been consistently unable to simply nail down the critical coffin lids. I return back to the issues outlined here, ending up at the ontological-noetic question. If your observation is on target, then a simple solution is to demonstrate this.

  103. Reed Here said,

    January 8, 2009 at 10:48 am

    No. 101, Todd, way too much ;-)

  104. Zrim said,

    January 8, 2009 at 11:34 am

    (Todd,

    At 25 I was still a fairly new believer, playing guitar as a Young Life leader, and still thinking Keith Green was the most sold-out Christian in America.

    Wow, what a difference a couple years makes. You must have been in the fast-track gifted program at WSCAL. Or maybe it was all that public schoolin’ that finally kicked in. Either way, you da man.)

  105. Xon said,

    January 8, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Test (and I’m sorry to do such a thing!)

  106. greenbaggins said,

    January 8, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    It’s okay, Xon. I know that WordPress has had trouble with your posts before, though I never have (except in disagreement). Have you had any trouble recently?

  107. Xon said,

    January 8, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Hmm..interesting. No, Lane, no trouble that is the fault of wordpress. My “day” job has this bizarrely inconsistent firewall, but it won’t let me view wordpress pages except via the cache. In the cached version of the page, it does give me a comment box, so I tested it out. What’s interesting, though, is that my comment never showed up while I was at work. But now here I’m home and there it is. So I guess I concerned that I cannot effectively have a conversation from behind my office firewall.

    (Personal morality clarification: My job is such that I have time and permission to do other things at various times during the day.)

  108. Reed Here said,

    January 10, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    It seems that interest in this thread has died down now. Well and good. I had planned to offer some concluding comments once I sensed we’d reached that point. Here they are:

    When I posted this comment one of my expectations was that any posting opposing my contention here would not respond in terms of the structure of my challenge. Aside from a few oblique approaches, I note that I was right in this expectation.

    What is the sigficance of this?

    Well, it could just be that my argument is unchallengeable on its terms because it is a non-sequitur; my argument just does not logically apply to the FV. Some indeed at least implied that.

    One observation: non-sequiturs are easily demonstrated to all but the kool-aid drinkers. I note that no one took up my challenge (offered a few times) to disprove my contention from this direction.

    The other direction to disprove my contention is to note that the FV does not make the functional-equivalency error I argue it does. That is, all that needed be shown is that the FV’s understanding of key terms does not result in a practical elimination of covenant (external, visible, historical) vs. decretal (internal, invisible, eschatological) distinctions.

    I note that I spelled out, in some detail, the steps that could be followed in this regard. The offer was pick one example, prove it with that one, and I’d concede.

    I refer any readers to the series of posts of Temporary Faith here at GB. You will note back then that the FV supporters posting were unable to do this at that time. I refer you also to Calvin’s Institutes, Book 3, Chapter 2, beginning at section 11, where he demonstrates how to properly distinguish between that which is merely temporal (covenantal perspective) and eternal (decretal perspective).

    I readily admit that my limited argument here is insufficient to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt my contention. Rather than achieve what I myself think is a relatively insubstantial a point, I am hoping to achieve a different goal.

    If the FV friendly posters here were unable to disprove my contention, what does that say about the value of the FV as a system of doctrine? I want to draw your attention to the apparent continuing inability of the FV to speak plainly and clearly, and in doing so maintain Biblical distinctions.

    I take no glee in saying the super glue is still sticky. I know full well that even midly sophisticated readers will not let pejoratives, “It’s arminian, run for you life!!!,” sway them away from entertainment of the FV.

    My simple humble request is this, if the FV cannot put away a simple challenge as this one is supposed to be, how biblically sound is it? Does not humble reliance on Christ lead us to trust him and have nothing to do with it?


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