In the Federal Vision, it has been my experience that there is an ever-burgeoning literature from their side of things pointing out what they believe. Further than that, if one hasn’t read all of it, one is not really qualified to comment on any of it, if one believes their side of things. This is evidenced by their use of the argument “If only you had read this, you wouldn’t have said that.” By the way, this is definitely true of N.T. Wright as well. I have been accused of not understanding N.T. Wright because I hadn’t read this of him or that of him. As Peter Schickele would say, “irrelevancy alarm!” Whether I have read one article really doesn’t have anything to do with whether I have understood a different article. Of course, one article might help to understand another, but then again it might not. What is most frustrating about this, however, is the certainty of some who use this argument. They think that they have somehow capped the argument with an irrefutable answer, when in fact, the argument is completely irrelevant. If an article cannot be understood on its own terms, but must be read in conjunction with 3 million other articles, then that one article either shouldn’t have been written in the first place, or it should have been placed in a book. If the writing is really all that unclear, such that someone else cannot understand it on its own, then that is the fault of the author, not the reader. Published material in its current form is fair game for criticism. The other tendency among Federal Vision advocates is to quote these articles instead of arguing their own arguments. Of course, it doesn’t occur to them that the critics might have already read the articles referred to, and (shocker!) not have been convinced by them!
The other related point that needs to be brought into the picture here is the unbearable tendency of FV proponents to whine and complain all the time that they have been misunderstood. You know, this is so amazingly tiring. This is why I am so tired of the whole wretched debate. The arrogance iof the FV here is almost unbelievable, since the only way the Federal Vision can be understood, if you believe their side of things, is if you agree with it. I have not seen one single instance of a Federal Vision author saying that the critic has understood his position, while disagreeing with the Federal Vision with the possible exception of Joel Garver, whose position vis-a-vis the Federal Vision is not clear anyway. Whose fault is this general misunderstanding, if it is true? Can it be that the Federal Vision author might be unclear? Self-contradictory? Dialectic in Hegelian terms? This does not occur to any Federal vision proponent. They have much more than half the PCA screaming at them “heresy,” and they don’t even stop to think whether it might be true. They plunge on in arrogant determination not to listen to their betters. The path of humility would be this: “Okay, I’ve got many of the best minds in the PCA screaming at me that I’m a heretic. The thing to do is a complete re-examination of my theology in the light of Scripture, the Confession, and Reformed theology as it has held on to these old truths. What I especially need to do is to lay out my theology in front of not just my presbytery, but other presbyteries, especially the suspicious ones, and have them comment on it. And I need to seriously reconsider my position if they are still unhappy with it.” This is submission to our brothers in the Lord. I don’t see even one Federal Vision advocate doing this. All I see is arrogance, elitism, and whining, whining, whining. Grow up, Federal Vision, and realize that you’re not only behind the 8-ball; you’ve already scratched.