Why is the Federal Vision Heresy?- part 2

The issue I wish to address here is the issue of assurance. Rome, in the person of Cardinal Bellarmine said of the Reformation that its foremost error was the error of assurance, that the Reformers said that we can know whether we are saved. In many ways, the Reformation was about assurance. That was the “cash value” of the Reformation. Look at the formal principle of sole Scriptura. How can we know whether we are saved? The Bible tells us what is necessary for salvation. If we have that, then we can hav assurance. Look also at the material principle of the Reformation. If we are justified, and therefore have now no condemnation (Rom 8:1), then we can have rock solid assurance, because our assurance is based on Christ. The WCF says that we can have certain assurance of our faith (WCF 18.1). That whole chapter, by the way, is worth quoting: “1. Although hypocrites and other unregenerate men may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes, and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God, and estate of salvation; which hope of theirs shall perish: yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love Him in sincerity, endeavoring to walk in all good conscience before Him, may, in this life, be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed. 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. 3. This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it: yet, being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of ordinary means, attain thereunto. And therefore it is the duty of everyone to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure; that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance: so far is it from inclining men to looseness. 4. Tru believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin, which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God’s withdrawing the light of His countenance, and suffering even such as fear Him to walk in darkness and to have no light: yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart, and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may, in due time, be revived; and by the which, in the mean time, they are supported from utter despair.

Further statements of assurance can be found in WCF 3.8 (election is a ground of assurance), and in LC 80 (the presence of true faith and the endeavor to walk in all good conscience before God). Nowhere is baptism explicity said to be a ground of assurance.

Contrast this with what Steve Wilkins says (I just keep on picking on him, don’t I!): “It makes our standing before God and that of our children plain, and yet it prevents presumption….We belong to Christ. Baptism is the infallible sign and seal of this…And in regard to our assurance, we are pointed away from ourselves and what we think we perceive to be true of us inwardly, which no one can know, and pointed to Christ, the only ground of our assurance.” Wilkins (as I showed before) equates baptism with covenant membership with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places. Wilkins further denies that there is any inward possibility of assurance. Everything must be outward. But the WCF explicitly says “the inward evidence of those graces” as a ground of our assurance. The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are the children of God. How would we know that except by looking inward? The word “morbid introspectionism” is bandied about quite a bit as one of the very chiefest of all dangers which we should avoid. And if we look to ourselves, we will have problems, since we are weak. However, to look inside ourselves in order to see God’s working there is explicitly commanded by the Scripture just quoted, and approved by the WCF. I think it revealing that nowhere does the WCF mention assurance in connection with baptism.

Do I think that baptism can play no part in our assurance? No, I don’t think that. However, baptism is not the most rock solid ground of our assurance. It is *one* of the grounds of assurance. and how can it be infallible, as Steve Wilkins says? How in the world can baptism give the assurance about which the WCF is talking, when people apostatize from their baptisms all the time? What assurance is there in that? The FV will probably answer that we can assurance that we are in covenant now. Fair enough. But that is not the same kind of assurance about which the WCF is talking. The assurance there is absolute assurance of eternal salvation. It’s been my pastoral experience that people don’t want to know if they are part of the visible church. That should be rather obviousif they faithfully attend. What they want to know is whether they are going to heaven, however some of us might cringe at that phrase. We’ll phrase it as the assurance that they will be part of the new heavens and the new earth. I have one simple question for the FV: how can anyone have this kind of assurance (of eternal life), if one can lose justification, sanctification, redemption, adoption, etc.? And then I will follow that up with my biggest criticism of the FV: if the FV doesn’t mean the same things by justification, sanctification, redemption, atonement, etc., if they mean by it some form of “covenantal” saving benefit, then why aren’t the FV proponents carefully delineating the difference in every term, every time it’s used? When I use the term “justification,” for instance, I mean the Reformers’ definition of it as found in Scripture. I use it as shorthand. All of Reformed theology uses it as shorthand in some context or other. They mean one thing by it. If the FV means something else, then they should jolly well define the term every time it’s different. Steve Wilkins falls woefully short here, as do many others. Steve Schlissel carefully defines his definition of justification, an shows himself to be a complete Wright-ite in the process. I give him kudos, however, for carefully defining his terms.

To this already long post, I will add one more thought, about systematic theology. I noticed that Todd quoted what he thought was the most important section of the book _Federal Vision_ as one of the later comments on the previous post about Federal Vision. That quote drove a huge wedge between systematic theology and biblical theology. I think that if Richard Gaffin, for instance, were to hold to that wedge, he would have to become a schizophrenic. And yet, I don’t see him doing so. I utterly reject the FV’s separation (bifurcation, really) between ST and BT. ST has a necessary and important place in exegesis, precisely because, ultimately, the Bible is God’s one book, however much diversity there may be among the different human authors. Ultimately, the Bible is one book given to us by God. Therefore ST belongs in exegesis irrevocably.

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53 Comments

  1. December 1, 2006 at 12:02 pm

    Lane, is it possible that ST definitions of words like justification, sanctification, elect, grace, etc, (biblical words) could veer from a biblical definition if, in all earnestness, men were trying to “protect” a proposition about biblical doctrine rather than the biblical usage of the word itself? In other words taking those words out of their biblical context might lead to a less than accurate definition?

    I feel this is the contention of many FVer’s. And this is why so many of them have a disdain for ST and posit it against a BT.

    (I’m not suggesting ST has done this, this is my perception of one of the larger issues under debate. For what it’s worth, if the FVer’s believe they are reforming the contemporary Reformers, I fear thay may have overshot their intended goal.)

  2. greenbaggins said,

    December 1, 2006 at 12:09 pm

    Sure, it is quite possible for ST to distort biblical definitions. I completely acknowledge that such is a danger. I think that Bavinck has done it on occasion, for instance. However, that has not happened with regard to justification, sanctification, election, etc. in the Reformed tradition, and it *certainly* has not happened with regard to the WCF. That wheel is not broken, contrary to Ralph Smith’s assertions to the contrary. I see the far greater danger of rejecting ST terms in exegesis precisely because they are ST definitions. What happens then is a rejection, practically speaking, of “good and necessary consequence.”

  3. onlooker said,

    December 1, 2006 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks Lane.
    However, you still haven’t answered Xon which would be helpful: “Might I ask, Lane, how exactly you are using the word “heretical”? Do you mean “outside the pale of legitimate Christian confession”, or just “outside the pale of legitimate Presbyterian confession”? Or something else? Similarly for your claim that FV is “utterly to be abhorred”: abhorred by who, and how? Abhorred in the way that Arianism is to be abhorred by all orthodox (Nicean) Christians? Or ‘abhorred’ in the way that consubstantiation is to be abhorred by Presbyterians? (And ARE Presbyterians supposed to go so far as abhorring consubstantiation?) Or something else?”

  4. December 1, 2006 at 12:14 pm

    It is an old addage that “He who controls language wins”. It is interesting that there seems to be a fierce struggle between these two camps over precise defining of terms. And I feel that many words in Scripture can’t all be limited to one ultimate definition. The Bible is literature had has to be treated as such. We cannot limited the nature and scope of languge used in the bible to “fit” our theology. Having said this, I don’t think we have to accomodate the hetrodox of FV either.

  5. greenbaggins said,

    December 1, 2006 at 12:16 pm

    Actually, I did answer that. I said that I thought the FV was striking at the heart of the Christian faith, and that it was outside the bounds of the WCF. Two-part definition of heresy there. It is to be abhorred in that the FV is not welcome in our denomination.

  6. December 1, 2006 at 12:26 pm

    Lane, are you speaking on behalf of your denomination? I am curious why more recourse hasn’t been taken against SW and AAPC. Do you know?

  7. Gomarus said,

    December 1, 2006 at 1:09 pm

    As an outsider, I see a parallel between FV and the No-Lordship proponents in many Bible churches. Both deny the subjective nature of assurance. The FV conclude that we can therefore have no real assurance since we don’t know if we will peresevere (if I’ve understood you). By the same token, with opposite conclusion, the No-Lordship crowd says there is no need for a subjective assurance — seen in the carnal christian idea and easy believism — which oddly enough is one of the dangers the FV are trying to avoid.

    Also, I am curious about using the term eternal life. If one can have eternal life at all, or at any time, it is by definition = eternal. If one can lose it, it wasn’t eternal, but was merely some kind of “life” for a limited time. If saved = eternal life, then once had, it can’t be lost or it wasn’t there to begin with.

  8. Todd said,

    December 1, 2006 at 1:57 pm

    “I think it revealing that nowhere does the WCF mention assurance in connection with baptism.”

    And yet, LC 167 does connect the two, and strongly. How revealing is this?

    “By growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament.”

    Assurance is sealed to us in baptism?

  9. Todd said,

    December 1, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    “Wilkins further denies that there is any inward possibility of assurance.”

    I think we’ll need a quotation or two for this one, Lane.

  10. Todd said,

    December 1, 2006 at 2:02 pm

    “If the FV doesn’t mean the same things by justification, sanctification, redemption, atonement, etc., if they mean by it some form of “covenantal” saving benefit, then why aren’t the FV proponents carefully delineating the difference in every term, every time it’s used?”

    If I may speak for them, it’s for the simple reason that the Bible doesn’t make the careful delineation that you’re demanding. The Bible has diefffeerent standards then you do, and we can’t blame the FV guys for sticking with Paul.

  11. greenbaggins said,

    December 1, 2006 at 2:22 pm

    I’m going to have to delay answering these queries for now, since I am about to go on vacation, and have many things I need to do.

  12. Gomarus said,

    December 1, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    I’m keeping score. Todd is losing.

  13. Todd said,

    December 1, 2006 at 2:30 pm

    But! But! What about comment 92 on the other post?

    https://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2006/11/30/why-is-the-federal-vision-heresy/#comment-1583

    Not keeping score but learning a ton,

    Todd

    PS: Thanks for having us, Lane.

  14. Todd said,

    December 1, 2006 at 2:51 pm

    Gomarus: “The FV conclude that we can therefore have no real assurance since we don’t know if we will peresevere.”

    Is this what any FV writer actually concludes, or is this the way you see the logical implications of their views? If the former, do you have any quotations to demonstrate it?

  15. Todd said,

    December 1, 2006 at 2:56 pm

    Lusk on assurance:

    “The truth of justification is a source of sweet assurance for God’s people. This assurance of justification (or acceptance with God) was at the center of the Reformation. The Roman Catholic system of indulgences and penances (like all religious hucksterism today!) could only prey upon people who were filled with fear and doubt. The antidote was a powerful and solid assurance of right-standing with God in Christ. The connection between a free and gracious justification and an assurance of one’s standing with God is well known, and is rightly emphasized as one of the greatest gains of Protestantism.”

  16. Todd said,

    December 1, 2006 at 3:15 pm

    I’ve started to keep score. Xon is winning.

    https://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2006/11/30/why-is-the-federal-vision-heresy/#comment-1609

  17. Xon said,

    December 1, 2006 at 4:52 pm

    “And then I will follow that up with my biggest criticism of the FV: if the FV doesn’t mean the same things by justification, sanctification, redemption, atonement, etc., if they mean by it some form of “covenantal” saving benefit, then why aren’t the FV proponents carefully delineating the difference in every term, every time it’s used? When I use the term “justification,” for instance, I mean the Reformers’ definition of it as found in Scripture. I use it as shorthand. All of Reformed theology uses it as shorthand in some context or other. They mean one thing by it.”

    Honestly, Lane, it’s hard to read something like this and remain charitable in assessing the kind of interaction you’ve been doing with FV. You seem to have read a good bit of FV stuff, but how thoughtfully you’ve considered it is called into question by statements such as “All of Reformed theology uses [the term ‘justification’] as shorthand in some context or other. They mean one thing by it.” Since one of the basic claims of FV is that these terms, yes even “justification,” have a variety of uses–not only within Scripture, but within the Reformed tradition–all you are doing here is asserting what FVers deny as though the truth of your assertion is obvious. But it’s not, in fact, at all obvious that “the Reformers” used “justification”, or “sanctification”, or “redemption”, etc., in one and only one way. This is precisely something that FVers have questioned consistently from the beginning.

    But the real howler here is where you first chide the FVers that they “darn well” need to make sure that they carefully define their terms every time they use them, and then triumphantly declare for yourself that “When I use the term “justification,” for instance, I mean the Reformers’ definition of it as found in Scripture.” As though “the Reformers” had one and only one definition of “justification”. As though this definition is also the one and only definition of the term found in Scripture. As though the Scriptures themselves really do only use ‘justification’ in one way. And, finally, as though this one clear and universal meaning is always your meaning (cheers for you!), and you don’t even need to define it for us when you bring it up.

    And, finally, what all this “define your terms, please” talk fails to demonstrate is that the FVers ever deny the ‘traditional’ definitions that you favor. You say, at first, that you just want FVers to be clear on what definition they are using each time they use these words. But this leaves open, does it not, that they might be perfectly orthodox in using the terms in these new ways, so long as they also hold to the old ways too? Yet this is one of your “main” criticisms of FV– presumably then one of the “main” reasons you have for thinking not simply taht they are mistaken but that they are “heretical” and should be “shunned”–that they use words in different ways and are not always clear on which usage they intend. This sounds more like advice that FVers need to be clearer, not that they actually are heretics.

    But then, on the other hand, you also give Schlissel “credit” for defining his terms more carefully, and then exclude him from Reformed orthodoxy simply for having a different definition (assuming this is what you mean by your identification of his view with Wright’s). But you nowhere in your post argue that Schlissel only uses this newer definition. So what if Schlissel (or any other FVer) continues to hold to the definitions that you prefer, but also thinks that there are other formulations of these doctrines that are more helpful in understanding all the Bible has to say? Why is this, in itself, an unorthodox or heretical move to make? You never say boo about this, but it is a necessary premise to make your entire charge of heresy work. Nobody should be shunned by thier fellow ministers over an enthymeme.

    I’ll end with a quotation for everyone’s consideration:

    “The spirit seals remission of sins only in the elect, and in such a way that they can apply it to their use with particular faith. It is for good reason, however, that the wicked are said to believe that God is favorably inclined toward them, since they have the gift of reconciliation, although in a confused and insufficiently distinct way. They are not sharers with the sons of God in the same faith or in rebirth, but they have with them a common starting point.

    “I do not deny that God illumines the minds of the wicked so that they perceive his grace, but he distinguishes that feeling from the unique testimony that he gives the elect; consequently they do not come to real completion and fruition. He does not show himself favorable toward them in order to snatch them from death and receive them into his keeping, but shows them a compassion only for the present. He considers that only the elect are worthy of the living root of faith, so that they may persevere to the end. This refutes the objection that God’s grace, if once truly shown, is permanent and lasting. Nothing prevents God from illuminating some with a present sense of his grace, which afterward vanishes away.

  18. greenbaggins said,

    December 2, 2006 at 10:46 am

    I will post one response on each of the two threads currently open on the Federal Vision. That is all I have time for today.

    I should first stress that not all Federal Vision advocates agree on everything. This should perhaps have been stressed more at the beginning of my posts. But I offer it here as somewhat of a corrective. Doug Wilson’s definition of justification differs rather widely from Steve Schlissel’s, for instance. ths is probably true on assurance as well, though I have not read them asking that particular question of consistency among advocates. One of the most frustrating things about the FV is precisely this lack of uniformity on almost any issue. Boiling it down to the common denominators if quite difficult.

    Xon, I will die on this hill of justification. There is one and only one definition of justification among the Reformers. It is this: justification is the declaration that a sinner, when God brings him to faith in Christ Jesus, is not guilty in the eyes of the law, because his sin has been imputed to Christ (who has then done away with it by expiation), and because Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to the believer. Thereby all the demands of the law have been met in Christ. All the Reformers objected to the RCC doctrine of infusion of righteousness, in favor of the biblical (Romans 4:4-5) word “imputation.” This is the definition of Calvin, Luther, Owen, Buchanan, Edwards, Hodge, Reymond, Murray, Turretin, Dabney, Bavinck, the WCF, the Three Forms of Unity, Cunningham, and the early church fathers (see Oden’s work).

    I don’t expect charitable interaction from FV sympathizers such as yourself, Xon, since I am hardly charitable towards heresy. I view the Gospel as being at stake. Therefore, I will fight, and I do mean fight for it, as Calvin and Luther did before me. They were much less charitable towards their opponents than I am currently.

    So, when Schlissel claims (cookie-cutter N.T. Wright here) that justification is about the Jew-Gentile question (AATPC, pp. 33-35), saying that “legal justification, far from being ‘the heart of the Gospel,’ let alone identical with it, is hardly ever in view when Paul speaks of justification” (AATPC, pg. 33). Schlissel never comes up with any passage where the legal dimension is in view. So he shifts completely justification from the legal, soteriological, realm, and puts it firmly in the ecclesiological realm of Jew-Gentile relations. To go back to my caveat at the beginning of this comment, others would perhaps differ from Schlissel on this. From what I can tell, Mark Horne is much closer to the WCF on this. I haven’t decided in my own mind yet whether he is or isn’t in conformity to the WCF. He is quite open to some formulations that are so obviously out of accord with the standards, and yet his own words on justification (he affirms imputation, for instance) seem to be in accord. I think I am coming to the conclusion that he is simply inconsistent. Xon, I have defined justification on my blog many times. All you would have to do is search for it on my blog, and many, many blog entries would you find. I have defined both here and in many other places. I don’t have to define it every time, since the entire Reformation tradition agrees with me here. If there is anything on which the Reformation tradition is monolithic, it’s justification. And by the way, ***NO*** Reformer has this “covenantal justification” idea. I challenge utterly anyone to come up with a Reformer saying that there is a covenantal justification that is losable.

    A new definition of justification that conflicts with the Reformation doctrine is heresy, regardless of whether or not the person holding to the new definition also claims to hold to the traditional definition. What you said is completely irrational. By your argument, one could hold to any definition they wanted, and if they also said “Oh, I believe the Reformational definition also,” then you wouldn’t call it heretical. That’s rich, Xon.

  19. John said,

    December 2, 2006 at 12:46 pm

    A few scattered comments, Lane:

    (1) You write, “One of the most frustrating things about the FV is precisely this lack of uniformity on almost any issue.”

    That’s because there is no FV movement. We who were the original speakers at AAPC 2002 (the conference entitled “The Federal Vision”) knew we shared some ideas in common, but we didn’t talk together about our lectures and plan out what we were going to say (“Here, you say this and then I’ll say that”). And since then, it’s still been more of a conversation than a movement. We aren’t — and we never have been — all exactly on the same page.

    (2) You say that Schlissel’s presentation is “cookie-cutter N. T. Wright,” but to the best of my knowledge, based on what Schlissel said in his AAPC 2003 lecture, he hadn’t read anything by NTW before 2003. Now the colloquium from which you’re quoting was in August 2003, and Schlissel did say at AAPC 2003 in January that he was going to go home and read NTW. So maybe he had by August. But what he said in August was substantially the same as what he’d already said in January. I think it’s Schlissel’s own formulation, therefore, not one drawn straight from NTW.

    (3) With regard to ST, I and my classmates were told several times in seminary not to read our systematic theology into our exegesis. Words in the Bible are not theological technical terms so that whenever you come across a word like “faith” you can read into it what Berkhof’s chapter on faith or Lord’s Day 7 of the Heidelberg Catechism says about faith.

    Take the word “regeneration,” for instance. Whole books have been written about regeneration. Some Reformed people work with a particular definition of regeneration that allows them to say (as, I think, R. C. Sproul does somewhere) that the Reformed view is that regeneration precedes faith, while the Arminian view is that faith precedes regeneration — never mind the fact that the Belgic Confession says “faith regenerates.”

    But the term “regeneration” appears only a couple of times. In one instance, it’s a reference to the new age brought about by Jesus’ death and resurrection (“In the regeneration you will sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel”). The other is Titus 3, where it speaks of “the washing of regeneration,” which I, like the Heidelberg Catechism, take as a reference to baptism. What does “regeneration” mean here? That has to be answered, not by reading into that word what Berkhof says about regeneration or some other ST definition of it, but by listening to Scripture, including the way the term is used elsewhere. I’d submit that this is the washing which brings a man into the new age, into the church which is the beginning of the new humanity.

    There are other places where something like “regeneration” is spoken of. In 1 Peter 1, Peter says that “we were regenerated,” but he’s talking about what happened to him and the other disciples (I take the “we” to be the apostolic “we”) after the resurrection. They were believers before then, however, so this “regeneration” wasn’t necessarily the start of faith. Then he says that his readers were begotten again by the Word. And, of course, in John 3 you have the “born again” or “born from above” language, which is, I think, a reference to Pentecost (“born of water” = John’s baptism, “born of Spirit” = Pentecost).

    You might disagree with my exegesis, which is fine, because that’s not my point. My point is that we have to exegete, not simply read our systematic theology of regeneration into these passages.

    Systematic theology may provide a check (“Hmm…. It sounds as if this passage is saying something contrary to what I’ve always believed and what the Reformed tradition has taught. I need to think more about this. Maybe it complements our dogma instead of contradicting it. Maybe it nuances it. Maybe I’m just wrong here”). But systematic theology does not and may not determine how we interpret a passage of Scripture. If it does, we’re in danger of hearing ourselves and not God’s Word.

  20. greenbaggins said,

    December 2, 2006 at 1:15 pm

    If there is no “Federal Vision,” then why is there a book by the title “*The* Federal Vision?” There is some common ground such that such a book could be written. You contributed to it. Steve Schlissel calls it “a new way of seeing.” I think this is just an attempt to head off criticism by denying that there is any common basis. If there is any common basis, then there could be said to be a common vision, which has been called, *by its own proponents,* the Federal Vision. I have recognized, as has Guy Waters, the lack of unanimity among proponents. However, this does not mean that criticism is unjustified.

    Secondly, it doesn’t really matter whether Schlissel has read N.T. Wright or not. It’s the same thing as what N.T. Wright says. Some phrases seemed to me to be borrowed from him, but if you say he didn’t read him, that’s fine. It’s still cookie-cutter Wright.

    Thirdly, I couldn’t disagree more with your position on ST. It is ST that prevents us from reading a text like “God repented” and coming away with the Open Theist position. All ST is is the analogy of faith. It is a plot analysis of Scripture. Therefore, as a plot analysis (Gaffin’s somewhat makeshift definition), it belongs in exegesis, fair and square. The way to avoid the twisting of Scripture is to keep the hermeneutical spiral going. Exegesis informs the ST, which in turn informs the exegesis. By your argument, theology is not a whole enterprise, but must be compartmentalized, never allowing ST into exegesis. That is not holistic in the slightest, and I repudiate it utterly.

  21. Todd said,

    December 2, 2006 at 2:00 pm

    Lane, a bit of unfinished business on this one.

    Please tell us about the connnection between baptism and assurance in WLC 167. How instructive is this connection? In what way is baptism a seal of assurance?

    You wrote: “Wilkins further denies that there is any inward possibility of assurance.” Any proof?

  22. John said,

    December 2, 2006 at 2:16 pm

    Lane, you write: “If there is no “Federal Vision,” then why is there a book by the title “*The* Federal Vision?””

    The 2002 AAPC was entitled “The Federal Vision.” The hosts chose that title because they wanted the conference to talk about viewing (hence: “vision”) life in terms of the covenant (hence: “federal”). The subsequent conference was entitled “The Federal Vision Examined,” echoing the title of the previous conference but indicating that what had been said at that conference was now being looked at in more detail.

    The book entitled The Federal Vision was to contain the lectures from that second conference. Originally, it was also supposed to contain my “Covenant and History” and “Covenant and Evangelism” talks, I thought, but they aren’t in the final edition. The editors also added some related essays — and some unrelated: Mark Horne’s essay, for instance, is simply a Reformed treatment of the Lord’s Supper.

    But my bigger point is that there is no one officially adopted “FV interpretation” of any passage of Scripture. We disagree with each other. We disagree with ourselves, sometimes. We discuss. Or we don’t. I haven’t had any conversation with Schlissel for over a year, I think.

    As for ST, I did say that ST can provide a check to our exegesis. It encourages us to take into consideration the rest of what Scripture says: “Either my theology is totally screwy, which means I’m misunderstanding the rest of Scripture, or I’m misunderstanding this passage.” But ST cannot determine our exegesis. Again, as I said earlier, the danger we face in exegeting is always that we listen to our own words and not God’s.

  23. greenbaggins said,

    December 2, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    Thanks for the clarification about the Federal Vision. But the people involved are trying to spread those views, are they not? They are trying to raise ecclesiastical support, are they not? What’s the difference between that and a movement?

    ST needs to do more than merely check our exegesis. It needs to be involved in it. ST done right, as a matter of fact, *is* exegesis. Have you ever sat in on a Gaffin class? It consists almost entirely of exegesis. The difference in our positions is that ST is just as surely the words of God as exegesis is, if ST is faithful to Scripture. You make a bifurcation between God’s Word as written down, and the good and necessary consequence that comes from it. I do not, but consider the entire theological enterprise as one whole, because God is one. I believe that every branch of theology ought deeply to inform and interpenetrate every other branch of theology. None is isolated from any other. If the only thing that ST can do with regard to our exegesis is a check, then we will miss out on much richness of comparing Scripture to Scripture. If you answer that comparing Scripture with Scripture is exegesis, I answer, “Amen, exegesis involves the analogy of faith just as ST does.” That’s why they *cannot* be separated.

  24. John said,

    December 2, 2006 at 2:52 pm

    You write: “But the people involved are trying to spread those views, are they not? They are trying to raise ecclesiastical support, are they not? What’s the difference between that and a movement?”

    I grant that Schlissel is teaching his views, Leithart is teaching his views, I’m teaching my views, and so forth. And you’re teaching your views. In the nature of the case, that’s what pastors do. Some of us are teaching more publicly than others, publishing books, writing blog entries, commenting on blogs, etc. Some may be treating this conversation as a movement, but others are sensitive to the dangers of “movement mentality.”

    So maybe the answer is: Some people are acting as if this is a movement. But others are not.

    As for trying to raise ecclesiastical support, I don’t know what you mean. I’d say that some people are trying to raise ecclesiastical opposition, especially in the PCA, and that others are speaking up and trying to argue their position and show that it isn’t contrary to the doctrinal standards of their denomination.

  25. Todd said,

    December 2, 2006 at 7:53 pm

    I’m feeling a bit ignored, Lane. You wrote: “I think it revealing that nowhere does the WCF mention assurance in connection with baptism.” What about WLC 167? It’s not part of the confession, of course, but you’ve sworn to uphold both. I’m tempted to think it revealing that you haven’t dealt with this.

  26. greenbaggins said,

    December 2, 2006 at 7:58 pm

    I am extremely pressed for time right now. I will respond, but simply don’t have the time right now. I am going on vacation tomorrow, and have approximately 6 jillion things to do. I know, I know, I responded to Xon. Yes, he had a lot of issues that I had to deal with. Patience, Todd. You cannot exactly accuse me of ignoring you before now.

  27. Todd said,

    December 2, 2006 at 8:23 pm

    No problem. Relax. I don’t really feel ignored. Have a blast on vacation. Love your wife. Talk to your kids about how to improve their baptisms:

    “The needful but much neglected duty of improving our Baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others; by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein; by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements; by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament; by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.”

    I see that I need to correct my interpretation of the syntax. *Assurance* is not sealed to us in baptism. *Pardon of sin* is sealed to us. Wow. This is quite a thought in itself, of course. I know, I know; “not tied to the time of administration, in God’s appointed time.” Amen. I love those lines, too. But the pardon of sin is sealed to us *in baptism*? Wow. Who wrote this thing?

    But the connection between assurance and baptism is there in the standards. The divines made the connection. Very revealing, indeed!

    I have to ask, Lane. Why didn’t you mention WLC 167 in your post on assurance and baptism, even while making a big deal out of the lack of this connection in the confession?

  28. Xon said,

    December 2, 2006 at 10:42 pm

    “If there is anything on which the Reformation tradition is monolithic, it’s justification. And by the way, ***NO*** Reformer has this “covenantal justification” idea. I challenge utterly anyone to come up with a Reformer saying that there is a covenantal justification that is losable.

    By the way, thanks for the chance to interact, Lane. I know you’re busy.

    As to whether any Reformers ever held to a “covenantal justification,” I’d say it all depends on what this would entail. It seems clear that at least some Reformers were okay with thinking that the non-elect can actually have “the gift of reconciliation”, that they “have a common starting point” with those who are elect, that God is truly showing a special compassion to them but only for a time. Further, at least some Reformer also sought to refute the notion that “God’s grace, if once truly shown, is permanent and lasting.”

    Clearly, none of these claims mention “justification” explicitly. But it would only require an argument similar to the one you have levelled against Wilkins to make them apply to justification. How can the Reformer I quote above think that there are non-elect members of God’s covenant community who have the gift of reconciliation, without thinking that they are actually, in some sense, reconciled to God but in a temporary way? But if they are reconciled to God, then they must be “right” before God in some sense, mustn’t they? These do not persevere to the end, as do the elect, but they both start off the same (in some sense).

    There is a “reconciliation” with God that is losable, according to at least one Reformer. If you want to argue that this “reconciliation” doesn’t amount to “justification,” “sanctification,” etc., then I’m willing to let you have those particular words (putting Scripture’s usage of them aside for the moment), but the claim that I take many FVers to be making need not be put in those terms: that those who are in covenant with God, but are not elect to salvation, still have a real union with God of some kind. A union that, say, an unbelieving Muslim doesn’t have, but still not quite the kind of union that the elect-unto-salvation have.

  29. Stacey said,

    December 3, 2006 at 5:20 pm

    I’m enjoying your blog a lot. As a person who spent 8 years listening to FV preaching, I can say your criticisms of it are right on the button. One of the things that is striking to me is how much it sounds like the Mormonism I grew up with (and for my ex-Roman Catholic friend it struck a similar chord in her). The “Gospel” is faith plus works – you have to have works in order to inherit eternal life. Once the pastor even bellowed from the pulpit, “you are NOT saved by faith alone!!” Of course, being a good student of Norman Shepherd, the next week’s sermon he spent backtracking on his previous heretical statements. :)

    Anyway, keep up the good work. It gives me hope that this cancer will be cut out of the PCA one day soon.

  30. Xon said,

    December 3, 2006 at 8:25 pm

    “The “Gospel” is faith plus works – you have to have works in order to inherit eternal life.

    This is a ridiculous slander, Stacey, of anyone accept perhaps your pastor (whoever that was). The Gospel is most definitely not “faith plus works” for any FVer I’ve ever read or heard. Nobody can answer your anecdote directly, since that’s the nature of anonymous anecdotes, but for any ‘public’ face of FV teaching, it simply is not the case that the ‘Gospel’ is faith plus works.

    As to the latter half of the statement, that “you have to have works in order to inherit eternal life,” this is just standard Reformed teaching. Works are necessary to, but they are not the ground of, our salvation. If God justifies us, He also sanctifies us–thus we produce (by the power of God) good works. No orthodox Reformed person can deny this.

  31. Xon said,

    December 3, 2006 at 8:26 pm

    Except, not accept, in that first sentence. Sorry.

  32. John said,

    December 4, 2006 at 12:15 am

    Stacey writes: “As a person who spent 8 years listening to FV preaching, I can say your criticisms of it are right on the button.”

    Wow! That seems sort of anachronistic. The conference called “The Federal Vision” was held in January 2002. By my math, that’s less than 5 years ago.

  33. December 6, 2006 at 2:07 am

    Todd said: “If I may speak for them, it’s for the simple reason that the Bible doesn’t make the careful delineation that you’re demanding. The Bible has diefffeerent standards then you do, and we can’t blame the FV guys for sticking with Paul.”

    Embracing what is, essentially, a biblicist hermeneutic is hardly “sticking with Paul.” Following the historical-grammatical method commits us to what Paul meant to convey to his audience. This intention drives our exegesis, not artificial wooden literalism. You assume that because Paul used the second person plural in his grammar that he would not have had any qualifications in mind in addressing his audience. You argue “he didn’t qualify himself”. Explicitly? No. But contextually? Yes. Addressing an audience in a general, undifferentiated manner is a common convention in writing letters. That is an implicit intention. What do you do, I wonder, with the phenomenological language of Scripture? We should not expect that Scripture be as precise as FV (ironically) assumes here.

    There is a difference between saying that Paul doesn’t (explicitly) qualify himself and saying that there are not qualifications intended in his speech and substance of his message.

    “You wrote: “I think it revealing that nowhere does the WCF mention assurance in connection with baptism.” What about WLC 167?”

    Lane was, perhaps, not as precise as he could have been. 167 is talking about the objective ground of assurance, not the subjective. The Westminster Standards devote space to the subjective elsewhere, where inward evidences are at play. But consider Wilkins’ teachings:

    “TE Wilkins’ teaching directly contradicts our doctrine of assurance. The Confession teaches that we may have a certain assurance of salvation based on inward evidences of faith and salvation ( WCFXVI.1-2). Wilkins directly contradicts this teaching, stating instead that “The questions of when a man is ‘regenerated,’ or given ‘saving faith,’ or ‘truly converted,’ are ultimately questions we cannot answer and, therefore, they cannot be the basis upon which we define the Church or identify God’s people… [The covenant perspective] enables us to assure Christians of their acceptance with God without needless [sic] undermining their confidence in God’s promises (by forcing them to ask questions of themselves they cannot answer with certainty).” In a footnote defining the harmful questions, Wilkins specifies: “Questions like, “Have you truly believed?”; “Have you sincerely repented?”; “Do you have a new heart?”; “Have you been truly converted?”; etc.” (The Federal Vision, 67, plus footnote 15, p. 69.) But these are questions the Confession views as pastorally helpful and productive of assurance, not despair.”

    I took this from the charges made in the memorial from the Central Carolina Presbytery: http://asubmergingchurch.lifewithchrist.org/permalink/27797

    If you have not read the actual charges brought against Wilkins here (or, for that matter, here: http://www.ecalvinbeisner.com/farticles/LA_Pres_Response.pdf) then may I say that you are defending the FV movement and, by implication, their errors out of irresponsible ignorance. Many here seem to be completely unaware of both Wilkins’ more indefensible statements and the specific ecclesiastical charges they have generated. Go and read – and if you still believe those things to be defensible – come back and defend the more egregious statements he has made that folks have taken exception to, Scripturally and confessionally. You are not ready to take sides in this debate otherwise.

    “*Assurance* is not sealed to us in baptism. *Pardon of sin* is sealed to us. Wow. This is quite a thought in itself, of course.”

    Sealing and conveying/receiving assurance are two different things. The language of a “sign and seal”, as we see in Romans 4, presumes precisely thwe we ALREADY HAVE the thing signified and sealed – reconciliation with God. This is precisely why Paul uses Abraham as the exemplar here.

    Although they deny it formally, FV statements can often just as easily be taken in a sense that would comport with the Romish doctrine of baptismal justification. The onus is on those, such as the FV, who use ambiguous (at the very least) language to show how (not just affirm THAT) their language comports with our confessions rather than the Romish conception.

    “But if they are reconciled to God, then they must be “right” before God in some sense, mustn’t they?”

    This is malarky worthy of the Sophists. If one is going to try to make a distinction between being “reconciled in some sense” (no eternal, incorruptible justification) and “reconciled” in the sense of having “peace with God” (Romans 5:1), then you are going to have to do more than posit the existence of this distinction. What is the substance of this distinction? What does it mean to be “reconciled” in this novel sense? And what distinguishes being a temporarily “reconciled” vessel of wrath and an unreconciled (non-covenant) vessel of wrath?

    If “reconciled” is, in its definition, inclusive of the conception of “God’s wrath being abated and propitiated”, then such a distinction is absolutely hopeless. If we empty the term of this content, then “reconciliation” means nothing at all. At least, nothing important.

  34. Stacey said,

    December 8, 2006 at 10:54 pm

    John wrote:

    “Wow! That seems sort of anachronistic. The conference called “The Federal Vision” was held in January 2002. By my math, that’s less than 5 years ago.”

    John, are you being deliberately obtuse? Just because a heresy acquires a name only 5 years ago doesn’t mean it didn’t exist for many years prior to that. The pastor who taught it was a disciple of Norman Shepherd for years(and a huge fan of Klaas Schilder and NT Wright) before he took over at the church I attended. Like most FV’ists, he chose from different sources for his ideas, but there is no doubt his basic framework was a denial of the covenant of works and a denial of the the idea of merit. Of course there is more I could say about his ideas but that’s enough for now.

  35. Stacey said,

    December 9, 2006 at 12:30 am

    Xon wrote:

    “This is a ridiculous slander, Stacey, of anyone accept perhaps your pastor (whoever that was). The Gospel is most definitely not “faith plus works” for any FVer I’ve ever read or heard. Nobody can answer your anecdote directly, since that’s the nature of anonymous anecdotes, but for any ‘public’ face of FV teaching, it simply is not the case that the ‘Gospel’ is faith plus works.

    As to the latter half of the statement, that “you have to have works in order to inherit eternal life,” this is just standard Reformed teaching. Works are necessary to, but they are not the ground of, our salvation. If God justifies us, He also sanctifies us–thus we produce (by the power of God) good works. No orthodox Reformed person can deny this.”

    What is covenantal obedience if not code for faith plus works? But just so I don’t get caught up in the tar baby of FV, I get it Xon, I really do. The FV is a different bird from normal Reformed teaching. So different that I, an ex – Mormon, recognized its similarity to the false doctrine I was taught as a child and its dissimilarity to the Reformed doctrine I was taught as an adult.

    It should pique your interest that an ex-Mormon and an ex-Roman Catholic were troubled by this teaching, Xon. Perhaps you should ponder the reasons why this would be. In other words, when people like us are saying there’s a problem with the FV, maybe it’s because there actually is a problem – that it’s a heresy that should be avoided because it leads people to trust in their works for salvation, just like the heresy we were taught in our youth. But hey, what do we know? I mean, really…

    In light of what you have written, I guess I need to apologize to every Mormon I’ve ever told not to trust in their works for salvation, but in Christ alone. It seems I’ve been sharing a false gospel. I guess I need to apologize to my poor mother who I helped lead to Christ by said false gospel, and I need to let my father know he was right after all. You see, he thinks I’m a fool for trusting in Christ alone (and not my works). As a Mormon, he knows that “…Works are necessary to, but they are not the ground of, our salvation. If God justifies us, He also sanctifies us–thus we produce (by the power of God) good works…” He knows he has to have faith in Christ but also works to receive eternal life. Honestly, I shudder for the day when Mormons get ahold of FV theology, because it fits in more with their way of thinking than with the Reformed.

    As much as you don’t like my anecdote about my pastor, what I said happened really did happen – he preached a sermon against the Reformed/Biblical belief that we are saved by faith alone. Nothing will ever change that disturbing little fact – I just I hope it troubles you as much as it did me.

  36. pduggie said,

    December 14, 2006 at 9:57 am

    Stacey: It is not for nothing that most folks in common evangelicalism and Lutherans have long accused orthodox reformed theology (irrespective of the FV) of being legalistic because of their focus on the condition and need for obedience as part of faith.

    Just as we have baptistic presbyterians, I’m not suprised to find we have antinomian presbyterians. Guys like Kline, and a general antinomian influence in the evangelical world have had an influence on the way people express their theology. Guys like Mike Horton, friendly with Lutherans, had adopted a lutheran-oriented view of the role of the law. It shouldn’t suprise anyone.

    If you don’t want to be reformed, Stacey, that’s fine. Ther’e guys like Zane Hodges out there who will deny that obedience is a condition of salvation as well as faith (though all the Reformed will admid obedience is no causal condition of justification). But if you want to understand that the expression of the rols of obedience in salvation, and why reformed people will admit that full SALVATION is not by faith “alone” check out Patrick Ramsey’s blog. The evidence is insurmountable, even though it makes reformed people look like legalists to the common evangalical understanding of the law.

  37. Stacey said,

    December 16, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    pduggie,

    What’s interesting to me is that you, like the Mormons, automatically assume I am antinomian. When I requested my name be removed from the LDS church’s rolls, I specifically mentioned that since I had become a Christian, I no longer wanted to obey God in order to earn my salvation, but now wanted to do good works simply out of gratitude for what He had done for me in Christ. I know that our spiritual rebirth enables us to obey the law (as imperfectly as we inevitably do) and I can’t imagine *wanting* to ignore obeying the law. I haven’t changed that view in over 20 years. But to make it as plain as I can, I reject antinomianism very strongly, and I equally, and just as strongly, reject law-keeping in order to attain salvation. That, as far as I can tell, lands me solidly in the Reformed camp.

    Based on my first hand experience with it, the FV, like most moralistic heresies, confuses the thunderclap with the lightning (i.e., the relation of faith and works). It also makes our obedience to the law as important as Christ’s, if not (technically speaking), more so. That looks all the world like RC and Mormonism to me.

    I’ll state it again: this doctrine mirrors the beliefs of a cult. It grieves me no end that it has gained a following in Reformed churches, because I’ve seen the effect of it’s preaching first hand. People go from having trust in Christ alone to relying on their works. It makes the joy of Sunday worship into a work of “Covenant Renewal”. It strips people of the assurance of salvation and creates the same spiritually dead atmosphere of any LDS ward. It produced some of the most unbalanced preaching I’ve ever seen: during the time I was there, the pastor preached, at most, 5 or 6 sermons from the New Testament. He preached the majority of the time from the Old Testament because of his love affair with the idea of covenantal law keeping. He rarely mentioned Christ, and when he did, it was always King Jesus (ala’ NT Wright). Comparing his teaching to the Christ centered and Christ exalting preaching of my previous Reformed pastor, it was painfully clear that FV preaching is not focused on Christ, but on *us*. That’s a recipe for spiritual disaster if I ever saw one.

    So be a heretic, pduggie, if you must. Please reconsider, though. The FV leads people to trust in their works for salvation, same as Joseph Smith’s doctrine. Avoid making his mistake, ok?

  38. Todd said,

    December 16, 2006 at 5:54 pm

    “It makes the joy of Sunday worship into a work of “Covenant Renewal”.”

    Oh, Stacey. Covenant renewal worship a work? Really? The whole point of this “form” of worship is to emphasize that God is the one who is most active in the Sunday morning service, graciously initiating, meeting with his people, and giving to them. Have you read Jeff Meyers’ book?

  39. Lee said,

    December 16, 2006 at 6:20 pm

    Todd,
    I am going to agree with Stacey, I do think the ‘Covenant Renewal’ idea of worship is different than the traditional reformed idea of worship. The transformation of the pulpit service (low liturgy) into an altar service (high liturgy) brings with it the idea of work. One must partake of communion in order to renew the covenant every Sunday. While I currently am waiting to read Rev. Meyer’s book, based on the teachings of Dr. Jim Jordan, I am going to agree with Stacey about the Covenant Renewal idea.

  40. Todd said,

    December 16, 2006 at 6:31 pm

    But since when did the Lord’s Supper become a work? One must partake of communion in order to renew the covenant every Sunday? Why the must? Must be admonished and assured that I am a partaker of that one sacrifice of Christ, accomplished on the cross, and of all his benefits? Must be fed and nourished with his body and blood?

    How about, One is graciously invited and permitted to, etc.?

  41. Xon said,

    December 16, 2006 at 9:00 pm

    In a happy-clappy service, one must sing the songs to feel the goosebumps. In a “name it and claim it” church, one must see the glittering suit of the preacher to feel inspired to follow his example. In a doctrine-heavy Reformed/Presbyterian church, one must sit and listen to the sermon in order to receive the proper understanding of the doctrine being taught that day.

    In any model of worship, you must “participate” in the service somehow in order for the stuff going on in the service to have its proper effect. In this very modest sense of “partaking”, we can say talk about the Supper in Covenant Renewal-model worship. But this would apply just as much to anybody else’s model of worship, too.

    As Todd already pointed out, one of the chief points of Covenant Renewal worship is to emphasize that worship is largely about God doing something for us, and us responding in faith and gratitude to His work. CR folks reject the pious platitude often heard among the Reformed and others that worship is all about us giving something (worship) to God. Only the most uncharitable reading can see it otherwise and try to twist CR into the very thing it is trying to do better than rival models.

  42. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2006 at 2:28 pm

    [THE LAW] is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin: and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law. The promises of it, in like manner, show them God’s approbation of obedience,and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof: although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works. So as, a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law: and not under grace.

    Neither are the forementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it; the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely, and cheerfully, which the will of God, revealed in the law, requires to be done.

  43. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2006 at 3:03 pm

    Also, the “idea of work” (NOT work to gain justification) is not a bad idea.

    God brings his word to us and we RESPOND.

    In the sermon, the conscience might be pricked. The sacrament then offers something other than a purely mental act “Go home and THINK ABOUT IT” (the actual finale of a few sermons I’ve heard) to “do” in response. (and as others have pointed out, the “doing” of the sacrament is not, properly, a work to earn gods favor, its a response of gratitude and thanksgiving (eucharist) to what God has already done.

    Maybe some weird unnnamed FV preachers that Stacey knows don’t emphasize that the sacraments are approproations of God’s finished work, but that doesn’t mean that isn’t the teaching of Meyers, Leithart, Jordan, Gaver, Wilson, WIlkins, or a whole bunch of NON FV people too.

  44. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2006 at 3:06 pm

    Oh, and just to say something in response to Lane’s point about assurance and baptism, baptism has to be related to assurance in some fasion for it to actually be accounted as a SEAL.

    A seal authenticates and validates something.

    Read D Marion Clark on this in the Boice worship festchrift.

  45. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2006 at 3:10 pm

    In the FV, you can lose salvation if you stop believing.

    If you beleive that baptism is a seal of God’s favor towards you and a sign of what Christ has done in *your* behalf (since *you* were baptized) not just for some noumenal “elect”, then it assures you of God’s justificatory favor for you.

    If you keep believeing that, you are continuing to believe, and you don’t loose salvation.

  46. greenbaggins said,

    December 18, 2006 at 6:29 pm

    Paul, are you ignoring my repeated statements that baptism forms part of assurance? I have *always* said this. You don’t seem to be acknowledging this at all. I just don’t say that baptism is the only or the primary means of assurance, since baptism does not automatically mean perseverance. How many times am I going to have to repeat that baptism forms part of assurance before my FV opponents will believe me?

    If someone loses salvation if they stop believing, then was their “faith” genuine or not?

  47. Todd said,

    December 18, 2006 at 6:56 pm

    “I just don’t say that baptism is the only or the primary means of assurance, since baptism does not automatically mean perseverance.”

    And, of course, no FV writer says anything like this, either. Only, primary, etc.

  48. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2006 at 8:22 pm

    I believe you!

  49. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2006 at 10:55 am

    Ok, Baptism IS just a PART of assurance.

    The other part is the Supper.

  50. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2006 at 10:58 am

    What is the sign or seal that “automatically” implies perseverence that we CAN look to for assurance? Where is it? Why do we need it?

    Can’t I just take assurance from the signs and seals of God’s present favor and my union with Christ?

  51. greenbaggins said,

    December 20, 2006 at 12:22 pm

    Paul, are you really saying that the Sacraments are the only basis for assurance?

  52. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2006 at 1:15 pm

    They’re the only objective ones.

    We’re cessasionists, right? Why is it that we assume the biblical references to the seal and assurance of the Spirit are not part of that cessasion? When Eph 1:13 mentions the seal of the Spirit, wouldn’t the Ephesians have understood that to be the extraordinary expression they had?

    When Paul asks the Galatians to figure out how they knew they were saved, by law or by faith, its the extraordinary evidences of the Spirit (miracles: 3:5) that he assures them that it was not by law.

    Look at Acts 15. Peter’s argument is that we all know the Gentiles should be included because we know the Gentiles are saved too because of they spoke in tongues. We laugh at that kind of argument from anglican homosexuals today, or lady ministers.

    When Paul was sent by the Antioch church, the Spirit SAID “send Paul”. Nowadays we say the Spirit is calling this or that minster, but none of the presbyetrians go around saying “the Spirit TOLD US to do so”

    I repeat my question: “What is the sign or seal that “automatically” implies perseverence that we CAN look to for assurance?”

  53. March 19, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    […] Why is the Federal Vision heresy, part 2? […]


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