Decrees and Covenant

The next paragraph of the FV document has to do with the intersection of the decree and the covenant. I must confess also to being disappointed by this paragraph, as with the previous paragraph. Nothing is clarified in this paragraph, and the errors are perpetuated.

In the first paragraph of this section, I agree with everything up until the last sentence, which reads: “Those covenant members who are not elect in the decretal sense enjoy the common operations of the Spirit in varying degrees, but not in the same way that those who are elect do.” Again, the first part of the sentence is fine. But when they seek to distinguish between the benefits the elect have and the non-elect have, they fudge. Anyone who cannot say that the difference between the elect and the non-elect is the difference between having the ordo salutis and not having any of the ordo salutis is not confessional. This is crystal clear from WCF 3.6, and WCF 10.4. Look especially at the latter. Here it is in full:

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 unto Christ, and therefore cannot 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 very pernicious, and to be detested.

Note here that the people under discussion are those who have received the common operations of the Spirit. In other words, they are members of the visible church. Right up to the colon are such people talked about. After the colon we are clearly talking about pagans (“not professing the Christian religion”). If there are two things we can say about the former category of people, it is that they NEVER TRULY come unto Christ, and that they CANNOT be saved. Both of these things the FV’ers have been willing in the past to deny about non-elect members of the visible church. They harp on the fact that covenantal union is true union. The Confession here clearly states that there is no such true union with Christ for the non-elect. Secondly, the FV has been willing to say that the non-elect in some sense are saved. The Confession states that they cannot be saved. No doubt the FV will repeat its tired and easily combustible defense that their definition of “truly” and “saved” is not the same definition as the Confession’s. That’s quite a bit like Clinton saying “That depends on what you mean by the word ‘is’.” Is it true union or not? Is it salvation or not? Saying that there is a difference between elect and non-elect solves exactly nothing of the problem. Saying that there is a semantic range of meaning in the Bible doesn’t solve the problem. The semantic range of terms is not the issue here. The issue is the formulation, the FV formulation.

We affirm the reality of the decrees, but deny that the decrees “trump” the covenant.

Well, this is clear as mud. The decree of God can be thwarted by the covenant? Is that what they mean? The decree must somehow be mutable and immutable at the same time? The decree of God is unchangeable, eternal, and infinite. Is not the covenant part of God’s decree? So they set the covenant against the decree and immediately claim that they have not done so. This is disingenuous at best.