Two Unions?

It’s been a while since I actually posted on a theological topic vis-a-vis the Federal Vision, but I was prompted to do so by this article on the Aquila Report. I have a very high respect for Shane Lems and Andrew Compton both. Nevertheless, it seems to me that one aspect of Shane’s blog post needs a bit of sharpening.

The Federal Vision will typically claim that union with Christ is a losable benefit. When pressed, however, they will usually admit to two different unions: one that the elect have with Christ which is not losable, and one that the non-elect have with Christ, which is losable. The way I have typically described this is that the FV is Calvinistic with regard to the elect, and Arminian with regard to the non-elect who have this temporary union with Christ. However, they claim that the union with Christ which the non-elect have is a real union.

So, the point of Shane Lems’s article that I would gently suggest needs a little sharpening is his quotation of WLC 66 to address the losable union question. That question is explicitly talking about the union that the elect have with Christ. In my opinion, a better way to get at the question is to ask the question of whether the non-elect can have true union with Christ. Exegetical questions would revolve around John 15, in particular, which has been hashed out before on this blog. For other exegetical discussions, see the index.

For the confessional material, it seems easier to get at the issues by referring to those sections that talk about true union belonging only to the elect. WLC 68 is particularly apropos: “Are the elect only effectually called? All the elect, and they only, are effectually called: although others may be, and often are, outwardly called by the ministry of the word, and have some common operations of the Spirit; who, for their wilful neglect and contempt of the grace offered to them, being justly left in their unbelief, do never truly come to Jesus Christ” (emphasis added). Question 63 combined with question 65 is also a clear place to go, since those questions refer to the special benefits that members of the visible church enjoy (none of which includes union with Christ), and the special (or particular) benefits that the invisible church enjoys (which includes union).