Federal Vision and Covenant Theology: A Comparative Analysis

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Other times, Scripture distinguishes the elect from the covenant community, such as when the biblical writers warn that some within the covenant will fall away Rom. To follow the Biblical model, we must view our fellow church members as elect and regenerate and threaten them with the dangers of falling away. We can never, in this life, know with absolute certainty, who the elect are. So we have to make evaluations and declarations in terms of what has been revealed, namely the covenant Dt.

God has decreed from the foundation of the world all that comes to pass, including who would be saved and lost for all eternity. Included in his decree, however, is that some persons, not destined for final salvation, would be drawn to Christ and to his people for a time. They may be said to be reconciled to God, adopted, granted new life, etc. But in the end, they fail to persevere, and because they fall away, they go to hell.

Proponents of the Federal Vision claim to reflect the authentic views of John Calvin on election and covenantal objectivity, citing Calvin's distinction between common election and special election: "Although the common election is not effectual in all, yet may it set open a gate for the special elect. Besides this [universal call] there is a special call which, for the most part, God bestows on believers only, when by the internal illumination of the Spirit he causes the word preached to take deep root in their hearts.

Sometimes, however, he communicates it also to those whom he enlightens only for a time, and whom afterwards, in just punishment for their ingratitude, he abandons and smites with greater blindness. Advocates of the Federal Vision believe that in the covenant, God promises certain blessings for faithful living, and promises curses for unfaithful living based on Deuteronomy 28 , which makes the covenant objective.

Once a person has entered the covenant through baptism , he cannot escape its consequences. If, through unbelief, he lives a life unfaithful to the covenant or abandons it, he will be subject to God's curses and displeasure. Proponents of the Federal Vision have a view of baptism that they argue returns to the beliefs of the original Reformers , particularly John Calvin. This baptismal view is different from both Roman Catholic and contemporary Protestant beliefs on baptism. Douglas Wilson writes:. In a sacrament we have a covenantal union between the sign and the thing signified.

The Roman Catholic position destroys the possibility of having a sacrament through identifying the sign with the thing signified. The modern evangelical position destroys the definition of a sacrament through divorcing the sign and the thing signified. In this position, the sign is a mere memorial of that to which it points, and thus there can be no sacramental union between the two. To them, baptism is the entrance into both the covenant and the church.

As a result of the covenantal union between the act of baptism and the work of the Holy Spirit , Federal Vision advocates affirm a form of baptismal regeneration that they argue is a return to Calvin's thought and the teachings of the historically Reformed. Obviously, for Reformed Christians, the ultimate test of any doctrine is its fidelity to the whole counsel of God, revealed in the pages of Scripture.

What does the Bible actually teach about the efficacy of baptism? In baptism, We are united or married to the crucified, buried, and risen Christ Rom.

The Federal Vision and Covenant Theology: A Comparative Analysis

Of course, the ultimate proof of baptism's efficacy rests in the baptism of Jesus himself. Here, we have the ultimate paradigm for understanding God's work in baptism. Jesus received the Spirit in fullness at his baptism, and was declared to be the beloved Son of the Father. With appropriate qualifications, this is what God does in our baptisms as well: He pours out his Spirit upon us and declares us to be his dearly loved children.

Federal Vision - Wikipedia

In context, none of these passages teach baptism automatically guarantees salvation. But they do teach that God does a great work in baptism, a work that may be considered the beginnings of salvation for those God has elected to persevere to the end. This point has generated much controversy and confusion, because the advocates of the Federal Vision do not mean regeneration as the term is used today. Rather, they claim to employ the original sense of the word as used by the reformers. Louis Berkhof writes, "Calvin also used the term [regeneration] in a very comprehensive sense as a designation of the whole process by which man is renewed.

Critics believe that this teaching more closely aligns them with Lutheran views of baptism. Using this definition of regeneration , the Federal Vision position is that physical and spiritual baptism should be seen as a unity normally. Rich Lusk writes,. In Calvin's Strasbourg catechism, he asks the student "How do you know yourself to be a son of God in fact as well as in name? For God does not disappoint us when he promises us his gifts.

Hence, both pardon of sins and newness of life are certainly offered and received by us in baptism. Therefore, as often as we fall away, we ought to recall the memory of our baptism and fortify our mind with it, that we may always be sure and confident of the forgiveness of sins. In his concluding analysis of the Federal Vision baptismal theology , Joseph Minich who claims not to be an FV advocate writes, "Baptism is not a 'work' performed, after which one can have full assurance.

It is not another 'instrument' of justification alongside faith.

Federal Vision/Auburn Avenue Theology

Rather, it is a visible act of God especially apparent in the case of infants that is to be seen as the locus of Christian certainty. It is the place where God promises to meet His own. To look to baptism for assurance is not to look for salvation in 'water,' but to cling to the place where God promises to meet His people and bless them. Those associated with the Federal Vision often include under the name " Christian " all who have been baptized in the name of the Triune God.

The Federal Vision emphasizes the blessings that come from partaking in communion as the nourishing feast of the covenant. While denying both mere symbolism and the presence of Christ in the elements themselves, they believe that Christ's presence with the church in the sacrament has sanctifying effects. Advocates of the Federal Vision are proponents of paedocommunion , the participation of small children in communion.

They argue that accepting small children to the Table was the classic Christian position until the 14th century, [37] and that all covenant members, including children should be admitted to the table unless they are under formal church discipline. Paedocommunion is not an exclusively Federal Vision position.

Non—Federal Vision Reformed advocates of paedocommunion include C. Full Name Comment goes here. Are you sure you want to Yes No.

The Federal Vision Heresy & John Piper

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A comparative and critical study of "Federal Vision" that contrasts it with the concept of covenant theology. You just clipped your first slide! Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Get A Copy. Kindle Edition. Published first published June 14th More Details Friend Reviews.

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