FV Joint Statement Exposed, part 1

http://www.federal-vision.com/resources/joint_FV_Statement.pdf

Our Triune God

We affirm that the triune God is the archetype of all covenantal relations.

The problem with this is archetypal theology is specifically not communicable to ectypal theology.

As the Waters Cover the Sea

This section is fine, but the reader is encouraged to read Iain Murray’s The Puritan Hope for a healthier presentation.

The Next Christendom

Again, not really a problem and neither is this what the FV is about.

Scripture Cannot Be Broken

We affirm further that Scripture is to be our guide in learning how to interpret Scripture, and this means we must imitate the apostolic handling of the Old Testament, paying close attention to language, syntax, context, narrative flow, literary styles, and typology—all of it integrated in Jesus Christ Himself…We deny that the Bible can be rightly understood by any hermeneutical grid not derived from the Scriptures themselves.

Why don’t you say what you really mean?  Go ahead and say those who hold to the Covenant of Works self-consciously seek not to be guided by Scripture.  No one rejects these propositions, so you are actually dealing from the bottom of the deck.

The Proclamation of the Word

Some words about rejecting specialized language, but since they are too scared to say specifics, there isn’t much I can do with this.

Creeds and Confessions

This section is tricky.  On one hand, no Reformed person would disagree with the propositions.  On the other hand, the CREC view of Confessionalism is loaded with self-contradictions.

See here.

The Divine Decrees

We deny that the unchangeable nature of these decrees prevents us from using the same language in covenantal ways as we describe our salvation from within that covenant.

Here is the problem.  Western Christendom, whether Protestant or Catholic, has always said the decrees of God are as immutable as God’s essence.  So, you can say “covenantal” all you want to, but at the end of the day, if you hold to the correct doctrine of God, you must agree with me.

Church

We affirm that membership in the one true Christian Church is visible and objective

It’s hard to say yes or no on that.    What do they mean by “objective”?  I think I have an idea, but that’s the problem.  It’s loaded language which the average reader won’t catch.

Reformed Catholicity

We affirm that justification is through faith in Jesus Christ, and not through works of the law, whether those works were revealed to us by God, or manufactured by man. Because we are justified through faith in Jesus alone, we believe that we have an obligation to be in fellowship with everyone that God has received into fellowship with Himself.

It’s interesting to note which phrase wasn’t used.  Again, these propositions aren’t wrong, but I am left in the dark concerning:

  1. What is the ground of my justification?
  2. What is the instrument?

Covenant of Life

I’m too tired to deal with this one.  They say that Adam was in a faith-alone relationship in the pre-lapsarian covenant.  True, on one hand God condescends to us by covenant, and covenant isn’t something we deserve, but the principle in the law is “Do this and live.” Federal Vision fails to preserve these clarities.

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About Analytic Anselm

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, charismatic gifts
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9 Responses to FV Joint Statement Exposed, part 1

  1. Evan says:

    I don’t see the problem you think there is with the first. They are not claiming that it is communicable. They state only the “that” but not the “what.” Same way Junius states “that” there is an archetypal theology, which is identical to God himself; this we merely adore and search no further to penetrate. All ectypal theology images the archetype, so I don’t necessarily see a problem with the first one. Otherwise, good to see this.

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    • Jacob BA says:

      I’m open to correction on that point. I grant what you are saying, but even then, is the Trinity really a model for covenant? It could be, but I don’t see how the Pactum Salutis (assuming that is what they mean, which they might not) is the pattern for covenants in the Bible.

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      • Evan Kramer says:

        Right. It sounds cool, but it obviously isn’t doing any actual work for them. It’s just sort of an embellishment.

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  2. cal says:

    How do you see the Covenant of Works alongside the Orthodox notion that the point of the commandment was to fulfill the personalizing of image into likeness, a move from good to perfect? I’ve not thought of it before, but an Orthodox anthropology might make more sense of a Covenant of Works. Otherwise, the criticism that it seems like an irrational test if man is already naturally perfect. Thus, monocovenantalism rests upon a Pelagian anthropology that even Roman Catholics reject with their notions of a Felix Culpa and the need for a donum superadditum.

    What do you think?
    cal

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  3. py3ak says:

    I think the first point has to be read against the background of Ralph Smith. In a sort of social trinitarianism, the relations of the persons are conceived of as ontologically covenantal. “Covenant” then becomes such a basic category that we are using it to define the being of God, as well as everything else that follows after. Because if God is intrinsically covenantal, it makes sense that everything else is as well. (And that fit in well with treating the covenant of works as being bound up in creation, rather than an act of providence as the WLC has it.)
    When the FV furore was at its height I wondered why Trinitarian issues didn’t get more play; the recent fracas over eternal generation seems to show that it’s because people mostly didn’t know enough to care.

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    • Jacob BA says:

      True, I had forgotten about Smith. Now that I remember in his book on Van Til, he quotes social trinitarians approvingly.

      And thanks for reminding me that the CoW is an act of Providence, not creation.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. David Weebly says:

    “Why don’t you say what you really mean? Go ahead and say those who hold to the Covenant of Works self-consciously seek not to be guided by Scripture.”

    This is an interesting observation since the FV crowd take their covenant doctrine from Herman Hoeksema and the PRCA. The PRCA rejects the COW in favour of a single COG. Hoeksema even calls the COW a figment of the imagination. (Really think of the implications of that statement. It means all of Reformed theology is a lie since the COW/COG schema is so central to each loci.) Having read your blogs I understand you probably have no time for such a man as Hoeskema who’s innovative theology stands firmly outside of the mainstream of Reformed tradition. But still I would love to read your comments on PRCA theology at some point. I imagine if you ever did write a critical article concerning Hoeksema the PRCA would get wind of it and then it would be like Orthodox Bridge all over again.

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    • Jacob BA says:

      I’ve seen the similarities. I have nothing against Hoeksema himself. I think he is wrong but that’s that. Although, ironically, I first came across HH’s name through FV guys.

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