"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

For those Just Tuning in: What is the Federal Vision?

In 2007, R. Scott Clark, history professor at Westminster Seminary California pens a piece on the origins and character of what has come to be known as "Federal Vision" or "Auburn Avenue" Theology. This is an excellent primer on one of the most serious threats to the Gospel in the Reformed community:

For Those Just Tuning In: What is the Federal Vision?

In talk radio the host is supposed to “re-set” the show at regular intervals. He is to remind listeners to which show they are listening and on what network or station. One reason why the host does this is because some listeners are just tuning in. Some people are “just tuning in,” as it were, to the Federal Vision (FV) controversy and this might be a good time to re-set the show.

The FV is 33-year old movement that originated, at least in this episode, with the Rev Mr Norman Shepherd who was then teaching systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia). In 1974 he defined faith, in the act of justification, to be “faith and works.” It was not that, in justification, faith is “receiving and resting” and works are evidence and thus a sort of vindicatory justification of the claim that one believes. Nothing so nuanced or Reformed. Rather, he flatly claimed that there are two parts to faith in justification. When that created a predictable uproar, he modified his language to “faithfulness.” At the same time he, and others, was about revising covenant theology. In baptism, he wrote, we are all united to Christ and receive the benefits of Christ temporarily and conditionally. What is the condition of retaining them? Faithfulness!


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