So we had a discussion among the men of our church on the Federal Vision (FV) recently. Here is my part in continuing the conversation, partially to vent my own frustrations, and partially to answer objections and arguments raised there. Full disclosure: I consider myself an advocate of a mild version of FV. Not hot and spicy, or thick and chunky. Just mild and smooth...
"FV stems from pride"
This is a red herring and ad hominem all rolled into one, akin to saying gluttonous eating stems from hunger. Of course, and pride is mixed in with everyone's motives all the time, but that just distracts us in a discussion of FV. The real issue lies elsewhere, like in the quantity of food the glutton is eating, and in how Scriptural (or not) FV assertions are. Is what they are teaching against a real and legit problem? If not, called them misguided, but don't impute motives, please.
"FV is a dispute that is dividing the church over minor issues"
What Scripture says about justification, the Church, sacraments, assurance are all at stake, and these are minor issues? I agree we ought not divide over these things, since both sides hold to Reformed views on these issues. No one is going Catholic or even Lutheran in FV. And we have mixed views of FV within our church, so we are living out that unity. The CREC was started 10 years ago (as I understand it) before FV was an issue, when a bunch of independent Baptist types became Reformed, but didn't fit in with the current Reformed denominations, all of which [CORRECTION, added later after I cooled off a bit: "most" of which] are either compromising with the world (say, on evolution or worship style) or are more wrapped up in their Books of Church Order and presbytery minutes than they are in living out a robust Reformed worldview. The FV men aren't doing the dividing, but are being pushed out of denominations by anti-FV men.
It is easy to score rhetorical points saying we shouldn’t let doctrine divide us. It is also easy to nitpick over theological minutiae that have no bearing on life. But no minister worth his salt avoids certain texts or issues just because they are controversial, either, especially when they have Scriptural and pastoral ramifications, which I believe the FV does (see later objections).
“FV sees parallels from OT to NT that just aren’t there”
This is an objection to Reformed and covenant theology in general, not FV, specifically. We had lots of questioning of the parallels from Passover to Communion (1 Cor 5:7-8), from circumcision to baptism (Col 2:11-12), requiring baptism before Communion (Ex 12:48), from the covenant with Abraham to the Church covenant (Rom 4:16-18). But none of this is a problem only with FV – it is a questioning of the whole of Reformed theology (not to mention of God's dealings with Israel in the Old Covenant, in my mind). All of it doesn't come down to infant baptism. Rather, infant baptism is one natural outworking of covenant theology.
Last 3 objections tomorrow, or later...