by David and Tim Bayly on June 26, 2007 - 8:57pm
I have a list of questions that have been occurring to me—primarily during my morning shower—that I’d like to ask serious proponents of Federal Vision theology. I have a similar, but shorter, list of questions I'd like to ask supporters of the Ad Interim Report on Federal Vision and New Perspective theology but I’ll ignore them for now since they need time to germinate in my mind.
Let me add that I’m asking these questions in all seriousness. They’re important questions, answers to which would help me (and perhaps others) understand the Federal Vision trajectory more clearly.
- When I read Federal Vision (FV) writers—especially the younger sort who seem to populate the blog world—they routinely accuse their non-FV foes of being “Baptist” or “baptistic.” Now it occurs to me that since the Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC), the ecclesiastical center of FV thought, accepts churches and elders which subscribe to the London Baptist Confession, that instead of a pejorative, this may actually be a term of endearment. Obviously I’m being sarcastic, but I truly mean the question: is “baptistic” the powerfully pejorative term it appears to be in the FV world?
- If you answered the previous question in the affirmative, which would you prefer to be: an average North American Baptist or an average North American Roman Catholic? Only concise, unqualified answers to this question, please….
- If you did not quickly and unqualifiedly answer “Baptist” to question number 2, do you complain bitterly when FV foes say FV advocates are on their way to Rome? Why? At the very least wouldn’t you agree that it’s hypocritical to complain about being called an incipient Roman Catholic when you accuse others of being “Baptist” and you view being Baptist as negatively as being Roman Catholic?
- As a supporter of the Ad Interim Report I’ve criticized strategy, tone and at times even the arguments of FV foes within the PCA. I can’t recall ever hearing serious self-criticism within the FV camp. Are there people within the FV movement whose tone you repudiate? Are there those who have taken their theological arguments too far? Or is the FV movement ultimately defined, as it sometimes seems to me, by the most radical of its young turks? Does anyone ride herd on the FV movement?
- Please understand that this is a genuine question… I understand, I think, the FV desire to emphasize works. To a certain degree I even agree with it. BUT, it increasingly seems to me that the FV movement, though arguing for a final judgment on the basis of works, ultimately tends to limit those justifying works to the sacraments. Do you understand why I would say this? Is there any truth to my perception?
- Again, please remember that I’m at least somewhat your friend when I ask this…. I’ve noticed a tone of condescension—at times snideness—among FV advocates when the subject of piety comes up. And while pietism is, I suppose, a sufficiently defined form of legalism to warrant condemnation, piety itself is condoned and even commanded by Scripture. Why, brothers, do many FVers permit (if not condone) the mocking of piety? Can you understand my saying that at times it seems FVers delight in contradicting others’ expectations of holiness? Is this wise?
- Finally, perhaps my most important question. But first a prelude…. I see danger in FV statements of baptismal efficacy. I think the FV view of baptism could (at the very least) lead FV proponents and churches into the camp of presumptive regeneration, a view I’m convinced is dangerous to our children’s spiritual health. You may not agree with me about that danger. That’s fine. But here’s my question: what advantage do your children obtain from your view? What is the benefit to your children of your view of baptism? How does it spiritually bless them? If both your infants and mine are actually baptized, where does the benefit of your view reside? In baptism itself, or in your view of baptism? If the power is in baptism itself and not the view of baptism, why do you so strenuously advocate your view? And IF you agree that there are at least potential dangers in the direction you are pushing us, what benefits are my baptized children deprived of by my view that your children receive in baptism that make the risks of your view worth taking?