Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Federal Vision

For those who visit this blog, and who are familiar with the sorts of controversy that have been going on in Reformed and Presbyterian circles over the past few years, they will immediately know where I stand on some of these issues, based on the links to other websites that I provide here. The particular controversy I have in mind is what is called the “Federal Vision Controversy” or, by some, the “Auburn Avenue Controversy”. I have resisted commenting on this controversy thus far, and for the most part will continue on that track.

The reason I haven’t blogged about it is manifold. For one, I think there has been enough talk about it elsewhere on the web without my getting into it here. Those who want to learn more about it, or even want to debate about it, will do better going somewhere else. Also, when the issue has been discussed, what I have often found on the part of those opposed to the Federal Vision is profound and inexcusable ignorance. There are those who simply don’t have the opportunity to read up on the controversy, and so they can’t be blamed for what they don’t have time to learn (let me add that those people should then remain quiet on the issue). But there are those that I’ve encountered who spend enough time in theological studies that they should know better. And unfortunately, whether in conversation or on the internet, lots of misunderstandings have been propagated. Some people who should know better go so far as to write books, which are then bought by people seeking to know more, and who trust those writers on the basis of their Reformed credentials.

Often what I find on the part of anti-Federal Vision people is an unwillingness to read books or listen to lectures by those of the Federal Vision position. But this baffles me. Let me offer one very important suggestion. Whenever you are seeking to learn a person’s position on something, no matter what the topic (religious or non-religious, orthodox or heretical), the FIRST place you go is to the person you are critiquing. As soon as you go and read the writing of someone critiquing the same person you are seeking to critique, you open the situation up to misunderstanding. This is especially important when the person being critiqued is a brother and a minister. The accusation of heresy is very, very serious – far more serious than we often regard it as being. And yet that is the accusation often being cast at the Federal Vision advocates.

One critic that has had a book published is Guy Waters. Now I haven’t read Waters’s book, so I’m not able to engage it. But some Federal Visionists have. Doug Wilson has answered it on his blog, as has Peter Leithart. All one has to do is go to these men’s weblogs and do a search under “Guy Waters”. But how many people who will buy Waters’s book will also read the responses to it?

Doug Wilson, in response to Waters, stated the following:

To summarize this series of posts, I would conclude by urging the anti-FV forces to reconsider their choice of a champion. Guy Waters is clearly more than capable of reading mountains of material. He can assemble evidence in print that he has read it by using the usual scholarly apparatus. As I have shown repeatedly in this series of posts, what he cannot do is represent that material fairly, or refute it with theological integrity.

But see, all a person has to do to be trusted is to get a book published by P& R. Folks, that doesn’t make the book a sure bet.

For those seeking to hear some of Doug Wilson’s responses to questions and misunderstandings regarding the Federal Vision, I would highly recommend the interview he recently did (free streaming online here) for Covenant Radio. (It was listening to this interview today that pushed me to post this.) In the interview, he states that he has found that the critics don’t understand what he’s been saying, and Waters in particular is singled out.

Let me jump up and down on the point one more time, and then leave it for now. If you want to know what the Federal Visionists are saying, you need to listen to them first and foremost, not their critics. The issue is too important to falsely accuse someone.


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