Friday, September 28, 2007

Federal Vision: “Let It Be”

Two days ago, P. Andrew Sandlin made two declarations relative to the Federal Vision on De Regno Christi. First, he declared it “a movement”:

Darryl, it’s a movement, like the Charismatic Movement, Reconstructionist Movement, Emergent Movement and so on. . . . In all of these ways, the FV is a classic movement.

And second, Sandlin declared James Jordan the Godfather of Federal Vision:

If anybody has a right to claim godfather status of this movement, it’s Jim J. Why nobody acknowledges this publicly mystifies me, and since I’m not part of the movement, it doesn’t cost me anything to say it. Almost everything the FV guys are saying today, Jim was saying (and I was reading) 20–25 years ago. He is the proximate theological fountainhead of this movement.

These two declarations are noteworthy for two reasons. First, the Federal Visionists have recently denied — rather vehemently — that they are “a movement,” affirming instead that they are “a conversation.” You can confirm this fact here. And of course, this isn’t particularly noteworthy except for one fact — moments after Sandlin declared FV “a movement,” Douglas Wilson immediately agreed with him, writing:

Andrew offered the observation that FV is a classic movement — and he is exactly right. As a movement, it will suffer the temptations that movements do and exhibit the strengths that movements do. As it happens, one of the tenets of this movement is the need for a higher ecclesiology. (“Was the Reformation a Church?”)

Amazingly, this quote contradicts this statement by Wilson:

Just a quick point for the record. . . . The FV guys have been maintaining that the FV is a conversation, a shared set of questions, not a movement, and so on. Some of the critics have insisted on the opposite — that we are a well-oiled, deeply-funded machine, set to infiltrate and take over the federated Reformed witness in North America. . . . Once it becomes obvious that the FV is not the movement that it was claimed to be. . . . (“FV As the Death Star”)

Accordingly, we may conclude that words, and the ideas they communicate, are only a means to an end for Wilson, and he does not really believe what he says (or writes) from one day to the next, unless it serves his best interest at that point in time. Furthermore, he doesn’t appear to care whether he contradicts himself at all, presumably because he only needs a few more meaningless words to correct himself.

The second noteworthy point relates to this because right before Sandlin made his “Godfather” statement, James Jordan continued his worldwide meltdown by sinking further into denial and introducing yet another comment on De Regno Christi trying to reframe the Federal Vision “movement” as a mere “conversation.” Jordan wrote, “That what’s called FV is just a conversation is what we’ve been saying for five years,” contrary to Wilson’s revelation. (These guys really need to get their talking points together.)

I note this because, in addition to being downright nasty to some of the participants in this so-called “conversation,” James Jordan appears somewhat bent and quite a bit unstable, which leads me to think that we should not apply “Godfather” status to him. Rather, we should think of him as Federal Vision’s Yoko Ono — the twisted sister who threw a fly in the Beatles’ ointment, forcing their breakup. I suggest this because just as John Lennon attributed his (late) creativity to Yoko Ono despite her tin ear, shrill vocals, and hostile demeanor, so the Federal Visionists appear happy to own James Jordan as their creative genius despite his mean-spirited and utterly vacuous comments.

However, unlike the Beatles who chose to dissolve rather than let Yoko call the shots, I suspect that the Federal Visionists will refuse to throw Jordan overboard, which will result in their continued marginalization because the man appears resolved to discredit the “movement” he godfathered with his incredibly stupid comments. It’s just my hunch; I could be wrong. But if I’m not, then as Paul McCartney said, “Let It Be.”

12 comments:

DaFedSez said...

I'd like to appreciate your blog but unfortunately I can't as I've noticed it is lacking in some fundamental things (not that I like fundamentals or fundamentalism of course) that signal people it is an important and noteworthy blog they should read and pingback constantly.

1. It doesn't have a Latin Name. All important blogs have Latin names or are associated with Magazines with Latin Names. May I suggest something like: "Add Marjerinium Morningum Gloriam"

2. You don't appear to have published any new books revising historic Christianity this month or even have his own church run printing press. All important blog authors do.

3. While occasionally sarcastic, your blog has a serious deficiency in snide and smug. The #2 and #3 qualities of all good blog posts.

4. I don't understand the theology of your posts. None of them appear to be founded on paradox or mystery, the source of all good theology.

5. None of your posts appear to say A and Not A at the same time. How can I take you seriously when your positions are so easily nailed down? You also appear to believe that your opponents can understand what you are saying. A position we all know to be fatal to the blog conversation.

6. You appear to be against the Federal Vision. This is the surest sign that you are not right and don't deserve to be read or listened to.

Mark T. said...

Dear Mr. DaFedSez,

With all due respect, you clearly do not understand the things I have written, and as long as you insist upon misrepresenting me so egregiously, you compel me to defend my good reputation by disrupting the peace and purity of the Church. Therefore, in order to prove that I am the bravest, most important man in Christendom, I challenge you to a debate so that we can resolve this matter once and for all. My word stands above all church courts forever and ever, amen. And if you refuse my challenge, then that proves you are coward who is disqualified from the ministry.

Thank you.

DaFedSez said...

Well of course I don't understand the things you have written, as I only read them. I failed to call you up and ask you what they currently mean at this present moment in time and without doing that, as is well known, it is totally impossible to truly understand what someone means. Also, I totally failed to understand you because I did not consider your comments in their proper context of everything you have ever written or said since birth. I see though that you are learning and may someday be respectable enough to drink with at one of our bi-weekly most important event in the history of Christianity conferences.

Now I will only agree to the debate if we can agree on the following groundrules:

1. I am wittier than you
2. Whatever I say must be considered Reformed no matter how unreformed it sounds. If I say it, it is reformed, because I am reformed and vice versa (that's Latin, I'll be using that a lot so you'll need a stack of Veritas homeschool materials to hand)
3. The sole purpose of the debate shall be to impress the people who already agree with me and provide them with material to link to on their blogs.
4. I get to randomly use the word "covenant" as a Noun, Verb, adjective, adverb, and if I wish an angry expletive.
5. I shall be allowed to define the words I use however I wish, without being confined to their historic meaning. Additionally, if something I say is proven to be false or heretical (not that this is possible, see #2)I shall be allowed to explain the meaning of the words in such a way that it is no longer heretical. So that for instance, "Some people who have been truly united to Christ may indeed fall away" shall never be interpreted as contradicting the doctrine of the perseverence of the saints.
6. All theological arguments shall follow the ad hominem abusive style of reasoning. It shall be remembered that my ad hominem arguments are witty (see #1) while yours are unkind.
7. We agree that I've won before the start.
8. I get to wear my robe and wizard hat.
9. We allow for frequent breaks so I can play Halo 3 in between.

Clear?

J.M.W. said...

It would be cool if you spent time evangelizing instead of biting and devouring other Christians.

Mark T. said...

JMW,

I do not accept your premises that (1) I am not evangelizing and, (2) I am biting and devouring other Christians.

First, I am evangelizing the lost who, in this case, include those advancing the Federal Vision. I know that I am alone in saying this (out loud), but I believe that to the extent Federal Vision holds baptismal regeneration, it is another gospel, which places these men (and presumably their converts) beneath an apostolic curse.

Second, you call it “biting and devouring.” I call it remarking the obvious. Paul Simon called it, “One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.” But call it what you may, these men have pushed absurdity to new limits, and I believe this deserves scrutiny. You are free to disagree. I don’t care. But so far I see no teeth marks in their flesh, nor do I taste their skin on my buds. However, I do see their fang marks in the lives of my dear friends, for these men are wolves in truth and in deed. One again, you are free to disagree; I don’t care. You have no idea what it’s like out here and so I urge you not to speak of things whereof you are ignorant.

Thank you.

Mark T. said...

Dear Mr. DaFedSez,

Once again you have misunderstood and misconstrued my words completely, for when I challenged you to a debate, I did not mean it in a decretal sense. Rather, I offered my challenge non-decretally in order to magnify my great valor and my even greater intellect at the expense of your puny cowardice and your even punier IQ, which point you made with your decalogue save one of demands. Therefore, since the distance between the Equator and the North Pole does not affect what size Nikes I wear, it behooves you to part your hair on the opposite side of your head from its current location, so that you may position yourself to withstand global warming, the rising price of oil, and the cost of straw hats in winter.

BTW, I will talk to you anytime as long as you extend an invitation in a Haiku chiasm.

Thank you.

J.M.W. said...

Has your evangelizing made any converts? Do you see the lost coming to Christ through the work you are doing?

Mark T. said...

Joel,

Question 1: I’m sorry, but I think you have mistaken me for McDonalds where they post head counts on their billboards every day.

Question 2: Please see my last answer to you.

Now, regarding your presupposition, which you have failed to acknowledge, if you insist upon forcing me into your mold and answering to your undefined standard, then IMO Federal Schism has more gospel than An Alternate Text, which means nothing for two reasons. First, you don’t answer to me and I don’t answer to you, and, second, you can’t make an argument let alone follow one, so it I see no use trying to reason any points with you.

Thank you.

J.M.W. said...

Thanks for the charitable response.

I think that in your heart you know you are wrong, but you are so consumed with this issue that you can't admit it. I forsee you burning out on theological devouring over time, as you mature.

Mark T. said...

Joel,

I think that in your heart you know you are wrong and you are consumed with correcting other people’s hearts.

As I said, you can’t frame an argument let alone follow one.

Thank you.

Tim said...

JMW, save your breath (er, keystrokes)...

I'm amused in an unhappy way with "Reformed" folks do theology and it sounds like chaps from the Enlightenment looking at the world: "There is nothing mysterious in God. Why, we've got God and everything plain ol' nailed down. Oh, you fools who consider God and things to be mysterious. We, after all, have the confessions and they remove all mystery from God and the universe... we've got this thing pegged. NO MYSTERIES NEED APPLY."

Mark T. said...

Tim,

You are welcome to post here, but in doing so please notice that you continue to rebut non-existent arguments made by imaginary phantoms. Please let me know when you want to address real statements as opposed to wild exaggerations and I’m sure we’ll get along fine.

Thank you.