Saturday, October 20, 2007

Federal Covenant Breakers

The Federal Vision places enormous emphasis on “the Covenant,” and consequently members of the Federal Vision sect (known as Federal Visionists) pay great lip service to those who “keep covenant” and, likewise, they heap tremendous contempt on “covenant breakers.” For example, the Federal Vision manifesto states:

We therefore receive all baptized individuals as covenant members. “[Y]et it must be emphasized, that until the Church acts to formally remove someone from the covenant by way of excommunication, all baptized persons are to be considered full covenant members.” (FN: Randy Booth, “Covenantal Antithesis” in The Standard Bearer: A Festschrift for Greg Bahnsen, ed. by Steve Schlissel (Nagadoches: Covenant Media Press, 2002), 40.) When we do this in the case of covenant breakers, we are treating their baptisms with greater respect than they do. . . But we are saying that baptism provides the faithful covenant member with the means to exhort disobedient Christians in terms of their baptism: “Why do you despise your baptism the way you do?” (Douglas Wilson, “Reformed” Is Not Enough [Moscow: Canon Press, 2003] 106, 107)

Now, I don’t buy the premise, so I reject the argument. In fact, whenever you read anything by Wilson, it behooves you to sniff once and think twice before you proceed. But that said, let’s just apply his conclusion to the Federal Visionists in the PCA.

According to the PCA’s “Questions for Ordination,” found in BCO § 21-5, all PCA ministers must take the following vow:

Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures; and do you further promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord with any of the fundamentals of this system of doctrine, you will on your own initiative, make known to your Presbytery the change which has taken place in your views since the assumption of this ordination vow?

And all over RINE Wilson badgers us with the principle of how a marriage vow makes a husband and how breaking that vow makes a covenant-breaking husband, which brings us to those ministers in the PCA and their vows. Four months ago, the PCA GA voted by an overwhelming majority to adopt a report condemning the Federal Vision as not conforming to the Westminster standards. Moreover, the same overwhelming majority voted to remind all ministers

That the General Assembly recommend the declarations in this report as a faithful exposition of the Westminster Standards, and further reminds those ruling and teaching elders whose views are out of accord with our Standards of their obligation to make known to their courts any differences in their views.

In other words, PCA ministers who hold the Federal Vision have an affirmative responsibility to uphold the vow they made at ordination and inform their presbyteries that they no longer “receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures,” or else they are “covenant breakers” according to the Federal Vision. To be sure, they have an absolute obligation to make known to their courts any differences in their views, or else by their standards they disdain their baptism. This brings us to Wilson’s declaration about “covenant breakers.”

I wonder why CREC founder Douglas Wilson has not berated his fellow Federal Visionists in the PCA for “despising their baptism the way they do!” Indeed, I wonder why CREC moderator Randy Booth has not called upon the PCA to honor the baptisms of his fellow Federal Visionists in the PCA by excommunicating them from the Church for covenant breaking? These inquiries are fair enough given how much the Federal Visionists hector us about “covenant keeping.”

And I suspect the reason we don’t see any CREC dignitaries howling about their fellow Federal Visionists’ flagrant covenant breaking in the PCA has more to do with their subversive agenda than their professed high ecclesiology. Either that or they are the men described by Ambrose Bierce in The Devil’s Dictionary:

HYPOCRITE, n.
One who, professing virtues that he does not respect, secures the advantage of seeming to be what he despises.

Thank you.

3 comments:

Fat Souls said...

You said: I wonder why CREC founder Douglas Wilson has not berated his fellow Federal Visionists in the PCA for “despising their baptism the way they do!” Indeed, I wonder why CREC moderator Randy Booth has not called upon the PCA to honor the baptisms of his fellow Federal Visionists in the PCA by excommunicating them from the Church for covenant breaking? These inquiries are fair enough given how much the Federal Visionists hector us about “covenant keeping.”

The answer to your question is that none of the FV proponents who are members of the PCA are out of step with the Westminster Confession. Steve Wilkins has been examined twice and Peter Leithart has been examined at least once. The truth is that the finding of the GA was in error.

There is no need to "excommunicate" those who are not in error. The PCA GA needs to go back and re-examine their errant findings and start all over.

Travis said...

I happen to like that analogy of the covenant of marriage (I think Paul does, too) and am quite full of myself for constructing one b4 I knew "he" did it first. O, well.
Mark T., engage me civilly. I am not afraid. In fact, I am very open to being wrong here. I continue to evaluate and listen to the critiques so please, let us progress.

Here is where I will begin,

Read my Apologia and respond as you understand my meaning.
www.postdeliberatuslux.wordpress.com
Look forward to hearing from you.

Mark T. said...

Travis,

I’m not sure what point you would have me engage. I took Wilson’s analogy, without comment one way or the other, and applied it to the present circumstance. I did this because the analogy works in this specific case. However, making the jump to wedding vow makes a husband just as baptism makes a Christian is another story. It’s a false analogy.

Is this the point you had in mind?