The FV Isn’t Gone

The persistence of the FV movement within the NAPARC world has been noted before on the HB. Now, according to Brian Carpenter, writing for the Aquila Report, the Siouxlands Presbytery (PCA) has been dealing with a FV case. Charges have been laid in that presbytery against a minister (Teaching Elder) for teaching the FV doctrine of baptismal union with Christ. A committee agreed that the minister was, in fact, teaching FV doctrine but the presbytery did not uphold the committee and the presbytery’s decision is being appealed to the Standing Judicial Committee of the PCA. This makes two cases in recent months where presbyteries in the PCA have attempted to deal with FV teaching in their midst but where no resolution has been found and the cases have gone to the SJC. Let us hope that these are both cases of presbyters being scrupulously careful to uphold the rights of those against whom complaints have been laid and not a failure to protect the sheep from gross error.

Update 22 Oct 09: Things are a little better in the Siouxlands Presbytery (PCA) but it’s not entirely clear from this report what happened except that a new committee has been established and that the presbytery admitted that it had been a little hasty in exonerating a TE.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Dr. Clark,

    One slight correction. We are currently complaining against the action (or rather, the lack thereof) by the presbytery. The complaint to the SJC will come only if the presbytery does not reverse it’s previous response.

    Kindest Regards,
    TE Brian Carpenter

  2. I don’t feel comfortable with the FV camp. Reject paedo-communion. Am not post-mill. Certainly do not agree with theonomist teaching. Fully accept the doctrine of justification by faith alone, not by works.
    However, I cut my teeth as a young teenager on de Graaf’s Promise & Delieverance. Am not thrilled with the “Covenant of Works / Covenant of Grace” distinctions but would prefer to speak of one covenant with marked dispensations.

    My Question: Have you considered the “traditional” liturgical form for baptism as used in Reformed churches? (ie the one originating with Peter Dathenus, 1566?) The shorter version (1574) says, “When we are baptised into the name of the Son, we are assured by Christ Himself that He washes us in His blood from all our sins. Christ joins us to Himself so that we share in His death and resurrection. Through this union with Christ we are liberated from our sins and regarded as righteous before God.”
    What’s the difference between this and “the FV doctrine of baptismal union with Christ”?

    • Good questions.

      The difference between Dathenus’ baptismal form and DeGraaf is this: Dathenus wrote with the assumption of the distinction between an “internal” relation to “the substance of the covenant of grace,” (to quote his colleague Olevianus) and a purely external relation via baptism. DeGraaf et al rejected that distinction flattening out “the covenant” into a “head for head” and “all or nothing” arrangement.

      A second difference, which you’ve recognized in your comment, is that when Dathenus wrote his form (and afterward) the Reformed distinguished between living under a “covenant of life” or a “covenant of works/law/nature/life” and a covenant of grace. By rejecting the covenant of works, DeGraaf et al created a legal-gracious pre- lapsarian covenant and a gracious-legal post-lapsarian covenant. This blurring of the covenants of works and grace necessarily blurred the principles of works and grace which leads to the very sort of semi- Pelagianism found in the Federal Vision. It created a two-track system, a confessional system and a semi-Pelagian covenant theology which is at war with the confessional system.

      On this see this essay:

      “Baptism and the Benefits of Christ: The Double Mode of Communion” (PDF)

      and this booklet and this book.

      Check out the audio linked here. I’ve been giving talks on the “Nine Points” to our Adult Class at OURC.

  3. RSC,
    Do you have any issues with SdG’s Promise & Deliverance volumes, simply considered as a youth-oriented introduction to the story of Redemption? I have recommended it in the past as a very basic intro.

    As someone outside the Dutch traditions, this is the first time I have heard that SdG was associated with the anti-CoW faction.

  4. Bruce,
    Read chapter 2 of volume 1 to understand de Graaf’s view on the covenant. Personally I do find de Graaf to be a helpful resource, although he was a man of his time and that does show. If you want to read more on how this view of the covenant was developed in North America (outside of the FV discussion), I’d recommend Clarence Stam’s “The Covenant of Love: Exploring our relationship with God.” Stam is a minister of the Canadian Reformed Churches, and he promotes the view of the covenant that is predominantly held in those churches.

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