Federal Vision Audio

In 2007 the Synod the United Reformed Churches in North America adopted a nine point declaration against the self-described federal vision movement. They described these points as “pastoral advice.” Here’s a written exposition of the Nine Points. These nine talks (below) also explain the FV movement, doctrines, errors, and why the URCs rejected the Federal Vision theology, piety, and practice as contrary to the Scriptures as confessed by the Reformed churches.


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  1. Thanks Dr. Clark, this is helpful!

    Quick question about pt. 2: someone asked the question about whether or not we can have an “external” union with Christ, and you commented that you didn’t like that type of language. I’ve heard Gaffin talk about vital vs. formal union with Christ (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDqmENmL_Gk) where I think he is proposing a sort of external union with Christ. I had always accepted the categories without giving them too much thought, because I felt like they still sufficiently maintained the difference between the substance, and the administration of the Covenant, i.e. the invisible/visible distinction.

    What do you think about passages like Galatians 5, where Paul warns about people being “severed from Christ” because they seek to be justified by the law, or John 15 where Jesus talks about branches being “cut off” who were once attached to the vine, i.e. Christ? I’ve always taken those passages to describe an external union with Christ (which does not convey the substance of the Covenant of Grace). It seems that in some sense those who are “severed” were in one way united, albeit superficially. I understand wanting to be careful not to suggest the head-for-head type of covenant membership that the FV does, but can’t we still affirm a type of formal union with Christ without making that mistake?


    • Hi Adriel,

      I would rather talk about an internal/external relation to the covenant of grace. I don’t know what it means to say an external union with Christ. Either one is in union with Christ by grace alone, through faith alone, or not. Does Scripture know anything about a purely formal union? We may better say that one has been been visibly identified with Christ, in baptism, and is a member of the visible covenant community by virtue of baptism, but union inherently denotes more than an external relation. To speak of an external union seems like a confusion of categories.

      I take Gal 5, Heb 6/10, and John 15 in the same way. Everyone in the visible covenant community is really participating in the administration of the covenant of grace. We shouldn’t downplay the reality of that participation. Hebrews takes it most seriously. If they should apostatize then they are “severed from Christ.” That’s observational language. We, who administer the covenant of grace, do not know who is elect and who is not. We operate on the basis of credible profession. When those who’ve made a credible profession apostatize, we can speak of them being “severed from Christ” or “cut off” or “trampling underfoot” the covenant etc.

      Thus, you are right to have taken those passages as you did, i.e., as examples of the internal/external distinction. It does not help us understand them to collapse the internal and the external aspects of the covenant of grace or to speak of “external union.”

  2. RSC,

    The Vermonster points out that your first audio refers to your Federal Vision web page, but it seems that the URL has changed, and the Vermonster can’t find it.

  3. I am thankful there are people like you who loves the Lord and His word enough to take the time to study and produce resources that expose these false doctrines that have crept into the church. Soli Deo Gloria!

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