Theological Error Seeps In

seepingYears ago, in the second house in which Mrs Heidelblog and I lived, water seeped into the basement every time it rained and it rained frequently. As the ground became soaked water would push in and up through the basement. We had a pump under the stairs to keep the basement fairly dry but it could get a little damp. Even when it was completely dry we could see residue from the water. It left a mark. Before we could sell and move I had to chisel out all of the fine little cracks through which water seeped. Then I had to fill those cracks with a material that would prevent the water from getting in. The Christian life is a lot like our basement and theological error is much like the water that seeped in. Theological error, like water, seeks its level. We might think that we might be able to separate books on “social issues” from theological questions but when the books are written by proponents of a serious error, like the water in my basement, the error tends to seep in and discolor everything.

In a recent volume on “justice,” published by a notorious advocate of the self-described Federal Vision, the authors write, “The perfect (i.e., mature) man, Jesus Christ, was self- less. The immature and fallen man is autonomous…” (p. 16). This categorical distinction (immature/mature) as applied to Adam and Christ is borrowed from the federal vision movement. Our minds are not as compartmentalized as we might like to think. On reflection, it should not strike us as remarkable that authors who think x (that Adam and Christ are properly considered under such a category) should think x not only when they are writing theology but also when they are writing or teaching ethics. After all, it is what they think. It is how they understand Scripture and it is how they see the world. They do not set aside their basic theological convictions in order to write something that is not explicitly theological.

This peculiar way of thinking about Adam and Christ is found in one of the godfathers of the self-described federal vision theology, James Jordan, who is also one of the godfathers of the theonomic/reconstructionist movements. He published it in a 2004 volume entitled, The Federal Vision. The intent of the distinction is to subvert the Reformed doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s active obedience, i.e., the teaching that all that Christ did for us, all his righteousness, is credited to believers by grace alone (sola gratia) and received through faith alone (sola fide). There’s a chapter on this in Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry.

It has been long enough since the Federal Vision controversy that there is a generation that is only vaguely aware of it, if they are aware of it at all. There are others who, for reasons I do not yet understand, simply ignored the matter, even though it goes to the heart of the Christian faith, “the article of the standing or falling of the church” (Alsted, 1618) and the “axis” (Calvin) around which the entire Christian faith turns: how sinners are right with God. Our problem was never “immaturity.” It was sin. Adam was not created “immature.” Glorification was not maturity. Adam was created “in righteousness and true holiness,” that we “might rightly know God” our Creator, “heartily love him, and live with him in eternal blessedness” (Heidelberg Catechism 6). In other words, we were created able to obey God. Mysteriously, tragically, we chose to disobey God and to plunge ourselves into sin and death. Further, Scripture never describes Jesus as “mature” for us—I am well aware of Luke 2:52— nor does it teach that his maturity was imputed to us. Rather, it teaches that his righteousness was imputed to us.

The effect of using this category, rather than the biblical categories, is to muddle the covenant of works with the covenant of grace and to re-cast our relations to Jesus and to blur the distinction between the Savior and the Saved. In short, it reflects a seriously deficient doctrine of humanity (anthropology) and Christ (Christology) as well as a erroneous doctrine of salvation (soteriology).

Theological error should not be ignored. It seeks its level. It manifests itself in places we might not expect. It is up to us to know the signs and to pay attention. Naiveté in such matters does not serve us well. Who knows how many unsuspecting readers are being unknowingly catechized in the Federal Vision theology as they are trying to learn something about justice. Readers will be better served looking elsewhere for instruction on the nature of justice.

24 comments

  1. This site has been a great source and warning, I have come to appreciate the value of the historical reformed confessions though this site and the dire need i am in to learn them so i can spot the false that claims the title but lacks the substance and adherance.

  2. Thanks, Prof Clark. A lot of us have been fighting this abuse scandal from the more obvious application ends. I knew Wilson’s theology was involved but I hadn’t been able to connect the dots.

    • I’m not anxious to sell books for federal visionists. The title is A Justice Primer and it was written and published by ministers in the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC), the ecclesiastical home of the Federal Vision and it has recommended by “Gospel Coalition” authors.

  3. I had a similar hydrologic problem. I asked my civil-engineer-brother-in-law to design a solution (ditches, drains, etc.).

    He had a different solution. Put up gutters and downspouts with extensions to divert the water.

  4. Dr. Clark,

    You hit the nail right on the head here in saying that many only have a very vague (if any) knowledge about the federal vision or greatly down play and ignore it is a minor trivial issue. I’m convinced this has been one of the more insidious UnWelcomed guests in Reformed theology in the last 25 years. Yet it is clear there is no real outrage among the majority in NAPARC. Maybe I am just losing it. The federal vision rears its ugly head in practical ways within the Christian life undermining assurance, God’s glory, Christ’s glory, faith and practice. Much of the time never going by the name federal vision, rather derivatives that have grown out of it are couched in nice-sounding terms, “justice” among many others. With seemingly good intentions about doing and being the gospel.

    It has been acutely noticed by this layman blog and theological book reader over the last 15 years how very many NAPARC leaders were over focused on lessor things while primary things became sidelined. Some focused on having the right politics, social justice, or “being the gospel in community”. Living up to the modern urban monk status appropriate enough to please said “reformed” hipster leaders who set the bar so high via their traditions of men. Then we had the conservative old school traditionalists on the other hand, marching on in culture warrior hubris. They were not concerned about being on point over the doctrine by which the church stands or falls either. Cultural /political World View ( Francis Schaeffer esque thinking) was high and lifted up while theological precision on giving grace the first and last word was viewed as being petty. They were more concerned if their flock cancelled their subscription to World Mag than they were about their flock being Theologically & Reformed minded.

    Even though modern pew sitting lay practitioners don’t call it FV, FV has won the day. Ask around in leadership or with lay folk, press the doctrine by which the church stands or falls and one will often be met with a cross between cricket sounds (yawning) and raised eyebrows coupled with a kind of “oh boy here come the theological nit-pickers” demeanor. “That’s nice (pinch cheeks here), now let’s move on to the practical stuff that really is relevant to the people.”

    That is how we got here. But what do I know?? I didn’t sit at the feet of Schaeffer in Europe, let alone go to Seminary. Nonetheless, I still say that is how we got here.

    Don’t get me wrong, all is not lost. There are some good things and good leaders to highlight over the last 25 years. Yourself, Mike Horton and RC Sproul are a few to be mentioned who stand out in beating the drum of grace and sound theolgical leanings. Emphasis on the right issues matters.

    Keep beating the drum!

    • You hit the nail on head, E. Burns, about what I’ve gained from Professor Clark, and I am reminded of when I had a similar revelation of understanding about the full & complete details of Dispensationalism from John Greer. It is about 12 hours long and it fully explains many Theological errors besides well the known Eschatology problems. You wouldn’t know of the non-eschatological problems, and they are very serious errors, but nobody ever teaches those things. I’ve gotten the same kind of eye-opening explanations from Prof. Clark concerning Federal Vision, and am grateful for his freely offered education about the Heidelberg Catechism’s full details.

      A preacher named John Greer has a great series of audio lectures which has been posted publicly and free by the website sermonaudio.com. He goes into many details that few teachers besides the late Professor John Gerstner and R.C. Sproul have given. I was floored by the many serios theological errors of Dispensationalism and Schofieldism besides the obvious Eschatology errors.

      I appreciate that Professor R. Scott Clark goes over important doctrines that are rarely laid out bare to see the complete details of the theology. I love the series on The Heidelberg Catechism and look forward to more.

  5. I recently was astounded to hear a women’s Bible study leader say, “Sanctification is not progressive. It’s a done deal.” Direct quote because I immediately wrote it down to ask a pastor about it. Is this part of Federal Vision theology?

    • Hi Sherry,

      I don’t think that this is Federal Vision doctrine but it is probably a bit of hyperbole concerning the doctrine of “definitive sanctification.” Follow the link for more details. It is an open question whether Scripture teaches the doctrine of definitive sanctification. That is a question on which orthodox Reformed folk may disagree but it is certainly not the Reformed confession that sanctification is only definitive. Indeed, I can’t think of any place where our confessions explicitly teach that sanctification is definitive. At best it has the status of a private opinion but not a public, ecclesiastical doctrine.

      Westminster Shorter Catechism 35 says:

      Q. 35. What is sanctification?

      A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

      That is the doctrine of progressive sanctification. Notice the clause “enabled more and more to die…”. The language “more and more” means “progressive” or “gradual.” The very same doctrine is found in the Heidelberg Catechism 88–90. Here’s an explanation of Heidelberg 88.

      One more thing. The Westminster Shorter Catechism distinguishes between the “act of God’s free grace” in justification and the “work of God’s free grace” in sanctification. That distinction implies that justification is definitive and sanctification is progressive. Most of our older writers, from the 16th-19th centuries made this distinction and tended to speak of sanctification as progressive (gradual, ongoing) and justification as definitive, once-for-all. That seems like the right way to speak about these things. In the history of the church we have confused justification and sanctification and it was from such confusion that the Reformation rescued us.

      I hope this helps.

  6. You know, there is a more generous way to think about his use of maturity/immaturity. In fact, Paul has no issue with talking this way.

    11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
    12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
    13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
    14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
    15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
    16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
    (Eph. 4:11-16 ESV)

    • Chris,

      This reply does not address the problem.

      No one doubts that Christians, who are in a covenant of grace, need to mature. The great difficulty is the rejection, by the Federal Visionists, of the covenant of works and the attempt to replace the covenant of works with a new and unsatisfactory scheme (immaturity/maturity).

      Adam’s problem was not that he was immature. That is a medieval mistake. Adam’s problem was that, despite the fact that he was created in righteousness and true holiness, he sinned. He was not created immature. Glorification is not maturity.

    • Indeed Christians who are under the covenant of grace need to grow in maturity. In fact they always do, albeit at varying degrees. When that fact is pointed out, there is often an out cry of Antinomianism or concern for be lax, etc. FV folk want a color by numbers approach to sanctification or QIRC&QIRE (quest for illegitimate religious certainty and experience) Our responsibility to actively participate in sanctification is not in question, but it is more than interesting that FV defenders (or those soft on it) often head down this road on FV and other similar topics. How sanctification works itself out and by what standard that it is supposed to be measured up to might be another conversation however. (Hint: it’s not all about mans subjective internal measure or mans subjective measure of desiring God enough)

      I’m sure Mr. Taylor’s motives are admirable. Nonetheless this is often the case in the discussion about federal vision OR in discussing the doctrine by which the church stands or fall. That is to say, attention is often diverted or redirected as it were, the spotlight is more often given to our works. Instead of Christ getting top billing in justification and sanctification. Good motives to be sure, but based on the topic at hand it is simply a misapplication of the scripture passages cited. It seems to show a lack of understanding of the very categories being discussed, at least when we consider the historic Reformed perspective on the topic. (If someone wants to bring in John Piper or Doug Wilson’s neo-reformed as a repackaged “reformed” that’s another thing) Indeed the scripture passages cited don’t really address the problem. As previously pointed out this is often the case as this issue is not considered a problem to begin with by far to many leaders. Or often it is either defended or soft-pedaled by FV proponents using this same tactic.

      I can think the best about all good intentions and motives,but it doesn’t make the conclusions right or good. In fact a lot of the practical out workings over the last 15 years have been dangerous in Reformed circles. What is of further concern is when the neo- reformed/Calvinist is attributing a solid Reformed perspective to Antinomianism, Lutheranism , etc. On the contrary, the very fact that the federal vision is not being practically and adequately haulted (3 PCA presbyteries faltered on the issue to name just one example) in NAPARC is proof Neo-nomianism is the bigger problem, indeed the bigger UnWelcomed guest in Reformed theology.

      Again I will submit that practical (though it does not go by the name FV) federal vision is flourishing in most churches.
      To mention but a few FV practically speaking often works itself out in the pews by the following…. ( some of which can be very good things, others not so much.

      — Be the gospel
      — Do the gospel
      — Be and live the gospel on community
      –Seek Justice
      –Preach the gospel and if necessary use words
      — Social Justice
      — The first Reformation was about creeds the second one is all about deeds.

      I don’t care if the motives are as pure is the wind driven snow I can’t in good conscience stay in any denomination or church which gives these items the spotlight over the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The old adage comes to mind, we can’t fix the problem if we don’t first admit there is one.

    • Meant….when neo-reformed/Calvinist out there are attributing a solid Reformed perspective to Antinomianism…..

      I’m not suggesting that is necessarily what Mr. Taylor is doing in this instance. But we are sure seeing a lot of it out there in Reformed circles.

  7. Thank you Professor Clark. This article here is the most clear explanation of what the error(s) about Federal Vision are. I have read of it for a long time, knew that Reformed Christians were to stay away from the theology of Federal Vision, but had never gotten the exact details pinpointing the problems… As long I’m writing, I love reading your heidelberg and other good creed teachings. I have saved all of your posts and have studied them. You give excellent clear understanding of the creeds.

  8. Dr. Clark,

    The following is a prayer of confession used in the liturgy at a particular church. Am I right to find the language troublesome?

    “God of everlasting love, we confess that we have been unfaithful to our covenant with you and with one another. We have worshiped other gods: money, power, greed, and convenience. We have served our own self-interest instead of serving only you and your people. We have not loved our neighbor as your have commanded, nor have we rightly loved ourselves. Forgive us, gracious God, and bring us back into the fullness of our covenant with you and with one another. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.”

    • Rook,

      I don’t know the context so I want to be cautious. The ecclesiastical/theological context in which this language is used would affect the interpretation.

      Nevertheless, as it stands, without any context, I think one could defend this language on the grounds that there are consequent obligations in the covenant of grace. Having been saved by grace alone, through faith alone, we ought to respond with obedience. When we don’t we have not responded to the covenant of grace appropriately. We might call this obligation taking up our part of the covenant, not in order to be justified or even to be saved but because we have been justified and saved and we are being saved. When we sin we have been unfaithful to our consequent obligations in the covenant of grace.

      Does this help?

  9. The confession was part of the liturgy in a PCA church. You’re right about the context of the quote being important. Your explanation is helpful and most likely how the quote was intended to be understood.

    Thank you for consistently taking the time to answer my questions.

  10. Is growing up into mature manhood, no longer being children who can be deceived (like Adam and Eve were) (Ephesians 4:13) something different than growing in righteousness? Is that maturity an aside from sanctification? I would think growing up into the full knowledge of Christ would certainly be equated to growing in righteousness since it is in knowing him more fully that we become more sanctified. Beholding him we go from glory to glory.

    This post can be construed as saying that FV proponents are denying sin and simply saying it is all immaturity as if that excuses it. Just to clarify, that’s not what they believe. Sin is done out of immaturity in the same way a child disobeys because they are immature. It is still disobedience, and there are still consequences, but they are expected to mature out of disobedience. If they don’t, then they are refusing wisdom and remaining children even though they are getting older. That is the sin of refusing to grow up. The law is wisdom, growing in wisdom is growing in obedience to God’s word. Telling a child that the stove is hot is giving them wisdom, if they obey that wisdom then they have matured, they know more than they did and they are better for it. If they refuse that wisdom, then they haven’t grown and will have to do it the hard way by getting burned. The insanity of humanities immaturity is returning to the stove to get burned again. You’d think they’d grow out of it after the first time.

    If a child loves childishness into adulthood, that is the biblical equivalent of the Judaizers holding onto the law instead of growing up into the law of faith. Paul said the law was for children, and the Judaizers were refusing to grow up. That is sin. Disobedience is immaturity because to disobey is to refuse wisdom, and to refuse wisdom is to remain a child. If Adam had obeyed and rebuked the snake no doubt he would have grown from that experience, but the growth could only come through obedience. He didn’t obey. Like a child, he refused wisdom and humanity got burned.

    • Matthew,

      Adam did not need to “grow up.” He needed to obey. “Growing up” is exactly the wrong paradigm by which to understand Adam’s responsibility in the covenant of works.

      Ephesians 4:12-15 is not speaking about Adam before the fall. He’s speaking about Christians, sinners redeemed by grace, alone through faith alone. To read Ephesians 4 back into Genesis 2 is essentially a Pelagian error: to confuse the prelapsarian (pre-fall) state with the postlapsarian (post-fall) state of man. Paul writes:

      And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ….

      Scripture never speaks of Adam as “immature.” That’s why we confess that Adam was created “in righteousness and true holiness.” Heidelberg 6 says:

      …God created man good and after His own image, that is, in righteousness and true holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love Him, and live with Him in eternal blessedness, to praise and glorify Him.

      and in Heidelberg 9: “God so made man that he could perform it…”.

      Children don’t make covenants. Grown ups do. God made a covenant with a grown up Adam. This is why Robert Rollock wrote,

      Now, therefore, we are to speak of the Word, or of the covenant of God, having first set down the ground, that all the word of God appertains to some covenant; for God speaks nothing to man without the covenant. For which cause all the scripture, both old and new where in God’s Word is contained, bears the name of God’s covenant or testament.

      The covenant of God generally is a promise under some one certain condition. And it is twofold; the first is the covenant of works; the second is the covenant of grace. Paul (Gal 4:24) expressly set down two covenants, which in the Old Testament were shadowed by two women, as by types, to whit, Hagar, the handmaid, and Sarah, the free woman; For saith he,”These be those two covenants.” Let us then speak something of these two covenants; and first of the covenant of works. The covenant of works, which may also be called a legal or natural covenant, is founded in nature, which by creation was pure and holy, and in the law of God, which in the first creation was engraven in man’s heart. For after that God had created man after his own image, pure and holy, and had written his law in his mind, he made a covenant with man, wherein he promised him eternal life, under the condition of holy and good works, which should be answerable to the holiness and goodness of their creation, and conformable to his law and that nature thus beautified with holiness and righteousness in the light of God’s law, is the foundation of the covenant of works, it is very evident for that could not stand well with the justice of God to make a covenant under condition of good works and perfect obedience to his law, except he had first created man pure and holy, and had engraven his his law in His heart, whence those good works might proceed. For this cause he, when he was to repeat that covenant of works to the people of Israel, he gave the first law written in tables of stone; Then he made a covenant with his people, saying,”do these things and ye shall live.” Therefore the ground of the covenant of works was not Christ, nor the grace of God in Christ, but the nature of man in the first creation holy and perfect, endued also with the knowledge of the law. For, as touching the covenant of works, there was no mediator in the beginning between God and man, that God showed in him, as in and buy a mediator, make his covenant with man. And the causes that there was no need of a mediator was this, that albeit there were two parties entering into a covenant, yet there was no such breach or variance betwixt them that they had need of any mediator to make reconciliation between them; for, as for the covenant of works, God made this covenant with man, as one friend doth with another. For in the creation we were God’s friends, and not his enemies. Thus far of the ground of the covenant of works. —Robert Rollock (c.1555–99), A Treatise of God’s Effectual Calling in Select Works of Robert Rollock, ed. William M. Gunn , 2 vol. (Edinburgh: Woodrow Society, 1849), 1.33–35

      According to Paul, it is Christians, who are in a state of grace, who need to mature. Adam was in a covenant of works, who was able to obey and who needed to obey in order to enter into a state of glory.

      Those are two very different situations. The Federal Vision approach to Adam is gravely wrong. It is Pelagianizing.

  11. Thank you for your response.

    I’m not denying that Adam was created in righteousness and holiness as the confession says. To say otherwise would be to say that Adam was created sinful, which he wasn’t of course. The parallel I was drawing was between what Paul says about Christian maturity leading to increasing immunity from deception. Adam was deceived, which means that he had some growing up to do. He was righteous but he was deceived, and Paul says that deception is a symptom of needing to mature. Immaturity itself is not sin. Paul is not saying that Christians are sinning by virtue of needing to grow up, but he is saying that the need to grow up could result in a Christian being deceived to sin. In Hebrews there is implication that sin is the refusal to grow up. They should have been teachers but sinfully remained infants in their understanding, thus the threat of apostasy was looming. Adam was not sinful by virtue of his need to mature in wisdom. If he had all wisdom and was perfectly righteous in the sense that he wasn’t lacking in any spiritual maturity, how was he deceived? He was righteous in that he was not guilty of sin, but we cannot say that he was perfect in his maturity, because he was deceived.

    I think the underlying assumption of the FV position (at least as I’ve heard it from Jordan) is quite anti-pelagian. They hold to a continuous covenant of grace. Adam’s obedience (like ours) is a gift of the Spirit. Adam was free to obey just as we are free to obey, but that is because of the liberty afforded by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Sin did not have dominion over Adam (although it was after him), and sin does not have dominion over us. The difference between us and Adam is that although we are freed from the dominion of sin by the Spirit, we still have remaining sin that needs to be sanctified out. Adam did not have any indwelling sin when he was created, but we do have indwelling sin even after we are recreated by the Spirit. Yet both we and pre fall Adam would be wrong if we attributed our obedience to anything but the grace of God that is with us. He had the freedom of the Spirit, and he sinned, but had he obeyed that would only be because he had the freedom to obey by the Spirit. He had the opportunity to put his flesh to death in the garden and chose instead to give in. Christ had the opportunity to put his flesh to death (even though he did not have indwelling sin, yet he still defeated his own flesh) and move to greater glory and he chose the glory.

    Christ did not have any sin, yet he still had to put his flesh to death by the Spirit. Adam had to do the same thing. Christ was not deceived which showed the perfection of his spiritual maturity, which we are to grow up into. Adam was deceived which showed his spiritual immaturity, an immaturity that was not sinful in itself but did lead to being deceived into sin. Christ was not plan B. All along it was only he who could glorify humanity, only he who could be the man that we are to become. A refusal of Christ is a refusal of manhood.

    You also have an issue with Romans 5 where Paul draws a parallel between the sin of Adam and those who were under the law of Moses. He says that when there was no law, sin was not like Adam’s sin because Adam sinned against the law he was given, yet between the law Adam was given and the giving of the law at Sinai sin was not committed against any express commandments. So how was sinning under the law of Moses like the sin of Adam (because both are sins against a given law) if Adam was under a fundamentally different covenant? If Adam was not to go from glory to glory by the obedience of faith, then how was his disobedience the same as disobedience under Moses? Obedience under Moses was by faith through grace, and any other kind of obedience was not what God wanted, since it was works oriented and made room to boast in works rather than in grace. If Adam could boast in his obedience as if it it wouldn’t have come through grace then his sin was not one of unbelief but merely one of action, which to me seems impossible since it cannot be conceived that sin comes from anything but unbelief and obedience from anything but faith.

    • Matthew,

      You’re starting with an essentially rationalist premise adopted by the medieval church. Instead of simply leaving the fall a mystery, this approach seeks to explain it by some fault or lack in Adam. The medievals adopted the theory that Adam was created with concupiscence, lust, which needed to be contained by grace. The theory that he was inherently immature is a softer version adopted by the Federal Visionists.

      Further, as I explained above, the analogy between Adam before the fall to Christians, in a state of grace, after the fall is not apt. It is essentially Pelagian.

      It simply does not follow that:

      1. Adam was deceived
      2. Only the immature are deceived
      3. Ergo Adam was immature.

      The middle premise is false. On your analogy, Jesus should have been tempted when he was 12 not after he began his public ministry at 30. Jesus was not immature and yet he was tried, as Adam, and unlike Adam, Jesus the sinless, righteous Last Adam sustained the probation/test.

      The FV says that is anti-Pelagian because it talks about divine sovereignty but none of them knows much about the history of theology and that’s why they’ve made so many gross errors and why their entire system has been rejected by the confessional Reformed churches. I’ve already demonstrated that the view you’re advocating is essentially Pelagian. Further, they have a Pelagianizing view of faith and works. Once they invoke “covenant” they become essentially semi-Pelagian in their soteriology. The way they parallel Jesus and the believer is essentially Pelagian.

      I don’t know you or where you were from 2001-7 but we hashed all this out then. There are loads of books, articles, and ecclesiastical reports. I’m not going to re-do all that work in the combox here and this is not a place for the advocacy of such a terribly unbiblical and anti-confessional position as the FV.

      See this library of posts. You should read them. Really.

      http://heidelblog.net/category/federal-vision/

      You’ve misconstrued Romans 5. Paul does not say that there was no law but only that the Mosaic/Israelite law had not been published. He has already established that there was law from creation in Romans 1-2.

      The point of the parallel in Romans 5 is to say that Jesus, the Last Adam did what the first Adam could have done but refused. We do stand before God on the basis of obedience: Christ’s for us, not ours.

      As for Israel, that’s another discussion altogether but see the library of posts on republication. Israel was under the law, Paul says in Gal 3, as pedagogue, to teach them the greatness of their sin and misery. They were not under a covenant of works for salvation. They were saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

      http://heidelblog.net/category/republication-of-the-covenant-of-works/

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