Since he published his “Federal Vision No Mas” post in January, 2017 several correspondents have written to ask whether he is still a Federal Visionist or to assert that he is not. This is the intended effect of his post: to create the impression that he is no longer a Federal Visionist. He knew that many would read only the headline and draw the inference that he has abandoned the Federal Vision theology, piety, and practice. Apparently, for most of those who actually read the article confusion remains. This is par for the course. One of the persistent tactics of the Federal Vision movement has been to sow confusion about what the movement is. They have persistently argued that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, and despite the careful research by pastors, scholars, and ecclesiastical bodies, no one really understands the nuances of the Federal Vision movement. Well, the Reformed Churches have been here before. We had this very same discussion with the Remontrants in the 17th century. See the Rejection of Errors, the Canons, and the Sentence issues by the Synod of Dort.
If one reads his post carefully, one will see that he disavows the name but not the doctrine. He explicitly affirms all the FV doctrine he has taught. He only says that he no longer wants to be called a Federal Visionist. He writes “So I have finally become convinced that the phrase federal vision is a hurdle that I cannot get over, under or around” (emphasis added). He also continues, “I would still want to affirm everything I signed off on in the Federal Vision statement…”. He refers to the “Joint Federal Vision Profession” of 2007, which mysteriously disappeared from the Federal Visionist website on which it was hosted sometime after this post appeared. It was almost to say, “I affirm the Joint Profession but just try to read the Joint Profession.” Fortunately, it has been preserved for posterity.
In the “No Mas” post he qualifies how he wants to affirm the Federal Vision but this is what he has always done. He has always suggested that almost no one outside the FV movement really understands its complexities. This, of course, is what the Remonstrants said too. The confessional Reformed Churches, e.g., the URCNA, the OPC, the PCA, the RCUS and others spent considerable time reading and analyzing the Federal Visionists. They have produced surveys and drawn conclusions that are publicly available. See the resource list linked below.
Of course, this was always nothing but a rhetorical trick. The intended effect of the headline was to create the impression in the minds of the uninformed that his theology has substantially changed even as he affirms, in the body of the post, that it has not. He still affirms a conditional, temporary baptismal union with Christ that confers upon the baptized a temporary election, a temporary justification, a temporary adoption, and a temporary union with Christ. He still affirms that those who do not sufficiently cooperate will lose those temporary benefits. As he confesses, apostasy remains a “terrifying reality for many baptized Christians.” For Wilson and the rest of the Federal Visionists, it is not enough to acknowledge the greatness of our sin and misery, to trust in Christ alone for our complete salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, and seek to live under his gracious reign out of gratitude by daily seeking to put to death the old man and to be made alive in the new. The point of the Federal Vision theology, as with the Remonstrants, was to turn the covenant of grace into a covenant of works and to put the believer back under the law for his salvation.
Here is an fairly exhaustive list of resources on the Federal Vision theology including the most complete analyses of the “No Mas” post (numbers 57–65, “Doug Wilson and the Federal Division”).
For those who are new to this discussion start here: “For Those Just Tuning In: What Is The Federal Vision?
- How To Subscribe To Heidelmedia
- Resources On The Federal Vision Theology
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- Heidelcast 137: How To Avoid The TheoRecon Tollbooth
- Just Discovering Reformed Theology? TheoRecon Is A Toll-Booth You Should Skip
- See It For Yourself: Piper On Wilson, Baptism, And The FV
- Keister: Doug Wilson Denies Sola Fide
- CREC Report On Wilson
- Shubin Report on Wilson
- Moscowid: The Sitler Archive
- Moscowid: The Wight Archive
- Crawford Gribben, Survival and Resistance in Evangelical America: Christian Reconstruction in the Pacific Northwest (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021)
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