BIBLICAL Horizons, No. 194
Copyright © 2007 Biblical Horizons
Why is the “Federal Vision” so controversial? Wanting on the theological points concerned and the way they’re being responded to, it’s clear that the response is out of proportion to the stimulus. One thing extra is concerned than simply specific doctrines or vocabulary.
What’s totally different is that the “Federal Vision” holds to the historic Christian faith and its critics don’t. Here’s what the historic Christian faith teaches:
1. The Bible is given to assist us mature and develop up as photographs of God in order that we take dominion correctly over all of life.
2. The Bible can also be given, due to Devil’s revolt, to show us holy struggle towards principalities and powers.
3. The Bible can also be given, due to Adam’s revolt, to point out us the historical past of redemption.
four. As a result of God is Three and One, so is human society, and so the historical past of redemption isn’t just concerning the salvation of people but in addition concerning the salvation of societies.
5. Jesus Christ has been given all energy and authority, and has commanded His individuals to disciple all nations, promising to be with them and strengthen them by His Spirit till this has been completed. There could be no query that Jesus will efficiently accomplish this programme, and on the finish ship all to the Father.
Now, these 5 elements are rejected by many if not most trendy Calvinists. Contemplate the next assertion, which appeared on the “BBWarfield List” on the web. One PCA pastor is right here commenting on the remarks of his pal N–.
5. Disciple the nations? — Lastly, N– writes, “If anything, what we need now is a recommitment to the proclamation of a simple, biblical gospel, and perhaps to finally acknowledge that the Gospel was not given for the redeeming of nations, it was given for the calling and perfecting of a godly remnant out of all nations.” I couldn’t agree extra, N–, however as you understand, one of many claims [of “Federal Vision” individuals] is that within the Nice Fee, Jesus stated to “disciple the nations,” not simply the individuals of these nations, i.e. each establishment of these nations. This exegesis is about nearly as good as that which claims “until” in Psalm 110:1 means “after.” My reply is that Medieval Europe exhibits us what occurs once we deliver Christ into the establishments — males who love energy greater than Christ additionally discover their means in, and what you get is Christendom, not Christ.
Allow us to think about this assertion.
First, its look on an inventory named for Benjamin B. Warfield is fabulously absurd. Warfield is legendary (or infamous, relying in your perspective) for insisting not solely that each one nations will probably be discipled earlier than Jesus returns, but in addition for rejecting the notion of a ultimate apostasy, taking Revelation 20:7-10 to be referring to one thing else. Warfield was probably the most radical postmillennialist within the historical past of the Church. And right here we now have Mr. N–, the director the “Warfield List” and his PCA pastor buddy utterly rejecting what Warfield stood for.
Second, there might be little question about what Jesus meant within the Nice Fee. The disciples have been Jews who have been absolutely acquainted with what we name the Previous Testomony. They knew that when Messiah got here all of the nations would stream to Jerusalem to obtain the Regulation. This was prophesied time and again within the Scriptures. Additionally they knew that God had divided the world into nations, seventy of them in Genesis 10, and had discipled one nation (Israel) as a light-weight to the remaining. When Jesus stated, “disciple the nations,” they knew precisely what He meant.
Third, equally the thought of baptizing the nations was one thing that they understood fairly simply. Israel had been baptized as a nation on the Pink Sea. The Messiah would baptize many countries (Isaiah 52:15). To ensure, the tactic of doing this at the moment is by baptizing people and households, however the objective is baptized nations.
Fourth, the place of those males is Judaizing. The notion of a remnant is taken from the interval earlier than Jesus, when in-deed there was however a remnant. To persist in considering in remnant phrases within the New Creation occasions is to cling to the Previous, and is a Judaizing evil. Since these males are Judaizers, it’s no shock that they spend their time looking for out causes to divide from different Christians and to arrange separate tables (Gal. 2:11-12).
Fifth, the place of those males provides Devil the final chuckle, or at the very least the penultimate one. No marvel they reject N. T. Wright, writer of Jesus and the Victory of God. God has no victory. Devil wins. On the finish, Devil will get to face up and sneer: “Well, Jesus! All power? All authority? And yet you still couldn’t pull it off, could you? Some Messiah! Ha! Hahaha!” That’s what these two chaps on the “Warfield list” consider goes to occur on the finish of historical past. I don’t assume so.
Sixth, the cost that “men who love power” may discover their means into the Kingdom if we attempt to disciple the nations is so astonishing that one’s jaw drops to the ground. Do these males truly assume that “men who love power” don’t search energy within the PCA as we speak? Do they assume that their pietistic, remnant-amil, Judaizer-infested church buildings haven’t any “men who love power”?
Lastly, since Jesus has been put in as King of the world, Christendom is exactly what the dominion consists of. This rejection of Christendom is a rejection of the whole historical past of the Christian faith from its starting up till about 100 years in the past. The victory of the anabaptist pietist dropout mentality could be very current.
Now, with this introduction, I feel we will start to know the response towards the “Federal Vision”.
Amillennialism is the default place within the Reformed and Presbyterian Church buildings at the moment. As we now have seen above, it was not all the time so. When Calvin did theology, his elementary concern was with social order and the restoration of social order: the order between the triune God and human society, between individuals and other people, and so on. (See Benjamin Charles Milner, Jr., Calvin’s Doctrine of the Church. Research within the Historical past of Christian Thought 5 [Leiden: Brill, 1970].) Neither is this concern with order distinctive to Calvin’s general theological strategy. It was a attribute of all Renaissance-period thinkers, and certainly had been how theology was achieved from the time of Irenaeus ahead, together with Eusebius, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and all of the Reformers. All have been involved with Jesus Christ’s restoration of order to all of life. The notion that Jesus got here solely to cherry-pick a number of people out of the world and put them in a basket, leaving the remainder of the world to flames, would have appalled them.
Doing theology in a context of social thought and with a priority for social order didn’t cease with the Reformation. The lads on the Westminster Meeting have been involved with the identical issues. In any case, they met through the English Civil Struggle, a time once they have been making an attempt to reorder all of society. Samuel Rutherford’s political treatise Lex, Rex; or The Regulation and the Ruler begins in its opening paragraph by referring to an entire listing of Roman Catholic writers who have been additionally wrestling with the identical points. I point out this as a result of one objection to “Federal Vision” writers is that they dare to learn Catholic, Lutheran, and Orthodox theologians and thinkers! Anyway, one want solely learn the literature of the Presbyterians and Puritans in England and New England to understand that they did theology in a context of postmillennial expectations and of concern with society.
This isn’t how amillennialists do theology immediately.
In the event you consider that the work of Jesus Christ is designed solely to avoid wasting people out of the world, then what occurs to the 5 traits of historic Christianity with which we started this essay?
1. The Bible is given to assist us mature and develop up as pictures of God in order that we take dominion correctly over all of life. No. We aren’t alleged to take dominion. That’s the depraved “Dominion Theology” and “Christian Reconstruction.” (It’s additionally the historic Christian religion.) Now, what this implies for these amillennialists is that about 75% of the Bible disappears from relevance. All that’s left could also be, for some, a mystical factor referred to as “common grace” or “natural law.”
2. The Bible can also be given, due to Devil’s insurrection, to show us holy conflict towards principalities and powers. No. There’s no holy conflict. There’s no “covenant history.” There’s solely “redemptive history.” One other huge slice of the Bible disappears from relevance.
3. The Bible can also be given, due to Adam’s riot, to point out us the historical past of redemption. Okay, we will maintain this half, however solely a few of it as a result of we reject the subsequent level:
four. As a result of God is Three and One, so is human society, and so the historical past of redemption isn’t just concerning the salvation of people but in addition concerning the salvation of societies. No. Salvation is just for people. All that issues is the ordo salutis, the so-called “golden chain” of how God elects people after which does sure issues for people. One other hunk of the Bible simply disappeared. We’ve got lowered the entire of the Bible to nothing however how sure elect individuals get cherry-picked for salvation.
5. Jesus Christ has been given all energy and authority, and has commanded His individuals to disciple all nations, promising to be with them and strengthen them by His Spirit till this has been completed. No. That’s not going to occur. Devil will get the final snicker in historical past..
Now, having lowered the whole lot within the Christian religion to issues of particular person salvation (for a number of), the remnant-amils are compelled to pressure all the Bible by means of this small gap. This is essential for contemplating the so-called “New Perspective on Paul” in addition to “Christian Reconstruction” of previous and “Federal Vision” of at the moment. If somebody says, “It looks to me as if in this or that passage Paul is really talking about the change in history and in civilization, and not about how individuals get saved for heaven,” this can’t be allowed. No. Paul have to be talking solely about private salvation, as a result of that’s all there’s.
Now, that is related to the “Federal Vision” as a result of the “Federal Vision” is a dialog carried out amongst individuals who maintain to the 5 points of the Christian custom that I’ve specified by this essay. That’s why the “Federal Vision” smells flawed to as we speak’s Calvinists, as a result of at present’s Calvinists by and enormous reject these 5 elements and maintain to a different spiritual paradigm, a spiritual mannequin consisting solely of ordo salutis (order of salvation) questions regarding people. “Federal Vision” individuals learn numerous passages in another way, and are open to different views of sure passages, as a result of they’ve a big and extensive paradigm and usually are not pressured to take the whole lot in an individualistic sense.
This amil paradigm is a facet of Western liberalism. Individualism as a perspective has been creating in Western thought for various centuries. When Descartes says, “I can doubt that I exist, therefore I exist,” he reduces every little thing to the person. When Rosenstock-Huessy counters, “Others speak to me, and that’s how I know I exist,” he’s rejecting that individualism in favor of a Christian view of actuality. However Descartes continues to be extra with us than is Rosenstock-Huessy, and so is individualism. The gut-level individualism of Western thought is far concerned in how remnant-amils do theology, and certainly, concerned in why they’re instinctively amils within the first place.
Now, I’ve to say that clearly there are individuals who take an amillennial view of Biblical prophecy who don’t actually need to be hyperindividualists. They need to see God coping with church buildings, at the very least, in addition to with people. They could assume that nationwide discipleship is partly attainable right here and there, even when Jesus will fail in His try and disciple all nations. They could be optimistic-amils as an alternative of remnant-amils. I’m comfortable for such inconsistencies, although I ought to like for all such individuals to return to the historic Christian religion.
Nonetheless, individualistic amillennialism is the order of the day in how Reformed theology is completed and the way the Bible is learn and studied. That is “how Reformed theology is done nowadays,” and is a large a part of the rationale why the “Federal Vision” is so controversial.