Book Review: The Federal Vision

This book is available on amazon.

If anyone is in Presbyterian and Reformed camps, they know that the ‘Federal Vision’ has been a big debate for a good while now. Since I am newish to the P&R world, and because I keep hearing stuff about how heretical and evil FV is, I decided to read them for themselves so that I could at least know where the proponents of FV actually stand, versus getting all my information from the telephone game.

I have a lot of stuff I’d like to look back over and comment on but, in short, only one or so chapters in this book seemed to be entirely good and helpful, while the rest of it was mixed with good biblical insights, questionable conclusions, and just outright weird hermeneutics.

I will applaud these men for desiring to be biblical, letting the bible be their standard and NOT the reformed confessions. Whether they succeeded in this is another topic for debate, but at least they are not afraid to critique confessionalists using their bibles. Of course, the confessions are good and helpful, I love the confessions, but I have seen way too many reformed men love their confessions more than they love their bibles. They may not say it, but they do act like it.

I also sympathize – sort of – with their desire to use biblical language. I say ‘sort of” because I do believe their is an obvious place for ‘theological language,’ but sometimes we need to be corrected when we veer to far off into theological categories at the expense of biblical language. This can have pastoral implications as some of the authors point out. There is also some seemingly good work of historical theology in here, but I am no historian.

Lastly, I do greatly sympathize with the need to view the covenant as being more objective – and I am not the only one outside the FV camps to feel this way. Visible/invisible Church distinctions are good and necessary. Distinguishing between the substance and administration are good and necessary. A correct understanding of election is highly important. But the administration of the covenant of grace is not meant to be treated as some sort of subjective thing. All those who have professed faith and have been baptized should have assurance in their being called by God, because of the faith that the Spirit has wrought, and because of the sign and seal that has been placed on them by God in baptism. Now, I don’t know that I would take this as far as some of the FV proponents want to, but their is a need for Christians to have assurance of their calling, and a desire to make that calling and election sure.

Again, I am new to the P&R world, so I am willing to listen to biblical objections and corrections. This book was free for kindle prime library, and I wanted to understand the FV, so I picked up and came down right about where I thought I would. Agreeing in some places, and just being weirded out and feeling unclear in others.

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