Thursday, July 26, 2007

An Important Preface from the Preface

“What is at the heart of the Federal Vision? I cannot speak for all those wearing the FV logo, but in my view the Federal Vision is centrally about the issues I address in this book: Baptismal efficacy, to be sure, but more importantly and fundamentally, the nature of signs and rites, the character of the church as the body of Christ, the possibility of apostasy. At its heart, the Federal Vision is about ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church . . . As I see it, the Federal Vision’s central affirmation is this: without qualification or hedging, the church is the body of Christ. Everything the Federal Vision says about baptism, about soteriology, about apostasy flows from that affirmation.” (pg. ix, emphasis original).

This blog is not about the FV. That needs to be said at the outset because I don’t want to mislead those (if anyone) reading this. Rest assured, there will be other books talked about on this site. I just happened to begin with this one.

But it is important to acknowledge that this paragraph marks the direction of the book. Leithart is defending some of the presuppositions held by those holding to major statements of the FV. What is most striking about the quote is the acknowledgement of the ‘heart of the FV’ - ecclesiology.

I grew up as a Southern Baptist . . . I served on staff at a Southern Baptist church. Like many other Southern Baptists who crossed over to PCA or some other reformed denomination, I wrestled most with the doctrine of baptism. AND like many other Baptists wrestling with baptism – specifically infant baptism – I realized that meant wrestling with my understanding of church. The continuity between the people of God in the OC and NC opened up a whole new world of thought about the scriptures. Perhaps this is why the concerns raised by those in the FV are my concerns as well. I am interested to think through just how much we can say about the historical-visible church.


amydrake10 said...

I'm frightened by the number of words used in this post that I have never heard. I don't even want to mention the ones I've heard but have no clue what they mean. I may not be back Mr. Smartypants.

Greg Fields is a . . . said...

Sorry, Amy. Which words did you not get? FV just stands for Federal Vision. Jeremy could give you the scoop on all that. You better be back!

AmyD said...

okay, the ones I've heard, but am not sure I understand are ecclesiology and

the one I've never heard is

and I have no clue about Federal Vision. Would this help if I read the book? Or will I need special tutoring--I'm not sure I can afford it!


Carl said...

I would love to chat with you about FV.

Jeremy and Diane said...

Hello Amy,
Ecclesiology: the doctrine of the church; study of the things pertaining to the church; a theology of the church

Apostasy (from a total desertion of or departure from one's religion... (in this case, Christianity).

Soteriology (also from ): the doctrine of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Federal Vision: probably best here just to really familiarize yourself with and understand the Scriptures, and to read the Westminster Confession and Catechisms (maybe even along side some other Reformed confessions).

Greg Fields is a . . . said...

Amy -
I give all the easy questions to Jeremy . . . he's my secretary too.

Obviously kidding . . . thanks Jerm for the help. And good advice on the FV stuff.

I will try to be more mindful of the words I or the book use that may not be familiar to all. It would definitely allow more folks to participate in the discussion if defined.

Steven said...


Your experience is very similar to my own. The question over baptism is a question over the Church.

davida said...

Do FVers recognize the distinction between the visible and invisible church?

tracey fields said...

David - I will give a quote from Leithart on this issue soon. I just got back into town and have to get ready for Sunday. For now - the FV guys I have read would not DENY the distinction but think there are better ways to talk about this. Doug Wilson offered the historical/eschatological distinction. Interestingly, Michael Horton, not FV, said something similar to that. Also, John Murray's critique of the Invis/vis distinction is referenced in this discussion.

One thing that these guys are trying, I think, to do is speak more strongly about the non-elect who are part of the visible church. Their experience in the church is not just second-hand smoke. Hebrews 6 and 10 are usually inserted here as examples.

FYI - you can get the answers to the examinations of both Doug Wilson and Steve Wilkins. They are in written question/answer form and one section covers precisely this question. I will post a quote in this string soon though.

tracey fields said...

Ooops . . . David that was me (Greg) not Tracey. I did not realized I was signed in under her blog.