“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.