Thursday, September 21, 2006

Threaten Ye, Threaten Ye My People

In his contribution to The Auburn Avenue Theology: Pros and Cons, PCA pastor Steve Wilkins, writing in defense of the Federal Vision, says of Paul's words in Romans 8:28-34:

"Paul is not stating promises [of divine foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification] that are true only for some unknown group called the 'elect.' ... Rather, he is applying these promises to all members of the Church who have been baptized and united to Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6). Yet, in spite of these clear affirmations of their elect status, Paul does not hesitate to warn them against the possibility of apostasy."
Later in the same essay, Wilkins unpacks the last stament in this way:
"The elect are those who are faithful in Christ Jesus. If they later reject the Savior, they are no longer elect -- they are cut off from the Elect One and thus, lose their elect standing. But their falling away doesn't negate the reality of their standing prior to their apostasy. They were really and truly the elect of God because of their relationship with Christ" (emphasis mine).
My reason for highlighting these passages is to demonstrate what happens when we simply see the Mosaic Covenant as "the gospel before Christ." The precarious status of national Israel as God's elect people, which was contingent upon their keeping of the law, is made to be the normative paradigm for the New Covenant people of God (complete with the threat of disinheritance and forfetiture of adoption).

And if one responds by saying that, since all covenants are "gracious," we should see Moses as pre-Christian gospel, I would ask whether what our Federal Vision brothers are offering is really "grace" at all. When, under the guise of trying to alleviate the doubts of God's people, I am told that if I don't display sufficient covenant faithfulness I will lose the blessings of election and union with Christ, well, the "comfort" of the message is lost on me.