Thursday, July 19, 2007

Suspicious Threads, Suspicious Cloth

Let's set the confessional record straight, shall we?

Yes, Reformed theology affirms a duplex beneficium (double benefit) in Christ's work: justification and sanctification. Yes, Reformed theology has traditionally distinguished between justification and salvation, affirming the necessity of works for the latter, but never for the former. Yes, Reformed theology teaches that there will be a judgment according to works on the last day, on which all people will be judged according to the deeds done in the body, whether good or evil.

But despite Herculean efforts by our brothers in the Federal Vision camp, the fact is undeniable that any formulation of justification that imports works into the equation cannot claim confessional precedent or authority.

But as I have argued in the comments of the preceding thread, it is not merely the Federal Vision's emphasis upon works that has occasioned such resistance from Reformed confessionalists, it is the weaving together of various questionable doctrines into a suspicious cloth that causes us such concern. For example, when we hear that:

1. Election is, in some sense, a covenantal and loseable privilege;

2. The covenant of works was gracious, thus conflating law and gospel;

3. Baptism unites the recipient with Christ and confers such saving benefits as union with Christ and, in some sense, regeneration;

4. Union with Christ is only as secure as the believer's ongoing covenant faithfulness;

5. Justification is presently declared upon one basis (faith), while its final declaration will be additionally based upon works;

6. The distinction between the visible and invisible church should be viewed with suspicion;

... the only conclusion that we can reach is that those who affirm such views have surrendered any claim to be within the pale of traditional Reformed orthodoxy. It is time, therefore, to recognize the Federal Vision to be the fringe movement that it is, and to place the burden of proof on these brethren to demonstrate their adherence to Reformed theology as we have confessed it for 500 years.