Is Federal Vision heresy?

The following is from Flock Alert:

“Many are honestly confused about the Federal Vision, and are looking for a quick, basic understanding of it.  As such, here we offer a crash course about this enormously influential movement.

“The following resources demonstrate that the Federal Vision is indeed a heresy of the worst kind, and perverts almost every doctrine related to salvation.  It is [sic] has much in common with N. T. Wright’s theology, and is essentially a form of Roman Catholicism in sheep’s clothing.  It denies justification by faith alone, Christ’s active obedience, and perseverance of the saints, and holds to salvation by works (for instance, the soul damning heresy of baptismal regeneration).”

Read the entire article here.

57 thoughts on “Is Federal Vision heresy?

  1. Just when you thought the charges had calmed down… *sighs*
    No, the so-called federal vision is not a heresy. The ministers who hold such views got their views from the reformers themselves. You’d be surprised at some of the things Calvin penned. It seems you can’t be a full orbed calvinist anymore without being called a heretic. Calvinism is more than the 5 points:

    Teacher: My child, are you a Christian in fact as well as in name?
    Child: Yes, my father.
    Teacher: How is this known to you?
    Child: Because I am baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
    ~ John Calvin’s Strasbourg Catechism for Young Children

    Calvin obviously rejected the notion that “water baptism plays absolutely no role in salvation.” (from your link above):

    “God does not sport with us by unmeaning figures, but inwardly accomplishes by his power what he exhibits by the outward sign; and therefore, baptism is fitly and truly said to be ‘the washing of regeneration.'” ~ Calvin’s commentary on Titus 3:5

  2. It’s unfortunate to see you sullying Calvin by falsely claiming that he taught the heresy of baptismal regeneration, Ron.

    Perhaps you’re simply misinformed, but given the fact that you’re attempting an appeal to authority in an effort to defend your preferred pet heresy I’m inclined to suspect that you’re deliberately misrepresenting Calvin to further your own agenda, or else projecting your peculiar theology upon his writings as a form of wishful thinking.

    As a service to DefCon’s readership, and you if you’re willing to accept correction, I’m pleased to provide this link.

    In Him,
    CD

  3. Brother whose Christian name I know not,
    I am indeed willing to accept correction as evidenced by the fact that I used to be a baptist. :) However, I didn’t see anything corrective in that link. In fact, the first comment posts a link to Calvin’s treatise on baptism, claiming that “Calvin argues against [baptismal regeneration] in his Institutes, Book 4, Chapter 15.” Quite the contrary.

    The quote the well meaning brother employs is a rejection of the Roman Church’s sacrament of penance, as evidenced by the title of the paragraph the well meaning brother cites (ICR 4.15.4 “Refutation of those who share forgiveness between Baptism and Repentance”), and by Calvin’s closing statement in that paragraph,

    … as if baptism were not itself a sacrament of penance. But if repentance is recommended during the whole of life, the power of baptism ought to have the same extent. Wherefore, there can be no doubt that all the godly may, during the whole course of their lives, whenever they are vexed by a consciousness of their sins, recall the remembrance of their baptism, that they may thereby assure themselves of that sole and perpetual ablution which we have in the blood of Christ.”

    So what Calvin is doing here is rejecting the notion that the Christian is in need of a continual rite throughout his life for the forgiveness of sins (penance) when his sins for his whole life have been forgiven in baptism. He says as much elsewhere many, many times.

    Finally, I suspect we have the same agenda, you and I, namely, to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  4. Note carefully that Calvin clearly ties the sign (baptism) to the thing signified (the washing and cleansing of sin by Christ’s blood) without conflating or confusing the two.

    Calvin was not a proponent of baptismal regeneration, but even if, ad arguendo, he were then Bible believing Christians would be required to reject his teaching on the point in obedience to the formal and material principles of the Reformation, Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide.

    One doesn’t go about growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ by denying the complete and total efficacy of His Person and work by inserting elements of human works into the formula of justification, nor by inventing false doctrines and teaching them as the commandments of God.

    Since it’s quite clear that you personally hold to, and promulgate these selfsame doctrines it’s my duty to call you to repentance and submission to the simplicity of the eternal Gospel of grace.

    In Christ,
    CD

  5. I am hardly denying the complete and total efficacy of Christ’s work by affirming the promises He himself associated with baptism. You present a false dichotomy: baptism or Christ. Calvin addresses this concern and fallacy of yours:

    But if any man trusting to this testimony do make baptism a cold spectacle, and void of all grace of the Spirit, he shall be also greatly deceived. For the Holy Scripture useth to speak two manner of ways of the sacraments. For because Christ is not unfaithful in his promises, he doth not suffer that to be vain which he doth institute; but when as the Scripture doth attribute to baptism strength to wash and regenerate, it ascribeth all this to Christ, and doth only teach what he worketh by his Spirit by the hand of man and the visible sign ~ Calvin’s Commentary on Acts.

    So according to Calvin, baptism or Christ is a false dichotomy. The scriptures “attribute to baptism the strength to wash and regenerate” AND ascribe all that work to Christ.

    Disagreeing with Calvin is fine. But anyone calling themselves reformed should at least accept anyone holding Calvin’s views to be within the sphere of historic reformed orthodoxy.

  6. Anyone holding to baptismal regeneration has far more in common with Rome than with the Magisterial Reformers.

    Soteriology is serious stuff, and baptismal regeneration is a serious error.

    In Him,
    CD

  7. Well it appears this discussion has devolved such that bare assertions have become the standard of argumentation. Ok.

    Anyone rejecting the efficaciousness of the sacrament of baptism has more in common with the radical reformers than the magisterial reformers.

    Soteriology is serious stuff, and dismissing the role that baptism plays in regeneration is a serious error.

  8. Ron,

    You said, “Soteriology is serious stuff, and dismissing the role that baptism plays in regeneration is a serious error.”

    That statement is at complete odds with the Bible and in complete agreement with the cult of Rome.

    Your repeated attempt to show conflict amongst Reformers is a straw man, for all men are sinful and none are perfect.

    Yet Christ alone is perfect and indeed, “Soteriology is serious stuff” – not of works or deeds of man but of Christ alone comes the new birth.

  9. Oh and one last thing, brother whose Christian name I know not. If you are ever in the Moscow, ID area, I’d be happy to continue this or any discussion over a beer at a great Christian pub we have here by the name of Bucer’s. Good draft beer, live music at times, and always stimulating discussion. It would be good to meet you. First round is on me. Semper Reformanda.

  10. Manfred,

    I did not see your comment when I wrote my last. While the invitation was directed at CD, I would be happy include you, of course. :)

  11. Manfred, if Christ alone is sufficient (I am not arguing otherwise, btw), and no works of men are necessary, is the preaching the gospel necessary? Isn’t preaching a work of men?

    We do not believe in immediate grace. We believe in mediated grace. The Lord Jesus uses outward means to communicate the benefits of His mediation to His Church, and it is our duty as Christians to make diligent use of those outward means:

    Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger Catechism
    Q. 153. What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us by reason of the transgression of the law?

    A. That we may escape the wrath and curse of God due to us by reason of the transgression of the law, he requireth of us repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, and the diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation.

    What are those outward means you say?

    Q. 154. What are the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation?

    A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to his church the benefits of his mediation, are all his ordinances; especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for their salvation.

    As I said to CD, you can disagree with the reformed confessional documents, but I’m not sure why you would call yourself “reformed” and then turn around and call brothers heretics who are simply confessing the reformed confessions.

    My suggestion is that you Calvin to see if you still want to be called a “calvinist”, and read the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Three Forms of Unity to see if you still want to be called “reformed”.

  12. The Westminster Catechism is not Scripture, so I will not try to explain it nor defend it – not being a Presbyterian myself. The works we do – proclaiming the Gospel – are, in fact, the work of the Holy Spirit in and through us. There are NO works of the flesh required nor permitted. One sows, another waters, God gives the increase. He condescends to allow us to preach the foolishness of the cross that those to whom He has given ears will hear and be saved.

    I am a reformed Baptist yet I do not stand on 1690 LBC – it is most useful but not given by God.

  13. Manfred,
    Again, I am not arguing for the validity of the reformed documents at all here. I am simply arguing that certain points of discussion here find themselves squarely within the sphere of historic reformed orthodoxy. I take it that I have argued that point well when the response from you and CD both is basically, “The reformed documents and writers aren’t on par with scripture.” On this, we agree.

    You said,

    The works we do – proclaiming the Gospel – are, in fact, the work of the Holy Spirit in and through us.

    Again, I agree entirely. That’s two in a row! :) But according to the historic reformed faith, one of the works that ministers of the gospel do that is in fact the work of the Holy Spirit in and through them is the administration of the sacraments.

    I find it odd that your system of doctrine allows for the Holy Spirit to work salvation in a man through the material means of preaching (vocal chords, sound waves, ear drums, all material), but you won’t entertain the notion that He works salvation through the material means of baptism. I speculate this is because you can understand how preaching is able to convince someone of certain gospel truths while you don’t see how this can be true of baptism. But then, that wouldn’t be attributing the work of preaching to the Holy Spirit, would it?

  14. Ron – God can save someone who heard a scrap of the Gospel from the lie-filled mouth of Joel Osteen – that does not give us reason to use such means to “save” anyone. Baptism in itself does no more to save anyone than does communion – both are symbols of work finished by Christ. If they go hand-in-hand with the spoken gospel that was once heard by an individual, and he then believes on Christ – that does not mean the work of baptism was part of his salvation. Such witnessing are the means God has ordained, yet the work is His alone.

    As has been pointed out in this thread – baptismal regeneration is heresy that has more in common with Rome than any church of the biblical Christ.

  15. Ron,

    Despite your self-congratulatory assessment of your argumentation, such as it is, there’s simply no getting around the fact that the Reformation turned on the article of Sola Fide which plainly sets forth the Scriptural principle that faith alone is the sole instrument of justification, and that justification is the once for all forensic declaration of a sinner made righteous in God’s sight (justified) by grace.

    The means of grace (sacraments) are not and never have been instruments of justification.

    It’s here where FV does err greatly, placing itself under the double curse of Paul in his epistle to the Galatians which error finds its revival in FV soteriology.

    It is anathema.

    In Christ,
    CD

  16. Manfred, you said

    Baptism in itself does no more to save anyone than does communion – both are symbols of work finished by Christ.

    Now that is a straw man. :) No one is saying the baptism “in itself” saves. Where do I say this? I have stated numerous times here, and cited Calvin and the WCF stating, that the power of baptism lies in Christ’s promises and the working of the Holy Spirit through baptism.

    On reducing baptism to a mere sign (as if signs from God himself could ever be “mere”), I submit to you again, Calvin. Again disagree with him if you will, but at least admit that this is the historic reformed faith. This is not Rome. This was written by a pioneer who blazed a trail out of Rome.

    Master. – But do you attribute nothing more to the water than that it is a figure of ablution?

    Scholar. – I understand it to be a figure, but still so that the reality is annexed to it; for God does not disappoint us when he promises us his gifts. Accordingly, it is certain that both pardon of sins and newness of life are offered to us in baptism, and received by us. ~ John Calvin’s Geneva Catechism

  17. CD, I am not denying Sola Fide any more than Calvin is when he states that both pardon of sins and newness of life are received by us in baptism. Faith is the sole instrument of justification. But how do we get faith? What is that instrument’s “instrument”?

    How do I fall under the curse of Paul in Galatians 2? It would seem to me that those who play the role of Peter in that chapter are the ones falling under that curse. Sometimes brothers’ actions deny sola fide:

    Galatians 2:14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? 15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

    So Peter refused table fellowship with his Christian brothers, and Paul reminds him that we are justified by faith and not by works of the law. Paul’s reminder is clear: All those who have faith in Christ belong at the same table, and for a Christian to deny a Christian brother the open hand of fellowship is a full scale assault on Sola Fide. Am I the one who needs the reminder here? I know we are justified by faith and not by works (not even the work of theology), which is why I seek fellowship (as I have done here) with those Christians who I might not necessarily agree with on every point of doctrine. But I don’t call them heretics. I call the brothers. It is the which hunters who have rejected the historic reformation yet retain the name only and sully the names their Christian brothers with charges of heresy who need the reminder.

    Grace and peace to you in Christ, brothers.

  18. You and N.T. Wright may wish Galatians spoke to Christian table manners, and I’m sure that siren’s song plays well in the ivory towers of academia, and in the halls and bars of Moscow, Idaho, but it doesn’t stand the test when the spadework of exegesis is done.

    This is also why FV can’t stand as a viable system, it employs a hermeneutic that’s unfaithful to Scripture, a soteriology that corrupts the simplicity of the Gospel, and an approach to the confessions that is representative of a reversion to the worst aspects of Romanism.

    In Him,
    CD

  19. Let the reader read and discern. One side of this discussion has tme and again presented historical and biblical evidence in brotherly love with all courtesy, and when faced with the historical and biblical evidence and brotherly love, the response from the other side of this discussion has been to, in effect, simply say, “Nuh uh, heretic.” You don’t have to hail from an “ivory tower of academia” find that response less than compelling.

    My invitation remains. You have my email. May the Lord Jesus help us all as we study to show ourselves approved.

    One last Calvin quote (I can’t help myself):

    Wherefore, let it be a fixed point, that the office of the sacraments differs not from the word of God; and this is to hold forth and offer Christ to us, and, in him, the treasures of heavenly grace. ~ Institutes 4.14.17

  20. Yes Ron, we’re well versed in the friendly, engaging, warm brotherly heresy-monger approach around these parts.

    Typically heretics are some of the nicest, most engaging and ecumenical guys around, but we’ve also been put on notice by Scripture that Satan and his ministers appear as angels of light, and that ravening wolves will arise from within the church teaching destructive heresies and leading many astray with their doctrines of demons.

    On the other hand we are also aware that holding fast to the faith that was once and for all delivered unto the saints, and remaining steadfast in the old truths of Scripture are rather unpopular with heretics, but we’ll continue doing so as long as the Lord wills.

    As another corrective to your gross, deliberate, and ongoing misrepresentations of Calvin to further your own perverse theology of sacerdotalism I offer this link in refutation.

    Try as you and your ilk might, you can’t change history to fit your own designs.

    In Christ,
    CD

  21. I wanted to respond briefly to Mr. Smith (which I assume is a pseudonym, like my own pseudonym).

    Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 4, Chapter 15, Section 2

    In this sense is to be understood the statement of Paul, that “Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:25, 26); and again, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). Peter also says that “baptism also doth now save us” (1 Peter 3:21). For he did not mean to intimate that our ablution and salvation are perfected by water, or that water possesses in itself the virtue of purifying, regenerating, and renewing; nor does he mean that it is the cause of salvation, but only that the knowledge and certainty of such gifts are perceived in this sacrament. This the words themselves evidently show. For Paul connects together the word of life and baptism of water, as if he had said, by the gospel the message of our ablution and sanctification is announced; by baptism this message is sealed. And Peter immediately subjoins, that that baptism is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, which is of faith.” Nay, the only purification which baptism promises is by means of the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, who is figured by water from the resemblance to cleansing and washing. Who, then, can say that we are cleansed by that water which certainly attests that the blood of Christ is our true and only laver? So that we cannot have a better argument to refute the hallucination of those who ascribe the whole to the virtue of water than we derive from the very meaning of baptism, which leads us away as well from the visible element which is presented to our eye, as from all other means, that it may fix our minds on Christ alone.

    Calvin’s Commentary on Acts, at Acts 1:5:

    So must we, in like manner, think that we are not in vain baptized with water by men, because Christ, who commanded the same to be done, will fulfill his office, and baptize us with the Spirit. So faith draweth a consequent from the outward sign unto the inward effect; yet doth it not attribute any more than is meet, either to the sign or to the minister thereof, because in the sign it only looketh unto the promise, which is Christ’s, and doth acknowledge him to be the only author of grace. Let us, therefore, use such a mean that we do in no part diminish Christ’s honor; and yet, nevertheless, let us hope for that fruit by our baptism which is noted in this place. By assigning so short a time our Savior maketh them more joyful to hope well. Whereupon it followeth, that that death was not to be lamented which brought with it presently so precious fruit. And let us note this also, that this word baptism is used improperly in this place, that the contrariety may be full. After the same sort, Paul, in his Epistle unto the Romans, (Romans 3:26,) after he hath set down the law of works, to the end that the contrary may answer on the other side, he useth the law of faith for faith itself.

    As for the Strasbourg Catechism, the editors of Corpus Reformatorum consider the attribution of this work to Calvin to be dubious.

  22. For as God, regenerating us in baptism, ingrafts us into the fellowship of his Church, and makes us his by adoption, so we have said that he performs the office of a provident parent, in continually supplying the food by which he may sustain and preserve us in the life to which he has begotten us by his word. Moreover, Christ is the only food of our soul, and, therefore, our heavenly Father invites us to him, that, refreshed by communion with him, we may ever and anon gather new vigour until we reach the heavenly immortality. ~ John Calvin, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.vi.xviii.html

    Does anyone else here find this statement as beautiful and comforting as I do?

  23. In the sense that you intend it, not us Christians, and not John Calvin, so it looks like it’s just you, the Romanists, Federal Visionists, the Campbellites, and the Oneness Pentecostals that find the heresy of baptismal regeneration “beautiful and comforting”, Ron.

    Peter also says that “baptism also doth now save us” (1 Peter 3:21). For he did not mean to intimate that our ablution and salvation are perfected by water, or that water possesses in itself the virtue of purifying, regenerating, and renewing; nor does he mean that it is the cause of salvation, but only that the knowledge and certainty of such gifts are perceived in this sacrament. This the words themselves evidently show. For Paul connects together the word of life and baptism of water, as if he had said, by the gospel the message of our ablution and sanctification is announced; by baptism this message is sealed. And Peter immediately subjoins, that that baptism is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God, which is of faith.” Nay, the only purification which baptism promises is by means of the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, who is figured by water from the resemblance to cleansing and washing. Who, then, can say that we are cleansed by that water which certainly attests that the blood of Christ is our true and only laver? So that we cannot have a better argument to refute the hallucination of those who ascribe the whole to the virtue of water than we derive from the very meaning of baptism, which leads us away as well from the visible element which is presented to our eye, as from all other means, that it may fix our minds on Christ alone.John Calvin; Institutes Chapter 15 OF BAPTISM, paragraph 2

    It’s sad to see people like you perverting the words and works of the dead in a vain attempt to bolster a modern revival of an ancient error, but the Scriptures testify that men like you, N.T. Wright, and Doug Wilson would arise from within the church. Know that the Lord God Almighty sets His face against you, and He must win the battle. This is the comfort of the saints, and will someday be the terror of His enemies. As long as you’re breathing there’s still time for you to repent and turn away from your religion of works righteousness and turn to the Lord alone for cleansing and forgiveness of sin, please consider it.

    In Christ,
    CD

  24. Onward back to Rome as the Protestants cross the Tiber; just where it seems to me the Federal Visionists want to take us. Right back into the arms of the pope in bondage to his sacramental anti-Christ system. What I read above and what FV proponents teach sounds like nothing more than dead Catholicism. Where I for one, by God’s grace, will stand with my brethren today and the great cloud of witnesses throughout history, who have stood against the papacy and her damnable doctrines.

    From the Catechism of the Catholic (Romanist) Church we read:

    “Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission.” (Para 1213)

    “Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte ‘a new creature,’ an adopted son of God, who has become a ‘partaker of the divine nature,’ member of Christ and co-heir with him, and a temple of the Holy Spirit.” (Para 1265)

    “Baptism makes us member of the Body of Christ…Baptism incorporates us into the Church.” (Para 1267)

  25. Amen, brother Michael! FV certainly smacks of “Rome-light”. Sinful, fallen men love to obscure and steal God’s glory insofar as they’re able, which is the very taproot of spiritual pride and rebellion, which is idolatry.

    In Him,
    CD

  26. It is indeed sad to see so many brethren unwilling to do the hard work of actually understanding the positions of the brothers they anathematize. How many times have I claimed “that water possesses in itself the virtue of purifying, regenerating, and renewing”? Not once. In fact, I have said repeatedly that it is God’s work alone and that it is the promises HE attaches to baptism that give it its power. You quote Calvin as if he is refuting one thing I have said here. On the contrary, he would refute your notion that baptism is a “cold spectacle, and void of all grace of the Spirit.”

    “Baptism makes us member of the Body of Christ…Baptism incorporates us into the Church.” (Para 1267)

    “Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, … for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church…” ~ Westminster Confession of Faith 28.1

    It doesn’t appear this was a point of contention for the Reformers.

    God’s grace is conferred by the Holy Ghost in baptism:

    “The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost” ~ Westminster Confession of Faith 28.6

    In the sense that you intend it…

    Ok, in what sense does “God, regenerat[e] us in baptism,” as Calvin is cited to have said?

    I don’t see how a baptist can acknowledge anything about baptism except that it is a mere sign since they require God’s grace be exhibited before baptism (as if being born into a Christian home doesn’t qualify). But this is hardly reformed.

  27. I’m glad to see you publicly renounce and deny that you hold to the soul-damning heresy of baptismal regeneration, Ron! That’s very encouraging!

    This being said, the OP and combox discussion aren’t actually geared towards explicating the divide within the broader professing visible church regarding the proper use of the means of grace, rather it’s focused on the manifold errors promulgated by FV, which represent a perversion of Scripture and a tacit repudiation of the Reformed confessions. True, regenerate, born-again believers can and do disagree about the sacraments (among other things), but no true blood-bought Christian ought to think for a moment that the waters of the baptismal font, nor the partaking of the elements of the Lord’s table justify him in any way before God, or that men or churches “dispense grace” in a salvific manner which actually initiates and/or accomplishes regeneration/justification a la Rome.

    Yet this sacerdotal error, among others, is precisely where FV fails the test of Scripture, and offers another gospel (which is no gospel at all), of works righteousness, pointing unsuspecting men toward the efficacy of the signs (means), instead of the thing signified (Christ).

    Regarding your final question I can’t channel Calvin in order to explain what he meant in your quote, but taken on the whole, and in light of the quote I provided, I’m certain that he wasn’t teaching that water baptism is instrumental in the new birth (spiritual regeneration) since the regeneration of sinners is the sole prerogative of God and God alone, as the Holy Bible, the Magisterial Reformers, and Calvin (among others) teach.

    “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” – John 1:12-13

    In Christ,
    CD

  28. CD,
    Again, you are trying to make a distinction between what God does, and what God does. To say God uses a preacher to bring someone to faith isn’t so bad, is it? But what if someone told you that the preaching of the Word is not instrumental in the new birth (spiritual regeneration) since the regeneration of sinners is the sole prerogative of God and God alone? I trust your response to that question would be similar to what I have provided here.

  29. Ron,

    I’ll simply point out, once again, that you seem to regularly confuse/conflate the signs and the thing signified, which the Scriptures and standard Reformed Confessions clearly delineate. This error lies at the heart of FV, with baptismal regeneration being strongly affirmed by the wording of the Joint Federal Vision Profession, as well as what many self-professed Federal Visionists are publicly on record proclaiming and defending.

    Again, I’m glad to hear that you reject baptismal regeneration, but to be very frank, I think you come across as paying lip-service to the Reformed Confessions and Scripture, but then you freight them with meanings imported from outside both. Doug Wilson is notorious for precisely this type of orthodox sounding theological squishiness. It would seem you’ve been taking copious notes in class.

    If I may let me ask:

    i.) Would you agree or disagree with the formulation of this statement? “Normally God forgives sins and grants new life in baptism.”

    ii.) Do you specifically deny justification by works of any kind?

    iii.) Apropos ii.) above, how do you define “justification by faith alone” theologically? Is it, as Scripture and the Reformers hold forth, a once for all forensic declaration of a guilty sinner made completely righteous by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, or is “justification” another way of saying “covenant membership” and “faith” another way of saying “living a life of obedience” (e.g. “faithfulness”)?

    See I don’t think you and I are speaking the same language here. I think you’re deceptively and intentionally re-defining terms in order to sound orthodox, while actually holding to unorthodox beliefs. Specifically I think you’re ascribing salvific merit to the sacraments a la Rome.

    I sure hope I’m wrong, but I’ve been down this road a few times and if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…well…

    In Christ,
    CD

  30. I’ll simply point out, once again, that you seem to regularly confuse/conflate the signs and the thing signified

    Really? how so? Where have I done this? To say the sign confers the thing signified as the REFORMED Westminster Confession does, isn’t conflating anything. It seems to me that you are simply parroting the anti FV rhetoric turned up by google.

    I think you come across as paying lip-service to the Reformed Confessions and Scripture

    First, at least I have a reformed confession. Secondly, when the scriptures and the reformers attribute power to baptism, and the “reformed” baptist says, “nuh uh”, they are the ones paying lip service to the scriptures and the reformed confessions.

    Doug Wilson is notorious …

    I know huh. He so obviously wrong and has been proven so on every “reformed” blog and even NAPARC. And yet, no one will have an open, public depate with him. He has offered, and continues to offer, but no one is willing. Maybe you?
    To your questions, even though you left mine unanswered, but you know, the golden rule and all… :)
    i. I would go further and say that God always forgives sin and grants new life in baptism, but, like the unmerciful servant of Matthew 18, this forgiveness can be revoked. This is called apostasy Not all members of the covenant are elect to persevere. Look at Old Israel.
    ii. Yes, I deny the sort that Paul refers to, but I affirm the sort James refers to :) I’ll flesh that out in the next response.
    iii. I define justification by faith alone theologically with the Reformed confession, namely, that justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein He pardons all our sins and considers us righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone. But what is faith? The WCF states that justifying faith is no “dead” faith, but that which worketh in love. The confession cites James 2 and Galatians 6. So I confess justification by faith alone, but I hold a biblical, reformed definition of faith, which is a living, active, obedient faith. A complete faith as James tells us.
    Since I have answered your questions, I hope you’ll take a moment to answer mine. Let me ask you this: what is faith, and how does it differ from the knowledge of demons?
    In the same way a middle of the road liberal sounds conservative to a marxist, a reformed guy sounds romish to a baptist.

  31. Ron,

    As I alluded to in my prior comment I think you’re conflating/confusing the signs and the thing signified based on your apparent attribution of merit to the sacraments, which was made clearer in light of your response to my inquiries ii.) and iii.) respectively. It also seems that you’ve been poorly catechized on the WCF, or else you’ve bought into the NPP/FV error to the point that you’re reinterpreting the Confessions and the Scriptures underpinning it through the lens of N.T. Wright’s faulty hermeneutic.

    i.) Your response here is typical of FV proponents. Due to your hyper-emphasis on the alleged “power” of baptism you’re evidently unable to distinguish between the concepts of the elect and reprobate within the visible professing church, effectively collapsing the church invisible into the covenant community at large. No true believer ever finally apostatizes because of Christ’s perseverance which is bound up in electing grace. Likewise no reprobate person ever receives justification, or forgiveness of sins in any real sense, no matter how many times they’re dunked or take communion. That sort of forgiveness of sins is only known and enjoyed by the elect (WCF 11.1). It is grave error, and lies outside the Reformed system (and Scripture) to attribute union with Christ to all who are baptized.

    Regarding the parable of the unmerciful servant, Jesus says he was “forgiven his debt”, yet the servant failed to live up to the mercy shown to him, and therefore the privilege of that forgiveness was revoked. For you to apply this parable to an analogy of faith is quite telling, since it places final justification squarely in the arena of the works (merit) of the unmerciful (unfaithful) servant. How Arminian of you! Simon Magus would have been a better example…more on that later.

    ii.) Pitting Paul against James won’t do. Their accounts are complimentary, not contradictory as Rome infamously contends.

    iii.) Men are justified by faith alone, but true justifying faith is never alone. True saving faith in Christ always results in works of righteousness, which is the fruit of the Spirit. I couldn’t help noticing that you hedged on responding directly to my question iii.), so it remains unclear to me if you hold that a man is once and for all declared just by God by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone apart from works of any kind, or if you believe that works are instrumental in a man’s final justification. Would you clarify this?

    Unlike water baptism or the Lord’s table which are sacraments that signify the thing signed, saving faith is the gracious gift of God to the elect whereby a man believes unto justification, thereby being saved, and is united with Christ forever, being incorporated into His Body. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). Notice it’s not “he that is baptized not” that shall be damned, but “he that believeth not”. Baptism is an accessory to saving faith, but the sacrament itself has no regenerative/justifying/salvific power apart from saving faith.

    I’m deeply grateful that you asked about how saving faith differs from counterfeit, damned faith such as the faith of demons, and of false professors. This is because there are many who hold to a form of “demonic faith” in Christ which does not save. Unknowable multitudes sincerely believe that they have faith in Christ as their Lord and Savior, and that they are resting on His Person and work, but they are in fact building upon a foundation of sand and will one day hear those terrible words from His lips, “depart from Me!” as they are cast into hell (Matt. 7:22-23). The people in Matt. 7:22-23 showed their “faith” by their works, and were found wanting; their professed “faith” was not saving faith, and their deeds of righteousness could not save them.

    As the Scriptures testify the broader professing visible church contains false converts, tares, goats, and wolves in sheep’s clothing. Simon Magus was such a man. He professed a good profession, and was taken to be a believer by Philip, continuing with him and being admitted to the sublime privileges of the fellowship of the saints. Yet in time he was found out (Acts 8:21, 23), as all who try to enter by any way but the narrow way will someday be. Even the foolish virgins, like the wise virgins, arose and trimmed their lamps (Matt. 25:7), but only one group was genuine.

    Men can have a good profession of faith, attend to the sacraments, serve, give, and have more knowledge of the Bible than many genuine Christians, and still be as lost as the devil. These people are typically religious moralists who are relying upon their baptism, church membership, and performance instead of trusting by faith alone solely in the Person and work of Christ alone for their soul’s rest. They are idolatrously righteous in their own eyes, giving Christ lip-service, but are in reality looking unto themselves and trusting in their own sinfully tainted works.

    Hence it is manifest there is a faith that truly saves, and there is an outward form of “faith” that does not save, but is mere presumption. Who will manifest true saving faith in Christ? The elect and none else.

    For a rebel sinner to be received by Christ he will, by God’s regenerating grace, not only come to Him renouncing all his own merits and righteousness (Romans 10:3), as an empty-handed beggar (Matt. 19:21), thinking to contribute nothing to his salvation but his own sin and need for a Savior, but he will also – being made a new creature in Christ – freely forsake his own self-will and rebellion against Him, loving Him who first loved him from a renewed heart filled with gratitude which will seek above all to faithfully serve His Lord and Master with all his being, albeit imperfectly and haltingly.

    In Christ,
    CD

  32. CD,
    In all honesty and sincerity, I’m not sure you have read my responses completely. The accusations you have made against me found nowhere in my comments are numerous and unsubstantiated. Even after I respond, you keep raising them (like the notion that baptism itself has regenerative power, which I have responded to at least three times, yet it finds its way again into your last comment). While I make an honest effort to respond to your inquiries, you leave mine unanswered.

    You never answered the question, what is the difference between saving faith and demonic faith? You seemed happy that I brought it up, but you never answered it. To say that one saves and the other doesn’t isn’t an answer. Of course one saves, that is why it is called saving faith. But what is the substantive difference according to James? (Hint: James 2:21-23)

  33. Also, I find it odd that you would characterize the goats as those who trust in their own sinfully tainted works when Jesus said that the sheep and the goats will be separated based on what they have done. Why would Jesus commit such heresy? Instead of twisting James 2 to get it to comport with Paul, why not reconsider what St. Paul really said and try to understand him in the light of all scripture?

    Your faith must get to work in order to be saving faith. And if this just happened naturally as the hypercalvinist believes, when why is there so much instruction to the New Testament Church to mortify sin? Why does the WCF say that in order to escape God’s wrath due to us because of our sin, we must make diligent use of the means of grace (word, sacrament, prayer)?

  34. how may works must we do to prove we have saving faith? I have always wondered about that. If salvation is dependent upon our works then how many must we have?

  35. Ron,

    I would be glad to discover that our discussion has been one big misunderstanding, and that you:

    a.) don’t hold to, or defend the heresies of the FV as delineated in the OP;
    b.) don’t equate water baptism with union with Christ for all recipients;
    c.) don’t hold that the sacrament of water baptism washes away the sins of the reprobate;
    d.) don’t collapse/conflate the church invisible with the visible professing church by asserting that all Christ’s benefits are extended to the recipients of baptism;
    e.) do affirm that a man is justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone apart from works of any kind, and that you don’t redefine “justification” as another way of saying “covenant membership” and “faith” another way of saying “living a life of obedience” (e.g. “faithfulness”).

    But based upon your replies thus far I don’t think this is the case.

    Since you requested further clarification on saving faith vs. demonic faith one is the gift of God to His elect that infallibly results in the justification/eternal salvation of rebel sinners, and one isn’t/doesn’t. Instead of twisting Paul to get him to comport with James 2, why not reconsider what James really said and try to understand him in the light of all Scripture?

    Real, God-given saving faith will inevitably result in good works, which is the fruit of the Spirit, but the good works of the saints performed in faith have no merit with respect to one’s justification, which is a once-for-all declaration of God whereby all the merits of Christ are imputed to an unworthy, undeserving sinner redeemed by grace, regardless of what Rome and her allies claim.

    The NT exhortations to mortify sin are just that, exhortations for how the saint of God is to live his life in this fallen world in light of his position in Christ. Like any good parent, God doesn’t leave His children wondering what He expects of them. Diligent use of the means of grace (word, sacrament, prayer) is of course representative the supernatural response of the regenerate believer which proceeds from a renewed heart that’s filled with love and thankfulness, and which desires above all else to faithfully serve his Lord and Master with all his being, albeit imperfectly and haltingly.

    In Christ,
    CD

    P.S. – joking around about Jesus “committing heresy” isn’t funny. Note carefully that the damned are judged by their works, by which no flesh will be saved. The only “work” that saves men is the work of Christ.

  36. … asserting that all Christ’s benefits are extended to the recipients of baptism;

    Yes, just as Calvin did:

    “Although by baptism wicked men are neither washed nor renewed, yet it retains that power, so far as relates to God, because, although they reject the grace of God, still it is offered to them.” ~ Calvin’s Commentary on Titus 3:5

    Since you requested further clarification on saving faith vs. demonic faith one is the gift of God to His elect that infallibly results in the justification/eternal salvation of rebel sinners, and one isn’t/doesn’t.

    Still a non-answer. How is saving faith, in its essence, different from demonic faith? If I asked you what the essential difference was between a loaf of bread and a rock, I think you could come up with something better than, “One is given by the Father for food, and the other isn’t.” Why can’t you just say what James says, that the former is made complete by obedience and the latter isn’t? (James 2:22)

    Instead of twisting Paul to get him to comport with James 2, why not reconsider what James really said and try to understand him in the light of all Scripture?

    Cute. But the Bible is hardly void of the requirements of faithfulness for salvation, so much so, that entire systems been erected (e.g. dispensationalism, law/gospel hermeneutic, republication of the covenant of works at Mt. Sinai, etc.) where God required works righteousness under the old covenant and nothing but faith under the new covenant. However, the Reformed have always taught that while the covenants were administered with different signs, the justification of believers under the old covenant was “one and the same” as those under the new covenant (WCF 11.6). Have you ever taken a look at all the stuff folks had to do in order to be forgiven under the old covenant? As a sample, take a look at Ezekiel 33:12-16. But since the only sort of faith that justifies is no dead faith, but that which works (Gal 6:4), Sola Fide is retained.

    Real, God-given saving faith will inevitably result in good works

    Yes, but we don’t have an eye on the decrees. God keeps secrets from us (Deut 29:29). God has decreed whether the farmer’s crop will yield fruit or not. But if the farmer says to himself, “Since God has decreed it, there is nothing I can do either way to contribute to or prevent the harvest, so I think I’ll just watch tv,” I’ll bet you a hundred dollars which way God decreed. God’s decree does no violence to the will of the creature, nor to the contingency of second causes, but rather establishes them (WCF 3.1). So in order to escape His wrath, God requires of us the diligent use of the ordinary means He has provided whereby Christ communicates the benefits of His mediation to His Church, especially, the Word, Sacraments, and prayer (WCF LC 153, 154). Is the Westminster Confession of Faith denying Sola Fide here?

    The NT exhortations to mortify sin are just that, exhortations for how the saint of God is to live his life in this fallen world in light of his position in Christ.

    But of what use are they if “God-given saving faith will inevitably result in good works”? These seem sort of unnecessary in your system. And what of all the threats associated with disobedience and final apostasy? Even Paul says that the Christian will be cut off from the covenant if he doesn’t abide in the goodness of God (Rom 11:11-22). Saving faith “trembles” at these threats (WCF 14.2).

    joking around about Jesus “committing heresy” isn’t funny.

    I wasn’t joking. I was caricaturing your position. If someone else says the exact same thing that Jesus said in Matthew 25, and if you were consistent, you would accuse them of heresy. The goats and sheep are clearly separated according to their works.

    The only “work” that saves men is the work of Christ.

    Amen. I haven’t denied this. But Christ’s work doesn’t save everybody, so something else is required. You and I would agree that in Christ is required to be saved. But then the universalist would come along and say you are adding to the work of Christ.

  37. Ron,

    You’re certainly adept at misrepresention, but as the observant reader will note the quote you provided agrees with my position, and undermines your own. All Christ’s benefits clearly don’t extend to the recipients of baptism, as proven by the fact to which Calvin attests, that not all those baptized are actually united with Christ (e.g. the baptized reprobate), due to the rejection of grace. And by way of reminder appeals to authority like Calvin and the Westminster Divines, while interesting and often even compelling, don’t pass the test of Sola Scriptura; plus it just won’t do to make Protestant mini-popes out of men who gave their lives to destroy the demonic stronghold of Rome.

    God given faith is complete with respect to justification, because all of the merits of the Person and work of Christ are imputed to the believer at initial justification, and salvation is worked out with fear and trembling through the process of progressive sanctification which is represented by the good works of the saints done in faith as they bear the fruit of the Spirit, those good works though still being tainted by sin, and having no merit with respect to justification as if Christ’s work was somehow incomplete, or deficient.

    Rome and her likeminded friends do err greatly by conflating justification and sanctification, perversely imagining that a man is progressively justified by his works done in faith, aided by grace. This is soul-damning heresy and works-righteousness.

    I’m saddened, but unsurprised, to see you finally admit that you hold that good works are required for final justification. Idolatrous men always desire to contribute something to their own justification before God, but Christian redemption is all of grace, and there’s no place for sinfully tainted human works to justify a rebel creature before the thrice holy Triune One true and living God. Christ is all sufficient.

    As noted in my prior response to you, there’s nothing wrong with God requiring things of believers, after all, He’s God. And a believer will diligently seek to obey God from a heart filled with love and thankfulness that desires above all else to faithfully serve his Lord and Master with all his being, albeit imperfectly and haltingly. We learn how to love and obey God from His Word. For the saint this a “get to”, not a “got to”. I think you’re fundamentally confused about the nature of the Gospel and Christianity itself.

    Biblical threats and promises are hortatory in nature for the believer, they’re meant to generate reflection, meditation, and deepest consideration in the saints. They’re gracious and good gifts from the Lord Who has revealed Himself from heaven, and who is conforming His people into the image of Christ. These same threats and promises are (or ought to be) terrifying to the unbeliever, but so often men simply shrug and ignore them, or are like the rich young ruler and proclaim, “all these I have kept from my youth up!”, being righteous in their own eyes.

    True Christians are never cut off from Christ, because He gives eternal life to His people, and He will raise them up at the last day. Anyone who finally apostasizes only gives evidence that they were never Christ’s in the first place, but were false professors.

    You’re correct, Christ doesn’t save everybody, He only saves the elect for whom He shed His blood and made atonement.

    In Him,
    CD

  38. All Christ’s benefits clearly don’t extend to the recipients of baptism

    As Calvin notes, the wicked may not receive the grace of God in baptism, but it is offered (or extended) to them. It is their own rejection.

    And by way of reminder appeals to authority like Calvin and the Westminster Divines, while interesting and often even compelling, don’t pass the test of Sola Scriptura.

    And by way of reminder, I am simply proving the presence of sacramental efficacy within the historic reformed tradition. Agree with the reformed tradition or not, that’s up to you. But one wonders why you would still call yourself reformed.

    I’m saddened, but unsurprised, to see you finally admit that you hold that good works are required for final justification.

    Yeah, well it’s scriptural, (Matt 12:37; Romans 2:13; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 14:3, 19:8) and confessional (WCF 33:1), so cheer up! :)
    You still haven’t explained the substantive difference between saving faith and demonic faith. Here is another hint: Genesis 22:16; cf James 2:21 – note the usage of the word “because” in Genesis 22:16.

  39. The Reformed tradition of sacramental efficacy is restricted to the elect and does not apply to the reprobate. As I’ve already pointed out, no reprobate person ever receives justification, or forgiveness of sins in any real sense because that sort of forgiveness of sins is only known and enjoyed by the elect (WCF 11.1).

    To hold otherwise is, of course, to place oneself outside both Confessional and Scriptural bounds, but worse still by placing yourself under a system of works righteousness for your final justification you place yourself under condemnation and the wrath and curse of God because no man will ever be able to stand before Him clothed in the filthy rags of his own sinfully tainted works.

    The God of the Bible demands an absolutely perfect righteousness which He is pleased to impute once and for all to sinners justified in His sight by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

    I’ve told you the difference in saving faith and demonic faith several times, you just don’t like my answers.

    In Christ,
    CD

  40. …in any real sense…

    If by real, you mean eternal, I agree. But just because Jesus’ relationship with Old Israel didn’t last, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t real. He didn’t weep over them for nothing. You can’t tell me that the branches in Him that get cut off and thrown into the fire were never really in Him. That would make Jesus’ comments in John 15 and Paul’s in Romans 11 pointless.I asked you what the “substantive” difference between saving faith and demonic faith is, and you never answered. The answers you gave only delineate the difference in source (one God gives and the other not), and effect (one saves and the other does not). But these are not substantive differences. Many things come from different places and result in different things, but that doesn’t explain how they are different in substance. How is saving faith different “in its substance” than demonic faith? Both nod their heads at certain facts about Jesus, so that is out as a substantive difference.

    no man will ever be able to stand before Him clothed in the filthy rags of his own sinfully tainted works.

    And yet, “it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of…” who? Hint: if you had looked up the scripture references I posted previously, you’d know the answer. The problem is, you don’t like the answer because your system cannot accommodate the answer. But you can’t have a scriptural system of theology that excludes scripture. If you are going to acknowledge both Sola Christo and Sola scriptura, you need to acknowledge the final repayment of every man according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

  41. Ron,
    Are you saying that the “righteous acts of…” are those of the saints apart from God working in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure? And that these righteous acts are those originating from the flesh/will of man apart from the power of the Spirit and Jesus? And finally, are these works logged on some heavenly checklist whereby upon the resurrection and one’s standing before the Lord, is the list tallied where more checks in the “good works” column results in heavenly bliss, and more in “bad works” in hellish damnation?

  42. brother Michael,
    Absolutely not, on all counts. To paraphrase St. Augustine, when God crowns our works, He is crowning His own work in us. And only those who have had their sins forgiven in Christ will receive eternal glory with Him. What I am saying here, is that in order to have one’s sins forgiven in Christ, he must be united to Christ and abide in Christ. I have been arguing that it is well within the reformed tradition that one is united to Christ in baptism, and that one abides in Christ via living, active, and obedient faith.

  43. Ron,

    The problem isn’t Scripture, or my “system”, the problem is your corrupted NPP/FV hermeneutic which represents a throwback to the very worst aspects of Romish sacerdotalism. You read passages that say “do this and live” and you say, “Yup, I can do that! I’ve kept them from my youth up!”, and walk away patting yourself on the back.

    As an FV proponent, and based on the contents of your last response to me I assume that you espouse the unscriptural (and unconfessional) concept of “temporary faith”, which also serves to shed light upon why you cling to your untenable position on the final apostasy of true regenerate, born-again Christians, which concept is necessitated by your attribution of vital union with Christ vis-a-vis water baptism.

    We’ve been down this road many times and many ways in this thread, and we keep circling back to the selfsame errors being reasserted time and time again.

    In point of fact I did look up your Scripture references – all of them – before replying and I was once again saddened, but unsurprised, to see you ripping prooftexts out of context as a pretext to further your peculiar pet doctrinal errors.

    Rebel sinners are justified by the Person and work of Christ, not by the works they do in their bodies, whether good or evil. If men were judged based on the merits of their works for their final justification then they would all be justly damned, but God graciously once and for all declares His elect righteous and justified by virtue of Christ’s merit imputed to them by grace alone through faith alone.

    Despite the claims you and Rome make there is no merit to be had either in, nor from, human works with respect to justifying sinners, otherwise you make the Covenant of Grace conditional; being conditioned upon something man does, which is an impossibility since Christianity is based entirely upon Christ’s accomplishment and merit, and the unconditionality of the CoG for the elect.

    A believer’s justifying merit is imputed merit, it is an alien righteousness that comes from outside of us, it isn’t inherent in us, nor improved upon by us; in fact the only thing inherent in us is our depravity and sin inherited from the first Adam. Water baptism doesn’t confer justifying merit upon men, only union with Christ confers justifying merit upon men, and union with Christ is reserved for the elect only, not the reprobate no matter how many times they’re dunked, or hear a sermon, or partake of the elements.

    There is no “temporary” union with Christ, as if the gift of eternal life weren’t actually the gift of eternal life; there are the elect and the reprobate, and to posit another category is unbiblical, and does violence to the doctrine of God’s impassibility, vainly imagining that man by his actions (works) can gain or lose something from the eternally settled Triune One true and living God.

    Christ’s active obedience to the Father during His incarnation earned Him merit by fulfilling all the law as required in the Covenant of Works. The promise of the law is that if it is kept 100% perfectly the reward proffered is eternal life and blessing from God, which Christ (alone) earned for Himself by His works. If He had not merited eternal life for Himself then His death would have been for Himself, since the wages of sin is death, and He would have justly suffered the punishment due to Him by the law – wrath and condemnation (which apart from Christ is what every other human being who has lived, or ever will live, earns by their personal failure to keep all the law perfectly).

    But Christ did no sin, so His death wasn’t for Himself, it was for His elect. He suffered and died on the cross, thus Christ’s humiliation and death provides the merit and fulfills the condition of the CoG on behalf of His people, the elect, making the CoG unconditional for them.

    This is why saving faith is the sole instrument by which the merits of Christ are apprehended. Justifying faith is not a “condition” of the CoG, nor meritorious – much less works – rather the object of saving faith (which is the gift of God lest any man boast), is the Person of Christ Who alone has already met all the conditions required by both the CoW and the CoG, therefore union with Him is unconditional for the elect believers who God saves for no other reason but His infinite grace, mercy, love, compassion and pity.

    You say things like this:

    “And only those who have had their sins forgiven in Christ will receive eternal glory with Him. What I am saying here, is that in order to have one’s sins forgiven in Christ, he must be united to Christ and abide in Christ. I have been arguing that it is well within the reformed tradition that one is united to Christ in baptism, and that one abides in Christ via living, active, and obedient faith.”

    Which really means:

    “And only (all) those who have had their sins forgiven in Christ (which comes by way of regeneration in baptism to all who receive the sacrament) will receive eternal glory with Him (conditioned upon whether or not they faithfully and obediently continue/persevere in Him). What I am saying here, is that in order to have one’s sins forgiven in Christ, he must be united to Christ (which comes by way of regeneration in baptism to all who receive the sacrament) and abide in Christ (in order to receive final justification based on what they have done in the body, whether good or evil). I have been arguing that it is well within the reformed tradition that one is united to Christ in baptism (meaning all Christ’s merits are applied to everyone who receives the sacrament), and that one abides in (cooperates with) Christ via living, active, and obedient faith (i.e. Romish sacerdotalism).”

    And like the Romanist, you’re seeking to be finally justified before God by another way than Sola Fide; by your personal “faithfulness” and your personal “obedience”, but if you continue on this course according to the testimony of Scripture you will be justly damned on the last day.

    Please repent of your false religion of works righteousness.

    In Christ,
    CD

  44. CD – you have been very patient and loving in trying to help Ron understand critical Truth. All here should pray to God to give Ron the humility and wisdom to comprehend the spiritual Truth of God’s redemptive plan – not that any man should boast of anything but in and of Jesus, Who is the Christ; the Son of the living God. Let all flesh revere Him for all will bow down come Judgment Day.

  45. Tfan,
    The WCF isn’t the only reformed doc as you know, and the document itself was deliberately broad to include a variety of views within the protestant movement at that time. Note, for instance, the absence of any definitive statement regarding the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s Active Obedience to the believer from the WCF while this doctrine finds explicit mention in the later versions of the same document (e.g. the Savoy and London Baptist Confessions).

    CD,
    You have typed a lot. But little if any of it addresses the main question I have put toward you. You say you read the scriptures I have cited, but provide no alternative interpretation. I show you passage after passage of scripture and John Calvin himself claiming the sacraments to be effectual, and yet you still cling to the notion that they are cold, empty ceremonies. You simply dismiss the biblical and confessional evidence in favor of your presups. This is the baptist view, so I understand. But this is not the reformed view. I am ready for honest and open debate as soon as you are.

    Manfred,
    I boast in none but Christ. Read what I have said here. Acknowledging that Christ uses His sacraments as means to save His Bride isn’t boasting in another any more that acknowledging that Christ uses the means of preaching to penetrate the heart is boasting in the work of the preacher.

    Grace and peace to you three in Christ.

  46. Ron,

    You assert your prooftexts as if they are self-evident, but then you turn around and complain that I don’t exegete them for you. The burden of proof is on you to set forth your affirmative case, however by following the example you’ve set thus far I feel at liberty to simply deny your bare assertions just as fast (and lazily) as you can make them. Why would you hold me to a higher standard than you hold yourself to?

    This may surprise you, but your “passage after passage” of proofexts for a system of Rome-lite works righteousness just aren’t compelling to actual Christians. I know that stuff probably goes down easy in the NPP/FV camp, but we prefer the truth around these parts. And in case you missed it, every single one of your misrepresentations of Calvin has been refuted. He never taught that the the sacraments were effectual for the reprobate, yet your system of hyper-sacramentalism can’t deal with this reality because you presuppose that all who are baptized into the visible church = covenant community = church invisible = regenerate Christians in union with Christ, which is gross error.

    Please point out where I claimed that the sacraments are “cold, empty ceremonies”.

    “I am ready for honest and open debate as soon as you are.”

    I don’t think so. In my opinion you’re either deceived, or a deceiver, and I think your copious comments here demonstrate this conclusively. In either case your claims to veracity are quite suspect to me by this point in our exchange.

    My primary concern right now is the state of your eternal soul.

    In Christ,
    CD

  47. You who say that those who believe in baptismal regeneration are heretics, what do you say of your Lutheran brothers and sisters?

  48. Shawn, we would state that those who teach baptismal regeneration are teaching damnable heresy, and those who believe in baptismal regeneration are believing a lie. A person cannot be a true believer in Jesus Christ (and therefore a brother and sister in Christ) if their faith is placed in anything more than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Our prayer is always that people will search the Scriptures and know the mercy and forgiveness of a holy righteous God. This does not come about through the waters of baptism.

  49. I only wish to comment a small bit and not get into long drawn out debate, but I find it irresistible to stay silent. First off, I would like to say that I am sympathetic to the practical applications of FV and where they come from. It is a bit of a knee jerk reaction, though, to current revivalism within the church and as such, has been found theologically wanting. What many FV guys do not get is the difference in saving grace (that which is conferred only by God in a decretal one-time manner through the imputation of Christ’s active righteousness) and what Williamson calls edifying grace (that which strengthens a believer in sanctification and makes him more willing and ready to live unto God). Salvific grace comes through the hearing and preaching of the word of God… not sacraments. WCF 14.1 spells this out rather simply:

    I. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls,[1] is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts,[2] and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word,[3] by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.[4]

    Williamson goes on in his commentary on WCF to explain that the benefits of baptism:
    “Baptism never causes union with Christ. It never has that effect. That is not the purpose of baptism. The purpose of baptism is … to confirm and testify … that God gives union with Christ to whom he will, as he will, and when he will. … Baptism, like circumcision, may have no effect upon some people. But infant baptism … does have a profound effect upon some who are converted long after they are baptized. The order then may be either (1) baptism, then effectual calling into union with Christ, and then the efficacy of baptism, or (2) effectual calling, then baptism, and then efficacy of baptism. It cannot be in any other order. For one cannot … experience the efficacy of baptism prior to effectual calling.”

    The matters being addressed in the FV and the Strasbourg are pastoral concerns relating to assurance of salvation and looking at objective markers. This, however, greatly fails the litmus test of granting any additional assurance by coupling obedience (covenant faithfulness) to the acts of Christ. The problem is, how faithful are you… really? I have a hard time making it a few minutes at times being faithful in thought, word, and deed. This does not alleviate a crisis of conscience, but when played out to the logical end, only adds more and more condemnation on our heads.

    It is, as CD has so many times pointed out, a confusion of the sign with what has been signified. Christ’s sacrifice is efficient for the elect 100% of the time. With this, there can be no argument, no parsing, or no rebuttal without planting one foot strongly into damnable ground.

    That being said, I do agree that we should spend less time answering, “Do you know that you know?” I believe that we should be looking to edify the church, call members to repentance where they have erred, and submit to the gospel daily in our lives as a reminder of the supreme sacrifice of Christ and God’s mercy in imputing Christ’s righteousness to us when we deserved judgement and damnation. This is not FV though, this is classic reformed practice. FV is a return to Rome clothed in reformed vocabulary. As a former Catholic, I am appalled that any “Calvinist” would think this way and come to these conclusions.

    For those who have not read enough statements, summaries, and reports, the RCUS does a fine job of repudiating the damnable pieces of the FV. In all fairness, most of what I’ve written probably comes either directly or indirectly from their report.

    Humbly submitted and scatterbrainedly written…

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