Wednesday, July 27

Federal Vision Reports

At its 80th stated meeting earlier this month the Louisiana Presbytery of the PCA adopted a report from an ad hoc committee on the various controversies surrounding the Federal Vision (or Auburn Avenue) theological movement. The report is available online at the Louisiana Presbytery website. This is the second full report on this issue from the PCA--the other came from the Mississippi Valley Presbytery earlier this year. It too is available online in a downloadable PDF file. As you will be able to readily discern, the two reports probably could not be more different--only highlighting the depth and breadth of this roiling controversy.


Johnny! said...

Hurling anathemas: the favorite sport of the Reformed.

JNH said...

Thanks to Dr. Grant for providing easy links for those (including myself) who were in need of a quick education in the Auburn Avenue controversy. As a Reformed pastor, one of my most serious responsibilities (not really "favorite sport," johnny!, is to help my flock guard their minds. I submit this lengthy comment on the two reports in order to encourage others to do the same with respect to this issue.

The two reports are of two natures. One is written by a presbytery that is primarily interested in exonerating one of its teaching elders and encouraging charity towards him, even though his views are at least problematic (and dangerous primarily to the souls of those who lack the ability to draw the theological lines as finely as he and his presbytery do in his defense, namely 99% of the church). The second is written by a presbytery that seeks to protect the souls under their charge from misunderstanding.

With respect to johnny!, anathemas are not hurled in either report. In fact each group is charitable to the other.

That said, there is a stark difference between the two reports in their treatments of the theological issues.

One report attempts to draw Confessional lines of orthodoxy so broadly that it ends up making the ridiculous statement that although the Confession does not allow for the view that all who are baptized have been regenerated, it somehow does allow us to assume regeneration of all who have been baptized and not been excommunicated. This bold paradox was necessary in order to accomplish its goal, stated above. This report is really only helpful as evidence that the presbytery has done its due diligence in examining and exonerating its teaching elder.

The second report is much more helpful for understanding the theological issues at stake. While it is personally charitable to everyone involved, it is unwilling to gloss over genuine doctrinal differences. Even those who disagree with its conclusions must admire the effort expended to give the Auburn Avenue theology a fair assessment.

For those who lack the time or skill to do their own intensive studies, this report presents the issues clearly and succinctly. Whereas the other report is useful as a curiosity of church court proceedings, this one is immensely helpful to any pastor (PCA or otherwise) whose flock contains those who have become enamored of movements in theology ranging from the New Perspective on Paul to Norman Shepherd's theology to the Auburn Avenue and Steve Wilkins. Whether or not these men are themselves heretics (Rev. Wilkins's presbytery says that he is not, and therefore he ought not to be defined as one unless this changes by further development in the courts of the church), their ideas are dangerous because by following them, many less learned men have fallen into and are teaching heresy.

Johnny! said...

I think the best way to research the FV controversy is simply to read or hear what those men have said. Their books or mp3s are easily obtainable.

Their opponents have frequently misquoted them, taken their statements out of context, and put words in their mouths. And plenty of anathemas have in fact been hurled.

John Otis said...


My name is Rev. John Otis, and I have recently published what I believe to be the most comprehensive analysis on Federal Vision theology to date. The 540 page book is titled, "Danger In the Camp: An Analysis and Refutation of the Heresies of the Federal Vision." You can contact me at on how to get the book.

Gary said...

We orthodox Lutherans are THRILLED to see the rise of the "Federal Vision" in Reformed circles. However, we Lutherans have another term for it: Lutheranism!

God be praised that the Reformed are coming back to accepting "Repent and be baptized...for the forgiveness of sins" as EXACTLY what God meant and not a mistranslation by Catholic/Anglican/Lutheran translators.

Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals