PCA Presbytery Endorses Federal Vision

This past week the Missouri Presbytery exonerated Jeffery Meyers on all counts basically denying that he is a Federal Visionist.  This in spite of the fact that Meyers, along with his assistant pastor  Mark Horne, was a signer of the Joint Federal Vision Profession of Faith.  You can read the MO Pres’ statement clearing Meyers here.

In every instance the MO Pres concluded  there was “insufficient evidence to raise a strong presumption of guilt that TE Meyers is teaching contrary to the Westminster Standards.”

So, for a quick review of just a few of the many notable exceptions to the Westminster Standards which no one in the MO Pres will hold him to, Meyers asserts in his profession of faith:

All who are baptized into the triune Name are united with Christ in His covenantal life, and so those who fall from that position of grace are indeed falling from grace.

And,

We affirm that God formally unites a person to Christ and to His covenant people through baptism into the triune Name….

Besides the glaring rejection of the Reformed doctrine of perseverance (according to Meyers a person can be united with Christ and yet “fall from that position of grace”), no Reformed confession, whether it’s the 3 Forms of Unity or the Westminster Confession of Faith, maintains that all baptized persons are “united with Christ in His covenantal life.” Further, the PCA’s FV/NPP report states in point 6: “The view that water baptism effects a ‘covenantal union’ with Christ … is contrary to the Westminster Standards.”

Meyers continues:

We deny that the faith which is the sole instrument of justification can be understood as anything other than the only kind of faith which God gives, which is to say, a living, active, and personally loyal faith. Justifying faith encompasses the elements of assent, knowledge, and living trust . . . We deny that faith is ever alone, even at the moment of the effectual call. [emphasis added]

Notice, Meyers denies justification by faith alone and says so.   He denies “that  faith is ever alone, even at the moment of the effectual call.”   This is bizarre.  Concerning the effectual call the WCF states that man “is altogether passive therein” and is the unilateral and fiat work of God.   The effectual call is what enables men dead in trespass and sin to savingly “understand the things of God.”   Faith is the result of the effectual call but this too is entirely passive as we receive and rest on Christ’s righteousness completely outside of us.   Not according to Meyers and his follow ne0-legalists.  According to Meyers faith is never alone, “even at the moment of the effectual call.”   Meyers professes the faith that saves is a faith which is “active” and includes our personal loyalty.   And, in case there was ever any doubt what Meyers means he states elsewhere:  “’Righteousness’ in the Bible means covenant faithfulness.  A person is righteous when he does what the covenant requires of him.”

This leads Meyers to deny of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.  Meyers asserts:

We deny that faithfulness to the gospel message requires any particular doctrinal formulation of the “imputation of the active obedience of Christ.”

Yet, the PCA’s FV/NPP report maintains “The view that Christ does not stand as a representative head whose perfect obedience and satisfaction is imputed to individuals who believe in him is contrary to the Westminster Standards.” Evidently this didn’t even cause the MO pres to pause and reflect.  In their minds one can simultaneously affirm and deny the imputation of Christ’s active obedience.   Meyers continues:  

We deny that correct formulations of the doctrine of sola fide can be substituted for genuine faith in Jesus….

Notice, Meyers believes that one can have genuine faith in Jesus Christ while denying the Reformed doctrine of sola fide.  Make sense, because he certainly does.

Examples like this can be multiplied many times over, but instead of dealing with what Meyers says he believes, and prior to their exoneration of him, the MO pres spent their time calling for Ninth Commandment investigations against anyone and everyone who would point out the gross and deadly heresies of one of their own.    Now they’ve taken the next logical step and  in their exoneration of Meyers they have publicly endorsed the FV false gospel.

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12 Comments on “PCA Presbytery Endorses Federal Vision”

  1. Bob S. Says:

    Yo, black is white and sour is sweet. somebody signs a FV Statement but it’s not really what it says. What’s the problem? A little perjury here, a little perjury there and we end up with . . . apostasy.
    Uh, but we weren’t planning to go there. Funny how that works.

  2. louis Says:

    Thank you for your clear exposition. It helps to keep us informed here in South Africa where FV is not spoken about, although it is alive and flourishing in most so-called reformed circles.

  3. Tammy Says:

    “But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” James 2:20, MKJV.

    God himself states that real faith will have works.

    “Therefore, having left the discourse of the beginning of Christ, let us go on to full growth, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the baptisms, of doctrine, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come, and who have fallen away; it is impossible, I say, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify the Son of God afresh to themselves and put Him to an open shame.” Hebrews 6:1-6, MKJV.

    Who fell from grace in this passage of Scripture if not those who had been covenantally bound in some way?

    IMHO, Those who condemn the “Federal Vision” distort what is being taught.

  4. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hi Tammy. Thanks for venturing in with your comments.

    First, James is discussing how a man might be justified before men, not before God. James is not discussing what is commonly called “forensic justification” in chapter 2, but this is a common mistake of Federal Visionist (not to mention Romanists). James is not teaching that a combination of faith plus works justifies us before God. After all Paul said, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.”

    Second, you make a similar mistake in assuming that those who were made partakers of the Holy Spirit and who have tasted the “good Word of God and the powers of the world to come” are Christians or members of the Covenant or so “bound” in anyway. You’re trying to deduce something that is 1) not found anywhere in the passage you cite, and, 2) not even remotely in concert with the rest of Scripture. For example and according to this passage Calvin writes:

    But here arises a new question, how can it be that he who has once made such a progress should afterwards fall away? For God, it may be said, calls none effectually but the elect, and Paul testifies that they are really his sons who are led by his Spirit, (Romans 8:14;) and he teaches us, that it is a sure pledge of adoption when Christ makes us partakers of his Spirit. The elect are also beyond the danger of finally falling away; for the Father who gave them to be preserved by Christ his Son is greater than all, and Christ promises to watch over them all so that none may perish. To all this I answer, That God indeed favors none but the elect alone with the Spirit of regeneration, and that by this they are distinguished from the reprobate; for they are renewed after his image and receive the earnest of the Spirit in hope of the future inheritance, and by the same Spirit the Gospel is sealed in their hearts. But I cannot admit that all this is any reason why he should not grant the reprobate also some taste of his grace, why he should not irradiate their minds with some sparks of his light, why he should not give them some perception of his goodness, and in some sort engrave his word on their hearts. Otherwise, where would be the temporal faith mentioned by Mark 4:17? There is therefore some knowledge even in the reprobate, which afterwards vanishes away, either because it did not strike roots sufficiently deep, or because it withers, being choked up.

    And by this bridle the Lord keeps us in fear and humility; and we certainly see how prone human nature is otherwise to security and foolish confidence. At the same time our solicitude ought to be such as not to disturb the peace of conscience. For the Lord strengthens faith in us, while he subdues our flesh: and hence he would have faith to remain and rest tranquilly as in a safe haven; but he exercises the flesh with various conflicts, that it may not grow wanton through idleness.

  5. Sean Gerety Says:

    And, if you don’t like Calvin, here is Matthew Henry on Hebrews 6:

    He shows how far persons may go in religion, and, after all, fall away, and perish for ever, Heb_6:4, Heb_6:5. (1.) They may be enlightened. Some of the ancients understand this of their being baptized; but it is rather to be understood of notional knowledge and common illumination, of which persons may have a great deal, and yet come short of heaven. Balaam was the man whose eyes were opened (Num_24:3), and yet with his eyes opened he went down to utter darkness. (2.) They may taste of the heavenly gift, feel something of the efficacy of the Holy Spirit in his operations upon their souls, causing them to taste something of religion, and yet be like persons in the market, who taste of what they will not come up to the price of, and so but take a taste, and leave it. Persons may taste religion, and seem to like it, if they could have it upon easier terms than denying themselves, and taking up their cross, and following Christ. (3.) They may be made partakers of the Holy Ghost, that is, of his extraordinary and miraculous gifts; they may have cast out devils in the name of Christ, and done many other mighty works. Such gifts in the apostolic age were sometimes bestowed upon those who had no true saving grace. (4.) They may taste of the good word of God; they may have some relish of gospel doctrines, may hear the word with pleasure, may remember much of it, and talk well of it, and yet never be cast into the form and mould of it, nor have it dwelling richly in them. (5.) They may have tasted of the powers of the world to come; they may have been under strong impressions concerning heaven, and dread of going to hell. These lengths hypocrites may go, and, after all, turn apostates.

    Interestingly, it seems that per Henry, this passage very much has Federal Visionists in mind.

  6. Tammy Says:

    Neither of these two interpretations of Scripture contradict what I said, imho. Baptized children may turn into hypocrites, yet they tasted and were made part of the visible church. They can and do leave the church as adults.

    I don’t believe works justify you and no one I know who adheres to the Federal Vision does either. Real faith is accompanied by works. Faith is what saves us, but is always accompanied by works that God prepared us for before we were saved. “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10, MKJV.

    I personally think that those of us in the Reformed camp are too easily separating ourselves from our brothers and sisters in the Faith and seeing heresy where none exists.

  7. Sean Gerety Says:

    Neither of these two interpretations of Scripture contradict what I said, imho. Neither of these two interpretations of Scripture contradict what I said, imho. Baptized children may turn into hypocrites, yet they tasted and were made part of the visible church. They can and do leave the church as adults.

    Remember, anything found in your conclusion must already be present in one or more of your premises, yet baptism isn’t even remotely in view in either passage. One has to do with the authenticity of a person’s profession of faith and how we might know it, the other has to do with the apostasy of hypocrites. Second, you asked rhetorically; “Who fell from grace in this passage of Scripture if not those who had been covenantally bound in some way?” Again, your question assumes that those who apostatize are “covenantally bound,” as if hypocrites, what some might call nominal Christians (i.e., Christians in name only), are members of the covenant. Yet, in answer to the question “With whom was the covenant of grace made?” WLC 31 replies: “The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.” How can someone be bound to a covenant in which they are not and never were members? IMO you read way too much into the idea of what it means to taste the good things of God and infer from this that these folks are somehow united to Christ and are “covenatally bound.” Consequently, and I don’t mean any disrespect, the passage in Hebrews very much contradicts your interpretation of Scripture.

    I don’t believe works justify you and no one I know who adheres to the Federal Vision does either. Real faith is accompanied by works. Faith is what saves us, but is always accompanied by works that God prepared us for before we were saved.

    You need to read Federal Visionists more closely.

    I personally think that those of us in the Reformed camp are too easily separating ourselves from our brothers and sisters in the Faith and seeing heresy where none exists.

    If that were only true.

  8. Sean Gerety Says:

    Correction, I should have said “yet baptism isn’t even remotely in view in either passage except tangentially.

    Sorry in advance for any confusion.

  9. Tammy Says:

    Isn’t baptism the symbol of being covenantally bound just as circumcision was in the OT? Hypocrites who seem to believe for a time, baptized when older or babies, are marked with the covenant sign of baptism. Baptism signs and seals us. In the OT, they were circumsized. If true faith is not there, they “fall away.” For a time they partook in the grace offered to those within the Church. I really don’t see any contradiction with what you are saying and what I am saying.

  10. Sean Gerety Says:

    Isn’t baptism the symbol of being covenantally bound just as circumcision was in the OT?

    Tammy, if that’s your argument you’re not going to find any support for it in either of the passages you cite. If you want to try and find this idea somewhere else in Scripture, have at it.

    Federal Visionists have been consistent in their vitiation of the distinction between the outward or external administration of the covenant and its inward or substantive application concerning those with whom the covenant is established and intended (i.e., the elect). This is one reason why Doug Wilson rejects the visible/invisible distinction and even the idea, if you can believe it, that there is a such thing as a “nominal Christian” (see Reformed is Not Enough). This is also why Norman Shepherd wrote in Call of Grace:

    “If this distinction (outward and inward branches) is in the text, it is difficult to see what the point of the warning is. The outward branches cannot profit from it, because they cannot in any case bear genuine fruit. They are not related to Christ inwardly and draw no life from him. The inward branches do not need the warning, because they are vitalized by Christ and therefore cannot help but bear good fruit” (Call of Grace, pp. 89-90).

    As you can see, Shepherd was a lousy student of Calvin (see above). The irony in all of the FV manipulations of the parable of the vine and the branches is that the parable is aimed right at these FV teachers and those who would tragically follow them.

    Of course one of the upshots in their parable twisting is that a man is no longer justified by mere belief alone in the finished work of Christ alone, but rather through their ongoing “covenantal faithfulness” or “personal loyalty.” Imputation is deemed “redundant” and, as FV pastor Jeff Meyers puts it, “A person is righteous when he does what the covenant requires of him.”

    Beyond the flattening of the visible/invisible distinction which they replace with a historical/eschatological distinction, we end up with a scheme where a person is both initially justified (by the means of water baptism that, or so we are told, is supposed to united us with Christ), and finally justified on the basis of their own “covenantal faithfulness.” Regardless of how you slice it Tammy, theirs is a scheme of justification by faith and works.

    Hypocrites who seem to believe for a time, baptized when older or babies, are marked with the covenant sign of baptism. Baptism signs and seals us. In the OT, they were circumsized. If true faith is not there, they “fall away.” For a time they partook in the grace offered to those within the Church. I really don’t see any contradiction with what you are saying and what I am saying.

    But the Scriptures and the Westminster Standards disagree:

    Q. 92 What is a sacrament?

    A. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ; wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.

    Christ and his benefits are represented, sealed, and applied to believers, not to all recipients of a sacrament.

    In the Federal Vision’s Antichristian theology, Ishmael, who was circumcised (and I agree the Old Testament sign of the covenant is the analogue of baptism), was also in the covenant, even though God had said that Ishmael was not in the covenant:”And as for Ishmael, I have heard you [Abraham]. Behold, I have blessed him [Ishmael], and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But my Covenant I will establish with Isaac [not with Ishamel]” [Genesis 17:21].

    Long and short Tammy, the road you’re treading in your defense of the Federal Vision and their false gospel has been well worn. Virtually every P&R denomination has repudiated the FV (and NPP) as being contrary to the Reformed Standards and that it constitutes a “parallel soteriology.” And, FYI, there are no “parallel” soteriologies. There is only one and the FV doesn’t offer it.


  11. James White brings an interesting perspective to Heb 6 that is worth hearing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppmMnKdnS8I

  12. Brad Says:

    I think we need to make room for all Christians who hold to some understanding of the atonement. Substitutionary atonement implies some kind of vicarious occurrence. God did something and that has implications for us if we believe. I’m utterly convinced that God declares Christians right. I’m not sure that I can discern the moral imputation theory in scripture, however.


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