Why the Federal Vision Resurgence?

In recent weeks, there has been a resurgence of a set of teachings masquerading as Reformed doctrine, called Federal Vision. Specifically, the debate is over the Reformed doctrine of justification by faith alone. Some theologians and pastors (not all Reformed), have argued that there is a final justification based on works. For example, John Piper’s (definitely not Reformed) Desiring God website says:

But what about being saved by faith alone? You’re not. You’re justified through faith alone. Final salvation comes through justification and sanctification — both initiated and sustained by God’s grace. (emphasis original)

A blogger has criticized this deviation from the 16th century Protestant Reformation doctrine of justification by faith alone, a doctrine that resulted in the permanent (maybe not?) separation between Rome and Geneva. (Rome must be licking its chops.). She says:

The article also warns that your salvation depends on you killing your sin. According to Piper and others at Desiring God, justification is by faith alone, but salvation (or final salvation) is through works and faith. As I wrote previously, this teaching is contrary to what the Scriptures and the Reformed confessions and catechisms teach.

Why this deviation? The blogger says,

Piper does not hold to any of the Reformed confessions or catechisms. That doesn’t mean he isn’t a Christian or that he doesn’t teach useful things. But it does mean that we shouldn’t be surprised when he teaches something outside the confessional standards.

But what is this so-called Federal Vision? Here’s an informative article on its history, leaders, and doctrines: “For Those Just Tuning In: What is the Federal Vision?” by R. Scott Clark, Professor at Westminster Seminary in California. Some names mentioned in this article and other Heidelblog articles are:

Norman Shepherd, John Frame, Doug Wilson, Steve Schlissel, Steve Wilkins, Steven Wedgeworth, Peter Leithart, John Barach, James Jordan, Rich Lusk, John H. Armstrong, Mark Horne, P. Andrew Sandlin, Don Garlington, John Davenant, Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC)

These and other names associated with the Federal Vision are mentioned in “Greg Looked Behind the Curtain: You Should Too.”

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