Federal Vision Study

In May 2006 I wrote a dissertation for a final year Independent Study module at WEST. The title was rather lengthy and perhaps a bit grand: A Critical Evaluation of “Federal Vision Theology” Arising in North American Presbyterian and Reformed Churches in the Last 30 Years.

The reason for choosing this subject was that during my time at WEST, the whole Federal Vision thing blew up in the US in 2002 and I wanted to study it a bit more. Unfortunately, because of my coursework, I could never seem to get to it. So when the opportunity came up to have pretty much a free choice of subject in the IS module, I thought I could kill two birds with one stone.

Now, I find I get a regular trickle of requests for the document so I have decided to post it here. Feel free to download it.

You get what you pay for! It is a student assignment, so it has stylistic quirks, and some limitations. I have learned a great deal since and would want to develop some areas. It was written before various important denominational study reports were published and some book-length treatments so I am not claiming anything great. So, it is what it is.

I would welcome feedback, of course.

Federal Vision Study

5 thoughts on “Federal Vision Study

  1. Hi Stephen

    Thank you for posting your work which makes lots of sense. I am encouraged by your conclusions which seem, to me, to be both biblical and a level-headed assessment of the situation.

    I hope you are well


  2. Stephen, thanks for this. I hope you won’t mind, but I’ve listed a few ‘typos’ that you might want to correct. Most are sentences with grammatical issues. You might want to delete this comment after you’ve had a look, as I just wanted his to be helpful, not a criticism.

    I found the essay helpful (and well written!).

    “The distinctiveness of the Covenant of Grace, the its fullness in the New Covenant, and the primary function of faith is lost.”

    Is there a change of font at “Shepherd and ‘The Call of Grace'”, or is it just my screen?

    Shouldn’t there be a question mark at the end of this quote: “How do you insist on obedience without being legalistic.8″ ?

    “The arguments presented by Shepherd are based upon a view of theological history where unresolved problems that remain.”

    “Federal Vision proponents have gone further, saying that the relationship between the persons of the Trinity in its totality a covenant.”

    “The visible church and the invisible church do not necessarily consist if the same individuals.”

    “Look to this, say Federal Vision proponents in order to be assured of one’s election.” (Should have a comma after proponents, otherwise the act of saying becomes the assurance of election.)

    “There response was unequivocal.”

    “I cannot but fail to influence those churches in the evangelical reformed traditions also.”

    Might be better to have quotation marks where relevant here: “The confessions are clear that faith is the alone instrument of justification.”?

  3. John,
    Wow! You must have actually read it.

    Thanks for the comments. I know there are typos. I will get round to fixing them one day!

  4. Steve McGee says:

    Stephen, thanks for posting your paper. You did a great job and I appreciate your assessment of this movement.

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