Monday, December 06, 2004

History, Justification, and the current controversy

I don’t think it can be denied that the Reformed Community is no longer unified. The new movement within the Reformed camp known as Shepherdism, Federal Vision, or Reformed Catholicism has divided most denominations and turned everything on its head. I will comment more on them in later posts I am sure.

What I wanted to touch on in this post is the importance of one’s view of history. Yes, history, and how that impacts this current controversy. I believe that the Federal Vision is not all that different than Mercersburg Theology, which grew out of Mercersburg Theological Seminary in the mid-1800’s. The Mercersburg movement started with Philip Schaff and John Nevin, and most accurately it started with Schaff’s speech about Historical Development. This is the idea that history unfolds via the dialectic of Hegel. Consequently doctrine in the church develops, grows, changes, and matures. This led to views that can be found today, baptismal regeneration, denial of the invisible church, grace actually present in the Lord’s Supper, denial of the active obedience of Christ, denial of Regulative Principle of Worship, and ending in a denial of creeds in general. All of which can be found in the Federal Vision in some form or other. So it might not surprise you to find out that these men, so far as I can see, hold to a belief in doctrinal development. Andrew Sandlin has been upfront about it in several places on the Internet. It can be seen in Doug Wilson’s book, "Reformed" Is Not Enough. This debate is important, and it saddens me to see many people fall prey to it, but I must say the aspect of Historical Development is not getting enough attention.