Friday, December 09, 2005

Is Sandlin part of the Federal Vision?

Andrew Sandlin has made it known that he is not a follower of the so called Federal Vision. He points out that he is not in agreement with many points put forth in the Auburn Avenue theology, such as sacramental efficacy and union with the Church being union with Christ, nor is he a high churchmen. These things I freely acknowledge, and do not challenge. Despite this I have from time to time placed Andrew Sandlin as a promoter of the Federal Vision on this blog. Allow me to give my reasons, and then give your feedback of whether or not I should continue to include Rev. Sandlin as a promoter of the Federal Vision. I am willing to be convinced either way on this one.

The main reason I have occasionally included Rev. Sandlin is his holding to Theological Development. I believe that this is a central tenant of the Federal Vision. In a sense Theological Development serves as the glasses one needs to have the Federal Vision. Simply because Sandlin ends up in different places than most of the Federal Vision adherents does not disqualify him.

Another reason is that Rev. Sandlin agrees with the great work of Theological Development, Christian union. Sandlin participated in the old Reformed Catholicism blog arguing for union between Protestant and Rome. He can be found to be calling Roman Catholics brothers from time to time, and even claims the Eastern Orthodox formula for the Trinity cannot be improved upon. Which, by the way, has always made me wonder if he holds to the fact that the Spirit proceeds from the Son, but that may be a conversation for another day.

Sandlin does end up in the same place as many Federal Vision adherents on other issues as well. He has a similar dim view of creeds holding that only the early church creeds ending with Chalcedon are the test of orthodoxy. He basically agrees with Norman Shepherd’s view of justification, which seems to be a major center piece in the current debates.

Thus, in summary, Sandlin does hold to what I consider the foundation of the Federal Vision, and holds to one of its pillars, the justification view espoused by Norman Shepherd, but not to the other major pillar of sacramental efficacy. As for his other two denials. I believe the high liturgy movement to be a non-essential, and it should not disqualify one from being a Federal Vision man, and his third statement would probably draw ire from most Federal Visionists, and thus I do not see how it applies.

If I have done Rev. Sandlin an injustice in your opinion, I would like to know.


TE Wilder said...

The central ideas of the Federal Vision theology have to do with the nature of worship, ritual and clergy. They are exactly the points that Sandlin has been criticizing for some time. So I would have to say that he is not Federal Vision. He is a fellow traveler on some issues, such as use of Norman Shepherd's theology. In other areas he agrees with some of the younger Federal Vision people in support of post-modernism and the liberalism of Peter Enns where the older generation of Federal visionaries are not yet ready to go along.

Lee said...

Rev. Wilder,

Would you not consider the ritual/clergy/worship to be tied up in one pillar. It seems to me they are very related. It also seems that redefining covenant theology to be of equal status to the worship/ritual/clergy issue. If the central ideas of the Federal Vision are what you say, then Sandlin certainly is not a follower.
Anyone want to put in their two cents about the central issues of the Federal Vision?

TE Wilder said...

I am not a "Rev." by the way.

Certainly ritual/clergy/worship are tied together. And if ritual (baptism) puts one in the covenant and one stays in until the denial of ritual (excommunication) puts one out, and if the provision of ritual is the work of priests, one can see how the doctrines of church and justification get pulled in as well.

That view of ritualism and priesthood requires a type of levelling of Old and New covenants, so Biblical theology, hermenutics and covenant theology in general also have to get altered.

The problem with the critiques of the Federal Vision that one sees is that Jeff Meyers and his book on worship are left out. This shows that the critics don't understand the scope of the movement they are talking about. Usually the critics don't go back in time enough either, though they are getting better there.

Lee said...

I will certainly get a hold of the book by Rev. Meyers. Thank you for the recommendation.