Saturday, September 08, 2007

Federal Vision

I am a curious bystander observing the ongoing debates within some Protestant circles in the USA over the doctrine of the covenants, the nature of sacraments, and other issues. The debate normally surfaces under the heading 'The Federal Vision.' On one side, Douglas Wilson, Peter Leithart, Rich Lusk, Steve Wilkins and numerous others. On the other side a host of OPC, PCA, and other Reformed pastors. Clear so far? If not don't worry. I just want to highlight something in a book called 'The Federal Vision and Covenant Theology' by someone called Guy Prentiss Waters.

The thing that intrigues me is that Prof Waters claims that his anti-Federal Vision position is the position held by Jonathan Edwards. So in the preface I read that Mr Waters 'daughters are, through my wife, descended from the ministries of Solomon Stoddard and Jonathan Edwards. It is my fervent hope that the biblical doctrine preached from that pulpit in Northampton will, by the blessing of the Holy Spirit, thrive in the Reformed churches of my own and my young daughters' generations.' (xv-xvi)

Edwards only gets a couple of mentions in the book. Once where Waters picks up on Leithart's use of Edwards' trinitarianism. The second reference is to Qualifications for Communion (p.289) where JE reflects on sacramental eligibility.

Does this signal the beginning of a new interest in Edwards and the sacraments?


Anonymous Kim from Hiraeth said...

I do hope so!

9:29 pm  
Anonymous Jeff Waddington said...


As far as I can tell, the Federal Vision would have a strong distaste for Edwards's sacramentology as leaning in a "baptistic" direction.

Also, Guy Waters is a professor of NT at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS.

1:17 am  
Blogger Michael McClenahan said...

Thanks Jeff,

the problem is that there is so little written on Edwards and the sacraments that gets into these issues. What there is tends to concentrate on (mis?!)reading the communion controversy.

Maybe the 'Federal Vision' will spark some sort of renewal of interest.


8:49 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


If the Federal Vision movement causes us to look anew at Edwards on the church and the sacraments, I say great!

2:14 pm  

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