This blog is devoted to discussing the pursuit of eternal life.
Discussion and participation by readers is desired,
but contributions should correlate to the book,
The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology
of Perseverance & Assurance

Thomas R. Schreiner
& Ardel B. Caneday

Thursday, November 04, 2010

On Ask Doug: Perseverance of the Saints and Reality of Apostasy

I was asked to comment on the following brief video clip which may also be found here.

Perseverance of the Saint and Apostasy from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

Doug Wilson's response to the question presupposes an understanding of how the view called Federal Vision understands warnings and admonitions. So, my response to the above question must address this matter. Wilson states, "Perseverance and apostasy is actually the dilemma that brought about the whole Federal Vision controversy in the first place."

Those who adopt and support the Federal Vision understand gospel warnings and admonitions much as Arminians do. As I understand the Federal Vision view, like Arminians, Federal Vision advocates believe that in order for the gospel warnings and admonitions to be authentic warnings and admonitions, one has to be able to fall away and perish. Unlike Arminians, Federal Vision advocates do not believe that this falling away and perishing is a falling away from God's electing grace so that some whom God has chosen in Christ will in the end perish in perdition.

From what, then, do Federal Vision advocates believe some fall away? They believe that the falling away is an apostasy from the covenant, from the new covenant. In order to believe and to advocate this, they distinguish between being a member of God's elect in Christa and being a member of the new covenant. This, however, is quite problematic, given the distinctive character of the new covenant according to Hebrews 8 and 10, where Jeremiah 31:31ff is quoted at length as presented as fulfilled. The new covenant promise of Jeremiah 31 makes it clear that to be a member of the new covenant is to be a redeemed individual in Christ.

I find the Federal Vision explanation of warnings and admonitions and of perseverance and apostasy quite impossible, given the nature of the new covenant. Essentially, the Federal Vision regards the nature of the new covenant to about the same as the nature of the old covenant. Hence, what Jeremiah prophesied as new turns out to be not new at all, according to the FV view of the new covenant, for some are members of the new covenant, even having the Holy Spirit and having their sins forgiven, but they end up apostatizing and perishing.

Tom Schreiner offers a fuller response to the question concerning the Federal Vision view on warnings and admonitions and apostasy and perseverance in Run To Win The Prize. See pages 90-94, in particular. You may be able to read these pages on-line if you browse the book here.


John said...

Thanks for the quick response. This was interesting. I was able to read all but page 94 of the preview, but I got the gist of the argument.

I was reminded while reading this of an article I'd read by a reformed paedobaptist, though not part of the FV, as far as I know, who had similar things to say regarding perseverance and covenant membership.

Viewing the new covenant in a similar fashion to the old covenant can clearly introduce some questionable theological interpretations.

abcaneday said...

The nature of the new covenant is fundamentally why I am constrained to be a Baptist and not a paedo-Baptist of some variety, such as, Presbyterian.

I realize that my Presbyterian friends do not grasp my point. In my estimation, the FV folks are more consistent Presbyterians and paedo-Baptists than are those who object to their beliefs.