I spent a good bit of time last week listening to some lectures and reading articles and chapters on the subject of the “Federal Vision”. It will probably not be something that I tackle much more in the future as so much of the “monologue” on both sides of the controversy is so vitriolic.
I would love to see/hear an open debate between the two camps rather than the ongoing grenade lobbing across the aisle, as I do think there are some contributions to be made to our understanding of God and His Covenant that could come out of such discourse.
Some of the FV positions on justification, sacremenatal theology, and covenant are untenable in my view. I don’t believe there is anything to be added to our historic understanding of justification / baptism / communion.
However, I do think that the intra-Trinitarian covenant model is an area where true good and necessary deductions are taking place, and with a little re-direction from some good honest debate, scholarly research and exegetical acumen, could render some very profitable Theology.
The closest thing to such profit that I have read is Peter J. Wallace’s Covenant and Inheritance. In his conclusion he writes, “From this vantage point, I find myself in general agreement with the positive programs of both Meredith Kline and Norman Shepherd. I do not claim that I have figured out a full via media (middle way) between our modern Scylla and Charybdis, but I would suggest that the path lies somewhere in the direction that I have charted this morning.” Ahhhh. A point of view that takes the best of what is Biblical and sustainable, and an admission that one does not have all the answers. Like a breath of fresh air.
Wallace is able to propose some “new” thoughts in the area of Covenant Theology that if not truly “new” in the historical sense, are most certainly underdeveloped (relational aspect of covenant). And he is able to do this without going down the fallacious “logical ends” path that others in the FV camp are wont to go. In my limited knowledge, I find that Wallace proposes some “new” thoughts and yet marries them to historic Theological formulations so that what is “new” is really just a further development of what is “old”.
If only more of the “heavyweights” would simply humble themselves to this point, the Church might truly be the benefactor in prosperity, peace and purity.