Interaction with URCNA Report on FV (2): Factual Errors

The FV Study Committee Report includes several factual errors which I will begin to enumerate in this post and continue in a subsequent post.

(1) In the third paragraph under "A Brief Sketch of the Emergence of the Federal Vision," it states,

In January 2002, Rev. Steven Wilkins, pastor at the time of the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Monroe, Louisiana, invited a number of speakers to the church's annual pastor's conference to articulate and defend their advocacy of the 'Federal Vision.'

This is untrue. At this juncture in history there was no movement or school of thought called "Federal Vision." The conference organizers simply wanted to dedicate a conference to the doctrine of the covenant, and since 'federal' means 'covenantal' they picked the name, "Federal Vision." It's a creative way of saying Covenantal Vision.

Steve Wilkins invited colleague-friends of his (Doug Wilson and Steve Schlissel), as well as Norman Shepherd. Shepherd was unable to attend the conference because of his wife's failing health. Several people, including Nelson Kloosterman, were asked for their opinion regarding a replacement and John Barach was recommended. John had written some material about the relationship between covenant and election in Christian Renewal and many were quite fond of John's insights.

This conference was a Pastor's conference with no agenda apart from a sound presentation of the biblical doctrine of the covenant. Each of the speakers, some of whom had no connection prior to the conference, had done some speaking or writing on the subject and was considered sufficiently qualified to lecture to other pastors about this.

In the minds of some, the conference was doomed for failure already here. Who are these men? None are seminary pastors. None have earned doctorates. None have been vetted (read Guy Waters for more on this). They were all basically fishermen. Utterly amazed, the professional theologians asked, "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?"

(2) The third paragraph goes on to say,

"Since Rev. Shepherd was unable to attend this meeting, Rev. John Barach, at the time a pastor of the Grande Prairie URC, was invited to speak in his place."

This is especially interesting for me since I was the pastor of the "Grande Prairie URC" in January, 2002 and I don't recall seeing John there. John was then the pastor of the Trinity Reformed Church in Lethbridge. Aside from this, the church in GP is called Covenant Reformed Church.

(3) The first full paragraph on p.9 says,

"The advocacy of children at the Lord's Table, which is one of the most common practical fruits of the FV understanding of the covenant of grace, has been addressed by the broader assemblies of the federation."

This ignores the fact that in 2002 only one of the speakers embraced paedocommunion. Two did not hold the position (Barach and Wilson) and the other (Schlissel) was and is vocally opposed. Moreover, many in the Canadian Reformed Churches, who have a similar view of the covenant's objectivity, are not convinced of paedocommunion. In a recent issue of Clarion, Clarence Bouwman expresses his appreciation for many of the tenets of FV, but voices his objections to paedocommunion.

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