Interaction with URCNA Report on FV (15)

The FV position on baptism is evaluated in section 3.D.4 where the report states, “Contrary to the FV conception of sacramental efficacy, the Three Forms of Unity do not countenance any view of the sacrament of baptism, for example, that would ascribe to the sacrament the power to ‘regenerate’ its recipient” (p.33). The problem here is that nowhere in the report’s own summary of FV teaching on baptism is there anything about its purported power to regenerate. The report does mention that some FV writers have defended the language of “baptismal regeneration” (p.55) and that Wilkins, in particular, believes that “all the baptized” are “the recipients of all the blessings . . . . including justification” (p.18; Wilkins is not quoted). I searched the entire report in vain to locate any discussion about a supposed FV view regarding the “power” of baptism to “regenerate” its recipient.

Moreover, the use of quotations marks around the word ‘regenerate’ in the statement on p.33. is intriguing. Do the quotation marks mean: (a) that FV writers use the verb regenerate in connection with the function of baptism or (b) that FV writers use the verb regenerate, but not in the way the word is typically used?

It is interesting that the Joint Federal Vision Statement, signed by all the important FV players, addresses this issue head on: “We deny that baptism automatically guarantees that the baptized will share in the eschatological Church. We deny the common misunderstanding of baptismal regeneration—i.e., that an ‘effectual call’ rebirth is automatically wrought in the one baptized” (emphasis original, BDJ).

Why was this clear FV statement about baptismal regeneration ignored in the report?

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