Tuesday, 3 March 2009

'Ecclesia Reformanda': plain Reformed or something else?

A couple of days ago I posted, by request, a link to a website for a new journal of "British Reformed Theology" to be called Ecclesia Reformanda. Being both British and Reformed, I was quite happy to do this (though it did cross my mind to wonder why we need a new journal at this point in time, especially since I know, from experience, how difficult it is to keep a journal going).

However, I have since received a communication pointing me to the blog run by David Anderson, which takes issue with the publicity for Ecclesia Reformanda, observing that, rather than simply being about 'Reformed' theology, the movement behidn it represents a particular strand called 'Federal Visionism'.

Now I have two confessions to make. The first is that this had entirely escaped my attention. But given David Anderson's observation that the publicity makes no direct mention of this, I won't feel too bad about that. Anderson comments, however, that in his view,

  1. The real purpose of this new magazine is to promote the "Federal Vision" theology of Douglas Wilson / Peter Leithart / Credenda/Agenda / Auburn Avenue etcetera in the UK.

  2. Yet for some reason the magazine's backers have decided to hide this fact.

  3. Not only have they decided it's best strategy to hide their real aim, they've also decided to present the "Federal Vision" as if it were mainstream British Reformed theology, which it is certainly not: not historically and absolutely not in the last 200 years or at the present day.
Perhaps more embarrassingly, I also have to confess that I know next to nothing about Federal Visionism (indeed, I'm not even sure that is the right word!). My first instinct, though is to wonder whether it has any significant parallels with Christian Reconstructionism.

I do know, though, that I might have been a bit more cautious about the link if I'd known there was an 'issue' here. In this case, I must offer the disclaimer that carrying an advertisement does not necessarily entail endorsement of the product.

Revd John Richardson

Updated 5 minutes later!
It seems my "first instinct" (see above) wasn't entirely off. Having posted this comment, I went to the Wikipedia article on Federal Vision (you have to start somewhere), where I read this:

Many of those who are involved in Federal Vision theology began in the Christian Reconstructionist movement until differences in methods and interpretations led to their exodus.
Now Reconstructionism is something I do know something about, having encountered it in the 1980s. Indeed, my views on usury and interest owe a lot to that period (though not much, now, to that theology). Reconstructionism was, I think, fundamentally flawed in its understanding of the impact of the gospel and on its implications for human living. (In fact I was getting rather heated earlier today in a discussion about Galatians in this regard, which I was saying had implications for our political views quite at odds with the contemporary political establishment.)

I suspect, therefore, this will not be my last post on the subject.

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  1. I have already been sent a number of links on this topic, which I offer for the most part unread by myself:

    By Mark Thompson (Moore Theological College),
    Federal Vision I
    Federal Vision II
    Federal Vision III

    The Federal Vision Statement of Faith (downloadable as a pdf).

    A sermon on Federal Vision by Charles Dobbie (mp3).

    There is also a very densely packed article here, commended by a supporter of Federal Vision: Within The Bounds of Orthodoxy? An Examination of Both the Federal Vision and the New Perspective on Paul.

  2. Micahel Roberts4 March 2009 at 21:32

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  3. Michael, I'm worried that your last comment about David Anderson may overstep the mark. (I don't want a 'test case' to result from someone objecting.)

    Can you flesh it out a bit, or find another way to put it?