Peter Leithart enters the dialogue with a helpful piece entitled: Ecclesial Calvinism.
Leithart offers a few more valuable insights from a Federal Vision perspective. Leithart writes about his introduction to Calvin’s Institutes:
I remember the first time I read through the Institutes and discovered to my astonishment that Calvin, like Cyprian, thought we needed an earthly mother as well as a heavenly Father. That was not the ecclesiology that I encountered in the Reformed churches I first knew. Nor was Calvin’s sacramental theology popular among self-professed Calvinists. In this sense, FV is a kind of Reformed ressourcement, an effort to reconstruct a Reformed ecclesiology from the rubble left by Pietism and Revivalism.
Interestingly, the Federal Vision does not claim to have stumbled across a new expression of Reformed Theology, but it is rather a more robust expression of Calvin’s Reformation. Can any reader deny the impressive and most-dangerous influence left by Pietism and Revivalism?1 The enormous corruption of our Reformed tradition comes when we subtly allow the infiltration of these un-Reformed thoughts in our churches. We lose our distinctiveness and our ecclesial heritage.
Hart does not seem to tackle the essence of Leithart’s arguments, though he mentions in passing:
But my sense, which is limited, is that FV has been a tad cliquish and disrespectful of Calvinists who are trying to embody the faith in discipline churches.
That FV’ers are somewhat cliquish is up for debate, but that FV’ers are disrespectful is somewhat dishonest. As Hart himself claims, the Auburn Avenue Conference treated him kindly when he spoke at their conference some years ago. Perhaps if more dialogues like these had taken place, many of these comments could have been avoided. Concerning the cliquish nature of FV’ers, indeed that may well be the case in some instances. However, it is to be remembered that when so many are phobic about a high sacramentology and a high view of the mission of the church, it is easy to see why there is a natural separation.
- See Rich Lusk’s article on The Federal Vision for a more expanded treatment of this subject; also search on my site for Federal Vision where I deal briefly with Lusk’s points [↩ back]