“…Adam was in a covenant of life with the Triune God in the Garden of Eden, in which arrangement Adam was required to obey God completely, from the heart. We hold further that all such obedience, had it occurred, would have been rendered from a heart of faith alone, in a spirit of loving trust. Adam was created to progress from immature glory to mature glory, but that glorification too would have been a gift of grace, received by faith alone.” [Signed statement “A Joint Federal Vision Profession,”Credenda/Agenda vol. 19, no. 3, 11]
One of the main distinctions of Federal Vision advocates against many who espouse a strict subscriptionism is the significance of the Adamic administration. In recent years, disciples of Meredith Kline have taken the confessional disctinction between the two covenants (works and grace) and have made them permanent enemies, thus making this unconfessional disctinction an issue of Reformed orthodoxy. Hence, many claim that as a result of this distinction it is imperative to maintain a sharp dichotomy between law and grace. It is true that FV advocates are not comfortable with the confessional term “covenant of works,” nevertheless, this in no way entails that the essence of the Adamic administration is identical to the covenant of grace (Gen.3:15). There are distinct differences: Adam failed, Christ did not. But what is at stake in the debate is how different are they? As the majority report affirms:
The Standards themselves do not define a distinction between the nature of the response to which the soul was summoned in the first covenant and to which man is summoned in the Covenant of Grace…In any case, the committee strenuously objects to the assertion of the minority report that the distinction between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace should be understood in terms of the dialectic of law and gospel. Both biblically and confessionally the first covenant was a covenant of works precisely in the sense that the second covenant was as well: eternal life for others was the promised reward of the obedience of the federal head. [Rom. 5:19; WCF VIII, v; LC 31, 71]
You can reject categorically the dialectic of law and gospel, while at the same time rejecting Federal Vision theology. In fact, the first to make charges against the Auburn Avenue Theology was Rev. Joseph Morecraft. Morecraft affirms the confessional language of “covenant of works,” while denying the law/grace dialectic. When discussing the bi-covenantal theology of Peter Leithart, it appears that the Klinean school is the one taking aim at Dr. Leithart, not Joseph Pipa or Joe Morecraft. Indeed there is evidence that those who drafted the minority report are unashamedly Klineans. Hence, it appears that the underlying rejection of man like Leithart is also an attempt to rid the PCA of men like John Frame, Reggie Kidd, Robert Rayburn and others who share similar ideas on covenantal theology and its implications. This is very unfortunate in my estimation.