Saturday, October 6, 2012

Federal Vision Theology - The Missing Link?

Not long ago Gene Veith posted something that both surprised me and intrigued me.  The article had to do with whether infants can have faith or not. Veith was commenting on a review of a recent book that explores the scientific evidence for infants being able to exercise faith.  As he introduces the topic he writes this:  

A key Lutheran teaching is that infants can have faith.  This is why Lutherans see no contradiction between infant baptism and justification by faith.  Lutherans see faith not just in terms of intellectual knowledge or conscious volition, but as trust, dependence, and relationship with a Person.  Infants can trust, depend on, and have a relationship with their parents and also with their Heavenly Father.  The faith that begins with baptism then grows and matures, fed by the “milk” of God’s Word, as the child grows into adulthood, and continuing thereafter.  (That faith can also die if it is not nourished, which is why someone can have been baptized as an infant but then reject the faith and become an unbeliever in need of conversion.)
What's curious to me is how Lutherans (according to Veith) understand baptism, justification, and the possible loss of that standing before God.  I've never understood this about Lutheran theology until now.*

The interesting thing about this view is how closely this resembles Federal Vision Theology.  We are told that through baptism people become united to Christ, are welcomed into the covenant community, experience a temporary election, and are now part of the Church (visible and invisible).  All of this can be lost unless one is faithful to "keep the covenant."  

All of this raises a huge question:  Are some in the Reformed camp borrowing theological ideas from confessional Lutherans?  

To read the full Veith article go here

* This point was reinforced by Dr. Carl Trueman of Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) in a course that I am taking on Forerunners to the Reformation (CH 851) at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary.  He argues that for Luther a person becomes regenerate through baptism BUT that work is of no lasting benefit unless it is grasped by faith.  

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