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Let us define our terms. A Baptist is someone who believes that baptism is only validly administered to professing believers. He denies that the infant children of believers are the proper subjects of baptism. A Federal Visionist is someone who, among other things, holds that at the administration of baptism all the benefits of Christ, namely election, regeneration, faith, justification, union with Christ, and adoption are conferred temporararily. To be sure, most Baptists are not Federal Visionists. The Particular Reformed traditions especially, in contrast to the Federal Visionists, confess and teach a perfectly orthodox doctrine of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone. Never most Baptists do have something common with Federal Vision theology: From the point of view of confessional Reformed theology, both movements collapse the divine decree into the outward administration of the covenant of grace, though for different reasons.
This connection has became evident to me over the years as I have found myself having the same sorts of discussions with my Baptist friends as I have had with my Federal Vision opponents. With both of them, if for different reasons, the discussion often turns to the two ways of being in the one covenant of grace. According to the classical Reformed theology, there are two ways of relating to the covenant of grace: externally and internally. I have tried to explain this distinction in Baptism, Election, and the Covenant of Grace, which the publisher sells at cost. I have also sought to explain the historical-theological background of this distinction in the essay, “Baptism and the Benefits of Christ: The Double Mode of Communion,” which the publisher has graciously posted gratis. The reader will want to consult one or both of these for more details.
Federal - Visionist - Decree - Administration
The Federal Visionist overtly, consciously conflates the eternal decree with the external administration of...
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