False Claims About Baptismal Theology

I heard Cal Beisner in critiquing the Federal Vision affirm that to declare to infants that baptism puts them in the covenant and that in the covenant Christ is is to declare a false gospel. This, ultimately, leads children to despair, he argues. But I cannot imagine a more false representation of Federal Vision theology. I know every major member of the so-called Federal Vision. Most of them are actually close friends. So, to hear such a simplistic understanding of what these men have been saying for years is actually quite offensive. No FV proponent would stop at such a statement. What Beisner failed to state is that Federal Vision advocates will encourage their children to trust in Christ and His Gospel as a necessary evidence of their covenant status.

FV does not presume, they believe in consuming the Gospel in word and deed. Baptism is the mere initiatory rite that gives access to the life of faith. The baptized life is not trust in baptism, but trust in the God of baptism. Anti-Covenant Vision thinkers usually state just enough to condemn FV advocates while rarely giving the full picture. “FV advocates believe in salvation by works,” they say. But what FV advocates say is what St. James says. James is saying, to use Reformed language, that “faith alone saves, but  faith is not alone.” In other words, what FV proponents are asking is what kind of faith saves. Is it an empty faith or a living faith? The answer is only a living faith is a persevering faith. Baptism means nothing apart from a living faith. This is why Beisner and caricatures of Federal Vision theology are becoming rather childish.

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