Clark Rebukes Shepherd’s Federal Vision

I truly appreciate the work that R. Scott Clark does on the Heidleblog. In a recent article entitle Forty Three Years of Federal Vision Theology, he shows that in all the major reformed confessions, there is a unity in the view that we are justified by faith alone, in Christ alone.

Whatever formal diversity existed within the most significant Reformed voices, during the classical period of Reformed theology, we may be sure of the substantial agreement among the Reformed churches since all the Reformed confessions confess the very same doctrine of justification, i.e., the free declaration by God that sinners are regarded as righteous only for the sake of Christ’s righteousness, his condign merits imputed to believers received only through faith, trusting, resting, and receiving in Christ and in his finished work. This is the doctrine of the Reformed confessions, e.g., the Genevan Confession (1536), the Belgic Confession (1560), the Scots Confession (1560), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Second Helvetic Confession (1566), the Canons of Dort (1619), and the Westminster Standards (1648). (Emphasis added)

Notice the very words in the definition of justification: “free declaration.” This precludes any works that we may do, which is what some of those who hold to Federal Vision are saying, at least those FVers who are following Norman Shepherd. They claim that is it not only faith that saves us, but our works as well. Shepherd, when confronted by this reality, tried to back down by saying that it is “faithfulness” or “covenant faithfulness” but that is the same thing.

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