Friday, October 21, 2016

What Pragmatic Christian Voters can Learn from 300 Spartans

(image source, adapted from original)

by Steve C. Halbrook

Politically pragmatic American Christians can learn a lot from the Spartans who courageously died at the Battle of Thermopylae. Here, a mere 300 Spartans led by King Leonidasalong with some other Greek alliesbattled King Xerxes' vast army of Persian soldiers (thousands, if not over a million)one of the largest armies ever.

The Spartans lost: all were slaughtered (although not without inflicting massive Persian casualties); nevertheless, they refused to capitulate to Xerxes by giving in to his demand to acknowledge him as their ruler. 

And yet while these pagan but courageous Spartans were not willing to "vote" for Xerxes to be ruler over their landeven at the cost of their livesmany American Christians regularly capitulate to anti-Christian, humanistic politicians by voting them into office. (A new low was hit in the previous election when Christians supported the Mormon Mitt Romney for president, and this year, many Christians are supporting the foul-mouthed, trash-talking Donald Trump.)

How often does one hear something like, "Yes, I realize candidate A is bad, but I must support him because candidate B is even worse." Such Christians often realize that they support evil candidates, and yet, out of fear of a more evil candidate, they vote for the seemingly most electable "lesser evil" without consideration of religion and biblical ruler qualifications

The reason is self-preservation; while the "lesser evil" is still a tyrant, the hope is that he won't infringe on their liberty as much as the "greater evil". Thus standing on principle by refusing to vote for anyone besides a biblically qualified, Christian candidateeven if it means not voting at all and being willing to suffer the consequences for the sake of honoring Godis jettisoned for comfort in this life.

And so, to support an enemy of God as a ruler in the hopes of attaining better treatment is analogous to treating with Xerxes in the hopes of attaining better treatment; and thus, unlike the Spartans, is to refuse to stand one's ground and suffer the consequences, no matter what they might be. 

(We are not advocating violence, or revolt once wicked rulers are in power; our concern here is voting.)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, on the other hand, were in a sense Spartan warriors. When Nebuchadnezzar  threatened them with death for not worshiping his idol, they were willing to fight to the death using the word of God. As they told Nebuchadnezzar before he tried to execute them:
"O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." (Daniel 3:16b-18)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego understood well that while duty was theirs, the results were God's. 

Just as the Spartans refused to bend their knee to Xerxeseven if it cost them their livesShadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bend their knee to Nebuchadnezzar's idols, even if it cost them their own lives. They refused to “vote” for their political freedom by rationalizing that God’s righteous standards against idolatry didn’t existFor them, capitulation, or political pragmatism, was not an option. 

Rather, it was either Nebuchadnezzar's capitulation to the Almighty God, or death to the last man. (It would be the former: God blessed their faithfulness.) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego saw more liberty in battling (in a spiritual way) tyranny than in giving in to it, even if it meant being roasted alive in the fiery furnace.

And thus, may our fellow American Christians learn this lesson well. When it comes to obedience to God (whether regarding biblical ruler qualifications, or anything else), there is no middle ground. One either obeysand is willing to suffer the consequences for God's gloryor one disobeys by yielding to the demands of sin. 

With this in mind, note that the Spartans, had they capitulated to Xerxes, would have been been granted the title "Friends of the Persian People." And similarly, whenever we as Christians capitulate to the world, we become "Friends of God's enemies" and thereby oppose God. Scripture says, "whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4b).

Let those of us who are Christians then be like the Spartans by being unconditional in our resolve; no, actually, let us be better. Spartans, for all their courage, were still pagans without the Holy Spirit. Christians, on the other hand, have the Holy Spirit, and so are much more empowered for dealing with conflict. As such, there should absolutely be no terms in which God's enemies can buy us off with. 

If Xerxes couldn't buy off mere pagans, how much less should our modern Xerxes-system be able to buy off Christians? Let us therefore work to vote biblically qualified rulers into officeregardless of the oddsor die trying (that is, be willing to suffer persecution for obeying God). Either way, God is glorified.

So, fellow Christian, why worry about the odds? The enemy has so many arrows that, when fired, they blacken the sky? Fine. Then we fight in the shade.
"For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds." (2 Corinthians 10:4)


photo credit:

Photo at the top:
Adapted from "Battle of Marathon"
© Cleber.knfire / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY -SA 3.0) (license). Retrieved from 


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Thomas Shepard on Sola Scriptura & Civil Government, Sabbath Breaking, & More

Thomas Shepard (1605-1649) was an important Puritan writer and pastor who participated in the founding of Harvard University and worked to evangelize the Indians. He also influenced the procuring of The Cambridge Platform, an important constitution for Congregational churches on church government and discipline. 

Below are some quotes regarding his views on:
  • The binding authority of the Judicial Laws of Moses
  • The Sufficiency of Scripture for civil government
  • The need for rulers to punish violations of the First Table of the Law (including violations of the Sabbath)
  • Toleration and abuse of power
  • The law of nature, the Judicial Law, and commonwealths
  • Why the death penalty for the Sabbath, and whether it binds nations today

As a Fence to the Moral Law, the Judicial Laws of Moses Bind all Nations

Thomas Shepard argues that those judicial laws of Moses that are a fence to the moral law bind all nations, since such a fence is as necessary today as it was for Israel:
The judicial laws, some of them being hedges and fences to safeguard both moral and ceremonial precepts, their binding power was therefore mixed and various, for those which did safeguard any moral law, (which is perpetual) whether by just punishments or otherwise, do still morally bind all nations; for, as Piscator argues, a moral law is as good and as precious now in these times as then, and there is as much need of the preservation of these fences to preserve these laws in these times, and at all times, as well as then, there being as much danger of the treading down of those laws by the wild beasts of the world and brutish men (sometimes even in churches) now as then; and hence God would have all nations preserve their fences forever, as he would have that law preserved forever which these safeguard; but, on the other side, these judicials which did safeguard ceremonial laws which we know were not perpetual, but proper to that nation, hence those judicials which compass these about are not perpetual nor universal; the ceremonials being plucked up by their roots, to what purpose then should their fences and hedges stand? As, on the contrary, the morals abiding, why should not their judicials and fences remain?
The learned generally doubt not to affirm that Moses’ judicials bind all nations, so far forth as they contain any moral equity in them, which moral equity doth appear not only in respect of the end of the law, when it is ordered for common and universal good, but chiefly in respect of the law which they safeguard and fence, which if it be moral, it is most just and equal, that either the same or like judicial fence (according to some fit proportion) should preserve it still, because it is but just and equal that a moral and universal law should be universally preserved; from whence, by the way, the weakness of their reasonings may be observed, who, that they may take away the power of the civil magistrate in matters of the first table, (which once he had in the Jewish commonwealth,) affirm that such civil power then did arise from the judicial, and not from any moral law; whenas it is manifest that this his power in preserving God’s worship pure from idolatrous and profane mixtures, according to the judicial laws, was no more but a fence and safeguard set about moral commandments; which fences and preservatives are therefore (for substance) to continue in as much power and authority now as they did in those days, as long as such laws continue in their morality, which these preserve; the duties of the first table being also as much moral as those of the second, to the preserving of which latter from hurt and spoil in respect of their morality, no wise man questions the extent of his power.[1]

The Sufficiency of Scripture for Civil Government

Shepard holds that Scripture provides all the guidance necessary for rulers to create good laws:
Because the law is sufficient to guide the whole man, in its whole course, in all the actions or occasions it meddles with or takes in hand, even in civil as well as in religious matters. Prov. ii. 9, "Wisdom teacheth every good path" [paraphrase]. Ps. cxix. 11, "I have hid thy word, that I might not sin" [paraphrase]. Whatever one doth without a rule from the word, is not of faith. Hence the word descends to the most petty occasions of our lives; it teacheth men how to look, (Ps. cxxxi. 1,) how to speak, (Matt. xii. 36;) it descends to the plaiting of the hair, (1 Pet. iii. 5,) moving of the feet, (Is. iii. 16;) and what is of Christian liberty hath its freedom from the word: a man must give an account at the last day of every stirring of heart, thoughts, motives, and secret words; and if so, then it must be according to the rule of the word; and hence the word only hath absolute power to bind masters, servants, and princes how they govern, and people how they subject; and this the Lord hath done to make men take Counsel from him, and walk in fear before him, and approve themselves to him, especially townsmen in their places not to consult without God.
2. All good laws and orders enacted in any place by men are either expressly mentioned in the word, or are to be collected and deducted from the word, as being able to give sufficient direction herein. For all the authority of the highest power on earth, in contriving of laws, is in this alone, viz., to make prudent collection and special application of the general rules, recorded in Scripture, to such special and peculiar circumstances which may promote the public weal and good of persons, places, proceedings. Prov. viii. 85 [15], "By me princes decree justice" [paraphrase]. Josh. i. 7, 8, "Do what Moses commanded; turn not on either hand" [paraphrase]. Object. But I can not see my way from hence always. Meditate therefore on it much, and then thy way shall prosper, etc. Many things Joshua did not particularly set down by Moses, but may be collected from it. Deut. i. 17—20, "The king is to have it, that he may prolong his days in the midst of Israel," in his kingdom [not sure of the connection between the quote and the verse cited]. What made Rehoboam to turn from these ways? He thought he could not stablish his kingdom without it; that was, therefore, the ruin of him and his kingdom.[2] 
Shephard likewise affirms the sufficiency of Scripture in civil government while discussing the magistrate's need to see the Sabbath observed:
And if superiors in families are to see their gates preserved unspotted from such provoking evils, can any think but that the same bond lies upon superiors in commonwealths, who are the fathers of those great families, whose subjects also are within their gates, and the power of their jurisdictions? The civil magistrate, though he hath no power to impose new laws upon the consciences of his subjects, yet he is bound to see that the laws of God be kept by all his subjects; provided always, that herein he walk according to the law and rule of God, viz., that, 1, ignorant consciences in clear and momentous matters be first instructed; 2, doubting consciences have sufficient means of being resolved; 3, bold and audacious consciences be first forewarned. Hence it is, that though he hath no power to make holy days, and to impose the observation of them upon the consciences of his subjects, (because these are his own laws,) yet he may and should see that the Sabbath day, (the Lord’s holy day,) that this be observed, because he doth but see to the execution of God’s commandment herein.[3]

The Need for Rulers to Punish Violations of the First Table of the Law (including violations of the Sabbath)

For Shepard, denying magistrates the duty to punish offenses against the first table of the law is a rejection of Christ's kingship. And so he says the following, noting particular offenders against the judicial law such as Sabbath-breakers, false prophets, and heretics (or at least promoters of heresy):
I conceive it is casting off Christ’s power to take away power from magistrates to punish sins against the first table, of which errors and heresies in religion are part. It is as clear as the sun, that the kings of Judah that were godly did it, and were commended for it; and it is as clear they were commended for it, not as types of Christ, but because they did therein that which was right in God’s eyes, and according to the commandment of the Lord, which judicial commandments, concerning the punishing of Sabbath breakers, false prophets, heretics, etc., God's fence to preserve moral laws, they are of moral equity, and so to be observed to this day of Christian magistrates, etc.[4] 
While arguing for rulers to prohibit profaning of the Sabbath, Shepard says the following in defense of the civil enforcement of the first table of the law:
By what rule did Nehemiah not only forbid the breach of the Sabbath, but did also threaten bodily punishment upon the men of Tyre? (although they were heathens, yet were they at this time within the gates and compass of his jurisdiction, Neh. xiii. 21.) Certainly he thought himself bound in conscience to see that the Sabbath should not be profaned by any that were within his gates, according to this fourth commandment. If kings, and princes, and civil magistrates have nothing to do in matters of the first table, (and consequently must give any man liberty to profane the Sabbath that pretends conscience,) why then doth Jeremy call upon princes to see that it be not profaned, with promise of having their crowns and kingdoms preserved from wrath if thus they do, and with threatening the burning up and consuming of city and kingdom if this they do not? (Jer. xvii. 19, 25, 27.) If civil magistrates have nothing to do herein, they then have nothing to do to preserve their crowns, kingdoms, scepters, subjects, from fire and blood, and utter ruin. Nehemiah was no type of Christ, nor were the kings of Israel bound to see the Sabbath kept as types of Christ, but as nursing fathers of the commonwealth, and because their own subjects were within their gates, and under their power; and therefore, according to this moral rule of the commandment, they were bound not only to keep it themselves, but to see that all others did so also.[5] 

On Toleration and Abuse of Power

The civil magistrate's abuse of power is often raised in defense of too much toleration. Shepard addresses this objection in the following way:
It is true civil magistrates may abuse their power, judge amiss, and think that to be the command of God which is not; but we must not therefore take away their power from them, because they may pervert it and abuse it; we must not deny that power they have for God, because they may pervert it and turn the edge of it against God; for if upon this ground the magistrate hath no power over his subjects in matters of the first table, he may have also all his feathers pulled from him, and all his power taken from him in matters of the second table; for we know that he may work strange changes there, and pervert justice and judgment exceedingly: we must not deny their power, because they may turn it awry, and hurt God’s church and people by it, but (as the apostle exhorts, 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2) to pray for them the more, that under them we may live a peaceable life in all godliness and honesty: it is a thousand times better to suffer persecution for righteousness’ sake and for a good conscience, than to desire and plead for toleration of all consciences, that so (by this cowardly device and lukewarm principle) our own may be untouched: it was never heard of, until now of late, that any of God’s prophets, apostles, martyrs, faithful witnessess, etc., that they ever pleaded for liberty in error, but only for the truth, which they preached and prayed for, and suffered for unto the death; and their sufferings for the truth with zeal, patience, faith, constancy, have done more good than the way of universal toleration is like to do, which is purposely invented to avoid trouble. Truth hath ever spread by opposition and persecution; but error, being a child of Satan, hath fled, by a zealous resisting it.[6]
While Shepherd held that rulers should tolerate the humble conscience, for him there is a world of difference between this and tolerating in any particular civil matter those who pretend conscience. 
Sick and weak men are to be tendered much, but lunatic and frantic men are in best case when they are well fettered and bound; a weak conscience is to be tendered, a humble conscience tolerated; errors of weakness, not wickedness, are with all gentleness to be handled; the liberty given in the reign of Episcopacy for sports, and pastimes, and may games, upon the Lord’s day, was once loathsome to all honest minds; but now to allow a greater liberty to buy, sell, plow, cart, thresh, sport upon the Sabbath day, to all those who pretend conscience, or rather that they have no conscience of one day more than another, is to build up Jericho and Babel again, and to lay foundations of wrath to the land; for God will certainly revenge the pollutions of his Sabbaths: if God be troubled in his rest, no wonder if he disturbs our peace: some of the ancients think that the Lord brought the flood of waters upon the Sabbath day, as they gather from Gen. vii. 10, because they were grown to be great profaners of the Sabbath; and we know that Prague was taken upon this day. The day of their sin began all their sorrows, which are continued to this day, to the amazement of the world. When the time comes that the Lord’s precious Sabbaths are the days of God’s church’s rest, then shall come in the church’s peace. (Ps. cii. 13, 14.) The free grace of Christ must first begin herein with us, that we may find at last that rest which this evil world is not yet like to see, unless it speedily love his law more, and his Sabbaths better.[7]

On the Law of Nature, the Judicial Law, and Commonwealths

Shepherd held that the law of nature could be better known by knowledge of God's law, or less known due to the corruption of sin. Moreover, many judicial laws are still natural and moral, and are binding on nations:
If more narrow inquiry be made, what the law of nature is, these distinctions must be observed:—
1. The law of nature is either of pure or corrupt nature.
The law of pure nature was the law of God writ on Adam’s heart in innocency, which was nothing else but that holy bent and inclination of the heart within to act according to the holy law of God revealed, or covenant made with him without; and thus Aquinas places the law of nature in this inclination. 
The law of corrupt nature is that dim light left in the mind, and moral inclination left in the will, in respect of some things contained in the law of God, which the apostle calls conscience, (Rom. ii. 15;) which natural conscience is nothing but the remnants and general principles of the law of pure nature, left in all men since the fall, which may be increased by more knowledge of the law of God, or more diminished and defaced by the wickedness of man. (Tit. i. 15.)
2. The law of corrupt nature is taken either more largely or strictly. 
As it is taken more largely, so it comprehends all that which is agreeable and suitable to natural reason, and that from a natural innate equity in the thing, when it is made known, either by divine instruction or human wisdom, although it be not immediately known by the light of nature; and thus many judicial laws are natural and moral, (though positive,) and of binding nature, unto this day
As it is taken strictly, so it comprehends no more but what nature immediately knows, or may know, without external instruction, as parents to be honored, man's life to be preserved.[8]
According to Shepherd, the moral law as seen in the law of nature is almost blotted out for the unsaved; however, while there is little known regarding matters of the First Table, there is a general printing of the notions of the Second Table of the law in their hearts which assists in the preservation of commonwealths:
If we speak of the law of nature, strictly taken, for that which is immediately and readily known by the common light of nature in all men, then it may be safely affirmed, that although the Sabbath should not be in this sense natural, yet it will not follow that it is not therefore moral; for the moral law, once writ on man’s heart in pure nature, is almost blotted out; only some rudera and old rubbish is left of it in a perverse mind and a corrupt heart. (Eph. iv. 18.) We see the wisest of the heathens making those things to be moral virtues (Junius instanceth in the law of private revenge, and we know they magnified will worship) which the Scripture condemns as moral vices and sins: God would have commonwealths preserved, in all places of the world, from the inundation and deluge of man’s wickedness, and therefore he hath generally printed the notions of the second table upon men’s hearts, to set bounds (as by sea banks) unto the overflowings thereof, and hence it is that they are generally known: but he would not have churches every where, and therefore there is but little known concerning matters of the first table, and consequently about this law of the Sabbath, which notwithstanding may be moral, although it be not so immediately made known.[9]

Why the Death Penalty for the Sabbath, and Whether it Binds Nations Today

Shepherd holds that the man who was executed for breaking the Sabbath in Scripture was not simply executed for gathering sticks, but for doing so presumptuously. He then ponders as to whether such a penalty applies today:
The man that gathered sticks on the Sabbath (Num. xv. 30) was put to death. What! for gathering of sticks only? Why then did not the just God put them to death who were the first offenders, (and therefore most fit to be made examples,) who went out to gather manna upon this day? (Ex. xvi.) This gathering of sticks, therefore, though little in itself, yet seems to be aggravated by presumption; and that the man did presumptuously break the Sabbath, and therefore it is generally observed, that this very example follows the law of punishing a presumptuous transgressor with death in this very chapter: and though it be said that they found a man gathering sticks, as if it were done secretly, and not presumptuously, yet we know that presumptuous sins may be committed secretly as well as openly, though they are not in so high a degree presumptuous as when they are done more openly: the fear of the law against Sabbath breakers might restrain the man from doing that openly which before God was done proudly and presumptuously; and though Moses doubted what to do with the man, who had that capital law given him before against Sabbath breakers, yet they might be ignorant for a time of the full and true meaning of it, which the Lord here seems to expound, viz., that a Sabbath breaker sinning presumptuously is to be put to death; and although it be doubted whether such a law is not too rigorous in these times, yet we do see that where the magistrate neglects to restrain from this sin, the Lord takes the magistrate’s work into his own hand, and many times cuts them off suddenly who profane his Sabbath presumptuously; and it is worth inquiring into, whether presumptuous Sabbath breakers are not still to be put to death; which I doubt not but that the Lord will either one day clear up, or else discover some specialty in the application of this judicial law, to that polity of the Jews, as most fit for them, and not so universally fit for all others in Christian commonwealths; but this latter I yet see no proof for; nor do I expect the clearing up of the other while the temper of the times is loose and lukewarm.[10]


[1] Thomas Shepard, The Works of Thomas Shepard, First Pastor of the First Church, Cambridge, Mass. with a Memoir of His Life and Character: Volume III, ed. John Adams Albro  (Boston, MA: Doctrinal Tract and Book Society, 1853), 53, 54.
[2] Ibid., 346, 347.
[3] Ibid., 263.
[4] Ibid., 342.
[5] Ibid., 263, 264.
[6] Ibid., 264.
[7] Ibid., 264, 265.
[8] Ibid., 177.
[9] Ibid., 179.
[10] Ibid., 256.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Preview "Voiceless" -- a Movie about Engaging the Culture

The movie "Voiceless" is slated to appear in theaters October 7. If the theology is good (for example, if it doesn't promote Arminian freewill theology), then it may be an excellent film, as it is about Christianity, fighting training, and cultural reformation. According to the synopsis, "It addresses the spirit of retreat as it pertains to engaging the culture that has developed within the Church."

Learn more about the movie here. Here's the full synopsis: 
Jesse Dean is a recently discharged soldier who had a rough upbringing, but because of his wife, found God and now is totally devoted to his faith.
He and wife move to Philadelphia so he can take a new job as an outreach leader at an old church whose membership has been declining. As everything is going well and as he starts connecting to the community, he discovers there's an abortion clinic directly across the street from the church.
He goes to the pastor and to several others in the church and tries to get their help to no avail. One day something tragic and personal happens to him while he's going about his everyday routine. He comes to the point that he begins to take action himself. He gets involved but the more involved he gets, the more resistance he gets from those in church and community. His wife, who thinks his actions will get him fired or land him in jail, also comes against him.
Finally, it comes down to him having to make a choice: is he going to take the easy way out and back off, which is what everyone wants him to do, or will he face a major confrontation which will require him to put everything on the line…not just his job, but his freedom and marriage as well.
This film encourages people to stand up for what they know is right, particularly as it pertains to taking God's truths into society to address social issues. It addresses the spirit of retreat as it pertains to engaging the culture that has developed within the Church.


Friday, September 23, 2016

An Open Letter to the American Vision on the Federal Vision

A Song of degrees of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.  
(Psa 133:1-3) 

An Open Letter to the American Vision on the Federal Vision 
by Nathan Pace & Stephen Halbrook: 
The Federal Vision (FV) is a heresy in Reformed circles that teaches salvation by works. Since the FV has come on the scene beginning in 2002, there have been many theonomists who have come out against it: Joe Morecraft III, Brian Schwertley, John Otis, and others. Moreover, prior to the formal unveiling of the FV, Greg Bahnsen opposed James Jordan (considered by some to be "the godfather of the FV") for his interpretive maximalism and sacramentalism.  

One theonomic organization that has not taken a stance against and/or openly opposed the FV has been the American Vision (AV).  Furthermore, the AV openly promotes the works of FV advocates, hamade documentaries with them, and has had them speak at their conferences. At the time of this letter the following FV advocates’ resources are available and promoted on the AV website: – Doug Wilson (perhaps the most influential FV advocate), James Jordan (a major influence on the FV), and Peter Leihart (who has stirred controversy in the PCA for his FV tenants).  

To our knowledge, none of the works by FV advocates promoted by AV teach the FV heresy itself; but by exposing the AV audience to Federal Visionists without even a disclaimer, seeds may be planted for followers of AV to go on to read and be influenced by heretical FV teachings. 

On July 5, 2016 Dr. Joel McDurmon posted an articletitled TheonomyBahnsen, and “Federal Vision”: a reply to Rev. Dewey Roberts, to the AV website. The original article written by Rev. Roberts, titled Theonomy, Greg Bahnsen, and the Federal VisionFederal Vision is the natural progression of the principles of theonomy, made the case that Theonomy leads to the FV. Dr. McDurmon’s reply sought to prove that Rev. Roberts had refuted himself in his attempts to prove that Theonomy leads to FV. *It should be noted here that we DO NOT agree that Theonomy leads to the FV and we do not agree with Rev. Roberts. * 

This would have been the perfect opportunity for Dr. McDurmon and the AV to state that the AV does not support the FV or its advocates. He could have simply stated that the FV is heresy and that he denies all associations. Dr. McDurmon chose a different route. First, one will notice an interesting change to the title that Dr. McDurmon has made. His title differs from Rev. Roberts in that Dr. McDurmon has decided to add quote marks to the terms Federal Vision. Dr. McDurmon seems to indicate that Rev. Roberts' use of the terms are arbitrary. He states: 

The article is beset with all kinds of difficulties, for example, the fact that Rev. Roberts seems to condemn Theonomy and Federal Vision up front without providing any definitions of what these things are, or citing any sources for proof. Since I have watched scores of critics, literally, misquote and misrepresent both of these movements for decades, I would like to see something more than just the next critic’s bare ipse dixit, especially when charging terms like “legalism,” “works salvation,” etc. An article purporting to show connections based on the logical extension of “the principles of theonomy” is somewhat obligated to give a credible representation of what those principles actually are. But Rev. Roberts’s article provides nothing but innuendo and condemnation.1 

Just as he has asked of Rev. Roberts we ask him. Please answer the following Dr. McDurmon: 

What is your working definition of “Theonomy”? 
What is your working definition of “Federal Vision”? 

American Vision's mission, as stated on its "about" page, is to provide "resources to exhort Christian families and individuals to live by a Biblically based worldview." We commend the organization for this, and appreciate much of what it has done. But surely AV believes that the purity of the Gospel is foundational to a biblical worldview; in fact, AV devotes an entire page on its website about the Gospel (What is the Gospel by Greg Bahnsen), and Joel McDurmon emphasizes the Gospel being foundational to Christian Reconstruction in his piece Theonomy and Regeneration

     With these thoughts in mind and the history of AV’s refusal to take a position one way or the other on the FV—We, fellow theonomistsimplore the AV to openly opposthe FV. While the Federal Vision is not exclusive to theonomy circles, it is within theonomy circles, and therefore it stands to reason that a theonomic biblical worldview organization would oppose it to protect the purity of the Gospel and the souls of those that it may influence.

Appendix: Helpful Resources 

What's the Big Deal with the Federal Vision? Is it Heresy? by Steve C. Halbrook (a concise critique for a quick understanding of the FV)    



Denominational Position papers on the FV: 
The Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States (RPCUS) 
The Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS) 
Westminster Presbyterian Church in the United States (WPCUS) 
Reformed Presbyterian Church General Assembly (RPCGA) (Refers to the Federal Vision as "Auburn Avenue Theology")  
The Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) 
The Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCA) 
United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA)