Monday, November 1, 2010

Chart: Federal Vision Theology Compared with Biblical Christianity (by Brian Schwertley)

The following is a chart comparing biblical Christianity ("the Reformed Faith") with Federal Vision theology ("Auburn Avenue Doctrine").  The chart is from Rev. Brian Schwertley's book, "Auburn Avenue Theology: A Biblical Analysis (Saunderstown, RI: American Presbyterian Press, 2005 ), pp. 104, 105.

The Auburn Avenue Doctrine
The Reformed Faith
Covenant is relationship which is rooted in the relationship between the persons of the ontological trinity.
Covenant is an agreement. The covenant of grace is rooted in the covenant of redemption (pactum salutis).
Before the fall Adam was under a covenant of grace.
Before the fall Adam was under a covenant of works.
After the fall God requires a partial obedience to His law in order to be justified. This partial obedience is fulfilled by faithful Christians and results in final justification.
After the fall God requires a perfect and perpetual obedience to His law in thought, word and deed in order to be justified. This perfect and perpetual obedience is fulfilled by Jesus Christ and is imputed to believing sinners.
Jesus’ sinless life is only an example of faithfulness for His people to follow.
Our Lord’s sinless life is not only an example but is also a fulfillment of the covenant of works that is necessary if a believing sinner is to be declared righteous before God.
Christians are justified by faith and faithfulness (i.e. perseverance in personal obedience).
Christians are justified by faith alone apart from the works of the law.

Faith and obedience are necessary to obtain final justification. Faith is introspective. It is divided between Christ and the believer’s faithfulness. Obedience is a co-instrument of justification.
Faith is the sole instrument which lays hold of Christ and His accomplished redemption. Faith is extraspective. Obedience is a fruit of justification.

Faith and obedience are the same thing. Faith is complex and includes the fruits of faith.
Obedience flows from true faith and is distinguishable from it. Faith is simple.
Good works or covenantal faithfulness has an important role to play in a believer’s final justification.
The good works of believers are tainted with sin, are non-meritorious and only
demonstrate the reality of saving faith.
Paul’s condemnation of the works of the law in relation to justification concerns only the ceremonial laws or Jewish identity markers which exclude Gentiles from the covenant.
Paul’s condemnation of the works of the law in relation to justification refers to the whole law: ceremonial and moral. The traditional Protestant law/gospel antithesis stands.
Justification refers only to the pardon of sins and not the imputation of Jesus’ active [or preceptive] obedience. Pardon is supplemented by covenant faithfulness which results in final justification.
Justification involves the imputation of the believing sinner’s guilt and liability of punishment to Christ on the cross and our Lord’s perfect righteousness to the believer. The good works or covenant faithfulness of the Christian has nothing to do with justification.
If a person does not continue in obedience the justification received when baptized is removed and the apostate person loses his salvation.
Because a Christian’s justification is achieved solely by Christ it can never be lost. People who apostatize never had saving faith and were never justified to begin with (1 Jn. 2:19; Mt. 7:23).
Sanctification if faithfully continued leads to final justification. The process which leads to justification is synergistic.
The moment a person is justified, the life-long process of sanctification begins. The justification of sinners is monergistic.
The covenant of grace includes conditions. One condition is faithful obedience or good works. The personal righteousness, obedience or good works of believers has salvific “value” (i.e. merit) before God.
The covenant of grace has only one condition which is faith. This faith is a gift. It is instrumental and non-meritorious. It merely grasps the person and work of Christ.
Since faith and obedience are the same thing and we receive glorified life in the same manner as Adam before the fall, the covenant of grace is a watered down covenant of works (i.e. a partial obedience is now required for final justification).  
The covenant of grace is radically different from the covenant of works because Christ the second Adam fulfills the terms of the covenant in our place. People who are under the guilt and power of sin cannot achieve or even contribute to their own justification.  


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