Federal Vision, heresy at the root By David J. Engelsma, Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2012.
David Engelsma of the Protestant Reformed Churches pulls no punches in his analysis of the theology of Federal Vision.
Englesma calls out Federal Vision as a doctrine which openly and expressly denies the five points of Calvinism (p. 83), is unbiblical (p. 118), Arminianism (p. 109), a doctrine of terror (p. 169), a false gospel (p. 69) which serves the antichrist (p. 173), a damnable soul-destroying heresy (p. 96), essentially Roman Catholic theology (p. 175), a mark of a false church (p. 178), and an astounding, unmistakeable, significant stage in the great apostasy forecasted for the last days in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (p. 171).
The focus of Englesma’s book is to point clearly the root of the heresy of Federal Vision—a false view of the Covenant. Engelsma argues exhaustively that the covenant of the Federal Visionists is a “conditional covenant” and that this conditional covenant strikes at the very heart of the Gospel. Martin Luther called the doctrine of justification by faith alone the “standing or falling of the church.” John Calvin called it “the main hinge on which religion turns.” Federal Vision and its conditional covenant rejects this central tenet of Protestant, Biblical thought. Engelsma rightly concludes therefore that Federal Vision should be rejected.
Engelsma’s book is directed towards the lay reader in his denomination as a warning against the pernicious doctrine of Federal Vision and its conditional covenant of faith and works. But his warning extends also to the whole Reformed and Protestant world. As he writes, “nothing less than the doctrine of justification by faith is at stake.” This should get you up out of your chair.
If Federal Vision is a foreign concept to you then it is even more pertinent that you read this book. Perhaps more than any other issue, this errant doctrine has the potential to be the cause of schisms and falling away in the Reformed and Presbyterian world in the coming years. We should pray that the Lord swiftly destroys this heresy.
Though not as concise as Engelma’s masterpiece Hyper-Calvinism and the Free Offer of the Gospel, this book is full of wisdom regarding the topic at hand. Part I presents his case for eradicating the Federal Vision. Part II, in question and answer format, addresses the numerous questions brought to the author from among the pews. These answers provide important reference for those dealing with the same questions in their own churches or in theological debates.