Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Federal Vision - best make sure what you're getting into

Some, nay many, of the advocates of the "Federal Vision" are clever, winsome and articulate. They point out many of our weaknesses in modern evangelicalism very effectively. They have excellent family lives, and a full-orbed view of Christianity and the impact it should have on the world. For all this I praise God. But I continue to be a resolute opponent of the "FV" because despite all of this, I believe its fundamental doctrines and the outworking of them are profoundly and dangerously contrary to Scriptural truth.

One of the most important theologians who has been a huge influence in promoting FV theology is James (Jim) B. Jordan, 60 years old this year, presently of Florida, whose ministry is called "Biblical Horizons". He's basically theologian numero uno in the FV movement, so it's important to know what he thinks and believes. It's common to find in the books of those in FV circles a credit to the influence of of Jordan in the front of the book or wherever. David Field, the/a source/channel of most FV teaching in the UK, writes "Jim Jordan has been, without a shred of doubt, the most important influence on my theological thinking over the last 20 years." ( - recently taken down with the rest of his blog, but still available in the Google cache). In another post, he offers to refund theological students or past students of the particular theological college where he was teaching (from which most of the FV advocates in Christian Ministry in the UK have come) $75 if they buy Jordan's collection of MP3 lectures and listen to 20 of them and decide they wanted a refund, saying that he would "retire happy" if a good number of the students of that college would listen to them. So you can see that Jordan's an important figure in the FV.

I find Jordan's writings routinely stimulating, often insightful, and sometimes correct. But I'm rambling. The point of this post is to point out just where you're going to be led by Jordan if you appoint him as your guide. This will also be helpful for those who don't know what the FV is, or why I would speak so strongly against it, or who think perhaps the difference between the FV and the Reformed faith as we know and love it isn't that significant. Dr. Jordan would like to tell you why, because he thinks the difference is very significant. Read his latest output to see where he's coming from / where he's going.

Dr. Jordan refers to the mainstream Reformed movement as "Gnostics", calls them "Calvinists" only in quote-marks , says that they have distorted the confessions and catechisms "almost beyond recognition", says that modern evangelical Presbyterianism is basically the same as medieval Roman Catholicism, that communion held in Reformed churches is effectively the same as the medieval mass (on the grounds that many churches uses alcohol-free grape juice), that Reformed opponents of the FV have "no interest in the Bible", "identically" with medieval Rome, and so on.

Jim Jordan's not a fringe figure in the FV movement, and these views are not novel to him. Perhaps there are ways in which we could make excuses for him. As someone who received two degrees from a mainstream Reformed seminary, there could be some allowance made for "attacking where I once was with dis-proportionate force" syndrome. Perhaps he's extra sore because his brand of theology hasn't gained the widespread acceptance he wished it had, and he can see himself as a fringe figure. Perhaps there are personal issues or events we know nothing about. This is all speculation. Who knows? I don't. But whatever's behind the rhetoric, I think that mainstream Reformed believers in the UK who want to know what the FV is about ought to know just what the FV's most influential theologian actually thinks of them and the mainstream Reformed movement, and what those coming under his influence are being taught to think. Read Dr. Jordan's latest blogs here:,

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