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Since I first heard about "Federal Vision" Theology, I've read quite a bit about it on two blogs, The Presbyteer and Blog and Mablog. (Blog and Mablog has something just about every day on the controversy; both this blog and the Presbyteer's are very strongly pro-Federal Vision theology.) Also called "Auburn Avenue Theology" or the "Monroe Doctrine" (Auburn Avenue is the church in Monroe, LA, where much of this theology is being developed), there are some very interesting developments that could significantly shape the landscape of Reformed Theology over the next decade, and perhaps even for many years to come.

[Edit, 1/26/07, 10:37 am: In a comment below, The Presbyteer clarified his position on the matter; also, I realized that Doug Wilson, the author of Blog and Mablog, is not only supportive, but he was one of the contributors for my book on the pro-Federal Vision side. Just wanted to make that clear, lest I misrepresent anyone.]

But, that doesn't mean that this stuff is simple. There are some things these people are saying that seem very logical and natural extensions of the theology that led me to paedobaptism, but there are some things I read and cringe a little bit. The stuff that makes sense seems extremely helpful; the stuff that bothers me seems potentially disastrous.

So, to get a better understanding of the issues, I picked up The Auburn Avenue Theology Pros and Cons: Debating the Federal Vision from the Samford University Library. The book is filled with five papers from "pros," five from "cons," and responses to each paper from the respective "other side" after a weekend of in-person debate and weeks of e-mail exchanges with each other. The whole conference was designed to get rid of misunderstandings surrounding the issue and to get to the big issues. I have only read the first few essays, but I finish up my Puritan Spirituality class this morning, and I will try to spend a good part of the day continuing to read it. My goal is to finish it before my Spring semester classes start on Tuesday, but I can't promise anything. I'll let you know my thoughts in a few days.

Also, in case you were wondering, I haven't forgotten about the third part to my "Outward Sign, Inward Reality" post series (read part one and part two here)--I simply am trying to make sure that I have a really good grasp of the issues before I slap something down I my blog. This Auburn Avenue Theology stuff, for example, is really making me think through a lot of the issues involved in what I would write for the third part. So, I'm making progress toward writing more about baptism, but I'm not even comfortable writing an interim report at this point. "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness..."

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I, "The Presbyteer", am strongly *sympathetic* to the Federal Vision guys. But that doesn't mean I actually get it all or agree at every last point. There are places where I am not confident to follow boldly. I'm a theological wimp.

My stronger concern is that these guys not be slammed as heretics or something. What they are saying -- and I am confident I understand it at least thus far -- should not put them out of bounds in confessional Reformed churches. It's the heresy hunters that provoke my strongest concern in this matter.

I trust I make myself obscure.

For what it's worth Jacob, I think a lot of theological ideas can be awesome if understood correctly or disastrous if taken too far. Calvinism is a prime example of this. Understood correctly it's a life-enriching, god-honoring theology. Taken too far it reduces men to robots and makes god the author of sin. Would like to learn more about it sometime, we'll need to talk when you're in town next :).

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