© David Anderson 2008-10. Last updated: 25/01/2010. Feedback: use the e-mail address on my homepage.
Subjects covered in this essay: The Federal Vision, the relationship between the covenants, Christ’s perfect mediation, the language of appearance/phenomena, apostasy proof texts, Arminianism, consistent hermeneutics.
The Federal Vision
I like Doug Wilson very much – he’s Christ-centred, Bible-centred, up front, clear thinking, clear writing and many other things. On the other hand though, I also think that his theological baby, the "Federal Vision", is two steps forward and then two or three back again.
My basic take on the "FV" is that it’s a more self-consistent theological system than the more usual Presbyterian position, but a less Biblical one. Lots of young evangelicals today are looking for a coherent, confident, comprehensive way of framing the doctrines of the faith in a secular society. The FV offers them one – but not, to my mind, a Biblically satisfying one.
The FV takes really seriously the idea that the New Covenant should be assumed to work just like the Old, unless we’re explicitly and unambiguously told otherwise. Presbyterian apologists in my judgment normally only take this "rule" seriously when it comes to the question of infant baptism. Most of the time, they instead apply the correct rule of Biblical interpretation: that the New Covenant interprets the Old and not vice-versa. As a Reformed Baptist, I think that’s a happy inconsistency. The FV-ers, though, are having none of that. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Pastor Wilson is a former Baptist. With such a systematic mind as he evidently possesses, I don’t think that having dropped Baptistic principles he could have been satisfied to stop half-way. I once asked a Pastor what his assessment of the FV was. His answer was delightful for its direct, to-the-point nature: "The Federal Vision is… an attempt to recreate ancient Israel in modern society".
What I’d like to do in this post is make one of my criticisms of the FV. One of the ways in which the FV is more consistent than its Presbyterian rivals is that it takes seriously the idea that you are either a covenant member or you aren’t. Classical Presbyterianism, in an attempt to hold together both 1) the idea of the superior efficacy of the New Covenant and 2) the idea that the New Covenant retains members who aren’t finally saved, has to hold to the idea of two "phases" in the covenant. There are external members, who merely enjoy external privileges – and then there are the "true" members who are elect of God, and enjoy true saving union with the Lord Jesus Christ. There is an outer phase and an inner phase to the covenant – the dividing line between them being faith in Christ. To avoid the error of baptismal regeneration, Presbyterians maintain that there is no intention to imply that infants belong to the inner phase. Rather, until they profess faith for themselves, they enjoy a secondary status, of being "covenant youth" – a kind of probationary stage. They really are in covenant (otherwise it would be wrong to baptise them), but nobody’s saying that that means that they will certainly arrive in heaven.
The FV, correctly in my view, observes that this doctrine of a two-phase covenant has no real support from the New Testament or from the Old. Either you were a member of the covenant, or not, and either you enjoy its privileges, or you don’t. There’s no hedging, where covenant members are urged to become a different kind of covenant member. To be sure, the Old Covenant often speaks with two voices – but never on the subject of Old Covenant membership itself. The problem, though, is that faced with this fork in the road, the FV turns the wrong way. The "right" fork I believe is the Baptist one: 1) That the Old Covenant was essentially a national covenant, and not salvific in and of itself. It contained earthly promises which foreshadowed and typified. Those were promises which the elect would have received savingly, but the non-elect would have remained blind to, but without this being an essential difference in their membership of the Old Covenant qua Old Covenant; 2) That the New Covenant is made with the elect only, and is perfectly salvific to all its members. 3) That there has, therefore, been a substantial development in the inauguration of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant scaffolding of all the earthly/temporal/external privileges has all been taken down, because the reality, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, has arrived. Instead, the FV takes the other available fork (consistent with the "rule" mentioned before): That the New and Old Covenants work on the same basis, i.e., there are no essential distinctions in the privileges which its members enjoy, either amongst themselves within either of the two covenants, or between the two of them collectively. When the Old Covenant gave way to the New, the names changed but the realities remained the same. We, living post-resurrection, enjoy more clarity in the truths that are proclaimed (and hence in our responsibility to believe them) – but there has been no essential change in the nature of the Covenant itself.
A Perfectly Salvific Covenant
The important bit so far to understand is the Federal Vision’s key claim concerning the New Covenant: that it works just like the Old. FV-ers reject the concept of a two-phase membership (as in traditional Presbyterianism) as wrong. But, they hold (unlike Reformed Baptists, who also reject that concept) to the idea that the New Covenant is not perfectly salvific. Rather, like the Old, it contains amongst its membership both the elect and reprobates. The difference is that the reprobates don’t persevere – the difference is not that they were never legitimate covenant members to begin with.
This position comes with a whole range of consequences, which need corresponding theological justification. One huge issue it raises is about the perseverance of the saints. If bona fide, New Covenant members can fall away and ultimately be damned, how does this square with God’s sovereignty in salvation, a doctrine which FV-ers also teach? If their membership was 100% as genuine as the membership of those who persevere to the end and are saved, how do we account for their not being saved?
Personally I think this is a fatal problem for the FV, when compared with Scriptural teaching. Ultimately the Christian’s assurance – the truthfulness of the fifth point of Calvinism – rests in the perfection of Christ’s mediation. The differences between the administration of the covenants were a major point of controversy and a major focus of apostolic teaching. The book of Hebrews in particular has a great deal to say about the perfection of the New Covenant. An essential part of its glory is that under the New Covenant we have a perfect mediator. Unlike those fallible, sinful and mortal human high priests who served in the earthly tabernacle, we have a sinless, immortal heavenly high priest. In these gospel days we have a perfect mediator. The New Covenant is, to use the key word from Hebrews, better. Why is it better? Ultimately because it is mediated by a superior mediator, who "is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." (7:25).
That’s the foundation stone for the Christian’s assurance. If you have come by faith to Christ, then you are now represented before the throne of God by a faultless High Priest. Jesus’s unending and always acceptable prayers guarantee that the New Covenant member will arrive in glory. We may stumble a thousand times – but his intercession for us, his continuing presentation of his perfect work, will ensure that sufficient grace is procured for us so that we rise again and are restored. The Old Covenant did not contain promises of such a high priest; it was a covenant that had faults (Hebrews 8:7). Not all of its members truly knew the Lord, or enjoyed the benefit of his intercession for them. This left the scope for it to be superseded by a new and superior Covenant. Under the New Covenant, the law of God is written not only on tablets of stone and on the hearts of some covenantees – but on the hearts of all of them, so that they all know the Lord from the greatest to the least (8:8-13).
If, though, as according to the FV, every New Covenant member enjoys the same covenant status and privileges as every other (there being no concept of an external membership), how can any such member fall away? If they enjoy the benefit of Christ’s mediation for them, then why is it not effectual? Does the Father refuse to hear? Does he reply and say "this member that you have prayed for is not elect, and therefore I won’t grant you your request?" me genoito! (Unthinkable!). This too would directly contradict the whole thrust of Hebrews’ teaching – that the New Covenant is perfectly efficacious. "But this man [Jesus], because he continues for ever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:24-25). The FV position is that there are those who come to Jesus and truly become members of the New Covenant, but whom Jesus doesn’t save to the uttermost. Either then he makes no intercession for them (contradicting the doctrine that there are no distinctions between Covenant members as to their Covenant privileges), or his intercession is refused (contradicting the statement that he is able to save them to the uttermost on the grounds of this intercession). Either way, the Federal Vision has missed the major point of the book, and denies the primary reasons that the apostle gave to persuade his hearers not to return to the inferior Covenant of Judaism.
Federal Vision Arguments
I’m now going to examine one of the lines of argument that FV proponents use to argue this case. I’d like to do this by using as an example part of a recent blog post by Anglican and Oak Hill graduate Matthew Mason, available here: http://reformedcatholic.wordpress.com/2008/01/30/temporary-faith-is-real-faith/ I knew Matthew when I lived in Oxford, where he was a faithful and godly "apprentice" in the church we both attended at the time.
Under the heading "Temporary faith is real faith", Matthew sets out to answer one of the problems raised by the FV position. Wanting to affirm both Calvinism and the FV, Matthew sets out to answer how it can be that New Covenant members enjoy the same privileges, yet some of them are elect and persevere to the end, whilst others aren’t and don’t. Though there have been variations the traditional Calvinistic answer, the consensus amongst Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians today, hasn’t had to face the difficulties that FV-ers face. Essentially, the answer has been to deny that those who fall away were truly members of the New Covenant. Their faith was external, and not truly rooted in the experience of the new birth. They did not truly know the Lord Jesus Christ, having only a partial and temporary knowledge of him. Like the seed on rocky ground in the parable of the sower, their faith had shallow roots – or like the seed amongst the thorns, was a compromised faith. (Presbyterians have found room to add a second category to the covenant – covenant youth, who may or may not graduate into the covenant’s inner reality; Baptists deny this).
Matthew attempts to set out a theology of faith that bridges this gap, claiming both that 1) those who apostatise and those who don’t have essentially the same faith, yet still trying 2) to account for why some fall away. I don’t want to examine the answer as a whole; to me, Matthew just states a truism and leaves the matter unresolved. The faith of permanent and temporary covenant members is the same, we are told – the difference is that the latter doesn’t last as long. To my mind that’s just restating the challenge in a different form rather than meeting it – but I digress. (In fact in a later blog post Matthew changed his mind on this particular matter).
What I really wanted to examine was the argument Matthew brings forward for the FV position itself, rather than to answer some of the resulting difficulties. Here’s what Matthew writes, first stating the problem raised by the FV position:
What we need is a way of preserving our right attachment to God’s complete sovereignty in salvation, and in particular a doctrine of the preservation of the saints which flows from unconditional election, whilst at the same time doing justice to the biblical language of the privileges enjoyed by those who ‘believe’ for a while, but eventually fall away (however we cash out what ‘believe’ means in that sentence).
Then, here’s the argument for the FV position itself:
It may be helpful quickly to summarize something of the biblical testimony regarding what apostates lose. Without hedging, the Bible says of apostates that
– Some receive the word with joy and believe for a time (Luke 8.13)
– They are branches in the Vine, Jesus (John 15.2, 6)
– They are baptized into the Greater Moses (1 Cor 10.2)
– They drink of Christ (1 Cor 10.4)
– They have been enlightened (Heb 6.4)
– They taste the heavenly gift, the word of the God, and the powers of the age to come (Heb 6.4f)
– The are partakers of the Spirit (Heb 6.4)
– They are sanctified by the blood of the covenant (Heb 10.29)
– They escape the defilements of the world (2 Pet 2.20)
– They know the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Pet 2.20)
– The know the way of righteousness (2 Pet 2.21).
Now, how do we account for this? To say that ‘temporary’ faith is ontologically distinct from ‘saving’ faith, that it is therefore merely external, and that the benefits that in receives within the covenant are merely external, falls short of the repeated testimony of the Scriptures. So, what are we to say? …
Matthew’s challenge to non-FVers is that we are introducing "hedging" where the Bible has none. The Bible says that those who later fall away really enjoy all of these privileges; we say they really didn’t. We say they enjoyed only external benefits; the Bible never uses that language.
Now, I certainly wouldn’t accept that list in toto as if each member exemplified Matthew’s point. At some places I think it directly contradicts it. Take for example Hebrew 6, which Matthew refers to three times. To my mind, the language of "tasting" and "partaking" and being "enlightened" is very much the language of partial-ness. The apostates spoken of have tasted, but not fully imbibed; have partaken, but not comprehensively entered into the things they have taken of; have been enlightened by being given true knowledge of the way of salvation yet without internalising it so that they were actually saved. This language fits in very well with the old doctrine that those with "temporary faith" have had an experience which falls short of salvation. The old doctrine never said that the Holy Spirit only ever works in a person 0% or 100%; it is possible to experience benefits from him, yet to resist his overtures of grace. God works infallibly and savingly in his elect – but the old position, hyper-Calvinists aside, never claimed that he never worked at all in the non-elect.
Similarly, I think that Matthew’s invocation of 2 Peter 2, which he relies on three times, is also way off the mark. Matthew quotes verses 20 and 21, but then leaves out what comes next: verse 22. We should quote all three together:
20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
Notice how Peter describes the apostates: as dogs who have returned to their vomit; as sows who were washed but have now returned to wallowing in the mire.
Why does a dog return to its vomit? Because it’s a dog. Why does a sow, though having had its outsides washed, go back to wallowing in the mire? Because it’s a sow. In English we’d say that the leopard doesn’t change its spots, or you can’t teach granny to suck eggs. No matter how much you do to its outsides, a dog or a sow is what it still is, and its dog or sow-like ways are what it will inevitably return to. The apostate has not become a new creature in Christ – despite what has happened and what has been received externally, inside he essentially remains what he always was.
Hence Peter actually does say what Matthew says he doesn’t – he gives us plenty of evidence that the "Christianity" which these apostates had spent some time in was merely external. Peter’s illustration gives us the exegetical key to understand just what kind of "escape" or "washing" or "knowledge" they have enjoyed – external.
Thirdly, Matthew uncritically adds Hebrews 10:29 to his list. This verse says, "Of how much sorer punishment, do you suppose, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace?". The difficulty here is that the "he" as in "wherewith he was sanctified", is ambiguous. Has the apostate, who has insulted the Spirit of grace, also insulted Christ, who was sanctified by the blood of the covenant? Or is the verse saying that the apostate himself was sanctified with that blood? The Greek grammar itself cannot settle the question either way. John Owen, the most renowned of the English Puritans, and the most esteemed commentator on the book of Hebrews in Christian history (his work ran to seven volumes), decided that the former option was correct. FV advocates, though, tend to uncritically cite the former interpretation as the only one on the table, and as unquestionable. This isn’t very convincing.
Seven down, four to go
That leaves four:
– Some receive the word with joy and believe for a time (Luke 8.13)
– They are branches in the Vine, Jesus (John 15.2, 6)
– They are baptized into the Greater Moses (1 Cor 10.2)
– They drink of Christ (1 Cor 10.4)
The last two on that list are both from the same passage:
1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
"They are baptized into the Greater Moses (1 Cor 10.2)" makes a few leaps from what the text actually says about the Old Covenant apostates it actually refers to. Still, I suppose the point is clear: New Covenant apostates have indeed been baptised into the greater Moses. The question, of course, is to what baptism is in view and what it is implied to have accomplished. The text doesn’t actually say, and the answer has to be supplied from somewhere else in one’s theological understanding. Therefore I think the use of this text to support the Federal Vision is something of a case of circular reasoning – the point Paul isn’t really the FV point, and both friends and non-friends of the FV can understand the text quite happily within their own understanding.
I’d say something similar about the reference to verse 4. The text tells us that in some sense the Old Covenant apostates drank of Christ before apostatising. Matthew’s point of course is to tell us that the Bible tells us this "without hedging". If I want to raise questions about in what sense those apostates drank of Christ, I’m doing something the Bible isn’t – some kind of argument from silence. I find what Matthew is implying here deeply unconvincing. The major point of a response here (there are others) would be that this passage is figurative. The baptism spoken of was "in the cloud and in the sea"; the eating and drinking of the physical manna and literal water were also highly figurative (which is Paul’s point). That means that the burden of proof that we can make such a simple and (I would assert) simplistic transfer of meaning as Matthew does falls upon him. When dealing with figurative language, it won’t cut it to just say that there’s "no hedging" – the burden is yours. Otherwise, the Bible becomes a nose of wax. The Bible says without hedging that God has wings (Psalm 17:8) – problem with that?
And that goes for the other two proof texts as well. The Bible says "without hedging" that apostates were branches in the vine – fine (John 15.2, 6). It also says without hedging that Jesus himself is the vine, verse 1. To use a favourite Roman Catholic proof text, it also says that we must eat and drink Jesus’ blood, John 6:53. To draw immediate points of systematic theology from this kind of illustrative statement on the basis that the statements seem straightforward, though, would be illegitimate. It’s a standard principle of Bible interpretation that you cannot treat figurative statements as if they were the same thing as unambiguous, self-interpreting statements of doctrine. John 15:17 has Jesus saying "These things I command you, that you love one another." That’s a straightforward, self-interpreting statement. Words about branches being removed from vines are not. It seems to me that FV advocates are routinely guilty, in their use of such statements, of smuggling in their own interpretations between the lines, rather than it being the case that the statement is unequivocally advocating the FV position. Jesus’ statements about the vine and the branches have the primary purpose of encouraging believers to persevere. They are not fundamentally aimed at teaching about the relationship between election, covenant membership and the real status of those who later apostatise. To allege that they do bear on that question is a position that has to carry the burden of proof – pointing out the lack of hedging doesn’t cut it. The method of the use of figure and parable does not allow for every statement to immediately have to be followed by "and by that illustration, I of course don’t mean that…" It’s the very nature of such genres that they are suggestive, and that not every possible suggestion we can see in there actually leads to correct doctrine. We are not meant to literally digest chunks out of Jesus body – the statement is not self-interpreting at such a crude level. Neither should FV advocates be allowed to make such an uncritical appeal to such passages.
Identifying The Error
I think I’ve now shown that none of the texts being used by Matthew are being used in a legitimate way. Some of them explicitly do point in the direction which Matthew says they don’t (for example, the 2 Peter texts, in the next verse, describe the apostates as being "ontologically distinct" from true believers, calling them sows and dogs who have now manifested their true nature).
I’d now like to identify what I think is the fundamental hermeneutical error in Federal Visionists’ appeals to such texts. It’s a failure to deal with the phenomena of the "language of appearance". In technical language, it’s a failure in parsing phenomenological language. Another way of describing it is in terms of the "principle of accommodation". When the Bible writers address their hearers, they do so in the ordinary human way: they implicitly grant the hearers’ claims about who they are. This is a normal feature of human conversation. The FV error is in elevating the implicit concession into being doctrinal statements about the nature of the New Covenant.
We could illustrate this statement many ways. When I go along to my local kiosk (a small shop, common in Kenya), I might ask the person in it for some milk. I just say, "please can I have five packets of milk". I don’t "hedge" that statement by saying "on the assumption that you really do work in this shop, and really are authorised by the owner to sell me milk, please give me five packets". I treat the shop-keeper according to appearance. Obviously, if I decided to stop using that normal convention, conversations would start to get pretty long, and the shop-keeper would soon identify me as a flaming weirdo. "If you really are my child, and not a genetic clone or a mirage, then I love you!"
Federal Vision advocates take statements like those above, where church members are addressed using language that implies the reality of their status as Christians, note the lack of "hedging", and then make the deduction that they really are Christians. From there, a whole chain of consequences is set off: real Christians can apostatise, the New Covenant is not made with the elect only, and a whole new theology of union with Christ, the sacraments, Christian perseverance and so on is set off. What FV advocates imply that the Bible’s writers ought to have done is to have kept to a standard not used anywhere else in human conversation. Our Lord, for example, should have inserted riders into all his parables so that we didn’t make mistaken assumptions from the illustrations used. Paul should have begun his letters by saying things like "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints, except for those of you who will apostatise: Grace and peace, etc."
Such arguments prove far too much. If FVers applied them consistently, then they would send them all the way into Arminianism. It’s all well to note that the apostles wrote to churches and addressed the members on the understanding that they really were Christians – that’s a trivial observation. To then infer on that basis that the apostles believed certain things about the nature of the New Covenant is completely illegitimate. We could also trivially notice that Peter described his readers as being "elect" (1 Peter 1:2), and that Paul told the Galatians that Jesus Christ had given himself for their sins. The FVer looks at "his" set of verses (e.g. those given by Matthew, above), and then tells us that they mean that apostates really were Christians in a covenantal union with Jesus Christ. The Arminian also has his armoury of verses, and tells us that the Bible, without hedging, calls some people who later fall away elect, saints and predestined, and that Paul said that those in Galatia who he saw as possibly being in danger of damnation had Jesus Christ die on the cross for them. The Federal Visionist is making a selective usage of the Arminian interpretative principle, and this is part of why newcomers to FV writings often (mistakenly) wonder if FVers are secretly Arminians.
The Arminians Do It Better?
I find the Arminian exegesis of such verses to be more consistent than the Federal Vision one. The Arminians don’t just point out, as Matthew does, that those written to are spoken of as if true believers, but also go on to observe that Paul says that Christ died for them, and Peter says they are elect.
It’s not just Arminians, though, who make the hermeneutical mistake of failing to deal with the language of appearance. The open theists are more consistent that the Arminians, because they point out that the Bible says that God remembers, asks questions about things he should already know about if he were omniscient, etcetera.
The open theists, though, are themselves also failing to face up to the full implications of their hermeneutic, because as the wonderfully-named Anthropomorphites point out, the Bible tells us plainly, "without hedging", that God has arms, hands, fingers, and so on (Exodus 31:18, 6:6, 32:21) – why shouldn’t we just take the plain-sense meaning of "made in his image" and face up to the consequences? Ultimately, though, we have to point out that the Anthropomorphites are also wimps, because does not the Bible also describe God’s wings (Psalm 17:8), thus making some kind of bird-man?
There are plenty of examples of this error. Calvin wrote against one type of it, when he sought to refute those who quibbled over Genesis 1 describing the moon as being the second most significant light after the sun. Commenting on Genesis 1:16, the greater and lesser lights, he tackled the objection that other objects (such as Saturn) might be brighter in absolute terms than the moon (thanks to David Tyler for drawing my attention to the quote):
"Moses wrote in a popular style things which, without instruction, all ordinary persons, endued with common sense, are able to understand; but astronomers investigate with great labour whatever the sagacity of the human mind can comprehend. Nevertheless, this study is not to be reprobated, nor this science to be condemned, because some frantic persons are wont boldly to reject whatever is unknown to them. For astronomy is not only pleasant, but also very useful to be known: it cannot be denied that this art unfolds the admirable wisdom of God. . .
Nor did Moses truly wish to withdraw us from this pursuit in omitting such things as are peculiar to the art; but because he was ordained a teacher as well of the unlearned and rude as of the learned, he could not otherwise fulfil his office than by descending to this grosser method of instruction. Had he spoken of things generally unknown, the uneducated might have pleaded in excuse that such subjects were beyond their capacity. Lastly, since the Spirit of God here opens a common school for all, it is not surprising that he should chiefly choose those subjects which would be intelligible to all. . . Moses, therefore, rather adapts his discourse to common usage. . . There is therefore no reason why janglers should deride the unskilfulness of Moses in making the moon the second luminary; for he does not call us up into heaven, he only proposes things which lie before our eyes" (Calvin, 1554).
In other words, Moses was using language in the ordinary way – not in the form of language required in literature of a different genre, such as a paper in New Scientist. When I say that the sun rose this morning, that doesn’t imply that I’m a geo-centrist – it’s the language of appearance, or phenomenological language.
Similarly, when Paul writes to the Galatians and addresses them as authentic members of the New Covenant, he’s not intending to give us a technical statement on New Covenant membership. He’s simply using human language in the ordinary human way. The correct way to understand Paul’s theology of the relationship between New Covenant membership and apostasy, and the relationship between the covenants, is not to derive it by way of incidental implication from something on quite another subject. It’s to actually exegete the passages in Scripture where it is the very subject under direct discussion.
There are just two helpful verses to reference which I think bear out my point that Arminians have a much better position if we’re going to accept the hermeneutic that the Federal Visionists have used here:
"But if your brother is grieved by your food, you are not walking charitably. Do not destroy him with your meat, for whom Christ died." – Romans 14:15
"And through your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?" – 1 Corinthians 8:11
"See," says the Arminian, "Christ died for him, he’s a real brother, but he ends up perishing. Christ can die for someone, and he can be lost. You have to twist the text to avoid the conclusion." I would be interested to read how an FV proponent exegetes such verses, avoiding the Arminian conclusion yet defending the propriety of using the same hermeneutic on other verses such as Matthew listed. I haven’t looked very far to see how they do this, but I think these verses would make an excellent text case of whether they’re willing to follow their method to its logical conclusions or not.
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