For those interested in the Presbyterian Church in America, the 2007 General Assembly adopted the ad interim committee's report concerning the Federal Vision. Apparently this occurred after a stirring address given by none other than R.C. Sproul who rallied the Calvinists by appealing to the common cause doctrine of sola fide. The following description is by R. Scott Clark:
R. C. Sproul speaks against the motion. The issue is imputation. The purity of the PCA is at stake. He said that he cannot understand the hesitancy. He spoke against adding a minority on the ground that it's like adding the accused to the jury. Applause and laughter. Before the moderator could gavel them down, R C said, "shame on you brothers for your righteous applause.All of this was anticipated by what has been described by a PCA pastor who was present as a "pathetic communion service" the previous evening. The catholic-minded Federal Vision adherents have lost.
What does this mean? In my post "Catholic Perspective on the Federal Vision" I stated:
As a Catholic (and former member of the PCA) I believe the Federal Vision group is right in its theological tendencies and wrong about its denomination. Whether or not the PCA holds to the Westminster Standards, the PCA is still largely a Zwinglian/Anabaptistic denomination. I don’t mean this in a pejorative way. I just mean that the inherited tradition of the PCA is not covenantal and sacramental.The PCA General Assembly proved me correct. By adopting the report, the PCA has indeed demonstrated two things about the PCA and perhaps the future of American Calvinism:
1. The General Assembly is capable of strong-arm politics. Ironically, the General Assembly made a "Catholic" move by appealing to "tradition and canons" - in this case the denominational confession of the Westminster Confession of Faith. The conclusion of the debate is even more ironic in that the General Assembly applied a Catholic hermeneutic of "tradition" in order to defeat what they perceived as creeping Catholic doctrine.The PCA has essentially told the Federal Vision adherents that they are not welcome in the PCA denomination and that their beliefs are contrary to the denomination's theological commitments. If the Federal Visionists seriously trusted their ecclesiology and believed that the PCA was a valid Church, they would submit to the ruling. I doubt they will. I predict a split, a new denomination, or a defection to Douglas Wilson's homegrown denomination.
2. The PCA is "still largely a Zwinglian/Anabaptistic denomination."
In my post "Catholic Perspective on the Federal Vision" I also wrote:
The leadership and pew members are basically Evangelicals that read R.C. Sproul, maybe believe in infant baptism, and have worked “the five points of Calvinism” into their worldview. And when the last word is spoken, the Federal Visionists will be sidelined and ridiculed as crypto-Catholics and adherents to “salvation by works.” Fundamentally, the PCA fears that the Federal Vision movement is “just too Catholic.” All this talk about sacraments, covenants, ecclesiology, robes, candles, weekly communion, just gives your typical Southern Presbyterian the heebie-jeebies. They want that old time religion of three Wesleyan hymns, the pastoral prayer, and a 35 minute sermon proclaims the “sovereign grace of the Gospel.”Alas, it has already come to pass. I still stand by my prediction that:
younger Presbyterians will gravitate toward what the Federal Vision offers. Many will sink their teeth into it and many will find it wanting. Many will discover that the Catholic Church is their true home, and many will discover her in a great moment of joy. This Federal Vision is really only a peek into the keyhole of the Catholic Church. The Federal Visionist has a vision of the beautiful things inside, but they have not yet appreciated the warmth of a true home.Perhaps General Assembly 2007 will serve as the effectual calling of the Federal Vision Calvinists to Catholic Church.