You know things, then you really learn them. Right? How many things have you “known” but it was only later that you realized the importance or significance of them or how true they really were? Ok. One of the things we’ve learned over the past eight years is how impossible it is to keep people from misrepresenting what you’re saying or doing. Now, we all knew this, but boy-howdy have we ever learned it over the past few years! It’s been our inclination (and I’m using “we” and “our” not in the so-called “royal” sense, but in the literal sense of “my friends, fellow elders and I”) to ignore the vast majority of the slanders and misrepresentations. But it has been brought to my attention that unless some things are corrected for the record, the misstatements and inaccuracies will become the “truth.”
So, even though I’m afraid this will all be pretty boring, I’ve decided to try to correct some of the things that are being said by people who have no idea what they’re talking about. There are a number of inaccuracies and I’ll start with one I heard (again) the other day — it goes like this:
“Those guys at the Auburn Avenue Pastors Conference started labeling their views ‘the Federal Vision’, they wanted to start a new movement to re-write historic Reformed theology; they wanted to get people to become Anglicans (or Orthodox or Romanists). And they started the conference to promote these views.” This always makes me break out in fairly loud guffaws when I hear it. Hilarious. Here again is the boring truth: The term “Federal Vision” was thought up by me AS THE TITLE FOR OUR 2002 PASTORS CONFERENCE. That’s all. “Federal” = covenant; “Vision” = a way of seeing; thus: “Viewing the World/Church covenantally.” That’s it. That’s all that “FV” meant. That’s all I had in mind. There were no plans to turn Reformed Theology upside down. No thought of “re-writing” anything. And that goes for all the fellows I invited to speak. All of us agreed that we saw weaknesses and over-emphases that needed correcting (at least, from our point of view). None of us thought WE were the answer (or had all the answers). There was no conspiring, no grandiose plans, hopes, and dreams, no imprecatory prayers against the Reformed establishment. Nothing. Just guys trying to point out some things that had been pushed in the wrong direction so as to misshape biblical teaching. And NOT ONE of us had any desire to leave our denominations and go to Rome, Constantinople, or Canterbury (and we still have no desire to do this and haven’t).
[oh, and the conference had been started in 1999 as an effort to encourage pastors in their work — not to start “new theologies”]
We thought there were some things that could help us all (all us Reformed guys, that is) get back into balance and we said them during our talks. We had some good discussions with the fellows that attended. Great questions were asked. Positions were adjusted and nuanced. Unclear statements were explained. And we all left encouraged that we would have more good questions and discussion in the year to come. And we all were looking forward to it. Honestly. Call us naive, but that’s the truth.
So, anyone who says that we wanted to “start a movement” or that we view ourselves as part of a “movement” or that we’re attempting to be revolutionaries and subversives or anything of the sort, is making up a story that’s far more exciting than the real true facts. Sorry, but that’s how it is.