The Federal Vision

Conversation between Wes White and Steve Wilkins on the Federal Vision

I had the privilege of connecting Pastor Wes White and Pastor Steve Wilkins on the phone for a discussion about the Federal Vision.  This conversation was to give Wes White, a theological blogger and critic of the Federal Vision, the opportunity to ask Steve Wilkins directly about some of his positions relating to the Federal Vision.   During the course of this controversy, there has been very little direct communication, and very much talking past each other.  It was a real blessing to hear these brothers in Christ talk about their positions, differences, and concerns to each other directly.

Thank you to Luke Nieuwsma for arranging this call.


Wes White and Steve Wilkins on the Federal Vision (download link)

Edit: Steve Wilkins let me know of a correction to something he said: "I need to correct something I said regarding the number of AAPC members who have left here for the Roman Church. I said one man had done this and actually that's not correct -- the correct response is that no one has left AAPC for the Roman Church. The individual I was thinking about left AAPC to join the Episcopal Church and about a year later joined the Roman Church. Just for the record."
Comments (13) Trackbacks (2)
  1. Give me a break. Steve Wilkins is the one who does not believe the Westminster Standards. The devil can quote the Bible out of context, Steve. Simply quoting Scripture outside of a solid confessional understanding of the Scriptures and a Reformed exegesis of Scripture is to show you have no commitment to the Reformed understanding of Scripture.

    I guess Steve Wilkins does not believe Romans 9 refers to God’s decrees?

    Wilkins does not understand that not everyone in the visible congregation is elect. Some are reprobates but they were NEVER part of the covenant of grace. The membership in the covenant of grace is not equivalent to membership in the visible church. A reprobate person could be a member of the visible congregation for life yet commit apostasy or exhibit no true faith while remaining in the visible congregation. Therefore baptism is simply a sign and seal. It does not make anyone a member of the covenant of grace. It is simply an outward sign of membership in the visible congregation. Having the outward sign and outward membership in Israel is no indication of membership in true Israel, the communion of saints/election.

    No one who is elect can “lose” their election or their salvation. Salvation is totally a sovereign act of God whereby He quickens the elect and brings them into faith and justification.

    Wilkins seems to be emphasizing man’s responsibility above God’s sovereignty in justification and salvation. Relationship is only possible because of election.


  2. Charlie,
    With due respect, you recite the baptist error saying that only the elect are in the covenant of grace. Elect and non-elect members are both in the CoG but not in the same way. The Reformed hold that all holy persons (professing believers and their children) are outward members of the CoG, while the elect church members are both outward and inward members of the CoG. The FV commits the other extreme of saying all baptized’ are in union with Christ.

  3. “The FV commits the other extreme of saying all baptized are in union of Christ.” Yeah, the extreme of saying what the Bible says. This is the problem of anti-FVers, they are “reformed scholastics”, which is actually a very dangerous form of gnosticism.

  4. Mike,
    How is scholasticism a ‘dangerous form of gnosticism’? We all know what the Bible says, but what does it mean? Are the Reformed confessions a dangerous form of restraint in knowing what the Bible means? (I remember somewhere it being said, the unbeliever eats bread but does not eat Christ.)

  5. Charlie, you said,

    “Therefore baptism is simply a sign and seal. It does not make anyone a member of the covenant of grace. It is simply an outward sign of membership in the visible congregation. Having the outward sign and outward membership in Israel is no indication of membership in true Israel, the communion of saints/election.”

    Your emphasis is on the “sign” of baptism. You said its also a seal, but what does baptism seal? Does apostasy happen? If so, what are people apostatizing from? Does the visible church mean anything? A big part of what the FV is doing is bringing attention to the objective view of the covenant. They are NOT denying the individual aspect; people either go to heaven or hell as a sheep or a goat, but they are simply saying there is this entity on earth which can be legitimately called the body of Christ, aka, the “visible” church, and it means something to be a part of it.

  6. I’d like to hear a discussion between Jason J. Stellman and Peter Leithart hosted by Rob Rayburn.

  7. Sorry – was editing and bumped my thumbpad which was over the “submit” button.

    Is Wes just asking random questions about everything that he thinks might be wrong with Wilkins’ theology? He seems to have no evidence and seems out of his depth. He came to the discussion as the inquisitor and came off as the gnome at the bridge in Monty Python.

    Wilkins: “Baptism saves you because the Bible states that Baptism saves you. We’re trying to speak Biblically within the bounds of the Confession. What do you think baptism does?”

    Wes, “I don’t know! Aaaauugh!”

    As for Leithart v. Stellman, I suspect that Stellman would be waxed since he is just another young pastor held out as a front by WSC. Put the bald guys together: Clark v. Leithart.

  8. Richard,

    Just to clarify, Pastor Wes had previously published an imaginary conversation between a curious non-Christian and a FV pastor, a conversation which we do not believe accurately represents the teaching or the emphasis of the Federal Vision pastors. We challenged Wes to actually interview a real FV pastor, and he agreed to do so, but asked for free rein as to the questions he would ask.

    This conversation is meant to clarify what Pastor Steve teaches, not for Wes to challenge him on those teachings. Pastor Wes says he has already done so on his blog. Just to put everything in context here… Wes White isn’t shooting quick responses at Pastor Wilkins simply because that wasn’t his point in agreeing to the conversation.


    Luke Nieuwsma

  9. I am an editor for which is a social network dedicated to the christian community. As I look through your web site I feel a collaboration is at hand. I would be inclined to acknowledge your website offering it to our users as I’m sure our Christian reformed audience would benefit from what your site has to offer. I look forward to your thoughts or questions regarding the matter.

    Vicky Silvers

  10. I perceive that the main reason TR guys don’t have these conversations is because they really don’t want clarification… that might mean they have to change their mind (repent) about what they have already misrepresented.

    Hands down: Steve Wilkins once again made an example of the falacious reasoning given by the TRers.

    Here was a chance for Wes White to expose error- he didn’t!

  11. Good discussion! Without even speaking to the substance of the conversation, Wilkins was a lot easier to listen to than White.

  12. This careful treatment of certain FV teachings was helpful for me in understanding the differences in the two perspectives:

    I wonder if FV adherents would agree with the characterizations made of FV in this audio.

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