Michael A. Milton, Ph.D., writes
“The ear tests words as the palate tastes food” says Job 34:3. Today we hear tantalizing words that sound sweet, but are often laced with the strychnine of primordial deception; lies made more sinister for they have been refuted by godly men in times past. The controversy that Reverend Dewey Roberts addresses in this remarkable volume may well qualify as one of those infamous deceptions. The Federal Vision matter comes at a critical time when so many in the modern Protestant Church and, especially, Presbyterian and Reformed branches of the Church, in North America (and, increasingly, in Canada and in Great Britain), are, understandably, longing for a more consistent sacramental theology, as well as a more historically sustainable ecclesiology. But our quest for a more satisfying worship experience or even a more sensible church order must never be advanced at the price of even the minutest theological point of truth. When we are (unwittingly) willing (because our liturgical zeal surpasses our doctrinal fidelity) to trade our birthright of John 3:16 truths for a pot of incense-stewed propositions, we are likely to introduce theological error into the divinely composed and revealed plan of faith and life. Introducing error into a human syllogism can result in losing an argument. Introducing error into the Plan of Salvation might result in losing a soul. This is, therefore, no small issue, to say the least.
To investigate the matter carefully will require knowing, teaching, and, in a word, teaching the truth of the divine plan of God. Then, one would need to expose the error, name it, distinguish it from the truth and from other errors, dismantle it piece by piece, demonstrating how and when it made its way into the companionship of holy verities and by what manner it can be removed. This is the work of a researcher, a scholar, a fair-minded churchman, an evangelist, and, above all, a faithful Christian minister. This is not work to be taken up by a novice. Neither is this a task to be done by a hot-headed party-man who is eager to advance his case so to score another point for his side. There are too many good ministers who have inquired into the tenets of the case at hand or been swayed by other arguments. There are too many sensitive spirits who long for beauty in theology. They have found it missing in the austerity of certain Western confessions and have seen it present in other places. Someone must be there to not just write them off as heretics, but comfort them with the poetry of our own traditions. Help them to see the beauty, again, in the porcelain layers of grace that didactic realism has stripped away.
The power of the Federal Vision has been that it has drawn extraordinarily gifted ministers, many of them being young ministers, filled with commendable enthusiasm for the things of God, as well as hard-working older shepherds who have grown understandably discontent with the vacuous pop-worship and dry-creek-bed-evangelicalism of the day. Yet the man to stand to speak truth to each and all of these as well as the more treacherous in the crowd–and there are those as well–will need to be capable of discriminating between erring lamb and a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In other words, we need an experienced pastor to take on this challenge.
I am thankful to commend this book and this author, The Reverend Dewey Roberts. Dewey, as a fellow Army chaplain and fellow minister of the Gospel in the Presbyterian Church in America, is the right man at the right time to shed Gospel light on the shadows encircling the question and subsidiary questions of the Federal Vision.
May God bless and increase the Light of His Word through this book and cause many to see clearly unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. My prayer for this book is the text from Job 34:
“Hear my words, you wise men,
and give ear to me, you who know;
for the ear tests words
as the palate tastes food.
Let us choose what is right;
let us know among ourselves what is good.” (Job 34:2-4)
Michael A. Milton, Ph.D.,
Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
Geoff Thomas Writes
This book breathes passionate concern. It comes from the heart of the author, but thankfully the affections of Dewey Roberts have been illuminated and purified by a knowledge of the Bible. So this is a safe book to read, but also it is an exciting journey through the pilgrimage of the church and the attacks that have been launched on the gospel over hundreds of years. But if you thought such matters as how a sinner could get right with God, how are we justified freely, and what is our only hope in life and death had all been settled and sealed in the great past controversies and confessions of faith, then this book sounds an alarm.
The armies are at the gates of the City of God today. But there are watchmen awake and alert who have not been bought by the smiles of the enemies. So this book is essential and gripping reading. It reminds us of our courageous fathers who stood, sometimes very alone, and declared the sovereign grace of God. It exhorts us to be alert and to understand and contend as they also did. God grant that in all humility, and all boldness, and in reliance on God, we may also fight the good fight of faith. We may not be onlookers or neutrals in this battle. We may only be good soldiers of Jesus Christ.
Geoffrey B. Thomas, Pastor, Alfred Place Baptist Church, Aberystwyth, Wales
Mark Belz Writes
Dewey Roberts has done us a great service in writing this book. With cogent logic, based on Reformed biblical theology, he exposes the errors present in “Federal Vision” thinking, running rampant in some circles in the church today. He is fair to those who differ, but leaves no doubt as to where he stands: any doctrine that chips away at the doctrines of grace set forth in Reformed theology is heresy, and must be called out. He does a masterful job in doing just that.
Mark Belz J.D. / MBLS LLC, Retired Attorney and Former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in America
John T. Sowell Writes
With assiduous clarity, Rev. Roberts has provided a steady, orthodox examination of the soteriological/sacramental scheme known as the Federal Vision, and its related theological iterations. A highly readable work, this steady, orthodox appraisal blends pastoral concern with scholarly methodology, yielding a truly valuable contribution for the benefit of earnest inquirers.
John T. Sowell, President, Reformed Theological Seminary, Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Anthony N. S. Lane Writes
Federal Vision is a significant movement that has sprung up within conservative Calvinist churches in North America, Europe, and Russia. Dewey Roberts has made an exhaustive study of their teaching, and here explains fully why and how it departs from Reformed theology as this has been traditionally understood. Those who wish to understand the Federal Vision cannot afford to ignore this book.
Dr. Anthony N. S. Lane,
Professor of Historical Theology at London School of Theology