Bredenhof’s booklet on Federal Vision

Bredenhof, Wes. Federal Vision: A Canadian Reformed Pastor’s Perspective.

This is a decent primer. From what I can tell, as an outsider to Pastor Bredenhof’s denomination, this is somewhat a defense of Klaas Schilder from the interpretations given to him by some Federal Vision proponents.

Bredenhof has a helpful discussion of Schilder’s view. While Schilder did reject the language of internal/external relation to the covenant, he nonetheless held to a legal/vital distinction. It appears to be the same thing. Federal Visionists such as Wilkins completely reject that, as Wilkins defines the covenant as union with Christ (The Auburn Avenue Theology: Pros & Cons, ed. E. Calvin Beisner (Fort Lauderdale: Knox Theological Seminary, 2004), 262).

Schilder said we make a distinction between sharing in a promise and sharing in what is promised. The former we partake of through baptism. The latter is a gift of the Spirit. This involves a vital union with Christ. I completely agree. I just don’t see how it is different from traditional formulations. Instead of internal/external, there is a new division between promise/what is promised.

Van Bruggen suggests it is the difference between being entitled to a check for $1,000 and having the actual $1,000 (or better yet, having real money like gold). Will you take the money to the bank?

Bredenhof clearly and carefully notes that Schilder uses neither the words nor the content of Wilkins’ definition of the covenant. He simply does not identify it with union with Christ.

Pace Theonomy

Schilder was more about cultural formation than transformation.

Bredenhof suggests that their theonomic hermeneutic played into a rejection of the law-gospel paradigm. That seems accurate.


Most of this discussion is fairly standard, but what is new calls attention to Leithart’s subsuming “loyalty and allegiance” under faith (Leithart, Baptized Body, 84). Faith is acting. This just seems wrong. Even Rome isn’t this crass