The Federal Vision started out as a biblicist reformed program. Over time, it began to systematize its thoughts, and the final document (at least that I know of) that showed its main doctrines is the 2007 Joint Federal Vision Profession. So what exactly does the Federal Vision believe? While there are various elements of Federal Vision, here are some key points of the Federal Vision that are contrary to the Christian faith:
- Election is immutable and the elect will always be saved. However, not everyone who is in the Covenant of Grace is elect and will be saved. Some in the Covenant are truly and really in the Covenant of Grace, but they chose to apostatize from the faith and thus are not truly elect.(Decretal/Covenant Dialectic)
- Apostasy is a true falling away from a real participation in the Covenant of Grace.
- The visible church refers to all professing Christians who may or may not be elect. However, all in the visible church are in the Covenant of Grace (unless they apostatize). The invisible church is currently not present, but will be manifest at the end times (invisible is eschatological), where it will be manifest who in the visible church have shown themselves to be truly elect because they did not apostatize from the faith but are faithful to the Covenant. (True faith is a 'living faith'))
- There may be a Covenant of Life with Adam (some FVists deny this). But even if there is a Covenant of Life with Adam, all of God's covenants have essentially the same form. There may be different parties, different conditions, and different rewards. However, all of God's covenants have the form: "Believe in God, be faithful, and you will live" (Monocovenantal Legalism)
- There is no Law-Gospel hermeneutic. All of Scripture can be Law to those who do not believe. All of Scripture will be Gospel to those who believe.
You will note that I did not once mention the word "baptism" in those errant points. This it not because baptism is not important in Federal Vision, because they (in common with the orthodox Reformed) see baptism as the rite of covenant initiation, but rather their error lies in their view of the covenant, while the issue with baptism is merely the outworking of their doctrinal errors in practical church life. That is why I have said that Baptists can be Federal Vision, because the Federal Vision is all about their view of the nature of God's covenants, not the nature of baptism.