If we abandon the Hellenistic ontological division between invisible and visible and adopted a more Hebraic biblical way of thinking and toppled the whole thing on its side, the invisible church is the eschatological church and the visible church is the historical church. Now notice what this now does, if I topple the whole thing on its side and it is now in history, the eschatological church is now the historical church and it is at the culmination of history, all right, and the visible church is that same church at an earlier point in time.
- Douglas Wilson, "Visible and Invisible Church Revisited," 2002 AACPC lecture. In Guy Prentiss Waters, The Federal Vision and Covenant Theology: A Comparative Analysis (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R publishing, 2006), 121-2
I have been reading Waters' book for some time. This interesting quote from Doug Wilson however is too interesting not to pick up.
As it has been said, the FVists redefine the visible/invisible church distinction and fundamentally deny it.. In this interesting quote from Doug Wilson, we can see where Wilson is running with the attack on this fundamental distinction.
Wilson sees the visible/invisible church distinction as a Platonic scheme of the church. In opposition to this Platonic idea, Wilson decided to adopt the scheme offered by spiritual Franciscan Joachim of Fiore of turning the Platonic scheme on its side. Whereas a Platonic understanding of the visible/invisible church distinction would mean that the invisible church is the idea/form of the church while the visible church is the appearance of the church, Wilson's Joachimite scheme would make the invisible church the eschatological idea which the visible church (apearance) is striving towards.
Neither understanding of the visible/invisible church distinction is the traditional Reformed understanding. We are neither Platonists nor Hegelians. Our understanding of the visible/invisible church distinction is that the visible church is the church as Man sees it while the invisible church is the church as God sees it. They both exist at the same time. They both are on the same plane of existance. The reason why the invisible church is called "invisible" is not because they exist on another realm but because Man is not God. We do not know God's thoughts and decisions, and we cannot decipher the hearts of Man, not even our own. The terminology is an acknowledgment of our finitude, not of the truth of Plato.
The FVists are in serious error on this point. Through rejecting Plato, they turn to Joachim and Hegel. Truly, such is out of the frying pan into the fire.