Subscribe to our Compelling Mail Newsletter:

Federal Vision Theology – What is it?

Subscribe to our Compelling Mail Newsletter:

Federal Vision Theology is an unorthodox sect of Reformed Christianity. It was begun by a professor by the name of Norman Shepherd, who taught systematic theology at Westminster. For several key reasons, Federal Vision Theology is not generally accepted as sound doctrine. It strays from biblical principles in regards to salvation, sanctification, and the role of the church. Federal Vision Theology is also postmillennial and sees the Bible as typological, rather than literal.

One of the main problems with Federal Vision Theology lies in its approach to the doctrine of salvation. Adherents to this system of thought believe that followers of Christ share in the resurrection of the Lord, but do not receive His righteousness. The acceptance of our inherent sin and the imputation of Christ's righteousness is a core doctrine of Christianity, and is clearly stated in the Bible. Christians know that "For our sake [God] made him [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21) and that "we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:10).

This leads to another problem in Federal Vision Theology. They believe that involvement in the "covenant community" (the church) is the first part of a two-part election. The second half of election is a special election, a salvation which is only given to those who persevere to the end. In other words, logically, you will never know whether you are saved or not. This error flows naturally from denial of imputed righteousness. If Christ gives us His righteousness, we have it forever. As Hebrews 10 says, our holiness was accomplished on the cross "once for all" through Jesus' perfect sacrifice.

To believe in Federal Vision Theology is to believe that you are on shaky ground with God, and your only hope of salvation is your own good behavior. This contradicts Scripture, which confirms wholeheartedly that "there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). You are either in Christ, or you are not. You either trust and lean on His righteousness, provided by His spilt blood, or you don't. Federal Vision Theology strays from this truth, and others, and for that reason it is rejected by most Reformed denominations.

Related Truth:

Reformed Theology – What is it?

What is the Truth about salvation?

Is salvation by faith or works or both?

Progressive sanctification – What is it?

Calvinism – What is it? Is Calvinism biblical?

Return to:
Truth about Theology

Compelling Truth HOME