What is Federal Vision? Sounds like a name of a bank or government agency but seems to be a new religious movement, this time one that is popular in Reformed and other circles. This one I am still studying, but I noticed this statement:
"While they believe personal conversion is important, in their eyes, the emphasis on personal conversion over covenant membership was a deviation from what the Bible, the Church Fathers, and the original Reformers taught, and they seek to return to pre-Great Awakening theology."
[there goes those false church fathers again! well I've only talked about them a little bit on here, but remember deceivers came in very early into the church]
"Covenant membership" is one thing promoted by Federal Vision churches, that come more from the Presbyterian, Reformed, Dutch Reformed side of things. Other evangelical churches are getting involved too as seen in the video. Remember here like baptists, and others, there can be a wide range even within one denominational descripter. One thing, Federal Vision and churches involved in "covenant theology" often are connected to dominion theology or [Dominionism]
Right there in that statement personal conversion is diminished! Something is very wrong with that, one is born again by individually coming to Jesus Christ and being born again. When I was Catholic, Catholicism taught a covenant membership of sorts [church membership and your standing with the 'church" [the man-made organization not the actual Body of Christ] was held as the highest good. It was not about having a personal relationship with God, but about receiving sacramentas from the church. It gives me a bad taste in my mouth when I see Protestants or evangelicals speaking of "submission" to a church body especially during days now where false teachers and falling away abounds. Signing "contracts" or church covenants where you have to take classes and are "interviewed" and the rest, seems to be a part of this process. Seems all very formalized with vows to men being on the top of the list.[I chose examples here at random googling "covenant membership"]. Some churches even have ceremonies for when people sign the church covenant while others require a renewing of this covenant. Overall something doesn't sound right where church members are forced to "sign a contract" to be part of a church. The focus should be on soul-winning and salvation and then discipleship not signing a list of 'rules' even ones that have a biblical basis. Christians are to operate in freedom and under the guidance of God.
The whole thing reads wrong...[here is another example]
Therefore our covenant membership vows are a reflection of and are carried out in obedience to his glory. As he keeps covenant with his church so his church keeps covenant with him in living in his church in an accountable manner through member vows. To deny covenant membership vows is to deny the very nature of God and his work in creation and redemption.
I am curious, what if the church goes wrong? Connecting obedience to a church as being the same as obedience to God also is dangerous. The churches are full of people blindly following leaders automatically thinking they all speak for God. Also when everything in life is a "contract" and run like a business deal? Isn't something lost? Watch out for any leader who asks you to make official your submission to him or a church organization!
One comes to Jesus Christ out of love, and while God has covenants [OT and new one in NT] having God and your church presumbly treat you like an employee, that has to make 'vows' [isnt there a Bible verse against the making of vows, where it says let your yes be yes and your no be no?] Ah found it:
Mat 5:37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Here is a random example of a church that promotes Covenant Membership:
Also here is a sample church membership covenant, I looked up. One thing I found is most of them followed these general statements. Here are more examples [#1, #2, #3]
God, by His grace alone, has led me to repent of my sin and believe upon Jesus Christ, trusting Him alone as my Savior
and Lord. As one who has been baptized as a believer in Christ, I desire to unite with this church family. Therefore, I enter into a covenantal relationship with the members of this church. In humble reliance upon the Holy Spirit, I endeavor to do the following:
◦To faithfully attend the church’s worship
services. (Acts 2:42; Heb. 10:25),
◦To diligently guard the truth, upholding
the standard of sound words recorded in Scripture (1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Tim. 6:3-4,20; 2 Tim. 1:13-14; 2 Tim. 2:14-15, 2 Tim. 24-26; 2 Tim. 4:3-4)
◦To wholeheartedly support, love, and care for the church’s ministries and members, offering: my prayers (2 Cor. 13:9; Eph. 1:15-20; Eph 3:14-21; Eph 6:18; Phil. 1:3-6; Phil 9-11; Col. 1:3-12; Col. 4:2-6; 1 Thes. 1:2-4; 1 Thes. 5:17; 1
Pet. 1:22) my financial gifts (Lev. 27:30; Mal. 3:10; Mat. 23:23; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 9:6-7; 1 Tim. 5:17-18) my service (Eph. 4:11-16; Titus 2:11-14;Heb. 10:24; 1 Peter 2:5,9,12; 1 Peter 4:10; Jude 17-21; 1 Cor. 1:30-31; 1 Cor. 12:4-11,25-26; Ezek. 36:23 b)
◦To boldly witness for the Lord Jesus Christ,
living a transformed life and sharing the gospel as God gives opportunity (Mat.4:19; Mat. 28:19; Acts 1:8; Acts 5:42; 1 Pet. 3:15)
◦To actively pursue
personal holiness before God, loving others as Christ has loved us.(2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Thes. 4:7; 1 Pet 1:15-16; 1 Jn. 3:3; Jn. 13:34-35)
◦To diligently promote the unity of the church, being a peacemaker with all in the body of Christ (Mat. 5:9; 23-26; Rom 12:18-21; Rom. 14:19; Eph. 4:1-3; Phil. 2:1-4; Col. 3:12-14; 2 Tim. 2:22; Heb 12:14)
◦To respectfully follow the leaders of this church, trusting and supporting their leadership (1 Thes. 5:12-13; 1 Tim. 5:17-20; Heb. 13:7,17)
◦To humbly submit to the church’s discipline, graciously repenting when approached about personal sin, and lovingly restoring others who become entangled in sin (Mat. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:6-13; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; Gal. 6:1; 1
Thes. 5:14-15; 2 Thes. 3:5-6; Eph. 4:29; Phil. 2:14).>
The "vow-taking" is awful enough, by biblical mandate but notice the above: required attendance? That smacks of when I was a Catholic and being told missing Mass was a "mortal sin" that would put me in hell. Diligently guard the truth? Well, I would tell anyone asking me to sign a paper like this, that it was against the Bible. Support, love and care for church members? Of course, but it is an insult to ask someone to have to even sign to make that happen, it's supposed to come via the love of God, not via legalism. Promote unity of the church? Well false unity can be a negative thing, false unity at the expense of truth is promoted in churches. That one is a perfect set up for having people indoctrinated into standing silently by as heresy, and false teachings take over a church. Some of the covenants add "refusing to gossip" thought the one I quote doesn't have it. Gossip is a sin, but I dare say that "rule" is used to silent all dissension, and questioning or criticizing any false teachings by the pastors or sin in the church.
Respectfully follow the church membership? Well you know that one had to be added. Watch out for any leader that makes you sign a paper promising to "follow him" this puts church leadership beyond accountability. Even signing this paper on that note is wrong, because what if a pastor starts teaching false doctrine? [well they already are following covenant membership] Having people sign they will "respectfully follow" opens the door to endless abuses of authority.
Sorry it is not man who determines you to be a member of the body of Christ or any of the above, loving and serving church members but God. All these 'contracts" are of legalism. Even at my good church, they asked me to sign their membership book [it had no vows or membership covenants in it], I said, "You all know I am a member here but the only book I am worried about being in, is the Book of Life". I wasn't trying to be difficult, had no problem being listed in the church phone directory, but felt convicted to say what I did.