While critics of theonomy (here we refer to the second and third definitions of theonomy) have not been able to refute it, some resort to guilt by association attacks, saying, “see all those theonomists within Federal Vision (FV) circles! This proves theonomy promotes salvation by works!”
But linking theonomy with the FV heresy is fallacious for several reasons:
1. As we mentioned, it is a guilt-by-association argument, and such arguments are logical fallacies.
2. There will be heresies within the circles of even the most legitimate theologies. The Apostle Paul warned “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29, 30)
Paul, in short, warns that wolves would come in among the legitimate flock itself. The problem is not with the legitimate flock’s doctrine of salvation, which was salvation through faith alone, but the wolves’ doctrine of salvation. Wolves almost always teach salvation by works.
So wolves (the FV heretics) have come in among theonomists, but the problem is not theonomy, but the fact that the FV advocates are wolves.
3. There are several heresies within non-theonomic circles: the seeker sensitive movement, Arminianism, “carnal Christianity,” baptismal regeneration, the word of faith movement, and the emergent church, just to name a few.
So if one is going to say that theonomy promotes salvation by works for no other considerations than that the Federal Vision heresy is in theonomic circles, then logical consistency demands that not holding to theonomy leads to the aforementioned heresies.
4. The Federal Vision is rampant in non-theonomic circles as well. In light of this, the argument can be reversed again against theonomic critics, this time to say that not holding to theonomy leads to the Federal Vision heresy.
5. The Pharisees were the FV of their day, and no one would argue that the O.T. laws that theonomists hold to today weren’t legitimate then.
And so since the perversion of God’s law in the past didn’t invalidate the legitimacy of God’s law then, then there is no reason to assume the perversion of God’s law today (such as by FV theology) necessarily invalidates the legitimacy of certain O.T. laws today.
6. The Protestant Reformation sprang up within Roman Catholic circles. Does that then mean that the heretical Roman Catholic theology naturally leads to those elements of Protestantism that were orthodox?
Of course not. And neither can we say the orthodox theonomic movement leads to the heretical FV movement. Orthodoxy doesn’t lead to heresy, and heresy doesn’t lead to orthodoxy; a positive does not lead to a negataive, and a negative does not lead to a postive.
7. The ordinance of water baptism has been perverted throughout church history to teach the soul-damning heresy that says water baptism saves. Does this then invalidate water baptism? Of course not.
8. It is wicked to blame sin, such as the Federal Vision heresy, on God’s commands. Adam blamed the ordinance of marriage on his sin; we can’t blame legitimate laws of God (such as upheld by theonomists, not to say that theonomists get all laws right) for man’s perversion of them.
What is “Theonomy”? by Greg Bahnsen (Disclaimer: We do not endorse some of the products on this site, which promote the Federal Vision heresy)
Right with the Law? A Theonomic Response to Rev. Maurice Roberts by Daniel F.N. Ritchie
Greg Bahnsen is not in the Federal Vision Camp by John M. Otis
Federal Vision and Theonomy: Not the Same by Daniel F.N. Ritchie
Christian Reconstruction: What’s Good, What’s Bad: Part 1 by Brian Schwertley
Christian Reconstruction: What’s Good, What’s Bad: Part 2 by Brian Schwertley