T.E. Wilder provides us with this valuable insight into the origins of Federal Vision theology at http://puritanboard.com/showthread.php?t=19219 :
The Federal Vision people have
not done much more than take elements that were already around in the OPC and
put them together in new ways:
1) Attack on the covenant of works because the language is not in Genesis: John Murray
2) Attack on the visible/invisible church distinction because the language is not that of the Bible: John Murray
3) A generalized playing off of the language of the Bible against the ideas of the Bible as organized in the Confessions: this is an extension by Norman Shepherd of what Murray started.
4) Playing up paradox in theology, so that logical contradictions to the Confessions are a mark of truth: Van Til
5) Engaging in typically Arminian exegesis of Biblical passages to promote the contradiction and paradox: Van Til
6) Conflating faith and works: Van Til
7) A vertical axis typology and wild symbolic theology: Meredith Kline.
What the Federal Vision did was push these pieces around together with some other old ideas from Dutch Reformed churches until they started to work as a new system, much like those Trasformer [sic] toys that change between trucks and robots.
The Federal Vision is the legitimate firstborn child of the OPC, and its deviant theologies that have been tolerated throughout the entire existence of the denomination.
Seminaries become breeding grounds of heresy when full subscription to a reformed confession is not required and enforced. Each theologian is allowed to deviate, and over time there is a snowball effect. The mass of errors then becomes a monstrous whole, as we find in the Federal Vision theology. And this is not without further ill effect. For we find many professed Protestants, who once having embraced the Federal Vision theology, eventually join the Romish Church. Thus we see in practice what we read about in scripture: A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Galatians 5:9)
Toleration of heresies in the seminaries is a rampant plague in North America. It besets not only Westminster Seminary East and West, but virtually every other seminary. Even Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary is not without problem in this respect. Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary allows men holding to various and sundry erroneous deviations from the Westminster Standards and Three Forms of Unity to teach courses.
A much sounder principle of theological instruction is found in the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland. There, only full subscriptionists to the Westminster Standards are allowed to teach, for only ministers in the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland teach.