Are Reformed Baptists dispensational?

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Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
It seems to me that our Reformed Baptist brethren are trying to make their position more agreeable to traditional CT than it really is (yeah I know I ended with "is"). One major factor is that reformed baptists equate the CoG with the New Covnenat, denying the overall CoG throughout scripture. This is a major difference and one not to be ignored.

As a side, I really do not like the 1689 Federalism website because of the many inaccuracies and blatant historical revisionism. For example, John Owen doesn't agree with 1689 Federalism, yet, they claim he does. I'm not an Owen expert, but Owen was a savoy man which is not cohesive with 1689 by any stretch.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Since all Baptist reformed or otherwise see a difference between Israel and the church then of course that makes them dispensational, at least in their ecclesiology.

Really? That's a new one on me.

LBCF Chapter 26, part 1:

1. The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

All of the elect comprise the church--the elect of the historical nation of Israel included.

Isn't that what Paul talks about in Romans 9 and Galatians 6? I've never run across a preacher in our Baptist circles that made such a distinction.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
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It seems to me that our Reformed Baptist brethren are trying to make their position more agreeable to traditional CT than it really is (yeah I know I ended with "is"). One major factor is that reformed baptists equate the CoG with the New Covnenat, denying the overall CoG throughout scripture. This is a major difference and one not to be ignored.

I'll freely admit I have not kept up with the latest discussions on 1689 Federalism, etc., so I won't try to speak for anyone else.

And I gladly acknowledge (and always appreciate) Bruce's perspicacious survey of the differences between traditional covenant theology and what comes out of the Baptist stream.

But it seems like an overstatement to say that Reformed Baptists deny the covenant of grace throughout scripture.

A simple comparison of the WCF and the LBCF shows how much the Baptists borrowed from the Presbyterians. In chapters 7 of both confessions, the covenant of grace is discussed and described with almost identical language:

"a covenant of grace, wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe." (LBCF chap 7, section 2).--very minor changes ("a" vs. "the"; "eternal life" vs "life") to what is in WCF chap 7, section 3.

Granted, the section on administration of the covenant of grace discussed in WCF chap 7, section 5, is addressed differently in the LBCF (in chap 7, section 3), but even there it is confessed that the covenant of grace ("this covenant") is:

"revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman, and afterwards by farther steps, until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament."

So, whatever may be said about how various commentators treat the "New Covenant", at least the Baptist Confession recognizes one covenant of grace that is "founded in that eternal covenant transaction that was between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect."
 

BG

Puritan Board Junior
Really? That's a new one on me.

Victor
If you believe that the covenant people of God (the church/Israel) are the same under both administrations of the covenant of grace then I stand corrected you are not dispensational, but then again if you believe that you are not baptist either.
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
I'll freely admit I have not kept up with the latest discussions on 1689 Federalism, etc., so I won't try to speak for anyone else.

And I gladly acknowledge (and always appreciate) Bruce's perspicacious survey of the differences between traditional covenant theology and what comes out of the Baptist stream.

But it seems like an overstatement to say that Reformed Baptists deny the covenant of grace throughout scripture.

A simple comparison of the WCF and the LBCF shows how much the Baptists borrowed from the Presbyterians. In chapters 7 of both confessions, the covenant of grace is discussed and described with almost identical language:

"a covenant of grace, wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe." (LBCF chap 7, section 2).--very minor changes ("a" vs. "the"; "eternal life" vs "life") to what is in WCF chap 7, section 3.

Granted, the section on administration of the covenant of grace discussed in WCF chap 7, section 5, is addressed differently in the LBCF (in chap 7, section 3), but even there it is confessed that the covenant of grace ("this covenant") is:

"revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman, and afterwards by farther steps, until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament."

So, whatever may be said about how various commentators treat the "New Covenant", at least the Baptist Confession recognizes one covenant of grace that is "founded in that eternal covenant transaction that was between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect."

Baptists do not admit that the "covenant [of grace] was differently administered in the time of the law and in the time of the gospel" (WCF 7.5).

They also would not conclude "There are not, therefore, two covenants of grace differing in substance, but **one and the same under various dispensations**" (WCF 7.6).

Reformed baptists (like Renihan, Barcellos, or others) would not agree that there are different administrations of the CoG, like the mosaic covenant or Davidic. The NC, according to reformed baptists, *is* the CoG...which is an error.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
I have said I would not respond to lengthy discussions because of my health. Hence I will only make brief comments. I have found some of the objections somewhat simpilistic so the following might help.

The 1689 Federalism is one of the best websites to look at. Especially the videos - an Introduction to Reformed Baptist Covenant theology
and the differences between the Westminster Confession and the 1689 confesion
in that order. The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology (Revised Edition) is also very helpful. The revised ed offers helpful clarifications not in the original.

There is no question there are differences in our Federalism. But as I said the differences first and foremost are historic-redemptive, not covenant.

I do think Reformed Baptists need to further develop 2 areas. What is the relationship between the covenant of grace and the new covenant, and what is the precise nature of the Mosaic covenant.

As a matter of interest I presently worship with the Reformed Churches of New Zealand which have a full sister church relationship with the OPC. I would much rather worship with a solid Reformed paedobaptist church than a Calvinstic Dispensational church. This might give something of my priority.
 
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VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Victor
If you believe that the covenant people of God (the church/Israel) are the same under both administrations of the covenant of grace then I stand corrected you are not dispensational, but then again if you believe that you are not baptist either.

Maybe so. I confess the "administration" language is removed from the LBCF. I'm ambivalent about what "administration" means (I know how it is used, I just have had a long and hard time getting my head around its meaning).

But I get what is behind what you say: the term "covenant people" means something different to a confessional Presbyterian compared to a confessional Baptist. I'll grant that freely.

But I don't see it as a Church vs. Israel thing. In Israel you had a mixed multitude, as it were, even during the time of David. And the Church, broadly speaking, has the same mixed multitude: elect and non-elect; believers and unbelievers. That's where I stumble at the distinction set out by the term "dispensational."

In other words, I can understand why a Presbyterian might call a Baptist "dispensational" because of the difference in how they treat the covenant of grace, but I don't see it based on a church/Israel distinction.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
You have two competing claimants to the throne. Waldron teaches the historical administration of the covenant of grace under the Old Testament. Denault denies this. In the linked article he states, "The understanding of this particular federalism is that the covenant of grace was not formally established during the O.T. period."

Please specify which "1689 federalism" is being advocated.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
They also would not conclude "There are not, therefore, two covenants of grace differing in substance, but **one and the same under various dispensations**" (WCF 7.6).

True, the express language of the WCF is not in the LBCF. But the covenant is necessarily one covenant even in the LBCF: "this covenant is revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam.... etc."

Reformed baptists (like Renihan, Barcellos, or others) would not agree that there are different administrations of the CoG, like the mosaic covenant or Davidic. The NC, according to reformed baptists, *is* the CoG...which is an error.

I'll leave that to those august fellows. I'm not there. And I'm not convinced that the "Reformed Baptist" view is monolithic, regardless of recent literature or websites.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Now let's get back to covenant theology, where there is neither Australian nor New Zealander, but all are one in Christ Jesus. Which "1689 federalism" is being advocated as non-dispensational, and is there in fact one people of God?

I really don't know--I haven't kept up with the 1689 federalism permutations.

But I did go back and skim Owen on Hebrews 8. It is pretty much what I remember and pretty much where I last left my thoughts on the topic a couple of years ago: There is one people of God; there is one means of salvation; there is one covenant of grace.

I see his nuance in treating administration versus confirmation in Christ's blood, etc. What I do not see is an implication that the new covenant was new at the time of Christ, but rather, the promise contained in it is as old as Genesis.

That's as far as I can go right now. I have always had reservations about how the late 1689 federalists have treated Owen.
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
What I do not see is an implication that the new covenant was new at the time of Christ, but rather, the promise contained in it is as old as Genesis.

This seems to be where all 1689 guys go to in one degree or another. However, the issue here is that baptists treat the NC as the CoG proper, or itself, rather than an administration.
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
And I'm not convinced that the "Reformed Baptist" view is monolithic, regardless of recent literature or websites.

I have never read a reformed baptist (past or present) that would admit to different administrations of the CoG (including the NC) instead of equating it to (as the rest of reformdom would say) an administration.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
However, the issue here is that baptists treat the NC as the CoG proper, or itself, rather than an administration.

Maybe that is the issue, but it's not what I thought I was dealing with in my first comments. Mostly I was struck with the claim that Israel and the Church were distinct.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
Which "1689 federalism" is being advocated as non-dispensational
See my post before this one. As well as the videos I posted above, on the same website has another video showing that 1689 Federalism is clearly non-dispensational, and another video showing where 1689 Federalism differs from the older Reformed Baptist Covenant theology of Sam Waldron etc. Obviously the 1689 Federalism is basically Denault's position, but as I said above it is best to read his revised book on covenant theology to get his latest thinking.

Also as I said above, I do think Reformed Baptists need to further develop 2 areas. What is the relationship between the covenant of grace and the new covenant, and what is the precise nature of the Mosaic covenant. So it is possible development here may bring a view closer to Waldron's position. I do think that both Denault and Waldron would agree that the church is the true eschatological Israel.
is there in fact one people of God?
Yes. The one people of God are the people, who Christ as mediator, sheds His blood for.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
The key tenant of dispensationalism is the idea that Israel and the church or different .

Since all Baptist reformed or otherwise see a difference between Israel and the church then of course that makes them dispensational, at least in their ecclesiology.
We would tend to see that God still has some kind of plan and purpose for the Jewish people that will come about in end times around the time of the Second Coming...
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
Victor
If you believe that the covenant people of God (the church/Israel) are the same under both administrations of the covenant of grace then I stand corrected you are not dispensational, but then again if you believe that you are not baptist either.
Majority of Baptists, reformed or otherwise, would see the Church as being founded by God at Pentacost event...
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
Maybe that is the issue, but it's not what I thought I was dealing with in my first comments. Mostly I was struck with the claim that Israel and the Church were distinct.

Due to most Baptists not seeing the Church on the Old Testament, but at time of Pentacost..
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Majority of Baptists, reformed or otherwise, would see the Church as being founded by God at Pentacost event...
Due to most Baptists not seeing the Church on the Old Testament, but at time of Pentacost..

Where does this assertion come from? The LBCF doesn't hold this. It notes that before our Lord's coming there was a "jewish church." (chap. 21).

We would tend to see that God still has some kind of plan and purpose for the Jewish people that will come about in end times around the time of the Second Coming...

"We" don't necessarily hold that. Dispensationalists, whether Baptist or otherwise hold that.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
This thread has gone off the rails. It lacks the kind of clarity and focus needed to be helpful. The OP needs to define what the terms 'Baptist' and 'Dispensational' mean for the purposes of this discussion.

In the meantime, there is much for all of us to chew on.
 
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