Difference between the promises to covenant and non-covenant children?

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Pilgrim's Progeny

Puritan Board Sophomore
Umm....

That's more than even presumptive regeneration - are you saying that all covenant children are regenerated? Am I reading that wrong?

By the very defintion "covenant child", we are saying that that child is a child of the covenant of Grace.

Personally, I don't have the ability to read God's mind, and know his eternal decrees in election. I don't know the "invisible" things, but he has given the Church "visible" thngs (i.e., the sacraments).

So, visibly speaking...all I can say is that "covenant child" who is baptized IS Regenerate. (who am I to say otherwise, Christ only gave me visible things)

If they are regenerated, then only two options seem possible for the children of believers: (1) they are all saved or (2) they can become unregenerated.
Are we saying these options are valid?
#1 is valid, but presumed?

#2 is impossible?

So the covenant theologian calls his children to conversion with the presumption they are regenerate while all the while knowing that this could prove to not be the case. Yet, we act upon the promise of God to be their God and we raise our children in a diligent to make their calling and election sure?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Pardon, but this is a little exasperating.

When God says to ME! to ME, a member of long standing, and an officer, and everything--when he says "I will be your God..."

OK, cut it off right there. Is THAT promise conditional or unconditional? Think about it. Sure, if I'm elect, I won't finally apostatize, and that promise is certain and unconditional. But there is a condition to it, from the earthly vantage point. I have to KEEP BELIEVING that promise!

Abraham had to KEEP BELIEVING that promise, not just in God's promise to save him a posterity. So there is an implied condition in God's initial promise just to the man himself. Faith, and more faith.

And we are getting "confused" (?) because there is this implicit condition in the second half of that promise statement? That those children have to believe as well for this promise to see fulfillment?

Friends, we don't know OUR OWN hearts well enough to make guarantees about ourselves! ALL the promises of the Bible are for PERSEVERING Christians, for those who hold on to their faith the way Abraham held on to his.
_____________

Now, on this other topic, about our children, etc. We call our stance the "judgment of charity." The promises are issued inside the earthly context of covenant administration. That is where the promises reside, that is were they are objective.

I do not think it is wise to make explicit subjective applications even to our own children--like saying "this one is regenerate, and this one, and this one," all on the basis of a baptism. That just seems to go patently further than the general statements of Scripture admit. For all we know, the Spirit has begun to work on the specific infant, but we aren't confessing the Spirit's invisible action. Rather, we are confessing the objective promise, which is a general promise, and the specific earthly application is always a contingent promise appropriated by faith.

I treat my children like disciples. Take this verse, Gal 4:19 "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you." Isn't that just what a parent would say? I make a lesser presumption that the Spirit is at work in my child (as in the adults in the congregation) giving ears to hear my gospel, and to heed my Christian discipline. I do presume that life exists which makes saving hearing possible, though I do not know this to be certain. I rest in the promises of God. Do I "presume" the regeneration of the grown up professors in the pews? Yes, but I do not say to any single one of them, "You are regenerate," as though I could see their heart. My presumption is in the covenant, in the collective profession, some which are particularized, and the youth which are not yet.

What I don't understand is why we are talking about Scriptural statements as if they were intended to tell us things of certainty pertaining to named individuals, things that we cannot see, just because those people belong to a visible class? Friends, this has NEVER been the case! It wasn't the case for Abraham, or any OT saint--who were given the original commandments to apply a covenant-sign without reference to its individuated salvific import for any marked person.

They were to bear in their body the outward mark of ownership, the outward mark of covenant with God. These same people died by the thousands in the wilderness, and later in the Promised Land, as faithless, unsaved rebels, who were never saved. That had no bearing on the promise itself. And the promise had no effect on their faithless hearts. But they did earn a severer justice.
 

MOSES

Puritan Board Freshman
Umm....

That's more than even presumptive regeneration - are you saying that all covenant children are regenerated? Am I reading that wrong?

By the very defintion "covenant child", we are saying that that child is a child of the covenant of Grace.

Personally, I don't have the ability to read God's mind, and know his eternal decrees in election. I don't know the "invisible" things, but he has given the Church "visible" thngs (i.e., the sacraments).

So, visibly speaking...all I can say is that "covenant child" who is baptized IS Regenerate. (who am I to say otherwise, Christ only gave me visible things)

If they are regenerated, then only two options seem possible for the children of believers: (1) they are all saved or (2) they can become unregenerated.
Are we saying these options are valid?

Why limit your "two options" to the children of beleivers? There is only ONE covenant community.

You could ask the same question to adult "believers" if we call them regenerate.
(1) they are all saved or (2) they can become unregenerated.


If you can call a baptized adult regenerate based on the promises of God...then you can call a baptized child/infant regenerate based on the promise of God.

Concernining the eternal decree of God..who am I to say that that adult is NOT regenerate. If he is baptized and a member of the covenant community, then visibly, he is in union with Christ.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
MOSES,
Are you taking the position of the judgment of charity, or are you making an objective claim about an individual? Are you telling John Smith, "Sir, you have been baptized, therefore, you ARE regenerated." Your statement has to include a provisional sense if you are going to individuate it. I can't think there would be a pastor so careless as to not guard his meaning when speaking to the flock on this subject, so that they made no unsafe assumptions.

Otherwise, intentional or not, what you say regarding the fact of a person's heart (excepting the term "visible" you use in the last line) sounds no different from the many, many incautious statements made by the FV folks.

I don't think we are on different pages here, however, I think I would neither say to John Smith the adult, and especially with reference to baptismal rites, "Sir, you are regenerated," nor regarding the infant John Smith, Jr. would I so boldly say it.

I would rather say "Sir, do you believe the gospel? Do you believe what baptism teaches? Then I say to you: in that case, you would be regenerated; you are justified, then. Believers in Jesus get regeneration, adoption, etc., and their children are accounted privileged. Claim the promise of Gen 17:7 as well. And hold it tight, should your son die before he shows you his faith."
 

MOSES

Puritan Board Freshman
NOTE: Before anyone starts throwing stones.
NO, I am not an FV proponent...and I am extremely hostile to the RC doctrine of baptism.
 

moral necessity

Puritan Board Junior
By the very defintion "covenant child", we are saying that that child is a child of the covenant of Grace.

Personally, I don't have the ability to read God's mind, and know his eternal decrees in election. I don't know the "invisible" things, but he has given the Church "visible" thngs (i.e., the sacraments).

So, visibly speaking...all I can say is that "covenant child" who is baptized IS Regenerate. (who am I to say otherwise, Christ only gave me visible things)

If they are regenerated, then only two options seem possible for the children of believers: (1) they are all saved or (2) they can become unregenerated.
Are we saying these options are valid?

Why limit your "two options" to the children of beleivers? There is only ONE covenant community.

You could ask the same question to adult "believers" if we call them regenerate.
(1) they are all saved or (2) they can become unregenerated.


If you can call a baptized adult regenerate based on the promises of God...then you can call a baptized child/infant regenerate based on the promise of God.

Concernining the eternal decree of God..who am I to say that that adult is NOT regenerate. If he is baptized and a member of the covenant community, then visibly, he is in union with Christ.

I suppose I took your statement that "a covenant child who is baptized is regenerate" as if it were a theological statement of fact. I didn't really understand what you meant by "visibly speaking." If you are merely saying that you consider them as such, then that changes my reflection upon your thougths.

Blessings!
 

MOSES

Puritan Board Freshman
MOSES,
Are you taking the position of the judgment of charity, or are you making an objective claim about an individual?

Neither...I am making a subjective claim.
(e.g., I am completely convinced that my baptized children are regenerate based on the promise of God, and his "confirming" or displaying that promise in the visible sign and SEAL of baptism)

Note: If Christ wanted to leave me in the dark, in a state of doubt and not knowing...Then he would not have givem me and my children (or the church) the VISIBLE sign of baptism.

Are you telling John Smith, "Sir, you have been baptized, therefore, you ARE regenerated."


If John Smith is an adult, a new convert that has come to be baptized...I am not going to say that baptism will make him regenerate (in the john 3 sense)...rather, I already, subjectively know that John is regenerate and that is why he confesses Christ.
in my opinion, Christians don't get regenerate. Rather sinners do. Sinners are regenerated and THEN become believers (Christians).

Note: I am completely open minded on this topic, and open to correction as well.

-- I hope I'm using the word "subjective" properly. Please correct me If I am not.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
If John Smith is an adult, a new convert that has come to be baptized...I am not going to say that baptism will make him regenerate (in the john 3 sense)...rather, I already, subjectively know that John is regenerate and that is why he confesses Christ. [bold is mine, BGB]
This shouldn't be your commitment.
I *think* I understand what you intend to express, but the fact is that such knowledge is hidden from you. You cannot subjectively possess this knowledge, as in "this is true for me." Therefore it is foolish to commit yourself in this fashion. Our knowledge of regeneration is fairly limited to a rather imperfect understanding of one's own individual heart.

Regenerate people DO confess Christ, and regeneration is the beginning of that confession.
However, we know that Unregenerate people ALSO confess Christ. You rejected the "judgment of charity" as an option; I don't know why, since I *think* you would prefer that position to either the claim that objectively, John Smith's regeneration is certain, or that subjectively, his regeneration is true for you. You never want to make truth into a subjective quality.

We all agree that water baptism doesn't regenerate. I think we are back to the principle that we should *judge* our friend John with love, "hoping and believing all things" for him, operating on the premise that he is acting in essentially the way we would expect any genuine Christian to behave.
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
Umm....

That's more than even presumptive regeneration - are you saying that all covenant children are regenerated? Am I reading that wrong?

By the very defintion "covenant child", we are saying that that child is a child of the covenant of Grace.

Personally, I don't have the ability to read God's mind, and know his eternal decrees in election. I don't know the "invisible" things, but he has given the Church "visible" thngs (i.e., the sacraments).

So, visibly speaking...all I can say is that "covenant child" who is baptized IS Regenerate. (who am I to say otherwise, Christ only gave me visible things)

This is how Paul seems to act in the Epistles. He talks about all the spiritual blessings that those in the Church have in Ephesians 1, in a letter addressed children as well as adults, and which was circulated to multiple churches (visible church). He couldn't have known the elect status of every person to whom he wrote, and he doesn't feel the need to make all kinds of qualifications as he speaks.

David,
I think your reading of Eph1 is accurate,and your op and this post are getting at the truth of who is described as being in the church.
When you read Eph1 without considering the issue of infants, the passage is very clear, isn't it? I was reading this thread and was trying not to comment but after seeing posts stating that every covenant child is regenerate I have to say that i do not think that is really them normal Presbyterian understanding of this issue.
David I have posted several times on this issue and do not want to be repetitive. To a certain extent I understand the language of the visible /invisible distinction/ but I openly have discussed my struggle with many aspects of this teaching that I believe lead to false conclusions.
My contention is that most of the verses speaking of the church are speaking of the elect or invisible members of the church, when they actually assemble in a visible assembly . That is to say the called out assembly.
Read the verses that speak about the church [without] trying to force "covenant children into the verses" and see how the texts read.

Jeff- you said this;
God has stated that our children our by his grace a part of the visible church from infancy.
what verse or verses where you thinking when you said this?
 

MOSES

Puritan Board Freshman
Side Note:

The WCF states absolutely, making an objective claim, that there are some infants who are regenerate. And it is not a statement of charity, but of fact.

WCF Chapter 10.3

:)...I know, it is a stretch...but it does boldly state that some infants are regenerate.
 

moral necessity

Puritan Board Junior
Some infants are regenerate. John the Baptist probably was. But, many are not, including those of regenerate parents, I presume. A regenerate parent does not, by default, produce a regenerate offspring. All must be born again, implying that an initial conception in sin must first take place for all children. Regeneration is the perrogative of God alone to administer. It is a grace bestowed upon the elect alone. Personally, I don't assume that my children are necessarily regenerate, yet I do think they are under some sort of blessing from God in that they are under God's blessing to me in Christ. Faith is a fruit of regeneracy, whereas baptism is not a fruit, but a sacrament. I guess I may differ with some on this topic for the time being, perhaps. Yet, I remain affectionate towards those brothers who might see more clearly than I.

Blessings!
 
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