Differences on Covenant Membership between Abrahamic and New Covenant.

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PuritanCovenanter

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Here is a thread that some might want to respond to. I probably won't paraticipate much as I am really burnt out on the baptism debate. I have been debating it for years and have a lot of blogs that answer many of the questions we have already debated.

Anyways,
I am kind of burnt out on the whole baptism debate. I have been doing it for years. You guys can look at my blogs concerning the Covenants, Circumcision, Baptism, Mosaic, or whatever. I initially responded to Nate's question in a credo only forum. A mod noticed that a Paedo baptist posted by mistake and tried to make a new thread. So I complied thinking the Moderator thought the question Pastor Keister asked needed to be addressed.


No, because the covenant was one that differed in scope. Abraham had a mixed covenant that also had to do with his posterity promises that were not included in the Covenant of Grace...

Randy-
Isn't this one main point of contention between credos and paedos, whether or not the New Covenant is defined in part by the Abrahamic (a priori), or if the specifics of each covenant are defined by the explicit teachings on that particular covenant?

I am not sure about your question Nate. The Abrahamic Covenant is a Covenant of Promise and it's fulfillment is found in the seed (Christ). We are Abraham's seed by faith and share in the Covenant of Grace with him. So as a priori, I would say yes. But the Covenant of Circumcision is given to Abraham as its Covenant head. That Covenant is no longer in force as circumcision is also abrogated. But the Covenant given to Abraham finds its fulfillment in Christ as its promises are concerned in the Covenant of Grace. Christ is the Head of the New Covenant. I have a lot of blogs on this topic.
http://www.puritanboard.com/blogs/puritancovenanter/

Does Baptism Replace Circumcision

John Tombes on Genesis 17:7

Circumcision and Baptism A. W. Pink Colosians 2

Is the New Covenant Really New

Covenant Head and Covenant Children

The Abrahamic Covenant

Here are a few of the blogs that might be relevant to this.

Here was Pastor Lane Keister's response to my reply.

I am glad, Martin, that this is one of the very few points at which we would disagree. The paedo would respond by saying that both the Abrahamic and the New Covenants had an outer and an inner dimension. With Abraham, yes, Ishmael was part of the administration of the covenant. However, he did not belong to the promise: "In Isaac shall your offspring be named." See especially Genesis 17:18-21, where Abraham wanted the covenant to continue through Ishmael, but God replied that Isaac will be the one through whom the covenant as an everlasting covenant will be confirmed. The substance of the covenant did NOT belong to Ishmael, but rather to Isaac. The same is true in the New Covenant, where not all who are baptized belong to the substance of the covenant, but rather only with the elect is the substance of the covenant made. So this argument, unfortunately for the Baptists, does not pass the test of being something that could not be used against circumcision.
 
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PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Originally Posted by greenbaggins View Post
I am glad, Martin, that this is one of the very few points at which we would disagree. The paedo would respond by saying that both the Abrahamic and the New Covenants had an outer and an inner dimension. With Abraham, yes, Ishmael was part of the administration of the covenant. However, he did not belong to the promise: "In Isaac shall your offspring be named." See especially Genesis 17:18-21, where Abraham wanted the covenant to continue through Ishmael, but God replied that Isaac will be the one through whom the covenant as an everlasting covenant will be confirmed. The substance of the covenant did NOT belong to Ishmael, but rather to Isaac. The same is true in the New Covenant, where not all who are baptized belong to the substance of the covenant, but rather only with the elect is the substance of the covenant made. So this argument, unfortunately for the Baptists, does not pass the test of being something that could not be used against circumcision.

I would respond, if there is an inner and outer dimension in both the Abrahamic and New Covenants that look exactly alike then you would be correct. I just don't see that this is true according to scripture. The sign with its various promises in the Abrahamic Covenant had specific and differing promises that applied to both those who were and were not members of the Covenant of Grace. There were promises that were made concerning the Covenant of Grace that applied to the elect. There were also promises that were made in general to all who were Abraham's posterity concerning the land, Kingdoms, and future events. So in one aspect there is an inner outer distinction in the Covenant of Circumcision. The sign of Circumcision was a cutting away and separating themselves for the purposes of God whether or not they were members of the Covenant of Grace.

In this situation they were all children, kinsmen, or servants and shared in the posterity of Abraham by the Covenant of Circumcision. This is true even if they were or were not his seed by spiritual birth. This is even true for the servants who were not of his posterity.

In the fulfillment of the seed, Christ became the Head. He is the Head of Abraham in the New Covenant. Abraham was in Christ as was Moses by the Covenant of Grace. Both the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants were mixed Covenants having the essence of the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace in them. But when we get to the New Covenant and its sign we have a different set of promises. Mainly the sign of the forgiveness of sin and union with Christ. Christ is the Head of this Covenant. We are Children of Abraham in that we are grafted into the tree and the mixture of CofW and CofG is no longer in the New Covenant. If one is in Christ he is a member of this Covenant. This Covenant is purely a CofG. It's Head is Christ and His children are defined as the blog I have on that topic indicates.

Now I hear the protests of those who are saying but the Church is full of those who are not truly saved. They are baptized and members of their Churches. To that I would respond that they might be members of a local congregation but they are not members of the New Covenant Church. They are illegal aliens. Who have not the Spirit of Christ. They will never be known by Christ and were never of the Church as John even states about those who become apostate.

The reprobate are in fact not true members of the visible New Covenant. They may profess that they are and even join a group of Church members. They may congregate with the Church but that doesn't make them New Covenant members. Reprobates are cut off from God's divine pleasure by their Covenant head Adam.

Just because a mouse is in the cookie jar doesn't necessarily make him a cookie. I know that is as old and a dumb saying. But it is true.

Illegal aliens congregate in the United States often but they are not citizens of our Country. They can become members but congregating with us doesn't make them citizens of our Country. And if we choose we may even cut them off from the benefits of our country because they are not citizens. We can even ship them out.

As the scripture says. There are those who have crept in unawares.

Anyways,
I am kind of burnt out on the whole baptism debate. I have been doing it for years. You guys can look at my blogs concerning the Covenants, Circumcision, Baptism, Mosaic, or whatever. I initially responded to Nate's question in a credo only forum. A mod noticed that a Paedo baptist posted by mistake and tried to make a new thread. So I complied thinking the Moderator thought the question Pastor Keister asked needed to be addressed.


Whatever side you end up on, Christ is still Head of the His Church. He knows who are his and whom he paid a high price for. All others are outside of the Covenant of Grace and should be very concerned about that. I once was one on the outside even though I was baptized and a Church member under false pretensions. I even believed I was forgiven and had my sins cleansed by Christ because I was baptized. I was gravely mistaken.

Be Encouraged,
Randy

Here are some of those blogs... There are more.

 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
We are Calvinists. We believe that sinners are saved in the covenant of grace. We believe infants are sinners. Therefore, as Calvinists, we believe infants are saved in the covenant of grace. To say that infants are not members of the covenant of grace is to deny infant-salvation.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Okay. I am not so sure any Reformed Baptist is saying this even though Reverend Winzer might be saying we are saying this. I am sure we are saying that we are born strangers to the Covenant from God as Ephesians is saying. I guess it comes to matters of what Covenant we are born strangers to. We are all born dead in Sin as David says. That is opposed to the Covenant of Grace as far as I can tell. We all need regeneration. When that happens we become members of the Covenant of Grace. Whether that happens in the womb or later you can decide. A confession of faith is a good place to start with, as Paul puts so much of an emphasis upon our confession as individual and being in Christ in the book of Romans.


I really don't want to get into this debate right now. That it has been brought into this kind of forum (the open baptism forum) was by a Baptist moderator. I really don't want to debate or fight over this issue right now. If he (the Baptist Moderator) is struggling with this he should contact me. My plate is rather full right now, to say, I hope that it is okay if I don't continue with this debate. I am sorry if that offends some. You can PM me with questions if you want concerning this topic. I can't say that I will get back to everyone. But I will try.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
PuritanCovenanter said:
I am sure we are saying that we are born strangers to the Covenant from God as Ephesians is saying.
I would argue that the context of the passage in Ephesians demonstrates exactly the reverse of what you are saying it states.

Ephesians 2:11-13: "Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."

It does not say that WE were born strangers to the covenant(s), but that unconverted, pagan Gentiles were born such. This is not an universal declaration, but a declaration particularly for those who were born outside of the people of God.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Okay. I am not so sure any Reformed Baptist is saying this even though Reverend Winzer might be saying we are saying this. I am sure we are saying that we are born strangers to the Covenant from God as Ephesians is saying. I guess it comes to matters of what Covenant we are born strangers to.

Randy, it is fairly clear what covenant Ephesians 2 is talking about, that this covenant is related to circumcision (or non-circumcision), and that this is solved in Christ. The Ephesians, as Gentiles, were strangers to the covenant of promise:

Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands-- remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. ~ Ephesians 2:11-14

Later in the chapter, Paul makes it clear that the "stranger" status has changed in Christ, and that they are members of His church:

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. ~ Ephesians 2:19-22

Note the "old testament" language and covenant terminology used in that passage (God's household, a holy temple, Christ the cornerstone, prophets, etc.) And interestingly, children of believers are addressed by Paul, in this same letter, making reference to some of those same OT promises:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH. ~ Ephesians 6:1-3
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Okay. Are we born strangers to the Covenant of Grace or not? Are we born strangers and dead in sin against the Covenant of Grace or are we not? Just wondering? I received many graces a Covenant Child of your understanding has not received. I have also received many graces that a Child of Abraham according to the flesh has not benefited from. Just wondering what you guys are thinking. I am certainly made a beneficiary of the Covenant while those who were considered to be so were excluded. That is really a terrible thing in the eyes of the world. I have been grafted in while they have been cut off by unbelief according to Romans. Wow. Unimaginable.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Randy, we are simply saying that Ephesians is making a different argument than the one you alluded to above. When Ephesians 2 introduces an argument about covenants, it is saying that Gentiles were at one time strangers to the covenants of promise of the nation of Israel. Certainly none of us are denying that we (the human race in general, the descendants of Adam) are born dead in sin, but that seems to be separate from the discussion of covenants in Ephesians 2:11ff.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Well if the Covenant the Ephesian's is referring to includes a Covenant that will still lead them to Hell then you can make that claim. I am not sure that was St. Paul's intention. Just my humble opinion.
 
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Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
There are those who receive the covenant sign who apostatize from the faith. There is nothing new about that. Jesus talked about that, Paul talked about that, John talked about that. It existed in the Abrahamic covenant, and it exists with the New Covenant context. It is as simple as recognizing the visible/invisible church distinction. I believe this is what Lane was referring to in the OP, and Calvin comments on this distinction in ICR, Book 3, chapter 21 (I'm going on memory there, so I might be off a chapter), where he makes a "covenant within the covenant" argument. Certainly receiving an external sign does not save you any more than simply saying or repeating key words with your mouth saves you. Salvation is of grace alone and by God alone, and on that we can agree.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I agree that there were those who apostatized from the Covenants of Promise. But that in no way means they apostatized from the Covenant of Grace. I also agree that the Gentiles were born separate and without hope and knowledge of the Covenants of Promise. But there is more to the Ephesians passage than I think you guys are seeing. Paul very definitely includes both Jew and Gentile in the passage.

(Eph 2:5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

(Eph 2:6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

I guess I am still having problems separating the Covenant of Grace totally apart from the Covenants of Promise. I still believe the Covenants of Promise had a mixture of the CofW and CofG running in them. The Ephesian's passage seems to indicate to me that the Covenant of Grace is the one that the Ephesians are being brought into. Paul even says he is quickened and brought into Grace even though he was born dead in sin. Thus he was a stranger to the Covenant of Grace also.

Verses 15 and 16 even indicate the nature of this body. It is different. It is saved by grace. It is new. He made peace for this new man bringing both gentile and Israelite together as a regenerate body. I would say that if one is not in Christ than he is not a part of the body of Christ.

(Eph 2:15) Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

(Eph 2:16) And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

I would think that the next two passages reveal the nature of this new man. The body of Christ.

(Rom 8:9) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

(Eph 2:22) In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

BTW, I do understand that the Gentiles were held in darkness and separate from the Word and Knowledge of God. Paul also recognized that the Jews who were not members in the Covenant of Grace were also far from God as he indicates in Romans and 1 Corinthians. One could be member of the Covenant of Circumcision and not be a member of Christ. I do not think this is true for the New Covenant Member. I think St. Paul makes this distinction also. That is one of the reasons he tells us to examine ourselves and to be careful. I do believe that a person can apostatize from the words he has pronounced but I do not believe a person can apostatize from Christ once he has been made a true member who is forgiven. Those who are not truly members of Christ are never considered to be a part of His body in the New Covenant. At least the language of the New Covenant never seems to indicate that.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
One can be a member of the visible church and then later apostatize. Would you agree with that statement?
 

nnatew24

Puritan Board Freshman
The Ephesians 2 passage quoted above is clear in its contrast of "dead" in V1 to "alive" in V5. Those "children of wrath" have been "saved", "raised with Christ", "been brought near by the blood of Christ", having been 'reconciled to God'.

This is explicitly salvific language. There is no possibility of apostasy to those reconciled to God by Christ's blood. Full atonement has been made here, and Christ didn't shed His blood for a mixed bag of converted/unconverted people.

The 'alive' in the passage, is in contrast to the 'dead', and denotes full justification. There is no room in this text to say that Paul is speaking of covenant-but-not-salvific-membership, of the church, without including justification. If children of believers are being spoken of and included in this text, then we must assume Paul is declaring them justified.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Part of the problem in this discussion is that we all seem to be talking past one another, and that is partly because Baptists and Presbyterians are holding to differing definitions of the church. For instance, Baptists and Presbyterians, unless I am missing something, define the visible church differently (I can find no reference to the visible church in the LBC, and I seem to remember the New Hampshire Confession referring to "visible churches," but this is much the same as the LBC's "particular churches," which I take to mean individual local congregations, if I am reading correctly). The invisible/visible distinction simply means that not everyone who professes the name of Christ is actually a Christian. This is consistent with NT teaching. I would find it startling to find someone disagreeing with that notion on this thread.

This is a Reformed board, so it would seem quite obvious that no one is insinuating that someone who has been justified/saved in Christ can somehow apostatize and lose their salvation. Certainly no one is saying this at all. However, what we are saying is that it is possible for someone to call themselves a Christian, to receive the covenant sign of entrance into the church (baptism), and yet to later leave the faith. Certainly it must be acknowledged that in Baptist churches there are those adults who have received believer's baptism but have later fallen away. As Calvinists, we would say that either a) they are temporary backslidden and will later be restored to the faith or b) they were never Christians to begin with and are now apostate.

Where I am getting lost is whether Baptists (the Reformed variety at least) even consider baptism to be a covenant sign. I assumed they did. Am I wrong here? If not, please correct me and give me the proper terminology, as I do not wish to misrepresent.

If baptism is the covenant sign, then it should be easy enough to understand that all Presbyterians are saying is that not everyone who receives the covenant sign is actually (savingly) in the covenant of grace. As with circumcision, not everyone who bore the sign was saved. They may have been members of the OT "church" (Israel), but that did not mean they were part of the covenant of grace. There were blessing associated with being a part of the covenant community of Israel, but those were not necessarily saving blessings.

Now, returning to the argument from Ephesians, chapter 2 is simply being utilized to show that the covenant language that was used of OT Israel is being applied to Gentiles. The coming of Christ (the seed of Abraham; the Son of promise) is a fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham (according to Galatians 3), not a radically new thing. Paul is speaking generally in Ephesians 2. Certainly everything he says is true; anyone who has trusted in Christ is saved, we are saved by grace alone, etc. But are we to think that simply because Paul writes the letter to the church at Ephesus, everyone at Ephesus who called himself a Christian was saved? That Ephesus had 100% regenerate church membership? Or is it far more reasonable (and consistent with the rest of the NT) that there were tares growing up among the wheat?
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Just for .....

The real 1689 LBCF
Chapter 26: Of the Church
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.
( Hebrews 12:23; Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:10, 22, 23; Ephesians 5:23, 27, 32 )

2._____ All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints; and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted.
( 1 Corinthians 1:2; Acts 11:26; Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:20-22 )

3._____ The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan; nevertheless Christ always hath had, and ever shall have a kingdom in this world, to the end thereof, of such as believe in him, and make profession of his name.
( 1 Corinthians 5; Revelation 2; Revelation 3; Revelation 18:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:11, 12; Matthew 16:18; Psalms 72:17; Psalm 102:28; Revelation 12:17 )

JFYI.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Yes, I was just reading that Randy. The LBC uses the language of "visible saints" and "particular churches," but I do not see where it uses the "visible church" terminology. It does not seem that the WCF and the LBC are using "visible church" and "visible saints" synonymously (excluding the children of believers question).
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
Part of the problem in this discussion is that we all seem to be talking past one another, and that is partly because Baptists and Presbyterians are holding to differing definitions of the church. For instance, Baptists and Presbyterians, unless I am missing something, define the visible church differently (I can find no reference to the visible church in the LBC, and I seem to remember the New Hampshire Confession referring to "visible churches," but this is much the same as the LBC's "particular churches," which I take to mean individual local congregations, if I am reading correctly). The invisible/visible distinction simply means that not everyone who professes the name of Christ is actually a Christian. This is consistent with NT teaching. I would find it startling to find someone disagreeing with that notion on this thread.

This is a Reformed board, so it would seem quite obvious that no one is insinuating that someone who has been justified/saved in Christ can somehow apostatize and lose their salvation. Certainly no one is saying this at all. However, what we are saying is that it is possible for someone to call themselves a Christian, to receive the covenant sign of entrance into the church (baptism), and yet to later leave the faith. Certainly it must be acknowledged that in Baptist churches there are those adults who have received believer's baptism but have later fallen away. As Calvinists, we would say that either a) they are temporary backslidden and will later be restored to the faith or b) they were never Christians to begin with and are now apostate.

Where I am getting lost is whether Baptists (the Reformed variety at least) even consider baptism to be a covenant sign. I assumed they did. Am I wrong here? If not, please correct me and give me the proper terminology, as I do not wish to misrepresent.

If baptism is the covenant sign, then it should be easy enough to understand that all Presbyterians are saying is that not everyone who receives the covenant sign is actually (savingly) in the covenant of grace. As with circumcision, not everyone who bore the sign was saved. They may have been members of the OT "church" (Israel), but that did not mean they were part of the covenant of grace. There were blessing associated with being a part of the covenant community of Israel, but those were not necessarily saving blessings.

Now, returning to the argument from Ephesians, chapter 2 is simply being utilized to show that the covenant language that was used of OT Israel is being applied to Gentiles. The coming of Christ (the seed of Abraham; the Son of promise) is a fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham (according to Galatians 3), not a radically new thing. Paul is speaking generally in Ephesians 2. Certainly everything he says is true; anyone who has trusted in Christ is saved, we are saved by grace alone, etc. But are we to think that simply because Paul writes the letter to the church at Ephesus, everyone at Ephesus who called himself a Christian was saved? That Ephesus had 100% regenerate church membership? Or is it far more reasonable (and consistent with the rest of the NT) that there were tares growing up among the wheat?

Since I have recently(within 2 years) come to believe that paedo-baptism is biblical(through study of the scriptures, Covenant theology, and the confessions) i suggest that someone should know both sides to understand the other.

Baptists do not believe that baptism is a "sign" in the way circumcision was a "sign" to Abraham. Also, it's very important to define covenantal termonology for both parties since both sides view the covenants and the CoG differently. For example, instead of the NC being the consumation of the CoG, to baptists the NC is the CoG.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Baptists do not believe that baptism is a "sign" in the way circumcision was a "sign" to Abraham. Also, it's very important to define covenantal termonology for both parties since both sides view the covenants and the CoG differently. For example, instead of the NC being the consumation of the CoG, to baptists the NC is the CoG.

Very interesting. Are you saying that Baptists do not believe the CoG existed in any way in the OT?
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
Baptists do not believe that baptism is a "sign" in the way circumcision was a "sign" to Abraham. Also, it's very important to define covenantal termonology for both parties since both sides view the covenants and the CoG differently. For example, instead of the NC being the consumation of the CoG, to baptists the NC is the CoG.

Very interesting. Are you saying that Baptists do not believe the CoG existed in any way in the OT?

They believe that the CoG existed in the OT but not in the "purest" sense. They believe that the OT covenants had bits and pieces but that the NC is the "pure" covenant. In other words, they don't see the NC as a "here/not yet" covenant, but rather a "here" covenant. Everyone that is in the NC knows God "from the least... to the greatest".
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Andrew, is this a traditional Reformed Baptist view (i.e., LBC or similar), or is it more along the lines of the more recent "New Covenant Theology"?
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
Andrew, is this a traditional Reformed Baptist view (i.e., LBC or similar), or is it more along the lines of the more recent "New Covenant Theology"?

Traditional.

Earl Blackburn (a reformed baptist) has a little pamphlet called "Covenant Theology: The Reformed Baptist Perspeective" thats quick and concise about their position. I used to attend an ARBCA church in Gilbert, AZ and the pastor gave me that pamphlet plus Greg Welty's pamphlet " A critical evaluation of infant baptism". He gave me them in hopes that i wouldn't become a paedo, but after reading books and articles from reformed baptists i just didn't find their arguments strong enough. Anywho, I'd highly suggest reading their material to help you understand their position better. :)
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Andrew, is this a traditional Reformed Baptist view (i.e., LBC or similar), or is it more along the lines of the more recent "New Covenant Theology"?

Tim,

I offer some clarity on this discussion from a Reformed Baptist perspective.

Andrew is not speaking for covenantal Reformed Baptists, although he may be somewhat accurate in defining those who hold to NCT. RB's certainly do believe in a CoG, just as we believe in a CoW. We believe the NC is the consummation of the CoG, or in other words, the NC is the fulfillment of the CoG. RB's also believe that baptism is a sign of the NC, applied only to those who profess faith in Christ. So, yes, according to Andrew's words, "Baptists do not believe that baptism is a "sign" in the way circumcision was a "sign" to Abraham." How could we? The sign of the Abrahamic Covenant was on the basis of national identification, not faith. Nonetheless, we do see baptism as a sign of the thing signified.

As far as the visible/invisible distinction; the 1689 LBC references visible saints by name, not visible congregations or the visible church; but there is a strong inference towards purporting a visible church:

1689 LBC 26.2

All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints; and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted.

Since "all particular congregations" are to be constituted by visible saints, logically there would exist a church made up of the same - visible saints, i.e. a visible church. Of course, as Baptists, the emphasis is not on the visible, but the invisible:

1689 LBC 26.1

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.

As far as the visible distinction goes, RB's understand all too well that "not every professor is a possessor." I believe 26.2 of the 1689 LBC makes that understanding clear.

RB's are covenantal in every respect, with the main disagreement with our WCF brethren resting in the areas of church polity and baptism.
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
RB's are covenantal in every respect, with the main disagreement with our WCF brethren resting in the areas of church polity and baptism.

Bill,

With all due respect i would have to disagree. Even people such as James White, Greg Welty, and Earl Blackburn would disagree. The main difference is the views of the covenants. Plain and simple.
 

nnatew24

Puritan Board Freshman
However, what we are saying is that it is possible for someone to call themselves a Christian, to receive the covenant sign of entrance into the church (baptism), and yet to later leave the faith. Certainly it must be acknowledged that in Baptist churches there are those adults who have received believer's baptism but have later fallen away. As Calvinists, we would say that either a) they are temporary backslidden and will later be restored to the faith or b) they were never Christians to begin with and are now apostate.

Yes- I think we're in agreement here. And I understand the paedobaptist argument regarding the covenant of grace, leaving the faith, etc. I just don't see how that can be defended from this Eph 2 passage. Paul isn't talking generically about the church once being dead and now being privileged by the covenant of grace; he's talking salvifically.

Where I am getting lost is whether Baptists (the Reformed variety at least) even consider baptism to be a covenant sign. I assumed they did. Am I wrong here? If not, please correct me and give me the proper terminology, as I do not wish to misrepresent.

We see the reception of the Holy Spirit, heart circumcision, as the seal, and baptism the sign of that seal thus administered after their evidence by confession of faith. That doesn't mean we're infallible in accurately determining who receives the sign. Regeneration is the seal of entrance into the New Covenant, evidenced by their reception of the Holy Spirit (determined by their confession and faith), and finally signified in their baptism.

If baptism is the covenant sign, then it should be easy enough to understand that all Presbyterians are saying is that not everyone who receives the covenant sign is actually (savingly) in the covenant of grace. As with circumcision, not everyone who bore the sign was saved. They may have been members of the OT "church" (Israel), but that did not mean they were part of the covenant of grace. There were blessing associated with being a part of the covenant community of Israel, but those were not necessarily saving blessings.

Yes, agreed. Not all those who receive the sign --either under paedobaptism or believers baptism-- receive the saving blessings. But of course we see a positive warrant in the New Testament to only give the sign upon faith and confession rather than by birth.

Now, returning to the argument from Ephesians, chapter 2 is simply being utilized to show that the covenant language that was used of OT Israel is being applied to Gentiles. The coming of Christ (the seed of Abraham; the Son of promise) is a fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham (according to Galatians 3), not a radically new thing. Paul is speaking generally in Ephesians 2. Certainly everything he says is true; anyone who has trusted in Christ is saved, we are saved by grace alone, etc. But are we to think that simply because Paul writes the letter to the church at Ephesus, everyone at Ephesus who called himself a Christian was saved? That Ephesus had 100% regenerate church membership? Or is it far more reasonable (and consistent with the rest of the NT) that there were tares growing up among the wheat?

Yes- there were probably tares among the wheat, less we adopt the federal vision perspective. And to that Paul is speaking generically, to the church. Obviously the promises of the covenant apply only to those who have closed with Christ.

But the contrast he gives in chapter 2 leaves no middle ground (at least none that can be shown from that text). The "children of wrath" are juxtaposed to those who have been brought near and reconciled by Christ's blood. There is no middle ground where one ceases to be a child of wrath, but is not yet a reconciled child of God, as if they were hovering in some middle position of not having a real federal head (either Adam or Christ). I simply see no room for that in this text per the arguments that were given above. The either/or contrast is too explicit, In my humble opinion. Those spoken of in this text are either children of wrath, having Adam as their head, or they are children who have been brought near and reconciled by the blood of Christ, having Christ as their head.

I am not saying that your position on Eph 2 cannot be proven from other texts. That is an discussion I do not wish to enter at this time. I just wanted to point out what seemed to be on the face of Eph 2.

---------- Post added at 12:28 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:19 AM ----------

RB's are covenantal in every respect, with the main disagreement with our WCF brethren resting in the areas of church polity and baptism.

Bill,

With all due respect i would have to disagree. Even people such as James White, Greg Welty, and Earl Blackburn would disagree. The main difference is the views of the covenants. Plain and simple.

Andrew- are you saying that paedobaptists are uniform in their view of the covenants? Would you say that the RBs' main difference with such men such as John Owen or O Palmer Robertson is in their view of the covenants? No desire to debate; just curious as to your perspective.
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
Nathan,

No, not all paedobaptists are uniform in their understanding of CT BUT baptists and paedos hold different CTs. Paedo's at least agree that their is continuity from the old to the new. Yet, baptists see a discontinuity.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
RB's are covenantal in every respect, with the main disagreement with our WCF brethren resting in the areas of church polity and baptism.

Bill,

With all due respect i would have to disagree. Even people such as James White, Greg Welty, and Earl Blackburn would disagree. The main difference is the views of the covenants. Plain and simple.

Andrew, stick the RB views of the covenants in with baptism; there's a link there. Yes, there is a difference in the view of the Abrahamic Covenant, but I'm not sure there is one with the CoW and the CoG.
 

Romans 9:16

Puritan Board Freshman
We are Calvinists. We believe that sinners are saved in the covenant of grace. We believe infants are sinners. Therefore, as Calvinists, we believe infants are saved in the covenant of grace. To say that infants are not members of the covenant of grace is to deny infant-salvation.
Your argument is not sound. Here is your syllogism:

1)We believe that sinners are saved in the covenant of grace.
2)We believe infants are sinners.
3)Therefore, we believe infants are saved in the covenant of grace.

The second proposition is true. The logic of the syllogism is valid as far as it goes. However, the first premise is incomplete. It requires a quantifier (i.e. all, none, some, etc.). If you inserted "all",you would end up with universalism. If you inserted "some," I am not sure you would have an argument for the point you want to make.

To quote further: "To say that infants are not members of the covenant of grace is to deny infant-salvation."
As a Calvinist, I do deny infant salvation. I believe in 'elect infant salvation.' Only elect infants are within the covenant and taste salvation. This is particularly clear in the election and reprobation of the infants of Abrahamic decent the Paul speaks of in Romans 9. Moreover, the WCF is clear:

"Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the laws of that religion they do profess. And to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested."[chapter 10:3-4]
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Bill, just to back up something Andrew said: I follow James White a good bit, and I generally like most of what he has to say, but I have seen him at times trend toward a NCT position (links from his website years ago, things like that). I'm not saying he is NCT, but I do not think he is cool toward that position.

Nathan, I appreciate the interaction. I will maintain that Ephesians 2 (the latter half) shows a continuity in the covenants. The reason for posts # 6 (and # 5) is that there was a misquoted reference to Ephesians 2:12 in post # 4 that seemed to impose an unnatural bifurcation in the covenants. But I am glad to see that we agree more than we disagree. :)
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Bill, just to back up something Andrew said: I follow James White a good bit, and I generally like most of what he has to say, but I have seen him at times trend toward a NCT position (links from his website years ago, things like that). I'm not saying he is NCT, but I do not think he is cool toward that position.

Nathan, I appreciate the interaction. I will maintain that Ephesians 2 (the latter half) shows a continuity in the covenants. The reason for posts # 6 (and # 5) is that there was a misquoted reference to Ephesians 2:12 in post # 4 that seemed to impose an unnatural bifurcation in the covenants. But I am glad to see that we agree more than we disagree. :)

Tim,

I have to plead ignorance on White's view of the CoW and the CoG. The RB's that I have associated with see the major disagreement with our WCF brethren over the continuity/discontinuity of the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant and it's application in the NT. If we widen the picture I believe both camps would at least be able to nod heads in agreement over the CoG. There certainly are schisms within RB groups, just as their are schisms within WCF groups. Lately I've had a very narrow focus on ARBCA affiliated RB churches, since my church is the process of candidating for ARBCA membership. The ARBCA pastors I have spoken to agree with the CoW and the CoG. The same with the visible/invisible church distinction I addressed in my previous post.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
We are Calvinists. We believe that sinners are saved in the covenant of grace. We believe infants are sinners. Therefore, as Calvinists, we believe infants are saved in the covenant of grace. To say that infants are not members of the covenant of grace is to deny infant-salvation.
Your argument is not sound. Here is your syllogism:

1)We believe that sinners are saved in the covenant of grace.
2)We believe infants are sinners.
3)Therefore, we believe infants are saved in the covenant of grace.

The second proposition is true. The logic of the syllogism is valid as far as it goes. However, the first premise is incomplete. It requires a quantifier (i.e. all, none, some, etc.). If you inserted "all",you would end up with universalism. If you inserted "some," I am not sure you would have an argument for the point you want to make.
Steve,
You aren't granting the first premise in the sense it was intended to convey, nor are you taking the context of the argument into consideration.

"All" sinners is exactly what is stated in the first premise; "some" is excluded unless it is so stated. What is "implied" (given the context of the discussion) is the omitted phrase: "that are saved, are saved in the CoG." Your objection to the phrasing is inapt. Since the context of the discussion excludes universalism, the omitted phrase is unnecessarily prolix.

To quote further: "To say that infants are not members of the covenant of grace is to deny infant-salvation."
As a Calvinist, I do deny infant salvation. I believe in 'elect infant salvation.' Only elect infants are within the covenant and taste salvation. This is particularly clear in the election and reprobation of the infants of Abrahamic decent the Paul speaks of in Romans 9.
Again,
Your objection is infelicitous. The premise states that the logical conclusion to excluding babes from the CoG is: to deny "ALL" salvation to infants. Why? Because ALL who are saved are saved in the CoG, without exception; Exclude infants is tantamount to excluding them ALL from salvation.

I realize that you only wish to affirm the truth and use logic well, however you need to take a more correct approach to analyzing the argument. You need to spot exactly where an omitted phrase may be omitted, and why it was left out. If an enthymeme can omit an entire PREMISE, without destroying the validity of the argument (in context), then leaving out an unnecessary phrase does no damage.

Peace.
 
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