Physical Descent in the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants

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A.J.

Puritan Board Junior
This is not to start another debate on the subject. I find infant baptism more Biblical, but I am willing to be corrected if I have some misconceptions about the Reformed Baptist position especially its view of the nature of the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, and their relation to the New Covenant.

As I read Reformed Paedo-Baptist literature, I seem to get the impression that Reformed Baptists teach that physical descent alone was necessary in the Abrahamic Covenant and/or Mosaic Covenant. That is, faith was not necessary at all. Is it accurate to speak of the Baptist position in this way? I stand corrected if this is a misconception. Thanks.
 

refbaptdude

Puritan Board Freshman
As I read Reformed Paedo-Baptist literature, I seem to get the impression that Reformed Baptists teach

A.J.,

I suggest that you read Reformed Baptist literature to learn the RB position. If you want to know what the paedo-baptist position is, read paedo literature.

A good place to begin would be "Christian Baptism" by John Murray for the paedo view and "The Baptism of Disciples Alone" by Fred Malone for the Reformed Baptist position.
 

A.J.

Puritan Board Junior
A.J.,

I suggest that you read Reformed Baptist literature to learn the RB position. If you want to know what the paedo-baptist position is, read paedo literature.

A good place to begin would be "Christian Baptism" by John Murray for the paedo view and "The Baptism of Disciples Alone" by Fred Malone for the Reformed Baptist position.

Pastor Clevenger, thanks for the comment. I do read Reformed Baptist literature, and have been doing it for over a year now. In fact, I recently purchased two books promoting its view of baptism. I borrowed Prof. John Murray's Christian Baptism from a pastor, and am planning to buy Dr. Fred Malone's The Baptism of Disciples Alone (the revised edition) when it gets available in a local Christian bookstore. I have seen and read certain parts of Dr. Malone's book in a library of a local Reformed Baptist church. I have re-read his A String of Pearls Unstrung yesterday, and ended up still unconvinced. So I think I know the Reformed Baptist arguments fairly well.

Of course, we are not always able to answer questions we may have just by reading. My point is that I simply would like to be sure about the Baptist response to the Reformed Paedo-Baptist description of the the former's view of the spritual requirements in the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants. Any comments?
 
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PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
If you want a good summary to your initial questions I would refer you to read Covenant Theology from Adam to Christ by Nehemiah Coxe.

It can be found on this link. SGCB | Reformed Baptist Academic Press

In response to your question.... The Mosaic definitely requires an adherence to the God of Isreal. And Strangers and servants who dwelt with Abraham or Isreal could become circumcised so that they could remain with them. I am not so certain one needed to proclaim a confession of faith in Jehovah with Abraham but the Ten words in the Mosaic requires one to worship God.

Also check out Alan Conner's book Covenant Children today. It is also on the page that is linked above. I do not believe that circumcision is the sign of the covenant of Grace. The Coxe book discusses this. There were men of God during the time of Abraham who were not required to be circumcised. They didn't dwell with Abraham either. As we have discussed on this board before I believe the Covenants you mention administer both the Covenant of Grace and the Covenant of Works. The New Covenant administers the Covenant of Grace alone.
 
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DonP

Puritan Board Junior
I don't see any room for discussion here

Rom 2:28-29
28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit,
NKJV

Rom 9:6-8

But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called." 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. NKJV

Paul tries to help the Jews who were mistaken and thought God's promises were to ethnic Israel understand they never were. They were always to the elect, the body of Christ, true Israel of promise, the heirs of Abraham by faith not by ethnic decent or living in the nation.

Gal 3:29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. NKJV

It never was to ethnic Jews, they were just the visible covenant, like members of the visible congregations of the church today, not all saved

So however this affects your view of baptism.

But check the mode too. The uses of the word baptism are quite interesting.

The Israelites went on dry ground and were baptized, maybe by the overhead sprinkle of water, but the Egyptians were immersed.
Don't want to be them.
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
I don't see any room for discussion here

:lol:

Well do you think this is complicated

He is not a Jew who is one outwardly.

Where is the complication.

The promises were to the children of promise not through the ethnic line like Easau.

How can it be confusing to determine if it was by ethnicity, national, or election?

I wasn't referring to the conclusion one may draw about baptism from that.
 

JM

Puritan Board Doctor
Sorry brother, I wasn’t laughing, just a chuckle. You wrote there wasn’t much to talk about and then posted a paragraph. This is a serious matter and my levity was uncalled for.

I apologize.

jm
 

TsonMariytho

Puritan Board Freshman
As I read Reformed Paedo-Baptist literature, I seem to get the impression that Reformed Baptists teach that physical descent alone was necessary in the Abrahamic Covenant and/or Mosaic Covenant. That is, faith was not necessary at all. Is it accurate to speak of the Baptist position in this way?

Hello A.J.,

I think your question is a bit too broad to give a specific answer to, can you fill it out a bit more? i.e. was physical descent all you needed for ____, and was faith necessary for ____?

Of course Reformed Baptists believe that justification has always been by faith, so faith was necessary to be right with God at any point in history. So if you're asking: "Was physical descent alone necessary for justification from God" then the answer is "No, gotta have faith."

If you're asking about the sign of the covenant, that's a different matter. Circumcision was applied to babies about whom the only thing parents could know for sure, was that they participated in the depravity of man's fall. Similarly, as pretty much all Reformed Baptist theologians have pointed out, there is no test of faith given as a prerequisite to circumcision in scripture, so whether we're talking about a foreign slave acquired with money, or an adult Israelite who for some reason was never circumcised as an infant, the rite remained obligatory on all male Israelites.

Reformed paedobaptists (and one Baptist I've encountered on the Internet, though never any Reformed Baptists in print that I've read) make the error of equating obligation to the sign of the Abrahamic covenant with credible [implicit] profession of membership in the Covenant of Grace. However, such obligation under the typical, shadowy administration of the Old Covenant implied nothing about a person's actual profession or lack thereof to the spiritual realities of salvation in Christ. It implied obligation; it did not imply profession, much less possession.
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
Sorry brother, I wasn’t laughing, just a chuckle. You wrote there wasn’t much to talk about and then posted a paragraph. This is a serious matter and my levity was uncalled for.

I apologize.

jm

No need, I obviously had to be a little tongue in cheek to make the comment.

But it is simple to me now. The 1st part for sure. Who were the ultimate promises too. Which Jew. I think things are complicated when we want to be right and are unwilling to see the other side clearly from the other persons perspective.

Like paedo communion is not complicated for one raised in a pres church and taught it from scripture. But if raised baptist then trying to understand it it is complicated.
 

TsonMariytho

Puritan Board Freshman
Andrew, I was reading your thread, http://www.puritanboard.com/f57/did-circumcision-entail-presumed-regeneration-41619/ where you made a similar point. I strongly disagree with your interpretation of the meaning of circumcision, and the assumption that Abraham's bondservants were "totally ignorant" pagans (which is what your questions in that thread implied). Gen. 18:19 doesn't seem to support that assumption. But thanks for the answer anyway. :)

That's not quite a fair characterization of my position. :^) I did not say, and do not believe, that Abraham's servants were ignorant pagans. To be a servant of Abraham was doubtless one of the highest blessings of that age, and I am sure he instructed his entire household, as a man of faith should.

However, I did say, and do believe, that God established a simple positive command with regard to circumcision -- that all males in every household in ethnic Israel be circumcised. Period.

Thus, I could conceive of situations where an adult male person might be circumcised before he was instructed in the faith. We're not questioning whether Abraham instructed his "staff", just observing that the order of operations is rather destructive to Presbyterian dogma. You simply can't equate the proper subjects of circumcision under the Old Covenant with the proper subjects of baptism under the new. It doesn't work.

Thomas Patient discusses this in the paper JM referenced; chapter 9 is quite relevant: (the doctrine of baptism/chapter 9). Also, here's a quote from Paul Jewett (Infant Baptism & the Covenant of Grace):

(emph mine)
(p. 98) According to Genesis 17, circumcision, as a sign of the covenant, is to be given to all those who are Abraham's seed according to the flesh, whether born in his house or purchased with his money... The emphasis is entirely on this outward relationship, with no hint that one might be disqualified to receive the rite who did not personally share the faith of the patriarch. The thrust of the whole passage is to insist that no one born in Abraham's house should, under any circumstances, fail to receive circumcicsion as the covenant sign.

...

When analyzing the ground of circumcision in Genesis 17, we must remember that the text says nothing of personal faith, but only that physical attachment to Abraham's house by birth or purchase qualifies one to receive the sign. For those who were so qualified, circumcision was in fact mandatory.

(p. 101) ... it should be observed that the writers of the Old Testament never dispute the right of circumcision to the nation of Israel as a whole. Though individual Jews might be as surely bent on apostasy as the sparks fly upward, circumcision belonged to the nation; and the idea, sometimes propounded by Paedobaptists, that the Israelite who failed to walk in the steps of Abraham's faith forfeited his right to the covenant sign, is without warrant in the Old Testament. To question an Israelite's right to circumcision is not possible, if we let the Old Testament speak for itself; for it plainly teaches that no one descending from Abraham had the right not to be circumcised.
 

A.J.

Puritan Board Junior
Andrew, sorry if I misunderstood your position. I stated what I stated because that was my initial impression with the thesis of that thread. You quoted Gen. 17:9-14 (which commands circumcision) right before you placed your questions (in which you asked about what to do with the "totally ignorant" slave). And Abraham had slaves. Thanks for the clarification.

As before, I disagree with your post. There is always this danger of basing one's understanding of the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants (and the sign) on the actions of the unbelieving or reprobate members of God's covenant people rather than basing it on what God has said about them (and the sign). Jewett, like many Baptist writers, is guilty of this. But I digress. This is a Credo-Baptism Answers forum.

Rev. Schwertley has an excellent refutation (I believe) of this Baptist argument in Chapter 5 of his online booklet, The Sacraments.

You have actually answered the question of this thread (which I started for clarification's sake). Thanks to the quote from Jewett. :)
 

TsonMariytho

Puritan Board Freshman
As before, I disagree with your post. There is always this danger of basing one's understanding of the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants (and the sign) on the actions of the unbelieving or reprobate members of God's covenant people rather than basing it on what God has said about them (and the sign). Jewett, like many Baptist writers, is guilty of this. But I digress. This is a Credo-Baptism Answers forum.

Rev. Schwertley has an excellent refutation (I believe) of this Baptist argument in Chapter 5 of his online booklet, The Sacraments.

You have actually answered the question of this thread (which I started for clarification's sake). Thanks to the quote from Jewett. :)

And thank you for the Schwertly link; I read the chapter. It's interesting because he states his opponent's case pretty fairly, but then doesn't really refute it. He doesn't seem to attempt to refute the order-of-operations problem (i.e. that that the Torah's simple positive command would sometimes result in circumcising an adult male before he was instructed in the faith).

His objection that you can't base doctrine on the behavior of apostates is a good point. Except that if you ask the question: "Was Baal-worshipping Ahab obligated to circumcise his children in obedience to the Law?" -- there is only one possible answer, and it is not favorable to Schwertly's position. In that case, we're not forming doctrine based on Ahab's bad behavior, we are saying what Ahab was obligated to do by the clear teaching of the Law of God.

My personal theory about this issue is that you have to view it in two different paradigms. The first paradigm is that Israel = the Church. This is old news to the Reformed, whether Baptist or paedobaptist. And this is important; the scriptures won't make sense to us unless we can see it in this light.

The second paradigm sets Old Testament Israel parallel to those who hear the gospel of Jesus Christ (as in fact the Jews did get the first chance at, during Jesus' ministry on earth). Here we recognize that God's salvific word goes forth, proclaimed by faithful prophets from Moses to Malachi, to his chosen, covenant nation. Were all the members of the nation believers? No. Did all receive the message? No. And, when the gospel is proclaimed today, it obligates its hearers just as the Israelites were obligated by the Word presented to them. It is a New Covenant distinctive that the Word is proclaimed so freely, that (as Calvin put it) God no longer seems to ignore the Gentiles, but graciously invites them into his Church as he both did and does the Jews.

Within this second paradigm, I would equate today's Church with that remnant of old who did not bow the knee to Baal. Here we say, "OK, so Ahab practiced circumcision. Whoop-dee-doo. Baptism has some differences in signification from circumcision, and is specifically commanded for people who are becoming disciples." So Ahab would be denied baptism in our churches, even though he was commanded to perform circumcision.

Within the second paradigm, we can recognize covenantal dynamics -- the Word is preached, it obligates its hearers, some obey and some disobey, and there are covenantal blessings and curses that you see. However, the New Testament Church is specifically supposed to be limited (as far as the "added to their number" aspect) to those who are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. It's more than obligation, it's obligation plus profession.

Maybe you should start a general thread. I would be interested to hear your insights from scripture regarding the spiritual prerequisites of Old Covenant circumcision.
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
Why can't you equate it. If you bought a slave you circumcised him and he was in the visible covenant before education or belief.

If a person like Ruth a foreign daughter in law if she were mail would have been circumcised coming into the land as a guest or visitor who decides to saty and dwell there. Now naomi had some profession, whether to Naomi or God initially it is not real clear to me. But had she not to god, yet circumcision would take place.

so with a cov child, they are in at birth.

So if a foreign man came into ISrael to live all his male kids and slaves are circumcised.
no faith, no education.

As for me and My house we will serve the Lord. It was and is based on the head of the house.


But here is our NT example
Or now even one believing parent 1 Cor 7:14
14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy NKJV

Acts 16:15 And when she was baptized, and her household, KJV
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
Sorry men. I did not understand the forum,

I will keep my paedobaptistic perspective mouth shut. :oops:

Would love you to come to another forum and help me see how you see these things though.

Sorry for the simple statement too. I didn't realize where I was.

Please forgive me and know I do respect Baptist ministers, well at least the reformed ones. I love Chantry and was raised in the D of G on Al Martin. How could I not love them, I even eat dinner with Al at Greenville Seminary conferences where he speaks.
And thanks for the private admonition Tson
 

TsonMariytho

Puritan Board Freshman
I will keep my paedobaptistic perspective mouth shut.

Oh, no, please don't do that! We just need to get a new thread started in the main baptism forum.

It's kind of funny to me that we have these two threads going on at the same time in the paedo and credo answers forums on such a similar topic -- like two armies galloping in parallel on opposite sides of a canyon, able to see but not touch each other... :^)
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
It's kind of funny to me that we have these two threads going on at the same time in the paedo and credo answers forums on such a similar topic -- like two armies galloping in parallel on opposite sides of a canyon, able to see but not touch each other... :^)

But isn't that sadly see between the ref bapt and the Ref pres churches ?

We both gallop side by side with only a couple different pieces of armour though life.
When no doubt we should be united.

Don't mean to minimize the importance of the doctrines by my armour illustration
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Sorry men. I did not understand the forum,

I will keep my paedobaptistic perspective mouth shut. :oops:




It's kind of funny to me that we have these two threads going on at the same time in the paedo and credo answers forums on such a similar topic -- like two armies galloping in parallel on opposite sides of a canyon, able to see but not touch each other... :^)

But isn't that sadly see between the ref bapt and the Ref pres churches ?

We both gallop side by side with only a couple different pieces of armour though life.
When no doubt we should be united.

Don't mean to minimize the importance of the doctrines by my armour illustration

OK, Don, no more posts in this forum. :judge:
 
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