Presumptive Regeneration/Presumptive Election

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Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by Paul manata
Also, the supper is a major means where the work wrought in regenration grows. Why would you keep your child from growing?
It is one of many means by which the people grow. If they can't partake of the Supper, they can still grow through the other means of grace. But the Supper is not for everyone. Only those capable of examing themselves.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by Me Died Blue
Originally posted by Paul manata
Originally posted by puritansailor


They aren't mature enough in faith to partake yet. They must be able to examine themselves.

Someone who is regenerate for 2 years 9remmebr the definitions now, growing, hating sin, knowledge of spiritual things, etc) isn't more mature in the faith than a 30 year old who has been regenerate for 5 minutes?

As Fred said, examine themselves for what? If you really do presume what you say you do, then if my definitions (on top oage three are read) are what you presume, you should presume that they meet the requirements of self-examination.

I still don't really know which side of the fence I fall on in terms of PR/PE (in light of the hypothetical questions I posed to both sides early in this thread), but I also don't see how either one has to necessitate paedocommunion. For even if regeneration is presumed, that cannot be enough to warrant assumption that the requirements for "examination" are fulfilled, otherwise no adult, baptized church members would ever need to examine themselves before partaking. Think about it - Paul's very instructions in 1 Corinthians 11 were directed at the members of the Corinthians church, and thus people who were already presumed to be regenerate, covenant members of the body.

Chris,

That is EXACTLY the point that a paedocommunionist such as NT Wright would make (yes, surprise! he is a paedocommunionist). The examination (even for an adult) consists in determining whether one is baptized (and hence presumed regenerate) and one has not apostatized. The only distinction in that camp is what constitutes apostasy. That is why for Wright it means only if one rejects his broad view of who is a Christian (keeping someone from fellowship that you should not), for Wilson it includes Rome, for some RefCats it does not include that and Wilson is "too harsh on Rome" (sic).

So you see, there are pastoral practical applications in our day to this. I am not merely trying to win a debate or show myself smarter than guys like Matt and Scott (hint, I'm not). I am arguing because of the implications for the Church, over which God has made me an overseer.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by Paul manata
show myself smarter than guys like Matt and Scott (hint, I'm not).

me neither. But guys like Fred, that's another story:lol:

On a serious note, Fred can attest to the fact that in U2U conversations I have said that the practical implications is a big one for me as well. It's even further than the A4, Wright stuff. I think it is dangerous to treat our children as regenerate, I personaly think it is a cause for alot of our covenant children (and Fred, Matt, Scott, should be able to attest to this) going astray because they think they're all right until they show otherwise. We let pass and let pass the sins, possibly because we say: 'well, they're not cognitively developed yet' (possibly?) until it's too late.

[Edited on 11-26-2004 by Paul manata]
I would say if they are letting pass the sins, the are not doing their job as parents and elders. The presumption requires follow up. We don't just let them be. It's our job as parents and as pastors to care for them and ensure they are on the right track. Pastors don't just let pass the sins of adults who have been admitted to the church. Why would they do it in children? Such a practice of neglect is not a result of PR but of laziness and this neglect can be found in plenty of other schools of thought including PE and even in Baptist circles.
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The basic questions I still have for each school of thought are:

For PRs, how do the Scriptures in which God promises blessing and favor to the offspring of the righteous necessarily imply that that blessing and favor will take effect as soon as they are born? In other words, how do those promises point to regeneration, and not just election?

For PEs, what do you make of the fact that regeneration is one thing we hold baptism to signify, in light of your belief that we cannot presume our baptized children to be regenerate, but only elect?

I'm enjoying this conversation, and am glad to be having my thoughts on such a vital issue being laid out and getting feedback on them, as well as listening to the similar thoughts of everyone else.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by Paul manata
Originally posted by puritansailor
Originally posted by Paul manata
Also, the supper is a major means where the work wrought in regenration grows. Why would you keep your child from growing?
It is one of many means by which the people grow. If they can't partake of the Supper, they can still grow through the other means of grace. But the Supper is not for everyone. Only those capable of examing themselves.

the doctrine as defined by reformed theologians is that regenerate do have knowledge of spiritual things and so why would you assume that they can't examine themselves in some form or fashion? If the Bible says they now have knowledge then there must be something there. It's not for everyone, that's right. It is for new creations in Christ, though.
Sure they may have knowledge of spiritual things. But that doesn't mean they are mature enough to partake of the Supper. Faith grows in varying degrees and individuals. The warnings of 1 Cor 11 require the elders to take more caution. They cannot admit someone into the Supper whom they cannot presume is mature enough yet in the faith to examine themselves. So, when a child is able to display that knowledge adequately to the elders, then they can be admitted. I don't see the conflict here Paul. Saving knowledge is not perfect upon regneration and faith. It is sufficient to save them, but that doesn't mean there's no more room to grow.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Originally posted by JohnV
As I said before, I do not wish to argue over the term 'regeration'; I think it leads to faults in our thinking when we try to hang too much on the term. Not because we are not able to think, but because we are not given enough information.

But here is the rub John:

how do we avoid the term when what is at issue is EXACTLY what is meant by the term "regeneration" ? If you say that infants are presumed regenerate, and I say, "what do you mean by that," you can't rightly say, "I can't tell you, just trust me."

Fred:

I'm not saying "Just trust me." I am asking if we really know why we baptize children, considering the gist of the discussion. I have lived all my life in this milieu; I am not new to it. We may carefully define "regeneration", as has been done, and yet miss the point. We are not declaring all these attributes upon a child by virtue of baptism; we are declaring them proper recipients of baptism by virtue of their inherent Covenant membership. This is no mean thing. Though they are regarded the same as regenerate believers, they are not declared to be regenerate believers. But the promises they are heir to are not empty of substance. They are significant.

Whether 'election' is a better term, I will not quibble over, considering the conversation so far. Most certainly the same confusion will result if we start adding the same incongruencies and wrongful notions to that word as are so tied to the term 'regeneration'. What difference is it to any of us if Presumptive Election begins to include the idea that these children bear the same election attributes that adults bear? What difference is to any of us if the matter of time is involved in the use of the words? One word is no better than the other. 'Regeneration' can also be thought to carry inside it the very same time element, a waiting for it to take effect. Can you not see that it is not the use of the words 'regeneration' and 'election' that are at issue here as we wish them to be? We are disagreeing on accumulated notions and the attributions.

If a child is recognizant enough to partake rightly of Communion at an early, then why is he not also recognizant enough to be baptized upon his own confession, based upon his own level of understanding? If one sacrament, then why not the other? Is that not the question PC-ers ask to move from baptism to communion? Well, if it works that way, then the same question is legitimate in reverse, from communion to baptism. And if we do that, then it is clear that we never really understood why we baptize children anymore. Certainly it no longer stems from their participation in the Covenant by virtue of headship, faith, and promise. This is no little or idle comparison. It is a major stumbling block. And it no longer matters whether we use the word 'election' or 'regeneration' to regard children as presumed of status within the Covenant. But that motion is not inherent in regeneration any more than it is in election.

Scott and Matt could just as easily pursue the fact that too little is attrubuted in the use of the word, 'election'. But that too would be unwise, I think, and perhaps unwarranted. The failure is not in the term 'election', but in the attribution again.

I am not saying that there is no value in investigating the difference in terminology. I am saying that the percieved difference is not there but somewhere else, according to the discussion so far. And I think it is regarding attribution, not regeneration or election. That is how I understand what Scott and Matt are saying. And if this conversation helps to clear that up, then I am all for it. That is the reason for my contributing to the discussion.

As time allows, of course.

I would follow Chris' thoughts here. I think he is asking the right questions.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
I will concede, "presumptive regeneration" is not an adequate term to describe what I at least understand about the principles embodied there, and that it's use does conflict with the accepted use of "regeneration."

As I said before, by calling them members of the church, we call them seperate from the world and holy. There is a presumption being made about their status before God. They are included in God's redeemed people. That doesn't seem proper to me to do if in fact we are presuming they have not partaken of that saving grace yet. The admonitions to children found in the epistles is one example where something more is being presumed about them than just election, even more than regeneration. So, if we can devise a better term, then I'm all for it. I do think that in principle there isn't much debate here. It seems more semantics since in practice we all agree what should be done regarding raising our children under the whole counsel of God and their later admittance to the Supper.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Originally posted by puritansailor
I will concede, "presumptive regeneration" is not an adequate term to describe what I at least understand about the principles embodied there, and that it's use does conflict with the accepted use of "regeneration."

As I said before, by calling them members of the church, we call them seperate from the world and holy. There is a presumption being made about their status before God. They are included in God's redeemed people. That doesn't seem proper to me to do if in fact we are presuming they have not partaken of that saving grace yet. The admonitions to children found in the epistles is one example where something more is being presumed about them than just election, even more than regeneration. So, if we can devise a better term, then I'm all for it. I do think that in principle there isn't much debate here. It seems more semantics since in practice we all agree what should be done regarding raising our children under the whole counsel of God and their later admittance to the Supper.

Patrick,

It's called presumptive election. We presume that God has made them a part of His people from all eternity and will complete the work He began (Phil. 1:6). Thus we have confidence, but we labor to see the fruit.
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Well, I agree with laboring to see the fruit in confidence. That is how all the promises seem to work. Spurstowes work on the Promises emphasises that (The Wells of Salvation Opened). We trust, and God fulfills in His time. That was one of the reservations I had about PR. But still, we call them members of the church. That says more than just a presumption of election. We are calling them Christians. But a Christian isn't a Christian yet until that saving work of grace has begun. Just by giving them the title "Christian" in effect claims a presumption about them more than just election. We are claiming that they are more than just a child of wrath and that they are not of this world but part of the people of God endowed with the ability to participate in that communion of the saints. Election doesn't change the heart. Only regeneration does. Am I making sense?
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Just reread this thread. I guess I'm officially on the fence now between PR and PE.

PR seems to imply too much in that what is promised is presumed to have taken place, when the promises usually don't work like that. Usually there's a delay for the fulfillment in God's time as we trust Him to do what he has promised. Plus there is the inconsistency that Paul and Fred have so well pointed out regarding the different standards held on the definition of regeneration for adults and children, and the inconsistent application of all that is promised in baptism that is presumed upon adults while only regeneration is presumed for infants.

And PE just doesn't seem to imply enough mainly because of what we are saying about our children in calling them members of the church, the body of Christ. The NT doesn't address children in a lesser state of membership, as shown by Paul's epistles when he addresses children right along with everyone else in the church, the people of God. This seems to presume more than just election but instead presumes that children are capable of partaking in this communion of the saints, which presumes at least regeneration if not more.

So, again, I'm on the fence. Any thoughts?
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
:ditto: to Patrick on basically everything. If PR, why the inconsistent lack of application to infants of the things besides regeneration signified in baptism? And if PE, since baptism signifies all those things, how is just election enough to apply the sign?
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'll have to re-read this thread too. I have lately found back my notes on why PR and not PE. But it has more to do with the P part than the R or E part. I have to go through these notes carefully too. One or the other cannot be imposed, since it is theoretical in nature. In the end, its a way of describing why children ought to be included in the one sacrament of baptism. And we're just rediscovering it lately, after so many years of misunderstanding and misuse. Just the fact that we're debating whether it should be R or E is already a long way down the road, further than my father's generation took it.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
"Have you been Seversoned?"

I like it. But I don't think it will fly at Session. :D
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
You mean, Chris, PS would imply EP, OPC, and even sailoring? Or do you mean presumed everything, since 'salvation' implies everything.
 
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