Reformed Reaction to CT Cover Story (audio)

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by R. Scott Clark, Sep 25, 2006.

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  1. Ivan

    Ivan Pastor

    Really? A Jihad? Really?! Wow!
  2. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    Don't Mind Mr. Bartel, He is a Clarkian and is prone to the mistake of making every theological error equal and akin to denying the gospel.

    We must remember that John Owens was good friends with John Bunyan (yes the baptist John Bunyan) and did not go Jihad against him.

  3. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    We should also remember that Owen directed his comments against consistent Arminianism, which was essentially Pelagian so far as soteriology was concerned; and some of them bordered on Socinianism (open theism) in denying the foreknowledge of God. Inconsistent or evangelical Arminianism was not a force to be reckoned with at that time.
  4. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    Well that's just plain not nice! Not to mention a genetic fallacy.

    BTW, what do baptists have to do with my post?
  5. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    I understand that he deals with some of the doctrines in this book that were of the "consistent" type as you have labeled them, but I would be curious to get your thoughts on Owen's sentences that immediately follow the quote I posted.

  6. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Insofar as an Arminian denies "Christ’s merit, and the powerful operation of the Holy Spirit," then there is no doubt that it is heresy, because this is Pelagianism. However, inconsistent or evangelical Arminianism acknowledges both a substitutionary atonement and regenerating grace. Who does not marvel at the inconsistency of many of Charles Wesley's hymns, or even of John Wesley's "heart strangely warmed?"

    I think the words of William Ames deserve consideration (Conscience, book 4, chapter 4):

    The reflections of William Cunningham on the Arminian controversy are also worthy of notice (Historical Theology, 2:502-504):

    [Edited on 9-30-2006 by armourbearer]
  7. Ivan

    Ivan Pastor

    Apparently the Jihad has started.
  8. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    Nope it is not nice, but I believe such actions are accurate descriptions of what the typical Clarkian does. (Yes people use induction in regular life)

    Now concerning the baptists, I read too fast and came to the hasty conclusion that you were still addressing Dr. Clark's position at the beginning of the thread. For that I apologize.

  9. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    Thank you for the quotes Rev. Winzer. My question was more directed to your opinion of my interpretation of Owen's position (i.e. would he agree with Ames and Cunningham?).

    Thanks again!
  10. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    Ivan, I have no idea what you mean by this! My posts have been about Calvinist/Arminian distinction. If my posts were directed at Baptists or included them, it would be a tad inconsistent of me to use a congregationalist to rail against them.

    If you have taken any offense to my words, please, by all means forgive me.

  11. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    Well either way, it is still the genetic fallacy. I have read Clark, and agree with alot of what he has to say. I also appreciate Van Til (although on some points I can't say I do). Either way, to say that a particular pressupositional "forefather" has any bearing on my opinion in this thread is simply fallacious. Just as people do use induction in "regular life", not everything boils down to a Clark/Van Til debate.

    Thanks :handshake:
  12. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member




    [Edited on 9-30-2006 by Contra_Mundum]
  13. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    Thanks Bruce! The same happened to my name, but I missed the portion you quoted. :up:
  14. Ivan

    Ivan Pastor

    And I'm sorry for the misunderstanding...:doh:....all is well...:handshake:
  15. Ivan

    Ivan Pastor

    With all the problems with the board I have had none. In fact, it's better.
  16. Larry Hughes

    Larry Hughes Puritan Board Sophomore

    Here is the most fundamentally flawed assumption. I offer this thought to peel it apart:

    It is not a difference between Baptist waiting to give the Covenant seal after evidence and the Reformed give it before said evidence. This misses everything. This is the most gross sad misunderstanding and why blinders remain on the eyes.

    Baptism is the visible Word or better visible Gospel. It’s not magical water or even that the voice of the pastor is itself power, but the Gospel annexed to the water by the Word, thus the visible Word. It is given as a means of Grace just as the spoken Word itself is BEFORE evidence exists that can be detected. To baptize our children is to give them the Gospel by visible sign and seal or means. It is a gift not a confirmation badge, the later is in reality biblically meaningless. We are not created as Gnostics would suppose as disembodied spirits but souls with real tangible bodies and sensory functions.

    Thus when a Baptist says, “we wait to give our children baptism until after evidence”, that is to say to the Reformed or whole of the Christian faith by physically doing it this way, “I give the Gospel to my child after evidence is manifested by them” or more crassly but accurately put, “…after some manifesting works, I give them the Gospel.” This over throws via the witness baptism, the Baptist understanding, the entire Gospel in that right or visible Word bearing witness. This type of baptism is really seen to deny the Gospel and not to witness to it.

    Now we have to be careful here. It is not to say that the whole of the Baptistic doctrine denies the Gospel, but in its rights of Baptism it does, and in some versions of the Lord’s Supper (this varies even among Baptists). The Baptist is forced to agree or else he finds himself in direct contradiction with his own doctrine. It’s pretty much black and white here. Because when you say, “The only difference is that we wait for manifesting evidence before baptizing our children”, the Baptist, due to upholding the manmade paradigm in that idea of baptism, is blind and darkened to see it. It is a self imposed blindness to the cross on this one issue. However, if we rephrase it, “The only difference is that we wait for manifesting evidence before giving the Gospel to our children”, now it is brightly revealed. The Baptist would not in any way agree with the later for it is obviously works and denying Christ’s Cross. Yet, in the baptistic paradigm of baptism that is the exact thing being done, communicated and witnessed to – to every one, including themselves. This is fundamentally because the Baptist paradigm forces on to not see the Gospel in baptism or some really don’t understand the essential nature of the Good News and by extension faith itself.

    Either baptism is a means of grace or it is a sign of confirmation. The two REALLY do not intersect and this IS the fundamental difference, not one side waiting while the other doesn’t. There is a reason one side waits and the other doesn’t but it has to do with one not having Gospel in the water and the other having Gospel in the water. If baptism is a sign of confirmation, then by definition it is no Gospel at all which gives by definition. This is undeniable without denying the position in the first place. Likewise, if baptism is a means of grace, then by definition it MUST BE Gospel, if it is a real means of grace, which by definition both Gospel and means of grace unto the Gospel and by nature GIVE.

    Herein lies the deference and the real reason a Baptist church cannot be a full witnessing church of the Gospel and Cross. A Baptist church may bear wonderful witness to the Gospel in naked Word, perhaps better than some Reformed, but it douses its witness, as it were, in its witness on Baptism and for some in the Lord’s Supper. This is a sad and tearful truth Satan has cast into the midst of believers broadly speaking.

    Where some reformed WILL fail, is if they fail to show this. Because the Christian is drawn irresistibly to the Gospel where he may live and love. Thus, the sheep will ONLY hear the voice of the true Shepherd, Christ, via the voice of the truly obedient under-shepherd who is to give him pastor (and I don’t mean perfection here either). He will NOT listen or lend ear to the voice of another, no matter how nice a fellow he is, how learned, or how much christianese he uses.

    So , yes as a Christian grows he should seek out the Sacraments as Gospel. This will, barring providence, lead him/her necessarily to leave a Baptist church where the water, bread and wine have become contaminated with the yeast of the Pharisees due to the doctrine inserted and spelled out above. BUT, the Christian WILL NOT go from the legal ordinance frying pan of a Baptist church into a legal sacramental fire at a “Reformed” church. More than likely since he only listens to Christ’s voice, in Word and Sacrament, he will continue to seek out that church which upholds the Gospel powerfully in Word and Sacrament, that is as means of grace truly.

    Like it or not, that’s the way it is – because the sheep find life and pasture in Christ alone in Word and Sacrament and not the doctrines of men or the devil. This is not and should not be taken as against people but against poisonous doctrine – do we not all seek Christ alone!

    Blessings always in Christ alone,

  17. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    You make some good points about the vast importance of one's view of the means-of-grace aspect of baptism. But at the same time, it is incorrect to say that there is no sign-of-confirmation aspect of it (i.e. "the two REALLY do not intersect"). In fact, with respect to the visible covenant, that is exactly what baptism is - a recognition or mark (sign and seal) of one's covenantal status, though they already possessed that covenant status before the sign was given. The sections on baptism in the Westminster Confession, the Larger Catechism and the Belgic Confession make that clear.

    Furthermore, remember that "the efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered." As such, it is only a means of grace to someone insofar as it physically signifies and seals to his mind and heart that which he will (or does) possess when (or since) he believes. Hence, I would say that while our view of baptism as a means of grace plays a very significant and determining role in how we instruct our children to view their baptism, that view is not in fact the primary reason we administer it when we do (since its nature and efficacy as a means of grace is not even tied to that time), but that our children's biblical status as members of the visible Church is at the heart of the timing.

    So I would say that the Baptist's primary error is not with his belief that there is a definite and significant sign-of-status aspect to baptism, but rather that his error is with his view of just who has that status with respect to the visible Church.
  18. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    useless statement deleted.

    [Edited on 9-30-2006 by Scott Bushey]
  19. Larry Hughes

    Larry Hughes Puritan Board Sophomore

    Some good clarifications Chris, but if I may clarify further:

    It is a means of grace as to what it communicates. That’s the very essence of “means of grace”. They do not intersect at all given the two paradigms. A wedding ring is a sign of confirmation of marriage but IT IS NOT defined by that, that is secondary and an effect of its basic nature, a sign and seal of a promise (vows given). For you do realize that the ring my wife where’s is not hers, though in today’s language we would say, “her wedding ring”, rather it is really mine and my vows, promise, good news (little “g” if you will) to her. I see the ring on her finger and it is a reminder of my vows to her. She takes it upon her hand and it does confirm her marriage to me, but it is not rooted in the confirmation but the vows I promised to her. She could cast it off later but my promise and vow was real (on the human level). Even if my wife were unfaithful to me (which she has never been by the way, just need to clarify that in this hypothetical in public!!!), it does not disavow the promise I made to her whereby if she became faithful to me she should request “another ring” from me. Because the point is, I’m giving my promise to her in spite of her weakness. To ask for another ring would actually be offensive. Not in a legal way in that she’s “done it wrong”, law, but not really understanding the love I’m giving her. That’s why “re” doing it is wrong.

    Therefore, the Baptist sees it purely and primarily as a sign of confirmation, hence rebaptism occurs. That is to say its not tied, that paradigm to God, Christ and the Gospel itself but disconnected from that. That’s why the Baptist doctrine can view a first baptism as no baptism, if it is affirmed that no faith was there the first time whereby a second baptism, or first in baptistic language, occurs. Infants become an easy target because baptism is tied to “confirmation” and not the Gospel itself. Faith then becomes at length in the Baptist witness tied to conscience effort and a thing “to be done” because an adult “can do”. This is what Luther correctly observed when he said that if we cease to baptize children it will at length loose its witness. Why? Because the infant child can DO NOTHING but receive, the ONLY way the Gospel can be had by anyone. The infant actually bears witness to the Gospel most purely, this is why Jesus could hold up infant and NOT adults as “owning the Kingdom of Heaven”. NO where in Scripture are adults held so highly as this. Why? Because the infant erases every vestibule of “DOING” in the ceremony and can ONLY receive and THIS is the ONLY way the Gospel can be HAD, thus its most pure Gospel witness is seen unto infants. The Baptist paradigm, like it or not, communicates it or makes the witness entirely a sign of confirmation that ends up rooted in the receiver rather than in God. This changes it altogether and the conscience and soliloquy of the believer is affected not just a little bit but profoundly under the system.

    This also plays out in the difference in the way the Reformed, and Lutherans for that matter, see baptism as having continued effect in the life of the believer; whereas the Baptist much like the Roman Catholic sees it more in an isolated one time and done view. The Reformed and Lutheran seeing it as a means of grace can constantly be refreshed by their baptism in times of trouble and struggle, something neither a Baptist or Roman Catholic can do, because the efficacy is lost once it is disconnected from that which makes it efficacious, the Cross of Christ! When the Baptist or RC is in spiritual turmoil inwardly or outwardly they must look to “other things” that become to them, albeit falsely, quasi means of grace. This is why in wide extension such man made features arise as indulgences, aisle walking, rededications, rebaptisms, purgatory purchasing things, pilgrimages, Promise Keepers (one of a number of protest “recharge” indulgences), looking inward to self and so forth. Rome disconnected baptism by making it purely in and of itself “efficacious” but this was still manmade and never comforted the conscience of the poor Roman Catholic. Why? The same reason, its disconnected from the Cross and the Gospel and becomes a pure man made act by man. The Baptist is essentially no different although on the opposing side of the aisle. The Baptistic paradigm disconnects it too from the Cross and Gospel which make it truly efficacious - due to what IT COMMUNICATES and NOT as a work or magic or intrinsic power itself – by making it NOTHING but a badge of confirmation. Again, this without doubt because THAT IS WHY Baptist can and do rebaptize or in that paradigms language give the real baptism (2nd , 3rd, 4th, etc…water rite event in church).

    Thus, even the way the Reformed view “sign of confirmation” is different than the Baptist. The Baptist BASES baptism in the idea of “sign of confirmation” and hence at the end of the day a sign unto works. This is how it plays out in the conscience of the one under that system. Not primarily upon the Cross, death and life of Christ, else one would NEVER repeat it. This is why if I set up the scenario of same church, same pastor, 30 year old, acceptable mode, the guy turns away from the faith and for all detectable purposes does not have faith and it is thus judged. Then he returns in 10 more years in true faith and repentance to the same place, pastor, etc…(all argument escape hatches are closed). We then ask of the same in both a reformed church and Baptist church, would you “re” baptize (or baptize what you call a first real time in baptistic language, same thing) one will answer “no” and the other will answer “yes”. This reveals point blank the REAL differences in the views and they do not intersect at all.

    The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in his appointed time. Westminster Confession 28.6

    Herein we see that we do in fact administer it primarily because what it confers, just like we give the Gospel. It’s not an empty sign. We simply set forth the means Word and Sacrament whereby God’s has given His name and said He would work. We do in fact administer it because it is a means of grace not because it is immediately linked as to timing but because it is nakedly a means of grace. In fact that’s why we do it independent of time. It’s not linked to time, its linked to the Gospel, thus means of grace, neither time or works of men.

    And; The sacraments are visible signs and seals of an inward and invisible thing, by means whereof God works in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore the signs are not empty or meaningless, so as to deceive us. For Jesus Christ is the true object presented by them, without whom they would be of no moment. Bel. Conf. Article 33

    Neither does this baptism avail us only at the time when the water is poured upon us and received by us, but also through the whole course of our life. BC Article 34

    This goes back to the difference in seeing baptism as continuous through the believers life Reformed (and Lutheran) or single point in time hence staccato like, Rome and Credo.

    “The truth and substance of baptism is comprised in Jesus Christ (the Gospel, Christ and Him crucified – ldh). For we have no other washing than in His blood, and we have no other renewal than in His death and resurrection. But as He communicates to us His riches and blessings by His word, so He DISTRIBUTES (emphasis added – ldh) them to us by His sacraments.” J. Calvin

    This IS the tremendous difference in the two views. Each builds on the other and forms the larger tapestry of what is occurring here. It painfully obvious that when a reformed person finds comfort in his baptism as Gospel and promise that it is MUCH more than a sign or seal of confirmation. Sign of confirmation by itself gives NOTHING, means of grace by its essential definition gives SOMETHING as Calvin and the Confessions even state, they are not empty vain signs or deceptive tricks. The difference can be seen here: Which is more sure to the believer? God’s promise of Gospel in baptism to cleanse me and save me or some thing I do, even if it is great and much, that may or may not prove at length that I’m saved? What work or life of works can I do whereby I manifest such “evidence” that can be 100% given that I’m saved in order to receive the confirmation badge, even if I were to exceed mother Teresa her self. Or God’s promise in Word and Baptism whereby I rest in the Gospel of Christ FOR ME and then can live to serve?

    The answer to any Christian is painfully obvious.


  20. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Perhaps we Reformed folk should consider it a necessary and stinging rebuke that when God in his good providence was pleased to send America a "reviving of the doctrines of grace," he chose to use....horror and gasp....Baptists! :lol:
  21. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Larry, on your view, I am not precisely clear as to why we would not baptise an adult without waiting for a profession of faith. Could you briefly clarify that?
  22. Larry Hughes

    Larry Hughes Puritan Board Sophomore


    I'll be brief as you ask and because my tasks for the month just increased, so it will force me to brevity, not my strong suite!

    The Word of God actually relieves us quite plainly here. It is not for us to reason this out as often the debate between infant and non-infant baptism goes. It gets stuck in the mud there under rationalistic presuppositions of why infants and why not adults.

    But a short answer to ration is this, unprofessing adults, manifestly reject it. That's pretty obvious.

    But the better answer is from Scripture: Because God has said this is how you SHALL distribute My promise, My gifts, My Gospel, in Word and Sacarment: It is to you, your children and all who are far off to whom the Lord our God shall call - and by extension their children too.

    That's short! Where's Meg!!

    Blessings to you and yours in Christ our Lord,


    [Edited on 10-2-2006 by Larry Hughes]
  23. non dignus

    non dignus Puritan Board Sophomore

    Would you say that candidates for baptism show evidence of God's call? That is the assumption that they are elect?
  24. Larry Hughes

    Larry Hughes Puritan Board Sophomore

    I will give my Pastor's and Session's answer to which I agree fully: We ought not place more burden upon the baptismal candidate than we find in Scripture. They may be very babes in Christ and know nothing more but their simple need of Him (my very own experience).

    Yes, they go through an examination to affirm the believe, but they do not seek out works in their life as "proof of election", which can all be faked, Simon Magnus being an example.

    The evidence of God's call comes in the need for Christ as Saviour. In my own life this is ALL I knew. All I knew was I was lost, a deep deep sinner in every fiber of my being and that Christ died for me. I was in my experience nothing more than the sinner who could not even raise his head to heaven saying, "God, have mercy on me a sinner." And that is NO fabrication.

    Half an hour early I denied Christ rankly! What fruit could I have other than coming to Him. For that matter what "fruit" did the 5000 have to prove their election!


    [Edited on 10-2-2006 by Larry Hughes]
  25. polemic_turtle

    polemic_turtle Puritan Board Freshman

    So, either way, it's still infant baptism, right? :D
  26. turmeric

    turmeric Megerator

  27. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    In some ways, it is a bit surprising that Dr. Clark's comments regarding Baptists being in rebellion are so shocking to some. He calls them Brothers for sure but what else is he supposed to believe of their practice? How else is he supposed to view it as a man who believes God considers our little ones to be in the Covenant and commands their initiation?

    I had commented on an article by Greg Welty on and then responded to accusations by a friend of Mr. Welty that I misrepresented him. You can read that here if you like.

    In his article, Mr. Welty compared the baptism of Covenant Children to the error of the Judaizers. Now, whether a weak or a strong analogy, here was a conscientious Baptist who was comparing the practice of applying the Covenant sign to infants to the "basic error" of the Judaizers. Of course, Paul twice curses the Judaizing error as a false Gospel.

    My problem with Greg Welty's article was his exegesis to claim that the Judaizer's basic heresy was their view that circumcision was essential to the perpetuity of the Abrahamic Covenant. Paedobaptists, he insisted, commit the same fundamental error. It is quite common for Reformed or Confessional Baptists to view Paedobaptism as a form of "trusting in the flesh". In fact, it is in some ways, central to their rejection of infant baptism that they represent it as such.

    Look, I'm not trying to turn this into a mud-slinging thing here but let's not feign shock as if we do not regard each other's positions as a fundamental error. That doesn't mean we can't call each other brother but I will continue to regard my Baptist brothers as being in rebellion of God's Word just as they will regard me as doing something akin to being a Judaizer. We don't have to pretend like it's all sugar and spice because we're all "5-pointers".

    For my part, if I thought Baptists weren't brothers I wouldn't love them so dang much. I worship with them but grieve over the blessings they deny their children. I grieve that I cannot baptize my baby girl and have them rejoice with me and recognize what God is doing in their midst. I'll have to wait until I return to the States to see my daughter initiated into His Church.

    Dr. Clark is only controversial because he is so clear in articulating the fact that there is an 800 lb gorilla in the living room.

    While everyone is expressing shock at what Dr. Clark wrote perhaps we ought to be more concerned about the vast majority of Baptist congregations who consider infant baptism to be completely invalid and would not allow a person, merely baptized as an infant, to become a communicant member of a congregation.

    Now that's divisive! ;)

    [Edited on 10-2-2006 by SemperFideles]
  28. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    I wonder if John Owen, called for people to leave John Bunyan's church? I think the biggest objection to Dr. Clark's reasoning for his position is that he seems to equate every baptist today with the anabaptists of yesteryear. Yes they do have errors in common but also the reformed baptists of today are closer to us than the anabaptists. One should at least at some level recognize this point.

    There is also the option of the reforming of various churches. Is it really necessary to advocate that one should leave as soon as possible?

  29. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Could you point me to the part where Dr. Clark equates "...every baptist with the anabaptists of yesteryear..."?
  30. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    He does it when he points out that Westminster rejected baptists from their assembly, as a good reason that we should also do so.

    Or do you disagree with my assertion that Reformed Baptists of today have differences with Baptists of yesteryear?

    But since you did decide to respond to my point, do you think Owen wrote or spoke as Dr. Clark, when he interacted with Bunyan's error?


    [Edited on 10-2-2006 by ChristianTrader]
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