The Sign of Circumcision: Symbolizing Justification, Regeneration, or Both?

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by TheThirdandReformedAdam, Aug 7, 2016.

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  1. Tyrese

    Tyrese Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hi brother Snyder,

    Thank you for your input. However, I maintain that many brothers become Paedobaptist because they simply don't want to be called a Baptist and they definitely don't want to be called a dispensationalist. I'm not saying this was you, but I'm uncomfortable with even your words:

    'I was trying to figure this stuff out for years. Not sure I have it down yet but I think I have pin pointed some things that have even caused other denominations to rethink some of their own Professors stances on Covenant Theology.'

    I'm not saying you're wrong for your hard work and effort that you have put into your studies but the concept of figuring 'this stuff out for years' is unsettling to me. Could it be that the paedobaptist construct is simply not in scripture, and as a result one has to do endless reading and reading before he finds an argument that makes a little sense to him? I fear our brother Taylor Sexton could be going down this road as well. He himself said:

    'Heck, I want to be a paedobaptist so that I feel I have better fellowship with those theologians whom I admire (Calvin, Turretin, Hodge, etc.), including those whom I admire on here.'

    He has a right to do as he pleases, but it's discouraging to know one can read the Bible for years and years and still be carried about with every wind of doctrine and not have a foundation to stand on. Or, one is looking to intentionally undermine and destroy the foundation that He has from scripture and replace it with something that is not in scripture simply because it sounds good. Do you disagree? I ask because you all treat the Bible like it's not written in English. Many of you argue down our brothers for promoting the KJV and you say it's 'hard to understand' and people won't understand it. But it seems to me you all treat other translations the same way.

    Like I said I respect you men, but I for one am satisfied with being a Baptist. Colossians 2:11-12 says, 'In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.' A plain reading of this passage tells us that we need to be born again. We need a changed heart and the evidence that we've been circumcised by Christ is we'll put 'off the body of the sins of the flesh,...'. This is how circumcision is applied under the NC, not infant baptism. When one of you circumcise/baptise and infant 'without hands', I'll take back everything that I've said.

    Your brother,
  2. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    Much can be said of the study of God; Consider Calvin's Institutes and how many volumes; or Owen's work. A man can spend his lifetime studying God's word and barely scratch the surface. Hence, devoted study, examining those who have gone before us (God uses the bride and it's men to reveal things-not all men are capable and teachers-in the counsel of many, there is safety).

    As well, as I asked Taylor, I ask you: A few posts back I submitted a list of items that are gotten to by good and necessary consequence or inference, i.e. the Trinity to name one here-I don't imagine you have any issue with these items. One cannot see any positive command to change the sabbath day from the last day of the week to the first, yet, you submit to it and maybe even blindly, if you have not reconciled this doctrine. The church has studied these things, by much greater minds than anyone here on PB. To say that we can get everything from scripture alone is an error. Consider Solo scriptura vs sola scriptura.

    sola vs solo.jpg

  3. Tyrese

    Tyrese Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hi brother Scott,

    Trust me I agree with everything you just said. But would you agree that it's problamatic for brothers who are never certain about what they believe? How can a man be confident in what he says if he's always unsure about his position? By all means we need to study that might show ourselves to be approved, but I don't believe we should study to constantly go from this view to that one. I believe (and I assume you do as well) that we reform according to Scripture; if we don't do that why read the Bible? Especially if our beliefs don't even have to come from out of it?

    Your brother,
  4. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    Some people will never land on a position. Consider Christ's words when He tells us that some seed produce 30%, 60% and 100%. The man who has a desire to understand doctrine will pursue truth, in a deeper fashion.

    I agree. There comes a time when one should find comfort in his positions. However, boards like this one or even FB, spur those on to more truth as it is constantly challenging our belief systems. Most believers don't care about that stuff, but if you happen to be one who wants to defend their ideas, there will be sifting and change-it comes w/ the territory.

    We do 'reform' according to scripture-but it is not by scripture alone. The Church itself and the blood it has spilled in pursuit of the truth says much; consider the creeds and our confessions.

    I have never met a man who wasn't grounded in scripture, even when he quotes a creed or confession, or a man of God who has gone before us. All of these things fortify what we believe.
  5. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Some here took a while to see and embrace the doctrines of grace. The struggle was good. It may have seemed like a man was "always going to be unsure about his position." But all the while a good thing was happening (in spite of the misery he felt!). For some it took years, I'm sure.

    The key for me in coming closer to paedobaptism has been seeing the OT more as a whole with the NT than I did. It's been a further paradigm shift, and I think that's the difficulty Martin was expressing by "figuring this out"... the difficulty is not with the Scriptures, but with the decades of cultural immersion (hehe) into a worldview and way of interpreting Scripture through a certain grid. It makes sense that this would be more difficult for folks coming later in life to covenantal views than for someone raised in a culture of more continuity between the testaments. But again, the struggle and even uneasiness is worth it. Uneasiness about a doctrine is not a sign that the doctrine is not true. We are only human. :)

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  6. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks for your question and seeking to understand my motives. I could be wrong but I don't think my motivation for becoming Reformed was based upon what you seem to be assuming. I had plenty of them as a Reformed Baptist. Gill, Spurgeon, Keach, Bunyan, Tombes... I also have many good friends I rub elbows with across this Country who are Professors and Writers. I can call them anytime. You would recognize their names. I will say I could be wrong because it may have played in at some level as a motivator and we all know we shouldn't trust our heart. The thing we should always trust is the Word of God. If you are going to question my motive the way you are then allow me to say I had more motivation in the eyes of men to Remain a Reformed Baptist. I wholeheartedly was satisfied being one based upon my view of Scripture. If you read the blog post you will see I defended the Reformed Baptist position for many years on this board and I have many good friends who were saddened when I announced I was convinced of the Reformed view. I also thought I stood on the shoulders of good men such as Keach, Bunyan, Tombes, Spurgeon, Gill, and a few others. So I don't think I was looking to change to realign myself for the reason you are assuming. Who wouldn't want to identify with Spurgeon the Prince of Preachers?

    If you have read my blog and read the reasons I gave for my change they are based upon scripture. Not the thoughts of men. I have found men in the past who back up my understanding and that is comforting. At least I am not alone in my understanding. But it started with me as a review of how the Law applies in our lives. How do we understand the Law and how does it apply differently or similarly from Covenant to Covenant. If you know my past and understand that I was an apologist for Particular Baptist Theology then you must know that my view concerning the Covenants and how they related to each other determined who I understood could be a member of any Covenant. At least do you understand that point? The Mosaic Covenant was a Covenant that administered the Covenant of Grace and the Covenant of Works. It was a Covenant that had both regenerate and unregenerate membership. The New Covenant was not one with a mixed membership of Regenerate and Unregenerate people were members. It was purely a Covenant of Grace. Therefore its Membership was regenerate. This also applied to how we determined who was a member of a Church. A Confession, Repentance, and Baptism gave a person the right to the blessing of Church Membership. In my understanding the Presbyterians were flattening out the Covenants as Fred A. Malone wrote in his book. He was a Presbyterian Pastor who became a Reformed Baptist after many years.

    Ty, Let me stop here and get your answer to my question of whether or not you are understanding why I was a Particular Baptist? I hope you can repeat it back to me. I will then proceed on what changed that understanding. I don't like long posts. People get lost in them. And to answer your question about my motivation, I don't think that played the role you are assuming. But I understand it. At least I think I do. I think I somewhat understood the Everlasting Covenant and the Covenant of Circumcision in the Reformed Baptist sense. BTW, the WCF uses the word dispensation. It is in Chapter 7.
  7. Tyrese

    Tyrese Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hi Brother,

    I really appreciate your thoughtful response here. First, let me say that I think you are on to something when it comes to motives. I for one cannot judge a mans motives, only what he says or does. So in no way do I want you to think that I'm in the business of judging motives. So for me to suggest with 100% certainty that you left your Reformed Baptist convictions because you were desperate to be a Paedobaptist is unfair to you and to anyone else. Fact is I don't know for sure, I'm only trying to understand the things that are posted here for all to see and interpret. So I interpret what is written knowing that I don't know for sure that what I think is in fact truth. Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. I think we all do that to a certain extent. Would you agree? I just wanted to be sure that I cleared that up before answering your question.

    Now on to your question. You wrote: 'Ty, Let me stop here and get your answer to my question of whether or not you are understanding why I was a Particular Baptist?'

    My answer to your question is sorta. I say that because on the one hand I understand that you defended Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology, but then on the other hand you said 'I was trying to figure this stuff out for years.' Now that's fine, but I'm confused about how one can defend something that he's not entirely sure about. Or is there something more here? Now here is where I want to be as transparent and honest with you as possible. I don't understand half of this stuff either and our brother Matthew Winzer made things more difficult for me because I've been trying to figure out Romans 4 (post 78), and Hebrews 9 (post 86) since last night. Now I know these chapters don't imply peadobaptism (I know you disagree), but I do believe they are essential to this discussion and I think there's an answer that's at least satisfactory; that is to me.

    In post 95 Jeri Tanner seems to compare infant baptism to the doctrines of grace but that's not a good comparison to me. The doctrines of grace are rather clear in scripture and from my experience there's two different types of Christians. There's the Christian who denies the plain teaching of scripture, and then there's the one who tries to explain it away. And as a result of this behavior it can take 'year's' to accept what the Bible says. If this is what is meant than I agree. But neither case applies to infant baptism. It's certainly not plain, and from a scriptural perspective, there's nothing to deny. Even brother Scott wrote, 'To say that we can get everything from scripture alone is an error.' Is he admitting that infant baptism is not in scripture? And does not our confession say, 'The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience,...'?

    You wrote: "BTW, the WCF uses the word dispensation. It is in Chapter 7."

    I don't have a problem with that. Our brother C. Matthew McMahon keeps throwing that around. :)

    Your brother,
  8. Tyrese

    Tyrese Puritan Board Sophomore

    Brother Snyder,

    I thought it would be a good idea to add this post to clarify a few things and help in the area of patience. I'm sure you agree with me when I say we have to be patient with our brothers on the net because we're interacting with real people who bring real life experiences to their discussions. This is important because it undermines the idea that one's opinion is authority because of his or her bad experiences. The same is true for me. Please understand that I don't mean to sound condescending in anyway when I ask why men debate and preach on things that they're not entirely sure about. My question is not authoritative, but rather a genuine question for teachers of the Bible. Do these men not understand that their people are confused when they go back and forth? One day they're ardently defending position X with a 15 sermon series, and then a year later it's all undermined in less than a minute. Do husbands not understand that wives are confused when men go from church to church because they're constantly evolving? I've seen these things play out in person and so I bring my experiences here.

    So with that said, I have no desire to offend but to understand why things happen the way they do. And I do appreciate your willingness to help me understand your journey to Presbyterianism.

    Your brother,
  9. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member


    Just to give you some background about myself, I have not been a person who has been moved to make many major Theological shifts in my life. I was even born into the faith as one who believed in God's choosing certain men unto salvation as I read the four gospels in a Navy barracks in 1981. Many people take years to understand the doctrines of grace. I have usually been slow to stand on some doctrines but that doctrine wasn't one I had to struggle with as most do who have little knowledge of the Bible. Even when it came to eschatology I didn't have to struggle as hard. Most of my early Christian friends were premil despensationalists. I had problems with that because I believed what the Scriptures said about there being a Church in the Old Testament. That was Israel, the Church in the wilderness. I wasn't raised in church so I didn't have the baggage some people have. My early years were spent being discipled in the Navigators and attending the Base Chapel, some Independent Baptist Churches, and a small Reformed Baptist Church out the back gate of NAS Oceana. I also fellowshipped with many different kinds of people from many various Church backgrounds on the USS Forrestal and Saratoga. I learned a lot about Non Christian cults during that time also. What I am trying to convey is that I have tried to listen to the scriptures and gain understanding before I stood firmly on doctrine. I fear misunderstanding the Word of God because there are consequences. Because of that I have not been a person who has made but a few major Theological shifts in life. I am certain of a few things. I have studied the words for grace (charis) very intently. I know the American Church has a very truncated understanding of the word. I know the scriptures to teach a Triune God. I also believe in the verbal plenary inspiration of the scriptures. Those things are solid. But does that mean I fully understand them? I definitely do not fully comprehend them but I do have some understanding. And things can be built upon those understandings.

    The same has been true for me concerning Covenant Theology. Particular Baptist Theology has not been widely written about and a lot of it remained in shadows so I had to rely upon works like A. W. Pink who wrote about it. I had to sit and learn from Pastors, Profs, and teachers who guided me through the thoughts of good men. And I have to admit that my resources for many years were slow in coming. In fact it was years after I read Fred Malone that I finally felt like I was gaining a good grasp on CT because my good friend Rich Barcellos published Nehemiah Coxe's Covenant Theology book.

    Enough for now. It is late. I will say this. My understanding of Grace has remained consistent and it has been a guiding hermeneutic that hasn't changed. My understanding of Grace and Law is still the same as it was before but my understanding concerning the Mosaic Covenant as a stand alone Covenant has changed. The language of the MC does not reveal to me that it was ever meant to be taken as a Covenant of works in any substantial form. And that plays a big part in credo only Particular Baptist Theology. It does in many areas such as ecclesiology, soteriology, the person and work of Christ are just a few areas that are affected by it. Right now I want to focus on the Mosaic Covenant as an administration of the Covenant of Grace and dispel the notion that it is a stand alone Covenant administering the Covenants of Grace and Works. Does that make sense?

    Please be patient for my responses. I don't spend as much time chasing these things like I was once able to. I have significantly slowed the past few years.
  10. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Sorry if my posts were confusing. I was merely attempting to bring out the plain sense of the words. In Romans 4, circumcision seals the promise that Abraham would be the father of many nations and the Gentiles would receive justification by faith. In Hebrews 9 and 10, it is the "will and testament" that is new. I don't think either text proves infant baptism, although the unity of the covenant of grace has a bearing upon it. Romans 4 shows that the purpose of grace revealed to Abraham is extended to the Gentiles, making it one and the same; and Hebrews 9-10 shows that the "will" of the covenant is new, not the covenant itself.

    If I were to speak about infant baptism in this context I would simply make the following point. The 1689 Confession maintains the salvation of elect infants by the grace of Jesus Christ. Elect infants under the Old Testament and elect infants under the New Testament were saved in precisely the same way. Even when antipaedobaptists reconstruct covenant theology to make the "new covenant" something altogether new, they have not excluded infants as members of it. Their reconstructed covenant theology, therefore, is irrelevant to the issue; which might help explain why there have been numerous antipaedobaptists who have maintained the teaching of the Westminster Confession that there is one covenant of grace under both Testaments. They do not exclude infants from baptism because of their understanding of covenant theology; it is rather owing to their understanding of the purpose which baptism serves.
  11. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member


    The next place I would like to take this discussion toward, if you are satisfied with the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant as being the same substantially, would be who is a Covenant Member. But maybe we need to first establish that the New Covenant is in fact the same substantially as the Mosaic Covenant. Also I hope that I have satisfied you with my commitment to be as solid as I can be when I believe something. In fact I will also let you know that I didn't come out professing my change for sometime. I got advise from both Reformed Baptists and Reformed Theologians to pray and seek the Lord and counsel. I did that. Even the Leadership of this forum had a part to play in that. And they are both very Godly Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians. I have always maintained the quote in my signature. William Symington was a great man and mentor to the great missionary George Paton. When the time seemed appropriate and my understanding was firm I sought out if the time was appropriate. I did it in a small post concerning Kline and his view of Law and the Mosaic Covenant. I didn't come out guns ablaze to make anyone defend their position or mine. I still haven't participated much in the debate about anti-paedobaptism. I do think this is an important issue but it has more to do with what the Bible Conveys about our responsibility towards the Lord than a debate about sprinkling, dunking, or who got wet. It has to do with the Kingdom of God and for whom is the Church responsible for and who is responsible to the Church as she is the mother of the believers.

    I wrote this a few years ago.

    The Mosaic Covenant, the same in substance as the New Covenant

    The Importance of the Church in Sovereign Grace
  12. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    There are a few things that helped me become Presbyterian:

    1. The church is a continuation of the covenant made with Abraham, and therefore it makes sense to administer the sign and seal of it in the same way continually. The covenant made with Abraham was never abolished, but the Mosaic covenant was.
    2. Though the covenant of grace is administered to all, only the elect are truly members of the covenant of grace. Outwardly, we would say all the church is in covenant with God, but only the elect are in the covenant of grace in the truest sense. So I would agree with a Baptist who says only the elect are made up of the covenant of grace, but I think Biblically the sign of that covenant should be administered in the same way it always has, and that there is still some covenant between the unregenerate in church and the Lord, even if it isn't in a saving way. "How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?"

    I know this is way off topic, but maybe someone will benefit from the things that helped me understand Paedo.
  13. Tyrese

    Tyrese Puritan Board Sophomore

    Sorry brothers, I will get back to you all and respond to your post as soon as I'm able. Today was an unusually busy day of Pest Control. :)
  14. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Thank you for chiming in. But that is precisely why I remained a RB for years. Stay tuned. I believe you are very wrong based upon the very first verses of Genesis 17. We will get into that I am sure. I prefer to keep this coversation focused and ask why. I also don't want to deal with multi persons. If you would rather take Ty's position I am willing. But I don't want to deal with more than one person. Those coversations become too scattered and unfruitful. Read John Tombe or a Reformed Baptist. Your membership would be more in line. Just my humble opinion
  15. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

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