Wetly article for Baptists.

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PuritanCovenanter

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I want to continue a thread along the lines of the 10 reasons thread. I desire for Baptist to respond and discuss an article on this thread while Presbyterian's discuss the same thing on another that I will post. I am interested to hear both sides of the issue.

I want to discuss portions of an article by Greg Welty on Baptism. I don't want it to become a name calling thing. I truly don't like this argument because I have seen good friends and brothers become so unloving and haughty in the dabate that I am sure God was not in it. I have been an active member of both denominations and hold a high reguard for both.

So here is the first installment of the article.



A Critical Evalluation of Paedobaptism(1)
Revision 1.3

By Greg Welty

(M.Div, Westminster Theological Seminary; B.A., UCLA)

The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him--Proverbs 18:17

A printed version is available from:
Reformed Baptist Publications
2001 W. Oak Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92833-3624
(714) 447-3412 (Office & FAX)


Introduction

As a Baptist student at a Reformed seminary, I encountered many theological pressures -- from students and teachers alike -- to convert to a paedobaptistic view. After much study, I came out convinced that "Reformed Baptist" was not a contradiction of terms (as my paedobaptist peers admonished me), but a qualification of terms, a subjecting of the traditionally Reformed version of covenant theology to a more careful biblical scrutiny. And so while abundantly grateful for my training in Reformed theology at seminary, for both the piety and the scholarship of my professors, I have concluded that the doctrine of infant baptism is neither a good nor necessary consequence deduced from Scripture (to use the language of the Westminster Confession of Faith, I.vi).

In my readings on the subject of baptism, Paul K. Jewett's Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace(2) was a revolutionary treatment of the subject. It was the first full-length book I had seen which actually critiqued the doctrine of infant baptism from the perspective of covenant theology itself. Some may debate as to how faithful Jewett actually is to the details of covenant theology, as those details are spelled out in the Reformed confessions. But his basic identification of the problem as one of biblical theology was quite insightful. Avoiding a blatantly dispensational approach, he applies the Reformed emphasis on unity and progress in redemptive history to the sacraments themselves, thus beating the paedobaptists at their own game of continuity and discontinuity. To those who are familiar with Jewett, it will be clear that I am indebted to him at several points.

This paper was originally written to fill a primary need among the seminary interns and other young men at my church. My own experience has taught me that nondispensational, Calvinistic baptists are perpetually tempted to look over the fence of their small and often divisive camp and covet the ministry opportunities available in conservative Presbyterian circles. Many have made this leap, and often do so because they simply don't have a deep, Scripturally-based conviction that the baptist view is correct. Rather, they have absorbed their baptistic sentiments culturally and emotionally, and thus often lose them by the same means. Many have not been presented with an extended series of biblical arguments against infant baptism, a set of arguments which is at the same time consistent with their own nondispensational and Calvinistic perspective. So consider the following to be a resource for seminary and Bible students who want a quick, clear, and accessible summary of the leading reasons why Reformed Baptists (and all biblical Christians) ought not to embrace the doctrine of infant baptism.


I. The Fundamental Hermeneutical Error Of Paedobaptists

Paedobaptists, while rightly affirming the fundamental and underlying unity of the covenant of grace in all ages, wrongly press that unity in a way that distorts and suppresses the diversity of the several administrations of that covenant in history. To put it another way, paedobaptists rightly emphasize the inner continuity of the various administrations of the covenant of grace, while wrongly neglecting the various external discontinuities which exist between those administrations. To put it in still a third way, paedobaptists rightly stress the unity of redemptive history, while wrongly ignoring the movement of that redemptive history. Thus their error is fundamentally one of biblical theology, of understanding the progressive unfolding of God's redemptive purposes in history.

This hermeneutical error, thus stated, inevitably leads to a twofold distortion of the relationship between the two testaments of the Bible. Paedobaptists simultaneously "Christianize" the Old Testament (read the Old Testament as if it were the New(3)) and "Judaize" the New Testament (read the New Testament as if it were the Old). In thus "Christianizing" the Old Testament, paedobaptists restrict the significance of circumcision to purely spiritual promises and blessings, while neglecting its national, earthly, and generational aspect. In thus "Judaizing" the New Testament, paedobaptists import Old Testament concepts of "covenantal holiness," "external holiness," "external members of the covenant," "external union to God," "covenant children," etc. into the New Testament, even though these distinctions are entirely abolished by the New Testament and completely foreign to its teaching.

Four biblical passages may be set forth as the exegetical basis for identifying and exposing this basic hermeneutical error of paedobaptists: Jeremiah 31:31-34, Jeremiah 32:37-41, John 1:11-13, and Romans 9:2-4/8:15-17. Many other passages of Scripture could profitably be examined on this point, but none speak to the vital issues so clearly or succinctly.

1) Jeremiah 31:31-34 "'The time is coming,' declares the LORD, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,' declares the LORD. 'This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,' declares the LORD. 'I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, "Know the LORD," because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,' declares the LORD. 'For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.'"

Jeremiah's statement is central, not peripheral, to identifying the relationship between the New Covenant and previous historical administrations of the one covenant of grace. Jeremiah's words are quoted in Hebrews 8:8-12, in Hebrews 10:16-17, and alluded to by our Lord in John 6:45. They speak directly to the issue of continuity and discontinuity between the covenant administrations. Three implications clearly follow from Jeremiah's description of the New Covenant.

First, the New Covenant is an unbreakable covenant. The very reason why God established this New Covenant with his people is because they broke the old one (v. 32). And if the New Covenant is an unbreakable covenant, then the paedobaptists have failed to recognize an important discontinuity between the New Covenant and the previous covenant administrations. The covenant as administered to Abraham and to Moses was breakable. "Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant" (Genesis 17:14). "They broke my covenant" (Jeremiah 31:32; cf. Deuteronomy 28, 29:19-25). But according to Jeremiah, the covenant as administered in the New Covenant is not breakable by the covenantees.

Second, the New Covenant is made with believers only. This of course is the exact reason why the New Covenant is unbreakable, for only believers will persevere to the end without breaking God's covenant. Three blessings are spoken of with respect to the New Covenant: law written on the heart--"I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts" (v. 33); personal knowledge of God--"No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest" (v. 34a); and forgiveness of sins--"For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more" (v. 34b). Now the contrast between the Old and the New is not that these three blessings will be experienced for the first time in redemptive history by the people of God! That would be to succumb to radically dispensational assumptions. The elect in every age have experienced these blessings, including the elect under the Old Covenant--law written on the heart (Psalm 37:31, 9:10, 76:1); personal knowledge of God (1 Samuel 2:12, 3:7); the forgiveness of sins (Psalm 32:1-2). Rather, the true contrast between the Old and the New Covenants is that now under the New Covenant, all who are covenant members experience these peculiar blessings. The fact that not all covenant members experienced these blessings under the Old Covenant is part of the divine motivation for readministering the covenant under the New! (v. 32: "It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers . . . because they broke my covenant.")

Third, the New Covenant is made only with the elect, with those who have experienced these blessings. It is not made with those who have not experienced these blessings. This is simply a restatement of the first two implications already mentioned. Thus in accordance with the covenant as newly administered in Christ, baptists do not give the New Covenant sign to those who give no evidence of being in the New Covenant. While recognizing the proper Old Testament distinction between an external covenant (elect and non-elect) and an internal covenant (elect only), baptists understand this external/internal distinction to be abolished in the New Covenant. No one is in covenant with God who is not a believer. Thus when paedobaptists speak of their "covenant children" as "breaking covenant" (i.e. becoming apostate by rejecting the faith), baptists rightly respond, "What covenant are you talking about? Obviously not the New Covenant! Only those who have the law of God written on their hearts, who know the Lord, and who have their sins forgiven, are in the New Covenant! Your 'covenant children' were never in the New covenant, and so never should have received the New Covenant sign!"

Now paedobaptists may try to reinterpret this passage in at least four possible ways, in order to preserve their belief that non-elect persons (such as their "covenant children") may still be in "external" covenant with God, as was the case under the Old Covenant.

A) Paedobaptists may claim that Jeremiah's phrase, "they shall all know me," applies only to those covenant members who happen to be elect, but not to all covenant members whatsoever. Thus the Lord is saying through Jeremiah, "All (the elect) shall know me," not "all (who are in the covenant) shall know me." But this would be to erase the very difference, the very contrast, the very newness that Jeremiah is attributing to the New Covenant! In every covenant administration (Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic) only the elect covenant members knew the Lord, even if all covenant members whatsoever did not. Rather, Jeremiah is saying here that all the covenantees, all who are in the New Covenant, will know him. Thus only the elect are in the New Covenant. There are no covenant members who do not know the Lord.

B) Paedobaptists may claim that Jeremiah's phrase, "they shall all know me," applies to all types of people in the New Covenant. Thus they interpret Jeremiah's contrast to be, "Whereas under the Old Covenant only one type of person really knew the Lord (the leaders: priests, prophets, and kings), now under the New Covenant all kinds of people will know him, from the greatest of them to the least." But this characterization of the Old Covenant flatly contradicts the testimony of Scripture. Under the Old Covenant, even the lowly Hannah (1Samuel 1-2) and Mary (Luke 1:46-55) had an intimate knowledge of God, and not just the 'great' Samuel or David. All types of people knew the Lord under both covenants, so this can't be the contrast Jeremiah is drawing!

C) Paedobaptists may claim that the knowledge of God which Jeremiah is speaking of is an external knowledge about the things of God revealed in Scripture. Since paedobaptists faithfully teach and catechize their "covenant children," all covenant members do know the Lord under the New Covenant! But this is to woefully mischaracterize the knowledge of God spoken of in Jeremiah. The very point of God's complaint against the people through Jeremiah is that the people, despite their external knowledge of the things of God, had yet turned away from the Lord and rebelled against him. The one kind of knowledge which the passage can't be speaking of is an external knowledge of the things of God passed on by parents and teachers!

D) Paedobaptists may claim that baptists are failing to recognize that the contrast which Jeremiah is drawing here is between the New Covenant and the Mosaic (Old) Covenant, not between the New Covenant and the covenant as originally administered to Abraham. Since paedobaptists justify infant baptism with reference to the Abrahamic (not Mosaic) Covenant, the fact that Jeremiah speaks of the New Covenant as different from the Mosaic is of no relevance for the question of infant baptism. This point is well taken--the Mosaic Covenant was indeed added to the Abrahamic promises, not repealing or replacing them but furthering their ultimate purpose (Galatians 3:17-19). But reflection upon the realities of the Abrahamic Covenant will reveal that each of the contrasts Jeremiah asserts here between the New and the Mosaic Covenants, is also a contrast between the New and the Abrahamic! Under the Abrahamic Covenant, all did not have the law written on their hearts, or know the Lord, or have their sins forgiven. Covenant children such as Ishmael and Esau, who lived under the Abrahamic but not the Mosaic Covenant, bear eloquent testimony to this fact.

2) Jeremiah 32:37-41 "I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul."

Now to all non-dispensationalist interpreters, the references to the land do not denote a future earthly millennium, but the Christian's spiritual inheritance. This passage is fulfilled in the church. It reiterates the teaching on the New Covenant in the previous chapter. The text says that the covenant which God will make with his people is an everlasting covenant. It will not be broken and then succeeded by yet another covenant. The reference is not to the return of the exiles under Ezra/Nehemiah, but to the New Covenant under Christ.

Central to the blessings of this everlasting covenant is that, just like the covenant spoken of in chapter 31, it is an unbreakable covenant. The text says God will inspire the covenant members to always fear him, "so that they will never turn away from me." All thought of "covenant children" who break covenant is banished in this covenant. Again, there is a contrast between this New Covenant and the older administrations, confirming what Jeremiah has said in chapter 31.

Yet blessings do accrue to the children of these covenant members! Baptists should be among the first to recognize the practical privileges their children enjoy by being in a God-fearing home. Jeremiah says that those who are in this covenant will not only fear God for their own good, but for the good of their children after them. The faithfulness of parents in fearing God will have a profound effect upon their children. But this blessing of "doing good" to the children does not imply their covenant membership. The very terms of this covenant explicitly describe all of its members as "always fearing" God and "never turning away" from him. Therefore if believer's children are to be members of this covenant, they must be among the elect. Simply because they are believer's children does not make them covenant members. Nor does this blessing guarantee salvation. To interpret this "doing of good" to the children as a guarantee of salvation would prove too much for the paedobaptist. It would imply that all "covenant children" are saved, that there are no apostate covenant children. This is a prospect which no (evangelical) paedobaptist accepts.

3) John 1:11-13 "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."

Jesus came to "that which was his own"; that is, to his own people. The Jews were his own people because they were in covenant with God, under the terms of the Old Covenant. They were properly considered to be God's children: "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son" (Hosea 11:1). And yet those very people who were God's own, his own children under the terms of the Old Covenant, rejected him. Indeed, they crucified him. But now who are the children of God, according to the text? Who are "God's own"? Those in an "external covenant" with God? Those called out of Egypt but who later reject him? Those descended from certain parents? No! "To those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." And these children are children because they were "born of God," not because they were born by natural descent from Christian parents.

The implication is clear. Under the Old Covenant, you could be a child of God and yet reject God. You could be "God's own" and yet be on your way to hell. But in the New Covenant it is not that way. Those who are children of God are not so by virtue of their birth. John explicitly denies this. Rather, they are children of God because they are born of God. In the New Covenant era, only the elect can be properly considered children of God, "his own," in covenant with God. The concept of "belonging to God," being a "Son of God," and being "his own" has been transformed under the terms of the New Covenant. But the aforementioned paedobaptist tendency to "Christianize" the Old Testament and "Judaize" the New Testament flattens out this historical-redemptive transformation of terms.

4) Romans 9:2-4, 8:15-17 "I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises." (Romans 9:2-4); "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory" (Romans 8:15-17).

Note that under the Old Covenant (9:2-4), you could be adopted by God and yet be on your way to hell, in need of the very gospel which Paul proclaimed. This parallels the paedobaptist understanding of "covenant children" being in the "external covenant." But under the New Covenant (8:15-17), all those who are adopted by God have the Spirit of God within them, testifying to their adoption. Because they are children, they are heirs of God who will certainly share his glory. Thus the concept of adoption has been transformed in the New Covenant. New Covenant adoption involves election, regeneration, and the indwelling of the Spirit. Such indwelling was not necessary to Old Covenant adoption, although Old Covenant adoption was by the design of God. All this to say: the "covenant children" of Romans 9 (Old Covenant) are not the "covenant children" of Romans 8 (New Covenant). There are no "covenant children" (in the Romans 9 sense) any more.


1 For the purposes of this paper, the terms 'infant baptism' and 'paedobaptism' will be used interchangeably.

2 Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1978.

3 Rather than reading the Old Testament in light of the New, which is the proper hermeneutic accepted by both baptists and paedobaptists, but forgotten by paedobaptists at this point. My terminology of "Christianizing" and "Judaizing" is taken from Jewett (pp. 91-93).

More to come later.

For Christ's Crown and Covenant, R. Martin Snyder
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Originally posted by doulosChristou
Originally posted by puritancovenanter
I don't want it to become a name calling thing.

Hey, you started it by calling Welty "wetly". :lol:

Maybe it was a Freudian slip. I found the article at Founders. It seems credible to me, and I want input without distractions or wading through fighten words, so to speak.

Founders article

I would also like to see Baptist folk come to be in more agreement concerning the doctrines and covenantal issues of this topic.

Thanks

[Edited on 1-20-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
These are some questions from a Baptist regarding parts of the Wetly article and not exhaustive. Admittedly, I´ve been on the fence for a long time and lean the other way I´d have to say, but these are none-the-less questions from a Baptist that concern me.

1. "To put it in still a third way, paedobaptists rightly stress the unity of redemptive history, while wrongly ignoring the movement of that redemptive history." How is this avoiding a dispensationalism approach? As it seems to be the same thing on the surface.

2. If the NC is perfect in its earthly operation of "who is in the church" then to whom are all the warning passages of apostasy written? Again, theoretically if the church on earth is pure and meant to be pure (on earth), then such warnings seem to either ring hollow or Armenians are correct, we can loose our salvation and there is no perseverance of the saints to hold our hope.

3. "The implication is clear. Under the Old Covenant, you could be a child of God and yet reject God." How is this different than dispensationalism? What does it MEAN to be a child of God? This sounds like not so veiled armenianism strictly written.

4. "No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, "Know the LORD," because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,' declares the LORD" Doesn't this militate against the NC being only the elect in the here and now on earth and in time? If the NC is completed at this point then why do we teach and preach? Why bother with the Great Commission at all since no longer will a man teach his neighbor...? Why do we have preachers and teachers today? Do I no longer go to church on Sunday to be taught? If this is 100% fulfilled today then it would seem no teaching is necessary. Making disciples (learners) necessitates teaching and teaching necessitates teachers.

5. "But according to Jeremiah, the covenant as administered in the New Covenant is not breakable by the covenantees." Then there should be no apostasy in the church today AT ALL and no unbeliever CAN be in the church such that when a man professes and is baptized making the covenant it could not possible to break the covenant since on earth the NC is not breakable by the covenantees who make it.

6. If we issue the covenant sign of baptism to a false professor have we not issued the covenant sign wrongly by our own definition and thus introduced something into the worship of the church not allowed by Scripture, again by our own definitions? If we baptize once a person and this person either falls away or is unsure then is baptized a second time upon return or desire to re-profess, then by our own definition only one of these is a real baptism. Then what do we call the other action we performed earlier and introduced into the worship service that is not a baptism? And again would this not be introducing into worship something not commanded thus violating the regulative principle?

7. Whose covenant is it man's or God's? Who is the promise keeper? And Who REALLY knows who is regenerate?

8. "While recognizing the proper Old Testament distinction between an external covenant (elect and non-elect) and an internal covenant (elect only), baptists understand this external/internal distinction to be abolished in the New Covenant." Yet, we must function still in the same time and space and redemptive history as those who baptize infants. Because the consummation of history has not come. Since we have "abolished" the external/internal distinction how then do we perform the demands made by this, that is create a pure flawless earthly church?

9. "Your 'covenant children' were never in the New covenant, and so never should have received the New Covenant sign!" Common, we need to open our eyes! Is this not arrogant hypocritical of us Baptist to condemn in such a fashion? What would we say to a pastor who issued baptism to a false professor, "This false professor was never in the New Covenant, and so never should have received the New Covenant sign!" We place a burden upon and condemn those that baptize their infants, that is, YOU MUST KNOW THEY ARE REGENERATE, that we blatantly punt and excuse ourselves from when pressed to explain HOW WE KNOW A PROFESSING CANDIDATE IS REGENERATE. This is so fundamental it is almost ridiculous to even have to state. We ought to remove the plank from our own eye first to see more clearly.

10. John 1:11-13 "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." What about the second item "not of human decision", why does that not disqualify profession only since the profession of a man to be baptized is the exercise of a human decision? And two human decisions no less, the professer and the one affirm the profession. Why is that not an argument against 'believers only'?

11. "New Covenant adoption involves election, regeneration, and the indwelling of the Spirit." Yes, but we do not primarily seek "am I elect or am I regenerate". The call to true faith goes out thus, "BELIEVE ON Christ Jesus". Not, "SEEK whether or not you are elect". Those who believe are the elect but to seek election first is NOT what we are called to. Only the elect WILL believe but the call to believe where the occurrence of regeneration occurs per the Holy Spirit is "TO BELIEVE UPON Christ". Seeking a reason for election goes down the path of hyper-Calvinism.

12. The argument seems to boil down to this: The believers only camp see a break in the dispensations of redemptive history and grace. The internal/external distinction is no longer in the NC. Thus, only believers receive baptism. Believers meaning the regenerate. And hence the church on earth under the NC is to be a pure regenerate church only. Therefore, we only baptize believers meaning regenerate. Yet we cannot guarantee that we can baptize only regenerate any more than those who baptize their infants since no man can know another man´s heart. Scripture is crystal clear on God only knowing a man´s heart. That´s why we are capable of deceiving even our own selves. So, we cannot fulfill the requirement as we perceive it from Scripture and then we turn around and condemn Infant baptism because it can no more fulfill OUR defined requirement than we can.

Then we gloss over this fact by saying that we are at least assured that infants cannot be believers/regenerate because they are incapable of profession. Thus, we place more faith in the words (profession) of a man "“ because that is how we issue baptism "“ than we do on the grace of God toward our own children.

It is telling that during the event in which the children/babies were being brought to Christ for a blessing, Jesus rebuked the Apostles for preventing them and said that you must be like these if you are to enter into the kingdom for such is the kingdom of heaven. Then immediately right behind that event we have the event of the rich young ruler/lawyer seeking/professing his desire for eternal life by what he MUST DO who went away sadden. In a modern context the RYR would have been accepted and baptized in most believer only churches. Or as John MacArthur said himself, the RYR would´ve been a prime target for evangelism and praying the prayer.

Blessings,

Larry
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Larry, Let me try to understand what your asking.

1.What do you mean by dispensationalist. When I hear the term I think of C. I. Scoffield or the Dallas Theological Seminary bunch who want to divide history up into about 7 categories including a physical presence and earthly millenial reign of Christ.

Both the old Baptists and Paedo Baptist come from a Covenantal Understanding of Historical Redemption or Covenant of Grace as far as I know. If you want to call the different Covenants Dispensations I am not sure what to make of that.

2. I don't know any Baptist who says that everyone in the physical church is soundly considered elect. We are to base their baptism upon a sound confession though. Apostasy is a reality to be warned about. Some who have made confessions are found out to be in their sin and they still need to repent.

3. I'm not sure this happened. Who was called a child of God specifically and turned out denying the faith? The Reformed Baptists believe justification is the same as the Presbyterian's do.

4.This text is about those who are considered New Covenant Members already. Everyone who is a member of the body of Christ Knows the Lord. We still need to preach so that the elect can become regenerate and become New Covenant Members. Read the article again.

5. I don't believe a true Christian can become apostate. There will always be false prophets and false teachers. But the elect will not be deceived as Jesus said. But God puts the warning in scripture. Especially in Hebrews 6. Whoever wrote this book and warned the Hebrews about apostasy didn't believe the people he was writing to were of the ilk he was speaking about.
Heb 6:8 But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.
Heb 6:9 Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things--things that belong to salvation. It is a good warning to anyone who isn't walking in faith.
Maybe that warning will awaken someone who is elect as preaching does.


6.This is a good point. We are commanded to do as the Lord tells us to do. Nothing more. We are to operate in the wisdom he has given us. He has commanded us to go and make disciples baptizing them in his name. God knows the hearts of the individual. Just like Peter and Simon in Acts 8. We are to follow the example of the Apostles.

7. The Holy Trinity...Remember it is called the Covenant of Grace. The Covenant of Redemtion.

8. You have to many false assumptions concerning this. You need to start reading more. Christ has come. Things are a little different. The Shadows are to be laid to rest. Christ has come and said it is finished. There are differences in the administrations of circumcision and baptism. Who it applies to and the promises made to the recipients.

9. Stong language from a Baptist I admit. But if someone is Baptized as an adult and it is not done in truth, it is false. A lie is a lie. Just examine what I said above in #6.

10. Answer coming up in next post. I will post the rest of the article.

AS to the rest of the complaints you make I will let you read the rest of the article. I think you need to read the first part again also for clarity.

Be Encouraged, Randy

[Edited on 1-21-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Here is the rest of the article

I. Significant Discontinuities in the Meaning and Function of the Covenant Signs

Having seen the exegetical basis for identifying the paedobaptist hermeneutic as indeed in error, it will now be useful to point out how this error leads paedobaptists to overlook significant discontinuities in both the meaning and function of the covenant signs. Much paedobaptist argument dwells upon the analogy between circumcision and baptism, inferring from the application of circumcision to infants under the Old Covenant, the responsibility to apply baptism to infants under the New Covenant. But this conveniently ignores the many disanalogies which exist between these signs as well. Such oversight causes many paedobaptists to overdraw the analogy between circumcision and baptism, illegitimately transforming that analogy into an identity.

1) The meaning of the sign of circumcision is not identical to the meaning of the sign of baptism. We agree that there is a significant overlap of meaning between the two signs (Romans 4:11; Colossians 2:11-12). But we deny that there is an identity of meaning between the two signs. Circumcision signified specific promises and blessings that baptism does not signify, and has never signified. God made many promises to Abraham in the covenant of circumcision (Genesis 17, which confirmed the covenant of Genesis 15). Circumcision sealed the promises of that covenant. For instance: "I will make you very fruitful" (physical descendants as many as the stars in the sky)--baptism does not signify this promise, but circumcision did. Or "you will be a father of many nations"--baptism does not signify this promise, but circumcision did. Or "kings will come from you"--baptism does not signify this promise, circumcision did. Or "the whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you"--baptism does not signify this promise, but circumcision did.

Similarly, due to this difference in meaning, we also deny that the relationship between physical and spiritual blessings is the same under the Old and New Covenants. Under the Old Covenant, the previously mentioned physical blessings were enjoyed, and the promises for these blessings were cherished, by the Israelites, even by those Israelites who lived an outwardly moral life but had no personal faith in the God of Abraham. That is, the physical blessings of the Old Covenant could be enjoyed even by those who did not personally experience its spiritual blessings (as long as the community as a whole remained faithful). But under the New Covenant, things are very different. Any covenantal promises and blessings which could be construed as "physical" (the glorified resurrection body, the new heavens and the new earth) will never be fulfilled or enjoyed by those who do not personally experience the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant (i.e. the elect).

Additionally, if circumcision allegedly has the same meaning as baptism, then two important questions need to be asked: Why institute a new sign? Why baptize those who had already been circumcised into the covenant community?

2) Baptism did not replace circumcision as to its function among the covenant people of God. Jesus' institution of the sign of Christian baptism commanded that it be applied to disciples who had been made by the original apostles (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:16). Throughout the rest of the New Testament, and especially displayed in the book of Acts, baptism functions in accordance with Jesus' institution of it. It is a sign for disciples, who have placed their faith in Jesus (cf. Acts 2:38). All clear cases of baptism in the New Testament reflect this "believers' baptism" policy. (The "household baptisms" will be treated later in this paper.)

But if, as paedobaptists allege, baptism did replace circumcision as to its function in the covenant community, several problems emerge. First, why did Paul have Timothy circumcised? "Paul wanted to take him [Timothy] along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek" (Acts 16:3). Surely if baptism functioned the same way under the New Covenant as circumcision functioned under the Old, Paul would never have done this! Something must have been signified in Timothy's later circumcision that was not signified in Timothy's earlier baptism as a convert. Second, why did Paul bend over backwards to accommodate the Jewish converts' continuing practice of circumcising their children? (Acts 21:20-26). Why did he not rather challenge the practice as completely inappropriate for Christian converts, since now baptism has replaced circumcision? Third, why didn't the apostles and elders at the Jerusalem council refute the Pharisees' charge ("The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses", Acts 15:5) by the simple statement, "Because baptism has now replaced circumcision"? Fourth, why didn't Paul, in the book of Galatians, refute the Judaizers who insisted on circumcision with the simple argument: "baptism has replaced circumcision"?


III. Paedobaptist Misuse of Key Biblical Texts

Apart from their more broadly hermeneutical and systematic errors (identified above), paedobaptists often misuse isolated biblical texts in an attempt to find the practice of infant baptism in the New Testament. The baptist response to these paedobaptist misinterpretations needs to be given.

1) Acts 2:38-39 "Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call."

Many, if not all, paedobaptists interpret this text to say that God has given a "special" promise to the children of Christians, which insures that they are in the covenant community, and are "different" from the children of non-Christians. Baptists rightly respond that the paedobaptist ear is so attuned to the Old Testament echo in this text ("you and your children") that it is deaf to its New Testament crescendo ("and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call"). (4) The three phrases must be taken together: (1) you, (2) your children, (3) all who are far off. According to the text, the promise is equally applied to all three categories of people. There is nothing "special" about category (2) which cannot be said about category (3), with respect to the promise of God spoken by Peter.

Depending upon how the word "call" is interpreted (outward call of the gospel, or the inward call of God's irresistible grace), this text either proves too much for the paedobaptist, or too little. The one thing it does not prove is a "special" promise for covenant children. If the outward call of the gospel is meant, then the text proves far too much for the paedobaptist. It proves that the promise is for all who hear the gospel, "all who are far off." Do we baptize all hearers of the gospel into the covenant community, regardless of how they respond to the message? How does a promise for everyone serve to distinguish covenant children from anyone else who happens to hear the gospel? But if the inward call of God's irresistible grace is meant, then the text proves far too little for the paedobaptist. It proves that the promise is for the elect only. Indeed, it proves the baptist position! Unless we are willing to presume election for our covenant children (a presumption without Scriptural warrant, and fraught with practical dangers for the child's Christian nurture), then we must baptize only those who actually give evidence of being elect, of receiving the promise (i. e. a credible profession of faith). This is precisely what happened after Peter's sermon, for it was only "those who accepted his message" who were baptized (Acts 2:41)!

Also, the content of this promise is often misconstrued by paedobaptists. In the immediate and surrounding contexts, it is obvious that the promise Peter is speaking of is the promised gift of the outpoured Holy Spirit, as predicted by Joel. Do paedobaptists assume that, because their children have received "the promise," they have therefore received the Holy Spirit?

2) 1 Corinthians 7:14 "For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified [hêgiastai] through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified [hêgiastai] through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean [akatharta], but as it is, they are holy [hagia]."

Many paedobaptists interpret that Paul takes it for granted that the children of at least one believing parent are "covenantally holy," that is, in the covenant community. They are not "externally unclean," like the children of non-Christians. But this is a species of "hit-and-run" exegesis. The same root word for "holy" is applied to both the child and to the unbelieving spouse. If they are both "covenantally holy," then why are they not both included in the covenant community and baptized? Paedobaptists will baptize the child, but not the spouse. To posit a meaning for "holy" as it applies to the child, that is different from the meaning of "holy" as it applies to the spouse, is pure eisegesis (reading into the text). The same root word is applied to both persons. It also undermines Paul's argument that the holiness of the child guarantees the holiness of the unbelieving parent. In order for his inference to be valid, the same type of holiness must apply to each.(5)

In addition, the paedobaptist interpretation of this text is a classic example of what was previously identified as "Judaizing" the New Testament. That is, distinctions peculiar to the Old Testament, such as "external" or "covenantal" holiness, are read into New Testament texts. Paedobaptists forget that the entire concept of "covenantal" holiness has been abolished in the NT. In Acts 10:28, Peter informed Cornelius' household that "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure [koinon] or unclean [akatharton]." In the context it is obvious that Peter is speaking about external, covenantal holiness, based upon external membership in the covenant community. Thus the very thing which God commanded Peter never to do (call men unclean because of their birth outside the covenant community), paedobaptists do with respect to the children of non-Christians (call them unclean). They forget that such distinctions have been abolished in the New Covenant era, as God taught Peter.

3) Romans 4:11 "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised."

Many paedobaptists interpret this text to say that Paul is giving a definition of what circumcision sealed for everybody who received it: righteousness by faith. Thus circumcision was not a merely earthly sign. Rather, like baptism, it sealed the highest spiritual blessings of the covenant of grace. But paedobaptists overlook the fact that in the context, and in the verse explicitly, Paul is speaking of circumcision sealing the righteousness by faith which Abraham had, and a righteousness by faith which Abraham already had. That is, in accordance with the biblical notion of a seal, Abraham's circumcision sealed to him a present possession. It did not seal his need for righteousness; it did not seal a conditional promise of righteousness; it sealed to him a righteousness which he already had while uncircumcised. Thus Paul in Romans 4:11 is not giving a general definition of the significance of circumcision for everybody who received it; that would go counter to the context of Romans 4, which is the personal case of Abraham and how he discovered that justification is by faith alone. Rather, Paul is giving the significance of that sign for Abraham. The fact that circumcision signified many other realities for everyone who received it (including Abraham) has already been discussed.

Of course, paedobaptists may respond that the baptist view construes two completely different definitions of circumcision: one for believers and another for unbelievers. But we do no such thing. Circumcision signified the same promises to everyone who received it. But to some who received it in faith (such as Abraham and adult converts into the covenant community), it also sealed the righteousness which they had by faith. Additionally, this paedobaptist response may be turned against the paedobaptist. For they also posit two "different" meanings for circumcision. For Abraham it sealed a righteousness which he already had by faith; it sealed a present possession. But for Isaac, and for all who received it in infancy, it sealed their need for righteousness by faith. These are two different things, and they are posited on the paedobaptist view of the sacrament, not the baptist view.

4) Colossians 2:11-12 "In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead."

Many paedobaptists interpret this text as teaching that baptism and circumcision have replaced each other, and have the same exact significance. These Gentile converts are considered by Paul to have been circumcised, when they were really baptized. In response, Baptists agree that there is an obvious analogy between the two signs asserted here, corresponding to the overlap in meaning previously mentioned. What we deny is the identity of meaning between the two signs. Who is this text talking about? About believers! Who are those who are circumcised in God's sight? Those who have put off the sinful nature, and have been raised with Christ through their faith. Thus the concept of circumcision has been transformed in the New Testament, to denote those who have experienced salvation in Christ. It is this inward experience of spiritual circumcision that is tied to baptism in the New Testament!

5) Household baptisms, of which there seem to be four in the New Testament. It will be discussed later how paedobaptists never consistently practice the same kind of "household baptism" policy they claim to find in the New Testament.

A) With respect to Cornelius' household (Acts 10:46-48), Peter's explicit warrant for baptizing this household is that "they have received the Holy Spirit just as we have," NOT "the covenant head of the household has converted." Indeed, Luke explicitly records that while Peter was preaching to them, "the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message." Unless we are willing to posit the reception of the Spirit, and speaking in tongues, for unbelievers, we must conclude that this was a household conversion, on the part of the individuals who composed it, and for that reason it was also a household baptism.

B) With respect to Lydia's household (Acts 16:15), baptists admit that evidence of an explicit profession of faith among all household members is lacking. But baptists also argue(6) that nothing in the passage implies Lydia was a married woman with nursing children, for she traveled on business some 300 miles from her native city; she felt the liberty, as head of the house, to invite men into her home; Luke speaks of her household being baptized, and of the importunity with which she constrained the apostles to abide in her house, no mention being made of her husband. Thus the most likely hypothesis is that she had no husband, and therefore no children. If Lydia had no children, she has no significance for infant baptism either. To read infants into the text thus goes contrary to the context (and to read the baptism of adults into the text, apart from their conversion, goes contrary to paedobaptist practice, as examined below).

C) With respect to the Philippian jailer's household (Acts 16:33), note that in the preceding verse (v. 32), the entire household heard the message of the gospel: "Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in the house." Interpreters are divided on how to interpret the Greek singular participle of the succeeding verse (v. 34): did the jailer rejoice with his whole house, having believed in God? (paedobaptist interpretation), or did the jailer rejoice, having believed in God with his whole house (baptist interpretation)? Note that even if the paedobaptist interpretation is taken (which is quite unnecessary), it implies the baptist view that the entire household believed. For it would be exceeding strange if (1) the whole household heard the gospel, (2) the jailer believed the gospel but the others rejected it, and (3) the whole household rejoiced that the head of the household believed while they themselves rejected the same message! Only the baptist view avoids such absurdity. "Taken at its face value, the account in Acts sets before us a hearing, believing, rejoicing household that received baptism."(7)

D) With respect to Stephanas' household (1 Corinthians 1:16), Paul does indeed state that he baptized the household of Stephanas. But he also informs us "that the household of Stephanas were the first converts [aparchê, firstfruits] in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints" (1 Corinthians 16:15). This is positive evidence that a household conversion occurred, and not merely a household baptism. As Jewett puts it, "When Paul declares, 'I baptized the house of Stephanas,' and later adds that they 'set themselves to minister to the saints,' . . . how plausible is it to make the circle of his meaning larger in the one instance than in the other? 'I baptized all the house of Stephanas, of which some have ministered to the saints' is the way we should have to understand the apostle if we are to see clear evidence for infant baptism in this passage. Such an interpretation is possible, but it is a rather thin thread on which to hang the practice of bringing infants to baptism."(8)


IV. Inconsistencies in Paedobaptist Practice

There is a tendency for paedobaptists to base their theory of baptism upon a strict principle of Old Testament continuity, and then to violate that very principle in their practice of baptism, by "smuggling in" discontinuities not warranted by the text of Scripture, but required if insoluble difficulties in the practice of infant baptism are to be avoided. This dilemma is to be expected, for once the teaching of the Word of God is misinterpreted as to our duty, inconsistencies are bound to be revealed in our practice.

1) Paedobaptists look for a warrant of faith in the parents of those to be baptized. On the one hand, paedobaptists claim that their practice is mandated by the command given to Abraham in Genesis 17. And yet paedobaptists will not baptize an infant unless the parent(s) give a credible profession of faith. Thus they baptize infants on different grounds than circumcision was mandated! A warrant of faith in the parents was never required in the Old Testament. "Every male among you shall be circumcised" (Genesis 17:12), period. In fact, in the Old Testament, if anyone was physically descended from Abraham, he had no right not to be circumcised! Never in the darkest days of the judges or of the canonical prophets was the privilege of circumcision revoked due to the people's apostasy.

Any attempt to read the Old Testament as if a profession of faith in the parents was required for the circumcision of their offspring is clearly a species of "Christianizing" eisegesis, a reading of the Old as if it were the New. When Abraham was required to circumcise his (hundreds of) servants (Genesis 17:27) and their offspring, neither he nor God required a personal profession of faith of any of them. Rather, "every male among you shall be circumcised," period. When the people of God crossed the Jordan River under Joshua, an entire nation was circumcised in a day (Joshua 5:2-3). A profession of faith in the God of Abraham could not possibly have been required of each and every one of them. Again, "every male among you shall be circumcised," period.

It may objected that the very fact that these parents remained within the covenant community shows an implicit profession of faith on their part. That is, by not living an outwardly immoral life, they were not cut off from the covenant community. But this objection could not apply to the hundreds of males in Abraham's household, since at that time the covenant community was less than a day old, and there was no time to "apostatize" by an outwardly immoral life. Indeed, paedobaptists justify the practice of infant baptism with respect to the Abrahamic (not the Mosaic) covenant. In other words, the life of the parents could not possibly have been evaluated by the stipulations of the Mosaic law during the hundreds of years between Abraham and Moses, for the Mosaic law had not yet been given. There was thus no possibility of "excommunication" between Abraham and Moses. Once again, the criterion is physical descent from Abraham, and not the faith of the parents. Besides, since when does an outwardly moral life substitute for a profession of faith? Would paedobaptists baptize longtime visitors to their churches, simply because such individuals lived an outwardly moral life? The two are simply not the same.

2) Paedobaptists do not bring their little children to the covenant meal.(9) This is significant, because the replacement of the Passover Meal (Old Covenant) with the Lord's Supper (New Covenant) as the covenant meal, is even more explicitly stated in the New Testament than the alleged replacement of circumcision with baptism as the covenant sign. Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper while he was sharing the Passover meal with his disciples (Matthew 26:17-30; cf. Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-30). And under the Old Covenant, all in the household were invited to participate in the covenant meal. "Each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household" (Exodus 12:3). No warrant of faith in the recipients of the Passover meal was required. "You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat" (Exodus 12:4), not in accordance with their profession of faith!

In order to justify their failure to bring their little children to the covenant meal, paedobaptists appeal to the strictures of 1 Corinthians 11:28-29, 31, wherein "a man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself . . . if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment." But baptists reply that the paedobaptist interpretation of this stricture is wholly inconsistent with their interpretation of various passages concerning baptism. When confronted with texts concerning the necessity of faith and repentance prior to baptism (Acts 2:38; Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:16), paedobaptists reply that such texts "obviously" are intended for adults only and not for all. But when they come to 1 Corinthians 11:28-29, paedobaptists arbitrarily reverse their hermeneutic and reply that such a text "obviously" is intended for all and not for adults only! Could it be that paedobaptists are accommodating their interpretation of Scripture to their previously-accepted practice, rather than judging their practice by means of Scripture?

Indeed, baptists also reply that this paedobaptist recognition of a significant discontinuity between the recipients of the sacraments under the Old and New Covenants only proves the baptist point: due to the progress of redemptive history, in the administration of the New Covenant the signs and seals of the covenant are for believers only. Paedobaptists accept this with respect to communion, but not with respect to baptism. They are "halfway baptists," halfway down the road to a baptist understanding of the New Covenant.

In order to justify their failure to bring their little children to the covenant meal, paedobaptists also appeal to the alleged "active" nature of the Lord's Supper, as opposed to the "passive" nature of baptism. But apart from Scriptural warrant, this distinction seems to be an arbitrary artifice designed to preserve the paedobaptist practice of baptizing (passive) babies, while only communicating (active) adults.

3) Paedobaptists do not baptize entire households. This is inconsistent with their "oikos formula" interpretation of the household baptisms in Acts, by which they see entire households being baptized indiscriminately upon the conversion of the head of the household. In order to justify their failure to baptize spouses, adult children, and household servants upon the conversion of the head of the household, paedobaptists appeal to at least three considerations.

A) The greater spirituality of the New Covenant. But this introduces the very type of "discontinuity without Scriptural warrant" that they accuse the baptists of affirming. Why would the "greater spirituality" include the babies but exclude the spouses and older children?

B) Cultural considerations. Paedobaptists recognize that it would be unacceptable in our culture to practice "coerced baptisms" on these adults. But since when should cultural considerations be allowed to overturn apostolic example, especially when we are talking about the explicit command of God (Genesis 17, "every male among you shall be circumcised)?

C) A supposed confession of faith on the part of the spouse and/or other adults in the household. But this is to do the very thing paedobaptists accuse the baptists of doing: reading into the household baptisms what is not explicitly there in the text.

4) Paedobaptists do not practice the "halfway covenant." That is, if the children of covenant members are also in the covenant, then are the children of these covenant members also in the covenant? That is, if God has "children" (believers) and "grandchildren" (believers' children), why may he not have "great-grandchildren" (believers' children's children), who by virtue of their descent from covenant members are also in the covenant? Thus, practically speaking, why not baptize the children of covenant children, even if those covenant children have never made a profession of saving faith? To do so was the practice with respect to circumcision under the Old Covenant. Why is it not the practice of paedobaptists under the New, given their principle of strict continuity with the Old Testament?

This "halfway covenant" controversy is no abstract speculation. It was a deep practical crisis for paedobaptists in New England (1634-1828), who were forced to develop several contradictory lines of response to a fundamental practical absurdity which their paedobaptist theology raised. Note how it was not an absurdity under the Old Covenant: "every male among you shall be circumcised," period (Genesis 17:12-14). Also note how it is not an absurdity if the covenant signs are restricted to those who profess saving faith in Jesus Christ (i.e. if the baptist view is adopted).


V. Paedobaptist Sentimentalism Examined

Some may ask, "Why end your booklet by critiquing a series of emotionally-driven, ad hominem arguments for infant baptism? No respectable theologian would indulge in this kind of tugging of the heartstrings, as a substitute for genuine biblical argument!" Perhaps not, but otherwise respectable seminary students, professors, and their wives do, if my personal experience is any rule! And as long as these kinds of questions are repeatedly asked--informally yet forcefully--of baptist seminary students, church members and pastors, a response needs to be at hand.

1) "Are you saying my covenant children aren't 'special'?" Baptists rightly respond with the words of Paul: "Just as it is written: Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" (Romans 9:13). Thus is God's testimony concerning these "covenant children." God may not love your "covenant children" any more or less than the general mass of unregenerate mankind. Your only assurance of God's love for them is if they specifically repent and believe the gospel, thus showing themselves to be chosen and loved by him from eternity. Any other view is pure presumption without Scriptural warrant. Isaac would have been presumptuous to write a letter to his newborn Esau in which he stated: "Dearest Esau, child of the covenant: Not only do I love you, but more importantly, God loves you as well!" Such a letter would have been contrary to Christian responsibility, and the God-ordained facts.(10)

2) "Are you saying that God won't hear the prayers of my four-year old covenant child?" Baptists rightly respond that God will always hear a prayer for conversion from anyone, young or old. God will also hear and answer any prayer which issues from a sincere, renewed heart. Of course, not all covenant children have sincere, renewed hearts (Ishmael? Esau? the sons of Korah? Eli's sons?). Therefore, parents can have confidence that God hears the prayers of their children to the extent that they have confidence that their children have renewed hearts, or that their children are praying for conversion. Besides, what has this to do with infant baptism? Did the covenant with Abraham involve a "promise" to hear the prayers of all the descendants of Abraham, simply because they were his descendants? Do we adopt infant baptism because it allows us to say comforting things about our children?

3) "How dare you baptists separate the children from their own parents in the covenant community! They are your own flesh and blood!" But paedobaptists do not include the spouse in the covenant community! And yet the term "flesh and blood" is more reminiscent of the marriage relationship than the parent-child relationship! "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). Thus children are not "separated" any more from their parents on the baptist view, than the unbelieving spouse is "separated" from his or her spouse on the paedobaptist view. This question seems to imply that when baptist parents go to church, they leave their kids in the parking lot. Baptist parents also bring their children under the influence of preaching, catechizing, and family instruction. So what's the point?

4) "Now you say, as part of your so-called 'gospel,' that my children aren't in the covenant, and cannot receive the covenant sign. Is that 'good news'? No!" This kind of argument, inferring from a general notion of "expanded privileges" under the New Covenant a specific application to infant privileges, should have about as much force as the following pseudo-argument of a paedo-communionist to most paedobaptists: "You won't let my children partake of the covenant meal (Lord's Supper)? You are revoking the privileges they had under the Old Covenant with respect to the Passover! Is that 'good news'?" Thus, there is no paedobaptist "argument from expanded privilege" against the revoking of baptismal privileges for infants that cannot also be made for infant communion. Arguments like this have about as much force as any Jewish objection to the passing away of the types and shadows of the Old Testament. A much more relevant question would be: "What does God require of me under the New Covenant?" or "Who is in the New Covenant?"


VI. Summary and Conclusion

By now it is clear that the traditional arguments for paedobaptism, including the widely-accepted "Reformed argument from the covenant of grace," are greatly mistaken. As was stated at the outset, the traditionally Reformed version of covenant theology needs to be subjected to a more careful biblical scrutiny. Paedobaptists commit a fundamental and therefore fatal hermeneutical error with respect to the historical administrations of the covenant of grace. In doing so, they overlook significant discontinuities in the meaning and function of the covenant signs, misuse key biblical texts, raise insoluble but inevitable difficulties for their practice of paedobaptism, and (at times) make a degrading and unworthy sentimentalism masquerade in the place of genuine Scriptural argument.

Such errors are serious, and ought to give rise to serious pastoral (not merely academic) concern. For the paedobaptist error strikes at the heart of God's present covenantal dealings with his people, "on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come" (1 Corinthians 10:11). If the New Testament church is Old Testament Israel come of age (Galatians 4:1-7)--Israel renewed and transformed by the gracious purpose and power of God--then we dare not include within that covenant community individuals concerning whom we have little or no evidence are actually in covenant with God. The witness of the Old and New Testaments are united on this point: God's New Covenant people actually know the Lord, have their sins forgiven, and have the law of God written on their hearts. And as far as is humanly possible, in subjection to the standards of the Word and in humble dependence upon God, this conception of the church and of its membership must be maintained and pursued. To do otherwise, to embrace confusion on so vital a point, will bring and has undoubtedly brought an increase of spiritual self-deception among those who profess the name of Christ.(11)


Footnotes

1 For the purposes of this paper, the terms 'infant baptism' and 'paedobaptism' will be used interchangeably.

2 Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1978.

3 Rather than reading the Old Testament in light of the New, which is the proper hermeneutic accepted by both baptists and paedobaptists, but forgotten by paedobaptists at this point. My terminology of "Christianizing" and "Judaizing" is taken from Jewett (pp. 91-93).

4 Jewett, p. 122.

5 For a more detailed discussion of 1 Corinthians 7:14, see the article by Stan Reeves at http://www.eng.auburn.edu/~sjreeves/personal/1cor.html.

6 Jewett, p. 49.

7 Jewett, p. 50.

8 Jewett, p. 50.

9 Paedocommunionists obviously do, but they are a minority among paedobaptists. And since they simply argue for an expanded level of "covenant privileges" for their infants, the arguments already given against infant covenant membership apply equally to them.

10 I am talking, of course, about God¼s special, covenant love to his own, not his general love of benevolence to all his creatures.

11 For further references and supporting information, see the FAQ on the Reformed Baptist View of Baptism.

[Edited on 1-21-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Please understand this is only an article I want to discuss. His attitude is a lot more harsher than mine. His conclusions may be correct. I am still working this out for myself. I lean towards his position. That is why I brought this up. I want to hear from Baptist on what they believe and the objections they have. I will also be looking at the Presbyterian side of the board to examine their thread.

Paul use to go to this guys church evidently and he said he would respond to the article. I want to know both sides. I think Baptist ought to be a bit more systematized in their thinking. I still haven't found a book on Covenant Theology by a credible Baptist. Maybe there isn't one because the Presbyterian books are sufficient. It seems they only disagree on the ordinances that the Lord institued. The Covenants are basically the same for the most part. Especially the Covenant of Redemption.

For Christ's Crown and Covenant, Randy
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
Randy,

Thanks and I appreciate the time you've taken. I'll do so, read more. But I must admit that items 6 & 9 are strong in my thinking because I struggled so much post-conversion and became fixated upon baptism, did I get it right meaning timing, that Christ was moving out of my sight. Then my wife coming from 3 baptisms over her life time because of the advice of the pastors.

That for me is a huge issue because no pastor has ever given an answer other than "reasonable profession", which doesn't answer the question. This is why I say does our belief stand on its own grounds, and not even looking at the infant arguments.

I don't disagree with a profession that's not what I'm saying. But when you doubt yourself "reasonable profession" becomes meaningless due to the situation. Baptistic pastors need to quit looking at it from their perspective only, "I baptized based upon a reasonable profession". Because there are many christians who don't know and struggle, rather than wrangle it out in their minds with their consciences under pain, they usually just give up and are re-baptized. Should one 're-baptize' just in case? I don't think so, though many have to ease their consciences. But then are they resting in Christ or their last baptism? There is no peace in that at all in terms of Christ because one always wonders and is looking to baptism.

By saying that the timing of following the ordinance (a command from God) of baptism is essential otherwise it is sinful, yet neither the pastor, board of elders nor can the convert always know this, one sets up an unsolvable dilemma. Under this dilemma the safest logical approach would be to hold off baptism until ones death bed. Or else risk the sin of actual re-baptism.

Good discussion and there are no harsh feelings, just questions.

Blessing Always In Christ,

Larry
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Personally I wouldn't rebaptize anyone who was baptized under the correct understanding of it. As long as they didn't believe the Baptism had any regenerative power and they understood the doctrine I don't see any reason to rebaptize. Maybe they just needed to be redirected toward the faith and encouraged. Darkness can set upon any soul that God in his providence sets to undertake the task of depression. Doubt of salvation is not a reason to get rebaptized. Not even after a period of backsliding. You are making some generalizations that can be answered better if specifics are understood. The Scriptures do speak about these things in a general sense. Doctrinal evaluation is always a good place to start. There are usually plenty of examples in Scripture to answer most questions. Just because somebody has mishandled the scriptures is no reason to abandon the truth they hold.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Originally posted by Larry Hughes
Or else risk the sin of actual re-baptism.

Good discussion and there are no harsh feelings, just questions.

Blessing Always In Christ,

Larry

Where is rebaptism called sin? I don't truly understand your frustration. Maybe you are making to much of it. Maybe I am not making enough of it. I hear your frustration but since I don't know you, I am not sure how to answer you. You can e-mail me if you want.

[Edited on 1-21-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
Randy,

Thanks again. I'll try to give a bit more detail, it doesn't bother me publicly sharing. There may be others similarly working this out.

I don´t want to give the wrong impression, please forgive me if I have. This issue that is a strong issue to me concerning a struggle I had in the past is not the lynch pin issue for why I´m leaning to one side of the fence strongly. I should clear that up. The struggle, separately, indeed began my thoughts on baptism as a Baptist. However, the covenantal aspect really started to precipitate it for me later. And I was studying Scripture - not a man´s word - Calvin or otherwise. I heard that same warning/accusation from Armenians when they found out I believed in sovereign grace. (That is not what has happened hear, I should be clear!). I need to emphasize where that because too many make the leap that that´s where it starts for some of us "“ not true at all. I had not even read Calvin or others on the issue. Nor did this study in Scripture (covenants) have anything to do with baptism at the start. That´s key to understand because I was not coming AT the Scriptures looking for a baptism argument one way or the other, or even looking at baptism at all, baptism was not even in the picture at that time.

I also come at this quite neutrally because I have no denominational background "œbaggage". I really was atheistic/agnostic. Truly irreligious. E.g., I clearly recall my pre-conversion view of a Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim was that these were merely six different religions/cults. As a matter of fact there was a key shift in this as I came to faith that was a very powerful awakening "“ that is concerning the church on earth and the true spiritual body of Christ and the truth of all things. That was waaaay before the time I´ll call my conversion, about 4 years or more. And at a time when I was still the irreligious person and knew zero theology or doctrine (and I mean zero). This too didn´t come to me via a denomination or a man´s teaching, it was once again in and from the Word, it was a Psalm verse.

I say all that to show that I really have no bias from a denominational perspective, none to defend so to speak, other than anything that has developed post conversion (which is impossible to avoid). I realize that when I come to either a Baptist or Presbyterian I will basically get that argument, either way. That doesn´t mean I shouldn´t look at them and consider them and work in a vacuum. But both cannot be right on this particular issue. And I´m NOT saying that either is disingenuous and I truly believe that both firmly believe what they say they believe and are honest as any of us sinful men can be in this life, else they wouldn´t believe it. But from the neutral perspective, undecided about baptism, each side is merely arguing their side with great zeal and zeal can be misplaced. One side to date just happens to argue with more clarity and logic than the other and seems to really be saying what Scripture clearly is saying, the other less and less so. And one side argues the way I would as I scientist.

I hope that is a bit more helpful.

To answer "˜rebaptism as a sin´. First how do we show the validity of ANY Christian rebaptism? This is where the "˜punt´ often comes in because we flutter around with the language. We would say that IF the first "œplacing under water" in the worship service was invalid due to non-regeneration (however we determine this, which Scripture clearly commands to the contrary), and we then do a second "œplacing under water", THEN the first was not a baptism and the second was the real baptism, THUS no rebaptism has taken place. We defend against the whole idea of rebaptism and attempt very strongly to distance ourselves from it. We deny this and would not consider ourselves rebaptizers. Which lead to my question about what did we then introduce into the worship service the first or second time that is not to be introduced? Because we have to prove that any "œrebaptism" or "œa second time under the water" is valid ever, under Christian baptism. We cannot just ignore, in the above example, that something took place the first time or simply redefine it so as to get past the issue.

If we define Christian Baptism as "˜believers only´ and for a particular individual who at least has had two or more "œplacings under the water" in their life, we must answer the question, "œWhat were those other "œplacings under the water" that we introduced into the worship service? Is it sinful to introduce something into worship so closely linked to worship that has never been commanded?

Secondly, any "œrebaptism" is by definition a repudiation of the first baptism, because we are talking about a form of covenant oath taking. Now we are talking about Christian baptism, not Mormon or some other non-Christian entity here. Our focus is narrow here.

To continue: Baptism cannot be primarily defined by my truthfulness to God in its employment. Because when is God going to trust in me, a sinner, for the validity of my faith? That would be manifestly Armenian. He is the trustworthy one not me. Does God trust me based upon my profession and baptism, no, He knows either regeneration has occurred or not because He causes it, He trusts His own work "“ He alone knows the heart. Thus, the taking of Baptism is primarily laid upon the promise of God who IS the covenant keeper, the promise keeper, the one Who is unfailingly faithful, the One in Whom faith is placed and not me. If baptism is primarily man centered and man´s sign then it cannot be reliable as all men are sinners on their best day. Thus, to assign it primarily to man´s profession is to diminish it and not exalt it at all.

Not a true story but an example: If I am baptized in 1995 and let us say I do indeed show outwardly to have no fruit whereby the conclusion is made that rebirth didn´t really occur. Then in 2000 I really truly come to repentance and faith. If I rebaptize in 2000 I repudiate my baptism in 1995. But baptism´s validity cannot rest upon my faithfulness a fickled sinner and oath breaker but God´s faithfulness to convert and sustain me. Thus, if I repudiate the first baptism which is based upon God´s faithfulness and not mine, I am repudiating God´s faithfulness to me at whatever time He has been faithful to save me. In reality it is to ask God for a second oath from Him Who is unfailingly trustworthy.

An analogy: If I say to my wife, "œHoney I need a new wedding ring because I really didn´t mean my part when we first married, I lied, but now I do"¦So, I need a new wedding ring". That is an offensive repudiation of her promises to me, her vows and all that was sealed in that ceremony from her to me. Because when I took her ring upon my hand, it was her ring to me symbolizing her promises and oaths to me. That is why when the rings are exchanged the one giving the ring says, "œWith this ring I thee wed and promise to"¦" I receive her ring and promises at that half of the ceremony and then she does like wise from me. The point being is that the ring given me from her represents her promises to me. The rings validity rests in her promises and not mine (in that half of the ceremony). This is why we often see when husbands have been unfaithful in a marriage that the woman tears the ring from her hand and throws it back at him or gives it back to him. Because she is saying your ring (symbol of your trustworthiness) is a worthless as the oaths you made to me. But she does not demand hers back because she has been trustworthy. It would be exceedingly offense if the husband were unfaithful, repented to his wife, she accepts it and then the fickled husband has the audacity to ask of his faithful wife for another wedding ring to affirm her promise to the husband (the one who has just been unfaithful).

In a like manner even if a baptized sinner has the worse case scenario, was unregenerate, and was baptized, then came to true faith "“ it would be a supreme insult to then ask God to give me a second sign of His promise (the One Who has always been faithful) to me (the one who waivers in faithfulness). Keep in mind that we are assuming that we can even determine for certain that the one falling away the first time was unregenerate. That alone is impossible strictly speaking. How bad does one have to fall to reach the certitude to know that regeneration did not occur, what degree, how long? King David´s fall into sin - which was horrible adultery, lying, murder "“ would in most cases today pass for sufficient evidence that a person was not regenerate. Yet, was David unregenerate at that time?

Blessings,

Larry
 

doulosChristou

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by Larry Hughes
Baptism cannot be primarily defined by my truthfulness to God in its employment. Because when is God going to trust in me, a sinner, for the validity of my faith? That would be manifestly Armenian. He is the trustworthy one not me. Does God trust me based upon my profession and baptism, no, He knows either regeneration has occurred or not because He causes it, He trusts His own work "“ He alone knows the heart. Thus, the taking of Baptism is primarily laid upon the promise of God who IS the covenant keeper, the promise keeper, the one Who is unfailingly faithful, the One in Whom faith is placed and not me. If baptism is primarily man centered and man´s sign then it cannot be reliable as all men are sinners on their best day. Thus, to assign it primarily to man´s profession is to diminish it and not exalt it at all.

Larry,

I'm curious as to how you might respond to a person who argued thus:

Communion in the Lord's Supper cannot be primarily defined by my truthfulness to God in its employment. Because when is God going to trust in me, a sinner, for the validity of my faith? That would be manifestly Arminian. He is the trustworthy one not me. Does God trust me based upon my profession and partaking of the Supper, no, He knows either regeneration has occurred or not because He causes it, He trusts His own work "“ He alone knows the heart. Thus, the taking of Communion is primarily laid upon the promise of God who IS the covenant keeper, the promise keeper, the one Who is unfailingly faithful, the One in Whom faith is placed and not me. If the Lord's Supper is primarily man centered and man's sign then it cannot be reliable as all men are sinners on their best day. Thus, to assign it primarily to man's profession is to diminish it and not exalt it at all.
 

Philip A

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by puritancovenanter
I still haven't found a book on Covenant Theology by a credible Baptist.

Be patient brother, Nehemiah Coxe is still in the works! I was in your same position, I was discouraged that I could not find any Credo literature that addressed the questions that I had after I had studied the Paedo case. Coxe finally answered them, and answered them soundly.

[Edited on 21-1-2005 by Philip A]
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
Greg,

Larry,

I'm curious as to how you might respond to a person who argued thus:

Communion in the Lord's Supper cannot be primarily defined by my truthfulness to God in its employment. Because when is God going to trust in me, a sinner, for the validity of my faith? That would be manifestly Arminian. He is the trustworthy one not me. Does God trust me based upon my profession and partaking of the Supper, no, He knows either regeneration has occurred or not because He causes it, He trusts His own work - He alone knows the heart. Thus, the taking of Communion is primarily laid upon the promise of God who IS the covenant keeper, the promise keeper, the one Who is unfailingly faithful, the One in Whom faith is placed and not me. If the Lord's Supper is primarily man centered and man's sign then it cannot be reliable as all men are sinners on their best day. Thus, to assign it primarily to man's profession is to diminish it and not exalt it at all.

Thanks for the question as it causes good food for thought. Perhaps I was confusing. Maybe I still will be here, I hope not. When I say, "œX- cannot be primarily defined by my truthfulness to God in its employment". I mean that its definition cannot primarily rest upon man/me/you for the purpose of our use of it in engendering faith. Even believer´s only baptism would never tell a man to rest in his profession of faith and consequent baptism, at least not sovereign grace believer´s only. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are for the building up of the faith of the sheep, not the tearing down of their faith. If either rest upon man primarily or points to my faith/ability, then they cannot engender faith. The end goal of any ministry cannot be the engenderment of unbelief but one of faith. When we point men to them selves in anyway we are manifestly NOT pointing them to Christ where faith should be looking. Thus, if baptism points to my faithfulness, my profession, then it is not pointing to Christ Who is the object of faith "“ not me for me and not via the sign either.

We tend to forget the true sheep and the purpose of these ordinances/sacraments TO THEM. Christ said feed MY sheep, Paul said I do all things for THE elect (who are in the present and will be in the future - revealed in time unknown to us), not all things to those who never will be. Paul does not center his ministry around the idea of those who will remain unbelievers but around those who are and will be believers. And this is why we see that the end goal is always to engender faith and to not stop short. Thus, to put primacy in either upon man is to destroy their intended purpose.

The unbeliever (who is really unknown to all unless he/she is utterly blatant about it) who takes either (baptism/Lord's Supper) does so to his/her own detriment and danger. It is no different in this aspect considering the Gospel message its self being rejected. E.g., the Gospel message (based upon God's truthfulness) goes out, the unbeliever hears it, the unbeliever rejects it. If he/she remains so, this will be mere evidence against them in spite of the offer going out. There is a negative functioning to these to those who ultimately reject them.

Now we don´t open the table to open adults who reject it, but we can no more screen the Lord's Table perfectly than we can for baptism. The only difference is the requirement of the initial rite of baptism before admitting to the Lord's Table. Of course there's church discipline but that assumes one is in and under the authority of the church in the first place (a.k.a. baptism). One can no more know infallibly a true unbeliever baptized (unrevealed as such) coming to the table than one could the same coming to baptism. A false convert can come and profess convincingly, live convincingly outwardly, be baptized, still be convincingly what he/she professes and take many Lord's Suppers.

I apologize as I may not be catching the drift of your question. But I would add one last thing concerning the primacy of the sign: Like Baptism, the Lord's Supper is not primarily defined by man's truthfulness for Christ explicitly says, "This is MY body...broken for you, This is MY blood, given for the forgiveness of sins". See that engenders faith, see Christ is "giving", pointing to Himself and not the partakers. I see no inherent definition given to man here placing primacy of the sign upon man. And that is why both signs are to build faith because they are not primarily defined by men´s "œfaith" as if men produce faith themselves but from God Who graciously gives even the faith that receives.

If I didn't answer your question please restate it because I am certainly capable of missing it by a mile.

Blessings,

Larry
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Originally posted by Larry Hughes
But I must admit that items 6 & 9 are strong in my thinking because I struggled so much post-conversion and became fixated upon baptism, did I get it right meaning timing, that Christ was moving out of my sight. Then my wife coming from 3 baptisms over her life time because of the advice of the pastors.

That for me is a huge issue because no pastor has ever given an answer other than "reasonable profession", which doesn't answer the question. This is why I say does our belief stand on its own grounds, and not even looking at the infant arguments.


Larry

I went back and reread this. I skimmed your other post and will focus on them also. But for now let me address something I have seen here.

I think I have been baptized 3 times also. When I was younger I remember my mother showing me a picture of a gentleman holding me. I asked who he was and she told me he was someone who baptized me as a child. I found that curious since we didn't go to church. I believe it happened at the Hospital I was born at.
My second Baptism was at the local Christian Church when I was about 16. I was taken to this church by a friend who was trying to help me get through some struggles in my adolescence. I was taught that I needed to be baptized for the remission of my sins. So I was baptized to get rid of my past sins.
When I was 18 I was a mess. I ended up in the military because of my sinful sowing of wild oats so to speak. It was were you had a chance to redeem yourself in the eyes of the courts at that time. I became a Christian after I had been in the Navy for six months. I was converted by reading the scriptures. I sought out others who might believe what I did and found myself in a para-church ministry called the Navigators. They don't have a position of baptism since they are multi-denominational. I also started going to a Reformed Baptist Church off Base because most of the Navigators went there.
I ended up asking the Pastor there to Baptize me again because I was sure I wasn't saved the first time and that I didn't understand what baptism was about. I was sure that Baptism didn't save me but Christ did and that I wanted to profess my life in Christ publicly by being baptised again. I wanted a genuine experience in the truth.

I equate my experiences to a journey. I would go down one path looking for the truth I half heartedly wanted. (meaning I only wanted it to a certain degree) Like Bunyan's Christian I was pointed in the wrong direction a few times. (even by supposed men of God) They told me what to do and how to perform so that I could be accepted by God. But God in His Providence saved me and gave me the truth about my conversion. It can not be earned by some ritual or good work. It is by God's power of Grace. I wanted to profess my belief by being re-baptized with a true understanding of salvation. I was able to witness to many by doing it. I got to proclaim the truth in Christ.

At this point I want to tell you that the good Presbyterian's (or conservative ones) are doing the same thing. I mean they don't believe someone gets saved by a ritualistic act. And they want to witness to the truth in Christ. They believe their children need to repent and be converted. They need to own Christ as their own. God doesn't have Grandchildren so to speak. We both believe in Covenant Theology. WE just disagree about the sacraments or ordinances. I believe in some diversity of the ordinances while maintaining the unity of the covenants. Since there is a difference in the seed of Abraham (from national to spiritual) from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, I believe there is a difference in the administration of it's signs.

The Presbyterian's believe in a total unity between the signs of the Covenant. I believe we both enter the teaching of baptism with presuppositions that cloud the issues. We both make up straw men to make our arguments. We both believe in the Everlasting Covenant of Grace. Covenantal Baptist are not dispensational because they believe in the unity of the Covenants. Dispensationalist believe in a discontinuity between the Covenants.

Sorry, I kinda got off on a tangent. I will look at your other posts more clearly and communicate more later.

BE Encouraged.

For Christ's Crown and Covenant, Randy

[Edited on 1-22-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Sorry but I also want to make one more comment. This might draw some fire upon me but it may not also. I also believe if someone is not baptized they can still go to heaven because our salvation does not depend upon our being baptized. You can be a New Covenant member without being baptized such as the thief on the cross.

Do I recommend not being baptized? No, by all means someone out to be baptized to witness what has happened in there life. Kind of a Romans 10:9,10 thing. It can be a public confession to your faith in the Christ who saves.

Rom 10:6 But the righteousness of faith says this: "Do not say in your heart, Who will go up into Heaven?" (that is, to bring down Christ);
Rom 10:7 or, "Who will go down into the abyss?" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.)
Rom 10:8 But what does it say? "The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the Word of faith which we proclaim) Deuteronomy 30:12-14.
Rom 10:9 Because if you confess the Lord Jesus with your mouth, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses unto salvation.
Rom 10:11 For the Scripture says, "Everyone believing on Him will not be put to shame." Isa. 28:16
Rom 10:12 For there is no difference both of Jew and of Greek, for the same Lord of all is rich toward all the ones calling on Him.
Rom 10:13 For everyone, "whoever may call on the name of the Lord will be saved." Joel 2:32

Question 34 of Tombes Short Catechism about Baptism.

What is the chief end of Baptism?

To testifie the Repentance, Faith, Hope, Love, and Resolution of the Baptized to follow Christ, Gal. 3.27. Rom. 6.3,4. 1 Cor. 15.29. calling upon the Name of the Lord, Acts 22.16.

[Edited on 1-22-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
Randy,

I appreciate this discussion very much. I agree whole heartedly that baptism doesn't save either way and like the thief on the cross I likewise agree. So, I don't want to give the impression of being fixed on baptism like that. Tis good though to remind ourselves in such discussions because if your like me you can head down a path with no intention of making it THAT essential. But then pretty soon one catches one's self implicitly doing so, and flesh gets in the way - boom - elevating it more than necessary.

Without a doubt brother, justification by faith alone in the final, singular alien work of Jesus Christ for undeserving sinners such as we are - THAT is the hill we would die together on no matter what denomination! I think that is why sovereign grace/reformed/reforming Christians are so deeply passionate and knit picky at times about issues. We are always trying to ferret out anything that might endanger justification by faith alone, that is anything that might obscure our view of looking to Christ Who is more precious to our souls than life itself.

Always Blessings In Christ Alone,

Larry
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Originally posted by Larry Hughes
Randy,

I appreciate this discussion very much. I agree whole heartedly that baptism doesn't save either way and like the thief on the cross I likewise agree. So, I don't want to give the impression of being fixed on baptism like that. Tis good though to remind ourselves in such discussions because if your like me you can head down a path with no intention of making it THAT essential. But then pretty soon one catches one's self implicitly doing so, and flesh gets in the way - boom - elevating it more than necessary.

Without a doubt brother, justification by faith alone in the final, singular alien work of Jesus Christ for undeserving sinners such as we are - THAT is the hill we would die together on no matter what denomination! I think that is why sovereign grace/reformed/reforming Christians are so deeply passionate and knit picky at times about issues. We are always trying to ferret out anything that might endanger justification by faith alone, that is anything that might obscure our view of looking to Christ Who is more precious to our souls than life itself.

Always Blessings In Christ Alone,

Larry

Amen brother! Like I said, I will look at your other posts and respond later.
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
A few side questions and a few loose thoughts, but related.

1. If true & valid baptism rests upon the believer being a true & valid believer and all other "baptisms" given to unbelievers are considered invalid baptisms - because that is how we say we do not "rebaptize" when a #2 baptism occurs (or number one from our perspective). In other words the oath/covenant part primarily rests upon the validity of the believer as his/her profession is valid. Or as John MacArthur responded in his debate with RC Sproul to a question regarding rebaptism, "I would rebaptize that person because I would not consider the first one valid and thus the second not a rebaptism" (paraphrased from memory - lh). Then doesn't that mean by definition that instead of ONE baptism into Christ as Christ's baptism, we really have 100,000,000 +++ individualistic baptisms? Because it rests upon the profession of the believer primarily to be valid and true or put another way to become defined as a baptism. Otherwise, if it rests primarily upon God's faithfulness and His sign, why do we ever "re-baptize"?

E.g., If I make invitations available to a celebration at my home and 10 take them up at first from which 3 later say, "I will not come because I don't believe his offer", does that invalidate the invitation? No, because its trustworthiness rests upon my word given and not the receivers faithfulness to believe me. Their recalcitrance and unbelief does not negate my graciousness (as it were). However, if 2 of those 3 change their minds later (repent) and then say, "His offer is valid, I've been wrong, I will come to this gracious offer", then does he need a new invitation or does he pen himself a new invitation to validate himself? No, the validity of the original still rests upon my trustworthiness to fulfill and the 2 already have an invitation, they merely become all the more glad and grateful though they rejected it at once.

2. Now this may only pertain to some of our churches and not broadly. But, if our children are not baptized into the church, then why do we send them out on "short term" mission trips as if they represent the church?

3. This one I disagree with as a whole but it is popular in many of our churches. If children are not baptized into the church, then what is meant by "childrens church" (which is usually for children less than 4 or 5)?

4. The church can only exercise authority upon members (the baptized). Yet the parent (baptized) under the churches authority is to raise their children up in the ways of the Lord. But if the children do not belong to the church (baptism) by what authority does the parent extend this requirement?

5. Hypothetically, ask an atheist, Muslim or other religions married couple if they would like their children baptized into a Christian church and nothing more. What would be their answer and why?


Larry
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
quote from Larry
To answer "˜rebaptism as a sin´. First how do we show the validity of ANY Christian rebaptism?

My reply.
Any validity to any baptism starts with Christ. He gave the commission in Matthew 28:16. Make disciples...Baptizing them ... We make disciples and baptize them. The soundness of the doctrine we preach would either validate it or not. Many religions baptize. So the key here is the doctrine. As Christians, who have we been baptized into? What does it represent or not represent? The validity is Christ and His command.

quote from Larry
We would say that IF the first "œplacing under water" in the worship service was invalid due to non-regeneration (however we determine this, which Scripture clearly commands to the contrary), and we then do a second "œplacing under water", THEN the first was not a baptism and the second was the real baptism, THUS no rebaptism has taken place.

My reply,
I am not sure how to respond to this. I was baptized twice as an adult. My 1st baptism as an adult was done under the understanding that I would obtain favor with God and therefore it was meritorious. That is what made it invalid. According to the definition of baptism. I was baptized but the doctrine and understanding of it made it a non-biblical baptism. It was a baptism, just as a non Christian religion is still a religion. It isn't a true religion but it is a religion.

quote from Larry,
If we define Christian Baptism as "˜believers only´ and for a particular individual who at least has had two or more "œplacings under the water" in their life, we must answer the question, "œWhat were those other "œplacings under the water" that we introduced into the worship service? Is it sinful to introduce something into worship so closely linked to worship that has never been commanded?

My reply,
I am one that believes one should not profane God by introducing any form of false faith or pretentious faith. Some things done in denominational situations are sin. In the case of paedo baptism I would definitely consider some to be sin just as I would some adult getting baptized under the wrong doctrine. I think Presbyterian's are wrong but do not see it as sin. No congregation has perfect worship or understanding. I believe God looks upon the heart and faith. I have a lot of admiration for Presbyterian's I even named my youngest son after Samuel Rutherford. I also don't want to call it sin because I may be wrong. I am desperately wicked and stand in constant need of being enlightened by God. God is perfectly gracious and merciful, where as I am not so I refrain from blurred judgements. I don't agree with their position of who is a member of the New Covenant. Based upon many different scriptures, and who the spiritual seed of Abraham is, I see a different membership than they do. Based upon a lot of other scriptures and interpretations they see a different view. I believe they hold more assumption in certain texts than I do. I just present what I know and try to understand others. It isn't as clear as Thou shalt not murder.

quote from Larry,
Secondly, any "œrebaptism" is by definition a repudiation of the first baptism, because we are talking about a form of covenant oath taking.

Not all baptisms are covenant oath taking baptisms. Some parents actually believe baptisms have some regenerating powers. Such the doctrines of Augustine and others of his time. So a parent may baptize a child out of so called necessity. For fear of the child's death and eternal condition. This is obviously a false teaching and no Presbyterian would hold to such a position.

quote by Larry,
To continue: Baptism cannot be primarily defined by my truthfulness to God in its employment. Because when is God going to trust in me, a sinner, for the validity of my faith? That would be manifestly Armenian.

You are correct. God's word has defined baptism and commanded it. But it is based upon faith. Yes faith, the faith that Abraham exhibited was a saving faith and could be testified to and is in the scriptures. So why can't you or I testify to God's saving grace and be accepted.

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rom 5:2 Also through Him, we have obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Rom 5:3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance,
Rom 5:4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.
Rom 5:5 This hope does not disappoint, because God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

These things can be validated and experienced as they were in Abraham's life and ours. I also find that confession is just as important to this as it is our testimony concerning what is valid. If mens works and words can't be trusted at all we should have never believed the scriptures or historical accounts. Sure there will always be false teachers and charlatans. But that is why we have the scripture. To test the fruit whether it be of God or not.


quote by Larry,
Not a true story but an example: If I am baptized in 1995 and let us say I do indeed show outwardly to have no fruit whereby the conclusion is made that rebirth didn´t really occur. Then in 2000 I really truly come to repentance and faith. If I re-baptize in 2000 I repudiate my baptism in 1995.

This is hypothetical also but why would you get baptized and then have no fruit. Could it have been a false premise? Would the baptism be false. That is up to the individual to examine whether he is in the faith. That is what church discipline is for.
As for the rebaptism I would say that it would be a true testimony, why wouldn't you be ashamed of making the first false testimony? Wouldn't it be a lie?

quote by Larry,
An analogy: If I say to my wife, "œHoney I need a new wedding ring because I really didn´t mean my part when we first married, I lied, but now I do"¦So, I need a new wedding ring".

Baptism is not marriage. It is not a vow you make. It is a testimony of what God has done for you. It is not a vow of how you will keep the covenant. It has some similarities but they are not completely the same.

My response to Larry's last paragraph....I think I covered the first part of the paragraphs analogy earlier. About the second half I believe we must rest upon the confession of the individual as in King Davids case. He had a testimony. He also had a chastising God. God does reveal things and works out things providentially. I think we can know some things. That is what faith is all about. Seeing things spiritual that can't be seen with physical eyes.

Be Encouraged Larry.

God Keep your heart and Mind in His Peace.

Randy
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
from Larry's last post..
because that is how we say we do not "rebaptize"

I don't say that. If someone does that they need to become truthful.

From Larry's last post...
"I would rebaptize that person because I would not consider the first one valid and thus the second not a rebaptism" (paraphrased from memory - lh).

My reply..
Was he talking about the validity of baptism? Did he truly say the first baptism wasn't a baptism at all? Or was he just making a point of it's validity? If you have a dollar bill and a counterfiet dollar, the bank will only take one. At the same time this isn't completely true of baptism. There are many different baptisms mentioned that the Old testament believers performed. Are they all considered non baptisms linguistically? I would say not.

Larry's last post...
E.g., If I make invitations available to a celebration at my home and 10 take them up at first from which 3 later say, "I will not come because I don't believe his offer", does that invalidate the invitation? No, because its trustworthiness rests upon my word given and not the receivers faithfulness to believe me. Their recalcitrance and unbelief does not negate my graciousness (as it were). However, if 2 of those 3 change their minds later (repent) and then say, "His offer is valid, I've been wrong, I will come to this gracious offer", then does he need a new invitation or does he pen himself a new invitation to validate himself? No, the validity of the original still rests upon my trustworthiness to fulfill and the 2 already have an invitation, they merely become all the more glad and grateful though they rejected it at once.


My reply. This seems to do more with Christ's inviitation to come unto him. Not to Baptism.

Larry's last post...
2. Now this may only pertain to some of our churches and not broadly. But, if our children are not baptized into the church, then why do we send them out on "short term" mission trips as if they represent the church?

My reply
Most children go with a guardian or parent. They are there to learn what is good and acceptable in the Lord. The children I have been involved with get a lot out of this. They learn service and good works which is what they were created for. It is part of raising out children in the admonition of the Lord.

Larry's last post....
3. This one I disagree with as a whole but it is popular in many of our churches. If children are not baptized into the church, then what is meant by "childrens church" (which is usually for children less than 4 or 5)?

My reply
What does Church mean? It has a common understanding also. The greek word just means called together. Why can't children be called together for learning what Christ wants them to know and experience from him. Being in the Church doesn't mean you are a covenant member in all situations. It is a common word as justified is. Justified doesn't always have the definition of being in right standing with God. It does mean to be correct also. I can be justified for doing something if it is correct and right. Be careful of getting hung up on strict definitions of words. Words imply many things sometimes. Sometimes a word can be used generally and sometimes with more specific meaning depending upon a text or how it is used in context.

Larry's last post....
4. The church can only exercise authority upon members (the baptized). Yet the parent (baptized) under the churches authority is to raise their children up in the ways of the Lord. But if the children do not belong to the church (baptism) by what authority does the parent extend this requirement?

My reply
The Authority given is by God in creation. Whether they are in Christ or not doesn't matter. Children are commanded to obey and honor their parents. God requires it. Thus the children should obey whoever the Parent tells a child to obey. It has been moral law since the beginning of time.

Larry's post...
5. Hypothetically, ask an atheist, Muslim or other religions married couple if they would like their children baptized into a Christian church and nothing more. What would be their answer and why?

My response...

Why? If you think your relilgion is correct you ought to raise it in the truth you hold to. My baptism will do nothing for the child because it is not regenerative in it's powers. I will pray for God's regenerating power for all of you. Prayer for mercy would do more than the baptism. Call on Christ for the forgivenss of your sin. Then teach your child to call upon God. That will have more effect than any baptism. Then you can testify to what God has done for you and proclaim it to all.
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
quote from Larry
To answer "˜rebaptism as a sin´. First how do we show the validity of ANY Christian rebaptism?

My reply.
Any validity to any baptism starts with Christ. He gave the commission in Matthew 28:16. Make disciples...Baptizing them ... We make disciples and baptize them. The soundness of the doctrine we preach would either validate it or not. Many religions baptize. So the key here is the doctrine. As Christians, who have we been baptized into? What does it represent or not represent? The validity is Christ and His command.

If the validity of baptism starts with Christ, which I agree, then by definition it is HIS baptism and not our own. Therefore, if a man takes this upon himself and is then found apostate then later actually comes to faith, where then do you find the validity of a rebaptism? It represents Christ, again, His baptism and all the true doctrine contained therein. The first baptism never rested upon the man´s individual profession, if that were true then the pastor manifestly issued a false baptism. We are not talking about false baptism into a false church like LDS. The view of baptism as primarily resting upon the professer makes all men out to be nothing less than individual single stand alone one man churches. Each defining his own baptism. That merely proves the point all the more. This doesn´t show the validity of rebaptism in any case.

To put it another way: What would be the difference in baptizing any ex-mormon coming from the Mormon church and to faith at, for a hypothetical example, First Baptist of X-ville and a man named Bob that merely comes to faith later at First Baptist of X-ville which he has always attended. Did they both attend two separate churches other than FBX, the former physically and the later mentally/spiritually? Was the later while physically attending FBX really attending Bob´s church with Bob"˜s baptism within FBX?

quote from Larry
We would say that IF the first "œplacing under water" in the worship service was invalid due to non-regeneration (however we determine this, which Scripture clearly commands to the contrary), and we then do a second "œplacing under water", THEN the first was not a baptism and the second was the real baptism, THUS no rebaptism has taken place.

My reply,
I am not sure how to respond to this. I was baptized twice as an adult. My 1st baptism as an adult was done under the understanding that I would obtain favor with God and therefore it was meritorious. That is what made it invalid. According to the definition of baptism. I was baptized but the doctrine and understanding of it made it a non-biblical baptism. It was a baptism, just as a non Christian religion is still a religion. It isn't a true religion but it is a religion.

This goes back to argument one. Are we saying then that we can have in a hypothetical valid baptist church with a membership of say 1000 and of which 50% are truly regenerate and 500 mini-singular one man CHURCHES sitting in the same pews complete with their own doctrines? Is a church one man or a body?

quote by Larry,
To continue: Baptism cannot be primarily defined by my truthfulness to God in its employment. Because when is God going to trust in me, a sinner, for the validity of my faith? That would be manifestly Armenian.

You are correct. God's word has defined baptism and commanded it. But it is based upon faith. Yes faith, the faith that Abraham exhibited was a saving faith and could be testified to and is in the scriptures. So why can't you or I testify to God's saving grace and be accepted.

But who gives the very faith that receives? I´m not arguing that it is not a testimony secondarily from us to God´s saving grace. I´m saying baptism cannot PRIMARILY rest or be defined by that. It does not point to MY faith that would be placing faith in faith, and that would be arminian. At the end of the day the issue here is really where does your baptism point you? IF it is primarily defining "œyour faith", degree, strength or lack there of then it is manifestly not pointing to Christ but to the receiver. Looking to Christ IS faith and "œlooking in the direction" of something that POINTS to Christ so as to see Christ IS faith. Ask yourself what is the object of true faith? This is what baptism points to and is what engenders faith. If baptism points primarily to me or you then it is NOT point to the proper object of faith - Christ.

If men´s works and words can't be trusted at all we should have never believed the scriptures or historical accounts. Sure there will always be false teachers and charlatans. But that is why we have the scripture. To test the fruit whether it be of God or not.

Men´s words apart from God´s word cannot be trusted, that´s the point. Men´s word in holy writ are mere pencils in the hands of the Holy Spirit. The Word is true because it is primarily God´s Word and not men´s. Men are secondary and necessary agents.

This is hypothetical also but why would you get baptized and then have no fruit. Could it have been a false premise? Would the baptism be false. That is up to the individual to examine whether he is in the faith. That is what church discipline is for.
As for the rebaptism I would say that it would be a true testimony, why wouldn't you be ashamed of making the first false testimony? Wouldn't it be a lie?

Don´t you see, the whole of this answer is testifying to the man first and Christ secondarily at best. If I came to faith later my testimony would be that Christ was faithful and gracious to me, even when I deceived myself and that is what the first and only baptism points to.

I understand church discipline but the church CANNOT detect regeneration (the cause of fruit) that is the whole point of seeing fruit (the effects of the cause), because we cannot see the rebirth (the cause) - otherwise we would not need the fruit/effect. That´s the point in John 2, we cannot see the secret operation but only the effects and at that imperfectly.

Baptism is not marriage. It is not a vow you make. It is a testimony of what God has done for you. It is not a vow of how you will keep the covenant. It has some similarities but they are not completely the same.

Are you sure, then who is the bride of Christ and how is a person placed into the bride of Christ?

And what is a testimony but a sworn affirmation that "œthis is true".

My reply. This seems to do more with Christ's inviitation to come unto him. Not to Baptism.

I´m not sure what you mean here. Is baptism divorced from Christ?

Larry's last post...
2. Now this may only pertain to some of our churches and not broadly. But, if our children are not baptized into the church, then why do we send them out on "short term" mission trips as if they represent the church?

My reply
Most children go with a guardian or parent. They are there to learn what is good and acceptable in the Lord. The children I have been involved with get a lot out of this. They learn service and good works which is what they were created for. It is part of raising out children in the admonition of the Lord.

Keep in mind I´m arguing these from our definitions of membership. Again, under what authority does the church do this since they are non-members according to our definition? Furthermore, if they are unconverted by our definition then to sending them out to learn service and good works before faith would be a damning and do nothing more than create little Pharisees. One must have faith first.

4. The church can only exercise authority upon members (the baptized). Yet the parent (baptized) under the churches authority is to raise their children up in the ways of the Lord. But if the children do not belong to the church (baptism) by what authority does the parent extend this requirement?

My reply
The Authority given is by God in creation. Whether they are in Christ or not doesn't matter. Children are commanded to obey and honor their parents. God requires it. Thus the children should obey whoever the Parent tells a child to obey. It has been moral law since the beginning of time.

I concede the point.

Blessings always,

Larry
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
Randy,

Have we ever considered how we are communicating this to our children and even to our adults to some degree. In other words what they hear from us explicitly and implicitly by actions considering this whole issue.

Consider the missions trip type items that youth go on, adult supervised or not because that has nothing to do with it, it is all about what is being communicated to them.

The child/teen hears:

1. You are justified by faith alone. (assuming one is speaking of a Calvinistic Baptist church).
2. You are not a Christian because you have not repented and been baptized.
3. You don´t really belong to the church yet? (this is a bit more vague and implicit).
4. You need to do these good deeds and good works that are pleasing to the Lord.

What is a young child or teenager to deduce from that? I think Luther would call it mixing up the Law and Gospel all over the place to the point of chaos.

Do they deduce I´m really not a Christian because I don´t believe, but I can do these good deeds and good works that are pleasing to the Lord?

Another thing occurred to me driving to work today. It seems "œbelievers only" have a similar metaphysical issue with baptism as does the Roman church. That being that there is a one to one relationship with baptism and the reality of regeneration but from opposite ends. To Rome the cause is baptism and the effect is regeneration. To "œbelievers only" the effect is baptism and the cause is regeneration (remember we say it is not a baptism if regeneration has not occurred). Furthermore, both tend to want to bring the reality of the church spiritual into the church earthly. Perhaps this is why Rome perceives herself as infallible "“ it makes sense when one sees their view of baptism. Likewise, "œbelievers only" attempt a purely regenerate church "“ which makes sense given that view. On one end of the scale we have Rome with a very strict hierarchy of church government. On the other end of the scale "œbelievers only" tend to be extremely individualistic.

Further even, it seems that a denominations view on baptism is directly linked with their view on the church structure. Even looking at the reformed view we see that the church make up on earth is linked to their view of baptism. E.g. the reformed do not see a one to one relationship with baptism and regeneration likewise they view the church on earth as a mixed body.

The view of former two, Rome and "œbelievers only", do not reflect the reality of any one church on earth (whether it be ideal or not), while the later does. The former two cannot produce one single infallible church body (Rome), nor a single purely regenerate church body (believers only). Yet, we most definitely have fallible earthly churches with mixed bodies that the gates of hell never prevail against in spite of the earthly imperfections.

Just more thoughts,

Larry
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
If the validity of baptism starts with Christ, which I agree, then by definition it is HIS baptism and not our own.

Let me quote a very small portion of Sibbes concerning the necessity of baptism.

That doth not prejudice their salvation. God hath appointed the sacraments to be seals for us, not for himself. He keepeth his covenant, whether we have the seal or no, so long as we neglect it not.

He was speaking in defence of paedo-baptism when he wrote this. My point in bringing it up is to show it was made for mans benefit. I hold to the belief that baptism is a strong testimony concerning our belief and faith. It testifies to us and others what Jesus did, who we are in Christ, and what we should be. It isn't necessarily a work of God as Redemption is.

Sibbes would call it a seal while others would call baptism a sign. That is a whole other issue that I have to look into.


Therefore, if a man takes this upon himself and is then found apostate then later actually comes to faith, where then do you find the validity of a rebaptism?

I find the validity of baptism In the testimony of baptism itself. It is a proclamation in and of itself. Larry, do you know someone who has done this or is it a hypothetical question?

This goes back to argument one. Are we saying then that we can have in a hypothetical valid baptist church with a membership of say 1000 and of which 50% are truly regenerate and 500 mini-singular one man CHURCHES sitting in the same pews complete with their own doctrines? Is a church one man or a body?

I believe we are all justified in a manner that is individual. We are placed into the body of Christ as individuals who are working together as a union of parts as 1Corinthians says. We are individuals in need of the other members. We are interdependent. We need each other as individuals. We are a universe...a union of diversity or individual parts. A body of individual parts.


But who gives the very faith that receives? I´m not arguing that it is not a testimony secondarily from us to God´s saving grace. I´m saying baptism cannot PRIMARILY rest or be defined by that. It does not point to MY faith that would be placing faith in faith, and that would be arminian.

This has a false presumption. Our baptism points to our faith in Christ. It doesn't point to our faith in faith. That is Word Faith teaching which is heretical. It points to the Faith that God gave me in Him. It is definitely a gift. Not something I conjured up. It points to a faith in Christ's death, burial, and ressurection. And it also points to my hope in his finished work.



Randy
If men´s works and words can't be trusted at all we should have never believed the scriptures or historical accounts. Sure there will always be false teachers and charlatans. But that is why we have the scripture. To test the fruit whether it be of God or not.
Larry's response
Men´s words apart from God´s word cannot be trusted, that´s the point. Men´s word in holy writ are mere pencils in the hands of the Holy Spirit. The Word is true because it is primarily God´s Word and not men´s. Men are secondary and necessary agents.

I agree with this. Where is the contention? I would add that we should examine a teacher or Pastors words. They are given talents and wisdom from the Spirit of God to shepherd the flock of God. If they do not posses the gifts of the office they shouldn't hold the office of Pastor, Teacher, Elder, Administrator, etc. They are to speak the oracles of God for our benefit. They are given to us as gifts Ephesians says. We need them to help us mature in Christ.
ph 4:11 And indeed He gave some to be apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers;
Eph 4:12 with a view to the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ,
Eph 4:13 until we all may come to the unity of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
Eph 4:14 so that we may no longer be infants, being blown and carried about by every wind of doctrine, in the sleight of men, in craftiness to the deceit of error,

Randy's post
Baptism is not marriage. It is not a vow you make. It is a testimony of what God has done for you. It is not a vow of how you will keep the covenant. It has some similarities but they are not completely the same.
Larry's reply
Are you sure, then who is the bride of Christ and how is a person placed into the bride of Christ?

The bride of Christ is the Church. One is placed into the body of Christ by Christ. Examine the thief on the cross. No baptism or vow made as far as I can deduct from the conversation between the thief and Christ. Just a promise to the thief. Today you shall be with me in Paradise. It was all God's grace working in the thief.


I´m not sure what you mean here. Is baptism divorced from Christ?

It seems we are lost on this point. How can biblical baptism be divorced from Christ?

Keep in mind I´m arguing these from our definitions of membership. Again, under what authority does the church do this since they are non-members according to our definition? Furthermore, if they are unconverted by our definition then to sending them out to learn service and good works before faith would be a damning and do nothing more than create little Pharisees. One must have faith first.

I don't think you are correct here. I will show you my faith by my works. They need to see a sermon lived out. Correct doctrine and right teaching will bring correct living. As Luther said. Orthodoxy will lead to orthopraxy. You can't have one without the other.

For Christ's Crown and Covenant, Randy

Be Encouraged Larry.

[Edited on 1-25-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Originally posted by Larry Hughes
Randy,

Have we ever considered how we are communicating this to our children and even to our adults to some degree. In other words what they hear from us explicitly and implicitly by actions considering this whole issue.

Consider the missions trip type items that youth go on, adult supervised or not because that has nothing to do with it, it is all about what is being communicated to them.

The child/teen hears:

1. You are justified by faith alone. (assuming one is speaking of a Calvinistic Baptist church).
2. You are not a Christian because you have not repented and been baptized.
3. You don´t really belong to the church yet? (this is a bit more vague and implicit).
4. You need to do these good deeds and good works that are pleasing to the Lord.

What is a young child or teenager to deduce from that? I think Luther would call it mixing up the Law and Gospel all over the place to the point of chaos.

Do they deduce I´m really not a Christian because I don´t believe, but I can do these good deeds and good works that are pleasing to the Lord?.............

..........Just more thoughts,

Larry


ARTICLE VI - MEMBERSHIP

Those who join Reformed Baptist Church are expected to take their membership vows seriously. This should manifest itself in their regular attendance, their prayers, their tithes and offerings, their voluntary service, their submission to lawful authority, and their spiritual unity. The requirements for membership are:

1. Interview - People should not become members of the local Church who are not yet baptized members of the catholic (universal) Church. They should be able, therefore, by personal testimony, to confess their Lord and the basis of their union with Him. Candidates for membership shall first be interviewed, either by the Elder(s) of the Church or by persons appointed by them for such interviews, before being received into voting membership.

2. Age - The children of member(s) under the age of eighteen are automatically members of Reformed Baptist Church by virtue of their parent or guardian´s membership. They remain, however, in a non-voting, non-office-holding status. When they reach the age of eighteen they are no longer members automatically, but are expected, if regenerate, to apply for adult membership. Children under the age of eighteen without member parent(s) or guardian(s) may also become members, albeit in a non-voting, non-office-holding status. They must, however, have an adult sponsor who is a voting member. As with the children of members, they are also expected to apply for adult membership when they reach the age of eighteen.

This is part of the articles of association of my cradle church. This is how they handle children and membership.

The child/teen hears:

1. You are justified by faith alone. (assuming one is speaking of a Calvinistic Baptist church).
2. You are not a Christian because you have not repented and been baptized.
3. You don´t really belong to the church yet? (this is a bit more vague and implicit).
4. You need to do these good deeds and good works that are pleasing to the Lord.

Number one is correct.
Number 2 is partially correct unless they have repented. Baptism doesn't save. Repentance is the fruit of regeneration.
Number 3 I addressed that issue above by my cradle churches way of dealing with it.
Number 4 is partially correct. It is good to be pleasing to God. It also needs to be understood in light of good teaching. R.C. Sproul wrote a good book called Pleasing God.

The child should learn the scripture concerning this. Ephesians 2:8-10.

(Eph 2:8) For by grace you are saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves; it is the gift of God;

(Eph 2:9) not of works, that not anyone should boast;

(Eph 2:10) for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God before prepared that we should walk in them.

Orthodoxy leads to Orthopraxy. Correct Teaching leads to Correct practice.

I need to stop now because I am going to my Dad's house for Bible Study tonight.

[Edited on 1-25-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
I agree with Sibbs as that is my point regarding the primacy of baptism"¦it is to engender faith because of what it points to. If it rests on me then it cannot. That is why some people seem to rebaptize. For if it points to one´s profession and one doubts one´s true regeneration (which cannot be seen with certitude, else what room for faith) concerning the timing, then sure, I see why one would be rebaptized because one has placed their faith in a baptism pointing to one´s own fickledness, waivering, times of doubt, ups and downs, weakness, etc"¦ How in the world could such a view of baptism ever engender true faith at all for it points to the man.

Our baptism points to <<<our faith>>> in Christ. It doesn't point to our faith in faith

These are the same things strictly stated and I think that is part of our disconnect. For it states that the sign (baptism) points (the action) to our faith (the object) which is in relation by preposition to Christ. Here is the difference: I´m saying as a sign baptism ultimately points to Christ & THAT looking TO Christ, Who is pointed to by the sign, is faith. But the sign does not point to the faith itself which is looking to Christ. In other words the sign is not pointing to my looking (faith) such that I look at my looking.

Eg #1: If you ask me, "œwhere is the Sea?", I would point you to the object you seek the Sea. But I would not point at you & misdirect you and say, "œLOOK at my pointing to your looking at the Sea" whereby your eyes are taken off of the sea.

A sign points to a greater reality. E.g. #2, Driving to Disneyland we read a sign that states, "œDisneyland 100 Miles Ahead". The sign is not the reality of Disneyland but points to the reality. My journey is fixed on "œDisneyland" the reality to which the sign points. The sign is not pointing to my journey that is going to Disneyland. Maybe that helps???

The bride of Christ is the Church. One is placed into the body of Christ by Christ. Examine the thief on the cross. No baptism or vow made as far as I can deduct from the conversation between the thief and Christ. Just a promise to the thief. Today you shall be with me in Paradise. It was all God's grace working in the thief.

That is absolutely true in the view that God alone knows. It is always by God´s grace NEVER any other way, true rebirth and salvation that is. But on earth, who is the bride of Christ and what is the entrance? The thief on the cross needed no baptism because the Lord Himself declared it. But we today don´t receive it that way.

The point being that the earthly church is not directly the spiritual church and we are NEVER commanded to purify it, rather to not do so lest we harm the weak within the church. This later part is the deadliness of a pure regenerate church on earth approach. Look at it from the point of apostasy. Who CAN apostatize (or divorce the words are closely related) from the church? Can the elect? No, the elect cannot else one affirms arminianism and all similar lines of free will affirmation. Again the elect cannot or there is NO perseverance of the saints. To what do they apostatize from? If they do not belong to the earthly church which requires baptism to be a member of, then how can they apostatize?

I don't think you are correct here. I will show you my faith by my works. They need to see a sermon lived out. Correct doctrine and right teaching will bring correct living. As Luther said. Orthodoxy will lead to orthopraxy. You can't have one without the other.

That is how we can know/recognize each other, not how one comes to faith. Surely you do not preach works? Paul said the power is the Gospel. Ghandi did by human measure good deeds and not one bit of it leads to salvation. Paul always preceded good deeds discussions with something of the form of "œin the view of the mercy received". Coming to Christ is by faith alone, this Luther above all argued strongest for this. Faith MUST come first or else one will never be saved. To send a man toward works first is the greatest error one can make. Faith is the cause of good works, not the other way around. One cannot confuse the cause and the effect. The good works are received and acceptable by God on the basis of faith which is in Christ alone, not due to anything within the good deeds themselves, degree or quantity.

Martin Luther, "œThis I say, to the end that no man should think we reject or forbid good works, as the papist do slander us, neither understanding what themselves say, or what we teach. They know nothing but the righteousness of the law, and yet they will judge of that doctrine which is far above the law, of which it is impossible that the carnal man should be the judge. Therefore they must needs be offended, for they can see no higher than the law. Whatsoever, then, is above the law, is to them a great offence"¦"

"œWhy, do we then nothing? Do we work nothing for the obtaining of this righteousness? I answer, Nothing at all. For this is perfect righteousness, to do nothing, to hear nothing, to know nothing of the law, or of works, but to know and believe this only, that Christ is gone to the Father, and is not now seen; that He sitteth in heaven at the right hand of His Father, not as judge, but made unto us of God, wisdom, righteousness, holiness and redemption; briefly, that He is our high priest entreating for us, and reigning over us, and in us, by grace."

Number 2 is partially correct unless they have repented. Baptism doesn't save. Repentance is the fruit of regeneration.

You keep implying that I´m asserting that baptism saves. Very plainly so there will be no more misunderstanding on this issue; Baptism does not save. Number 2 speaks to the reason they are not members is baptism and the reason they are not baptized is that they DO NOT POSSESS FAITH. This is what they are taught.

Number 4 is partially correct. It is good to be pleasing to God. It also needs to be understood in light of good teaching. R.C. Sproul wrote a good book called Pleasing God.

I´m not arguing against good and pleasing deeds/works, I am arguing the way they are taught in the "œbelievers only" churches which leads to confusion. And to point out a fact: RC Sproul is teaching this in the context of Covenant infant baptism and not in the context of "œbelievers only". That is the difference to the child´s ear.

Orthodoxy leads to Orthopraxy. Correct Teaching leads to Correct practice.

Actually I would say that true faith in Christ alone leads to true good deeds and true faith in Christ alone CANNOT fail but to produce true good deeds. Or as Paul says, "œshall we sin so that grace may abound, may it never be we have died to sin"œ and "œapart from faith all is sin."œ If that is what you mean, then we agree.

Blessings Always In Christ Alone,

Larry
 

kceaster

Puritan Board Junior
Randy...

I don't want to interrupt or debate a point really, but I would ask you a question. Who or what makes baptism, baptism? You've included alot of ingredients: profession, trinitarian formula, minister, believer, etc.

The reason that most people believe a 2nd baptism (or third for that matter) is a sin is because this last one, which is to be the one that truly takes (the real baptism in Johnny M's words) is trusting on externals to be effectual to the believer.

To put it another way, John said, "I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." He recognized that when one is baptized into Christ, while water, the one being baptized, and the one doing the baptism are all there externally, it is the Holy Spirit that makes the baptism effectual. The only way we can be baptized into Christ is if the Holy Spirit does it.

If this is true, then what we implicate by saying a person must be baptized again (or for real the first time), is that the Holy Spirit did no work in that person from the first time. But, where was He the first time? How can we say He didn't do His work? Because there is no fruit? If this person is being presented a second time or third, how can we say that the Holy Spirit has not born fruit in this life?

If we genuinely believe that the Holy Spirit will do the work this time, then we do believe in baptismal regeneration, because in effect we are saying that the fruit of the Spirit only comes by correctly administering the rite of baptism. I know you cannot believe that. But in effect, that is what you may be agreeing to.

In your own life, how can you say that your first baptism wasn't effectual? Did you have a soft heart towards God at times? We all have times of sin in our lives. We all struggle with besetting sin at times, whether it's one of the biggies or just the sin of neglect that we all carry. Should this constitute an ineffectual baptism? Do we believe that every time someone backslides (to use the evangelical term) that they need to be baptized again, cause the first one didn't take? Jesse Taylor ringin' a bell?

So, I would encourage both of you to involve the Holy Spirit in this discussion. What does He do in all this? Is baptism baptism without Him? To me, and many others, if we are buried in Christ in baptism, and this is a spiritual act, then only by the Spirit can this happen. He has to be present or someone is just getting wet.

The question is, when is He present and how can we tell? Does He come when we call? Or, does He proceed only from the Father and the Son?

In Christ,

KC
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
Kevin,

Great clarification regarding the Holy Spirit's work. That was one of my implications, but some of what you just said gave me a fresh angle at it seeing it more clearly.

"The question is, when is He present and how can we tell? Does He come when we call? Or, does He proceed only from the Father and the Son?"

That brought even more clarity.

Blessings in Christ,

Larry
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
I wasn't really certain where to put this under the category of baptism or dispensationalism. But I had another eye opening in the Scriptures concerning Paul's arguments with the Jews. Particularly, when the argument is used in Galatians that if baptism had replaced the sign of circumcision this would have been a great opportunity for Paul to explain this rather quickly. Before I saw as much that this argument couldn’t hold water (no pun intended) because that would be merely feeding the Judiazer mindset of a works based salvation. In other words trading one works “circumcision” for another works “baptism”. Thus, Paul did not exchange one deception for another or rather one perversion of the sign/reality for another.

However, the eye opening thought was this; whenever Paul argued against the Judiazers he was not arguing against them because they were in essence clinging to an outdated and outmoded system from the OT that has been replaced in the NT. If that were true then the baptism answer might at least stand a chance. This position would be more closely related to a dispensationalists view. Rather Paul was arguing that they were still perverting and misapplying the OT covenant as they had been all along. That being that they were in the kingdom by mere physical descent, which was never the true OT covenant where grace was being set forth. In other words they had been mixing the sign with the reality as one and the same. This makes since why Paul would not just say in essence, “Hey guys the new sign in the NT is baptism and not the old outdated OT circumcision, so change the signs and carry on.” That would merely have continued the same problem, namely that the sign guarantees the reality.

This seems to be what is being said in Romans 9:31-32, “but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone,”

Circumcision like baptism always points to faith and never works by the Law.

Still reading and still pondering,

larry
 
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