Reply to Jeff Meyers, Part 10

 Point 23 has to do with covenantal objectivity and the difference between NECM and ECM. This does get at the heart of the debate, and at the heart of what I have been saying on this blog for quite some time. Meyers again lapses into the incoherent when he argues about the “requirement” clause in the Report. Meyers can say, on the one hand, that the baptized are in covenant with God. Presumably, this would also include the corresponding negative, “non-baptized people are not in covenant with God.” We must further say that it is Meyers’s position (along with most other FV’ers) that baptism into covenant constitutes “covenantal election.” So, how can Meyers say that baptism is not a requirement for covenantal election? If baptism differentiates between those who are in covenant and those who are not, and the covenant is covenantal election, then baptism marks the sine qua non. Why then, is the report wrong in saying that the FV holds that this kind of election has a human requirement? If a parent refused to baptize their child, then that child would remain outside the covenant, wouldn’t it? What Meyers does here is conflate the two definitions of election. It is a characteristic of decretal election that it is unconditional, and with this statement FV’ers would agree. But it is not the same with covenantal election, since a parent can have yea or nay on whether their child enters the covenant (and therefore covenantal election). That is all the report is saying. The thing is, the Report does know the difference in FV writings between “decretal election” and what the FV calls “covenantal election.” And this very paragraph is a demonstration of that awareness.

On point 24 (which overlaps a bit with point 23), to deal with the difference between NECM and ECM takes more than Meyers’s say-so on this. He asserts that there is a difference between NECM and ECM. He asserts that the difference is perseverance, and that perseverance qualitatively modifies one’s participation in the ordo salutis (quoting the full context of the Lusk statement). Here’s the problem: the Lusk statement still assumes that NECM’s participate in the ordo salutis! This is precisely the point. The Reformed position is that only the decretally elect participate in any whatsoever in the ordo salutis. This is crystal clear from many places in the WS. Just a few are listed here: WCF 3.6, 15.1-4, WLC 65-77. The difference is NOT that the ECM perseveres and participates in the ordo salutis fully and completely, while the NECM does not persevere, and thus only participates in a partial way in the ordo salutis, as Lusk implies. The difference is that the ECM participates in the ordo salutis, while the NECM does not. This gets at the fundamental problem of the FV: ordo salutis benefits are being ascribed to the NECM. And this is the fundamental difference between the NECM and the ECM. One has the ordo, and the other does not. The Lusk quotation only proves the Report’s point. By saying that perseverance is the qualifying difference, Lusk (and Meyers) allow the possibility that justification comes to the NECM. This breaks the categorical equality of the ordo salutis benefits described in Romans 8, where all the justified are glorified (plainly implying perseverance). Again, the question is not whether Lusk affirms at some point that there is a qualitative difference. The point is that the rest of Lusk’s theology vitiates such a claim. It is methodological double-speak.

Point 25 can be dealt with by saying that the modified report is the current report, and that there is a perfectly good explanation of how the Wilson misquotation happened. This will become clear on the floor of GA.

Point 26 is a rehash of previous arguments, except for the “covenantal efficacy of baptism” bit. Therefore, I will only respond to that part of it. His claim is simply that the Report did not define the term. I would answer quite simply that the phrase constitutes a summary of the Report’s conclusions on baptism. Anyone who cannot see that is a dunce. Is it really such a hard phrase to understand? Is it really hard to understand that they mean it as a summary of the FV position? I think that is enough said. I will try to finish the 30 points next post.

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169 Comments

  1. Tim Wilder said,

    May 21, 2007 at 11:01 am

    “So, how can Meyers say that baptism is not a requirement for covenantal election? If baptism differentiates between those who are in covenant and those who are not, and the covenant is covenantal election, then baptism marks the sine qua non.”

    Since the PCA Book of Church Order says that the children of believers are entitled to baptism because they are already in the church, how can Meyers make baptism the sine qua non of being in the covenant and claim that is within the acceptable range of views in the PCA?

  2. Chris said,

    May 21, 2007 at 11:48 am

    I guess I miss the point. If the decretally elect are the only ones who participate in the saving work then who cares if the child is baptized or not? If baptism doesn’t place a child in a saving relationship why does it matter if the kid is in the visible church? explain this. If baptism places a child into a sving relationship then apostacy is real. What benefits are there in being a covenant child if there are not saving benefits?

  3. greenbaggins said,

    May 21, 2007 at 11:58 am

    I think your question is adequately explained by reference to the engagement ring analogy. Engagement is not the same thing as marriage (think modern engagement here, not ancient engagement). Nevertheless, real apostasy from engagement is a possibility. Baptism does not save a person from their sin. Nor can 1 Peter 3 be forced to say such a thing, since it is demons in view there, not salvation from sin.

  4. Chris said,

    May 21, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    but that still doesn’t mean anything. what is the benefit of baptism? If not saving then what? Who cares if one is engaged if there is on benefit. explain

  5. Chris said,

    May 21, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    If all you need it faith—and in your view faith is divorced from baptism (If i understand you correctly)– then the water baptism is superfluous. Why even have it.

  6. greenbaggins said,

    May 21, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    What difference does an engagement ring have? Compare two situations: one man proposes with an engagement ring, and another man without. Who is more believable? Who has put his money where his mouth is?

    Faith is not divorced from baptism. Faith is the improvement of baptism, which can happen before, during, or after baptism. Therefore my position is *not* that it is divorced. My position is that they are not always co-events. One can be baptized without having faith. Similarly, one can have faith without being baptized. That is proved incontestably from WCF 28.5

  7. Stewart said,

    May 21, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Engagement is not the same thing as marriage (think modern engagement here, not ancient engagement).

    Where does the bible say that baptism can simply be an “engagement”? This is not in the bible How can a person be an “engaged” Christian? What is the nature of this relationship? Almost, but not really? Can you point to a person in scripture that falls into this category?

  8. greenbaggins said,

    May 21, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    Stewart, the thief on the cross is one example. The visible/invisible church distinction is another clue. And I am using modern engagement as an illustration, Stewart. You are making a genre mistake when you assume that an illustration has to be from the Bible.

  9. Stewart said,

    May 21, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    The thief on the cross was simply an “engaged” Christian and not a real Christian? What are you talking about?

    You’ve created a class of persons that doesn’t exist anywhere in the bible.

  10. Chris said,

    May 21, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    on point #6, so baptism does save then if you think a person through baptism can be united to Christ at that moment receiving Christ. How is your view any different than the FV on this point? Also, I still don’t see how being “engaged” is a benefit if it isn’t saving following your analogy.

  11. Chris said,

    May 21, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Also, where have you read the FV teach baptism is always co-events ( if I read you correctly) ?

  12. Stewart said,

    May 21, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    I’m really interested in knowing what covenantal benefits “engaged” Christians receive as compared to “real” Christians. Can you point me to a place in the bible that spells out the difference?

  13. Stewart said,

    May 21, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    Presumably, this would also include the corresponding negative, “non-baptized people are not in covenant with God.”

    So you’re saying that Jeff believes that only baptized believers are in covenant with God? I think you’ve missed Jeff’s point and grossly misrepresented him. And I think you did this in an effort to avoid dealing with the actual argument. He wasn’t even addressing the question of whether God can save a person who has not been baptized. Rather, his point is that baptized people are in an objective, real, and tangible relationship with God. If a man has his fingers crossed during his wedding vows, he is still just as married as someone who didn’t. This is Jeff’s point. Could you interact with this a bit?

  14. anneivy said,

    May 21, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    An excellent reason to “have water baptism” is because the Lord said to, isn’t it? We don’t get to say “If there’s no guarantee it’s accomplishing something beneficial to me, why have it?”

    Disciples are to be baptized. The children of believers are presumably going to be raised in the love and admonition of the LORD – i.e. “discipled” – so they get baptized. Those not raised in the love and admonition of the LORD but whom He calls later in life are baptized when they present themselves as believers to be discipled.

    For the thief on the cross and other “death bed conversions” physical, water baptism isn’t germane, since they die so quickly. But they were still baptized with the only baptism that saves, and which water baptism represents: the baptism by the Holy Spirit.

  15. Todd said,

    May 21, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    Was the thief on the cross baptized with the Holy Spirit? Before Pentecost?

  16. Sean Gerety said,

    May 21, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    “Also, where have you read the FV teach baptism is always co-events ( if I read you correctly) ?”

    Here’s one example. Doug Wilson:

    “So again, when someone is baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they [sic] are ushered into an objective, visible, covenant membership. Regardless of the state of their heart, regardless of any hypocrisy, regardless of whether or not they mean it, such a person is now a visible saint, a Christian” (194, Reformed is Not Enough).

    Baptism, not belief, makes a person “a visible saint, a Christian.”

  17. anneivy said,

    May 21, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    If by “baptized by the Holy Spirit” you mean – as I do – receiving a new heart, sure.

    You know, the Holy Spirit wasn’t locked in a closet somewhere, and only released on Pentecost, Todd. ;^)

  18. Chris said,

    May 21, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    Anne, that still doesn’t answer my question. If you say that all these promises are given to children of believers then what is the difference btw the Baptist who says, “that’s why we wait to baptize them because baptism doesn’t save them.” I want to know what is the benefit you give to a child in baptism that the Baptist doesn’t. If baptism doesn’t save what is the benefit? That is what I would like to know how the Anti-FV handle this. Thanks.

  19. anneivy said,

    May 21, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    ISTM the benefit is being obedient to the LORD.

    Okay, it’s not the most exciting, glamorous benefit in the world, I know.

    “What’s in it for ME?” is certainly the default human attitude.

    The fact there may NOT be anything in it for us, but we do it *anyway*, is what makes it “obedience”, and according to the LORD, He prizes obedience more than sacrifice.

  20. greenbaggins said,

    May 21, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Is an engagement ring worth anything to the woman affianced?

  21. Todd said,

    May 21, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Anne, baptism with the HS has never been a synonym of regeneration. Regeneration before Pentecost? Of course. Baptism with the HS? No.

    John 7: 37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

  22. Todd said,

    May 21, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Baptism becomes an effectual means of salvation for the elect. Amazingly strong language.

  23. greenbaggins said,

    May 21, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    Yes, “becomes” not “is.” When does it become? When the Holy Spirit works faith, which is the improvement of baptism.

  24. anneivy said,

    May 21, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    Fine, the thief’s heart was washed with the “living water” then, if you prefer that terminology. I’m nothing if not flexible.

  25. Todd said,

    May 21, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    But it “seals” before it is improved. Right?

  26. Stewart said,

    May 21, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    “Yes, “becomes” not “is.” When does it become? When the Holy Spirit works faith, which is the improvement of baptism.”

    Yes, but the point is that the HS works *through* the water baptism.

  27. Todd said,

    May 21, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    And improving our baptism is a life-long duty, rather than a once-for-all work of the HS.

  28. Stewart said,

    May 21, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    I’m just puzzled about this “engaged Christian” category that Lane has posited and simply refuses to explain. “Engaged Christians” as opposed to “real Christians” sounds less like a biblical doctrine and more like a product of scholastic rationalism. The system demands that there exist such a thing as a half-way Christian, so one is created.

  29. Todd said,

    May 21, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    And didn’t Lane say that you have to be thinking of modern marriage rather than ancient marriage for the illustration to make sense?

  30. greenbaggins said,

    May 21, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    That’s because I don’t use the term “Christian” of someone who is engaged, just like I wouldn’t use the term “wife” of someone who was only engaged. The person is married to Christ only when that person comes to faith-union with Christ. That comes at the time-point of faith, which may or may not be the same time as baptism. Look, will you guys, or will you not acknowledge that faith does not necessarily come at the same time as baptism (see WCF 28:5)? This is plainly the Confessional teaching. Not all who are baptized are regenerated, and some who are *not* regenerated are saved.

  31. Todd said,

    May 21, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    But LC 167 says that our “solemn vow” was made in baptism, improved or unimproved. Sounds like marriage?

  32. Todd said,

    May 21, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    “some who are *not* regenerated are saved.”

    Really?

  33. Todd said,

    May 21, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    “Look, will you guys, or will you not acknowledge that faith does not necessarily come at the same time as baptism (see WCF 28:5)?”

    I’ll acknowledge that freely. But at least some of the things baptism “does,” it does before it is improved. A baptized person who never exercises faith is in a situation closer to divorce than to a broken engagement.

  34. Stewart said,

    May 21, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Lane, your not making any sense. I’m asking you to show me biblically and exegetically that there is even a category in scripture that is analogous to the modern concept of engagement. Will you even try to explain what you meant by the phrase “engaged Christian,” and explain how it differs from the term non-Christian and Christian?

  35. anneivy said,

    May 21, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Not being Presbyterian, I can publicly acknowledge I’ve never been especially enthusiastic with the whole “sealed” thing, since every time someone tries to clarify it, they get tangled up trying to explain how someone “sealed” for salvation by the LORD can still wind up in hell.

    Here’s a question for you, Todd, and anyone other FV-supporter/sympathizer…

    Here’s little Amanda. Mother’s a strong believer, father less so. At two or three weeks baby Amanda’s baptized. A few months later her mother’s broadsided by someone running a red light and is killed.

    The weak-faith father, devastated by his wife’s death, falls away from the faith. Amanda is raised knowing nothing whatever about the LORD. Zip. Zilch. Nada. She’s not even aware she WAS baptized (not that strange, BTW….my son, Alex, wasn’t aware HE’D been baptized as a baby in the RCC; really surprised the heck out of him when he discovered that shortly before being baptized at Bent Tree Bible Church).

    Did the fact she was baptized as a tiny baby mean she bears a greater responsibility to believe than any other person on the planet who’s never been taught about Christ?

    I don’t see how, personally. Now, I can see her *father* coming under much greater condemnation, both for having rejected Christ though being taught about Him, plus not following through on his solemn vow to raise his daughter in the faith. A bad dad, indeed.

    But ISTM Amanda’s in the same pickle as anyone else who hasn’t heard the gospel.

  36. A. Dollahite said,

    May 21, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Sean,

    Re. #16. Maybe I’m missing you’re point, but it seems like you are trying to argue WIlson believes baptism and faith are co-events in contrast to what Lane had said about baptism in #6 and Chris’ follow-up question in #11.

    Of course, Wilson does NOT believe baptism and faith are always co-events. He even says in the quote you give from RINE, “Regardless of the state of their heart, regardless of any hypocrisy, regardless of whether or not they mean it…”. Baptism’s efficacy is not tied to the faith of the recipient for Wilson (he’s not a baptist). The effect of baptism in Wilson’s language is to join one to the visible Church. And in his view, any member of the visible Church is a Christian.

  37. A. Dollahite said,

    May 21, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Anne,

    I think your illustration is a good one insofar as it does set up part of the controversy here. The question is, what does a properly administered baptism do? Wilson and others have been clearly arguing that baptism objectively joins the baptized to the covenant body of Christ. If it joins the baptized to the Church who is in covenant with God, then Amanda is under covenant obligations and will bear greater curses if she dies in unbelief (Heb. 10). Now, as I understand what the FV is saying, they are not surprised that a Reformed Baptist would object to this scenario, but they are dismayed when their fellow Presbyterians object considering what WCF 28:1 says about the effect of baptism. But, I also understand that what Lane and others object to at this point is the notion that joining the visible church automatically entails a reception of certain benefits of union with Christ that are said to belong only to the decretally elect.

    Lane, is this a fair summary?

  38. May 21, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Actually, the Confession’s language on baptism becoming a “means of salvation” is quite explicitly avoiding the language of baptism being an instrument of justification, the Romish view. The FV view (especially in Lusk) holds to the latter view, only with the additional qualification that this is not always what happens at baptism (in the case of the non-elect).

    The FV fail to see that the Romish view isn’t just inaccurate some of the time, but all of the time.

  39. anneivy said,

    May 21, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    See, I can understand bearing greater covenant curses so long as one actually participates in and is aware of the covenant, albeit briefly, and it’s absolutely accurate that everyone is obligated to worship the God Who is, even if they’re stuck in a tiny tribe in Papua New Guinea and have never heard of Christ, because all creation teaches about Him. However, the same really cannot be applied to Amanda regarding the New Covenant, ISTM.

    It’s either awfully mystical/magical or else blinking unjust to say that because someone had water poured on them when they were a couple of weeks old – and were maybe even sound asleep at the time – they have an increased responsibility to believe some information they’ve never been put in a position to receive.

    Contrary to The World’s opinion, the LORD is not unjust to require worship from those who have never been explicitly told about Him, since all His creation reveals Him. IOW, the information’s there…they simply refuse to see it.

    But how is this comparable to someone baptized but who is not subsequently raised in the faith?

  40. A. Dollahite said,

    May 21, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    Anne,

    You’re talking like a good Baptist who thinks baptism is about what the believer says, rather than what God is saying. Your argument is exactly the argument James White had against Doug Wilson at their debate in Nov. 2004. But the WCF says that baptism joins the baptized to the visible church.

    “28. I. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church;but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace,of his ingrafting into Christ of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of life. Which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in His Church until the end of the world.”

    As far as I understand it, whether or not you are FV, if you are Presbyterian then you believe Amanda is joined to the Church. The question now to be debated is what exactly joining the visible church “gets” you and what responsibilities you have because of your membership.

  41. anneivy said,

    May 21, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    If I’m supposed to commit hari-kari because of being told I sound like James White, I fear you’re doomed to disappointment. ;^)

    Wouldn’t it be key to know who, exactly, is expected to be presented for baptism by the framers of the WCF? Do Presbyterian pastors baptize any kid of any person who strolls into the church and requests it?

    If not, why not? If the goal is simply to get someone into the objective covenant, then what possible difference does it make whether the parent(s) seriously intend to raise the child in the faith?

    I’d been under the impression – and y’all will correct me if I’m wrong – that if the parent(s) have shown no interest in the church prior to that point, the pastor will not be amenable to baptizing the infant.

    Presumably the reason the pastor would refuse to baptize a child he is fairly confidant won’t ever see the inside of a church is because……?

    I know what *I* think the reason would be. What would a FVer’s reason be? Assuming there is one?

  42. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 21, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    Anne, I think I see Amanda in exactly the same way you do.

  43. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 21, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    “I’d been under the impression – and y’all will correct me if I’m wrong – that if the parent(s) have shown no interest in the church prior to that point, the pastor will not be amenable to baptizing the infant.”

    This sounds right to me, too.

  44. May 21, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    Presumably the reason the pastor would refuse to baptize a child he is fairly confidant won’t ever see the inside of a church is because the parents aren’t members of the covenant community.

    And if they are covenant members and if they’ve been absent forever then the reason that the child won’t be given Baptism is because the parents should be under a discipline which forbids them having access to the sacraments until such a time as they repent.

    I”m not a FV’er but that is why I wouldn’t give Baptism.

    Bret

  45. anneivy said,

    May 21, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    No argument from me, Bret. Not at all.

    I’m trying to think how to formulate this thought, but ISTM there is an inherent problem with saying something is “objective” when applied to one person, when whether or not it’s applied at all is completely dependent upon someone else.

    Dmitry’s considered to be an American citizen because he entered the country as our son. Were it to turn out our citizenship was bogus, however, he’d not be a citizen now either…or if we renounced our American citizenship. HIS citizenship is dependent upon OUR citizenship. Now, once he’s 18 years old he can claim American citizenship on his own behalf, and after that it wouldn’t make any difference what his parents’ status is.

    I’m still kicking this around, mentally, but I think there’s a problem with categorizing baptism as completely “objective” as the FV is trying to do, when the decision whether or not to baptize is largely subjective.

  46. May 21, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Um, I didn’t give an engagement ring to my wife, does that mean now that we are married that I have to give her one now? Will this then save me???

  47. anneivy said,

    May 21, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    As an aside, it does seem valid to point to someone’s baptism as evidence the LORD sovereignly placed them in a position to BE baptized, and it providing some hope that He has plans to regenerate them at some future time.

    That’s what I tell myself when it comes to my 30 year old atheist son, anyway, who was also baptized as a baby, but never showed any interest in the LORD, even when a student at St. Andrews’ Catholic in the TCU area (Todd’s familiar with it, I daresay). And his lack of interest has hardened over the years into an active atheism, I’m sad to say.

    Still, I keep on praying for him and inviting him to church (he never comes, of course), thinking hopefully that perhaps the fact he WAS baptized is reason for optimism.

  48. anneivy said,

    May 21, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    Better make it a big one, Andy. >;^>

    Better to be safe than sorry, nu?

  49. May 21, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    Also,
    I didn’t really understand if this was already covered or not, but aren’t infants of believing parents already covenant members before baptism (that is when they are first conceived) and then the baptism is just a sign and seal of the entrance into the covenant, which then has the blessings received upon faith of that child and curses if no faith occurs?

  50. May 21, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    Annie,
    Please call me Andrew :)

    Also, uh, what if she didn’t want one in the first place? This is starting to confuse me, why are we using an inadaquate illustration? This is starting to remind me of non-christians who exchange the glory of the immortal God for an inadequate image.

  51. Stewart said,

    May 21, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    The fifth sentence in the first paragraph is where Lane went wrong. He’s attempting to refute an argument that Meyers is not even trying to advance. I sure wish he would address and acknowledge the point Meyers is making.

    I also wish he would explain what the term “engaged Christian.” This is not found in the WCF, and appears to be a novelty on his part. This is alarming. I hope he notifies his presbytery and submits himself for examination soon.

  52. A. Dollahite said,

    May 21, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    Anne,

    [Back from teaching the immune system...]

    I didn’t make myself clear apparently… I wasn’t saying that since you are reflecting James White’s arguments that you should commit suicide in this discussion. I was just pointing out that this FV controversy is being primarily discussed between Presbyterians for whom paedobaptism is a given. Therefore, when you put forward a credobaptist argument against the FV it sounds funny… not necessarily wrong, but out of place.

    Continuing on, you said, “If the goal is simply to get someone into the objective covenant, then what possible difference does it make whether the parent(s) seriously intend to raise the child in the faith?”

    If you have listened to the White/Wilson debate (and pardon me if you have) then you would know that Pastor Wilson discussed this issue. He was asked if he believed Roman Catholics should stop baptizing their children because they were only bringing such children into greater curses if they were not later reared to proper faith in Jesus. Wilson responded that they absolutely should STOP baptizing their children. It’s NOT the position of the FV to just get everyone objectively into the covenant and then let things go wild from there. They are trying to call Christians to be faithful to their baptisms. I’m quite sure Pastor Wilson would be discerning in who he baptizes in his church.

  53. Andrew McCallum said,

    May 21, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    Stewart and others,

    I thought Lane’s analogy of the wedding and engagement was a helpful illustration, but if you don’t that’s no big deal. It’s just an illustration. What I was hoping to see in some of your replies was comments on Lane’s issues with the ordo salutis benefits being ascribed to the NECM. This is a HUGE issue to my mind. Would you pro-FV folks agree that this is a big sticking point between the pro and non-FV folks and how do you answer Lane here? Can we really say that there are people who are justified in some sense but then not glorified? It seems to the non-FV side that the way that the term justification is used primarily in the Scriptures (as in Rom. 8) and secondarily in the WCF, there is no way to broaden the meaning of justification to include someone who is truly justified in some sense by Christ’s work and then later becomes truly not justified.

  54. Andrew McCallum said,

    May 21, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Now how did my number eight with closed parentheses above become a smiley face with sun glasses?! I will try again – It should read, “…Scriptures (as in Romans 8)…”

  55. May 21, 2007 at 5:26 pm

    [...] A critic writes: It is a characteristic of decretal election that it is unconditional, and with this statement FV’ers would agree. But it is not the same with covenantal election, since a parent can have yea or nay on whether their child enters the covenant (and therefore covenantal election). That is all the report is saying. [...]

  56. anneivy said,

    May 21, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    My most abject apologies, Andrew. =8^o

    And over the years I’ve been called “Annie” more times than I care to think about. Susan Holden’s father was especially fond of calling me “Little Annie Oakley”, though I could never figure out why.

    To the Other A…I’m sure you’re quite right, and Pastor Wilson can be relied upon to exercise the utmost discernment regarding whom he baptizes. But the subjective element is still present, is it not? And in far more malleable way than it was present with circumcision under the OC. I mean, from what I’ve understood, one either was a Jew or one wasn’t, and whether or not one was a GOOD Jew had zip-all to do with whether or not one’s male infants were circumcised. There really wasn’t a lot of subjective judgment required, was there?

    Yet here the FV has a very subjective decision being made by parents and pastor (and maybe others, too, I’m not sure about how Presby churches work in that regard) on the behalf of someone else, resulting in an absolutely objective result for the “someone else”, and the positive or negative result (blessings or curses) also being dependent on the behavior of others.

    ISTM the “objective” aspect is being pushed unduly far.

  57. May 21, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    [...] This is all nonsense.  Lusk admits a qualitatively different grace.  This means they non-elect covenant members do not receive the justification that the Westminster Confession and Catechisms describe in their exposition of what happens to the elect at effectual calling (to name one example).  The entire meaning of FV writers has been inverted to manufacture accusations.  I don’t say this is intentional.  Just that it is really unimpressive.  (And if anyone thinks I am being rough, just tell me when I last claimed to be a loyal member of a Christian denomination in which I attacked other ministers in good standing of being guilty of heresy in the internet rather than the courts.) Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  58. Stewart said,

    May 21, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Andrew,

    Lane’s analogy couldn’t have been helpful because it is unbiblical. Lane believes that there is such a thing as a half-way Christian, because in order for his overly rational system to function properly and explain all biblical mysteries with Aristotelian precision, such a person must exist.

    Mark has answered your other question.

  59. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 21, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    “I mean, from what I’ve understood, one either was a Jew or one wasn’t, and whether or not one was a GOOD Jew had zip-all to do with whether or not one’s male infants were circumcised. There really wasn’t a lot of subjective judgment required, was there?”

    Well, it was possible for an Israelite to be “cut off” from the covenant people for certain sins and crimes, and the children of these people would not be eligible for circumcision. This discovery was a big part of me finally “giving in” to pasdobaptism, so many moons ago.

  60. Chris said,

    May 21, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    No one has answered my questions. Mark is right about Rich’s point. You can make anti-FV statements but you are still left with “engagement” analogies that can’t hold water and don’t do any better answering the concerns raised by the FV. Once you finish yelling against something like the FV you are left standing on nothing positive. Your best arguments are loud when they are directed against something, but lack substance when trying to define your own position. On that note, an engagement doesn’t mean anything without a marriage. So, No. I don’t see any benefit in being engaged.

  61. anneivy said,

    May 21, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    Well, that’s true enough, Todd.

    I dunno. To me the kicker for turning paedo was someone referring to children as the “littlest disciples”, lame as that might sound. The light finally went on. Oh! The parents are vowing to raise their children in the faith, i.e. disciple them, and those who are discipled are those under the covenant blessings and curses, and disciples are to be baptized. Duh.

    Not terribly elegant, theologically speaking, but there it is. Children of believing parents are presumably going to be discipled, and disciples are entitled to baptism, the sign of the covenant (like I said, I’m less enthusiastic about the “seal” angle). And since it’s the LORD who sovereignly places children in believing homes, it’s reasonable to point back to someone’s baptism as proof that at a minimum the LORD knows they’re there, so to speak. The poor children in the remote valleys of New Guinea haven’t been so fortunately placed….no discipling or baptism for them, unless and until missionaries are sovereignly sent by the LORD.

    If the child winds up – like our fictional Amanda – NOT being discipled in any way, then she’s pretty much like those in the New Guinea tribe as regards the NC blessings and curses.

    The real whammy falls on the adults who punted their responsibilities. Ouch.

    Which, regrettably, applies to me, since I lapsed away from the RCC and basically pretended Christ didn’t exist for a dozen years while the kids were growing up.

    Not a pleasant reflection, but facts are facts.

    Prevalent in Scripture is “Teach your children! Teach your children!”, along with “Children, listen to your parents’ teaching!”

    If the reason children aren’t listening and learning is because they’re not being taught, that’s just not the same thing as having been taught but rejecting it.

    So how can an Amanda be regarded in any way as being in the same boat as Polly Presby, who was raised in a believing home, attended church, heard the Word expounded, ate at the Lord’s Table, but still eventually blew Christ off, just because Amanda was baptized when tiny?

    I’ve been interrupted at least five times (Dmitry’s so excited…his girlfriend’s family’s invited him to go to OK with them this weekend to visit her grandparents), so this comment is doubtless sadly disjointed. Sorry about that.

  62. The Burly Gates said,

    May 21, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    In re: the “engagement” discussion:

    When does a branch become a branch– only *after* it’s produced fruit?

  63. Tim Wilder said,

    May 21, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    Re: # 57

    Mark Horne says”
    “This is all nonsense. Lusk admits a qualitatively different grace. ”

    All the criticism of the FV is wrong because the critics failed to use their secret decoder rings to interpret what the FV was saying.

    But we missed the secret decoder ring offer! You need to pubish this information, as for example:

    Visionese English translation

    Elect Maybe going to hell
    Regenerate Gets invited to church parties
    Justified On the church rolls

    etc.

  64. Matt said,

    May 21, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    Tim,
    That’s just stupid.

  65. Andrew Voelkel said,

    May 21, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    Two questions for you fellow Teaching Elder.
    1) Do you find ANY valid points in Jeff Meyers document?

    2) Theoretically speaking — What will happen to you and other anti-FV ministers, IF the FV men are found to be orthodox?

  66. May 21, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    Christ said: “On that note, an engagement doesn’t mean anything without a marriage. So, No. I don’t see any benefit in being engaged.”

    The benefit of being engaged is that it is normally the necessary precondition of being married. One leads to the other.

    But I’ll answer your question by providing the same answer Scripture provided concerning members of the covenant in the Mosaic dispensation:

    Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.

    Our children similarly are “called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit” (WCF 10.4) as members of the covenant. Baptism and covenant membership in the visible church don’t put anyone in a saving relationship with Christ, although that saving relationship often comes through the ministrations of the visible church.
    Stewart said:
    “Lane’s analogy couldn’t have been helpful because it is unbiblical”

    “I also wish he would explain what the term “engaged Christian.” This is not found in the WCF, and appears to be a novelty on his part. This is alarming. I hope he notifies his presbytery and submits himself for examination soon.”

    Take a puff from your inhaler and calm down for a minute, Stewart. Lane qualified himself here (apart from being obvious in the original context):

    “And I am using modern engagement as an illustration, Stewart. You are making a genre mistake when you assume that an illustration has to be from the Bible.”

    If God sets us apart through baptism and says “if you have faith in Christ I will save you from your sins and be God unto you as Savior, and not simply as Judge, counted as part of Christ’s Bride” we have, as with an engagement ring, a promise of “marriage” - but the relationship is not yet consumated and hinges on a condition (faith), just as a modern marriage hinges on the condition of the wedding and wedding vows.

  67. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 21, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    “just as a modern marriage hinges on the condition of the wedding and wedding vows.”

    Isn’t our vow made in baptism itself?

  68. May 21, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    You are stretching the analogy too far, Todd. The vows of baptism do not take the place of faith, which is the condition of being united savingly to Christ.

  69. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 21, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    But the LC connects the idea of the “solemn vow” with baptism, not with faith.

  70. Sean Gerety said,

    May 21, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    A. Dollahite said,
    Re. #16. Maybe I’m missing you’re point, but it seems like you are trying to argue WIlson believes baptism and faith are co-events in contrast to what Lane had said about baptism in #6 and Chris’ follow-up question in #11.

    Of course, Wilson does NOT believe baptism and faith are always co-events. He even says in the quote you give from RINE, “Regardless of the state of their heart, regardless of any hypocrisy, regardless of whether or not they mean it…”. Baptism’s efficacy is not tied to the faith of the recipient for Wilson (he’s not a baptist). The effect of baptism in Wilson’s language is to join one to the visible Church. And in his view, any member of the visible Church is a Christian.
    __________________________________

    The co-event I had in mind, and I guess it goes to Lane’s analogy, is that baptism makes a person a Christian and that is nonsense. Baptized hypocrites do not magically become Christians, they just get wet heads. Wilson makes a big deal that they are covenant breakers, but that too is nonsense. Unbelievers are already covenant breakers due to the imputation of Adam’s sin and that has to do with that dreaded and much maligned CoW. Failing to be “faithful to their baptisms” doesn’t change their status in the least. Conversely, being “faithful to their baptisms” doesn’t make one a Christian either. That’s the grand lie of the FV and Rome. Faith alone, not faithfulness makes one a Christian with or without the sign and seal of baptism.

    Also, no one is “faithful to their baptisms” because baptism is a picture of what Christ has already accomplished for those He died and not for anyone else. The problem for Wilson is that Christ did not die for all baptized persons and He doesn’t desire the salvation of all baptized persons in some modified version of the so-called “Well Meant Offer.” What Wilson and his fellow travelers hate is that election and all the benefits of Christ’s death, including the reality of what is pictured in baptism, are things he can’t “see.” It is no surprise their sensual religion merely apes and mimics the masters of sensuality in Rome who appeal to all of the senses and not just the occasional damp head and a little meal on Sunday.

  71. May 21, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    Yes, I know that. I think you have lost track of the analogy:

    engagement — baptism

    marriage (conditioned on wedding) — justification, union & adoption in Christ (conditioned on faith)

    That is all Lane’s analogy is trying to illustrate here.

  72. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 21, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    But it’s an illustration that doesn’t do justice to the way our standards talk about baptism. Our solemn vow is already made in baptism.

  73. May 21, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    Todd, an analogy doesn’t have to “do justice” to everything that is true of the reality. It is an analogy. The relevant parallel here is in seeing the promissory and unconsumated nature of engagement/baptism, and seeing the reality and substance of what is promised in the marriage/faith union. The baptism, like the engagement ring, is the sign pointing to the thing signified, even though the thing signified is yet to come.

    The conditions for the marriage are, of course, different from the conditions of our justification and adoption in Christ. The former is conditioned on a ceremony (including vows) and the latter conditioned on faith. But the point of the analogy is not to address this discontinuity.

  74. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 21, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    But are you also comfortable with an different analogy, one in which baptism is the marriage vow?

  75. William Hill said,

    May 21, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    “The co-event I had in mind, and I guess it goes to Lane’s analogy, is that baptism makes a person a Christian and that is nonsense. Baptized hypocrites do not magically become Christians…”

    Sure, then your problem is with the Directory of Public Worship:

    “That children, by baptism, are solemnly received into the bosom of the visible church, distinguished from the world, and them that are without, and united with believers; and that all who are baptized in the name of Christ, do renounce, and by their baptism are bound to fight against the devil, the world, and the flesh: That they are Christians, and federally holy before baptism, and therefore are they baptized”

    Please note that they (the baptized child) is baptized because they are Christians. Now if you want to redefine the word to mean “born again” that would be the term you need to use. So, it is not nonsense according to the Directory.

  76. May 21, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    I don’t have a problem applying the common FV analogy of marriage to all baptized covenant members, per se, although I would hotly deny that the nature of that “marriage” is a relation of “union and communion” with Christ whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband. And if you have a problem with this then you have a problem with WLC, Todd.

  77. A. Dollahite said,

    May 21, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    Sean,

    Ditto to William’s post in #75. What you seem to be missing is that “Christian” in Wilson’s use is not the same as “Christian” in your use. You may not like that, but it’s clear to everyone else that he’s not intending to mean “Christian” as an equivalent term to “decretally elect.” He’s talking about people who become Christian in the sense of joining the visible Church.

    Now your statements in #70 prompt other questions:

    1) Are there genuine New Covenant breakers?
    2) If yes, how did they become a part of the New Covenant?
    3) If no, then who is Jesus talking about in John 15?

    Respectfully,

    Andy Dollahite

  78. A. Dollahite said,

    May 21, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    David,

    Re. #76 – In what ways does the marriage analogy work then? Marriage implies a “union” does it not?

  79. Todd R. Harris said,

    May 22, 2007 at 7:10 am

    “I would hotly deny that the nature of that “marriage” is a relation of “union and communion” with Christ whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband.”

    Well done, David. Baptism is a solemn vow that may be broken.

  80. May 22, 2007 at 7:34 am

    Um –> This sounds a lot like what we are dealing with here:

    “Teach and urge these things. 3[b]If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.[/b] 6Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 11But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which he will display at the proper time–he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” – 1 Timothy 6

    Sorry if the Bold part doesn’t work out.

  81. Stewart said,

    May 22, 2007 at 8:27 am

    “The baptism, like the engagement ring, is the sign pointing to the thing signified, even though the thing signified is yet to come.”

    David, so are baptized children enemies of God or Children of God? Are they full covenant members, non-members, or somewhere in between?

  82. Sean Gerety said,

    May 22, 2007 at 8:56 am

    # 71 David said,
    Yes, I know that. I think you have lost track of the analogy:

    engagement — baptism

    marriage (conditioned on wedding) — justification, union & adoption in Christ (conditioned on faith)
    _________________________________________

    I think in fairness, it is not a very good analogy. Hypocrites are not “engaged” to Christ in any sense in baptism. Nor is baptism a precursor, a preliminarily stage leading toward union, which some here and all FV men maintain. Naturally I agree with you David, justification, union, adoption are all conditioned on faith alone not on our faithfulness to the imagined “demands” of Wilson’s false covenant.
    _________________________________________

    # 77 A. Dollahite said,

    1) Are there genuine New Covenant breakers?
    2) If yes, how did they become a part of the New Covenant?
    3) If no, then who is Jesus talking about in John 15?

    _________________________________________

    The NT administration of the CoG, like that in the OT, is with the elect alone – not with all baptized persons in the new dispensation or all circumcised in the old. The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.

    Wilson cannot distinguish a sign of the covenant from the covenant the sign represents. As a consequence, in Wilson’s theology everyone from Judas Iscariot to the pope to the Apostle John is a “visible saint, a Christian.” But baptism no more makes a person a Christian than dressing an ape makes it a man.

    Wilson claims baptism is always efficacious: “This consecration really happens [in baptism]. God really does it. His people are genuinely set apart; a visible difference is placed between them and the world. By means of baptism, baptism by water, *grace and salvation is conferred on the elect” *(107, emphasis mine).

    Now, this sentence sounds almost Biblical, but we must remember that Wilson has already redefined “elect.” Wilson writes that everyone baptized is a “saint,” a “Christian,” and “elect.” It is important to keep in mind that in Wilson’s medieval theology, all terms are redefined: The elect are not those whom God has chosen for salvation, and who will be “finally” saved, but those who have been baptized. As John Barach proclaimed at the Auburn Conference in his lecture, “Covenant and Election:” “Who are the elect? This is as visible and obvious as your church membership roll….” The elect in this scheme come in two flavors: the “covenantally elect” and the “specially (or decretally) elect.” Once again, the Covenant of Grace is emptied of its Biblical meaning by these men who claim to uphold the covenant. In the Moscow theology what makes a person a Christian is not the divine propositions believed, but holy water, which “confers grace and salvation.”

    As for who then is Jesus talking about in John 15? Those who feign belief and who do not abide in the doctrines of Christ, like those who preach and teach the false gospel Wilson believes and espouses.

  83. Andy Gilman said,

    May 22, 2007 at 9:00 am

    Todd said:

    “But it’s an illustration that doesn’t do justice to the way our standards talk about baptism. Our solemn vow is already made in baptism,” and “But are you also comfortable with an different analogy, one in which baptism is the marriage vow?”

    And in #51 Stewart said:

    [BOQ]
    I also wish he would explain what the term “engaged Christian.” This is not found in the WCF, and appears to be a novelty on his part. This is alarming. I hope he notifies his presbytery and submits himself for examination soon.
    [EOQ]

    Todd, why does “solemn vow” automatically suggest marriage to you? What do you make of the answer to Q139 when it refers to the “entangling vows of single life?” Is the “entangling vow of single life” a marriage vow?

    Stewart, have you read the Larger Catechism? Just two questions prior to the one Todd is getting so much mileage out of says:

    Q. 165. What is Baptism?
    A. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, wherein Christ hath ordained the washing with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, to be a sign and seal of ingrafting into himself, of remission of sins by his blood, and regeneration by his Spirit; of adoption, and resurrection unto everlasting life; and whereby the parties baptized are solemnly admitted into the visible church, and enter into an open and professed ENGAGEMENT to be wholly and only the Lord’s.

  84. Tim Wilder said,

    May 22, 2007 at 9:03 am

    Re: 82
    “Wilson’s medieval theology”

    What is medieval about it? Isn’t it more an attack on notions of covenant, merit, etc. that Reformed theology inherited from the Middle Ages?

  85. May 22, 2007 at 9:10 am

    Shouldn’t it be more: “Wilson’s Medieval Hermeneutic”?

  86. Andy Gilman said,

    May 22, 2007 at 9:10 am

    Oh, and I forgot to mention WCF 27.1:

    “Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ and his benefits; and to confirm our interest in him: as also, to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the church and the rest of the world; and SOLEMNLY to ENGAGE them to the service of God in Christ, according to his Word.”

  87. David said,

    May 22, 2007 at 9:15 am

    Andy, quick question for you:

    What might be a synonym for “engage/engagement” in the quoted bits above? The first thing that comes to my mind would be “commit/commitment.” Are you ok with that?
    Thanks.

  88. Tim Wilder said,

    May 22, 2007 at 9:19 am

    Yesterday Mark Horne puts some links from this blog to some web pages of his own calling his critics “satanic”. Today the web pages are mysteriously gone.

    Is this retraction going to come with repentance and apology as well?

  89. David said,

    May 22, 2007 at 9:22 am

    Re: #3
    Lane, I’d meant to ask you about your comment about 1 Peter 3. I didn’t track with you when you said, “it is demons in view here, not salvation from sin.” Could you explain your thinking a bit more, or perhaps provide a reference? (I remember you’d mentioned Achtemeier before…I’ll have to go to the library and check that out.)
    Thanks!

  90. Andy Gilman said,

    May 22, 2007 at 9:32 am

    David, I suppose if I was looking for a synonym I would choose oblige/obligate or maybe commission, but I don’t think I would object to commit/commitment (depending on what you are driving at!).

  91. Andy Gilman said,

    May 22, 2007 at 9:48 am

    In #75 William Hill quotes the Directory for Public Worship:

    “That children, by baptism, are solemnly received into the bosom of the visible church, distinguished from the world, and them that are without, and united with believers; and that all who are baptized in the name of Christ, do renounce, and by their baptism are bound to fight against the devil, the world, and the flesh: That they are Christians, and federally holy before baptism, and therefore are they baptized”

    William, are you saying the FV advocates agree with this definition? For example, in the quote from Wilson’s RINE which Sean Gerety posted Wilson says:

    “So again, when someone is baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they [sic] are ushered into an objective, visible, covenant membership. Regardless of the state of their heart, regardless of any hypocrisy, regardless of whether or not they mean it, such a person is now a visible saint, a Christian” (194, Reformed is Not Enough).

    The FV agenda has been to make baptism the point at which one becomes a “Christian.” Has that changed?

  92. Andy Gilman said,

    May 22, 2007 at 10:34 am

    Since we are on the subject of the Directory of Public Worship, I wonder if the FV advocates would endorse this suggested prayer from the Directory, for after a baptism is administered:

    “This done, he is to give thanks and pray, to this or the like purpose:

    “Acknowledging with all thankfulness, that the Lord is true and faithful in keeping covenant and mercy: That he is good and gracious, not only in that he numbereth us among his saints, but is pleased also to bestow upon our children this singular token and badge of his love in Christ: That, in his truth and special providence, he daily bringeth some into the bosom of his church, to be partakers of his inestimable benefits, purchased by the blood of his dear Son, for the continuance and increase of his church.

    And praying, That the Lord would still continue, and daily confirm more and more this his unspeakable favour: That he would receive the infant now baptized, and solemnly entered into the household of faith, into his fatherly tuition and defence, and remember him with the favour that he sheweth to his people; that, if he shall be taken out of this life in his infancy, the Lord, who is rich in mercy, would be pleased to receive him up into glory; and if he live, and attain the years of discretion, that the Lord would so teach him by his word and Spirit, and make his baptism effectual to him, and so uphold him by his divine power and grace, that by faith he may prevail against the devil, the world, and the flesh, till in the end he obtain a full and final victory, and so be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

    Why should we pray to “make his baptism effectual to him?” In the FV scheme, the baptism is always effectual isn’t it?

  93. Todd said,

    May 22, 2007 at 10:46 am

    Effectual for what?

  94. Todd said,

    May 22, 2007 at 10:50 am

    “Yesterday Mark Horne puts some links from this blog to some web pages of his own calling his critics “satanic”. Today the web pages are mysteriously gone.”

    No mystery; they’re still there:

    http://www.hornes.org/mark/?page_id=1401

  95. May 22, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Dear Green Baggins and Company,

    My first time ever in a weblog conversation. I’ve been eavesdropping for a few weeks now. My name is Robert Brenton — M Div RTS Jackson, M Th from Calvin; pastoral internship under Norman Shepherd [oh, he preached for my ordination!]; served two CRC congregations; also served as pastor of the Reformed Church of Wellington, New Zealand; presently with Christ Church Twin Cities as interim pastor.

    I’ve been an FV guy for 25 years — before anyone decided to label us as a group to look out for 5 years ago. I understood the gospel in a Shepherdian way before I ever heard about Norman Shepherd or heard him preach. My heart rejoiced in the glad tidings of our great salvation every Lord’s Day as this gracious pastor faithfully proclaimed it [he was my pastor for 3 years].

    The president of Mid-America Reformed Seminary has also been my dinner guest when I was a pastor in Iowa. My 10th grade daughter, with our blessing, attends the youth group of the RuCkUS church near our home (Redeemer Reformed), whose ministers have judged my former pastor and mentor to be a heretic. I have ministerial colleagues in the URC, whom I count as good Christian brothers, who are not at all FV friendly. What a sad world Reformedom! Breaks my heart.

    Anyway, for my two-cents worth. The Apostles of Jesus Christ wrote epistles to the church (or churches), addressing the entire congregation (insofar as I can discern) as God’s Elect (I Peter 1:1), as those who have been called, loved of God, and kept by Jesus Christ (Jude1), as the holy and faithful brothers in Christ (Colossians 1:2), to all the Saints (Philippians 1:1) … and so forth. The Apostles do not appear to designate part of the congregation as elect, called, etc. , but to comprehend all in these terms. There is no mention of non-elect covenant members. All who are in the church are addressed as God’s elect. And they are exhorted to live as though they are. They are called to believe the gospel, to hope in the Lord, to love as they have been loved by Christ, and to forgive as they have been forgiven. It is presupposed that these in the church have entered it through baptism; and this baptism is spoken of by the Apostles as this baptism which now saves you — in that it incorporates into Christ’s death and resurrection. The baptized are admonished to reckon themselves dead to sin and alive unto God on account of having been baptized. Such reckoning is an act of faith — the faith which saves you. Baptism is the Bridegroom’s embrace (John 3:22-36), not so kind of engagement ring.

    So much more to say…

    Keep the conversation going.

    With Kind Regards,

    Bob

  96. May 22, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    Todd said “Well done, David. Baptism is a solemn vow that may be broken.”

    I’d agree with that, Todd.

    Stewart asked:

    “David, so are baptized children enemies of God or Children of God? Are they full covenant members, non-members, or somewhere in between?”

    Yes, they are covenant members. But, again, we distinguish between being in the covenant in a legal or external sense and being in the covenant in a vital or internal sense. The non-elect (infants or otherwsise) are in the covenant only in the former sense.

  97. A. Dollahite said,

    May 22, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Sean,

    RE. #82. Why are you willing to recognize Wilson makes important distinctions between what he means by the word “Christian,” and then turn around and blast him for not using your definitions? He is NOT saying that baptism changes a person’s heart from stone to flesh in and of itself. The context of the passage in RINE you quoted establishes this clearly, but to further provide evidence he just recently said it again on his blog: “I hold that the covenantal efficacy of baptism is tied to that moment. But the regenerative efficacy of baptism is not tied to the moment of baptism, as the Westminster Confession plainly teaches (28.6). Baptism, together with the Lord’s Supper, are effectual means of salvation to worthy receivers only (WSC #91)…I hold that God’s covenantal authority is conveyed through the sacraments ex opere operato, saving some and condemning others. But God’s grace is never conveyed by any instrument ex opere operato.”

    Regarding your take on John 15, how can you hold at one moment that Jesus is talking about “those who feign belief and who do not abide in the doctrines of Christ,” and yet refuse to hold that these same people are in some way united to Christ? How can one fail to abide unless you are already in union? You can’t stop abiding from something you never were abiding in to begin with. It’s the nature of this union that is under discussion, but the reality of some kind of union cannot be denied without making Jesus’ statements meaningless.

    Sincerely,

    Andy Dollahite

  98. Stewart said,

    May 22, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    “Yes, they are covenant members. But, again, we distinguish between being in the covenant in a legal or external sense and being in the covenant in a vital or internal sense. The non-elect (infants or otherwsise) are in the covenant only in the former sense.”

    David, it is obvious that you and others make this distinction. The problem is that scripture does not. What about the branches that were cut off in John 15? Were they only externally connected, like moss growing on a tree?

  99. Stewart said,

    May 22, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    David, do “externally connected” people go to heaven?

  100. Andy Gilman said,

    May 22, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    Re: Andy Dollohite in #97,

    Calvin clearly differs with your interpretation of John 15.2, and didn’t seem to think this made the metaphor meaningless:

    [BOQ]
    2. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit. As some men corrupt the grace of God, others suppress it maliciously, and others choke it by carelessness, Christ intends by these words to awaken anxious inquiry, by declaring that all the branches which shall be unfruitful will be cut off from the vine. But here comes a question. Can any one who is engrafted into Christ be without fruit? I ANSWER, MANY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE IN THE VINE, ACCORDING TO THE OPINION OF MEN, WHO ACTUALLY HAVE NO ROOT IN THE VINE. Thus, in the writings of the prophets, the Lord calls the people of Israel his vine, because, BY OUTWARD PROFESSION, they had the name of The Church.
    [EOQ, my emphasis

  101. Andy Gilman said,

    May 22, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    In #95 Robert said:

    [BOQ]
    Anyway, for my two-cents worth. The Apostles of Jesus Christ wrote epistles to the church (or churches), addressing the entire congregation (insofar as I can discern) as God’s Elect (I Peter 1:1), as those who have been called, loved of God, and kept by Jesus Christ (Jude1), as the holy and faithful brothers in Christ (Colossians 1:2), to all the Saints (Philippians 1:1) … and so forth. The Apostles do not appear to designate part of the congregation as elect, called, etc. , but to comprehend all in these terms. There is no mention of non-elect covenant members. All who are in the church are addressed as God’s elect.
    [EOQ]

    Robert, do you suppose these verses were simply ignored by our reformed forebears when the confessions were drafted? Do you find it odd that the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity, whenever they use the word “elect,” always use it to mean “eternally elect?”

  102. Andrew Voelkel said,

    May 22, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    RE 101: Yes it is a bit odd that Systematic Theology has developed using particular terms differently than the bible uses them. But that should not be a problem so long as we remember that Systematic Theologies were never meant to serve as Bible Dictionaries.
    Just for fun — compare the biblical use of the word “sanctified” with the Westminster doctrine of Sanctification. Is the bible in conflict with the Standards? I don’t think so; and yet the bible and the standards sometimes use words differently.

  103. May 22, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Responding to Andy Gilman’s querry: Do you find it odd that the WS and Three Forms of Unity use the word “elect” to always mean “eternally elect?”

    No, I don’t find it odd because I believe the Apostles meant just that: eternally elect. And that’s what I mean as well. My point is that the baptized faithful in Christ Jesus are always addressed in the Epistles as those whose standing and status is certain: chosen for eternal life, chosen to be holy, called to be Saints. Now make your calling and election sure. Add to your faith . . . . No baptized church member should doubt or disbelieve what the Apostles say about them. They are who the Lord says that they are. They will know that they are who the Lord says that they are when they obey the gospel, believing in the One God has sent and keeping the command of Christ – having love for one another and bearing much fruit (as per John 15).

    Cheers,

    Bob

  104. Tim Wilder said,

    May 22, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    “My point is that the baptized faithful in Christ Jesus”

    I.e., not the “baptized” but the “baptized faithful” … “bearing much fruit”.

    How much fruit is enough to know that you are “faithful” and entitled to believe that your “standing and status is certain: chosen for eternal life, chosen to be holy, called to be Saints”?

  105. May 22, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Robert,

    It looks like Lane/GreenBaggins is out this morning, so I’ll extend greetings on his behalf. Welcome to the blog.

    Well, you’ve dropped quite the hand grenade into here, given that so much of the Federal Vision doctrine is inherited from Shepherd, as you correctly point out. I used to be CRC myself, and Prof. Venema used to pastor the church I am currently attending. And, indeed, there is an overture at our upcoming Synod for the URC to adopt the RCUS’s condemnation/report of Shepherd’s teachings.

    You said:

    “The Apostles of Jesus Christ wrote epistles to the church (or churches), addressing the entire congregation (insofar as I can discern) as God’s Elect (I Peter 1:1), as those who have been called, loved of God, and kept by Jesus Christ (Jude1), as the holy and faithful brothers in Christ (Colossians 1:2), to all the Saints (Philippians 1:1)”

    Paul addresses the entire congregation as such, but are we really to believe that there are no implicit assumptions in his speech concerning his audience? In common speech, we often address groups of people as a whole even though certain things may not be true of every individual without exception. Note, for instance, that Paul often assumes that his audience will 1. persevere to glory and 2. are sealed with the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our inheritance and 3. cannot be condemned or separated from the love of God – and are therefore elect (decretally):

    And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

    In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

    If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

    Paul doesn’t have to explicitly qualify himself everytime he uses the first or second person plural language. Neither Shepherd nor Wilkins have given us compelling reason to abandon the traditional “judgment of charity” hermeneutic or exegesis of these passages, although they’ve made all of their doctrinal innovations hang on doing just that.

    There is also the semantic problem in that this scheme makes the term “elect” shift in meaning in Paul’s writings. In places like Romans 8:33 and 11:17, it can only refer to decretal election. The same goes for many instances of the term “called” or “chosen” (note especially the unbreakable Golden Chain in 8:29-30).

    “this baptism is spoken of by the Apostles as this baptism which now saves you — in that it incorporates into Christ’s death and resurrection. The baptized are admonished to reckon themselves dead to sin and alive unto God on account of having been baptized”

    This is not objectionable in and of itself, although we would balk against understanding this in such a way that makes water baptism a cause (instrumental or otherwise) of the forgiveness of sins. The FV often make baptism to be a co-instrument of justification. Just as Abraham was justified before his circumcision, so we are justified by our faith and not by baptism.

    “What a sad world Reformedom! Breaks my heart.”

    Indeed! It is sad. But, with all due respect, the blame for it must go to Shepherd, who should have just let his idiosyncratic hobby horse go 30 years ago when he was originally admonished by the Westminster faculty. Is the Reformed world a better place because he chose to hold on to it?

  106. Keith LaMothe said,

    May 22, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    Bob,

    Thank you for joining the conversation.

    I must confess some confusion, however, as you seem to be saying that there is only one sense of the word “elect”, whereas I thought the general FV position was that the term elect is used in two senses (first, the going-to-heaven sense, second, the corporately-elected-to-covenant-membership sense).

    Along those lines, in what sense do you believe in the Perseverence of the Saints?

    Thanks,
    Keith

  107. Andy Gilman said,

    May 22, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    Robert, would you say your view on the “elect” is more representative of the FV than Andrew Voelkel’s? Andrew says that the Confessions are using the word “elect” differently than the Bible. And all (I think) of the FV advocates I’ve interacted with, when pressed on the issue, will insist on a distinction between the “covenantly elect” and the “eternally elect.” So when Steve Wilkins comes under fire, his defenders say, yeah, but he doesn’t mean “elect” in the same way the Standards mean it. He means “elect” in another sense. Or is this just another development in the ongoing FV “conversation?”

  108. May 22, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Robert said “My point is that the baptized faithful in Christ Jesus are always addressed in the Epistles as those whose standing and status is certain: chosen for eternal life, chosen to be holy, called to be Saints”

    How is the “standing and status” certain if some in the visible church are unbelievers or hypocrites? This scheme does not account for apostacy.

  109. Andrew McCallum said,

    May 22, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    It seems to me that nobody has addressed Lane’s contention in his original post: “This gets at the fundamental problem of the FV: ordo salutis benefits are being ascribed to the NECM.” I tried to draw this thought out yesterday and I got no real reponse except for maybe one by Mark Horne (Post 57) where I think he missed the point. Lusk (and other FV people) understand that the ECM and NECM receive qualitatively different grace. We know that, Mark. As Lane points out this is not under contention. But as Lane later says (still in original post, in defense of the non-FV position), “The difference is that the ECM participates in the ordo salutis, while the NECM does not.” I don’t quite understand why there was so much interest in Lane’s engagement analogy and so little interest in what Lane terms as, “the fundamental problem.” I tried to draw out Lane’s thought into an analysis of whether the pro-FV were extending the meaning of the terms that comprise the ordo salutis (like justification) beyond the boundries of their usage in the WCF, but I suppose the first question is whether the pro-FV folks would agree with Lane’s contention that a fundmental difference between the two sides is whether or not the NECM participate in ordo salutis at all.

    Thanks…

  110. May 22, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Stewart said:

    “David, do “externally connected” people go to heaven?”

    Not without the internal/vital connection.

    “David, it is obvious that you and others make this distinction. The problem is that scripture does not. What about the branches that were cut off in John 15? Were they only externally connected, like moss growing on a tree?”

    The distinction between internal/vital and external/legal isn’t fundamentally saying anything more than visible vs. invisible or “not all Israel is Israel.”

    The weakness of your position is demonstrated in the fact that you have to lean so heavily on a parable. But the parable can only prove so much – namely, that NECMs and ECMs share a common relation to Christ. You have to go elsewhere (analogy of faith) to flesh out exactly what that relation is. We would say that the relation common to NECMs and ECMs is that they are externally and legally covenanted with Christ in the community and under the ministrations of the visible church. It is not accurate to label this relationship as one of “union” (at least, not in the normal sense, or without heavy qualification). The parable is not concerned with fleshing out the areas of discontinuity in the two groups (which would touch on the vital/internal connection peculiar to the elect).

  111. Tim Wilder said,

    May 22, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    Re: 109

    For the FV all the terms of the ordo salutis take on a new, secret decoder ring sense. Consider Lusk on the term “regeneration”:

    “First, consider “baptismal regeneration” in an objective sense. If I were going to speak of “baptismal regeneration,” I would define “regeneration” as the new life situation entered into in baptism. This new life, in this carefully specified sense, is not so much a matter of ontology or subjectivity (Hodge’s focus), as it a matter of new relationships, privileges, and responsibilities. It means one has a new family and a new story, a new citizenship and a new status. It means something objective has been changed, though subjectively one must still respond in faith, of course. Life in the regeneration, in this sense, is not strictly limited to the elect.”

    So there is a “new life situation”. The person is on the church roles, he has new relationships, gets invited to the church socials, etc. That is the FV “covenantal” regeneration. “Covenantal” is used, not in the Biblical sense, but in a churchy, institutional membership sense.

    Now, there is nothing in the Westminister Standards that says that people on the church roles don’t go to church socials. So how can “regeneration” in the FV sense contradict the WS?

    For the FV, these terms don’t have a fixed meaning, but rather they have a semantic range. At any given time an FV will use the term with a particular location on the semantic range designed to evade the difficulty of the moment.

  112. pduggan said,

    May 22, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    “How much fruit is enough to know that you are “faithful” and entitled to believe that your “standing and status is certain: chosen for eternal life, chosen to be holy, called to be Saints”?”

    According to John 15, any fruit at all.

    Only those with NO fruit are cut off.

    Did you not KNOW the answer tim, or are you just devilishly advocating?

  113. Tim Wilder said,

    May 22, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Re: 112

    Brenton said “much fruit”. I asked, how much?

  114. anneivy said,

    May 22, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    This simply slays me:

    “I would define “regeneration” as the new life situation entered into in baptism. This new life, in this carefully specified sense, is not so much a matter of ontology or subjectivity (Hodge’s focus), as it a matter of new relationships, privileges, and responsibilities. It means one has a new family and a new story, a new citizenship and a new status. It means something objective has been changed, though subjectively one must still respond in faith, of course.”

    The “responding in faith” part is tossed in in such an off-hand, oh-by-the-way-guess-we-should-not-forget-THIS-bit-too manner.

    Seeing as how the part thrown casually on at the end is the difference between heaven and hell, yes, I suppose one must.

    Respond in faith, that is.

    How on earth does the part that makes the difference between eternal glory and eternal damnation wind up being virtually treated as an addendum? Without faith the rest of the laundry list of supposed “benefits”, i.e. “a new family and a new story, a new citizenship and a new status”, aren’t worth the pixels it takes to write about ‘em.

  115. May 22, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    Re: 111

    I would again suggest that FV advocates have turned to a medieval and/or even a pre-medieval hermeneutic.

    HERMENEUTICS is where everything is different and begins the problems.

    Consider the medieval/pre-medieval hermeneutic –>

    1. Pre-Patristic

    - Philo (20 BC-50 AD) – Affinity with Platonic philosophy (“Jewish Plato”), Great influence upon Alexandrian School, Allegorical Method

    2. Patristic (100-600 AD)

    - Alexandrian (Allegory) – Predominant
    1) Clement (150-213 AD) – A literal understanding of Scripture is elementary/shallow faith, Allegory reveals in depth truth (“Really real” – Plato)
    2) Origen (185-254 AD) – Did more exegesis than anyone up until the Reformation, Full of allegory, ‘Sought to discover in every expression the hidden splendor of the doctrines veiled…’, Trichotomy of interpretation [Trinity  3 parts to every person (body/soul/spirit)  3 senses to every text of Scripture; 3 Senses (Rebekah at well meeting servant of Abraham); 1) Literal, 2) Allegorical , 3) Moral]

    - Antiochan (Grammatical-Historical)
    1) Theodore (350-428 AD) – “The Exegete” – Intellectual exegesis (Academic, Dogmatic), Rejected writings of Origen, Pays attention to linguistic details, Problem: Non-devotional
    2) John Chrysostom (344-407 AD) – “The Preacher” – More Conservative, Practical, Devotional than Theodore, Exceptional Preacher

    - Western (Mediating Position: Between Allegory and Gramm./Hist.)
    1) Jerome (345-419 AD) – Wonderful grasp of Original Languages, Original Translation of Vulgate, BUT: Lack of exegetical decision and precision [At times he resorts to allegory and attacks allegory]
    2) Augustine (354-430 AD) – Deficient in Hebrew/Greek, LXX = inspired, which was translated into Old Latin (Which he knew), On Christian Doctrine – Exegetical Principles are declared [Held literal and historical ways of thinking, but allegory is proper; Sees great symbolism in Bible numbers; Taught Church, Old Testament is Christian document]

    3. Middle Ages (600-1500 AD) – Centered in Monasteries (Strident Allegory), which held to the 4 fold sense of Scripture: Literal, Allegorical, Moral, Mystical
    - Victorines (Hugh of Saint Victor – 1096-1141 AD) – Allegorical
    - Thomas Aquinas – Allegorical

  116. A. Dollahite said,

    May 22, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    Anne,

    I don’t think it was intended as a carefree addendum. He’s attempting to emphasize what “regeneration” is from the perspective of an objective covenant relationship. That is the primary focus of the paragraph. He adds a qualifying statement at the end to reassure people that he hasn’t lost sight of the role of faith with respect to what “regeneration” is normally thought of, not because he thinks it’s unimportant.

    What do you think? Is that a possibility?

  117. A. Dollahite said,

    May 22, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    Re. #100. I’m not ignoring your point about Calvin, I just don’t have my copy of his commentary at hand, and probably won’t until late tonight. For what it’s worth, I think Calvin’s thoughts are to be heavily considered and pondered, but he’s not infallible (and neither am I obviously). I have a hard time reckoning his interpretation with the parable’s most basic elements because of what’s obvious: both the branches that bear fruit and the branches that are taken away ARE branches. I teach botany, and I’ve never seen a branch that wasn’t a branch. When Calvin says, “Can any one who is engrafted into Christ be without fruit? I ANSWER, MANY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE IN THE VINE, ACCORDING TO THE OPINION OF MEN, WHO ACTUALLY HAVE NO ROOT IN THE VINE.” It sounds to me like he’s saying these fruitless branches are not hypothetically possible, because to be in the vine necessitates fruit. In order for Calvin’s analysis to be consistent, the branches that are without fruit CANNOT really exist. But Jesus says, “Every branch OF MINE that does not bear fruit he takes away…” Jesus clearly says that these branches that are taken away belong to him in some way that involves real connection, not pseudoconnection, yet they don’t bear fruit.

  118. Tom Thistleton said,

    May 22, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    There seems to be several things being said in these comments and in the general FV discussion about Baptism. First, that Baptism is only external. Second, and derivatively, that Baptism joins some people only in some external sense to the covenant (of grace ??). Third, that Baptism has no real connection to salvation and any purported connection is deemed to be a corrupting of justification by grace alone through faith alone.

    I’ve pasted three questions from the larger catechism below. It’s clear the divines believed that Baptism (and the Lord’s Supper) can be effectual means of salvation (“only by the working of the Holy Ghost” which everyone on both sides agrees with). It’s also clear that sacraments are for “those that are within the covenant of grace” which would have to include covenant children (While everyone in this discussion agrees that some who are baptized were not foreordained to glory before the foundation of the world and thus, will not persevere in the faith, the idea of “just” an external connection seems foreign to the WLC at this point). Finally, it’s clear that there is an outward and an inward part to each sacrament. The confession talks about grace that is really exhibited and conferred by the right use of Baptism. This, of course, leads to the question: what does “right use” mean, especially in the context of covenant children. Do they just get one part or both? Is it possible to only get one part?

    I continue to be amazed at the level of precision that this discussion occurs at so that we can proclaim people to be outside the WS. Finer and finer distinctions need to be made to illustrate differences in order to mark off positions. Now, certainly there is a time and a place for this kind of precision, especially when heresy is in play. But, only the wildest of FV critics really believe heresy is an issue. Most acknowledge that this is an intramural debate amongst Reformed Christians about the boundaries of the WS. The tone and tenor of this whole debate continues to reflect very poorly on the body of Christ, and especially the Reformed arm of the body of Christ.

    Question 161: How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?

    Answer: The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not by any power in themselves, or any virtue derived from the piety or intention of him by whom they are administered, but only by the working of the Holy Ghost, and the blessing of Christ, by whom they are instituted.

    Question 162: What is a sacrament?

    Answer: A sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ in his church, to signify, seal, and exhibit unto those that are within the covenant of grace, the benefits of his mediation; to strengthen and increase their faith, and all other graces; to oblige them to obedience; to testify and cherish their love and communion one with another; and to distinguish them from those that are without.

    Question 163: What are the parts of a sacrament?

    Answer: The parts of a sacrament are two; the one an outward and sensible sign, used according to Christ’s own appointment; the other an inward and spiritual grace thereby signified.

  119. pduggie said,

    May 22, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    “The “responding in faith” part is tossed in in such an off-hand, oh-by-the-way-guess-we-should-not-forget-THIS-bit-too manner.”

    I really think that’s an unfair and uncharitable characterization. I don’t think you can *know* that.

  120. anneivy said,

    May 22, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Re: #116

    I realize my post didn’t sound like it, but I *did* assume that was what the author was doing.

    It doesn’t change the fact the Absolutely Life-And-Death Crucial Aspect was – as is common when the FV really gets going on baptism, etc. – completely overshadowed by the comparatively unimportant aspect.

    That one had a spiffy new “story” will be of precious little comfort in hell.

    That one had a nifty new “citizenship” won’t provide even the tiniest bit of relief in hell.

    That one had a cool new “status” will not offset the agony of hell in the slightest.

    Why did Paul dismiss his Jewish heritage, former high position in Israel, etc. as so much rubbish? Just so he could have a new citizenship….but still wind up in hell? So he could enjoy his newfound family….until he died and went to hell?

    ANYTHING that doesn’t result in eternal glory is RUBBISH. Dung. So much bat guano.

    I’m truly puzzled as to why the FV spends so much time waxing eloquent about temporal (in the sense of “temporary”) aspects of the redemption story.

    If someone can ask “Does [whatever] mean one is going to be with Christ for all eternity?” and receive the response, “Um, well, not necessarily”, then one still hasn’t reached the meat of the gospel.

  121. Stewart said,

    May 22, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    David, how about I lean heavily on Romans 11?

    “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and ***became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree,*** do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.”

    If this isn’t union, then what is? What sort of relationship did the natural branches posses? The weakness on your position is that it fails to take biblical language seriously and fails to take the warnings seriously. If your system can’t do justice to this kind of language, then there is something wrong with your system.

  122. May 22, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    “If this isn’t union, then what is? What sort of relationship did the natural branches posses?”

    Indeed! The fact that national Israel is in view in Romans 11 should be your big clue. Those in Israel were under the ministrations of the oracles of God and the “promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances.” The analogue is the NT visible church, who are under the ministrations of Word and Sacrament. There is the “rich root.”

    Union with Christ comes through those ministrations, insofar as they elicit and nurture faith. But those ministrations do not equal union themselves.

    Only two chapters back Paul spoke of the “Israel” within national Israel, and so it is no stretch to see visible/invisible and external-legal/internal-vital distinctions in play here.

  123. pduggie said,

    May 22, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    That one had a spiffy new “story” will be of precious little comfort in hell.

    That one had a nifty new “citizenship” won’t provide even the tiniest bit of relief in hell.

    That one had a cool new “status” will not offset the agony of hell in the slightest.

    It’s really simple.

    We have to affirm that we have to mix faith in God’s promises with the promises to inherit the promises. But we have to affirm that the promises are what are so great, not the faith we have to have in God to receieve the promises.

    Someone you may knno said this about our citizenship.

    “But citizenship in God’s kingdom works a little differently. It is true that no one has the ability to take away a Christian’s place in the kingdom. Someone might make you a martyr. However, that is not the same thing as losing your citizenship. Nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. Not even death. That is the privilege of citizenship in God’s kingdom. However, there is more. Being a citizen also means that you are fellow-citizens with everyone else who is also a citizen. As Paul says here, “you are fellow citizens.”

  124. pduggie said,

    May 22, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    “ANYTHING that doesn’t result in eternal glory is RUBBISH. Dung. So much bat guano.”

    So sacraments are rubbish? Wow.

  125. thomasgoodwin said,

    May 22, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    Paul,

    What do you make of Philippians 3:4ff

    Mark

  126. pduggie said,

    May 22, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    I think its WAY too quickly applied to baptism. Everyone does so, but would Paul really ever describe baptism as dung? When he says instead, that we are buried with Christ in baptism?

    Baptism expressed a bond of allegiance to the Messiah in his shameful death, and his resurrection. How is that rubbish?

  127. Andrew Duggan said,

    May 22, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    Re #126,

    I think the question that is being asked, in #120 is will the baptism of a non-elect person make hell less less worse than if he had not been baptized at all? I think that point of bringing up Philippians 3:4ff is that Paul is referring to means of grace of the old covenant (including his circumcision) , because unless you have Christ he counts it as dung (Phil 3:8). Get the point? No, its not because that was just the old covenant stuff, it’s because unless it ends with knowing Christ in a saving way, it is no benefit, at least in any really meaningful way.

  128. thomasgoodwin said,

    May 22, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    Correct, Andrew. A baptism apart from Christ is worse than dung, it’s actually a curse. Baptism is either a blessing or a curse. If circumcision, the OT counterpart to Baptism, can be described as skubalon, then so can baptism – so long, of course, we understand the context in which it is being described. In another context, it could be a foul error to call baptism rubbish.

    What do you think Paul?

  129. anneivy said,

    May 22, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    Sacraments….and as an ex-RC, I tend to squirm at that term….only have value for those in Christ.

    Dang, I forgot. To FV’ers you can be in Christ but go to hell, so that won’t work.

    Sacraments only have value for the elect.

    Drat. That won’t work either, will it?

    Sacraments only have value for those who have been justified and are currently being sanctified.

    Blister it. That’s a no-go, too.

    Sacraments only have value for those elect unto eternal salvation.

    Maybe that’ll work?

    Unless one is going to assign magic properties to the water and words of baptism, or the bread and wine/grape juice, grace is only given to those elect unto eternal salvation.

    Of course, this is pretty much the primary point of the debate, isn’t it? That the FV teaches hell-bound goats are elect (“in some sense”), in union with Christ (“in some sense”), having been justified (“in some sense”), are being sanctified (“in some sense”), and are therefore recipients of the grace offered by the LORD via baptism and communion (dollars to donuts that’s “in some sense” as well).

    Since hell-bound goats can only eat and drink condemnation to themselves, I’d call that “rubbish”, personally. Every single benefit listed in that earlier quotation heaps coals on the heads of the goats, increasing their eternal anguish, suffering and misery.

    What is a cup of compassion and grace to the sheep, is a cup of condemnation and poison to the goats. Goats aren’t *supposed* to take communion.

  130. Andy Gilman said,

    May 22, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    In #117 Andy Dollohite said:

    “For what it’s worth, I think Calvin’s thoughts are to be heavily considered and pondered, but he’s not infallible (and neither am I obviously).”

    Calvin is not infallible, but since I don’t have the education and training to engage in detailed biblical exegesis, when I encounter passages which seem difficult, I usually turn to those who I think do have those skills. When I look at the commentaries available online: Matthew Henry; John Gill; Albert Barnes; Jamieson, Fausset and Brown (I realize this is a very limited selection), they all say the same thing about this passage as does Calvin. The only online commentary I found which agreed with your reading of John 15:2 is the Adam Clarke commentary. Do you exegete and interpret this passage yourself, or do you rely on someone else’s interpretation? Whose?

    Isn’t the FV forcing this disputed parable/metaphor to carry a heavy load? Faced with the secondary standard’s clear teaching that it is the “eternally elect” and they only, who enjoy “union and communion” with Christ, are you going to say that you are a better exegete of the Scriptures than, for example, the Westminster assembly, or that you rely on more authoritative sources? Do you suppose the Westminster divines were unaware of John 15:2 when they drafted questions 65-69 of the Larger Catechism?

  131. pduggie said,

    May 22, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    hell bound goats aren’t elect in any sense, because if we’re talking sheep and goats we’re talking in a universe of discourse that involves absolute decretal categories.

    If your talking about sacraments in the visible church, then youre not in that same universe of discourse, and it confuses things to put them in the same universe. Because they’re not.

    “Dang, I forgot. To FV’ers you can be in Christ but go to hell, so that won’t work.”

    No you can’t. You have to fall out of christ to go to hell. And that means your faith stopped.

    The reformed standards, in their wisdom, discuss the role of faith in effectvie sacraments, not so much the roll of the decrees.

    Sacraments have illocutionary value to everyone. Grace is only received by the elect, but its offered to all in the covenant. The FV always makes that distinction. Crumb, we all accept (?) that there is a gracious offer of salvation to everyone in the world, don’t we?

  132. pduggie said,

    May 22, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    hell bound goats aren’t elect in any sense, because if we’re talking sheep and goats we’re talking in a universe of discourse that involves absolute decretal categories.

    If your talking about sacraments in the visible church, then youre not in that same universe of discourse, and it confuses things to put them in the same universe. Because they’re not.

    [Dang, I forgot. To FV’ers you can be in Christ but go to hell, so that won’t work.]

    No you can’t. You have to fall out of Christ to go to hell. And that means your faith stopped. The reformed standards, in their wisdom, discuss the role of faith in effective sacraments, not so much the roll of the decrees.

    Sacraments have illocutionary value to everyone. Grace is only received by the elect, but its offered to all in the covenant. The FV always makes that distinction. Crumb, we all accept (?) that there is a gracious offer of salvation to everyone in the world, don’t we?

  133. pduggie said,

    May 22, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    “Every single benefit listed in that earlier quotation heaps coals on the heads of the goats, increasing their eternal anguish, suffering and misery.”

    Why, though? Because God is filled with malice towards them? Or because they are spurning his love?

  134. Anne Ivy said,

    May 22, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    Naturally God is not filled with malice toward the nonelect, but He is certainly aware whom He has elected and whom He has not, and knows that by heaping temporal blessings on them – blessings for which they will not be properly grateful, and He hates ingratitude – their eventual condemnation will be worsened.

    So in the short-term, temporal sense these would-be/should-be benefits appear to be blessings, even for the nonelect, but in the end they will prove to be cause for lamentation, and fuel for the fire.

    I recall once hearing it explained as for the elect, heaven, i.e. eternal life, begins here on earth, and all the hard things and sufferings will eventually prove to be blessings, while for the nonelect all the positive things and temporal blessings will eventually prove to be curses.

    Since the Fall, the default destination of mankind is eternal condemnation; unless we’re elected by God to be saved from it, that’s what is going to happen to us.

    And good enough for us, too, ungrateful enemies of God that we are, at least prior to being regenerated and turning to Christ in faith.

    This just doesn’t seem especially complicated, to be frank. For those not elect, i.e. the goats, that which is temporally beneficial will prove to be a curse. For those who are elect, i.e. the sheep, that which is temporally beneficial are blessings indeed, and that which is temporally negative will be shown to have worked for their good, too, per Romans 8:28.

  135. A. Dollahite said,

    May 23, 2007 at 12:34 am

    Andy Gillman,

    Re: #130 – Thanks for the interaction. I’ve enjoyed going back to think about John 15 some more. I can’t say that I’m really settled on a position yet, so your thoughts are appreciated. Briefly, concerning my training… I don’t have any, so I won’t even pretend to discuss the original languages or grammatical nuances with any authority (although I do think those are very important). I majored in biology (currently teach a host of sciences and math at a good ol’ Mennonite Brethren school… although I’m about the antithesis of an MB theologically speaking) and have never attended any seminary, so I confess I’m but a simple laymen. Which is all to say that I wouldn’t even dare to think I’ve got something on the Westminster divines. (And yes, I have read through the most of the exchanges Lane has had with others about the WLC 65-69, and am still working through the merits of those arguments.)

    You pointed to a number of commentaries who echo Calvin. I’m not surprised they do, although I don’t think majority opinions are always correct. But you’re right to say that we should think carefully if we find ourselves defending a minority position. I don’t have the time to study each commentary in detail, but I did take time to look briefly over Matthew Henry. (He was listed first.)

    Matthew Henry doesn’t discuss in any detail how branches that are broken off can also be said to be “in [Christ]” as Jesus says they are in v.2. Henry says, “The branches of the vine are many, yet, meeting in the root, are all but one vine; thus all true Christians, though in place and opinion distant from each other, meet in Christ.” After saying all the branches are part of the one vine, which is Christ, he immediately skips to “thus all true Christians…” I have no problem saying true Christians are in the vine, but Jesus also clearly says “Every branch IN ME that does not bear fruit he takes away…” I know I’ve said this before, but both types of branches are in/united to Christ. What is the nature of this union? Some want to say that it is merely an external union, but Jesus says the same thing about both types of branches, so I don’t know how you can interpret the text that way without having to borrow categories from another place, which could be appropriate, but that would require more discussion. If I’m just looking at John 15 I can’t see any way of distinguishing the “in me” of removed branches, and the “in me” of fruitful branches.

    I have only one other observation about Henry’s comments. He says, “It is the great concern of all Christ’s disciples, constantly to keep up dependence upon Christ, and communion with him.” Yes, this is true. Disciples must keep up dependence. And this is why Jesus is warning his disciples to be obediently faithful (i.e. to abide). And yet, I have observed that if someone connected to the FV even mentions that disciples of Christ should be exhorted to faithful obedience they are somehow perceived to be saying that we are contributing to our salvation, or in some other way compromising the gospel. Yet I’ve seen repeated that the FV will gladly admit that such obedience is only rendered as the result of God’s graciousness such that even our obedience is a gift from God, and cannot be considered meritorious.

    Well, I’ve got finals to write and papers to grade. Blessings.

    Andy Dollahite

  136. pduggan said,

    May 23, 2007 at 8:13 am

    Can God give blessings that only have the appearance of blessings? Then God isn’t giving blessings. Did God offer to make a new nation out of Moses, or was he lying to moses?

    I commend to you the essay by P Richard Flinn here:

    http://freebooks.entrewave.com/freebooks/docs/html/cc_1/cc_1.html

    starting on the page linked as “page 126″. for the way we need to conceive of baptism and covenantal blessings as being beneficial in an illocutionary manner.

    which

  137. anneivy said,

    May 23, 2007 at 8:21 am

    You’re just determined I have to look up “illocutionary”, aren’t you? ;-)

  138. Andrew Duggan said,

    May 23, 2007 at 8:23 am

    Re #133 and some from #132, #131,

    Paul, I’ll answer you question if you answer this one: Did Esau sell his birthright because he spurned God’s love or did he do it because it was his nature (non-elect, unregenerate), because God hated him? (cf Rom 9)

    FWIW, your dichotomy on the universe (funny you used the word universe) of discourse is false. The visible church and it’s ordinances are for the elect. That others (non-elect) are there too doesn’t change the purpose of the visiblechurch. If you find that you have have mice in your house does that mean that the purpose of your house as you intend it is for the benefit of the mice? How about ants, or roaches? They may eat of your food and bath in your bathtub, but they don’t belong, and when they are discovered, don’t you kill them, or least eject them from your house? We can’t see who’s elect and who’s not. So the visible church goes on what it can see and hear, the confession and behavior of its members or seekers.

    (Switching to the other sacrament) Is the cheese (or peanut butter) on the mousetrap really any benefit to the mouse, even though it’s of the same cheese (or peanut butter) was what you give your children? Same food, different purpose.

  139. Stewart said,

    May 23, 2007 at 8:34 am

    “Only two chapters back Paul spoke of the “Israel” within national Israel, and so it is no stretch to see visible/invisible and external-legal/internal-vital distinctions in play here.”

    David, so Romans 9 has no application to individuals?

  140. pduggan said,

    May 23, 2007 at 8:54 am

    “Did Esau sell his birthright because he spurned God’s love or did he do it because it was his nature (non-elect, unregenerate), because God hated him? (cf Rom 9)”

    I deny that these are contrary positions. All unregenerate people have a nature that spurns God’s love, unless we’re regenerated. Was Esau’s birthright NOT a birthRIGHT?

    And “hate” just means, “love less”. or so I have always been told.

    Did Jesus *really* want to gather Jerusalem under his wings as a hen gathers her chicks, or not? Were all his actions on earth NOT for that purpose?

    I know Pastor Hubenthal, for all his excellent teaching, rejected Murray’s work on the Free Offer of the Gospel. I’m not convinced Hubenthal was right. To argue as he did/does.

    Zwingli says “What then of Esau if he had died as an infant? Would your judgment place him among the elect? Yes. Then does election remain sure? It does. And rejection remains also. But listen. If Esau had died an infant he would doubtless have been elect. For if he had died then there would have been the seal of election, for the Lord would not have rejected him eternally. But since he lived and was of the non-elect, he so lived that we see in the fruit of his unfaith that he was rejected by the Lord “

  141. pduggan said,

    May 23, 2007 at 8:59 am

    And I’ll add that any “logical” objections you might offer against this will be heard by me as logical objections to the trinity or the two natures of Christ. I’m comfortable with the paradox in all three cases.

    My mind is boggled by YHWH offering to make a new nation out of Moses. How can the eternally predestinating God have a “plan B”? But he’s not lying to Moses: he has a well-meant offer for him, and in the narrative, it the well-meantness of the offer that provokes the response.

    I can’t imagine what its like to be an eternally predestinating God. I’m a creature, and his sacraments are to help the feeble faith that can’t grasp the mere word alone.

  142. William Hill said,

    May 23, 2007 at 8:59 am

    Okay — I have only ONE question and I would like to see some brave soul answer it.

    WHAT are all the TR people (that is the anti-FV people) going to do IF the GA does not adopt the PCA Study Committee’s recommendations?

  143. Tim Wilder said,

    May 23, 2007 at 9:03 am

    Re: 141

    “And I’ll add that any “logical” objections you might offer against this will be heard by me as logical objections to the trinity or the two natures of Christ. I’m comfortable with the paradox in all three cases.”

    This is one of the root causes of the Federal Vision. They are all Van Til crazies, or some other type of post-modernist.

  144. Sean Gerety said,

    May 23, 2007 at 9:06 am

    Can I say too many Andrews ;) The mice and roaches analogy is a good one and perhaps paints the picture as clearly as it can be painted. It is another example of what John said; “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.”

    Going back to Wilson for a minute, John Robbins wrote:

    “Wilson . . . asserts that “false brothers” are “brothers” : “False brothers should be considered both as brothers and as being false” (151). This is idiotic. It is like saying, Counterfeit money should be considered both money and counterfeit. Or, a faux pearl is both faux and pearl. It is either-or, either genuine or counterfeit. If it is not genuine, it is neither money nor pearl. Wilson, perhaps because he incorrectly thinks all language is metaphorical, does not understand his own metaphors, including the metaphor “false brother.” The metaphor literally means: His claim that he is a Christian brother is false. Augustine explained this metaphor 1600 years ago, but Wilson reads moderns. Biblically, false brothers, false teachers, and false prophets are not brothers, but antichrists, wolves, and goats, not sheep. Just because a wolf is in the sheepfold does not make him a sheep, any more than a person being a member of a church makes him a Christian. But in Wilson’s theology, anyone in the sheepfold is a Christian, because he has been baptized.”

    God willing as Andy Dollahite works through John 15 he will see that he’s been sold a false bill of goods by some cleaver con men posing as Christian teachers. While unfortunate, it shouldn’t be any surprise, because Jesus warned us that such antichrists would arise within the church and one would have thought Presbyterians would be the first to recognize this.

    FWIW I think what men like Meyers hate so much about the PCA report, and why he and his ilk will conspire to squash the report at the GA by any means necessary (I see from the blogs they’re already pouring through their Roberts Rules) is that it very clearly delineates their complete departure from the Confession.

    The report does a very good job in outlining the alien system which these men have superimposed over the Confession and the Scriptures. It doesn’t take theological training to see that the Neo-Liberal system of the so-called “Federal Vision” is qualitatively different in virtually all essential doctrines to the one taught in the Confession. Unfortunately, the one glaring weakness in the report, if not an outright error, is that it begins by asserting that men who promulgate this anti-Christian and foreign system are “brothers” when they’re not.

  145. William Hill said,

    May 23, 2007 at 9:07 am

    Such charity…calling people “crazies”

  146. William Hill said,

    May 23, 2007 at 9:08 am

    AS does the Directory for Public Worship when it calls ALL babies born to Christian parents as CHRISTIAN. Seriously Sean, what do you do with that given your statments?

  147. R. F. White said,

    May 23, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Re: John 15.
    It is striking to notice that every fruitless branch is indeed “in ['on'] Him,” but, inasmuch as it is fruitless, it is also said to be “apart from Him” (15:5) and “not [to] abide in [Him]” (15:6). For John, the fact of being “a branch in [on] Jesus” do not necessarily imply that branch’s vital (i.e., life-giving) union with Him. (Is Judas an example?) I take it that the vine-branches analogy in John 15 portrays for us a covenantal association of branches in which the Father and Jesus (in this text) differentiate between those branches who are and are not in vital union. Stated more completely, covenantal association does not necessarily involve vital union. Further, it appears that the root-branches analogy of Rom 11 and the vine-branches analogy of John 15 teach essentially the same doctrine.

  148. Sean Gerety said,

    May 23, 2007 at 9:16 am

    #141 “And I’ll add that any “logical” objections you might offer against this will be heard by me as logical objections to the trinity or the two natures of Christ. I’m comfortable with the paradox in all three cases.”
    _____________________

    Well, just as long as you recognize your understanding of the Christian faith is incoherent. ;)

    Perhaps you should seek out better teachers that are better able to harmonize these so-called paradoxes? You might try Gordon Clark who called a paradox “a charleyhorse between the ears that can be eliminated by rational massage.”

  149. pduggan said,

    May 23, 2007 at 9:18 am

    Define “vital union” please, without reference to the metaphoric vine. What’s entailed theologically in vital union.

  150. William Hill said,

    May 23, 2007 at 9:18 am

    Wow! Now Gerety is calling the FV men “anti-christ’s”!! What will be next? They are brothers and the PCA Study Committee recognized it. Until such time as they are excommunicated from the PCA that is how they are to be seen. Choose a different set of words, Mr. Gerety.

  151. pduggan said,

    May 23, 2007 at 9:27 am

    Here’s the top google hit on “vital union” from Wil Pounds, who cites Spurgeon

    http://www.abideinchrist.com/selah/nov29.html

    “One of the greatest practical applications of this great doctrine of our vital union in Christ is that it secures the eternal safety of every one who is one with Christ. “Because I live you shall live also.” All of you who are in Him have eternal life. The idea of Jesus Christ losing members of His body who are grafted into Him is impossible to conceive. ”

    It impossible to conceive of a grafted member being lost? Romans 11:22?

    “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.”

  152. R. F. White said,

    May 23, 2007 at 9:59 am

    pduggan,

    As you’d infer, the adjective “vital” is the key term and, as the parenthetical note mentions, it refers to that which is life-giving. In the context of our give-and-take, the life given was eternal life.

    Leaving aside the observation that the quote from Spurgeon mixes metaphors, to your question about Rom 11.22, my answer is yes, there are attached branches that are cut off and lost. Not all branches are branches indeed.

  153. Andrew Duggan said,

    May 23, 2007 at 10:24 am

    Paul, so when God hates sin, he only loves it less than righteousness?

  154. pduggan said,

    May 23, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    Clearly not. But we’re speaking of persons in God’s image, not actions.

    I believed it was a commonplace exegesis of statements about hatred of persons. Leon Morris and others have argued that that’s one way of reconciling God’s love for even his enemies (which we are to imitate) with his hatred of their sin. Or to note that they are synonyms for accepted/rejected, rather than personal hostility or malice.

    God IS love. He IS NOT hate.

    But even granting the idea of personal hostility has some role to play, I think its more consistent to understand the kind of hatred God has toward people like Esau as the kind of hatred a husband has towards a wife who spurns his love. It’s jealous hatred. Or even the subjective experience of the love of God as painful because the person rejects God and God’s love. We all experience the same God/Christ. Think of the shekinah glory at the red sea. But the love of God for his enemies pains them infinitely. To do that, it has to BE love, not a malicious trick.

  155. Andrew Duggan said,

    May 23, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Re: #154,

    So you’re saying the lake of fire is really just like heaven, or more properly the new heavens and new earth, but the reprobate just don’t enjoy it, at least as much? ;-)

    Our God is a consuming fire, God IS love. That is not a paradox. One of the ways God shows his love for his people is by breaking the face and teeth of the wicked.

    Actually we are speaking of God’s creatures. Some he made unto dishonor, vessels of wrath made for destruction? Made for destruction, God made them in his image for the purpose of destroying them. (Rom 9:21,22) Why? See Romans 9:23.

    Who hardened Pharaoh’s heart? Who sent the lying spirit to the prophets of Ahab? And you’re saying that He did those things because He loved Pharaoh, and Ahab? Why is the sword coming out of the mouth of Christ a two-edged sword?

    Why do we love our enemies, because God said so, because vengeance is mine says the Lord, and I will repay.

    You admit that God does hate at least the actions of the wicked, so God can hate without God BEING hate. If you want to say “love less” means vessels of wrath made for destruction, to spend all eternity burning forever and not consumed, sustained in existence for the purpose of suffering to the glory of God without the enjoying of Him, OK. I don’t have a problem though with how the KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, ESV translate Rom 9:13. Why do you think they all stick with the word hate?

    God IS love is shown because rather than destroying us all, some He elected to eternal life, adopted children, and then sacrificed His own Son so that might be.

    I think it is proper to say that the source of the personal hostility is the spurning of God himself that proceeds from Original Sin. Man spurned being in the image of God and thus enjoying the fellowship that enjoined and instead wanted to be a god.

  156. Tim Wilder said,

    May 23, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Re: 155

    “So you’re saying the lake of fire is really just like heaven, or more properly the new heavens and new earth, but the reprobate just don’t enjoy it, at least as much?”

    The Federal Vision doctrine (James Jordan) is that God is a consuming fire, and his people, being in the image of God are little flames, so they are in the fire really digging it, and it is only the bad guys who are harmed by the fire.

  157. Andrew Duggan said,

    May 23, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    Re #156,

    So the Garden of Eden was really volcano? I mean if Paradise Restored is the Lake of Fire, then the original must have been too. Neat! ;-)

  158. pduggan said,

    May 23, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Did Jesus actually want to gather jerusalem to him like a hen gathers her chicks? Yes. So yes, you’re right about the vessels fit for destruction too.

    Its probably important to stick with the word “hate” just like its important to stick with “it repented the Lord that he had made man”.

  159. pduggan said,

    May 23, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    Yeah, wilder, its sooooo silly to think of people who have the Spirit as being like fire. Nothing in the bible to make us associates Spirit-filled people with fire, is there. Nope. Just silly Jordan stuff.

  160. pduggan said,

    May 23, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Revelation is a symbolic book. So we can make allowances for visionary language.

    But the “lamb is the lamp”. Lamps are hot, last time I checked.

    Also, the wicked are burned with “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” Wasn’t it Augustine who said that in hell, they must have some connection to God sustaining them in their hell, or they would be anhiliated instead.

    further, the gold and gems go into the fire, and are not harmed, but made beautiful, while the wood and hay are burned up. A different image, but it affects the valences of the totality.

  161. pduggan said,

    May 23, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?”

    We are to love our enemies because God shows love to his enemies. We are sons (representatives) of God insofar as we do this.

  162. pduggan said,

    May 23, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    God did those things to Pharaoh and esau because they spurned his love. His spurned love hurts.

  163. May 23, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    Paul, gimme a break. That sort of allegorical interpretation would make Origen blush.

  164. Andrew Duggan said,

    May 23, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    Re #162,

    So in the PD word substitution table we have hate/”spurned love” — right?

  165. NHarper said,

    May 23, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    #142
    Either way the vote goes, it will serve to reveal the true character of the denomination. The decision will also “visibly” prove that there is a distinction between the visible and invisible church. If it is adopted, hopefully, certain people will leave and join the likeminded CREC. If it is not adopted, other certain people will leave. God doesn’t “corporately” elect denominations or make any covenant with them. He saves “individuals” who make up the true church – the invisible church. For His kingdom is spiritual. If the PCA chooses to hold to false teaching, we will leave and find another church. It’s that simple. There are other churches in other denominations who hold to the pure truth of the Gospel.

  166. May 23, 2007 at 9:34 pm

    [...] 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10, part [...]

  167. pduggie said,

    May 24, 2007 at 6:47 am

    Where’s the allegory? Seriously. I haven’t used an allegories.

    Also, yes: God’s hate = spurned love. Lane, what do you think?

  168. May 24, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    Paul,

    The view of Jordan’s that Wilder mentioned (and your defense of it) is the worst sort of speculative allegorical interpretation, mixing around biblical imagery into different contexts:

    “But the “lamb is the lamp”. Lamps are hot, last time I checked.”

    Yes, well lamps are also made from pottery, which means Jesus is like a clay ceramic, or perhaps he is sorta like olive lamp oil. Or perhaps Jesus is like General Electric since GE makes light bulbs today that go into lamps. Oh, the rich imagery!

    “God did those things to Pharaoh and esau because they spurned his love. His spurned love hurts….Also, yes: God’s hate = spurned love. Lane, what do you think?”

    Lane isn’t going to be around for a few days, so I’ll answer: try to find where the Scriptures say such a thing, and then get back to us.

  169. pduggan said,

    May 29, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    last point first:

    Scripture says that God loves his enemies, and because of that, we should too.

    Wilder has said “The Federal Vision doctrine (James Jordan) is that God is a consuming fire, and his people, being in the image of God are little flames, so they are in the fire really digging it, and it is only the bad guys who are harmed by the fire.”

    Then Andrew Duggan (yes, a beloved relation) poked fun at this idea, asking if that meant that Paradise was a volcano, or if heaven was the lake of fire.

    I began by saying that Revelation was a symbolic book. So it speaks of lamps, seas, rivers, and lakes of fire. By saying its a symbolic book, we say that lamps, seas, rivers and lakes of fire may or may not have referents that are very much like the physical referents, though there will always be some kind of *analogy* between the physical referent and whatever meaning is communicated by the image.

    So I don’t think ( I don’t know if very many people at all think) that there will be a “lake” with “fire” in it, though the torments of the wicked will be best analogized to a lake with fire in it. “Lake of fire” is a symbol and/or image. It doesn’t denote mere ideas, but it doesn’t denote literal physical realities either.

    Then I tried to bring in a few other uses of fire/heat symbolism from other relevant passages. We’ve already noted that Paul uses an image of a fire that all experience, with good results for the righteous, and disaster for the wicked. Noting that the wicked experience a burning presence of God negatively in revelation, its not outside the realm of discourse to notice that in Revelation, the presence of Christ as lamp *also* includes an quality of “fireyness”.

    You can try to make witty comebacks like “Yes, well lamps are also made from pottery, which means Jesus is like a clay ceramic, or perhaps he is sorta like olive lamp oil. Or perhaps Jesus is like General Electric since GE makes light bulbs today that go into lamps. Oh, the rich imagery!”

    But you’re not being at all fair. Clearly, GE has nothing to do with the discussion, nor does “clay ceramic”. Symbolism is multi-valent, but that doesn’t meas that any valence is as relevant as any other. It may be relevant to remember that lamps were commonly clay in some contexts. But in revelation, it’s highly relevant to note the contexts in which the presence of God or Christ both positively and negatively are symbolized through images of fire, either lamps, altars, Christ’s eyes (“the eye is the lamp of the body”) or his feet

    All of this is to say that while Genesis 1-3 does not present a paradise stylized as a firey bright environment, there is a reason to see heaven itself as a bright firey environment. Correlating that with the experience of hell as a dark firey environment, and theological facts like the thing the wicked hate most is the presence of God himself, it is a useful counterpoint to notice that both the wicked and the righteous have an experience of the presence of God that has a firey quality to it.

    That’s the long version. I don’t think its amenable to being called allegory, though it does rely on biblical symbolism. but so did the original criticism of God’s spurned love for his enemies experienced subjectively negatively.


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