No Exceptions

I do not take any exceptions to the Westminster Confession of Faith. Wilson conveniently forgot to mention WCF 28.5, when he argues that I need to take an exception to the Standards:

Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it; or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated. (emphasis added)

This clearly states that regeneration is not dependent on baptism. If regeneration can happen without baptism ever happening (such as the thief on the cross), then regeneration is simply not dependent on baptism. One does not have to have baptism in order for regeneration to happen. And, as the Confession equally clearly states, just because one has baptism does not mean that one is regenerated, either. So, I am in perfect conformity with the Confession in saying that regeneration is not dependent on baptism. Lack of baptism does not mean lack of regeneration, and baptism does not automatically confer regeneration. If regeneration happens at the time-point of baptism, I am willing to say that the Holy Spirit uses baptism as a means through which a sinner is regenerated, although the baptism without the Word can do nothing. And before the TR’s jump all over me for being FV, hear the rest of this out carefully. It is crystal clear it is really the Word that the Holy Spirit uses to regenerate someone. Even in baptism, I would argue that it is the Word which regenerates if regeneration happens at that time. (See chapter 10 of the WCF, which lays out the Confession’s doctrine of regeneration, or effectual calling, a synonymous term (notice that baptism is not mentioned at all, or even hinted at in that chapter)) But that will only be because the thing signified is also given, not because of the sign only being given. FV guys are fond of pointing out that the norm appears to be that the sign and thing signified are normally annexed one to the other. But the grace promised in 28.6 is the efficacy of baptism as a sign and seal. This must be distinguished (however closely one wants to tie the sacramental union) from the thing signified.

That being said, Wilson seems not to want to answer my query about Warfield. I would still appreciate it if Wilson would engage the Warfield quotations from the Shorter Writings, those books out of which Wilson forgot to read when formulating what Warfield supposedly believed about the Sacraments. In other words, I refuse to allow any kind of derailing of the discussion from Warfield’s beliefs to my beliefs. We are really talking about Warfield’s beliefs, not whether I should take an exception to the Confession. My own beliefs are tangential to this discussion.  

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13 Comments

  1. Chris Hutchinson said,

    July 28, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    “But the grace promised in 28.6 is the efficacy of baptism as a sign and seal. This must be distinguished (however closely one wants to tie the sacramental union) from the thing signified.”

    Right on, Lane. Once again, Wilson presses home his point dogmatically and confidently when he simply misses the point to begin with. Once again, where is the room in these guy’s theology for the immediate work of God?

  2. greenbaggins said,

    July 28, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    Yes, the distinction between the sign and the thing signified is the space needed for God’s immedate work. They are one and the same.

  3. July 28, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    Amen and again, Amen!

  4. pduggie said,

    July 28, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    but baptismal regeneration is dependent on baptism! :-)

  5. pduggie said,

    July 28, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Is the Word the “thing signified” then?

    And you seem to be saying “sign and seal” as if it was away of taking back what is meant by Exhibited and conferred.

    Is regeneration conferred in the right use of the sign and seal of baptism? Or not? Is it conferred independently? Or does God make use of it to confer it?

  6. pduggie said,

    July 28, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    Is a Christian marital bond generated by an immediate work of God? Or a necessarily mediate work?

  7. William Hill said,

    July 29, 2007 at 6:26 am

    Lane,

    “I do not take any exceptions to the WCF” comment:

    You hold to the eschatological position of the WCF?

  8. kjsulli said,

    July 29, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    William, re: 7,

    What is it you think is the eschatological position of the WCF? I hope you don’t think it’s preterism, which seems to be promoted on your website.

  9. greenbaggins said,

    July 29, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    William, which particular aspect of the WCF’s eschatology do you have in mind?

  10. July 29, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    Chris, is the immediate work of God independent of any and all mediated means, including the Word?

  11. pduggie said,

    July 29, 2007 at 4:33 pm

    10: A very interesting response came back a few years ago from an FV critic, because the FV critic didn’t like that the FV proponent was claiming that infants could have saving faith. (I’ve always heard claims about infant faith in every discussion with credobaptists, so I was suprised this was an objection)

    But the FV critic was adamant that the syllogism

    1. we are saved by faith alone
    2. infants are saved
    therefore
    Infants are saved by faith.

    was illegitimate.

    Maybe that FV critic would claim that in the case of such infants, God worked in”dependently” of means, including the instrument of faith.

  12. July 29, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    [...] No Exceptions I do not take any exceptions to the Westminster Confession of Faith. Wilson conveniently forgot to mention WCF 28.5, […] [...]

  13. Chris Hutchinson said,

    July 30, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    Doug,

    Sorry for a late reply. As I mentioned in a comment in an earlier post, I like the way Edwards formulates it in “A Divine and Supernatural Light Immediately Imparted Upon the Soul by the Spirit of God shown to be both a Scriptural and Rational Doctrine.”

    I could try to summarize what he says, but it’s best if I let it speak for itself. I highly commend it.

    Chris


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