You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

“Federal Vision” theology messes with these boundaries. It attempts to follow the lead of Scripture, even when that seems to conflict with Confessional formulae and seems closer to Luther than Reformed orthodoxy. It develops a baptismal theology that is not starkly at odds with Luther.

Peter Leithart, “Presbyterian Identity Crisis.”

A few people have questioned, in the comments section of my last post, whether or not I was fair in my insinuations concerning the Federal Vision’s doctrine of baptism.  First, I’d note that FV seems to be fairly self-conscious about its tinkering with this doctrine, and similarity to the Lutheran scheme, as seen in the above quote from Leithart.  Second, I’d note that my description of FV’s position as “baptismal regeneration lite” would not be contested in the least by at least some FV proponents, as they have in many places explicitly used the terminology of baptismal regeneration, albeit in a qualified manner.

But more specifically, Xon and Jeff Moss asked me where any FV proponent has claimed that “baptism [is] an instrumental means, alongside of faith, by which we lay hold of Christ’s righteousness unto justification.” So I wanted to point out at least a few places where this particular form of “baptismal regeneration lite” (as distinguished from the conveying of regenerating grace) has been articulated by Federal Visionists.  I’ll just pluck out a few examples.

But the concept of instrumentality is a bit fuzzy. We can legitimately ask: Are there other instruments of justification? Paul says we are justified by faith. But James says we are justified by works together with faith. James uses the same preposition for works that Paul uses for faith. He does more than simply qualify the kind of faith that justifies (though he does do that!). He says that works, along with faith, have justifying value. Thus, in some way works are instrumental in justification as well as faith….

There are other complicating factors as well. For example, several NT passages connect baptism with justification (e.g., Acts 2:38: baptism is “for” the remission of sins). In Reformed theology, it has been common to speak of the instrumental efficacy of the sacraments. But how can baptism’s instrumentality in justification be understood vis-à-vis faith’s instrumentality? Do baptism and faith compete with one another or do they work together? I think the solution is easy enough if we remember that baptism is really God’s action, not a human work. God is the Baptizer, ultimately. He may use the minister and the water as his agents, but it is his Spirit who does the work (cf. 1 Cor. 12:13).

The Westminster Standards point in this same direction. On the one hand the Confession says no one is actually justified until Christ is applied to them (11.4). But the Shorter Catechism specifically says one function of baptism is to apply Christ to the believer (92). Putting these two statements together yields this conclusion: Baptism is the instrument through which Christ is applied to us unto justification.

Thus, we can say that faith is the instrument of justification on our end, while baptism is the instrument on God’s side.

-Rich Lusk, “Faith, Baptism, and Justification

Commenting on Acts 2, Lusk also writes of Peter’s audience:

At this point, the word has done its work. The hearers have been aroused and convicted, but, apparently they still aren’t saved. Preaching alone is insufficient to make them participants in Christ’s work of redemption.  Thus Peter tells them what they must do. They must respond to the preached word with repentance and be baptized to enter into the way of salvation. Baptism, not preaching per se, is linked with forgiveness and the reception of the Spirit. Clearly, Peter believes God will give them something in baptism that they have not received through preaching alone. Baptism will consummate the process of regeneration begun by the Word preached.

This article, “Some Thoughts on the Means of Grace:  A Few Proposals,” is no longer available on Mark Horne’s website, but this portion can still be found in the OPC Report.

This is also an implication of Peter Leithart’s teaching:

How can Paul attribute justification and sanctification to baptism when he everywhere attributes justification to “faith, without the works of the Law”? We can go a ways to answering this question by taking more seriously the biblical claim that the church is the “body of Christ.” Because this is true, being joined to the church also means being joined to Christ. Christ is the holy one, and His Body is the holy people, the “saints” (”holy ones”) claimed as God’s peculiar possession. By His resurrection, the Father vindicated or justified the Son (Rom. 4:25), and by union with the body of the Justified Christ, we are justified (ie., counted as covenant-keepers).

-Posted by David Gadbois

About these ads

210 Comments

  1. John Nicely said,

    November 30, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    The federal vision sets all of this in the context of grace. God’s grace, in baptizing the individual, in justifying the individual, in sanctifying the individual, in regeneration, in covenant life – in short, in everything this is all a work of grace. What is being said is that God does these works of grace in us, and while it is a sin to rely on our baptism as something we have done to save ourselves, it is not a sin to rely on that baptism, on that regeneration, on that salvation that has been wrought by God. Now here’s the question that you cannot ignore: Since they really did say these things, which one are they talking about? Working our way to salvation, or trusting in the grace given by God in all of these things for our salvation? I could be wrong (hey, I’m not any of these guys so I don’t know their thoughts), but it seems to me that it is the second, and that is why I would look on this and say it’s legitimate. Why isn’t it legitimate?

  2. Seth Foster said,

    November 30, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but CANNOT TELL where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit. John 3:8
    How can you tie regeneration to the time of baptism when Scripture clearly tells us that we cannot discern how the Spirit works in a person’s heart?
    There are many who are baptized after they are born again. How can you then say that they are regenerated at baptism?
    There are many who are baptized and are not born again – who never come to faith in Christ.
    The bottom line is you do not know when, how, and where the Spirit works in regenerating a person. You cannot tie it to any visible, external event such as the sacrament of baptism.
    Jesus said we must be born of water AND the Spirit to enter the kingdom of heaven.

  3. Xon said,

    November 30, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    I will simply bite the bullet and say that I don’t see where any of those quotes teach anything like ‘first-order’ instrumentality for baptism. A quote that says that such-and-such is “in some sense” instrumental hardly shows that it is instrumental in that ‘first-order’ way you found problematic in your earlier post, David G. In fact it clearly implies otherwise, since the very usage of a phrase like ‘in some sense’ indicates that there are different ways of speaking about instrumentality. You yourself acnowledged different kinds of instrumentality in your earlier post; it was a major point of what you said. So, where does Lusk say that the instrumentality of baptism is that particular kind you abhor? Not in those quotes.

    Also, the Leithart quote at the beginning says “seems’ and “not starkly at odds with Luther”. How do you see these as meaning “is” and “starkly at odds with the Reformed”?

  4. Xon said,

    November 30, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    The bottom line is you do not know when, how, and where the Spirit works in regenerating a person. You cannot tie it to any visible, external event such as the sacrament of baptism.

    This reasoning seems to me to undo the sacraments altogether. Are you a spy for the Salvation Army? :-) (A joke, folks…)

    The Spirit blows where He will, yet we expect the words of a faithful preacher to have positive effects. Why? Because God has promised to be present when the Gospel is preached. If God promises to be there, He can be there.

    If God says go into the land, for I will be with you; we go. If He says do this ritual in faith that I will be with you, then we do it. This is faith from beginning to end, and it doesn’t limit the Spirit’s prerogative at all. The Spirit’s prerogative is to do what He will, but what He will turns out to often be fellowshipping with His people who do the things God tells them to do in faith.

  5. David Gadbois said,

    December 1, 2007 at 1:54 am

    Xon, Lusk could have quite easily said what I had said – that the efficacy of baptism is the same as the efficacy of the Word, in that it engenders faith unto justification. But that is not at all what he said.

    He says that works, along with faith, have “justifying value.” He says that “Baptism is the instrument through which Christ is applied to us unto justification.” Supposedly, for Lusk, this is OK to believe as long as we label it “God’s action, not a human work”, even though the Judaizers could have given a similar, feeble defense of justification by faith+circumicision.

    And then he asserts that Peter’s audience in Acts 2 needs to have salvation in baptism that they can’t have by the preached Word alone. “Preaching alone is insufficient to make them participants in Christ’s work of redemption. Thus Peter tells them what they must do.” Oh! Well all of a sudden, it really *is* about the sinner doing something. I thought that “baptism is really God’s action, not a human work” and that “faith is the instrument of justification on our end, while baptism is the instrument on God’s side.”

    Now, of course Lusk isn’t going to come right out and call this a “first order” kind of instrumentality, and Leithart certainly isn’t going to say that his position is Lutheran. But the substance of their teaching is far worse than the formal affirmations these FV proponents want to make.

    And, BTW, it is certainly odd that Leithart could claim that his sacramental theology only “seems” like it is at odds with Reformation theology, even though it is not “starkly at odds” with Luther. This admission alone is enough to give away the game.

  6. Jeff Moss said,

    December 1, 2007 at 4:22 am

    On #7: And, BTW, it is certainly odd that Leithart could claim that his sacramental theology only “seems” like it is at odds with Reformation theology, even though it is not “starkly at odds” with Luther. This admission alone is enough to give away the game.

    David, are you suggesting that “Reformation theology” and the theology of Luther are mutually exclusive? Or at least, that “Reformation” sacramentology and Luther’s sacramentology are irreconcilable opposites?

    Or have I misunderstood you here?

  7. its.reed said,

    December 1, 2007 at 9:43 am

    Ref. #6:

    Xon, I see you trying to be careful in limiting your exegesis to exactly what a passage says and nothing more. Apply that to your comments in no. 6 and I think you’ll agree this observation is a fair adjustment to your thought.

    The passage says we do not know “when” and “where” the Spirit will work, re: with reference to the application of Christ and the benefits of the new covenant. Other passages do tell us “how” the Spirit works – through the means of grace.

    This is simple to follow – we have to divorce the factors of locus (where) and temporality (when) from instumentality. From the human-finite perspective this is irrational; cause and effect are necessarily connected both in terms of locus and temporality, even when apparently indirectly (i.e., chain of events).

    But this is not so with the divine-infinite perspective. It is completely rational for God the Spirit to be able to use the means of grace as instruments – without the concommital inherence of locus and temporality.

    We profess this with Paul when we declare that at regeration we have died with Christ. Errors and heresy flow from trying to coordinate this via locus and temporality (i.e., any notion that we are in some finite manner present at/on the cross historically at the Crucifixion). Nevertheless the clear teaching of Scripture is that our death to sin in Christ’s crucifixion is a reality. It can only be so because by nature God can act with reference to instrumentality without the need of unity in locus (where) and temporality (when).

    This is why John 3 passage was used by the Westminster Divines. It makes this point explicit – when and where are not necessarily tied to instrumentality, whereas who (the Spirit, not man) and how (the means of grace exercised by man) are.

    On another thread I was making this same point with reference to Rom. 4:11. If you believe that circumcision was the Old Covenant equivalent to baptism, then you hold to the same pattern of instrumentality for it. It is clear from the passage that the when-of-the-instrument was so explicitly removed from the when-of-the-Spirit’s-use that this should not be a debatable topic.

    Yet I still keep hearing the FV position insist on the necessity of locus and temporality in baptism. Notwithstanding secondary adjustments, such a position is essentially Lutheran (and/or Anglican) in its understanding. I think David’s quotes accurately reflect this.

  8. Xon said,

    December 1, 2007 at 10:08 am

    Xon, Lusk could have quite easily said what I had said – that the efficacy of baptism is the same as the efficacy of the Word, in that it engenders faith unto justification. But that is not at all what he said.

    I’m sorry, I guess I misunderstood the point of your post? I thought you were attempting to prove that some FVers make baptism a ‘first-order’ instrument of decretal/eternal justification. If that’s what you were trying to do, then you can’t make hay out of what Lusk didn’t say. Perhaps he believes it even though he didn’t say it. Perhaps he chose to emphasize other equally valid points.

    To illustrate the fallacy (not being snarky), I noticed that in your earlier post you failed to deny that attending a youth revival is a first-order instrument of justification. You could have very easily denied this, but you didn’t. So….

    He says that works, along with faith, have “justifying value.” He says that “Baptism is the instrument through which Christ is applied to us unto justification.”

    Just like what you said about instrumentation here in your older post:

    …Reformed theology does not want to deny the efficacy of the preached Word or the Spirit in a sinner’s justification, which can also be said to be “instrumental” causes, but in an entirely different sense….The Spirit and Word are thus indirect or second-order instruments of justification. They are not co-instruments along with faith.

    This consideration should suggest to us a way of understanding the efficacy of baptism. (emphasis added)

    You yourself acknowledge that there are different kinds of instrumentation in justification. You claim that the problem is that people like Lusk make other things besides faith a first-order instrument. You then quote Lusk saying nothing of the kind, but simply asserting that other things besides faith are “in some sense” an instrument. Well, in what sense? These quotes are insufficient to prove what you are claiming to prove.

    Supposedly, for Lusk, this is OK to believe as long as we label it “God’s action, not a human work”, even though the Judaizers could have given a similar, feeble defense of justification by faith+circumicision.

    I don’t think Lusk thinks it’s “OK” to believe it for that reason, full stop. I think he is simply countering the charge in advance that his view amounts to semi- or outright Pelagianism. There have been people in this controversy who have made that charge. Showing that all works we do are really and primarily God’s works refutes any claim that the FV view is (semi-)Pelagian. But certainly you are correct that there is more to being Reformed than SIMPLY avoiding Pelagianism. Lusk doesn’t disagree with that.

    And then he asserts that Peter’s audience in Acts 2 needs to have salvation in baptism that they can’t have by the preached Word alone.

    Lusk is clearly speaking of ‘covenantal salvation’ here, not ‘decretal salvation.’ This was my understanding of his meaning when I first read his article a number of years ago, but in any case Lusk has confirmed it to me directly through e-mail. On the FV view, ‘covenantal salvation’ means that you are a visible living member of God’s covenant community on Earth, and that you enjoy blessings in virtue of that membership. It does not mean that you are guaranteed to go to Heaven when you die, or that you are ‘elect’ to go to Heaven but might lose it later, or anything of that sort.

    Suppose someone has the Word preached to them and that they are regenerated. They receive saving faith and believe in the promise. They are elect and cannot be lost. But now suppose that they never submit to be baptized. What would this mean? This would mean that they are keeping themselves from joining the visible community of God’s saved people on earth. And this is no small matter. Even if you are predestined to go to Heaven, to neglect the earthly benefits of the salvation community is to miss out on something real. So, baptism by joining you to the visible church does indeed give you something that believing the Word all by itself can’t give you. What da prob?

    Now, of course Lusk isn’t going to come right out and call this a “first order” kind of instrumentality, and Leithart certainly isn’t going to say that his position is Lutheran. But the substance of their teaching is far worse than the formal affirmations these FV proponents want to make.

    This is (again, I don’t mean my analogy to be offensive, but I have selected the most obvious that came to my mind) like when a member of the NAACP would accuse some white leader of being racist on, say, Bill Maher’s old show. Bill Maher would say “what racist thing has he ever said or done?” And the response would be, “They don’t all wear hoods.”

    Of course we can’t expect Leithart or Lusk to come out and say what David G. says they erroneously believe, b/c they are lying heretics and this is what we should expect. So instead we simply have to trust David G. that the “substance” of their teaching, which is something that you can’t get by simply reading and quoting their actual words, is bad in the way that David G. is worried about.

    I am trying to maintain a ‘pacific’ tone, but I also feel the need to be direct. The mods (including David G. I guess?) may do with that what they will.

    And, BTW, it is certainly odd that Leithart could claim that his sacramental theology only “seems” like it is at odds with Reformation theology, even though it is not “starkly at odds” with Luther. This admission alone is enough to give away the game.

    Jeff Moss already asks the appropriate question in response to this claim. I think there is still some more logical work to do, David G., if you want to show that Reformed and Lutheran sacramentologies are so diametrically opposed that to ‘not be starkly at odds with’ Luther (which is not the same thing as agreeing with Luther) is, in and of itself, to contradict the Reformed. All currently presented evidence still leaves an inferential chasm a mile wide between itself and this conclusion.

  9. Xon said,

    December 1, 2007 at 10:24 am

    Reed,

    First, the passage (John 3) says that we can’t tell WHERE the Spirit comes from or WHERE it is going. It doesn’t say anything about ‘when.’ But that might be a quibble.

    When Jesus promised to be present where two or more are gathered in His name, does that mean that we simply have to trust in a ‘spiritual’ fulfillment of that promise that is independent of any time or place? So, even though we might have gathered to pray yesterday at 8 am, Jesus was not necessarily with us at that time. Instead, He might be with us next Wednesday at midnight, but the reason he’s with us then is b/c we prayed yesterday.

    Nobody in the FV is saying that the sacrament is inextricably tied to the graces signified every time it is done. What they are saying is that ordinarily (important word) we should have faith that the ritual of the sacrament is accompanied by the divine favor that is promised. If you want to dephysicalize that promise into something that might happen at a completely different time or place from the actual performance of the ritual, then for the sake of argument I have no beef with you. But, from the standpoint of faith, we do the rituals b/c God says to, and we trust that somehow God’s presence and favor accompanies them. And we look back to the performance of the ritual as a significant moment in time (we ‘improve upon our baptism,’ not upon ‘that moment of true regeneration that happened we-know-not-when’). Because, again, that’s what He has promised. Faith requires nothing less and nothing more than believing in God’s promises.

    And, of course, we don’t say things like “infants don’t have faith”, as though we know that the grace signified by baptism is definitely not present at the moment of baptism. Or things like “though we baptized him, there is really no promise or inclination that he will be a believer, it is our responsibility to make him a believer as he grows up or else this entire baptism was ‘just a ritual.'” From the things you are saying, Reed, I gather that we can all agree not to say things like this. And I frankly don’t see how we’re all that far apart. Afterall, your position allows that God truly works through the sacraments, you just don’t want to tie it down to a particular time or place necessarily. FV also believes that God truly works through the sacraments, and allows that it is not tied down to a particular time or place necessarily (except for the raw ‘admission to the covenant community’ aspect of it, of course).

  10. its.reed said,

    December 1, 2007 at 11:28 am

    Ref. #11:

    Xon, I guess a good place for me to go in response is this question: where does Scripture teach that the where-when of the Spirit’s use of the means of grace ordinarily is united with the where-when of the Church’s administration of said means?

    Can these coincide? Yes. Do these ordinarily coincide? I’m having a hard time thinking of any examples of this that would necessarily be anything more than incidental to the point of the passage.

    I think the emphasis of Scripture with reference to the means of grace is essentially what you’ve summarized: the effect of the use is solely divine, and the purpose of the human use is solely faith.

    Another question, why is this ordinary unity appear to be essential to the FV position? Will not all the FV arguments for “covenantal” Spiritual effects (i.e., real but temporary experiences of Christ and the benefits of the New Covenant) stand without the necessity of ordinary unity?

  11. Jesse P. said,

    December 1, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    Reed,

    It seems from your post you would lean toward an “ordinary disunity” between sign and thing signified or “silence” on the issue. I would only refer you to Calvin on the Supper to show where the reformed doctrine never “divorces” sign and thing signified (even in relation to time). We are to believe that “then and there” at the table we receive nothing less than the “body and blood” of our Lord. We are not to imagine that some time next December the Spirit will bring this to pass. Faith is demanding at the event (and we as Reformed acknowledge God is in charge of exceptions to the rule, but there must be an ordinary rule if exceptions are to be granted.)

    If that all sounds “too Catholic” for some, please apply this to the “another” means of Grace, preaching. Do you expect the Spirit to impower that Word when it is preached or at some other time? Do we expect our people to hear the voice of Christ that morning or some other one?

    I will admit that in the Reformers on Baptism often the language pointed to the Spirit “ordinarily” being given “before” baptism. That said, the push was to believe what the “waters” said at the time of administration.

    Blessings,
    Jesse Pirschel

  12. Daniel Kok said,

    December 1, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    Just for clarification, the Reformed separate the sign and the thing signified whenever the sign is received by hypocrites or mere professors of religion:

    Belgic Confession, Article 35

    “Further, though the sacraments are connected with the thing signified nevertheless both are not received by all men. The ungodly indeed receives the sacrament to his condemnation, but he does not receive the truth of the sacrament, even as Judas and Simon the sorcerer both indeed received the sacrament but not Christ who was signified by it, of whom believers only are made partakers.”

  13. its.reed said,

    December 1, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Ref. #13:

    Jesse, thanks for the response. No, I would not lean toward ordinary disunity, ordinary unity, or even silence. Rather I think with regard to this very general characteristic of the means of grace the Scriptures cannot be so simply pigeoned-holed. I believe that to do so is to be simplistic at best.

    Your examples of the table, the word and baptism serve to prove my point. Even in your admittedly brief expose’ you are not able to establish an “ordinary” or general principle of locus-temporal unity for ALL the means of grace. Rather, your observations (which I generally concur with) demonstrate that the issue of where and when the Spirit uses the means of grace to acheive the ends of grace are not easily and/or summarily categorized.

    With reference to the Lord’s Supper, aside from arguing against a point I am not making, you limit the choices to an either/or; either the Spirit is present now to work or He is present to work sometime in the future. This is reductionistic, and symptomatic of the kind of structure I was seeking to challenge Xon on. (I realize you may simply be doing this because you think I was doing this).

    With reference to your example, are we not to believe both? Or better put, why am I lmited to defining when (the salient factor in this example)? Am I not to believe always? Calvin’s view cannot be narrowed down to what appears to be such a mechanistic view, an operative perspective on the Lord’s Table. Rather, the whole issue is one of not needing to consider such specific questions (is the Spirit here now, or five minutes later, or after I taste the bread, etc.). This is so because such questions are not relevant to the Scripture’s point.

    The salient point is that the means of grace ARE INDEED means of grace because of God’s declared used of them. This is what I give my faith to, at every moment. I am specifically free from all mechanistic considerations aside from that which is expressly commanded as the means when and where I express my faith.

    It seems to me that you and I may be falling into the kind of conundrum that follows when using finite language to describe infinite language.

    Again, I concur with your thoughts about what our faith is to expect. I just think the way you’ve set up the issue here creates an inappropriate and unnecessary either/or scenario. Even saying both/and seems limiting to me, only because I don’t see this trajectory (specificity in when-where) as foundational to understanding how the means of grace work.

    Blessings back to you,

    reed

  14. David Gadbois said,

    December 1, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Sorry, Jeff and Xon, I meant to say (following Leithart’s quote) “Reformed” theology, not Reformational theology. Late-night brain fart, there.

    More later. I need coffee.

  15. Morgan Farmer said,

    December 1, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    “Presbyterian IDENTITY CRISIS? ”

    The first really gross understatement of the 21st century.

  16. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 1, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    A couple of thoughts:

    (1) I suppose if we are going to talk about “first-order instrumentality” and “in some sense”, then we need to nail down what those terms mean. I can say that “in some sense” my taking of differential equations was instrumental in preparing me to be an elder. But it’s not very important sense. So Xon, what do you mean by “first-order instrumentality”, why do you believe that that’s what David G. meant, and is that the only kind of instrumentality that is verboten? (Perhaps you were thinking of WCoF 5.2?)

    (2) It should be noted that the Council of Trent also speaks of baptism operating “according to the grace of God” and “as an instrument of faith”:

    Of this Justification the causes are these: the final cause indeed is the glory of God and of Jesus Christ, and life everlasting; while the efficient cause is a merciful God who washes and sanctifies gratuitously, signing, and anointing with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance; but the meritorious cause is His most beloved only-begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies, for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us, merited Justification for us by His most holy Passion on the wood of the cross, and made satisfaction for us unto God the Father; the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which (faith) no man was ever justified; lastly, the alone formal cause is the justice of God, not that whereby He Himself is just, but that whereby He maketh us just, that, to wit, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and we are not only reputed, but are truly called, and are, just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to every one as He wills, and according to each one’s proper disposition and co-operation.

    – Trent: session 6, ch. 7

    CANON XIII.-If any one saith, that little children, for that they have not actual faith, are not, after having received baptism, to be reckoned amongst the faithful; and that, for this cause, they are to be rebaptized when they have attained to years of discretion; or, that it is better that the baptism of such be omitted, than that, while not believing by their own act, they should be bapized in the faith alone of the Church; let him be anathema.

    – Trent: Session 7

    I don’t have time at the moment to consider Calvin’s reaction to this, but it should be noted that the offense of “ex-operato” was not simply that the RCC attributed the power to the water. It didn’t, exactly.

    Jeff Cagle

    (and I’m not saying that the FV is Catholic!)

  17. Xon said,

    December 1, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    But it’s not very important sense. So Xon, what do you mean by “first-order instrumentality”, why do you believe that that’s what David G. meant, and is that the only kind of instrumentality that is verboten? (Perhaps you were thinking of WCoF 5.2?)

    Jeff, I’m following David G’s lead here. He is the one who introduced the term ‘first-order instrument’ in his previous post (the one before this one that he authored).

    I hope I’ve demonstrated a willingness to converse openly and to try to answer questions honestly, so that I can use a bit of my ‘social capital’ now and remind you that I’m not the one with the burden of proof here. Asking me to parse out David G’s original use of the term misses the point a bit. David G introduced the distinction, and it seems fairly clear, in the earlier post. I asked him there, right away, where he got the idea that FVers teach that baptism is a ‘first-order instrument’ of justification? David G. introduced that term in his own discussion, and then claimed that FVers run afoul along those lines that he had just introduced. I asked David G. to back that claim up, and the result was this post we are commenting on here. I remain unconvinced. There is nothing in anything he quoted from Lusk or Leithart that shows them treating baptism as a ‘first-order instrument’ of justification, in the way that David G. defined that term in the earlier post. Even if you think Lusk is unclear, or if you think it is possible to read him in that way, he has to be found ‘not guilty’ based on those particular quotes. No burden of proof on the ‘defense’ to prove anything other than what ‘we’ have already argued: the prosecution’s evidence does not establish guilt. Acquittal. New evidence, or next case. :-)

    I don’t see the relevance of the Trent quotes at all, especially since you claim you are not saying that FV is Catholic. The fact that Trent saw baptism operating as a means of grace proves nothing, except that Catholics aren’t Anabaptists. As David G. said in his earlier post, the Reformed position is something more than mere symbolism as we find in Zwingli and the Anabaptists yet it is not Catholicism or Lutheranism. But if all it takes to make people worry is quotes showing that Trent thought the sacrametns were efficacious by God’s grace, then I think we reveal an underlying Zwinglianism after all.

    At the end of the day I suppose this still comes down to the same question I had after David’s last post. What is the something more than Zwinglianism which anti-FVers think Reformed orthodoxy holds regarding baptism? What exactly does baptism ‘do’ besides serve as a reminder symbol of ‘invisible grace’?

  18. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 2, 2007 at 1:22 am

    …so that I can use a bit of my ’social capital’ now and remind you that I’m not the one with the burden of proof here.

    Absolutely! (Except in the general sense that we all have the burden of proof wrt the Scriptures.) I withdraw my question and will go back and read David G’s previous post.

    My Trent quotes weren’t very cogently presented because I was hurried over on this end. My point, which I’ll develop below, is that “ex-operato” was a more complicated issue than simply “The waters of baptism do it by themselves.” The RCC church *was* engaging in “magic-think” with regard to baptism, but it was not simplistic. They affirmed, at the end of the day, that the HS operated in baptism, by virtue of the baptism; that is, that God had so bound himself to the baptismal waters that the baptism was guaranteed to work “sacramentally.” The important point, for Rome, was not simply that the waters worked by themselves (so as to account for unworthy priests administering the sacraments), but also that *the waters worked every time* (so as to assure parents of dead infants that original sin had been forgiven).

    Thus, even though the FV denies that the waters themselves cleanse does not still put them in the clear concerning baptismal views.

    If it’s OK, I’m going to say this one piece and then bow out of the baptism conversation, because I’d like to focus my thoughts on “temporary justification.”

    Tonight, I went back through and re-read Calvin on the Sacraments and Baptism (Institutes 4.14 and 4.15. Here I’m taking Calvin to be “authoritative”, not in the sense of Scripture, but in the sense of shaping our understanding of Reformed theology and the meaning of the Confession.

    In the chapter on Sacraments, Calvin argues in his usual complex way for this point: that a sacrament is a physical demonstration of God’s promise. Attached to this one point are several others.

    First, that God provides these sacraments because of the weakness of our faith. He argues that Abe’s circumcision was a “seal” in the sense that it was an official stamp ratifying God’s promise to the believer.

    Second, that God provides these sacraments to be the occasion of the Holy Spirit’s work in us, just as the preaching of the Word. C presses hard the idea that the sign says exactly what the Word says; in essence, the sacrament is a physical sermon.

    So to answer your question, What is the something more than Zwinglianism which anti-FVers think Reformed orthodoxy holds regarding baptism? What exactly does baptism ‘do’ besides serve as a reminder symbol of ‘invisible grace’?

    Calvin would say, baptism is a moment when the Holy Spirit may well choose to work in us. It is an action ordained by God, and when taken in faith and received in faith, it is efficacious for salvation … because of the faith.

    Third, Calvin rejects the idea that God delegates His power to the sacrament itself:

    They do not of themselves bestow any grace, but they announce and manifest it, and, like earnests and badges, give a ratification of the gifts which the divine liberality has bestowed upon us. The Holy Spirit, whom the sacraments do not bring promiscuously to all, but whom the Lord specially confers on his people, brings the gifts of God along with him, makes way for the sacraments, and causes them to bear fruit. But though we deny not that God, by the immediate agency of his Spirit, countenances his own ordinance, preventing the administration of the sacraments which he has instituted from being fruitless and vain, still we maintain that the internal grace of the Spirit, as it is distinct from the external ministration, ought to be viewed and considered separately. God, therefore, truly performs whatever he promises and figures by signs; nor are the signs without effect, for they prove that he is their true and faithful author. The only question here is, whether the Lord works by proper and intrinsic virtue (as it is called), or resigns his office to external symbols? We maintain, that whatever organs he employs detract nothing from his primary operation.

    Inst. 4.14.17

    The innocent phrase “resigns his office to external symbols” is a pointed jab at “ex-operato.” Calvin is denying that God’s work can be farmed out to a material object. On this point, the FV and anti-FV are agreed: the power of the sacrament is the direct working of the Holy Spirit. That’s why the FV can “in a sense” refute the charge of instrumentality — because they agree with the anti-FV that the baptism itself does not do the cleansing.

    But now, fourth, as a second anti-“ex-operato” argument, Calvin also emphasizes that *because* sacraments are physical sermons, therefore they are not efficacious to all recipients, but rather only to those who receive by faith. The purpose of the sacrament is to enhance the faith (and thus connect one more fully to Christ), but it must be received by faith to operate in this way. He says,

    For the schools of the Sophists have taught with general consent that the sacraments of the new law, in other words, those now in use in the Christian Church, justify, and confer grace, provided only that we do not interpose the obstacle of mortal sin. It is impossible to describe how fatal and pestilential this sentiment is…It is plainly of the devil: for, first, in promising a righteousness without faith, it drives souls headlong on destruction; secondly, in deriving a cause of righteousness from the sacraments, it entangles miserable minds, already of their own accord too much inclined to the earth, in a superstitious idea, which makes them acquiesce in the spectacle of a corporeal object rather than in God himself. I wish we had not such experience of both evils as to make it altogether unnecessary to give a lengthened proof of them. For what is a sacrament received without faith, but most certain destruction to the Church? For, seeing that nothing is to be expected beyond the promise, and the promise no less denounces wrath to the unbeliever than offers grace to the believer, it is an error to suppose that anything more is conferred by the sacraments than is offered by the word of God, and obtained by true faith. From this another thing follows—viz. that assurance of salvation does not depend on participation in the sacraments, as if justification consisted in it. This, which is treasured up in Christ alone, we know to be communicated, not less by the preaching of the Gospel than by the seal of the sacrament, and may be completely enjoyed without this seal. So true is it, as Augustine declares, that there may be invisible sanctification without a visible sign, and, on the other hand, a visible sign without true sanctification

    Inst. 4.14.14.

    Now, the FV is partially rebuked by this criticism; not because they affirm as the Scholastics did, but because they appear to say at points that anyone receiving baptism is a believer, or is joined to Christ. This is flatly denied here by Calvin (and Augustine!) who affirm that there can indeed be baptisms that do not sanctify, when not joined with faith.

    I think this chapter 14 on Sacraments is really important to read *prior* to reading the chapter 15 on Baptism because in the latter, Calvin will often speak universally of baptism: “Baptism is the initiatory sign by which we are admitted to the fellowship of the Church, that being ingrafted into Christ we may be accounted children of God.” (Inst. 4.15.1). Thus we might, if reading chap. 15 in isolation, come to believe that he’s referring to everyone that has been baptized. Yet this is not so, as the foregoing demonstrates and as further evidence will show. Rather, he is referring to everyone who has been baptized and who believes.

    In chapter 15 on Baptism, Calvin argues that baptism is a physical sermon concerning our cleansing from sin. He argues that it is not baptism itself that cleanses, but rather that baptism preaches to us concerning Christ, and this helps our faith: “For he did not mean to intimate that our ablution and salvation are perfected by water, or that water possesses in itself the virtue of purifying, regenerating, and renewing; nor does he mean that it is the cause of salvation, but only that the knowledge and certainty of such gifts are perceived in this sacrament.” (Inst. 4.15.2, in reference to Eph. 5.26, Titus 3.5, 1 Pet 3.21).

    And most importantly, he emphatically rejects the idea that baptism is a prior necessity for cleansing:

    We have a proof of this in Cornelius the centurion, who, after he had been previously endued with the graces of the Holy Spirit, was baptised for the remission of sins, not seeking a fuller forgiveness from baptism, but a surer exercise of faith; nay, an argument for assurance from a pledge. It will, perhaps, be objected, Why did Ananias say to Paul that he washed away his sins by baptism (Acts 22:16), if sins are not washed away by the power of baptism? I answer, we are said to receive, procure, and obtain, whatever according to the perception of our faith is exhibited to us by the Lord, whether he then attests it for the first time, or gives additional confirmation to what he had previously attested. All then that Ananias meant to say was, Be baptised, Paul, that you may be assured that your sins are forgiven you. In baptism, the Lord promises forgiveness of sins: receive it, and be secure. I have no intention, however, to detract from the power of baptism. I would only add to the sign the substance and reality, inasmuch as God works by external means. But from this sacrament, as from all others, we gain nothing, unless in so far as we receive in faith. If faith is wanting, it will be an evidence of our ingratitude, by which we are proved guilty before God, for not believing the promise there given. In so far as it is a sign of our confession, we ought thereby to testify that we confide in the mercy of God, and are pure, through the forgiveness of sins which Christ Jesus has procured for us; that we have entered into the Church of God, that with one consent of faith and love we may live in concord with all believers. This last was Paul’s meaning, when he said that “by one Spirit are we all baptised into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13).

    Inst. 4.15.15.

    It might be worthwhile to compare Calvin’s analysis here to Lusk’s analysis of Acts 2 above and also Steve Wilkin’s exegesis of 1 Cor. 12.13 in “The Federal Vision” on or about p. 60.

    And finally, Calvin explains the purpose of baptizing children:

    …children who happen to depart this life before an opportunity of immersing them in water, are not excluded from the kingdom of heaven. Now, it has been seen, that unless we admit this position, great injury is done to the covenant of God, as if in itself it were weak, whereas its effect depends not either on baptism, or on any accessories. The sacrament is afterwards added as a kind of seal, not to give efficacy to the promise, as if in itself invalid, but merely to confirm it to us. Hence it follows, that the children of believers are not baptised, in order that though formerly aliens from the Church, they may then, for the first time, become children of God, but rather are received into the Church by a formal sign, because, in virtue of the promise, they previously belonged to the body of Christ.

    Inst. 4.15.22.

    Thanks for suffering through all these quotes. Actually, I profited greatly just from re-reading these two chapters of the Institutes, and certainly Calvin can explain all this better than I…

    In short, I see a genuine difference between the FV and Calvin on the sacraments, NOT because the FV denies that the sacraments are only efficacious by the Spirit (they don’t!), but because they separate the efficaciousness of baptism from the sufficiency and necessity of faith at two points: Lusk, in attributing something in baptism that is subsequent to and additional to faith (rather than a re-affirmation of what faith has already secured); and Leithart in indiscriminately equating being baptized with being joined to Christ. I think it’s clear that Calvin would disagree. And that raises the real possibility that the FV is out of accord with the Confession wrt the sacraments.

    I’ll shut up now.

    Jeff Cagle

  19. Jeff Moss said,

    December 2, 2007 at 2:27 am

    David G. (more thoughts on your original post here):

    Second, I’d note that my description of FV’s position as “baptismal regeneration lite” would not be contested in the least by at least some FV proponents, as they have in many places explicitly used the terminology of baptismal regeneration, albeit in a qualified manner.

    Really? I’m not so sure. I don’t know who came up with the terminology of “baptismal regeneration lite” in reference to the Federal Vision (was it Bob Mattes?), but it has definitely generated a lot of heat and precious little light, and needs to be scrapped as soon as possible.

    Here’s the problem: We’re dealing with two different meanings of regeneration — call them Regeneration-1 and Regeneration-2. Regeneration-1 is the meaning that the word “regeneration” has in Titus 3:5, the “washing of regeneration,” which is a reference to what goes on in the rite of water baptism (at least according to Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Cyprian, Origen, Augustine, Cyril of Jerusalem, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Matthew Henry, etc.). Regeneration-2 is the way that the word tends to be used in later Reformed systematic theology, referring to an inner transformation brought about directly by the Spirit of God that carries a person from death to life, and that precedes faith, conversion, repentance, and justification in the ordo salutis. It’s fine to use regeneration-2 as the foremost meaning of “regeneration” in theological writings–just as long as we keep in mind that this is not the same as how the word is used in the New Testament.

    When FV people say they believe in “baptismal regeneration in a sense,” the “sense” they’re talking about is regeneration-1, the particular kind of new birth that takes place through the Divinely-ordained rite of baptism. But as long as opponents of the Federal Vision insist on interpreting every reference to “baptismal regeneration” as “water baptism causes regeneration-2,” they’re getting it wrong and making assertions about FV beliefs that are simply not accurate.

    The problem with the phrase “baptismal regeneration lite” is that it carries all this baggage:
    1. Sacerdotalists believe that baptism causes regeneration-2, and so they talk about “baptismal regeneration.”
    2. FV types also sometimes talk about “baptismal regeneration,” but then, sometimes they sound like evangelicals.
    Ergo, FV types must sort of believe that baptism causes regeneration-2, so they’re sort of sacerdotalist. “Baptismal regeneration lite,” QED.

    The problem is that when Pastor Wilkins and others have used the phrase “baptismal regeneration,” they’re thinking of regeneration-1, not regeneration-2 (although I realize that they haven’t always made this clear). So the argument against the FV here continues to be based on a sloppy equivocation.

    See Joel Garver’s post on Baptismal Regeneration and the Westminster Confession for another helpful angle on this issue.

    (There’s also Regeneration-3, the sense the word has in Matthew 19:28 — the state of renewal of the heavens and earth — but that’s yet another issue.)

  20. davejes1979 said,

    December 2, 2007 at 7:36 am

    Xon, you said

    “Just like what you said about instrumentation here in your older post:

    …Reformed theology does not want to deny the efficacy of the preached Word or the Spirit in a sinner’s justification, which can also be said to be “instrumental” causes, but in an entirely different sense….The Spirit and Word are thus indirect or second-order instruments of justification. They are not co-instruments along with faith.”

    You’ll notice that I didn’t say that baptism and faith both have “justifying value.” You’ll also notice that I didn’t say that baptism “applies” Christ to us unto justification. You are being just as loose with my words as you accuse me of being with Lusk’s.

    “You yourself acknowledge that there are different kinds of instrumentation in justification. You claim that the problem is that people like Lusk make other things besides faith a first-order instrument. You then quote Lusk saying nothing of the kind, but simply asserting that other things besides faith are “in some sense” an instrument. Well, in what sense? These quotes are insufficient to prove what you are claiming to prove.”

    I earlier defined the “1st order instrument” as being the means by which the righteousness of Christ is appropriated to the sinner. For example, Leithart says “by union with the body of the Justified Christ, we are justified”, and union with the body of Christ is effected by baptism, then it follows that baptism is applying Christ unto a justifying union.

    “Lusk is clearly speaking of ‘covenantal salvation’ here, not ‘decretal salvation.’ This was my understanding of his meaning when I first read his article a number of years ago, but in any case Lusk has confirmed it to me directly through e-mail. On the FV view, ‘covenantal salvation’ means that you are a visible living member of God’s covenant community on Earth, and that you enjoy blessings in virtue of that membership. It does not mean that you are guaranteed to go to Heaven when you die, or that you are ‘elect’ to go to Heaven but might lose it later, or anything of that sort.”

    Well, excuse us, Xon, for not having our Federal Vision Decoder Rings on. After all, Lusk was talking about Acts 2’s “remission of sins”, wasn’t he? The same forgiveness, Lusk says, that was given to the Ethiopian eunuch, and the same forgiveness Paul had in Acts 22? These references to *personal* remission of sins and forgiveness are talking about “covenant salvation”?

    You guys are absolutely unbelievable.

  21. anneivy said,

    December 2, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    [coughing] In any case, is everyone (barring me) agreed there even is such a thing as “convenantal salvation”? I sort of thought that was at the heart of the whole fracas, i.e. whether there actually are differing types of salvation.

    Anne

  22. Morgan Farmer said,

    December 2, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    anneivy… who knows what is at the heart of this fracas (love the descriptive) anymore.

  23. anneivy said,

    December 2, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    You have a point, Morgan, you do indeed. ;^)

    It does seem to me, though, that “What does it mean to be saved?” is key to the FV, for if it is a given (as Xon clearly believes) that there are levels and types of salvation, then the FV as a whole flows naturally and logically from that point.

    Too, it’s in the “What does it mean to be saved?” aspect that the FV shakes hands with the NPP.

    In my opinion, anyway. Which is probably worth every dime you paid for it. :-D

    Anne

  24. Robert K. said,

    December 2, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    >anneivy… who knows what is at the heart of this fracas (love the descriptive) anymore.

    Christians who know biblical doctrine know. Justification by faith alone is at the heart of it all. Federal Visionists (or whatever they want to call themselves) attack justification by faith alone from 16 different angles, then when pinned start blabbering about baptism. All false teaching aims for the heart of the Gospel. There’s nothing new under the sun.

  25. Robert K. said,

    December 2, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    It’s sola fide.

    Not:

    Sola fide, but…
    Sola fide, yet…
    Sola fide, though…
    Sola fide, however…
    Sola fide, having said that…

    Nor is it:

    Sola fide (if by faith we mean faithfulness)…

    It’s guilt, grace, gratitude; not guilt, grace, goose step. (As much as some types love that culture of bondage…)

  26. Jeff Moss said,

    December 2, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    Quoting verbatim from the notes to Doug Wilson’s sermon this morning, “Things That Accompany Salvation” (on Heb. 3:17-4:3):

    “With whom was God grieved for forty years? With those He had delivered from Egypt, but who sinned and whose bodies fell in the wilderness (3:17). God, speaking to the people He had delivered, swore that some would never enter His rest? Who made up that group? Those that believed not (3:18). The thing that shut them out was their unbelief (3:19). So then, he says, turning to these first century Christians, let us fear lest any of us fall short of the rest. Not everyone who is set aside by the gospel is set aside in the gospel (4:2). When the word is preached, mix it with your faith (4:2). Those who believe are always those who enter the rest of God (4:3). Sola fide.”

  27. Morgan Farmer said,

    December 2, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Anne, foolish me…and all this time I thought that if I was saved I would spend etermity with Jesus. This level of salvation stuff…does it sound sort of far-eastern to anyone else except me? Probably not. Forgive me if any of you are offended….

    I have put the question of salvation into a meta object oriented tree if anyone is interested….Bob Mattes?

  28. anneivy said,

    December 2, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    Morgan, you and I are on the same page…..no fear!

    Roger, yer a peach. Very aptly put. I misspoke, didn’t I? Well, miswrote.

    Appreciatively,

    Anne

  29. anneivy said,

    December 2, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    Okay, how’d my post wind up before Roger’s?

    That’s just strange. Do-DO-do-do…..

  30. Roger Mann said,

    December 2, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    Actually, “covenantal salvation” is the only type of salvation there is. God’s elect people are justified/saved by “the blood of the eternal covenant” (Heb. 13:20; cf. Matt. 26:28) through faith in Christ alone (Rom. 3:28; Eph 2:8-9). The problem arises when people start speaking of “covenantal salvation” as if it is something that many non-elect people receive.

  31. Robert K. said,

    December 3, 2007 at 1:47 am

    Jeff Moss, in this Wilson quote you stumbled into exposing about 666 of his mis-non-intentionalllynon-understandings of the faith once delivered.

    “With whom was God grieved for forty years? With those He had delivered from Egypt, but who sinned and whose bodies fell in the wilderness (3:17). God, speaking to the people He had delivered, swore that some would never enter His rest? Who made up that group? Those that believed not (3:18). The thing that shut them out was their unbelief (3:19). So then, he says, turning to these first century Christians, let us fear lest any of us fall short of the rest. Not everyone who is set aside by the gospel is set aside in the gospel (4:2). When the word is preached, mix it with your faith (4:2). Those who believe are always those who enter the rest of God (4:3). Sola fide.”

    What those Israelites failed to do Jesus did for us. Wilson is speaking once again out of both sides of his mouth when he uses the phrase ‘sola fide’ and uses the example of Israelites persevering in the desert. Jesus persevered in the desert, tempted by the devil for us.

    IT IS DONE.

    Sola fide means faith in Jesus’ already accomplished work done for us who have faith in Him given us by the free, undeserved grace of God.

    It’s called the foolishness of the Gospel, Jeff. Foolishness to man who demands to effect his own salvation by his own works – anyway he can

    From an experiential angle what this faith alone does is effect an internal reorientation from being man-centered to being God-centered. It requires effectual calling (regeneration) which is effected, when it is, by the Word and the Spirit. Drown yourself, humbly, in the Word of God.

  32. Robert K. said,

    December 3, 2007 at 2:15 am

    Jeff M., the answer I gave you above is written in the language of Federal Theology. This is what Doug Wilson and his Federal Vision cohorts are attempting to redefine. They aren’t merely saying they believe differently and so “leave us alone”, they are claiming Federal Theology documents such as the Westminster Standards communicate their beliefs, which are anything but Federal Theology. They are actively, consciously entering the Temple and preaching the devil’s gospel of works righteousness. This is a battle played out on the ground of confessional documents like the Westminster Standards because it is in them that Federal Theology (classical covenant theology systematized) is broadcast to the world and kept pure from defilement from the demands of the world and the devil.

    And Federal Theology is merely a nickname for apostolic biblical doctrine, it goes without saying. If you don’t see that then that is fine, there are many Christians who don’t, but they aren’t attempting to defile the language and confessions that represent it.

  33. pduggie said,

    December 3, 2007 at 9:46 am

    “And then he asserts that Peter’s audience in Acts 2 needs to have salvation in baptism that they can’t have by the preached Word alone. “Preaching alone is insufficient to make them participants in Christ’s work of redemption. Thus Peter tells them what they must do.” Oh! Well all of a sudden, it really *is* about the sinner doing something. I thought that “baptism is really God’s action, not a human work” and that “faith is the instrument of justification on our end, while baptism is the instrument on God’s side.””

    That’s a very supicious and uncharitable reading of Lusk.

    If Lusk had said “And Peter said they merely must believe in Jesus” that wouldn’t insulate him from your charge of works salvation with you either, since he’s offering a “do” in response to a “what must we do”

    Its “BE baptized”. Let it be done to you.

    Its baptism as receipt of a NAME: the name of Jesus, who right now you are guilty of killing and guilty of assuming him shamed by God. But in taking on his name in baptism, you identify with him (and receive his status as righteous before God)

  34. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 3, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    Wait, I’m confused, Paul: is the Lusk quotation a paraphrase, or are those his actual words? Because the quote Preaching alone is insufficient to make them participants in Christ’s work of redemption. Thus Peter tells them what they must do. is problematic on its own, without needing to know his exact views on instrumentality.

    Jeff Cagle

  35. Robert K. said,

    December 3, 2007 at 1:01 pm

    This is only sort of on-topic of this post, but it’s worth mentioning in general anyway. Recently brainy guy Federal Vision supporter Jon Barlow wrote a post on his blog on Covenant Theology. He’s now taken it down. I wish I’d copied it. What he gave away in the post was: a) he is just now learning about basic covenant theology (that is pertinent considering Barlow is a great lecturer to the unwashed who can’t grasp Federal Vision doctrine); b) after outlining basic Federal Theology (classical covenant theology) understanding of the Covenant of Works and Grace, the two Adams, etc., he stated at the end that he “hoped” this isn’t what Horton and Kline actually were getting at (in so many words, i.e. as if what he’d outlined was new with Kline, a common mistake you see in FV people); and finally c) because he made a handful of basic mistakes in the post (which a commenter kindly listed for him) he then pulled the post showing that intellectual vanity is still a classic obstacle to actually learning anything. You see, Barlow can’t be seen as not knowing about something. Doug Wilson is similar. In fact, all the FVists are similar.

    Now, if you’ve ever had a back and forth with Jon Barlow in the past realize you were interacting with a person who had yet to learn basic covenant theology, yet is perfectly comfortable to be part of an ongoing campaign to rewrite Reformed Theology…

  36. anneivy said,

    December 3, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Ah, now, Robert, to be fair to Jon, once he’d realized he had made mistakes in his post, what on earth is wrong with him pulling it?

    I’d think it’d be more problematic had he left it up.

    We really shouldn’t put people in the position of danged-if-they-do and danged-if-they-don’t. ;-)

    Anne

  37. Robert K. said,

    December 3, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    The mistakes were basic stuff, not simple oversights or whatever, and a commenter had engaged him on the subject. Instead of interacting in a humble way and trying to learn (he obviously doesn’t know the subject matter) his vanity alarms go off, and he pulls the post. And it will only work, anyway, for people who didn’t see the original post. This is another aspect of FVists and their supporters: they don’t seem to have any shame regarding knowing part of their audience is always on to them. They are content to fool, or be seen as never wrong, or whatever, to only a portion of their audience.

    This little event is interesting because it’s Jon Barlow, intellectual, Federal Vision supporter, who lectures people as if from the Tower to the unwashed, it’s a funny little event that exposes human nature at work.

  38. Robert K. said,

    December 3, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    It’s also funny he writes “Weird post pulled for revision”. No, it’s not weird for him, it’s embarrassing. He was being sarcastic towards Horton and Kline while in the midst of demonstrating he was ignorant of the subject at hand.

    And again, this is a person who is very comfortable to be part of a campaign to rewrite Reformed Theology…

  39. Keith LaMothe said,

    December 3, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Rey,

    I just had a twilight zone moment. Did you just say that Doug Wilson was trying to “maintain the false doctrine of metal-asentish-Sola-Fide”?

    I’m not trying to make fun of you, it’s just quite… I think the word is “amusing”, to hear Doug accused of an antinomian degree of “Sola Fide” affirmation in the midst of all the accusations against the FV that it teaches a works-based salvation.

    Thank you for the moment of comic relief,
    Keith

  40. Keith LaMothe said,

    December 3, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Before I call it quits, I just through I would point out that you provided me with some comic relief too.

    I’m glad I’ve returned the favor.

    You deny that Wilson is antinomian on what basis?

    I would say he’s just as antinomian as St. Paul. Or at least tries to be, we probably all err at least slightly from that mark. But if you want a fleshed-out argument as to why he’s not antinomian… well, I suppose I could put one together, but I imagine the folks here who think he’s a neo-nomian could do better than me ;)

    His form of “baptismal regeneration” would not be a defense against the charge of antinomianism, as he explicitly denies a necessary relationship between baptism and salvation.

    There is a serious logical problem (or perhaps a bad joke) going on when people start equating gospel commands with the Law.

    Depending on what you mean by that, I could agree with you. Probably, however, we would mean very different things.

  41. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 3, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Speaking generally here and not about Wilson in particular, it would not be surprising for someone to be both antinomian and legalistic. Both are fleshly responses to the Law. And the Pharisees exhibited both:

    So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with ‘unclean’ hands?” He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban’ (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

    Here, the Pharisees are being simultaneously legalistic and antinomian! As Paul reveals in Galatians, the common denominator to both legalism (ch. 3) and antinomianism (ch. 5) is the sin nature — which is why any talk of “striking a balance” between legalism and antinomianism is very misguided.

    /aside. Back on topic: WCoF 27.2: 2. There is, in every sacrament, a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified: whence it comes to pass, that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.

    What does this mean? Toilk amoingst yourselvz.

    Jeff Cagle

  42. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 3, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    He meant “covenantal bad joke”, you meant “decretal bad joke.” The covenantal type repents and becomes a good joke before the eschaton.

  43. Jeff Moss said,

    December 3, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Robert K. (#34),

    You wrote,
    Sola fide means faith in Jesus’ already accomplished work done for us who have faith in Him given us by the free, undeserved grace of God.

    It’s called the foolishness of the Gospel, Jeff. Foolishness to man who demands to effect his own salvation by his own works – anyway he can…

    From an experiential angle what this faith alone does is effect an internal reorientation from being man-centered to being God-centered.

    The Israelites were justified by faith — sola fide — in the promises of God that pointed forward to a Redeemer. We in the modern-day Church, the “Israel of God,” are also justified by faith — sola fide — in the promises of God about the efficacy of the Redeemer’s finished work.

    These two kinds of faith are no different from each other, except for the greater level of knowledge that we have on this side of the Cross (Rom. 3:21-26). Really, can you see any contradiction between what Pastor Wilson teaches in the quote I posted and what you have to say in the statements I copied above?

  44. pduggie said,

    December 3, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    37:

    Jeff:

    Is Lusk’s summary of the saved state of the audience, based on the information in Acts 2, a fair summary of the situation of Acts 2 or not?

    His statement isn’t “on its own”. Its “some thoughts” and “proposals” based on thinking about a narrative.

    Could Peter have gone home with Jews crying “what shall we do” offering them no answer, satisfied that the gospel had been preached and men saved?

  45. Robert K. said,

    December 3, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    Jeff M., stop pretending Doug Wilson is R. Scott Clark. Wilson has a long history of double-talk on doctrine such as justification by faith alone. When you cross the border where you shamelessly redefine terms you can say you hold to anything.

    Rey, there’s this little episode in Matthew where Jesus is 40 days and 40 nights in the desert, being tempted by the devil. And He overcomes the devil.

    And a call to run your race to the end is not a call to obey the law ‘enough’ to effect your salvation.

    And there IS law in the New Testament, but the law of Christ. In the law of Christ what God demands He gives freely…

    I would like to get the text of Dathenus’ Pearl of Christian Comfort carved into a hillside around Moscow, Idaho.

  46. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 3, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    Pduggie (#50):

    Fair question. Acts 2.38: Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    I think this suffers from the same problem as Mark 16 (except for the little bit about not being original to the text):

    “Repent and be baptized” –> “forgiveness, reception of H.S.” cannot logically be made to mean

    They must respond to the preached word with repentance and be baptized to enter into the way of salvation.

    The two statements look the same, but the shift from “both together are sufficient” to “both together are necessary” makes a huge difference. To see this, note that Peter’s statement is true of Cornelius in Acts 10, while Lusk’s is not. Cornelius believes and receives the H.S. while yet not baptized. Granted that Acts is complicated by history-of-salvation issues (such as the delay of the pouring out of the Spirit until Acts 2), but still and all: baptism cannot be made so necessary for salvation that we say “you must repent and be baptized to enter into the way of salvation.” It’s simply not true, and Romans 4 is a clear refutation.

    Now, this is a fine distinction. It’s not like I *completely* disagree with Lusk: I don’t deny that all believers will normally get baptized; I don’t deny that baptism is efficacious (see here); it’s not that I want to disentangle baptism from the life of the church.

    It’s simply that Lusk goes one step beyond these points of agreement (apparently) and affirms that baptism is necessary for salvation *because* it does something, a subsequent cleansing, something not accomplished by preaching alone.

    That addition step, at least the way he phrases it, appears to move into the territory that Romans 4 places off-limits.

    So no, I don’t think his statement is a fair summary of the situation. It’s very close, but it’s one step outside.

    Jeff Cagle

  47. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 3, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Oops, the “see here” link broke. See *here*

  48. Robert K. said,

    December 3, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    Rey, it’s the moral law that is in question re keeping the law. Christ’s advent itself abrogated the ceremonial law. The ceremonial law also was not a part of the Covenant of Works made with Adam. Adam needed no sacrifice for sins prior to his fall.

  49. Robert K. said,

    December 3, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    Federal Vision followers are incredibly confused in two areas as I’ve encountered them (confused or simply currently ignorant): law and gospel; and the four states of man (innocent, fallen, regenerated, glorified). Even me writing that second one is going to generate posts full of confusion from them.

    I could also throw in the doctrine surrounding the two Adams. But that is law and gospel related…

  50. Robert K. said,

    December 3, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    Leaders of Federal Vision, on the other hand, know very well what they are messing with… Some might dispute that and say they are legitimately confused and a bit mislead by some kind of zeal to teach, but they show too much knowledge of that which they are playing games with for me to say they are legitimately confused.

  51. Robert K. said,

    December 3, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Rey, and others, let Berkhof teach you. Humble yourself to the boring one of Michigan (I think he mostly taught in Michigan?). I use to have great arguments with Berkhof, which he always won, eventually. Except on baptism, or the republication of the Covenant of Works (I say yea, he said nay), and maybe a couple of other things I can’t currently remember. Learn from Berkhof to at least know what it is you are up against regarding Reformed Theology. Berkhof’s background in historical theology also makes him uniquely valuable as a teacher. He has other unique virtues as a systematic theologian. But he’s comprehensive and to-the-point, and had the perfect personality and even place in time to produce something that can be used to great benefit.

  52. pduggie said,

    December 3, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    52:

    Lusk’s full essay is viewable via google cache, BTW. I think its significant that Lusk took it down, BTW, and suspicions of contentious men than such actions are part of a scheme are devilish.

    Lusk deals with more than just acts 2

    “The same pattern holds true throughout Acts, though with qualifications. In the book of Acts, the variations in the ordo salutis, involving preaching, baptism, the apostolic laying on of hands, and speaking in tongues, are due to the eschatological, trans-epochal nature of that period of history. They are not necessarily to be elevated to timeless norms for all Christians. The historia salutis always has precedence over the ordo salutis in Acts. But certain principles do emerge that have abiding relevance.”

    I suppose Lusk is trying to give the Acts 2 model a primacy of place while admitting (as one has to with Acts) that there are many models of the Spirit’s work. Whatever the order, noone in acts considers baptism superfluous.

    I wonder a bit about the significant differences in Acts 2, where the audience is a bunch of basically unsaved Jews who will all perish if they don’t repent of their murder of Christ, and baptism forms the capstone of their repentance and identification with Christ as their atonement and gateway to the new aeon. Versus Cornelius, who by any standard Reformed ordo has been living a regenerate saved life as a gentile, and all he needs to do when Peter comes to tell him of the fulfillment of the new aeon is complete his already fully salvific faith. Cornelius goes straight to heaven if in the providence of God he’d died before Peter got to him.

    It doesn’t seem to me that Lusk leaves unqualified his description of baptismal “necessity”. He’s covering bases in Acts where baptism is a key hinge of the transition to the new age of the Spirit in Christ.

    If faith involves “mental assent” perhaps what Lusk is getting at is the need for bodily assent as well. The gospel can be believed when preached, and that’s of great importance. But we always admit that we’re weak (and that we’re bodily creatures). If so, our mental assents need to be definitively reinforced with our physical senses. Baptism and the supper are (ordinarily) necessary for this.

    From what I hear from missionary reports, there’s all kinds of Muslims interested in Christians and what they believe about Jesus. Many have knowledge of the gospel, but are accepted by fellow muslims. But what they know the decisive step is that brings down the wrath of their community is baptism. A Muslim goes though THAT and everything changes.

  53. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 4, 2007 at 12:02 am

    It appears to be back up

  54. Tony S said,

    December 4, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    So rey, if Adam prior to the serpent’s offer of the fruit to Eve had picked up a rock and bashed her head in with it would he have fallen? What about the command to be fruitful and multiply? If Adam hadn’t sinned and had procreated without sin would the moral content of natural law have applied to him and his descendants?

  55. Robert K. said,

    December 4, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Rey, when your get your covenant theology from James Jordan, Doug Wilson, and Ralph Smith you might as well be studying Mormon theology. Classical Covenant Theology can be learned from better sources…

  56. Keith LaMothe said,

    December 4, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    Robert,

    I’m pretty sure Rey isn’t getting any of his theology from Jordan, Wilson, or Smith. As far as I can tell, his view of the law is *way* out there compared to the FV or the TR position.

    Occasionally someone wanders into this debate, comes to the conclusion that we’re ALL wrong, and proceeds to provide quite a reality check to those of us who drift towards “the-other-side-of-this-debate-is-the-utter-antithesis-of-my-position” thinking (no one here actually says or believes that, but we tend to unconciously drift that way as things heat up).

    Keith

  57. Robert K. said,

    December 4, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Granted. I now recall I’ve had exchanges with Rey before where I couldn’t tell where he was arguing from. Maybe Rey should help us all and state his opinion of the Westminster Standards or 3 Forms of Unity. Just to give everybody an idea of his general position…

  58. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 4, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    Rey, one standard way of explaining it is this: Adam had a command to keep. The keeping of that command would lead to life; the breaking of it, death.

    Hence, the command is called a “Covenant of Works” or “Covenant of Life” in the Confession.

    He failed.

    Jesus now as the second Adam (cf. Rom. 5) also keeps the commands of God, and his law-keeping (or law-keepingness) is precisely what is reckoned to us.

    It is in that sense that Jesus “fulfills the Covenant of Works.”

    Meredith Kline was fond of pointing out that without *this* Covenant of Works, there is no Covenant of Grace.

    But now, the OT law was more complex; it was an image of the CoW, but it was not itself the CoW. No Jew could have been saved by law-keeping in the OT, because all are guilty of Adam’s transgression. The OT law contained “righteous requirements” (like the 10 Commandments), but it also contained laws governing the state of Israel as well as typological symbols (like the sacrifices). The book of Hebrews, as well you know, argues that those sacrifices were not of themselves effective, but rather that they pointed to Jesus who was to come.

    Likewise, the food and clothing restrictions in Leviticus were typological of the purity that Israel was to have.

    So now that the reality has appeared, the part of the OT law that was “ceremonial” or “typological” is done. Jesus has come; no more sacrifices. Jesus has come; all foods are clean.

    But this doesn’t mean that the entire OT law is now kaput. That part of the law that reflects God’s “righteous requirements”, such as the 10 commandments, is still a reflection of God’s righteous requirements! They are fulfilled in us *only* in Christ through the power of the Spirit, but they are nevertheless normative for our lives. This is called the “moral law” in the Confession.

    SO, the food-fight you’ve seen here over law-keeping has to do with this question: can we legitimately say to our folk, “you must keep the moral law of God in order to call yourself His child?”

    It’s not as straightforward a question as we might imagine, because it involves looking at multiple different angles *and* subtle nuances of the word “must.”

    I could say more about this, but I *must* go pick up my kids. Hope this cleared up the terminology.

    Jeff Cagle

  59. pduggie said,

    December 4, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Frequently a distinction is made between the CoW Adam was given (don’t eat the tree/moral law), and the CoW that Jesus fulfilled, which was a covenant command to “be the redeemer of humanity”.

  60. pduggie said,

    December 4, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Rey: DON’T tell us where you stand w.r.t. the WCF. Its a trap.

    – Admiral Akbar

  61. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 4, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    Agreed with pduggie (#69). Romans 5 is not clear on *how far* the parallel between Christ and Adam goes.

    Jeff C.

  62. GLW Johnson said,

    December 5, 2007 at 6:45 am

    I am glad rey is on the other side .

  63. Robert K. said,

    December 5, 2007 at 11:22 am

    Rey, it’s difficult for anyone to interact with you when you insist on keeping your theological beliefs or church or homebase or however you want to put it in mystery.

    Do you resonate with the statement: no creed but the Bible?

  64. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 5, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    For the record, Rey, I’m glad you are on “our” side in the sense of 1 Cor 12-14.

    Yet we are supposed to beleive Adam had a covenant when there was no shedding of blood? Covenants by very nature appear to be only necessitated by the fall.

    It’s then worth asking why God sheds the blood of animals to cover their nakedness. The symbolism is very strong there. And, the command is expressed in terms of life and death: Eat the fruit, you’re dead.

    So even if you don’t agree, at least concede that we’re not all idiots. :)

    Indeed, the notion that even Adam himself merited hell by eating the fruit seems unsupportable.

    That also comes from Romans 5:

    12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—

    13for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law.

    14Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.

    Paul’s argument is very dense, and it requires close examination. Verses 13-14 answer the question, Why did people die *even though* they had not broken any of God’s commands? And they answer it based on the principle explicated in v. 12: through Adam, sin entered the world.

    We could say that Adam gave us the sin nature, and that would be true. But if that were the only consideration, then people between Adam and Moses should not have died — because they didn’t break any commands!

    So something else is required: when Adam sinned, all sinned.

    For the record, this way of thinking about Adam is not original to Presbyterians (though they tend to stress it a bit more than others). It goes back to the early church.

    And Paul. :)

    Jeff Cagle

  65. kjsulli said,

    December 5, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Rey, re: 67,

    Even the animals were immortal then, nay, even the plants. Adam and Eve only could eat fruit, not salads.

    Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. (Gen. 1:29-30)

    I don’t see how plants are “immortal” according to the Genesis account. Do you think only seeds or fruit were eaten?

    Now, Adam and Eve were “immortal” at this point, meaning that they were not heading toward death. But there’s nothing here either to indicate that it was physically impossible for Adam to kill Eve or vice versa. Perhaps that’s the case, but you must admit that’s speculation on your part.

    As far as covenants go, only blood covenants are a necessity after the fall. Prior to the fall, why would blood-letting be necessary? And yet there’s no reason a covenant is impossible, given that the essential property of a covenant is an agreement between parties. (The covenant between David and Jonathan, after all, didn’t involve blood.) The blood covenant is necessary between man and God after the fall because forgiveness of sin is by blood (Heb. 9:22); the shedding of blood being the equivalent of death, since the life is in the blood (Gen. 9:4).

  66. Robert K. said,

    December 5, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    >Covenants in the Bible are always ratified by blood,

    Do you think Adam and the creation being still in the state of innocence might have something to say about this? Federal Theology sees every element of a covenant present in the Covenant of Works. Requiring something that didn’t exist in an unfallen world is putting your own demands and requirements on Scripture and God’s plan.

    >even when between two men, as with Jacob and Laban, they sacrifice an animal. Yet we are supposed to beleive Adam had a covenant when there was no shedding of blood?

    Again, you’re showing no understanding of the pre- and post-fall state of man and the Creation in general.

    Rey, I suspect you are a Federal Visionist who is, under anonymity, allowing yourself to say what you really think of Federal Theology. When you go back to using your real name and engaging these subjects, you’ll go back to doing the Federal Vision thing of pretending to hold to the Federal Theology of the Westminster Standards, just except for that little Covenant of Works thing, and that little imputation of the active obedience of Christ thing and that sola fide thing and so on and so on.

  67. pduggie said,

    December 5, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    Marriage is a covenant, and marriage WAS ratified in blood, pre-fall.

  68. Roger Mann said,

    December 5, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    61: Rey said,

    I doubt that “thou shalt not commit adultery” applied to Adam before the fall either, since there was only one woman and she was his wife. And as for “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s ox” — he didn’t have any neighbors. If you are thinking of the moral law as something that Adam was required to keep in the garden, I think you are way off.

    Using this same line of “reasoning” one could argue — I’m not currently married; thus the command “thou shalt not commit adultery” doesn’t specifically apply to me; therefore the moral law is not something I’m required to keep.

    Of course, this conclusion is total nonsense — just as Rey’s conclusion that Adam wasn’t required to keep the moral law is total nonsense. Neither conclusion necessarily follows from the premises.

    The fact is, Adam was obligated to love God “with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind” and to “love his neighbor [Eve] as himself” (Matt. 22:37-39). Thus, Adam was required to keep the moral law. As Jesus Himself said, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (v. 40). Rey is simply dead wrong on this issue.

    By the way, this also indirectly proves that Adam was under a “covenant of works” with God. Adam would have earned the reward of “eternal life” if he had perfectly obeyed God’s law:

    And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” — Luke 10:25-28

  69. pduggie said,

    December 5, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Hey, Rey, if that’s your objection to “moral law on the heart” then I recommends to you Jim Jordan’s (and other’s) ruminations on what “Knowledge of Good and Evil” is.

    It isn’t the moral law. Its the right to pass judgment via maturity. If you do a study on all biblical occurrences of “Knowledge of Good and Evil” you’ll see its something a mature ruler has that enables him to pass not only MORAL but WISE judgments.

    No laws of MORALITY could inform Solomon that it would be a good idea to order a baby cut in two.

  70. pduggie said,

    December 5, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Roger, read Luke again. The man is asking what he has to do to INHERIT eternal life. Not earn it.

  71. Keith LaMothe said,

    December 5, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Re #80

    Robert,

    You said:
    Rey, I suspect you are a Federal Visionist who is, under anonymity, allowing yourself to say what you really think of Federal Theology. When you go back to using your real name and engaging these subjects, you’ll go back to doing the Federal Vision thing of pretending to hold to the Federal Theology of the Westminster Standards, just except for that little Covenant of Works thing, and that little imputation of the active obedience of Christ thing and that sola fide thing and so on and so on.

    Brother, are you serious? Are you seriously making this accusation against Rey?

  72. December 5, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    OK, fellas. This line of conversation needs to end. The topic is on the Federal Vision’s theology of baptismal efficacy.

    And a note to Rey – please refrain from posting comments under Federal Vision-related posts. I can’t speak for the other contributors or the moderators, but at least for my FV posts, it would be helpful to keep this as an “in-house” discussion and keep things focused. I am not upset or even greatly bothered that you have been posting so far. But I want these discussions to be fruitful, and toward that end only those who share common Reformed convictions as a foundation for addressing this issue should be involved.

    There is a time and place for answering Rey’s objections or questions, but *this* discussion is not the place for it.

  73. Robert K. said,

    December 5, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    I saw it as evangelization. Even knowing it was not on topic… There’s a tension there, but, you know…

  74. Tim Harris said,

    December 5, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    Not all covenants are ratified in blood. Indeed, not every covenant even threatens death:

    Jeremiah 33:25 This is what the LORD says: ‘If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth..

  75. pduggie said,

    December 5, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    “The knowledge of good and evil is basically the moral law.”

    Whats your justification for believing this? Verses? Chain of reasoning?

    Consider

    “And your servant thought, ‘The word of my lord the king will set me at rest,’ for my lord the king is like the angel of God to discern good and evil. The Lord your God be with you!””

    “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?””

    “And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there.”

    “I am now eighty years old. Can I distinguish between good and bad? Or can your servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Or can I hear anymore the voice of singing men and women? Why then should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king?”

    “He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted.”

    “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”

    also: see this

    http://www.blogger.com/studycenter.net/documents/Investiture.pdf

  76. pduggie said,

    December 5, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    posted before I saw the thread close. My bad

  77. Roger Mann said,

    December 5, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    84: pduggie:

    Roger, read Luke again. The man is asking what he has to do to INHERIT eternal life. Not earn it.

    Yes, but it’s an “inheritance” conditioned on one’s perfect obedience to the law, as comparative passages make clear: “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Matt. 19:16). The context here clearly refers to “what good thing” (i.e., good work) a person must do in order to “have” or obtain eternal life as a reward — which is precisely what “earned” or “merited” means (see also Rom. 2:13; 10:5; Gal. 3:12; etc.). That’s why Paul writes: “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt” (Rom. 4:4). “But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work” (Rom. 11:6).

    By the way, to “inherit” (kleronomeo) simply means “to possess oneself of, to receive as one’s own, to obtain” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, p. 325). The context (as in Luke 10:25) determines whether what is “received” or “obtained” is earned or not.

  78. pduggie said,

    December 5, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    Matt 19 is not a comparative passage, and doesn’t fit the procrustean CoW bed at all.

    1. the man says he HAS kept the law
    2. Jesus tells him all he needs to do is give up the things that the Torah promised would be the rewards of obedience: wealth and possession of land.
    3. Jesus says if he will do this he will have ‘treasure in heaven”
    4. The disciples go on to say that, unlike the man, they have done #2
    5. Jesus says that because they did #2, they will inherit eternal life

    Romans 4 also CONTRASTS inheritance with earning.

    And not just context needs to be considered, but disproportionality. The reformed tradition has always, untile recently, affirmed that the rewards of heaven are disproportionate. God as creator, cannot be achieved by the mere efforts of the creature. He has to give himself as gift.

  79. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 5, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    So speaking of baptismal efficacy,

    Xon has confirmed for me that Rich Lusk was speaking in the quotes above about “covenantal salvation” — a term that is still murky for me, but getting clearer.

    As I currently understand it, the Federal Vision stipulates that there is salvation as viewed from the perspective of God’s eternal decrees (would it be fair to import Augustine’s “God on a mountain” image here?). And then there is salvation as we experience it through time: “Covenantal salvation.”

    Pduggie, how am I doing?

    Here’s what Rich has to say then about baptism:

    Scripture is clear: baptism is the means through which the Spirit unites us to Christ. No other means is said have this function; it is the peculiar grace attached to baptism.

    This union with Christ as the living head of the new, redeemed humanity is deeply mysterious. We would not pretend to understand all the “mechanics” of it. But at the very least, we may insist that baptism puts the one baptized into a state of salvation. It grafts us into Christ’s body that we may share in his life.

    Paul frequently ties baptism to union with Christ (Rom. 6:1ff). For Paul, baptism was a kind of marriage ceremony in which the one baptized is made a member of Christ’s holy spouse, flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone (Eph. 5:25-33). Of course, if we are unfaithful to our husband, he may divorce us (cf. Rom. 11:20-22). Or, to use the analogy of Jesus, baptism makes us branches on the vine, full of his life-giving sap. True, fruitlessness will result in getting cut off and being cast away, but the reality and objectivity of the union effected in baptism is indisputable (Jn. 15:1ff).

    Now that last reference catches my eye, because I’ve been working some on John 15. And here’s what Jesus says:

    “You are already clean because of the Word I have spoken to you.”

    There’s no mention in John 15 of baptism and no allusion to it, either. And in fact, there are a large number of passages in John that speak to “being children of God” — certainly a reference to union with Christ! — through believing. John 1.12, 3.16, I’m too lazy to look up the others, but ch. 5, 6, 8 all have some kind of “believe and become children of God” theology in them.

    As does of course Romans. And Galatians. And Ephesians 1. And Hebrews. And Mark 1 (“repent and believe the gospel!”). So no, the Scripture is *not* clear that baptism is the means that the Spirit uses to unite us with Christ.

    Here’s what Lusk has to say about preaching and baptism:

    Look carefully at Acts 8:26ff. Phillip preaches to the Ethiopian eunuch. The eunuch comes to desire the salvation that is found only in Christ. He may have been a Gentile God-fearer previously, but now he longs to enter the new creation inaugurated by the Messiah. He wants to share in the glorious vision of redemption described by the prophet Isaiah. And so he asks: “What hinders me from being baptized?” Just as in Acts 2, preaching once again aroused a desire for the blessings that are actually handed over to believers in the waters of baptism. By submitting to baptismal sprinkling, he will enter into the promised messianic age (cf. Isa. 52:15, in close proximity to the Isaianic passage the eunuch was reading).

    Paul’s conversion in Acts 9 reveals the same structure. As he was traveling on the road to Damascus, he is confronted with the risen Christ. He hears a sermon straight from the lips of the glorified Redeemer. He asks, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” He is told, “Arise, go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” When arrives in town, Ananias tells him, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (22:16). Note carefully: even hearing a sermon from heaven did not grant forgiveness! Only when Paul received the washing of baptism did he find remission. The restoration of his sight, of course, shows that he is being made new and whole as he enters Christ’s new creation. Confrontation with the Word of Christ began his conversion process, but it was not complete until he received the sacrament of initiation…

    To sum up the picture drawn in Acts: Preaching awakens its hearers to their need for new creation life and forgiveness. These blessings are described in preaching and offered in baptism. Thus the Word preached and baptism are part of a complex whole, a conglomerate of spiritual events, through which a person is taken out of the old Adamic world and placed into the new Christic world…

    And then he approvingly cites Krebs:

    All this may be exhibited, as the general result which we have reached, in the following way: — The Word has to do with truth, the Sacraments with life. The one operates upon the intellect and the affections, the other upon the center of the being. By the Word, men are brought mentally and morally into contact with Christ; by the Sacraments, into actual life-contact. The Word draws men to the threshold, Baptism is the door by which they go in; the Word makes men hunger and thirst, the Lord’s Supper furnishes [bread and wine]. The Word, without the Sacraments, would be without an object without a purpose, without an aim; the Sacraments, without the Word, would be magical, unnatural, impossible. In short, the one is the subjective means of penitence and faith; the other, the objective means of life and power.

    Now, let me agree with Lusk on this one point: the Word preached and baptism are part of a complex whole. I even agree that this is what Paul is getting at in Romans 6. But after that, we part company.

    For Lusk, the word preached does not ordinarily cleanse. In God’s economy, those who believe are then drawn into the church, receive the sacrament, and are cleansed at the moment of reception of sacrament.

    I say that John and Paul are clear: justification (== cleansing from sins!) comes through faith. And faith comes from hearing. And baptism is the logical outcome of believing. But if we roll the cameras and freeze-frame on the moment of justification, it’s the moment of faith, not the moment of baptism.

    The difference between Lusk and me on baptism parallels our difference on James. For him, the works in James 2 are Abraham’s “subsequent justification.” For me, the works in James 2 are a logical outcome of the justifying faith from Genesis 15. We both agree that works and faith cannot be separated (Eph. 2.8-10), but we disagree on the mechanism that unites them.

    Further, it should be noted that Lusk inverts Calvin’s sacramental theology. Whereas for Calvin, the Word is primary, and the sacraments act as visible symbols of God’s grace for us (and are thereby used by the Spirit to preach the gospel to us), for Lusk the word is secondary, acting as a draw to get us to the real means: the sacrament.

    And finally, I note that there is an eerie similarity between Lusk’s structure and the RCC theology of sacraments. The two are NOT the same; Lusk heartily denies the “substance” idea of merit. But still and all, the structure is the same: faith by itself does not justify, but draws us into the church, in which we receive the sacraments, by which we are justified.

    I can’t see that in the Scriptures.

    Jeff Cagle

  80. Andy Gilman said,

    December 5, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    Here’s something from Samuel Miller about baptismal efficacy:

    But it may be asked, what kind or degree of efficacy do
    Presbyterians consider as connected with baptism? Do
    they suppose that there is any beneficial influence, physical
    or moral, in all cases, connected with the due administration
    of this sacrament? I answer, none at all. They
    suppose that the washing with water in this ordinance is an
    emblem and a sign of precious benefits; that it holds forth
    certain great truths, which are the glory of the Christian
    covenant, and the joy of the Christian’s heart; that it is a
    seal affixed by God to his covenant with his people,
    whereby he certifies his purposes of grace, and pledges his
    blessing to all who receive it with a living faith; nay, that
    it is the seal of valuable outward privileges, even to those
    who are not then, or at any other time, “born of the
    Spirit;” that, as a solemn rite appointed by Christ, it is
    adapted to make a solemn impression on the serious mind;
    but that when it is administered to the persons, or the offspring
    of those who are entirely destitute of faith, there is
    no pledge or certainty that it will be accompanied with any
    blessing. They receive the water, but not the Spirit.
    They are engrafted into the visible church, but not into the
    spiritual body of Christ, and are, after baptism, just as
    they were before, like Simon the Sorcerer, “in the gall of
    bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.”

    And you can find it in Google books where you can see the italicized words here.

  81. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 5, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    See, I would take a “thicker” view of efficacy. It’s subtle; I agree with Miller that to those without faith, it accomplishes nothing of value. But the Romans 6 language, “You were buried with him through baptism…” seems to demand something stronger than “an emblem and a sign.” So does the Confession in 27.2,3 and 28.6.

    The moment of baptism can be a moment used by the Spirit, just as the moment of Communion. And that use does not need to be tied in time to the baptism itself. So I have no problem saying that my daughter’s baptism at 3 mo. was effective when she began to believe. Or that my baptism at age 11 was effective when I began to believe around age 6. :)

    BECAUSE

    The efficacy of baptism is faith. Baptism promises something, it offers the grace of washing just as powerfully (if not as clearly) as the spoken word. And when we believe that promise, we are cleansed. I believed in the promise of cleansing offered in baptism long before I was baptized.

    Ditto with Abraham, except that he was circumcised. And the gap was 24 years instead of a few.

    Jeff Cagle

  82. Travis said,

    December 6, 2007 at 7:11 am

    #34
    Jeff Moss, in this Wilson quote you stumbled into exposing about 666 of his mis-non-intentionalllynon-understandings of the faith once delivered.

    “With whom was God grieved for forty years? With those He had delivered from Egypt, but who sinned and whose bodies fell in the wilderness (3:17). God, speaking to the people He had delivered, swore that some would never enter His rest? Who made up that group? Those that believed not (3:18). The thing that shut them out was their unbelief (3:19). So then, he says, turning to these first century Christians, let us fear lest any of us fall short of the rest. Not everyone who is set aside by the gospel is set aside in the gospel (4:2). When the word is preached, mix it with your faith (4:2). Those who believe are always those who enter the rest of God (4:3). Sola fide.”

    What those Israelites failed to do Jesus did for us. Wilson is speaking once again out of both sides of his mouth when he uses the phrase ’sola fide’ and uses the example of Israelites persevering in the desert. Jesus persevered in the desert, tempted by the devil for us.

    Herein lies the great evangelical debacle in regards to covenant theology. Ask any evangelical Christian whether he is in covenant with God. What do you think he will say? I would have said (had I stayed in the dark) No, I am not in covenant with God. Jesus has kept the covenant for me. He is my covenant keeper. I am only in the covenant by faith in what Christ has done for me. I will be saved b/c of Jesus; he has kept the covenant for me. Therefore, I have no fear of judgement or of breaking the covenant b/c Jesus has done it all; yea, indeed, and verily, all to him I owe.

    But as I have already alluded, the above quote by Wilson rather is really good. To be brief, Jesus is our covenant keeper. He is. If we persevere. Why is this so hard?
    If a person is united to Christ by baptism there is covenant. That person has avowed to Christ to faithfully endeavour to walk in newness of life. That is covenant. He has applied the waters of baptism to his person wherein either he will have his sins washed away (by faith) or he himself will be washed away (by unfaith). That is covenant and Wilson is sustained.

  83. Travis said,

    December 6, 2007 at 7:18 am

    Jeff,
    BECAUSE

    The efficacy of baptism is faith.

    You deny too much. Baptism is effective. Full stop (hmmmm, where did I get that?). At 3 mos your daughter’s baptism (besides being delayed too long….. ahem [lighthearted]) was effective right then and there. The WCF’s disavowal of baptism’s being “tied” is to counter the RC mistake. Our baptism extends to all our lives and is never relinquished by mortal or any other sin. Baptism not only “promises” something, it accomplises what it promises. When your daughter was baptised your God said to you, Your daughter is my daughter; the love with which I love you, I love her b/c of Jesus.
    Believe it.

  84. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 6, 2007 at 8:31 am

    Travis (#97,98) :

    Baptism not only “promises” something, it accomplises what it promises.

    Ya know, the FV story is that historic Reformed theology taught this, but then assaults from the Enlightenment and Revivalism caused us to back away from the truth.

    But I rediscovered, on re-reading the Institutes (quoted and linked above), that *Calvin* taught that “the efficacy of baptism is faith.” That’s not a later distortion of Reformed theology; it’s in the original.

    That’s not to say that Calvin is always right, but it does make one pause and ask why the FV account of the sacraments differs from him.

    To be brief, Jesus is our covenant keeper. He is. If we persevere. Why is this so hard?

    Because, as stated, it is both true and misleading at the same time.

    True — those who persevere to the end are saved.

    Misleading — it appears to make perseverance a cause of salvation. That’s backwards; salvation is the cause of perseverance.

    Herein lies the great evangelical debacle in regards to covenant theology. Ask any evangelical Christian whether he is in covenant with God. What do you think he will say? I would have said (had I stayed in the dark) No, I am not in covenant with God. Jesus has kept the covenant for me.

    Well, given your starting point, I can see why the FV is helpful for you. For me, I became Presbyterian because the Scripture overwhelmingly convinced me that belonging to Jesus *means* being a part of the covenant God made with Abraham. So I would answer, “Yes, I am in covenant with God.”

    Jeff Cagle

    P.S. I haven’t forgotten about your sermon!

  85. GLW Johnson said,

    December 6, 2007 at 8:55 am

    Question for Travis (and anyone else who concurs with Rich Lusk on Baptism)
    Are the sacrements efficacious without faith- in that grace is convey by the sacrament itself?

  86. Robert K. said,

    December 6, 2007 at 10:33 am

    “Those who live by the law, that is, they who still expect to obtain salvation by the works of the law, have never felt the strength of the law. They know nothing of death and condemnation to which they are subject, and therefore they are neither hungry nor thirsty for the righteousness of Christ (Mat. 5:6).” – Petrus Dathenus (1531-1588), Pearl of Christian Comfort

    I would ask the followers of Federal Vision leaders to read and to memorize the quote above (and try to feel what the quote is referring to regarding the power of the law). In fact, to get the book and read and study it and put it to memory. Especially since Federal Vision leaders are always claiming the first generation reformers as their own (and when pinned saying Reformed theologians after the 16th century such as the Dutch Calvinists and Thomas Boston, etc., are ‘wrong’). In politics we would call the angry Federal Vision leaders such as Horne and Wilson and Jordan “know nothings”, but they are also more, they are RINOs. Like ‘Republicans In Name Only’ they are Reformed In Name Only.

  87. pduggie said,

    December 6, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    I think Jesus is “present” to reprobates who lack faith when the sacrament comes to them. If we limit “efficacy” to “saving efficacy” no, there is none without faith. if we broaden “efficacy” to encompass “having an effect, positive or negative” then sacraments are efficacious to all, just negatively to the reprobate.

    Calvin likens the sacraments to the presence of God in fire at the red sea. Same God present to both Israel and Egypt, but different experiences of and relations to God.

    I’m not to keen on all this discussion of “faith” being the cause of the efficacy of a sacrament. The FV position on this emphasizes that the efficacy is in the Spirit and the Word that constitutes the sacrament.

    From the FV position “neither does the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that does administer it: but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers”

  88. Jeff Moss said,

    December 6, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Jeff C., here’s one response to a point you made in #94:

    I’ve been working some on John 15. And here’s what Jesus says:
    “You are already clean because of the Word I have spoken to you.”
    There’s no mention in John 15 of baptism and no allusion to it, either.

    That’s true, but there’s a little more to the story. You may know that the Greek verb for “prunes” in v. 2 is actually “cleanses,” resulting in the status of “clean” in v. 3. So we can sketch out at least five different kinds of status relative to the Vine (Christ):

    1. Never in the vine
    2. In the vine, but not bearing fruit (v. 2)
    3. In the vine and bearing fruit, but not yet cleansed/pruned (v. 2)
    4. Abiding in the vine and cleansed for maximum fruitfulness (vv. 2-5)
    5. Removed from the vine (vv. 2, 6; the outcome of #2)

    Granted that status #2 is a bad place to be (as seen in #5), I’d like to know what you think makes the difference, in the real world, between #1 and #2. Whatever that is, you could also say broadly that it makes the difference between #1 on the one hand (outside the vine) and #2-4 on the other (in the vine). Fair enough?

  89. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 6, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    Paul (#102):

    if we broaden “efficacy” to encompass “having an effect, positive or negative” then sacraments are efficacious to all, just negatively to the reprobate.

    I’m fine with that, if we understand (a) that negative efficacy means something like “testifies to their unbelief”, much as circumcision testified to the unbelief of the non-remnant Israelites, and (b) that “negatively to the reprobate” excludes the idea that baptism could have a positive effect now, but a negative effect later after apostasy.

    I think that second point would be a deal-breaker for the FV, no?

    I’m not to keen on all this discussion of “faith” being the cause of the efficacy of a sacrament. The FV position on this emphasizes that the efficacy is in the Spirit and the Word that constitutes the sacrament.

    Well again, I’m just pointing out that this was Calvin’s position, not a later accretion to Reformed theology. I don’t deny that the Spirit is the cause of faith, and thus the “material effector”; but I affirm that faith is the “instrumental effector.”

    Jeff Cagle

  90. Andy Gilman said,

    December 6, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    Paul D. said:

    From the FV position “neither does the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that does administer it: but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers”

    What do you suppose it means when it says the “promise of benefit” is “to worthy receivers?”

  91. Robert K. said,

    December 6, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    >I’m not to keen on all this discussion of “faith” being the cause of the efficacy of a sacrament. The FV position on this emphasizes that the efficacy is in the Spirit and the Word that constitutes the sacrament.

    All of the Christian Reformed world is upset that you’re not keen on it, but where do you think faith comes from? Faith is a free grace given by God to His own.

    It’s something you do, but you know what? in the Covenant of Grace what God demands He gives freely.

    That can be confusing and stuff, but it’s something that needs to be understood at least before a person tries to rewrite Reformed Theology…

    (There has been no snarkiness or belittling in this comment…)

  92. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 6, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Jeff Moss (#103):

    . You may know that the Greek verb for “prunes” in v. 2 is actually “cleanses,” resulting in the status of “clean” in v. 3.

    I had overlooked that, foolishly reckoning that the Greek–>English process is completely transparent for John’s writings. Thank you!

    1. Never in the vine
    2. In the vine, but not bearing fruit (v. 2)

    I’d like to know what you think makes the difference, in the real world, between #1 and #2.

    Here’s one difference, bouncing off of Wilkins’ treatment in “TFV”: those who are never in the vine *never* bear any real fruit. And this seems to be the category that Jesus is operating in. By contrast, those in #2 will, presumably, bear “real fruit” for a time, and then apostasize.

    That’s a very different image.

    And here’s another difference: If we posit that the fruitless have nevertheless been “in the vine”, then by what mechanism do they fail to bear fruit?

    #1 will allows for a very different mechanism — i.e., lack of new nature, indwelling HS — for fruitlessness than #2.

    In fact, I can’t imagine an orthodox way to explain fruitlessness, assuming #2. It would seem like #2 would require that either (a) the difference between the fruitful and the fruitless is up to the free will of the branch (and we all don’t want to go there), or (b) that the fruitless branches were “in Jesus”, had a new nature, had the HS, and yet he failed to sustain them. I don’t think I want to go there, either.

    Jeff Cagle

  93. Andy Gilman said,

    December 6, 2007 at 5:27 pm

    Paul D. said:

    I’m not to keen on all this discussion of “faith” being the cause of the efficacy of a sacrament. The FV position on this emphasizes that the efficacy is in the Spirit and the Word that constitutes the sacrament.

    So in the sacrament, faith is the basis for a “positive efficacy,” and unbelief is the basis for a “negative efficacy.” Applying that then to Rick Lusk’s statement, quoted in David’s original post, we can say that baptism is the instrument of justification on God’s side, and baptism is the instrument of condemnation on God’s side. Is that right?

  94. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 6, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    Jeff M (#103):

    You scored a footnote! Thanks again.

    Jeff Cagle

  95. Andy Gilman said,

    December 6, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    If Paul D. is correct about the FV reading of “efficacy,” then WCF 28:6 must be on James Jordan’s cutting room floor. Or maybe he’s just made a simple revision and it now reads:

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

    With 28:6b added for clarity:

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

  96. Travis said,

    December 6, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    #100
    <a href=”http://postdeliberatuslux.wordpress.com/2007/10/22/got-baptism-got-jesus/<Got Baptism? Got Jesus.

  97. Travis said,

    December 6, 2007 at 6:16 pm

    Got Baptism? Got Jesus.

    Soz.

  98. Travis said,

    December 6, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    Huh! One more time for old time’s sake…..

    Got Baptism? Got Jesus?

    Ok, I’ll stop.

  99. Todd Bordow said,

    December 6, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    The FVers love baptism because it enhances their desire for control. DW and his ilk are all about control and influence. Talk of sola fide and pointing people directly to Christ takes control out of their hands. Talk of the sacrament’s efficacy places control back into the hands of the clergy who administer the sacrament, and into the hands of legalists who want to control their own salvation. Why do you think on his blog DW points more people to the Supper and it’s blessings than to Christ himself through faith? RC’s love the Supper because it enables them to control people and keep their churches full. That is why the RC’s banned the Word but baptized all day; to protect their power and influence. It is no coincidence that FVers are also theonomists of some sort and paedo-communion. Theonomy justifies their desire to speak rabinically on every issue, whether the arts, history, literature, cooking, etc…thus promoting themselves and your need to heed their wisodm on every possible issue – control. And Paedo-communion is a way to say to all true Christians; leave your churches and come to us, your churches are not truly feeding your children – we will feed them so they do not starve; thus the cult mentality of influence and control. Men like DW will always write statements that can be orthoodox only to keep their influence. Only the naive fail to see through the charade. The “covenant” is their newfound means to sound orthodox but keep people bound – when questioned on anything, say it is “covenantally true” without needing to clearly define its meaning. But those who deny the covenant of works in the front door simply want to bring it in the back door. In this system Christ does not fulfill the demands of the covenant for us as our representative, he only helps us fulfill the conditions ourselves, thus the RC position. At least the RC’s are honest about it. In all the FV’s books about Christian living, the underlying principle is still one of law – blessings for obedience, curses for disobedience, not of true grace. They simply don’t get the gospel. Yes, the Pharisees were correct about the resurrection opposed to the Saducees, but so what, they were still enemies of the truth. DW may be right on a few cultural issues and the Trinity, but so what, a Pharisee is a Pharisee and dangerous to the sheep.

    Blessings,

    Todd Bordow
    Pastor – Covenant Presbyterian Church of Fort Worth (OPC)

  100. Travis said,

    December 6, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    #99
    I became Presbyterian because the Scripture overwhelmingly convinced me that belonging to Jesus *means* being a part of the covenant God made with Abraham. So I would answer, “Yes, I am in covenant with God.”

    Ok. You are an exception. What are your covenant obligations?

    Here’s the link for the sermon.

  101. Travis said,

    December 6, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    Does Todd get a strike for not posting per the original? (lol)

  102. Travis said,

    December 6, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    #99
    But I rediscovered, on re-reading the Institutes (quoted and linked above), that *Calvin* taught that “the efficacy of baptism is faith.” That’s not a later distortion of Reformed theology; it’s in the original.

    Hmmmmm. Would Calvin attribute efficacy to the baptism of infants? Whence?

    I became Presbyterian because the Scripture overwhelmingly convinced me that belonging to Jesus *means* being a part of the covenant God made with Abraham. So I would answer, “Yes, I am in covenant with God.”

    Ok. So you are an exception. What, then, are your covenant obligations?

    PS- Here is the link for the sermon

    #101
    Wow!! Wonderful quote! Beautiful! Now, what of me who does not consider baptism nor the supper a work of the law (per se) but a work of God?

    #105
    The worthy receivers are those who profess faith and their children.

    #108
    Yes, that’s right.

  103. Keith LaMothe said,

    December 6, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    Rev. Bordow,

    “DW and his ilk are all about control and influence. Talk of sola fide and pointing people directly to Christ takes control out of their hands.”

    While I do not wish to place another burden on your undoubtedly-busy schedule, I ask you to listen to Pastor Wilson’s latest sermon which can be found here entitled “Things That Accompany Salvation” which spends quite a bit of time of assurance of salvation. I would like to hear your opinion on whether that sermon confirms or contrasts with your present understanding of Pastor Wilson’s teaching and motives. Since this may be excessively off-topic for this thread, you may reach me at keith DOT lamothe AT gmail DOT com.

    May the Lord bless your ministry,
    Keith

  104. GLW Johnson said,

    December 6, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    To all interested parties
    ” I will readily allow that the use of those things which Christ gave us as helps to salvation is necessary, that is, when an opportunity is given: although believers are always to be remainded that there is no other necessity for any sacrament than that of an instrumental casue, to which the power of God is by no means to be tied down. every pious person must with his whole heart shudder at the expression that the things are superflous. But here the worthy Fathers, with their usual stupidity, perceive not that whatever grace is conferred upon us by the Sacraments, is nevertheless to be acsribed to faith. He who seperates faith from the Sacraments, does just as if he were to take the soul away from the body.Therefore, as we exclude not the doctrine of the gospel when we say that we obtain the grace of Christ by faith alone, so neither do we exclude the Sacraments, the nature of which is the same, as they are seals of the gospel… We acknowledge that the Sacraments are intended, not only to maintain but to increase faith. But these horned gentry mean something else; for they pretend that the Sacraments have a magical power, which is efficaious without faith. This error destroys the relation which the Scriptures uniformly establish between the Scaraments and faith. That my readers may perceive this more clearly, they must always call to mind, that the Sacraments are nothing but instrumental causes of bestowing grace upon us, and are beneficial, and produce their effect only when they are subservient to faith.”
    Antidote to the 7th session of the Council of Trent, Canon IV and V on Baptism in ‘ Selected Works of John Calvin: Tracts and Letters’ vol.III, translated and edited by Henry Beveridge and Jules Bonnet for the Calvin Translation Society, 1851 (rpt. Baker Book House, 1983) p.174

  105. Robert K. said,

    December 6, 2007 at 9:43 pm

    Keith L., I think Pastor Bordow answered you – or anticipated you – in his comment itself, twice. What Pastor Bordow is describing (and very well, IMHO, the rabbinical aspect especially stood out) is the entire sum of the FV movement and its leaders. Of course they say and write orthodox things, if they didn’t they wouldn’t get an audience for their main course. Olevianus talks about Arius doing the same in his day; blatantly stating an orthodox Christology (to get an audience) then giving his real teaching which he was famous for.

  106. Robert K. said,

    December 6, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    Calvin is particularly and more strikingly clear when he is writing directly against Roman Catholic attack or some contemporary manifestation of RC error. His reply to Sadoleto is classic in this sense…

  107. pduggie said,

    December 6, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    110:

    I think its clear that the WCF discusses ‘efficacy’ only in a positive sense.

    If we can’t talk about other effects of baptism other than confessional ones, I’ll just stop thinking about anything other than the confessions. I used to do that.

    Do we believe that unworthy reception of the supper can kill people? Or not? If so, then Christ can be present to the unworthy, and harm them.

  108. pduggie said,

    December 6, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    104: Baptism has an illocutionary design to bless and save though, and that can’t be undermined by the perlocutionary effect it may have if rejected.

    See the essay BAPTISM, REDEMPTIVE HISTORY, AND
    ESCHATOLOGY: THE PARAMETERS OF DEBATE, by P Richard Flinn, in Christianity and Civilization #1

  109. pduggie said,

    December 6, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    Robert K:

    Don’t try to be nice to me. Its too late

  110. pduggie said,

    December 6, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    sorry, that sounded too harsh.

  111. Keith LaMothe said,

    December 6, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    Re 118

    Robert,

    You said:
    “Of course they say and write orthodox things, if they didn’t they wouldn’t get an audience for their main course. Olevianus talks about Arius doing the same in his day; blatantly stating an orthodox Christology (to get an audience) then giving his real teaching which he was famous for.”

    Certainly, an orthodox sermon does not prove the preacher to be orthodox. However, I would like to note two things:

    1) This wasn’t just some piece of writing posted by Pastor Wilson on his blog or somewhere, this was a sermon delivered to his flock, to encourage them and teach them how to have biblical assurance of salvation. Even though I’m on the other end of the country (in Georgia), I was greatly encouraged and I think I finally “got” the reformed concept of assurance of salvation (as opposed to the arminianish-mush I’ve carried over from my non-reformed days). Preaching this way would be very counterproductive if he was trying to control his congregation.

    2) To my knowledge, I have listened to every single weekly sermon from Christ Church since the first Sunday of this calendar year. Most of them I’ve listened to several times. I’ve never heard something obviously contradictory to what he said this last Sunday. If he was delivering the damnable-heresy “main course” to which you refer, I completely missed it. Do you suppose he keeps those sermons for sometime other than Sunday morning?

    So, perhaps you understand why I would like Pastor Bardow to listen to the sermon in question? Either I’ve massively misunderstood Wilson, or he has. In either case, it is important that the mistaken one be corrected.

    Grace, and peace,
    Keith

  112. Jeff Moss said,

    December 6, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    Jeff C. (#107),

    I think you might have missed the point of the five different “statuses” relative to the Vine (my comment, #103). Considering these two in particular —

    1. Never in the vine
    2. In the vine, but not bearing fruit (v. 2)

    I was trying to emphasize that according to the way the Lord sets up His parable in John 15, #1 and #2 are two clearly different groups of people. Some have never been in the vine, but some (a whole different set of people), are in the vine, yet do not bear fruit and are therefore cut out. The two categories — and especially #2 — are not according to Wilkins, but according to Jesus in John 15.

    What I was asking you was, taking the text as it stands with the discussion of group #2 and the implication that there is a group #1 that is not the same as #2…
    what do you think makes the difference, in the real world, between #1 and #2?

    In other words: We know that some people have never been branches in the vine. We know that other people, according to Christ, are branches in the vine but do not bear fruit. What distinguishes these two? Because whatever it is, it also distinguishes between #1 on the one hand (those who are completely outside the vine) and #2-#4 on the other (those who are in the vine, whether fruitfully or not).

    Sorry about the misunderstanding. Is it clear now what I was getting at?

    Jeff

  113. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 7, 2007 at 5:03 am

    Ah. Yes, sorry. I was reading #1 and #2 as different possibilities for understanding v. 2.

    Here’s my understanding of 15.2, then. Jesus is referring to people who are “in him”, certainly. But the “in him” should not be read as if it were a Pauline “in Christ”, a saving vital union. Rather, it should be read in the same way as other groups of people in John’s Gospel who are apparently God’s people, but not in reality.

    Various examples of those are found in

    1.11, “He came to his own, but his own did not receive him”

    8.31ff:

    To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.””Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the things your own father does.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

    and Judas.

    In all of these cases, there was an appearance, and there was a reality. And for John, the reality was more fundamental and underlying. He thinks in “decretal” terms almost exclusively, which results in his stark binary language: lightness and darkness, children of Abraham and children of Satan, those with eternal life and those under wrath.

    In fact, one of the functions of Jesus as “the Light of the World” in John’s Gospel is to force crisis points so that people reveal who they really are. Hence John 4 (woman at the well) and John 6 (many who were following him turned back).

    So yes, #1 and #2 are clearly two different groups of people, according to outward appearances. But they share this in common: they have not believed, and the wrath of God remains upon them. They are not born of the Spirit. God is not their Father. Jesus is not their shepherd (else, they would not be lost).

    See, when I first started reading FV material, I thought that “the objective covenant” was talking about a judgment of charity (which is really a question of epistemology): We don’t know who is *really* saved, so we treat everyone within the visible church as if he is a Christian.

    I could live with that.

    But what I came to understand is that the FV goes beyond this and insists that all who are baptized within the church are actually saved, in a “covenantal sense.” They partake of the same blessings as the decretally elect, “in a sense.”

    And so my disagreement with the FV begins with the status of NECMs, non-elect covenant members.

    For the FV, they are forgiven of their sins, “in Christ” (in the Pauline sense), indwelt by the Spirit, united to Christ, children of God. And then they lose all that.

    But as I understand the Gospel of John, and the Canons of Dort, and the Pauline epistles, the NECMs are not forgiven, “in Christ” only in the Johannine sense, tasters of the Spirit but not indwelt, only apparently united to Christ, and still enslaved in the kingdom of darkness. So that when they apostasize, “what little they have is taken away from them.”

    Certainly, that’s a more complex view of the NECMs, but I think Scripture requires it.

    So to answer your question directly: what distinguishes #1 and #2 is outward appearance. #2 appears to be elect, but is not. Thus, they partake of God’s common grace — perhaps in amplified form, for the sake of the elect with whom they dwell — but they do not partake of God’s salvific grace.

    Jeff Cagle

  114. December 7, 2007 at 7:38 am

    I haven’t been following this thread in detail, but since Jn 15 came up, I have a full post on Jn 15:2 (and surrounding verses) at here. Some may find it helpful.

    Blessings,
    Bob

  115. Todd Bordow said,

    December 7, 2007 at 9:44 am

    Keith,

    In answer to your question about a particular sermon of DW affirming sola fida or “looking to Christ,” consider the words of Machen as he summarizes the problem with the Judiazers in Galatia, and that may answer your question. Remember you must look beyond certain words to the whole system a man is propagating, including how faith is defined and how blessings come from God in this system, realizing that inconsistencies are par for the course with false teachers.

    “The Judaizers agreed with Paul about many things: they agreed in holding that Jesus was the Messiah; they seemed to have no quarrel whatsoever with the deity of Christ; they believed in the resurrection of our Lord from the dead. Moreover, they even held, no doubt, that a man must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ if he is to be saved. But their error lay in holding not only that a man must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ if he is to be saved, but that he must also do something else, namely, keep at least a part of the law of God.
    The really essential thing about the Judaizers’ contention was not found in those particular “works of the law” that they urged upon the Galatians as being one of the grounds of salvation, but in the fact that they urged any works in this sense at all. The really serious error into which they fell was not that they carried the ceremonial law over into the new dispensation whither God did not intend it to be carried, but that they preached a religion of human merit as over against a religion of divine grace.
    Salvation according to those Judaizers is attained partly by the grace of God and partly by the merit of man. So the error of the Judaizers is a very modern error indeed, as well as a very ancient error. It is found in the modern Church wherever men seek salvation by making Christ master in the life instead of by trusting in His redeeming blood. This is just a different way of exalting the merit of man over against the Cross of Christ, it is an attack upon the very heart and core of the Christian religion.”

    Blessings,

    Todd Bordow
    Pastor – Covenant Presbyterian Church of Fort Worth (OPC)

  116. Keith LaMothe said,

    December 7, 2007 at 10:11 am

    Rev. Bordow,

    I agree with every single word in your post (#128), but not with the implication that Pastor Wilson is guilty of “exalting the merit of man over against the Cross of Christ”. If there is such an abominable heresy in his system of doctrine, and I haven’t grasped that in all those sermons and books, then I must be hopeless in either reading comprehension or spiritual life.

    But this conversation has been repeated by so many people over the last few years that I don’t think there’s much to be gained by our doing it again. May the Lord go with you, make straight your paths, and bless your ministry.

    Keith

  117. Todd Bordow said,

    December 7, 2007 at 10:45 am

    Keith,

    Not pretending to know what’s in your heart, Christians are drawn to DW types for a variety of reasons. Men naturally tend to like the emphasis on male headship in these movements, thus all the marriage difficulties I have counseled from men who think of their wives in OT categories, and women with a poor understanding of submission. Christian parents love their children, and DW sells his anti-public school, paedo communion classical model as a way to ensure that your kids grow up unstained and faithful. It doesn’t work that way, but it’s a good sell. Some are just political conservatives who despise liberals, and desire a conversative law-abiding society, so they are drawn to DW’s post-mil vision of one kingdom in this world. The pride in Christians is always drawn to movements who speak of the majority of churches as churches in declension and under God’s judgment, except them that is, thus the desire to be counted among the law-abiding faithful blessed by God, explaining how many pack up and move to Moscow to be among the truly blessed and faithful. All cults cultivate this mentality. As a young, sincere, zealous Christian I was also drawn to these movements and these leaders, until I grew up and saw it for what it was and how it hurt so many people. Since the gospel is so simple, and since the gospel is the power of God to save and sanctify, and since all true churches preach this simple gospel to some extent, why the draw to Moscow? The gospel, or something else?

    Blessings,

    Todd Bordow
    Pastor – Covenant Presbyterian Church of Fort Worth (OPC)

  118. Tim Harris said,

    December 7, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Keith (#124) — it’s funny because when I listen to wilson tapes, I find myself constantly muttering “false dilemma” or “partly true, but not quite,” or “rabbit trail” or whatever. And I don’t mean once per sermon. I mean, almost, every single sentence. But he is a rhetorical master.

    For that reason, I would recommend sticking to Wilson’s written material first, and use it as an exercise in logic/critical thinking. Map out his arguments in syllogistic form. Look for the equivocations. The audio rolls by too fast until you are “on” to what he is doing.

  119. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 7, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    Jeff M (#103, #125):

    One more thought: In his analysis of John 15 in “TFV”, pp. 62-63, Wilkins creates yet a different category,

    #6: branches that have been pruned, but are later broken off.

    How? Because he attributes Jesus’ words *to the listeners* — the apostles! — and says of them that they are warned against failing to abide, lest they be broken off. And yet, as you pointed out, these are branches that are already clean == have already been pruned.

    Jeff Cagle

  120. Robert K. said,

    December 7, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Also, just as a matter of common-sense the Bible says stay to the old paths. For theology this doesn’t mean by default the older the better, but time and the collective judgment of man do perform a vetting process on literature and ideas and so on. There’s nothing wrong with learning from a living person, but when that person is telling you that everybody got it wrong prior to him and his cohorts – especially when the subject is apostolic biblical doctrine – there is a bit of a problem there. And make no mistake about it: Wilson blatantly states that Reformed Theology between the propaganda of his appropriated-Calvin and Federal Vision got it wrong. I challenged him on his. I said, by what you’re saying Thomas Boston was just wrong, as was a Brakel and Edwards and Owen and on and on. He ducked the challenged, then, as is his manner, after the conversation had been buried in time and the archives he said: I think all those theologians are just wonderful. Which is saying exactly nothing to the point of the challenge.

    The first time I came across Federal Vision people, and they didn’t know whether I was a potential follower or what, they were engaged in mocking the five solas and mocking anyone who would suggest the five solas were important or had anything to do with defining the Reformation and biblical doctrine. The question on the table was what defines Protestantism? I said the five solas. I got laughed out of that internet environment. Innocent me. Only I didn’t allow their mocking to turn my mind from the truth. People in a similar position who do let the mocking turn their mind from the truth become followers of the Federal Visionists. They just don’t have a foundation yet to be able to see and value the truth. (This is why the Bible says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I.e. the fear of God and not man.) It’s not difficult for a believer who can see and know the truth to see those people for what they are.

  121. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 7, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Robert K:

    I’m enjoying getting to know your more complex side.

    Jeff C

  122. Robert K. said,

    December 7, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    I’m a plow-boy. With a little bit of Odysseus in me. I know what is important and won’t be drawn off the path. Yes, Odysseus was a king. Christians become kings too…

  123. Andy Gilman said,

    December 7, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    Paul D. said:

    I think its clear that the WCF discusses ‘efficacy’ only in a positive sense.

    If we can’t talk about other effects of baptism other than confessional ones, I’ll just stop thinking about anything other than the confessions. I used to do that.

    Do we believe that unworthy reception of the supper can kill people? Or not? If so, then Christ can be present to the unworthy, and harm them.

    Is it consistent with your view of efficacy to say that God acts “powerfully and savingly in the watery rite,” for some, and God acts “powerfully and damningly in the watery rite” for others? Baptism is efficacious to save some, and Baptism is efficacious to condemn others. Is that your position?

  124. Todd Bordow said,

    December 7, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    To see behind the DW movement you must see a love of this world and a dissatisfaction with suffering for Christ and waiting for glory. Like the Pharisees, the DW crowd wants a different Christ than the one who appeared on the earth. The true Christ rejected the desire to make him an earthly king; the true Christ rejected the plea to settle a legal dispute, Jesus stating that was not his ministry. The true Christ loved sinners and was respectful to them; only antagonistic toward the Pharisees. The DW crowd is antagonistic toward unbelievers, seeking their defeat, in the name of course of the Lordship of Christ, but a type of lordship that Christ himself rejected for this age.

    The DW crowd mocks suffering for Christ and waiting for glory, using catchphrases like “gnostic” and “escapism” for those whose passion is saving souls opposed to changing this culture into DW’s vision. The DW theology, like classic liberalism, does not deny individual salvation, but lowers its importance; ind. salvation becomes a means to an end, earthly victory and influence; mocking the true Christ and his spiritual kingdom.

    If you want to know the difference between true Christianity and this pseudo-Christianity, read anything by DW and then read Geerhardus Vos’ sermon on heavenly-mindedness. See what Vos says about those who see salvation as a means to an earthly end. I would also recommend Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism and so how much in common DW has with the old liberals.

    Blessings,

    Todd Bordow

  125. Andy Gilman said,

    December 7, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    Rich Lusk’s paper on Baptismal Efficacy, found here, includes the following paragraph:

    Turning to the Westminster Standards, we find this train of thought continued. The Standards teach that the sacraments “confer” grace (WCF 27.3, 28.6), that they are “effectual means of salvation” (WSC 91), and that they are required if we are to (ordinarily) escape God’s wrath and curse due to us for sin (WSC 85) [5]. Puritan expert David F. Wright [6] summarizes: “What then about the efficacy of baptism according to the Westminster Confession? Its central affirmation seems clear: ‘the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost’ (28.6). It is true that a variety of qualifications to this assertion are entered…But these qualifications serve in fact only to highlight the clarity of the core declaration, which is set forth as follows in the preceding chapter on sacraments in general…The Westminster divines viewed baptism as the instrument and occasion of regeneration by the Spirit, of the remission of sins, of ingrafting into Christ (cf. 28.1). The Confession teaches baptismal regeneration” [7]. Most Presbyterians today focus on the qualifiers on baptismal efficacy in the Confession, rather than its central affirmation. Indeed, the qualifiers are often treated as negating its plain statements. While it would be going too far to say the Confession necessitates belief in baptismal regeneration, there can be no question such a view of baptismal efficacy is included in its parameters, if determined by original authorial intent [8].

    Can anyone explain to me the logical steps D. F. Wright went through, to arrive at the conclusion that WCF 28:1 shows that “The Westminster divines viewed baptism as the instrument and occasion of regeneration by the Spirit, of the remission of sins, of ingrafting into Christ?” How did the “sign and seal” of 28:1 get transformed into the “instrument and occasion” in Wright’s mind? Of course, Lusk agrees with Wright’s conclusion and sets it forth as the “central affirmation” being missed by “most Presbyterians today.”

  126. Andy Gilman said,

    December 7, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    In that same paper Lusk writes:

    “In context, none of these passages teach baptism automatically guarantees salvation. But they do teach that God does a great work in baptism, a work that may be considered the beginnings of salvation for those God has elected to persevere to the end.”

    But reading this now in light of the FV spin on positive and negative efficacy, it appears Lusk ended the sentence to soon. There should have been an additional clause which said: “and the beginnings of destruction for those whom God has ordained to apostasy.”

    It gives a whole new meaning to the idea of improving one’s baptism. If you are in the “negative efficacy” category, you most definitely do not want to “improve your baptism!”

  127. David Gray said,

    December 7, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    >I would also recommend Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism and so how much in common DW has with the old liberals.

    I’ve read Machen’s work and some Wilson and your comments make absolutely no sense to me.

  128. Jeff Moss said,

    December 7, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    Jeff C.,

    Based on your comment #134, I was all set to agree with you — “yes, Wilkins runs aground there by over-analyzing the text and not paying sufficient attention to the broader context.” But then I went back and read the section you cited in The Federal Vision. Now it seems to me that you have (unintentionally) misapplied Wilkins’ statements there, in more or less the same way that you said he had misapplied John 15.

    Wilkins never says that in the parable of the vine, the branches that are clean are some of the same ones that are broken off. What he actually says is only that “His hearers are branches united to Him” and, furthermore, that “He…exhorts them to continue abiding in Him so that they might bear fruit. If they refuse to abide in Him, they will be fruitless and incur the wrath of the Divine husbandman and, finally, will be cast into the fire.”

    Wilkins doesn’t describe the branches that are broken off as having been “clean” or “fruitful.” Rather, he says they “have been joined to Christ in…a union that could and should be fruitful” (emphasis added).

    I would think it would be clear that Jesus’ “hearers” who are in real danger of “refus[ing] to abide in Him” were not just the Eleven — which of them ever apostatized? By “His hearers,” I took Wilkins to mean any of Jesus’ disciples (in all times) to whom the words of John 15 are read and preached. Wilkins’ concern here is not, of course, with the personal histories of the Eleven, but with the history of the visible Body of Christ which has always interpreted this passage as relevant to them.

    So while I don’t imagine that you and Steve Wilkins are in agreement on John 15, I also don’t think his position is quite as far from yours as you supposed.

  129. Jeff Moss said,

    December 7, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    A follow-up to #143…

    At the meta-level, I’ve noticed something very interesting about this whole controversy. The Westminster Standards are supposed to be an authoritative pronouncement on the meaning of the Bible, right? But people started debating what the Standards really mean, so the PCA adopted nine Declarations as an authoritative pronouncement on the meaning of the Westminster Standards.

    I now find myself discussing what some statements by Steve Wilkins really mean, which tells us that there’s disagreement even about the meaning of something written within the last five years. How long will it be before the PCA feels called upon to publish an authoritative pronouncement on the meaning of the nine Declarations — which would then be a document three steps removed from what the Bible actually says?

  130. Jeff Moss said,

    December 8, 2007 at 12:05 am

    And on #128, Jeff,

    I don’t know how or why this imbalance got started, but it seems like the last few centuries of Western theology have been much more about “how can you have Christ?” than about “what does it mean for Christ to have you?”. Even the references to being “in Christ” are now read as if they were an individual possession — “do you have the ‘in-Christ’ status?’ — and not as the position of belonging to Another, of membership in a body.

    “In Him” means in Him. It’s not possession of a certain package of spiritual benefits, but rather, being covenanted to the One in Whom are all good things.

    I actually agree with most of what you wrote in #128. I think your quotation of “what little they have shall be taken away from them,” in reference to non-elect covenant members (NECMs), is right on.

    Now, what would it look like if you took the key concepts and rewrote them all in terms of to what group do you belong? instead of who are you and what do you possess individually?

    Maybe, just maybe, a large component of the heresy allegations and talking-past-each-other that have so plagued the “Federal Vision” discussion come from this very distinction. The Federal Vision men feel that they have rediscovered the group-identity aspect of the Church, the flesh-and-blood covenant-membership aspect, and this has become a primary theme of their writings. Their opponents insist on taking everything that comes from the FV and translating it into individual-possession terms, which has resulted in mild misunderstandings at best and accusations of denying the Gospel at worst. What if both sides consented to try viewing the covenant, body of Christ, etc., from the preferred point of view of the other side? They may find that they actually agree on the essentials, and that their quibble is largely over preferred methods of expression and explanation.

    P.S. Have you read Leithart’s book Against Christianity? It’s amazing what a difference the perspective expressed in that book can make. The Bible, Leithart writes, does not talk to us about Christianity; it talks to us about the Church.

  131. Travis said,

    December 8, 2007 at 6:53 am

    #141
    Good posts, Andy. You’re a star! (homage to The Killers).

  132. GLW Johnson said,

    December 8, 2007 at 7:04 am

    Andy Gilman
    I have a standing challenge to anyone sympathetic to the Federal Vision position that Lusk claims is embedded in the Westminster Standards- find that position in the individuals writings of the divines-particularly in the likes of Thomas Goodwin and Thomas Manton two of the more prominent Puritans who’s writings are very assessable today. I quoted from Calvin’s antidotes on Trent earilier- no comments from the FV side on that? I would encourage all of you to go read Calvin’s critique of Trent, esp. on baptism and justification and see if you can find anything remotely sympathetic to the concerns of the FV.

  133. Travis said,

    December 8, 2007 at 8:03 am

    GLW

    In all sincerity, where does the WCF allow for its position on baptism to mean one thing for an adult and another for an infant? Would you mind giving your thoughts on the difference b/t an adult baptised at 10.00 AM and her child at 10.04?

  134. Travis said,

    December 8, 2007 at 8:18 am

    GLW
    Any recommendations for texts? I just got my Xmas check!!

  135. GLW Johnson said,

    December 8, 2007 at 8:28 am

    Travis
    Are you seriously suggesting that justification is conferred in infant baptism ‘ex opere operato’ and that this is actually sanctioned by the Westminster divines?

  136. GLW Johnson said,

    December 8, 2007 at 9:12 am

    p.s. I hold to the view advanced by my late professor Meredith Kline ( mentioning his honored name usually brings out the worst in folks devoted to enshrining the Federal Vision in the Reformed Hall of Fame) that infant baptism does not involve ‘presumptive regeneration’ (ala’ Travis) but relies on the principle of parental authority. cf. Kline’s ‘By Oath Consigned’ chap.6

  137. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 8, 2007 at 9:26 am

    Jeff M (#143):

    Wilkins never says that in the parable of the vine, the branches that are clean are some of the same ones that are broken off. What he actually says is only that “His hearers are branches united to Him” … By “His hearers,” I took Wilkins to mean any of Jesus’ disciples (in all times) to whom the words of John 15 are read and preached.

    See, the first time I read the book, I was reading it in that way. Then I thought to myself, “Who are his hearers?” This was not a public sermon. It was spoken to the apostles.

    Now John, in writing it, certainly has a broader audience, and the principle Jesus articulates applies to more than just the apostles. But my exegetical question was not so much “What did John intend when he wrote it?” … a worthy question, but out of scope … as “What did Jesus mean when he said it?”

    So the Jesus says that his hearers are already clean; Wilkins says that they are in danger of being broken off. That’s my objection: breaking already clean branches off is simply not what Jesus is saying.

    Perhaps Wilkins simply confuses Jesus’ meaning with John’s. That would be a welcome explanation. But if so, it’s a confusion on the same order as the infamous typo in RINE (can’t find it at the moment) in which Doug *says* something very Arminian but later turned out to mean the opposite.

    The Federal Vision men feel that they have rediscovered the group-identity aspect of the Church, the flesh-and-blood covenant-membership aspect, and this has become a primary theme of their writings.

    See, I’m very sympathetic to this theme. When I began researching the Federal Vision, this was the lens through which I read them. But I’ve come to view the “objectivity of the covenant” as a distortion of Biblical and Reformed ecclesiology, a kind of over-correction.

    That doesn’t make me an “opponent” of the entire FV per se. I’m not up in arms about the other features of the Federal Vision position paper.

    And most importantly, it doesn’t make me one who views being in Christ as an individual affair. Ephesians 4 is one of the most important chapters in Scripture for me.

    But repudiating individualism does not need to entail embracing the Federal Vision scheme. Calvin also repudiated individualism, but his ecclesiology was very different from theirs.

    Every time I pick up the Institutes, I see something else that conflicts with their ecclesiology. The FV downplays the visible/invisible distinction — contra Calvin (4.1.7). The FV denies the “judgment of charity” — contra Calvin (4.1.9). And last night, I read this:

    The Lord’s assertion in another passage that [Judas] was chosen by him with the apostles is made only with reference to the ministry. “I have chosen twelve,” he said, “and one of them is a devil.” That is, he had chosen him for the apostolic office. But when he speaks of election unto salvation, he banishes him far from the number of the elect: “I am not speaking of you all; I know whom I have chosen”. If anyone confuses the word “election” in the two passages, he will miserably entangle himself; if he notes their difference, nothing is plainer. Consequently, when Gregory [the Great] teaches that we are aware only of our call but unsure of our election, he is badly and dangerously in error. From this notion he exhorts all men to fear and trembling, making use of this reason: that even though we may know what we are today, we know not what we shall be. But in this passage he sufficiently declares how he tripped on this stone. For, inasmuch as he made election depend on the merits of works, he supplied ample reason for men’s minds to become dejected; he could not strengthen them, for he did not transfer them from themselves to a trust in God’s goodness.

    — Inst. 3.24.9

    This critique of “call” v. “election” appears to me to apply with equal force to the concepts of “covenantal” and “decretal” elections.

    Calvin views baptism as a physical sermon; Lusk views sermons as the draw to baptism.

    So while I can stand together *with* the FV and affirm that individualism and a kind of neo-Gnosticism are real, genuine problems that we need to fight, I cannot agree that the FV solution of the objective covenant is “the original Reformed theology” (as Mark Horne asserts), or that it is a better reflection of what the Scriptures say.

    Let’s find a different solution.

    Maybe, just maybe, a large component of the heresy allegations and talking-past-each-other that have so plagued the “Federal Vision” discussion come from this very distinction.

    Maybe. For my part, I think the FV account of NECMs is at odds with Dort and the Scriptures. So far, no one has given me an answer as to what “temporary justification” or “subsequent justifications” might mean. (Xon is exempted from my complaint; he’s working away on his dissertation).

    Jeff Cagle

  138. Todd Bordow said,

    December 8, 2007 at 9:44 am

    David,

    I will gladly answer your question (#142), but since I am a guest here I would like permission from the moderators first because this is becoming slightly off topic. Moderators?

    Todd Bordow

  139. greenbaggins said,

    December 8, 2007 at 11:04 am

    How about a private email exchange?

  140. Travis said,

    December 8, 2007 at 11:13 am

    #119
    whatever grace is conferred upon us by the Sacraments, is nevertheless to be acsribed to faith. He who seperates faith from the Sacraments, does just as if he were to take the soul away from the body.

    Again, as per #148–when an infant is baptised, whose faith is being combined with the sacrament? Is Calvin not a nascent faith-ist?

  141. Travis said,

    December 8, 2007 at 11:23 am

    #151
    GLW
    Actually, I credit Kline ( I read his BOC back in ’97) for my love for the FV emphases!!
    But you did not answer my inquiry. How do you parse out a difference in baptisms? Again, what is the difference b/t Mama Jones and Baby Jones after baptism? And how does the WCF clearly delineate the difference?

  142. Kyle said,

    December 8, 2007 at 11:55 am

    Travis, re: 155,

    The Institutes 4.16.20:

    “In order to gain a stronger footing here, they add, that baptism is a sacrament of penitence and faith, and as neither of these is applicable to tender infancy we must beware of rendering its meaning empty and vain, by admitting infants to the communion of baptism. But these darts are directed more against God than against us; since the fact that circumcision was a sign of repentance is completely established by many passages of Scripture, (Jer. 4: 4.) Thus Paul terms it a seal of the righteousness of faiths (Rom. 4: 11.) Let God, then, be demanded why he ordered circumcision to be performed on the bodies of infants? For baptism and circumcision being here in the same case, they cannot give any thing to the latter without conceding it to the former. If they recur to their usual evasion, that, by the age of infancy, spiritual infants were then figured, we have already closed this means of escape against them. We say then that since God imparted circumcision, the sign of repentance and faith, to infants, it should not seem absurd that they are now made partakers of baptisms unless men choose to glamour against an institution of God. But as in all his acts, so here also enough of wisdom and righteousness shines forth to repress the slanders of the ungodly. For although infants, at the moment when they were circumcised, did not comprehend what the sign meant, still they were truly circumcised for the mortification of their corrupt and polluted nature, – a mortification at which they afterwards aspired when adults. In fine, the objection is easily disposed of by the fact, that children are baptised for future repentance and faith. Though these are not yet formed in them, yet the seed of both lies hid in them by the secret operation of the Spirit. This answer at once overthrows all the objections which are twisted against us out of the meaning of baptism; for instance, the title by which Paul distinguishes it when he terms it the “washing of regeneration and renewing,” (Tit. 3: 5.) Hence they argue, that it is not to be given to any but to those who are capable of such feelings. But we, on the other hand, may object, that neither ought circumcision, which is designated regeneration, to be conferred on any but the regenerate. In this way, we shall condemn a divine institution. Thus, as we have already hinted, all the arguments which tend to shake circumcision are of no force in assailing baptism. Nor can they escape by saying, that everything which rests on the authority of God is absolutely fixed, though there should be no reason for it, but that this reverence is not due to paedobaptism, nor other similar things which are not recommended to us by the express word of God. They always remain caught in this dilemma. The command of God to circumcise infants was either legitimate and exempt from cavil, or deserved reprehension. If there was nothing incompetent or absurd in it, no absurdity can be shown in the observance of paedobaptism.”

    Cf. WCF 28.6:

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

  143. David Gray said,

    December 8, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Pastor Bordow,

    I’d be glad for an email exchange. Any suggestions on sharing emails without actually posting them here?

  144. Robert K. said,

    December 8, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    >How about a private email exchange?

    Oh, come on! I’d be interested in reading Pastor Bordow’s response too…

    At least if Pastor Bordow has a blog maybe he could link to his response?

    I think it is a very, very interesting subject. Machen probably can’t be referenced enough for his insights on the types and tactics of, shall we say, mavericks who are off the straight and narrow (as opposed to mavericks who maintain the straight and narrow)…

  145. Jeff Moss said,

    December 8, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Jeff C. (#152),

    Then I thought to myself, “Who are his hearers?” This was not a public sermon. It was spoken to the apostles…. my exegetical question was not so much “What did John intend when he wrote it?” … a worthy question, but out of scope … as “What did Jesus mean when he said it?”

    Well, I can’t speak for Pastor Wilkins, but isn’t it significant that Jesus shifts back and forth between the second and third person in this passage?

    The second-person statements are more directly to the Eleven and are generally more encouraging: “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” “I am the vine, you are the branches.” “without Me you can do nothing.” “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

    The third-person statements, on the other hand, are more of a mixture between encouragement and warning, and the warnings/threats are more pronounced. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine…” “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit;” “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

    Even though Wilkins isn’t completely clear on this point, notice that his discussion of the passage focuses more on the third-person statements — which are, after all, the ones that apply more to later hearers outside the original circle of apostles. Although it’s not explicitly so, I see this passage as doing something of the same kind as John 17. There Christ prays first for His own group of disciples, and later for those future disciples who would believe because of the apostles’ testimony.

    But I’ve come to view the “objectivity of the covenant” as a distortion of Biblical and Reformed ecclesiology, a kind of over-correction.
    That doesn’t make me an “opponent” of the entire FV per se. I’m not up in arms about the other features of the Federal Vision position paper.

    I would agree that some of the Federal Vision writings show an over-emphasis on certain Biblical points to the detriment of others, leading to a marked imbalance. Some of Wilkins’s and Lusk’s statements, especially, probably read too much into certain Biblical passages while not paying sufficient attention to others that could help to qualify their statements. (I’ve heard both of these men speak at conferences but don’t know them personally. I’m also no expert on their writings, which is why I’m speaking tentatively here.)

    Could you be more specific, though, on what particular points in the FV statement you disagree with, and your Scriptural reasons for doing so? That would help to advance this discussion in a way that’s nicely objective. :-)

    But repudiating individualism does not need to entail embracing the Federal Vision scheme. Calvin also repudiated individualism, but his ecclesiology was very different from theirs.

    For what it’s worth, I think I’m seeing the following theological spectrum:

    Modern TR’s — Westminster Standards — Calvin — Federal Vision

    Each point on the spectrum is compatible with those points that are one step away, has significant but usually soluble differences with those that are two steps away, and gets into real trouble only with those at the opposite end. When Calvin was being quoted in support of the Federal Vision, a PCA pastor I know responded with, “Calvin was a great theologian, but we don’t agree with everything he said.” Some of the pastors on the far end of the FV have said more or less similar things about the WCF, and especially the WLC. And so it goes. Meanwhile, Calvin’s rejection of paedocommunion is a case in point of how he didn’t go as far as the FV goes. But FV advocates tend to say that those are the few (and regrettable) points at which Calvin was being inconsistent.

    So far, no one has given me an answer as to what “temporary justification” or “subsequent justifications” might mean.

    This is where I think the corporate way of thinking makes a huge difference. Let’s say an infant is engrafted into the Church through baptism. He is thus made a member of Christ’s body; Christ is righteous; therefore this infant Christian is justified by virtue of his membership in Christ. (It’s better to say that he is placed into justification than that justification is placed into him.) Later this person may either grow strong in faith and so receive subsequent justification as Abraham did (James 2:20-24), or he may walk away from Christ and from righteousness, revealing his justification to have been only temporary. He is no longer in the Righteous One for whose sake he was once counted righteous (justified). And who is righteous except by participation in Christ?

    To approach it another way, if justification depends on faith, and faith may be temporary (as in the Parable of the Sower, Luke 8:13, and Simon of Samaria, Acts 8:13-24) — then what is so surprising about a temporary justification? Granted, we may argue that the quality of the temporary faith is not the same as the quality of the faith that endures. But the same can be said of the two kinds of justification as well.

  146. Todd Bordow said,

    December 8, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    Mark T. has invited me to place some of my thoughts, for what they are worth, on his blog following up on Machen, liberalism and FV, and I will answer any off-line email that contain reasonable questions. I hope to do so sometime early next week, and I’m honored anyone is even interested.

    Blessings,

    Todd Bordow
    Pastor – Covenant Presbyterian Church of Fort Worth (OPC)

  147. Robert K. said,

    December 8, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    >”Mark T. has invited me to place some of my thoughts, for what they are worth, on his blog following up on Machen, liberalism and FV, and I will answer any off-line email that contain reasonable questions. I hope to do so sometime early next week, and I’m honored anyone is even interested.”

    I think this is a neglected angle on FVists in general and will be well worth the effort to bring to light. Part of the ‘schtick’ of FVists, or some of their prominent spokesmen, is to come across as bare-knuckled, beer-drinkin’, alligator-wrestlin’ types (ok, maybe not the alligator wrestling) and have that cast a similar light on their theology, i.e. make them seem more conservative, traditional, hardcore against the times, etc., than they actually are if you look at their actual doctrine.

    I mean, I’ve always seen the secular academy in their use of language, for instance, and that’s hardly an original observation I know, but it’s an aspect of FVists that does seem to go back under the radar no matter how many times it’s pointed out, for whatever reasons…

    FVists are like Creedence Clearwater Revival. They pretend to be deep south then you find out they’re from Berkeley, California… (CCR’s music is better than FV doctrine though…)

  148. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 8, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    Thanks for the response, Jeff M. I agree that Wilkins needs to be given as charitable reading as possible, and I would hope (Lord willing) never to go looking for openings to criticize. So if in fact he means that some who are within the church nevertheless fail to bear any fruit whatsoever, and the Lord prunes them out of the church — then we agree.

    But in that case, I have a hard time understanding why he goes to the trouble of repudiating “external” and “internal” senses of attachment. And why he attributes *both* the 2nd person and 3rd person commands and warnings, without distinction, to the hearers.

    So I’ll leave it at that. It may be that I am among the legions who have mis-read him.

    For what it’s worth, I think I’m seeing the following theological spectrum:

    Modern TR’s — Westminster Standards — Calvin — Federal Vision

    I’m comfortable with a spectrum view also. I don’t even know where I would fit on the spectrum, but it would probably be somewhere on the Calvin end of things. But note that the various instances I’ve pointed out are ways in which the FV contradicts *Calvin* : baptismal theology, ecclesial theology, the interpretation of John 15. So on the spectrum above, that would point to a large discontinuity between the FV and the rest of the Reformed world.

    When Calvin was being quoted in support of the Federal Vision, a PCA pastor I know responded with, “Calvin was a great theologian, but we don’t agree with everything he said.”

    Yeah, that seems like more of a refusal to engage than a real answer. We also agree with a lot that Calvin *did* say.

    Could you be more specific, though, on what particular points in the FV statement you disagree with, and your Scriptural reasons for doing so?

    Yes. From the Federal Vision Joint Statement:

    We affirm that membership in the one true Christian Church is visible and objective, and is the possession of everyone who has been baptized in the triune name and who has not been excommunicated by a lawful disciplinary action of the Church.

    later qualified by

    We deny that membership in the Christian Church in history is an infallible indicator or guarantee of final salvation. Those who are faithless to their baptismal obligations incur a stricter judgment because of it.

    and

    We affirm that there is only one true Church, and that this Church can legitimately be considered under various descriptions, including the aspects of visible and invisible. We further affirm that the visible Church is the true Church of Christ, and not an “approximate” Church.

    First of all, these statements are ambiguous enough to mean a lot of things. Taken at face value, they could be consistent with the RCC view of the Church, an Arminian view of the Church, or something else. That’s a real concern for a theological confession, whose main job it is to distinguish what is believed from what is not believed.

    But more importantly, while some concession is made in the direction of “visible” and “invisible” aspects, the “true” church is stated to be the visible church.

    But in the Confession, the true catholic church is the invisible one:

    The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. — WCoF 25.1

    While the visible church is also acknowledged to have the quality of catholicity:

    The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. — WCoF 25.2

    Nevertheless, the visible church is not, in the Confession, The “catholic church.” Primacy of place is given to God’s elect.

    So while the various pieces are there in the FV statement, the prominence and arrangement of those pieces are so different as to suggest a different theology entirely.

    Now: what is the Biblical question that underlies this? I can’t speak for the Westminster Divines, but I would affirm 25.1-2 because Scripture speaks directly, over and over, to the idea that there are some within Israel / the Church who simply do not belong. I’ve mentioned Jude before; Romans 9 works as well; John 1.11 and chapter 8 are examples; the parable of the wheat and tares is clear. The non-elect within the church have the outward appearance of being God’s people, but their hearts are of stone. They have not received new life. This is even true in Matthew 13. While all of the plants show signs of life, there is something wrong from the start with the rocky, hard, and thorny soils.

    For me, that’s the bottom line issue: have all within the visible church received the Spirit? Do they have a new nature? Have they been brought from death to life? Did Jesus pay for their sins?

    For Calvin, the answer is No. And thus, he argues, the real church is the invisible church, the set of people who really have salvation. Ditto for the Confession.

    For the FV? Well, I can’t really tell. They certainly seem to have a low view of the invisible church, even if they admit to its validity: Mark Horne’s sermon on Ephesians. The insistence that the visible church is the true church seems to lead them to argue that all in the visible church really have salvation (just of varying degrees) … which leads to an insistence that all are united with Christ, all have the Spirit, all receive justification. But they can lose that. So … is it real salvation? More precisely, (since the word “real” is ambiguous), is it the kind of salvation that Jesus, Paul, and other writers of Scripture were talking about?

    Let’s suppose that I can work out some kind of meaning in which the FV claims are true. That’s possible; they’re very bright men, and I just might not be smart enough to understand them yet.

    Still and all, I would argue that (a) their theology is certainly *not* in harmony with Calvin’s, because their exegesis of various passages is opposite to his, and (b) their way of communicating theology is not helpful to someone (like me) who is beginning with a baseline of Scripture, Calvin, and the Confession.

    I began my investigation of the FV with a neutral-to-positive slant, hoping that it was all just a misunderstanding, recognizing the dangers of revivalism, agreeing that the church as it exists in history is important and valuable.

    After conversations, books, and papers from the FV, I’ve concluded that the “objective covenant” is a mess. It’s either incoherent on the issue of whether NECMs are saved, or else, it’s simply contrary to both the Scriptures and Reformed theology.

    That’s a very broad brush. Over on my blog, I deal with more narrow issues (James and subsequent justification; Hebrews and the IAOX; Dort and temporary justification and coming soon, John and temporary justification) on a more exegetical basis.

    This is where I think the corporate way of thinking makes a huge difference. Let’s say an infant is engrafted into the Church through baptism. He is thus made a member of Christ’s body; Christ is righteous; therefore this infant Christian is justified by virtue of his membership in Christ.

    Whereas I would say that this is where the problems show. In Scripture, the infant belongs to the covenant by virtue of being the child of a believer. That’s true both in the OT and NT. And receiving the sign of the covenant, while required, does not cause membership. It is the badge of membership.

    Further, in Scripture, receiving the sign of the covenant *does not* grant justification; this is precisely the mistaken thinking that Paul argues against.

    Even further, being in the covenant does not grant justification either. This is the mistaken thinking that John the Baptist and Jesus address, continuing the critiques of the prophets.

    To approach it another way, if justification depends on faith, and faith may be temporary (as in the Parable of the Sower, Luke 8:13, and Simon of Samaria, Acts 8:13-24) — then what is so surprising about a temporary justification? Granted, we may argue that the quality of the temporary faith is not the same as the quality of the faith that endures. But the same can be said of the two kinds of justification as well.

    Justification as I understand it necessarily entails the forgiveness of sins, which requires the shedding of Jesus’ blood according to Hebrews. So the issue of who will or will not receive justification was settled c. AD 30, and while faith is the instrument receiving justification, its simply not possible for one of God’s elect to receive justification and then walk away from it (the FV agrees here). Nor is it possible for the non-elect to receive justification and then walk away from it (the FV disagrees here).

    Now, we might use the label “justification” to mean something other than forgiveness of sins, but Lusk doesn’t:

    But reprobate covenant members may temporarily experience a quasi-salvation. They were, in some sense, bought by Christ (1 Pt. 2), forgiven (Mt. 18), renewed (Mk. 4), etc., and lost these things.

    –Rich Lusk, Covenant and Election FAQS

    We can truly derive comfort and encouragement from our covenant membership. God loves everyone in the covenant. Period. You don’t have to wonder if God loves you or your baptized children. There is no reason to doubt God’s love for you. You can tell your fellow, struggling Christian, “You’re forgiven! Christ paid for your sins!” This is far more helpful than only being able to tell someone, “Well, Christ died for his elect, and hopefully you’re one of them!”

    – Rich Lusk, Covenant and Election FAQS

    By contrast, John 3 says that all who believe receive eternal (not temporary) life, while all who do not believe, the wrath of God remains on them.

    So again: what could temporary justification mean? And how could one receive it without Jesus dying for them individually? Or, if Jesus does die for them individually, how then can they perish?

    I hope this isn’t too combative of a tone; I’ve gone into hyper-analytic mode in the last few weeks with this.

    Jeff Cagle

  149. Robert K. said,

    December 8, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    >”Let’s suppose that I can work out some kind of meaning in which the FV claims are true. That’s possible; they’re very bright men, and I just might not be smart enough to understand them yet.”

    Maybe you’re being diplomatic, but my impression is rather the opposite. The FVists come across as rather mediocre dabblers who havn’t attained a basic understanding of what they’re dabbling in to begin with. Of course, the Spirit is needed to be able to see the power of Reformed Theology. Note the recent post on Covenant Theology hastily withdrawn by one of the Federal Vision’s intellectual supporters. He gave away in that post that he’d just recently began to see what classical Covenant Theology is and he made a few mistakes exposing just how new the subject is to him, then he showed that rather than admit ignorance on something he needed to protect his vanity and hope very few people saw the original post. This is a person who is comfortable in being part of a campaign to revise and redefine Reformed Theology. Covenant Theology is Reformed Theology. That’s like affecting to revise standards for bridge materials without knowing how bridges are constructed. Only in academia do you see this degree of vain foolishness, and to see them now targeting Reformed Theology is a little annoying to say the least.

  150. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 8, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    Maybe you’re being diplomatic…

    Not really. Xon and Jeff Meyers are better writers and thinkers than I am, and more learned to boot. That doesn’t entail automatic agreement, but respect for sure.

    JRC

  151. Travis said,

    December 8, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    Kyle, per #157

    I took some time today (amidst trimming the house with tha fam) to find in Calvin quotes hereafter with little or no comment:
    Inst IV.15.16
    [Indeed, one cannot make this stuph up]

    XV
    1. Baptism is the initiatory sign by which we are admitted to the fellowship of the Church, that being ingrafted into Christ we may be accounted children of God.

    3. We ought to consider that at whatever time we are baptised, we are washed and purified once for the whole of life. [choke! Holy sacerdotalism, et al. BaptisMan!!]

    14. Nor does he merely feed our eyes with bare show; he leads us to the actual object, and effectually performs what he figures.

    XVI.

    5. Now, if we are to investigate whether or not baptism is justly given to infants, will we not say that the man trifles, or rather is delirious, who would stop short at the element of water, and the external observance, and not allow his mind to rise to the spiritual mystery? *If reason is listened to*, it will undoubtedly appear that baptism is properly administered to infants as a thing due to them. The Lord did not anciently bestow circumcision upon them without making them partakers of all the things signified by circumcision. He would have deluded his people with mere imposture, had he quieted them with fallacious symbols: the very idea is shocking [Indeed]. He distinctly declares, that the circumcision of the infant will be instead of a seal of the promise of the covenant. But if the covenant remains firm and fixed, it is no less applicable to the children of Christians in the present day, than to the children of the Jews under the Old Testament. Now, if they are partakers of the thing signified, how can they be denied the sign? If they obtain the reality, how can they be refused the figure? The external sign is so united in the sacrament with the word, that it cannot be separated from it; but if they can be separated, to which of the two shall we attach the greater value?

    [GLW, it would seem that Calvin would baptise not only upon parental authority but also upon presumtive justification, regeneration, adoption, etc.]

    [Shall I stop? I am amazed this site is even up and running with these quotes. I might as well keep on....oh! 12-20 is too long to quote. Read it yourself and be as amazed as I. Kyle, when I read your quote above I bethought myself errant in haveg read JC previous. So I went back and felt vindicated. Here are some short snorts.]

    12. Under the appellation of “children” the difference [anti-FVs] observe is this that the children of Abraham, under the old dispensation, were those who derived their origin from his seed, but that the appellation is now given to those who imitate his faith, and therefore that carnal infancy, which was ingrafted into the fellowship of the covenant by circumcision, typified the spiritual children of the new covenant, who are regenerated by the word of God to immortal life. In these words we indeed discover a small spark of truth, but these giddy spirits [lol] err grievously in this, that laying hold of whatever comes first to their hand, when they ought to proceed farther and compare many things together; they obstinately fasten upon one single word. Hence it cannot but happen that they are every now and then deluded, because they do not exert themselves to obtain a full knowledge of any subject.

    [I end with the same quote as you Kyle but with minor commentary]
    20. For although infants, at the moment when they were circumcised, did not comprehend what the sign meant, still they were truly circumcised for the mortification of their corrupt and polluted nature, – a mortification at which they afterwards aspired when adults. In fine, the objection is easily disposed of by the fact, that children are baptised for future repentance and faith. Though these are not yet formed in them, yet the seed of both lies hid in them by the secret operation of the Spirit.

    Here Calvin does not deny the presence of nascent pistis, but rather requires it. He says not that infants are baptised in hopes of future faith but rather it is so in expectation that that which is nascent will come to fruition in the future. I am open to correction but I see Calvin affirming what ya’ll are denying.

  152. Travis said,

    December 8, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    #146 from Berkhof & BaptEfficacy but pertaining as well to RK’s above schtick.
    The FVists come across as rather mediocre dabblers[!!] who havn’t [sic]attained a basic understanding of what they’re dabbling in to begin with. Of course, the Spirit is needed to be able to see the power of Reformed Theology[!] [ ugh, TR at its best].

    But for Calvinists/Reformed Christians who actually know why we are Calvinists/Reformed Christians (and who know Calvinist and Reformed are nicknames for apostolic biblical doctrine) we know what is being attacked

    I fit this genre and yet…and yet I love what you are opposing. Hmmmmm. I’ve read other posts as well wherein the “goodies” (who know what reformed really means) are your ilk but the “baddies” (who know RINE) are mine.

    I feel so…debased, sniff. Am I an ignorant sheep beguiled by a nice wolph? I don’t know what to believe, or who….where, oh, (or) whither shall I flee? Somebody save me!! Oh, wait! I’m baptised! Huh! Forgot about that. Never mind.

    Sit at your feet, we will, Oh Enlightened One! Show us the way, you will.

  153. Robert K. said,

    December 8, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    I was wondering why Firefox was always telling me I was misspelling “havn’t”. Thanks for the correction.

  154. Robert K. said,

    December 8, 2007 at 11:02 pm

    Does Calvin ridiculously contradict himself? Or does he need to be quoted in context? My experience is when you read Calvin (as in, like, as one would actually read a book) he doesn’t read like a Romanist. When I read FVists, they read like Romanists. I guess context does matter…

    But think about this: the quasi-Romanist FVists (and who knows how quasi they are in their closets and dens) are quoting Calvin; a man who battled Romanists his entire adult life, risking his life, who sent out scores of students to preach only to have news reach him that they had been tortured and burned at the stake by Romanists (etc., etc.). So here we have Federal Visionists quoting this man Calvin as if he was even a quasi Romanist like them. This tells you what people will attempt if they think the times have degraded far enough for them to get away with the most shameful of acts.

    I’m reminded of the constant mocking that comes from the keyboard of Federal Visionist Mark Horne. He titles a post “Luther, the father of us all.” Protestants call no man father, no pope, no theologian. Horne is Romanist in his mocking of Protestants. Federal Visionists are Romanist in their doctrine and in their style of mocking Reformed Christians.

  155. Andy Gilman said,

    December 8, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Travis said:

    Good posts, Andy. You’re a star! (homage to The Killers).

    “Hey shut up, hey shut up, yeah.”

  156. Robert K. said,

    December 8, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    A big aspect of the liberal – left-wing- nature of Federal Visionists is this shallow argumentation from clipped quotes. You see this in contemporary political debate. This reduction of serious and complex issues to one-liner come-backs. I was in a debate with a liberal on health care and at a certain point he came back with: “So that’s why that guy got tasered!?!” Uh, ok. Reformed Theology is a subject of great depth that requires a good degree of good will and seriousness and time necessary to engage it in a way that isn’t vain and shallow. This cheap shot quote nonsense that is all they have is apparently a tactic they aren’t ever going to give up. You have to step back and realize what intellectual level you are dealing with here.

  157. Kyle said,

    December 9, 2007 at 12:09 am

    Travis, re: 166,

    You should note that nowhere does Calvin say, infants should be baptized because we presume them to possess faith. He does counter the Anabaptists by noting that it is not impossible for infants to be regenerated by God, for the Anabaptists argued that infants should not be baptized because they cannot have faith; you may read, for example, Institutues 4.16.19, the section immediately prior to what I’ve quoted. (In fact, one sentence there is rather interesting: “I would not rashly affirm that they are endued with the same faith which we experience in ourselves or have any knowledge at all resembling faith, (this I would rather leave undecided;) but I would somewhat curb the stolid arrogance of those men who, as with inflated cheeks affirm or deny whatever suits them.”) Rather, we can expect in the Lord’s time that the infant whom He has chosen shall come to faith and come to truly possess the promises held forth in his baptism (cf. WCF 28.6, “to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto”).

    Another interesting bit on baptism here: Institutes 4.15.17:

    “Then, again, when they ask us what faith for several years followed our baptism, that they may thereby prove that our baptism was in vain, since it is not sanctified unless the word of the promise is received with faith, our answer is, that being blind and unbelieving, we for a long time did not hold the promise which was given us in baptism, but that still the promise, as it was of God, always remained fixed, and firm, and true. Although all men should be false and perfidious, yet God ceases not to be true, (Rom. 3: 3, 4;) though all were lost, Christ remains safe. We acknowledge, therefore, that at that time baptism profited us nothing, since in us the offered promise, without which baptism is nothing, lay neglected. Now, when by the grace of God we begin to repent, we accuse our blindness and hardness of heart in having been so long ungrateful for his great goodness. But we do not believe that the promise itself has vanished, we rather reflect thus: God in baptism promises the remission of sins, and will undoubtedly perform what he has promised to all believers. That promise was offered to us in baptism, let us therefore embrace it in faith. In regard to us, indeed, it was long buried on account of unbelief; now, therefore, let us with faith receive it. Wherefore, when the Lord invites the Jewish people to repentance, he gives no injunction concerning another circumcision, though (as we have said) they were circumcised by a wicked and sacrilegious hand, and had long lived in the same impiety. All he urges is conversion of heart. For how much soever the covenant might have been violated by them, the symbol of the covenant always remained, according to the appointment of the Lord, firm and inviolable. Solely, therefore, on the condition of repentance, were they restored to the covenant which God had once made with them in circumcision, though this which they had received at the hand of a covenant-breaking priest, they had themselves as much as in them lay polluted and extinguished.”

    In distinct contrast to Calvin’s teaching concerning baptism, your flip attitude ["I feel so…debased, sniff. Am I an ignorant sheep beguiled by a nice wolph? I don’t know what to believe, or who….where, oh, (or) whither shall I flee? Somebody save me!! Oh, wait! I’m baptised! Huh! Forgot about that. Never mind"] seems to reveal a carnal reliance upon the rite (due to the numerous presumptions you pile upon its recipients, including justification), which error Calvin would by no means have countenanced.

  158. Kyle said,

    December 9, 2007 at 12:10 am

    Sorry about that winking smiley. It should rather be a semicolon followed by a parenthesis.

  159. Kyle said,

    December 9, 2007 at 12:24 am

    Let me also clarify my reason for quoting the Institutes 4.15.17. I’m not attempting to show that Calvin thinks that all infants grow up as unbelievers and only come to faith at a much later age. What I’m showing is that Calvin regards baptism to be unprofitable to its recipients until and unless they embrace the promises offered in baptism with faith. So that faith, by which the Spirit united us to Christ, is fundamental to the efficacy of the sacrament. This merely strengthens what Pr. Johnson quoted above in #119.

  160. GLW Johnson said,

    December 9, 2007 at 7:53 am

    Kyle
    Thanks for the additional support from Calvin’s Institutes. I noted in my reading of Lusk that he frequently appeals to Calvin to support his postion, but usually when I go and read the section of Calvin that Lusk has cited I discover that he has misread him ( I pointed this out in my post ‘A Question for FVers Everywhere” that appeared on Scott Clark’s Heidelblog earlier this year)
    Travis
    Were you sober when you read Kline back in 97 ? Kline had no sympathy for the FV and especially for their guiding light Norman Shepherd and his pupil James Jordon (who Andy Sandlin called the ‘Pater Familias’ of the FV). Your claim is absurd.

  161. David Weiner said,

    December 9, 2007 at 10:03 am

    Kyle,

    One of your statements in #174 caught my eye. You said “So that faith, by which the Spirit united us to Christ, is fundamental to the efficacy of the sacrament.”

    My question, if you would be so kind: Two infants, one baptized, one not. Later in life, both receive the gift of faith and both become believers. In what manner has the efficacy of the sacrement played out in any way for the one over as against the other infant?

  162. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 9, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    David (#176):

    The first infant would be my daughter; the second would be me. In my daughter’s case, the baptism is efficacious upon faith … which may be gradual in her case, so that the efficacy of baptism is “smeared out” over time.

    In my case, the baptism was efficacious upon faith … which happened prior to the baptism.

    The union between the sacrament and the thing signified is not a union in time. It is a union of meaning and effect. To borrow Reed’s example, there is an analogy here to Jesus’ death.

    My sins were “paid for” in AD 30. But the chronological moment of reception of forgiveness occurred at faith.

    Likewise, baptism cleanses: at the moment I believe. This is the only solution I have been able to see with to the paradox presented by Romans 4 and Romans 6, and it appears to be the solution presented in the Confession and also hinted at by Calvin.

    If one insists that baptism is effective the moment it occurs, then Romans 4 is ignored. If OTOH one insists that baptism doesn’t really do anything, then Romans 6 is ignored.

    Jeff Cagle

  163. Kyle said,

    December 9, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    David, re: 176,

    The infant who was baptized had the benefit of being counted a member of the visible church.

    WLC Q&A 63:

    “The visible church hath the privilege of being under God’s special care and government; of being protected and preserved in all ages, not withstanding the opposition of all enemies; and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation, and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel, testifying, that whosoever believes in him shall be saved, and excluding none that will come unto him.”

    Institutes 4.16.9:

    “On the other hand, children derive some benefit from their baptism, when, being ingrafted into the body of the church, they are made an object of greater interest to the other members. Then when they have grown up, they are thereby strongly urged to an earnest desire of serving God, who has received them as sons by the formal symbol of adoption, before, from nonage, they were able to recognise him as their Father.”

  164. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 9, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    Travis (#166):


    I took some time today (amidst trimming the house with tha fam) to find in Calvin quotes hereafter with little or no comment:
    Inst IV.15.16

    XV
    1. Baptism is the initiatory sign by which we are admitted to the fellowship of the Church, that being ingrafted into Christ we may be accounted children of God…

    Somewhere up there, I noted that Inst. 4.15 has to be read *after* consuming 4.14, else Calvin’s statements will appear universal without qualification. His qualifications show up in 4.14.

    Jeff

  165. David Weiner said,

    December 9, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Jeff (#177)

    I was trying (in #176) to see how a particular order of baptism (vis-a vis forgiveness) might result in differences in outcome. And, I guess your answer is that the two people ‘benefit’ in ways that can not be characterized in that manner. Both baptismal time sequences result in sacramental efficacy that is ‘similar’ if not ‘identical’ since a union of time is not involved. Could you explain what you meant by it being a union of meaning and effect?

    Likewise, you said “But, the chronological moment of reception of forgiveness occurred at faith.” We certainly agree on that if we don’t probe too deeply as to what ‘at faith’ might really mean. Now, since at that point your daughter had already (in time) been baptized and you had not, then is it due to God’s foreknowledge of your baptism, that the results for you and your daughter were the same?

    Is there any possibility that Paul is talking about a baptism other then water baptism in Romans 6? Because if he is, then that might be another way to deal with the paradox you mention?

  166. David Weiner said,

    December 9, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    Kyle (#178)

    In response to my question in #176 you said “The infant who was baptized had the benefit of being counted a member of the visible church.” I thank you for your response; I just wish that your answer did not raise so many more questions!!! (If I knew how to put a smiley face here I would have. Alas, not one of my skills.)

    So, for example, who is it that counts the infant a member? Non-members of the visible church? The other members of the visible church? God? If it is the members, then does that mean that they treat children outside of the visible church differently than those who they believe are ‘inside?’

  167. Kyle said,

    December 9, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    David, re: 181,

    Primarily the other members of the visible church count the baptized infant as a member of the visible church. (Of course, so also does God, but He knows whether the child is or shall become a member of the invisible church.) Such an infant is treated differently than non-members by being raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, enjoying the fellowship of the saints, being included as a participant in the prayer and worship of the church, and being admitted to the Table upon a credible profession of faith. In other words, they are treated with a view toward bringing them into the maturity of faith, rather than bringing them out of the realm of unbelief.

  168. Travis said,

    December 9, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    #179

    Jeff,
    Yes, I know. This I did. And per #169 I, too, wondered whether JC would contradict himself so unambiguosly. I mean, to paraphrase, “The sacraments are not equated with the reality….when we have te sign we have the reality…baptism does not save…the moment we are baptised we are saved….

    I was very frustrated. I mean, really. It’s there. He says one thing and then affirms the opposite. The only thing I can think to say is in the former he combats the Romanist and then in the latter comforts the needy.

    RK, I am not trying to be glib in my quotes and the quotes on baptism hardly need context b/c, well, it’s there. And yet the earlyer (sic) chapter on the Sacraments I could have quoted to your delight. In the one chapter he takes away (nothing to the signs at all) and in another he so fills them with efficacy, I don’t know what…..

  169. Travis said,

    December 9, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    #172

    Kyle

    Thanks for the quote. You’re a star, too. (Please don’t tell me to shut up.) I re-read that whole section today. Still don’t know how to take JC. I am not glib about the rite. Indeed, see here.

  170. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 9, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    Could you explain what you meant by it being a union of meaning and effect?

    Sure, but I warn that my thoughts on this are relatively new, and the language may not be mature yet.

    Here’s one way to think of it: baptism means cleansing. It refers to the washing away of sins; it refers to the pouring out of the Spirit. In Calvin’s terms, it preaches the gospel.

    Faith also means cleansing, in the sense that justification is apprehended by faith.

    Thus, when I believe the gospel, I believe what baptism means. Baptism is effective for me because the gospel is effective. I *think* this is what Calvin is getting at with Inst. 4.15.2

    But more, because baptism is a sacrament ordained of Christ, when it is performed, it can be the occasion for the Spirit’s work, just as with communion.

    So in the case of my daughter, it *could* be the case that the moment of her baptism is the moment that she first believed, to the extent and in the way that a 3-mo-old can believe (thinking here of WCoF 10.3).

    But even if not, if she later comes to believe, then her baptism — the message it preaches — is effective.

    Viewed chronologically, we can’t construct a cause-and-effect for baptism. I think this is the problem I have with Rich Lusk on this. That’s Romans 4.

    But viewed “eternally” (i.e., sitting on the mountain with God and looking at all of time), we can view baptism as a part of the whole package, and the belief in the gospel is identical with the effect of baptism. That’s Romans 6.

    Jeff Cagle

  171. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    Yes you do have to quote Calvin in context because though he had just extricated his last foot from the Roman Catholic domain (with the help of having to flee execution at their hands) he still had that world inside him and it shows in his writings on the subject of baptism (Mary might be another), yet the man knew biblical doctrine and when in direct confrontation with Rome’s doctrine (Trent) or with one of Rome’s messengers (Sadoleto) you can see Calvin was as Protestant (and keep your bag of sics closed on this one, Travis) as any pre-Reformation Waldensian.

    FVists like to play the game of suggesting this element in Calvin means he was actually some kind of quasi or secret Romanist. Draw your own conclusions regarding what this says about FVists and their doctrine.

  172. Travis said,

    December 9, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    I am not guilty of your FV charge, RK. If you note in my posts above, I am truly trying to wrestle with the two sides of JC. On the one, he empties the sign; on the other, he fills it to the brim. So, how can the sign be empty and yet full?

  173. Travis said,

    December 9, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    RK,

    Please, help me understand what JC means by these:

    3. We ought to consider that at whatever time we are baptised, we are washed and purified once for the whole of life.

    14. Nor does he merely feed our eyes with bare show; he leads us to the actual object, and effectually performs what he figures.

    XVI.

    5. …*If reason is listened to*, it will undoubtedly appear that baptism is properly administered to infants as a thing due to them. The Lord did not anciently bestow circumcision upon them without making them partakers of all the things signified by circumcision. He would have deluded his people with mere imposture, had he quieted them with fallacious symbols: the very idea is shocking [Indeed]. He distinctly declares, that the circumcision of the infant will be instead of a seal of the promise of the covenant. But if the covenant remains firm and fixed, it is no less applicable to the children of Christians in the present day, than to the children of the Jews under the Old Testament. Now, if they are partakers of the thing signified, how can they be denied the sign? If they obtain the reality, how can they be refused the figure? The external sign is so united in the sacrament with the word, that it cannot be separated from it; but if they can be separated, to which of the two shall we attach the greater value?

    Humbly,

    TmF

  174. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    You’re reading quotes. FVists only want people reading Calvin quotes. They don’t want you reading Calvin seriously, as a whole. Understanding is seeing parts in relation to a whole.

  175. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    If I went into the baptism subject it would take what is central here off on a tangent, because I am not a paedo baptist. But I do know that Calvin doesn’t – as the Westminster Standards don’t – default to the Romanist side on that. He just doesn’t. FVist see this as a ‘breach’ in the wall of the fortifified city called Reformed Theology that they can exploit. They want to put forward the claim that Reformed Theology is *really* Romanist on such things as the sacraments. It isn’t, and neither is Calvin. But this gives away the FVists’ sympathies. Like their followers who have crossed the Tiber they are really Romanists wearing false clothing. They *want* baptismal regeneration because they *want* man to be in control. They deny regeneration and individual salvation because they despise the notion that the Word and the Spirit would have control over them rather than man and themselves.

    Calvin was also much more of a mystic than some people on the ‘TR’ side want to admit. But that subject doesn’t provide anything to exploit in the direction of Romanist doctrine, so it is left alone by the FVists.

    See comment #186. How many times do these things have to be summed up for you guys? Writers, theologians, infinitely more knowledgeable and talented with words than I have summed these things up, but you just whistle on by and continue saying the same things.

  176. Travis said,

    December 9, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    They *want* baptismal regeneration because they *want* man to be in control.

    No. This is not who I am. I attribute power to the sign b/c it is God who is doing the act. Calvin said that, too.

    They deny regeneration and individual salvation because they despise the notion that the Word and the Spirit would have control over them rather than man and themselves.

    Um, is it not the word and Spirit who control the power of the sacraments when *rightly* administered?

    I’m not your straw man.

  177. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    I would also add that infant baptism is not a Reformed distinctive. It just isn’t. Apologists have recently developed a defense against that statement, but they are talking into the wind. Infant baptism has never been a Reformed distinctive.

    The five solas ARE a Reformed distinctive. The doctrines of grace ARE Reformed distinctives. Covenant – Federal – Theology IS Reformed Theology. And it is THESE things that the FVists are after. When they get pinned on these things they start babbling about sacraments. They want to destroy sola fide, the ‘P’ in TULIP, actually many of the solas and letters of tulip, and they are after destroying the heart and spine of Federal Theology. They are after destroying everything in Reformed Theology that has God in control. They are Romanist. People default to Rome or Geneva. It’s just the way it is. FVists default to Rome. They get angry at the fact that God is sovereign in creation, providence, and GRACE. They are angry that Calvinist/Reformed Christians exist to be a constant presence that exposes them. They demand to be in the place of Christ, one way or another. They have had it with the presence of Reformed Theology and Christians that hold to it (it is apostolic biblical doctrine) so they have set out to infiltrate it and attempt to finally, once and for all, kill it from the inside. Just as the Romanists set out to finally exterminate believers such as the Waldensians (a name that makes FVists grin and laugh, I’ve been mocked by them for even mentioning Foxe’s Book of Martyrs) men, women, and children, slaughtered to the pleasure of their grinning, cankerous antichrist pope. It’s the same spirit that is moving these attacks on Reformed Theology.

    And again, when pinned on their real objectives they start babbling about baptism. They want to destroy the heart of the gospel, and this time they are attempting it from the inside. Not the first time, actually, there is never anything new under the sun especially regarding attacks on God’s truth.

  178. David Gray said,

    December 9, 2007 at 7:17 pm

    >I’ve been mocked by them for even mentioning Foxe’s Book of Martyrs) men, women, and children, slaughtered to the pleasure of their grinning, cankerous antichrist pope. It’s the same spirit that is moving these attacks on Reformed Theology.

    Odd, that post sounded more like something from Cardinal Pole…

  179. David Gray said,

    December 9, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    >If I went into the baptism subject it would take what is central here off on a tangent, because I am not a paedo baptist.

    Why do you rebel against Calvin and the WCF on this?

  180. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    My writing cause tensions and friction because even Christians who know the truth don’t want to stir up such contentiousness (and FVists always play on this desire to separate the main group from the flamethrowers…other than Calvin, they just pretend Calvin wasn’t a flamethrower). I’ll throw something else out, because the activities of the FVists are so Jesuit, it’s before my time, but I’ve read that the 1970s was a very, very active decade of recruitment by Jesuits (it is said that they were doing anything to get recruits in the ’70s, and for them that means recruits from Protestant institutions and just Protestants in general). Theonomy and Federal Vision basically has its roots in that decade. I’d be interested if anybody has any connections on that. There may be nothing there, but it also may be worth looking into. I know that sounds Jack Chickish, but these FVists strike me as Jesuits both in their game-playing and in their mode of operation (and other things) and have from the beginning. (I admit I developed rather early in life a dislike of that particular order, and though I’ve not read about them or followed anything that talks of conspiracy or whatever, I’ve no interest, but there are many details that emerge when you learn of these FVists that give impressions…)

    Look for the FVists (and weaker TRs) to say I’ve just jumped the shark with this post. Sorry to disturb you with the truth, but it’s either Rome or Geneva, and people expose their sympathy one way or another… The plan of redemption is rather simple, and the types and players and motives and goals are rather simple as well…and recurring…

  181. David Gray said,

    December 9, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    >but it’s either Rome or Geneva

    What about Wittenberg or Constantinople?

    You know the PCA report refers to these men as brothers, perhaps you should ponder that.

  182. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    >Why do you rebel against Calvin and the WCF on this?

    The words of a man-fearer? Calvinists fear God and no man.

    Reformed Christians have never considered the sacraments or issues surrounding them to be the heart of the Gospel. Justification by faith alone is the heart of the Gospel. The five solas are the heart of Reformed Theology. Why do Federal Visionists attack the heart of the Gospel as Reformed Theology see the heart of the Gospel. And why do they self-idenfity as Reformed/Calvinist as they are doing it?

  183. David Gray said,

    December 9, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    Reformed Christians are reformed in more than just their soteriology. Which is why Reform Baptists are in a half-way house between broad church evangelism and Reformed Christianity.

  184. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Wittenberg is Geneva, just lesser altitude. Constantinople is Rome, just less money.

    The saying is about archetypes, David, not actual geographical locations…

  185. David Gray said,

    December 9, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    >Wittenberg is Geneva, just lesser altitude. Constantinople is Rome, just less money.

    That is a remarkable statement. So where do Reformed Baptists fit it? Somewhere below Wittenberg presumably.

  186. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    >Reformed Christians are reformed in more than just their soteriology. Which is why Reform Baptists are in a half-way house between broad church evangelism and Reformed Christianity.

    Again, ‘half-way house.’ This is the unconscious language of Rome. I’ll get you to see yourself, David, then, in time, you’ll come into the light…

  187. David Gray said,

    December 9, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    Read what Calvin had to say about those who rejected baptizing covenant children and then label him as an author guilty of using “the unconscious language of Rome.”

  188. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    >”That is a remarkable statement. So where do Reformed Baptists fit it? Somewhere below Wittenberg presumably.”

    Geneva, elevation: 1230 ft.

    Zurich, elevation: 1339 ft.

    But no one need measure due to the fact that infant baptism is not a Reformed distinctive…

  189. David Gray said,

    December 9, 2007 at 7:46 pm

    >But no one need measure due to the fact that infant baptism is not a Reformed distinctive…

    I’ll side with Calvin and the Westminster Divines, you can side with the Anabaptists Calvin wrote against…

  190. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    >I’ll side with Calvin and the Westminster Divines, you can side with the Anabaptists Calvin wrote against…

    Was Bunyan an ‘anabaptist’? Gill? Spurgeon? Pink? These were Reformed Christians who held to and understood classical covenant theology, Federal Theology. But look at this desperate baptismal rabbit trail you have launched off into. You have to retreat in such a manner when pinned on FV Romanist sympathies regarding their hatred of the five solas, doctrines of grace, and Federal Theology. Come back to the battlefield, David.

  191. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 7:57 pm

    Once again, when FVists are pinned regarding their attack on the heart of the Gospel they start babbling about baptism…

  192. David Gray said,

    December 9, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    >These were Reformed Christians who held to and understood classical covenant theology, Federal Theology.

    They were not men who fully understood covenant theology or they would have applied the sign of the covenant to the children of believers (as Calvin and the WCF would instruct them to).

  193. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    >They were not men who fully understood covenant theology or they would have applied the sign of the covenant to the children of believers (as Calvin and the WCF would instruct them to).

    A subject beyond your competence as an FVist, David. Covenant Theology is not about infant baptism. And to talk about what Calvin and the WCF would instruct on anything you need to get down on your knees and repent of attacking the heart of the Gospel which Calvinists died to defend, David. No, you can’t attack Reformed Theology at its heart then claim to be in some kind of position to defend it because you believe in infant baptism. This is psychosis. But this if Federal Vision.

  194. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    But keep exposing yourself. It’s educational.

  195. David Gray said,

    December 9, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    >A subject beyond your competence as an FVist, David.

    Funny thing is I’m not an FVist. I think there may be grounds for Wilkins to be corrected. But I’m not at all keen on how the matter has been handled.

    >And to talk about what Calvin and the WCF would instruct on anything you need to get down on your knees and repent of attacking the heart of the Gospel which Calvinists died to defend, David.

    Sorry, you don’t have the stature to credibly attack my person in that fashion.

    I can talk about what Calvin and the WCF teach because unlike you I agree with them.

  196. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    >Funny thing is I’m not an FVist.

    Funny thing is, that’s what you all say once you have determined you can’t defend your doctrine.

    >I can talk about what Calvin and the WCF teach because unlike you I agree with them.

    David, set the five solas and doctrines of grace and Federal Theology aside (little heart of the Gospel things like that that FVists don’t agree with), you don’t even agree with them on baptism. Neither Calvin nor the WCF teaches baptismal regeneration, which is the default position of FV, stripped of the sophistry. You agree with Rome on baptism.

  197. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    Unless you really are coming away from Federal Vision, in which case, I should hand you over to one of the more pastoral types here… :)

  198. David Weiner said,

    December 9, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    Kyle, re 182,

    Thank you for your response; we surely have different views. However, you make a number of points in your response to which I wish to comment:

    You: Primarily the other members of the visible church count the baptized infant as a member of the visible church.
    me: Man (woman) is in the driver’s seat, I guess.

    You: Such an infant is treated differently than non-members by being raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,
    me: Would that this were true and not just a slogan.

    You: enjoying the fellowship of the saints,
    me: you mean like pot luck dinners?

    You: being included as a participant in the prayer and worship of the church,
    me: Your church doesn’t admit non-members to the worship service until they prove their salvation?

    You: and being admitted to the Table upon a credible profession of faith.
    me: there’s that man/woman in the driver’s seat again.

    You: In other words, they are treated with a view toward bringing them into the maturity of faith, rather than bringing them out of the realm of unbelief.
    me: You can tell who has faith that needs maturing and who does not?

    I am probably wrong; but it sure does seem like a man centered religion that you are describing.

  199. David Gray said,

    December 9, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    >David, set the five solas and doctrines of grace and Federal Theology aside (little heart of the Gospel things like that that FVists don’t agree with), you don’t even agree with them on baptism.

    Incorrect.

  200. David Gray said,

    December 9, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    You know the funny thing is that Pastor Wilkins is often being accused of being out of accord with the WCF but the most aggressive attacker on this blog is someone who is hugely out of accord with the WCF. But as John Piper has observed his church, Bethlehem Baptist, would not allow John Calvin to be a member.

  201. Kyle said,

    December 9, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    David, re: 213,

    You: Primarily the other members of the visible church count the baptized infant as a member of the visible church.
    me: Man (woman) is in the driver’s seat, I guess.

    The distinction between the visible and invisible church is necessary due to man’s inability to plumb the depths of God’s decrees. So, when I referred to the baptized infant being counted a member of the visible church, I meant this as something which the visible church counts. God, too, regards the child as a member of the visible church, but He, unlike we, knows who is part of the invisible church-and those are the ones who receive salutary grace, not simply anyone who is a mere member of the visible church only. How this means that I’ve set man in the driver’s seat is beyond me. I’ve rather squarely made the efficacy of baptism dependent upon Spirit-wrought faith. The efficacy of baptism is not in the water, nor in the man who applies the water, but in the Spirit of God who works faith in the heart of the elect.

    The rest of your commentary isn’t worth responding to. Not that I object to sarcasm per se. But I’ve said nothing different than what the Westminster Standards offer. If you want to attack them, go ahead. Perhaps they are lackin in this area: so show it. Better men than me have defended them. Better men than you produced them.

  202. Kyle said,

    December 9, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    David (Weiner),

    Might I suggest you provide us with your understanding of the benefits of baptism?

  203. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    >You know the funny thing is that Pastor Wilkins is often being accused of being out of accord with the WCF but the most aggressive attacker on this blog is someone who is hugely out of accord with the WCF.

    David, was John Owen ‘hugely’ out of accord with the WCF? (Check the Savoy Declaration.) Is the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith an ‘anabaptist’ document? FVism preys on innocents like you who don’t know the history of Reformed Theology. They tell you that it’s all about baptism, while they proceed to attack the five solas, doctrines of grace, and Federal Theology itself. Again, I’ll say this to you as if you are truly not FV, as you claim: get your history and doctrine from more sound sources than Mr.(s) Wilson, Leithart, Lusk, Wilkins, Horne, Jordan, etc.

  204. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 9, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    Whoa. Go to church and choir practice, and *POOF*. Good night, all.

  205. markhorne said,

    December 9, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    #169 The only people I mocked (if that was even my tone, which I doubt) are North American Roman Catholics who pretend they would rather there had never been a Reformation.

    Robert K. richly deserves to be mocked for the stupid baseless accusations he makes so freely.

    I’m sorry about your father-issues, Robert, since you apparently think only Roman Catholics call their male parents “Dad.”

    As for Luther and the other early Evangelicals, I’m only too glad to claim him as my spiritual Father (second to Abraham, of course!). I am not mocking anything about that.

  206. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    >I’m sorry about your father-issues, Robert, since you apparently think only Roman Catholics call their male parents “Dad.”

    First thing Roman Catholic internet apologists say when when you quote the Bible on call no man father. Their point is: you call your biological dad father, so therefore the Pope is Jesus on earth. Ah…

    Matt. 23:9 – And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

    By the way, on that post of yours: you’re pretty dangerous when you get hold of a new book, aren’t you? Look out, Mark Horne is reading a new book. There will be changes in store for all of us…

  207. its.reed said,

    December 9, 2007 at 11:05 pm

    Ref. #220 & 221:

    Getting personal, … way off subject. Please stop now – both of you.

    Thanks.

  208. Robert K. said,

    December 9, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    OK, ‘some people’ read books for the first time, and…look out! the revelations start getting handed down from the mount…

    Like this (I’ll use me as an example)… OK, people, I’ve just been reading this books called Proverbs. You all have some needed advice coming your way. Everything has changed. Everybody listen up. Seminary professors, reading these sites, pretending you’re above the fray, pretending you’re writing books, you need to hear this too. Big changes are coming down for everybody. This book Proverbs shows you all up. Part of it seems to be written to me, that is, to a king. Other parts are clearly meant for people in general. Like you. And don’t try to trump me with that book called Psalms! I have that one on order…

  209. December 10, 2007 at 7:12 am

    [...] thunder again in his recent post. Well, sorta. I started writing this post after a few folks were discussing the validity of FV’s idea of “covenantal justification” in the combox of an [...]

  210. David Weiner said,

    December 10, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Kyle, re #216,

    I really do apologize for what you took to be a sarcastic response. All I can say is that was not my intention. I did hear in your response what seemed to me a very man centered approach. I was trying to communicate that and apparently failed.

    As to the question of ‘benefits of baptism’ all I can say is that I do indeed see benefits to baptism but that I see no benefit in listing them here. We are so far apart in our views that we would clog up this blog if we kept at it. If you cared about pursuing this then I would be happy to do so on your blog.

    God bless,
    David


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 346 other followers

%d bloggers like this: