Rescuing the Absolute Negatives

Posted by Bob Mattes

I believe it worthwhile pointing out how Federal Visionists dance around exact definitions and rely on unstated assumptions to try to sound orthodox or hijack the orthodox Reformed view. There’s an interesting Federal Vision assertion here:

It wasn’t too long ago that we were assured in the name of protecting the Gospel and the Reformed Faith that God was “in no way” the savior of any except those predestined to everlasting life.

For clarity, 1 Tim 4:10 is the verse in question and it says:

For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (ESV)

This first assertion about “the Savior of all people” was clearly answered in this post, including direct quotes from James Jordan giving the Federal Vision view and Calvin (and his translator) providing the orthodox Reformed view. Pretty straight-forward, so this first assertion has no basis.

The second Federal Vision assertion is:

Now we are hearing similar absolute negatives about being united to Christ. None of this is either Biblical or “Reformed.”

He attempts to use WLC Q.63 to assert that the unregenerate in the visible church are united to Christ.

Q. 63. What are the special privileges of the visible church?
A.
The visible church hath the privilege of being under God’s special care and government; of being protected and preserved in all ages, notwithstanding 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.

He then concludes his argument with:

The proof associated with “being uder [sic] God’s special care and government,” is First Timothy 4.10, which I quote above.

But notice that neither the WLC or 1 Tim 4:10 say that the unregenerate in the visible church are united to Christ! To read that in the catechism would require equating “being under God’s special care and government” with being “united in Christ”, something the catechism excludes, especially when reading the two later catechism questions:

Q. 65. What special benefits do the members of the invisible church enjoy by Christ?
A. The members of the invisible church by Christ enjoy union and communion with him in grace and glory.

Q. 66. What is that union which the elect have with Christ?
A. The union which the elect have with Christ is the work of God’s grace, whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband; which is done in their effectual calling.

Also see WSC Q.30:

Q. 30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

See that the catechisms specifically call out union with Christ as a benefit for the elect based on effectual calling, but specifically exclude it from the general visible church which is NOT effectually called. So it is only the Federal Visions unstated assumption that “being under God’s special care and government” means “united in Christ”, something contrary to both the Standards and Scripture. Hence, Andy Webb’s post United to Christ But Not Going to Heaven is right on target in its use of absolutes. So is my earlier extensive post on Union with Christ, which also covers the orthodox Reformed view and includes an excerpt from the PCA’s study report that starts out with:

The Westminster Standards only speak of a “union with Christ” as that which is effectual; or to say it another way, as that which is saving and belongs to the elect (LC 65, 66). This is the “work of God’s grace” whereby the “Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling” (LC 66; SC 30). This “thereby” of the catechism’s statement is important: it conveys that the Spirit uses faith to unite believers to Christ (cf. WCF 26:1).

The Federal Vision post ends with the usual intemperate language which I will not repeat here. Must be a manifestation of serrated edge theology.

Just thought that you’d like to know…the rest of the story.

Posted by Bob Mattes

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317 Comments

  1. curate said,

    December 13, 2007 at 2:56 am

    While I recognize the sincerity of your belief that you yourself and your fellows do not dance around exact definitions, my experience of you all is a little different. When you TRs are debated into a corner you simply refuse to answer, or you (plural) start huffing and puffing.

    An instance of your own failure to answer is a post over at the BaylyBlog a couple weeks ago on the biblical use of the word chosen and elect, under the heading “A Gollumish twist at Green Baggins”. Perhaps you really thought the discussion was over, but it has happened too often in my experience.

    This causes no little frustration, and results in many FV men more able than myself to simply cease interacting with their opponents. Perhaps they are wiser than I am.

    May I suggest that you avoid saying things like “Federal Visionists dance around exact definitions”? It is quite untrue, and perpetuates the false idea that the FV men are desperately and helplessly trying to avoid the devastating critiques aimed at them.

  2. William Hill said,

    December 13, 2007 at 4:03 am

    I might also add that FV guys are not the only ones who have “the usual intemperate language”. If I were keeping score I would say it is about 50-50. Both sides are guilty for sure. In fact, Bob, you could have left that last paragraph off of your post and it would not have changed the overall meaning of your post. Instead it simply comes off as a cheap shot.

  3. David Gray said,

    December 13, 2007 at 5:24 am

    >Q. 62. What is the visible church?

    >A. The visible church is a society made up of all such as in all ages and places of the world do profess the true religion, and of their children.

    >Q. 63. What are the special privileges of the visible church?

    >A. The visible church hath the privilege of being under God’s special care and government; of being protected and preserved in all ages, notwithstanding 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.

    Brother Mattes,

    There is certainly value in saying what the WLC is not teaching. There might also be value in exploring what it actually is teaching. Elsewhere on this blog it has been asserted by a commenter that unregenerate members of the visible church (i.e. not the elect, not members of the invisible church defined in question 64) receive no benefits which are not received by unregenerate persons who are not members of the visible church (i.e. they all receive the same common grace). I find it difficult to square that belief with the answer to question 63. It certainly seems to teach that there is benefit or privilege to be found for the unregenerate in the visible church that is not found outside it. What is your take on question 63 and the apparent benefits or privileges to be found in the visible church?

  4. Andrew Webb said,

    December 13, 2007 at 9:57 am

    Hi Curate,

    I’m all for exact definitions myself, if possible I’d like to hammer out a few things today, and I’m learning to limit my objectives here in the hopes of getting something done.

    1) Can we agree then that since the FV states that all the Baptized are united to Christ and truly holy, therefore Saints, but that some of them apostatize and thus fail to persevere that you can agree to the following statement: “Not all of the Saints Persevere?”

    2) I’m noticing that the catchall description used by proponents of the FV for opponents of the FV is the pejorative term “TRs”. Thus we have the bizarre situation that men who have been vocally opposed to TRs all their ecclesiastical lives (men like Frank Barker and Tom Leopard for instance) who are also opposed to the FV are now “TRs”. This is particularly curious given that men who described themselves in print as “TRs” like Steve Wilkins and who made statements to the effect of ‘no TR can get justice in this denomination (the PCA)’ are now not TRs because they are FV. So can you briefly explain what a “TR” is and also whether you prefer if I referred to FVs as “NTRs” or simply “NRs” given that we are “TRs”.

    Thanks in advance!

  5. David R. McCrory said,

    December 13, 2007 at 9:58 am

    Mr. Gray,

    I have asserted that non-elect members receive no extra benefits from belonging to the visable church. Yet I may need to qualify that in light of WLCQ #63 (which I agree with). My position would be that the church is a source of many common graces, such as communion with the saints, providential protections, and if in a Southern Baptist church, great food!. Yet, these graces cannot be seperated from other common graces found throughout the world. They may be intensified in a church setting, yet still common. In short then, there are no special graces of God to be found simply by virture of having been baptized, or apart of the visable church. There are no salfivic benefits inherently tied to external fellowship with the church. I hope this adds clarity to my view.

  6. David R. McCrory said,

    December 13, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Additionally, and I saw this coming, when I say,

    ” there are no special graces of God to be found simply by virture of having been baptized”

    ~ Baptism is a means of grace. But the grace offered in baptism is only efficaious (special) when embraced by faith.

  7. pduggie said,

    December 13, 2007 at 10:35 am

    5

    I would say that common operations of the Spirit are present ordinarily in church settings, and NOT found in the wider world. Nobody tastes of heavenly gifts outside of the Church. So there are benefits within the church to all that are not there to those without.

    All saints *by profession* are the subjects of each others “Spiritual services” which tend to their edification. That’s everyone.

    I’m curious about a reassertion of “absolute” negatives. As I asked in the last thread, is there any difference between

    “In Christ by profession only”

    and

    “merely claiming to be in him, but they’re not”

  8. December 13, 2007 at 10:36 am

    David Gray,

    What is your take on question 63 and the apparent benefits or privileges to be found in the visible church?

    The unregenerate in the visible church receive the benefits listed in Q.63, which are things that the unregenerate outside the visible church to not receive. This is what Q.63 and the Scriptures teach.

    Blessings,
    Bob

  9. December 13, 2007 at 10:43 am

    William,

    In fact, Bob, you could have left that last paragraph off of your post and it would not have changed the overall meaning of your post. Instead it simply comes off as a cheap shot.

    So, no condemnation of the language on the other blog? How different and refreshing. ;-)

    Blessings,
    Bob

  10. David R. McCrory said,

    December 13, 2007 at 10:52 am

    >The unregenerate in the visible church receive the benefits listed in Q.63, which are things that the unregenerate outside the visible church to not receive.

    And just so we’re clear these are common operations of the Spirit, right?

  11. David Gray said,

    December 13, 2007 at 10:53 am

    >Yet, these graces cannot be seperated from other common graces found throughout the world.

    Mr. McCrory,

    Wouldn’t it be fair to say that this is incompatible with the WLC? As Brother Mattes has observed there are privileges specified in the answer to Q63 which are not available outside the visible church (i.e. such as 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).

    Dave

  12. J.Pirschel said,

    December 13, 2007 at 10:56 am

    Andy and others,

    When you start using words like “saints” and “holy” you should now its not that simple. Plenty of “saints” failed to persevere in the wilderness and died on the short side of the Promise Land. They were God’s “holy” people. These same holy saints, the ones who were adopted and had the promises, have now been cut off. So its not at all a comprimise to say that, in that sense, not all saints persevere.

    This post concerning absolutes (your either really really in, or not at all not even a lick) is fine if you have been giving all the details concerning the eschaton but those who are ministering in the midst of the wilderness will need “other” categories as well and should be able to use those categories without feeling like they are comprimising their “Calvinism”.

    Also when Paul says are children are “holy”, is that the “true holiness” you mention above or is that a “fake/false holiness”? Since we are dealing in absolutes and all.

    Jesse Pirschel
    Providence OPC
    Temecula, CA

  13. December 13, 2007 at 11:06 am

    DRM,

    And just so we’re clear these are common operations of the Spirit, right?

    They are common operations of the Spirit as opposed to saving operations of the Spirit, yes. To be clear, those outside the visible church receive common grace as in raining on the just and unjust, but some particular non-saving operations of the Spirit are reserved for the unregenerate in the visible church. That’s why question 63 in the WLC is worded as “What are the special privileges of the visible church?” (my italics)

    Blessings,
    Bob

  14. David R. McCrory said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Mr. Gray,

    I don’t think my view is incompatible with WLC 63. If those privledges are understood as falling into the category of common graces, which I believe they are, then they are, in principle, availble to every person regardless of their spiritual status. The best and most availble example I can think of would be visiting a fine restuarant. Only those IN the resturant are benefitting from it’s delicious menu. But this doesn’t mean anyone else could not come in and enjoy EXACTLY the same things. There is nothing inherently tied to these benefits which prevent those outside the church from coming in and enjoying them. As compared to those saving graces which are only excessable by faith.

    I’d be curious though, at others views on this.

  15. David R. McCrory said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:08 am

    Thanks Bob, I agree.

  16. David Gray said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:08 am

    >There is nothing inherently tied to these benefits which prevent those outside the church from coming in and enjoying them.

    There is however one inherent thing which prevents those outside. The fact that they are outside. If they enter they are no longer outside and are now in the visible church. Like Brother Mattes notes the WLC says that there are “special privileges.” I think I’d struggle to read it any other way.

  17. David R. McCrory said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Right. The difference lies in the proximity to the person to the benefits, not what constitutes the benefits themselves. I’m perfectly comfortable with that.

  18. William Hill said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:21 am

    “So, no condemnation of the language on the other blog? How different and refreshing.”

    Yes, just like your anticpated answer was. How nice it would have been for you to simply say :”You know, Bill, you’re right! I didn’t have to say that stuff at the end of my post in order for the post to make its point.” Instead what I get is — “You didn’t say that on the other blog” which of course assumes that you think you know what I have done to date about that matter.

    Again, it really doesn’t matter what I have or have not done. The point still remains that your decent post could have stood alone without the last paragraph. That is all I am saying.

  19. Andrew Webb said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Jesse,

    We aren’t talking here about a corporate holiness that applies to all the members of the visible church, or the “saints” as the description of charity applied to the visible church. We are talking about the FV doctrine that to quote Rich Lusk, “The threshold into union with Christ, new life in the Spirit, and covenant membership in the family of God is actually crossed when the child is baptized” According to the FV, to be baptized is to be united to Christ and saved. It is to be a saint not in the general sense of included in the visible church, but it the particular sense of united to Christ, and that those in this state have all the benefits of redemption “until and unless he apostatize.”

    Although we see all sorts of footwork going on, this means simply that SOME SAINTS do not persevere. Some who are really united to Christ are really cut off. I believe advocates of the FV recognize this and realize it contradicts WCF 17.1 “They, whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.” but answer for yourself. Do they NOT teach that Baptized children are “Accepted in his Beloved” and the subjects of his calling and his sanctification? If they are not, how were they united to Christ, and what benefits are they receiving from being “truly in the vine” if not sanctification?

    Some of these saints clearly don’t persevere in their system.

    Anyway, I look forward to your answer.

  20. David Gray said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:24 am

    >The difference lies in the proximity to the person to the benefits, not what constitutes the benefits themselves.

    Well I’d say the WLC is saying it isn’t proximity, it is whether you are in or out which is a more absolute distinction. And the WLC is saying that the privileges in the visible church are “special.” If they existed everywhere they would not be “special.”

  21. Andrew Duggan said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:24 am

    Re 7: Paul,

    I think your question is best answered with a question:

    What are the kinds of people to whom Christ says, depart from me, I never knew you, in response to their saying “Lord, Lord did we not… in your name…”?

  22. David R. McCrory said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Mr. Gray,

    I suppose since you’ve eased me into it, I’d go along with that as well. Maintaining my view that it is that fact they are in the church rather than out of it that is the essential difference. Again, re-emphasizing the primary distinction with the person, not the benefits applied to them. They are unique common operations of the Spirit which are applied to those found within the church.

  23. pduggie said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:32 am

    “It is to be a saint not in the general sense of included in the visible church”

    No, it is in that sense.

    But the visible church is a much finer institution, that is related to Christ, than you’d admit.

    Where does “corporate holiness” come from anyway? Not from Christ? Not from the Spirit?

  24. pduggie said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:41 am

    “We are talking about the FV doctrine that to quote Rich Lusk, “The threshold into union with Christ, new life in the Spirit, and covenant membership in the family of God is actually crossed when the child is baptized””

    That’s an uncharitable, decontextualized use of Lusk’s quote. It is far from clear that Lusk is there speaking of the kind of covenental common union that the FV is positing.

    He cites Calvin earlier, to the effect that he’s discussing those who have a full experience of saving grace. The question is, what happens to those elect infants when baptized. That’s the context of the quote.

    Calvin: “[T]he children receive some benefit from their baptism . . . I ask, what the danger is if infants be said to receive now some part of that grace which in a little while they shall enjoy to the full? For if fullness of life consists in the perfect knowledge of God, when some of them, whom death snatches away in their very first infancy, pass over into eternal life, they are surely received to the contemplation of God in his very presence. Therefore, if it please him, why may the Lord not shine with a tiny spark at the present time on those whom he will illumine in the future with the full splendor of his light?”

  25. curate said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:51 am

    Mr. Webb, see Jesse Pirschel’s admirable reply to you in post no.12.

    I was wondering if you give us an exact exegesis of these words of the apostle Paul:

    Rom. 6:3 … or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

    You probably suspect that this is a scribal error, since it should say, ” … as many of us as are eternally elect were baptized into His death … ” Perhaps there is a comment in the critical apparatus, but I have lost mine.

  26. David Gray said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:54 am

    >They are unique common operations of the Spirit which are applied to those found within the church.

    Works for me.

  27. David R. McCrory said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:59 am

    Whew, I thought you might ask how they can be both “unique” amd “common”, but I’m glad your not asking. ;-)

  28. J.Pirschel said,

    December 13, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    Andy,

    I have some sympathy with what you are getting at. I personally believe that the FV has been unwise in language use. Clearly language that has come to have a specific theological meaning in our tradition is being used in ways we have not (in our current context) used them. That is either because (a) they believe something dramatically different than us (which depending on who the “us” is, I would say that is true because many Presby’s view of baptism is so low that the two are dramatically different) or (b) because they are viewing things in a way, and speaking in a way, that we are not accustomed to.

    I believe that the majority, not all, of the issue is the latter one. That said the Bible itself uses language that would make, judging by some responses to the FV, some Calvinists shudder.

    Example. Peter talks about people who have a “knowledge” of the Lord Jesus that effected an “escape from the pollutions of the world” who later fall away. Now, if we take the above example and agree that “escape from pollution” is some sort of “sanctification”, then we can say the “sanctified” can be lost. But, of course, that is not using the term “sanctified” in a way the WCF uses it. So if you take my above sentence and run it through the WCF grid using the definitions attached to the terms therein, I am denying eternal security etc.

    The same could be said for a host of doctrines. In the WCF “adoption” is surely an eternal benefit which cannot be lost. Rom 9.4 says the adopted were cut off. I personally don’t have a problem believing both because I believe the words are being used in different senses.

    I try to read the FV men in this manner, and there are still things that make me very uncomfortable, like when they start defining the contents of the “covenantal union” as everything “but perseverance”. But I am just as uncomfortable with some of the views now being accepted as “the real reformed” view which cuts off any “special” benefits for covenant members. In hopes of protecting the confessional definitions some are beginning to say things (unlike the Bible) that those cut off were just “pretending”, never “really in” and the like.

    So with that in mind, if you read Lusk’s statement (one I personally wouldn’t make) in this light, what difference might it make? They are “united to Christ” (are united to the body of Christ), they have crossed the threshold into new life in the Spirit (are now apart of the “people of the new age of the life giving Spirit”) and become members of the family of God (adopted, in the Romans 9.4 sense). It doesn’t sound all that different in that sense then Hebrews 6 that says some are “enlightened, taste of the heavenly Gift and made partakers of the Holy Spirit”. Most of these are sociological realities, but that doesn’t make them “pretend” or “fake” or of no value.

  29. David R. McCrory said,

    December 13, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    >I personally believe that the FV has been unwise in language use. Clearly language that has come to have a specific theological meaning in our tradition is being used in ways we have not (in our current context) used them.

    ~ Does Lusk’s notion of “paedofaith” fall into category. I’d be curious to know how paedofaith lines up confessionally. Has this issue been dealt with in a previous post?

  30. December 13, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Curate said “I was wondering if you give us an exact exegesis of these words of the apostle Paul:

    Rom. 6:3 … or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

    You probably suspect that this is a scribal error, since it should say, ” … as many of us as are eternally elect were baptized into His death … ” Perhaps there is a comment in the critical apparatus, but I have lost mine.”

    Perhaps Federal Visionists would do well if they actually read the two verses that come after Romans 6:3. Notice especially:

    if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection

    Notice that this is “certainly” the case of this group of people Paul is talking about. So, yes, it is absolutely talking about the eternally elect. It never occurs to Federal Visionists that Scripture could be talking about the thing signified, rather than the sign/rite.

  31. December 13, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    Curate also said “May I suggest that you avoid saying things like “Federal Visionists dance around exact definitions”? It is quite untrue, and perpetuates the false idea that the FV men are desperately and helplessly trying to avoid the devastating critiques aimed at them.”

    This is a curious assertion, one that is backed by absolutely no proof. It is also easily fasifiable – since no FV has actually done us the service yet of telling us what they mean by “covenantal justification”, as is evidenced over in my last post on the subject.

  32. J.Pirschel said,

    December 13, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    David,

    Per Romans 6, you are correct about the certainty of the union involved (in both death and resurrection). I would ask only this, how should pastors speak to the congregation of the baptized when they come to that verse?

  33. Andy Gilman said,

    December 13, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Paul D. said:

    I would say that common operations of the Spirit are present ordinarily in church settings, and NOT found in the wider world. Nobody tastes of heavenly gifts outside of the Church. So there are benefits within the church to all that are not there to those without.

    I don’t agree with this, and see no reason to equate the “common operations of the Spirit” with the “special privileges of the visible church.” I agree that there are benefits to membership in the visible church, but the benefits are not what the stardards refer to as the “common operations of the Spirit.”

    Instead, I would agree with this statement from Charles Hodge in his Systematic Theology:

    The presence or absence of the Spirit makes all the difference between heaven and hell. To the general influence of the Spirit (or to common grace), we owe, —
    1. All the decorum, order, refinement, and virtue existing among men. Mere fear of future punishment, the natural sense of right, and the restraints of human laws, would prove feeble barriers to evil, were it not for the repressing power of the Spirit, which, like the pressure of the atmosphere, is universal and powerful, although unfelt.
    2. To the same divine agent is due specially that general fear of God, and that religious feeling which prevail among men, and which secure for the rites and services of religion in all its forms, the decorous or more serious attention which they receive.

    The great truth, however, that concerns us is that the Spirit of God is present with every human mind, restraining from evil and exciting to good ; and that to his presence and influence we are indebted for all the order, decorum, and virtue, as well as the regard for religion and its ordinances, which exist in the world. And consequently that the greatest calamity that can befall an individual, a church, or a people, is that God should take his Holy Spirit from them. And as this is a judgment which, according to the Scriptures, does often come upon individuals, churches, and people, we should above all things dread lest we should grieve the Spirit or quench his influences.

    4. Efficacious Grace.
    Besides those operations of the Spirit, which in a greater or less degree are COMMON TO ALL MEN, the Scriptures teach that the covenant of redemption secures the Spirit’s certainly efficacious influence for all those who have been given to the Son as his inheritance.

    (emphasis mine)

  34. December 13, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    J. Pirschel,

    Interesting question, although it is a different issue (an epistemological issue, not a metaphysical/ontological one).

    I’d say that I don’t mind pastors generalizing or using a judgment of charity in speaking this way (in the 2nd person plural concerning salvation benefits) to their congregations – as long as it is understood that it is generalizing. Sometimes it is proper to make this assumption explicit, and in some contexts it is not always necessary to do so.

    After all, Paul himself *does* explicitly qualify himself and make explicit the presumption he is making – just a little bit further on in the book of Romans:

    However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.

  35. Andrew Webb said,

    December 13, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    Hello Curate,

    I’m honestly saddened that you didn’t have time to answer my questions yourself, perhaps at a later time.

    Anyway you wrote:

    I was wondering if you give us an exact exegesis of these words of the apostle Paul:

    Rom. 6:3 … or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

    You know, posting here is beginning to give me an eerie feeling of de ja vu. In particular it reminds me of the days in the 90s when I spent a lot of time doing apologetics with Roman Catholics and Arminians. I note that because I’m getting hit with exactly the same verses the RC used to “prove” Baptismal Regeneration and the Arminians used to “disprove” the perseverance of the saints. They also presented them with an “Aha! Now I’ve got you” kind of flourish. With them I expected it, here I’ll have to admit I didn’t and I almost want to ask “haven’t you ever read a standard Reformed commentary on Romans? Hodge’s for instance or been taught to understand the difference between a sign and the thing it signifies? For instance Curate, when Christ says of the bread “This is my body” (Matt. 26:26) do you take Him to mean that the bread has literally become his body?

    Anyway, regarding Baptism and the Sacraments generally, I have written elsewhere: “Sacraments have two parts, the outward signs which we can see and touch, which are administered in our worship according to Christ’s instructions, and an inward spiritual grace which they point to. Like the preaching and the reading of the Word and prayer, the Sacraments are a means by which grace is conferred to those who receive them worthily. The grace thus received is not conveyed by any power in the elements themselves (the physical water, bread, and wine), but is the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer who receives them in faith. The Sacraments are not merely memorials of the completed work of Christ, but rather a precious and powerful gift that God has given to strengthen and increase the faith of believers.

    Baptism is the sign by which the person being baptized is solemnly admitted into the visible church. In that sense Baptism fulfills the role under the New Covenant that circumcision fulfilled under the Old, and consequently we see the Apostle Paul comparing baptism to circumcision in Colossians 2:11.

    In our Baptism we have a visible sign that tells all the world that we have been admitted into the Covenant community. It is also a visible, or outward sign and seal of the inward spiritual changes that occur in believers; their union with Christ, their regeneration, their remission of sins, and their being given up to God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life.”

    So in 6:3 We have Paul using the outward and external sign of the covenant to express to believers the reality of their union with Christ and the application of the saving benefits of His death, including regeneration and therefore in the context of the passage the necessity of their turning from sin and walking worthy of their calling in the “new life” they have via their new birth.

    Baptism itself is an emblem or sign of this change and the union with Christ that results from faith, not the agency which caused the change in an opus oparatum sense.

    Anyway, Curate, if you disagree with me here, please understand you are also disagreeing with men like Hodge who warned in his commentary on Romans 6:3, “But the carnal mind soon turned the figure into a reality. It appears to the impatience of man too tedious and ineffectual a way to wait on God’s method of converting sinners by His Holy Spirit through the truth, and therefore they have effected this much more extensively by the performance of external rites.”*

    *Lest you think I’m somehow taking him out of Context here is his complete exposition:

    “Baptized into Jesus Christ.—By faith believers are made one with Christ: they become members of His body. This oneness is represented emblematically by baptism.

    Baptized into His death.—In baptism, they are also represented as dying with Christ. This rite, then, proceeds on the fact that they have died with Him who bore their sins. Thus the satisfaction rendered to the justice of God by Him, is a satisfaction from them, as they are constituent parts of His body. The believer is one with Christ as truly as he was one with Adam—he dies with Christ as truly as he died with Adam. Christ’s righteousness is his as truly as Adam’s sin was his. By a Divine constitution, all Adam’s posterity are one with him, and so his first sin is really and truly theirs. By a similar Divine constitution, all Christ’s people are one with Him, and His obedience is as truly theirs as if they had yielded it, and His death as if they had suffered it. When it is said that Christians have died with Christ, there is no more figure than when it is said that they have died in Adam.

    The figure of baptism was very early mistaken for a reality, and accordingly some of the fathers speak of the baptized person as truly born again in the water. They supposed him to go into the water with all his sins upon him, and to come out of it without them. This indeed is the case with baptism figuratively. But the carnal mind soon turned the figure into a reality. It appears to the impatience of man too tedious and ineffectual a way to wait on God’s method of converting sinners by His Holy Spirit through the truth, and therefore they have effected this much more extensively by the performance of external rites. When, according to many, the rite is observed, it cannot be doubted that the truth denoted by it has been accomplished. The same disposition has been the origin of Transubstantiation. The bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper are figuratively the body and blood of Christ; but they have been turned into the real body, blood, soul, and divinity of the Lord, and the external rite has become salvation.

  36. markhorne said,

    December 13, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Hawaii is both unique and common. Both elect and nonelect can and do enjoy it (I presume), but it is not common to everyone in the world.

    I think the visible church has more significance than Hawaii, but the analogy still holds.

  37. pduggie said,

    December 13, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    “The Sacraments are not merely memorials of the completed work of Christ, but rather a precious and powerful gift that God has given to strengthen and increase the faith of believers.”

    What’s the difference?

    If I give you a memorial of some great event wouldn’t it

    1. be a precious gift
    2. remind you of the event in a positive fashion which
    3. Would increase your apprehension of how significant that event is?

    A memorial reminds us of something.

    Something that reminds us of Jesus in most cases strengthens our faith in him, if we receive it “worthily”.

    Why are you contrasting how a memorial function with how Sacraments function?

  38. David R. McCrory said,

    December 13, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Thanks Mark. I was looking for a good example of both unique and common.

  39. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 13, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    I can’t speak for him, but surely you know how Calvin would answer that: A memorial, as per Zwingli, functions on its own. A sacrament is ordained of God, an occasion for the Spirit to work in a manner of his own choosing.

    Just as the Word of God is special over against all other words (though the Spirit might choose to use the words of even Caiphas), so also the sacrament is special over against all other memorials (though the Spirit might choose to use an altar call…shudder!)

    Jeff Cagle

  40. markhorne said,

    December 13, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Bob, are you then registering your disagreement with the statement that the visible Church is the body of Christ?

  41. curate said,

    December 13, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Mr. Webb out of respect for the genuine theological content of your post and your sincerity, I will reply to you seriously, soberly, and earnestly, but plainly.

    You are a Baptist in principle, and here is why.

    Noticeably absent from your definition of Baptism is any talk of the sacrament conveying the things signified to those who rightly receive them. Agreeing with all that you say about the sacraments being signs, they are at the same time vehicles for the transmission, conveyance, and transfer of the things they signify.

    That is the plain language of your WCF and of every Reformation Confession, and it is absent form your faith.

    You mention that Baptism is “a precious and powerful gift that God has given to strengthen and increase the faith of believers”. But that does not fulfill the definition, does it? It is the channel chosen by a sovereign God for the transmission and conveying of justification and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Acts 2:38   Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    A sacrament is an outward sign of an inward grace, and the inward grace is nothing less than the things signified. In your definition the inward grace has been divorced form the things signed, and thus Baptism has ceased to be a sacrament by definition. Thus you do not recognize any sacraments, just signs.

    If the Romans and the Anglo’s have got it right, then bully for them. I do not argue with them when they are in conformity with scripture. The Pope is an Antichrist and his church has buried the gospel under a mountain of superstition, but he is not infallibly wrong in all things.

    Then there is the fact of Baptism being not only a sign, but also a seal. A seal is not the same thing as a sign. A seal is a thing that confirms and guarantees something. In the case of the sacraments, being seals, they confirm and guarantee to the worthy receiver the conveyance of the things signified. They do not confirm something NOT given, or a promise of future blessing presently absent.

    This is why Calvin and all the others pointed to Baptism as a proof of the reality of our status as adopted children of God and heirs of the kingdom.

    All of this contradicts Hodge and Lloyd-Jones and the modern evangelical consensus, but so be it. I have not sworn allegiance to them, but to the Bible.

    Perhaps you will say to me that faith is the alone instrument for taking hold of justification. I reply to you that the same Confession ALSO says that the sacraments convey the things signified, without any sense of contradiction or tension. Faith is man reaching out for the remission of sins, and in the sacraments God is bringing them within reach. Faith is man’s act and the sacrament is God’s.

    With respect, you have a lot of reading and research to do before you will be equipped to speak for the Reformed Faith on this issue.

  42. pduggie said,

    December 13, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Did Zwingli deny that God sustains the whole universe all the time.

    What POSSIBLY acts “of itself”?

    And isn’t *everything* an occasion for God to work by his Spirit as he chooses?

    Is this just a continuum of specialness? Or a dividing line?

  43. its.reed said,

    December 13, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Ref. #41:

    Curate (hi Roger), I think you’re reading into Andy’s response, insisting that the thing missing (the inward grace signified) is essential to his answer, whereas it is not.

    In other terms, Andy is referencing the distinction labled sacramental union. The sign is not the thing signified. The thing signified is not inherent in the sign. The thing signified is ministered by the Spirit via the sign. The moment of ministry is not timed to the reception of the sign. The reception of the thing signified is received by Spirit wraught faith.

    Andy is merely observing that “baptism” in Rom. 6:3 is not exegetically to be understood as the sign but the thing signified, the inward grace.

    Others holding to the FV position on this blog have espoused the idea that the thing signified (inward grace) is ordinarily ministered by the Spirit at the moment of the administration of the sign. They’ve carefully maintained all the distinctions, while maintaining an “ordinary” aspect that supports the FV position.

    I suspect Andy does not agree with this latter point (I’ll let him speak.nuance for himself). I think you’re reading too much into his comments, and therefore assuming he maintains an error he does not necessarily hold.

    Peace, reed

  44. David R. McCrory said,

    December 13, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    “Faith is man’s act and the sacrament is God’s.”

    ~ This statement speaks for itself.

  45. its.reed said,

    December 13, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Ref. #44:

    David, I understand what you’re getting at, but maybe we should ask Roger to clarify what he means. I think from other conversations with Roger I can say he means Spirit-wraught faith.

    Whether his understanding of the exercise of that faith is nuanced enough to maintain strict monergism I do not know, never having had the opportunity to discuss the issue. I do know my own language is probably not up to par for this rightly held conviction.

    reed

  46. December 13, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Indeed, David McCrory. The Judaizers could have said the same thing about circumcision. Both ideas are rubbish. And, like it or not, the rite of circumcision and the rite of baptism are accomplished with human hands.

    Also, I am quite unwilling to believe that baptism does something in infants that it does not do in adult converts. I have seen nothing in the Bible to justify such an inconsistency, especially given that the Bible never directly addresses the question of infant baptism (although it is proven by “good and necessary consequence”).

  47. David R. McCrory said,

    December 13, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Reed,

    Add to that his comment just before the other,

    “Faith is man reaching out for the remission of sins…”

    and I think the implications are pretty clear.

  48. AdamM said,

    December 13, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    Greeting Brothers,

    If the FV proposes that the nonelect are in union with Christ, what would be the instrument that unites them (the nonelect) to Christ?

  49. December 13, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    Curate/Roger,

    Someone is not a baptist “in principle” because they believe in infant baptism for different reasons than you. We believe in infant baptism because our children are in the Covenant of Grace, and therefore ought to have the sign and seal of that covenant applied to them. We don’t need to impute to baptism magical powers or say that baptism washes away sins or hold to any similar sacerdotal superstitions in order to have just reason for believing in infant baptism.

  50. David R. McCrory said,

    December 13, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    I think it safe to say Romanist and Presbyterians both believe in infant baptism. And both for very different reasons.

  51. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 13, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    Pduggie (#42):

    Did Zwingli deny that God sustains the whole universe all the time.

    What POSSIBLY acts “of itself”?

    Might be the fault of my wording. Here’s The Z-Man himself:

    SEVENTHLY-1 believe, indeed I know, that all the sacraments are so far from conferring grace that they do not even convey or dispense it. In this matter, most powerful Emperor, I may seem to thee perhaps too bold. But my opinion is firm. For as grace comes from or is given by the Divine Spirit (when I speak of grace I use the Latin term for pardon, i. e., indulgence or spontaneous favor), so this gift pertains to the Spirit alone. Moreover, a channel or vehicle is not necessary to the Spirit, for He Himself is the virtue and energy whereby all things are borne, and has no need of being borne; neither do we read in the Holy Scriptures that visible things, as are the sacraments, carry certainly with them the Spirit, but if visible things have ever been borne with the Spirit, it has been the Spirit, not the visible things that have done the bearing.

    Thus when the rushing of the mighty wind took place [Acts 2: 2] at the same time the tongues were conveyed by the power of the wind; the wind was not conveyed by the power of the tongues. Thus the wind brought the quails and carried away the locusts [Nu. 11: 31ff ; Ex. 10: 4ff ] ; but no quails nor locusts were ever so fleet as to bring the wind. Likewise when a wind, strong enough to remove mountains, passed Elijah [I Ki. 19: 11] the Lord was not borne by the wind, etc. Briefly, the Spirit breathes wherever it wishes, i. e., just as the wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, and canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth, so is everyone that is born of the Spirit [John 3: 8], i. e., invisibly and imperceptibly illumined and drawn.

    Thus the Truth [Christ] spake. Therefore, the Spirit of grace is conveyed not by this immersion, not by this drinking, not by that anointing. For if it were thus, it would be known how, where, whence and whither the Spirit is borne. If the presence and efficacy of grace are bound to the sacraments, they work whithersoever they are carried; and where they are not [47] used, everything becomes feeble. Nor can theologians plead that the proper disposition of the subject is demanded as a prerequisite [for the right use of the sacraments]. For example, the grace of baptism or of the Eucharist (so they say) is conferred upon him who is first prepared for it. For he who according to their opinion receives grace through the sacraments, either prepares himself for it or is prepared by the Spirit. If be prepares himself, we can do something of ourselves and prevenient grace is nothing. If he is prepared by the Spirit for the reception of grace, I ask whether this be done through the sacraments as a channel or independent of the sacraments? If the sacraments mediate, man is prepared by the sacrament for the sacrament, and thus there will be a process ad infinitum; for a sacrament will be required as a preparation for a sacrament. But if we be prepared without the sacrament for the reception of sacramental grace, the Spirit is present in His goodness before the sacrament, and hence grace has been shown and is present before the sacrament is administered.

    From this it follows (as I willingly and gladly admit in regard to the subject of the sacraments) that the sacraments are given as a public testimony of that grace which is previously present to every individual.

    — Zwingli, An Account of the Faith, etc.

    (NOTE: I’m not *endorsing* his view; just explicating it.)

    Jeff Cagle

  52. David R. McCrory said,

    December 13, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    I think Zwingli failed to realize that the sign and the thing signified are not so inherently tied together that the one can and does take place without the other. The sign of the washing of regeneration takes place at our baptism. The thing signified (our cleansing in Christ) takes place the moment we trust in Him, which may or may not occur at the same time of the act of baptism.

  53. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 13, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    According to Jeff Jue, Zwingli was centrally driven by a desire to avoid idolatry, whereas Luther was centrally driven by a desire to affirm that we receive the grace of Christ.

    The former conviction led to a de-”superstionalizing” of the sacraments. The latter led to the fist-pounding insistence at Marburg that “THIS IS MY BODY!”

    Jeff Cagle

  54. A. Dollahite said,

    December 13, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    David McCrory,

    ISTM that you would have an objection to David Gadbois statement in #48, “We believe in infant baptism because our children are in the Covenant of Grace…” Have you not argued elsewhere that the CoG is made only with the elect? I’m trying to understand your reasons for supporting paedobaptism.

  55. David R. McCrory said,

    December 13, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    A. Dollahite,

    I’m not aware that I have supported paedobaptism on this thread. I have been an advocate of paedobaptism for some time in the past, but recently, and independant of this debate, I have been re-examining the nature of the CoG, and have posted as much on another thread. Based upon this, I am currently questioning the validity of the notion there are those who are not elect and yet participants in the CoG. (If both sides embraced this view, which is highly unlikely, there would be no FV debate) Both the anticipation of the New Covenant dispensation (Jer. 31) and the fulfillment of it (Gal. 2&3) seem to support my study.

    But this is a discussion for another time and occasion.

    I would only say, if my position on the CoG changes, so must much more.

  56. A. Dollahite said,

    December 13, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    David McCrory,

    Sorry to have made an assumption about your position on baptism. I do find it interesting that you are fulfilling much of what FV advocates have said regarding their opponents…i.e., FV opponents often object to FV positions about members of the CoG based on baptistic assumptions about the CoG.

  57. David R. McCrory said,

    December 13, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    Yeah, I know. ;-)

  58. Andrew Webb said,

    December 13, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Dear Curate,

    Yes, I would deny that Baptism is the channel for Justification and the gift of the Holy Spirit, so did Hodge so did the Divines. They note in the much ignored WCF 14.1 – “The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word, by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.”

    They acknowledge that Faith doesn’t normally come by washing, it comes by hearing. If it was the case that it was baptism that Justified and Saved, then Paul would NEVER have made the statment:

    “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)

    Of these verses my fellow Baptist Charles Hodge Notes:

    “During the apostolic age, and in the apostolic form of religion, truth stood immeasurably above external rites. The apostasy of the church consisted in making rites more important than truth. The apostle’s manner of speaking of baptism in this connection as subordinate to preaching is, therefore, a wonder to those who are disposed unduly to exalt the sacraments, as may be seen in Olshausen’s remarks on 1 Cor. 1:13-16. We must not infer from this that baptism is of little importance, or that it may be safely neglected. Although Paul controverted the Jewish doctrine that circumcision secured salvation and was necessary to its attainment, he nevertheless admitted that its advantages were great every way, Romans 3:2. And in the Old Testament it is expressly said that the uncircumcised man–child should be cut off from the people, i.e. deprived of the benefits of the theocracy. While therefore it is unscriptural to make baptism essential to salvation or a certain means of regeneration, it is nevertheless a dangerous act of disobedience to undervalue or neglect it.

    Regarding baptismal efficacy, I also agree completely with my other fellow baptist, Samuel Miller, one of the founding professors at the famous baptist Seminary of Princeton:

    “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 Christians’s heart; that it is a seal affixed by God to his covenant with his people, whereby he certified 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” (Acts 8:23).”

    I’ll stop there rather than quoting into Baptist Anglicans like Ryle who say the same things, because we are after all rehashing fundamentals of the ancient argument between the evangelicals and the ritualists and we probably ever will. In the end Curate, I don’t object to the existence of those who believe in Baptismal Regeneration, I just object to their continued presence in the same denomination as me, so that what I condemn in preaching they commend and vice versa. That is no way to continue in communion.

  59. David Weiner said,

    December 13, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    Curate, re #41,

    Like you, I too have enjoyed the theological content of Mr. Webb’s postings. But, since you seem to think that he needs to do a lot more reading, I would like to ask you a couple of questions about the verse you quoted, Acts 2:38.

    1) Do you think that Peter thought that every one of the people standing there were elect?

    2) If some number of them were to ‘only’ repent (i.e., not be baptized in water) would they also have received the gift?

  60. Robert K. said,

    December 13, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    Comment #57 (the comment starting with “Dear Curate, Yes, I would deny that Baptism is the channel for Justification”) should end the debate, but it won’t because FVists want power in domains that don’t belong to them, and that they have no valuation for or connection to other than the connection of having lived in the neighborhood, somewhat like muslims in Britain…

  61. David Gray said,

    December 13, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    Robert, why would it end the debate when you yourself don’t accept the teaching of men like Hodge and Miller on baptism?

  62. Robert K. said,

    December 13, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    On benefits the unregenerate receive when ‘in the church’ as opposed to what all unregenerate receive in or out of the church I think we need to also look at history and recognize that, for instance in the hellish 20th century, unregenerate human beings living in the Christian west benifited from a degree of common grace that was beyond what unregenerate human being received in the vast territories under satanic tyranny such as the territories of the Soviet Union and China and Cambodia and so on. Any atheist with a choice would have chosen to live in the Christian United States then (and now).

    FVists want a definition of ‘visible church’ that the reformers didn’t use. FV wants to say ‘visible church’ means ‘physical’ as in physical building, and invisible church means spiritual and beyond present time and so on; but the definition of visible church the reformers used “refers to all those who belong outwardly to the church, which is to say the ecclesia militans improprie dicta, the church of the saints and the hypocrites, the elect and the nonelect together.” Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms. This ‘visible church’ exists references the entire world. This is how evangelism can be the work of the visible church. I was evangelized outside a ‘church building.’ But it was the visible church I came into contact with.

    FVists attempt to grab some kind of high ground denouncing ‘gnostic’ notions of church, when in reality they are atheists regarding church in that they only believe in what they can see and touch and smell and eat and…you know…outer-directed atheist demands and all that… If they can’t gnaw the paint off the visible church with their teeth it’s not real to them, but that’s not what the reformers meant by visible church…

  63. Robert K. said,

    December 13, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    >Robert, why would it end the debate when you yourself don’t accept the teaching of men like Hodge and Miller on baptism?

    I said I was a John Bunyan Calvinist. I could also invoke the name Zwingli. Do some research on that. Basically, if sacerdotalism is not being practiced, we all get along… And what Andy Webb was getting at with those quotes was soteriological – baptismal regeneration – not sacramental or ecclesial. The fact that you can’t grasp this is just evidence of the common ignorance of Reformed Theology among Federal Visions leaders and followers.

  64. Robert K. said,

    December 13, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    Don’t mean to be too harsh, David Gray, but your repetition of the same mistake and brick wall approach gets tiresome. And if you aren’t ignorant regarding the comment in question then you are playing games, as is usual with FVists and their followers.

  65. David Gray said,

    December 13, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    Robert, as a self-professed Calvinist what do you think of this passage from the Institutes:

    4.The visible church as mother of believers

    But as it is now our purpose to discourse of the visible Church, let us learn, from her single title of Mother, how useful, nay, how necessary the knowledge of her is, since there is no other means of entering into life unless she conceive us in the womb and give us birth, unless she nourish us at her breasts, and, in short, keep us under her charge and government, until, divested of mortal flesh, we become like the angels, (Matth. 22: 30.) For our weakness does not permit us to leave the school until we have spent our whole lives as scholars. Moreover, beyond the pale of the Church no forgiveness of sins, no salvation, can be hoped for, as Isaiah and Joel testify, (Isa. 37: 32; Joel 2: 32.) To their testimony Ezekiel subscribes, when he declares, “They shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel,” (Ezek. 13: 9;) as, on the other hand, those who turn to the cultivation of true piety are said to inscribe their names among the citizens of Jerusalem. For which reason it is said in the psalm, “Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation; that I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance,” (Ps. 106: 4, 6.) By these words the paternal favour of God and the special evidence of spiritual life are confined to his peculiar people, and hence the abandonment of the Church is always fatal.

  66. Robert K. said,

    December 13, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    Calvin is speaking of the visible church that he made contact with when he met Protestants who preached to him the Word of God and he experienced a powerful effectual calling which turned his life dramatically. Calvin knew what ‘visible church’ means, and the quote from the Institutes is in line with that definition. Listen (closely): Calvin was not a Roman Catholic when he wrote the Institutes. Read Calvin’s reply to Sadoleto to see how he and you differ regarding the notion of visible church.

    ***SNIP***

    Edited mostly for tone but some content as well. Let’s spend less time with guessing motives and keep to the theology.

  67. David Gray said,

    December 13, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    >Calvin was not a Roman Catholic when he wrote the Institutes.

    Well that has lifted the scales from my eyes.

    ***SNIP***

    Edited because the post responded to has been edited for temperature control.

  68. A. Dollahite said,

    December 13, 2007 at 8:31 pm

    ***SNIP***

    Deleted non-value-added comment.

  69. Robert K. said,

    December 13, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    ***SNIP***

    Deleted because originating post has been edited.

  70. J.Pirschel said,

    December 13, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    ***SNIP***

    Deleted because original post referred to has been edited.

  71. its.reed said,

    December 13, 2007 at 8:37 pm

    O.k everyone, let’s get back on topic of Bob’s original post.

    Thanks,

    reed

  72. Mark T. said,

    December 13, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    I invite Mark Horne to enlarge upon his analogy in comment 36.

    And since this thread began with Bob Mattes’ refutation of Horne’s post (cited above), I also invite Mr. Horne to explain to us the “judicial torment” he suffers at the hands of his brethren.

    When you use the word “torment,” can you please describe for us the great physical pain the PCA has inflicted upon you.

    Thank you.

  73. David Gray said,

    December 13, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    >When you use the word “torment,” can you please describe for us the great physical pain the PCA has inflicted upon you.

    Mark ?, Since when does torment have to be physical?

  74. pduggie said,

    December 13, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    Andy Webb:

    1. What do you think of the long post from Zeingli?

    1.1 If you think it’s wrong, where does he go wrong?

    2. Do you think the Miller and Hodge quotes agree with Zwingli? or are they different?

  75. Mark T. said,

    December 13, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    David,

    You caught me. I admit that “torment” has a secondary meaning, which is to “harass.” However, Mr. Horne’s pastor, Jeffery Meyers, has stated elsewhere that the PCA Inquisition is currently ripping out the ecclesiastical entrails of certain PCA ministers, which is why I defaulted to the primary definition of the word (see Miriam Webster Online).

    Thank you.

  76. Gabe Martini said,

    December 13, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    “We don’t need to impute to baptism magical powers or say that baptism washes away sins or hold to any similar sacerdotal superstitions in order to have just reason for believing in infant baptism.”

    Yeah, you don’t NEED to… unless you want to be Confessional.

  77. Kyle said,

    December 13, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    Re: 76,

    From the oh-so-Confessional Mr. Martini.

    Respond with substance, please! It certainly is not the case that to be Confessional we need to impute magical powers to sin or say that baptism-in itself-washes away sins. To do so would ignore the express teaching concerning the nature of sacramental union, i.e., the sign and the thing signified.

    Also, I believe Mr. Gadbois subscribes to the Three Forms of Unity. Here’s what the Belgic Confession has to say about baptism, in part, in Article 34:

    “Therefore He has commanded all those who are His to be baptized with pure water, into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, thereby signifying to us, that as water washes away the filth of the body when poured upon it, and is seen on the body of the baptized when sprinkled upon him, so does the blood of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit internally sprinkle the soul, cleanse it from its sins, and regenerate us from children of wrath unto children of God. Not that this is effected by the external water, but by the sprinkling of the precious blood of the Son of God; who is our Red Sea, through which we must pass to escape the tyranny of Pharaoh, that is, the devil, and to enter into the spiritual land of Canaan.”

  78. Kyle said,

    December 13, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    to impute magical powers to sin

    To baptism. Ugh.

  79. David Gadbois said,

    December 14, 2007 at 1:41 am

    Thanks, Kyle. You are right. I am a 3 Forms of Unity Guy (specifically, a member of a United Reformed Church), so I’ll very often defer to Andy or the rest of the Baggins gang on questions dealing with the Westminster Standards. This also explains my heavy use of Berkhof.

    Many folks forget that there is a Continental Reformed tradition who don’t use Westminster. And although I am not an elder or office-bearer (in fact, I am the only layman currently granted posting priveleges on this site, for which I am both humbled and grateful), it should be remembered that *all* members in churches of the Continental tradition subscribe to the confessional standards, and that *without* exceptions.

  80. curate said,

    December 14, 2007 at 2:39 am

    Hi Reed, and thanks for your carefully though-out post. I maintain all of the distinctions that you mention between sign and the things signified. We agree that the Spirit ministers the thing signified via the sign.

    I believe that Baptism is the moment that justification and the Spirit are conveyed, and that is perhaps the only real disagreement between us, if I am understanding you aright.

    The WCF teaches that the efficacy of the sacrament is not limited to the moment of administration. This is the article that some Presbyterians use to avoid linking the moment of justification to Baptism, and it may the one in you have in mind.

    Assuming that it is, it would be necessary to point out the actual wording of the article. It does not speaking about justification per se, but its efficacy. It is saying that the power of Baptism continues for the whole of one’s life, and is not restricted to the day or moment of its administration. IOW the justification granted in Baptism continues to work for the entire duration of our life-span.

    There is no way grammatically speaking that this article supports the idea that justification and Baptism are disconnected in time. Taken in the context of the preceding article that the sacraments convey the things signified, the WCF teaches that Baptism conveys justification, and that this blessing does not terminate or wear out with time.

    That is my own view.

  81. Robert K. said,

    December 14, 2007 at 2:41 am

    Curate, read WCF 10. Like Mr. Webb said awhile back, the WCF is a Puritan document.

    If you must why don’t you rewrite it, cleanse the Puritanism out of it, adopt it, and see who shows up…

  82. Robert K. said,

    December 14, 2007 at 2:46 am

    Of course, you’ll have to call it something other than the Westminster Confession of Faith. How about: The Moscow Declaration? It has an apt ring to it…

  83. curate said,

    December 14, 2007 at 2:46 am

    David Gadbois, you have said that you are neither a teacher nor a ruler in the church. Therefore it is contrary to Reformation policy for you to engage those who are elders as an equal. Given the difficulty of the subject, it would be prudent for you to withdraw and leave the field to those who have been appointed to teach and defend the faith.

    Nothing personal, but order and propriety should be observed.

  84. David Gray said,

    December 14, 2007 at 3:43 am

    >Curate, read WCF 10. Like Mr. Webb said awhile back, the WCF is a Puritan document.

    Which is to say, in historical context, it is an Anglican document.

  85. Robert K. said,

    December 14, 2007 at 4:00 am

    David Gray writes: “Which is to say, in historical context, it [the WCF] is an Anglican document.”

    Wow. Get thee to a library, son…

  86. David Gadbois said,

    December 14, 2007 at 4:02 am

    It is prudent for all to talk about and defend orthodox theology, Roger. I can’t speak concerning the church orders of the OPC and PCA, but there is nothing contrary to that in the URC Church Order. There is no such “policy.” And, BTW, I never claimed nor implied to be an “equal” in the sense of having the same calling and office as an elder or minister. What would be imprudent is if I were vested with powers that are proper to ministers or elders (specifically, the authority granted in Scripture and outlined in our church order).

    Would it, perhaps, surprise you to learn that our church order specifically makes provision for laymen to bring complaints and appeals concerning heretical teaching of ministers both to the classis level and synod level? That was exactly what was done when one URC minister preached an FV-esque sermon and the consistory and classis refused to act. Thank the Lord that the couple behind the complaint toughed it out all the way to our synod.

    And Lane has invited me here to help moderate and contribute to this very discussion, so I intend to do so, and am pleased to do it.

    I’d be more confident in the sincerity of your admonition if I had seen you giving similar admonitions to the bazillions of pro-FV laymen littering the internet teaching against the various resolutions and study reports of their denomination’s RE’s and TE’s (whereas I am explicitly promoting the URC’s doctrinal position). It would also have increased my confidence in your sincerity if you had not left a rude and condescending remark to Andy Webb just above. If Andy does not delete it by tomorrow morning, I might just do it myself.

  87. David Gray said,

    December 14, 2007 at 4:04 am

    Institutes 3:24:8

    The expression of our Savior, “Many are called, but few are chosen,” (Mt. 22:14), is also very improperly interpreted (see Book 3, chap. 2, sec. 11, 12). There will be no ambiguity in it, if we attend to what our former remarks ought to have made clear–viz. that there are two species of calling: for there is an universal call, by which God, through the external preaching of the word, invites all men alike, even those for whom he designs the call to be a savor of death, and the ground of a severer condemnation. Besides this there is a special call which, for the most part, God bestows on believers only, when by the internal illumination of the Spirit he causes the word preached to take deep root in their hearts. Sometimes, however, he communicates it also to those whom he enlightens only for a time, and whom afterwards, in just punishment for their ingratitude, he abandons and smites with greater blindness. Now, our Lord seeing that the gospel was published far and wide, was despised by multitudes, and justly valued by few, describes God under the character of a King, who, preparing a great feast, sends his servants all around to invite a great multitude, but can only obtain the presence of a very few, because almost all allege causes of excuse; at length, in consequence of their refusal, he is obliged to send his servants out into the highways to invite every one they meet. It is perfectly clear, that thus far the parable is to be understood of external calling. He afterwards adds, that God acts the part of a kind entertainer, who goes round his table and affably receives his guests; but still if he finds any one not adorned with the nuptial garment, he will by no means allow him to insult the festivity by his sordid dress. I admit that this branch of the parable is to be understood of those who, by a profession of faith, enter the Church, but are not at all invested with the sanctification of Christ. Such disgraces to his Church, such cankers God will not always tolerate, but will cast them forth as their turpitude deserves. Few, then, out of the great number of called are chosen; the calling, however, not being of that kind which enables believers to judge of their election. The former call is common to the wicked, the latter brings with it the spirit of regeneration, which is the earnest and seal of the future inheritance by which our hearts are sealed unto the day of the Lord (Eph. 1:13, 14). In one word, while hypocrites pretend to piety, just as if they were true worshipers of God, Christ declares that they will ultimately be ejected from the place which they improperly occupy, as it is said in the psalm, “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart,” (Psalm 15:1, 2). Again in another passage, “This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob,” (Psalm 24:6). And thus the Spirit exhorts believers to patience, and not to murmur because Ishmaelites are mingled with them in the Church since the mask will at length be torn off, and they will be ejected with disgrace.

  88. David Gray said,

    December 14, 2007 at 4:05 am

    >If Andy does not delete it by tomorrow morning, I might just do it myself.

    Perhaps you could tend to the cultic remarks posted above as well then…

  89. David Gray said,

    December 14, 2007 at 4:09 am

    Ryle on liturgy

    Thoughts on the Prayer Book. The English Book of Common Prayer

    by J.C. Ryle
    EV News

    Having discussed the relative merits of extempore and precomposed prayer in public worship, we must now turn our attention to the special value of the Liturgy of the Church of England. In recent years there have been many attempts to decry the Book of Common Prayer; many are too ready to forget its merits, and to see its alleged blemishes. Now it must be made clear that it is not for a moment maintained that the Prayer Book is free from defects. It was not given by inspiration like the Bible. It was drawn up by uninspired men who had their failings and weaknesses. Like everything else that comes from uninspired men, it is imperfect. It is admitted that there are things in it which might have been done better. But yet, its merits far outstrip its defects; its blemishes are few and its excellencies many and great.

    So now let us examine some of the leading merits of the Church of England Prayer Book.

    1. The amount of Scripture.

    The first merit of the Prayer Book is the large quantity of God’s Word which it contains. Very much of it consists of extracts from the Bible. A large part of the Prayer Book is the Psalter and the Epistles and Gospels. More than one half of the Church of England form of worship consists of selected passages of Holy Scripture.

    2. The sound doctrine.

    Throughout the Prayer Book it will be found that the doctrines in the prayers and petitions are based entirely upon Scripture. Continually we find such doctrine as the sinfulness of man, the holiness of God, the redemption of sinners by our Lord Jesus Christ, the daily need of the Holy Spirit in which we all stand, the importance of godly living, the sinfulness and guilt of sin, the weakness of human nature, the personality of the devil, the reality and eternity of hell and heaven, the full supply of mercy and grace which is laid up for us in Christ. All of these are to be found again and again in the liturgy. No doubt there are some expressions, in the services for Baptism, Burial and the Visitation of the Sick, which can be wrongly interpreted. But these expressions are very few, and no impartial judge can deny that the Prayer Book is Scriptural. Evangelical and sound.

    3. The wide variety of subjects.

    The petitions in the Prayer Book cover just about the whole field of man’s wants, necessities and relations. Our bodies and souls ; our interests in this life and in the life to come ; our position as subjects and members of families ; our sorrows and joys, sickness and health, poverty and riches, as well as our travelling. All these are remembered in the liturgy. Nothing seems to be forgotten or left out. It is not too much to say that no Church on earth brings so many matters before God in its public worship as the Church of England.

    4. The congregational worship.

    The Prayer Book does not give the office of praying entirely to the minister, leaving the people to sit by in silence and listen. I t gives to every member of the congregation a place in the worship. Everyone is invited to join in, audibly, the confession of sin and declaration of faith ; all take part in the service, as well as saying “amen” after every prayer read by the minister. No church on earth makes so much use of the laity in public worship, so that it can hardly be called a “priest-ridden” Church!

    5. Suitability for everyone.

    Long, argumentative doctrinal prayers, however clever and gifted they may seem, are utterly unfit for the minds of many people. They are just unable to follow them. This is probably true of a very large number of people. But the English liturgy is most helpful at this point, for it is full of short collects which are easily understood. Short prayers and frequent breaks give the congregation time to take breath, and to begin again, if they have lost the thread of the last prayer. The Litany, for example, is a simple but comprehensive collection of petitions which even a child, if attentive, can hardly fail to understand.

    6. The proportion of intercession.

    In no other church perhaps, is the command to “pray for one another” so faithfully remembered, at least in theory, if not always in practice, as in the Church of England. The Prayer Book calls on Us users to remember before God others as well as themselves ; it encourages habits of sympathy and fellow feeling with all mankind. It invites you to speak to God for others as well as for yourselves.

    These are the six leading excellencies of the English Prayer Book, and much more could be said on each one. But the practical considerations which can be drawn from what has been said deserve serious consideration. They ought to be well pondered by members of the Church of England.

    Firstly, although salvation does not depend on going to church, and a prayer book is not necessary to get to heaven – a personal interest in Christ is the one thing needful; yet there is no denying that our edification in public worship depends greatly on the kind of prayers that are prayed. Better preaching may be heard in a Chapel, but seldom better prayers. So no one should esteem the Prayer Book lightly, or think it no consequence whether we hear it used on Sunday or not.

    Secondly, if the Prayer Book has so many excellencies. the members of the Church of England ought not to be ashamed of defending it and upholding it. If anyone decries it, ask if they know any better form of worship. It is easy to say that the Prayer Book is imperfect and faulty. It is not quite so easy to show that extempore prayers are better. The Church of England may well be ashamed of its ministers sometimes. It never need be ashamed of its liturgy.

    Thirdly, members of the Church of England ought to study the book more, and become more acquainted with its contents. So many, who consider themselves excellent Churchmen, know little about it and its teaching. They can hardly tell you what their church asks them to believe and how to worship. There is need for people to know it more fully.

  90. curate said,

    December 14, 2007 at 4:29 am

    Hi David Weiner, just so that I am under no misapprehensions, is this a serious question, or is it a cunning trap that will lay bare the utter poverty of my theology?

  91. curate said,

    December 14, 2007 at 4:38 am

    Mr. Gadbois, I notice that in the case you mention within the URC the couple appealed to those with the proper qualifications and calling to rule on the subject. That is proper order. Here you are presuming to adjudicate and to rule.

    While you are deleting my posts, you might consider deleting the smear by Mr. Webb regarding Arminians and RCs. But those are OK because you agree with them, not so?

    As for the alleged FV laymen on this blog, I have no idea who you are referring to. If there are any they have not identified themselves as such – while you have!

    To all FV laymen I say the same thing that I said to you – please do not presume to address your rulers and teachers as your theological equals. Rather submit to them as scripture and the BCO commands.

  92. Robert K. said,

    December 14, 2007 at 4:56 am

    Curate, Jesus is the Word of God, and the Word of God is authority. I’m a prophet, a priest, and a king, and I have the full armor of God… Now, what was that you were saying, son…? (This is how Baptists talk…they end sentences with ‘son’ when the priesthood of all believers is challenged, especially by calls to submission to man and to the fear of man by Romanists or Romanist-lite types…)

  93. December 14, 2007 at 6:37 am

    curate,

    Please lay off your high-handed treatment of David Gadbois. If you cannot argue the theology, then move on. This isn’t the RCC where priests and popes have absolute sway. David can and and will continue to moderate and debate here at Lane’s invitation. If you cannot abide here with that courtesy, then there are plenty of other blogs where you can comment to your heart’s delight. Your discussion line here about David is over.

  94. David Gray said,

    December 14, 2007 at 7:01 am

    I have to say it does not seem appropriate to argue that elders can’t be questioned in such matters. On the other hand when a poster is aware that someone else is an elder in your church, either teaching or ruling, it does seem appropriate to show due courtesy and respect. When I say in your church I speak fairly broadly meaning in confessional community which for me would be Presbyterian or Reformed. For example I’m not currently in the PCA but when I become aware (which is a tricky business when people just post with their names) that someone is an elder I try to show them due respect, even when I disagree with them (and even if they don’t reciprocate). I think people on both sides could do with a bit more of that.

  95. David Gray said,

    December 14, 2007 at 7:03 am

    As an example we have someone on here who has referred to the OPC as a cult and to my session as cult leaders. Is that appropriate or useful?

  96. its.reed said,

    December 14, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Ref. #96:

    David, thanks. Point taken. Give us some time to deal with such matters.

    Everyone, when you come across a comment you think crosses the line in some manner, one response noting your disregard and distaste for what you think is inappropriate is sufficient. Silence from others (including editors) neither means agreement with the comment you find offensive or your disagreement with it. Often it means we’re more busy serving our King in more appropriate manners than policing our brothers and sisters here.

    We will do our best for you. Please remember to lean not on us though, but only on the Perfect On Who, unlike us, will never fail.

    Thanks,

    reed

  97. David Weiner said,

    December 14, 2007 at 10:11 am

    curate, re #91,

    I am most definitely serious. And, please relax, I am not clever enough to set a cunning trap. I see this verse used so often in ways that seem unwarranted and this just seemed to be an opportunity to get some clarification.

  98. David Gray said,

    December 14, 2007 at 10:55 am

    Pastor DePace,

    Thank you.

    Dave

  99. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 14, 2007 at 11:11 am

    …policing our brothers and sisters here.

    Except for the courageous Anne Ivy, that would appear to be “brothers.” As my wife has noted, most women want nothing to do with our manner of discussion.

    :lol:

    Jeff Cagle

  100. curate said,

    December 14, 2007 at 11:35 am

    David Weiner, thanks for the clarification. You asked:
    1) Do you think that Peter thought that every one of the people standing there were elect?

    Since it was the Feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem, and the text tells us that it was filled with Jews from every corner of the earth, and we know that Israel was the chosen people, then, Yes, Peter thought that they were elect.

    Did Peter think that they were truly elect (TE)? Assuming that his letters to the Jewish churches (I and II Peter) were addressed to some of the same people, or the same kind of people, who believed there and were baptized into the Name of Jesus for the remission of their sins, and given that he begins by addressing them as elect, beloved of God in Christ Jesus, the answer would again have to be an emphatic Yes.

    2) If some number of them were to ‘only’ repent (i.e., not be baptized in water) would they also have received the gift?

    No. Refusal to submit to the Heavenly command to be baptized has always been considered to be a proof that such people are disobedient rebels, and not repentant supplicants. Refusal to accept to the divinely ordained and commanded means of grace makes it impossible to receive the benefits that are conveyed by them.

    If a Doctor tells you to take your Penicillin for the healing of your body, and you refuse, you will die. If you refuse the heavenly medicine for the remission of sins, you will die.

    Regards

  101. December 14, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    RE #96, 97, et al.

    I have edited some earlier comments (66-70) to correct the tone. I did not delete them outright because I believe that messes up the comment numbers that follow and makes a long discussion difficult to decipher.

    Let’s keep to the point of the posts, avoid attempting to discern motives, and knock off the devil and cult comments. Everyone was doing so well until recently. My day job is more like a day and night job, and I don’t have time to patrol the comments in detail. Please play nice together. All are welcome and honored guests so please treat each other as such.

  102. December 14, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    Mark H., RE #40,

    Please accept my apology for getting back to you so late, but my day/night/every-waking-minute job has been interfering with my quality blogging time.

    Bob, are you then registering your disagreement with the statement that the visible Church is the body of Christ?

    Yes, absolutely. The body of Christ is the invisible church. Let me quote just two orthodox Reformed references for support. The first is from Calvin, of course, Institutes, Book 2, Chapter 13, Paragraph 2:

    Nor could it otherwise be said in terms of the passage which we have already quoted, “Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same;” these words plainly proving that he was an associate and partner in the same nature with ourselves. In this sense also it is said, that “both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one.” The context proves that this refers to a community of nature; for it is immediately added, “For which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,” (Heb. 2:11). Had he said at first that believers are of God, where could there have been any ground for being ashamed of persons possessing such dignity? But when Christ of his boundless grace associates himself with the mean and ignoble, we see why it was said that “he is not ashamed.” It is vain to object, that in this way the wicked will be the brethren of Christ; for we know that the children of God are not born of flesh and blood, but of the Spirit through faith. Therefore, flesh alone does not constitute the union of brotherhood. But although the apostle assigns to believers only the honour of being one with Christ, it does not however follow, that unbelievers have not the same origin according to the flesh; just as when we say that Christ became man, that he might make us sons of God, the expression does not extend to all classes of persons; the intervention of faith being necessary to our being spiritually ingrafted into the body of Christ. (my bold)

    Dr. John Gerstner also has a great piece on the church here, where he says in part:

    What complicates the matter is that the Bible sometimes uses the word “church” in the sense of the visible church and sometimes in the sense of the invisible church. For example, Stephen in his sermon before the Sanhedrin referred to all Israel in the wilderness as “the church.” “This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us” (Acts 7:38). Now we know that not only were there some hypocrites in that body called the “church” but almost all of the members were such. That was the generation of which God swore in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest (Ps. 95:11). Only the younger generation were spared, but the rest perished in the wilderness — a symbol of eternal perishing. Yet they were called “the church.” In the apostolic church itself there were those who were not true believers, as indicated by the Apostle John in I John 2:19: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

    On the other hand, the true church is mentioned, too. Christ said: “I will build my church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16: 18). The powers of Hell not only stand against but they often make conquests of the visible church. It is only the invisible church of which Christ’s description is true. Another instance is Eph. 1:22-23: “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” Surely nothing false or evil could be part of the body of Christ, in whom God is well pleased. In spite of this double usage of the word “church,” in and out of the Bible, we must remember that the true church, the saved church, the church in vital union with Christ, is the invisible church. (my bold)

    Like Calvin, Dr. Gerstner provides great clarity as well as Scriptural support for this position. I wholly concur with these excerpts from their works.

    I hope that I’ve posted enough of both words to provide their context. Again, sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

    Blessings,
    Bob

  103. Andy Gilman said,

    December 14, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Roger du Barry (aka. Curate) said:

    Therefore it is contrary to Reformation policy for you to engage those who are elders as an equal. Given the difficulty of the subject, it would be prudent for you to withdraw and leave the field to those who have been appointed to teach and defend the faith.

    And this appears to come from an independent sacerdotalist, who has donned “priestly garments” and believes he now holds the keys to the kingdom! Are you a church of one Roger, or have you ‘layed hands on’ some men in Farnham, to “ordain” them into the office of elder, and to give the appearance that you are actually accountable to someone? Who are you currently accountable to outside your Farnham church?

    On his blog, Roger the independent tells us he has moved away from hyper-individualistic distinctives!

    I am Roger du Barry, husband of Sylvia, and father to Rhys, Luke, James, and Carl. They are 12; 9; 6; and two weeks old respectively. I pastor a small church-plant in Farnham, Surrey, in Southern England, called the Farnham Reformed Church.

    My preaching is primarily exegetical, with occassional topical sermons when necessary. Our worship is liturgical, using a modern English version of Cranmer’s amazing BCP, but we are Independent, not Anglicans. We use this particular liturgy because it is so Biblical and so well thought out.

    We are Reformed in our faith. What that means for us is that we have moved away from some of the modern evangelical hyper-individualistic distinctives and back to the Reformation and the Bible on the sacraments and the church. As we study the Bible from the perspectives of biblical theology and grammatical historical exegesis, God is constantly blessing us with the glories of his word.

  104. December 14, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    “Mr. Gadbois, I notice that in the case you mention within the URC the couple appealed to those with the proper qualifications and calling to rule on the subject. That is proper order. Here you are presuming to adjudicate and to rule.”

    Another nice try, Roger. But I’m neither “ruling” by promoting sound doctrine and encouraging others to avoid error on a web blog, nor am I bringing ecclesiastical charges against anyone. Take a breath, Roger. A blog is not an instrument of adjuciation or church rule. And no one here is even a minister or elder in my denomination, much less my own consistory (in which case I would most certainly have gone to the classis).

    You, Roger, aren’t even in a NAPARC denomination, nor does the URC have any fraternal or ecumenical relations with your church. So I’m not even required to recognize your church as a true church, much less recognize you as a minister I need to be defering to. In fact, according to the 3 Marks of the Belgic Confession, I would identify your church as a false church.

  105. David Weiner said,

    December 14, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    curate, re #101,

    Thank you for your truly gracious response. A welcome breath of fresh air. I assume you will not be surprised if I tell you that your answers raised some more questions in my mind.

    1a) I guess I might have been a little less precise than warranted in my question. First, I don’t see any distinction in the verse between ‘elect’ and ‘truly elect.’ I see the focus of the verse as eternal salvation (i.e., the gift of the Spirit); I do not see national standing as the main focus even though many (all?) of them were likely Jews. Your response seems to address the national standing of the Hebrew nation as determinative. Since not all Israel is Israel wouldn’t that leave open the possibility that Peter meant by the phrase ‘and each one of you’ that it was ‘each one of you who first repents?’ And, that the possibility that some there would not repent was real in Peter’s mind?

    One last point, verse 41 says ‘and those who accepted his message.’ Seems to me that this again leaves open the possibility that not all of them accepted his message and therefore were not elect? (Notwithstanding that they might have accepted the message at a later date.)

    1b) Peter writes in 1 Peter to those who have been set apart by the Spirit to be sprinkled with Christ’s blood. Can there be a clearer specification of those for whom Christ died and who will spend eternity with Him? I have no idea what the status of all of the people in the church to which Peter was writing was; but, he was aiming the letter to only those who were elect/truly elect as far as I can tell. So, other than their outward standing/appearance as Hebrews, how do you so firmly come to the conclusion that the entire group he was addressing in Acts 2 was in fact elect?

    2) Your answer is very direct and to the point. Thank you. I guess you read that verse as the baptism in water is what results in the forgiveness of sins and that the combination of repentance and baptism is what leads to the gift of the Spirit? Doesn’t this get us back to the faith plus baptism (work) problem? I don’t know why one might not accede to a divine imperative; but, if one were to do so would that not be a ‘sin.’ And, I know that both you and I are daily sinners. Isn’t it about what God does and not about what I do? Or are there some sins that are worse than others?

  106. December 14, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    Whoops. Sorry, I see Bob Mattes already spoke up to Curate regarding this matter. I’ll get back on topic, now, as we all should.

  107. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 14, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    Bob (#102):

    (Mark H) Bob, are you then registering your disagreement with the statement that the visible Church is the body of Christ?

    Yes, absolutely. The body of Christ is the invisible church.

    Interesting that WCoF 25.1-2 makes this same distinction. The invisible church is the body of Christ; the visible church is the Kingdom of Christ. Makes me think of the birds that nest in the branches of the mustard tree. :)

    Jeff Cagle

  108. December 14, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    Jeff,

    Quite so. I didn’t bring it up because I assumed that the questioner already knew that. But, I greatly appreciate you bring that out.

    Blessings,
    Bob

  109. Todd Bordow said,

    December 14, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    I’m curious, for those like Curate who hold that baptism is “the moment justification and the Spirit are conveyed” why do you seek a credible profession of faith from an adult before administering baptism?

    Todd Bordow

  110. Jeff Moss said,

    December 14, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Todd, no one is arguing that Presbyterian ministers should randomly baptize as many people as possible, in order to spread justification and the Spirit wherever the water goes. Like circumcision, baptism is a sign and seal of justification by faith (Romans 4:11). In a perfect church, the set of baptized persons and the set of justified persons (in all the important senses) would be the same group, and both would be identical to the set of believers. A baptism that is known to have no connection to faith would be as harmful and ludicrous as electing a man President who is known to be dead or insane. Such a baptism is efficacious, all right, if by its “efficacy” you mean causing real and objective trouble to the one baptized and everyone around him.

    As it is, given the fallenness and deceitfulness of man, baptism and justification and faith do not always quite line up. To put it another way, baptized people show up with certain kinds of justification (typically more “public”), and believers enjoy justification in other ways (not always immediately evident to the observer), but mankind and the Church are in such a grievous condition that not all the believers are baptized and vice versa. However, one day they will be, and we won’t be arguing over the meaning(s) of justification and baptism any more, because there will be no question who is who.

  111. Todd Bordow said,

    December 14, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    Jeff,

    I don’t think you answered my question. Putting aside the fact that not all believers are baptized, and not all baptized are believers, if you look for a credible profession before baptizing, aren’t you assuming a man is justified apart from the sacrament? How could you possibly look for a credible profession before baptism if you did not assume that man wasn’t already justified and Spirit-filled? And if you believe he was already justified and Spirit-filled , and thus a proper receipient of the sign, how can the sign convey justification and the Spirit?

    Todd Bordow

  112. Jeff Moss said,

    December 14, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    Todd,

    I’m still working through some of the details of how this might “work,” but for now I’m happy simply to affirm the much-quoted WCF 28.6, and leave it at that.

    “The 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 belongs unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time.”

  113. Todd Bordow said,

    December 14, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Jeff,

    Often we see a mistake in our doctrine by working backwards from effect to cause. In other words, if my counseling is actually hurting people, mabye some of my assumptions of what the Bible says about counseling are wrong. In the same way, the fact that you cannot figure out how baptism conveying justification works, as you say, could be because your premise is faulty. At the risk of sounding condescending, you might do a word study on the word “convey” as well as read the Reformers as to how they understood the word when referring to baptism, as well as see how pretty much everyone in the New Testament that is saved through the gospel does so apart from any mention of the sacrament.

    Todd Bordow

  114. David Gray said,

    December 14, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    >see how pretty much everyone in the New Testament that is saved through the gospel does so apart from any mention of the sacrament

    If we use the New Testament examples as our rule in a proof text fashion shouldn’t we be baptists?

  115. markhorne said,

    December 14, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    The statement that the visible church is the body of Christ is made in the PCA BCO (which I believe has plenty of history behind it, though I’m open to correction) as one of the preliminary principles of the entire book.

    The WCF does not deny that the visible Church is the body of Christ (though maybe some Divines meant for it to: again, I’m open to learning).

    Gerstner is contradicting the confession by stating that the invisible church is “saved.” By WCF’s definition the invisible church = elect to eternal life, even if those individuals are 1. unregenerate unbelievers and 2. do not yet exist. So the invisible church is, by definition, not the same as the “saved church.” (One day it will be, and then it will be visible also; the whole point of invisibility is that it is not saved yet but predestined to be so).

    I doubt though, that this is a matter of great disagreement between us. My whole point was a caution about how we express ourselves (i.e. “not in any sense,” etc) and this is pretty much the same issue. We want a distinction between the regenerate and the unregenerate (using the more modern Reformed definition of the term). That’s fine. I just don’t think it should like in “body of Christ” and therefor not in “union with Christ.”

    By the way, I understand your response to my rhetoric, but given the magnitude of what is being done to innocent parties on the part of people who I think should know better, I think I was restrained if anything. I am not always so and certainly need to be always open to correction. But I don’t see any reason to say things differently at this point.

  116. markhorne said,

    December 14, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    Oops. #115 is re: #102

  117. December 14, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    On #109 and #111,

    Todd, you hit on a point that I’ve brought up many, many times throughout this controversy. FV seems to have to marginalize adult baptisms, because it doesn’t fit nicely into what they view as the “norm” for baptismal efficacy.

    But I am simply quite unwilling to consider infant baptisms to be “normal” while adult baptisms are not. Further, I am unwilling to believe that infant baptisms have an additional efficacy that adult baptisms do not. This simply cannot be supported by Scripture anywhere. Scripture never ever directly talks about infant baptism.

  118. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 14, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    The statement that the visible church is the body of Christ is made in the PCA BCO (which I believe has plenty of history behind it, though I’m open to correction) as one of the preliminary principles of the entire book.

    Mark, forgive my ignorance; I don’t know the BCO as well as I ought. I did a word search on “Body of Christ” in the BCO and came up with

    47-7 Public worship differs from private worship in that in public
    worship God is served by His saints unitedly as His covenant people, the
    Body of Christ. For this reason the covenant children should be present so
    far as possible as well as adults. For the same reason no favoritism may be
    shown to any who attend. Nor may any member of the church presume to
    exalt himself above others as though he were more spiritual, but each shall
    esteem others better than himself.

    Appendix F: We acknowledge that we are not worthy to receive from Your hand the blessings of Your common grace; and especially do we recognize the abundance of Your great goodness in granting to us, through Your particular grace, membership in the Church Universal, the mystical Body of Christ.

    The first arguably assumes that the visible Church is the Body of Christ; the second definitely does not.

    Did I miss the part of the BCO you were referring to?

    Jeff Cagle

  119. markhorne said,

    December 14, 2007 at 7:07 pm

    The preliminary principles are at the beginning. #3 begins: “Our blessed Saviour, for the edification of the visible Church, which is His body, has appointed officers not only to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments, but also to exercise discipline for the preservation both of truth and duty….”

    See also my entry here: An Important Motive for Pastoring.

  120. Andy Gilman said,

    December 14, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    Mark Horne said:

    Gerstner is contradicting the confession by stating that the invisible church is “saved.” By WCF’s definition the invisible church = elect to eternal life, even if those individuals are 1. unregenerate unbelievers and 2. do not yet exist. So the invisible church is, by definition, not the same as the “saved church.” (One day it will be, and then it will be visible also; the whole point of invisibility is that it is not saved yet but predestined to be so).

    By the same standard, it would be contrary to the WLC to say that the visible church is actually “visible.” It doesn’t really exist in the world, since the visible church is a “society made up of all such as in all ages and places of the world do profess the true religion, and of their children.” No such “society” exists in the world, because the professors of the true religion who have since died are no longer in the world, and the unborn, future professors of the true religion aren’t yet in the world.

    Doug Wilson and Steve Wilkins have been trying to sell that line about the invisible church not actually existing in history. It is an absurd argument and we discussed it here on Lane’s blog back in April:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2007/01/05/the-church-its-definition-in-terms-of-visible-and-invisible-valid/#comment-6928

  121. David Gray said,

    December 14, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    >By the same standard, it would be contrary to the WLC to say that the visible church is actually “visible.”

    Is that sort of like saving faith not actually saving?

  122. Andy Gilman said,

    December 14, 2007 at 9:05 pm

    No David, it would be like saying “‘saving’ faith is not actually saving.”

  123. markhorne said,

    December 14, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    Uh, excuse me. It was my line first.

    But the comparison completely fails. The Westminster Confession never says the invisible church is the saved church, like Gerstner does. It says that it is the set of all people throughout history who are predestined to eternal life.

    We typically mean the regenerate (like Calvin often does) but that is not the way the term is defined in the Confession.

  124. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 14, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    Mark (#119):

    Got it. Thanks. I retract #107 until further notice.

    Jeff Cagle

  125. December 14, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    Mark H., RE #123,

    The Westminster Confession never says the invisible church is the saved church, like Gerstner does. It says that it is the set of all people throughout history who are predestined to eternal life.

    I respectfully disagree with your premise. Gerstner’s statement is equivalent to the Standards. The invisible church is defined precisely in the WLC:

    The invisible church is the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ the head.

    Those are the saved as Gerstner describes it:

    we must remember that the true church, the saved church, the church in vital union with Christ, is the invisible church.

    There is no disagreement between Gerstner and the WS using the standard Reformed definitions. To be in vital union with Christ is to be saved. From WCF 3.6:

    Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

    Sounds like the Confession is consistent with Dr. Gerstner.

  126. December 14, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    Mark H., RE #119:

    There then seems to be an inconsistency inside the BCO, but not a serious one. First, Preliminary Principle 3 is primarily about church officers and their duties, not the definition of the church. The BCO formally defines the visible church in Chapter 2, which is coincidentally titled “The Visible Church Defined”. Paragraph 2-1:

    The Visible Church before the law, under the law, and now under the Gospel, is one and the same and consists of all those who make profession of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, together with their children.

    This is consistent with WCF 25.2:

    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.

    Nothing about the body of Christ in those definitions. That’s probably because the WCF clearly defines the invisible church as the body of Christ in 25.1:

    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. (my bold)

    Also Johannes Vos, in his commentary on the WLC Q.64 says:

    Christ has only one spiritual body, and the redeemed of all ages-both Jews and Gentiles-are members of it. (my bold)

    The redeemed are the saved, BTW. I find all this plus Dr. Gerstner’s and Calvin’s arguments from Scripture as quoted in #102 compelling and so stand by my belief that the invisible church is the body of Christ.

    I cannot find any data on the history of Preliminary Principle 3. So far as I can tell from the commentaries and BCO editions back to 1867, it doesn’t predate 1973 so it does not have a long history. No BCO commentary that I can find talks about this phrase. I would agree that the visible church “contains” the body of Christ in as much as the visible church contains the invisible church plus reprobates. The weight of the evidence in the Standards and elsewhere in the BCO itself clearly seems to be against the visible church “being” the body of Christ, unless the drafters of the BCO had some different meaning in mind.

    Finally, since the ordination vows require that we accept the Westminster Standards as containing the system of doctrine taught in the holy Scriptures, and as this subject is a doctrinal and not a governmental or discipline issue, I have to go with the Standards when they define the body of Christ as being the invisible church.

  127. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 14, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    Mark H (#139): The Westminster Confession never says the invisible church is the saved church, like Gerstner does. It says that it is the set of all people throughout history who are predestined to eternal life.

    Chalk one up to technical precision, I suppose. If Alice is predestined to salvation in the year 2010, then she would not be part of the “saved church” in 2008, but she would be a part of the “invisible church”, viewed flatly as a set of people without regard to time.

    But this is not so simple. From the language of “gathering” in 25.1, one might easily also say that she is *not yet* a part of the invisible church in 2008, but will be by 2010, according to God’s decrees.

    I’ve never encountered anyone who has *ever* taken the term “invisible church” to mean “eschatological church”, as in “Fred is a member of the invisible church because he will be saved 20 years from now…”

    Jeff Cagle

  128. Andy Gilman said,

    December 15, 2007 at 12:37 am

    Mark H. said:

    “Uh, excuse me. It was my line first.”

    Then Wilson and Wilkins have you to thank for inspiring them with an embarrassing bit of sophistry which they have been parroting, without citation.

  129. markhorne said,

    December 15, 2007 at 1:57 am

    *127

    No, by WCF definitions I’m pretty sure that Alice is (and always was and will be!) in the invisible church in 2008.

    #126

    I have no great problem with this, but the WCF does not *deny* that the visible church is the body of Christ so I don’t think the BCO contradicts anything. Thus, I don’t see how people can be declared heretics for agreeing with the BCO and saying there is a sense in which all members of the visible church are members of Christ’s body.

    This would not, of itself, deny a distinction between elect and non-elect church members, or regenerat and unregenerate ones.

    I think the debate needs to be moved there rather than the bare affirmation that non-elect people are called to a temporary place in the body of Christ.

    ————

    While most of this is simply a desire for technical correctness, I think the relevant issue is how necessary is the visible church and how necessary is the invisible Church. I think in Calvin’s and Bob’s terminology in which the invisible church is simply the regenerate, the invisible church can do more and the visible church isn’t quite as needful. But if we take the WCF view that the invisible church is simply everyone decreed to be given resurrection glory, the visible church becomes more important.

    I’ll try to explain this more when I have more time.

  130. markhorne said,

    December 15, 2007 at 1:58 am

    “I’ve never encountered anyone who has *ever* taken the term “invisible church” to mean “eschatological church”, as in “Fred is a member of the invisible church because he will be saved 20 years from now…””

    Just read paragraph one of chapter 25 of the WCF. That is exactly what it says.

  131. markhorne said,

    December 15, 2007 at 1:59 am

    #128

    Yep. I have intellectual property rights on the teachings of the WCF. I’ll be visiting my lawyer next week to see about suing.

  132. curate said,

    December 15, 2007 at 2:35 am

    David Weiner, you said, “Since not all Israel is Israel wouldn’t that leave open the possibility that Peter meant by the phrase ‘and each one of you’ that it was ‘each one of you who first repents?’ And, that the possibility that some there would not repent was real in Peter’s mind?”

    1. David, Peter commands each and every Israelite to repent because that is God’s command. Indeed, each and every Gentile is commanded to repent as well, since God commands all men everywhere to repent. That command is unconditional.

    Naturally Peter knows that many, if not most, will disobey. He knows the doctrines of election full well. Nevertheless, his mandate from Christ is to preach to every man, if they will listen, and to tell everyone, regardless of their election, to believe, be baptized, and repent.

    And yes, only those appointed to eternal life believed.

    But, and it is a but, we have to add something else that Peter knows about these believers. In II Peter he says that many Christians will run after false teachers and be lost. Thus many of those who hear and believe will not last the distance.

    To conclude then, the elect hear the Gospel and respond, together the with many non-elect who believe for a little while.

    On the meaning of election in the Bible. It would be unwise to restrict its meaning to eternal election, since it has a wider meaning too. Peter’s auditors were elect because they were Jews. That is a simple and unarguable fact. Were the the Israel within Israel? That is a valid question, but it cannot nullify the fact of their national election.

    Al baptized Christians today are elect in the broad sense, being the heirs of the covenants of promise and of the kingdom, together with believing Israel. Hence Peter’s freedom to address the Jewish churches as elect.

    2. There is no faith plus baptism problem for the following reasons. Justification is by faith alone, apart from the works of the law, no ifs or buts. Baptism is a means of grace appointed by God’s command for the conveying of justification and the Holy Spirit. It is a means of grace, not a work, and it is not a human work, because Colossians 2 teaches us that in Baptism it is Christ who circumcises our hearts, not man. Man sprinkles the water but Christ gives the gifts.

    Faith is the alone instrument of justification, and Baptism is the usual means appointed by God that puts it into the hand. Man reaches out for forgiveness by faith, and God brings it near by means of water.

    Grace and peace.

    All Reformed Confessions hold these two truths at the same time without any sense of discomfort or contradiction, because there is none.

  133. GLW Johnson said,

    December 15, 2007 at 7:19 am

    Curate
    What happens to your argument above if we replace the word ‘baptism’ and substitue instead ‘circumcision’? Both are ‘rites’ are they not? Both have their proper Biblical basis, do they not? Do you think that Galatians might have something to say about this line of reasoning?

  134. curate said,

    December 15, 2007 at 8:20 am

    Hi Gary, and a very good point it is. Circumcision and Baptism are not fully interchangeable words for the following reasons, all taken from Galatians.

    First, circumcision was always and ever for the Jews only, never for the Gentiles. Neither Namaan the Syrian nor the Ninehvites were required to submit to it.

    Second, while circumcision was a sacrament, it could not bring with it the fullness of blessing that Baptism does, for the reason that Christ had not yet been crucified and raised. Now that He has, circumcision has been abolished together with the Mosaic Covenant to make way for the New Covenant in which Gentiles are now full members together with Israel, and the new and superior signs and seals that come with a change in covenant.

    For these reasons it would be anachronistic to replace baptism with circumcision in post no. 132.

  135. GLW Johnson said,

    December 15, 2007 at 8:35 am

    Curate (Roger)
    If we work from your premises then we must all become ‘Baptists’ and give up any notion of paedobaptism.

  136. David Gray said,

    December 15, 2007 at 8:40 am

    >If we work from your premises then we must all become ‘Baptists’ and give up any notion of paedobaptism.

    Pastor Johnson

    Why?

  137. December 15, 2007 at 8:48 am

    Mark H., RE #130

    Just read paragraph one of chapter 25 of the WCF. That is exactly what it says.

    Here’s WCF 25.1 again:

    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 fulness of Him that fills all in all.

    That’s the definition of the invisible church. While, like the visible church, it will not be complete until the last day, also like the visible church it certainly exists today. Since it exists today, I don’t see that it’s appropriate to call it an eschatological church. The Confession doesn’t, nor has any orthodox Confessional commentator for almost 500 years.

  138. GLW Johnson said,

    December 15, 2007 at 8:54 am

    David
    One of the major planks in the case for paedobaptism is rightly taken from the role and function of circumcision in the OT-in fact the carry over is such that even Baptists feel compelled to have some sort of continuity with the relationship of children to the covenantal stucture that is exhibited in circumcision-thus innovative practise of infant dedecation.

  139. December 15, 2007 at 9:13 am

    Mark H., RE #129,

    I have no great problem with this, but the WCF does not *deny* that the visible church is the body of Christ so I don’t think the BCO contradicts anything.

    I respectfully disagree. 25.1 and 25.2 must be taken together, not divided. You cannot take 25.2 and say the because it doesn’t exclude something explicitly that it can be included. 25.1 and 25.2 in addition to defining the two churches also contrast them. 25.1 in calling the invisible church “the body” reserves that description for the invisible church. In contrast in defining the visible church, the Confession avoids any terms that imply the same. Taking the rest of Chapter 25 into the context of the first two sections bears this out. It’s not appropriate to take one section in isolation out of the Confession when another section bounds it via definition and contrast.

  140. David Weiner said,

    December 15, 2007 at 9:57 am

    curate, re:132,

    I really do appreciate your thoughtful response. And, (surprise, surprise,) I do find myself in agreement with most of what you say. Alas, I still can’t tell how you support your parsing of the verse in question (Acts 2:38). I am not trying to be corny but ‘the devil is in the details.’

    One of the major sticking points seems to relate to who the recipients of the letters (all of them) are. You mentioned in your previous comment the ones that Peter was writing to in 1st and 2nd Peter. Last time I responded that the ones he was writing to in 1 Peter were saved eternally. Did you agree? If not, then please, why not?

    As for 2 Peter, these people, not the entire church they attended necessarily, but the ones to whom the letter is addressed, had “been granted a faith just as precious as ours.” Now, are the recipients saved/eternally elect/etc.? Are we to be concerned that Peter, who had the same kind of faith as they, might have fallen for the lies of the false teachers? How do you support the contention that this was a possibility for Peter and also for the ones to whom he is writing?

    You said “In II Peter he says that many Christians will run after false teachers and be lost.” I really don’t see this. What I see is that he says that many false teachers will be among you and that these false teachers will infiltrate your midst. Finally, many will follow them. Nowhere do I see him saying that saved people, like them, will follow the false teachers to ruin. Please, can you show me where he refers to Christians (real ones) being lost in either 1st or 2nd Peter?

    You said “All baptized Christians today are elect in the broad sense, being the heirs of the covenants of promise and of the kingdom, together with believing Israel.” I don’t agree with this; but, to take it apart here would clearly get us off of the topic. (assuming we are still on the topic!!!) However, I do agree that the term elect in and of itself has a broad range of meanings. I was trying to use the term only in the sense in which it applied to the ones who received the gift in Acts 2:38. They are not elect in the same manner in which every person born to a Jew is elect.

    You say baptism is a means of grace. OK. You say baptism is not a work. Not so OK. In school I was taught that work was force moving through a distance. When I was baptized (Please understand, I am baptized and I did receive grace in it and I see much value in it.) I had to use force to move this body of mine into the water. It was a ‘work.’ To say that it is not a work on my part makes no sense to me. I had to actually do work to become baptized! Yes I was being obedient and also exercising faith (the real kind that God had already given me) but that is besides the point. You seem to read Acts 2:38 to say that those there had to be baptized in water to receive forgiveness of sins. How can that not be do work and then God forgives???

    And, what about this idea of the usual means? I understand what the confessions say but can you help me see this in Scripture? It just has the ring of a just so explanation for me.

  141. David Gray said,

    December 15, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Pastor Johnson,

    >One of the major planks in the case for paedobaptism is rightly taken from the role and function of circumcision in the OT-in fact the carry over is such that even Baptists feel compelled to have some sort of continuity with the relationship of children to the covenantal stucture that is exhibited in circumcision-thus innovative practise of infant dedecation.

    I understand that. I didn’t understand why “curate”‘s premises would drive us to be baptists. I thought when he was saying we don’t replace baptism with circumcision he meant literally word for word. I was always taught that baptism took the place of circumcision but not that it functioned identically.

  142. David R. McCrory said,

    December 15, 2007 at 10:39 am

    >Circumcision and Baptism are not fully interchangeable words for the following reasons, all taken from Galatians.

    Fleshly circumcision of the OT points towards the spiritual circumcision of the heart. (ref. Rom.3) Baptism is the testimony we’ve received the new circumcision, been washed from our sins, and risen anew in Christ (Rom 6). There can’t be a one to one relationship or we wouldn’t baptize women.

    The motiff has always been one of physical reality (OT) pointing to spiritual truth (NT). The true children of Abraham are those that are of the Faith (Gal.3). The Covenant of Grace is with God and His faithful. It is an everlasting covenant (Heb 10) of wonderful blessing where we know the Lord, are sins are forgiven (Jer. 31) and we have assurance that those who He has graciously entered into covenant with, none of them will He lose (Jn 6).

  143. David Weiner said,

    December 15, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Pastor Johnson, re #138,

    I have been circumcised and also attended a few infant dedications. I see very little in common with these two rituals other than that in both cases the infants usually cry. In fact, it should be the parents who are crying; but, alas . . . .

    While I see no biblical warrant for the dedication ceremony, it is a way for the parents and those assembled to make a bloodless ‘covenant’ and thus raising the question of the value of a bloodless covenant. In the case of the circumcision, at least in my case, it was a way to do what ‘we are supposed to do’ and say that ‘my child is a Jew’ with all that that might infer. And, of course, it means very different things to different Jews.

    As for infant baptism, of course, we both know there is no warrant for that in Scripture either. However, this is the outgrowth of a different emphasis on continuity vs. discontinuity in the various covenants by different exegetes. Way out of bounds in this thread.

  144. David R. McCrory said,

    December 15, 2007 at 10:46 am

    To quote another source,

    “In Rom. 2:28,29, we find that circumcision was always meant to represent the inward work of the Spirit on the heart. According to the principles of typological interpretation, physical circumcision is the type and regeneration is the antitype or fulfillment. This was the definition of a true Jew, whether of Jewish or Gentile descent. The outward sign of circumcision was to symbolize that which God desired inwardly of the heart. But more than that, the reality of the symbol also had to be present in order for a person to be a true Jew or to receive all of God’s covenant blessings.

    This same truth is taught in Rom. 9:6-8, where Paul says that “they are not all Israel who are of Israel.” This is another reference to the faithful remnant idea which began in the physical nation of Abraham’s descendants and came to fruition in the New Covenant members or church. This is further explained in Rom. 4:12, where the promised “seed” of Abraham consists not of those of physical descent only, but those who are of the faith of their father Abraham. These, and these only, are his fulfilled “seed” (Rom. 4:23). It is those who are of faith, Jew and Gentile, who are the “seed” of Abraham. In all these Scriptures, the true Jews, or Abraham’s “seed,” in fulfillment of God’s promise to him, are those who have the circumcision of the heart by the Spirit, which is exhibited by faith in Christ.”

  145. David Weiner said,

    December 15, 2007 at 11:11 am

    David, re: #144,

    “In Rom. 2:28,29, we find that circumcision was always meant to represent the inward work of the Spirit on the heart.”

    Let me share a slightly different view. Circumcision always meant something. (DUH!) Initially, it was all physical. Nevertheless, people, even Jews, were always declared righteous for the same reason, faith.

    Paul interprets it as a type. This is not to take anything away from what it was and still continues to be. As a type, it helps us understand the anti-type. Possibly, one of God’s reasons for giving the Jews circumcision was so that at the right time Paul would be able to help explain spiritual baptism and spiritual circumcision to us?

  146. curate said,

    December 15, 2007 at 11:20 am

    David Weiner, now that I know that you are a Baptist I understand you a bit better. I am an ex-Baptist, and I once ministered for a short time as one, so I may be able to bridge the gap better than I have. I think a different kind of explanation will help you “get it” even if you don’t agree with it.

    BTW I too am enjoying this discussion.

    The Reformation mentality is completely different. One does not become a Christian by making a decision, getting saved then and there, and then, having been saved, getting baptized as a sign of the thing that has already happened.

    One believes the gospel, and then one is baptized for the remission of one’s sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Acts believing and baptism are same day events, not separated by days, months, or even years. The baptism is effective when received by faith, and in it Christ circumcises the heart, justifies, and pours out the Holy Spirit.

    No doubt at this point you are scratching your head and wondering how it is possible to think like this.

    The answer is not a theological argument by deduction and necessary cause and effect, but by a plain command of scripture.

    Acts 2:37   Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
    Acts 2:38   Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    The people believed, they asked what they had to do to escape the wrath of God and his Christ, and they were told to be baptized – for the remission of their sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Simple and biblical.

    All those thus baptized are justified, and as such they are seen to be elect. Their faith demonstrates their election.

    And all of this is why Peter calls the Jewish churches elect in his letters.

  147. David R. McCrory said,

    December 15, 2007 at 11:25 am

    David W.

    I agree with that. For the ethnic Jew, circumcision rightly obtained a certain significance for them. It had been instituted by God Himself. But, like you say, it was a type. And the anti-type is spritual circumcision of the heart. The spritual truth to which the type points does not degate the reality it presents at the time, but rather establishes it!

  148. David R. McCrory said,

    December 15, 2007 at 11:33 am

    Curate,

    Do you believe the Jews who responded to Peter’s sermon had already received the remission of their sins when they asked what to do, or do you believe their sins were forgiven only after they were baptized?

  149. Todd Bordow said,

    December 15, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Curate said…”The baptism is effective when received by faith, and in it Christ circumcises the heart, justifies, and pours out the Holy Spirit.”

    How awful this is! Darkness, darkness…

    Todd Bordow

  150. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 15, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    Mark H (#129, 130) *127

    No, by WCF definitions I’m pretty sure that Alice is (and always was and will be!) in the invisible church in 2008.


    JRC:“I’ve never encountered anyone who has *ever* taken the term “invisible church” to mean “eschatological church”, as in “Fred is a member of the invisible church because he will be saved 20 years from now…””
    MH:
    Just read paragraph one of chapter 25 of the WCF. That is exactly what it says.

    eyebrowmode = “raised”

    I think that’s an overly flat reading. The wording again:

    25.1 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.

    Granted that the language is expressed eschatologically. But the picture created is that of a body that is gathering members to itself; that imagery is drawn from Eph. 4 and 1 Cor 12-14. In the Scriptures, at least, one is brought into the body (1 Cor 12.13, Eph. 4.4,11), not “already a part and then *POOF* it’s revealed.”

    And it is reasonable to allow the Scriptures to guide our understanding of what the divines meant, yes?

    I could be wrong here, and I don’t have any source material on the Westminster Assembly. But I think you’re making too much hay out of the eternal perspective language and not allowing that the gathering language should also shape how we read the definition. My $0.02

    /eyebrowmode

    Jeff Cagle

    lunchmode=”on”…

  151. David Gray said,

    December 15, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Calvin’s Institutes 4.15.1

    Hence those who have thought that baptism is nothing else than the badge and mark by which we profess our religion before men, in the same way as soldiers attest their profession by bearing the insignia of their commander, have not attended to what was the principal thing in baptism; and this is, that we are to receive it in connection with the promise, “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved,” (Mark 16: 16.)

  152. David Weiner said,

    December 15, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    curate, re: #146,

    I do try to avoid labels; there is truth and also misinformation in them. Nevertheless, I realize that ‘most’ of my views seem baptist (YUK!). So, if the label helps, great; I just hope it won’t hinder.

    I do understand and appreciate your response here. And, yes it does get back to “the plain command of Scripture.” (Alas, I find very little in Scripture that is so ‘plain.’) Nor, is it about reformed thinking vs. baptist thinking. That is why I have been trying to keep the discussion on parsing Acts 2:38 (in its context, of course).

    One thing that we ought to be able to agree on is that what is happening in Acts 2 is not normative. This whole occurrence is a one time event that can never be repeated. Christ’s gift of the Holy Spirit had just arrived and Peter was about to open the doors to the church that Christ said he was going to build in Matthew 16. It was to the Jew first and Peter had the keys! For that reason, one source of error, IMO, would be to try to make too much of the apparent interval between the ‘repent’ and the ‘water baptism’ in this passage. And, yes, I do see water baptism in this passage; just not as forcefully as I believe you do.

    Note that in verse 21 after explaining Joel’s prophesy he ends with believe; not with believe and be baptized. Also, verse 3:19 says the same thing; no water baptism in view. And, to put the final nail in the coffin (just kidding) verse 26:20. But, in all seriousness, this idea that water baptism is required to receive the grace does not seem to be there. These omissions can not just be oversights on the part of both Peter and Paul? The theology of Acts seems quite consistent if one leaves out the emphasis on water baptism for forgiveness. Obedience, grace, blessing, etc. – yes: salvation, forgiveness, etc. – no.

    You say The people believed, they asked what they had to do to escape the wrath of God and his Christ, and they were told to be baptized – for the remission of their sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Simple and biblical.

    Not that you asked for it; but, here is how I read this not so simply verse:

    Peter has just told them what they had done and to whom they had done it. OOOOOPS!!! And at least some of them were very distressed (they must have believed Peter to some degree to be distressed) and asked what they should do. Peter says repent.

    At that point, he had not mentioned anything about salvation or forgiveness of sins or eternal life. So, he tells them that the reason they should repent is “for the forgiveness of their sins.” Not only that; but he tells them that they will also receive the gift of the Holy Spirit per the Joel passage just quoted above. That is the main flow of the verse (IMHO, of course).

    Now, he also inserted the phrase which causes all the problems as to what he means regarding baptism. But, it is a secondary thought to the main flow of the verse.
    For me, the key is understanding the meaning of the word baptidzo. I base my understanding on a quote taken from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles. (I can just imaging what you must be thinking at this point about this nut case named David)

    Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be ‘dipped’ (bapto) into boiling water and then ‘baptised’ (baptidzo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptizing the vegetable, produces a permanent change. The vinegar and cucumber are united in a way that can not be undone.

    So, I take Peter to be saying here that mere intellectual assent is not enough. There must be a union with Christ, a real change, like the cucumber to the pickle! Participating in water baptism (sorry; but it is a work!) can not do this; the action of the Holy Spirit is required. BUT, I also see that Peter, as a Jew, and as one who had heard Jesus talk about how they (the apostles) were to baptize also had water baptism in mind. It just wasn’t the main idea of his use of the word baptidzo in this verse. Again, just my opinion.

  153. Andy Gilman said,

    December 15, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    Mark Horne said this on the “Nothing new under the sun” thread:

    “According to the Westminster Catechisms, being involved in externals, making “diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation” is required for eternal salvation.”

    This means that Mark interprets the Westminster Catechisms to teach that none of the unbaptized children in John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist church, who die before the can make a credible profession and can be baptized, are eternally saved.

  154. David Gray said,

    December 15, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    >This means that Mark interprets the Westminster Catechisms to teach that none of the unbaptized children in John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist church, who die before the can make a credible profession and can be baptized, are eternally saved.

    To believe this one would have to conclude that the children who died did not make “diligent use”. Anyone here want to argue that?

  155. Andy Gilman said,

    December 15, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    So in you opinion David, Mark wasn’t actually saying anything at all in that paragraph?

  156. David Gray said,

    December 15, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    >So in you opinion David, Mark wasn’t actually saying anything at all in that paragraph?

    In my opinion he wasn’t saying anything at all that would impinge on the status of children at Bethlehem Baptist who die before baptism.

  157. David Gray said,

    December 15, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    But if Pastor Horne wants to correct me I’m all ears…

  158. curate said,

    December 15, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    David Weiner, thanks for the discussion. My brother studied at a conservative Baptist Seminary, and your explanation of Acts 2 is the same as his in the essentials.

    Now that you know my dark family secret, you won’t take offence when I say that that kind of exegesis seems to me to be very convoluted. It requires an enormous pre-understanding of the Baptist position to make the text fit. You have had to surgically excise the word baptism from Peter’s command, re-read the verse without it, and then, having attained the desired non-sacramental reading, re-inserted it as an addendum, if not a footnote.

    My reading on the other hand simply takes the text at face value. To show you how big my muscles are, I can point to a large number of Reformation giants who read it the same way, starting with Luther …

  159. curate said,

    December 15, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    David W, on baptism being a work I need to point out that using a Newtonian definition of work as you have, and then importing it into the text, is not allowed. It is an exegetical no-no. It is very, very, naughty.

    Using your definition derived from Physics that work is any action whatsoever, we would have to conclude that faith itself is a work. But Paul contrasts faith with works, saying, a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law, and, the man who does not work, but who trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is accounted as righteousness.

    Yes?

    This shows us that works must be defined by the Bible itself, and not by any outside source. Things like faith and trust are not included in the biblical definition of works, even though in terms of physics they are! But we submit to the supreme authority of the Bible in all matters of faith and morals, and we must learn to understand its words the way that it does.

    In the same way baptism is not a work in the biblical sense, but a means.

  160. curate said,

    December 15, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    David W, did I mention that taking defintions of words like baptizw from extra-biblical Greeks called Nicander is also frowned upon? :) Greeks called Luke are OK, but Jews like Paul are preferred, especially when they helpfully tell us in Hebrews 9 that the OT washings with water, blood, and ashes (lit. baptisms) were all sprinklings.

  161. curate said,

    December 15, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    David R McRory, to reply, not before, but by it.

  162. Andy Gilman said,

    December 15, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    Here’s the quote again:

    According to the Westminster Catechisms, being involved in externals, making “diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation” is required for eternal salvation.”

    Maybe you can break this sentence down for me David, since you are interpreting Mark for us. In that sentence, isn’t “being involved in the externals” one and the same thing as “making ‘diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation?’” Therefore, doesn’t the sentence state that “being involved in the externals” is “required for eternal salvation?”

  163. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 15, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    …I need to point out that using a Newtonian definition of work as you have…

    And as a Physics teacher, I need to point out that the entire process of baptism does no useful work on the recipient at all, since the kinetic energy of the baptizee is the same before and after the process… :lol:

    Jeff Cagle

  164. David Weiner said,

    December 15, 2007 at 3:16 pm

    curate, re: 158-160,

    I was saved (sorry for that nomenclature) as an adult. Before that I was a full blown atheist. I had never been a member of any church. The church I was attending at that time was an evangelical free church. I got off on this wrong foot (baptistic, I guess) there, although I can’t remember baptists ever being discussed. Early on I did listen to Harold Camping explain things (amazing#@!!%@%). Could that be the source of my downfall???? Furthermore, I assure you I have never attended a conservative baptist seminary. However, it would indeed be a treat to listen in on theological discussions between you and your brother!

    You mention Luther having the same view as yours on Acts 2. Are there not a few positions of his that you do not line up with? If so, then how do you select the ones on which he was correct and the ones on which he was off the mark?

    You know by now that I am no giant (nor even a pigmy) when it comes to exegesis. However, in Acts 2:38 repent is a second person plural aorist command and baptize is a third person aorist passive verb. To make an active and a passive verb say the same sort of thing also requires a certain degree of exegetical convolution.

    You say: My reading on the other hand simply takes the text at face value.

    No presuppositions???? And, of course, I understand that there indeed are/were giants of the faith who line up on your side. However, this is not an election (no pun intended). One of us is right and the other is wrong (unless of course we are both wrong). I am just looking for the rational arguments to support your view.

    RE: baptism being a work:

    I really did think that Newton was a believer? Wouldn’t that make it OK to bring in some of his physics? (Just kidding) The words that the NT uses for work are just as Newtonian as it gets. We get our word energy from one of them. The other has a really simply meaning of do, bring about, perform, etc. To read it in any other way would seem to be a mistake; it means force through distance. In any case, I’ll put myself to bed without any supper tonight for being so naughty as to bring up physics here.

    Please understand, I do not see faith as a work of any kind! I agree with the passages you reference on faith but I can’t see how “This shows us that works must be defined by the Bible itself, and not by any outside source.” Can you show me where the Bible defines work in any other way than the average Greek man/woman on the street would have understood the word ergon?

    You said: “did I mention that taking definitions of words like baptizw from extra-biblical Greeks called Nicander is also frowned upon?” Mea Culpa! Mea culpa! Please forgive me. I really do not know all the rules. I guess all of this does require that a certain degree of discernment be mixed in with the rote repetitions.

    So, other than my understanding of this verse looking like some sort of diabolical, baptist conspiracy and being convoluted and complex etc., can you simply show me where it goes wrong?

  165. David Weiner said,

    December 15, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Jeff, re: 163,

    Just a great comment!

    On the other hand, bringing up kinetic energy in the context of Acts 2:38 might indeed be a way for me to strengthen my argument. I’ll have to think more on that. . . .

  166. David Gray said,

    December 15, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    >Maybe you can break this sentence down for me David, since you are interpreting Mark for us.

    I’m interpreting him for me and sharing.

    >In that sentence, isn’t “being involved in the externals” one and the same thing as “making ‘diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation?’” Therefore, doesn’t the sentence state that “being involved in the externals” is “required for eternal salvation?”

    I would refer you to my original observation to which you offered no reply. Has the dead child at Bethlehem Baptist failed to make “diligent use” of the outward means?

  167. Andy Gilman said,

    December 15, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    David Gray said:

    I would refer you to my original observation to which you offered no reply. Has the dead child at Bethlehem Baptist failed to make “diligent use” of the outward means?

    I’m having trouble seeing how you can read Mark’s sentence any other way. According to Mark, the Standards teach that those who are not “involved in the externals” (baptism), are those who are not making “diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation?”

    As I read that sentence, it is clearly saying that “being involved in the externals” is merely another way of saying “making diligent use of the outward means…” and is “required for eternal salvation?”

    The fact that the child himself is not the one who is making “diligent use…” is irrelevant. You’re not a baptist are you? He says “being involved in the externals,” he doesn’t say, “personally submitting to the externals.” Unbaptized children in John Piper’s church are not “involved in the external rite of baptism.” Their parents and their pastor have neglected the outward means “whereby Christ communicates the benefits of his mediation” and which are “required for eternal salvation.”

    Were the Israelite children who failed to be circumsized, along with their parents, not also cut off?

    I do appreciate your attempt at interpreting Mark, but I hope Mark will step in and clear this up.

  168. curate said,

    December 15, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    David W, I suspect that this conversation is going wildly off topic. May I suggest that we continue it offline? I can be emailed at roger du barry (one word) at talk talk (one word) dot net, or we can talk parson to person, although that may be too expensive seeing that I am in the UK.

    It is wonderful that God is still able and willing to call atheists to serve him and the King whom he has appointed for us, and the fact that you are a Jew according to the flesh fulfills God’s promise always to keep a remnant of that ancient people. It is a great privilege for me to have been called to share with you in the promises that God made to our father Abraham – your father according to the flesh and mine by adoption.

    Back to Luther, are there any areas where I differ with him? No substantive issues, except for one little thing, and even then I find his arguments powerful.

    I realize that my saying that my reading is the face value one is a little provocative. Sorry about that, but I truly believe it is.

    You say that you are looking for rational arguments, and perhaps this is a problem. Luther called reason a whore because it is contrary to the Faith. Our faith is profoundly irrational as men count reason. Rather we are called to argue biblically, and to go wherever the Bible takes us regardless of what seems reasonable or not.

    Biblical words are not defined according to how the average Greek man or woman on the street understood them. That is a help, but the final word comes from the way they are used in their biblical context.

    I don’t have anything new to add to what I have already said about Acts 2. Just reread my previous posts, and then email me offline.

  169. David Gray said,

    December 15, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    >Unbaptized children in John Piper’s church are not “involved in the external rite of baptism.” Their parents and their pastor have neglected the outward means “whereby Christ communicates the benefits of his mediation” and which are “required for eternal salvation.”

    What do you believe the consequences are for failure to be obedient in baptizing covenant children?

  170. Machaira said,

    December 15, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    However, in Acts 2:38 repent is a second person plural aorist command and baptize is a third person aorist passive verb. To make an active and a passive verb say the same sort of thing also requires a certain degree of exegetical convolution.

    David,

    I’ve been folloing this conversation with great interest. Could you elaborate on the preceding quote? Although one is active in voice and the other passive, both verbs are aorist imperatives. Are you saying that they shouldn’t be taken together? If so, why?

  171. Todd Bordow said,

    December 15, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    By the way, this is the official position of the Church of Christ.

    1. Baptism (immersion) is essential (required) for forgiveness, salvation, entrance to the church (body of Christ). (Matt.28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; 1 Peter 3:21; Acts 2:38-42, 47; 22:16; Romans 6:3-6; Gal. 3:26-27; Eph. 1:22-23; Eph. 4:4-6).

    2. Faith only (without obedience/works) will not save. (James 1:22-25; 2:14-17; 24-26; Heb. 11:6; John 14: 15,21)..

    3. We are saved by grace through faith.

    Sound familiar?

    Todd Bordow

  172. Andy Gilman said,

    December 15, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    David Gray said:

    “What do you believe the consequences are for failure to be obedient in baptizing covenant children?”

    Are you just asking questions David, or are you answering them too? You still haven’t answered my question in #162.

  173. David Gray said,

    December 15, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    >In that sentence, isn’t “being involved in the externals” one and the same thing as “making ‘diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation?’” Therefore, doesn’t the sentence state that “being involved in the externals” is “required for eternal salvation?”

    Andy, it would have been easy enough to infer a direct answer from my answer. No, that is a simplistic reading of the statement in my opinion.

    What do you believe the consequences are for failure to be obedient in baptizing covenant children?

  174. Andy Gilman said,

    December 15, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    David Gray said:

    Andy, it would have been easy enough to infer a direct answer from my answer. No, that is a simplistic reading of the statement in my opinion.

    Maybe you mean that I read what Mark said, and not what you wish he had said. Give me your sophisticated reading of that sentence David. I’ve taken the time to explain to you why I understand that sentence to be saying that “being involved in the externals” is “required for eternal salvation.” You can’t merely make a pronouncement that my reading is “simplistic,” with no explanation, and walk away, like you are the final authority on what is “simplistic” and what is not. If you can’t explain to me why I’m misreading that sentence, then I see no value in trying to draft other sentences for you to try to pick apart while you change the subject. You and I aren’t speaking the same language.

  175. David Gray said,

    December 15, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    >If you can’t explain to me why I’m misreading that sentence, then I see no value in trying to draft other sentences for you to try to pick apart while you change the subject.

    What sentences of yours have I picked apart so far?

    And fact is I’ve explained it a couple of times now. Explaining it doesn’t necessarily mean you wind up agreeing with me.

    When you say:

    >In that sentence, isn’t “being involved in the externals” one and the same thing as “making ‘diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation?’

    you aren’t saying it in the abstract. You are applying it to a specific context which you provided. The context was a child who died prior to a profession of faith and baptism at Bethlehem Baptist. You then read Pastor Horne’s comment to mean that the child must be damned for failure to be baptized. Maybe if you really, really, want it to mean that (for whatever reason). But in the context of that particular situation I don’t read it that way. The child is still a child of the covenant even if the parents aren’t faithful in baptism. The child has not shown himself to be apostate. There are no reasons to read the child out of the covenant. The child has not failed to make “diligent use” of the outward means. In essence you are asking Pastor Horne to copiously footnote his every blog post to show any possible caveats that could occur. That seems ungenerous.

    What do you believe the consequences are for failure to be obedient in baptizing covenant children?

  176. David Weiner said,

    December 15, 2007 at 6:59 pm

    Hi Machaira, re: #170.

    Thanks for the question and I hope I can shed light on what I was thinking and not just add noise. I think there is a main verb and a secondary thought in the verse. The main verb is active; the ones who Peter is talking to are being told to do something – Repent. And the verse then adds details as to what the results will be. (I have to immediately state that there is always the tension between our ‘free will’ and God’s sovereignty. So, these people can no more take action to believe on their own than I can make comments of anywhere near the same stature as the simplest idea that Calvin et al have given us.) Nevertheless, from man’s point of view, man is ordered to believe as if he can do that.

    The secondary thought has to do with a passive action of being ‘changed’ (i.e., be baptized). It is not addressed to all of them. It is only addressed to the ones who have repented (the verb changes from the second person plural to the third person singular). There was nothing passive about me getting wet at my baptism. I was activel in it. Yes, the pastor said some words and held me so that I didn’t drown; but, I was very active in the whole thing.

    In verse 38, I read this change/baptism as the activity of the Holy Spirit when He makes the repentant a new creation. Profession (repenting on my own without faith given to me by God) is not going to result in anything; it is up to God to give me the faith first and then to baptize me for a real change to take place. So, these two verbs are talking about two different types of activities. Each one is dependant on God’s work, of course; but, the passive one does not have me doing anything but receiving.

  177. Andy Gilman said,

    December 15, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    David Gray said:

    you aren’t saying it in the abstract. You are applying it to a specific context which you provided. The context was a child who died prior to a profession of faith and baptism at Bethlehem Baptist. You then read Pastor Horne’s comment to mean that the child must be damned for failure to be baptized. Maybe if you really, really, want it to mean that (for whatever reason). But in the context of that particular situation I don’t read it that way. The child is still a child of the covenant even if the parents aren’t faithful in baptism. The child has not shown himself to be apostate. There are no reasons to read the child out of the covenant. The child has not failed to make “diligent use” of the outward means. In essence you are asking Pastor Horne to copiously footnote his every blog post to show any possible caveats that could occur. That seems ungenerous.

    Yes, I’m taking Mark Horne’s general statement, which he says is taught in the Westminster Standards (“being involved in the externals” is “required for eternal salvation”), and I’m applying it to a specific situation. It’s done all the time when “Standards” are being discussed.

    You say “Maybe if you really, really, want it to mean that (for whatever reason).” I don’t “want it to mean that,” but I’m still waiting for you or Mark Horne to explain to me how it can mean anything else. Maybe the problem is just my own inability to diagram sentences, so break it down for me. (Since Mark wrote the sentence, he is in the best position to tell us what it means, but you can go ahead and speculate about it in the mean time.)

    You say: “But in the context of that particular situation I don’t read it that way.” Why don’t you read it that way? I’ve asked you this now numerous times. If we can’t agree on an objective reading of this sentence, how can we carry on a conversation? It looks to me like you are trying to make the sentence say something it doesn’t say.

    You say: “There are no reasons to read the child out of the covenant. The child has not failed to make ‘diligent use’ of the outward means.”

    First, the child isn’t even “in the covenant” according to the FV, because the child hasn’t been baptized. Secondly, as I stated in #167 and which you seem to have ignored:

    The fact that the child himself is not the one who is making “diligent use…” is irrelevant. You’re not a baptist are you? He says “being involved in the externals,” he doesn’t say, “personally submitting to the externals.”

    And you also ignored my other question to you:

    Were the Israelite children who failed to be circumsized, along with their parents, not also cut off?

    Now you can ask “What do you believe the consequences are for failure to be obedient in baptizing covenant children?” until hell freezes over, but I’m not going to go down that rabbit trail until Mark can explain to me how he applies this general statement, which he says is the teaching of the Westminster Standards:

    According to the Westminster Catechisms, being involved in externals, making “diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation” is required for eternal salvation.”

    to the unbaptized child in John Piper’s church, who dies before he is baptized.

  178. Jeff Moss said,

    December 15, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    David W.,

    Please take a look at the following passages and compare them:

    Acts 9:17-18 “And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.”

    Acts 22:12-16 “‘Then a certain Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good testimony with all the Jews who dwelt there, came to me; and he stood and said to me, “Brother Saul, receive your sight.” And at that same hour I looked up at him. Then he said, “The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”‘”

    Now, obviously these two passages are referring to the same event. Do you think the baptism here is water baptism? This Scripture tells us that
    (1) Saul was chosen and called before he was “baptized”;
    (2) God sent Ananias to him in order that Saul would receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit;
    (3) He was told by Ananias to arise and be baptized to wash away his sins as he called on the name of the Lord;
    (4) He arose and was baptized.

    Thoughts?

    P.S. I’ve been meaning to respond to your last comment on my blog, but it’s been a busy week and I’ve been trying to follow the discussions here, so I haven’t gotten around to that yet. :-)

  179. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 15, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    Jeff M (#178):

    Do you believe that this passage warrants an absolute connection between baptism and washing away of sins? Is there any room for a metaphorical connection between baptism and washing away of sins? What do you make of Calvin’s presentation of baptism as a physical preaching of the content of the gospel?

    And a more exegetical question: Do you think Acts 22 could possibly be a compressed version of the conversation Paul had with Ananias, and if so, how does that effect how we might read it?

    These aren’t “gotcha” questions; I’m just trying to understand where you take Acts 9/22.

    Regards,
    Jeff Cagle

  180. David Gray said,

    December 15, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    >First, the child isn’t even “in the covenant” according to the FV, because the child hasn’t been baptized.

    Who is FV has stated that? (honestly don’t know, read Doug Wilson’s book on baptism and didn’t see it)

    >Now you can ask “What do you believe the consequences are for failure to be obedient in baptizing covenant children?” until hell freezes over, but I’m not going to go down that rabbit trail until Mark can explain to me how he applies this general statement

    You won’t answer my question until he answers yours? Any idea how odd that sounds? You asked me to answer that question, I did.

    What do you believe the consequences are for failure to be obedient in baptizing covenant children?

  181. Andy Gilman said,

    December 15, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    David Gray said:

    “You won’t answer my question until he answers yours? Any idea how odd that sounds?”

    It’s amazing how good your reading skills are, when applied to those portions of a post you want to emphasize for strategic purposes. But you still haven’t explained Mark’s sentence to me, and how my reading is simplistic. Are you merely feigning ignorance?

  182. David Gadbois said,

    December 15, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    Bob Mattes and GLW,

    You may remember that some time back, on my other blog, I posted some articles on the nature of the invisible church. FV’s interpretation of this doctrine is quite novel, as seen from other Reformed confessions and Reformed theologians throughout the centuries. The invisible church exists in the here and now, consisting of true, regenerate worshipers of God.

  183. David Gray said,

    December 15, 2007 at 9:31 pm

    >But you still haven’t explained Mark’s sentence to me, and how my reading is simplistic.

    I explained it.

    What do you believe the consequences are for failure to be obedient in baptizing covenant children?

  184. markhorne said,

    December 15, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    Mark Horne said this on the “Nothing new under the sun” thread:

    “According to the Westminster Catechisms, being involved in externals, making “diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation” is required for eternal salvation.”

    This means that Mark interprets the Westminster Catechisms to teach that none of the unbaptized children in John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist church, who die before the can make a credible profession and can be baptized, are eternally saved.

    ====================

    Here is what I understand the Westminster Standards to teach:

    Larger Catechism=

    Q. 152. What doth every sin deserve at the hands of God?
    A. Every sin, even the least, being against the sovereignty, goodness, and holiness of God, and against his righteous law, deserveth his wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come; and cannot be expiated but by the blood of Christ.

    Q. 153. What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us by reason of the transgression of the law?
    A. That we may escape the wrath and curse of God due to us by reason of the transgression of the law, he requireth of us repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, and the diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation.

    Q. 154. What are the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation?
    A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to his church the benefits of his mediation, are all his ordinances; especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for their salvation.

    Westminster Confession, chapter 28:

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

    ————————

    I’m much more optimistic about unbaptized children then the Westminster Divines were, as far as I know. Not only do I think baptist children are going to heaven, but I also have always welcomed them into membership in any church I pastored.

  185. pduggie said,

    December 16, 2007 at 12:09 am

    the reasoning in 139 explains alot about why the Study Committe ruled as it did.

  186. Robert K. said,

    December 16, 2007 at 12:27 am

    WLC 71 – “God…requiring nothing of them for their justification but faith…”

    This was deleted above for some reason, but since Horne saw an opening to repeat his post, intending to communicate to the innocent that the Westminster Standards ‘require’ baptism for ‘eternal salvation’ I’ll post it again. ‘Effectual to salvation’ doesn’t mean ‘required for eternal salvation.’

    You’ve heard of Scripture lawyers, there are also people who lawyer to death non-Scriptural documents. What the old man demands the old man gets one way or another.

  187. Andy Gilman said,

    December 16, 2007 at 12:39 am

    Mark, does your answer in #184 mean you are retracting this sentence?:

    “According to the Westminster Catechisms, being involved in externals, making “diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation” is required for eternal salvation.”

    If not, then how do you reconcile this sentence with your more recent and more guarded statement? If the Standards teach what you assert above, then it seems the Standards teach that the children in Piper’s church who die prior to baptism, and therefore are not “involved in the externals” of baptism, are lacking a requirement for eternal salvation?

    So you are now saying that, though the Standards teach this, you don’t personally believe it or teach it. Is that right?

  188. December 16, 2007 at 12:55 am

    Mark H., RE 184:

    I’m much more optimistic about unbaptized children then the Westminster Divines were, as far as I know.

    Here’s what the divines said about unbaptized infants in WCF 10.3:

    Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth. So also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.

    Now how are you more optimistic than WCF 10.3?

  189. Andy Gilman said,

    December 16, 2007 at 12:57 am

    I had said:

    …the child isn’t even “in the covenant” according to the FV, because the child hasn’t been baptized.

    To which David Gray replied:

    Who is FV has stated that? (honestly don’t know, read Doug Wilson’s book on baptism and didn’t see it)

    This is from Wilson’s “Sacramental Efficacy in the Westminster Confession” contribution to the Knox Colloquium:

    So water baptism is covenantally efficacious. It brings every person baptized into some kind of an objective and living covenant relationship with Christ, whether the baptized person is elect or reprobate.

    And though I don’t have a copy of RINE to verify this myself, the PCA Study Report quotes Wilson in it saying:

    We have noted repeatedly that baptism in water is objective, and it establishes an objective covenant relationship with the Lord of the covenant, Jesus Christ.

    These examples could be multiplied by the dozens for many other FV advocates and sympathizers.

  190. Jeff Moss said,

    December 16, 2007 at 2:00 am

    Jeff C. (#179),

    Do you believe that this passage warrants an absolute connection between baptism and washing away of sins? Is there any room for a metaphorical connection between baptism and washing away of sins? What do you make of Calvin’s presentation of baptism as a physical preaching of the content of the gospel?

    No, not an absolute connection, but a connection that is symbolic and therefore real (understanding “symbolic” to mean that a true symbol partakes in some way in the reality that it represents).

    A quick analogy for now: The connection between being baptized and having one’s sins wiped away might be like the connection between having wedding rings put on and becoming married. (I just got back from a wedding of a young couple at our church here in Moscow, so I’m thinking along those lines right now :-) .) It’s possible to get married without getting a wedding ring, and people can wear wedding rings without being married, so the ring doesn’t automatically make you married. But the nature of the marriage covenant is such that the receiving of the ring is closely connected with actually becoming married; both observers and the couple themselves recognize it as such. You could be married for a while before you get your rings, but that’s the exception, not the norm. God brings couples together through the wedding ritual, which involves the exchanging of rings, and He brings people into His family through the baptismal ritual.

    In other words, getting a wedding ring is not merely “metaphorical” for the real spiritual fact of being married. Exchanging rings actually has something to do with becoming married.

    Continuing with the analogy, if baptism is a physical preaching of the Gospel, then wearing a ring is a physical preaching of the marriage relationship. In our culture, if a man refused to wear a wedding ring, people would at least start having doubts about how serious he was about being married. Likewise, if someone professes faith verbally but deliberately postpones or refuses baptism, what does that say about his claim to faith, forgiveness of sins, and all the rest?

    And a more exegetical question: Do you think Acts 22 could possibly be a compressed version of the conversation Paul had with Ananias, and if so, how does that effect how we might read it?

    Sure. But the text of Luke that we have is how the Holy Spirit chose to give it to us, so we should accept that text as it stands, as a valid presentation of truth in its own right.

    Thanks for the questions.

  191. David Gray said,

    December 16, 2007 at 5:47 am

    >So water baptism is covenantally efficacious. It brings every person baptized into some kind of an objective and living covenant relationship with Christ, whether the baptized person is elect or reprobate.

    Then I disagree with Wilson as he states this here.

    Now that Mark has answered your question how about answering mine?

    What do you believe the consequences are for failure to be obedient in baptizing covenant children?

  192. GLW Johnson said,

    December 16, 2007 at 9:02 am

    Wilson’s constant paranoia continues unabated. His latest post on John Piper’s new book on NT Wright and the future of Justification includes a very nasty reference to the ‘cannabalism’ that is presently ‘consuming’ our little Reformed world. Perhaps he picked up that little tid bit from John Frame ,who many of you will remember, used a similar reference when he alerted Reggie Kidd to danger of the anthropophagians that inhabit the TR jungle. Because Piper acknowledged his personal indebtedness to, among others, John Murray and Piper’s mentor at Fuller seminary, Daniel Fuller- Wilson is convinced this means the advocates of the FV should likewise get a free pass because many of them like to claim Murray for support. Memo to DW: The OPC report ( that you publically criticized) which censored the FV included on its committee Richard Gaffin, one of Murray’s prized pupils who has gone out of his way to distance himself from his former support for Norman Shepherd and Shepherd’s pronounced influence on a number of his disciples in the FV (many of whom have publically acknowledged their indebtness to the Bishop of Durham as well).

  193. David Gray said,

    December 16, 2007 at 9:32 am

    >Because Piper acknowledged his personal indebtedness to, among others, John Murray and Piper’s mentor at Fuller seminary, Daniel Fuller- Wilson is convinced this means the advocates of the FV should likewise get a free pass because many of them like to claim Murray for support.

    Didn’t read that way to me. But maybe it meant that references to people as cult leaders and such might be such cannibalism.

  194. GLW Johnson said,

    December 16, 2007 at 9:47 am

    David
    If Wilson only singled out the FV critics who have used expressions like ‘cult’ to describe the FV ,then you might have a point-but Wilson has gone out of his way to critized anyone and everyone who raises questions about the FV. Here is the list to date: The RPCUS, the opposition at the Knox seminary colloquium, Guy Waters’ book on the Federal Vision (as well as the book ‘By Faith Alone ‘that Guy and I edited), Westminster seminary Calif. esp. Scott Clark and Mike Horton, the faculty of M.A.R.S., the OPC study committee and their report, the PCA study committee and their report, RC Sproul, the proceeding of the SJC against the LA presbytery and Steve Wilkins. These are the ‘cannabals’ .

  195. David Gray said,

    December 16, 2007 at 9:56 am

    Pastor Johnson,

    I listened to Guy Waters on a radio show run by a pair of Baptists in which he suggested that not only FV was in error (given the place he was announcing this it seemed rather ironic) but that they were headed towards Rome, if memory serves. I’ve read where R. Scott Clark composed a ditty (apparently intended to be sung to the Brady Bunch tune) about the FV bunch. R.C. Sproul specifically referred to putting an FV proponent on the study committee (which would be, as I understand it, complying with Roberts Rules of Order) as putting a defendant on his own jury. At best that is badly mixing apples and oranges given that a study committee is not a trial. I wish that critics of the FV would recognize that there is more to handling this properly than just being correct. How you do things matters. Being charitable, where you can without compromising the truth, matters. If these men, as the PCA report stated, are brothers in the faith then that isn’t merely doing them a favour, it is doing your duty. It has struck me that there are too many FV critics who are really enjoying what is happening with LA presbytery and Pastor Wilkins. If their worst critics are right then the attitude should still be one of grief and regret, not a sort of “put the boots to them” sort of attitude that I perceive too often (not everyone, not all the time). I will say the atmosphere here is better, in my opinion, than it was around three weeks ago.

  196. David Gray said,

    December 16, 2007 at 10:02 am

    Let me add that it may prove necessary that Pastor Wilkins be admonished for something he has said or taught (hopefully after a proper trial with the procedures that should be in place). If that is the case again it should be a matter for regret. Anyone with glee in his heart at that moment should seriously examine himself.

  197. GLW Johnson said,

    December 16, 2007 at 10:15 am

    David
    If only the Remnostrants would have had someone like you at the Synod of Dort as their PR man the outcome might have been different ( put yellow smiley face here).

  198. David Gray said,

    December 16, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Would have been nice if the Marburg Colloquy had turned out better…

  199. Mark T. said,

    December 16, 2007 at 11:37 am

    David,

    Way off subject, but who do you propose would try Wilson since the CREC has no mechanism to hold individual ministers accountable as you suggest?

    PS: I have a post queued up that addresses this point.

  200. David Gray said,

    December 16, 2007 at 11:48 am

    >Way off subject, but who do you propose would try Wilson since the CREC has no mechanism to hold individual ministers accountable as you suggest?

    I would refer you to Article III of the CREC Book of Procedures which deals with “Procedures for Conducting a Presbyterial Trial”. Didn’t know that till you asked the question but it took me about five minutes to find out. Why didn’t you know that if you were curious?

  201. Mark T. said,

    December 16, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    I wrote, “the CREC has no mechanism to hold individual ministers accountable”; I didn’t write that they had no procedure for conducting a trial. I would refer you to the CREC Constitution, which not only makes no provision for accountability but precludes the possibility of accountability.

    So I return to my question: who do you propose would try Wilson since the CREC has no mechanism to hold individual ministers accountable?

  202. David Gray said,

    December 16, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    >So I return to my question: who do you propose would try Wilson since the CREC has no mechanism to hold individual ministers accountable?

    Trials are a mechanism for accountability.

  203. its.reed said,

    December 16, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    David:

    With you, I agree that no one should have glee at these events which PCA finds itself in.

    At the same time, as one who rightly challenges others for over the top statements, consider retracting this one,

    “It has struck me that there are too many FV critics who are enjoying what is happening with LA Presbytery and Pastor Wilkins.”

    Aside from not being demonstrable, it is certainly not a charitable reading into the hearts and motives of us your brothers.

    Yes, I take such comments with a grain of salt, knowing that such broad brush stroke statements are inherently sloppy. Nevertheless, there is not need to make them. Warn us away from what may be a danger; don’t condemn us outright.

  204. David Gray said,

    December 16, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    >Warn us away from what may be a danger; don’t condemn us outright.

    Well I did qualify later by saying “not everyone, all the time” but you are right, it is still hyperbole. It is true that there are at least a couple of individuals here who give the impression of being pleased with these things and may wish to consider that. There are others I am certain are not taking pleasure in it. I certainly am not condemning all FV critics outright. So I will retract that statement.

  205. David Weiner said,

    December 16, 2007 at 3:32 pm

    Jeff Moss, re: #178,

    Great to hear from you and thanks for the questions. Looking into those Acts passages so that I could respond to you has truly been a blessing. First, I see water baptism here; but, please don’t get too excited yet. You asked for some thoughts so I hope you won’t be sorry nor bored by what follows:
    1. The story of Paul’s conversion appears three times in Acts. Maybe the Holy Spirit thinks it is important!!! (The third version is in Acts 26)
    2. Each version is told to a different audience and as a result different aspects are highlighted. However, there is, of course, no question that all versions are absolutely true.
    3. The first version in Acts 9 is relayed by Luke to a general audience (including you and me). In this version we don’t learn much about Ananias other than that he is a somewhat timid, although obedient, disciple of the Lord. As for Paul, we see that he regains his sight and then is baptized. I am quite sure this is talking about water baptism although I see nothing about there being an ordained Christian pastor anywhere in view. I am trying hard to keep this brief but note that the filling with the Holy Spirit that is mentioned ought (IMHO) be understood to be different from the baptism of the Holy Spirit which happened on the Damascus Road and not here. This is indeed a rich passage that is just overflowing with meaning. Alas, another time.
    4. The second version in Acts 22 is told by Paul himself in Jerusalem after the crowd had just tried to kill him. You might say he was addressing a hostile crowd! Here he is speaking in Hebrew to the Jews and will give his testimony in a way that would be most easily accepted by Jews who were thinking that he was attacking their religion. Alas, you and I might not understand the explanation as they did.
    5. Note in this version we find out that Ananias was a very good and respected Jew, in addition to being a disciple of Jesus. Of course, the key verse given what we are trying to understand is verse 16 ‘And now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’
    6. Paul’s conversion is not in view in this verse nor is the filling of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Acts 9. This is all Jewish, through and through. The Jews had for centuries seen baptism, referring to the Levitical ceremonies of the Old Testament (Heb 9:10), as a ritual way of cleansing and purifying, and that by sprinkling or pouring. This is not baptism as we would relate to it today. This is Paul’s very clever way of showing the Jews that their old ways are still of value. The first thing that Paul tells them that he did after regaining his sight is to go out and undergo the Jewish purification ceremony. Might this help the Jews who were listening to give up their previous idea of killing him?
    7. Finally, in Acts 26 Paul gives his testimony again. But this time he talks to Agrippa, the gentile king. Note that this is the first time we learn that Jesus spoke to him in the Hebrew dialect!!!
    8. In this version, Paul does not even mention Ananias (the Jewish believer who had a personal conversation with the Lord Jesus and was party to a miracle!) nor anything about the details of his regaining sight or his baptism. In fact nowhere in the NT is a gentile explicitly told to be baptized for the remission of sins! Gentiles are only told to repent! Sola Fide, if you will. Jews had a more difficult transition problem.
    9. One last point, Acts records a transition period. A major transition! And so IMHO it is very important to read it with that in mind. After 2000 years, we may understand baptism very differently from the way Luke did as he was writing this. On the other hand, the Epistles make it clear that all believers in this age have the Holy Spirit, and are regenerated, baptized, indwelt, anointed and sealed as God’s own forever, the moment saving faith is exercised through repentance.

  206. markhorne said,

    December 16, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    One more time:

    Larger Catechism=

    Q. 152. What doth every sin deserve at the hands of God?
    A. Every sin, even the least, being against the sovereignty, goodness, and holiness of God, and against his righteous law, deserveth his wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come; and cannot be expiated but by the blood of Christ.

    Q. 153. What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and curse due to us by reason of the transgression of the law?
    A. That we may escape the wrath and curse of God due to us by reason of the transgression of the law, he requireth of us repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, and the diligent use of the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation.

    Q. 154. What are the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of his mediation?
    A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to his church the benefits of his mediation, are all his ordinances; especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for their salvation.

    ===========

    I never said anything about baptism being “effectual” and then inferring that it is “required.” I took a statement that “God requireth” “the diligent use of the outward means” “That we may escape the wrath and curse of God due to us by reason of the transgression of the law” and then inferred the conclusion that God requires the diligent use of the outward means that we may escape the wrath and curse of God due to us by reason of our transgression of the law.

    I don’t care, in this context, if anyone disagrees with my beliefs. I do care that people are acting like it is somehow horrible that I agree with the Westminster Catechisms, Confession, and the preliminary principles of the BCO I vowed to submit to.

  207. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 16, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Yeah, boy, that’s terrible. ;)

    Mark, back up at #115 and #129, you asserted that the invisible church is what might be described as a “static set.” That is, that all who are ever going to be saved are in the invisible church right now. And you cited, reasonably, WCoF 25.1 for your view.

    I wondered later whether that is a too-flat reading of 25.1, given the “gathering language” found within it. It seems to deny that members would ever be added to the invisible church, since (on your reading) they are already in it. In particular, you asserted that if Fred will be saved 20 years from now, he is already within the invisible church.

    Here are some more thoughts along that line:

    WLC #64-66: Question 64: What is the invisible church?

    Answer: The invisible church is the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ the head.

    Question 65: What special benefits do the members of the invisible church enjoy by Christ?

    Answer: The members of the invisible church by Christ enjoy union and communion with him in grace and glory.

    Question 66: What is that union which the elect have with Christ?

    Answer: The union which the elect have with Christ is the work of God’s grace, whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband; which is done in their effectual calling.

    WLC #69: Question 69: What is the communion in grace which the members of the invisible church have with Christ?

    Answer: The communion in grace which the members of the invisible church have with Christ, is their partaking of the virtue of his mediation, in their justification, adoption, sanctification, and: Whatever else, in this life, manifests their union with him.

    ISTM that if we insist that the invisible church does not admit of members being added, then a similar hermeneutic applied to #69 would have to insist that Fred, who will be saved 20 years from now, already enjoys the virtue of his mediation, justification, adoption, and sanctification.

    I’m not comfortable with that reading.

    Thoughts?

    Jeff Cagle

  208. its.reed said,

    December 16, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    Ref. #204:

    Dave, thanks!

  209. Robert K. said,

    December 16, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    Jeff Cagle, Mark Horne’s reading of 25.1 (denying the temporal aspect of it) is as self-serving for FVists as their reading of Paul’s manner of addressing his audience in Ephesians. And notice their entire heterodox campaign rests on such nonsense as a foundation.

    Did I say self-serving? Ah, a central trait of man-centeredness…

    David Gray, your pious complaints about people feeling joy that a person may get the boot is a bit vitiated by the mocking and chain-yanking performed on the Federal Vision side as a matter of course… Personally I’m happy when a person who doesn’t value something gets his wish and is released from his bondage to having to be a part of it…

  210. anneivy said,

    December 16, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    Re: 204

    Gracious, I’d never thought of that before. Is that right, that nowhere in the NT are gentiles instructed to be baptized for the remission of sins? That each time such language is used it is toward Jews, who were already familiar with baptism?

    Mercy Maud. That’s interesting.

  211. David Gray said,

    December 16, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    Robert, your post speaks for itself.

  212. Robert K. said,

    December 16, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    ALL FEDERAL VISION-LEANING INDIVIDUALS, READ THIS:

    Some people wonder why doctrine is so important, and why sound doctrine, with the necessary definition and so on is so important ( i.e. all the intellectual debate and defense and so on): it becomes practical, for one big way, when one is in the midst of spiritual warfare. What you believe becomes what you are and how you act when in direct confrontation with darkness and temptation and illusion and all the aspects and tactics of the Kingdom of Satan.

    For instance, you won’t have the will of God to act from if you are still in the delusion that self-will is what saves you to any degree. You will be a prisoner to all the devil has in his bag of tricks if you have yet to die to the law and come alive in Christ. Of course I could go on and on with examples, but suffice to say doctrine, or, sound doctrine as the Word of God puts it, is practical (not merely theoretical or philosophical, but practical) once it is you and the Kingdom of Death going one on one; and that will happen when a person is regenerated by the Word and the Spirit. The devil doesn’t need to bother with tame slaves in his kingdom. They’re doing his demands anyway. He confronts those who have been quickened by the Word and the Spirit. And if you don’t know from whence your power and status comes from (little things like the imputation of the active obedience of Christ, that the FVists want you to deny), if you still think your power comes from your ability to save yourself by your works, to any degree, no matter how the devil convinces you to think that, no matter what language he uses to fool you, the devil has you.

    But as Goethe said: Most people wouldn’t know the devil if he had them by the throat.

  213. Robert K. said,

    December 16, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    I second Anne’s question in #210.

  214. Tim Harris said,

    December 16, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    Robert K: can you give me a citation for the Goethe quote? I’m skeptical.

  215. December 16, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    Tim RE #214

    The reference is from Goethe’s Tragedy of Faust, where Mephistopheles says to Faust:

    These fellows would not scent the devil out,
    E`en though he had them by the very throat!

    EDIT: You can check it out here.

  216. Robert K. said,

    December 16, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    Thanks for the legwork! I had it in memory for years…

  217. Jeff Moss said,

    December 17, 2007 at 8:59 am

    Robert (#212),

    Excellent thoughts! This time at least, I agree wholeheartedly.

    Thanks for the exhortation.

  218. greenbaggins said,

    December 17, 2007 at 9:46 am

    I wonder if baptism of Gentiles is not commanded by the Great Commission. Isn’t Matthew 28 fairly explicit about all the nations being discipled and baptized? The Philippian jailor is another example. He asked what he must do to be saved. He was told to repent and be baptized.

  219. David Weiner said,

    December 17, 2007 at 10:25 am

    greenbaggins, re: 218:

    AH, but it’s those nasty details that will getchya every time! ;)

    After the jailer says “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

    Acts 16:31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.”

    Where’s the beef? OOOps, I meant baptism.

    True in verse 33 it says that he was immediately baptized. But, that wasn’t part of their answer to ‘how to be saved?’

    As far as the Great Commission (to Jew and gentile) is concerned it is clear that making disciples by teaching and baptizing are functions for the apostles (church) to perform. But, nowhere in the NT is a gentile explicitly commanded to be baptized for the remission of sins.

  220. GLW Johnson said,

    December 17, 2007 at 10:34 am

    I have been in correspondance with Zach Anderson who now serves as a missionary in Mexico but once pastored a CRC church in Grand Rapids. Zach attended a local pastors monthly meeting, one in which Norman Shepherd,who lived in the area , also attended. Shepherd suggested at one of the meetings that everyone read a paper that was written by none other than Rich Lusk of FV fame on Hebrews 6 and discuss it at the next meeting. After about 2 hours of heated debate Shepherd said that he was convinced that the apostacy spoken about in the text under examination could only be real apostacy if there had been a real and genuine conversion that included regeneration and justification. Zach asked, ” Norm, what do you call a person who believes in a real apostacy after a real conversion? An Arminian.” Shepherd withdrew from the discussion and ceased to attend altogether after that exchange.

  221. curate said,

    December 17, 2007 at 11:00 am

    David W, no wait, don’t go on, let me guess the rest of this amazing doctrine that we non-Baptists have all missed. The Jews are finally going to inherit the land and the Gentiles are going to heaven at the end because the Jews really are the Truly Chosen and the Gentiles are not. Then people will suddenly disappear from cars and airplanes seven years before the thousand year earthly reign of Christ begins and then …

  222. curate said,

    December 17, 2007 at 11:01 am

    Oh, I forgot to mention that Baptism and the Supper are for Jews only, not Gentiles. Did I get the cigar?

  223. kjsulli said,

    December 17, 2007 at 11:08 am

    Lane, re: 218,

    Actually, explicitly in the text, Acts 16:25-34, the Philippian jailer is only told to believe. Now of course he and his family are later baptized. But I think you are correct to cite Matt. 28 here, and certainly Gentile believers and their households are baptized throughout the New Testament.

  224. anneivy said,

    December 17, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Curate, your responses make clear you do not actually have a response, ye ken.

  225. anneivy said,

    December 17, 2007 at 11:11 am

    I think y’all are missing Dave W’s point, which is not that gentiles weren’t baptize…naturally they were….but baptism does not have all the doctrinal baggage that the FV has dumped on it. If it did, gentiles would have been explicitly commanded to be baptized for the remission of their sins.

    And apparently they weren’t.

  226. Mark T. said,

    December 17, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Does anyone know if the FVists have addressed the implications of this text?

    “I thank God that I baptized none of you . . . For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” (1 Cor 1:14–17)

  227. David Weiner said,

    December 17, 2007 at 11:34 am

    curate, re: #221/222,

    Now, now . . . play nice.

    Did you get my email?

  228. markhorne said,

    December 17, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    #207

    I just don’t see the issue. Yes, those decreed to salvation go through the ordo in time. Nevertheless, they are members of the set defined as “the invisible church,” from eternity.

    BTW, I don’t see any confessional problem with using the term, say, for only the truly regenerate. That would simply be a choice to use the term differently. It wouldn’t be a contradiction. Anyone who believes that God unconditionally and infallibly has decreed who will be saved believes in the doctrine of WCF’s invisible church.

  229. GLW Johnson said,

    December 17, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    David W.
    Gee, isn’t that statement of your about Gentiles and baptism similar to ‘Nowhere in the NT are we explicitly told that women were allow to, or actually did, participate in the Lord’s Supper.’ ?

  230. David Weiner said,

    December 17, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    Pastor Johnson, re #229,

    No, it isn’t. This is not about an argument from silence.

    It is crystal clear to us that women were part of the church that was expected to come together to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Surely, you don’t think Prisca and Aquila split up when the Lord’s Supper was celebrated in their house? And yet, I know of no verse that explicitly says “You men make sure you bring your wives to the Lord’s Supper next week.” Somehow, God has found a way to convey to us whom He wants to be present at the Lord’s Supper. And, that without the explicit statement you mention.

    It is also crystal clear that all believers are supposed to be baptized. Again, baptism is not the issue.

    The point is that the NT seems to tell Jews and gentiles different things regarding baptism. Do we believe that God is now dealing with these two groups in a different manner? I hope not. But, the two groups had different histories and different preconceived notions. Just possibly, that is the source of some of these problem passages and our resulting diverse doctrines? The Scriptures are not silent about what it takes for forgiveness of sins. And, it isn’t baptism.

  231. GLW Johnson said,

    December 17, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    David W
    We actually agree on the substance of the matter-but I am not of the same opinion that we get there by that route.

  232. curate said,

    December 17, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    David W, I am so glad that you are not suggesting that baptism is just for Jews.

    Yes, I got your email, and I have replied to the return address. You should have got it yesterday.

    Respectfully, you have not come to grips with the Reformed doctrine of sacraments. I have not said, do not, and will not say that baptism is what it takes for the remission of sins – in the way that you are spinning it. The cross is the sole CAUSE, baptism is the MEANS. Please don’t make me say it over and over.

    You say that baptism is not what it takes for the forgiveness of sins. Here are just two verses that contradict you in so many words:

    Mark 1:4   John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

    Acts 2:38   Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins …

  233. curate said,

    December 17, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    Anne Neivy

    Read ma post 232 tae see ah’m no hoddin’ ma whisht.

  234. David Weiner said,

    December 17, 2007 at 3:05 pm

    Pastor Johnson, re: 231,

    but I am not of the same opinion that we get there by that route.

    Please say more if you have the time.

  235. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 17, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    Mark H. (#228):

    I just don’t see the issue. Yes, those decreed to salvation go through the ordo in time. Nevertheless, they are members of the set defined as “the invisible church,” from eternity.

    Well, OK. Let’s agree that if we look at the invisible church from eternity, everyone’s there. Much as if we look at all of the frames of a film simultaneously, everything’s there.

    The prize, though, is that you seem to take a particular read of 25.1, one that indicates that the invisible church is identical to the eschatological church. And I’m not convinced that that’s what WCoF writers had in mind.

    So I would take a raised eyebrow to any arguments that flowed from that reading.

    That’s all.

    Jeff Cagle

  236. David Weiner said,

    December 17, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    curate, re: #232,

    You said: I am so glad that you are not suggesting that baptism is just for Jews.

    Whatever gave you the idea that I might suggest something like that???

    You said: Respectfully, you have not come to grips with the Reformed doctrine of sacraments.

    That may very well be the case. And, this, in fact, is why I am speaking with you.

    You said: I have not said, do not, and will not say that baptism is what it takes for the remission of sins – in the way that you are spinning it.

    Honestly, I am not trying to spin anything. And, I am certainly not accusing you of saying that baptism is what it takes for the remission of sins.

    You said: The cross is the sole CAUSE, baptism is the MEANS.

    Now, here is a point upon which we can unambiguously disagree. I say water baptism is not the MEANS.

    You say: Here are just two verses that contradict you in so many words: . . . Mark 1:4 . . . Acts 2:38

    Well, since I never want to say anything that is contradicted by Scripture (and I absolutely and sincerely mean that) lets see what these verses actually teach. I’ve already talked a little about Acts 2:38 so for now, I’ll just address Mark 1:4.

    First timing. Jesus had not yet gone to the cross. As John explains in verse 8, Jesus had not yet baptized anybody with the Holy Spirit . The New Covenant had not yet been enacted. There was not a single copy of the King James Bible to be found anywhere in Judea. We are squarely in the Mosaic economy here. These were very different times than the one in which we both find ourselves today.

    The participants are Jews who had a list of religious rules to follow that is much longer than either of our arms. They had rules for everything. A big part of those rules had to do with ritual cleansing and purification. Baptism was a very familiar thing to them, whether by sprinkling or pouring or dipping. John didn’t have to explain anything. He said repent and be baptized and a bunch of them said “sounds like a good idea to me.” They had been trained for almost 2000 years to go through rites of purification. The way had been well laid out for John to come along and simply tell them to be baptized. They understood exactly what they were doing. Were any of them saved by MEANS of John’s baptism? Of course not!

    Whatever the result of the baptism of John the baptist was, it had absolutely nothing to do with the sacrament of baptism that we have been discussing here. It most certainly did not have anything to do with the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

  237. December 17, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    David W. – there is a very good clue to the nature of John’s baptism and the interpretation of Mark 1:4 in Matthew 3:11. Here, it talks about the baptism being “for” (eis) repentance. The exegetical debate concerning these passages is how we are to understand this sort of grammatical connection. D.A. Carson writes:

    “causal eis, or something very close to it, is not unknown in the NT (cf. Turner, Syntax, pp. 266-67): ‘I baptize you because of your repentance. The force may, however, be weaker—i.e., “I baptize you with reference to or in connection with repentance.’”

    Passages like Matthew 3 cannot be understood to mean that baptism *causes* repentance (no one would argue this), so this sort of connection that Carson outlines may be in view in Mark 1 and Acts 2.

  238. Robert K. said,

    December 17, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    Zwingli said, in much less diplomatic language than I’ll use, that believers who are confident of their new birth by the Word and the Spirit don’t need the ritual of water baptism, but people who are less confident may need the visual parable, so to speak.

    The problem here is: the anger and resentment (and implied RC-like threat) that infant baptists (and even just people who need the ritual) manifest is what makes it fertile ground for the devil to control communions and schools of theology and so on.

    Remember, the Roman Catholic church burned the Word of God and burned anyone who attempted to bring it to people, but they called people to be baptized all day and all night. The devil knows what regenerates God’s own.

    It becomes a matter of what happens when you attempt to take away ‘law keeping’ (in the context of salvation) from people. Don’t take their law-keeping from them.

    But because Reformed Christians understand doctrine (i.e. what the Bible says) they know baptism doesn’t regenerate, yet they still adopt what they are either afraid to get rid of or don’t want to get rid of due to vestigial law-keeping demands (in the unconscious context of salvation); so you get these hybrid doctrinal concoctions that are continually exploited by the false teachers.

    The Roman Catholic church intimidated the reformers into keeping ritualism. Pure and simple. “They’re trying to take away your salvation!” Or you could call it a practical decision of war (from Zwingli’s point-of-view), not only due to what – to use Zwingli’s word – the ‘stupid’ demanded, but also due to the rear-guard offense of the radicals.

    While the RC church burned Bibles all day long though notice the magisterial reformers proclaimed the Word of God as their main activity every day of their lives. They knew what regenerated: the Word and the Spirit.

    I know I’m off-topic, and that what I write angers – in some cases really, really angers – certaint types, but so be it, fear God only, not man.

    By the way, Calvin in his 40th sermon on Ephesians nukes the claim that Baptism IS the proclaiming of the Word of God, in any way. He calls that a priest notion and mocks it.

    Regeneration is the main thing. The devil wants ritual and clericalism to be exalted over the Word and the Spirit, and he succeeds often, for long stretches of time…

  239. David Gray said,

    December 17, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    >The Roman Catholic church intimidated the reformers into keeping ritualism.

    From the easy chair we hear the accusation that Latimer, Ridley, Cranmer, Luther, Knox, Wishart and Calvin just weren’t as courageous as he. They just feared standing up to Rome. Sure.

  240. anneivy said,

    December 17, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    And not only is God’s inscripturated Word attacked by Satan via suppression (the RCC in the Reformer’s time, as Robert noted, plus nations such as North Korea and various Islamic countries), Satan also attacks it by attempting to make it merely one “scripture” among many (the LDS with its Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price; the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, etc.).

  241. Robert K. said,

    December 17, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    No, those guys who burned stood up to Rome, but not for infant baptism. See what this subject makes people write? Otherwise clear-sighted theologians get sloppy.

  242. Robert K. said,

    December 17, 2007 at 10:25 pm

    But because this is obviously a matter with more behind it than can be solved by any Christian(s) in any single moment of time in the history of redemption, let me remind that I see the Westminster Standards as on-the-mark because they protect against sacerdotalism. The Federal Vision people default to Romanist views and taunt paedo-baptists in that direction, but that is not the only option. You can default to the view that people have different temperaments, and styles of worship match such things, and as long as baptismal regeneration and sacerdotalism is not being taught or practiced then Bunyan can get along with Owen…

  243. Robert K. said,

    December 17, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    And I would argue Zwingli and Calvin spoke the truth on ritual, Zwingli obviously, but Calvin as well. The reformer back then was also a soldier and also a politician, with the life and death of whole populations at stake. The RC church was a Beast tyranny, a Goliath to the Protestant’s David. That a Zwingli and Calvin compromised on some issues that obviously were deep in the heart of whole populations formerly infused with Roman Catholic practice and belief is not surprising. Also when they saw what was unleashed, or could be, when too much of a break was made (the radicals doing their thing) they compromised.

    Protestants who came later didn’t and don’t have those forces working on them.

    But to each his own. Biblically, my position is sound, and I can live other other styles of worship as long as nobody gets into sacerdotalism. That’s where I make my break, and I don’t see sacerdotalism in the Westminster Standards. Puritans understood regeneration and what effects is, when it is effected.

  244. markhorne said,

    December 17, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    “The Roman Catholic church intimidated the reformers into keeping ritualism. Pure and simple.”

    Well, there we go. Robert K. hates FV for preserving the teaching of the Reformers. Though “hate” is a rather mild term for his expressions.

  245. Robert K. said,

    December 17, 2007 at 10:54 pm

    My fully quoted thought:

    *The Roman Catholic church intimidated the reformers into keeping ritualism. Pure and simple. “They’re trying to take away your salvation!”*

    The intimidation was in the RC’s playing of populations against the reformers. This was a war. A deadly, vicious, ugly, violent, bloody war. In war practical decisions are made by wise leaders, even reformers thrust into the roles of politician and field commander.

    And notice Mark Horne’s comment above is scatter-brained in any context one could try to find in this thread? He just wanted to say ‘some’thing, ‘any’thing, implying FVists are the friends of Reformed doctrine.

  246. Robert K. said,

    December 17, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    Bottom line, read the Word of God in a dedicated manner, with humility. Innocent like a child. Allow it to enter you and work in you.

    There’s only one language that is living language.

    The only answer to the query, so how do I get regenerated if I don’t think or feel I have been regenerated is: other than the good possibility of one of God’s elect proclaiming the Word to you and effecting the call that is potentially effectual, get the living language of the Word of God into you. You can’t regenerate yourself, but you can engage the Word of God, in a dedicated manner and in a humble manner. It may on the contrary harden you, but so be it. Force the issue. Move close to God, He’ll move close to you (James 4 and elsewhere). Getting His living Word into you – preferably unfiltered by man-centered demands or worldly motives – is getting close to God.

    All these reformers we read about had one thing in common: they were saturated with the living Word of God.

  247. curate said,

    December 18, 2007 at 3:14 am

    David W, you said baptism is not what it takes for the forgiveness of sins, I gave you two verses that say in so many words that it is … a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins … and you reply that John’s baptism is a Jewish rite and thus unrelated to the forgiveness of sins!!

    Are you seeing what I am getting at?

    Then we have David G informing us that it is not a baptism FOR the remission of sins, but BECAUSE of the remission of sins. IOW when the Bible doesn’t fit Baptist/TE theology simply change the words. Literally.

    Hoo boy!

  248. David Gray said,

    December 18, 2007 at 5:16 am

    >All these reformers we read about had one thing in common: they were saturated with the living Word of God.

    And they were intimidated by Rome, right? Apparently they weren’t saturated enough in your eyes.

  249. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 5:53 am

    >And they were intimidated by Rome, right? Apparently they weren’t saturated enough in your eyes.

    Your reading comprehension limitations are showing again. Did David (who became King) ever stumble? Do practicalities of warfare ever assert themselves? Yes. The tyranny that was Rome seems like nothing to people with no ability to see in historical context. Notice, though, the reformation never gave in on what Federal Vision is giving up everyday…

  250. David Weiner said,

    December 18, 2007 at 8:09 am

    curate, ref: #247,

    I understand that I seem to you to be a slimy baptist who is intent on twisting Scripture for some unstated but diabolical reason. Well, I’ll agree to slimy; but not the baptist part.

    Let me first ask that you put aside my conclusions. I agree that anything that I come up with is suspect. Now, two questions: 1) Did I get any of the facts wrong in my description of the context for John’s baptism? And, 2) were any Jews given eternal life because they followed the Mosaic Laws?

  251. David Weiner said,

    December 18, 2007 at 9:13 am

    David G.

    Thanks for the comment. Alas, I don’t see that eis has any causal force; even the weaker version. I see John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus the King. The people were not ready. They were following the laws but in letter only and not in spirit. They needed to repent, i.e., change their minds about this. The baptism was a public commitment to do this. Of course, they really didn’t do it and that is why they crucified Him. I think what is being repented in Mark 1 and in Acts 2 are two very different ideas. The two groups of people, although both Israelite, were separated in time by about three years and had very different information to deal with.

  252. curate said,

    December 18, 2007 at 10:04 am

    David W, I have a genuine regard for you. I know that you are not deliberately twisting scripture, and that you are repeating what you have been taught by your teachers.

    I will answer you later today DV.

  253. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    “Zwingli said, in much less diplomatic language than I’ll use, that believers who are confident of their new birth by the Word and the Spirit don’t need the ritual of water baptism, but people who are less confident may need the visual parable, so to speak.”

    See that’s incredibly spiritually arrogant of Zwingli, to think he and other ‘really smart guys” don’t need sacraments for assurance and sealing.

    Its why I’m not a Zwinglian. I figure if God tells me I need sacraments I better believe I need them, not just try to be “super-strong” to avoid them.

  254. Todd Bordow said,

    December 18, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    So let me get this straight:

    New convert: Pastor, I just believed on Christ for my salvation, as you preached. Am I really forgiven now and the Spirit lives in me?

    FV Pastor: Well, Johnny, not quite yet, your forgiveness and the Spirit will be conveyed to you when you are baptized two Sundays from now.

    New Convert: So I am not yet forgiven?

    FV Pastor: God said Baptism conveys what it signifies, so no, you need to follow God’s way to receive the forgiveness and Spirit that God is still holding onto in heaven, and that will be yours in two weeks at your baptism.

    New Convert: So until I am baptized I am actually still an an unbeliever and unforgiven? Boy, can’t wait until two Sundays from now when God gives me the forgiveness I asked for. Hope I’m not sick that Sunday!

    Todd Bordow

  255. curate said,

    December 18, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    David W,

    1. No Jew has ever been given eternal life because they followed the Law.
    2. Did you get John the Baptist a little off-centre? Yes, a little.

    John’s baptism is not rendered obsolete when the Lord appears, with the result that Peter and Andrew et al were not re-baptized when they switched from John to the Lord.

    Their baptism was fully Trinitarian. It was in the name of the Father, with a view to the soon appearing of the Son, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Those who had received John’s baptism accepted the Lord, while those who had not, the Pharisees and Scribes, did not. Efficacious indeed!

    Those thus baptized received the remission of their sins. Mark 1.4.

    Therefore, while it was just for Israel, it was still a valid baptism that continued through into the new age after the resurrection and ascension, not just a left-over remnant of the Mosiac era. Those who had received this baptism but had not heard of the resurrection needed only the gift of the Spirit, which they received from the apostles, as Acts testifies.

    Applying this to our discussion, John’s baptism cannot be divorced from Christian baptism. It was just as efficacious regarding remission of sins as the final version.

  256. David Gray said,

    December 18, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    >The Roman Catholic church intimidated the reformers into keeping ritualism.

    Pastor Bordow, as an OPC minister don’t you find the quote above worth commenting on?

  257. anneivy said,

    December 18, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    Pr. Bordow, your logic certainly appears impeccable from the FV POV.

    I’d be most interested to read a substantive reply to it.

    Anne in Fort Worth

  258. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    254: Can you find actual FV people saying that?

  259. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    254: The real problem is that there’s a two week delay.

    totally unnecessary.

  260. curate said,

    December 19, 2007 at 2:35 am

    Pastor Bordow, there seems to be a great gift for dramatic narrative there. I found another example of the same conversation in scripture, and I offer it here for purposes of copmparison:

    Pastor Phillip: Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. The character may improvise, but it would be wise to parrot Peter at pentecost and say words t the effect of:Repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Spirit.
    Eunuch: “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
    Pastor Philip : “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”
     
    Eunuch: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
    (stage directions): So Phillip commands the chariot to stand still. And both he and the eunuch go down into the water, and he baptizes him.

  261. curate said,

    December 19, 2007 at 2:52 am

    Mr. Bordow’s version would go slightly differently though:

    Philip preaches Christ to the Eunuch.

    Eunuch says, Since the vilest offender who truly believes, that moment form Jesus a pardon receives, there is no point in stopping here to be baptized, I can do it in two weeks time when I get home, and I can get a congregation to be there to witness my obedience to the command to be baptized as a mere sign of the forgiveness that I have now.

    Phillip says: Makes sense to me.

  262. Robert K. said,

    December 19, 2007 at 3:20 am

    Curate, what’s you’re opinion of, take on, general understanding of spiritual warfare?

  263. December 19, 2007 at 7:36 am

    #262 would be off topic. Please stay on point.

  264. its.reed said,

    December 19, 2007 at 8:28 am

    Ref. 258-261:

    Paul and Roger, brothers, please, don’t ignore Todd’s point by making an undeeloped point.

    O.k. you have a problem with the 2 week delay issue. Fine, write a comment spelling out your problem, in more than one sentence. It is not helpful in such conversations to effect one shots – single sentence comments – especially when they do not spell out the direct connection to the specific point of the comment to which you are responding.

    It may be that some of us are just too dull to get what you’re saying. So be it. Will you have the humility and the courteousy to respond to the subject at hand with some explanation, or merely satsify yourselves with having put someone in there place? I am not assuming motive here. Instead I am asking you to consider the result of your one liners, whether you intend this result or not.

    The issue is when does justification inhere in the believer. Todd’s example is perfectly appropro for the point you seem to be making (have made Roger), to wit, that the Spirit’s adminstration of the grace in view (justification here) is tied to the Church’s administration of the water of baptism.

    Why is the delay a problem? Because you believe this is true? O.k., then this means what about all those delayed baptisms (the vast majority)?

    It seems to me that if you maintain this point then the label baptismal regeneration lite does apply – no baptism, no justification. The distinction the between the administration of the Spirit verses the Church does not alter that the Church’s administration IS essential in such a scheme.

    (I fully recognize that you would allow the exception for the exceptional situations, e.g., the thief on the cross, a death bed conversion, et.al. Yet those exceptions themselves beg the question as they are so common as to be unexceptional).

    My opinion, this is clearly not the teaching of the WCF and other reformed standards. We can debate whether or not this is the teaching of Scripture, but please do not claim adherence to the WCF’s understanding of Scripture in this regard.

    (Roger, please :), don’t shoot back any ponderous comments about my need to report myself to my presbytery for my “exception”. Truly brother, that does get tiresome. I suspect you do that more as a goose for the gander point, but I want to suggest there is a better way to make that point.)

    How about answering Todd’s query with some detail?

  265. December 19, 2007 at 9:10 am

    Although it refers to the previous Greenbaggins post, I think that this post is still on point.

    “Veni, Domine Jesu.”

    Jordan

  266. its.reed said,

    December 19, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Ref. #265:

    Jordan, probably more appropriate to make the gist of your argument here, and on the right thread, than to simply offer a bounce back to your own blog.

    Thanks.

  267. Robert K. said,

    December 19, 2007 at 9:30 am

    I won’t press it, but spiritual warfare is very much on topic when dealing with Federal Visionists (maybe not this thread). FVists deny individual new birth. They have no understanding of regeneration as anything other than an external ritual. Asking them to give their understanding of spiritual warfare forces them to expose themselves and their doctrine in ways you won’t get out of them otherwise. But, if it’s seen as off-topic then so be it. (I sensed in your response that you considered the subject of spiritual warfare to be something even outside Reformed Theology. It’s not difficult to make that mistake considering it’s wrongfully left out of systematic theologies, yet it makes up quite a robust category and percentage of published words of Puritans alone…

  268. December 19, 2007 at 9:39 am

    266 – I disagree. By posting on my own blog, I was able to save drafts, edit and re-edit, and use a formatting toolbar. Even so, I’ll go ahead and add another bounceback to the prior post for your sake.

    “Veni, Domine Jesu.”

    Jordan

  269. Mark T. said,

    December 19, 2007 at 9:54 am

    Jordan,

    Your point may be correct (thought I doubt it), but you did not construct a valid argument because you left this assertion unproven:

    Pastor Webb’s use of the phrase “in any sense” (which he emphasizes in his post) renders his assertion false.

    Further, I suspect that the two of you have different working definitions of “united to Christ,” which is critical to this discussion.

    Thank you.

  270. December 19, 2007 at 10:06 am

    Thougth it was pretty clear when I put my best evidence in bold. To clarify… So, you don’t think the branches that were cutt off the vine were united to the vine “in any sense” before being cut off? What about the members of the visible church (which non-elect baptized folks are) who do not persevere but are nevertheless considered members of the body of Christ? Are they not united to Christ, their head, in *some* sense?

    If you allow that they are united in *some* sense, then my assertion is very much proven, insofar as Pastor Webb has denied that they are united in “any” sense.

    I completely agree that Pastor Webb is working with a narrow understanding of “united to Christ” — and that’s the problem. He claims that any other usage is wrong even when there is biblical warrant for such usage (albeit, uses that make the concept applicable to the non-elect must be handled carefully as per the MO Presb’y Report). My challenge to him is to demonstrate that some specific use(s) of the concept by FV advocates in reference to the non-elect transgresses the Word of God.

    “Veni, Domine Jesu.”

    Jordan

  271. Mark T. said,

    December 19, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Jordan,

    When you place your best evidence in the form of questions, however bold they may be, you have not made your point, rhetorical or otherwise. In this instance you simply opened up another category of dispute (“cut-off branches”) where the two sides disagree with one another and that you have not defined. This probably explains the question marks.

    Therefore, I stand by my assertion that you have not proved your premise.

    Thank you.

  272. its.reed said,

    December 19, 2007 at 10:47 am

    Ref. #268:

    Jordan, you are free to disagree with what is a matter of net-etiquette. Just as long as you abide by the wishes of this blog.

    Your last comment concerning Mark T was inappropriate, and so deleted.

    Reed DePace

  273. Todd Bordow said,

    December 19, 2007 at 11:20 am

    Curate – The Eunich did not want to be baptized to receive the forgiveness he was offered. He wanted to be baptized because he wanted to testify that he was now forgiven, an external profession of his new faith. It’s really not that complicated. Since you like to claim Calvin, let me quote him on this passage:

    “The eunuch’s baptism ensueth now, whence we gather how greatly he profited in a small time, seeing he offereth himself willingly to give Christ his name. For it must needs be that faith was after a sort ripe in his heart, seeing that he brake out into external profession with such desire..But we see that Christ was preached to him in such sort, that he knew that baptism was a sign of new life in him, and that therefore he would not neglect the same, because it was added to the word, and such an addition as was inseparable. Therefore, as he embraced that willingly which he heard concerning Christ, so now he breaketh out with a godly zeal into the external confession of faith; neither doth he think it sufficient for him to believe inwardly before God, unless he testifieth before men that he is a Christian.”
    (John Calvin – Acts Commentary)

    Todd Bordow

  274. curate said,

    December 19, 2007 at 11:53 am

    Reed, how can I refuse such a gracious admonition?

    Mr. Bordow’s initial post was a satire, and I responded in kind. That is perfectly good manners, and an accepted mode of reply. But I will bow to your sweet manner and words and respond substantively shortly.

  275. its.reed said,

    December 19, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Ref. #274:

    Thanks Roger.

  276. curate said,

    December 19, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    Mr. Bordow, why would you want to wait two weeks before baptizing a new convert? It is because you believe that it is surplus to requirements vis-a-vis justification. Your position is that the vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives. You do not assent to the view that baptism conveys the thing signified. You believe that it conveys perhaps a good feeling, perhaps a strengthening of faith, but nothing that we could pinpoint in an ordo salutis, like justification.

    This summer I baptized a woman the same day that she professed faith. I organized a venue and did it in the afternoon so that she could receive the blessings of justification and the Spirit as soon as possible, in accordance with the apostolic pattern revealed in Acts.

    We are working with different models. Yours is the Baptist one, and mine is the confessional Reformed one. The blessing has to be delivered, as it doesn’t fall out of the sky onto our heads. God mediates everything, and the blessings, accordingly, are not imparted directly.

  277. curate said,

    December 19, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Reed, you cannot ask me not to claim the WCF in this regard. I can and I do. I have gone to the trouble of researching every single Reformed Confession on this matter, they are all unanimous, and I am parroting them. I do not only claim the WCF, but any and every Reformed Confession that can be named.

    As peaceably as I can, I say to you that you have a blind spot here. Your other post summarizing me is spot on, and there you acknowledge that I truly believe that our position is confessional. More than that, I say that there can be no reasonable doubt about it.

    Speaking of tiresomeness brother, do you have any idea how tedious it is to be told ad infinitum that we are destroying sola fide, that we are wolves, and that we are either Arminians or Romans or both? Eventually it becomes risible.

    Lutheran I don’t mind at all. Indeed, with Calvin and Cranmer, I count it a great honour to stand with Brother Martin.

    You have graciously taken the trouble to understand us and to deliberately avoid strawmannery. What a lovely breath of fresh air that is, and how welcome, perhaps more so because we disagree.

  278. Jeff Moss said,

    December 19, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    Robert K. (#267),

    You wrote, FVists deny individual new birth. They have no understanding of regeneration as anything other than an external ritual.

    Which “FVists” are you talking about? I’ve heard that James Jordan wrote a paper, which I have not read, in which he questioned (not outright denied) the teaching that a change in the person’s internal nature happens at a particular moment of regeneration (in the WCF/systematic theology sense). As far as I know, most if not all of the other leading FV theologians would have some disagreement with this position.

    Just to make things clear, I hold to “Federal Vision” teachings as set forth in the Joint Federal Vision Statement, although I’m obviously not one of the leading proponents of “FVism” as you call it. And I do believe in individual new birth and in the kind of “regeneration” that is not mere external ritual, but a permanent reality that cannot be lost. I don’t believe that this regeneration is ever described by the noun “regeneration” in the Bible; however, it is mentioned in passages such as John 5:24, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

    Your brother in Christ,
    Jeff

  279. Jeff Moss said,

    December 19, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    To be clear, what I meant to say was that “most if not all of the other leading FV theologians would have some disagreement” with James Jordan’s anti-regeneration paper. In other words, they would agree at some level with the traditional idea of the new birth, as a definite moment in every decretally elect person’s life at which that person decisively goes over from death to life.

  280. its.reed said,

    December 19, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Ref. #277:

    Yes, I expected we would disagree on where the standards are on this issue. In providence I am not able to give more time to the study necessary to rise to the level of discussion I think you would need and/or to reveal my (your :) ) blindsight.

    Yes, I sympathize with the annoyance of being labled in simplistic terms.

    I try to be careful not to label the person. Rather I seek to identify relationships between arguments and historical precedents. E.g., I think some FV positions devolve to a default “arminian” result. Nevertheless I would not merely equate such a position with Arminianism.

    In the end I think we are both motivated to the same end. Boil all the details down and there really only two options: monergism or synergism. We want to protect monergism. We each believe we see elements (at least hints) of synergism in the other’s positions.

    Thank God He uses such poor material as us to produce such eternal glory for Himself.

  281. kjsulli said,

    December 19, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Curate, re: 276,

    This summer I baptized a woman the same day that she professed faith. I organized a venue and did it in the afternoon so that she could receive the blessings of justification and the Spirit as soon as possible, in accordance with the apostolic pattern revealed in Acts.

    To be clear, you believe that a person cannot ordinarily be justified until baptized with water?

  282. Andy Gilman said,

    December 19, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    Roger du Barry (a.k.a., Curate) says:

    “…I truly believe that our position is confessional. ”

    and

    “…do you have any idea how tedious it is to be told ad infinitum that we are destroying sola fide, that we are wolves, and that we are either Arminians or Romans or both?”

    He says “we” and “our,” but it’s not clear to me who “we” is? Would any other FV advocates/defenders on this list indentify themselves with this paragraph?:

    This summer I baptized a woman the same day that she professed faith. I organized a venue and did it in the afternoon so that she could receive the blessings of justification and the Spirit as soon as possible, in accordance with the apostolic pattern revealed in Acts.

    Paul Duggan, is that your view?

  283. David Gray said,

    December 19, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Andy

    Before anyone answers your question you still have one outstanding:

    What do you believe the consequences are for failure to be obedient in baptizing covenant children?

    How about an answer?

  284. Todd Bordow said,

    December 19, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    re: 283

    Your attempt to place a wedge between the Presbyterians and Baptists who equally oppose FV will not work. Surely the God who forgives the vilest sins of his people will not be stingy in forgiveness to those unsure of when the sign of baptism is to be applied to our children. Yet you begin to meddle with the gospel of free grace by faith alone, and introduce a form of baptismal regeneration, to the detriment of eternal souls, now that’s another matter, a battle worth fighting for indeed.

    Todd Bordow

  285. David Gray said,

    December 19, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    >Your attempt to place a wedge between the Presbyterians and Baptists who equally oppose FV will not work.

    I’m sure that is true. In part it is true because some anti-FV folks don’t take all of the WCF as seriously as they ought.

    > Surely the God who forgives the vilest sins of his people will not be stingy in forgiveness to those unsure of when the sign of baptism is to be applied to our children.

    Undoubtedly. Yet the WCF describes that error as a “great sin” so considering its consequences is hardly beyond the pale, at least not for a serious presbyterian.

    >Yet you begin to meddle with the gospel of free grace by faith alone, and introduce a form of baptismal regeneration, to the detriment of eternal souls, now that’s another matter, a battle worth fighting for indeed.

    Who’s “you” hombre? If you can demonstrate where I’ve done that you’ll rank with Houdini. A good OPC pastor should not scoff at a legitimate question like I posed but should be able to provide an answer which is in harmony with both scripture and the WCF. Don’t you think?

  286. David R. McCrory said,

    December 19, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    The consequences for not baptizing covenant children is you become a Baptist.

  287. December 19, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    curate, RE #276,

    This summer I baptized a woman the same day that she professed faith. I organized a venue and did it in the afternoon so that she could receive the blessings of justification and the Spirit as soon as possible, in accordance with the apostolic pattern revealed in Acts.

    How does that requirement square with WCF 28.5:

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

    Relative to your statement and assuming that her profession of faith was genuine and that she actually possessed saving faith, what would have been the woman’s eternal destination had she died after professing genuine faith but before you baptized her, and why?

  288. Robert K. said,

    December 19, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    Robert K. (#267),

    You wrote, FVists deny individual new birth. They have no understanding of regeneration as anything other than an external ritual.

    Which “FVists” are you talking about?

    “On other terms such as “born from above,” “born again,” “reborn,” etc, I would very much like to see a non-circular argument that these refer to an interior transformation worked directly by the Spirit which irreversibly guarantees persevering faith–that is, “great moral change, wrought by the Spirit of God, which must pass upon everyone before he can be in a state of salvation.” The phrase in First Peter 1.3, occurs in a passage with a great deal of common language with the context of Paul’s use of the word “regeneration” in his letter to Titus. More tellingly, it is paralleled by a later reference to baptism in First Peter 3.21. Peter also says his readers have been born again through the Word of God (1.23), but again, where is the proof that this is not simply a metaphor for hearing the Gospel message and being brought into a new family through baptism?” – Mark Horne

    It’s a general tenet of Federal Visionism of necessity. Just as it’s a necessity for their false doctrine that the Covenant of Works be denied. Just as it’s a necessity for the false doctrine that the imputation of the active obedience of Christ be denied. Basically, the work of the Spirit in applying the work of redemption performed by Christ has to be brought under the control of man. Just as in the Roman Catholic dungeon of the Kingdom of Darkness.

    The rule is exalt ritual and man above the Word and the Spirit.

  289. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 19, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    curate (# various primes, squares, and others):

    Mr. Bordow, why would you want to wait two weeks before baptizing a new convert? It is because you believe that it is surplus to requirements vis-a-vis justification. Your position is that the vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives. You do not assent to the view that baptism conveys the thing signified. You believe that it conveys perhaps a good feeling, perhaps a strengthening of faith, but nothing that we could pinpoint in an ordo salutis, like justification.

    I can’t speak for Todd, but I will speak for myself and my family.

    My first daughter was delivered by emergency Caesarean in November 2003. She was baptized in February 2004 for the simple reason that my wife needed time to recover.

    During that time, and indeed thereafter, there was no fear that we were jeopardizing our daughter’s eternal salvation. For we were and are fully convinced that God calls elect infants in the manner of His own choosing.

    And when we baptized her, we did so in full faith, knowing that God causes the baptism to be effective in the time of His own choosing.

    And now that she is baptized, we disciple her and read the Scriptures to her and, as developmentally appropriate, bring her baptism to life by explaining sin and forgiveness and the fact that Jesus died for her.

    And when she believes, if indeed she is not already a believer, then her baptism will be effective at that moment. And from eternity.

    For the effectiveness of baptism is faith; and faith clings to the promise of the gospel, the promise held out in the baptism.

    I agree that the vilest offender who truly believes receives a pardon from Jesus in that moment. What of it? The thief on the cross may have been exceptional for the Christian life, but he wasn’t miraculously exceptional.

    But I don’t agree that baptism does not convey the thing signified. It does — in God’s providence, and through the agency of faith. Not at the time of baptism, necessarily (or even normally).

    It may be hard, Curate, to see that there are more than two options here. But there are. In my view, baptism is neither “optional” and a “mere sign”; nor is it ex operato efficacious.

    Instead, baptism *is* the gospel proclamation in liquid form, and faith is its efficacy. If one believes after baptism, then baptism is effective at that time. If one believes *before* baptism, then baptism is effective at that time.

    When I believe the gospel, I believe the content of my baptism; the two mean the same thing and cannot be separated in that sense. That’s Romans 6.

    But in terms of time, the two are entirely separate from one another. That’s Romans 4.

    I think I’m starting to repeat myself, so I’ll shut up now.

    Jeff Cagle

  290. curate said,

    December 20, 2007 at 3:17 am

    Ref 281. That is correct.

    Ref 287. Bob, what is the conflict that you are seeing? I know that the Most High can save apart from baptism, but it does not follow that we are free to sit light to the command to baptize believers.

    Baptism is still the normal, usual means of conveying justification. When the LORD forgives apart from baptism He is doing something unusual and extra-ordinary. How would I know when he did it?

    If she had died between believing and being baptized I am sure that a gracious God would have been merciful. Had she contemned and neglected the ordinance she would have been guilty of a great sin, and I believe she would be lost.

    But that is highly hypothetical. Has anyone ever refused the ordinance, having believed?

  291. December 20, 2007 at 7:39 am

    curate,

    You said:

    When the LORD forgives apart from baptism He is doing something unusual and extra-ordinary.

    WCF 11.2:

    Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love.

    I believe that the common reading of WCF 11.2, Rom 10:9, 10, and related Scripture passages say that one is justified as soon as one believes. WCF 28.5 agrees with this. Jeff C.’s comment #289 says it very well.

    But that is highly hypothetical. Has anyone ever refused the ordinance, having believed?

    Yes, or it may just not be practical at the time (thief on the cross, imprisonment, hostage, location, etc.) . WCF 28.5 indicates that it is a great sin to neglect baptism, but WCF 11.5 says that God continues to forgive the sins of the justified.

  292. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 9:02 am

    264: its.reed

    “The issue is when does justification inhere in the believer. Todd’s example is perfectly appropro for the point you seem to be making (have made Roger), to wit, that the Spirit’s adminstration of the grace in view (justification here) is tied to the Church’s administration of the water of baptism.”

    I definitely want to respond to the issues you raise. The question, for me, involves more than just the theological affirmation of when we can say that God justifies an individual. John was justified in the womb. Elect infants dying in infancy are justified prior to their death. I do affirm that God regards us as justified in a new and individual sense “at the point” we come to faith in Jesus Christ as a our savior.

    It is important to avoid saying things to someone with faith to make them doubt their justification based on faith.

    But at the same time, the biblical pattern involves baptism as a seal. We need to carefully define and reflect on the nature of a seal. James Montgomery Boice defines it as something that authenticates and validates something else.

    God justifies a person on faith. But how is that made clear to a person? Did he “hear” a verdict? Did something happen inwardly?

    Think of all the people who come forward at Billy Graham rallies.

    Think of another way the person in the story could have gone. “So youre saying I’m justified and saved, now that I have faith in Christ. Ok. Be seeing you later”. And the man never is baptized and never joins a community of believers. (This is rather common) Can we have any *confidence* in the justification of a man like that. We affirmed his profession as credible, but he switched gears immediately afterwards, and has no interest in the “rites” performed by “men”.

    But God gives those rites, pace Zwingli, to PUBLICLY AFFIRM the verdict. To declare the verdict in a seal form that reinforces and seals what has taken place spiritually. This public affirmation keeps getting downplayed as “merely external”. Ok, a seal on a document is “external” to it. But its what validates and authenticates the document.

    We want the justified person to be confident in his justification. Surely that involves informing him of various syllogisms of faith. But it also involves, in *orthodox* reformed theology, authenticating and sealing public rituals.

    Now, asking me what I believe about the status of a whole bunch of delayed baptisms is like asking me what I believe about hundreds of Christains commuing in only one kind because they use grape juice, or what I beleive about the status of a bunch of baptist kids. Its a tragic situation, but I know God is merciful and gracious and counts the intent for the deed often enough.

    But what will better feed the people of God is for the Bible to be followed as closely as possible without human innovation. And I believe all of this is a reflection of the confessions teaching that sacraments are SEALS.

  293. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 9:04 am

    Just to add a wrinkle.

    Its interesting that many are up in arms about FV people allegedly claiming that you don’t get the gift of the Spirit upon faith, only on baptism.

    Interesting because clearly in scripture, sometimes people with faith AND baptism don’t yet have the Spirit, like the Samaritans who awaited the laying on of hands by Peter.

  294. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 9:13 am

    282

    ” This summer I baptized a woman the same day that she professed faith. I organized a venue and did it in the afternoon so that she could receive the blessings of justification and the Spirit as soon as possible, in accordance with the apostolic pattern revealed in Acts.

    Paul Duggan, is that your view?”

    1. I think its good he baptized the same day
    2. I think that it is good to follow the apostolic pattern in acts
    3. I’d add “publicly” to Curate’s sentence, and affirm his later affirmation that her justification is not to be gainsaid by providential prevention of baptism.

  295. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 9:18 am

    What’s better, to have your boyfriend tell you he loves you, and asks you to marry him, saying yes, and having sex that night, or waiting for a public ceremony to authenticate, validate, and publicly witness your relationship, and then have sex.

    I THINK (could be wrong) that the first scenario is actually valid marriage in Christian tradition, since the couple marry each other, and a minster is actually only a legal witness.

    But I think the public affirmation of the marriage is a much better policy and strengthens marriage.

    Nowadays we have long engagements because of the wedding industry and fairly wise considerations of churches in our impersonal age that we should send engaged couples to marriage classes before ceremonies. The old concern was the “bans” to give time to research consanguinity and bigamy possibilities. But those issues aren’t applicable in a baptism situation.

  296. its.reed said,

    December 20, 2007 at 9:21 am

    Ref. #292:

    Roger, without responding in detail, as I would most likely give a series of yes’es, not that’s, maybe’s or rather’s, on the other hand’s …

    Yes, we agree that the sacraments are not to be neglected, if for no other reason than our Father has promised that they are means by which he feeds the new life he has given birth to in us.

    The issue here is with reference to what many of us who disagree with the FV as seeing the FV put forward a position that makes baptism fundamentally essential as opposed to mediatorially essential. The latter seems to be us to be the over expressed position of the FV. The former is what we beleive the Bible teaches.

    Folks on either side of this debate should always be careful to not assume a deadly necessary inference in the other side’s arguments.

  297. its.reed said,

    December 20, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Ref. #295:

    Paul I’m sure that you did not intend anything offensive in this analogy, but it is quite.

    If you are reading the opponent’s argument carefully you’ve just said his position is as bad as adultery (fornication). If you are not reading the argument correctly, then you are guilty of something worse.

    A little more judiciousness and a little less hype would be helpful. Thanks.

    reed

  298. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 9:51 am

    I think the analogy stands, mutatis mutandis.

    I’m not imputing adultery to the opponent. I’m imputing a lack of good order to excluding baptism from all consideration in justification. Thinking it a “nice pretty picture” for the rubes to hold onto, but the super-spiritual know by their “internal” (deceptive?) hearts.

    A common law marriage is marriage.

  299. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 10:21 am

    wikipedia says (yeah, i know, wikipedia)

    “During medieval times in Europe, under canon law, a marriage could be contracted by a man and a woman saying they took one another as wife and husband, even in absence of any witnesses, an effective common-law marriage; this lasted until the Council of Trent (convened 1545–1563). Thereafter, a marriage was only legal in Roman Catholic countries if it was witnessed by a priest of the Roman Catholic Church or, if obtaining a priest were impractical, by other witnesses.”

    See! if you deny that my first scenario

    “will you marry me – yes – sex”

    is a valid marriage, then you’re following the council of TRENT you ROMANIST

    :-)

  300. its.reed said,

    December 20, 2007 at 10:21 am

    Ref. 298:

    Paul, you offered a lengthy warning to Jeff Cagle on another thread here, admonishing him to not fall into the trap of seeking to score points instead of loving a brother.

    Respectfully, and quietly, may I suggest you look as well at your own house.

  301. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 10:26 am

    299 aside (which is juts me trying to be funny) I’m NOT really trying to score a point with the marriage analogy. I was hoping to illustrate and illuminate by way of analogy.

    marriage is a sueful analogy for thinking about sacraments

    1. Our relationship to Jesus is often compared to marriage, and the finality of it is not for no reason called “consummation”

    2. marriage involves states with secret love and public promises.

    3. Marriage is a legal but also personal covenant.

    etc.

  302. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 20, 2007 at 11:16 am

    I do affirm that God regards us as justified in a new and individual sense “at the point” we come to faith in Jesus Christ as a our savior.

    This is an important concession, and I appreciate that you make it. Curate, would you agree to this?

    Jeff Cagle

  303. curate said,

    December 20, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    Ref 291.

    Bob, we have to consider everything that the WCF says about justification and put all of it together to get the rounded picture. We have to say at the same time that faith is the alone instrument of justification, AND that baptism truly and really confers that which it signifies, etc.

    Those are not contradictory statements. They were written by the same men. We cannot take one statement and make it fight against another in the same document. Whatever “alone instrument” means, it cannot fly in the face of baptismal conference, which is the plain meaning of 28.6.

  304. its.reed said,

    December 20, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    Ref. #303:

    Roger, WCF 28.6 says, “… the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, ,by the Holy Ghost, …”, not by baptism.

    This, coupled with the insistence of the Church’s administration of the sacrament, is the kind of error that causes me to wonder Roger.

  305. curate said,

    December 20, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    Reed, I would very much like to see you address two issues that I believe are fatal to your case.

    1. WCF 28.6 says that even when the benefits do not coincide in time with baptism, it is still baptism that really and effectually confers them.

    2. You say that faith alone means faith apart from baptism. But baptism is a means of grace together with the word and prayer. You are thus saying that a man is justified apart from the means of grace. This necessarily entails the conclusion that a man may be justified apart from the word, the gospel, itself.

    This is clearly nonsense, but your stated position requires it.

  306. Machaira said,

    December 20, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Re: #303 & 305

    Curate, your desire for a “round picture” must include the following:

    V. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance,[13] yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it;[14] or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.

  307. its.reed said,

    December 20, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Ref. #305:

    1. No Roger, you are not reading that statement correctly. Baptism does not really and effectually confer anything, according to WCF 28.6 (and in my understanding the Bible as well). It is the Spirit Who confers. That He does so by means of grace is not denied by such insistence of my part.

    2. I have not said this. You are reading into my position. Yes, means of grace – instruments in the Spirit’s hands. I am merely insisting that the Bible refuses to tie the operation Spirit’s hand to the Church’s hand. The Spirit is not a puppet on a string – He does not pour out on the Christian as you or I in our roles as ministers in the Church pour out the water.

    This is not an either or – either the Spirit goes with the water or He doesn’t. You get this from your own paradigm, not my words.

    You are insisting that the Spirit only goes with the water. Frankly, you insist so persistently comprehensively that I wonder about the “ordinarily” qualification you’ve granted. You seem to rather want to allow for merely a hypothetical possibility that no one has ever seen so for all practical purposes it does not exist.

    My stated position does not require what you are reading into it. God uses means – and ordinarily can be understood as most of the time. But this does not mean that God’s use is automatic or necessary. God’s use of means is not delegated in that it is a mere function of the Church’s functioning. Nor is God’s use of means required ex operato, everytime the Church functions.

    God uses of means is an active, personal and express use every time He chooses to use it. He is sovereign and has not relinquished that sovereignty.

    You are arguing for a position, again, that ties the Spirits hand to the Church’s.

  308. its.reed said,

    December 20, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    P.s. don’t you have to go to bed sometime soon? :)

  309. curate said,

    December 20, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Reed re 304

    Of course it is the Holy Ghost! You know that I do not think that water is able to achieve this miracle. I am using the word baptism as a summary for all of that, just as Paul used circumcision to refer to the whole law.

    It is way past my bedtime, I am dog-tired, but I still have work to do today. Sigh.

  310. curate said,

    December 20, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Re 307

    I am not tying God’s hands to the church, Reed. God himself has. He has commanded us to do it, and he has promised (with all the caveats) to work in it.

    Not my decision, and I am not arguing with it.

    I will agree that God has not handcuffed himself.

  311. David Gray said,

    December 20, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    >The Spirit is not a puppet on a string – He does not pour out on the Christian as you or I in our roles as ministers in the Church pour out the water.

    Brings to mind what Jesus told Nicodemus…

  312. its.reed said,

    December 20, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Ref. #309-10:

    Roger, quit talking with me. I know I’m fun and all, but work is more important (along with a host of other things). We can debate some other time.

    Peace and rest be yours.

  313. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    “You are insisting that the Spirit only goes with the water. Frankly, you insist so persistently comprehensively that I wonder about the “ordinarily” qualification you’ve granted.”

    Y’know for all the Luther denial going around, I think he had a better posture than one of “insisting” the Spirit goes with the water. Rather, he TRUSTED that the Spirit goes with the water.

  314. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 21, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    Curate (#30something):

    1. WCF 28.6 says that even when the benefits do not coincide in time with baptism, it is still baptism that really and effectually confers them.

    As pointed out above, it is the Spirit that conveys. And that only *when* and *on whom* he pleases.

    But step back for a second. Don’t take 28.6 in isolation, but read it together with 11.2 and 14.1-3. Read it through the lens of 27.2 and 3.

    And place against those your statements that “baptism is the normal means of grace” and that “faith reaches out its fingers, but baptism puts remission of sins into our palms and curls our fingers around it.”

    Can you at least appreciate how 11.2 apparently contradicts your position?

    It’s not like Reed or I or anyone else here has articulated a Baptist position of “the sacraments are a mere sign that don’t do anything.”

    Instead, we’ve argued that “the sacraments do what the Word does, when God so chooses: because the sacraments promise exactly what the Word promises.”

    So the disagreement with you is not a call to swing the pendulum to the other side. Rather, it’s a call to reframe your position. Rather than

    “faith+baptism ==> justification”

    the genuine Reformed position is

    “The Word and/or sacraments, when the Spirit chooses ==> faith ==> justification.”

    When seen in this way, we can agree with Luther (and pduggie) that the Spirit *can* go with the water; we just resist the temptation to insist that the Spirit *always* goes with the water, which Luther in his bombastic and hyperbolic manner would occasionally say.

    Jeff Cagle

  315. curate said,

    January 1, 2008 at 4:24 am

    Jeff, I had missed this post of yours, until Bob mentioned it on a more recent thread.

    You want me to see that 11.2 contradicts 28.6? Faith is the alone instrument of justification contradicts baptism really conveying the grace promised? That is not my position but yours.

    I see no conflict. Faith is the alone instrument, and baptism received by faith is the ordinary means of conferring the grace signified. Both are true statements. Faith reaches out for justification and the HS in baptism puts it into the hand. What’s the problem?

    I’ll tell you. The problem is that the Antis flatly refuse to believe that the HS uses baptism in this way, the WCF notwithstanding. Just read Mr. Webb’s recent opinions on that. I am delighted that you do, even with your errors of understanding, which I believe are minor.

    BTW when can we expect Bob to bring charges against Andy for publicly denying that in baptism the grace signified – not some other grace that just warms the heart – is really conferred?

  316. its.reed said,

    January 1, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Ref. #315:

    Roger, sorry to seem like I’m dogging you, but your last sentence is inappropriate. Lane has struggled hard to make this a blog in which substantive discusion can occur between those pro and opposed to the FV.

    Any comments like this one detract from that intention. Please, no more. And yes, this applies to the “anti,s” too.

  317. curate said,

    January 1, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Ref. 316

    I don’t think you’re dogging me Reed… or are you? :) I’ll try to restrain myself.

    Please email me at roger du barry at talk talk dot net.


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