FV and Adult Baptism

Posted by David Gadbois

I’ve commented before that Federal Vision theology is a very baby-centered theology.  While the standing of our covenant children is a legitimate pastoral issue, I don’t think it makes for a sound animating force behind a theological system, rather than the biblical themes and exegetical issues that drive traditional systematic theology.  Pastor Tod Bordow made an excellent comment in the combox this week, and his points bears discussion:

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?

Pastor Bordow has 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.  Various manifestations of the doctrine of baptismal regeneration (and, yes, I realize there is no uniform definition of this doctrine) seem to depend on making infant baptisms paradigmatic.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 even directly talks about infant baptism, much less illuminates the nature of its efficacy on infants.

This all ties in to my comments from my previous post on baptism.   In Romans 4, we see that Abraham, an adult who was circumcised after his conversion, is the one Paul views as paradigmatic of the Covenant of Grace.  While the sign and seal of this Covenant was applied to his infant children, it was nonetheless a “sign and seal” of his righteousness which he had by faith.  Circumcision could not have had a causal relation (instrumental or otherwise) to his conversion, regeneration, or justification whatsoever.  And I would assert that the same is true of baptism, our sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace and the righteousness of Christ that we lay hold of by faith.

About these ads

243 Comments

  1. curate said,

    December 18, 2007 at 3:16 am

    The Baptists are within the gates.

  2. curate said,

    December 18, 2007 at 3:22 am

    You are still going on and on about sacraments not being causal. How many times does it have to be said that the cross is the SOLE CAUSE and baptism rightly received is the normal MEANS of grace?

    Carry on charging at windmills Don Quixote.

  3. David Gadbois said,

    December 18, 2007 at 4:24 am

    Curate/Roger,

    Even if something is a “means”, that is still imputing to baptism a causal efficacy. Instrumental causes are still a class of causation.

    And the Protestant doctrine of sola fide insists that faith is the alone instrumental cause or means by which we lay hold of Christ’s righteousness unto justification.

  4. curate said,

    December 18, 2007 at 5:58 am

    Au contraire mon Ami, there is a world of difference between a cause and a means. You simply may not call a means a cause, as you did in the above post.

    And the Protestant doctrine is nothing like the version you have expressed. Faith is indeed the sole instrument of justification, and the same men who wrote those words into the Confession ALSO said that baptism conveys the things it signifies, inter alia, justification.

    Theirs is the Protestant doctrine, not yours! No question about it.

    Faith reaches out for the remission of sins, and God, by means of baptism, puts into our palms and closes our fingers around it.

    That is pure, unadulterated Protestantism my friend.

  5. David Gray said,

    December 18, 2007 at 6:16 am

    Just remember:

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

    Then everything makes sense.

  6. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 6:45 am

    Just remember:

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

    Then everything makes sense.

    * * *

    I’ve answered this three times now. Quote me in full if what you quote in part gives a different impression than what I wrote. Now just face this fact: what the Reformation fought for and won, the Federal Visionists and their supporters are giving away very obediently every day. Good show, FVists. Don’t make that Beast mad at you or anything…

  7. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 6:49 am

    Rome says: give up your biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone. It takes all the power from our kingdom of darkness. So, the FVists answer: “Yes, sir. We don’t want you know who to be mad at us.”

  8. GLW Johnson said,

    December 18, 2007 at 6:56 am

    DG
    David Gadbois is in no way responsible for the comments of ‘Robert K’ nor does ‘Robert K’ represent my concerns about the Federal Vision, even though at times he does strike a harmonious note. I personally doubt that all the folks in the FV camp wish to be represented by ‘curate’ Roger DuBerry and his views on baptism- speaking of which Roger, you did not address the issues raised by DG in this post-instead you threw out a retort that said to me that DG had struck a nerve. Oh, and before letting you go, please tell us how your veiw on the critical agency of baptism can be harmonized with the declaration of the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 1:17. Thank you

  9. GLW Johnson said,

    December 18, 2007 at 7:00 am

    p.s. The DG mentioned at the top of my comment # 8 is ,of course ‘David Gray’. The second DG in the third line from the bottom is David Gadbois. I should have spelled their names out to avoid confusion. Sorry about that .

  10. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 7:01 am

    curate: aside from what David G. has said, when you write: “You are still going on and on about sacraments not being causal. How many times does it have to be said that the cross is the SOLE CAUSE and baptism rightly received is the normal MEANS of grace?” Where is faith in your formula. It has to be there, but then you add ritual baptism. So justification is by faith and baptism alone? You can’t squirm out of sola fide. Either you accept it or you don’t. Many don’t. Why the problem with joining them? Perhaps your conscience knows more than your waking mind is telling you…

  11. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 7:05 am

    “[It is] possible to commit [the error of] perpetuating the Old Testament typical form of religion through importing it into the New Testament. This the Romish Church does on a large scale. And in doing so, instead of lifting the substance of the types to a higher plane, it simply reproduces and repeats. This is destructive of the whole typical relation.” – Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology

  12. David Gray said,

    December 18, 2007 at 7:06 am

    >David Gadbois is in no way responsible for the comments of ‘Robert K’ nor does ‘Robert K’ represent my concerns about the Federal Vision

    This is reassuring. One could affirm the WCF or affirm Robert Kagan but one could not affirm both.

  13. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 7:11 am

    >David Gadbois is in no way responsible for the comments of ‘Robert K’ nor does ‘Robert K’ represent my concerns about the Federal Vision

    My focus is the five solas and doctrines of grace and Federal Theology. Baptism is the magic dust FVists throw in the air when pressed on their beliefs regarding the former…

  14. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 7:17 am

    But when baptism does come up no one can convincingly say the FVists aren’t exploiting paedo-baptist sacramental doctrine. I point this out. It is unspoken, and makes everybody uncomfortable, but if it remains unspoken it is to the FVists advantage. They are taunting paedo-baptists towards the direction of Rome. Reformed Theology is not as vulnerable on this as the FVists want everybody to believe, but it has to be spoken out loud otherwise they play this taunting game and the discussion is empty.

    In other words, what the FVists are doing regarding this taunting by exploiting paedo-baptism has to be pointed out, so then the Reformed paedo-baptists who don’t see their doctrine as baptismal regeneration can make a clearer and bolder stand.

    And then maybe point out the weakness in FV’s doctrine re baptism as Gadbois has gotten at in this current post.

    Then, ultimately, put the sacramental issues aside and focus on Federal Vision’s attack on the five solas and doctrines of grace and the heart of Federal Theology itself. The heart of the Gospel. They don’t like it when these things are the focus…

  15. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 7:21 am

    I’ve already stated I don’t see sacerdotalism in the Westminster Standards, and I DO see a robust and clear statement of biblical five solas, doctrines of grace, Federal Theology. Federal Visionists attack the heart of the Westminster Standards then pretend that the WS are sacerdotal in nature regarding baptism, feign support for what doesn’t exist, then say they are the defender of what they are attacking. This chaos is the world of darkness and death.

  16. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 7:32 am

    Why is sacerdotalism not in the Westminster Standards? Just look at all the parts the FVists want to erase: chapter 10 of the confession for one. Those darn Puritans, doing their biblical thing… Section 28.5 which controls everything else the confession says about baptism of necessity. WLC 71 which mentions the unmentionable: justification is by faith alone. And one could add scores of other parts ‘difficult’ for Federal Vision philosophy and demands…

    Here’s an easy solution: like many FV followers, try out Rome! You don’t have to stay. Just try it. It already exists. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Take your copies of the Institutes with you (and your Bibles), and maybe what you do carry that is of biblical doctrine will reach the people in that RC domain… But remember: you don’t have to stay there. Just get it out of your system maybe….

  17. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 7:35 am

    Protestants should build a Roman Catholic DisneyLand for waverers. Just send them there to get it all out of their system. “It was fun! we waved to the Pope in a very realistic St. Peter’s Square…”

    OK, I’ll stop…

  18. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 18, 2007 at 8:59 am

    Curate (#2):

    You are still going on and on about sacraments not being causal.

    There is a lot of “going on and on” concerning these issues, and both sides do it. And the analysis is simple: people “go on and on” when they feel that they haven’t been properly heard.

    So what you see — David and others “going on and on” — is a reflection of the fact that they don’t think you’ve properly heard them yet.

    And yes, that shoe can fit the other foot, too. So feel free to repeat yourself ad infinitum as needed.

    How many times does it have to be said that the cross is the SOLE CAUSE and baptism rightly received is the normal MEANS of grace?

    Of course, one thing that can help advance the discussion is a new tack, and so here goes:

    I have yet to see (perhaps I haven’t found it yet?) any FV account of the fact that Romans 2-4 clearly teaches that the sign of circumcision was distinct from what it signified.

    Circumcision signified the cutting away of the sin nature, or cleanness from sin (Rom. 2.29). And yet any Jew who possessed that sign but did not have the reality of cleanness of heart had the sign in vain. And there were a *lot* of Jews who failed to have the reality in Ezekiel’s day (and Paul’s).

    Further, Abraham is held out to us as an example — indeed, the father — of those who are justified apart from circumcision, prior to circumcision (Romans 4.9-12). He was in fact justified through faith.

    So from a Romans 2-4 perspective, it seems clear that faith (not baptism) is the means, and baptism is the sign. I’m happy to agree with Jeff Moss that baptism is a sign in the sense of a wedding ring; that is, it is pragmatically “non-optional.” And I’m also happy to agree that baptism can be, according to the decrees of the Lord, a means of proclaiming the gospel promise.

    But based on Romans 2-4, that’s as far in the direction of baptismal efficacy that I’m willing to go.

    Now it seems to me that an FV response to this would have to account for or argue against several facts:

    * Circumcision, in Reformed theology, means the same thing as baptism.
    * Abraham’s justification prior to circumcision is normative, not exceptional, according to Romans 4.11,12.
    * A large percentage of circumcised Jews were nevertheless not justified (cf. Luke 3).

    Thanks for listening,
    Jeff Cagle

    P.S. I’m also glad to agree with you that the cross is the sole cause, if by “the cross”, you mean the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (and not his death only).

  19. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 18, 2007 at 9:02 am

    Myself (#18):

    And I’m also happy to agree that baptism can be, according to the decrees of the Lord, a means of proclaiming the gospel promise.

    But based on Romans 2-4, that’s as far in the direction of baptismal efficacy that I’m willing to go.

    Correction: This needs to be stronger. I’m happy to agree that baptism can be, according to the decrees of the Lord, a means of proclaiming the gospel promise and an occasion for the work of the Spirit, much as communion is.

    JRC

  20. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 9:03 am

    “Even if something is a “means”, that is still imputing to baptism a causal efficacy. Instrumental causes are still a class of causation.”

    So the confessions speak clearly of the sacraments as means of grace. You’re saying the confessions are claiming the sacraments are instrumental causes?

  21. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 18, 2007 at 9:11 am

    Completely off-topic, so I’ll take a strike here, but it’s totally worth it.

    I need to preface this by saying that I typically have vivid dreams.

    And last night — this morning, actually — I dreamed that I went to some kind of conference.

    That was weird to begin with, since I rarely attend conferences.

    And at this conference, I met some of you. There was a “Green Baggins” contingent.

    I met Sean Gerety — who was a curly-headed, twenty-something woman. She was just as fiesty in real life as online. And I was so embarrassed because it had never occurred to me that “Sean” could be a girl’s name.

    So Sean: I apologize for my subconscious. I promise there’s no hidden meaning; it was just another one of my ludicrous dreams.

    Jeff Cagle

  22. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 9:24 am

    Jeff C., just so you don’t have to see your last comment hanging there at the end of the thread (unless someone is posting now before me) I will help you out and post this comment, but I have to say: I didn’t know Sean could be a female name, and, also, I’m now not sure if Sean Gerety is a male or female. The only thing close I’ve ever dreamed of was actual text. Letters and words, as if type-written, buzzing across my mind. Too many Diet Cokes probably…

  23. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 9:39 am

    Of course, Sean Young, the actress.

  24. Mark T. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 9:48 am

    Sean Gerety is a man; check out the “About” page on his blog, God’s Hammer. And since we’re off point, he co-wrote a book with John Robbins titled Not Reformed At All, which was the first book in print to rebut the FV. It’s a good primer with solid arguments and some good zingers. Neither man takes prisoners and neither negotiates, which I don’t mind, but the book isn’t for softies.

  25. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 18, 2007 at 10:07 am

    There was no question in my conscious mind. Even in my dream, I was surprised.

  26. curate said,

    December 18, 2007 at 11:20 am

    Jeff, I listened to your post. What I hear is a Presbyterian elder who is publicly refuting his Confession regarding the efficacy of the sacraments. Have you notified your Presbytery about your exception? Are you going to do so any time soon?

    Even Robert the K. knows that I am repeating the Reformed position, and we all know that he would rather submerge himself in boiling oil than agree with the smallest thing any FVer says.

    I noticed that you made no attempt to answer the plain fact that the WCF says that faith is the sole instrument of justification … AND … that the sacrament, rightly received, conveys justification.

    Well? …

  27. anneivy said,

    December 18, 2007 at 11:38 am

    Re: #26

    Could you define “rightly” as in “rightly received”?

    That probably makes a difference.

    Anne

  28. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    “When heresy rises in an evangelical body, it is never frank and open. It always begins by skulking, and assuming a disguise. Its advocates, when together, boast of great improvements, and congratulate one another on having gone greatly beyond the old dead orthodoxy, and on having left behind many of its antiquated errors: but when taxed with deviations from the received faith, they complain of the unreasonableness of their accusers, as they differ from it only in words. This has been the standing course of errorists ever since the apostolic age. They are almost never honest and candid as a party, until they gain strength enough to be sure of some degree of popularity. Thus it was with Arius in the fourth century, with Pelagius in the fifth, with Arminius and his companions in the seventeenth, with Amyraut and his associates in France soon afterwards, and with the Unitarians in Massachusetts, toward the close of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries. They denied their real tenets, evaded examination or inquiry, declaimed against their accusers as merciless bigots and heresy-hunters, and strove as long as they could to appear to agree with the most orthodox of their neighbours; until the time came when, partly from inability any longer to cover up their sentiments, and partly because they felt strong enough to come out, they at length avowed their real opinions.” – Samuel Miller

    From the PuritanBoard. I might post this in every thread. Read it, how could one not post this in every thread regarding Federal Vision…

  29. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 18, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    What I hear is a Presbyterian elder who is publicly refuting his Confession regarding the efficacy of the sacraments. Have you notified your Presbytery about your exception? Are you going to do so any time soon?

    That’s awfully strong, Curate. I hope you’re being rhetorical rather than serious. I can check if you’re serious, but I’m fairly confident … and you probably are too, I think … that my Presbytery would agree with what is stated here, and that they would affirm it to be in conformity.

    27.3 The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither doth the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that doth administer it: but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.

    28.5. Although it be a great sin to condemn or neglect his 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.

    6. 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 belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time.

    I hope you’ll notice that the content of my posts #18 and 19 is exactly in conformity with what is quoted here. I’ve never come in contact (prior to the FV) with anyone (in the PCA) who has taught anything else.

    Finally, do you have a response to the Scriptural argument?

    Jeff Cagle

  30. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 18, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    Sorry, missed this:

    I noticed that you made no attempt to answer the plain fact that the WCF says that faith is the sole instrument of justification … AND … that the sacrament, rightly received, conveys justification.

    I’m sorry, which section of the Confession are you referring to in that second clause? If you have in mind 28.6, I think I’ve already pointed out that said section does not include everyone; nor does it intend to convey that the moment of baptism is the moment of grace conferred.

    So that leaves us with “Baptism can be the occasion for the work of the HS”, which is what I said. Are we talking past each other?

    Jeff Cagle

  31. Daniel Kok said,

    December 18, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    Curate:

    Are you saying that baptism promises justification and so that all those that are baptized have the promise (in the form of a sign and seal)? If so you would undoubtedly be reflecting the Reformed view.

    However, if you are saying that that each baptized individual possesses justification in a forensic sense through their baptism you are most certainly out of accord with the Reformed faith.

    I ask:

    If the Jews did not get justification through circumcision, why would we get justification through baptism? Romans 3:1ff. & Romans 9:30ff

    Really, if we are justified by faith alone (in the words of the Reformed creeds) then baptism cannot be a means of justification. The Reformed view is that sacraments confirm our faith but do not impart it nor do they impart what faith appropriates, namely Christ’s righteousness.

    Heidelberg Catechism:

    Q65: Since, then, we are made partakers of Christ and all his benefits by faith only, where does this faith come from?

    A65: The Holy Ghost works faith in our hearts by the preaching of the Holy Gospel, and confirms it by the use of the holy sacraments.

  32. Daniel Kok said,

    December 18, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    A great quote by Calvin on this matter:

    “The schools of the Sophists have taught with remarkable agreement that the sacraments of the new law (those now used in the Christian church) justify and confer grace, provided we do not set up a barrier of mortal sin. How deadly and pestilential this notion is cannot be expressed — and the more so because for many centuries it has been a current claim in a good part of the world, to the great loss of the church. Of a certainty it is diabolical. For in promising a righteousness apart from faith, it hurls souls headlong to destruction… But what is a sacrament received apart from faith but the most certain ruin of the church? For nothing ought to be expected from it apart from the promise, but the promise no less threatens wrath to unbelievers than offers grace to believers. Hence, any man is deceived who thinks anything more is conferred upon him through the sacraments than what is offered by God’s Word and received by him in true faith. From this something else follows: assurance of salvation does not depend upon participation in the sacrament, as if justification consisted in it. For we know that justification is lodged in Christ alone, and that it is communicated to us no less by the preaching of the gospel than by the seal of the sacrament, and without the latter can stand unimpaired.”
    -Calvin’s Institutes, Book 4, Chapter 14.14

  33. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    I think theres a big disconnect here between the statements of the confessions, which describe what the church believes to be true about what qualifications need to be made to guard sacraments, and what a Christian needs to believe to be true to use sacraments.

    Its too bad that disconnect has to exist.

    Its ok for the church to say “this might not be doing anything”

    Its hell for the believer to come to the supper/baptism and wonder “hey, does this really do anything”?

  34. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 12:32 pm

    “and that it is communicated to us no less by the preaching of the gospel than by the seal of the sacrament, and without the latter can stand unimpaired”

    So calvin agrees that the sacraments communicate justification in Christ alone.

    They just don’t do it any better than the preaching.

  35. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 12:44 pm

    Pduggie, read the Samuel Miller quote above. Read it twice. Or more.

  36. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    pduggie, you also need to read that Calvin quote again.

  37. December 18, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    Curate said “Au contraire mon Ami, there is a world of difference between a cause and a means. You simply may not call a means a cause, as you did in the above post.”

    In philosophy, instrumental causes are still a type of cause. Specifically, they are a subset of efficient cause. That’s all we mean when we say “means” or we say that something is “by X” (ex., by faith).

    But whether you call it an instrumental cause or you call it a “means”, it matters not. Note that J.I. Packer uses the terms “means” and “instrument of reception” to describe the nature of faith in justification:

    The means of justification. Justification, said the Reformers, is by faith only. Why so? Not because there are no “good works” in the believer’s life…, but because Christ’s vicarious righteousness is the only ground of justification, and it is only by faith that we lay hold of Christ, for his righteousness to become ours. Faith is a conscious acknowledgment of our own unrighteousness and ungodliness and on that basis a looking to Christ as our righteousness, a clasping of him as the ring clasps the jewel (so Luther), a receiving of him as an empty vessel receives treasure (so Calvin), and a reverent, resolute reliance on the biblical promise of life through him for all who believe. Faith is our act, but not our work; it is an instrument of reception without being a means of merit

    Call it a “means” if you like (and don’t want to use the term “cause” in any sense), faith is the sole instrument by which we lay hold of Christ’s righteousness. Both the logical and exegetical problems of your doctrine of baptismal justification aren’t going to go away by pointing out other people who (ostensibly) agree with you and don’t see any problem with such a scheme.

    I believe in the Bible, and derivatively in the 3 Forms of Unity. Your doctrine cannot be found in either. Your doctrine falls somewhere in the Lutheran and Anglican orbits.

  38. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Calvin calls FV doctrine “diabolical.”

  39. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    justification is lodged in Christ alone, and that it is communicated to us no less by the preaching of the gospel than by the seal of the sacrament,

    Both communicate it. That’s what he says.

    Maybe he said it under duress.

  40. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    David:

    You’re admitting that sacraments are means, and thus instruments, of grace from God?

    Just making sure.

    You want to fill that out? Clearly your excluding initial justification. But what other graces then?

  41. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    OK, folks, we see here in real time an FVist surgically clipping a Calvin quote completely out of its context. That pduggie had to do this in front of us all is not something he wanted, but he had to, otherwise he’d have had to confront himself and the truth.

    This is sad and funny at once. Out of that entire Calvin passage in #32 pduggie dug this out: “and that it is communicated to us no less by the preaching of the gospel than by the seal of the sacrament”.

    These people are incorrigible (incapable of being corrected or reformed).

  42. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    I’d like to get a glimpse of how Federal Vision leaders talk to the pduggies of their movement when there are only FVists around. I suspect I wouldn’t be surprised to hear common cult interactions and tactics being used.

  43. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    How are we supposed to have a discussion about Prebyterian confessional standards and the whole hearted and proper confession of them when one of the participants believes that they were written in a badly contradictory manner by people who were’t able to compose theology freely.

  44. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    curate said:
    >Even Robert the K. knows that I am repeating the Reformed position

    I don’t agree with this. I only see sacerdotalism as a potential danger in paedo-baptist churches and denominations, I don’t see it as part of Reformed Theology. Of course FVists default to the Romanist edge (and over), but they have to read the explictly non-sacerdotal Westminster Standards with glasses similar to what Joseph Smith had to wear to read those golden plates…

  45. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    Nice try, Mr. Duggan. You resort to this tactic of histrionics because you’ve had to expose yourself in real time. You’ve gone through this thread lately with the glass-eyed somnambulism of a cult-programed zombie. Calvin couldn’t be more direct in that passage.

  46. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    Robert

    1. You’re out of your mind.

    2. Nobody should ever make the vast number of assumptions about people motives, background and activities that you do based on a tiny bit of online discussion. That you do so betrays your lack of wisdom.

    3. You are an unkind, pretentious, and contentious person.

  47. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    What does Calvin say is communicated by the seal of sacraments? In that passage.

  48. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    And, Mr. Duggan, read the Samuel Miller quote above. Read it twice, three times…or more…

  49. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    That’s not an answer.

  50. Stewart said,

    December 18, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    Jeff, re#29 could you elaborate on what exactly you think 28.5 means when it says, “yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it?”

    Thanks

  51. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 1:25 pm

    I must say I’ve always found the “preach the gospel to yourself” method to be helpful, and its been spiritually helpful to realize that the Sacraments are even better, because then your hearing, as Robert Godfrey puts it, the gospel from another, instead of just yourself.

  52. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    >That’s not an answer.

    Look at the timestamps in #48 and 49.

    As for an answer, quote the passage in full, get the context, then formulate an actual question based on reality. Calvin calls your doctrine in that passage “diabolical.” (Something that you’d demand that he be banned from this environment for, by the way.) Calvin was not a moron who contradicted himself from sentence to sentence. That you FVists are even quoting him is outrageous considering just one fact alone: he taught preachers who left Geneva to only be tortured and burned alive by people who taught and enforced your deadly doctrine. I would suggest you should be ashamed of yourselves, but I have observed there is no shame in the Federal Vision ranks.

  53. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    My cult leader is Robert Godfrey:

    ” I read Luther’s large catechism, in which he has pages on baptism, and I kept waiting for that point at which I would see that he’d gone over the edge, gone too far-and was amazed to find out I agreed with every word of what he said in his statements on baptism in his large catechism, which made me worry, so I went back and read it again, and no, I really think he’s Reformed. [laughter] But listen to what he says: ‘Thus faith clings to the water and believes that in baptism is pure salvation and life.”

    “There are people who wrestle with tender consciences with the question, ‘How can God love a sinner like me?’ . . . What do you say to someone in that kind of state? . . . Luther had a very different answer. When the fellow said, ‘How do I know I’m a Christian?’ Luther said, ‘You’ve been baptized.’”

    “. . . when you read the New Testament, Paul, over and over again, makes appeal to baptism as a present reality in the Christian life and experience. I think that’s true in Romans 6, for example. When Paul wants Christians to mortify sin in their experience he reminds them that they’re a baptized people and that baptism speaks to them about sin being washed away. But we can get nervous about that. Even so noted a theologian as Martyn Lloyd-Jones just didn’t want to think that all that stress upon baptism in Romans 6 could be water baptism. It must be Spirit baptism, because we don’t want to become formalists. But I really think he misses the point there. You see, have you been Spirit baptized? It is a little harder to be sure that you are Spirit baptized than to be sure you’re water baptized. You see, water baptism, which certainly testifies to Spirit baptism-and we need Spirit baptism, every Christian is Spirit baptized, I believe all those things-but, you see, again, if you just begin introspectively to ask, ‘Have I really been Spirit baptized?’ you get right back in the morbid mess. And the water baptism, you see, is the way out, is the way to the objective statement of the glories of God’s grace and mercy to His people.”

  54. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    What do you think of the Samuel Miller quote, Mr. Duggan?

  55. markhorne said,

    December 18, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    “I’d like to get a glimpse of how Federal Vision leaders talk to the pduggies of their movement when there are only FVists around. I suspect I wouldn’t be surprised to hear common cult interactions and tactics being used.”

    Hah!

    Here’s the glimpse:

    Mark Horne, Secret FV Wizard: “Oh my disciple, you are doing well! Come kiss my prelatical ring as a reward for your comments on Greenbagginseseses.

    Robert K., FV undercover pawn: “Oh thank you master. What an honor!”

    Mark Horne, Secret FV Wizard: “Just keep on making the anti-FV party look insane. You are doing great. Don’t stop.”

    Robert K., FV undercover pawn: “But master, why have I not yet been silenced. Is Lane a fellow undercover double agent?”

    Mark Horne, Secret FV Wizard: “Well, in keeping with our conspiratorial structure, I only work with two agents and report to one other. So I have no direct knowledge. But my best guess would be that the virtually all the men attacking FV are members of our secret Kingdom of Objectivity?”

    Robert K., FV undercover pawn: “Yes, I don’t see what else can explain my free reign.”

  56. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    >“There are people who wrestle with tender consciences with the question, ‘How can God love a sinner like me?’ . . . What do you say to someone in that kind of state? . . . Luther had a very different answer. When the fellow said, ‘How do I know I’m a Christian?’ Luther said, ‘You’ve been baptized.’”

    You want to know how God can love a sinner like you? Get to know God and his plan. Ritual water baptism won’t do that. His revealed Word exists for a reason. Jesus said at least 10 times “Have ye not read?” The Jews would express bewilderment or ignorance, and Jesus would respond: “Have ye not read?” Regeneration is a work solely of God. Conversion, on the other hand, requires effort from YOU. Effort to learn things like what you are to have faith IN and what you are to repent OF. Doctrine. Practice. Learn from the Word of God itself. A Roman priest would answer that question as Luther answered. This is why Reformed Christians aren’t Lutherans.

  57. Stewart said,

    December 18, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    Just out of curiosity, if I were to make the following argument, what would be wrong with it.

    Argument: Water does not save people, the Holy Spirit does. People accept and believe before they are baptized, this proves that God does not use baptism to accomplish anything. It is not a “means,” because God doesn’t need them. It’s just a sign.

  58. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    The “Calvin is my cult leader” posts are now gone. Hrmm.

    60: God “needs” signs (ordinarily) all the time. The Word is “signs”. “sign” and “means” never have to be opposed.

    You also end up with Zwingli’s offensive “Baptism is just for the rubes” argument, where its only needed by the weak. But we’re all “weak” in that sense.

  59. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    >The “Calvin is my cult leader” posts are now gone. Hrmm.

    Moderators here know what they’ve deleted, and I saw no posts with those words in it.

  60. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    The practical nature and approach of biblical Christianity can be striking at times. Thomas Watson asked, how can we love God. His answer: we have to know something before we can love it. Learn about God from his revealed Word. There’s no getting around it, a Christian is bred by the Word and then is fed by the Word (Gurnall). Christianity is not for the lazy. Conversion itself, as stated above, requires effort to learn doctrine and practice. From the Word of God. Which is NOT mere ‘signs.’ The Word of God is perspicuous language delivering concrete knowledge and understanding from God Himself. A rather remarkable thing to have. A Christian who is in a state where he/she is asking ‘how can God love a sinner like me’ should only be directed to the Word of God itself. Hopefully the Christian being asked will be able to give a sound answer from the Word of God on the spot as well.

  61. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Robert proves he can’t read, just like he’s messed up at least three biblical texts now.

    Calvin’s doctrine is mine, which is that its diabolical to suggest that sacraments communicate justifcation apart from faith.

  62. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    of course, if Zwingli is right, and the sacraments are for the stupid, I guess they are EASIER to understand than the word.

  63. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    Websters 1913 dictionary

    “Sign (?), n. [F. signe, L. signum; cf. AS. segen, segn, a sign, standard, banner, also fr. L. signum. Cf. Ensign, Resign, Seal a stamp, Signal, Signet.] That by which anything is made known or represented; that which furnishes evidence; a mark; a token; an indication; a proof. Specifically: (a) A remarkable event, considered by the ancients as indicating the will of some deity; a prodigy; an omen. (b) An event considered by the Jews as indicating the divine will, or as manifesting an interposition of the divine power for some special end; a miracle; a wonder.

    Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God. Rom. xv. 19.

    It shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. Ex. iv. 8.

    (c) Something serving to indicate the existence, or preserve the memory, of a thing; a token; a memorial; a monument.

    What time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men, and they became a sign. Num. xxvi. 10.

    (d) Any symbol or emblem which prefigures, typifles, or represents, an idea; a type; hence, sometimes, a picture.

    The holy symbols, or signs, are not barely significative; but what they represent is as certainly delivered to us as the symbols themselves. Brerewood.

    Saint George of Merry England, the sign of victory. Spenser.

    (e) A word or a character regarded as the outward manifestation of thought; as, words are the sign of ideas.

    (f) A motion, an action, or a gesture by which a thought is expressed, or a command or a wish made known.

    They made signs to his father, how he would have him called. Luke i. 62.”

  64. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    Zwingli would respond by reading to you the Word of God, and he would probably have dedicated more of his day than you would have had the patience to endure. I’m sure he would have baptized you too, if you so requested. But he’d get into the Word of God with you rather than telling you to ‘look to your baptism’ to answer questions you have…

  65. pduggie said,

    December 18, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    A wife who is in a state where she is asking ‘how can my husband love a wretch like me’ should only be directed to the verbal statements of her husband. The kisses and hugs should be avoided when you feel that way. or you might start to think your husband was conveying his attitude towards you via hugs and kisses.

  66. Robert K. said,

    December 18, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    A Christian afterall has to become, at some point, a warrior. A prophet, a priest, and a king. Able to face the devil and his kingdom and to stand his ground. That means using the armor of God, including the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, with skill and understanding.

  67. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 18, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Stewart (#51):

    Jeff, re#29 could you elaborate on what exactly you think 28.5 means when it says, “yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it?”

    Certainly. Several things:

    * Grace and salvation -are- annexed to it in the senses that (a) the grace offered *really is conferred*, as the Spirit chooses to work, and (b) the message of baptism is identical to the gospel message, so that when one believes the gospel, one’s baptism (the promise thereof) is effective.

    That’s how I read 27.2 and 3.

    * BUT, the grace offered -is not- inseparably annexed to it in the senses that (a) the grace offered is not automatically conferred to all, and (b) is often not conferred at the time of baptism. Instead, it is conferred according to the desire and timing of the Spirit.

    That’s how I read 28.5 and 6.

    You?

    Jeff Cagle

  68. curate said,

    December 18, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Jeff, I have over-posted today, but I have to ask you to take another look at article 28.6:

    28.6 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 belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time.

    Did you notice that even when the appointed time is different from the moment of administration of the water, THAT IT IS BY THE RIGHT USE OF THIS ORDINANCE THAT THE GRACE IS CONFERRED BY THE HOLY GHOST?

    Sorry about the upper case, but I don’t know how to do bold on this blog.

    Second, the article is about the EFFICACY OF BAPTISM. It says that the power of baptism is not restricted to the moment of administration, but that the POWER OF BAPTISM continues throughout one’s life! IOW the remission of sins which the sacrament confers doesn’t wear off with time.

    Now, do you want to reconsider your aversion to sacramental efficacy my brother?

  69. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 18, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    Stewart (#58):

    Just out of curiosity, if I were to make the following argument, what would be wrong with it.

    Argument: Water does not save people, the Holy Spirit does. People accept and believe before they are baptized, this proves that God does not use baptism to accomplish anything. It is not a “means,” because God doesn’t need them. It’s just a sign.

    I see two problems with that argument. First, it ignores causative chains. Baptism can be a means by which the HS creates faith in us…just as the preaching of the Word can be such a means. And faith is the *sole* instrument by which we are united to Christ.

    So the claim “baptism doesn’t do anything” as in the sentence above is simultaneously true and false … and thus confused and unhelpful.

    Second, it ignores the possibility of looking at actions from an eternal perspective. When I believe the gospel and then subsequently get baptized, I am believing what the baptism promises: the washing of sins, the pouring out of the HS.

    In that sense, my (later!) baptism is effective when I believe (earlier!) because the meaning of baptism is identical to the meaning of the gospel message I believed.

    So the problem with the statement above is that it fails to recognize that belief in the gospel *is* the effectiveness of baptism. It is in that sense that the sign and the thing signified are united.

    So: can there be a separation of the *action* of baptism and the *action* of faith in the gospel? Absolutely. That’s Romans 4. Can there be a separation of the *content* of baptism and the *content* of one’s faith? Never. That’s Romans 6 — the baptism there is both water baptism and Spirit baptism; it is “effective baptism”, not the bare action of baptism.

    That’s my take.
    Jeff Cagle

  70. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 18, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Curate (#69):

    * Bold tags are done using the “angle brackets” (right above , and .) like this (hope this works…)

    <b>This is in bold</b>

    Comes out as This is in bold.

    * One of the difficulties with “camps” as in “FV” and “anti-FV” is that one’s position is often polarized, with the result that straw-mannery can occur. Take a look at my posts in this thread and also here and see whether you still think I don’t believe in sacramental efficacy.

    Jeff Cagle

  71. curate said,

    December 18, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    David G, by all means call the sacraments an instrumental cause as opposed to an efficient cause. In Reformed theology we use the word “means” to communicate that it is a channel and an occasion of grace, but not a cause of grace. But use the terminology of philosophy if you wish.

    You are right that my baptismal doctrine is Lutheran and Anglican. It is also Presbyterian, which may come as a surprise. Read my post no 69.

  72. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 18, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    Pduggie (#54):

    Interesting quote from Bob Godfrey.

    Even so noted a theologian as Martyn Lloyd-Jones just didn’t want to think that all that stress upon baptism in Romans 6 could be water baptism. It must be Spirit baptism, because we don’t want to become formalists. But I really think he misses the point there. You see, have you been Spirit baptized? It is a little harder to be sure that you are Spirit baptized than to be sure you’re water baptized. You see, water baptism, which certainly testifies to Spirit baptism-and we need Spirit baptism, every Christian is Spirit baptized, I believe all those things-but, you see, again, if you just begin introspectively to ask, ‘Have I really been Spirit baptized?’ you get right back in the morbid mess.

    It’s interesting; I agree that Rom. 6 is about (effective) water baptism, but not for the reason he cites here. It seems to me that setting our sights on a pastoral or theological target and then exegeting backwards to it is … dangerous.

    Rather, I would say that Paul is referring to baptism for the simple reason that he says “baptism”, without qualification.

    And the water baptism, you see, is the way out, is the way to the objective statement of the glories of God’s grace and mercy to His people.”

    Yes and No. :) Water baptism *is* an objective statement of God’s grace to His people. But the fact of having been baptized is not an objective statement of being a recipient of God’s saving grace (once again, Romans 4 and WCoF 28.5). So I would respectfully (and fearfully!) disagree with Bob that looking to the fact of my baptism “solves the problem.”

    Rather I would say that looking to the promise of baptism “solves the problem.” If I doubt my salvation: what does baptism promise to me? Believe and be saved. What if I don’t know if I “really” believe? Lord, help my unbelief. Baptism is an objective statement that all who believe are saved.

    Luther:

    ‘Thus faith clings to the water and believes that in baptism is pure salvation and life.’

    It’s interesting that there is a parallel in Luther between his treatment of baptism and his treatment of communion. In both cases, Luther takes the sacrament to be the offer of grace, insists on it, and ends up uniting the sign with the meaning of the sign in such a way that they cannot be separated in any sense.

    So with communion: THIS IS MY BODY! And he admits of only the barest sliver of distinction between the bread and the physical body of Christ.

    And with baptism: ‘Baptism is pure salvation and life’ And he admits of no distinction between being baptized and believing in the baptismal promise.

    Jeff Cagle

  73. magma2 said,

    December 18, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    I met Sean Gerety — who was a curly-headed, twenty-something woman. She was just as fiesty in real life as online. And I was so embarrassed because it had never occurred to me that “Sean” could be a girl’s name.

    So Sean: I apologize for my subconscious. I promise there’s no hidden meaning; it was just another one of my ludicrous dreams.

    LOL :) Subconscious apology accepted.

    Although I am told I look pretty good in chiffon ;)

    Sean

  74. kjsulli said,

    December 18, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    Curate, re: 69,

    “Did you notice that even when the appointed time is different from the moment of administration of the water, THAT IT IS BY THE RIGHT USE OF THIS ORDINANCE THAT THE GRACE IS CONFERRED BY THE HOLY GHOST?”

    Did you notice:

    to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time.

  75. December 18, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    OK, I’m really disappointed that this thread has been littered with all of this clutter and nonsense. Robert K., it is fine with me to take a rhetorical jab at FV from time to time, but keep it down to just one comment per thread. The same goes for those who are returning Robert’s fire. After 74 posts, that is quite enough. I will begin deleting any comments that don’t address the actual arguments I made in the article above.

  76. December 18, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    pduggie,

    Please use your normal post name. I deleted some that you posted under a different name, two are in limbo in case you need their text. You might think that it’s cute to “make a statement” with clever, new posting names, but all new posters are moderated and makes more work for us overworked moderators. You can say what you have to say with your normal posting identity. Thanks.

  77. Daniel Kok said,

    December 18, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    David:

    I found your summary to be helpful. Thanks.

    I would add:

    1) Israel did not attain to righteousness: Romans 9:30ff. They were circumcised but they were not justified.
    2) Ishmael was born of the flesh and not of the spirit: Galatians 4:29ff. He was circumcised but not regenerated.
    3) This is due to the fact that one must be circumcised with the circumcision made without hands: Colossians 2:11ff.

    Circumcision evidently signs and seals God’s covenant promises to all recipients. For those who receive their circumcision with faith it testifies to or confirms their faith. For those who receive their circumcision without faith it testifies to or confirms their unbelief.

    Circumcision, thus, did not justify (or regeneration) nor do we receive justification by circumcision. It was given to confirm God’s promises and thus confirms the fulfillment of God’s promises in us. Nothing could be clearer in Paul’s discussion in Romans 9:1ff.

    The Israelites failed to get righteousness not because it was given to them through their circumcision and they failed to keep it or possess it fully but because they sought it through works and not faith (vs. 32)

  78. Machaira said,

    December 18, 2007 at 4:56 pm

    Curate #69

    Second, the article is about the EFFICACY OF BAPTISM. It says that the power of baptism is not restricted to the moment of administration, but that the POWER OF BAPTISM continues throughout one’s life! IOW the remission of sins which the sacrament confers doesn’t wear off with time.

    That’s not what the article is saying. When it says, “The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered,” it means that the “grace conferred” is given in “His appointed time” and not necessarily at the time of water baptism.

    1. The efficacy of baptism is not confined to the moment of administration;
    but though not effectual at the time it is administered, it may afterwards be
    effectual, through the working of the Spirit.—John iii. 5, 8. – An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith – Robert Shaw

  79. December 18, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    Curate said “In Reformed theology we use the word “means” to communicate that it is a channel and an occasion of grace, but not a cause of grace.”

    Fine, but the problem is in saying that baptism is a means of *justifying* grace. All the semantics aside, you don’t seem to want to address the full weight of the logical problem here. The “sola/alone” part of sola fide means that faith has this role of being the means by which Christ’s righteousness is received, and it does not share this role with anything else. You think that you can skirt the flat contradiction of baptismal justification and sola fide by appealing to others who (ostensibly) share this view. I’ve gotten everything except a straight answer from you (and others who share your view) on this problem. You can’t shrug it off and then act appauled when we and many others don’t agree with you.

    As a matter of fact, I think it is quite telling, as GLW Johnson pointed out, that you haven’t interacted with *any* of the points I raised in the post. Circumcision could *not* have been the means – in any sense- by which Abraham was justified.

    I can’t comment much on WCF 28, since I am not as familiar with it as I am with the 3FU. I understand that the language, while not *teaching* baptismal regeneration, does allow for it (as in the case of Burgess), as there was some diversity of opinion on the matter. However, this does not quite equate to Curate/Roger’s doctrine of baptismal justification. On my reading of the primary and secondary sources, the controversy seems to swirl around the ambiguity of the language of “the grace promised” being “conferred”. What, exactly, is the metaphysical connection this makes between baptism and regeneration (or justification or what?)? Perhaps Bob Mattes or Andy W. could comment.

    But I can tell you what the Heidelberg Catechism teaches on baptismal efficacy:


    Question 72. Is then the external baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?

    Answer: Not at all: for the blood of Jesus Christ only, and the Holy Ghost cleanse us from all sin.

    Question 73. Why then does the Holy Ghost call baptism “the washing of regeneration,” and “the washing away of sins”?

    Answer: God speaks thus not without great cause, to-wit, not only thereby to teach us, that as the filth of the body is purged away by water, so our sins are removed by the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ; but especially that by this divine pledge and sign he may assure us, that we are spiritually cleansed from our sins as really, as we are externally washed with water.

  80. December 18, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    Pduggie said (#40):

    “You’re admitting that sacraments are means, and thus instruments, of grace from God?

    Just making sure.

    You want to fill that out? Clearly your excluding initial justification. But what other graces then?”

    That is a fair question. I tried to detail that as much as I could in the “Berkhof and Baptismal Efficacy” post a few weeks back. Basically, it engenders, cultivates, strengthens, and confirms our faith.

  81. December 18, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    All,

    Reed DePace has suggested that I put PDuggie and Robert K. on notice for their vitriolic and unkind (aside from being off-topic) comments on this thread. Another strike from Reed or Bob Mattes will put either onto moderated status. It is way too taxing for us all to have to take the time to police this site, issuing warnings time and time again, on top of writing posts of substance and interacting with the (on-topic) comments.

    Both Robert and PDuggie are sharp fellows, and quite capable of adding to these discussions meaningfully and constructively.

    Please understand that the moderators here all have “day jobs” and I, personally, am struggling to attend to this blog amidst preparations for my wedding on top of it all. Play nice, or us moderators will throw you into Blog Jail.

  82. its.reed said,

    December 18, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    Ref. #79;

    Roger, on another thread we cordially reached a point of agreement/disagreement somewhat touching on David’s point here. As I had time in the future I was going to make this exact point.

    It really does seem that the position you’ve outlined faces a contradiction here. The solution is to adjust your position or to demonstrate that the exegesis offered is not accurate. (There is a third option, simply refusal to deal with the issue, but I think I know your integrity sufficiently that you wouldn’t consider this option).

    So, possibly you can maintain your position by adding the qualifier “ordinarily”. If so, then there is a whole other level to which we should be debating.

  83. December 18, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    I’m sorry to derail this if it does, but can someone give a short one paragraph description of FV that a person could give to another who is asking what it is and has no clue about anything that is going on. People always ask me what FV is who have no clue and I’m looking for a concise answer.

  84. Andrew Duggan said,

    December 18, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    Paul in #33 you said

    Its ok for the church to say “this might not be doing anything”

    Its hell for the believer to come to the supper/baptism and wonder “hey, does this really do anything”?

    I think it’s pretty telling you frame those questions in the way you did. First, you do realize that words like “might” and “wonder” are antithetical to the idea of faith — right? Nevertheless, it seems as though your forcing a choice between the idea that the sacraments either do nothing, or by their mere external performance actually confer salvation. The answer is neither.

    I don’t think any one who holds to the WCF would think such a thing. Rather, for believers, the sacraments are means of grace. For those who are not believers, the sacraments are means of damnation, for the Lord’s Supper they are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord (I Cor 11:27) and eat and drink damnation to themselves (I Cor 11:29).

    Regardless of being a believer or not, the sacraments are means, either to grace or damnation, but never is there no effect. The reason is because the Holy Spirit has come. [Please don't read too much into that, meaning that I am NOT saying that the Holy Spirit is the agent of damnation in the way that He is in the application of grace]. The Holy Spirit confers the grace to the believer, the unbeliever alone is the agent of his own damnation.

    The main post is spot on. I’ve never seen that point answered. In every case (I can think of) of the sacrament of baptism in the New Testament, faith has always preceded the baptism. Paul, while you might have a legitimate gripe against those who would deny that in the case of infants baptism can be coincidental to regeneration, the original post doesn’t deny that. At least not in my reading.

    For purposes of full disclosure, Considering that the idea of Baptismal Regeneration is so injurious to the good of God’s people, I rather doubt that baptism of infants is often coincidental to regeneration, but just like in adults coming to faith in Christ, regeneration precedes. Of course I don’t know, but in reality, this is the domain of the Holy Spirit to work how and when He pleases.

    Your questions leadd one to wonder if you think that the Holy Spirit is forced to regenerate those who the church baptizes, or if He isn’t really needed at all as the external performance of the rites does everything, leaving nothing for Him to do. It seems to me in your system, the church has usurped the Holy Spirit, at least when it comes to the regeneration of those baptized as infants.

    As the main post said this seems to be far to “baby” focused.

  85. December 18, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    Andrew,

    That would be off-topic and derail the thread. I’ll shoot you an email in the next few days. One paragraph would be difficult because FV proponents aren’t monolithic in their theology, but there is substantial agreement across their writings. Others may wish to send you suggestions as well.

  86. gabemartini said,

    December 19, 2007 at 12:09 am

    For the record, I think Adult and Infant baptism does/is the same thing!

    Peace,
    Gabe M

  87. Roger Mann said,

    December 19, 2007 at 12:12 am

    84: Andrew Duggan wrote:

    Rather, for believers, the sacraments are means of grace. For those who are not believers, the sacraments are means of damnation, for the Lord’s Supper they are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord (I Cor 11:27) and eat and drink damnation to themselves (I Cor 11:29).

    That’s a great point, which is devastating to the false FV teaching that the sacraments confer some sort of “grace” upon all recipients (elect and reprobate alike). This is clearly what the Confession teaches as well.

    “As for those wicked and ungodly men whom God, as a righteous judge, for former sins, doth blind and harden; from them he not only withholdeth his grace, whereby they might have been enlightened in their understandings, and wrought upon their hearts; but sometimes also withdraweth the gifts which they had; and exposeth them to such objects as their corruption makes occasion of sin; and withal, gives them over to their own lusts, the temptations of the world, and the power of Satan; whereby it comes to pass that they harden themselves, even under those means which God useth for the softening of others.” (WCF 5.6)

    Note carefully that God “doth blind and harden” and “withholdeth his grace” from the reprobate, and uses the “means” of grace (“the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper” — WCF 7.6) to “harden” them in their sin and rebellion.

    Regardless of being a believer or not, the sacraments are means, either to grace or damnation, but never is there no effect. The reason is because the Holy Spirit has come. [Please don’t read too much into that, meaning that I am NOT saying that the Holy Spirit is the agent of damnation in the way that He is in the application of grace]. The Holy Spirit confers the grace to the believer, the unbeliever alone is the agent of his own damnation.

    I agree with your overall point. However, Scripture doesn’t teach that God is merely passive with regard to the unbelief and rebellion of the reprobate, which you seem to suggest here. God actively “hardens” and “blinds” the reprobate:

    “Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: ‘[God] has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’” John 12:39-40

    “But the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. Just as it is written: ‘God has given them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear, to this very day.’” Romans 11:7-8

    “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.” Matthew 11:25-26

    God “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11), including the unbelief and rebellion of the reprobate. “Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens” (Rom. 9:18). As Paul clearly points out, God possesses power “over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor” (Rom. 9:21). God alone is sovereign over His creatures!

    “The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God, so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first Fall, and all other sins of angels and men, and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God; who being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.” (WCF 5.4)

  88. Robert K. said,

    December 19, 2007 at 12:21 am

    A theme that emerged above is the infantilizing Federal Vision does with believers that is similar to what the Roman Catholic church does.

    You don’t build biblical doctrine from baby Christian queries such as “So how do I know God can love me, a sinner?”

    The Roman Priest exploits the perpetual infant state of believers in that domain. Protestants are called to mature in their faith, because the Bible calls believers to mature in their faith.

    Again: Christians are to be warriors, able to use the whole armor of God. That includes the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Christians are kings. There are certain, common, man-centered, man-fearing types that always exist in all the eras of the history of redemption that would keep Christians in something like a nursery. Prophets, priests, and kings kept in a nursery. I listen to Roman Catholic converts who have law degrees and who show no interest in learning doctrine but cling to the physical trappings like babies clinging to their mother.

    Discern doctrine that seeks to cultivate this nursery and perpetual infant state of believers.

  89. curate said,

    December 19, 2007 at 3:44 am

    Hi Reed. Ref no. 82.

    You are of course correct in saying that the sacraments are the ordinary and usual means of conveying the things signified. The grace is conferred upon those whom it pleases God to confer it, and not to one person more or less.

    There is nothing automatic about it at all. I even add, with WCF 28.6, that the grace may be delayed to some point after administration. BUT, with WCF 28.6 I affirm that in that event it is still the prior baptism that is the normal means of conferring the grace signified, namely, justification.

  90. lewsta said,

    December 19, 2007 at 3:47 am

    Mr. K, I’ve no idea how much time you’ve actually spent in company with long-established congregations that practice infant baptism, as do, say, the CREC (and I am NOT a member of any of these) (and not, as, say OPC, which seem to treat it as mere ritual). I have, and I can assure you the sort of infantilism you accuse them of, a la the Roman church, simply does not exist. Thus you make what appears to be a false accusation against FV as a whole in your claim they hold their own in bondage of sorts, as does Rome. (and even that statement is marginally false). Perhaps you’d be well advised to do some mature and healthy research before making such broad-brushed statements. Part of the significance of infant baptism, as practiced in CREC (and not everyone there does so) is that the parents take seriously God’s command to TEACH your children, raise them up as the christians they are, bring them to ripe maturity. I have observed they do far better a job of this than do most others who hold to baptism only after a profession of faith, then relegate their training to the “youth group” culture of the modern church. And the reformed denominations are by no means exempt from this failing. Those who hold to covenant baptism also, in large measure, practice covenant upbringing to a strong maturity. But not all infant baptism is covenant baptism. Much of it is mere ritual. After a fashion, merely a damp dedication.

  91. curate said,

    December 19, 2007 at 4:12 am

    About the alleged logical contradiction that I am supposed to have refused to answer. I am not getting through despite my best efforts, so here is Martin Luther’s answer to you David G et al:

    But as our would-be wise, new spirits assert that faith alone saves, and that works and external things avail nothing, we answer: It is true, indeed, that nothing in us is of any avail but faith, as we shall hear still further. But these blind guides are unwilling to see this, namely, that faith must have something which it believes, that is, of which it takes hold, and upon which it stands and rests. Thus faith clings to the water, and believes that it is Baptism, in which there is pure salvation and life; not through the water (as we have sufficiently stated), but through the fact that it is embodied in the Word and institution of God, and the name of God inheres in it. Now, if I believe this, what else is it than believing in God as in Him who has given and planted His Word into this ordinance, and proposes to us this external thing wherein we may apprehend such a treasure?

    Now, they are so mad as to separate faith and that to which faith clings and is bound though it be something external. Yea, it shall and must be something external, that it may be apprehended by the senses, and understood and thereby be brought into the heart, as indeed the entire Gospel is an external, verbal preaching.

    In short, what God does and works in us He proposes to work through such external ordinances.

    Wherever, therefore, He speaks, yea, in whichever direction or by whatever means He speaks, thither faith must look, and to that it must hold. Now here we have the words: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. To what else do they refer than to Baptism, that is, to the water comprehended in God’s ordinance? Hence it follows that whoever rejects Baptism rejects the Word of God, faith, and Christ, who directs us thither and binds us to Baptism.

  92. Robert K. said,

    December 19, 2007 at 4:30 am

    >”But as our would-be wise, new spirits assert that faith alone saves, and that works and external things avail nothing, we answer: It is true, indeed, that nothing in us is of any avail but faith, as we shall hear still further. But these blind guides are unwilling to see this, namely, that faith must have something which it believes, that is, of which it takes hold, and upon which it stands and rests. Thus faith clings to the water, and believes that it is Baptism, in which there is pure salvation and life;”

    This quote is almost laugh-out-loud comical. (I’m referring to Luther here and his quote, and not the person who posted it.) Look how he builds up the statement, then where it culminates and he should say “Christ” he says: “…the water”…

    Could it be, Federal Vision is really a Lutheran insurgency…? They kind of look like Lutherans, don’t they? They don’t live on a coast, either, which is very Lutheran. They’re always talking about beer…

  93. David Gray said,

    December 19, 2007 at 4:45 am

    >They’re always talking about beer…

    Maybe they are hobbits…

  94. Robert K. said,

    December 19, 2007 at 4:50 am

    My experience with Lutherans too is, because they are rarely – OK never – taken seriously as theologians (quick, name a great Lutheran systematic theology), they often vault into a very highstrung emotional tirade/resentment before they retreat into the dark beams of the lodge for another hibernation period. They deeply resent the fact that Reformed Christians get all the attention as serious theologians and they resent that Reformed Christians write the books people want to read and study from. All they can do is flash up their Book of Concord (“Maybe if this year we lop off a half-inch in the vertical giving it a more compact feel, then we emboss the cover with a new elk horn thing, and I’m thinking burgandy this year, huh?, then those Calvinists will have to admit we have the theological mojo they’ll never have…”) and hope this is the year it finally makes the bestseller lists. Maybe Oprah will pick it up… They mirror, though, our Federal Vision friends in all this. I think what we’ve got here in FV is a group of Lutherans on the lark of all Lutheran larks. This is the most attention any Lutheran campaign has ever got anywhere. We’ve got some stealth Lutherans that have been throwin’ the Lutheran keg party of all time, flying down the hill on blocks of ice like there’s no tomorrow, and nobody’s caught on to them until now! We’ve been taken for this ride…by Lutherans! Every dog has his day, and these Lutherans, give ‘em credit, have seized their day and played it to the hilt…

  95. David Gray said,

    December 19, 2007 at 4:53 am

    Well credit to Robert Kagan, comparing the FV to Lutheranism is less rubber room material than comparing them to the Roman Catholic Church. Hence, an improvement if not altogether accurate.

  96. Robert K. said,

    December 19, 2007 at 7:03 am

    I actually see the Federal Visionists as more sinister than Lutherans could ever come across. If I were to soften things I’d go in the direction of the Ryle excerpt posted by Andrew Webb.

    Then let’s not forget this:

    “When heresy rises in an evangelical body, it is never frank and open. It always begins by skulking, and assuming a disguise. Its advocates, when together, boast of great improvements, and congratulate one another on having gone greatly beyond the old dead orthodoxy, and on having left behind many of its antiquated errors: but when taxed with deviations from the received faith, they complain of the unreasonableness of their accusers, as they differ from it only in words. This has been the standing course of errorists ever since the apostolic age. They are almost never honest and candid as a party, until they gain strength enough to be sure of some degree of popularity. Thus it was with Arius in the fourth century, with Pelagius in the fifth, with Arminius and his companions in the seventeenth, with Amyraut and his associates in France soon afterwards, and with the Unitarians in Massachusetts, toward the close of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries. They denied their real tenets, evaded examination or inquiry, declaimed against their accusers as merciless bigots and heresy-hunters, and strove as long as they could to appear to agree with the most orthodox of their neighbours; until the time came when, partly from inability any longer to cover up their sentiments, and partly because they felt strong enough to come out, they at length avowed their real opinions.” – Samuel Miller

    Or this:

    “The schools of the Sophists have taught with remarkable agreement that the sacraments of the new law (those now used in the Christian church) justify and confer grace, provided we do not set up a barrier of mortal sin. How deadly and pestilential this notion is cannot be expressed — and the more so because for many centuries it has been a current claim in a good part of the world, to the great loss of the church. Of a certainty it is diabolical. For in promising a righteousness apart from faith, it hurls souls headlong to destruction… But what is a sacrament received apart from faith but the most certain ruin of the church? For nothing ought to be expected from it apart from the promise, but the promise no less threatens wrath to unbelievers than offers grace to believers. Hence, any man is deceived who thinks anything more is conferred upon him through the sacraments than what is offered by God’s Word and received by him in true faith. From this something else follows: assurance of salvation does not depend upon participation in the sacrament, as if justification consisted in it. For we know that justification is lodged in Christ alone, and that it is communicated to us no less by the preaching of the gospel than by the seal of the sacrament, and without the latter can stand unimpaired.”
    -Calvin’s Institutes, Book 4, Chapter 14.14

    The Ryle, Miller, and Calvin quotes should be enough to shock the FVs and awaken them to themselves, but such hasn’t proven to be the case in the past. When you don’t value such voices from the past it’s not surprising…

  97. curate said,

    December 19, 2007 at 7:07 am

    Re Luther contra the TRs of his day in post no. 89, is it worth pointing out that arguing with Luther on justification is worse than arguing with Einstein about the speed of light?

    David G, can you see that you are fighting against the Father of justification, and that he was fully aware of the objections that you have raised? Can you entertain the possibility that your own present mentality may be the thing that is preventing you from seeing the light?

  98. Travis said,

    December 19, 2007 at 7:26 am

    #32
    “The schools of the Sophists have taught with remarkable agreement that the sacraments of the new law (those now used in the Christian church) justify and confer grace, provided we do not set up a barrier of mortal sin. How deadly and pestilential this notion is cannot be expressed

    Is this really so hard? What is Calvin combating here? Sacramental efficacy? Nay. In fine, he is illuminating our minds to the error of Romanism: an impotent sacrament. Much akin to “our” beloved Confession which empowers the act of God at the moment of administration (normally, usually, typically….mmmm, certainly) when it says “the power of baptism is not [constrained] to the moment of administration” and mixed with the BC, “but extends to the whole of our lives”, Calvin is merely slapping those inane Papists upside the ol’ melon when he says, “Uh, Fellas, our menial and insignificant peccadillos do not negate the sign.”
    Let me paraphrase, ” How deadly and pestilential the very idea that any sin could unjustify and disconfer the grace in the sacraments of the new law cannot be expressed.
    Amen, JC, Amen.

  99. Travis said,

    December 19, 2007 at 7:29 am

    oops
    *the very idea **is*

  100. its.reed said,

    December 19, 2007 at 8:39 am

    Ref. #89:

    Roger, thanks for the clarification. I thought this is what you are maintaining.

    So I think it is safe to conclude that in your view there is no justification prior to the administration of baptism. You are maintaining that the WCF’s “time” de-coupler phrase is limited to after the Church’s adminstration of baptism. I.O.W., there is no such thing as grace being conferred via baptism prior to baptism.

    (A couple a clarifications Roger, so no one reading along misreads here. You do affirm that it is the Spirit who administers the grace confered via baptism. You do affirm that this is the ordinary scheme, that God can and does as He pleases, but only exceptionally, confer the grace without the baptism, e.g., a death bed conversion).

    As I made a point on another thread here, this amounts to the position labled here under a different thread as baptisal regeneration lite. The Spirit’s administration of the grace coincides with the Church’s administration of the waters of baptism. I.O.W., the extraordinary exceptions notwithstanding, if there is no administration of water by the Church there is no adminstration of grace by the Spirit, according your understanding of the Scriptures.

    Further, you understand the grace (the preeminent maybe?) conferred to be nothing less than justification.

    Finally, am I correct in believing that you believe this position is consistent with the Westminister Standards (and other reformed standards)?

  101. Robert K. said,

    December 19, 2007 at 8:57 am

    Lewsta, my reference to infantalizing had nothing to do with ‘infant baptism.’ It had to do with building doctrine (inevitably bad doctrine) on the foundation of assuaging baby Christians (see the Dutch Calvinists such as Teellinck on the subject of infant, young and mature Christians, it doesn’t have to do with chronological age) and their baby needs. When you say “our doctrine is the result of the pastoral need to be able to say to individuals in our congregation who are lost and wondering how they can be saved when they are sinners” etc., etc. No, you don’t send them to their baptism. You tell them to get into the Word of God and learn just why God can love them though they be sinners. Christianity is not about being in a nursery and continually needing wet nurses to look over you and ‘protect’ you, telling you soothing things. You’re a Christian? Then you’re a king. You start out a young king, until you come of age, and you are tested, and you have to ‘stand.’ (Eph. 6.)

    You don’t first of all develop bad doctrine under any justification, but having said that obviousness, you don’t build doctrine on what babies in the faith ‘need’. They need the Word of God, in memory and in will and in understanding. Prophet, priest, and king.

    Biblical doctrine (what Calvinism is a nickname for) is sound biblical doctrine for Christians who are prophets, priests, and kings.

    And this plea to externals we see in these Luther quotes, this is pure atheism psychology 101. Outward-directed solely.

    Whoever dug out those Luther quotes hasn’t done his reputation any favors…

  102. David Weiner said,

    December 19, 2007 at 10:12 am

    Andrew, re: #84,

    You are certainly not the first person to say the following here; but, this time I would just like to ask a question:

    You said:
    Rather, for believers, the sacraments are means of grace.

    I do not for one minute dispute that statement. My problem is in understanding if there is a difference in the grace that a believer receives in many other situations. For example, when I observe a true act of love by another believer I receive grace from the Holy Spirit. I have no question about this experience.

    Can you, or anybody else, for that matter, help me understand if something different is going on in the case of baptism rightly administered to a believer?

  103. Dave Sarafolean said,

    December 19, 2007 at 10:22 am

    David Gadbois,

    I originally posted this comment on the BaylyBlog following a comment of yours. I think that it fits into this discussion.

    “Let me come at this issue of the sacraments from a slightly different angle. Dr. Michael Scott Horton argues that the word sacrament comes from the Latin word, ‘sacramentum’ meaning oath. So in the administration of the sacraments God is declaring an oath to the recipients. It follows then that when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper / Communion God is swearing an oath to the faithful that their sins are forgiven (from the Heidelberg, just as surely as the bread and wine nourish my body so Christ is nourishing my soul with this oath). Similarly in baptism, God is swearing an oath to the parents and to the covenant child to be this child’s God if he/she believes His Word and walks in obedience.

    It seems to me that this approach to the sacraments preserves both the terminology and meaning of the biblical terms ‘sign’ and seal’ as you pointed out in Romans 4. It also preserves the importance of faith as the instrument of our salvation. What think you?”

  104. pduggie said,

    December 19, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Martin Chemnitz is awesome.

  105. curate said,

    December 19, 2007 at 11:43 am

    Reed, may I congratulate you on your summary in post no. 100. It is very good. I commend it to all the others who are struggling to come to grips with this aspect of the FV controversy. You have my permission to post it elsewhere too.

    On pre-baptismal justification, the only biblical example I can think of is Abraham. He was justified apart from any sacrament whatsoever, including circumcision. Yet God did not leave him to guess whether he was justified or not, for He appeared to him in person to tell him. (Genesis 15). Paul even tells us that this account was written down for Abraham’s own benefit! Thus he had a double confirmation of his justification, not counting his eventual circumcision.

    For these reasons Abraham can by no means be considered to be a type of those who are justified apart from sacraments. He is an exception, not a norm.

  106. Jeff Moss said,

    December 19, 2007 at 11:44 am

    Dave S. (#103),

    I think you’re exactly right. In fact, I think that what you just said is what the main FV proponents (aside from some hyperbole and unbalanced language at times) are really getting at.

    Let me tie this in to the content of David Gadbois’s main post: Dave S. applied the “oath” (sacramentum) understanding to infant baptism, but it applies equally well to adult baptism. No matter what the age of the one baptized might be, baptism is to them God’s oath that their sins are forgiven. If they believe that oath (i.e. if they exercise FAITH), they are saved. If they reject it and refuse to walk by faith, then their “salvation” (note the quotation marks) turns out to be damnation.

    “Let God be true, though every man be a liar.” Faith in the promises of God, on the basis of the life and death and resurrection of the Son of God, is always the one and only way to receive justification and life. The promise of God (the offer) is made in baptism; the acceptance of the promise (the right response) is faith. The faith of a Christian child looks back to the promise made in baptism, and is strengthened; the faith of a newly-converted adult seeks baptism, and by it is likewise strengthened.

  107. Robert K. said,

    December 19, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    >On pre-baptismal justification, the only biblical example I can think of is Abraham. He was justified apart from any sacrament whatsoever, including circumcision. Yet God did not leave him to guess whether he was justified or not, for He appeared to him in person to tell him.

    This really gets at the heart of FV doctrine, the reason they’ve concocted it, this notion that believers can’t know if they’ve been – as FVists put it – justified (normally we would say, in this context, regenerated or born again, but FVists deny these things apply to individuals…which makes me wonder why these FVists are still being entertained by people other than folks like me who like to shoot fish in a barrel).

    Usually human beings who havn’t experienced rebirth by the Word and the Spirit don’t care about such things or whether they’ve been justified or not. They are not turned towards God and they are oblivious to their own condition and state and so on and couldn’t care less about being born again or not being born again.

    Step into this breach academics fresh from deconstructing the great historians and poets and novelists, full of confidence in their ability to ‘put things in their place’ (defining ‘things’ as anything that assaults their vanity by its mere existence, i.e. “Shakespeare’s work exists, it shows us shallow academics up, we must put his works in their place, which is somewhere beneath us”…) who now, due to end time chronology no doubt, demonstrate enough shamelessness to turn their attention towards biblical doctrine.

    And because they have the spirit that all humanity has who doesn’t have the Spirit of truth (that would be the spirit of disobedience) it enables them to see what it is that must be attacked: i.e. they glance over the field and can see their own kind in most places, liberals, vain intellectuals dictating to God what his truth and revealed Word is, and so on, then they look over at the Reformed, Calvinist people. The crazy people. The people who actually believe this nonsense, and who actually have plumbed the depths of Scripture and elucidated sound doctrine. That is where they attack.

  108. Andrew Duggan said,

    December 19, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    Roger Mann Re #87

    My point in in the caveat (in your second quote) was strictly to show that fault lies with the unbeliever, and not with God the Holy Spirit. I completely believe that all that happens happens according to the decree of God, and happens because of His providence, but the guilt and fault of the sinner is the sinner’s alone and never God’s. On the other hand, the source and cause of grace and forgiveness is never the believer, but always God Himself alone as achieved by the work of Jesus Christ and applied by His Holy Spirit.

  109. Robert K. said,

    December 19, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    FVists also based their false contention that the Puritans walked around wringing their hands in perpetual lack of assurance that they were saved on two or three things written by Jonathan Edwards on how to know what the signs are, or how your body language will change or what specific thoughts you will start thinking if you have actually been regenerated by the Spirit, based on his witnessing Charity and her girl friends fall down on their knees giving themselves to Christ at the great countryside revival only to be back reading romances and thinking about rakish soldiers two weeks later.

    And of course it must be accepted as well that Jonathan Edwards’ experiences with the great revivals in the 18th century speak for all Puritans from the 16th century onwards. Speak for all Christians for that matter.

  110. its.reed said,

    December 19, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Ref. #105:

    Roger, grateful that I’m tracking with you and understanding you fairly.

    Interesting, I spent some private devotions this morning Romans 4. Is it not the point that Paul is making that Abraham is explicitly a stereo-typical example, the normative if you will, that God’s justifies apart (in this case prior) to the sacrament?

    Clearly this goes to the point that the sacraments aren’t essential to salvation. Yet it still practically applies to your point here that the grace conferred is never (ordinarily) prior to the sacramental (Church) administration. Roger, Paul is not holding Abraham up as an exception to the rule, but as the exemplar that breaks the man-made rule, in this case that salvation is only found in the Jews, that is only under the law, that is only initiated at the reception of the sacrament that marks the entry into the community. Paul’s point, in proving that there is indeed justification outside the covenant community is that it came to Abraham prior to his visible admission to the covenant community via the reception of the sacrament.

    In this one exemplar instance we have the Spirit administering the grace via the sacrament prior to the Church’s administration of the sacrament.

    Rather than being an exception that proves the normativeness, I think this one passage completely eliminates the basis for your point.

  111. Roger Mann said,

    December 19, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    105: Curate wrote:

    On pre-baptismal justification, the only biblical example I can think of is Abraham.

    Well, then, the following passages must be missing from your Bible. Perhaps you can get a new one for Christmas!

    While Peter was still speaking these words [i.e., before they were baptized, v. 47-48], the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Acts 10:44-46

    And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” Acts 11:15-18

    Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Acts 15:7-9

    For these reasons Abraham can by no means be considered to be a type of those who are justified apart from sacraments. He is an exception, not a norm.

    How convenient! Too bad that Scripture clearly teaches that Abraham’s example is to be considered the “type of those who are justified apart from sacraments” by faith alone!

    “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.” Romans 4:11-12

    “Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” Romans 4:23-25

  112. Roger Mann said,

    December 19, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    106: Jeff Moss wrote:

    No matter what the age of the one baptized might be, baptism is to them God’s oath that their sins are forgiven.

    So, for the reprobate member of the visible church who is baptized, “baptism is to them God’s oath that their sins are forgiven?” Is that actually your position? Even though God has not eternally chosen them in Christ, even though Christ did not bear their sins or redeem them on the cross, and even though the Holy Spirit will never effectually called them to faith in Christ, “baptism is to them God’s oath that their sins are forgiven?”

  113. Dave Sarafolean said,

    December 19, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    Jeff Moss,

    Re. your note at #106. Thanks for fleshing that out and tying it to David Gadbois’ original post. Nice job!

    My quote from Dr. Horton is from a tape series produced by The White Horse Inn on the Sacraments. It was produced at the time he was president of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and the WHI was under its umbrella. I’ve tried to get CDs of that discussion from The White Horse Inn and have been assured that they are working to make them available (must be tied up in some legal issue with ACE). Anyway, I wanted folks to know where the quote originated.

  114. Jeff Moss said,

    December 19, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    Roger Mann (#112),

    It is a well-established principle of hermeneutics that the promises of God often carry an implicit conditional. Whether the promise is one of blessing or of condemnation, a response in faith often brings a blessing, while an unbelieving rejection of the word of God brings about the judgment.

    See God’s statement to the priestly house of Eli, “Therefore the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the LORD says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed’” (1 Samuel 2:30).

    Or His change of direction in His promise to the Israelites in the wilderness, “‘Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in‘” (Numbers 14:30).

    On the other hand, of course, we have the story of Jonah. The word of God to the Ninevites was, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4). Yet because the people believed and repented, God turned away from the disaster that He had promised (3:10).

    God’s oaths or promises made in time are NOT the same as His eternal decrees. They are given to inspire faith in those who ultimately turn out to be predestined to life, and to testify against the unbelief of those who are reprobate.

    Otherwise, what do you make of Jesus’ promise to Judas that he would sit on a throne with the other apostles (yes, Judas was a temporary apostle), judging the tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28)? Through unbelief, Judas forfeited his share in the promises of God and of Christ — and he forfeited them, we may rightly say, because he was predestined to do so. The same could be said of reprobates who are, for a time, in the Covenant.

  115. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 19, 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Jeff Moss (#114):

    It is certainly true that God’s promises are sometimes conditional. But it is also true that God’s promises are sometimes unconditional. Travis mentioned Richard Pratt awhile back in this context; he has put some effort in trying to distinguish conditional from unconditional promises in the Scriptures.

    Travis, I’m not coming up with the link to his article; do you have it?

    In any event: it does not follow that because some promises have conditions attached, that therefore all promises do. I would question your well-established principle, at least in terms of wanting some greater specification to it.

    Otherwise, what do you make of Jesus’ promise to Judas that he would sit on a throne with the other apostles (yes, Judas was a temporary apostle), judging the tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28)?

    Matt. 19.28:
    Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

    I think the evidence is too thin to assert that Judas “had it and lost it” rather than “never had it.” The first reading is possible (maybe even “more likely” considering the twelve thrones language), but not necessarily certain.

    I mean … which tribe do you think Peter will judge? Is Jesus really expressing a one-to-one mapping from apostles to thrones to tribes?

    God’s oaths or promises made in time are NOT the same as His eternal decrees. They are given to inspire faith in those who ultimately turn out to be predestined to life, and to testify against the unbelief of those who are reprobate.

    All true, but more needs to be said. God’s promises are also given to reassure His people. John 6.39-40:

    And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

    Why was it necessary to make such a promise? Because the New Covenant was different from the Old — whereas the OC was conditional, and no one could keep the conditions, the NC was mediated by the Spirit, who would circumcise the heart and guarantee the inheritance.

    The perseverance of the saints centers around promises such as the above and assures the Christian, “God will not let you ultimately wreck your salvation.”

    Because if we could … we certainly would.

    Jeff Cagle

  116. Roger Mann said,

    December 19, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    114: Jeff Moss wrote:

    It is a well-established principle of hermeneutics that the promises of God often carry an implicit conditional.

    So, then, what you really meant to say was: “No matter what the age of the one baptized might be, baptism is to them God’s oath that their sins are forgiven if they have believed on Christ alone for salvation. Wouldn’t it have been much clearer just to say that from the outset? Or is that still not what you are trying to say?

    Also, if baptism is the New Covenant counterpart to circumcision (and it is), then how is it an “implicit conditional” promise or oath from God? Scripture declares:

    “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe…” Romans 4:11

    While Peter was still speaking these words [i.e., before they were baptized, v. 47-48], the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Acts 10:44-46

    Circumcision/Baptism is the sign and seal “of the righteousness of faith,” not an “implicit conditional” promise or oath from God that may be obtained by one’s obedience. That’s why Scripture states:

    “For the promise [of the Holy Spirit, v. 38] is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call [not to all of our “children” or all “who are afar off,” but to the elect alone].” Acts 2:39

  117. curate said,

    December 19, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Reed, ref no. 110. This is a very powerful argument. I myself believed it for many years. But …

    Augustine said that the key to rightly exegeting a text is to recognize its place in salvation history. For example the commandment not to eat pork cannot be applied to us because the Law has been abolished with the appearing of Christ.

    You have simply absolutized Abraham out of his place in time (Genesis 15) prior to both the Law and the New Covenant, and made him into a the very model of a modern evangelical.

    Here is a simple reason why he cannot be a universal model – every single one of his descendants was circumcised on the eighth day. In the same way the vast majority of Christians are baptized in their infancy.

    POINT: How many of us can say that we were justified before we received the sacrament of forgiveness? Very, very few.

    Paul is using Abraham to show that he was justified before the giving of circumcision the law, IOW before any of the Jewish markers existed.

    This is to show that he is the father of both those with the law and those without the law, both Jew and Gentile.

    Paul’s purpose has to do with the equality of Gentile and Jew in the New Covenant, that we are both freely justified by the cross, and thus by necessity not by the Jewish grounds for boasting of their superiority, namely, circumcision and the law.

    What Jew and Gentile have in common at the present time, since the cross and resurrection, is …. faith and baptism into Christ (Romans 6.3-4) DA DAAAA.

    Or do you not know that as many of us (Jews and Gentiles) as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

  118. curate said,

    December 19, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Still haven’t cracked this bold code. Sorry.

  119. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 19, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    Curate (#118) Halfway there! Don’t forget the </b> tag at the end.

    On substance (#117):

    Paul is using Abraham to show that he was justified before the giving of circumcision the law, IOW before any of the Jewish markers existed.

    While such a reading does locate Romans 4 within the history of salvation, it does not locate Romans 4 within the argument of Romans itself.

    Rom. 4.1-2: What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God.

    This is Paul’s thesis for the pericope: Abraham’s justification came through faith, not through works — including the work of circumcision.

    It is a historical fact, as you say, that Abraham was justified prior to the giving of circumcision as a sign. But that fact simply made him the ideal example for Paul’s point. Hence, your reading is backwards. Paul is not *showing* that Abraham was justified before any of the Jewish markers existed. He is *using the fact* that Abraham was justified before the Jewish markers existed to *show* that people are justified by faith and not by circumcision.

    Zoom out a bit:

    Rom. 3.29-30: Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.

    Rom. 2.25-29: Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.

    A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.

    Here, Paul clearly separates the sign of circumcision from what it signifies. Some have the external sign, but do not have the inwardly reality. Thus, they are not “real” Jews.

    This argument simply comes to its conclusion in chapter 4.

    Jeff Cagle

  120. curate said,

    December 19, 2007 at 5:45 pm

    Reed, I had another look at Romans 4, and my version says that Abraham is the father of both Jew and Gentile. Nothing there about him being a type of both Jew and Gentile.

    Savvy? :)

  121. curate said,

    December 19, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    Thanks Jeff, I had the / in the wrong place. See post 120 as a reply to you too.

  122. its.reed said,

    December 19, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    Ref. #120:

    Roger, yes. After writing at some length, I am now going to back to re-write this response, as I think I see your point.

    When I hold Abraham up as the exemplar, you are understanding that as identifying him as a type. That is, you understand me to be holding up Abraham here as the type, the ordinary pattern, of the Christian experience.

    If I understand your right, I think maybe that the use of the word type goes beyond my point. Yet that may simply be the limits of my own biblical horizon for the use of the term.

    Regardless, seeing Abraham as exemplar (my preferred term here) does not contradict the notion that Abraham is held up as father of Jew and Gentile in this passage. Both are true from the text.

    Paul is offering yet another argument to deny the argument of the Jews that justification is by covenant membership, marked expressly by possession of the sacramental sign of the covenant. Paul is telling the Jews that their circumcision (the sacrament) avails them nothing in terms of possessing justification.

    To prove his point he brings up the killer argument, the example that effective destroys the foundation of the Jews’ position. Abraham, as the covenant father of the Jews, demonstrates that mere sacramental possession is not the deciding factor in possessing justification.

    Not primary but secondarily necessary, and contrary to the position you are maintaining here, Paul’s argument is rooted in the fact that Abraham temporally possessed the grace in view prior to his possession of the sacramental sign.

    To be sure, Abraham is held up as father of Jew and Gentile. Yet this is presented as a necessary consequence of Paul’s main argument – that justification is by faith not by sacramental sign, and that such justification is possessed by the example, the father of Jew and Gentile, before he was circumcised.

    Again, example (type) is not mutually exclusive of, or contradictory with father of Jew and Gentile. The passage in view begins by using Abraham as the example that destroys the argument, and then concludes by drawing the necessary inference that Jews (with sacramental sgn) AND Gentiles (without sacramental sign) are justified by faith, not by the sacrament.

  123. December 19, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    curate,

    I fixed the tags in #117 for you.

  124. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 19, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    Additionally, when Paul uses ‘father’ language of Abraham, he is appealing to a Jewish notion of familial headship (as Jesus uses when he tells the Pharisees that they are children of their father, the devil; also, the “son of …” language in the OT). Abraham is not a “type” in the technical theological sense of that word, but he is a forerunner, and it is understood that we follow his pattern.

    NOT (I would argue)

    that we must all come to faith first, then get baptized — else, the eighth-day circumcision command would be nonsensical — but rather, that we all possess the justification through faith, and not through the sign of justification.

    So when Paul holds Abraham up as “our father”, he is indeed holding him up as our pattern (cf. 4.11,12) or forerunner.

    Jeff Cagle

  125. its.reed said,

    December 19, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    ref. #117:
    Roger, I had not seen this post when I responded (#122). Jeff has effectively given my response (ref. #118). The context of Romans 4:1 ff. makes it clear that Paul is not talking about identity markers. He’s talking about justification – how a sinner is made right with God.

    Your argument flows consistently with NT Wright’s (re) interpretation of Romans. This is an interpretation that I find comprehensively uncompelling. I realize that this means little in this world, and I don’t make that point to take a pot shot at someone far superior in intellect and visible calling. Rather, if I’m right here, then you are using a dramatically different interpretive grid, and one which will fundamentally result in talking past each other at this point.

    I’m willing to try, but I’m afraid we’ll be delving into the deep end where I don’t have time to swim at present.

    Maybe it is safe to observe that, reading this text through what appears to be (more or less) an NPP grid, you find it not simply uncompelling for my point, but altogether irrelevant. Fair?

  126. curate said,

    December 20, 2007 at 2:07 am

    Jeff and Reed, your reading of Romans 3-4 is very persuasive and powerful.

    Agreeing in principle with all that you say about justification by grace alone through faith alone, and that these most important doctrines are clearly set forth there, Paul does not draw the same conclusions that you do.

    1. Nowhere does he say that a man is justified by faith alone apart from baptism. He says that a man is justified apart from the law. There is a world of difference between a work of the law and a means of grace.

    If we define a work as force through space, as some do, then your point stands. However, Paul does not have physics in mind, but theology, and he is speaking of the Mosaic economy and covenant, not Newton’s laws of energy.

    If you wish to include the means of grace into the definition of work – and what a mistake that is! – then you are forced into the impossible position of having to say that a man is justified apart from hearing the gospel! Here is why:

    The word is a means of grace, a means is a work, and a man is justified apart from works, ergo, a man is justified apart from the word.

    2. No Reformer ever found your thesis is this text. Those who rediscovered the very doctrines that we all love failed to conclude that works included the sacrament of baptism. Instead they took the line outlined in my little syllogism. That is an historical fact. Just skim Luther and Calvin to confirm it.

    IOW your argument is not an historically Reformed reading.

    3. The main point of Paul’s argument is not to prove sola fide and sola gratia. Those are auxilliary arguments assumed as givens to prove the primary argument that Gentiles are children of Abraham by faith, like the Jews.

    That is the meaning of Abraham being the father of us all. If he is our father then we are his children, and heirs together with Israel of the promises – without having to be circumcised, just like him.

    This is a huge disconnect between circumcision and baptism, whatever else they may have in common.

  127. curate said,

    December 20, 2007 at 2:09 am

    Thanks for fixing those tags Bob. Much appreciated.

  128. its.reed said,

    December 20, 2007 at 7:08 am

    Ref. #126:

    Quick response for now Roger; you’re misreading the main point I was making (and I believe Jeff, in support).

    The main point Paul is making is contra the Jewish claim that they had righteousness by mere possession of the sacramental sign. To be sure, this meant to them that they were “in covenant”, under the law. Yet, as Paul’s dominant usage of the sacramental sign of circumcision in his arguments here shows, it was this marker (to use the terminology you might prefer) that dominated. The Jews might internally argue over who had a better grip on righteousness, the Pharisees, the Saducees, the Zealots, etc. Yet they all agreed that righteousness was only found in the old covenant, entered into only by the sacramental sign – circumcision.

    Notions of the covenant of works have not entered my thinking here, nor do they appear in this text. Your comments about work through space, et.al. are simply just misreading what I’m saying. Sorry for any manner in which my arguments led you down that rabbit trail. I’m not chasing rabbits.

    The main point Paul makes is this: contra the Jews, the essential thing for righteousness is not membership in the old covenant fundamentally denoted by possession of the sacramental sign of circumcision. The essential things for man to possess in order to possess righteousness is faith. (Don’t read anything into my silence about where faith comes from. In the flow of Paul’s argument, that isn’t brought up till later).

    A secondary point, a necessary inference if you will, is found in this passage that denies the point you our making, to wit that justification (righteousness) necessarily (ordinarily) flows upon (after) and only upon (after) the receipt of the water when the Church administers ther sacramental sign of baptism.

    Your point is exactly parallel the Jew’s argument that Paul is destroying: we Jews (Christians) necessarily (ordinarily) only receive righteousness (justification) upon (after) and only upon (after) the receipt of the cutting (water) of circumcision (baptism) when the Priests of the Old Covenant (the Church) administer the sacramental sign of circumcision (baptism).

    Paul says to the Jews (and to us), but Abraham is an example that disproves this, for he received his righteous BEFORE he received the sacramental sign.

    You and I are not debating about whether or not the grace conferred is tied to the sign. We are not debating whether or not the non-meritorious act of man or the Spirit’s use of that act is in view. We are not debating the necessity of baptism or the efficacy of baptism. Those we already agree upon in principle, although with differences.

    Your are maintaining that justification (Christ and all His benefits?) are not ordinarily received by anyone unless/until they receive baptism at the hands of the Church. I understand the support you find for this position in what I believe is a misreading of Romans 6, but I don’t have time to discuss that now.

    I still maintain that Paul denies your position. Yes the Spirit uses baptism as a means of grace. Yet that sovereign Spirit is not so tied to the Church’s act that He is limited in time and space as to only act where/when the Church acts. Abraham is the exemplar, not the exception, of this principle.

    Believing the whole FV project is fatally flawed, I’d love to say that proving this point to the extent that you switch sides would be an encouragement to me, but it won’t. This point does not seem to be essential to the FV position.

  129. David Weiner said,

    December 20, 2007 at 7:54 am

    curate, re: #117,

    Well now that the tags are fixed I can understand your comment ;)

    What Jew and Gentile have in common at the present time, since the cross and resurrection, is …. faith and baptism into Christ (Romans 6.3-4) DA DAAAA.

    I believe if you read verse 5 you will see that Paul defines what he means in verse 3 by baptism. It is union and the method is not specified.

  130. David Weiner said,

    December 20, 2007 at 8:39 am

    curate, re: 126,

    Please put aside for the moment any dispute we might have regarding baptism being or not being a work.

    I believe there is a logical mistake here. You say “a means is a work.” Well, isn’t everything a means of grace in God’s hands? For example, a bright shiny apple hanging from a tree limb. Clearly, this apple is not a work. But, surely, the Holy Spirit can fill one with the wonder of God’s creation when he/she happens to look at the apple. That’s grace. So logically, every means of grace is not work. And thus, there is no reason to conclude that the Word, a means of grace, is a work!

  131. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 9:20 am

    “Well, isn’t everything a means of grace in God’s hands? For example, a bright shiny apple hanging from a tree limb. ”

    Its weird, but I think reformed theology denies this. The apple is general revelation. Grace is never inferable from general revelation alone.

  132. David Weiner said,

    December 20, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Paul, re: 131,

    Reformed Theology may deny this, I don’t know. But, there is no question in my saved mind that the Holy Spirit is communicating with my spirit when I see the apple. Even if it is only God’s general revelation. And, since I don’t deserve that, I think it is grace. Of course, I could just be reacting to the Pastrami sandwich I ate last night! ;)

  133. pduggie said,

    December 20, 2007 at 10:17 am

    I’d tend to agree with you, but since we’re all being so hard-nosed about only allowing confessional terms to have confessional meanings, “means of grace” seems to be restricted to word, sacrament, and prayer.

    Otherwise, a cross on a chain around your neck might be just as good at channellings grace to you as a sacrament, and we all know our puritan forefather died that we might not wear signs of the cross.

  134. David Weiner said,

    December 20, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Paul, re: 133,

    OK, the clouds are beginning to dissipate. I just hope we aren’t taking any means of grace out of God’s hands by these confessions. Thanks for the exchange.

  135. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 20, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Hi Curate (#126):

    In my own defense, I feel fairly confident that my position is closely tied to Calvin’s on the nature of sacraments and baptism. It was from him that I derived the language I’ve been using, at least — Inst. 4.14-15 in particular.

    So if I’m “not Reformed”, then it’s not for lack of trying.

    Jeff Cagle

  136. December 20, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Reed,

    Thanks for interacting in this thread so far. I am getting married Saturday, so please continue to do so on my behalf (especially in replying to Curate/Roger) since I just can’t follow up on this.

    I’ll just note 2 things. First, it is simply nonsense to read Romans 4 and not understand Abraham as anything other than an exemplar in the Covenant of Grace, not an exception. Notice especially – the text says his circumcision was a “sign and seal” of the righteousness *he had* by faith. While the sign and seal were applied to his children, Paul says it was a sign and seal for him, too. If he was an exception, then circumcision could not have been efficacious as a sign and seal for him. But Paul says it was efficacious as a sign and seal for Abraham, so he could not have had in mind Curate’s idea of baptismal efficacy.

    Second, I’ve heard the whole “faith clings to baptism” bit from Luther before. Luther and our Lutheran friends, aren’t the most, uh…logically consistent fellows in the universe (buying into the T, U, and I, but not the L and P, for instance!). Is any Reformed person who reads Luther surprised that his sacramentology can’t be logically reconciled to his soteriology? Luther was a champion of sola fide, but that doesn’t mean he was always consistent with it. The Reformed should proudly take him to task for that.

    This is, among other things, one more perfectly legitimate reason to be Reformed, and not Lutheran :)

  137. December 20, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    BTW, I wish I had time to make a post on it, but how can anyone who reads Romans 6 and actually bothers to make it through verse 5 believe in any form of baptismal regeneration?

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

    Those who are united to Christ by “baptism” will *certainly* be in the likeness of Christ’s resurrection. You’ll have to erase the *certainly* part of the verse if you think that this is talking about the sign, rather than the thing signified in baptism.

  138. its.reed said,

    December 20, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Ref. #136:

    David, hearty congratulations and wishes for God’s fullest blessings on you and your bride. May He grace you with a marriage that rightly reflects how much His Son loves His Bride.

    Ref. #137:

    If I could ever find the time, I was going to make a post on exactly this subject. Maybe this is fair warning for other’s if one of us gets to it soon.

  139. kjsulli said,

    December 20, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    David W., re: 132,

    What you’re describing is usually referred to in Reformed circles as common grace, something that in principle may be communicated to all men regardless of whether they are believers or unbelievers, elect or reprobate. The means of grace-the Word of God (especially preached), prayer, and the sacraments (baptism & the Lord’s Supper)-are specifically means of special grace, which is limited to the elect and has the effect of bringing them to salvation, strengthening their faith, preserving them till the Day of the Lord, and so on.

  140. kjsulli said,

    December 20, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    David Gadbois,

    Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! May God richly bless you and your bride. :)

  141. curate said,

    December 20, 2007 at 2:45 pm

    Ref 126.

    I would like Reed and Jeff to interact with the arguments in post 126

    Thanks.

  142. David Weiner said,

    December 20, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    kjsulli, re: 139,

    I assure you that before I was redeemed I didn’t give an apple the time of day. I certainly didn’t attribute it to God. So, I understand the idea of common grace as it applies to there being an apple for all of us to enjoy. But, the movement of the spirit in the heart of a believer looking at an apple and appreciating why it even exists is quite different, at least in my experience.

    At any rate, this only came up because the Word was referred to as a work because if baptism was called a work, then the Word too was a work since it too is a ‘means of grace.’ At least I believe that was the logic.

  143. its.reed said,

    December 20, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Ref. #141:

    Roger, see ref. #128.

  144. kjsulli said,

    December 20, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    David W., re: 142,

    It may be that you as a redeemed person reflect on the goodness of God displayed in the apple, but I’d say this is still a function of common grace. It may be that you, while an unbeliever, were not moved to wonder at God’s creation, but I have known unbelievers who did wonder at God’s creation-though they were not moved to repentance for their failure to honor and glorify the Creator. So, in principle, this is something available to elect and reprobate alike, although even the commonest grace will taste the sweeter to the redeemed. :)

  145. curate said,

    December 21, 2007 at 7:30 am

    Reed and Bob and Jeff, I think that we have managed to do some genuine theology on these two threads, and I think that we have managed to isolate some central issues.

    Please bear with me if you think that you have already managed to answer my concerns about your position, because I do not think that you have answered me yet. Put it down to stupidity. I am asking you to have the grace to answer me again in specifically addressing the following points as succinctly as you can:

    1. Based on your exegesis of Romans 4 you believe that it teaches that a man is justified by faith alone apart from works of any kind, especially circumcision, and thus by extension, baptism, which is its NT replacement.

    Now in Reformed theology there are three means of grace, namely, the word, the sacraments, and prayer. This is where I believe that you have impaled yourselves upon an impossibility.

    If we are justified apart from works, within which you include the means of grace, then it necessarily follows that we are justified apart from the word as well, because the word preached is a work.

    2. No Reformer ever found your thesis is this text. If your reading of Romans 4 is Reformed then we would expect to find it in Luther and Calvin. But we do not. Instead we find that they explicitly exclude the three means of grace from their understanding of works.

    IOW your argument is not an historically Reformed reading.

    3. Point three just muddies the water with the NPP baggage, so I exclude it for the minute.

    If you can come up with succinct replies to these two points, then we will have something tangible to move forward with,and, I believe, we may have something valuable to offer the Church as it struggles with these issues.

    Grace and peace

  146. its.reed said,

    December 21, 2007 at 9:28 am

    Ref. #145:

    Roger, point no. 1 for now:

    When you reference works of any kind and then include the means of grace in them, I assume you are not using “works” in the standard reformed notion of an act of man, essential to some degree, which results in manner God “saving” the individual in part because of that work. I.e., if the man did not do the work then there would be salvific result, albeit a small part, but nonetheless essential to salvation.

    I assume you are not referring to works, and including the means of grace in this reference, in this manner. I will suggest that I am working hard to to carefully read you Roger, referencing back as much as possible to other conversations we’ve had and/or I’ve read of you with others.

    E.g, your statement about justification apart from the “work” of preaching lends itself to this confusion. Either you do indeed see the preaching-its reception as essential, as the necessary contributory work of man without which man cannot be saved, – Or you are using “work” in a sense that does not go with the statement “justification apart from works”.

    If the former, this is not the reformed understanding, the calvinist understanding of the Bible’s teaching. But again, I do not think this is what you mean.

    To this end it might be good to offer some qualifiers, at least in this setting, to avoid misunderstanding and/or rabbit trails.

    Having said this, I will note that my mind is wondering whether or not your affirmation of sola fide in this manner is possibly muddled by some sense of necessity you see for the means of grace. Of course, I think from you you’ve said, you expressly fear the same (opposite) for me.

    Possibly no. 1 boils down to understanding the nature of necessity of the means of grace? Is this the area where different understanding causes us to look at the other and say “what are you thinking?”

    Or is it that you are using a two tier notion for “work”, the one a-priori essential, the other contingently essential.

    Let me know.

    reed

  147. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 21, 2007 at 11:48 am

    Curate (#141, 145):

    Sorry; I’m currently in Georgia for my brother’s wedding (not David, but congratulations!). Here’s a quick shot before lunch:

    1. Nowhere does he say that a man is justified by faith alone apart from baptism. He says that a man is justified apart from the law. There is a world of difference between a work of the law and a means of grace.

    Certainly there is a difference between a work of the law and a means of grace. But in this case, pre-Law, Abraham is said to be justified prior to circumcision. So Paul’s argument in Romans 4 (and also in Galatians 3) (a) cannot be limited to “works of the Law” as in the Mosaic Law — else, the argument from Abraham makes no sense — but must be seen more broadly, and (b) *must* refer to circumicision!

    And here’s the thing: circumcision, for Abraham, was not a “work of the Law.” It was a sacrament. It was a means of grace. It was baptism.

    So however we want to discuss the broader works of the Law in view here, which was certainly relevant in the Judaizing context, we must understand that justification precedes reception of the sacrament in Abraham our forefather.

    No Reformer ever found your thesis is this text. Those who rediscovered the very doctrines that we all love failed to conclude that works included the sacrament of baptism. Instead they took the line outlined in my little syllogism.

    I feel very confident that in the case of Calvin, this is a factually incorrect statement. Inst. 4.14 is clear on the nature of the sacrament, and it isn’t as you are depicting it. (sorry).

    On the plane, I was read Inst. 3, and I would recommend that as a frame for your understanding of Calvin and justification. In that book, he is crystal clear that faith alone is the instrument of justification, and that faith comes as a result of the work of the Spirit, through the preached word.

    So that by the time he gets to book 4, he presents the sacraments as an extension of the ministry of the Word.

    The main point of Paul’s argument is not to prove sola fide and sola gratia. Those are auxilliary arguments assumed as givens to prove the primary argument that Gentiles are children of Abraham by faith, like the Jews.

    This is more complex. I agree with you (and Wright) that one of Paul’s major theses is that Gentiles are equally children of Abraham by faith.

    But I disagree with you (and Wright) that this is the entire story in Romans. I think the days when we can reduce Paul’s theology to a single center (eschatology, “in Christ”, “justification by faith”, etc.) are probably gone for good. Paul has multiple concerns. One of those is to explicate the fulness of Abraham’s Covenant: “I will make you the father of many nations.” Another is to reject the particular Covenantal Nomism held forth by the Judaizers.

    And in the service of the latter, he makes the argument that we are justified through faith. It’s really all over the epistles.

    That’s a short answer; perhaps I can be more cogent later.

    Jeff Cagle

  148. curate said,

    December 21, 2007 at 11:49 am

    Reed, we need to sort this point out between us because there is a huge problem of mutual incomprehension on this matter of works and the means of grace. Of we can sort it out we will have made major progress.

    I will post later today DV.

  149. curate said,

    December 21, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Jeff, you are wrong about Calvin. You cannot read his Institutes and deduce from that what his exegesis of Romans 4 is. Exegesis first, then theology. That is the right and proper order.

  150. curate said,

    December 21, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    Reed, I am not the one including the means of grace in the definition of works. You are.

  151. curate said,

    December 21, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Reed, my whole argument revolves around this distinction.

  152. its.reed said,

    December 21, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    Ref. #150:

    Roger, I admit that at times I say things inadvertantly, but you’ll have to show me on this one. This claim is simply weird to me. I think you are the first one to bring in this trajectory. It may be that you believe this is necessary in something I’ve said. I’ll be glad to try to clear up any confusion.

    As it is, there is no manner in which I understand the means of grace to be a work, as in the traditional definition of a work necessary unto salvation. In fact, given the Scripture’s use of works as a comprehensive label, I would never use such language, or knowingly infer, imply, or stumble into such usage.

    No disrespect intended Roger, but on this one, please give me explicit evidence where, either expressly or by necessary inference, I have said this. I recognize that this is the 3rd time you’ve made this observation. Yet I’m not trying to simply deny by assertion. I truly do not see how you are justified in any way in understanding me to say anything even remotely close to this.

    Let me know what, where, and I’ll seek to clear up any confusion I’ve offered. Thanks.

    On the other hand, please explain how you define the necessity of the sacraments, baptism in particular. I’ve offered an either/or starting point that I think may serve at least as a sufficient starting point for your response. Or, if your prefer, begin from scratch. Just be sure to clarify your usage of terms.

    Thanks.

  153. curate said,

    December 21, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Ref no.152

    Reed, would you comment on this paragraph please? As I said there is a real issue of crossed wires that needs resolving.

    1. Based on your exegesis of Romans 4 you believe that it teaches that a man is justified by faith alone apart from works of any kind, especially circumcision, and thus by extension, baptism, which is its NT replacement.

    Thanks.

  154. its.reed said,

    December 21, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Ref. #150 (145):

    Roger, re-reading your post (145) again, maybe you need to demonstrate how my exegesis of Rom. 4 necessarily requires a “works” understanding of the means of grace.

    I’ve reviewed my responses back to #105 (119, 122, 125 & 128), as well as your response #126, which seem to be the one where you make the focused accusation concerning my (jeff’s) commingling of means of grace (sacraments) and works (covenant of works).

    If you’ll look at my response #128 again, you’ll see that I do deny your assertion in #126 that I’ve committed this commingling error. I attempt to back this up with a clarification of my exegesis. Again, only in summary, nothing in my exegesis assumes this commingling notion. I truly believe that a paradigm difference between us has led you to hear that in what I’m saying. If you’ll focus in a little more on where this comes across to you I’ll specifically respond and try to clear it up.

    To summarize, the point of the passage (Rom. 4:1, ff.) is not that sacraments (means of grace) are a necessary (meritorious) work. The point is that:
    > in holding up Abraham as an example of righteousness (justification),
    > apart from (prior to) the receipt of the sacramental sign (circumcision),
    > Paul destroy’s the Jew’s argument that possession of the sign,
    > is the essential factor (the necessary thing, work status not in view) for righteousness (justification).

    The specific appplication here is your insistence that the Bible requires (ordinarily) the Church’s administration of baptism in order for justification to be received.

    Abraham is the exemplar that denies this.

    Do not take my point beyond the specific application I am making. E.g., I am saying nothing about the role of the means of grace contingently in the Spirit’s ministry of Christ and His benefits.

    I am merely seeking to demonstrate that your insistence on a temporal priority for Church-water-baptism over Spirit-grace-baptism does not fit.

  155. its.reed said,

    December 21, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    Ref. #153:

    Roger, I think I’ve answered (as best I can at present) your question here. I truly do not see where this comes from in my exegesis.

    Let me know where, how, why, and I will endeavor to clarify/fix, etc.

  156. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 21, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Curate (#148):

    Reed, we need to sort this point out between us because there is a huge problem of mutual incomprehension on this matter of works and the means of grace. Of we can sort it out we will have made major progress.

    Just my opinion, but I think the question of works is a red herring. I’ve not argued, and I’m pretty sure that Reed has not argued “baptism is a work; we aren’t justified by works; therefore, we aren’t justified by baptism.”

    That syllogism would be mightily confused, because those who are baptized certainly do not perform the work upon themselves (esp. infants).

    Rather, my argument (and I think Reed’s) is “Abraham was justified prior to circumcision; Abraham was our ‘father’, the example of those who are justified through faith; baptism means the same as circumcision; therefore, those who believe are justified through that faith, whether prior to or after baptism.”

    So you can walk down the trail of the works-grace distinction if you wish, but at the end I suspect no clarity will appear.

    Curate (#149):

    Jeff, you are wrong about Calvin. You cannot read his Institutes and deduce from that what his exegesis of Romans 4 is. Exegesis first, then theology. That is the right and proper order.

    I can be wrong; I’ve been wrong before. In this case, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and I’m not willing to move from my position unless persuaded by the evidence.

    I’ve argued that Calvin contends for faith as the sole means by which justification occurs, and that the primary means of faith is the Word, and the sacrament as a physical sermon, a help to our faith that can be used by the Spirit much as the Word is used.

    I cited Book III in post #147 as a witness to this, being in a hurry. I can be more specific: III.2.6 is explicit; III.2.7 is decisive:

    First, we must be reminded that there is a permanent relationship between faith and the Word. He could not separate one from the other any more than we could separate the rays from the sun from which they come. — Inst. 3.2.6

    Now we shall possess a right definition of faith if we call it a firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit. — Inst. 3.2.7

    When discussing the sacraments, he says this:

    This is commonly expressed by saying that a sacrament consists of the word and the external sign. By the word we ought to understand not one which, muttered without meaning and without faith, by its sound merely, as by a magical incantation, has the effect of consecrating the element, but one which, preached, makes us understand what the visible sign means. The thing, therefore, which was frequently done, under the tyranny of the Pope, was not free from great profanation of the mystery, for they deemed it sufficient if the priest muttered the formula of consecration, while the people, without understanding, looked stupidly on. Nay, this was done for the express purpose of preventing any instruction from thereby reaching the people: for all was said in Latin to illiterate hearers. Superstition afterwards was carried to such a height, that the consecration was thought not to be duly performed except in a low grumble, which few could hear. Very different is the doctrine of Augustine concerning the sacramental word. “Let the word be added to the element, and it will become a sacrament. For whence can there be so much virtue in water as to touch the body and cleanse the heart, unless by the agency of the word, and this not because it is said, but because it is believed? For even in the word the transient sound is one thing, the permanent power another. This is the word of faith which we preach says the Apostle” (Rom. 10:8). Hence, in the Acts of the Apostles, we have the expression, “Purify their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9). And the Apostle Peter says, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience)” (1 Pet. 3:21). “This is the word of faith which we preach: by which word doubtless baptism also, in order that it may be able to cleanse, is consecrated” (August. Hom. in Joann. 13). You see how he requires preaching to the production of faith. And we need not labour to prove this, since there is not the least room for doubt as to what Christ did, and commanded us to do, as to what the apostles followed, and a purer Church observed. Nay, it is known that, from the very beginning of the world, whenever God offered any sign to the holy Patriarchs, it was inseparably attached to doctrine, without which our senses would gaze bewildered on an unmeaning object. Therefore, when we hear mention made of the sacramental word, let us understand the promise which, proclaimed aloud by the minister, leads the people by the hand to that to which the sign tends and directs us.

    Nor are those to be listened to who oppose this view with a more subtle than solid dilemma. They argue thus: We either know that the word of God which precedes the sacrament is the true will of God, or we do not know it. If we know it, we learn nothing new from the sacrament which succeeds. If we do not know it, we cannot learn it from the sacrament, whose whole efficacy depends on the word. Our brief reply is: The seals which are affixed to diplomas, and other public deeds, are nothing considered in themselves, and would be affixed to no purpose if nothing was written on the parchment, and yet this does not prevent them from sealing and confirming when they are appended to writings. It cannot be alleged that this comparison is a recent fiction of our own, since Paul himself used it, terming circumcision a seal (Rom. 4:11), where he expressly maintains that the circumcision of Abraham was not for justification, but was an attestation to the covenant, by the faith of which he had been previously justified. And how, pray, can any one be greatly offended when we teach that the promise is sealed by the sacrament, since it is plain, from the promises themselves, that one promise confirms another? The clearer any evidence is, the fitter is it to support our faith. But sacraments bring with them the clearest promises, and, when compared with the word, have this peculiarity, that they represent promises to the life, as if painted in a picture. Nor ought we to be moved by an objection founded on the distinction between sacraments and the seals of documents—viz. that since both consist of the carnal elements of this world, the former cannot be sufficient or adequate to seal the promises of God, which are spiritual and eternal, though the latter may be employed to seal the edicts of princes concerning fleeting and fading things. But the believer, when the sacraments are presented to his eye, does not stop short at the carnal spectacle, but by the steps of analogy which I have indicated, rises with pious consideration to the sublime mysteries which lie hidden in the sacraments. — Inst. 4.14.4, 5

    It is very clear from these that Calvin views the sacraments as conveying to us the promises of God. They are an assistance to, a physical version of, the preached Word.

    But now with regard to his exegesis of Romans, that also is a matter of public record:

    As circumcision and uncircumcision are alone mentioned, some unwisely conclude, that the only question is, that righteousness is not attained by the ceremonies of the law. But we ought to consider what sort of men were those with whom Paul was reasoning; for we know that hypocrites, whilst they generally boast of meritorious works, do yet disguise themselves in outward masks. The Jews also had a peculiar way of their own, by which they departed, through a gross abuse of the law, from true and genuine righteousness. Paul had said, that no one is blessed but he whom God reconciles to himself by a gratuitous pardon; it hence follows, that all are accursed, whose works come to judgment. Now then this principle is to be held, that men are justified, not by their own worthiness, but by the mercy of God. But still, this is not enough, except remission of sins precedes all works, and of these the first was circumcision, which initiated the Jewish people into the service of God. He therefore proceeds to demonstrate this also.

    We must ever bear in mind, that circumcision is here mentioned as the initial work, so to speak, of the righteousness of the law: for the Jews gloried not in it as the symbol of God’s favor, but as a meritorious observance of the law: and on this account it was that they regarded themselves better than others, as though they possessed a higher excellency before God. We now see that the dispute is not about one rite, but that under one thing is included every work of the law; that is, every work to which reward can be due. Circumcision then was especially mentioned, because it was the basis of the righteousness of the law.

    But Paul maintains the contrary, and thus reasons: “If Abraham’s righteousness was the remission of sins, (which he safely takes as granted,) and if Abraham attained this before circumcision, it then follows that remission of sins is not given for preceding merits.” You see that the argument rests on the order of causes and effects; for the cause is always before its effect; and righteousness was possessed by Abraham before he had circumcision. — Calvin, Comm. Rom. 4.9-10

    3. Know ye not, etc. What he intimated in the last verse — that Christ destroys sin in his people, he proves here by mentioning the effect of baptism, by which we are initiated into his faith; for it is beyond any question, that we put on Christ in baptism, and that we are baptized for this end — that we may be one with him. But Paul takes up another principle — that we are then really united to the body of Christ, when his death brings forth in us its fruit; yea, he teaches us, that this fellowship as to death is what is to be mainly regarded in baptism; for not washing alone is set forth in it, but also the putting to death and the dying of the old man. It is hence evident, that when we become partakers of the grace of Christ, immediately the efficacy of his death appears. But the benefit of this fellowship as to the death of Christ is described in what follows.

    4. We have then been buried with him, etc. He now begins to indicate the object of our having been baptized into the death of Christ, though he does not yet completely unfold it; and the object is — that we, being dead to ourselves, may become new creatures. He rightly makes a transition from a fellowship in death to a fellowship in life; for these two things are connected together by an indissoluble knot — that the old man is destroyed by the death of Christ, and that his resurrection brings righteousness, and renders us new creatures. And surely, since Christ has been given to us for life, to what purpose is it that we die with him except that we may rise to a better life? And hence for no other reason does he slay what is mortal in us, but that he may give us life again.

    Let us know, that the Apostle does not simply exhort us to imitate Christ, as though he had said that the death of Christ is a pattern which all Christians are to follow; for no doubt he ascends higher, as he announces a doctrine, with which he connects, as it is evident, an exhortation; and his doctrine is this — that the death of Christ is efficacious to destroy and demolish the depravity of our flesh, and his resurrection, to effect the renovation of a better nature, and that by baptism we are admitted into a participation of this grace. This foundation being laid, Christians may very suitably be exhorted to strive to respond to their calling. Farther, it is not to the point to say, that this power is not apparent in all the baptized; for Paul, according to his usual manner, where he speaks of the faithful, connects the reality and the effect with the outward sign; for we know that whatever the Lord offers by the visible symbol is confirmed and ratified by their faith. In short, he teaches what is the real character of baptism when rightly received. So he testifies to the Galatians, that all who have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:27.) Thus indeed must we speak, as long as the institution of the Lord and the faith of the godly unite together; for we never have naked and empty symbols, except when our ingratitude and wickedness hinder the working of divine beneficence. — Calv Comm Rom 6.3-4

    And again in Colossians 2.12:

    When he says that we are buried with Christ, this means more than that we are crucified with him; for burial expresses a continued process of mortification. When he says, that this is done through means of baptism, as he says also in Romans 6:4, he speaks in his usual manner, ascribing efficacy to the sacrament, that it may not fruitlessly signify what does not exist. By baptism, therefore, we are buried with Christ, because Christ does at the same time accomplish efficaciously that mortification, which he there represents, that the reality may be conjoined with the sign.

    In which also ye are risen. He magnifies the grace which we obtain in Christ, as being greatly superior to circumcision. “We are not only,” says he, “ingrafted into Christ’s death, but we also rise to newness of life:” hence the more injury is done to Christ by those who endeavor to bring us back to circumcision. He adds, by faith, for unquestionably it is by it that we receive what is presented to us in baptism. But what faith? That of his efficacy or operation, by which he means, that faith is founded upon the power of God. As, however, faith does not wander in a confused and undefined contemplation, as they speak, of divine power, he intimates what efficacy it ought to have in view — that by which God raised Christ from the dead. He takes this, however, for granted, that, inasmuch as it is impossible that believers should be severed from their head, the same power of God, which shewed itself in Christ, is diffused among them all in common. — Calv Comm 2.12

    So again: according to Calvin, according to the Scriptures, the efficacy of baptism is faith. Baptism is inseparably united to justification in meaning; it is not inseparably united to justification in time, nor in guaranteed effect.

    This is, as far as I can tell, the standard Calvinist Reformed position on baptism. It accords with the WCoF. It accords with the Heidelberg Catechism Qn 70. It accords with the Belgic Confession articles 22 and 34.

    Just to be clear, here’s my basis for understanding your position:

    (1) “baptism is the normal means of grace.”
    (2) “Faith reaches out for the remission of sins, and God, by means of baptism, puts into our palms and closes our fingers around it.”
    (3) “…even when the appointed time is different from the moment of administration of the water, that is it by the right use of this ordinance that the grace is conferred by the Holy Ghost”

    To the extent that (3) is Confessional, I agree with it; but (1) appears at odds with Calvin; (2) is most definitely at odds with Calvin, and (3) appears to absolutize baptism without considering multiple causation.

    So I hold that your position is not nearly as classically Protestant as you believe. Since you disagree, it would be appropriate for you at this time to produce solid evidence.

    Regards,
    Jeff Cagle

  157. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 21, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    Just one more thought from Galatians:

    Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. — Gal. 3.6-9

    This seems to add weight to the idea that Abraham is the type or “father” for those who believe.

    JRC

  158. Jeff Moss said,

    December 21, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    How do you do the block quotes?

  159. December 21, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    [...] Over at GreenBagginses, David Gadbois posted FV and Adult Baptism, which hits at a core problem with Federal Vision. The ensuing discussion is quite interesting. The [...]

  160. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 21, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    Jeff M (#158):

    It’s a <blockquote></blockquote> tag.

    JRC

  161. curate said,

    December 22, 2007 at 4:19 am

    Jeff, you can be very funny. Just take a breath and go and read Calvin on Romans 4, put down the Institutes, and grapple with the text of scripture Sherlock.

    You said: So again: according to Calvin, according to the Scriptures, the efficacy of baptism is faith. Baptism is inseparably united to justification in meaning; it is not inseparably united to justification in time, nor in guaranteed effect.

    That is not under dispute. The issue is that justification by faith alone does not contradict the need for the means of grace, especially baptism.

  162. curate said,

    December 22, 2007 at 4:25 am

    Just so we are all on the same page, your argument (Jeff, Reed and Bob) is that since faith is the sole instrument of justification, it follows that the moment of faith is the moment in time that justification is credited to one’s account by God.

    Is that right?

  163. curate said,

    December 22, 2007 at 4:26 am

    Reed, I looked at your two latest posts last night, but I was too tired to come to do them justice. I could hardly see straight. I will reply today.

  164. its.reed said,

    December 22, 2007 at 8:16 am

    Ref. #156-157:

    Jeff, thanks for all the yeomanry. Very well done.

    Roger, I’m willing to stand with Jeff in the poinnts he makes in these comments. Notice the syllogism he is offering:

    Justification via (the means of) faith, faith via the means of grace, the preminent means of grace being the word preached, with baptism understood as a (secondary) visible preaching of the word.

    (I would add a secondary caveat, to wit, are the sacraments only confirmatory means of grace, never iniatory. I lean this way, but admit I need more personal study. But again, this is purely secondary to what we’ve been discussing here. I only note it as I think it is under the surface in some of what we’ve said, and in acknowledging it I hope we can agree not to take that rabbit trail. The “works” trail has been weird enough :) ).

    Jeff’s summary is very helpful. All that is being denied is the temporal insistence. As well, on the surface of it, your comment in Ref. #162 seems sufficient as far as it goes. It jives with my understanding of the ordo salutis. (Although I do wonder if you are graciously setting me up :) ).

    Nevertheless I am very uncomfortable assigning time measurements to such operations of the Spirit, as they are behind the veil. There exists no spiritual physics by which we can accurately measure such temporal characteristics. All we really have are some gross temporal markers given to us by the Scriptures.

    You already agree that the grace conferred via baptism can follow after (any time after) the Church’s administration. I’m merely trying to get you to recognize that this is true for before as well. This is not a temporal conundrum as we are talking about the work of a Being Who transcends time.

    Interestingly, this a-temporal characteristic adds a further protection against any shade of an ex operato understanding of the sacraments. Clearly no man can effect before he acts.

  165. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 22, 2007 at 9:39 am

    Jeff, you can be very funny. Just take a breath and go and read Calvin on Romans 4, put down the Institutes, and grapple with the text of scripture Sherlock.

    Wamba the Witless at your service.

    JRC

  166. curate said,

    December 22, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Reed et al. my delay on posting is not due to flagging stamina, but to other commitments. I think that we are doing excellent work here together , and I am keen that we keep focussed and not let our interaction peter out inconclusively.

    I am hoping that we can come up with pithy, succinct statements in the form of the articles of the WCF etc. that we can lay before a wider audience.

    Here is where we are at the minute. Your position is this:

    Justification via (the means of) faith, faith via the means of grace, the preminent means of grace being the word preached, with baptism understood as a (secondary) visible preaching of the word.

    As far as it goes I am fully in agreement with this too.

    You also believe that:

    since faith is the sole instrument of justification, it follows that the moment of faith is the moment in time that justification is credited to one’s account by God

    My answer to this is that this is within the teaching of scripture, but only as an exception.

    Normally baptism is the moment of conveyance of justification and the Spirit to a believer, although these blessings may be imparted later in time. Notwithstanding this possible delay between baptism and effectuation, baptism is nevertheless the means whereby the delayed blessings are granted and conveyed.

  167. curate said,

    December 22, 2007 at 11:17 am

    Bob, lend me a hand by deleting the word “tag” from post 166. Thanks. Wamba isn’t the only witless one here.

  168. greenbaggins said,

    December 22, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Done

  169. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 22, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Curate (#166):

    Glad to see progress. :)

    Normally baptism is the moment of conveyance of justification and the Spirit to a believer, although these blessings may be imparted later in time. Notwithstanding this possible delay between baptism and effectuation, baptism is nevertheless the means whereby the delayed blessings are granted and conveyed.

    So let’s back into this point. What Scripture do you present for this view? And, where do you see this in, say, Calvin? And, importantly, for those Scriptures that could support your view, why is your reading the necessarily correct or most likely correct one (rather than mere a possibly correct one)?

    Grace and peace,
    Jeff Cagle

  170. curate said,

    December 22, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Thanks.

  171. curate said,

    December 22, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Jeff, I have just reread Calvin on Romans 4. Are you ready for this? (drum-roll)

    Calvin devotes his discussion on the sacraments to 4.11. Paragraph one says that signs are not a cause of righteousness/justification, which we all agree on.

    (I sincerely hope that you know that by now! They are an occasion and means of grace, never a cause.)

    He says that in Abraham’s case circumcision was a seal only, and it did not convey justification because he was justified beforehand.

    The final paragraph I now quote in full, as it speaks to our issues:

    In conclusion, as now in baptism there are two parts, so formerly in circumcision there were the two parts which testified both to newness of life and the forgiveness of sins. Although in the case of Abraham righteousness preceded circumcision, this is not always so in the sacraments, as we see from Isaac and his posterity. God, however, desired to provide such an illustration once at the beginning, so that salvation might not be limited to outward signs.

    So then, Abraham is an example given once, at the beginning, of a justification prior to sacraments. From then on, namely Isaac and his posterity, justification/righteousness did not precede the sacraments.

    We see then in Calvin that he does not consider Abraham to be a type regarding the order of justification followed by sacraments. He is a one-off, the vast majority of believers following a different order.

    Abraham is a type in that he was justified by faith alone, which we all are. The typology does not extend to the order of events.

  172. curate said,

    December 22, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    Jeff, part two of your question in 169 was: And, importantly, for those Scriptures that could support your view, why is your reading the necessarily correct or most likely correct one (rather than mere a possibly correct one)?

    Having seen in post 171 that Calvin confines the typology of Abraham to justification by faith alone, specifically denying that the order is typical, we have to see if this is confirmed in the rest of scripture.

    Acts gives us examples from real life, and in almost every case they first believe, and then they are baptized for the remission of sins. IOW they receive their justification in baptism.

    Just one instance, Paul himself, Mister sola fide, is enlightened on the road to Damascus, and three days later he is justified in baptism. Ananias is sent to him and he says to Paul:

    Acts 22:16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

    There are others, but the usual order in the Bible is faith first, followed by the remission of sins and the gift of the Spirit in baptism.

  173. Robert K. said,

    December 22, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    curate, regarding time of justification Reformed Theology holds to justification by faith. Yes, you heard that right. Justification by faith alone includes that as the time of justification. Not faith then justification by (or in, or whatever) baptism. No. That is some quirky non-Reformed formula you are importing into classical Protestant doctrine.

  174. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 22, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    Curate (#171):

    Paragraph one says that signs are not a cause of righteousness/justification, which we all agree on.

    (I sincerely hope that you know that by now! They are an occasion and means of grace, never a cause.)

    Yes, I will cheerfully ascribe that position to you.

    So concerning Calvin’s commentary on 4.11, I can draw these conclusions:

    (1) That righteousness does not always precede the sign
    (2) That Isaac and his descendants are examples of (1)

    But there are a number of links missing to get me to

    (3) Normally baptism is the moment of conveyance of justification and the Spirit to a believer.

    For we might imagine two different scenarios. The first would be yours:

    Alice believes, and “reaches out for the promise of justification”, comes into the church and is baptized, and is thereby justified on that day.

    The second would be an example of mine:

    Bob is baptized as an infant, and ten years later comes to faith.

    In both scenarios, (1) is true; that is, righteousness does not precede the sign. But (3) is true in the first and false in the second.

    So I need more to get me to (3). (And I should note that Bob’s case more nearly matches the example of Isaac anyways.)

    And in fact, if you continue down in Calvin’s commentary to verse 12, he says,

    If, however, Paul is correct in his argument when he proves that circumcision does not justify because Abraham was justified by faith, the same argument also holds good for us. We deny, therefore, that men are justified by baptism, since they are justified by the same faith as that of Abraham.

    Now, granted that we have agreed that baptism is not the instrument of justification. Still and all, could we not agree that Calvin sees Abraham as normative in his pattern of justification?

    Further, would not Calvin say of Bob that his justification occurred when he believed, not when he was baptized?

    That is, is it not possible that when Calvin says

    “Although in the case of Abraham righteousness preceded circumcision, this is not always so in the sacraments, as we see from Isaac and his posterity. God, however, desired to provide such an illustration once at the beginning, so that salvation might not be limited to outward signs”

    that he means, NOT that the righteousness normally accompanies the sign, BUT RATHER that in the case of those circumcised as infants, like Isaac, that righteousness came after the sign was applied.

    Consider that reading of Calvin, and whether it might be correct, and what evidence might push one towards one direction or other.

    The Scriptures I’ll tackle in another post.

    Jeff Cagle

  175. curate said,

    December 23, 2007 at 2:39 am

    Re no.174

    Jeff, how did I know that you would quote Calvin saying this:

    We deny, therefore, that men are justified by baptism, since they are justified by the same faith as that of Abraham.

    Yes, I read the whole commentary on the chapter, and yes, I did see those words, and yes, I completely agree with them.

    I think that you know this, but it needs to spelled out again in the interests of clarity.

    Before moving on to your questions, do you see that Abraham’s experience of the order of justification first followed by the sacrament, is not normative? Calvin contrasts this one man with Isaac and his posterity, which numerically outnumber their father by the many millions. They received the sacrament first, or, simultaneously with their justification.

    I need a yes or a no, if that is OK.

    I will agree with you that Calvin’s commentary here does not address the issue of whether righteousness coincides with the moment of baptism or comes after it.

    Do you see that Calvin confines the typology of Abraham to sola fide, not the order of faith and sacrament?

  176. GLW Johnson said,

    December 23, 2007 at 8:51 am

    Curate
    The reponse you gave to Jeff’s reference to Calvin’s clear and direct statement on the relationship of baptism to justification is more than simple obfuscation- it is deliberate distortion of the worst kind. Andy Webb has noted that the FV folk frequently resort to ‘cherry picking’ isolated quotes from various Reformed theologians of the past to support their postion- but I doubt if even the most hard-core FVer could do the kind of hat dance you just performed in #175. Candidly, what is gained by this ? Saving face in a theological debate is hardly commendable when the price you pay is so high that you end of falling on your own sword as a result.

  177. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 23, 2007 at 9:04 am

    Curate (#175):

    Before moving on to your questions, do you see that Abraham’s experience of the order of justification first followed by the sacrament, is not normative? Calvin contrasts this one man with Isaac and his posterity, which numerically outnumber their father by the many millions. They received the sacrament first, or, simultaneously with their justification.

    I need a yes or a no, if that is OK.

    I will agree with you that Calvin’s commentary here does not address the issue of whether righteousness coincides with the moment of baptism or comes after it.

    Do you see that Calvin confines the typology of Abraham to sola fide, not the order of faith and sacrament?

    Yes. No. Yes. In that order. :)

    do you see that Abraham’s experience of the order of justification first followed by the sacrament, is not normative?

    Yes.

    They received the sacrament first, or, simultaneously with their justification.

    First? — yes. Simultaneously? — there’s not enough information here to say. It’s *possible* that the wording allows it. It’s not certain that that’s what Calvin intends. And nothing else in the entire commentary would lend itself to that reading. So, as stated: No.

    Do you see that Calvin confines the typology of Abraham to sola fide, not the order of faith and sacrament?

    Yes. And I’ve argued as much: the moment of baptism could be before, with, or after the moment of justifying faith.

    But also, don’t miss Calvin’s (and Paul’s) point that Abraham’s order is what makes him normative for us wrt sola fide.

    Jeff Cagle

  178. curate said,

    December 23, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Ref no. 176

    Gary, ask Jeff or Reed to explain to you what I said in that post. After that, if you wish to apologize, I will be ready to accept.

  179. its.reed said,

    December 23, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Ref. #176:

    Gary, I must admit, I’m missing what you’re holding Roger accountable for in this instance.

  180. Robert K. said,

    December 23, 2007 at 1:38 pm

    Oh, come on. Curate has been pushing ‘justification in baptism’ for several comments now and he is confronted with Calvin saying directly “We deny, therefore, that men are justified by baptism” and then he proceeds to spin and dance and obfuscate.

    Reformed Theology (i.e.apostolic biblical doctrine) teaches the time of justification to be when that person has faith. Justification by faith alone includes time of justification. It’s not faith – then – justification by or in baptism.

    So when I write that curate ignores it (as he did above), but when Calvin writes it he can’t afford to just ignore it, but instead of accepting what Reformed Theology teaches he does what GLW Johnson described him as doing.

  181. curate said,

    December 23, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Reed, have I mentioned yet that I accept what you said about the means of grace not being included as works?

  182. its.reed said,

    December 23, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Ref. #175, 177:

    Roger,

    Rather than respond to all three questions, let me address myself to the normative argument which I think is the crux of your opposition to our exegesis.

    I think I’ve already, if not clearly enough, agreed with you (and Jeff) that the main point of this passage is that Abraham is typological of sola fide. I’ve had noted as well that my temporal application of this passage is just that, an application of the passage, secondary to the main point. The issue that stands before us is whether or not this application is valid.

    Your appeal to normativeness, if I understand why you are going here, is to simply observe that since the passage is not primarily about the temporal aspect, and Abraham is more or less unique, that his example of grace temporally before sign is unique and therefore should be considered the norm for the Church. I.O.W. Abraham is merely an exception to the rule, one of the extraordinary’s that is accomodating in your position by the “ordinarily” caveat.

    O.k. let’s grant your premise. So where does the Scripture teach that the grace (you perceive justification) is ordinarily tied to the Church’s administration so that temporally it does not happen prior to the Church’s administration? All you can do is offer two types of texts to prove this point, both with questions attached to them:

    > Some passages such as Act 2:38 where the word order suggests this. Yet these passages are silent about temporal considerations.

    > Some passages such as Acts 2:38 ff. where the apearance of administration followed by grace reception seems to follow from the order of events. Yet such passages (the “begging the questions” issue aside), even more than Rom 4, fall into the very normative quandry you’ve raised. Clearly the Church of Acts, with all its inception events, has more questions of normativeness attached to it than Paul’s use of Abraham.

    But even more Roger, look at Rom. 4 and Paul’s use of Abraham as the typical type, the pattern for the rest of us. You want to say that the issue of temporal timing is not in the forefront so don’t build a doctrine for it. O.k.

    My point is that in every other example you can bring up the issue of temporal timing is not even in view so don’t build a doctrine on it. You’ve proposed a doctrine that in my view so ties the reception of the grace in the sacraments to the Church’s administration that it is almost essential for the Church to administer. The Rom. 4 passage offers compelling evidence that in one BIG example, held us as the pattern of sola fide for all of us, that this is not the case.

    In light of the silence on this temporal aspect then, it seems to me that the silence of Rom. 4 drowns out the silence of such passages as Acts 2:38.

  183. its.reed said,

    December 23, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    Ref. #180:

    Robert, please, don’t asnwer for Gary. And please, don’t hold me as dull. I don’t see how Roger blatantly and with intention took Calvin so out of context as to deliberately mislead.

    Quite frankly (no disrespect Roger) more often than not what I’ve observed in such instances is circumstances in which people like Roger are so tied to their paradigm that they are reading into these quotes what they want to/need to hear. That is a far cry from deliberateness.

    Maybe Roger is deliberately deceptive. I’ve actually met and worked with men about whom I am comfortable before God labeling them wolves.

    I do not see sufficient evidence of that in a minor blog discussing just a small slice of very important matters o that we can label Roger one and have the Spirit stamp our words with righteousness.

  184. its.reed said,

    December 23, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Ref. #181:

    Thanks Roger.

  185. curate said,

    December 23, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    Ref the issue of whether baptism is simultaneous with justification.

    I have looked up Calvin’s Sermons on Galatians (Banner of Truth) which we all agree is the other huge justification letter. We must expect to find more there on this subject, and again Calvin does not disappoint.

    Gal. 3:27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

    Calvin asks the question, How can we be considered children of God when that honour rightly belongs to Christ? The answer is through being joined to the Lord Christ, being united to him as John 17 teaches.

    John 17:23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

    Pg. 344; paragraph 2; Calvin writes:

    Paul addresses this matter (as I have said) and tells us that in baptism we have “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ… Jesus Christ is our garment, as it were, and covers up all that would cause the Father to reject us… Therefore, in order to draw near to God, partake of his Holy Spirit and receive the gifts that pertain to eternal life, we must first be “in Jesus Christ”, and not think anything of ourselves or of our own virtues.

    He is clearly speaking of justification, the gift of the Spirit, and the renewal of our natures, which is accomplished in baptism.

    Pg. 345; paragraph 1; he says:

    Notice, therefore, first of all, that when Paul speaks of baptism here, he presupposes that we have received the grace that is offered. Many who are baptized make void the grace of God in their lives. Although it is offered to them, they render themselves unworthy of it through unbelief, wickedness and rebellion. Thus, the power of baptism is cancelled out by many. But where there is harmony and peace between God and ourselves, baptism has the effect which Paul speaks of in this text.

    I trust that everyone can plainly see that Calvin teaches that when baptism is received aright it conveys the things it signifies. Implicit in these passages is the assumption that this happened at the time of baptism.

  186. curate said,

    December 23, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    .. which are accomplished in baptism

  187. curate said,

    December 23, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    Ref no.176

    Reed and Jeff, Gary’s accusation actually contributes to our discussion because it reveals an error of comprehension, made in good faith, that your side is consistently making.

    Calvin said;

    We deny, therefore, that men are justified by baptism, since they are justified by the same faith as that of Abraham.

    I replied:

    Yes, I read the whole commentary on the chapter, and yes, I did see those words, and yes, I completely agree with them.

    Gary thinks that I teach that a man is justified by baptism. That is a plain error of comprehension based upon a grammatical error.

    Prepositions are very important here. I deny that a man is justified by baptism, and I assert that a man justified in, through, and by means of it.

    Your side reads “a man is justified by faith alone” and it immediately assumes that this is saying something about the time of said justification, when in fact it is doing nothing of the sort. Grammatically speaking, all that is being said is that faith justifies, without commenting upon the timing at all.

    So then, Gary is sincere in thinking me an evil twister, but he is reading into the grammar something that is simply absent.

  188. its.reed said,

    December 23, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    Ref. #185 & 187:

    Roger, how I am smiling :)

    You say (#185), “Implicit in these passages is the assumption that this happened at the time of baptism.”

    I respond not so.I contend (without rancor) that it is implicit to you because of your paradigm, not because either Calvin or the Scriptures require this.

    You say (#187), “Grammatically speaking, all that is being said is that faith justifies, without commenting upon the timing at all.”

    And what have I been insisting on?

    Of course baptism is a means of grace by (in, with, through) which the Spirits administers Christ and his benefits. Of course this is only received by faith (Calvin’s point about the offer here rejected is greater in emphasizing this).

    Of course, the reception of the grace conferred is not tied to the moment of its administration – in any manner (before during, after). All the Scripture does is assure us that baptism is a means of grace that will be used effectually by the Spirit in the lives of those to whom it rightly belongs, when the Spirit chooses.

  189. Robert K. said,

    December 23, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    >Your side reads “a man is justified by faith alone” and it immediately assumes that this is saying something about the time of said justification, when in fact it is doing nothing of the sort. Grammatically speaking, all that is being said is that faith justifies, without commenting upon the timing at all.

    When this subject is focused on in Reformed Theology it is very much in the context of time. Errors regarding time would be justification from eternity or in the ressurection of Christ. Reformed – i.e. biblical – teaching is the time of justification is when we manifest saving faith which is not a work or a ritual or anything but faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

  190. Robert K. said,

    December 23, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    “This opinion then being dismissed, we embrace the middle one, which makes justification to take place in this life in the moment of effectual calling, by which the sinner is transferred from a state of sin to a state of grace and is united to Christ, his head, by faith.” – Francis Turretin Institutes, Sixteenth Topic, Q. IX, Para. VIII

    The above under the heading: The Time of Justification.

  191. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 23, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Curate (#187):

    I deny that a man is justified by baptism, and I assert that a man justified in, through, and by means of it.

    I would see a distinction without difference between “by” and “by means of”…

    If you mean that baptism can be the occasion for the Spirit to engender the faith that justifies, I agree.

    If you mean that baptism is a means that the Spirit uses to justify, I disagree.

    Implicit in these passages is the assumption that this happened at the time of baptism.

    Nope. I can understand thinking that way from a causal perspective, but Calvin takes a more sophisticated line on baptism.

    I won’t do massive quotes again here, but look for instance at Inst. 4.15.3 and note that Calvin comes as close to saying what you are saying as possible: “But we must realize that at whatever time we are baptized, we are once for all washed and purged for our whole life.”

    Sounds like you, Curate.

    But then in 4.15.15, he says “Let us take as proof of this, Cornelius the centurion, who, having already received forgiveness of sins and the visible graces of the Holy Spirit, was nevertheless baptized. he did not seek an ampler forgiveness of sins through baptism, but a surer exercise of fiath — indeed, increase of assurance from a pledge. Perhaps someone will object: why, then, did Ananias tell Paul to wash away his sins through baptism if sins are nor washed away by the power of baptism itself? I reply: we are said to receive, obtain, and acquire what, according as our faith is aware, is shown forth to us by the Lord, whether when he first testifies to it, or when he confirms more fully and more surely what has been attested. Ananias meant only this: “To be assured, Paul, that your sins are forgiven, be baptized. For the Lord promises forgiveness of sins in baptism; receive it, and be secure.””

    Which explicitly contradicts you. What gives?

    It’s this: Calvin recognizes that Paul so unites the *meaning* of baptism and the *symbol* of baptism that all who have experienced the meaning should by all means receive the symbol, and all who have received the symbol should (though they may not) experience the meaning, through faith.

    We can’t separate baptism from faith in meaning. To refuse baptism is like refusing to wear the wedding ring. To receive baptism is like receiving the wedding ring. (Analogy taken from Jeff Moss).

    Do you *need* rings to be married? No. Do rings *make you married*? No. Is the moment you slip on the ring the moment you are married? No. (That’s the moment you say your vows). But the meaning of the two are so intertwined that you can’t separate them without doing violence to either.

    I’m not just representing my opinion here (though it is), but also Calvin’s approach to baptism. And the WCoF’s approach as well.

    The unity of baptism and justification is a unity of meaning, not a unity of moment-of-time. Hence, we can freely see in Scripture those who are baptized or circumcised after justification along with those who are circumcised before justification.

    And at the same time, because of the unity of meaning, Ananias can tell Paul, “Get up and wash away your sins!” He endows the physical symbol with the meaning of justification, even though if (in God’s providence), Paul was hit by a meteorite and killed at that moment, he would have been justified anyways.

    Jeff Cagle

  192. curate said,

    December 24, 2007 at 2:53 am

    Very good replies both, Reed and Jeff.

    Reed first ref. no.188. Before moving on to the theological issue, don’t you think that Gary’s post gives us an insight to why the FV are being called deliberate liars and twisters? Can you also see from this example why FV men are so outraged art the accusation?

    What is happening is a simple error of comprehension vis-a-vis the term ” a man is justified by faith alone”, whereby it is taken for granted by the antis that it inherently means that one is justified in the moment of faith, when it doesn’t at all.

    The FVs say a man is justified by faith alone, not at all implying what the antis see regarding the moment of imputation.

    Here is a valuable example of grammatical exegesis.

  193. curate said,

    December 24, 2007 at 3:00 am

    Ref no.188

    Reed, the Lord has given you into my hand. :)

    You say (#187), “Grammatically speaking, all that is being said is that faith justifies, without commenting upon the timing at all.” And what have I been insisting on?

    Are you really saying this? Are you saying that a man, having come to faith, may have to wait for the conveyance and delivery of his imputation? Are you saying that a believer may have to wait to be baptized, or even longer, before being justified?

    I thought that it was the other way around. I thought that a baptized person – as opposed to an unbaptized believer – may have to wait for his justification.

    Which is it?

  194. curate said,

    December 24, 2007 at 3:13 am

    Ref no. 191

    If you mean that baptism can be the occasion for the Spirit to engender the faith that justifies, I agree.

    You have really helped me with this observation, which you have made before on this thread. In the 39 Articles XXV it states that sacraments quicken faith, inter alia.

    I had struggled with this particular point. But if we see the sacrament as a liquid word, impregnated with the word, then it is still the word that brings us to faith.

    Therefore, an infant baptism may be the occasion when its faith is quickened, or brought to life.

  195. curate said,

    December 24, 2007 at 3:25 am

    Ref no. 191; Cornelius.

    Cornelius is another exception to the rule. Simply put, he and his house are the first Gentiles to be admitted into the church in the context of an exclusively Jewish and Torah observing ecclesia. There is no way that Peter and the other believers would have accepted them if they had not had miraculous and extraordinary proof from God that the Gentiles were now, since the resurrection and ascension, no longer unclean.

    First there is the heavenly vision of the meats, then an outpouring of the Spirit upon them all. By these two signs God persuades the marveling Jewish church, and Peter baptizes them as a sign of their full inclusion into the church:

    Acts 10.45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also

    and

    Acts 11:18   When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

    Is it a coincidence that these circumstances are not ever repeated?

    I conclude on this point that Cornelius cannot be used as an instance of a norm, because of the extraordinary and unique nature of his experience.

  196. curate said,

    December 24, 2007 at 3:30 am

    Ref no. 191 cont.

    I will have to look up the quote in the Institutes before speaking to it.

  197. curate said,

    December 24, 2007 at 4:02 am

    Jeff, be a good chap and speak to no.185. please.

  198. curate said,

    December 24, 2007 at 4:04 am

    Ref no.190

    Robert, this is a valuable post. If you can do this all the time and stop the verbal abuse I will give your posts serious consideration.

  199. Jeff Moss said,

    December 24, 2007 at 8:49 am

    Jeff C. (#191),

    We can’t separate baptism from faith in meaning. To refuse baptism is like refusing to wear the wedding ring. To receive baptism is like receiving the wedding ring. (Analogy taken from Jeff Moss).

    Actually, I can’t claim the credit for this analogy. I originally got the idea from my pastor, Doug Wilson. And he may have gotten it from someone else. :-)

  200. GLW Johnson said,

    December 24, 2007 at 9:11 am

    Roger
    I find your reply completely and totally unconvincing and your take on Calvin is just spin and nothing more. Furthermore your defense of the FV and the ‘outrage’ they feel when dealing with critics like yours truly is highly ironic,and I’ll tell you why . We have heard ad nauseam the refrain from the FV that we ‘constantly’ misinterpret, misrepresent, misread and so end up distorting them . Here the rich irony-I , and a great many others, see the FV doing this very thing when they appeal to Calvin and others in the Reformed tradition to substantiate their views!
    Equally egregious is the way that many in the FV have throw distain on anyone and everyone who dares to raise questions over their claims that they are recovering the REAL Reformed tradition. I sat on the sidelines when this controversy first erupted. I made no public comments and ,as stated here before, I attempted to resolve the concerns that I had with the FV in general and with Doug Wilson in particular, by direct correspondance-which, as I have also rehearsed here, proved fruitless. However, after watching the assualt on my friend Guy Waters (for his book on the Federal Vision) and the abuse he was subjected to-including having the wrath of God invoked against him for daring to write such a book- I entered the fray.
    May I point out that at no time during this controversy have I singled out for criticism (here or elsewhere) Peter Leithart, who all would consider one of the more prominient names associated with the FV. Why you ask? Peter and I graduated in 1987 from WTS (Phil.) with our ThM degrees. Peter went on to Cambridge and I entered the PhD program at WTS. I have over the years read with much appreciation Peter’s writings in Credenda/Agenda and even though I didn’t always agree with what he was saying I apreciate his tone and the matter in which he wrote. He didn’t make snide or inflamatory remarks about those with whom he disagreed( he was the only FVer who acknowledged that Waters had indeed correctly represented his views and interacted with Guy’s book in a fair and courteous fashion). He didn’t insult them and call them names and he most certaintly did not suggest that his views were the only ones that really were true to the Reformed tradition .As such I respect Peter. In this way, and in so many others he stands in sharp contrast to his colleague Doug Wilson, who revels in ridiculing his opponents and delights in heaping derision on any who would dare disagree with him ( don’t take my word for it-just pick up practically any past issue of C/A and see for yourself or read his recent response to Andy Webb on his blog were he, the preeminent presbyterian, relishes calling the FV critics ‘Baptyrians’). Regrettably, Wilson has had far more influence of the FV peanut gallery than has Leithart.
    Witness the way Stellman, Kline and Piper were recently vilified as hopeless nomialists by a green behind the ears seminary student ( when Wilson declared that this was a battle for the hearts and minds of second year seminary students then he has at least one recruit he can claim).In particular the late Meredith Kline, one of my most cherished professors at WTS, has been subjected personal abuse-being called among other things,’hateful’ on this blog by one of the more scurrilous defenders of the FV. Kline was one of the most significant OT scholars of the 20th century and for him to be treated this way is positively contemptible -but he isn’t the only one to be on the receiving end of the FV scorn. Go back and read the nasty assessments the FV threw at the study committees of both the OPC and the PCA,as well as the faculties of M.A.R.S. and Westminster seminary,Calif. But I have come to expect this from the FV-since they take their cue from their fearless leader who had the hubris to denigrade one of the most significant Reformed theologians of all time-BB Warfield- as falling into ‘refried gnosticism’ because BBW clarly saw the difference between sacramentalism and sacredotalism – something that DW lacks the ability to see, which should not come as any big surprise since DW formal theological training could be listed on the back of a postage stamp.
    I share pastor Reed’s perspective- I am weary of dealing with this and I see no use in constantly having to restate the obvious over and over again. The FV and their sympathizers are convinced ,despite being overwhelmingly rejected by multiple Reformed denominations, that they will prevail and that their enemies (which is the language Wilson uses to describe his critics) will be routed in due time( they are after all rabid postmils). It does not matter to them one bit that among their critics are men of great theological stature and deserving respect . They will disregard them simply because they are not sympathetic to the FV and only people who are sympathetic to the claims of the FV are true scholars.This is the mindset of sects. Adios.

  201. curate said,

    December 24, 2007 at 10:16 am

    Gary, feel free to make a grammatical argument explaining why the assertion “a man is justified by faith alone apart from the law” requires us to understand that the moment of faith is the moment of justification.

  202. curate said,

    December 24, 2007 at 10:20 am

    Turretin says the moment of justification is the moment of union with Christ. Institutes, Sixteenth Topic, IX.

    Any guesses as to when the moment of union is?

  203. Robert K. said,

    December 24, 2007 at 10:52 am

    >Turretin says the moment of justification is the moment of union with Christ. Institutes, Sixteenth Topic, IX. Any guesses as to when the moment of union is?

    Here is the full Turretin quote that was posted above not 24 hours ago:

    “This opinion then being dismissed, we embrace the middle one, which makes justification to take place in this life in the moment of effectual calling, by which the sinner is transferred from a state of sin to a state of grace and is united to Christ, his head, by faith.”

    See those last two words there?

    Curate has attempted to fool people who havn’t read the above comments, or who have forgotten them, and he obviously doesn’t care that the rest of us are seeing him at work. This is the behaviour of a recruiter (has the ‘c’ word been banned from use here in all contexts?), not a person seeking, engaging, and accepting the truth of biblical doctrine.

  204. greenbaggins said,

    December 24, 2007 at 10:56 am

    Robert, please see my comment on the other thread.

  205. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 24, 2007 at 11:34 am

    Curate (#202):

    Any guesses as to when the moment of union is?

    Not owning a copy of Turretin, No. No guesses. And I would want to read him in context before taking a snippet as proof of anything, especially in light of post #190.

    #185:

    Implicit in these passages is the assumption that this happened at the time of baptism.

    I don’t agree with your inference.

    I understand Gal. 3.27 to refer not to each and every person who has been baptized, but those who have been baptized effectively; that is, those who receive baptism having been justified by faith like Abraham. I see no other way to read Gal. 3.27 in the sea of justification-(and sanctification-)by-faith arguments found in Galatians.

    In short, when Paul ascribes baptism the power to unite to Christ (Romans 6) or to wash us (Titus 3), I read him (as Calvin does) as conflating the sign and its meaning (see Calv. Comm. Rom 6). Or another way, it’s not every baptism that unites to Christ, but “effective baptism” — baptism received in faith.

    At this point, your position that baptism is the moment of justification is based on an *inference* that is nowhere explicitly stated (a) in Scripture, (b) in Calvin, or (c) in the Confession. If you wish to persuade, you will need stronger evidence.

    By contrast, two Biblical counter-examples have been presented to you, first from the Scripture (Romans 4, Acts 10), and then with commentary from Calvin. You have declared the Scriptural examples as exceptions to the “general rule” — which is, again, based on inference, and one that does not appear to be good and necessary — and you have rejected Calvin’s reading of both of those examples.

    Further, you’ve been presented with the explicit statement from WCoF 28.6 that the grace of baptism is NOT conferred at the moment of administration, but rather at the time of the Spirit’s choosing. Yet you have re-worded that to mean that baptism *is* the moment of justification, but its effects continue throughout life. Which isn’t what it says.

    So …

    I’m out of things to say on this topic.

    I’ll end with a point of agreement:

    In the 39 Articles XXV it states that sacraments quicken faith, inter alia. I had struggled with this particular point. But if we see the sacrament as a liquid word, impregnated with the word, then it is still the word that brings us to faith. Therefore, an infant baptism may be the occasion when its faith is quickened, or brought to life.

    I agree. Merry Christmas!

    Jeff Cagle

  206. curate said,

    December 24, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    Jeff, don’t run away. I am still warming up, and I haven’t even got to the Confessions yet. I see on the other active thread that we FVists are still accused of not being clear. I am attempting to imitate glass in that matter.

    If you were not able to see a reference to the timing of justification in the quotes already provided, here are some more for your edification:

    In his 1547 Antidote to the Council of Trent Calvin writes:

    We assert that the whole guilt of sin is taken away in baptism, so that the remains of sin still existing are not imputed. That this may be more clear, let my readers call to mind that there is a twofold grace in baptism, for therein both remission of sins and regeneration are offered to us. We teach that full remission is made, but that regeneration is only begun and goes on making progress during the whole of life. Accordingly, sin truly remains in us, and is not instantly in one day extinguished by baptism, but as the guilt is effaced it is null in regard to imputation. Nothing is plainer than this doctrine. (Reply to the First Decree of the Fifth Session)

    When a Lutheran named Westphal accused Calvin of denying baptismal regeneration, he replied:

    “Our supposed denial is a fiction of his own mind. Since I’ve already clearly asserted that men are regenerated by baptism just as they are by the word, I’ve done away with the impudence of the man and left nothing for his invective to strike at except his own shadow” (Second Defense against Westphal”).

    Can you really still say with hand on heart that you can’t see the usual timing of the blessings?

  207. curate said,

    December 24, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    … PS Jeff, your view of the sacramental union between the sign and the thing signified needs adjusting in the light of the historical facts.

  208. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 24, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    Can you really still say with hand on heart that you can’t see the usual timing of the blessings?

    Absolutely! Look again:

    …men are regenerated by baptism just as they are by the word

    What we have here is multiple causation. Some are regenerated when they hear the word and believe it; some are regenerated when they think on the promise of baptism and believe it.

    Think on this: would we say that a man is regenerated at the moment the sermon is preached? Or would we say rather that the man is regenerated whenever he believes what was preached, whether that day or a week hence?

    Likewise, would we say that a man is cleansed at the moment he is washed with the water? Or would we rather say that they are cleansed when they believe the promise that was offered?

    Calvin sees the word and sacraments as accomplishing the same thing; hence, it would be ludicrous to hold one of those up (e.g., baptism) and say, “We are justified when we receive baptism, but not when we receive the word.”

    Jeff Cagle

  209. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 24, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    Addendum:

    Calvin, Antidote, Sixth Session:

    “The third and fourth heads I do not touch. Towards the end of the fifth head they affirm that no transference to a state of grace takes place without Baptism, or a wish for it. Would it not have been better to say, that by the word and sacraments Christ is communicated, or, if they prefer so to speak, applied to us, than to make mention of baptism alone? But they have been pleased to exclude infants from the kingdom of God, who have been snatched away before they could be offered for baptism. As if nothing were meant when it is said that the children of believers are born holy. (1 Corinthians 7:14.) Nay, on what ground do we admit them to baptism unless that they are the heirs of promise? For did not the promise of life apply to them it would be a profanation of baptism to give it to them. But if God has adopted them into his kingdom, how great injustice is done to his promise, as if it were not of itself sufficient for their salvation! A contrary opinion, I admit, has prevailed, but it is unjust to bury the truth of God under any human error, however ancient. The salvation of infants is included in the promise in which God declares to believers that he will be a God to them and to their seed. In this way he declared, that those deriving descent from Abraham were born to him. (Genesis 17:7) In virtue of this promise they are admitted to baptism, because they are considered members of the Church. Their salvation, therefore, has not its commencement in baptism, but being already founded on the word, is sealed by baptism.

  210. its.reed said,

    December 24, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    O.k., now the only ones who should posting for the next 36 hours are truly dyed in the soul puritans. To them I wish a blessed continuing experience of Christ and all His benefits.

    The rest of yhou will have to settle for a Merry Christmas. Now no posting – go hug the wife, kids, dog, etc. (Anne, you hug all the grandkids!) :)

  211. curate said,

    December 28, 2007 at 2:48 am

    ref no. 209

    Jeff, Calvin is speaking here of an exceptional case, not the norm. The issue here is of infants who die before they can be baptized. No theologian known to me, except for the Romans, has taught that the unbaptized children of Christians dying in infancy are damned.

    I am not sure, but are you asserting that the young children of Christians who survive infancy are in a state of grace from birth, prior to baptism? That would surely open up a whole new discussion.

  212. curate said,

    December 28, 2007 at 2:52 am

    Before we continue, it has occurred to me that we agree that believing in effective sacraments that really convey the things signified does not contradict sola fide.

    To repeat, are we agreed that both parties to this thread can see ands agree that sola fide is not under threat?

  213. kjsulli said,

    December 28, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    curate, re: 211,

    Read the quote from Calvin again. He is arguing in favor of salvation for infants dying unbaptized on the basis of the general principle according to which infants are admitted to baptism. His argument is essentially this: Children of believers are promised salvation in God’s word; because of this promise, infants are admitted to baptism. If an infant dies without having been baptized, this in itself does not prevent them from being saved, because their salvation is already founded on the word of God. Calvin is not arguing that baptism ordinarily commences salvation, with infants dying prior to baptism being an exception to the rule.

  214. curate said,

    December 28, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    Kyle, would you tell me, in that case, what the point is of having a sacrament that conveys to you something that you have already received, as WCF 28.6 teaches?

  215. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 28, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Curate (#210):

    Before we continue, it has occurred to me that we agree that believing in effective sacraments that really convey the things signified does not contradict sola fide.

    To repeat, are we agreed that both parties to this thread can see ands agree that sola fide is not under threat?

    Actually, I’m not sure we’re using the same meaning of “convey.” #214 leads me to believe that you understand “convey” to mean “give”, which is certainly one meaning of the word.

    But in that case, I don’t agree that sola fide is secure; while you do affirm it, yet you deny that someone who has faith is justified prior to baptism — which means that someone who has (genuine) faith alone is not justified.

    So there’s an apparent contradiction there.

    But then “convey” can also mean “communicates”, which is how I read it. As in “The grace of God is communicated to the recipient, who then receives it by faith.”

    And in that case, the sola fide problem goes away. To the one who believes prior to baptism – justification sola fide, and the purpose of the baptism is like the purpose of the wedding ring: to receive God’s official stamp, the formal statement of being washed.

    To the one baptised prior to faith, justification occurs again at the moment of faith, and the baptism serves as a sign of the gospel message AND as a seal of its meaning.

    In all cases, the meaning of baptism is united with the meaning of justification, but the time of its efficacy is not related to the time of its administration.

    Jeff, Calvin is speaking here of an exceptional case, not the norm.

    Another exception? Perhaps you could read his commentary on Galatians 3, then.

    Jeff Cagle

  216. Kyle said,

    December 28, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    curate, re: 214,

    I can only repeat what has, by now, been pointed out ad nauseam:

    The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered;

    and

    Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification.

    Again, Calvin is not arguing that infants dying prior to baptism are exceptions to the rule that salvation ordinarily commences with baptism; he is arguing that the rule is that salvation is founded on the word and promise of God, and for this reason infants are admitted to baptism which is a sign and seal of salvation; thus even unbaptized infants may be saved, contra Trent.

  217. curate said,

    December 29, 2007 at 2:54 am

    Ref. no. 216

    No Kyle, that is what you are arguing. Calvin’s position is quite different from yours.

    Ref no. 215

    Jeff, you are confusing the instrument and the means. I thought that you had that distinction sorted out.

    Again, you are restricting the sacrament to being a sign and a seal, not a means whereby the grace is really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost It conveys the things signified, it doesn’t merely sign and seal them. That is Baptist empty sign theology, not Reformed Protestantism.

  218. curate said,

    December 29, 2007 at 3:10 am

    Ref. no. 216

    Kyle, please read the whole thread from the beginning. You said:

    The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered

    but what you meant to say was:

    the efficacy of justification is not tied to the moment of baptism

    In fact, that is what all of you antis are reading. Here is a serious question for all of you empty sign Baptists: where is it written in the WCF 1647 that justification normally precedes baptism?

    Please don’t quote what you think are inferences, but black and white says-sos.

  219. its.reed said,

    December 29, 2007 at 10:05 am

    Ref. #218:

    Ah, Ah Roger, no red herrings.

    Where in WCF 1647 does it say anything about the timing of justification vis-a-vis. baptism? No inferences now.

    Ref.#215:

    Are you saying thar instrument is not the same as means of grace? Are you syaing sign & seal is not a type of means of grace? I honestly may not be up on this, but I do not recognize the distinction you are apparently making.

  220. curate said,

    December 29, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    Ref no. 219

    Which red herring is that? You all read that article as if it says that there is no temporal link between baptism and justification, and it simply does not say that.

    We have been through this already brother.

    It says that the things that you receive in baptism continue to be effective throughout your life, NOT that there is a disjunction between justification and baptism. In fact, it directly contradicts what you think it says. Rub your collective eyes and look again.

    The temporal link is this: By the right use of this ordinancy the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost …

    How much clearer does it have to be? Baptism conveys the grace, and, taken together with this:

    The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered

    … it means that the grace received in baptism continues to be efficacious from then on. Come on people, this is simple grammar.

  221. curate said,

    December 29, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    Ref no. 219

    Reed you said: Are you saying that instrument is not the same as means of grace?

    Yes sir. The three means of grace are the word; the sacraments; and prayer. Do you see faith in that list? Come on guys.

  222. Machaira said,

    December 29, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    #220

    … it means that the grace received in baptism continues to be efficacious from then on. Come on people, this is simple grammar.

    Grammar has nothing to do with this, but reading the article all the way through does. The confession article says nothing about the continual efficacy. Notice the last four words. This is an indication of initial action not progression.

    VI. 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 belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time.

  223. its.reed said,

    December 29, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    Ref. #220:

    Roger, I’m sure you do not mean it, but you are sounding a little condescending and presumptive at this point. Let’s re-cap:

    > You argue that justification ordinarily flows (Spiritually) at or after the Church’s administration of baptism.

    > You are arguing that the temporal reference in the the Westminster Standards is not a reference to a-temporality, but to continuity of grace via means.

    > I (and some others here) believe you are wrong in the first point; as demonstrated by Abraham’s example.

    > I (and some others here) likewise believe you are wrong in your reading of the Westminister Standards; that a-temporality is the issue.

    Please, no more exasperated expressions, telling me to quit ignoring grammar and/or to wipe out my eyes.

    For the life of me I cannot understand why you can see how wrong you are – but I’m not going to resort to suggesting is it mere pig-headishness on your part. Rather, I believe you have an a-priori committment to an particular doctrinal emphasis that necessitates you not seeing this.

    None of your arguements have proven your points. I’d love for agreement as it is so much nicer. I will settle for graciousness until eternity resolves it for us.

  224. its.reed said,

    December 29, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    Ref. #220:

    So again, where does the WCF 1647 (or any other version) maintain your position? Or are you reading it into it?

    Your references demnonstrate your own particular reading. In the first there is nothing being said about the timing of the Spirit’s conferring. You assume the coincidence of the two. There is nothing grammatically, rhetorically, logically, etc. that requires your reading. The issue of timing is not answered.

    Your second reference is THE reference that answers the question your assumption answered – there is no timing in view. Again, you offer a reading, the principle of which I do not disagree with, that is simply not the point being made.

    Abraham’s example proves this Scripturally. You deny this. O.k. – let’s move on.

  225. kjsulli said,

    December 29, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    curate, re: 217,

    No Kyle, that is what you are arguing. Calvin’s position is quite different from yours.

    Did you bother to re-read the Calvin quote or not? I’m explicating his argument. All you’ve done is say that Calvin is talking about an “exceptional circumstance,” and so you’ve ignored the actual argument that Calvin makes.

    Again, you are restricting the sacrament to being a sign and a seal, not a means whereby the grace is really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost It conveys the things signified, it doesn’t merely sign and seal them. That is Baptist empty sign theology, not Reformed Protestantism.

    WCF 27:1

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

    “Baptist empty sign theology” my rear end. The sacraments are signs and seals of the covenant of grace by definition, and what they do, they do as signs and seals of the covenant of grace.

    re: 218,

    Kyle, please read the whole thread from the beginning. You said:

    The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered

    but what you meant to say was:

    the efficacy of justification is not tied to the moment of baptism

    I have read this thread from beginning to end, and I know exactly what I meant. You have argued that baptism effectively justifies at the moment of baptism, ordinarily. I am arguing to the contrary that the moment of justification, indeed, the efficacy of baptism, has no tie to the moment of baptism, ordinary or otherwise. Baptism DOES exhibit justification (specifically, “remission of sins”) per WCF 28:1, but the Spirit of God makes baptism efficacious in whom He pleases and at what time He pleases, whether before, during, or after the water itself is administered. Thus the believer, although as yet unbaptized, is justified, the Spirit having given to him what baptism signifies, and does not need to wait for his for the sacrament to BE justified. And when he is baptized, it will be no more empty and no less full then when Abraham was circumcised.

    Here is a serious question for all of you empty sign Baptists: where is it written in the WCF 1647 that justification normally precedes baptism?

    Where have I argued that justification “normally” precedes baptism? What I have said is that it is not an “exceptional circumstance” for justification to precede baptism. For that matter, it is not exceptional for baptism to precede justification, or to coincide with it. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to the moment of baptism!

    As for the “empty sign Baptist” thing, I know where I’ve come from. I grew up in Pentecostal circles where empty signs are the norm. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are reduced to little more than 1) obedience, and 2) professions of faith. Their sacramentology was so poorly thought-out that unbaptized children were admitted to the Table. So you may call me an “empty sign Baptist,” but I know well enough that I am not, and that the grace which the Spirit has given me through the sacraments is very real indeed.

  226. curate said,

    December 29, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Ref no. 223

    Reed, my appeal to grammar is real, not just rhetoric. What really conveys the things signified? Faith alone? What does 28.6 say? This truly is simple grammar Reed.

  227. curate said,

    December 29, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    Kyle and Machaira, see post no. 226 and answer the question posed there please.

  228. its.reed said,

    December 29, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Ref. 226:

    Roger, I’m not accusing you of rhetorical flourish. Please excuse a por attempt at piling up emphases.

    To your question, 28.6 says the Spirit conveys.

    “…but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost …”

    This is a mistake I observed you make previously here, yet I thought we dealt with it. Faith conveys nothing; it merely receives. It is the Spirit who is effectually operative, not the man. The significance of conferring is that it denotes the agent responsible for the operative force.

    I’m not sure how proving this point would have helped your argument. I am curious, as going back to it a second time seems to suggest it is important in your thinking.

  229. kjsulli said,

    December 29, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    curate, re: 226,

    The answer is the Holy Ghost. As I have already said, “the Spirit of God makes baptism efficacious in whom He pleases and at what time He pleases, whether before, during, or after the water itself is administered.”

  230. curate said,

    December 29, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    OK. I’ll try again. I asked what, not who, but I may have been less exact than I intended, so I will be more precise.

    How does the Holy Spirit convey the grace promised to those to whom it belongs, and who receive it by faith? How, according to 28.6?

  231. kjsulli said,

    December 29, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    re: 230,

    “yet, notwithstanding [that the efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered], by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is . . . conferred, by the Holy Ghost . . . according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time.”

  232. its.reed said,

    December 29, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    Ref. #231;

    Since we’re having fun being precise, I assume you mean “by what means does the Holy Spirit convey?”

    And of course, we have not disagreed here Roger, by the sign (in this case baptism).

    So how does our agreement here help your case?

  233. Machaira said,

    December 29, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    For what its worth, I’ll second Reed. No one denies the efficacy of the baptism as a means of grace. The problem seems to be that you want to tie the application of grace to the moment of baptism. The WCF clearly doesn’t hog-tie grace to baptism in the way you suggest.

  234. curate said,

    December 30, 2007 at 2:57 am

    Just recently you were all arguing that a man is justified in the moment of faith without reference to baptism. Now according to Reed we are all on the same page re the HS conveying justification via baptism. Really?

    Let me get this straight. A man is justified in the moment that he believes, then he is justified again when he is baptized. Yes?

    I doubt that you are saying that at all. I think that you are dancing around the meaning of the grace being conveyed. My guess is that by grace you mean the grace of a sign and a seal of what has already occurred, but specifically exclude justification and the HS.

    My guess too is that by the sacramental union between the sign and the things signified you mean a purely nominal union, not a real union – you know, a sign that really conveys instead of pretending to convey.

    What I have been trying to get you to admit is that WCF says in so many words that the blessed HS uses baptism to convey the grace promised. But you cannot bring yourselves to do it.

    I think we have come to the end of our discussion, unless you have something else to add.

  235. Machaira said,

    December 30, 2007 at 8:46 am

    What I have been trying to get you to admit is that WCF says in so many words that the blessed HS uses baptism to convey the grace promised. But you cannot bring yourselves to do it.

    That’s already been admitted. What we’ve been trying to get you to admit is that the WCF says explicitly that the efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered but grace is conferred by the Holy Spirit, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time.

    Have a great Lord’s day!

  236. its.reed said,

    December 30, 2007 at 9:41 am

    Ref. 234:

    Roger, your comments seem to suggest you do not believe the Spirit operates a-temporally, at least with reference to baptism. If this is true then you read all these things (Scripture, Calvin, WCF, etc.), as necessarily inferrinng a temporal aspect.

    If that is the case, then we’ve been arguing past each other for quite some time.

    On the other hand, why is this so important in your view?

  237. curate said,

    December 30, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    Ref. 235

    Machaira, I agree that God gives the grace in his appointed time. That has never been an issue. In my own case I was effectually called twenty-three years after my baptism.

    What is surreal to me is the idea that baptism conveys the grace promised, but at wildly different times as a matter of course. When you read the Reformation literature across the board the assumption is that the grace promised is received at the time of baptism as a matter of course, allowing for exceptions.

    What we are dealing with today within Reformed Evangelicalism is the outright rejection of the biblical teaching of the sacraments as means of grace that really convey and transmit the grace signified, when rightly received.

    I am glad that you believe that the HS uses baptism to convey the grace promised. I do not believe that there are many in the OPC/PCA who do.

  238. curate said,

    December 30, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    Ref no. 237

    Yes, I do read a necessary temporal aspect, while allowing for exceptions. The Bible is a temporal and historical document. Is there any other way to read it?

  239. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 2, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    How do you determine which are the exceptions and which are the rules? So for example, in Romans 4, Paul uses Abraham as evidence to establish a general point: that righteousness comes through faith, not through circumcision.

    I have taken this to imply that justification need not occur at the moment of baptism.

    But you have held Abraham to be an “exception” to the rule that justification occurs at the moment of baptism.

    How would one decide between those two readings?

    Jeff Cagle

  240. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 2, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    I am glad that you believe that the HS uses baptism to convey the grace promised. I do not believe that there are many in the OPC/PCA who do.

    You may be right. But is it possible that you have read peoples’ arguments against your view to be equivalent to arguments for Zwinglianism?

    FWIW, I have never encountered a PCA elder who has denied WCoF 28.6.

    Jeff Cagle

  241. curate said,

    January 3, 2008 at 2:52 am

    Ref 240.

    Jeff, I was on the OPC list for many years, so I know from years of experience that the OPC and PCA (there are many PCAers there) openly reject sacramental efficacy. Indeed, it was made clear to me that my arguments made me unwelcome.

    I will say this, that the ongoing discussion has caused some who were unaware of the issues to take a closer look at the Bible and the WCF etc on the subject, and to adopt a more Presbyterian and Reformed stance.

    Now, an elder will generally speaking not turn around to you and say that he denies 28.6 for various reasons, the chief one being that they are misreading it because of their particular spectacles. Almost invariably they use the phrase in his appointed time as a get out of jail free card.

    That this is done in good faith is unquestioned.

    When they read stuff about the efficacy of baptism regarding the grace signified being really exhibited and conferred they (without knowing that they are doing it) instinctively translate it to mean that justification really conveys the grace signified. This has been really exhibited on this thread.

    Bottom line is that 28.6 says things that are inimical to modern Reformdom.

  242. curate said,

    January 3, 2008 at 3:10 am

    Ref. 239

    How do you determine which are the exceptions and which are the rules?

    By the hard work of comparing scripture with scripture, and studying those passages where the exceptions occur, such as Abraham and Cornelius, and by reading what the best commentators say.

    We saw that Romans 4 teaches us that justification is by faith alone apart from the law, but it does not teach a normative temporal sequence between faith and sacrament, as Calvin noted, since all Abraham’s progeny were circumcised on the eighth day.

    Cornelius is a unique case that cannot be replicated because his house is the first Gentile house to be admitted into the New Covenant, and the outpouring of the Spirit has the specific purpose of teaching Peter and the Jewish church that the Gentiles are from that moment to accepted as full members with believing Israel in the covenants of promise.

    The better commentators agree with this reading.

    The other exception is that of the unbaptized infants of believing parents. Here we are on less certain ground, but most commentators take a charitable view of God’s grace. Apparently Calvin declined to baptize one of his own children when it became clear that it would not survive.

    It is perfectly clear, then, that these three cases are exceptions.

    In every other case in of NT evangelism there is a sequence of faith followed by baptism for the remission of sins, e.g. the Pentecost crowd, and Paul himself.

  243. Jeff Cagle said,

    January 3, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Curate (#242):

    By the hard work of comparing scripture with scripture, and studying those passages where the exceptions occur, such as Abraham and Cornelius, and by reading what the best commentators say.

    I agree with your general tack, and it is the same that I have taken. However, I was asking a slightly different question: what *method* does one bring to the text to determine whether a particular incident is exceptional or not? It’s not like there’s any passage that teaches your rule directly, so that I can easily point to Abraham and say, “Ah. An exception.”

    What I have in front of me is the whole of Scripture, and it seems reasonable to begin with the assumption that Abraham’s experience is part of the general rule unless there is a reason to believe that he is in fact exceptional. More on this below.

    We saw that Romans 4 teaches us that justification is by faith alone apart from the law, but it does not teach a normative temporal sequence between faith and sacrament, as Calvin noted, since all Abraham’s progeny were circumcised on the eighth day.

    Agreed. I do not consider Romans 4 to be the definitive temporal order for the set {faith, justification, baptism}.

    Cornelius is a unique case that cannot be replicated because his house is the first Gentile house to be admitted into the New Covenant, and the outpouring of the Spirit has the specific purpose of teaching Peter and the Jewish church that the Gentiles are from that moment to accepted as full members with believing Israel in the covenants of promise.

    The better commentators agree with this reading.

    The commentators I’ve read agree that the outpouring of the Spirit on Cornelius is a unique event; I’ve not read that he was unjustified until baptism. Who has argued this?

    In fact, as Peter comments on his experience with Cornelius, he attributes the giving of the Holy Spirit to faith, not baptism:

    Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with[a]water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” — Acts 11.16-17; cf. also Acts 15.7

    The other exception is that of the unbaptized infants of believing parents. Here we are on less certain ground, but most commentators take a charitable view of God’s grace. Apparently Calvin declined to baptize one of his own children when it became clear that it would not survive.

    It is perfectly clear, then, that these three cases are exceptions.

    I’m sorry; it’s really not clear to me at all. I’m not trying to be obtuse, but I don’t look at the evidence you’ve provided and say, “yeah, I can see how one could reason that way.”

    See, it’s not that I think Abraham and Cornelius are normative with respect to order (faith first, then baptism after). It’s that Abraham and Cornelius are not presented in Scripture as *exceptions to some rule concerning the order of justification and baptism.* There is nothing to suggest in the text that there is some “rule” concerning that order that has been suspended in their case.

    In fact, Abraham is presented as the primary evidence for the idea that people are justified by faith apart from circumcision.

    Is Abraham exceptional with regard to the temporal order of faith, justification, and circumcision? Possibly. But he is not exceptional with regard to means and instrument; he is the norm. Faith, alone and apart from circumcision, justifies. This is in fact the only positive rule that Scripture directly teaches on the subject; and extending it to baptism is a direct consequence of seeing the two rites as entirely equivalent in meaning and practice.

    So I’m not seeing Abraham as the norm. Rather, I’m seeing him as an important counter-example to your proposed rule.

    I think that in a back-handed way, you see him as a potential counter-example also. I imagine that’s why it is important to you that he be read as an “exception” (else, your rule would clearly be false).

    In every other case in of NT evangelism there is a sequence of faith followed by baptism for the remission of sins, e.g. the Pentecost crowd, and Paul himself.

    Oddly, this same sequence is urged by Baptists to prove credobaptism. “Look!”, they say, “In Acts, people believe first and then get baptized! So that must be the norm for all baptisms!”

    There are two problems with arguing from the pattern in Acts.

    First, the position I’ve been advancing (that baptism is united in meaning with justification, but not in time) is equally consistent with all of those passages. There is nothing in Acts that decides in favor of your view over against mine.

    On your account, people are baptized “for the remission of sins” because, having believed, they need to grasp fully their justification. So when Ananias says to Paul, “Be baptized and wash your sins away!”, he means “Your sins are still accounted to you; baptism is what is required for cleansing.”

    On my account, people are baptized “for the remission of sins” because, having believed, it is appropriate for them to receive the sign and seal of the righteousness they have by faith. So when Ananias says, “Be baptized and wash your sins away!”, he means “Baptism is the promise of the washing away of sins. Receive that promise!”

    The data fit with both readings.

    Further, my view has the advantage of not needing to create special “exceptions” for Abraham, Cornelius, children who die before baptism, and children who come to faith long after their baptisms.

    So your theory does not explain any more Scriptural data than mine, and it requires more ad-hoc reasoning.

    Second, a pattern by itself can only suggest a trend, not prove it. There’s a saying in the scientific world: “the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’.” Acts records a number of anecdotal incidents, and provides commentary on some of those incidents. But those anecdotal incidents are intended to tell a story (specifically, the story of the work of the Holy Spirit in fulfilling the Great Commission). They are not provided as a sufficient database (in the absence of definite commentary) on which to establish normative patterns. To have such a database, you would need controls: instances, for example, of people that believed but were not justified until after baptism. Paul in Acts 22 is the closest you can come to this, but it’s (again) entirely possible that Ananias is referring to the meaning of baptism rather than stipulating that Paul is still in his sins at that moment.

    On the contrary, in Acts many peoples’ salvations are attributed to belief only rather than belief + baptism (cf. Acts 11.21, 13.48, 14.1, 16.31-34, 17.12 and 34, 21.20, 26.18 and 20). Even in cases where folk believe and are baptized, the answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” is “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.” These incidents, which are frequent (and indeed outnumber the “baptized for remission of sins” passages by about 3 to 1) cast serious doubt on your proposed rule.

    I think the closest you could come to commentary in Acts that supports your view might be Acts 19.1 – 7:

    While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
    They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
    So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
    “John’s baptism,” they replied.
    Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.

    yet I think you’ll find that the commentators believe this passage to be exceptional also. (And do we really want to throw laying on of hands into the mix?! — Acts 8.15-17)

    So in the end, the pattern in Acts is by no means as clear-cut as you have presented. What *is* clear is that salvation comes through faith. It is not clear that there is an additional rule that “justification waits until baptism.”

    Grace and peace,
    Jeff Cagle


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 299 other followers

%d bloggers like this: