Epilogue

Doug Wilson has responded to my latest post with questions surrounding food. I am going to respond with only one question, and leave it at that: do paedo-communionists really believe that credo-communionists are starving their children? Is the Word not food? Do you give an infant solid food or milk? If children are welcomed into the church and given the Word of God clearly and effectively, who can say that such children are starving? Or can the Word not exist unless it is sealed with the Sacrament? Okay, I lied. That was five questions. My point is this: the Word of God is the primary food. It is not as if someone who doesn’t have the Sacrament is starving to death spiritually speaking. If one believed the paedo-communionists, the children are on the verge of malnutrition, if not actually there, if they don’t have the Sacrament. Am I saying the Sacrament is unnecessary? Absolutely not. But I am saying (I believe the Bible to be saying) that it is for those who have the notitia element of faith and know what the Sacrament means. I realize that someone may come up to me and say, “But what about baptism? The children don’t understand that, do they?” But it is clear that the benefits come slightly differently between baptism and the Lord’s Supper. 1 Corinthians 11 does, I believe, say that each person must appropriate that benefit to himself. No one can commune with Christ for someone else in the Sacrament. If Doug wants the last word on this, that is fine.

On the epilogue, there are several things I would amen. I thought his insight into Saul’s conscience on page 192 was very helpful, and very logical. I also agree with his assessment of human nature: “But it appears that as soon as we are stopped from rummaging around in our own hearts, we have an immediate yearning to rumage around in someone else’s. We either doubt our own salvation with anguish or we dougt someone else’s with satisfaction” (pg. 192). I don’t agree with his solution (that of an objective covenant). What I mean is that I think that there is more to the covenant than objectivity. The covenant is not exclusively objective. Properly speaking, the covenant is made with Christ and all the elect in him, as the LC says. That is a subjective appropriation of salvation that constitutes the heart of the covenant. The outward administration is objective.

Query for Wilson: what is your position on Romans 7:14ff? Paul as believer? Autobiographical flashback to the time when he was an unbeliever? Paradigmatical struggle of the unbeliever under conviction? Or something in-between (as Lloyd Jones holds)? Or something else (such as Wright’s position)?

I am not going to comment much on the appendix. I really liked this quotation: “If the average Bible-reading Christian takes a dim view of first-century Judaism, it is evident where he got that dim view. Read through the New Testament, and simply mark every polemical comment directed at the Pharisees, Sadduces, the circumcision, the Jews, and so on. The evidence is so clear that it takes about three years of graduate work in theological studies, on average, to erase it” (pg. 202). Doug has made it fairly clear that he does not agree with the basic premises of the New Perspective on Paul, even if he (as well as myself) have benefitted greatly from the writings of N.T. Wright and others of that persuasion. This is a point on which the Federal Vision is not united, as their joint statement makes fairly clear. Therefore, it is false to lump together the Federal Vision and the New Perspective, as some have done, and call them the same thing. I think there is overlap certainly (and influence) on some of the Federal Vision writers. I think of Steve Schlissel, who is cookie-cutter N.T. Wright, and Mark Horne, who thinks that Wright is right on a lot more issues than Doug thinks he is, although even there, Mark is not necessarily lock-step with Wright. It is extremely tempting for critics to lump all the FV and NPP guys together. It makes for easier target practice. However, it does not make for better scholarship, or greater credibility.

Coming soon will be an index of all the posts on RINE, together with individual links to Doug’s responses, so that the back and forth will be fairly easy to follow and trace.

One last question for Wilson. I have enjoyed the interaction, and I think that some greater clarity has resulted. Doug, are you willing to continue the conversation, using the Federal Vision issue of Credenda/Agenda as the next point of departure?

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41 Comments

  1. Mark said,

    March 25, 2008 at 11:51 am

    “Is the Word not food? Do you give an infant solid food or milk? If children are welcomed into the church and given the Word of God clearly and effectively, who can say that such children are starving?

    But I am saying (I believe the Bible to be saying) that it is for those who have the notitia element of faith and know what the Sacrament means.”

    Hmm..isn’t the contradiction here obvious? How is it that one who is incapable of understanding the sacrament is capable of understanding the Word preached? It would seem then that the sacrament would be the means, indeed the exclusive means prior to sufficient cognitive development, by which to receive nourishment.

    Mark

  2. Roger Mann said,

    March 25, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    The covenant is not exclusively objective. Properly speaking, the covenant is made with Christ and all the elect in him, as the LC says. That is a subjective appropriation of salvation that constitutes the heart of the covenant. The outward administration is objective.

    “Properly speaking,” wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that the covenant of grace is “objective” at its very core? The covenant of grace was made between God the Father and Christ the Mediator, with Christ agreeing to fulfill all the terms/conditions of the covenant on behalf of His elect people. How is that not an “objective” covenant? Moreover, the covenant of grace was only “made” with the elect “in Christ” representatively. But either way it is viewed, it is an “objective” covenant at heart:

    “In this covenant the Mediator assumes in behalf of his elect seed the broken conditions of the old covenant of works precisely as Adam left them. Adam had failed to obey, and therefore forfeited life; he had sinned, and therefore incurred the endless penalty of death. Christ therefore suffered the penalty, and extinguished in behalf of all whom he represented the claims of the old covenant; and at the same time he rendered a perfect vicarious obedience, which was the very condition upon which eternal life had been originally offered. All this Christ does as a principal party with God to the covenant, in acting as the representative of his own people…” (A.A. Hodge, Commentary on the WCF 7.3)

    The “outward administration” of the covenant of grace is likewise “objective,” as Christ administers the covenant to the elect in the offers and ordinances of the gospel and in the gracious influences of His Spirit. The only aspect of the covenant that is “subjective” is when the elect personally appropriate the benefits of the covenant through the Spirit wrought gift of saving faith.

  3. greenbaggins said,

    March 25, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Roger, I think we’re saying the same thing. By no means am I denying all the obejctive aspects of the covenant. I merely deny that there are *no* subjective elements in the covenant of grace, which you also deny.

  4. greenbaggins said,

    March 25, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Mark, the Word can be preached in such a way that a two-year old can understand the basic outline of salvation. The Sacraments are much more complicated to explain, in my experience. Explaining what a sign and a seal is to a two-year old is just not possible unless you have a prodigy on your hands. Furthermore, one can use the catechisms (especially the children’s catechism!) for very young children to help them understand the Word.

  5. Ken Christian said,

    March 25, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Lane – Thanks for the exemplary way you have interacted with Wilson and RINE. You are to be commended.

  6. March 25, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    I think it is a fairly rationalist demand that Wilson gives – that the hermeneutic governing our treatment of baptism must apply to the Supper as well. But I do not find this sort of symmetry in Scripture. Baptism is passive, whereas the Supper you are actively taking, eating, remembering, and believing that the body of our Lord Jesus Christ was given for the complete forgiveness of all our sins. And, as the Belgic Confession puts it, faith is the hand and mouth of our souls in the Supper.

  7. E.C.Hock said,

    March 25, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Perhaps I missed something, but I am also concerned about the heavily loaded discussion on covenant objectivity. This is hammered as if the subjective side of the framework, through informed faith and love, is a biblical footnote, or worse, something rather assumed or irrelevant to the “pillars” of the inevitable system. There is too much arguing from theological margins rather than from the center of Gospel imperatives. What does objectivity as the “core” mean by those using rationality as a trump card in this discussion? Why does one have to go out of their way to declare and assure folks of the objective element? This is where a “systems Calvinist” needs to be careful that their strength does not become their weakness. On overly-objective covenant, applied to a social construct, will conveniently move past and even de-value biblical imperatives from Genesis to Revelation. After having studied the methods of Barth’s disciples (30 years after the 1960s) on their left-wing usage of “covenant objectivity” as applied broadly within the church for a globalized social ethic (i.e., national health care, etc. ), this tendency to blur covenant boundaries is a reaction to biblical partcularism. This what happens when we look at “covenant” more as a theological construct, neatly arranged by a broader or narrower systematic preconception, and not “covenant” as a biblical construct that has written through it, union and identity and belonging because “the just shall live by faith.” David’s post, (and Lane’s Epilogue), above is a nice reminder of this element pictured by the Belgic Confession in the Lord’s Supper.

    Let’s not turn Jesus and Paul into a hyper-covenantalist much like a Reformed believer becomes a hyper-Calvinist, merely quoting a system’s over-arching logic and avoiding texts that emphasize kingdom tension and the integrity of particular responses and church fidelity through the Spirit.

  8. Josh Walker said,

    March 25, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    I have posted a blog here (http://bringthebooks.blogspot.com/2008/03/are-those-in-federal-vision-really.html) that might be of interest. I have made an interesting connection that you might enjoy.

  9. Jesse P. said,

    March 25, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Lane,

    Is understanding the “sacrament” the requirement for partaking? Or understanding the Gospel? It seems above you think two year olds can understand a simple Gospel message but they need to be able to understand the sacrament in order to partake. If this is the requirement, who can partake? Do you really understand “all” that is going on in the sacrament?

  10. Matt Beatty said,

    March 25, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Lane,

    Thanks for giving DW credit when credit is due. You certainly have been one of the fairer critics.

    I’m interested in your response to “Mark” in #4 above. You say, “the Word can be preached in such a way that a two-year old can understand the basic outline of salvation. The Sacraments are much more complicated to explain, in my experience. Explaining what a sign and a seal is to a two-year old is just not possible unless you have a prodigy on your hands. Furthermore, one can use the catechisms (especially the children’s catechism!) for very young children to help them understand the Word.”

    I would concur that a two year-old can, in theory, understand the “basic outline of salvation.” Whether he could understand that from your (or another TE’s) preaching – as opposed to a short, gentle, one-on-one teaching moment – would appear to me to an entirely different matter. If we were to ask all of our 2′s and 3′s about the sermon after the service, how many could answer? Yet, we believe it is important to bring them and know that they are, in fact, hearing the Gospel, even if the yield a toddler gets is relatively small. (Side note: I’ve been in three PCA/OPC congregations – all very TR-ish – where attentive, well-trained adolescents can’t make heads or tails of the sermon. But I digress…)

    I’d also agree that explaining the Supper to a toddler COULD be challenging – more challenging, even than explaining the basic outline of the Gospel. But this appears to me to beg the question: what kind of knowledge of the Supper is required before one can eat? How do you define that? Do you think Paul discussed “signs and seals” with the Corinthians? Surely that language is helpful to those with the ability, experience, etc. – but to toddlers/children? How many adults in PCA congregations get it? Not many, I’d wager, if a “pop quiz” were given immediately before the Supper.

    Also, one might easily explain the Gospel to a toddler (or an adult of little education/limited faculties) in a way they could understand without beginning to plumb the depths that one might over cigars and… um… adult beverages with fellow ministers, right? An earnest question: Isn’t the same true of the Supper? Can’t we – mustn’t we?! – explain this to our children in ways they can understand (which inevitably leave out some of the juiciest tidbits), but is at the same time faithful to the Scriptures and our tradition?

    What are your thoughts, Lane?

    MB

  11. Matt Beatty said,

    March 25, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Lane,

    Jesse P. boiled the question down quite nicely; feel free to answer him not me.

    MB

  12. March 25, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Jesse’s comments seem to get lost in the shuffle too often, I think. I, for one, would like to hear his question addressed.

  13. March 25, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Or not.

  14. Mark said,

    March 26, 2008 at 8:19 am

    “Mark, the Word can be preached in such a way that a two-year old can understand the basic outline of salvation. The Sacraments are much more complicated to explain, in my experience. Explaining what a sign and a seal is to a two-year old is just not possible unless you have a prodigy on your hands. Furthermore, one can use the catechisms (especially the children’s catechism!) for very young children to help them understand the Word.”

    Lane,

    First thanks for taking the time to reply. It seems to me that explaining the simple gospel to a child, “Jesus died for our sins” is not any easier than Jesus simple command to “Do this in remembrance of Me”. Like Jesse and Matt (post #’s 9 & 10) I am wondering about the minimum set of cognitive requirements.

    Additionally, if we look to the covenant promises and faithfully (trustingly) bring our children to the font on that basis, then what are we saying when we wait to admit our children to the table? What are we waiting for, verification that God has made good on his promise? I have a problem getting past what appears to me to be a glaring inconsistency.

    Peace

  15. Tom Wenger said,

    March 26, 2008 at 8:59 am

    Here are a few thoughts from Calvin on the matter. I’m not posting these to contradict or challenge anyone, but merely to fuel discussion.

    “The Sunday before the celebration, intimation is to be made, in order that no child come before it has made profession of its faith as proved by examination by the Catechism and also that all strangers and new comers may be exhorted first to come and present themselves at the church so that they can be instructed and thus none approach to his own condemnation.”
    [Calvin, “Of the Supper: Draft Ecclesiastical Ordinances September & October, 1541.”in Calvin: Theological Treatises, in The Library of Christian Classics, Vol. XXII, trans. J.K.S. Reid (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954), 67.]

    “When a child has been well enough instructed to pass the Catechism, he is to recite solemnly the sum of what it contains, and also to make profession of his Christianity in the presence of before this is done, no child is to be admitted to receive the Supper; and parents are to be informed not to bring them before this time. For it is a very perilous thing, for children as well as parents, to introduce them without good and adequate instruction.”
    [Calvin, “The Order to be Observed in the Case of Little Children: Draft Ecclesiastical Ordinances September & October, 1541”, in Calvin: Theological Treatises, 69.]

  16. Matt Beatty said,

    March 26, 2008 at 9:44 am

    Tom,

    I appreciate the quotes from Calvin and am certainly not indifferent to the points he makes. Still, I humbly and respectfully demur. I believe Calvin to be wrong on this point (as I’ll assume you believe him to be wrong on something else in his entire theological corpus…). Calvin is not immune from criticism.

    Those of us inclined toward early/paedo communion realize (at least I do) that we have Calvin against us. We don’t disagree with him without due caution, but we disagree nonetheless. We believe that the traditional interpretation of 1 Cor. 11 is lacking (Calvin included) and that the theology of keeping covenant children away from the table is incongruous with our baptismal theology and larger covenantal perspective.

    Some advocates of early communion might be willing to buy Calvin’s idea of “instruction” provided it didn’t work out to be the equivalent of an ordination exam on the sacraments. Paedo-folks, as you might imagine, find no need to instruct children prior to admitting, but (of course) believe that parents (and fathers, especially) are always teaching their children about the Supper before, during, and after its celebration.

  17. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 26, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Rey (#15):

    Is there any warrant or excuse for infant baptism there? Infant baptism is exactly the sort of thing he is arguing against, i.e. viewing baptism as a magic bath. Infants receive nothing more in baptism that the washing of the flesh. They make no appeal for a good conscience to God. And even if you will allege one of the inferior translation here “response of a good conscience” or “pledge of a good conscience,” “interrogation of a good conscience,” etc. infants cannot be included in any of those either. The infant does not exercise conscience in any way in baptism, neither in responding with it or pledging it, nor in having it interrogated, and certainly not in appealing for it to be cleansed! Infant baptism is the mere bath that Peter is teaching against! Infant baptism is opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ because it is a mere washing of the flesh! But Peter assures us that true Christian baptism is no mere washing of the flesh, but rather an appeal to God for a good conscience, an appeal for the remission of sins.

    As much as I disagree with much of this, there is a point that you and I agree on: that baptism without faith accomplishes nothing.

    Actually, the Confession agrees with you, too.

    But now think about this. Suppose an adult comes to you and makes an outward profession of faith. He is baptized in your church (I assume it’s some kind of Regular or Primitive Baptist church, yes?). Then ten years later he experiences some kind of revival and decides that his previous “faith” was no faith at all, and that now at long last he has placed his faith in Christ.

    At this point, would you have him be re-baptized?

    This question presents you with a dilemma. If you say “No”, then you are accepting the validity of his previous baptism, though it was faithless. But if you say “Yes”, then you are rejecting the consistent teaching of the church — the early church — that forbade re-baptism. This goes back to Paul’s teaching in Ephesians that there is but one baptism, which was interpreted by the early church to mean that re-baptism is not to be practiced (for example, in cases of serious sin). And as I recall, you claim that your church has continuity with the early church.

    The way out of this dilemma is to admit that the pledge of the good conscience of which Peter speaks need not occur at the same moment as the physical act of baptism, and that the efficacy of the baptism is tied to the moment of faith. In this way, we would recognize the validity of our fellows’ first baptism, while acknowledging that his actual cleansing did not take place until he possessed genuine faith (whenever that was — some people are overly troubled about the quality of their faith).

    If you are willing to admit that baptism and faith need not coincide, then you are in a position to understand better the practice of infant baptism in Protestant (not Catholic) churches: that the baptism an infant receives is efficacious whenever that person believes, not at the moment he is baptized.

    I’m not saying you have to agree with the practice; I’m just saying that some of your arguments against infant baptism miss the mark because they proceed from a misunderstanding of the practice. No-one at all has a “magic bath” view of infant baptism.

    Regards,
    Jeff Cagle

  18. Jesse P. said,

    March 26, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Tom,

    The quotes from Calvin are helpful. As Olds has pointed out Calvin’s early catechisms for children were only about 30 questions long (not the 100 plus that would follow). Also, depending on what we mean by catechized this doesn’t change the question posed to Lane. Not being part of a church that requires confessional membership, many adults come to the table without having memorized the catechism and many others without a profound grasp on certain parts of it (what happens in the sacraments being one of them). It is up to the session to decide if they have a “credible” profession. Clearly this same rule then applies to children.

    What I think many paedo-communists see is a double standard (one I have experienced). Children are required to memorize the catechism or to pass a difficult exam where adults often give their testimony and articulate a remedial understanding of “sola fide” and basic trinitarian belief and they are admitted to the table.

    So at a denominational level it seems we in the OPC/PCA traditions have opted for a different standard than the “confessional membership” churches. This may have problems both historically and practically but it is where we are currently. (I personally agree with our current position, yet it does seem opposed to Calvin at this point).

  19. Jesse P. said,

    March 26, 2008 at 10:14 am

    “communionists” – sorry

  20. David R. McCrory said,

    March 26, 2008 at 10:56 am

    “Baptism is passive, whereas the Supper you are actively taking”

    ~ I have always considered the active/passive dichotomy a weak argument. Both Baptism and the Lord’s Supper contain elements that are active and passive. Sinners are to “repent and BE baptized”. We have to present ourselves actively in order to receive baptism passively. Likewise, in the Lord’s Supper,we don’t go up and grab it off the Table (the type of thing Paul rebukes in I Cor 11, “taking their own portions”), but we sit passively, wait for it to be administered to us, and only then to we actively “take and eat”. In short, baptism and the Lord’s Supper are both active and passive.

  21. Ron Henzel said,

    March 26, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Rey,

    Regarding your comment 15, where you wrote:

    A better [analogy] might be considering a minor to be married because the parent said “I do.” The law certainly does not accept that.

    Both the Mosaic Law and human law codes certainly did accept it in biblical times. Betrothal contracts were as binding as the final wedding vows, and they were made by the parents.

  22. Roger Mann said,

    March 26, 2008 at 11:25 am

    22: Rey wrote,

    It is not “re-baptism” to baptize someone as a believer who was “baptized” as an infant, since baptism is not a mere application of water but an application of water along with the appeal for cleansing as Peter shows in 1 Peter 3:21.

    Rey, your response doesn’t even begin to answer the point that Jeff raised. A baptized adult who professes faith in Christ that he does not actually possess has also not genuinely “appealed for cleansing as Peter shows in 1 Peter 3:21.” His “faith” was a sham, and his “appeal for cleansing” was a sham. But if he truly comes to faith in Christ some years later, then he is justified and the efficacy of his earlier baptism is tied to the moment of his faith. The same thing applies to the baptism of infants. The efficacy of their baptism is tied to the moment of their faith, whenever that may be. That’s why the Confession explicitly states in chapter 28:

    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 [i.e., the elect], according to the counsel of God’s own will, in his appointed time.

    VII. The sacrament of Baptism is but once to be administered to any person.

  23. Tom Wenger said,

    March 26, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Jesse and Matt,

    I actually “respectfully demur” from Calvin on this point as well, though I agree with him in principle, just not some of the specifics of his application.

  24. March 26, 2008 at 11:52 am

    FWIW, it seems to me that “discerning the Lord’s body” involves more than a passing understanding of the basic gospel. It would be much closer to understanding the ordinance itself. For Calvin, it involved a very elementary children’s catechism, which certainly gave enough background to understand the ordinance. Since we teach the current Children’s Catechism in our Sunday school program and many of our member catechize their children at home as well, I suspect that our practice is closer to Calvin’s than a simple understanding of the gospel.

  25. March 26, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Lane (or someone else),

    I would be interested to hear you actually grapple with Leithart’s and the FV’s exegesis of I Cor. 11. Thus far, their arguments haven’t been refuted or even addressed.

  26. Matt Beatty said,

    March 26, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Tom,

    Fair enough. :-)

    RM,

    How about a little textual/exegetical support for the idea that to be admitted to the Lord’s table – in the first century, mind you – required more than understanding the Gospel? What in 1 Corinthians would lead you to draw that conclusion?

    I guess I’m questioning the value of “a simple understanding of the Gospel” if it doesn’t “fit” one for inclusion at the king’s table? What must I believe before I can eat? ISTM that you’re saying that I must prove myself to be strong (intellectually, at least) prior to taking the meal designed to strengthen. How is this not what you’re saying?

    Where are all those Pauline catechisms from the 1st century? Do we not have any or, perhaps, were they not written? Or, “What about all those Gentile believers gathering to sup without the benefit of the WSC (or something like it)… what did they do?”

    I should say, for the record, that I teach my children the catechism, jot and tittle. But this isn’t a qualifying exam for the Supper; it is a practice that I believe the Supper demands (Mt. 28).

    MB

  27. Dean said,

    March 26, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Pastor Nathan Trice provides some helpful insight into this discussion in a May 2005 Ordaining Servant article entitled “Drink of It, All of You”, Revisiting Elements of the Traditional Reformed Fencing of the Table”

    Trice quotes approvingly of F.F. Bruce statement, “To eat and drink ‘without discerning the body’ meant quite simply to take the bread and cup at the same time as they were treating their fellow-Christians uncharitably in thought and behavior.”

  28. David Gray said,

    March 26, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    >Unless the proper intent is in the heart of the baptizee at the time of their baptism, it is not a baptism in Scripture but a mere bath.

    So an adult could conceivably be baptized several times, as an adult. In my time as a baptist I don’t recall that being a very common notion.

  29. Roger Mann said,

    March 26, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    32: Rey wrote,

    Roger, you can shout as loudly as a longly as you want that the efficacy of baptism is not tied to the time of its reception, but you are teaching manmade doctrine in opposition to Peter.

    No, I’m faithfully upholding the pure word of God, while you are twisting the words of Scripture to your own damnation! The reason that the efficacy of baptism is tied to the moment of genuine faith in Christ is because justification/salvation is tied to the moment of genuine faith in Christ, plain and simple. Just as Abraham was justified by faith alone prior to being circumcised (Rom. 4:9-12), and just as the thief on the cross was justified by faith alone without ever being baptized (Luke 23:39-43), and just as Cornelius was justified by faith alone prior to being baptized (Acts 10:44-48; cf. 11:15-18; 15:7-9), justification is by faith alone apart from works of obedience of any kind — including circumcision and water baptism (Rom. 4:20-5:1)! The reason you reject the clear teaching of Scripture on the doctrine of justification is because you believe a false gospel. You need to repent and pray that God’s wrath will not be poured out upon your soul for corrupting to pure message of the gospel!

  30. Ken Christian said,

    March 26, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Question for Rey – What does baptism do? Not a trick question or anything like that. I’m just trying to understand your view?

  31. Ron Henzel said,

    March 26, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    So Rey,

    Does this mean you’re conceding the point I made in comment 25?

  32. greenbaggins said,

    March 26, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Jason, I actually intend to write a few posts on this, as soon as I have Tim Gallant’s book in hand. I have to finish reading the Strawbridge book first. In the meantime, I think that George Knight has a good exegesis of 1 Cor 11 in the AATPAC book. I understand that Cornelis Venema is coming out with a book against paedo-communion in the next little while.

  33. David Weiner said,

    March 26, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    ey,

    You keep referring to 1 Peter 3:21. Let me offer some thoughts just in case you may not have considered them:

    1) Verse 21 starts with “and corresponding to that . . .” What is the that? It is the saving of Noah and his family in the arc. So, whatever Peter is talking about here it corresponds to the saving (rescuing, delivering, preserving, etc.) of physical life through an ordeal (e.g., a flood). Now, if you think that saving a physical life can be compared to God declaring a sinner justified, well . . . .

    2) Verse 21 continues with “baptism now saves you. . . ” Saves in in the Greek present tense indicating an ongoing continual saving. Is baptism something that keeps on giving? Or does God cleanse the repentant sinner once and for all when he is justified? The baptism that is being discussed here is representing an ongoing activity of the believer that results in his living a saved life in the flesh that is pleasing to God. Conflating the physical and the spiritual; the temporal and the eternal will lead to confusion.

  34. March 26, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    Matt, RE #30,

    I’m pressed for time, so I’ll just toss out a few quick ones.

    1) Through the judgment of charity, I believe that we must assume that those who Paul addressed are elect and saved. As such, they already had at least a simple knowledge of the gospel. The very fact of Paul’s warning says that more is required.

    2) The Greek for “discerning” implies a complex process. In Acts 15:9 and James 2:4, the same word is used to make a distinction or distinguish–not a trivial exercise. The idea of distinguishing with a preference is meant in 1 Cor 4:7. In Mt 16:3, it is used to call for an accurate conclusion from observation. I could go on, but the point is that the language just doesn’t support a passive activity, but calls for an active, mature, and accurate judgment.

    As to what one must believe, well, that’s the wrong question. The right question is “what must I understand and be able to apply.” With that distinction, I have answered the rest of your post. The silliness about Pauline catechisms is just a red herring. As the Greek indicates, discerning requires understanding and the correct application of that understanding, not rote memorizing or a simple knowledge. That alone rules out infants and small children.

    That’s all for which I have time at the moment, but it should be enough food for thought for a while.

  35. Matt Beatty said,

    March 26, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    RM,

    1. Who’s elect and saved? The kids too, or just the adults in the congregation?

    2. If I understand you correctly, making treating a man well based on his appearance and treating another poorly based on his – is a “complex process?” Not only is it not a complex intellectual exercise, it may well be just the opposite. How many of the folks to whom James is writing sat and cogitated on whether it was just to give the good seats to the well-heeled and make the urchins take a seat in the back? More intuition and “gut” would be my guess. Ditto 1 Cor. 4:7. But I could go on… :-)

    3. O.K. – dispense with the catechism analogy if it doesn’t help – I’m not wedded to it. Of course “discerning” implies understanding. For those with the ability… of course we ask them to “understand” what’s going on, just like we do with baptism. A presbyterian baptizes a covenant child without asking the child if he’d like to be baptized, much less if he understands the rite. But he wouldn’t an adult. Likewise with the supper. While the NT contains no “warnings” about baptizing indiscriminately, no responsible elder would advise a person to be baptized if he didn’t believe the person in question understood what was happening to him – it would be a horrible mistake. But he DOES baptize the children of believing parents, in spite of the child’s ignorance.

    Your entire argument hangs on what Paul means by remembering/examining/discerning. I would respectfully argue (along with that nutty FV-sympathizer G.I. Williamson and the other OPC hooligans that authority the OPC’s majority report on paedocommunion) that you haven’t begun to establish your point.

    We’ll politely wait for Lane.

  36. March 26, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Matt,

    I recall saying that I only had a few minutes. Did you miss that part? I wasn’t intending to write an encyclopedia or Greek dictionary for you in those few minutes. Let me know when you’re serious and I’ll get back to you.

  37. Matt Beatty said,

    March 26, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    RM,

    Sorry – didn’t mean to imply that I thought your response was or was intended to be comprehensive. I didn’t object so much to what you might’ve written as to what you did. Jason Stellman – a Westminster West grad and PCA pastor – and someone who appears to have little fondness for the FV/AA folk says:

    “Lane (or someone else), I would be interested to hear you actually grapple with Leithart’s and the FV’s exegesis of I Cor. 11. Thus far, their arguments haven’t been refuted or even addressed.”

    Perhaps you’re that someone? When you get a change, RM, perhaps you can follow-up on the questions I’ve asked above, including why a dyed-in-the-wool TR hawk like Williamson buys paedocommunion. I know you can’t read his mind, of course, but if a guy like that can get there (and say so in public), perhaps you speculate on how one could – at one point in our church’s recent history – publicly support admitting small children/babies to the table and not get branded a heretic/false teacher and/or get drummed out of the denomination.

  38. Matt Beatty said,

    March 26, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    Sorry – when you get a “chance” not “change” in #45.

  39. Roger Mann said,

    March 27, 2008 at 1:13 am

    37: Rey wrote,

    Roger Mann says “justification is by faith alone apart from works of obedience of any kind” but an appeal is no work…Baptism accomplishes nothing but what God does inside it. Since therefore God has promised to grant forgiveness in it, he will do so, for he cannot lie. It is then all of grace and faith, and is no work.

    Rey, the point is that baptism becomes a “work of obedience” in the same way that circumcision was a “work of obedience” once you set it up as a necessary means of justification — for then justification is no longer by faith alone but by faith and baptism. And the same anathema that Paul pronounced upon the Judaizers (Gal. 1:6-9) rests upon you for teaching such a soul destroying doctrine.

    Furthermore, you simply ignored the passages I cited as if they didn’t exist. If baptism is absolutely necessary for justification, as you assert, then how was the thief on the cross justified by faith and accepted into paradise (Luke 23:39-43) when he was never baptized? And if baptism is absolutely necessary for justification, then how was Cornelius justified by faith and granted the gift of the Holy Spirit prior to being baptized (Acts 10:44-48; cf. 11:15-18; 15:7-9)? The answer is very simple: Because justification is by faith alone, and baptism is not in any way necessary for justification:

    “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius…For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.” (1 Corinthians 1:14-17)

    “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)

    Notice that Paul separates “baptism” from “the gospel of Christ,” and it is by belief in the gospel alone that a person is saved. The Westminster Confession of Faith puts it quite nicely:

    “Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.” (WCF 28.5)

    Furthermore, the language used in 1 Peter 3:21 is easily explained in a way that doesn’t destroy the doctrine of justification by faith alone, as you are doing:

    “There is in every sacrament [such as baptism] a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified; whence it comes to pass that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.” (WCF 27.2)

    That is what Peter is doing; he is attributing the “thing signified” — spiritual cleansing from sin and baptism into the body of Christ — to the outward “sign” of water baptism. We see this same thing happening in many other passages of Scripture as well (e.g., Jn. 3:5; Eph. 5:26; Tit. 3:5; Heb 10:22; etc.).

    Finally, the “appeal for cleansing” or “a good conscience” that you keep harping about, in no way argues against the doctrine of infant baptism:

    “The external participation of baptism will save no man without an answerable good conscience and conversation. There must be the answer of a good conscience towards God.—Obj. Infants cannot make such an answer, and therefore ought not to be baptized.—Answer, the true circumcision was that of the heart and of the spirit (Rom. 2:29), which children were no more capable of then than our infants are capable of making this answer now; yet they were allowed circumcision at eight days old. The infants of the Christian church therefore may be admitted to the ordinance with as much reason as the infants of the Jewish, unless they are barred from it by some express prohibition of Christ.” (Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary , 1 Peter 3:21)

    Of course, infants of the Christian church are not barred from baptism “by some express prohibition of Christ,” and therefore they ought to be baptized. And, just as the efficacy of their baptism is tied to the moment of their faith (whenever that may be), their “answer of a good conscience toward God” is likewise tied to the moment of their faith.

  40. Roger Mann said,

    March 27, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    48: Rey wrote,

    The thief on the cross, Abraham, etc. were all saved by the promise they received from God. Post Pentecost our promise is this “Repent and be baptized all of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” We are saved in accordance with that promise as the thief was saves in accordance with the promise “this day you will be with me in paradise.” We cannot appropriate the promise of Abraham or the thief to ourselves, neither could they appropriate ours to themselves.

    First, in post #41 you wrote that “there is baptism of both water and Spirit, one baptism. This is what Jesus means with being born of water and of the Spirit…” Therefore, if your “interpretation” is correct, when Jesus said that “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:5), this would have applied to both Nicodemus and the thief on the cross, as Jesus’ statement was Pre Pentecost and unqualified in its scope. So, once again, if that is the case, then how was the thief on the cross justified and accepted into paradise without being baptized?

    Second, I’ll ask the same question that I’ve already asked twice now, since you continue to evade it. “And if baptism is absolutely necessary for justification, then how was Cornelius justified by faith and granted the gift of the Holy Spirit prior to being baptized (Acts 10:44-48; cf. 11:15-18; 15:7-9)?” This completely shuts down your false doctrine of baptismal justification, for Cornelius’ conversion most definitely took place Post Pentecost.

    Third, you boldly assert that we “cannot appropriate the promise of Abraham or the thief to ourselves,” while Scripture plainly states that we appropriate precisely the same “promise” in precisely the same way as Abraham — by faith alone:

    “Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all…And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 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.” (Rom. 4:16-25)

    Fourth, you failed to address how Paul can separate “baptism” from “the gospel of Christ,” while insisting that it is by belief in the gospel alone that a person is saved:

    “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius…For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.” (1 Corinthians 1:14-17)

    “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)

    How can this be possible, if water baptism is necessary for justification?

    That is, in other words, when they come to faith they reject their furrowed infant bath and receive real baptism as believers. Otherwise, it is proof that they have never come to faith.

    You failed to address the main point in question: Where does Scripture bar infants from baptism “by some express prohibition of Christ?” Unless you can point to such a prohibition in Scripture, infants ought to receive the sign of the covenant of grace just as they did in Abraham’s day — for Scripture clearly teaches that the covenant “promises” equally apply to both eras of redemptive history (Gal. 3:15).

  41. Roger Mann said,

    March 28, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel” means that Christ sent me not to dunk the unbelieving and them that have not heard the gospel in water (nor certainly to sprinkle them) but to preach the gospel first and foremost.

    Paul said, “I thank God that I baptized none of you [the Corinthians who had believed the gospel] except Crispus and Gaius…and the household of Stephanus” (1 Cor. 1:14-16). Therefore, Paul was referring to believers who had heard and received the gospel message when he said, “I thank God that I baptized none of you.” Why would Paul thank God for this?

    “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel [which is distinct from baptism], not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ [which is distinct from baptism] should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross [which is distinct from baptism] is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:17-18)

    “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ [which is distinct from baptism], for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)

    Paul makes it crystal clear that belief of the gospel alone justifies a man apart from baptism. He also makes it crystal clear that baptism is not part of the gospel message that must be believed in order to be saved:

    “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:1-4)

    By adding baptism to the gospel as a necessary requirement for justification, you have corrupted the gospel — indeed, you are preaching “a different gospel, which is not another” (Gal. 1:6-7) — and have placed yourself under God’s curse:

    “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8-9)

    Moreover, since you have consistently refused to address a number of the points I have raised several times now, I’ll no longer waste any more of my time with you. I pray that God will have mercy on your soul and grant you faith in the one true gospel of grace.


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