On Baptism

I will follow the same format by looking at a new section, and then responding to Doug’s post.

The next section of the joint statement is on baptism. I will start with a question: what does “formally” mean? In the first sentence of the section in question, the sentence reads “We affirm that God formally unites a person to Christ and to His covenant people through baptism into the triune Name…” (italics original). “Formally” as opposed to what? Vitally? If all is meant here is that baptism puts one into the visible community of the people of God, I agree. However, there are less confusing ways of saying it than “unites a person to Christ,” however qualified. I agree that baptism obliges a person to covenant loyalty to God, which does mean repentance and trust in Christ, as the statement says.

However, the last statement of the paragraph is problematic. For one thing, baptism is nowhere in the context of Matthew 19:28 (which is the only time παλιγγενεσίᾳ is used in this way; cf. BDAG). If anything, faith is the context in the story of the rich young ruler. Entrance into the kingdom is surely described in terms of repentance (repenting of idolatry of wealth) and faith. Baptism is thus not in view here. Therefore I conclude that the Joint Statement illegitimately uses Matthew 19:28 to make its point, which is hence unbiblical. I would only add that the Joint Statement puts a division between the time of Regeneration (or eschatological Regeneration) and personal Regeneration, which is actually refuted by other Scriptures, most notably 2 Corinthians 5:17a, which reads thusly: ὥστε εἴ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, καινὴ κτίσις: The translation should go something like this: “If anyone is in Christ, new creation!” The phrase καινὴ κτίσις (“new creation”) indicates not so much the individual aspect of regeneration, but the global re-creation that comes with the person and work of Christ. Thus, the first part of the quotation indicates the personal aspect of renewal, and the second part of the phrase indicates the global aspect of renewal. The train of thought runs thus: if someone is in Christ, then that is part and parcel (and proof!) of the new creation that Jesus brings. That this interpretation is correct is born out by the second half of the verse: τὰ ἀρχαῖα παρῆλθεν, ἰδοὺ γέγονεν καινά. Translated “the old things are gone; look! the new things have arrived!” So there is an inseparable relationship between the individual and the global aspects of renewal.

What does this mean for the Joint Statement’s take? It means that it is self-contradictory. In the second paragraph, the statement rightly says that baptism does not automatically result in an “effectual call” or rebirth. This would be the individual ordo salutis aspect of baptism being discussed here. However, such an individual aspect must be divorced from the historia salutis, if baptism does in fact initiate one into the eschatological age of renewal of which Matthew 19:28 speaks. In other words, according to this statement, baptism initiates one into the historia salutis, but not into the ordo salutis, according to the Joint Statement.

Lastly, this statement is rather puzzling: “But we deny that trusting God’s promise through baptism elevates baptism to a human work” (italics original). Firstly, why would saying that baptism is a human work elevate baptism? Wouldn’t that rather denigrate baptism? Secondly, is this denial prompted by a critic claiming that the FV’ers are “elevating” baptism to a human work, or is it merely a forestalling of a possible criticism that hasn’t actually been levelled at them?

The statement says absolutely nothing about baptism being a sign and seal of renewal. Rather, it speaks of actual initiation into the historia salutis. See, this is the language of WCF 28.1, which says not that baptism actually ingrafts one into Christ, but that baptism is a sign and seal of a person being ingrafted into Christ. This is clear from the commas and the “of’s.” Thus, the grammar clearly states that baptism is to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, a sign and seal of his ingrafting into Christ, a sign and seal of regeneration, a sign and seal of remission of sins, and a sign and seal of his giving up unto God through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life. So baptism in the WCF is a sign and seal. That is the nature of its grace. Its grace is of a signing and sealing nature. That contextualizes 28.6 which states that the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred. Notice the qualifiers of this statement: 1. only to those to whom the grace belongs; 2. in His appointed time (which means that God’s timing indicates when the grace will take effect). This last phrase gives the lie to the FV interpretation of the first part of the same section. That FV interpretation says that when the WCF says that the efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered, it means not a “delayed reaction” type of thing, but rather a “continuous effect” type of action. It is clear from “in His appointed time” that a delayed reaction type of grace is indicated here, since it is grammatically related to the same grace being conferred. This whole section is a necessary prophylactic against charges which are sure to come that I have abandoned the Westminster Standards in my view of baptism. Rather, it is the FV which has abandoned the confessional understanding of baptism as signs and seals.

Now, to respond to Doug’s post:

Suppose I were to say something like this — would Lane find it acceptable or not? I am honestly asking. “The instrumentality of obtaining the glorified state was faith resulting in staying away from the forbidden tree in the first covenant, and faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus in the second covenant. This is non-negotiable.” Of course I agree that the first covenant was conditioned on Adam’s obedience. Of course, just as our salvation is conditioned on Christ’s obedience. But obedience is a human action, and therefore requires human intentionality. That intentionality will either exhibit faith in God or it will not.

I am uncomfortable with this expression for a number of reasons. The most important reason is that is blends together the pre-Fall state of mind of Adam and the post-Fall necessity of saving faith. Whatever one might want to call what Adam knew before the Fall, “saving faith” cannot be it, since Adam needed no saving. Secondly, I still find problematic the idea that Adam had “faith” in the first covenant. Again, if one means notitia, assent, and trust, then Adam had faith. If one means faith as an instrument of laying hold of the righteousness of another, then Adam did not have faith. David Gadbois made a good point in the comments to the previous section. The ground of Adam’s obtaining the final glorified state is his own righteousness. When that failed, Christ obtained it for us. And therefore Christ’s obedience is the ground of our salvation now, and our faith lays hold of it. If the parallel were exact, then Adam would have to have faith in his own works, which simply doesn’t compute.

For the life of me, I cannot see the cash value of insisting that Adam had to have the opportunity of obeying God without an attitude of faith. I just don’t get it.

This is an extension of what I said, not what I said, or even implied. I have already outlined how Adam had “faith,” and how he did not have faith, and why I think saying that Adam would have obtained the glorified state by faith is misleading in the extreme. The question here that I am concerned with is this: on what basis would Adam have obtained the glorified state? Faith isn’t the ground. Adam’s obedience was. That is the material point, because of Christ’s work in the second covenant, securing our glorification NOT by faith, but by works. So, this formulation by no means forbids us from saying that Adam had “faith” in the sense of knowledge, assent, and trust. I merely deny that faith was in any sense the ground of his elevation to the glorified state. The Belgic Confession is helpful here: “Jesus Christ, imputing to us all His merits, and so many holy works which He has done for us and in our stead, is our righteousness. And faith is an instrument that keeps us in communion with Him in all His benefits, which, when they become ours, are more than sufficient to acquit us of our sins” (BC, article 22).

On notitia, Lane wants to insist on its necessary presence, while at the same time leaving room for the salvation of infants. And he says, quite rightly, that we frequently underestimate what infants can know. But I want to insist on the salvation of fertilized eggs, as well as infants, and I am quite interested in hearing Lane explain the “non-Bavinck-level” of understanding exhibited by such. I have no trouble saying that incipient faith has the characteristics of incipient notitia, assensus, and fiducia. Emphasis here on incipient, with gratitude that God is the one who judges these things. But if, as Lane insists, some recognizable form of notitia must be present, then he must say that all fertilized eggs, dying at that stage, are damned because they don’t have the intellectual wherewithal. And if these people are saved by some other extraordinary exception, then this means that the rest of us have to “get notitia,” making it something we do, which was my point.

I think this would be my answer to this: notitia develops organically. In a saved person, whether egg or adult, it is present. It is an egg notitia in an egg person, and it is a chicken notitia in a chicken person (by which I mean an adult, of course, not a coward). Here’s why I say this: notitia is part of the image of God. Everyone knows that God exists. That is implanted in the very nature that we possess. Therefore, an egg can have that as well. And a regenerated egg has that as part of his egg-like faith. A non-regenerated egg has notitia as something it is already trying to suppress in unrighteousness. A notitia that is connected to trust is something that God provides. So, it is not something that we go out and do.

One note on John 15. I do not believe that Doug has answered any of my exegetical points. I am therefore content to let it lie there and in the judgment of the readers as to which one of us has a more biblical understanding of the passage.

About these ads

45 Comments

  1. December 9, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Lane,

    Great post. I’ve generally stayed out of this discussion, but this FV comment was just over the top:

    But if, as Lane insists, some recognizable form of notitia must be present, then he must say that all fertilized eggs, dying at that stage, are damned because they don’t have the intellectual wherewithal. And if these people are saved by some other extraordinary exception, then this means that the rest of us have to “get notitia,” making it something we do, which was my point.

    This is childish scholasticism on the order of “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” WCF 10.3 covers this as well as anything:

    Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.

    I find it interesting that this statement occurs under Of Effectual Calling, not Of Baptism. To try to dissect God’s grace flies in the face of Dt 29:29. We are free to infer from Jesus’ words recorded in places like Jn 10:29 that Jesus saves ALL the elect regardless of gestation stage. The details of how that works in cases not explicitly covered in Scripture is not our place to inquire or speculate. Jn 3:8 should be sufficient in this extreme case.

    I wonder if this is what FVers consider “cutting-edge theology”?

  2. jared said,

    December 9, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Lane,

    You say,

    Secondly, I still find problematic the idea that Adam had “faith” in the first covenant. Again, if one means notitia, assent, and trust, then Adam had faith. If one means faith as an instrument of laying hold of the righteousness of another, then Adam did not have faith.

    What is biblical faith but notitia, assent and trust? Adam did not have faith as an instrument, but he did have faith. You are, here, confusing the function of faith within the respective covenants and the presence of faith in individuals.

    reformedmusings,

    Doug’s comment is not childish scholasticism on the order of “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”, even though it may in fact be childish scholasticism. Discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin is superfluous to a consistent and coherent systematic theology. Understanding the role of notitia within the overall concept of faith as it relates to justification and salvation and discussion/debates about works is not superfluous to a consistent and coherent systematic theology. So while Doug’s approach may be childishly scholastic, the issue he is raising is not. I think Lane gave an excellent response on this point. Bringing in WCF 10.3 is also helpful and I don’t think Doug would disagree with you there.

  3. greenbaggins said,

    December 10, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Jared, I would cautiously agree with your paragraph after the quotation of what I said. I am merely trying to avoid any notion that Adam was “saved by grace through faith.” He wasn’t, and wouldn’t. And while “faith” (as defined in the post) was there, it would not have been instrumental in the obtaining of eternal life.

  4. jared said,

    December 10, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Lane,

    I agree that pre-fall Adam would not be “saved by grace through faith”, at least not in the same way that we are. As for faith not being instrumental in obtaining eternal life, it would not have been solely instrumental in Adam’s case. I should’ve been more clear about that in my short response.

  5. greenbaggins said,

    December 10, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Here’s the reason I don’t think we can say that Adam’s faith was instrumental at all, at least not in the way that the word is usually used in ST. Adam’s faith would not have laid hold of a righteousness outside itself. In order for faith to be instrumental, it would have to be like tongs used to grasp something hot. This simply doesn’t compute in my mind.

  6. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    December 10, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Lane,

    Isn’t it fair to consider that Adam’s faith would indeed have been part of the ground of his reward, and that is a major difference between his faith and ours? Ours is merely instrumental, since it receives Christ’s perfect righteousness, but Adam’s–like Christ’s–was actually meritorious. Adam would have been rewarded on the basis of his own faith and obedience, while we are first justified and then rewarded on the basis of Christ’s perfect faith and obedience, through our own faith (wrought in us by the HS) which necessarily produces good work, the continuing imperfection of which is covered, like our persons, by Christ’s perfect good works.

  7. rfwhite said,

    December 10, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Putting the best face on the word “formally” in the Joint Statement, the meaning of the adverb would be “in a formalized manner” as opposed to without (or in the absence of) any formalized manner (ceremony). The consequent meaning of the phrase “God formally unites a person to Christ and to His people through baptism” would be “through baptism God formalized the union between a person and Christ and His people” in much the same way that we say, “through a legal contract Party A formalized the relationship between Party X and Party Y.” Even so, it strikes the ear and the eye as less clear than it could have been.

  8. Pete Myers said,

    December 10, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    1) Great post. I feel I’m really beginning to “get” something of where you guys are coming from now. Particularly your exegesis was very helpful. Thanks.

    2) PLEASE!!!! Get rid of the Javascript snow on your blog, it makes everything runextrememly slowly, and it’s very hard to read.

  9. Pete Myers said,

    December 10, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    And lane… your explanation of notitia reminds me of Calvin, who makes the argument for a kind of pseudo-faith in children… how does he call it? Seed faith I think.

  10. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 10, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    Pete M:

    I enjoyed your blog. I couldn’t leave comments though, since I use that “other” blog (Blogger).

    Jeff Cagle

  11. rfwhite said,

    December 10, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Lane, the emphasis on instrumentality adds clarity. Would it reflect your view correctly to say that Adam’s works are the alone instrument of his glorification; yet those works are not alone in Adam glorified, but are always the fruit and evidence of his pre-fall faith?

  12. David Gadbois said,

    December 10, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Neither 3FU nor the Westminster Standards grounds the salvation of infants who die in infancy in their incipient faith. 3FU ties their salvation to the covenant, WS ties it to their regeneration. And neither set of confessional standards teaches or implies the reality of incipient faith in infants. Wilson wants to push Lane over this issue, but the assumptions driving his critique are extra-confessional.

    Is it really so hard to believe that God can and does sometimes work His sovereign will outside of His normal means? Both sides of the debate have to admit that in one way or another, in the extraordinary case of infant death. God can make extraordinary exceptions in extraordinary cases.

    Despite my rejection of the idea of incipient faith in infants, I know many good Reformed men (past and present) believe and have believed in it, including Lane. Heck, I even disagree with my own pastor on it. I can only humbly disagree, and I’d plead for caution in positing this sort of speculation. I also fail to see how it is consistent with HC 21 & 22, and Rom 10:14,17.

    I understand what folks are trying to do by exploring this idea, but it is not necessary to our understanding of the salvation of infants. I am sensitive to the issue not only because of FV arguments against the Reformed understanding of faith and justification. I am also sensitive because this issue is a Trojan Horse for their doctrine of paedocommunion. We ought to be very careful in the way we answer their critiques.

  13. Pete Myers said,

    December 10, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Jeff – Thanks, I didn’t realise anyone over your side of the water read my blog. I’ve just moved from blogger to WordPress, and I’m still having teething issues with it. But parenting is currently holding me back from fixing the thing.

    David – just to exchange proof texts with you… what do you make of Luk 1v15? That’s Calvin’s proof text, and do deny faith to JtB would be to say there’s a different ordo salutis for infants.

    A second appeal to the GB blog team PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get rid of the snow. I read your blog all the time, and my pc can’t handle it. Sorry to spoil the fun…

  14. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 10, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    David G (#12):

    If I may interject …

    Neither 3FU nor the Westminster Standards grounds the salvation of infants who die in infancy in their incipient faith.

    This is true. But it is also true that the salvation of *adults* is grounded in the mediatorial work of Christ and the eternal decree, not in their faith:

    “Those whom God effectually calleth, He also freely justifieth … for Christ’s sake alone; [not] by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.” — WCoF 11.1

    “However, we do not mean, properly speaking, that it is faith itself that justifies us– for faith is only the instrument by which we embrace Christ, our righteousness. But Jesus Christ is our righteousness in making available to us all his merits and all the holy works he has done for us and in our place. And faith is the instrument that keeps us in communion with him and with all his benefits.” — BC 22

    I am not suggesting that you were saying anything different from these!

    Rather, I’m pointing out that it’s entirely consistent to say

    (1) An infant’s salvation is grounded in God’s decree, AND
    (2) An infant’s faith, however small and unformed, is the instrument of his justification.

    Finally, it’s worth noting in passing that the WCoF does not address the faith of infants — I wonder if that’s because there was a difference of opinion on this matter amongst the Westminster Divines?

    Jeff Cagle

  15. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    December 10, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Right, beware of that terrible Trojan horse of paedocommunion, which such heresiachs as G.I. Williamson and the majority of the OPC’s study committee argue for!

  16. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 10, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Dr White (#7), Lane, and Doug:

    One of the issues that arose last year in various conversations was whether membership in the covenant was subordinate to baptism or vice-versa.

    On the one hand, some argued that membership in the covenant begins with and is caused by baptism. Others argued, citing WCoF 56.4h, “[Children of believers] are federally holy before Baptism, and therefore are they baptized”, that membership in the covenant precedes baptism.

    The wording in the FV statement (“We affirm that God formally unites a person to Christ and to His covenant people through baptism into the triune Name”) appears to lean in the first direction rather than the second. Is this by design? Is it an FV distinctive that unbaptized children of believers are outside the Covenant?

    Jeff Cagle

  17. Pete Myers said,

    December 10, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Jeff,

    The illustration that DW frequently uses for baptism and covenant membership is that of marriage. I *think* that Doug’s said on his blog somewhere (or maybe in a debate with a baptist…) that infants are connected to the covenant (my language deliberately vague there) before baptism. Baptism “formalises” that relationship.

    A similar “problem” exists in the case of adult converts from pagan families, who have a strong conversion experience, and come to faith. Practice over here in the UK in many quarters means that it can be months – even YEARS – before adult converts actually get baptised. What is the covenantal status of that person? Clearly in (faith), but also out (being unbaptised, they can’t take communion). Our unbiblical practice creates those sorts of anomalies.

  18. Pete Myers said,

    December 10, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Oh… and thank you for removing the snow.

  19. Vern Crisler said,

    December 10, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    How many times does it have to be said? Adam did not have faith before the fall. James defines true faith as resulting in good works. Adam’s generic belief resulted in a bad work. Hence, he did not have justifying faith, and therefore he did not have true faith.

    Vern

  20. jared said,

    December 10, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Vern,

    If Adam did not have faith it would not have been possible for him to obey at all. The fact that he failed does not imply that he did not have faith (or that he had some inferior sort of “generic belief”). We fail all the time yet our faith is not culled. The difference in our situations is that Adam wasn’t “covered” and he took the consequences of his failure whereas Jesus does so for us.

  21. David Gadbois said,

    December 11, 2008 at 12:00 am

    Jeff cagle said This is true. But it is also true that the salvation of *adults* is grounded in the mediatorial work of Christ and the eternal decree, not in their faith:

    I wasn’t referring to the legal ground. I meant more generally, the reason or justification for the salvation of infants.

    Joshua said Right, beware of that terrible Trojan horse of paedocommunion, which such heresiachs as G.I. Williamson and the majority of the OPC’s study committee argue for!

    What is that suppose to prove? Only that it is to the OPC’s credit that the minority report was adopted, and that this error didn’t prevail.

    Pete said David – just to exchange proof texts with you… what do you make of Luk 1v15? That’s Calvin’s proof text, and do deny faith to JtB would be to say there’s a different ordo salutis for infants.

    This verse would be a more forceful prooftext if it could prove that the experience of John the Baptist was normative, when we see that he was, in fact, exceptional in so many ways. It can really only prove that God *can* instill regeneration and (apparently?) faith in an infant, not that He normally does. We don’t let Pentecostals get away with this sort of reading of the NT, do we?

    In passing I also note that 1:15, strictly speaking, would only directly touch on the issue of regeneration or being ‘filled’ with the Spirit, not with faith, per se.

    I’ll quote Hendriksen’s commentary on 1:44 as well:

    Rather it would seem that verse 44 (in connection with verses 40-43) states and implifes only the following: (1)Mary greets Elizabeth. (2)Elizabeth hears the greetings. (3) The fetus within Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy. (4) Elizaveth, filled with the Holy Spirit, responds to the greetings. In her enthusiastic exclamation she calls Mary ‘the most blessed woman’ and expresses surprised joy that the one whom she designates ‘the mother of my Lord’ is honoring her with a visit. (5) She interprets the movement of the babe within her womb as being a sign of its joy, this very joy being the evidence to her of ‘the Lord’s’ presence in Mary’s womb…

    In our interpretation it is probably not safe to penetrate any deeper than this, or to accept the possibility of propositional religious knowledge on the part of a fetus of approximately six months. That at this stage of its development it already has all the nerves it will ever have and is normally able to react to stimuli is well known. In view of verse 15 it should be added that in some mysterious manner, incapable of ruther analysis, the Holy Spirit was already actively present in the soul of Elizabeth’s child. Further than this we cannot go.

    And in the footnote he adds “Is not the interpreter who ascribes propositional religous knowledge to a fetus also in danger of erring in his conception of ‘innate ideas’?”

  22. David Gray said,

    December 11, 2008 at 3:11 am

    >Adam did not have faith before the fall. James defines true faith as resulting in good works. Adam’s generic belief resulted in a bad work. Hence, he did not have justifying faith, and therefore he did not have true faith.

    By this standard nobody now has true or justifying faith as all of us produce bad works (i.e. sin).

  23. David Gray said,

    December 11, 2008 at 3:13 am

    >“Is not the interpreter who ascribes propositional religous knowledge to a fetus also in danger of erring in his conception of ‘innate ideas’?”

    You seem to draw equivalence between faith and propositional religious knowledge…

  24. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 11, 2008 at 7:32 am

    Vern (#19):

    In the “Covenant of Life” thread I cited Calvin:

    The prohibition to touch the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a trial of obedience, that Adam, by observing it, might prove his willing submission to the command of God. For the very term shows the end of the precept to have been to keep him contented with his lot, and not allow him arrogantly to aspire beyond it. The promise, which gave him hope of eternal life as long as he should eat of the tree of life, and, on the other hand, the fearful denunciation of death the moment he should taste of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, were meant to prove and exercise his faith.

    — Inst. 2.1.4, emph. add.

    What do you make of this? Would it be fair in your view to affirm the faith of Adam in the sense that Calvin does? Note that he (and I on his coattails) fully affirm the covenant of works principle.

    Jeff Cagle

  25. Rick Phillips said,

    December 11, 2008 at 7:42 am

    Lane,

    That Greek font is stunning. Can you email it to me? Or tell me where I can get it. It’s the best Greek font I have ever seen.

  26. greenbaggins said,

    December 11, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Rick, I use the following website and simply copy and paste, as well as enlarge the font to size medium (which you can do by looking at the HTML and changing the word “small” to “medium.”

    http://www.greekbible.com/index.php

    Note, I use the Palatino Linotype font, as it is certainly the prettiest and clearest. You can change that in the drop-down box.

  27. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    December 11, 2008 at 10:16 am

    David, my point was that your “Trojan Horse” line is ridiculous. Unless you think that Williamson and the majority committe were somehow seeking to deceptively introduce some other major error into the OPC? Paedocommunion is not a Trojan Horse, even if it is an error. It could be an error made in good faith, rather than a deceptive ploy to introduce destructive ideas under a benign cover.

  28. David Gadbois said,

    December 11, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Joshua, what I actually said was “I am also sensitive because this issue [of incipient faith in infants] is a Trojan Horse for their doctrine of paedocommunion.” Paedocommunion itself is not the Trojan Horse.

  29. Reed Here said,

    December 11, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    I.O.W. David:

    > IIF (infant incipient faith) is the Trojan Horse, and
    > Paedocommunion is that nasty Ulysses and his brutish Peneloponesians.

    Boy, you do know how to WF&IP (win friends and influence people) ;-)

    Seriously Joshua, just laugh at this point :-)

  30. Reed Here said,

    December 11, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Lane:

    Follow up to Rick’s comment on the Greek font – is it my imagination or does this font remind me of the runish script of LOTR? Hmm, and on a blog ith the word “Baggins” in the title. ;-)

  31. greenbaggins said,

    December 11, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Well, in all honesty, this is the first time I have changed the size of the font. I have been using Palatino Linotype for some time. It is much less attractive in the smaller size.

  32. Vern Crisler said,

    December 11, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Jared said, “If Adam did not have faith it would not have been possible for him to obey at all. The fact that he failed does not imply that he did not have faith (or that he had some inferior sort of “generic belief”). We fail all the time yet our faith is not culled.”

    It is James who makes the inseparable connection between true faith and works. Our several failures cannot be equated with Adam’s failure, for as covenantal representative, even one sin on his part equals all of our sins.

    David said, “By this standard nobody now has true or justifying faith as all of us produce bad works (i.e. sin).”

    See response to Jared. The attempt to equate Adam with Christians, with respect to faith, is a cardinal fallacy of FVism.

    Jeff said, “What do you make of this? Would it be fair in your view to affirm the faith of Adam in the sense that Calvin does? Note that he (and I on his coattails) fully affirm the covenant of works principle.”

    I would say that the fearful denunciation of death the moment Adam should taste of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was meant to prove and exercise his OBEDIENCE. If he had obeyed in this one single thing, it would have proven that he had true faith. But since he failed in this one thing, it showed that pre-Fall Adam did not have true faith. It took the Lord’s mercy after the fall to grant Adam true faith, as the Lord also does for Christians.

    Vern

  33. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 12, 2008 at 7:25 am

    Vern (#32):

    So if I understand your position, you are saying that Adam *needed* faith to obey. But his disobedience demonstrates that he did not have the faith he needed.

    So Hypothetical Obedient Adam would have had faith, but Real Disobedient Adam did not?

    Jeff Cagle

  34. rfwhite said,

    December 12, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Question: After God placed Adam on probation in Gen 2:16-17, Adam named the animals in Gen 2:20 and waxed poetic over God’s gift of a bride in 2:23. Did Adam do these things in faith?

  35. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    December 12, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Answer to #34:

    Yes. This was trust in the dominion mandate: wouldn’t it take a trust in God to believe that he had authority over, say, the rhinocerous? Adam could tell that many of the beasts were more powerful than he, yet he took dominion, because God has asserted that Adam was the one in charge. And that’s only partially tongue-in-cheek…

    As I suggested elsewhere, however, this faith of Adam’s was in fact legal faith: i.e., it was part of his obedience and was thus meritorious. Part of the ground or basis for Adam’s reward would have been his faith–it would not have been, as it is for us, the instrument by which we passively receive another’s righteousness. Of course, when God came to give Adam the reward (if this had happened), and God said: “I am granting you this reward…” Adam had to actually believe that God was granting it, so he would indeed receive that reward by faith…in some sense.

  36. Vern Crisler said,

    December 12, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    True faith, guys, true faith. True faith is a persevering faith, not a temporary, fickle belief.

    It is James who connects inseparably true faith with works.

    If Adam had truly trusted in God, he would have done the good work required. Therefore, his fall was not a fall from true faith, as FVists claim, but proof that he lacked true faith.

    Vern

  37. rfwhite said,

    December 13, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Vern, allow me to ask a question as I try to understand your comments. I haven’t read anyone in our discussion who affirms that Adam had faith, who would deny that Adam did not persevere in faith. I am trying to understand why we cannot distinguish between Adam’s having faith and Adam’s persevering in faith. To explain my point, let me take the statements that “God created man, male and female, … endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after his own image.” We say that pre-fall, innocent Adam truly *had* knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, even though we also affirm that he *did not persevere in* these attributes. Help us understand why we should not affirm that pre-fall, innocent Adam had faith, as he had knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, but that he failed to persevere in faith, even as he failed to persevere in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness.

  38. Jonathan T said,

    December 15, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    In reading these posts, I get the feeling that there is a grea blurring of the lines between ‘faith’ and ‘obedience’. One might well argue the interdependence of the one upon the other, but you cannot refuse to distinguish between them.

    The gospel consists of both promises and commands. You cannot “obey” a promise – you can only “believe” (trust / faith) in a promise. Neither can you “believe” a command – you must “obey” a command. There is a great deal of practical confusion in many Christians’ minds when they try to “believe” a command of the Gospel, or “obey” a promise. It cannot be done.

    Interesting question: Did Adam (pre-fall) have to have “faith” or was his test one of obedience? If in our glorified state “faith” will not be required, was it of Adam prior to the fall?

    And finally, while the points of discussion are interesting, is it not the biblical precedent that all discusion of theology / doctrine (e.g. Ephesians 1,2,3) is to be worked out coincidentally with the practical aspects of it (Ephesians 4,5,6)? Even Calvin’s Institutes have more practical applicatory aspects to it than this discussion seems to consist of.

    I trust this comment will be considered as ‘constructive criticism’ and not just a negative rant. For the most part, I enjoy the articles and posts.

    Jonathan

  39. jared said,

    December 16, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Jonathan T,

    The question is not did Adam have to have faith or was his test one of obedience. His test was one of obedience and he could only have succeeded given an appropriate measure of faith. Providentially God saw fit not to give him that measure, but to say that he had no measure is incoherent with the fact that he was given a command to obey. Also, what makes you think we won’t need faith in our glorified state?

  40. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 17, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Jonathan T (#38):

    And finally, while the points of discussion are interesting, is it not the biblical precedent that all discusion of theology / doctrine (e.g. Ephesians 1,2,3) is to be worked out coincidentally with the practical aspects of it (Ephesians 4,5,6)? Even Calvin’s Institutes have more practical applicatory aspects to it than this discussion seems to consist of.

    This is a good point. Sometimes I get lost in the theory. But James will have none of that (“be doers of the word and not hearers only”)!

    Here is the practical meaning of the discussion for me.

    First, I have young children. So #16 proceeds from a firm conviction that I baptized my children *because* they belong to the Covenant, normatively speaking, just as Jacob and Esau were circumcised.

    Second, I believe that the question of an infant’s faith is relevant to how we raise our children. If one believes that all baptized children have “seed faith”, as Luther did, then one will treat them as Christians.

    If one believes that all children cannot have faith until they attain a certain level of notitia, then children will be treated as unbelievers until they prove otherwise. I think Thornwell fell into this category.

    If one believes that children *may* have faith that looks like assens, and that their notitia will develop accordingly, then one is placed in a more difficult position: covenant children will be treated as if they ought to be Christians, but the parents will watch and wait for confirming signs of faith.

    This is the position I find myself in, both as a father of young children and an elder.

    Does that satisfy your question?
    Jeff Cagle

  41. Jonathan T said,

    December 20, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    #39 – Jeff, sorry to take so long to get back. Other matters, you know! You ask, “What makes you think we won’t need faith in our glorified state?” My comment (about is made on the following basis:

    1. The Bible nowhere states it this to be the case. (I know, that in itself, is not a definitive answer, but I only put it first to say that my statement nowhere is contradicted by clear statement of Scripture)

    2. 1 Cor. 13:13 says, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” Why is charity (love) greater than faith or hope? Is it not, at least in part, because in our glorified state, we will still exercise ‘love’, but no longer ‘hope’ (it is fulfilled), nor ‘faith’ (because it has now given way to ‘sight’)

    3. 2 Cor. 5:7 “For we walk by faith and not by sight” is in the context of Paul’s contrast between our life here on earth and that when we are “present with the Lord.” It seems to me that the whole parallelism of the passage breaks down if we do not see that the “walk of faith” is “while we are at home in the body” and our “walking by sight” is when we are “present with the Lord”.

    I may be missing something here, but if you have some aspects that I have not taken into account, I would most sincerely like to hear them.

    (Just to be open about it, I am a Reformed Baptist, so you’ll know my perspective)

  42. Jeff Cagle said,

    December 20, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    That was Jared. :)

  43. jared said,

    December 20, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    Jonathan T,

    1. Point taken.

    2. Faith, hope, and love abide because those three combined are what enables us to fellowship rightly with God. The other things Paul lists a few verses prior are things we have in part. Obtaining them in full does not mean they go away completely, rather it means just that; having them in full rather than in part. On this side of heaven faith, hope, and love are the only three things we don’t have only in part. Love is the greatest because it is the foundation of everything (including faith and hope), not because only it will remain once we’ve been glorified.

    3. The contrast in 2 Cor. 5 is not “faith now, sight later”; that misses the greater point and context of this section of Paul’s letter. Just take a look back at the closing verses of chapter 4 to see what I mean.

  44. Jonathan T said,

    December 23, 2008 at 12:15 am

    Sorry Jeff. :)

    Thanks Jared :)

    Now if I can just keep the names straight . . .

  45. Rocinante said,

    January 26, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    I have a question: what is the best original source book to explain FV by one of the proponents? Thank you.


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 354 other followers

%d bloggers like this: