Romans 4:9-11 Destroys the FV/Lutheran/Anglican/RCC View on Baptism

Proposition 1: The FV, the Lutherans, the Anglicans, the Roman Catholics, and the Reformed all agree that the structure of circumcision is basically the same as that of baptism. Yes, there are differences in the recipients (males and females for baptism versus only males for circumcision), and in the mode (bloody forward-looking sign in circumcision versus backwards-looking bloodless sign in baptism). However, for our purposes, it is the similarity of its sacramental meaning that is our concern. As sacraments, circumcision and baptism function analogously among all these groups (though these groups do not all agree on how they work).

Proposition 2: The main difference between the FV/Lutheran/Anglican/RCC view of baptism and the Reformed view of baptism is that, for the former group, the rite of baptism conveys something beyond sign-ness and seal-ness. The language of sign and seal is therefore (usually) interpreted by the former group to mean “convey what it signifies.”

Proposition 3: We must be careful in how we use the term “baptism.” The way we normally use the term is when we use it to refer to the rite of a minister administering the sign of water in the name of the Triune God. However, the term “baptism” can also refer to the entire sacrament. If we remember our definition of a sacrament, we remember that there are three parts: the sign, the thing signified, and the sacramental union between the two. In the case of baptism, the sign is water, the thing signified is the cleansing blood of Christ, and the sacramental union between the two is the Holy Spirit working faith in the individual, thus connecting the sign and the thing signified. So the term “baptism” can be used to indicate the whole kit and kaboodle, including salvation, though not implying by this that the sign causes the thing signified. The sacramental union of the Holy Spirit working faith in the individual is what causes the thing signified to be present. However, this is not the normal usage of the term, and it is not how I am going to be using the term in this post. I will be using the term in its more familiar usage of the rite of a minister administering the sign of water in the name of the Triune God.

The question before us, then, is not whether baptism has any efficacy. All agree that it does. Where we disagree is in the nature of that efficacy, and the relations of the sign, the thing signified, and the sacramental union, specifically, what causes what. It is the thesis of this post that the sign/seal does not cause the thing signified/sealed. This is proven conclusively by the passage mentioned. I will post it in Greek and in my two favorite translations.

Romans 4:9-11, Greek:

ὁ μακαρισμὸς οὖν οὗτος ἐπὶ τὴν περιτομὴν ἢ καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν ἀκροβυστίαν; λέγομεν γάρ, Ἐλογίσθη τῷ Ἀβραὰμ ἡ πίστις εἰς δικαιοσύνην. πῶς οὖν ἐλογίσθη; ἐν περιτομῇ ὄντι ἢ ἐν ἀκροβυστίᾳ; οὐκ ἐν περιτομῇ ἀλλ’ ἐν ἀκροβυστίᾳ: καὶ σημεῖον ἔλαβεν περιτομῆς, σφραγῖδα τῆς δικαιοσύνης τῆς πίστεως τῆς ἐν τῇ ἀκροβυστίᾳ, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν πατέρα πάντων τῶν πιστευόντων δι’ ἀκροβυστίας, εἰς τὸ λογισθῆναι καὶ αὐτοῖς τὴν δικαιοσύνην.

ESV: 9. Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well.

HCSB: 9. Is this blessing only for the circumcised, then? Or is it also for the uncircumcised? For we say, “Faith was credited to Abraham for righteousness.” 10. How then was it credited—while he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while he was circumcised, but uncircumcised. 11. And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while still uncircumcised. This was to make him the father of all who believe but are not circumcised, so that righteousness may be credited to them also.

The most important point to notice here is that Abraham had both faith and righteousness before circumcision. If this is true, then circumcision could not have brought about either faith, or the righteousness that comes by faith. The next most important thing to notice here is that both “sign” and “seal” are present in this passage in verse 11. Therefore, neither the sign-ness nor the seal-ness of circumcision brought about the faith or the imputed righteousness. Instead, it was the Holy Spirit working faith in Abraham, which constitutes the sacramental union between sign and thing signified. So, given proposition 1 above, baptism works the same way as circumcision. Therefore the sign-ness and seal-ness of baptism does not bring about faith or the righteousness of faith (imputed righteousness). Rather, it is the Holy Spirit who connects the sign to the thing signified in the believer by bringing about faith. It is faith that is instrumental for bringing about imputed righteousness for the believer.

I can hear the retort already: aren’t you then a Baptist in saying this? On the contrary. I have been seeking to prove that the sign does not bring about the thing signified. I have not been trying to argue that the thing signified has to come about before the sign can be given. I have been arguing instead that the thing signified comes at the time-point of faith, whenever that is. It can come before, during, or after baptism, whenever the Holy Spirit chooses to give it. My target here is those groups of people who want to say that the sign-ness and seal-ness of baptism is instrumental in bringing about what it signifies. I would argue that saying this usurps the position of faith in being instrumental.

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279 Comments

  1. July 30, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Aw, man. That’s really clear, bro. Good job!

  2. Vern Crisler said,

    July 30, 2010 at 11:06 am

    “I have been arguing instead that the thing signified comes at the time-point of faith, whenever that is. It can come before, during, or after baptism, whenever the Holy Spirit chooses to give it.”

    This would not affect FVists. They do not believe in a magical operation in which the sacrament is effective in and of itself. They would agree that faith might come “before, during, or after,” but they argue that we can never know when somebody has faith (no insight into the decree). Since we cannot know — because of the epistemological limitation — we must *treat* recipients of baptism as saved at the point of baptism (whether they are or not).

    How this would square with Paul’s view that Abraham was saved before circumcision, I leave to FVists to explain.

  3. greenbaggins said,

    July 30, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Vern, your objection here does not jibe with what I’ve read of the FV proponents. They all want to say that something actually does happen at baptism objectively speaking, and that that something is more than sign and seal. It is more than how we regard people. It is what actually happens at baptism.

  4. Terry West said,

    July 30, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Lane,
    From what I have read by the FV they are not arguing a magical occurrence but rather a sociological occurrence… the baptized person becomes Christian at least in so far as baptism sets him apart from the rest of the world.
    And also, you seem to not want to account for the very high language used by the framers of the Reformed confessions and catechisms when u call what ur advocating as the “Reformed” position.

    Terry

  5. Terry West said,

    July 30, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    And also, how would u argue that the 39 articles and the Book of Common Prayer does not communicate a Reformed view on the sacraments?

  6. greenbaggins said,

    July 30, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    I’m not saying that the wrong view is magical either. That is an illogical extension of my argument. This objection really needs to be laid to rest. No one is accusing the FV of “magical” views of the sacrament. I am accusing them of instrumental views of the sacrament, and they do hold these views. It is flat out wrong that that they hold that the only thing baptism does is sociological. They ascribe saving benefits to the rite of baptism.

    Secondly, the views of the WCF and the 3FU have already been hashed out on this blog in excruciating detail. I have already accounted for the supposedly high view of baptism in the WCF here:

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2008/12/18/efficacy-once-again/

    and

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2008/12/09/on-baptism/

    That would be quite an adequate reply to your claims, Terry.

    As to the 39 Articles, they are generally orthodox, but not as clear. Over time, the Anglican communion has taken them in a much more decidedly instrumental direction. So I am referring primarily to the Anglican tradition of today, which hardly does justice to the 39 Articles, which might as well not exist, as far as today’s Anglicanism goes, at least in most circles.

  7. Phil Derksen said,

    July 30, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Terry,

    If you want to look at some original source quotations on what early Reformed writers, including the WDs, meant by their sacramental terminology, you can go here:

    http://johannesweslianus.blogspot.com/2010/03/baptism-in-westminster-standards-vs.html

    Part 4 (follow the link at the beginning of the above article) is especially germane to your question

    Blessings,

    Phil D.

  8. Terry West said,

    July 30, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Phil,
    Thanks, but I am very familiar with the primary sources of the early Reformed writers, I am hardly speaking from ignorance.

    Terry

  9. Phil Derksen said,

    July 30, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Terry,

    Fair enough. But if you are really as familiar as you say you are with the specific genre of quotations that I offered a link for, then I certainly don’t understand how you can read Rev. Keister’s post and then make the remark that he seems “…to not want to account for the very high language used by the framers of the Reformed confessions and catechisms when u call what ur advocating as the ‘Reformed’ position.”

    Just saying…

  10. greenbaggins said,

    July 30, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Especially when Terry seems to be assuming that I’ve never dealt with these questions before, which I found somewhat irritating.

  11. Phil Derksen said,

    July 30, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Yeah. It may have been better for me to have said to Terry, “I don’t know how it can be implied that Lane’s position is somehow at odds with the historical Reformed position on this issue – rather, he articulated it perfectly. He is obviously more familiar with early Reformed writings than you are.”

  12. David Gadbois said,

    July 30, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    I have noticed that FVers, as well as Lutherans and Anglicans, never seem to think that they need to logically square up their doctrine of baptismal regeneration/justification (even if it is a ‘lite’ version) with sola fide and rather clear passages such as Romans 4. Instead for them it is more important to “account” for the “high language” of various Reformers or run off to seek solace in some other dubious proof text. And Curate, for instance, will explain to you that Abraham was somehow an exception to the normal course of sacramental justification.

  13. Terry West said,

    July 30, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    First of all I never said that lane was at odds with the Reformed tradition… I was simply disagreeing with the idea that Lane is arguing the definitive Reformed position. Whether you guys want to admit it or not the Reformed tradition is not monolithic.

  14. greenbaggins said,

    July 30, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Did you want to respond to my actual points, Terry, concerning the reading of the WCF, which I believe you’ve misread, if you think I have done anything other than exposit the actual meaning of them? If you think that there is huge wiggle room in the Reformed tradition concerning baptism’s relationship to justification and faith, you need to think again. The Reformed tradition is monolithic enough to exclude the FV entirely from its confessional ranks. Of course there are differences of opinion on things. but NO Reformed author of the 16th-17th centuries held that baptism was instrumental in the way that the FV says it is.

  15. David Gadbois said,

    July 30, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    “Reformed tradition” is a broad category that historians are concerned with, and one that is applied liberally. The theology of the Reformed confessions, however, is what churchmen are concerned with. And one will never be able to square a doctrine of baptismal regeneration/justification with them, even a “lite” version of such doctrines which do not ascribe ex opere operato efficacy to them. Baptism cannot be an instrument of justification, because faith is the sole instrument.

  16. Roger du Barry said,

    July 30, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    According to Reed I am not a true FV person, but an Anglican with FV sympathies, so I may not be one of the people that Lane would prefer to answer his theses.

    Given that, my first response is to ask a question of the proof text that no-one is asking so far: what is Paul’s purpose in writing it? Is it to make a point about baptism? Is it something else? If baptism is implied, but not primary to the text, we have to find out what the primary purpose of the passage in in Paul’s argument.

    To answer the question, Paul is addressing the fact that since justification is by pure grace, through the cross, it is therefore apart from the Law of Moses, and all the marks of Jewishness that up till then marked out the people of God. Now, since the cross, Gentiles are included in this justification apart from the law, by faith, just as the Jews are, and the in the matter of justification.

    Abraham’s experience of justification so to make a point about Gentile inclusion in salvation in the new era inaugurated by the cross and resurrection.

    Yes? Surely that is responsible exegesis, and being subservient to the scripture as it wishes to be understood.

  17. Terry West said,

    July 30, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Lane,
    You answer my questions, thank you. Just to be clear I’m not defending FV. And I am currently in the Anglican tradition that why I had a question about the 39 articles and the book of common prayer.

    Terry

  18. Terry West said,

    July 30, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Sorry, typing from my Droid. That should have read you answered my questions, thank you.

  19. greenbaggins said,

    July 30, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Ok, Terry, fair enough.

    Roger, I wouldn’t want to deny that the Jew/Gentile issue is present in the text. However, the point about Abraham’s faith being before circumcision is hammered home by Paul quite emphatically. This is to prove that Abraham is the father of all who believe, Jew or Gentile. This is in an implicit dialogue with Jews, who want to claim that circumcision is necessary for being right with God. And the social issue is not in the foreground here. Rather, given Paul’s quotation of Psalm 32, it is a question of the non-imputation of sin, and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. Does a Gentile have to be circumcised in order to be justified? The answer is no. Because faith is the instrument of justification, not circumcision. The same would be true by analogy with baptism. So, Roger, while I don’t deny the main points of your exegesis here, I am not sure whether you were intending to challenge my position or not. If so, I think I have shown that my exegesis above aligns quite squarely with the Jew/Gentile issue to which you have brought our attention.

  20. Roger du Barry said,

    July 30, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Apologies for the typos. It is the summer hols here, and I have just come back from a day at the beach with seven children.

  21. Roger du Barry said,

    July 30, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Hello Lane. I want you to know in advance that I am arguing the issue, without hostility towards you.

    I am indeed challenging your exegesis. I am arguing that your points do not address baptism at all. Circumcision in Paul is shorthand for the whole Law of Moses, the covenant that was imposed upon the Israelites alone, and never upon the Gentiles.

    Therefore to say that a man is justified apart from the law has a specific target – the Israelite covenant known as the law. it does not address the means of grace, such as the word and the sacraments, otherwise we are justified by faith apart from the word of God, which is absurd, as you must agree.

    The sacrament of baptism is a visible word, a pictorial Gospel, and as such it is the same thing as the preached word.

    Therefore your exegesis is flawed on two points. First, it does not give sufficient weight to the fact that the primary point is about Gentiles not justification, that justification is an application of the argument, not the argument itself; and second, it does not address the means of grace – which are not included in the law.

    It is not permitted to simply replace the word, circumcision, in the text with the word, baptism. That does violence to Paul’s argument, because circumcision here stands for the whole law of Moses.

    In short, your argument is not hitting its intended mark.

  22. Terry West said,

    July 30, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Lane,
    I do have a question as to your argument. Its seems that for your argument to work you are relying on the connection between circumcision and baptism to heavily without making sure your assumed connection actually supports your conclusion. I think you are begging the question (I’m just speaking to ur argument itself for not necessarily questioning your conclusion). First of all I think you need to account for the differences between circumcision and baptism as they relate to their respective covenants. Because Paul seems to use language concerning baptism that send to undercut your argument as in Roman 6 and other places as well. So my question is how do u prove that your beginning premise is valid to argue from to your conclusion? Or, how do u really get from circumcision to baptism and how that works out in relation to what is promised in new covenant baptism?

    Terry

  23. Matt Beatty said,

    July 30, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Lane,

    I may have missed it, but what wherein does the efficacy of baptism lie? What does baptism do/work for the one or on behalf of the one baptized?

    You say, on the basis of Rom. 4, that it does not (cannot) create faith. Fair enough. For you to say that baptism is efficacious, however, you must have something else in mind. What does it do?

    Thanks,
    Matt

  24. Matt Beatty said,

    July 30, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Sorry – not “what wherein” – just “wherein.”

  25. Tom Wenger said,

    July 30, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Great stuff, Lane. I am reminded of Calvin’s condemnation of Rome’s similar view of baptismal efficacy:

    ” I neither can nor ought to let pass the very great absurdity of calling Baptism alone the instrumental cause. What then will become of the gospel? Will it not even be allowed to occupy the smallest corner? But baptism is the sacrament of faith. Who denies it? Yet, when all has been said, it must still be granted me that it is nothing else than an appendage of the gospel. They, therefore, act preposterously in assigning it the first place, and act just as any one who should call a mason’s trowel the instrumental cause of a house! Unquestionably, whosoever postponing the gospel enumerates baptism among the causes of salvation, by so doing gives proof that he knows not what baptism is, what its force, its office, or its use.”

    [“Acts of the Council of Trent with the Antidote,” in Tracts and Treatises in Defense of the Reformed Faith. trans. Henry Beveridge. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1958) 116-117]

  26. Vern Crisler said,

    July 30, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    Lane said: “They all want to say that something actually does happen at baptism objectively speaking, and that that something is more than sign and seal. It is more than how we regard people. It is what actually happens at baptism.”

    I think you are being unfair to FVists in claiming they have an “instrumentalist” view of baptism (as if it were the same as RC or Lutheran views).

    You don’t seem to understand how loaded that term “objectively speaking” is for FVists. They believe “something actually happens at baptism” not because of something inherent in baptism itself, but because of their objectivism.

    When I was an FVists (back in the early 80s under James B. Jordan’s teaching), I never saw the sacraments as independent sources of grace. I accepted the “can’t see the decree” argument and therefore regarded that sacraments as when we could OBJECTIVELY say something happened vis-a-vis subjective claims about salvation.

    The FV use of the epistemological limitation/objectivism template means that they are much more mechanical in their view of the sacraments than RCs or Lutherans could ever be. They are much more ex opere operatum than any sacramentalist could ever be. They are much more Arminian than any Arminian could ever be. They are much more SOLO fideists than any “bible-only”, anti-confessionalist, could ever be. They are much more baptismal regenerationists than any baptismal regenerationist could ever be.

    It is because, as Terry West rightly intimates, FVists want to talk sociology. It’s what allows them to say the most outrageous things from a Reformed point of view, without actually denying Reformed teaching (except possibly imputation of active obedience).

    The continued attempt to paint FVists as heretics or RCs or Lutherans is simply wrong. They have different presuppositions. That’s why James B. Jordan named his ecclesiology book the Sociology of the Church rather than the Theology of the Church. Different starting points.

    You see Paul talking about decretal theology and assume that FVists are somehow denying this decretal theology. They aren’t. What they are doing is making it irrelevant.

  27. John A. said,

    July 31, 2010 at 2:08 am

    Vern,

    Excellent. You get it. Totally different way of looking at it. That’s the key. It’s about Methodology.

    I don’t go along with all the FV system, in fact I’ve never even bothered to read them much. I came to some similar conclusions back in the 90’s by means of a different road. Reading a lot of Calvin actually….

    I rarely find anyone who opposes these views accurately representing them.

    You’re absolutely right. In one sense I can speak Sacramentally in language that’s so high it blows the roof off……but on the other hand, I can say, Baptism….is nothing.

    No contradiction.

    What I can’t tolerate is someone saying Fred is in covenant, but not a Christian. Or….it’s a sign/seal but doesn’t mean Fred is in the covenant.

    This is mixing Visible/Invisible categories to the point of extreme confusion.

    Everyone is confused by Dialectical Tension language between visible/invisible…..I find the reading the visible in light of the invisible to be in a fog.

    I advocate a method that does not synthesize visible/invisible, temporal/eschatological tensions and one that avoids undue metaphysical speculation.

    But contrary to FV I argue Redemptive-Historical Hermeneutics is the Biblical method and I reject their Constantinianism and Dominionism.

    I thank everyone on this thread for being able to have a calm rational discussion on these issues. Because good night! It’s all out of control everywhere else…….

    John A.

  28. Roger du Barry said,

    July 31, 2010 at 5:28 am

    On another point of historical theology, the proposed opposition between the Reformed doctrine as against the Lutheran/Anglican one has no foundation in fact. I am speaking about the actual Reformation, not the situation today.

    Therefore the entire thesis of this post is based upon a mistaken idea.

  29. Matt Holst said,

    July 31, 2010 at 6:19 am

    I’m interested that Roger describes baptism as “a visible word, a pictorial Gospel, and as such it is the same thing as the preached word”. It certainly is a visible means of grace. However to make baptism “instrumental” is to make it more efficacious than the preached Word – no where does God guarantee the faith of all who hear the preached Word. Does that make the preaching of the word ineffective? By no means, it shall not return void, and will accomplish that which God intends it. This is for blessing or for hardening – therein lies the efficacy. So too does baptism function in the same way – yes it actually does something in that it is a visible recognition of membership of the visible church (with all ensuing responsibilities) but, like the Word it does not invest the recipient with faith – that is the Spirit’s role, to do in time as he wishes. So Lane does raise the “instrumental” red-flag accurately.

    Regarding Roger’s point on Rom 4 and circumcision there is some warrant to it. While Paul does have works in view (wider context of Rom 4) he certainly zeroes on the aspect of the administration of circumcision and the specific point in time issue, is clear. While “circumcision” may have more in in view than itself, (though I think you would need to prove that Roger rather than simply assert it), it certainly does not have less than itself. Paul’s point is clearly that Abraham was of faith prior to his reception of the act of circumcision – now regardless of whether he is using this as a synecdoche, at the very least, Paul is making the point that faith preceded circumcision. In this respect Abraham is somewhat prototypical – for the Jew (circumcision) Abraham’s latter circumcision points back to his justification and for the Gentile (uncircumcision), Abraham was justified apart from circumcision. That’s the real focus of Paul in this passage – and thus Lane’s argument stands and is correct.

    Thanks for the helpful post Lane.

  30. Terry West said,

    July 31, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Matt,
    Roger’s description of baptism as visible word is exactly the language John Calvin uses to describe baptism. It is the common way the early Reformers used to describe the sacraments.

    Also, as to the point I was getting to ion my last comment, which Roger nailed down very clearly, Lane argument is built on a faulty assumption and does not account for the difference between circumcision and baptism, the latter being a new covenant (i.e. gospel) means of grace, therefore the argument begs the question.

    I also agree with Roger’s last comment. I have read through Lane’s post several times and proposition 2 is erroneous when it contrasts the Reformed view of baptism over against the Lutheran/Anglican historically speaking.

    So, as it stands, Lane’s argument is simply a bad one.

    Terry

  31. Terry West said,

    July 31, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Here is an interesting exercise. I have counted at least 5 fallacies so far in Lane’s argument. One I have already mentioned, it bpegs the question. Another is guilt by association by lumping together 3 other Protestant groups with the RCC over against the Reformed. I’m not going to list all five that I’ve found, but anyone who wants to can go here:

    http://www.fallacyfiles.org/index.html

    and see how many they can find themselves.

  32. Roger du Barry said,

    July 31, 2010 at 9:29 am

    Matt, it is true that Abraham was justified apart from sacramental means of grace, by simply believing the promise of a son through whom blessing would come to all men. That is not in dispute at all, and it is a vitally important thing.

    BUT, and it is a big but, he does not say that Jew and Gentile are justified apart from baptism, which is in effect what Lane is arguing. I am pointing out that that idea is simply absent from the text. The purpose is to show that all are justified without regard to circumcision, namely, the Jewish covenant, period.

    To be justified without reference to the Jewish covenant says nothing at all to the matter of baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, which all are are commanded to receive, whether Jew or Gentile.

  33. Matt Holst said,

    July 31, 2010 at 11:49 am

    Terry

    I wasn’t disagreeing with Roger’s description of baptism – rather noting it and drawing from it a principle by which he seems to make baptism more efficacious to salvation than the preached Word. That’s all.

    Furthermore, I don’t know if you’ve followed this blog for long or not, but the writer (I think can speak for him) while acknowledging some differences of meaning and administration between circumcision and baptism, would see principial continuity between the two. That principial agreement is also common to the way early Reformers saw them.

    No faulty assumption there I’m afraid or begging question – at least if it is an assumption it is one that is held throughout the Reformed World. Indeed neither has he “lumped” three Protestant groups together! This subject is not without significant analysis or previous discussion of such similarities on this site over a period of several years. So frankly, you’ll have to do better than that – context is everything, and you are simply ignoring the context of what Lane has been writing for some time.

    Roger,

    Thanks for the reply.

    Neither I, nor Lane I believe, would disagree that as we are commanded to baptize so we should. Our Confession speaks of it being a sin to neglect such, actually, so we are with you there.

    Concerning the baptism issue, based on the principial continuity between circ. and baptism, there is no reason not to extend the significance of Paul is saying into the New Covenant. Indeed that is Paul’s purpose is it not? He’s writing in the New Covenant, to New Covenant Christians, telling them that Abraham is the father of ALL who believe, whether Jew or Gentile.
    Now clearly that is part of a bigger context of how a man is made righteous before God – works or faith – of that point I quite agree with you. But on his way to proving that, Paul has demonstrated that righteousness is attainable without receving the covenant sign. Indeed providentially this happened, so that God might show that righteousness apart from circumcision (baptism – by principial extension) is possible – at least that what Paul says (ESV) v 11 “the purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised”. I concur with you that baptism is not Paul’s central point here though he clearly has the covenant sign, front and centre. I don’t believe Lane is saying that is Paul’s central point. He’s simply deriving principles from Paul writing, which ARE pertinent to one of the discussions of this blog.

    So broadly I agree that there is a bigger context, but Lane’s argument is no way negates or denies the bigger context.

    I’m also interested that you link circumcision to the “Jewish Covenant” – I assume by that you mean Moses?

    Regards

    Matt

  34. July 31, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Lane,

    Great post, I agree wholeheartedly.

    I will say, though, that after having had lots of conversations with Catholics over the past two years, I don’t think your argument quite gets to the heart of the issue with them (though it may with FV’ists and Anglicans).

    The reason I say that is because their whole position rests on a kind of disanalogy between circumcision and baptism (which would call your first proposition into question). What they say is that the sacraments of the NC are distinguished from those of the OC in that they, unlike their older counterparts, actually bring to pass what they signify rather than just hearkening ahead to them. This, they argue, is the meaning of Jesus’ words in John that “greater works than these [physical signs] will you [apostles] do, because I go to my Father.” Jesus fed the 5000 with physical bread, but they would feed the people with the body and blood of Christ, etc, etc. So they would see our argument from circumcision-applied-to-baptism as betraying an under-realized eschatology, since one of the main facets of the NC is that its sacraments indeed actualize what they signify.

    Of course, I have my own problems with this approach, but I just wanted to point this out. But, again, great points!

  35. Terry West said,

    July 31, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Matt,

    In this case Lane’s argument does beg the question because he is using what is in effect a false analogy (one of the fallacies) because its not the similarities between circumcision and baptism but rather the differences that is fundamental here.

    Terry

  36. Terry West said,

    July 31, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Matt,

    Even more obvious fallacy is the misuse of the text itself as a pretext to argue what is not actually in the text, as Roger has pointed out. This alone makes the argument fail (even though i would argue that there are many fallacies involved here that make it fail) regardless of the merits if the position itself that Lane is seeking to support.

    Terry

  37. Roger du Barry said,

    July 31, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Matt, I follow your argument, and I see why you are saying what you say. I myself used to understand the issue the way you put it here:

    “Concerning the baptism issue, based on the principial continuity between circ. and baptism, there is no reason not to extend the significance of Paul is saying into the New Covenant.”

    But – this argument is a syllogism, and the problem is that it ignores the actual argument that Paul is making to make an entirely unrelated point. More than that, it overthrows the argument itself, as I have shown, since it makes justification independent of the means of grace, and it makes Paul contradict many other passages of scripture.

    Your argument above makes nonsense of what Paul says shortly afterwards in chapter 6 about baptism translating the believer from the realm of law, sin and death, into the realm of God’s kingdom, by death and resurrection with Christ, for the purpose of godly obedience.

    It contradicts Peter’s words to the Pentecost crowd:

    “Repent and be baptised every one of you into the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

    It contradicts the Nicene Creed:

    “I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.”

    And, as Terry is pointing out, although there are similarities between circumcision and baptism, the discontinuities are so great that in some ways there is no comparison.

  38. David Gadbois said,

    July 31, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Terry, you accuse Lane of many “fallacies” simply by labeling them and such and such fallacy, but never really provide an argument to that effect. For instance, you say “its not the similarities between circumcision and baptism but rather the differences that is fundamental here.” Oh? Let’s stop the arm waving – is it your contention that circumcision was not an instrument of justification for OT saints and baptism IS for NT saints? As Jason S. points out above, a Roman Catholic might argue such a thing but this is really beyond the pale for anyone who would claim to be Protestant. Lane rightly takes for granted that we shouldn’t even have to talk about this.

    If it is true that that is the difference between the sacraments and their efficacy then the unity of the covenant of grace is destroyed. Now there are two ways of salvation, one for OT saints and one for NT saints.

  39. David Gadbois said,

    July 31, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Terry said Even more obvious fallacy is the misuse of the text itself as a pretext to argue what is not actually in the text, as Roger has pointed out.

    Another unargued assertion of “fallacy”, which is in fact only a fallacy if you are systematic theology-phobic. It is not a misuse of a text to draw out “good and necessary consequence” what the text asserts. Only if it can be established that 1. there is no unity in the covenant of grace and therefore 2. there is soteric sacramental efficacy in baptism that doesn’t exist in circumcision can one evade the obvious conclusion. That is, faith without circumcision = justification, therefore faith without baptism = justification.

  40. David Gadbois said,

    July 31, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Terry also said “Another is guilt by association by lumping together 3 other Protestant groups with the RCC over against the Reformed.”

    That is only a “fallacy” if the association is false or irrelevant to the matter at hand. In this case, Lane’s contention is simply accurate historical theology – the sacerdotal Protestants agree with the Roman Catholics that baptism is instrumental in justification.

  41. David Gadbois said,

    July 31, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    Roger said “But – this argument is a syllogism, and the problem is that it ignores the actual argument that Paul is making to make an entirely unrelated point. ”

    It is not “ignoring” the actual argument Paul is making to note that he *establishes* his argument with a supporting premise that *is* absolutely relevant to baptism. Paul is indeed arguing that Gentiles can be included in salvation, but this is grounded in the fact that 1. Paul assumes the unity of the covenant of grace and 2. more explicitly in this passage, that justification is received by faith and is not effected by works such as Abraham’s circumcision.

    This cannot be dismissed just on the basis of relegating circumcision to being an artifact of Jewish identity and the Mosaic covenant, because even here in Romans 4 circumcision is directly identified as being a sign and seal of righteousness by faith. It is a sacrament in the textbook, dogmatic sense of the term. It is a sacrament, not just a badge of national identity.

  42. Terry West said,

    July 31, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    David,

    Lane is the one that has made the argument. His is the burden if proof. His propositions 1&2 are simply assertions with no arguments to support. They are simply assumed. Both myself and Roger have taken issue with them and clearly pointed out that they are not proven. Then Lane proceeds to make an argument from the text based on these unproven assumptions. This is simply begging the question at its most obvious form. Not to mention the other several fallacies committed along the way. I know Lane is certainly passionate about this issue but he has simply presented a very bad argument to support his view. And, I’m sorry, but this is just a fact. Until he does the work to clearly prove hid first two propositions this argument fails. But, even if he is able to prove his first two propositions, he still has the problem of how he is using this particular text as well. Which requires much more work than this post here to demonstrate that he is using this text of Scripture legitimately. So, David, just trying to shift the burden of proof to me (another fallacy by the way) does not to solve all these problems for Lane’s argument.

    Terry

  43. Terry West said,

    July 31, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    David,

    And you have also used the guilt by association fallacy on me by saying that a Roman Catholic could make a similar argument. These kinds of arguments are easy to employ I understand that, but they are fallacies none the less.

    Terry

  44. rgmann said,

    July 31, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    32. Roger du Barry wrote,

    BUT, and it is a big but, he does not say that Jew and Gentile are justified apart from baptism, which is in effect what Lane is arguing. I am pointing out that that idea is simply absent from the text. The purpose is to show that all are justified without regard to circumcision, namely, the Jewish covenant, period.

    Paul is arguing that we are justified through the instrumentality of faith alone — period. To argue that something else is required (whether circumcision, works of law, or baptism) is a betrayal of the gospel and a repudiation of the Reformation. There is only one means of justification under the covenant of grace. Therefore if Abraham was justified by faith alone — “who is the father of us all” (Romans 4:16) — then so are we. And, of course, Gentiles were indeed “justified apart from baptism,” as Scripture clearly records that God “purified their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9) prior to their being baptized in water (Acts 10:44-48; 11:15-17). This is not merely an intramural debate over a non-essential issue that we can reasonably disagree about. The gospel is at stake!

  45. Terry West said,

    July 31, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Rgmann,

    If baptism is visible word (i.e. visible gospel) as the early reformers argued, then it follows that baptism has the same “instrumentality” as the written word or gospel in relation to justification. No one is arguing here that sola fide should be usurped. Certainly Lutherans, Anglicans and Reformed all agree that sola fide is essential (even the FV if you take them at their word).

    Terry

  46. David Gray said,

    July 31, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    >Certainly Lutherans, Anglicans and Reformed all agree that sola fide is essential (even the FV if you take them at their word).

    Given Pastor Keister’s take that people who get the law-gospel distinction wrong don’t actually believe in sola fide I wonder if he applies that to Lutherans and Luther himself.

  47. David Gadbois said,

    July 31, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Terry said Lane is the one that has made the argument. His is the burden if proof. His propositions 1&2 are simply assertions with no arguments to support. and This is simply begging the question at its most obvious form.

    It is true that some of Lane’s premises might not be accepted by all. His argument assumes a particular audience (all arguments are audience-conditioned to some extent) who would share some core common assumptions. But that is not the same as the fallacy of begging the question or circular logic. Saying that a premise is false, unproven, or not accepted by you (and thus invalidates the conclusion) is not the same thing. You can say the latter, but not the former.

    If Proposition 1 is a premise that is challenged by some, supporting arguments can be brought to bear, as has been done. Again, Proposition 1 about the symmetry of circumcision and baptism in salvation follows from the unity of the covenant of grace, that the people of God throughout history have been justified in the same way, and therefore whatever differences exist between the OT sacrament and NT sacrament, it cannot be the case that one justifies and the other doesn’t.

    But I thought everyone here believed in the unity of the covenant of grace. The fact that Lane took this for granted only means that supporting argument is required to establish some of his premises for a minority of his audience. It does not mean he was employing circular logic.

    Not to mention the other several fallacies committed along the way

    Your batting average on supposed “fallacies” is way too low for you to make this claim without enumerating and presenting an argument of such fallacies.

    So, David, just trying to shift the burden of proof to me (another fallacy by the way) does not to solve all these problems for Lane’s argument.

    Criticizing you for failing to argue for your own critical assertions is not the same thing as shifting the burden of proof. You need to grasp this before you make yourself out to be the fallacy police around here. If Lane prima facie establishes his case, then all that is necessary for it to stand is to demonstrate objections to be flawed or without merit. No shifting of burden required.

    And you have also used the guilt by association fallacy on me by saying that a Roman Catholic could make a similar argument.

    I never stated nor implied that you are *wrong* on account of the fact that your position shares a common theological assumption with Roman Catholicism, I stated that it puts you beyond the pale of Protestant orthodoxy (since it is incompatible with the unity of the covenant of grace). Now we can certainly provide an argument about why this assumption is wrong, but at this point it is certainly a different kind of debate which requires a different kind of argument, because it is no longer an in-house debate amongst orthodox Protestants.

  48. David Gadbois said,

    July 31, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    Terry said If baptism is visible word (i.e. visible gospel) as the early reformers argued, then it follows that baptism has the same “instrumentality” as the written word or gospel in relation to justification. No one is arguing here that sola fide should be usurped. Certainly Lutherans, Anglicans and Reformed all agree that sola fide is essential (even the FV if you take them at their word).

    What baptismal regenerationists never seem to get around to demonstrating is how their view is actually *compatible* with sola fide. Lutherans, Anglicans and other folks such as Roger/Curate have been arguing that baptism is more than indirectly instrumental, in a manner that we would agree the Word is. If all that is being taught is that the Spirit uses baptism, like the Word, as a means to incite and engender (in the elect) faith, by which we are then justified, then no harm no foul. But they have been rather explicit in that this is not the case, that baptism is co-instrumental along with faith in receiving Christ’s imputed righteousness unto justification. That is, baptism is also the “appropriating organ” that lays hold of Christ and His righteousness. That is the instrumentality that Lane has in mind.

  49. Terry West said,

    July 31, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    David,

    That the point of contention isn’t it. Lane has not prima facie established his case. And I did give reason for calling several elements of Lane’s argument fallacious. If you don’t agree with those reasons thats fine.

    As to begging the question, there are several ways one can be guilty of this fallacy. In this case Lane is guilty by asserting unproven and disputed propositions. But I see no reason to beat a dead horse. You and I can keep going back and forth essentially saying the same things in different ways but what’s the point. I’ll comment again when the conversation has advanced.

    By the way, I am thoroughly enjoying the discussion. Thanks for the interaction.

    Terry

  50. rgmann said,

    August 1, 2010 at 12:00 am

    45. Terry wrote,

    If baptism is visible word (i.e. visible gospel) as the early reformers argued, then it follows that baptism has the same “instrumentality” as the written word or gospel in relation to justification. No one is arguing here that sola fide should be usurped. Certainly Lutherans, Anglicans and Reformed all agree that sola fide is essential (even the FV if you take them at their word).

    If one has already believed the gospel (as Cornelius and his family had done in Acts 10), then what “instrumentality” does water baptism have in relation to justification? Answer. None! And, while water baptism may outwardly signify and seal our salvation, it is faith in Christ alone whereby we are justified in God’s sight. That’s why Abraham was justified apart from water baptism, David was justified apart from water baptism, the thief on the cross was justified apart from water baptism, and Cornelius was justified apart from water baptism. Faith in Christ alone has been the sole “instrument” of justification in every age. In other words, no one has ever been justified by being baptized. You simply don’t believe the gospel.

  51. Terry West said,

    August 1, 2010 at 12:51 am

    Rgmann,

    I simply believe that baptism is the laver or washing of regeneration. That there is in baptism a double washing. One external and one internal. That the external washing is visible and perceptible by the sense and the body done by the hand of the minister who represents Christ, the other is internal and invisible done by the hand of Christ himself who washes us in his on blood for the remission of our sins and this is perceived only by faith and the spirit. That sin is so washed away in baptism that we are no longer exposed to the wrath of God and we are delivered from eternal condemnation. That in baptism the Holy Spirit commences in us the work of regeneration and conformity with God.

    Terry

  52. David Gadbois said,

    August 1, 2010 at 1:01 am

    Terry said That the point of contention isn’t it. Lane has not prima facie established his case.

    One does not have to provide arguments for every premise in an argument in order to establish a prima facie case. That is especially the case when the intended audience (orthodox Protestants, in this case) shares the premises as common assumptions.

    As to begging the question, there are several ways one can be guilty of this fallacy. In this case Lane is guilty by asserting unproven and disputed propositions.

    Begging the question does not have to do with “unproven” propositions, per se. It only occurs when such unproven premises are disputed *by the intended audience or opposing position*. The intended audience is orthodox Protestants, a subset of which are sacerdotal Protestants (who would represent the opposing position). Yes, non-orthodox Protestants would dispute Lane’s first premise. So would a Muslim or atheist. But in this context it is not “begging the question” just because one presents an argument that contains an unargued premise that, say, a Muslim would not accept.

    I would also note that even Curate/Roger has not explicitly disputed Lane’s first proposition concerning the symmetry of baptismal and circumcisional efficacy. Perhaps he does take exception to it, but so far he has not directly said so nor necessarily implied it. As far as I can tell for sure Terry West is the only person in this forum who rejects this proposition. We have not even had to defend this propositions to FVers (I know of no proponent who would even do so).

    Terry, if you think so highly of yourself that you believe Lane ought to tailor his arguments to address your sub-orthodox, idiosyncratic position, why have you ignored the arguments that have been made in this combox that have been made for Proposition 1? To summarize yet again, the symmetry of baptismal and circumcisional efficacy (in relation to justification) follows from the unity of the covenant grace, which holds that all of God’s people have been justified in the same way. Indeed, that is Paul’s whole point in Romans 4, that we Gentiles are justified in the same way as Abraham and the saints of old.

    You have ignored this point so far.

  53. Terry West said,

    August 1, 2010 at 1:07 am

    Rgmann,

    Also, this is the reason it was proper to have my infant son Connor, (who is 8 months old now), baptized. So that all that I said in my last comment can be said to be true of him as well.

    Terry

  54. David Gadbois said,

    August 1, 2010 at 1:15 am

    Terry said That sin is so washed away in baptism that we are no longer exposed to the wrath of God and we are delivered from eternal condemnation. That in baptism the Holy Spirit commences in us the work of regeneration and conformity with God.

    Well, so much for the “baptism is instrumental like the Word is instrumental” soft-peddling from earlier.

    Also, I expect this view from dead Anglican churches who only get new members from the babies they bear and seldom get enough adult converts to make them second-guess such a view. After all, how can such a view of baptism be true if professed faith is the requirement for baptism in adult converts, which would presuppose the existence of regeneration (and justification) as a pre-requisite for baptism, rather than as an effect of baptism? Please note that this issue cannot be swept under the rug as an “exception” to the rule, because if sacerdotalists really want to take seriously what the New Testament actually, directly talks about (as they claim), one will note that none of the baptisms in the New Testament is an infant baptism, they are all adult baptisms.

  55. Terry West said,

    August 1, 2010 at 1:17 am

    David,

    So now you are going to start just bullying me by attacking my character as if I somehow “think so highly” of myself? If thats your approach now to the discussion then I have no real incentive to interact with you any further. So, as I said before, when the conversation has actually advanced I’ll comment again.

    Terry

  56. David Gadbois said,

    August 1, 2010 at 1:18 am

    Terry said Also, this is the reason it was proper to have my infant son Connor, (who is 8 months old now), baptized. So that all that I said in my last comment can be said to be true of him as well.

    So this position has become worse. Not only is it a doctrine of justification by faith and baptism, for babies it is a doctrine of justification by baptism without faith.

  57. rgmann said,

    August 1, 2010 at 1:20 am

    51. Terry wrote,

    I simply believe that baptism is the laver or washing of regeneration… That in baptism the Holy Spirit commences in us the work of regeneration and conformity with God.

    Then how, pray tell, were those who were never baptized in water (such as Abraham, David, and the rest of the Old Testament saints) regenerated and justified in God’s sight? Has God justified people in different ways throughout redemptive history? And how were New Testament saints (such as Cornelius and his household) regenerated and justified in God’s sight before they were baptized in water? As I said before, if this is what you truly believe about water baptism, then you simply don’t believe the gospel.

  58. Terry West said,

    August 1, 2010 at 1:22 am

    David,

    That about baptism, (which I do believe), was a condensed version if Ursinus’ commentary on Q74 of the Heidelberg Catechism.

    Terry

  59. Terry West said,

    August 1, 2010 at 1:27 am

    Sorry, my Droid again caused the typo… thats supposed to read… condensed version OF Ursinus’ commentary…

  60. David Gadbois said,

    August 1, 2010 at 1:31 am

    So now you are going to start just bullying me by attacking my character as if I somehow “think so highly” of myself? If thats your approach now to the discussion then I have no real incentive to interact with you any further. So, as I said before, when the conversation has actually advanced I’ll comment again.

    If you don’t think highly of yourself, why do you expect that Lane’s argument, in this context, *must* anticipate an objection that apparently only you would hold to? Perhaps you don’t think highly of yourself, and you just miscalculated the fact that only you would hold to such a position in this particular forum. Fair enough, I’m willing to believe that, too.

    Also, I’m still wondering why you refuse to interact with the arguments given in favor of Lane’s Proposition 1. You supposedly want to advance the discussion, yet haven’t interacted with these points. It is fine if you want to be content in rejecting this view, but any honest Christian inquiring into this matter in this thread will see that the case has been made and has gone unanswered.

  61. David Gadbois said,

    August 1, 2010 at 1:42 am

    Terry said That about baptism, (which I do believe), was a condensed version if Ursinus’ commentary on Q74 of the Heidelberg Catechism.

    Yes, but your use of it equivocates on baptism considered as a sacrament (which includes the sign and thing signified) and the physical rite of baptism. The Heidelberg catechism does not teach that the sign *causes* the thing signified.

  62. Terry West said,

    August 1, 2010 at 1:49 am

    David,

    You are the one that jumped the gun and put your foot in your mouth. I believe it exactly as Ursinus states it in his commentary. No more and no less. So you can draw whatever conclusions you want from that. But that hardly makes me a “sacradotalist” unless you are willing to level that charge on Ursinus as well.

    Terry

  63. David Gadbois said,

    August 1, 2010 at 2:03 am

    Terry said You are the one that jumped the gun and put your foot in your mouth.

    On the contrary, I recognized the language well enough (as a member of a 3 Forms of Unity Church, we use the Heidelberg Catechism). Also, I own and frequently read Ursinus’ commentary.

    Please note Lane’s policy on this blog, that we do not play the “gotcha” game with uncited quotations from Reformed (or otherwise) authors.

    Also, your response was in the context of RGmann’s comments about *water baptism*, not baptism generally considered as a sacrament. What conclusion am I supposed to draw?

    Why so coy, terry? If all of us good, biblical Christians should share your view of the sacraments, why not be clear on the relationship between the sign and thing signified? What is the purpose of playing this theological whack-a-mole game?

  64. Roger du Barry said,

    August 1, 2010 at 2:10 am

    I want to point out some discontinuities between circumcision and baptism, things that break the link between the two, and therefore, that show that there is no simple identification of circumcision with baptism.

    First, circumcision was never asked of Gentile converts to the God of Israel. Think of Naaman the Syrian, and the city of Niniveh. They were justified apart from it. It was always exclusive to the Israelites, and therefore never was a condition of justification.

    Second, it was so closely identified with the Mosaic Covenant that it stood as a synechdoche for it, a shorthand way of speaking of Jewish identity and distinctiveness from everyone else.

    For these reasons it is wrong to segue from one to another merely by saying that both are sacraments. That is simplistic and wrong.

    More than that, these are the very reasons that Paul is arguing for justification by faith apart from the law. It is the discontinuities between circumcision and the New Covenant that are to the fore in Romans 3 to 4, not the similarities.

    Take these facts into account and the simple identification between circumcision and baptism becomes impossible to maintain.

  65. Terry West said,

    August 1, 2010 at 2:25 am

    David,

    I find your attitude and approach to this conversation offensive. You are the one that started the bullying and attacks on personal character. So, yes, I did set you up on purpose. But I am not from this point forward going to interact with you anymore. I look forward to Lane’s comments and that of the others commenting on this topic and hope to continue to interact with them. My overall I intention is not to think highly of myself but to just to simply state what I see as problems with Lane’s argument as concisely as possible. In my opinion the positive arguments made on Lane’s behalf have simply been, in essense, restatements of the same argument, and thus subject to the same fallacies as the original argument. So, until that is really addressed and Lane’s propositions are proven and his use of the text is validated the conversation cannot advance. I would like to continue interacting when it advances and hope to graciously.

    Terry

  66. David Gadbois said,

    August 1, 2010 at 3:04 am

    Terry said I find your attitude and approach to this conversation offensive. You are the one that started the bullying and attacks on personal character.

    This blog is guided by the dictates of biblical ethics, not academic rules of debate. As such, genuine issues of personal character are in-bounds, as are methods of discourse that involve sharp rebuke to proponents of false doctrine. You are welcome to find this offensive if you choose. Of course we do not allow insults or abuse (ex. “your mother wears army boots”) or screeds/rants that are unargued, demagogic, or propagandistic.

    In my opinion the positive arguments made on Lane’s behalf have simply been, in essense, restatements of the same argument, and thus subject to the same fallacies as the original argument.

    Inasmuch as my argument in support of Lane’s Proposition 1 is not “in essence” or otherwise a restatement of his argument, and has been evaded by you for the last 11 of your posts, honest inquirers should conclude that your objection to the Proposition is not intellectually defensible, or that there is a subjective character issue (a few possibilities come to mind) on your part that is strangely keeping you from defending it. That is not an insult, but merely a statement of the logical possibilities that would explain such a fact. It certainly cannot be that your fingers are tired and cannot type anymore, given the amount of typing it has done to evade the issue and vent offense at perceived wrongs over the last half dozen posts.

    But please, all it would take to prove the above wrong is a single post that addresses my argument in support of Lane’s premise, which I have already restated several times. You are welcome to vent indignation at me for my method and style of interaction, but there are perhaps less “offensive” inquirers here in this thread who would really like answers to the substance of the arguments that have been presented.

  67. David Gadbois said,

    August 1, 2010 at 3:15 am

    BTW, I don’t assume that discourse must be “gracious” with promoters of false sacerdotal doctrines that (directly or indirectly) threaten the gospel. The NT does not teach such an ethic of public discourse.

  68. Terry West said,

    August 1, 2010 at 3:56 am

    I can’t sleep for some reason, but I was laying here thinking about how we can quantify the difference between the written word and the visible word of the sacraments, in this case, baptism. And this is Just a thought I want to throw out for consideration and input. In the written word we have the Gospel as it is applicable to sinners like us but abstractly so (and this maybe a poor way of putting it) or in other words I don’t find my name in the text. But in the sacrament of baptism the word, i.e. Gospel, truly becomes personalized. Whereas in the Scriptures I read Christ blood washes away sins and I’m certainly a sinner, in baptism I have it said Christ has washed away my (Terry W. West born 3/24/72) sin. So, when rightly received by faith, what is potentially mine in the written word, because I qualify as one of many guilty sinners in need of Christ, becomes personally applied to me in the sacrament as visible Gospel.

  69. Terry West said,

    August 1, 2010 at 4:16 am

    David,

    I know I said I wasn’t going to but man you make so hard to refrain. I have promoted nothing here in thus thread. I have made no positive argument on how baptism should be viewed. Except for possibly the thought I just threw out in my last comment but it was just that a thought. All I have done thus far besides make a statement about what I believe using Ursinus’ language is simply critique Lane’s argument. I have even stated that I’m not necessarily saying his position is false but that I don’t think this argument supports his conclusion. Whatever my view on the sacraments is, it is with a concern to maintain the essential doctrine of justification by faith alone. You are the one that has jumped on every opportunity to accuse me if false doctrine. This is why I find your attitude and approach both offensive and way over the top. I am a Calvinist through and through. I am Reformed through and through. So, again as long as you persist in these false assumptions about me with no real warrant other than your on zeal to rebuke false doctrine I have no desire to dialogue with you.

    Terry

  70. David Gadbois said,

    August 1, 2010 at 5:10 am

    Terry said I have made no positive argument on how baptism should be viewed.

    More on your “no positive argument” below, but…

    You have fought tooth and nail for an objection against a rather pivotal argument for orthodox doctrine. It is all fine to play “devil’s advocate” once in a while for positive purposes, and point out flaws in bad arguments for doctrines that one considers to be true. But then why argue that Lane’s argument is fatally flawed and refuse to interact with the elaboration and defenses that have been provided in follow-up? It gives ample reason to doubt your sincerity.

    In other words, don’t tell us that you believe strongly in the tree branch you are sitting on, while simultaneously sawing the off the branch (with great vigor) from the tree.

    Except for possibly the thought I just threw out in my last comment but it was just that a thought.

    I wholeheartedly agree with this comment, and commend it for the acceptance of all.

    Whatever my view on the sacraments is

    This only gives us further reason to question your views and intentions since you insist on playing coy about your own view. Quit playing your evasive whack-a-mole game man up to your own position.

    it is with a concern to maintain the essential doctrine of justification by faith alone.

    That is great, but all FVers, Lutherans, and sacerdotal Anglicans have consistently asserted this without demonstrating how their doctrine of sacramental efficacy comports with sola fide.

    So, again as long as you persist in these false assumptions about me with no real warrant other than your on zeal to rebuke false doctrine I have no desire to dialogue with you.

    I would have accepted happily a response along the lines of “David, you are a Grade A jerk, but here is what is wrong with your argument concerning the unity of the covenant of grace and the conclusion that baptismal efficacy reflect circumcisional efficacy…”

    But once again you took up another post wasting everyone’s time complaining about how someone isn’t being nice to you. Your next post should contain something along the lines of what I mentioned in the above paragraph, addressing the substance of the argument, or we all must conclude that your position is intellectually indefensible and/or that you are being cowardly and evasive in refusing to answer criticism to objections you have posted here.

    Or just be content in saying that I’m a big meanie and therefore you don’t have to answer such arguments. You can feel self-satisfied about that approach if you like, but the weakness of your arguments will be exposed to honest inquirers on the matter.

  71. David Gray said,

    August 1, 2010 at 5:15 am

    >So this position has become worse. Not only is it a doctrine of justification by faith and baptism, for babies it is a doctrine of justification by baptism without faith.

    David, given that you have in times past propagated the idea that infants can be saved without faith it is you who is odd man out with the Reformed tradition on this matter.

  72. David Gray said,

    August 1, 2010 at 5:17 am

    >That is great, but all FVers, Lutherans, and sacerdotal Anglicans have consistently asserted this without demonstrating how their doctrine of sacramental efficacy comports with sola fide.

    So Luther denied sola fide?

  73. David Gadbois said,

    August 1, 2010 at 5:26 am

    David Gray said So Luther denied sola fide?

    He affirmed sola fide but was never able to coherently square up his doctrine of baptismal regeneration (at least concerning infants) with it, at least without making ad hoc compromises elsewhere. It is a question of consistency.

    I am no Luther scholar, but the secondary sources I have read agree that, at least for part of his career, Luther held that infants could have faith, and therefore could be justified by faith. That would make his position logically consistent with sola fide, but only at the expense of either re-defining the nature of faith, or else maintaining superstitiously that the notitia of Christ and the Gospel is somehow implanted in infants before comprehension of the preached Word is possible.

    David, given that you have in times past propagated the idea that infants can be saved without faith it is you who is odd man out with the Reformed tradition on this matter.

    I don’t care about the Reformed “tradition” abstractly, I care about the theology that has been codified in the Reformed confessions, because that is what the Bible teaches.

  74. David Gray said,

    August 1, 2010 at 5:39 am

    >I care about the theology that has been codified in the Reformed confessions, because that is what the Bible teaches.

    I am not aware of anywhere in the WCF where it is taught that man is saved apart from faith. Do the 3 Forms of Unity teach that man can be saved apart from faith? And do you recognize the irony of your belief while you are assailing the consistency of Lutheran and Anglican assertions of sola fide?

  75. andrew said,

    August 1, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Would D.Wilson’s emphaises on the WCOF’s teaching that the efficacy of baptism is not tied to the moment of administration (i.e regeneration can occur before, at or after the sacrament) be relevant?

    Would Romans 4 pose a problem to his posistion?

  76. Ron Jung said,

    August 1, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Justification is by grace alone, through faith alone. Don’t make baptism at odds with faith, for it is a means of grace. No one has faith apart from grace.

    Please read Luther. I beg of you.

    Also, a couple questions.
    1. Did the blessings of the Old Covenant come to uncircumcised Jews?
    2. Are the blessings of the New Covenant given to unbaptised believers?
    3. Do you offer the Lord’s Supper to the unbaptized?

  77. David Gadbois said,

    August 1, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Ron said Justification is by grace alone, through faith alone. Don’t make baptism at odds with faith, for it is a means of grace. No one has faith apart from grace.

    It is not making baptism at odds with faith to say that baptism is not co-instrumental with faith in justification.

    David Gray said I am not aware of anywhere in the WCF where it is taught that man is saved apart from faith. Do the 3 Forms of Unity teach that man can be saved apart from faith?

    In the sections where the Reformed confessions speak of infant salvation, they don’t detail the “how’s” of their salvation, nor insist that infants follow the same normal ordo salutis when God saves them. The question is left open-ended.

    Yes, normally faith is required. But if you protest that one can’t make an “exception” to this requirement, one is simply forced to make an exception elsewhere, namely to the confessional teaching on the nature of faith and the role of the preached Word in creating faith.

    And do you recognize the irony of your belief while you are assailing the consistency of Lutheran and Anglican assertions of sola fide?

    Those are two different matters. The Lutheran/Anglican problem is one of basic logical, theological consistency (affirming sola fide while holding that baptism is co-instrumental with faith). To say, on the other hand, that God sometimes works outside of the normal means in order to save His Elect is not to be logically inconsistent, but to reserve to God the right to work in extraordinary ways to save those Elect who cannot meet the normal requirement of faith.

  78. David Gadbois said,

    August 1, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    BTW, I do want to note that my views on infant faith/infant salvation do not necessarily represent the views of Lane and the other moderators here at Green Baggins. My guess is that many good, orthodox men would disagree with me at this point, and I do not consider the matter in and of itself to be a big deal one way or the other.

    What I do resent, however, is the efforts to re-structure the ordo salutis and drive Reformed sacramentology by the secondary issue of infant salvation, a topic the Bible has very, very little to say about. People are willing to introduce all sorts of kooky theological ideas, and even build a whole theology around the issue, simply due to the fact that they want some sort of construct that they feel provides assurance to them of the reality of infant salvation.

    The FV is, itself, a baby-driven theology, as has been noted here in the past. So all sorts of errors result when this is one’s starting point. No one seems to want to notice that the New Testament spends all of its time talking about adult baptism, and never mentions infant baptism. But I thought the exegetes here wanted us to deal with what the text actually says.

  79. Roger Mann said,

    August 1, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    76. Ron asked,

    1. Did the blessings of the Old Covenant come to uncircumcised Jews?

    For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised… For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, because the law brings about wrath. (Romans 4:9-15)

    The justification of believers under the old testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the new testament. (WCF 11.6)

    The blessing of justification has always come through faith alone, apart from works of any kind, including obedience to the command to be circumcised in the flesh. There’s only one Covenant of Grace, with one means of justification, regardless of the historical administration one lives under.

    2. Are the blessings of the New Covenant given to unbaptised believers?

    “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” While Peter was still speaking these words, 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.. (Acts 10:43-45)

    Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love. (WCF 11.2)

    The blessing of justification has always come through faith alone, apart from works of any kind, including obedience to the command to be baptized in water. There’s only one Covenant of Grace, with one means of justification, regardless of the historical administration one lives under.

    3. Do you offer the Lord’s Supper to the unbaptized?

    The normal course of events is for professing believers to be baptized first and then to receive the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis. But I see nothing in Scripture (or the Westminster Standards) that forbids any repentant believer from participating in the Lord’s Supper.

    “Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein He was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of His body and blood, called the Lord’s Supper, to be observed in His Church, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of Himself in His death; the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in Him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto Him; and to be a bond and pledge of their communion with Him, and with each other, as members of His mystical body.” (WCF 29.1)

  80. Ron Jung said,

    August 1, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Forgive the randomness of my questions, but I am sure I will be more coherent tomorrow.

    So, after Abraham was justified, he and his household were circumcised and later at Sinai, the Lord instructed all his people to be circumcised- right? If you were circumcised of flesh you were in the Covenant, but unless you were circumcised of heart, you were not justified-right?
    Could anyone claim the blessings of the covenant (not just justification) without being circumcised? Didn’t it “do” something?

    Can a repentant believer even be in the New Covenant without baptism?

    Can you declare to your session open communion to those of faith who are not baptised? Do they have any assurance of salvation?

    Why did the Lord seek to kill Moses for not circumcising his son? Does circumcision “do” something?

    Why did Cornelius have to get baptised if he was already justified?

    Why is baptism looked at as co-instrumental with faith rather than looked on as a grace?

  81. David Gadbois said,

    August 2, 2010 at 2:49 am

    Ron said Why did Cornelius have to get baptised if he was already justified?

    Because God commanded Cornelius to, and because it serves as a sign and seal of the justification he had by faith.

    Why is baptism looked at as co-instrumental with faith rather than looked on as a grace?

    Even the Judaizers could have framed the issue that way, and said that circumcision was a “grace”.

    Plus, this sidesteps the issue, in that it does not clarify the metaphysical connection between sign and thing signified. Baptism cannot be the instrumental cause of justification if faith is the lone instrument.

  82. Roger du Barry said,

    August 2, 2010 at 5:07 am

    David, read your confessions. Baptism is the means of ministering justification, but faith is the thing (humanly) that makes it effective.

    Also, the slogan by faith alone is meant to contrast with something specific, not to isolate faith from everything else in existence. Faith alone IN CONTEXT means faith apart from the works of the Mosaic Covenant. It never means faith apart from the word and the sacraments. Indeed, it means faith making the word the word and sacraments effective for salvation.

  83. August 2, 2010 at 6:24 am

    David G.,

    You’re doing a fine job in my estimation dealing with the issue at hand. It’s sad to me that this is even an issue in our day. Also, although I believe that saved infants are justified by grace through faith, I find it absurd to claim that you are the “odd man out with the Reformed tradition on this matter” because you deny that infants may have justifying faith.

    I would like to put out some food for thought on that side issue, which I believe you alluded to at least in 78 if not elsewhere. Before I do that, I agree with you that the confessions do not “detail the ‘how’s’ of [infant] salvation, nor insist that infants follow the same normal ordo salutis when God saves them.” As you further elaborate, “The question is left open-ended.” However, I do not think that the Confession denies that infants can have justifying faith. In fact I think it even corroborates the view at certain parts, which I’ll try to tease out below. Walk with me for a bit…

    In Chapter 14 of the Westminster Confession of Faith, saving faith is distinguished from believing. The section teaches that through the grace of faith, the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls. And following it notes that “By this faith, a Christian believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the word…” (14.2.). The Confession does not teach that by this faith a Christian is enabled to have faith, for that would be unintelligible I think. Rather, the Confession teaches that by this faith – saving faith – God enables his elect to believe. In other words, by distinguishing faith and belief the Confession teaches (in that location) that God effects the grace of faith by the Spirit of Christ in the hearts of His elect, whereby those with true faith, when confronted with the propositions of Scripture whereby they are understood, exercise this faith unto “obedience to the commands…” and many other “acts” of faith such as “accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life…” Notwithstanding, these “acts” of faith – even the principle act of faith – are not to be confused with faith itself, for as we can see – it is by faith one believes, which in its principle act is accepting, receiving and resting upon Christ alone for the whole of salvation. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the Confession also recognizes in 14.1 that faith is not always wrought by the ministry of the word, which could very well be a reference to the implantation of faith in infants and all those who are incapable of being outwardly called (which need not be applied to those outside the visibile church).

    In the like manner, I find it equally interesting and consistent that repentance in the Westminster standards is distinguished from the acts of repentance. “Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace, the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the Gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ. By it [i.e. By repentance], a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature, and righteous law of God; and upon the apprehension of His mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavoring to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments.” In other words, by the grace of repentance, men repent. Accordingly, like faith, repentance when distinguished from the acts that proceed from that grace can also be granted to infants prior to their having the ability to exercise their wills in response to the warnings of God.

    Because faith is distinguished from believing in the Confession’s chapter on saving faith, it would seem most reasonable to read 11.1 of the same Confession with that in mind. “Those who God effectually calls, He also freely justifies, not by infusing righteousness in to them…nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness…” In other words, it would seem reasonable to interpret the Confession as not defining “faith itself” as “the act of believing,” but rather again distinguishing faith from the act of believing, just as it distinguishes faith from “evangelical obedience.” In other words, it would seem to me that the Confession teaches in this section that God does not credit either of these three: (a) faith, (b) the act of believing, or (c) any other evangelical obedience to the sinner when he is pardoned, accepted and accounted as righteous. In other words, (b) would not be describing (a) but rather would be distinguished form it, which would be consistent with the distinction between faith and believing in chapter 14.

    Given such a distinction between faith and belief, it is easy to understand how a regenerate infant who is united to Christ can be justified by grace through faith alone – apart from understanding, believing and willfully embracing gospel propositions. However, if justification is through faith alone and the three “classic” elements of faith are necessary conditions for justification, then infants (and those incapable of being called) cannot be pardoned for their sin. However, if infants can be justified yet cannot have faith, then justification (at least in the case of infants) can be by regeneration alone, apart from faith. Or else, one would have to say that an infant can be united to Christ in Spirit-baptism yet not pardoned (i.e. justified), a monstrosity indeed. However, if pardon is present with union but not faith, then the gifts that accompany salvation (faith and repentance) can be divided away from salvation, which I find equally problematic. At the very least, we should all agree that those who wish to maintain both that God may be merciful to infants and that justification is through a cognizant-faith alone have some theological reconciling to do.

    Now someone might say, isn’t the essence of faith “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen – and isn’t ‘conviction’ the very heart of assenus (or the “emotional element of fath)?” Well, one good question deserves another. Is the essence of “love” laying down one’s life for his friends or rather, is laying down one’s life for his friends a demonstration or evidence of love, though it is indeed called “love” in Scripture.

    Coming at this from a slightly different angle, I have saving faith when sleeping (yet while not believing God’s promises when in deep REM sleep). Moreover, should I go into a coma I would still have saving faith, but apart from believing, resting, trusting etc. Consequently, justifying faith though not exercised at any moment can still be present in the one possessing the gift. In the like manner, I would suggest that regenerate infants also can have saving faith (the seed of faith being faith), though that faith will not be exercised until a later time. This construct of which I speak need not be hijacked to support a notion that adults can have faith apart from reliance upon Christ alone as presented in the gospel.

    Best wishes,

    Ron

  84. Phil Derksen said,

    August 2, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Re #82: “…read your confessions. Baptism is the means of ministering justification”

    However, writing in 1646 – i.e. the very same time the WCF was being framed – George Gillespe, one of the chief framers of the WCF, carefully explained their use of this terminology:

    “You will say, peradventure, that Protestant writers hold the sacraments to be, 1. Significant or declarative signs. 2. Obsignative or confirming signs. 3. Exhibitive signs, so that the thing signified is given and exhibited to the soul.
    I answer, That exhibition which they speak of, is not the giving of grace where it is not (as is manifest by the afore-quoted testimonies), but an exhibition to believers—a real effectual lively application of Christ, and of all his benefits, to everyone that believeth; for the staying, strengthening, confirming, and comforting of the soul…Our divines do not say that the sacraments are exhibitive ordinances, wherein grace is communicated to those who have none of it, to unconverted or unbelieving persons.” (Aaron’s Rod Blossoming, p.233)

    Or as another Westminster divine, Daniel Featly, put it:

    “…If we speak properly and precisely, the Sacraments seal, and not confer grace…[they] do not begin, but rather continue and confirm our incorporation, by Christ.” (A Second Parallel, p.87)

  85. David Gray said,

    August 2, 2010 at 11:24 am

    >However, writing in 1646 – i.e. the very same time the WCF was being framed – George Gillespe, one of the chief framers of the WCF, carefully explained their use of this terminology:

    Apparently others formed a compromise with him given the language that was approved.

  86. Roger Mann said,

    August 2, 2010 at 11:48 am

    83. Ron wrote,

    In other words, it would seem reasonable to interpret the Confession as not defining “faith itself” as “the act of believing,” but rather again distinguishing faith from the act of believing, just as it distinguishes faith from “evangelical obedience.”

    While you have obviously formulated an ingenious and well thought out theory, I think it fails for several reasons.

    1. The Confession does not say, “nor by imputing faith itself, or the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them,” but rather “nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them.” Therefore the most natural interpretation is that “the act of believing” is an explanation of what faith is — an act of evangelical obedience.

    2. To say that “the grace of faith” itself as distinguished from “the act of believing” justifies sinners contradicts explicit passages of Scripture. For example, the following passage clearly uses “believe,” “faith,” and “fully convinced” as synonyms for “the act of believing,” while contrasting it with “unbelief” as “the act of not believing.”

    “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness…. [Abraham] did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 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.” (Romans 4:5, 20-25)

    3. If “the grace of faith” itself as distinguished from “the act of believing” justifies regenerate sinners, then it logically follows that regenerate sinners are justified prior to their exercising that faith by believing the propositions of the gospel. You went on to say, “This construct of which I speak need not be hijacked to support a notion that adults can have faith apart from reliance upon Christ alone as presented in the gospel.” But that is precisely what it does. We are either justified through “the grace of faith” itself as distinguished from “the act of believing,” or we are justified through “the act of believing” alone. You can’t have it both ways. And Scripture plainly teaches that we are justified through actively “believing” the propositions of the gospel.

  87. Roger Mann said,

    August 2, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Sorry, the italicized emphasis of my first two points should have read like this:

    1. The Confession does not say, “nor by imputing faith itself, or the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them,” but rather “nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them.” Therefore the most natural interpretation is that “the act of believing” is an explanation of what faith is — an act of evangelical obedience.

    2. To say that “the grace of faith” itself as distinguished from “the act of believing” justifies sinners contradicts explicit passages of Scripture. For example, the following passage clearly uses “believe,” “faith,” and “fully convinced” as synonyms for “the act of believing,” while contrasting it with “unbelief” as “the act of not believing.”

  88. David Gadbois said,

    August 2, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Roger said Baptism is the means of ministering justification, but faith is the thing (humanly) that makes it effective. Also, the slogan by faith alone is meant to contrast with something specific, not to isolate faith from everything else in existence.

    As noted earlier, one can ascribe indirect causes to justification, including the Word and sacraments, in that they are means of inciting faith. Yet faith remains the sole instrumental cause of justification, not the Word and sacraments, because faith is the “appropriating organ” that lays hold of and receives Christ’s imputed righteousness. The “by” preposition in “by faith alone” is intended to convey instrumental causal force to faith. That is why it is illegitimate to say that we are justified by the Word or by baptism in this context (one might just as well say that we are justified by being created/conceived/born, since that is also a pre-condition and indirect cause of justification). You cannot simply apply this language to any element in the causal chain of events that leads up to justification.

    One could also put the matter in more colloquial terms. That is, what does one do to lay hold of Christ’s righteousness? The answer is to believe in Jesus Christ and receive it with the empty hand of faith and nothing else. The answer is not “get baptized” any more than it is “get circumcised.”

  89. David Gadbois said,

    August 2, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    I agree with Roger Mann (#86), whenever the Scripture talks about being justified “by faith” it is not talking about faith as a latent psychological faculty or predisposition, but rather faith actively trusting and apprehending Christ.

  90. August 2, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    The Confession does not say, “nor by imputing faith itself, or the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them,” but rather “nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them.” Therefore the most natural interpretation is that “the act of believing” is an explanation of what faith is — an act of evangelical obedience.

    Roger,

    All you did was quote the Confession and state what you believe to be the import, yet the intent you put forth is not necessitated by the words of the Confession. Moreover, and as I pointed out already, Chapter 14 distinguishes between belief and faith, which simply ads force the interpretation I put forth regarding Chapter 11. You didn’t bother to reconcile the language of 14 and 11; you simply asserted your position and stated that the Confession affirms it.

    To say that “the grace of faith” itself as distinguished from “the act of believing” justifies sinners contradicts explicit passages of Scripture. For example, the following passage clearly uses “believe,” “faith,” and “fully convinced” as synonyms for “the act of believing,” while contrasting it with “unbelief” as “the act of not believing.”

    You did not address the distinction the Confession makes in chapter 14 between faith and belief, and the parallel distinction it makes between repentance and the acts of repentance in chapter 15. To simply point to passages of Scripture that equate faith with belief is not to argue that the Confession does not distinguish between faith and belief. This discussion is a bit more precise than you would have us believe.

    And Scripture plainly teaches that we are justified through actively “believing” the propositions of the gospel.

    If it is true that we are only justified by believing gospel propositions, then elect infants dying in infancy who are regenerate are saved but not justified. Moreover, regenerate infants who do not die in infancy would not yet be pardoned, yet nonetheless recreated in Christ by the monergistic work of the Spirit. Let’s not pretend, therefore, that your position is not without difficulty or exceptions. What I find most apparent (and unfortunate) is that you have not dealt with the exceptions that are part and parcel with your own paradigm, yet you obviously think you dealt adequately with the position I’ve put forth.

    BR,

    Ron

  91. August 2, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    proper formatting here:

    The Confession does not say, “nor by imputing faith itself, or the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them,” but rather “nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them.” Therefore the most natural interpretation is that “the act of believing” is an explanation of what faith is — an act of evangelical obedience.

    Roger,

    All you did was quote the Confession and state what you believe to be the import, yet the intent you put forth is not necessitated by the words of the Confession. Moreover, and as I pointed out already, Chapter 14 distinguishes between belief and faith, which simply ads force the interpretation I put forth regarding Chapter 11. You didn’t bother to reconcile the language of 14 and 11; you simply asserted your position and stated that the Confession affirms it.

    To say that “the grace of faith” itself as distinguished from “the act of believing” justifies sinners contradicts explicit passages of Scripture. For example, the following passage clearly uses “believe,” “faith,” and “fully convinced” as synonyms for “the act of believing,” while contrasting it with “unbelief” as “the act of not believing.”

    You did not address the distinction the Confession makes in chapter 14 between faith and belief, and the parallel distinction it makes between repentance and the acts of repentance in chapter 15. To simply point to passages of Scripture that equate faith with belief is not to argue that the Confession does not distinguish between faith and belief. This discussion is a bit more precise than you would have us believe.

    And Scripture plainly teaches that we are justified through actively “believing” the propositions of the gospel.

    If it is true that we are only justified by believing gospel propositions, then elect infants dying in infancy who are regenerate are saved but not justified. Moreover, regenerate infants who do not die in infancy would not yet be pardoned, yet nonetheless recreated in Christ by the monergistic work of the Spirit. Let’s not pretend, therefore, that your position is not without difficulty or exceptions. What I find most apparent (and unfortunate) is that you have not dealt with the exceptions that are part and parcel with your own paradigm, yet you obviously think you dealt adequately with the position I’ve put forth.

    BR,

    Ron

  92. Phil Derksen said,

    August 2, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Re #85

    Read in fuller context Gillespie’s argument was that a particular overzealous Puritan pamphleteer had badly misunderstood the consensus that had always existed on this point among Reformed theologians . In writing “as is manifest by the afore-quoted testimonies” he is indeed referring back to a collection of quotations from a couple dozen or so Reformed writers that he had just cited to prove his own position and statement.

    So, in order for the notion that a so-called “compromise” was involved when essentially parallel wording to what was being addressed by Gillespie here was then incorporated into the WSC to have any credibility, some concrete evidence to that effect would need to be produced. (Note that Gillespie clearly explains that, at least in terms of our present context, the word “exhibited” as he was using it was essentially equivalent to the word “apply” as found in WSC92—that is, it indeed refers to something that “is given.”)

    Otherwise, especially in view of it’s immediate historical context, I think the implication of Gillespie’s detailed and extensive argument against construing such language in some other manner stands on its own. If some specific evidence to the contrary can be produced, I would certainly be willing to factor that into the historical equation.

  93. David Gadbois said,

    August 2, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    The discussion is getting a bit too far off-topic, fellas. Let’s concentrate on the points Lane made in his post.

  94. Phil Derksen said,

    August 2, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    David G.,

    Fair enough. My intention, against what some others were saying, was to show that Lane’s argument in the main post was entirely consistent with what is laid down in the WS. This aspect of the topic was in fact front and center in the initial commentary (3-14) that followed, in which Lane was personally participating. But if you as a moderator think it inappropriate to continue, that’s perfectly fine too.

    BTW, I find your recent argumentation here to be rather compelling.

    Phil

  95. August 2, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Phil – he might have been addressing me (or me too).

  96. David Gadbois said,

    August 2, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I was referring to the discussion of infant faith. Worth mentioning but this just isn’t the place for drawn out debate on it.

  97. August 2, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Agreed. And again, I think you’re doing a great job on the main subject here.

    Ron

  98. Roger du Barry said,

    August 2, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    On the subject of getting back to the post, I want to repeat a few central criticisms.

    When one uses a passage of scripture to make an entirely different point from the one being made by the inspired author, as Lane has done, a red flag should immediately go up.

    I do not say that it is impossible to use a text this way, just that it is unlikely to be correct. What at first looks like a necessary implication can only stand if it does not contradict other scriptures. Lane’s deduction from circumcision to baptism fails this test, as I have shown, because of the many other texts that teach that baptism is for the remission of sins.

    Lane’s assumption that the confessional doctrines of the Lutherans and the Anglicans on baptism are significantly different from the Reformed one fails the test of factuality and history. They are the same in all essentials, as a study of the confessions reveals.

  99. Roger du Barry said,

    August 2, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Phil, re no.84, the writings of individuals are interesting, but not as interesting or relevant as the confessions of entire churches, as I am sure you will agree. The WCF says explicitly that the sacraments rightly used convey the things signified. Baptism conveys justification, and the Supper conveys the body and the blood of Christ.

    Fact.

    That is the Puritan position, the present consensus to the contrary among their heirs notwithstanding.

  100. Phil Derksen said,

    August 2, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Re #99,

    I would beg to strongly differ. To an objective inquirer, the writings of individuals that specifically explain the language that they contemporaneously employed in other documents that they created, such as I have cited, are far beyond just interesting. They are by definition directly relevant and explanatory.

  101. Charles L. Baker said,

    August 2, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Are we to posit the Sacrament of Holy Baptism simply pictures grace, as an empty sign? Or worse, do we gnoticize baptism in Romans 6, like many anabaptists. From what I have read, Calvin was closer to Luther on Baptism than the 17th Centure “impuritans.”

  102. Charles L. Baker said,

    August 2, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Are we to posit the Sacrament of Holy Baptism simply pictures grace, as an empty sign?

  103. Terry West said,

    August 2, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Roger has again very clearly and concisely demonstrated why this particular argument set forth by Lane fails. And simply reasserting the same basic propositions in an attempt to defend Lane’s argument does nothing but exasperate the problem. Unproven and simply assumed propositions as premises for a conclusion is nothing more than begging the question. Roger has given good reasons to call Lane’s propositions into question and until these propositions are properly proven this argument is simply no good irrespective of how good the position is thats trying to be supported.

    Terry

  104. Terry West said,

    August 2, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    As to proposition #1, I would like to add something here. I have just today listened to the first 7 chapters of Romans. The reason I believe proposition #1 cannot be used as a bases for Lane’s argument is that from chapter 3 through chapter 6 of Romans what you have is not the similarities between circumcision and baptism as covenant signs set forth but rather their contrast as they relate to their respective covenants. So, that when we read in chapter 6&7 that we have been baptized into Christ’s death and thus set free from the law we have baptism functioning as the sacrament of the very justification by Christ’s blood that Paul makes mention of in chapter 5. Thus, Lane’s use of circumcision and baptism analogously misses the point and makes proposition #1 for the purposes of this argument set forth by Lane a fallacy of using what in effect is, in this instance, a false analogy. Now certainly in some cases circumcision and baptism are proper to be treated as analogous, just not in this case for this argument from this text of Scripture that Lane has used.

  105. David Gadbois said,

    August 2, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    I agree with Phil (#100). While I am no expert on the Westminster Standards, Ron Henzel noted some time back that Westminster’s language concerning “conferring” or “conveying” grace does not imply the more mechanical, modern meaning of “impart”. So the debate is not settled merely by noting the existence of the words “confer” or “convey.”

    I also note that the 3 Forms of Unity do not share this language of baptismal efficacy. Most sacerdotalists have found the doctrinal standards of us continental Reformed folk disappointing, since it speaks of a parallel, concurrent relationship between the sign and thing signified (“Just as…so also”), rather than saying the sign causes the thing signified.

  106. David Gray said,

    August 2, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    >From what I have read, Calvin was closer to Luther on Baptism than the 17th Centure “impuritans.”

    Calvin was close to Luther on a lot of things. It is very telling that in the absence of a Reformed church so many would choose a Baptist church over a Missouri Synod Lutheran church. Calvin would have found it an easy choice. In Strasbourg he ministered under the authority of the Augsburg Confession. I wonder how many PCA ministers could do that?

  107. Terry West said,

    August 2, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    And least I be accused of negating faith, let me add, certainly the justification that baptism here in Romans 6 signifies is received by faith alone.

  108. David Gadbois said,

    August 2, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    Terry said And simply reasserting the same basic propositions in an attempt to defend Lane’s argument does nothing but exasperate the problem. Unproven and simply assumed propositions as premises for a conclusion is nothing more than begging the question.

    But, indeed, it is you who are reasserting these claims without interacting with arguments made on behalf of the premises in question as well as arguments made concerning the charge of circularity.

    Unless Lane or the other moderators object, I will be deleting any future posts of yours that repeat the claim that Lane’s premises are “unproven and simply assumed” when I, along with others, have tried to provide rationale for these premises. Such a statement on your part is just demagogic cheerleading that clutters up the combox discussions.

    Please note that you are welcome to disagree with the defenses that have been presented here, but you will have to substantively address criticisms of your objections to Lane’s post. Roger/Curate (who does proudly promote these sacramental errors) has taken the honorable route of engaging with us in substantive and interactive replies, a fact that is to his credit. He is not on notice, but you are, seeing as how, for whatever reason, you have chosen not to follow this route.

  109. Roger du Barry said,

    August 3, 2010 at 1:25 am

    David, we do not argue that baptism causes anything. That is a fundamental misunderstanding on your part. It is a means of grace, an occasion for grace, a vehicle of grace, not a cause of it.

    Second, no-one has a mechanical view of conferring and imparting. We are not Romanists.

    Third, we too have a just as, so also view. Just as water washes the body, so too the sacrament rightly administered and received washes the believer from sin by the power of Christ’s blood.

    In short, you have not yet grasped the argument, no offense. We are arguing the confessional case.

  110. Roger du Barry said,

    August 3, 2010 at 1:48 am

    Phil Derksen, I agree that the writings of individuals are helpful. I do not agree that they are more helpful than the text of the confession itself. The language of the WCF and the the Forms of Unity is clear and perspicuous, without dark sayings and tortuous metaphor. It is plain prose.

    The reason that many today do not understand them is a failure to see what is clearly written on the page, due to prior and contrary theological commitments, as well as a fear of the political consequences of accepting the bold sacramentology of the Reformers and the Puritans.

  111. David Gray said,

    August 3, 2010 at 7:03 am

    >The reason that many today do not understand them is a failure to see what is clearly written on the page, due to prior and contrary theological commitments

    Well stated.

  112. Phil Derksen said,

    August 3, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Roger, I’m pretty sure that we won’t end up agreeing on this matter, so these will be my last comments on it.

    To not accept how an influential author of the WS explained the meaning of some specific language used in those standards, in identical context, is simply absurd – no disrespect intended. The Westminster confession and catechisms are primarily composed of bullet statements, which often require more contextual information in order to understand them properly – especially for us readers three-and-a-half centuries later.

    Moreover, if you take the time to read it, you can see that the stated purpose of Gillespie’s explanation was his anticipation that some people might indeed make the very same mistake about the meaning of the language in question that you have.

    Your simplistic approach seems tantamount to saying that we must consider a particular statement by a particular author regarding a particular topic in virtual isolation of all others. What a mess that would make if the Bible were read in this fashion! Hermeneutics 101: Less descriptive statements must be considered in light of more clear ones – especially when the same writer talks elsewhere about the very same language concerning the very same subject.

    I can honestly say that my own inquiry into matters like this are guided by a desire to discover the truth. I would argue that your approach seems more akin to what you implicitly accuse me of doing – i.e. being unduly influenced by “prior and contrary theological commitments.”

  113. Roger du Barry said,

    August 3, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Phil

    I have re-read Gillespie from your post, and I cannot see that his words are relevant to our discussion. I cannot recall ever saying that the sacraments confer grace to unbelief, which is target of that particular quote.

    “… Our divines do not say that the sacraments are exhibitive ordinances, wherein grace is communicated to those who have none of it, to unconverted or unbelieving persons.” (Aaron’s Rod Blossoming, p.233)

    I agree completely with these words. Faith is the condition for right reception, as I have argued at length on previous discussions. But we are not discussing this point here.

  114. David Gadbois said,

    August 3, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Roger said David, we do not argue that baptism causes anything. That is a fundamental misunderstanding on your part. It is a means of grace, an occasion for grace, a vehicle of grace, not a cause of it.

    Unless you are using the term “cause” in an idiosyncratic function, this is simply not true. To say that baptism is an instrument of justification is to say that it is indeed a cause of justification, namely, an instrumental cause.

    Second, no-one has a mechanical view of conferring and imparting. We are not Romanists.

    One does not avoid sacramental error simply by denying ex opere operato efficacy in the sacraments, if that is your meaning. That is to say, saying that baptism justifies *sometimes* rather than all the time is only a partial improvement over the Romanist view. But Paul would not have accepted the explanation that circumcision justifies *some* of the time, rather than all of the time.

  115. David Gadbois said,

    August 3, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Terry said Thus, Lane’s use of circumcision and baptism analogously misses the point and makes proposition #1 for the purposes of this argument set forth by Lane a fallacy of using what in effect is, in this instance, a false analogy.

    You are Roger are both confused about the relationship between systematic theology and exegetical theology. Lane’s Proposition 1 is a statement of systematic theology. That is to say, it is true whether Paul’s point in Romans is to emphasize discontinuities or continuities between the 2 sacraments. It is not functioning, nor needs to function, as a hermeneutical key to Romans.

    Rather, Lane’s argument focuses on the “good and necessary consequences” of what Paul teaches concerning circumcision in Romans. In other words, it is a conclusion of systematic theology based on a sub-premise established by exegesis.

    Whatever discontinuities exist between the two sacraments that Paul wishes to draw out (or…doesn’t), Proposition 1 is saying that the discontinuity *cannot* be a difference between the sacrament’s relationship to justification. And since Paul does talk about circumcision’s relationship to justification, we are then warranted in making an inference about baptism’s relationship to justification.

    Proposition 1 can only be overturned by a direct statement of Scripture to the effect that baptism is efficacious in justification in a manner that circumcision was not. But then we all have even bigger problems, in that we must then chuck out our doctrine of the unity of the covenant of grace, and would be obligated to become functional dispensationalists.

  116. Phil Derksen said,

    August 3, 2010 at 11:03 am

    OK, I’ll break my own moratorium of silence here…

    Roger, if all you are saying is that baptism, like the Lord’s Supper and the Word preached, is a means of grace, then, insofar as such a basic statement goes, we agree. However, all Reformed writers that I have read also say or directly imply that the sacraments signify, seal and strengthen preexistent faith in the elect – only. The ultimate point of Lane’post, as would be corroborated by the proposed relationship between NT baptism and circumcision under the old administration of the COG, is that such things cannot be the conveyor of justification. Rather, that is a function that is proper to the PREEXISTENT faith that Reformed theologians so consistently link to sacramental efficacy. So in that way Gillespie’s remarks are applicable to and fully supportive of Lane’s ultimate point as it relates to the teaching of the WS.

  117. Phil Derksen said,

    August 3, 2010 at 11:11 am

    I meant to also point out that, again in line with Lane’s argument, the view I outlined above is contrary to what Fver’s, RCs, and most Lutherans and Anglicans claim.

  118. Terry West said,

    August 3, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    David,

    You seemed to ignore the fact that in that same comment I affirmed that circumcision and baptism function analogously. I am simplify arguing that in this case we find the exception. In chapters 2&3 of Romans Paul uses circumcision synonymously with the jew having the law as opposed to the uncircumcised gentile without the law. So in this context circumcision is Paul’s way of representing the law which can only give knowledge of sin and thus condemn as opposed to the righteousness of God revealed apart from the law. So when we come to the question of who has the promises given through Abraham in chapter 4 Paul argues that since Abraham was justified before circumcision or before he law then the promise is not given by the law which circumcision in this context is representative of, and it signs and seals to Abraham and the “circumcisioned” i.e. Jewish heirs the righteousness of that law given at Sinai. But, the promise is given of faith so Abraham is not just the father of the jews (the circumcised i.e. those who have the law), but of the uncircumcised as well, i.e. those without the law. Now when we come to chapter 6 we finds that baptism is representative of or signifies freedom from that law (represented thus far by Paul’s use of circumcision), thus is the sacramental sign and seal, not of the law, but of the righteousness of God revealed apart from the law, i.e. justification by Christ’s blood. So, to use circumcision and baptism as analogous as Lane has in this argument is missing the point. It is in effect the use of a false analogy, thus his argument is built on a fallacy.

    Now certainly I agree that “systematicly” circumcision and baptism do function analogously in many cases, just not in this context.

    Terry

  119. Terry West said,

    August 3, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    David,

    I don’t see how it follows that if one recognizes and acknowledges the difference here in Romans between circumcision and baptism as they relate to their respective covenants, that we have destroyed the unity of the covenant if grace, or more specifically, acknowledging how Paul is clearly using circumcision synonymously with the law and/or those given the law?

    Terry

  120. Terry West said,

    August 3, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Let me see if I can be a little more clear. When Paul says that Abraham was justified before circumcision, it is the same as Paul saying that Abraham was justified without the law, or without works. The circumcision the given to Abraham was not a sign and seal of his justification by faith, but rather the righteousness accounted to him by faith, the righteousness codified in the law given at Sinai to Moses. In the new covenant, however, baptism is the sign and seal of justification by the blood of Christ, i.e. the righteousness of God revealed without the law. So, in the context it is proper and even essential to say that justification comes without or before circumcision. Circumcision can only condemn precisely because it is the sign and seal of the righteousness of the law. But the same cannot be said of baptism. It is not proper to speak of justification without baptism precisely because, baptism is the sign and seal of that righteousness of God revealed without the law that comes by faith, i.e. justification by the blood of Christ. This is why only the baptized are spoken of as having put on Christ (Galatians) or being buried with Christ as Paul says in Romans 6 and thus being set free from the law that condemns.

  121. David Gadbois said,

    August 3, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Terry said I don’t see how it follows that if one recognizes and acknowledges the difference here in Romans between circumcision and baptism as they relate to their respective covenants, that we have destroyed the unity of the covenant if grace

    Because the function in view in Romans 4 is justification, not simply other secondary covenantal functions where we can admit to various sacramental differences. If the sacraments function differently in relation to justification, then you end up with two different ways of being saved. Thus no more unified CoG.

    The CoG is, indeed, at the forefront of the text. Paul argues that we Gentiles can be saved by faith since we are under the same CoG by which Abraham was saved, and he was saved by faith alone.

    acknowledging how Paul is clearly using circumcision synonymously with the law and/or those given the law?

    Except that Paul is not using circumcision “synonymously” with the law. Romans 4 is actually the one place in the whole Bible that we find circumcision identified as a sign and seal explicitly. A sign and seal of Abraham’s righteousness; the full, textbook, dogmatic sense of a sacrament. You can say that circumcision is functioning here as an example of the Mosaic law, or even as a sort of representative of the rest of the Law, but it is also not functioning as something *less* than a sacrament in this context either.

    Your exegesis is crippled by a hyper-NPP hermeneutic.

  122. Terry West said,

    August 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Let me add here, least I be misunderstood, that I’m not arguing that baptism is effectual apart from faith. That would actually be absurd seeing that it is the sign and seal of the righteousness that only comes by faith. But, nevertheless, I believe Lane’s argument fails because he is trying to use circumcision and baptism interchangeably as they relate to justification and this can’t be done from that nature of the case.

  123. August 3, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    The circumcision given to Abraham was not a sign and seal of his justification by faith, but rather the righteousness accounted to him by faith, the righteousness codified in the law given at Sinai to Moses.

    Terry,

    Circumcision was given 400 years before the law given to Moses. Accordingly, although the ceremonial law included circumcision, that which was signed and sealed in circumcision, being prior to the law, must have spoken of a righteousness that all men need, whether they were ever to live under the Mosaic economy or not. Indeed, Paul tells us that Abraham’s circumcision was a sign of the seal of the righteousness Abraham had while not yet circumcised and that the righteousness which was imputed to Abraham is the righteousness that is imputed to gentiles who were not under Moses. The very reason that circumcision preceded Sinai was so that Abraham could be the father of all nations and not just Israel. With that said, please do continue…

    Ron

  124. Terry West said,

    August 3, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    David,

    Yes, circumcision does have relation to Abraham’s justification. But how does it relate is the question. I contend that it does not function directly in such a way that it is simply interchangeable with baptism here because they sign and seal to different things. Circumcision signs and seals the righteousness of he law, baptism the righteousness of God apart from the law…. or else nothing Paul has said prior to Romans 4, in Romans 4 or after Romans for makes any sense. For Lane’s argument to work verses 9-11 have to be isolated from the rest of the context and based on an assumed “systematic” that this context is an exception to.

    Terry

  125. Terry West said,

    August 3, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Ron,

    Yes, it was given 400 years before, but I would argue that Paul is still using it here as a predecessor of the law given at Sinai. I think this is clear from the way Paul uses the term works as it relates to Abraham (pre-law) and David (post- law ) whom he quotes in the Psalm. Also, because immediately after verse 11, begins to contrast the “promise” with the law (i.e. the circumcised). There is no warrant to change Paul’s clear meaning and uses of circumcision in verses 9-11 from the way he is using it prior to and after.

    Terry

  126. Terry West said,

    August 3, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    David,

    By the way, let me apologize here for being so offended earlier in the discussion here. You were right it was unnecessary. And I apologize if I offended you in return. I at least hope I am meeting your requirement of engaging your arguments.

    Terry

  127. Terry West said,

    August 3, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Ron,

    Let me add this for clarification. Yes circumcision does signify the righteousness imputed to Abraham and to the Gentiles as well. But, that righteousness is codified in the law. So, because circumcision is a sign and seal of the righteousness if the law it is not the means by which the promise of the Gospel is sealed, this us Paul’s point exactly and why he says justification was Abraham’s before circumcision so that it could be ours as well, for the promise us not of the law but of faith. Baptism does have this sacramental role though precisely because it is that which signifies the washing away of sin by the blood of Christ, it does sign and seal the promise. Thats why it is given to all those to whom the promise belongs.

    Terry

  128. Terry West said,

    August 3, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Ron,

    In that last sentence I should have said in the new covenant thats why baptism is given to all who the promise belongs.

    Terry

  129. David Gadbois said,

    August 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    Terry, I certainly appreciate your efforts to return to addressing the substance of the arguments in play here. And, yes, apology accepted.

    Terry said circumcision does have relation to Abraham’s justification. But how does it relate is the question. I contend that it does not function directly in such a way that it is simply interchangeable with baptism here because they sign and seal to different things.

    Even if your premise that they sign/seal different realities is true, this doesn’t side-step the problem. Abraham was justified without any sign or seal. We are in the same CoG as Abraham, and therefore justified in the same way. This cannot change. The conditions for justification cannot change. So it cannot be that a new sign/seal (whatever reality it signs/seals) can be instituted that is required for or conveys justification.

    Circumcision signs and seals the righteousness of he law, baptism the righteousness of God apart from the law…. or else nothing Paul has said prior to Romans 4, in Romans 4 or after Romans for makes any sense.

    Except that the text flatly contradicts you: “He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.”

    Your NPP-colored glasses have become blinders, and you are driving off the road. Note that even Roger is not echoing these elements of your objection.

  130. David Gadbois said,

    August 3, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Terry, your position is so idiosyncratic at this point, I marvel that you would have expected Lane’s argument to anticipate objections from a position so far afield. Roger’s position neither takes explicit issue with Proposition 1 nor shares the more obscure and radical elements of your exegesis.

  131. David Gadbois said,

    August 3, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Terry said Baptism does have this sacramental role though precisely because it is that which signifies the washing away of sin by the blood of Christ, it does sign and seal the promise.

    Most of post #127 is a confused jumble of words and non-linear arguments attempting to hedge the previous post which asserted that circumcision was not a sign/seal of righteousness by faith in the context of Romans 4.

    But let’s just take this last statement and agree with what it states concerning baptism. It is a sign and seal of the promise and signifies the washing away of sins by Christ’s blood. Abraham was justified by faith without this sign/seal, nor any sign/seal of any kind. Therefore it cannot be the case that we are now justified by faith + a sign/seal given the unity of the covenant of grace.

    This isn’t complicated, guys.

  132. Terry West said,

    August 3, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    David,

    The text does not “explicitly” contradict what I am arguing at all. What is righteousness imputed to Abraham? Nothing less than the righteousness codified in the law that Paul has been arguing was given to the circumcised. Thats the whole point of Paul’s use of circumcision in this context. Baptism does much more, as it were, it signs and seals the righteousness if God revealed apart from the law… the very shedding and washing in Christ own blood that makes us dead to the law of “circumcision” and alive in Christ who condemned sin in the flesh and fulfills the righteous requirements of the law in us. Thats why circumcision and baptism in Romans 4 cannot simply be interchanged. To do so misses the point and falls short of what Lane is trying to prove by his argument. I believe a better argument against the RCC baptism is simply to argue from what baptism actually signs and seals as opposed to circumcision, namely the righteousness of God abstain only by faith. Which again is also why, when properly understood and applied, justification cannot be properly spoken of apart from baptism and vise versa.

    Terry

  133. Terry West said,

    August 3, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    David,

    I am simply trying to makes sense of Paul’s contrast of righteousness of the law over against righteousness of God revealed without the law. Lane’s argument collapses those two by trying to simply interchange circumcision with baptism, thus making nonsense of Paul’s whole argument from Romans 2 thru at least 8. So was not hedging anything… but the miss or gloss over the difference senses of righteousness Paul is using and the import of how we should view circumcision and baptism as they relate to their respective covenants and the Gospel for that matter is not helpful.

    Terry

  134. August 3, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Terry,

    I find this all such a garbled mess I wouldn’t know where to begin untangling all you’ve said. For instance you wrote:

    baptism is given to all who the promise belongs.

    I take from this that you mean that the CoG promise which includes the promise of salvation – that it is established with both the elect and the non-elect, which contradicts the Westminster standards, and which I don’t think you have a problem doing.

    Best,

    Ron

  135. Terry West said,

    August 3, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    Just a note as to my repeated typos… I don’t own a computer right now, so I am posting all these comments from my Motorola Droid… the autospell feature chooses the wrong word sometimes and I don’t catch it till I have already posted. Sorry if some if my states are hard to make out because of this.

  136. Terry West said,

    August 3, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Lol… I had a typo in my note on typos…

  137. Roger du Barry said,

    August 3, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Phil D said: “The ultimate point of Lane’s post, as would be corroborated by the proposed relationship between NT baptism and circumcision under the old administration of the COG, is that such things cannot be the conveyor of justification.”

    Well, here is where the WCF says it does under the Baptism heading:

    “…yet, notwithstanding (the qualifications just mentioned), by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, … ”

    Kapisch?

  138. David Gadbois said,

    August 3, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Terry said The text does not “explicitly” contradict what I am arguing at all.

    Well, you said “Circumcision signs and seals the righteousness of he law, baptism the righteousness of God apart from the law”, but Romans says “He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.” You say circumcision signs/seals righteousness of law, Paul says it signs/seals righteousness by faith. I know this is an awfully hard thing to try and nuance your way out of, but the contrast is pretty clear.

    What is righteousness imputed to Abraham? Nothing less than the righteousness codified in the law that Paul has been arguing was given to the circumcised.

    Your exegesis has taken a downward spiral into crazyland. Vs. 11 says circumcision was a sign/seal of the righteousness Abraham had by faith, a principle which Paul explicitly contrasts with righteousness by law.

    Baptism does much more, as it were, it signs and seals the righteousness if God revealed apart from the law

    Even if so, my comments in #131 still stand.

    Thats why circumcision and baptism in Romans 4 cannot simply be interchanged.

    Lane’s premise does not propose that they can be “interchanged* in the text or otherwise, but rather that what is true of one has necessary implications for the other. Once again, you demonstrate a confusion between the exegetical issues and the systematic-theology-level argument Lane is making.

    Which again is also why, when properly understood and applied, justification cannot be properly spoken of apart from baptism and vise versa.

    What exactly does that mean, and how does it address Lane’s point about sacraments not being instrumental causes of justification?

  139. David Gadbois said,

    August 3, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Lane’s argument collapses those two by trying to simply interchange circumcision with baptism, thus making nonsense of Paul’s whole argument from Romans 2 thru at least 8.

    This comment convinces me that you still don’t understand the structure of Lane’s argument. None of Lane’s argument or premises contends that baptism is *interchangeable* with circumcision on the exegetical level, only that what is said about circumcision has implications for the character of baptism (again, systematic theology).

  140. Phil Derksen said,

    August 3, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    RE 137:

    Gillespie’s very deliberate explanation of this terminology tells us that: “Our divines do not say that the sacraments are exhibitive ordinances, wherein grace is communicated to those who have none of it, to unconverted or unbelieving persons.”

    Thus it absolutely and necessarily follows that the grace (however that term may be further defined) which the sacraments “exhibit and confer [communicate])” can only be applicable in cases where the recipient “already has it, and is a believing person.” This fact jibes perfectly with Paul (and Lane’s) point that God’s people both in the NT and OT administrations of the COG are fully justified by faith ALONE, apart from receiving any covenantal sign or seal.

    Frankly I am utterly amazed that we are even having this discussion among people who call themselves Protestants. Exactly what part of the defining maxim “justification by faith ALONE” don’t people get? How many times does it need to be repeated: “The sacraments are confirming and strengthening, not converting ordinances.”

    Beam me up Scotty… Or much better yet, “Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus…”

  141. Terry West said,

    August 3, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    David,

    Lane’s systematic doesn’t work here precisely because of what is not being accounted for at the exegetical level. That’s my point.

    As to my statement on baptism I simply mean that we cannot properly separate the sign from the thing signified.

    Terry

  142. David Gadbois said,

    August 3, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Roger said “Well, here is where the WCF says it does under the Baptism heading”

    In all the Westminster Standards and 3FU, the only direct, explicit passage you have that might be plausibly interpreted to allow the sacramental force you are proposing is a single line in WCF 28 that uses that word “conferred” to describe baptismal efficacy in relation to salvation and justification. But that is not the same word as “conveyed/conveyor” (Phil’s term) or “impart.” If that is your only direct piece of evidence, you need to do better.

    Ron Henzel has mentioned in the past that “conferred” need not imply that it is an instrumental cause (implying that this was the means by which one would lay hold of Christ’s righteousness), but that it is a term that was similarly applied to the efficacy of the Word.

    Also, it would flatly contradict WCF 11.2 to read WCF 28 in such a way that made baptism out to be instrumental in justification. I know sacerdotalists aren’t real big on basic logical consistency, but there it is.

  143. David Gadbois said,

    August 3, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Terry said As to my statement on baptism I simply mean that we cannot properly separate the sign from the thing signified.

    “Separate” in what way? Is it “separating” them to say that one does not cause the other?

  144. August 3, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Terry,

    Two questions only…

    Do you subscribe to the Westminster standards?

    Is the CoG established (not adminstered to but established) with any non-elect persons?

    Ron

  145. David Gadbois said,

    August 3, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Ron, your question is a fair one (Terry is an Anglican, as far as I know, not in a Westminster Standards communion), but I’d rather not steer the conversation into that aspect of the CoG. Heck, I’m not sure us continental Reformed folks would want to distinguish between establishing and administering the CoG to the non-elect.

    Just trying to keep the conversation reasonably focused is all.

  146. August 3, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    David,

    I realized he was Anglican (though I don’t think he’s true to the intent of “the 39″, as I would like to think they attribute the thing signified to the sign). But in any case, due to various appeals to the Westminster standards I wanted to know if he thought he was in agreement with those standards. As for the rest of us, I appreciate that many who “subscribe” to those Westminster standards are not aware of the theology of WLC Q&A 31, which settles the matter from a confessional standpoint. The CoG was made with Christ as the second Adam and with those elected in him. The promise, therefore, is just that – a promise – that cannot be broken. Consequently, it has always been established only with the elect – the children of promise.

    [comment trimmed by moderator]

  147. David Gadbois said,

    August 3, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Ron, I trimmed your comment because it was both tangential to this topic and very lengthy. You made fair points but it is vital at this point in the debate to keep the debate tight and focused.

    Please take this move on my part as a house-cleaning procedure, not a rebuke or punishment toward you.

    I disagree with your position (we would be more comfortable categorizing the Covenant of Redemption as being with the elect only), but if you think it merits further discussion I can start up a separate post if folks want to discuss it further in the combox.

  148. August 3, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    “baptism is given to all who the promise belongs.”

    David,

    That remark from Terry (in quotes and italics above) opens up a whole theology that may be pursued by a vastly different line of questioning. And although I think you are doing a fine job in pursuing Terry with precision, I do think there are other approaches that even if not as fine as yours just might have some value.

    You wrote: “Just trying to keep the conversation reasonably focused is all” when I addressed the adminstration and establishment of the CoG.

    I can understand that you don’t think that questions pertaining to the administration and establishement of the CoG is the best way to go, but to suggest that is not reasonably focused enough to allow more discussion on that front is something I’ll have to reflect upon a bit more given that the sacraments find their place and meaning within a covenantal construct. For what it’s worth, your moderation of the thread might be a tad tight by many standards, but I’m sure your judgment is best.

    I’ll bow out and let you do your magic! :)

    Best wishes,

    Ron

  149. August 3, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    David,

    I posted 148 before 147 appeared on my screen.

    “Please take this move on my part as a house-cleaning procedure, not a rebuke or punishment toward you.

    I took it as you intended. Thanks.

    “I disagree with your position (we would be more comfortable categorizing the Covenant of Redemption as being with the elect only)

    I don’t think I understand your meaning. My position is that the CoG is established only with Christ as the 2nd Adam and in him w/ the elect. My position is succinctly stated in Q&A 31.

    “but if you think it merits further discussion I can start up a separate post if folks want to discuss it further in the combox.

    No need, brother, but thank you for your offer. I’m sure you’re on the right track.

    Blessings,

    Ron

  150. David Gray said,

    August 3, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    >Except that the text flatly contradicts you: “He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.”

    David,

    Question. We who hold to the WCF understand the efficacy of baptism is not tied to the time of its administration. You seem to be trying to make a chronological point above. If there is the continuity between circumcision and baptism that you’ve stated would it not also be true that the efficacy of circumcision would not be tied to the time of its administration?

  151. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 3, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    Phil (140),

    Forgive my ignorance, but what is the origin of the teaching that ““The sacraments are confirming and strengthening, not converting ordinances.”? I’ve seen that mentioned on this site before, but I haven’t run across it in my reading.

    The reason I ask is that the Confession does teach that when the thing signified comes to pass, we are to attribute that as the effect of the sign.

    Baptism is God’s sign to us that He washes our sins and pours out His Spirit upon us. If and when that comes to pass — not tied in time, whether before or after the administration of baptism — it appears to me that the Confession is telling us to attribute the effect to baptism. Baptism is “efficacious” in that sense. At least, that’s how I’ve always read it.

    So the teaching that “baptism is a confirming, not a converting ordinance” bears an odd relationship to WCoF 27.2. When the thing comes to pass, we are, apparently, supposed to *say* that the effects (conversion) is attributed to baptism, but we are supposed to *think* that baptism doesn’t convert, but only confirms.

    I’ve always understood that the sacraments functioned in a manner coordinated with the Word: they proclaim the gospel. So when I believe the gospel, then I’ve believed what baptism teaches, and my baptism has “saved me” in the same way that the preaching of my pastor “saved me.” Cf. WLC 153, 154, 161.

    To my mind, the idea that “baptism is not a converting ordinance” — which isn’t in the Confession or Catechisms (cf. esp. WLC 191) — is a move in the direction of denying the efficacy of baptism unto salvation.

    But perhaps I misunderstand the meaning of that teaching. How do you the tension here?

  152. Phil Derksen said,

    August 3, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Jeff,

    I created a whole series of articles that relates to many aspects of your question, done in the context of examining claims that are commonly made about baptism by the proponents of FV. You’re right in that the specific terminology you cite is not used in the WS, although some later Reformed theologians did employ it as a summary statement. Of course I would argue that such a statement becomes an inescapable conclusion when one simply conducts various deductive exercises like the one in #140.

    Here is another example from another leading Westminster divine, Samuel Rutherford, whose statements lead one to draw the same conclusion. Note that in describing the role of the sacraments he clearly used the terms “confirm” and “exhibit and give …in a further degree” when describing the grace that is received through them by believing recipients. This is clearly equivalent to saying that the sacraments “confirm and strengthen” these graces in believers.

    “Sacraments are considered as Sacraments, in abstracto, in genere signorum [in the sense that they are signs]; the reprobate do receive holy Seals and Sacraments, else they could not be said to profane the holy things of God, and so they may be Sacraments and work no grace either by themselves or from God, all operation from, or about the Sacrament then must be accidental to a Sacrament…Christ by his Seals [sacraments] rightly and in faith used, do not only confirm grace and pardon, but also really exhibit and give grace and pardon in a further degree, and a new measure of assurance to the conscience which there was not before…” (The Due Right of Presbyteries, [London: 1644], p.211f)

    In the course of my research I have found where several other WD’s also made very similar statements, but I’ll give just one more here, from Richard Vines:

    “The Word begins and works grace in the heart (for faith comes by hearing) but the Sacrament is objected to the eye, and doth not begin the work of grace, but nourishes and increases it, for faith is not begotten by the Sacraments, but only augmented.” (A Treatise of the Institution, Right Administration and Receiving of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, [London: 1677], p.276)

    I realize that my series is rather lengthy, very likely even too much so. However if someone is really serious about studying this issue in depth and in historical context, then I would recommend that they at least browse through it to find the things that might speak most directly to their particular questions. Here is a link to the first article, which includes links to the others:

    http://johannesweslianus.blogspot.com/2010/03/baptism-in-westminster-standards-vs.html

    Also note that there is a brief description of what each article addresses towards the middle of the sidebar on Wes’ website, under the series title. Hope this helps.

    Phil

  153. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 3, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Thank you, Phil. I look forward to further reading on this topic.

  154. Phil Derksen said,

    August 3, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Jeff,

    Here are two other quotations from George Gillespie which plainly make the dual points that the sacraments are “confirming” (1st one) and “not converting” (2nd one) ordinances

    “Our divines hold that the sacraments are appointed of God, and delivered to the church as sealing ordinances—not to give, but to testify what is given—not to make, but to confirm saints. And they not only oppose the Papist’s opus operatum, but they simply deny this instrumentality of the sacraments, that they are appointed of God for working or giving grace where it is not. This is so well known to all who have studied the sacramentarian controversies, that I should not need to prove it.” (Aaron’s Ros Blossoming, p.229)

    Then, following several pages worth of quotations to the same effect by other prominent Reformed writers both prior and contemporaneous to his time, he states:

    “…Protestant writers do not only oppose the opus operatum and the causalitas physica and insita, but they oppose (as is manifest by the testimonies already cited) all causality or working of the first grace of conversion and faith in or by the sacraments, supposing always a man to be a believer and within the covenant of grace before the sacrament, and that he is not made such, nor translated to the state of grace in or by the sacrament.” (Ibid, p.233)

    Reformed divines repeatedly make the point that hearing of the Word is the primary instrument through which saving faith is initially conveyed, which is then strengthened by other spiritually efficacious means of grace – especially more hearing of the Word, partaking in the sacraments and prayer (e.g. WCF 14.1)

    In terms of what is said in WCF 27.2, I have actually found quite a few Reformed writers which would indicate that the intention of statements like this (at least in part) is to explain the true nature of certain sayings in the Bible that the Catholic Church has historically misappropriated (by taking them too literally) in order to support doctrines such as transubstantiation (“This is My body”). For example, the co-author of the Heidelberg Catechism, Zacharias Ursinus, wrote:

    “The forms of speech used in regard to the sacraments are in part proper, and in part figurative. They are proper when the sacraments are called tokens, signs, seals, pledges, and when such other expressions are used as those which seal and confirm unto us the certainty of those things which God has promised. Thus ‘circumcision is a seal of the righteousness of faith’…(Rom. 4: 11. Gen. 17: 11)…The form of speech is figurative or sacramental…when the names of the things signified are attributed to the signs, as when it is said, ‘Our Passover is sacrificed;’ ‘That rock was Christ;’ ‘The bread is the body of Christ.'” (The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism, [Cincinnati: 1888], p.349f)

    The point here is that much of the efficacious language that is associated with the sacraments is to be understood as being metonymic language – that is, where an effect is discussed using terms that actually (or most properly) denote its cause, or vice-versa. I think this is perhaps what WCF 27.2 is largely getting at as well.

  155. Roger Mann said,

    August 3, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    124. Terry wrote,

    Yes, circumcision does have relation to Abraham’s justification. But how does it relate is the question. I contend that it does not function directly in such a way that it is simply interchangeable with baptism here because they sign and seal to different things. Circumcision signs and seals the righteousness of he law, baptism the righteousness of God apart from the law

    The same “righteousness” that was imputed to Abraham (v. 11) is imputed to believers of all ages — the righteousness of the law fulfilled by our covenant Head, Jesus Christ, and received by faith alone. To argue that circumcision is the sign and seal of one type of righteousness and baptism another is absurd. Paul says it is the same:

    “Now it was not written for [Abraham's] 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 Christ our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” (Romans 4:23-25)

  156. Terry West said,

    August 4, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Roger,

    Not different “types” of righteousness, no… but different ways that righteousness is viewed and/or obtained. Circumcision in this context is used by Paul as signifying the righteousness of the law, Romans 2, its the “doers of the law that are justified”, Abraham was justified by faith without circumcision or without works. Circumcision was given as a sign and seal of the righteousness that was accounted to him by faith without the works that Paul is using circumcision as synonymous with in chapters 2-4 of Romans, i.e the law. Baptism though is a sign and seal of the righteousness found in the washing of the blood of Christ. So the focus is different in the sense that circumcision references the law that condemns because we are sinners in need of righteousness (this why the promise is not of the law and was given to Abraham before circumcision), baptism references the blood of Christ the righteous one in whom we find freedom from that law that condemns, being buried with him in his death. So, in short, if circumcision in verse 9-11 function analogously with baptism as Lane’s argument wants to present, then it would follow that circumcision would also be a sign and seal of freedom from the law but this would make nonsense of the whole first 8 chapters of the book of Romans not to mention Galatians as well. Or, in other words, it is essential that we separate justification from the sign and seal of circumcision, this much is very clear from the text Lane is using, but it does not follow that baptism should be treated the same way based on this text given the different focus of baptism as opposed to circumcision. This why I think Lane’s argument from this text is a bad one and misses the mark. As I said in an earlier comment, a much better argument I believe is to take the argument laid out by Paul in the way he is contrasting circumcision and baptism (by implication from Romans 6), and simply argue from what baptism directly signifies, which is the righteousness of God revealed apart from the law that is only obtained by faith. It is absurd to make baptism effectual by anything other than faith, because by doing so the connection between. sign and the thing signified is destroyed.

    Terry

  157. Terry West said,

    August 4, 2010 at 1:07 am

    Alright, I realize (and this is primarily to David, lol… I can anticipate this warning coming soon) that I’m starting to be a bit redundant here. I would be much better at articulating what I’m trying to say over a cup of coffee. I’m much better at speaking than writing. So, I will not continue to just basically restate the same things over and over. Thanks for your patience everyone.

  158. David Gadbois said,

    August 4, 2010 at 1:09 am

    David Gray said We who hold to the WCF understand the efficacy of baptism is not tied to the time of its administration. You seem to be trying to make a chronological point above.

    You bring up a fair point, but I’ve always understood that Westminster language as referring to the fact that baptism can have efficacy *forward* in time, while not implying that it can work backward in time. That is not remarkable, in that causes can have effects immediately, delayed until a future time, or in some ongoing fashion into the future. But I do not want to revise metaphysics and say that causes can have effects in the past.

    And this is not just for philosophical reasons. It seems to me that Paul’s reasoning in Romans 4 is predicated on this. That is, Paul points out that circumcision came after Abraham’s justification. He then concludes that circumcision could not have caused the justification on this basis.

  159. David Gadbois said,

    August 4, 2010 at 1:13 am

    Terry, your posts today are fine. We all repeat ourselves to some extent, just make an effort to remain interactive in doing so, addressing counter-arguments along the way and avoid devolving into propagandistic assertions. Carry on.

  160. Roger du Barry said,

    August 4, 2010 at 1:37 am

    Phil D, you wrote:

    “… but they simply deny this instrumentality of the sacraments, that they are appointed of God for working or giving grace where it is not.”

    and, “… but they oppose (as is manifest by the testimonies already cited) all causality or working of the first grace of conversion and faith in or by the sacraments, supposing always a man to be a believer and within the covenant of grace before the sacrament…”

    You are not hitting the target. We do not say that the sacraments impart grace where it is not, or, that it is the first grace of salvation. You have made this point often, so it is a constant mistake in your understanding of what we are saying.

    Grace and justification are not synonymous. Grace must be given first to the baptizee for it to be effective. He must be a believer already, even in the case of an infant, and God must have begun to prepare him for his salvation.

    You see, then, that we agree with your quotes, and are far from opposing them. They do not contradict anything that we have said.

    You error is in thinking that all of the graces of conversion are given in the same instant that one believes, in every case. Faith precedes baptism, and in the sacrament God offers justification, exhibits it visually, and then confers it.

    Acts demonstrates this pattern over and over.

    In other cases faith comes after baptism, but it is still baptism that conveys the grace of justification. Faith then completes the sacramental washing, which is why it must never be repeated.

    God’s grace is imparted in stages, not all at once, though I would never deny that it can and may do so.

  161. Roger du Barry said,

    August 4, 2010 at 1:39 am

    Correction:

    Your error is in thinking that all of the graces of conversion are given in the same instant that one believes, in every case, but faith precedes baptism, and in that sacrament God offers justification, exhibits it visually, and then confers it.

  162. Roger du Barry said,

    August 4, 2010 at 7:56 am

    David G, you have made the classical Anabaptist argument for the unreliability of the WCF. Justification is by the alone instrument of faith, therefore it is unrelated to baptism, even though the WCF says that it offers, exhibits, and confers forgiveness.

    The problem IMO is a typical case of failing to take ALL of the facts into consideration, and you, an engineer, should be alive to this difficulty.

    Here are the relevant facts:
    1. Faith is the alone instrument of justification. Tick.
    2. The WCF does not say that justification is conferred at the instant of first faith without regard to baptism, as you are assuming. Tick.
    3. The WCF says that the means of conveying the gift is baptism, regardless of the actual moment in time that it becomes effective. Tick.
    4. The WCF says that baptism, properly administered and received, truly offers, exhibits, and conveys the thing signified. Tick.

    It says all of these things without any sense of self-contradiction or irony. The principle that must now come into play is the good faith assumption that the authors knew what they were saying, and succeeded in doing so without contradicting themselves.

    You have argued that a means of grace is the same thing as an instrument, and in doing so you have imputed confusion to the WCF. It does not make that identification between the two things, so you must take that into account in your exegesis. Faith is the alone instrument, and baptism is the effective means of its conveyance.

    These are not contradictions, but two different and complementary ideas. When you sort that one out you will see what the Divines are teaching.

  163. Phil Derksen said,

    August 4, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Roger,

    With all due respect, it is you who are horribly confused and self-contradictory. First you admit to me that “faith precedes baptism”, and then approving quote to David the WCF’s declaration that “Faith is the alone instrument of justification”. Then in the next breath you insist that “baptism…conveys [justification].” Now, if a person is indeed justified by faith alone, then the logical conclusion of your own series of statements is that the elect are necessarily justified prior to baptism – to which I would say, “exactly!” Surely you would have to agree that a person cannot be “more or less” justified at one point (upon receiving the pre-baptismal gift of saving faith), and then later “fully” justified (once they are baptized). David is exactly right: “This really isn’t that complicated, fellows.”

    Your simple but consequential error is that you refuse to accept that in this context the WS do not use words like “convey” in the strictest modern sense that baptism is “instrumental,” despite the fact that I have produced a number of directly relevant quotations by their framers that say precisely that. Again, as the confession specifically states, faith is the lone “instrument” in this operation.

    According to numerous explanations by Reformed theologians, the role of the sacraments as it relates to “conveying” saving graces is perhaps best described in our modern vernacular with a term like “communicates.” Understood in this manner, the terms in question fit perfectly with the conclusion that is necessarily derived from numerous quotations and exegetical exercises in historical Reformed writings, as I have repeatedly demonstrated: “The sacraments are confirming and strengthening, not converting ordinances.” As this principle relates to the grace of justification, the sacraments “convey” to the faithful recipient greater “assurance” of (or strengthens and increases their realization of) their gracious justification by “faith alone.” This is explicitly said over and over in Reformed writings, and if one is simply willing to be informed by these sources and adapt their understanding of the terminology in question as it is used in places like the WS, all supposed and imagined contradictions simply vanish. One of the most detailed and systematic presentation of these combined facts can be found in Francis Turretin’s IET, 18.9, especially articles 1-5.

    Listen, we have both stated our cases repeatedly, and are still essentially talking past each other. This is the classic definition of an impasse. So, I wish you well, my friend, but I think it is probably pointless to continue this line of discussion.

    Phil

  164. Roger du Barry said,

    August 4, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Phil

    I agree that we are at an impasse. I have Turretin, and agree with his theology in all essentials. Read my post 162 to David g.

    Regards

  165. greenbaggins said,

    August 4, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Terry, your position is really weird. David G has been doing a great job answering your objections all through this combox. I’d like to say a few things about Abraham’s faith, which you have completely distorted. His faith was in Jesus Christ, as Christ himself notes explicitly in John 8. Therefore, the righteousness that Abraham had by faith was Christ’s law-keeping, not his own. It is difficult at this point to see what your point is by pointing out that Abraham’s righteousness was that codified in the law. The only righteousness that will EVER avail us is a righteousness of the moral law. The question is whether Abraham is justified in the same way we are. If he is not, then Paul’s entire argument completely fails to address the question of how Gentiles can be justified. Your position on the relation of circumcision and baptism has absolutely no relation at all to the Reformed position.

    Roger, I believe you have been adequately answered here as well. The main flaw in your argument is that you make this equation: the passage is about Jew/Gentile relations. Therefore, it is not about sacraments. I would say in reply, “not so fast.” It is of course true that Paul does not explicitly mention baptism in this context. He is speaking of circumcision. But just as circumcision is no bar to anyone being justified, so neither can baptism be a bar to anyone being justified. What is happening in my argument falls under the category of “good and necessary consequence.” In other words, the conclusions I am drawing use the VERY standard equation of the covenant of grace before Christ with the covenant of grace after Christ, thus making the sign equivalent in function.

    Paul’s argument runs like this, and he is most definitely talking primarily about justification: the relationship of works and faith is the focus of verses 1-8. Paul makes an absolute division between the two methods of justification: by works or by faith. Abraham was justified by the latter method, not by the former method. All Christians today are justified *by the same method as Abraham.* Someone might now ask the question in verse 9 as to whether the Gentiles receive it now the same way as the Jews do/did. The answer is yes. By proving that circumcision came after, Paul proves that circumcision is not instrumental in justification. Only by doing what Terry has done, which is to make circumcision and baptism completely and utterly non-parallel, can we even remotely wind up in a place of saying that baptism is now instrumental where circumcision was not. Romans 6 does not settle this question, either, since the very real possibility of sacramental language is there (i.e., Paul is using sacramental language about the sign, when he is really talking about the thing signified).

  166. greenbaggins said,

    August 4, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Roger, you have comprehensively and seemingly deliberately misread the WCF on the efficacy of baptism. Please re-read the links I posted in comment 6 for a complete refutation of your erroneous views of sacramental efficacy.

  167. Roger du Barry said,

    August 4, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Lane, you continue to confuse an instrument with a means. I won’t repeat what I have already said here, just to send you to my most recent posts on this.

  168. Terry West said,

    August 4, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Lane,

    My point is to what circumcision signs and seals as opposed to baptism. And yes, Abraham was saved by faith in Christ.

    In verse 11 circumcision is the sign and seal of the RIGHTEOUSNESS that he had by faith, i.e. the righteousness of the law. So, because circumcision is tied to the law it cannot and does not justify. That’s why Paul repeatedly argues that to apply circumcision is to bring one back under the law that condemns. So, it is proper to say, along with Paul, circumcision as the sacrament of the old covenant cannot and does not convey justification, for it can not do so anymore than the law can because we all, along with Abraham, are sinners and thus law breakers.

    Where your argument fails is when you try to say it follows that baptism, as a sacrament of the new covenant, cannot and does not convey justification. Because, baptism is not a sign and seal of the righteousness of the law, but rather directly signs and seal the JUSTIFICATION by Christ’s blood (Romans 5), i.e. the righteousness of God revealed without the law (Romans 3). When rightly received, by faith, baptism is effectual and does convey justification (i.e. the washing away of sin by the blood of Christ) precisely because of what it signifies.

    Terry

  169. Roger du Barry said,

    August 4, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    May I suggest that you look up the word instrument, instrumentum, in particular its forensic meaning.

  170. greenbaggins said,

    August 4, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Terry, your division of circumcision from baptism here carries no argumentative force. Abraham’s circumcision signified and sealed the righteousness of CHRIST, which he had by faith. Baptism today signifies and seals the righteousness of CHRIST that we have now by faith. They function precisely the same way.

    Roger, I’m simply not convinced that your distinction between instrument and means is in any way defensible from the Biblical text.

  171. Roger du Barry said,

    August 4, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Terry, my fellow disputant, I have to say that the righteousness of faith that Abraham had was not the righteousness of the law, but the righteousness that comes by faith, namely, his free justification.

    However, your main argument is essentially correct.

    Lane, faith confers upon the believer the legal right to justification. That is the meaning of faith as instrument. Baptism is the occasion of the delivery of the said right. Baptism does not confer the right.

    That is the essential distinction between instrument and means. And btw, the term occurs in the WCF, not the Bible, although the thing itself does in both.

  172. watchblack said,

    August 4, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Roger,

    WCF 28.1 says that baptism is not only a sign and seal of remission of sins, but also of ingrafting into Christ and regeneration. Does this mean that baptism is the means by which God conveys and confers union with Christ and regeneration? If yes, how can you say that faith precedes baptism since regeneration precedes faith? If no, how can you insist that baptism is the occasion for justification but not regeneration when baptism is the sign and seal of both regeneration and justification?

    Patrick

  173. TurretinFan said,

    August 4, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Re #162,

    Roger:

    You seem to be asserting that the Westminster Standards/Divines were saying that baptism confers justification in some way. If that is what you are saying, what’s your basis for that claim?

    And further, if that is your claim, what is the way in which baptism confers justification? (either in your opinion, or that of the Westminster Standards/Divines, or both, if you think yourself in agreement with them)

    -TurretinFan

  174. Roger du Barry said,

    August 4, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Patrick

    Yes, baptism is indeed the usual means by which God confers union with Christ and regeneration. You ask how that can be. The answer is that I am working with a different order from the one you are. I am using the historical order, not the logical one.

    Faith comes first, and then, in baptism, ingrafting, union, and regeneration. The actual examples of conversion in Acts follow this order, and so does Paul in Romans. See chapter 6 in particular.

    I agree that in order to believe there must be a work in the heart, but it is not regeneration or union. It is the preparation of the field, or, prevenient grace.

    Regards

  175. Roger du Barry said,

    August 4, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Turretinfan

    The basis for that claim can be found in the WCF on Baptism, inter alia. Baptism offers, exhibits, and confers the thing signified.

  176. TurretinFan said,

    August 4, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Re: #175,

    Roger:

    That’s an extraordinarily imprecise and, frankly, unhelpful response. I already knew you were pointing to the WCF on Baptism generally. Perhaps I should have said that up front.

    Can you be more specific about (a) where the WS/WD teach that “baptism confers justification” and (b) how bapitsm confers justification (according to you, the WS/WD, or both)?

    -TurretinFan

  177. Terry West said,

    August 4, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Lane,

    Let me simplify this. Irrespective of if I’m right or wrong about what circumcision signs and seals ( and I very well could be, I’ll have to give it some more thought, I am convinced that Paul is connecting it to the law in a way that baptism cannot be). Your argument is still a fallacy. And the fallacy it commits is inferring a positive conclusion from negative premiss. This is essentially your argument as a syllogism:

    Premiss #1- circumcision as a sacrament does not convey justification.

    Premiss #2- baptism is a sacrament analogous to circumcision.

    Conclusion – therefore baptism does not convey justification.

    This is a bad argument. If you work it out on a Venn diagram it is easily shown. I can’t post one here, but it is easy to do. Draw three overlapping circles, label one circle “circumcision”, another “baptism”, and the third “justification”. Color in the part of that two circles that overlap labeled circumcision and justification to show that circumcision does not convey justification. But, as you will see, the circles labeled baptism an justification will still be overlapping without being colored out thus showing that the conclusion cannot follow from the argument.

    Terry

  178. Phil Derksen said,

    August 4, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    RE #171,

    “Baptism is the occasion of the delivery of…[justification].”

    Cf. orthodox Reformed teaching:

    “Believers before and without the use of the sacraments communicate with Christ. As the use of the sacraments will confer nothing more on unbelievers than if they had abstained from it, nay, is only destructive to them, SO WITHOUT THEIR USE BELIEVERS RECEIVE THE REALITY WHICH IS THERE FIGURED…Faith is not without Christ; but inasmuch as faith is confirmed and increased by the sacraments, the gifts of God are confirmed in us, and thus Christ in a manner grows in us and we in him. (John Calvin, The Zurich Consensus, article 19)

    “Baptism is not whereby we are entered into Christ’s mystical and invisible body as such, for it be presupposed we be members of Christ’s body, AND OUR SINS PARDONED ALREADY [i.e. we have already been justified - cf WLC#77], BEFORE BAPTISM COME [sic] TO BE A SEAL OF SINS PARDONED; but baptism is a seal of our entry into Christ’s visible body, as swearing to the Colors is that which entereth a soldier to be a member of that army, whereas before his oath, he was only a heart-friend to the army and cause.” (Samuel Rutherford, The Due Right of Presbyteries, p.211; emphases added)

  179. greenbaggins said,

    August 4, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Terry, the problem here is with your Venn diagram, not mine. You colored out the wrong parts of the diagram. You have three circles: baptism, circumcision, and justification. Color out common ground between circumcision and justification. Then color out all of baptism that is not in the circle of circumcision. This wipes out the common ground between baptism and justification. This would correspond to these two propositions: 1. circumcision is not of justification (the circles representing instrumental connection, not signing and sealing). 2. Baptism does not work any other way than circumcision does. The conclusion follows: 3. Therefore, baptism is not causally related to justification. The problem with your Venn diagram is that you have not taken into account premise 2 (which could be stated better). For the purposes of the Venn diagram, one should color out all that is of baptism that is not of circumcision. Then you will find that the common ground between baptism and justification vanishes.

  180. PDuggie said,

    August 4, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    “the thing signified is the cleansing blood of Christ” and sacramental union makes that thing signified present.

    How.

    How does the physical blood flowing through jesus veins, or shed in AD30 become present to my soul? Because I think about it?

    How is it present even by the Spirit? What happens to the blood. Is it smeared on my soul? Does it touch me?

    I don’t think “cleaning blood of Christ” is really the thing you think is signified by baptism. Because what would happen to the blood in your view? I think you think something else is actually the thing signified.

  181. David Gadbois said,

    August 4, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Roger said Faith comes first, and then, in baptism, ingrafting, union, and regeneration….I agree that in order to believe there must be a work in the heart, but it is not regeneration or union. It is the preparation of the field, or, prevenient grace.

    It is no surprise that sacerdotalism has never found a warm home in the Reformed camp. This post demonstrates that one must chuck the Reformed ordo salutis in order to believe in baptismal regeneration, and agree with the Remonstrants and modern Arminians that faith comes before regeneration.

  182. watchblack said,

    August 4, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Roger (re. 174),

    Is that how the WCF put these things together? If not, then how are they teaching the same doctrine of baptismal efficacy as you?

    Patrick

  183. PDuggie said,

    August 4, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    I think the reason that all those groups make the analogies to circumcision is because crazed baptists ended up denying infant baptism. Would the argument have been made without the presence of Baptists.

    Do we find much about the analogy in Augustine or Aquinas for instance? (I don’t know, maybe we do: references?)

    If not, then the polemic nature of the comparison may be a distraction. I think we have to disanalogize them more than we do, though that doesn’t serve polemics against baptists. for instance, can you actually imagine Paul (as many preachers imagine him) saying he counts his baptism as trash like he counted his circumcision? I can’t.

  184. David Gadbois said,

    August 4, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Lane, I think for Terry’s case one could also present the argument in an alternate way, that side-steps the issue of having to directly prove the continuity in efficacy between the baptism and circumcision (it is interesting to note that no FV would deny this premise, though! Terry’s position is idiosyncratic).

    Here is a reworded version of what I argued earlier in the thread, I think it can provide an alternate form of arguing for the same point you have made:

    Abraham was justified by faith without this sign/seal, nor any sign/seal of any kind. The unity of the covenant of grace entails that we are saved in the same way, the conditions and causes of justification cannot change. Therefore it cannot be the case that we are now justified by faith + a sign/seal, whatever else we want to say about the similarities and differences between the sacraments.

  185. PDuggie said,

    August 4, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Abraham has to have been baptized when he received the imputed righteousness of Christ.

    One of the things Christ had to obey when he was on earth was to be baptized. If he was not baptized, he would not fulfil all righteousness. So the act of being baptized is one of the things Christ does for those who have faith.

  186. Phil Derksen said,

    August 4, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    PDuggie,

    I m not sure what your religious affiliation is, but I’ll ask this anyway. If the relationship between circumcision and baptism that has historically been proffered by Reformed theologians is invalid, then on what theological basis is infant baptism properly established?

  187. PDuggie said,

    August 4, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    There are analogies. But its “lesser to the greater”. circumcision is something Abe did to HIMSELF. a clear work. Baptism is not so much a work of man at all, if at all. It should be construed as being done FOR the recipient, and as such, the sign (water AND THE WORD) work together to cause its effects.

    Also, the NT provides virtually explicit reference to the baptism of the whole nation of Israel, children and adults “in the cloud and in the sea”. That alone should convince everyone :)

    Since we lack a direct command, reformed people arguing with baptists have to make these analogy arguments. But they don’t HAVE to rely on structural considerations.

  188. Phil Derksen said,

    August 4, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    #187,

    Alrightee then…

  189. David Gadbois said,

    August 4, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Roger said You have argued that a means of grace is the same thing as an instrument, and in doing so you have imputed confusion to the WCF. It does not make that identification between the two things, so you must take that into account in your exegesis. Faith is the alone instrument, and baptism is the effective means of its conveyance.

    Aside from the fact that you keep substituting “convey” for “confer” (WCF’s term), my contention is not that a means of grace per se has instrumental efficacy, my contention is that if by “means of grace” you specifically mean that it conveys or imparts justification, then it has become an instrumental cause. That is, it has become the “appropriating organ” that lays hold of Christ’s righteousness unto justification. Faith alone has this role.

    Simply trying to re-label the efficacy and describe it as a “means of grace” or otherwise does not change the fact that you are positing that it functions in such a way that is accurately described as an instrumental cause of justification, according to both metaphysical (instrumental causation) and theological definitions (see Berkhof on “appropriating organ”).

    Lane, faith confers upon the believer the legal right to justification. That is the meaning of faith as instrument. Baptism is the occasion of the delivery of the said right. Baptism does not confer the right. That is the essential distinction between instrument and means.

    It is hardly obvious that WCF makes such a distinction, much less Scripture, either in essence or in terminology.

    You are trying to make justification a two-step process, first gaining the abstract legal right to justification, then in baptism gaining the actual forgiveness, forensic declaration and imputed righteousness of Christ.

    And, yes, this still makes baptism an instrument of justification. It, supposedly, it something you *do* (or is done to you) to get justified. It conveys, imparts, and lays hold of Christ’s righteousness. Trying to parse justification in this a-scriptural way only means that you have posited two different kinds of instrumental causes in justification, one instrument for each of the two steps in your posited two-stage justification.

  190. David Gadbois said,

    August 4, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Pduggie said Baptism is not so much a work of man at all, if at all. It should be construed as being done FOR the recipient, and as such, the sign (water AND THE WORD) work together to cause its effects.

    But even the Judaizers could have used this as a defense of their doctrine of circumcisional justification. They could have just claimed that circumcision was not a work and said it was something done FOR the recipient.

  191. David Gray said,

    August 4, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    >This post demonstrates that one must chuck the Reformed ordo salutis in order to believe in baptismal regeneration, and agree with the Remonstrants and modern Arminians that faith comes before regeneration.

    Not true. I think I understand your reasons for not embracing it, in the sense that it could operate both forward and backward in time, but all you really have to do is believe the WCF when it states that the efficacy of baptism is not tied to the time of its application. Then you can accept what the WCF teaches about conferring benefits as well as the standard reformed ordo salutis. I believe the WCF and I also believe that none of us sufficiently understand the nature of time to be able to say that the WCF is more restrictive than the text chosen by the assembly. Calvin was quite ready to insist on mystery in his understanding of many elements of the Christian life and our material and empirical age doesn’t like that.

  192. pduggie said,

    August 4, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    @190

    Abraham, the first circumcised person, did it to himself. Even Jesus does not baptize himself. So something in the very nature of circumcision is different in that regard, that it can be construed as a work.

    Baptism isn’t only of value “if you keep the law”. A Christan who disobeys isn’t “as though he has not been baptized” is he?

  193. David Gadbois said,

    August 4, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Abraham, the first circumcised person, did it to himself. Even Jesus does not baptize himself. So something in the very nature of circumcision is different in that regard, that it can be construed as a work.

    Except that most of Abraham’s descendants did not circumcise themselves, but were circumcised as babies. Therefore the Judaizers would have had grounds to deny that circumcision was a work.

  194. August 4, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Terry,

    Whether this is Lane’s argument or not, you said you find this argument invalid:

    Premiss #1- circumcision as a sacrament does not convey justification.

    Premiss #2- baptism is a sacrament analogous to circumcision.

    Conclusion – therefore baptism does not convey justification.

    The argument you find invalid can be reduced to:

    C does not imply J
    B = C
    B does not imply J

    A pagan logician who had no dog in this race would find nothing objectionable to that argument.

    Ron

  195. Terry West said,

    August 5, 2010 at 12:00 am

    Ron,

    Yes, Lane is right, I made a mistake with the Venn diagram. If Lane’s premiss #2 is valid the conclusion follows. But I still question premiss #2 as it stands in the case of the context of Romans and to what baptism signifies as I have argued.

    Terry

  196. Terry West said,

    August 5, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Ron,

    Lol… I’ve been wiping egg off my face ever since I read Lane’s reply earlier today and realized my mistake… I just haven’t had a chance to acknowledge it here until now. So, thank you for kicking a brother while his down…. lol… joking of course.

    Terry

  197. Terry West said,

    August 5, 2010 at 12:46 am

    One of the reasons I questions Lane’s premiss #2 “baptism does not work any other way than circumcision does” is because the best I think we can prove biblically is that baptism and circumcision function analogously only in some ways. So, my premiss #2 would have to be stated as, “baptism is a sacrament analogous in some ways to circumcision”. In this case my Venn diagram is correct and the conclusion does not necessarily follow.

  198. Roger du Barry said,

    August 5, 2010 at 1:55 am

    David G and Lane

    The word instrument in the confessions has a specific meaning. It refers to a legal instrument that gives you unconditional access to something, or an unconditional right to something. In Latin it is instrumentum.

    You are not using the word in its proper sense. You have ascribed the general idea of a tool to the word, which is quite wrong, thus causing your problems.

    To say that faith is the alone instrument is saying that faith alone gives you the right to possess justification as your personal property.

    Come on men, research your terms properly.

  199. Roger du Barry said,

    August 5, 2010 at 1:59 am

    Turretinfan, the discussion on where to find these things in the WCF is already well advanced, so if you don’t mind reading from the beginning of this thread, and googling the WCF on Baptism, it would save me unnecessary repetition.

  200. Roger du Barry said,

    August 5, 2010 at 2:53 am

    James Ussher on Sacraments, A Body of Divinity; page 503:

    What are sacraments?

    Seals of the promise of God in Christ, wherein by certain outward signs (and sacramental actions concerning the same) commanded by God, and delivered by his minister, Christ Jesus with all his saving grace is signified, conveyed, and sealed unto the heart of a Christian. For the sacraments are seals annexed by God to the Word of the covenant of grace (Rom 4.11 1 Cor. 11.23) to instruct, assure, and possess us of our part in Christ and his benefits (Gal 3.27) and to bind us to all thankful obedience unto God in him. (Rom. 6.4.)

  201. Roger du Barry said,

    August 5, 2010 at 3:19 am

    Turretin: The Sacraments

    FIRST QUESTION: THE WORD “SACRAMENT” AND ITS DEFINITION
    What is a sacrament as to the name and as to the thing?

    The form.

    XII. The form of the sacrament is placed in the analogy or relation (schesei) of the external matter to the internal, of the sign to the thing signified, by which the thing promised is so represented to our minds that it is caused also to be truly communicated.

  202. TurretinFan said,

    August 5, 2010 at 6:13 am

    Re: ##199-201

    Roger:

    a) (as to #199) What a useless response to my question! I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt the first time that you didn’t realize that I wanted something more than you waving your hands. I now take it (now that you have simply waved your hands some more), as I hope everyone else will, that you have no real answer to the question. And since WCF’s section on Baptism nowhere mentions justification, and since WCF’s discussion on Justification nowhere suggests its conferred by Baptism (quite to the contrary, it states that the sole instrument is faith), I think it’s reasonable to conclude that your argument here amounts to your unsupported assertion that you are correct. From the standpoint of responding to such a hollow argument, the facts I’ve identified should stand as a thorough and complete rebuttal.

    b) (as to #200 and #201) You’ve found two additional places where there is no reference whatsoever to justification being conferred or conveyed. In fact, while both Ussher and Turretin have lengthy discussions on Justification, you have not quoted from those sections of their works.

    The reference to Turretin is especially bizarre. Are you unaware of the very next sentence?

    “In this analogy consists the union of the sign with the thing signified, which consequently is neither natural by bodily contact, nor local by contiguity, nor even spiritual by a spiritual energy by which the signs are immediately made alive, or the power to regenerate or justify given to them; but it is relative and sacramental, placed principally in three things—signification, sealing and exhibition.” (see more context here)

    Please tell me you didn’t intentionally leave that out.

    -TurretinFan

  203. Roger du Barry said,

    August 5, 2010 at 7:43 am

    Turretinfan

    Yes, I am waving my hands, but not for the reason you suggest. :)) You say that these quotes do not mention justification. I grant that the actual words and its derivatives are not mentioned. And yet they say that the things signified by the sacraments are truly communicated.

    What is the thing signified in baptism, Sherlock? Could it be be justification, aka the remission of sins … ?

  204. TurretinFan said,

    August 5, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Re: #203

    a) Signs communicate. This is rudimentary to those who have seen signs.

    b) Are you going to apologize for taking Turretin out of context?

    c) Your reasons for waving your hands may be to fan yourself, for all I care. Regardless your reason, your failure to answer such fundamental questions prevents your argument from getting started.

    d) Once your argument gets started, and once you’ve apologized for taking Turretin out of context, perhaps you’ll try to understand the sacramental view of the Westminster divines by reference to Westminster Shorter Catechism Question/Answer 96.

    Q. 96. What is the Lord’s Supper?
    A. The Lord’s Supper is a sacrament, wherein, by giving and receiving bread and wine, according to Christ’s appointment, his death is showed forth; and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood, with all his benefits, to their spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace.

    Would you like to take a guess as to what the instrumental means of conferring, conveying, etc. remission of sins (which is not co-extensive with Justification) and other things signified by Baptism?

    It’s elementary, my dear Watson.

    -TurretinFan

  205. Phil Derksen said,

    August 5, 2010 at 8:46 am

    RE #202,

    Thank you, Turretinfan, for pointing out Roger’s out-of-context use of Turretin. I would add that he commits the same abuse with Ussher, who in context of the subject at hand adds:

    “…But we may rather deem and judge that baptism is not actually effectual to justify and sanctify, until the party do believe and embrace the promises. Nevertheless baptism is not for the most part a vain empty shew, consisting of shadows without the substance, and a sign without the thing signified, but it is always an effectual seal to all those that are heirs of the covenant of grace: the promises of God touching justification, remission, adoption, are made and sealed in baptism to every elect child of God; then to be actually enjoyed, when the party baptized shall actually lay hold upon them by faith.” (A Body of Divinity, p.502f)

    No ambiguity here.

  206. D. T. King said,

    August 5, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Yes, I am waving my hands, but not for the reason you suggest. :)) You say that these quotes do not mention justification. I grant that the actual words and its derivatives are not mentioned.

    Unbelievable, yet honest enough to indicate to us why he should be ignored.

  207. Roger du Barry said,

    August 5, 2010 at 9:23 am

    LOL. Yet again you all post non-sequiturs as if they are killer arguments against me.
    Let us call this a day.

  208. greenbaggins said,

    August 5, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Terry, the whole question revolves around whether baptism and circumcision are analogous in their respective relationship to justification. WCF 27:5 indicate that the sacraments in the OT “in regard of the spiritual things thereby signified and exhibited, were, for substance, the same with those of the New.” In Romans 4, both the language of “sign” and of “seal” are explicitly tied to circumcision’s relationship to the imputed righteousness of Christ. Circumcision was the sign and seal of Abraham’s faith, a faith which he had while yet uncircumcised. Then, in WCF 28:1, we find that baptism is a sign and seal of the covenant of grace (which is the same covenant as Abraham’s), of ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins (there’s justification for you). So both circumcision and baptism are signs and seals of the benefits that come by faith. Therefore, their relationship to justification is the same, regardless of how they might differ elsewhere (and I acknowledge that there are differences: just not here). So, anyone who holds the WCF cannot hold that circumcision and baptism relate differently to justification.

  209. greenbaggins said,

    August 5, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Roger, you need to re-examine the circumstances under which the things signified and sealed are communicated. You steadfastly refuse to acknowledge these qualifications, which are all-important. Take WCF 28:6, and look carefully at the qualifications. All you tend to see is “exhibited and conferred.” You miss the following qualifications: 1. the efficacy is NOT tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; 2. the recipients are only those TO WHOM SUCH GRACE BELONGS; 3. and, most importantly, the grace comes IN HIS APPOINTED TIME. In other words, the grace comes at the moment of Spirit-given faith, which is the sacramental union between sign and thing signified, not at the moment of the rite being administered. I acknowledge freely that the moment of faith CAN coincide with the administration of the rite. But I deny utterly that it has to be that way, or even that it normally is that way. You also seem to be forgetting section 5 of the same chapter which EXPLICITLY says that people can be saved without it, and that not everyone who is baptized is saved. This absolutely precludes the rite of baptism being the saving, justifying element. It is the moment of faith that does that.

  210. Terry West said,

    August 5, 2010 at 10:43 am

    TurretinFan,

    Roger hardly quoted that out of context. The part he quoted made exactly the point and the portion you added did in no way change it. The “truy communicate” phrase used by Turretin in reference to the sacrament is all was needed to show that baptism does when rightly received does do exactly that. No one here is arguing that baptism “immediately” does anything. Certainly Roger has not if you have actually been reading his comments.

    Terry

  211. TurretinFan said,

    August 5, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Terry:

    Roger quoted a sentence that used the ambiguous word “communicated.” He failed to quote the very next sentence that deals directly with the topic of the relation between baptism and justification and specifically disclaims any relation of spiritual energy between them. That’s called taking the sentence out of context.

    Let me remind you of what the clarifying sentence said:

    “In this analogy consists the union of the sign with the thing signified, which consequently is neither natural by bodily contact, nor local by contiguity, nor even spiritual by a spiritual energy by which the signs are immediately made alive, or the power to regenerate or justify given to them; but it is relative and sacramental, placed principally in three things—signification, sealing and exhibition.”

    Notice that I haven’t put bold on “immediately” since Roger wasn’t claiming that, although Turretin also disclaims that. I’m not sure why your eye jumped to that, since I didn’t accuse Roger of holding that errant position, but I’ll attribute it to a simple oversight on your part.

    – TurretinFan

  212. Phil Derksen said,

    August 5, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Terry #210: “No one here is arguing that baptism “immediately” does anything.”

    Roger # 171: “…Faith confers upon the believer the legal right to justification…Baptism is the occasion of the delivery of the said right.”

  213. Terry West said,

    August 5, 2010 at 11:17 am

    TurretinFan,

    Come on now, really? The bold print parts are not irrelevant to Roger’s point. And the reason I pulled out the term “immediately” is because if what Turrentin is denying in the clauses you put bold was what Roger was arguing for, then you would have the sacrament acting immediately rather than as the “occasion” made effectual by faith, which clearly has been Roger’s argument.

    Terry

  214. TurretinFan said,

    August 5, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Terry:

    “The bold print parts are not irrelevant to Roger’s point.” I agree. I quoted them as undermining Roger’s point.

    “And the reason I pulled out the term “immediately” is because if what Turrentin is denying in the clauses you put bold was what Roger was arguing for, then you would have the sacrament acting immediately rather than as the “occasion” made effectual by faith, which clearly has been Roger’s argument.”

    I think you’re making a false dichotomy. Turretin can deny both of those ideas – both the “immediately” idea and Roger’s idea.

    Remember that Roger did not simply say that Baptism is the “occasion” but stated: “Baptism is the means of ministering justification, but faith is the thing (humanly) that makes it effective.” (#82)

    He does mention the “occasion” idea: “David, we do not argue that baptism causes anything. That is a fundamental misunderstanding on your part. It is a means of grace, an occasion for grace, a vehicle of grace, not a cause of it.” (#109)

    But then he goes farther and argues: “Your error is in thinking that all of the graces of conversion are given in the same instant that one believes, in every case, but faith precedes baptism, and in that sacrament God offers justification, exhibits it visually, and then confers it.” (#161 as corrected in #162) and “In other cases faith comes after baptism, but it is still baptism that conveys the grace of justification. Faith then completes the sacramental washing, which is why it must never be repeated.” (#160)

    As the original post points out, the Scriptures teach justification by faith alone, not sacramental justification. Baptism is a sign, seal, and exhibition (as Turretin put it) – it does not have the spiritual power either immediately or in general (as Turretin explains).

    -TurretinFan

  215. David Gadbois said,

    August 5, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Lane said Roger, you need to re-examine the circumstances under which the things signified and sealed are communicated. You steadfastly refuse to acknowledge these qualifications, which are all-important.

    Lane, to be fair to Roger I do believe he accepts the qualifications, and that that isn’t the main issue in play. The matter he is concerned about is that baptism does operate with this efficacy *normally*, or at least some of the time, subject to the qualifications. He takes terms like “exhibited, conferred” or “communicated” to mean “convey” or “impart”. I would say that is never true of baptism, and is not subject to any qualifications.

    Roger said The word instrument in the confessions has a specific meaning. It refers to a legal instrument that gives you unconditional access to something, or an unconditional right to something. In Latin it is instrumentum….

    To say that faith is the alone instrument is saying that faith alone gives you the right to possess justification as your personal property.

    Come on men, research your terms properly.

    And where, precisely, are we supposed to “research” in order to find this as an accepted theological definition of “instrument” in the context of justification (in Reformed theology or otherwise)? I will admit that my library leans more modern than is ideal for historical theology, but on the systematic theology side such a limited definition of “instrument” is not found in the standards, Hodge, Turretin, Berkhof, Bavinck, nor the more sundry sources I have (Reymond, Frame, Grudem, van Genderen/Velema, Sproul, Ursinus, Shaw). It certainly is not found in Calvin. Nor will you find your idiosyncratic conception of a two-stage justification.

    Even if one were to accept your definition, it does not help your case to distinguish between baptism conveying/imparting (as a “means”) vs. instrumentally causing. It remains true that Abraham’s justification took place without circumcision being a means, instrumental cause, conveyor, or imparter. And it remains true for us in relation to baptism, because we are justified by the same covenant with the same conditions for justification as Abraham.

  216. Roger du Barry said,

    August 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Lane no.209

    I hope that you are encouraged by my saying that I agree with all of the qualifications of the WCF. I have not at any time attempted to play them down or deny them. People have THOUGHT that I was, but it is through no fault of mine.

    I affirm and agree with every statement in the WCF on baptism and the sacraments, without mental reservation or qualification. I agree with Ussher and Turretin on every point that I have read so far on the subject.

    I do, however, believe that it is odd to say that baptism offers, exhibits, and confers/conveys/communicates the grace signified, and not believe that it would happen as a matter of course at the time that these three things happen.

    The WCF does not directly address this issue, leaving it open. But I would argue that my position is implied by it, without disenfranchising those who differ.

    RdB

  217. Roger du Barry said,

    August 5, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    David G, thanks for seeing that I do not deny the qualifications. It gives me confidence that you are actually reading my argument, even if you disagree.

    On the subject of the meaning of an instrument, in reply to your query, I came across it reading historical theology, in particular, the English Reformation. You will find it in older commentaries that include the Latin versions.

    In my modern online dictionary it has it under a discussion of a legal instrument, such as a document. This is the sense that the confessions use, and it is demonstrated in the Latin versions of the 39 Articles (which is official) and the WCF. In Latin I believe that instrumentum has this meaning at the fore.

    Applying it to the WCF definition of faith as the alone instrument, it is faith alone that gives the Christian the legal right before God to be justified. Baptism does not grant this right, so it is not an instrument. Faith is the why in a certain sense, and baptism is the how.

    Of course this right is given by grace, it is not an inherent right. Nevertheless, there it is.

  218. D. T. King said,

    August 5, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    The WCF does not directly address this issue…

    Well, after all the claims made for the language of the WCF, now it comes to this, that it’s not there, and now the new claim is that the WCF “leaves it open.” This is a rather amazing conclusion, but it does (at least to rest of us who differ) explain all the hand waving.

  219. Terry West said,

    August 5, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Turrentinfan,

    Sorry for the typo… I meant to say the bold parts were not relevant to Roger’s point…. my Droid picks the wrong word sometimes and I forget to proof read before I post…

    Terry

  220. Phil Derksen said,

    August 5, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    I’m pretty sure that everyone else is getting just as weary of this merry-go-round ride as I am. But let me give this one more crack.

    Roger, you said awhile ago that you were approaching this whole issue from a historical Reformed/WCF/Puritan, rather than strictly logical perspective (#174). While I think such a statement might imply some pretty silly and unflattering things about our ecclesiastical heritage, let me still take that tack with regard to some of your latest statements.

    Surely you would acknowledge that the R/P tradition has uniformly and always taught the principle that “the sacraments of the Old testament in regard of the spiritual things thereby signified and EXHIBITED, were, for substance, the same with those of the new.” (WCF 27.5, emphasis added) Moreover, baptism is seen as having been instituted as the ordinal replacement for baptism (see any R/P writing that addresses the subject of infant baptism at any length).

    If one indeed agrees with these facts, then they have already accepted Lane’s major premise that we can gather some very important information about baptism’s relationship to justification, by understanding how circumcision related to justification (obtaining righteousness). Surely another point we can all agree on is that in Romans 4 Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, in fact affords the opportunity for us to do that in strikingly clear terms.

    Equally sure is that Paul’s fundamental point in verses 1-12 is that Abraham had received righteousness through faith alone, utterly and completely apart from, and indeed before the occasion on which he received the covenantal seal of circumcision. Moreover, Paul repeatedly expounds, the sequencing of events in Abraham’s case prove that there is no intrinsic link between any person’s really being justified by believing in God’s promise and provision, and their reception of the sign and seal of that forensic transaction.

    Now, you say that faith is what gives one the “right” to be justified, but that “baptism is the how” in the whole equation (#217). However it is very plain that when the historical Reformed principles pertaining to this matter are applied to such a theory, it must be completely rejected. This becomes very evident as one sees what results when the term “circumcision”, the OT sign and seal of righteousness/justification, is simply substituted in your proposition for “baptism”, the NT sign and seal of righteousness/justification (remembering, of course, the equation given in WCF 27.5). That is, it would have to be maintained that circumcision was, after all, “how” Abraham received his justification/righteousness. This obviously, and regardless of how “how” might be (reasonably) defined in your given syntax, is abjectly, and in fact antithetically opposed to the unmistakably clear and very pointed teaching of the Holy Spirit in Romans 4.

    Accordingly, by this criterion, both Lane’s main argument and conclusion on this matter are shown to be absolutely correct.

    In the practical realm, if you are going to continue to force your own predetermined meaning onto the word “applied” as it is used in the WS in this context, you are making the WD’s implicitly posit the same contradiction – indeed, outright heresy. As such, as I have suggested and provided numerous quotations to show how they themselves indeed indicated that this was the case, wouldn’t it be so much better to simply accept the fact that you have been reading your own mistaken assumptions into what the WD’s actually intended when they used that one relatively ambiguous term?

  221. Phil Derksen said,

    August 5, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Correction: “…baptism is seen as having been instituted as the ordinal replacement for *circumcision*.”

  222. Phil Derksen said,

    August 5, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Hey all, I’m sorry if I came on too strong in my last post. But I do believe that the theological issues that are ultimately at stake here (first and foremost JBFA) are pretty important to get right and defend.

    Also, I did not mean to imply that anyone involved in this discussion is knowingly advocating heresy, although some may be coming pretty close to it, even if unwittingly so.

  223. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 5, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    Roger (#198):

    Have you considered WLC #72 and 73 in your understanding of faith as an instrument? If so, then can you speak to the last sentence of 73 in terms of “legal document” v. “tool”?

    Jeff

  224. August 5, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    This is a bit off-topic (though not completely).

    The FV has been accused of believing in mono-covenantalism. I was “suspected” of it myself (and had to look it up at the time) and also asked my pastor, Doug Wilson, what his take was. He rejects it as much as I do, as he points out in this recent video:

    http://www.canonwired.com/ask-doug/whats-wrong-monocovenantalism/

    Another instance of assumptions made and someone (myself and DW at least) presumed guilty by association.

  225. Travis Finley said,

    August 5, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    I’m probably gonna regret this…

    Jesus loves me this I know, for my baptism tells me so.

  226. Musculus said,

    August 5, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    “Romans 4:9-11 Destroys the FV/Lutheran/Anglican/RCC view of baptism…”

    It indeed destroys the argument of the aforementioned rogues’ gallery (and one could add many Liberated and Canadian Reformed to this worthy roster of “non-Protestants”) if one believes that there is no eschatological distinction between Old and New Covenant and the efficacy of their respective sacraments, that the coming of the Christ and the affusion of the Spirit consequent thereupon hasn’t really happened, or that we are still under the law-covenant with its yoke, and – finally – if one takes the position that Rom. 4:1-9 really exists to prove specific apriori systematic constructions which give many denominational Presbyterians a sense of peace and security.

    It also destroys the argument if the extent of my reading congeals around Banner of Truth, certain seminary/cemetery professors at war with 99.888% of Christendom, and various exegetical and historical-theological writings hailing from one or two ghettos of what really composes an otherwise much grander/bigger nation called “The Christian Church”.

    Ad fontes, brothers. Ad fontes (that is, the ones prior to 1643).

    Start with any church father of the first 4 centuries, then move to Augustine (highest doctrine of baptismal efficacy and divine predestination concurrently), then move to such men as Bucer (1536 onward), Richard Hooker, Lancelot Andrewes, and then topping off with a nightcap from Cullmann on Baptism, or Ridderbos on Romans 6 in his masterful: PAUL: AN OUTLINE (sec 65/66).

    EACH OF THESE MEN, with Luther, and the entire church up until Jean Cauvin, held to an instrumental view of baptismal efficacy as concerning infants, and as concerning the worthy adult baptizees/catechumens.

    Better to be with Ridderbos, Cullmann, Augustine, Luther, Bucer, and other of the great masters than the various 30 somethings here the books of which people in the church (Reformed or otherwise) really won’t be concerning themselves with now, or in the future.

    And also, “what Roger du Barry said”. A welcome voice amidst the various cavils, though Roger, I might suggest you are wasting your time.

  227. Roger Mann said,

    August 6, 2010 at 3:11 am

    171. Roger du Barry wrote,

    Lane, faith confers upon the believer the legal right to justification. That is the meaning of faith as instrument. Baptism is the occasion of the delivery of said right. Baptism does not confer the right.

    First, it is Christ’s fulfillment of the law in our stead that confers “the legal right to justification,” not faith. You are seriously confused. Indeed, it is because of this legal right secured by the obedience of Christ (both active and passive) that God grants His elect repentance and faith as gifts of His grace.

    Second, “faith as instrument” or the act of believing is the “occasion of the delivery of said right,” not baptism. Scripture makes this quite clear.

    “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” While Peter was still speaking these words [i.e., before they were baptized in water], the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. (Acts 10:43-44)

    “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 11:17-18)

    “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. (Act 15:7-9)

    Now, if God “granted to the Gentiles repentance to life,” “gave them the Holy Spirit,” and “purified their hearts by faith” while Peter was still preaching the gospel to them, then the “occasion” of their justification (i.e., as personally applied) was the very moment they believed the gospel. Water baptism had nothing to do with it.

    Moreover, the fact that all of the saints prior to the New Covenant era were justified by faith alone without ever being baptized is proof positive that water baptism is not the “occasion” of justification! You can’t even argue that circumcision (rather that baptism) was the “occasion” of justification prior to the New Covenant, as female saints were never circumcised (unlike in certain Muslim countries), and Abraham is said to have been justified by faith alone — “Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised” (Romans 4:10). Faith alone (i.e., the simple act of believing the gospel) has always been the only “means,” “occasion,” or “instrument” of justification.

  228. Roger du Barry said,

    August 6, 2010 at 6:59 am

    Phil K, I am formulating a reply to you.

    Jeff, I think the answer must be yes.

  229. August 6, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    I posted a link the other day about Doug Wilson, the FV, and mono-covenantalism. Here is one (for those interested) of Doug Wilson on the Imputed Active Obedience of Christ:

    http://www.canonwired.com/ask-doug/the-imputed-active-obedience-debate/

  230. Tom Wenger said,

    August 6, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Mucsulus,

    Your smug pontificating made it pretty plain that, for you, “ad fontes” means your personal favorite authors. It’s not shocking then that the Reformed confessions don’t make your greatest hits list. No one can argue for the positions that you and the other sacerdotalists here are pushing if they adhere to the combined testimony of the Reformed confessions. So I guess that’s why you prefer to shoot from the hip, pick your favorites, and then call all of us narrow minded confessional types to get in step with your privately designed historical cut and paste job.

    “Ad fontes, brothers. Ad fontes”

    This would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

  231. TurretinFan said,

    August 6, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I’m loathe to use the name of Musculus in association with our guest, but perhaps that is his real name. In any event, he seems to have omitted a period in abbreviating “adversus” in “adversus fontes” or “ad. fontes.” His approach does not bring one to the spring but only toward the spring.

    For those of us who have embraced the Scriptural doctrine of sola scriptura, the Word of God is the fountain to which we go, even if we enjoy the refreshing streams provided by the fathers (both of the Reformation and earlier).

    -TurretinFan

  232. Roger du Barry said,

    August 6, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Phil D thanks for taking the trouble to make your case clear. I think I have your argument sorted in my mind. In short, Abraham was justified apart from circumcision, by faith on its own. Circumcision was a sacrament of justification, now replaced by baptism as the NT sign and seal of justification. Therefore we are justified without reference to baptism. This is Lane’s argument too.

    This argument is correct as far as it goes, but it does not go all the way. It is the same class of argument as saying that cats have four legs, dogs have four legs, therefore cats are dogs. The facts are true, but the conclusion false, because the differences between them have been ignored. It is the differences that nullify this argument. Circumcision belongs to the law of sin and death, but baptism belongs to the gospel, their similarities notwithstanding.

    Your argument disregards Paul’s own points in Romans 3 and 4 entirely, which I can demonstrate by comparing your conclusion with his.

    Paul’s main premise is found in Romans 3.27-28. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith

    A completely different conclusion from yours! A man is justified by faith alone apart from the deeds of the law, and this means that God is God to Gentiles as well as Jews. . It is about Jews and Gentiles, not that baptism is non-efficacious.

    Paul’s second conclusion after discussing Abraham’s justification by faith alone is this: 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.

    Again he is talking about two groups of people, not sacraments per se.

    Abraham was justified before being circumcised so that he might be father to Gentiles too, that righteousness might be imputed to us as well as to the Jews.

    Abraham’s justification apart form the law proves that he is our father too, not that baptism is not efficacious.

    Aha, you will say, look at the second part of that last verse. I see it, and it says nothing to your posiiton. Now I say to you – Main Point – circumcision and the law are exclusive to the Jews, and more importantly, they bring wrath not grace.

    This is like the differences between cats and dogs, apples and oranges.

    Romans 4.13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law(circumcision), but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the law (the circumcised) are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath.

    This follows immediately after the point about Abraham being father of the uncircumcised too, connected to it by the word for – for the promise not through law (synonym for circumcision in this case) because law and circumcision bring wrath not grace!

    Circumcision is so closely associated with the law that Paul sometimes uses it interchangeably, and the law brings wrath. Baptism, on the other hand, is closely associated with the Gospel, which brings grace.

    Therefore circumcision and law bring wrath, but the gospel brings grace.

    Therefore, although circumcision was a sacrament of Abraham’s free justification, it is also falls under the dispensation of the law, and insofar as it does that, it is contrary to the gospel. You see then that it is the discontinuity of circumcision with grace that is in view here, not the similarity.

    In chapter 6.3 baptism is the means of transferring a man from the realm of sin, death, and the law /circumcision into the kingdom of Christ, which is the realm of obedience and life. Circumcision never did that Amigo!

    Or do you not know that as many of us 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.

    You see here that baptism is part of the law/gospel distinction. It speaks to the Galatians wanting to be circumcised after baptism, which is nothing less than repudiating Christ, grace, and the gospel. There is no talk here of both being essentially the same thing. On the contrary, they are totally opposed in one sense, so much so that being circumcised today for religious reasons is tantamount to rejecting Christ.

    The sleight of hand in your argument is a very subtle, unintended trick, but it is a trick nevertheless. It is the simplistic identification of circumcision with baptism that disregards their profound differences, dissimilarities that make the difference between law and death on the one hand, and grace and life on the other. This verbal trick disregards Paul’s own conclusions about sola fide, and replaces them with an entirely irrelevant and unwarranted generalisation about sacraments.

    Whatever their similarities, circumcision and baptism are symbols of the law and the gospel respectively, and as such, they demonstrate the absolute law/gospel opposition.

  233. Dan MacDonald said,

    August 6, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Thank you all for a most helpful discussion on baptism. I have been reading from the sidelines for a week and have learned a lot about the various reformed positions. In particular, this thread has helped me see the FV position more clearly.

  234. Terry West said,

    August 7, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Roger,

    Thank you for laying that out so well in your last comment. This is exactly the argument I was attempting to make, just not so clear as you just did.

    David and Lane,

    And I am not wanting to just be a cheerleader here. I am commenting here so that (whether you agree with what Roger just laid out or not) maybe some of the confusion that I no doubt had in my comments will be cleared away, especially on the issue of Abraham’s circumcision as it relates to his justification. And also to just say that I agree with Roger on the category mistake that I believe Lane’s argument makes, which was what I was trying to communicate as well (no pun intended). So I will step to the side and look forward to the reply to what Roger has laid out so well and only comment again if I am able to add something constructive.

    Terry

  235. David Weiner said,

    August 7, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    “Therefore circumcision and law bring wrath, but the gospel brings grace.”

    God made a covenant with Abraham. The covenant brought blessing to Abe and his descendants (certain of them) and later, the whole world (certain of them). Circumcision identified those who were Abe’s descendants. It was also a seal of his (and nobody else’s) righteousness, etc. The mark of circumcision is about blessing; not wrath. For one thing, it identified the people from whom the Messiah would come. Wrath???

    About 400 years later God made the Mosaic Covenant (law) with these circumcised people. To see that the words law and circumcision are in any way synonyms in Scripture seems to be a real misunderstanding.

  236. Dan MacDonald said,

    August 7, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    Roger,
    In your post #232, you say that circumcision and baptism both represent something – the former represents the law and it’s inability to save, whilst baptism represents the gospel with it’s ability to save. Circumcision therefore signifies death, baptism life. You also say that in the argument of Romans 3 and 4, we cannot take circumcision to mean simply the act, or the sign, but we MUST take it to mean the whole of the law. Circumcision then is shorthand for ‘the law and all of it’s implications.’ I think that is what you are saying; fair?

    Yet you never seem to say the same thing about baptism. If, as you yourself say in this comment, baptism REPRESENTS the gospel, and all of the life-giving power of the gospel, why can we not read Romans 6 as ‘baptism’ as shorthand for ‘the gospel and all of it’s benefits’?

    Why, in other words, do you accuse Lane and others of having a minimalist, un-contextualized reading of ‘circumcision’ in Romans 3, yet you take exactly that minimalist, un-contextualized reading of ‘baptism’ in Romans 6? Where hermeneutically and exegetically do you get the right to read “the whole of the law” into ‘circumcision’ but not “the whole of the gospel” in Paul’s use of ‘baptism’?

  237. Phil Derksen said,

    August 7, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Roger, sorry for the delayed response, I’ve been rather busy. Many things actually come to mind as I read through your response, but since I’m pretty sure neither of us is going to “convert” the other in this matter, I’ll limit myself to making just a couple of brief observations.

    For one thing, as your predetermined position necessitates, you are way overly intent on painting circumcision solely in a negative light (“circumcision belongs to the law of sin and death…circumcision and law bring wrath”, etc. etc.). Quite to the contrary, the text itself expressly intends to have circumcision considered, at least in relation to Paul’s immediate point here, in terms of its sacramental role as “a seal of the righteousness that [Abraham] had by faith”, in order that he may be the father of all who believe as he did. This was/is a positive thing, no? – and, as WCF 27.5 declares, is this not a prominent aspect of circumcision that’s shared by the Christian sacraments? Also, an objective reader will certainly note that Paul’s segue to making this particular point is to speak of the law thusly: “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” (3:31) These facts alone substantially undermine pretty much everything you were basing your one-dimensional argument in #232 on. Who then, I must ask, is really guilty of conducting an exegetical “sleight of hand” (your term)?

    Secondly, you didn’t even attempt to address the issue in terms of how your views fly in the face of the way orthodox Reformed theologians have uniformly related circumcision and baptism in their sacramental roles, which was an important part of what I was getting at. Very disappointing.

    I think I perhaps my zeal overtook my prudence when I decided to take “one more crack” at this debate. As such, I’m simply going to recognize my lapse in judgment and bow out for a while.

    BTW, I think Roger Mann (#227) made some excellent points that disprove your disturbing notion that baptism is “how” persons receive justification, from yet another significant perspective.

  238. Terry West said,

    August 8, 2010 at 12:49 am

    Roger,

    Something just occurred to me so I want to ask you a question in light of the last paragraph in you last comment, specifically the last sentence. Would you agree that Lane’s argument results in a violation of the law/gospel distinction? This would seem to follow if your reading of Paul is correct (and I believe it is a correct reading) concerning how he is using circumcision.

    Terry

  239. Roger du Barry said,

    August 8, 2010 at 1:57 am

    Phil D, I think that my argument is plain unfamiliar to you, and that if you take some time to think about what I actually said, and follow the thread of the argument, you will find that your disappointments are misplaced.

    Dan MacDonald, read my post again.

    Terry, my fellow disputant, yes I would agree.

  240. TurretinFan said,

    August 8, 2010 at 8:35 am

    “To see that the words law and circumcision are in any way synonyms in Scripture seems to be a real misunderstanding.”

    Circumcision is sometimes used synecdochically for the Mosaic administration of the covenant of grace. And sometimes the Mosaic administration is referred to as “the law.”

    Circumcision, like baptism, is a sacrament of purification. The sacrament of circumcision (like most of the other old testament sacraments) was a bloody sacrament, pointing forward to Christ and His shed blood. Our sacraments are bloodless, pointing back to Christ’s accomplished work.

    – TurretinFan

  241. David Weiner said,

    August 8, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    TurretinFan, re #240.

    Thanks for trying to straighten me out. (I always pay close attention to your inputs here.) You said:

    Circumcision is sometimes used synecdochically for the Mosaic administration of the covenant of grace.

    I really can’t find this in Scripture. Would you be so kind as to give me a few references?

    And sometimes the Mosaic administration is referred to as “the law.”

    Yes, this I see.

    Circumcision, . . . , is a sacrament of purification.

    When I was circumcised I can assure you that nobody there thought they were purifying me. (least of all me!) Yes, Paul used the graphical bloody rite to make points about purification. But, the rite itself was not about purification. Now, if you are saying that Paul redefined what it actually was, well, . . . OK.

  242. Phil Derksen said,

    August 8, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    RE #239: “I think that my argument is plain unfamiliar to you.”

    We agree on something after all! I have extensively studied the Bible, the WS, the 3FU, 39AR, Calvin, Luther, Turretin, the WD’s, Witsius, Warfield, et al, and your argument is indeed downright unfamiliar to me…

    (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

  243. tbordow said,

    August 8, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    I’ve never heard Roger’s law/circumcision connection before. I can’t think of one Reformer who held this view. The common view is of Calvin: “we have, therefore, a spiritual promise given to the patriarches in circumcision such as is given us in baptism, since it represented for them[the Jews] forgiveness of sins and mortification of the flesh”(Inst.4, 16, 3). Can Roger’s few be found among any of the Reformers?

  244. Roger du Barry said,

    August 9, 2010 at 1:27 am

    Phil D, thanks for the chat, I have benefited from the interaction.

    If there is one particular error that I have seen over and over on this thread, it is the repeated assertion that justification by faith alone means necessarily that the moment of faith is the moment of justification.

    Of course, this is unproven and indefensible on logical and grammatical grounds. To say that a man is justified by faith says nothing at all to the matter of when that justification is delivered. I know that your position seems obvious to you, but take a moment to recognize this weakness in your argument.

    Your (plural) entire argument is built upon this assumption.

    I will be away now for two weeks in France, so this is the end of the discussion for me.

    I wish you well as you re-discover the real, historical, Reformed doctrine of justification as it relates to the sacraments, and put behind you this modern baptistic deviation from the Bible, the Doctors of the Church, the Reformation, and the confessions.

  245. David Gadbois said,

    August 9, 2010 at 3:33 am

    Roger said On the subject of the meaning of an instrument, in reply to your query, I came across it reading historical theology, in particular, the English Reformation. You will find it in older commentaries that include the Latin versions….

    In my modern online dictionary it has it under a discussion of a legal instrument, such as a document. This is the sense that the confessions use, and it is demonstrated in the Latin versions of the 39 Articles (which is official) and the WCF. In Latin I believe that instrumentum has this meaning at the fore.

    This is a fantastically weak argument, upon which the whole rest of your argument hangs. You are going to have to do way, way better than this to prove that this is what WCF or any older Reformed writer means when he speaks of faith as the “instrument” of justification. Yes, “instrument” can refer to a “legal instrument”, but you are missing the other half of an argument at this point.

    First, you have an exegetical problem with the Word of God. Scripture often connects justification with faith, we are justified “from/by/through” faith. On a grammatical level, the prepositions dia or eis are acting in an instrumental sense. And never does it speak of justification in connection with faith as an abstract legal right to justification, but rather as the reality of righteousness being reckoned to sinners. One need not even leave Romans 4 to see this. The exegetical data just is not there to support the 2-stage justification you posit that is necessary to your erroneous view of the sacraments. When the Scripture says we are justified by faith, it means just that and does not interject this sophistic distinction between having the legal right and having the reality.

    Second, Berkhof unsurprisingly has the right answer:

    Instrumental cause. This name was very generally used at first, but afterwards met with considerable opposition. The question was raised, whether it was God’s instrument or man’s. And it was said: It cannot be God’s, since the faith referred to is not God’s faith; neither can it be man’s, for justification is not a deed of man, but of God. We should bear in mind, however, (a) that according to the plain teaching of the Bible we are justified by faith, dia pisteos, Gal. 3:8; (b) that the Bible explicitly says that God justifies the sinner by faith, and therefore represents faith as God’s instrument, Rom. 3:30; and (c) that faith is also represented as the instrument of man, as the means by which he receives justification, Gal. 2:16….But faith is also an instrument of many by which he appropriates Christ and all His precious gifts, Rom 4:5; Gal. 2:16. That is also the representation of the matter which we find in the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg catechism. [emphasis mine] By faith we embrace Christ and remain in contact with Him who is our righteousness. The name “instrumental cause” is regularly used in Protestant Confessions….

    Appropriating organ. This name expresses the idea that by faith the sinner appropriates the righteousness of Christ and establishes a conscious union between himself and Christ. The merits of Christ constitute the dikaioma, the legal basis on which the formal declaration of God in justification rests. By faith the sinner appropriates the righteousness of the Mediator already imputed to him ideally in the pactum salutis; and on the basis of this he is now formally justified before God. Faith justifies in so far as it takes possession of Christ. The name “appropriating organ” includes the instrumental idea, and is therefore perfectly in harmony with the statements found in our confessional standards. It has an advantage over the more common name in that it excludes the idea that faith is in any sense the basis for justification. It can be called an appropriating organ in a twofold sense: (a) It is the organ by which we lay hold on and appropriate the merits of Christ, and accept these as the meritorious ground of our justification. As such it logically precedes justification. (b) It is also the organ by which we consciously apprehend our justification. In this sense it logically follows justification. On the whole this name deserves preference, though it should be borne in mind that, strictly speaking, faith is the organ by which we appropriate the righteousness of Christ as the ground of our justification, rather than the organ by which we appropriate justification itself.

    Bingo. And amen.

  246. Roger du Barry said,

    August 9, 2010 at 4:08 am

    I will be away to France tomorrow, so this is the end of this chat for me.

    The single biggest false assumption made on this thread, over and over, and by many people, is that justification by faith implicitly means that the moment of faith is the moment of justification.

    That is simply assumed, never demonstrated. Logically and grammatically nothing of the sort can be deduced. What sola fide means is that faith is the sole instrument of justification, instrument understood in its forensic/legal sense, not in a temporal sense. Period.

    You will have to look for a different argument to make your point.

    Abraham cannot be appealed to as a model for the experience of justification prior to any sacramental means, because Paul does not use his experience that way. Abraham’s justification apart from circumcision means that he is he father of the Gentiles too, not that sacraments are empty. You need to use these texts the way that the inspired author does, not in your innovative and illogical way.

    In any case, all of his descendants were commanded to receive the sacrament on the eighth day, and not delay it until after their justification! This fact on its own shows the fallacy of the Abraham as experiential model argument.

    Our justification is similar to Abraham’s in the sense that faith is its sole instrument. His experience is unique to him. He is the sole exception in scripture to the general necessity of the sacraments for salvation, for the reason that Paul has given – that he might be the father of the Gentiles too.

  247. TurretinFan said,

    August 9, 2010 at 7:22 am

    David:

    I had written: “Circumcision is sometimes used synecdochically for the Mosaic administration of the covenant of grace.”

    You responded: “I really can’t find this in Scripture. Would you be so kind as to give me a few references?”

    What I had in mind were verses like these (especially the first one):

    Romans 3:1-2
    What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

    Colossians 3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

    Acts 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    Roger:

    You wrote: “The single biggest false assumption made on this thread, over and over, and by many people, is that justification by faith implicitly means that the moment of faith is the moment of justification.”

    Acts 13:39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

    You write: “What sola fide means is that faith is the sole instrument of justification, instrument understood in its forensic/legal sense, not in a temporal sense.”

    When we speak of justification, we are referring to forensic justification. Are you using the term justification differently?

    – TurretinFan

  248. watchblack said,

    August 9, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Roger’s distinction between the right to justification (at faith) and actual possession of justification (at baptism) was previously used by Alexander Campbell in order to defend his doctrine of baptismal justification/regeneration. Robert Dabney’s response to Campbell’s argument, and thus to Roger’s, is I think quite helpful. He notes that this distinction does not square with what Jesus says in John 5:24: “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but HAS PASSED from death to life.”

    Here is a link to an historical article on this subject that contains some contemporary application that I wrote on the subject of baptism and sola fide: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/publications/34-2/sola-fide-compromised-martin-luther-and-the-doctrine-of-baptism/

    Patrick

  249. David Weiner said,

    August 9, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    TurretinFan, re #246,

    Thank you for the references. If you will bear with me a little longer? I’d like to ask a question in regard to the Romans 3 passage since you thought it to be the most relevant reference.

    How do I decide given the context, that the word ‘circumcision’ doesn’t just point there to the rite itself. For the issue here seems to be the position of the Jew in relation to the Gentile. Being in the Abrahamic Covenant (circumcised) was quite a blessing, in and of itself. What in the context would direct one to see a more figurative use of the word here to include the entire Mosaic Administration?

  250. Roger Mann said,

    August 9, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    245. Roger du Barry wrote,

    The single biggest false assumption made on this thread, over and over, and by many people, is that justification by faith implicitly means that the moment of faith is the moment of justification. That is simply assumed, never demonstrated. Logically and grammatically nothing of the sort can be deduced.

    You’re kidding, right? I quite clearly “demonstrated” (both logically and grammatically) that the moment of faith is the moment of justification (i.e., as personally applied/received) in posts 32 and 227. Others have made similar points that demonstrate this. You either haven’t been paying attention or simply refuse to accept the truth. You certainly haven’t refuted any of the arguments that have been presented against your position/bare assertions.

    What sola fide means is that faith is the sole instrument of justification, instrument understood in its forensic/legal sense, not in a temporal sense. Period.

    I also addressed this bit of sophistry in post 227:

    “First, it is Christ’s fulfillment of the law in our stead that confers “the legal right to justification,” not faith. You are seriously confused. Indeed, it is because of this legal right secured by the obedience of Christ (both active and passive) that God grants His elect repentance and faith as gifts of His grace.”

    David also pointed this out to you, quoting Berkhof, in post 244:

    The merits of Christ constitute the dikaioma, the legal basis on which the formal declaration of God in justification rests. By faith the sinner appropriates the righteousness of the Mediator already imputed to him ideally in the pactum salutis; and on the basis of this he is now formally justified before God.

    Moreover, the notion that faith constitutes the “forensic/legal” basis of our justification, as you assert, is the false “gospel” of neo-legalism. Scripture plainly states that we are “justified by His blood” (Romans 5:9). That — Christ’s perfect obedience to the demands of the law — is the “forensic/legal” basis of our justification, not faith. I’ll reiterate what I wrote in my first response to you: “This is not merely an intramural debate over a non-essential issue that we can reasonably disagree about. The gospel is at stake!” I pray that God will open your eyes.

  251. TurretinFan said,

    August 9, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    David:

    As to Romans 3, I figure that the Jewish women also received the benefits of the oracles of God (as well as the fact that it was not the cutting itself that provided access to the oracles).

    – TurretinFan

  252. David Weiner said,

    August 9, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    TurretinFan

    Tthe women were just as much the recipients of the blessing of the Abrahamic Covenant as were the men. But, they obviously did not receive circumcision. The explanation is, of course, that the man identified the household. The household fell within the covenant because of the head of the household having been circumcised. So, I still have to ask what forces the broad inclusion of the law in that particular verse?

  253. TurretinFan said,

    August 9, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    David,

    Maybe I’ve misunderstood your question. Are you asking how I know that it refers to more than just the actual rite of circumcision (in which case, see my comments about women and the oracles), or are you asking whether I can precisely define the borders of what is being broadly referenced by the term? (I’d say membership in the Old Testament administration of the covenant of grace, but I’m not sure I could prove that with precision.)

  254. David Weiner said,

    August 9, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    TurretinFan,

    I am certainly not trying to get you to prove anything. :-) I am trying to focus on the idea that ‘Circumcision is sometimes used synecdochically for the Mosaic administration of the covenant of grace.’ I just haven’t been able to see that yet.

    Is the driver here that you see the “oracles of God” as a synonym for the law? Well, it seems to me that they got a lot more than the law as part of all of the oracles they received throughout the centuries. Nevertheless, even if one applies this narrower meaning to ‘oracles’ why would this force one to read ‘circumcision’ more broadly so as to include the law? Surely ‘women’ is not the answer if they too fell within the covenant because of being in a circumcised household?

  255. Roger Mann said,

    August 9, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Here are few pertinent quotes from the article that Patrick linked to in post 247, Sola Fide Compromised? Martin Luther and the Doctrine of Baptism:

    Once again, we can hear Luther and his defenders protesting that baptism is not a work. The only thing man does in baptism is believe, which itself is a gift of God. Baptism is simply the earthly means by which God has chosen to impart salvation. In response, it must be stressed that submission to baptism is an act of obedience to God that is done in addition to believing the gospel. Justification, therefore, is by faith in the gospel plus obedience to God’s command to be baptized. This is contrary to the Scriptures and akin to the Galatian heresy. John 5:24 states that he who hears the word and believes in Jesus has passed from death into life. One is justified at the moment one believes, and not later at baptism…

    Although he made noted advancements concerning the doctrine of baptism, especially with his discussion on promise and faith, Luther failed to undo every rope that the medieval sacramental system had used to bind the Christian. By maintaining that baptism is the ordinarily necessary occasion of justification and by holding to an essentially ex opere operato understanding, Martin Luther unwittingly compromised his cherished doctrine of justification by faith alone. Stressing the objectivity of baptism as God’s saving word and work, as does Trigg, is not enough to vindicate Luther. For when baptism becomes the means of justification, responding to the gospel in faith is no longer sufficient. One must believe and be baptized

    By viewing baptism as the ordinarily necessary instrument and occasion for justification, Restorationists and Federal Visionists fall into the same error as Martin Luther and either contradict (Restorationists) or undermine (Federal Visionists) the doctrine of justification by faith alone. As we have previously noted, God justifies the sinner the moment he believes and thus before baptism

    William Cunningham writes,

    It is a fundamental principle of scriptural doctrine, that justification and regeneration are necessarily and invariably connected with faith, and that they are cotemporaneous with it, whatever may be the precise relation subsisting among them in the order of nature. Whoever has been enabled to believe in Jesus Christ has been justified and regenerated; he has passed through that great ordeal on which salvation depends, and which can occur but once in the history of a soul. And if these principles are well founded, then the spiritual blessings which the sacraments may be instrumental in conveying, can be those only which men still stand in need of, with a view to their salvation, after they have been justified and regenerated by faith.

    Amen to that!

  256. TurretinFan said,

    August 9, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    David:

    The Mosaic administration of the covenant of grace had, as its mark, baptism of males. The women (who were also in the covenant) did not personally receive a mark of the covenant. The blessings of the covenant were various, but the biggest blessing was the oracles of God, namely the Scriptures of the Old Testament.

    And this covenant is called the “covenant of circumcision”:

    Acts 7:8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.

    (or, as above, just “circumcision”)

    See also

    Romans 2:25-29
    For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

    -TurretinFan

  257. David Weiner said,

    August 10, 2010 at 9:12 am

    TurretinFan,

    The Scriptures you quote are of course absolutely correct. Nevertheless they provide no support for the assertion that circumcision infers law; it is used to reference a people who happened to receive the law much later.

    The Mosaic administration of the covenant of grace had, as its mark, baptism of males.

    This is wrong. The Abrahamic Covenant had circumcision for males as Acts 7:8, that you quoted, says. Much later God made the Mosaic Covenant with the same people to whom he had given the “Covenant of Circumcision.” To now move the sign of one covenant to another is not warranted by any Scripture. It just so happens the two covenants involved the same people. Anyway, thanks (truly) for the interchange.

  258. D. T. King said,

    August 10, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Much later God made the Mosaic Covenant with the same people to whom he had given the “Covenant of Circumcision.” To now move the sign of one covenant to another is not warranted by any Scripture.

    Not warranted by any Scripture? I don’t know how to put this any more gingerly, but I think part of the problem here is basic biblical ignorance, as was the case with you question concerning circumcision and how it relates to purification…

    John 7:21-23
    21 Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel.
    22 “Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.
    23 “If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath?

  259. David Weiner said,

    August 10, 2010 at 10:13 am

    D. T. King,

    Biblical ignorance. OK, very possible. Maybe you can help reduce that. . .

    God clearly included circumcision in the Law, along with 600 or so other components. (Sort of in passing actually since even as John notes this was not the actual giving but rather an inclusion. They already knew all the details.)

    What moves this particular law to the status of Synedoche with the entire law? What exactly do you see your quote of John 7 supporting?

  260. D. T. King said,

    August 10, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Mr. Weiner, in short, I think your protest is strained. But at any rate the reason for posting John 7:21-23 was to refute your contention that circumcision was not part of the Mosaic framework, when quite clearly it was transferred from the Abrahamic covenant to the Mosaic. You insisted that “To now move the sign of one covenant to another is not warranted by any Scripture” and I have shown you how ludicrous that remark is. Circumcision was formally included in the Mosaic framework in Ex. 12:44ff; Lev. 12:3. Therefore, the ignorance thus indicated, is not only possible, but actual.

    John notes this was not the actual giving but rather an inclusion…

    Correct, and no one has argued that it was the initial or actual giving. Nonetheless, anyone can plainly see that in your former post you denied its transferal to and inclusion in the Mosaic framework. I think it would serve one well first to study the Bible before making such preposterous claims.

    Moreover, as for your earlier comment, “When I was circumcised I can assure you that nobody there thought they were purifying me. (least of all me!)” I find it surprising that as a grown man you cannot now connect the dots. Whoever circumcised you did it, I assure you, in the consciousness that they were doing it for hygienic reasons. Granted, regardless of whether any spiritual reason was in view, the procedure was for the purpose of hygiene, of which cleanliness is a synonym. Please pardon me, but it seems somewhat odd that one should have to explain this (I’m assuming) to a grown man. From a biblical standpoint, the uncircumcised were equated with and/or symbolized as those who were unclean spiritually (Is. 52:1). Simply go to the concordance of your Bible and trace out all the descriptions for the uncircumcised in the OT. For example, when the boy David came face to face with Goliath, he didn’t have any of those “other components” in mind when he declared of Goliath, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1Sa 17:26) – because he was using that term to describe one who was excluded from the people of God and reckoned as an enemy of the people of God. It is basic biblical knowledge to understand that the term “uncircumcised” was generally employed to describe those who were regarded as outside of the Mosaic covenant. This is why Paul argues, as he does, in Romans 2:26…

    26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?
    27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law?

    This is why Paul used the term “circumcision” in its synecdochic sense in 1 Cor 7:19 to demonstrate that circumcision no longer serves the purpose, in the spiritual realm, as it did under the Mosaic framework, “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.”

    You see, the “600 or so other components” you claim is simply a red herring objection, because those other “components” cannot even begin to be compared with the broad and frequent use of circumcision vs. uncircumcision in the OT, and how the Apostle Paul himself employs it in the New Covenant. The connections that TurretinFan has drawn are clear to anyone who has chosen first to study the scriptures before engaging in a protest about what is without scriptural warrant. I have no desire to offend, but it is this line of protest that is without biblical warrant.

  261. David Weiner said,

    August 10, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    D. T. King,

    You said “Mr. Weiner” Please, call me David.

    First, I want to thank you for bringing a smile to my face on a rather hot and humid day.

    the reason for posting John 7:21-23 was to refute your contention that circumcision was not part of the Mosaic framework

    What statement did I present here that leads you to this erroneous conclusion?

    quite clearly it (circumcision) was transferred from the Abrahamic covenant to the Mosaic

    Transferred??? So, it was taken out of the Abrahamic and put into the Mosaic??? Surely, you jest.

    I have shown you how ludicrous that remark is

    So, simple inclusion in the Mosaic of the sign of the Abrahamic elevates it to the sign of the Mosaic??? My comment was ludicrous???

    in your former post you denied its transferal to and inclusion in the Mosaic framework

    Transferral- never happened; Inclusion – of course. But, neither of these two issues was ever part of my brief exchange with TurretinFan. Of course, if my comments were misread, then anything is possible.

    I assure you, in the consciousness that they were doing it for hygienic reasons.

    Thank you for the assurance; but I am sure since you were not there, you have no basis for that assertion. Yet, the rabbi who came to my house to perform the religious ceremony of circumcision on my helpless body part never mentioned hygene to any of the assembled family members. I was (am) a Jew and that is what Jews did. Sadly, those people had no idea of what had happened on the cross.

    You quote 1 Samuel 17:26 and give a reasonable interpretation. Goliath was not a Jew; he was not among the people of God. Right. Then a leap to the Mosaic Covenant. Logical error. David was not thinking that Goliath’s problem was that he was not following the Law of Moses. Although in truth, he probably wasn’t . . .

    You are a learned man. Alas, knowledge and wisdom (not to mention love) are not the same thing.

  262. D. T. King said,

    August 10, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Mr. Weiner, I believe I am finished with you, sir. I have much better ways to spend my time than trying to correct more expressions of nonsense.

  263. TurretinFan said,

    August 10, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    David Weiner:

    You have thrown out a number of comments such as this one: “Nevertheless they provide no support for the assertion that circumcision infers law; it is used to reference a people who happened to receive the law much later.”

    I’ll try again to lay things out for you. Perhaps it will click.

    Genesis 17:14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

    This verse shows that circumcision was a mark of covenant relation with God.

    Circumcision was a prerequisite for the Old Testament sacrament of the Passover:

    Exodus 12:48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.

    Circumcision is used figuratively of cleanness/purification regardless of what your rabbi understood and/or explained to your friends and relatives. Here are at least two examples:

    Exodus 6:12 And Moses spake before the LORD, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?

    Leviticus 19:23 And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of.

    Moreover it is used figuratively of the spiritual purification of regeneration.

    Leviticus 26:41 And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:

    Jeremiah 6:10 To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.

    Acts 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

    Another way to see this is in the following parallel:

    Isaiah 52:1 Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.

    It was an integral part of the law (not just something that happened to be thrown in among lots of laws in some sort of haphazard way). We see this in Paul’s comment:

    Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

    Perhaps even more significantly, one sees this:

    1 Corinthians 7:18-19
    Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

    We see it again here:

    Romans 2:27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?

    Another way we see the intimate connection between circumcision and the Old Testament administration of God’s covenant of grace is this:

    Ezekiel 44:7 In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations.

    Ezekiel 44:9 Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.

    Notice that entry into the sanctuary is linked – not to any other of the provisions of the law of Moses, but to the sacrament of circumcision.

    I suppose I could go on and on, rather than stop there. But I guess I should stop. That evidence should be more than sufficient to establish the synecdochical use of “circumcision” in Scripture.

    If you have some counterpoint, I’d be interested to hear it. If not, all the better.

    – TurretinFan

  264. TurretinFan said,

    August 10, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    Roger DB wrote:

    The single biggest false assumption made on this thread, over and over, and by many people, is that justification by faith implicitly means that the moment of faith is the moment of justification.

    That is simply assumed, never demonstrated. Logically and grammatically nothing of the sort can be deduced. What sola fide means is that faith is the sole instrument of justification, instrument understood in its forensic/legal sense, not in a temporal sense. Period.

    You will have to look for a different argument to make your point.

    Actually, it has been demonstrated and proven, not just assumed. On the other hand, it has been repeatedly denied without proof. Let the reader judge.

    -TurretinFan

  265. David Weiner said,

    August 10, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    TurretinFan,

    My comment, that you quote at the beginning of your post (#263), was in response to your gracious provision of three passages (I really do mean the gracious part) that were to show the idea of synecdoche to be in play with regard to circumcision and the Mosaic Covenant. When I questioned that, you now provide an additional, rather extensive listing of Scripture to support your thesis. You have put in a lot of effort here and I do want to treat it with the respect it deserves. (I mean this sincerely)

    Of the three passages you initially provided, I only commented on the one you identified as particularly noteworthy. Now, I see that that passage is not even included in your new Scripture list. Why not at least respond to what I asked about the Romans 3:1-2 passage?

    Circumcision is used figuratively of cleanness/purification regardless of what your rabbi understood and/or explained to your friends and relatives.

    Ah, my non-purification experience! Let me first correct one error here. None of my friends were present; several relatives and my parents, yes. At 8 days of age I had not yet had enough time to make any friends. :)

    More seriously though, you quote both Ex. 12:48 and Ex. 6:12. And, yes the Hebrew word there is arel, or uncircumcised in English. Yet, the translation you used is poor at best. Please, check out some others like the NASB or the NET or the NIV. The ‘who’ does not refer to Pharoah but to Moses. And, clearly, Moses was circumcised. The expression ‘uncircumcised lips’ is his way of saying he wasn’t an orator. It’s not purity that is in view; it is lack of robustness or capability or inferiority.

    Then you quote Lev. 19:23. Here we have arel again. But, again, the fruit was not impure or unclean; it was inferior until the fourth year. Over and over again, the Scriptures use this idea of arel to speak to inferiority. There are entirely different Hebrew words for unclean or impure.

    In the interest of not multiplying words here, let me add that the figurative verses you provide are not so easily dismissed. But, I’ll address one that seems sort of straightforward. Lev. 26:41 has ” . . . if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, . . . ” Is humility the solution for unpurified hearts? I don’t think so. They needed humility so that they would accept the punishment they deserved. Impurity was not their problem. They had ‘hard’ hearts; their hearts were faulty or inferior or just plain bad.

    It was an integral part of the law (not just something that happened to be thrown in among lots of laws in some sort of haphazard way).

    Weren’t all 619 laws intergral to the Law?
    Did I ever say (or hint) that circumcision was introduced into the Mosaic Law haphazardly?
    But, how does integral turn into ‘the sign of’ or ‘the representative for?’

    True, the word circumcised or its negative turns up in Scriptures a fair number of times. But, a vote is not the way to resolve this difference.

    That evidence should be more than sufficient to establish the synecdochical use of “circumcision” in Scripture.

    Sorry; but, it is not sufficient for me. Glossing over a large number of Scriptures and multiplying assertions is unconvincing at best. I would be willing to delve with you into one at a time, however. How about we start with Romans 3:1?

    What you have done (quite well, by the way) is to show that when something was to be disparaged, or a person identified as not of the people of God, referring to it as uncircumcised was the oft chosen approach. For circumcision was most certainly a synecdoche for the Israelites. However, for circumcision to rise to the level of standing for the entire Mosaic Law is quite another thing.

  266. TurretinFan said,

    August 10, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Let’s start here:

    Genesis 17:11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.

    Can we agree that circumcision is the mark of the covenant being discussed in the context? If you cannot agree, please explain.

    -TurretinFan

  267. David Weiner said,

    August 11, 2010 at 7:59 am

    TurretinFan,

    You are a patient man. Let’s try this in the spirit of iron sharpening iron; not that I am implying that I am anything more than clay.

    Yes, circumcision is the distinguishing mark of the covenant between Abraham and God from 17:11. I even agree with your next point that “Circumcision was a prerequisite for the Old Testament sacrament of the Passover” This is so because the passover was for God’s people which included most of the line from Abraham (also not limited to only blood relatives). All of the people of God (males) were to have this mark.

  268. TurretinFan said,

    August 11, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    Ok, so far so good.

    Do you further agree that God made a covenant with Moses and Israel, as evidenced by the following:

    Exodus 34:27 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.

    – TurretinFan

  269. David Weiner said,

    August 11, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    God did indeed make another covenant than the Abrahamic that we have already mentioned. This one, with the entire nation of Israel as a group as well as with Moses individually. I surely hope I haven’t given the impression previously that I didn’t agree with this.

  270. TurretinFan said,

    August 11, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Would you agree that this covenant made with Moses/Israel included various aspects including an ark, tables of stone (and particularly the words on those tables), a book, and a sacrificial system? I present the following evidence in support for your consideration:

    Numbers 10:33 And they departed from the mount of the LORD three days’ journey: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them in the three days’ journey, to search out a resting place for them.

    Deuteronomy 9:9 When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water:

    Exodus 34:28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

    Exodus 24:7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.

    2Ch 34:30 And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests, and the Levites, and all the people, great and small: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant that was found in the house of the LORD.

    Leviticus 2:13 And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.

    Exodus 24:8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.

    – TurretinFan

  271. David Weiner said,

    August 12, 2010 at 9:57 am

    I would like to respond with a simple ‘yes'; but, I am not sure that I understand what you intend by the phrase “covenant . . . included various aspects.” Let’s take the ark of the covenant, for example, that appears in the first verse you cite, Numbers 10:33.

    As far as I can tell the covenant was ratified when Moses sprinkled blood on the people after he had read to them the ordinances (619 rules?). These then would be the elements that comprise the covenant, no? The people had just said “we will do and we will be obedient.” It seems to me that at that point we have the covenant.

    Now, God then gives Moses the stone tablets and tells him to put them into an ark, for which specifications are given. But, is the ark itself part of the actual covenant?

    Then there are all of those specifications for the tabernacle. Are they part of the Mosaic Covenant or a set of OTHER commands which God gave Moses regarding what the people were to do? Is there Scripture showing the ratification (with blood) of ‘aspects’ of the covenant that included more than the original ordinances?

  272. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 12, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    David (misc.):

    Hope you’re well, brother. Rather than “impurity”, I would suggest “uncleanness.” Have you considered the relationship between being uncircumcised and being unclean? I believe this to be worthy of close study.

    Following on that, I would suggest that cleanness of heart is used in both OT (Ezek) and NT (Rom, Gal, Col) to mean purification of sins.

    What’s at issue here is that circumcision is clearly not merely an action in itself. It *stands* for something; else Paul could not make the argument he does in Rom 2.25. To get at that something, dots must be connected. The most basic is this: If to be uncircumcised is to be unclean, then to be clean is to be circumcised. And thus it follows that circumcision is applied as an outward sign of cleanness (though obviously not the inner reality). This is explicit in Rom 4: Abraham is circumcised as a *sign* of the righteousness that he possessed by faith.

    The major point is that there is an obvious connection in Scripture between an outer sign of circumcision and the inner reality of justification. That connection is one of symbol. The one depicts the other.

    With me so far?

    Now consider each of these covenants in turn: Abrahamic, Mosaic, New. I obviously believe these to be successive administrations of one covenant, but let’s leave that for a moment.

    In each case, the underlying dynamic is sin and righteousness: Abraham enters the covenant by being justified through faith; the Israelites are placed under the law as a tutor to expose their unrighteousness; and those under the New Covenant are cleansed of their sin by the agency of the Spirit.

    What symbolizes the cleanness in each case? When you’ve answered that question, you have found the “synedoche” of which we speak.

    Jeff

  273. David Weiner said,

    August 12, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Hi Jeff,

    So good to hear from you! I promise not to tied you up for the next 6 months!!!

    I got into this series by commenting that I just couldn’t see that circumcision was a synonym for law. I must be as dumb as dirt since I still can’t see that. Alas, TurretinFan seems to be having pity on me and is trying to show me the light.

    As these exchanges go, purity came into the fray. But, that was not the main thrust of my putting my toe into the waters here. Of course, its too late to use that as an excuse now as I seem to have touched a nerve or two.

    You raise so many particulars that I would love to pursue; but, I have given myself a limit of one. So, here goes.

    If to be uncircumcised is to be unclean, then to be clean is to be circumcised

    Circumcision is clearly a ‘cutting,’ a removal. However, It is only the seal of Abraham’s prior righteousness. When I was circumcised, it was not a seal of my righteousness. Nor was it so for the myriad of Jews who descended from Abraham. However, it did sign their being in the Abrahamic Covenant. Those circumcised were in the covenant, were considered ‘clean,’ and those outside (e.g., Goliath) were considered unclean. But, certainly not in the sense of being righteous. Romans 2:25 says circumcision is of value (for the Jew) IF . . . Not having the faith to go along with one’s circumcision results in an unrighteous person who is just as unclean as the one who has never been circumcised. But, again, this does not raise circumcision to any synecdoche with the law as far as I can see. Nor, does it point to any cleanliness other than Abraham’s. But, what it does do is provide later writers with a metaphorical gold mine (it’s just so graphic).

  274. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 12, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    DW (#273):

    Circumcision is clearly a ‘cutting,’ a removal. However, It is only the seal of Abraham’s prior righteousness. When I was circumcised, it was not a seal of my righteousness. Nor was it so for the myriad of Jews who descended from Abraham. However, it did sign their being in the Abrahamic Covenant. Those circumcised were in the covenant, were considered ‘clean,’ and those outside (e.g., Goliath) were considered unclean. But, certainly not in the sense of being righteous.

    Ah, here is the problem. The logic has to be carefully pursued. Uncircumcision implies uncleanness; therefore cleanness implies circumcision — BUT circumcision does not imply cleanness. Instead, it functions as a symbol for cleanness, evidence consistent with cleanness.

    As you say, and as Paul says, having the outward symbol does not confer the inward reality.

    BUT

    The outward symbol is still a symbol, even though it is not a guarantor. The reason Paul had to make his argument (“circumcision is of value if…”) is that everyone understood that circumcision “meant” (that is, symbolized) cleanness. That’s why possessing the inward reality causes circumcision to have value — there is a correspondence between the two.

    As to your suggestion that cleanness is anything other than righteousness … allow me to question it. The association between the two seems to strong to be ignored.

    Jeff

  275. David Weiner said,

    August 13, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Hey Jeff,

    Have I captured your thoughts with the following?
    After Abraham and before the Cross:
    1. Circumcision is the sign of cleanness / righteousness
    2. Any particular bearer of the sign (except for Abraham and Jesus) may or may not be righteous
    3. Anybody who does not have the sign is not righteous

    #1 is the only statement that gives me some discomfort. Surely, the ‘uncircumcised heart’ phrase is a figurative way of saying that one is unrighteous. Jere 9:25-26 is a good example of both literal and figurative uses in the same verse.

    My problem is that I can only find Scripture calling literal circumcision the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant and the seal of Abraham’s righteousness. How can one know if simple figurative speach is being elevated in significance so that now circumcision is called a symbol of righteousness (read large and not just about Abraham) or a synecdoche for the entire law? If the answer is ‘good and necessary inference’ then I yield.

    After the cross, Paul talks about the true circumcision, i.e., the Jews who are righteous. Isn’t this a figurative use? All Israelites were circumcised but not all were righteous. So, to talk about the ‘true circumcision’ talks about the ones who were in actuality the people of God, in the sense of being righteous, even though all of them were the people of God, in the sense of belonging to the nation.

    How do I know that David is thinking of cleanness/righteousness and not simply prideful, ethnic association when he says: “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” Couldn’t this just be his way of saying ‘we are God’s people (in the national sense) and he isn’t?’ For if he is pointing out Goliath’s uncleanness/unrighteousness then isn’t it hypocritical given the uncleanness of his king?

  276. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 13, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    David (#275):

    You seem oh so close. :)

    In backwards order: Many among Israel were unrighteous,but Goliath the Philistine was obviously unrighteous — not merely because of his assumed uncircumcision (pretty sure David didn’t personally inspect that one), but because of his blatant blasphemy inherent in defying God’s armies (1 Sam 17.26, 43, 45).

    So yes: David IS saying that “We are God’s people and Goliath is not.” But that statement entails the distinction between clean and unclean, holy and profane, righteous and unrighteous.

    Backing up: Paul’s phrase, “the true circumcision” is indeed a figurative use. Why does the figure of speech work to describe those who are truly righteous? Because circumcision is a symbol of righteousness.

    An example: If I say, “David is an ox”, I am using a figure of speech to say, “David is strong.” The figure works because the ox symbolizes strength.

    Same thing here. If you agree that “the true circumcision” refers to those who are truly righteous, then the figure of speech obviously works because …

    So yes: Good and necessary inference here. We’re connecting the obvious dots.

    Backing up: We agree that circumcision was the seal of the righteousness that Abraham had, because Paul explicitly says this in Rom 4.11. But, this verse takes place within a discussion of the relationship of circumcision to justification — “righteousification.”

    Paul’s argument only makes sense if circumcision has one meaning for all, not two separate meanings for Abraham and for everyone else.

    Let me challenge you on an assumption that underlies your arguments: you assume that (Abrahamic) covenant membership is unrelated to being righteous. Given Paul’s and Jesus’ arguments about the “true” children of Abraham; given the word group “holy” (qadesh) that is applied to Israel; given the entire rationale for the exile — that is, the sin of Israel — and given the promise of the New Covenant, I would challenge you to question your separation of those two items. Consider the possibility that you’ve been refusing to connect the dots that God has clearly laid out to be connected.

    There is an alternative: that covenant membership is an outward sign of holiness, which is fulfilled when the individual possesses the righteousness that Abraham had by faith.

    I’m starting to get verbose, so let me leave it here. God bless.

  277. Jeff Cagle said,

    August 20, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Phil D (#way back there):

    I’ve got a response up to your article. In short: Yes, to the thesis that baptism is of no effect without faith; No, to the thesis that baptism is confirming, not converting (teaser: none of the above).

    Jeff

  278. David Gray said,

    August 21, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    Jeff,

    That was a truly outstanding and meticulous defense of the orthodox reformed understanding of baptism. Thank you for your hard work.

    Dave

  279. jonathancavett said,

    June 8, 2013 at 3:25 am

    Reblogged this on A Seat at the Table and commented:
    Lane says it better than I ever could.


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