Doug Wilson has responded to my latest post with questions surrounding food. I am going to respond with only one question, and leave it at that: do paedo-communionists really believe that credo-communionists are starving their children? Is the Word not food? Do you give an infant solid food or milk? If children are welcomed into the church and given the Word of God clearly and effectively, who can say that such children are starving? Or can the Word not exist unless it is sealed with the Sacrament? Okay, I lied. That was five questions. My point is this: the Word of God is the primary food. It is not as if someone who doesn’t have the Sacrament is starving to death spiritually speaking. If one believed the paedo-communionists, the children are on the verge of malnutrition, if not actually there, if they don’t have the Sacrament. Am I saying the Sacrament is unnecessary? Absolutely not. But I am saying (I believe the Bible to be saying) that it is for those who have the notitia element of faith and know what the Sacrament means. I realize that someone may come up to me and say, “But what about baptism? The children don’t understand that, do they?” But it is clear that the benefits come slightly differently between baptism and the Lord’s Supper. 1 Corinthians 11 does, I believe, say that each person must appropriate that benefit to himself. No one can commune with Christ for someone else in the Sacrament. If Doug wants the last word on this, that is fine.
On the epilogue, there are several things I would amen. I thought his insight into Saul’s conscience on page 192 was very helpful, and very logical. I also agree with his assessment of human nature: “But it appears that as soon as we are stopped from rummaging around in our own hearts, we have an immediate yearning to rumage around in someone else’s. We either doubt our own salvation with anguish or we dougt someone else’s with satisfaction” (pg. 192). I don’t agree with his solution (that of an objective covenant). What I mean is that I think that there is more to the covenant than objectivity. The covenant is not exclusively objective. Properly speaking, the covenant is made with Christ and all the elect in him, as the LC says. That is a subjective appropriation of salvation that constitutes the heart of the covenant. The outward administration is objective.
Query for Wilson: what is your position on Romans 7:14ff? Paul as believer? Autobiographical flashback to the time when he was an unbeliever? Paradigmatical struggle of the unbeliever under conviction? Or something in-between (as Lloyd Jones holds)? Or something else (such as Wright’s position)?
I am not going to comment much on the appendix. I really liked this quotation: “If the average Bible-reading Christian takes a dim view of first-century Judaism, it is evident where he got that dim view. Read through the New Testament, and simply mark every polemical comment directed at the Pharisees, Sadduces, the circumcision, the Jews, and so on. The evidence is so clear that it takes about three years of graduate work in theological studies, on average, to erase it” (pg. 202). Doug has made it fairly clear that he does not agree with the basic premises of the New Perspective on Paul, even if he (as well as myself) have benefitted greatly from the writings of N.T. Wright and others of that persuasion. This is a point on which the Federal Vision is not united, as their joint statement makes fairly clear. Therefore, it is false to lump together the Federal Vision and the New Perspective, as some have done, and call them the same thing. I think there is overlap certainly (and influence) on some of the Federal Vision writers. I think of Steve Schlissel, who is cookie-cutter N.T. Wright, and Mark Horne, who thinks that Wright is right on a lot more issues than Doug thinks he is, although even there, Mark is not necessarily lock-step with Wright. It is extremely tempting for critics to lump all the FV and NPP guys together. It makes for easier target practice. However, it does not make for better scholarship, or greater credibility.
Coming soon will be an index of all the posts on RINE, together with individual links to Doug’s responses, so that the back and forth will be fairly easy to follow and trace.
One last question for Wilson. I have enjoyed the interaction, and I think that some greater clarity has resulted. Doug, are you willing to continue the conversation, using the Federal Vision issue of Credenda/Agenda as the next point of departure?