Response to TE Rayburn, part 4

The next issue to which we need to reply is TE Rayburn’s claim that the SJC erects a false dichotomy between responding to the Gospel and responding to baptism in TE Leithart’s theology. TE Rayburn claims that TE Leithart would not deny that faith is the proper response to the Gospel just because Leithart also says that faith is the proper response to baptism. Now, here we definitely get into murky waters (pardon the pun).

I believe that TE Rayburn has missed an important point of the SJC decision here. The SJC’s decision is making the claim that TE Leithart teaches justification by baptism. They say, “Leithart erroneously teaches that we are declared righteous, or justified, by water baptism.” This immediately precedes the quotation to which TE Rayburn objects. TE Leithart says, “In baptism, God judges sin, declares the baptized righteous, and delivers the baptized from death in the new life of the Spirit-filled body of God’s Son” (p. 76 of The Baptized Body).

Now, at this point, it is necessary to ask the question of how Leithart is using the term “baptism.” Probably the most important section in Leithart’s book to examine this is pp. 32ff. TE Leithart doesn’t mean water alone. This is clearest when Leithart says, “We do, of course, need to remember that when the word ‘baptism’ refers to the water ritual, the writer is talking about baptism and not merely water” (p. 32). A little later on, he says, “Therefore, the question is never ‘Can water do this?’ but always ‘Can baptism do this?'” (emphasis original, p. 33). It seems clear to me, then, that the word “baptism” for Leithart means that everything happens all at once: the sign and the thing signified, to use the WCF’s terminology.

To my mind, this contradicts WCF 28.6, which says that the efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered. A side note on the interpretation of this phrase: some FV writers interpret this phrase to mean that the efficacy starts at the moment of the rite, but is not limited to that moment, that it continues on throughout life. The majority, however, (rightly, in my opinion), interpret the phrase to mean a delayed reaction effect of the efficacy of baptism. The reason that I believe this is the correct interpretation is that the last phrase of the section, “in His appointed time” qualifies the efficacy of baptism in such a way that continual process is not in view. Thus, the efficacy occurs when God wants it to occur, which could be before, during, or after baptism.

The sacrament of baptism can be distinguished by sign and thing signified. We cannot really separate the two. They belong together. However, in the case of unbelievers, they do not receive the thing signified at all. The thing signified by baptism is the grace of salvation through faith alone. Unbelievers do not receive this, and hence the sign points to judgment for them.

My point in all this is to put the SJC’s statement in context. The SJC is stating that Leithart puts the response of faith in the baptismal context, tying it to the moment of baptism way too strongly. The SJC then makes the point that faith belongs in the Gospel context, as the response to the Word. Yes, the sacrament seals the Word, confirms the Word, signifies the Word. But faith comes by hearing, not by dunking. So, I don’t think that the SJC is making the error that TE Rayburn thinks they’re making. They are merely answering this question: what triggers faith, baptism or the Gospel? And they are answering, quite rightly, that it is the Gospel that triggers faith. Is this an unnecessary dichotomy? I don’t think the SJC would call it a dichotomy so much as a distinction. The Gospel, as Spirit-effected faith, is the thing to which the sign points. But when you use the word “baptism” to refer to both sign and thing signified, and then connect faith to that, confusion can result as to the precise trigger of faith. Yes, faith is strongly connected to the thing signified, but it is not so much connected to the sign, since there are many who receive the sign, but never believe. The issue comes down to this, then: when it comes to reprobate recipients of baptism, do they have faith in any sense? I and the SJC answer no. The FV answers yes. This is a somewhat lengthy response to TE Rayburn’s point here, but that is because the issue is tremendously complicated.

100 Comments

  1. February 1, 2010 at 11:52 am

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  2. Reed Here said,

    February 1, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Lane: does Leithart anywhere demonstrate anwareness of sacramental union? Seems to me a few sentences from that perspective could easily remove the onus on his formulations.

  3. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 1, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    My concern, which I had before I read Rayburn’s response, but was confirmed by his response, is that the committee swung the pendulum too far in its language.

    In the context of arguing against Leithart, the committee’s formulations make sense: the issue is whether baptism is effective immediately (Leithart) or at a time of God’s own choosing, not tied to the moment of baptism (Confession).

    The problem is that the naked words don’t say that. Instead, they say “Romans 6 is not about water baptism.”

    Even qualifying those words as “Romans 6 is not about immediately effectual water baptism” would help clear up the problem.

    I’m concerned about judicial precedent here. If the committee sets precedent that gets out ahead of the Standards, whether intentionally or no, that precedent could have the effect of shaping one’s view of the Standards.

    It should not be the case that we must agree that “Romans 6 is not about water baptism.”

    Jeff Cagle

  4. February 1, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    As someone who was there when this all went down, I can say that I, too, was a bit dismayed at how much time was spent by the SJC panel on the baptism issue, as well as the degree to which they denied anything “watery” about Romans 6.

    Far more important, I think, are the issues surrounding imputation, justification, and the covenant of works. But I’m beginning to wonder whether most people (even ministers) even understand what’s at stake in these matters.

  5. Jeremy said,

    February 1, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    I think that baptism should be one of the main issues, as well as the visible/invisible church distinction. It is all about our Reformed distinctions of inner/outer, invisible/visible, gospel/law. At the heart of these distinctions is baptism. I think we need to take the stand against the sacerdotalists of baptism. It’s worth quoting Scott Clark on this: baptism “offers” union with Christ, but it doesn’t give it.

  6. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 1, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    JJS: But I’m beginning to wonder whether most people (even ministers) even understand what’s at stake in these matters.

    Well, I think the Protean nature of the thing derives from the fact that FV are not univocal on imputation, justification, or covenant of works. There are general tendencies, but not hard-core lines.

    In my view, the central thing, that which I found non-negotiable in the FVJS, was the ecclesiology: identifying the visible church with the historical: “We affirm that membership in the one true Christian Church is visible and objective, and is the possession of everyone who has been baptized in the triune name and who has not been excommunicated by a lawful disciplinary action of the Church….We further affirm that the visible Church is the true Church of Christ, and not an “approximate” Church.”

    This is the issue that drives the necessity of temporary justification, baptismal efficacy, etc. — which each individual FV adherent has worked out in his own way, in order to satisfy his own concerns about staying within Confessional bounds. (I’m not saying they’ve all succeeded; I’m saying that they’ve been concerned to try to do so — you can see that concern plainly in the FVJS). Hence, we have “FV dark” and “FV lite”, representing a diversity of view on temporary justification. But there is unanimity on this point: the visible church is the Church of God, without qualification.

    For me, that was the point of “Oh.” And I’m surprised that this issue has taken back-seat to other issues, since it’s relatively clean-cut and also the apparent “center” of the theology.

    Jeff Cagle

  7. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 1, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Jeremy: At the heart of these distinctions is baptism. I think we need to take the stand against the sacerdotalists of baptism. It’s worth quoting Scott Clark on this: baptism “offers” union with Christ, but it doesn’t give it.

    Right, or remembering that baptism is the offer of the Gospel in physical form: it signs what the words promise.

    The problem is, though, that there are many who move a little further down the line and view baptism as “symbolizing” union with Christ instead of offering it.

    So while we want to deny anything that smacks of ex operato, we sure don’t want to do so at the cost of vitiating genuinely Confessional efficacy. That’s my concern with the SJC wording.

  8. Mason said,

    February 1, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Rev Keister,

    I appreciate your posts over the past week, which have been very helpful on this issue, as have many of the comments. I agree with your post above and also agree that FVers in general (and Leithart in particular) place too much emphasis on the physical act of baptism.

    However, I am a bit perplexed by the SJC’s certainty that Romans 6 does not refer to water baptism at all. I realize Paul had spiritual baptism in mind at least in part, but it seems most Reformed theologians are not ready to dismiss this passage as completely excluding water baptism as well, at least not with the certainty the SJC panel does in their ruling. Maybe you’ll address this in a future post, but do you think the panel overstepped on this issue? Do you think Leithart/Rayburn have a legitimate beef on this particular point?

  9. Kurt said,

    February 1, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Jeff, in no. 7 you wrote, “ex operato.” I believe you mean ‘ex opere operato’ or ‘ex opere’ for short. It is just a quibble, but it is good to get it right.

  10. David deJong said,

    February 1, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I’m a little confused. Jeff Cagle and Mason are referring to the view that Rom 6 is not about water baptism in the comments. Yet this view is not referenced in the main post at all. Why is the language of the post so elliptical? If this is the issue that Rayburn brings up, why talk around it?

    And, if the SJC did teach that Rom 6 is not about water baptism, methinks the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction.

    David DeJong

  11. Robin Collers said,

    February 1, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Lane,

    I need help understanding these few sentences of yours:

    “The sacrament of baptism can be distinguished by sign and thing signified. We cannot really separate the two. They belong together. However, in the case of unbelievers, they do not receive the thing signified at all.”

    It seems like you are saying that the sign and thing signified cannot be separated, but then you go on to say that they ARE separated in unbelievers. I guess it leaves me confused: so the sign and the thing signified CAN be separated, then?

    Thanks,
    Robin

  12. Jeremy said,

    February 1, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    Jeff,

    You are exactly right about the heart of the issue also being ecclesiology. Leithart has said explicitly that his attack on the visible/invisible distinction is at the heart of what he is doing. We should pay more attention to that. I think our Reformed confessions are clear that the visible church is NOT the body of Christ– the invisible church is. Again, Scott Clark’s recovery of the inner/outer dimensions of the covenant (and therefore the covenant community) are helpful in this.

  13. David Gray said,

    February 1, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    The SJC asserts that baptism only represents Christ and his benefits. This is in direct contradiction of the WCF. How is that not problematic?

  14. J.Kru said,

    February 1, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Jeremy wrote:
    >>>It’s worth quoting Scott Clark on this: baptism “offers” union with Christ, but it doesn’t give it.

    If the “offer of union with Christ” is what is given in baptism, wouldn’t baptism (in the sense that Clark means it in this quote, which I don’t assume to be exhaustive treatise on baptism) be effectual in making this offer at the time of the actual baptism?

    It seems to me that if one views the new covenant as conditional, then you could speak about baptism being effectual only in the sense that from the point of baptism on out, the recipient will forever be judged in light of that covenant: either as a covenant breaker should they be found in unbelief, or as a covenant keeper should they be found in belief.

  15. Jeremy said,

    February 1, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    J. Kru,

    Union with Christ is offered in baptism like a road sign points out conditions on the road. The “Turn Left” sign doesn’t cause you to turn left. It is a visible picture, a signifier, of what is to come. In the same way, baptism points to union with Christ as something that as already happened (adult baptism) or something that will happen (infant baptism). Nothing is “given” in baptism– it is visibly offered to the baptized as a reminder to accept the gift of union with Christ by faith. It is a means of grace because it is to strengthen faith. Because faith happens apart from the moment of baptism, the efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment (18.6). The only thing that is “effectual” at baptism is that the sign is really and true displayed for the baptized.

    The New Covenant is not conditional. The Federal (Re)Visionists think it is, though the Standards are very clear that no one can break the New Covenant. Apostasy is a refusal to accept what is “offered” at baptism, not a removal of what is actually given.

  16. Jeremy said,

    February 1, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    David Gray,

    It is true that the Standards say that the grace of baptism is not only represented but really exhibited. This does not mean that anything is “given” in baptism. As Lane has said before and I said in the above post, baptism is a “sign” in the sense of a road sign. Does a road sign actually cause you to do what it says? Catholic sacerdotelists use “sign” to be mean something that is indelibly placed on the soul of the baptized, but this is not the use of “sign” in the Confession. It is a “seal” of the grace that already belongs to the baptized. If the grace already belongs to the baptized (WCF 18.6), how does baptism cause union with Christ?

    The SJC is not in direct contradiction to WCF; Rayburn and Leithart are.

  17. David Gray said,

    February 1, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Jeremy,

    The Standards say:

    The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time.

    So we see that the grace promised is not only offered, not only exhibited but is conferred. Your take that nothing is given in baptism is contrary to the Standards and is baptistic.

    Now the grace that is conferred in baptism is only given to those who respond in faith but the idea that nothing is conferred in baptism is not one that can be maintained by someone who claims to uphold the WCF.

  18. Roy said,

    February 1, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Baptism, recall, brings results regardless of the response of the baptized. As does the Gospel, which it preaches in symbols, baptism too is a savor of life unto life or death unto death. Keep this in mind when pondering efficacy.

    Further recall what the WCF, WLC, and WSC have in mind when describing baptism as a means of grace. Surely we cannot put God in a bottle and sprinkle him on. But the idea that God does not accomplish his will via baptism denies its existence as means of grace.

    I long to hear pastors so convinced of these realities that they preach to the cov’t kids at baptisms, telling them that what they see urges them to close with Christ because: 1) the Spirit’s application of Christ’s blood really will cleanse 2) failing to surrender invokes greater wrath upon those who, in their flesh, bear the covenant which promises (and even aids in bringing to pass, as applied by the Spirit) life or death, not nothing.

  19. Jeremy said,

    February 1, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    David,

    Are you a Federal Visionist or Moscowite? Yes, you are right that there is a grace that is conferred at baptism, but this is not the grace of salvific union with Christ. Or do you think that all who are baptized are united to Christ? Was Esau united to Christ? Was Simon Magnus united to Christ? Did these and others lose their salvation, or did they simply not have it to begin with?

    As you said, also, baptismal grace is not given apart from faith. What grace was given at the moment of administration, then, to an infant who cannot believe? That grace — the grace of union of Christ — is only given by faith alone in Christ alone in the preaching of the Word. Faith unites a person to Christ and faith comes by hearing the Word, not by baptism.

  20. David Gray said,

    February 1, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Jeremy,

    >Are you a Federal Visionist or Moscowite?

    No, are you a Baptist?

    Why would you ask “Or do you think that all who are baptized are united to Christ? ” when I just stated “Now the grace that is conferred in baptism is only given to those who respond in faith”?

    >What grace was given at the moment of administration, then, to an infant who cannot believe?

    The idea that infants cannot exercise faith is not normative Reformed teaching although it is a minority position. When John responded in Elizabeth’s womb was he regenerate or a rebel against God?

  21. Rebekah said,

    February 1, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    Jeremy,

    You hesitate to use “give” but use “confer.” Perhaps you should look up the dictionary definition of “confer.” Here’s Webster’s definition: “to give, to bestow.”

    The Latin word “confero, conferre” means to give, bestow, or grant. So grace IS GIVEN in baptism. The sign anology does not fully work, because the Confession clearly states that the “grace promised [ingrafting into Christ, regeneration, remission of sins, see 18.1] is really conferred [GIVEN].”

    No matter what Dr. Clark says about Caspar Olevianus not ever saying “gives” but always saying “offers” [http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/keister-refutes-moon/], the Westminster Confession says “gives” (for a good rendition of “confers”).

  22. Jeremy said,

    February 1, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    David,

    Do you really think that infants can exercise faith? I’m not asking if you think that God can regenerate them. The Confession says that elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated by God. Fine. But do infants “receive and rest on Him and His righteousness by faith” (11.1) and “believe to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word … yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life” (14.2)? Because that is how our Confession defines saving faith. If it is so normative in the Reformed tradition to believe that infants can have justifying faith, why does the Confession say that “saving faith is … ordinarily wroght by the ministry of the Word” and increased by the sacraments (14.1). The sacraments increase and strengthen faith; they do not justify or give faith which justifies.

  23. David Gray said,

    February 1, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    >Do you really think that infants can exercise faith?

    Yes.

    But do infants “receive and rest on Him and His righteousness by faith” (11.1) and “believe to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word … yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life” (14.2)? Because that is how our Confession defines saving faith.

    You, and you aren’t alone, confuse what is normative with what is possible.

    >If it is so normative in the Reformed tradition to believe that infants can have justifying faith, why does the Confession say that “saving faith is … ordinarily wroght by the ministry of the Word” and increased by the sacraments (14.1).

    See above.

    >The sacraments increase and strengthen faith; they do not justify or give faith which justifies.

    Well just moments ago you were contradicting the Standards in asserting that baptism didn’t give anything to the recipient who responds in faith. This is an improvement.

  24. David Gray said,

    February 1, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    I would also add that the idea that one can be saved without faith in Christ is not one to be indulged. As is the notion that faith can only be exercised if one is sufficiently intellectually developed to render a sound exegesis of the Word.

  25. Reformed Sinner said,

    February 1, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    While on topic: I was recently talking with a CRC pastor and his take on Infant Baptism is that it is Biblical, but can only practically be practiced in Christendom, and since the world is no longer Christendom, there’s no need for the church to keep the ritual of Infant Baptism. I.e., Infant Baptism is something good to have, but won’t kill you if you don’t have it, and Reformed Church should not make a big fuss about it.

    interesting…

  26. Jeremy said,

    February 1, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    David,

    If paedofaith (have you been reading FVers like Rich Lusk?) is normative, why are the Standards silent on it? You’d think, arguing the way you do for it in the Reformed tradition, that the Divines would have something about it. “Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated” (10.3). If the Divines were as strong on paedofaith as you are, they could have put “All covenant infants who die in infancy exercise saving faith and are justified by that faith alone.” Instead, they write “regenerated.” Why would they qualify “elect infants” if it is so normative for covenant infants to have faith?

    It is also interesting that in this section the Divines say that these infants are “UNCAPABLE of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.” If they have faith, why would they be uncapable of being called by the ministry of the Word? Instead of positing some Federal Visionist version of infant faith, it seems wiser to let the Confession define faith as “believ[ing] to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word … yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life.” We educate our covenant, baptized children so that they can come to mature, saving faith.

  27. David Gray said,

    February 1, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    >If paedofaith (have you been reading FVers like Rich Lusk?) is normative, why are the Standards silent on it?

    Odd statement given that I just said it wasn’t normative.

    Are you a Baptist? You don’t seem reformed in your understanding of infant baptism and your whole idea that faith is not required for salvation is a place I don’t ever want to go.

  28. Jeremy said,

    February 1, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    David,

    I’m not a baptist. Scripture commands us to baptize our infants as the people of God circumcized their infants in the old administration. Just because I don’t believe that water baptism saves children, does that make me a baptist? I stand by the Reformation protest against Romanist sacerdotalism.

  29. Eric Greene said,

    February 1, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Lane said:
    “The issue comes down to this, then: when it comes to reprobate recipients of baptism, do they have faith in any sense?”

    Maybe we could say they have, or will only come to have, the faith of demons (James2:19), or a dead-faith (2:26). And of course this type of faith is never saving-faith.

  30. Vern Crisler said,

    February 1, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    #5
    “It is all about our Reformed distinctions of inner/outer, invisible/visible, gospel/law. At the heart of these distinctions is baptism.”

    Hi Jeremy,
    Yes, you’re right regarding all the Reformed distinctions. The FV doesn’t really deny these thing theoretically. Remember they bring in their epistemological limitation — we cannot have insight into the decree. It’s like Kant’s noumenal realm — unknowable. So the trajectory in FVism is that such Reformed distinctions are meaningless. The only important thing is the covenant.

    For FVists, separating justification and baptism would be to move away from objectivity back into the old fashioned inner-outer, or internal-external distinction. We are back to noumena. Instead, say the FVists, we may have the decree, but we can only reach it by covenant. The covenant is the only realm we know. It’s our phenomenal realm.

    Thus making “Reformed distinctions of inner/outer, invisible/visible, gospel/law” moves away from ecclesiology back to decretal theology in the mind of the FVist. For this life, there is only the covenant, the objective covenant.

    In my opnion, FVism is fundamentally an ecclesiology for robots.

  31. J.Kru said,

    February 1, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    >>>baptism points to union with Christ as something that as already happened (adult baptism) or something that will happen (infant baptism)

    Jeremy – that is not what the standards say. While the sacrament and thing signified are not tied together, they do not insist that adults have already been brought into union, nor that infants have not yet.

    Is baptism no more than a sign?

    >>>The New Covenant is not conditional.
    Unbelievers are included in the outward administration of the covenant, and, insofar as we can tell, they are a part of the New Covenant. From a human perspective, if you do not continue in faith, you fall under the curses of the New Testament.

    But I agree that from God’s eternal perspective and decree, the New Covenant is unconditional.

    It is much like the Abrahamic covenant -there were conditions, but it was still unconditional in that God met the requirements needed.

  32. David Gray said,

    February 2, 2010 at 3:45 am

    Jeremy,

    >Just because I don’t believe that water baptism saves children, does that make me a baptist?

    No, the fact that you have denied what the Standards teach, namely that you have denied that the elect are given anything in baptism. That is what is problematic. Secondarily the idea that faith in Christ is not necessary for salvation is also problematic.

    Again, when John leaped in Elizabeth’s womb was he regenerate or was he a rebel against God?

  33. Neil said,

    February 2, 2010 at 4:25 am

    Federal Vision Statement if you haven’t read it yet.

    “The Sacrament of Baptism

    We affirm that God formally unites a person to Christ and to His covenant people through baptism into the triune Name, and that this baptism obligates such a one to lifelong covenant loyalty to the triune God, each baptized person repenting of his sins and trusting in Christ alone for his salvation. Baptism formally engrafts a person into the Church, which means that baptism is into the Regeneration, that time when the Son of Man sits upon His glorious throne (Matt. 19:28).

    We deny that baptism automatically guarantees that the baptized will share in the eschatological Church. We deny the common misunderstanding of baptismal regeneration—i.e. that an “effectual call” or rebirth is automatically wrought in the one baptized. Baptism apart from a growing and living faith is not saving, but rather damning. But we deny that trusting God’s promise through baptism elevates baptism to a human work. God gives baptism as assurance of His grace to us personally, as our names are spoken when we are baptized.”

  34. GLW Johnson said,

    February 2, 2010 at 8:30 am

    DG
    You are missing the point-the ‘elect’ are not in question -the FV culprits in this case, claim that ALL who receive baptism are given specific redemptive benefits-something the Standards emphatically deny.

  35. David Gray said,

    February 2, 2010 at 9:17 am

    >You are missing the point

    GLWJ

    I don’t think so as I’m not discussing what the FV has asserted (nor am I asserting what they assert, this note for Jeremy’s sake). The problematic assertion of the SJC is in question and the equally problematic assertions of Jeremy as well. And as you might note above I’m not the only one who thinks the SJC may wish to reconsider what they wrote regarding baptism.

    I’ve never asserted that baptism gives the non-elect benefits of salvation.

  36. jared said,

    February 2, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Let’s try an experiment.

    What does baptism do for:

    1. The elect adult?
    2. The elect infant?
    3. The non-elect adult?
    4. The non-elect infant?

    As a not-so-aside, I, too, find it fascinating that Lane can, in the same paragraph no less, say that the sign and signified of baptism cannot really be separated and that they, in fact, are separated in the case of unbelievers (which is an odd designation since I didn’t think the church was in the habit of baptising unbelievers).

    Jeremy,

    I was curious; what’s the cut-off age for this “auto-regeneration” that covenant children receive if they die in infancy. Two years? Three years? Until they actively rebel against (or embrace) the faith they supposedly don’t or can’t have? Also, isn’t regeneration part of the ordo which ultimately results in faith? So, if God regenerates infants who die in infancy, doesn’t that imply/necessitate that He gives them faith? And if He can give faith to infants who die, couldn’t He give it to those who live?

  37. David Gray said,

    February 2, 2010 at 9:21 am

    >I was curious; what’s the cut-off age for this “auto-regeneration” that covenant children receive if they die in infancy. Two years? Three years?

    Actually Jeremy seems to be asserting the baptistic “age of accountability” with a different wrapper on top.

  38. J.Kru said,

    February 2, 2010 at 9:23 am

    GLW – again, not making a charge, but asking an honest question:

    Does FV claim that ALL who receive baptism are given ALL specific benefits of baptism, or do they claim that ALL who receive are given SOME specific benefits?

    Also, would you be willing to cite your last sentence? I wanted to look it up for myself.

  39. GLW Johnson said,

    February 2, 2010 at 9:32 am

    JK
    See Lane’s paper to his presbytery that critiques TE Moon’s defense of TE Lawrence.

  40. J.Kru said,

    February 2, 2010 at 9:32 am

    GWL – my last post was in reference to your #30.

    Is there a word for thinking your comments will be next on the list and then finding out that a couple of people somewhere hit “submit” before you did? Cause that’s what happened.

  41. J.Kru said,

    February 2, 2010 at 9:33 am

    It happened again! I’ve been . . . schmornshnackled!

  42. Mason said,

    February 2, 2010 at 9:34 am

    J. Kru @ 34 –

    GLW said not all who are baptized receive REDEMPTIVE benefits. This is clearly supported in WCF 28.5:

    “Although it is a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance,[13] yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it:[14] or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.[15]”

  43. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 2, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Jeremy (misc.):

    I encourage you to interact with some folk like Jason Stellman who (a) are demonstrably non-FV, and (b) have a high view of baptism.

    In my view, you’ve separated baptism from the Word in such a way as to say that “the Word saves, but baptism doesn’t.”

    For Calvin, that would be oxymoronic. Baptism is the Word in visible form. Infants or anyone else receive that word effectively through faith, not at the moment of being baptized (or being preached to), whence their baptism is said, according to the Confession, to be “effectual.”

    So it is not incorrect to say that “baptism saves” — as long as it is made clear that the promise offered in baptism, received by faith, is what is in view (as opposed to the action of pouring water).

    Jeff Cagle

  44. David Gray said,

    February 2, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Jeff, that was well said…

  45. todd said,

    February 2, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Jeff,

    Then why wouldn’t you say circumcision saved OT saints?

  46. Paige Britton said,

    February 2, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Jeff (#39),
    Not to argue, but just for my own understanding, how does what you’ve just said fit with this line (from Concise Reformed Dogmatics):

    “Faith is brought about and strengthened by means of the Word, while through baptism and the Lord’s Supper it is strengthened but not brought about.” (782)

    Thanks!
    pb

  47. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 2, 2010 at 10:56 am

    The circumcision of the heart sure did.

    You know well the arguments that connect circumcision and baptism in meaning, so I won’t walk through those. But when circumcision was received by faith, we would have to conclude that circumcision was “effectual.”

    In a modern context, we would argue *against* baptismal regeneration on the same grounds that Paul argues *against* circumcismal regeneration in Romans 2-3.

    But we would also argue *for* baptismal efficacy on the same grounds that Paul argues for it in Rom 6 and Gal 3. (Note that both of these passages are used as prooftexts in chap. 28 of the Confession).

    Jeff Cagle

  48. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 2, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Paige, I would agree with that statement. Baptism does not cause faith; faith causes baptism to be effectual (WCoF 28.6).

    Jeff Cagle

  49. J.Kru said,

    February 2, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Jeff, nice comments. You’re a sacrament ninja.

  50. todd said,

    February 2, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Jeff,

    Abraham was circumcized after he believed. That is the point of Romans 4. Salvation was not received at circumcision, even the Gentile convert first believed and confessed, and then was circumcized. We baptize an adult after he receives justification, not to receive it in baptism.

  51. David Gray said,

    February 2, 2010 at 11:52 am

    >We baptize an adult after he receives justification, not to receive it in baptism.

    But adult baptism isn’t supposed to be normative within a church.

  52. Paige Britton said,

    February 2, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Jeff, a followup question for clarification:

    When you say that “faith causes baptism to be effectual,” do you mean by “effectual”:

    a) effectual with regards to conveying any of the elements of the ordo salutis,
    b) effectual with regards to communication of the promises of God,
    or c) an overlap of the two?

    I ask because I have noticed a difference in the verbs used with “baptism” among various Reformed writers, some preferring to concentrate on “b” (e.g., “baptism attests/depicts/sets forth/declares, etc.”) and others creating sentences like “baptism confers eternal life” (yes, in the context of faith).

    Thanks!
    pb

  53. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 2, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    (a) because of (b), which might be (c).

    Think of baptism as the word in picture form. It is a sign from God to us of the promise of salvation.

    (Aside: This is one primary difference between the Reformed and Baptists, for whom baptism is a sign from us to the world of our personal salvation).

    When we believe that promise of salvation, we are saved.

    So baptism “confers” in the same sense that the preached gospel “confers.”

    That is: the two statements

    (1) “I was converted by the preaching of the Word.”
    (2) “I was converted by baptism.”

    are parallel. (This is what it means, also, that Word and sacrament are the two means of grace.)

    I haven’t mentioned the agency of the Spirit here, but the parallel remains: the Spirit works in baptism just as He does in the preaching of the word … effectual at whatever moment the “effectual calling” kicks in.

    Jeff Cagle

  54. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 2, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Todd (#46):

    Baptism’s effectiveness is not tied to the moment of administration. When an adult convert receives baptism, that baptism is performed having already been effective.

    Why? Because the baptism is the sign of God’s promise. That promise has already been received; what the baptism signifies has already been received; the baptism has already had its effect.

    It’s not the action of baptism that is effectual! It’s the promise that is tied to it. Take a look at WLC 161 -163 and 167 and then Calv. Institutes 4.15, “Of Baptism.”

    Jeff Cagle

  55. pduggie said,

    February 2, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Embodied cognition

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/02/science/02angier.html

    Of course people respond to the message of baptism for salvation. They won’t feel cleaned from their sins unless something happens to their bodies too.

  56. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 2, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Todd, I should have acknowledged the force of your point. You are correct that Romans 4 demonstrates that circumcision is not necessary for salvation. This is one of the reasons that the Confession also states that baptism is not necessary for salvation (see the proof-texts for WCoF 28.5).

  57. todd said,

    February 2, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Jeff,

    Then if baptism isn’t effectual to salvation then it wouldn’t be wise to even say that baptism saves, but the promise of the gospel does, wherever it is heard and received. And I Peter 3:21 does clearly say water baptism does not save, so that is a safe, biblical way to speak.

  58. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 2, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Todd (#53),

    I hear you. We certainly don’t want to convey the idea that the action of pouring water on someone saves them.

    The only difficulty is that baptism *is* the promise of the gospel. There is no difference in content between the promise offered in word form and the promise offered in liquid form: Jesus cleanses you from your sins.

    So if I were to stop saying “baptism saves” (in the qualified sense that we’ve been talking about), then I would also have to stop saying “the preached word saves.”

    Either that, or I would have to drive a wedge between the Gospel offered in the word and the Gospel offered in baptism.

    The Reformers wisely resisted driving such a wedge. See WCoF 27.2-3.

    Jeff Cagle

  59. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 2, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Todd, are you implicitly equating “baptism” with “the act of pouring water on someone”?

    That is, are you saying

    (1) Pouring water doesn’t save, so
    (2) Baptism doesn’t save.

    (and the missing step between 1 and 2 is, “baptism is pouring water”)

  60. todd said,

    February 2, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Jeff,

    My point in citing Romans 4 was not that circumcision wasn’t necessary for salvation, though that is true, but the order. Paul makes clear that Abraham was first justified, and then circumcized. Circimcision was not an offer of the promise of the gospel, but a confirmation of the meaning of the gospel he had already received. I think the problem is that you are not distinguising the different purposes between preaching the gospel and baptism. Baptism does not offer the gospel to the unbeliever like preaching does. That is why sessions examine for a profession of faith before baptizing. Baptism is a gift of assurance for the one baptized and a public statement of identity to the church of how to treat that man. It does not offer the man salvation. And yes, Peter says that water baptism (the pouring of water) does not save.

  61. David Gray said,

    February 2, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    >Paul makes clear that Abraham was first justified, and then circumcized.

    And following Abraham most who received circumcision were infants. Were these infants uniformly justified prior to their circumcision?

    >That is why sessions examine for a profession of faith before baptizing.

    I’ve had of my infants baptized. In no instance, either PCA or OPC, did the session examine them for a profession of faith before baptizing.

  62. David Gray said,

    February 2, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    That should read three of my infants…

    Sigh.

  63. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 2, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Todd (#56): Baptism is a gift of assurance for the one baptized and a public statement of identity to the church of how to treat that man. It does not offer the man salvation. And yes, Peter says that water baptism (the pouring of water) does not save.

    I don’t want to get locked into a death-match over this issue, so I’ll make three points and then shut up.

    (1) In point of fact, Peter *does* say that baptism saves.

    (“and this water [of the flood] symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience…”)

    We agree I think that removal of dirt (corresponding to the act of pouring on water) does not save. But Peter is doing exactly what you said was “not wise” — saying that baptism saves.

    And of course, the context demonstrates that he doesn’t mean the bare act of pouring water; but the point stands that he uses the language that makes you feel uncomfortable.

    (2) Your language concerning baptism is somewhat different from the language of the Confession, which tells us both the meaning of baptism and also about its efficacy. The differences may be only apparent, but I’m having a hard time reconciling what you say with WCoF 27 and 28.

    (3) Don’t listen to me. I’m just some guy on the ‘Net. But go back to Calvin and more modern writers also like Murray or Pratt and read what they have to say. Take in the full effect of “all who have been baptized into Christ belong to Christ” (Gal 3).

    Grace and peace,
    Jeff Cagle

  64. Ken said,

    February 2, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    For an interesting examination on Peter’s comment that baptism saves in 1 Peter, check this out…http://colvinism.wordpress.com/2010/01/03/ten-theses-on-1-peter-321

  65. Reed Here said,

    February 2, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Matt (Ken), #60: your point 12 denies the principle of sacramental union. That may be o.k. in non-reformed denominations, but this is central to the reformed understanding of the sacraments.

    A fatal error.

  66. J.Kru said,

    February 2, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    I think this discussion clear up why men like Peter Leithart have no place in the PCA.

  67. David Gray said,

    February 2, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    >I think this discussion clear up why men like Peter Leithart have no place in the PCA.

    Actually I think it points to the need for people to review the WCF and what it teaches about baptism. Including the SJC.

  68. Reed Here said,

    February 2, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Consistency, thy name is Gray.

    (Said with the utmost respect and god humor ;-) )

  69. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 2, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Well, but DG’s point is that we are inconsistent on sacramental errors. Is that true?

  70. jared said,

    February 2, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    David Gray,

    Re #33,

    The “age of accountability” isn’t just baptistic; remember that most Reformed denoms have it for the Lord’s Supper.

  71. David Gray said,

    February 2, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    >(Said with the utmost respect and god humor ;-) )

    As always!

    However doesn’t it bother you that the SJC actually asserted that baptism only represents Christ and his benefits? Were those elders granted an exception to the WCF on the issue of baptism?

  72. David Gray said,

    February 2, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    >The “age of accountability” isn’t just baptistic; remember that most Reformed denoms have it for the Lord’s Supper.

    Having age restrictions on participation in the Lord’s Supper is quite a bit different, be it right or wrong, than essentially carving out an abiblical age zone where children are immune from the consequences of the fall and original sin.

  73. jared said,

    February 2, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    It would be irony (and duplicity) of the highest caliber if the SJC panel were composed of even some elders who took exception to the WCF’s formulation of baptism.

  74. David Gray said,

    February 2, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    >It would be irony (and duplicity) of the highest caliber if the SJC panel were composed of even some elders who took exception to the WCF’s formulation of baptism.

    I doubt that is true. But it does leave you wondering how they could say such a thing.

  75. Reed Here said,

    February 2, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    I think Lane’s explanation is as good as any. I think I know one of the men on the panel. Knowing him, I think it was a matter of emphasis that over-reached.

    I took the panel at this point to intend to express, water itself does not save, but baptism, i.e., the thing signified in the sign.

  76. David Gray said,

    February 2, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    >I took the panel at this point to intend to express, water itself does not save, but baptism, i.e., the thing signified in the sign.

    I hope so. But then Leithart made that same distinction, didn’t he?

  77. Brad B said,

    February 2, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    It was worth reading all of the posts above to have been made aware of the idea that there’s an interesting insight gained when one interchanges babtism with the Word to make the point about it’s efficacy. We’d not be likely to be suggesting that the Word is ineffectual [Roy #17] as we seem to let babtism’s efficacy be minimized. This scripture in Ephesians came to mind:

    “Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, Eph 5:26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, Eph 5:27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

  78. jared said,

    February 2, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    David Gray,

    No, no wondering is necessary. Clearly the panel has it out for Federal Vision advocates!! (Yes, that is facetious)

    Seriously though, I think Rayburn hit a nerve and he’s definitely right that the SJC needs to tread a heck of a lot more carefully than they currently are regarding some of these issues. It’s one thing to say that Leithart doesn’t belong in the PCA as a TE or even as a RE but it is another thing entirely to say he’s at odds with the WCF when they themselves seem to be out of sorts with it in the opposite direction (even it it is accidental or over-reaching). I suspect “mere” carelessness but that’s not comforting coming from the highest authority in the denomination.

  79. todd said,

    February 2, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    (Sorry, posted this on the wrong thread)

    Jeff,

    Read A.A. Hodge on baptism (below) and note how the FVers are actually arguing for Lutheran baptism.

    36. What is the Lutheran doctrine on this subject ?

    The Lutherans agreed with the Reformed churches in repudiating the Romish doctrine of the magical efficacy of this sacrament as an opus operatum. But they went much further than the Reformed in maintaining the sacramental union between the sign and the grace signified. Luther, in his “Small Cat.,” Pt. 4., sec. 2, says baptism, “worketh forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and confers everlasting salvation on all who believe” and, in sec. 3, that “it is not the water indeed which produces these effects, but the word of God which accompanies, and is connected with the water, and our faith, which relies on the word of God connected with the water. For the water without the word is simply water and no baptism. But when connected with the word of God, it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life, and a washing of regeneration.” This efficacy depends upon true saving faith in the adult subject:” Moreover, faith being absent, it remains only a naked and inoperative sign.”

    Hence they hold––lst. Baptism is an efficient means of conferring the forgiveness of sins and the grace of Christ. 2nd. It contains the grace it confers. 3rd. Its efficacy resides not in the water but in the word and in the Holy Spirit in the word. 4th. Its efficacy, in the case of the adult, depends upon the faith of the subject.

    37. What was the Zwinglian doctrine on this subject ?

    That the outward rite is a mere sign, an objective representation by symbol of the truth, having no efficacy whatever beyond that due to the truth represented.

    38. What is the doctrine of the Reformed churches, and of our own among the number, on this subject ?

    They all agree,1st, that the Zwinglian view is incomplete.

    2nd. That besides being a sign, baptism is also the seal of grace, and therefore a present and sensible conveyance and confirmation of grace to the believer who has the witness in himself, and to all the elect a seal of the benefits of the covenant of grace, to be sooner or later conveyed in God’s good time.

    3rd. That this conveyance is effected, not by the bare operation of the sacramental action, but by the Holy Ghost, which accompanies his own ordinance.

    4th. That in the adult the reception of the blessing depends upon faith.

    5th. That the benefits conveyed by baptism are not peculiar to it, but belong to the believer before or without baptism, and are often renewed to him afterwards.

    Our ” Confession of Faith,” Chap. 28., sections 5 and 6, affirms, “1st. That by the right use of this ordinance the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost to such (whether of age or infants), as that grace belongeth unto.”

    2nd. That baptism does not in all cases secure the blessings of the covenant.

    3rd. That in the cases in which it does the gift is not connected necessarily in time with the administration of the ordinance.

    4th. “That these blessings depend upon two things:(1) the right use of the ordinance; (2) the secret purpose of God.”–Dr. Hodge.

    39. What in general is the doctrine known as Baptismal Regeneration ? On what ground does it rest ? and how can it be shown to be false ?

    The Protestant advocates of Baptismal Regeneration, without committing themselves to the Romish theory of an opus operatum, hold that baptism is God’s ordained instrument of communicating the benefits of redemption in the first instance. That whatever gracious experiences may be enjoyed by the unbaptized, are uncovenanted mercies. That by baptism the guilt of original sin is removed, and the Holy Ghost is given, whose effects remain like a seed in the soul, to be actualized by the free–will of the subject, or neglected and hence rendered abortive. Every infant is regenerated when baptized. If he dies in infancy the seed is actualized in paradise. If he lives to adult age, its result depends upon his use of it (Blunt’s “Dict. of Theology,” Art. Baptism). See above, Ch. 29., Question 4.

    They rest their doctrine on a large class of Scripture passages like the following, “Christ gave himself for the church that he might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water, by the word” Ephesians 5:26, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins.”––Acts 22:16. Also John 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:27, etc.

    The Reformed explain these passages on the following principles. 1st. In every sacrament there are two things (a) an outward visible sign, and (b) an inward invisible grace thereby signified. There is between these a sacramental or symbolical relation that naturally gives rise to a usus loquendi (meaning of words by usage), whereby the properties and effects of the grace are attributed to the sign. Yet it never follows that the two are inseparable, any more than it proves the absurdity that the two are identical.

    2nd. The sacraments are badges of religious faith, and necessarily involve the profession of that faith. In all ordinary language, therefore, that faith is presumed to be present, and to be genuine, in which case the grace signified by the sacrament is, of course, always not only offered but conveyed (“Shorter Catechism,” Ques. 91 and. 92).

    That baptism can not be the only or even the ordinary means of conveying the grace of regeneration (i.e., for initiating the soul into a state of grace) is plain.––1st. Faith and repentance are the fruits of regeneration. But faith and repentance are required as conditions prerequisite to baptism.— Acts 2:38;8:37;10:47, and 11:17.

    2nd. This doctrine is identical with that of the Pharisees, which Christ and his apostles constantly rebuked.––Matthew 23:23–26. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by love––but a new creature.”––Galatians 5:6, and 6:15; Romans 2:25–29. Faith alone is said to save, the absence of faith alone to damn.––Acts 16:31, and Mark 16:16.

    3rd. The entire spirit and method of the gospel is ethical not magical. The great instrument of the Holy Ghost is the TRUTH, and all that is ever said of the efficacy of the sacraments is said of the efficacy of the truth. They are means of grace therefore in common with the word and as they contain and seal it (1 Peter 1:23, and John 17:17,19). Our Saviour says “by their fruits ye shall know them.”––(Matthew 7:20).

    4th. This doctrine is disproved by experience. Vast multitudes of the baptized of all ages and nations bring forth none of the fruits of regeneration. Multitudes who were never baptized have produced these fruits. The ages and communities in which this doctrine has been most strictly held have been conspicuous for spiritual barrenness.

    5th. The great evil of the system of which the doctrine of baptismal regeneration is a part, is that it tends to make religion a matter of external and magical forms, and hence to promote rationalistic skepticism among the intelligent, and superstition among the ignorant and morbid, and to dissociate among all classes religion and morality.

  80. Vern Crisler said,

    February 3, 2010 at 1:28 am

    #60, I don’t think Mat Colvin has quite grasped the difference between words and concepts in his exegesis. Every heretic in the world can read a text literally and claim his opponents are avoiding its true meaning if they reject his woodenly literal reading.

    But I still think most of you guys & gals are missing the point about FVism and what it means by its notion of objectivity.

  81. Reed Here said,

    February 3, 2010 at 7:11 am

    David, #72: I don’t know. The issue is called sacramental union. In my reading on Leithart I’ve never heard him bring it up, or even inference it, even in a different formulation. He may speak of it elsewhere. Yet one would think that in any such discussion such a central caveat that eliminates a routine and serious misunderstanding would be an obvious necessity. That I don’t see is telling.

    I’ve asked to be corrected (the telling is my attention skills). So far I’ve not had anyone point out to me where Leithart makes this central issue central (if my criticism is right, then the SJC panel’s challenge is quite on target.)

  82. Reed Here said,

    February 3, 2010 at 7:14 am

    Vern, #76:

    I get the objectivity isssue, and I think you are correct. The problem all starts with the FV’s refusal to allow the subjective the proper role. E.g., note how decretal election is acknowledged and then dismissed out of hand, simply because it is supposedly unknowable (that is, not objectifiable).

    We’re not discussing here because we’re in the weeds, so to speak, with Dr. Rayburn. If you see some way(s) to tie the particulars back to the central, in a helpful way, go for it :-)

  83. J.Kru said,

    February 3, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    #66: That facetiousness, folks. As for this point, anyway, (not addressing the others) I think this discussion makes it clear that these issues are not as clear as your average blog-reader might think.

  84. David Gray said,

    February 3, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    >That facetiousness, folks.

    Sorry, there are too many who would say it in all seriousness.

  85. David Gray said,

    February 3, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    For clarity’s sake I meant I was sorry I took it seriously when it was intended facetiously. Can’t be too careful… :)

  86. Vern Crisler said,

    February 3, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    #82
    Hi Reed,

    The great sin of FVism is not so much that it denies the gospel of grace as that it makes the gospel of grace irrelevant. The saving message of individual salvation through decretal election is, as you say, acknowledged yet dismissed. It is replaced by the objective covenant.

    All the old terms having to do with salvation — grace, regeneration, justification, etc — no longer have the same meaning. They are now covenantally qualified terms.

    Thus baptism in FV-speak is equivalent to covenantal regeneration. To ask whether this is baptismal regeneration in the old sense is beside the point in their view. The covenantal concept is now norming all theological categories.

    The positivists thought that all metaphysical statements were meaningless because unverifiable. So to in FV positivism; our inability to verify the decree — have insight into the decree — means that all decretal statements
    or teachings based on decretal insight are now meaningless.

    That’s why you can have elect and baptized Christians fall away and be lost. This is only paradoxical when you are dualistic in your thinking, or so think the FVists.

  87. David Gray said,

    February 3, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Vern,

    So Doug Wilson isn’t FV? Works for me.

  88. J.Kru said,

    February 3, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    #85: Well, high-quality smarmy comments should be smarmy enough that they can be mistaken as the real thing. So, I applaud thee, sir! :)

  89. J.Kru said,

    February 3, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    #86: Mr. Crisler: I’m looking to do a little more research into the Federal Vision; you sound like you’re pretty well informed on the subject. I’m looking for primary sources; what do you suggest?

  90. Vern Crisler said,

    February 3, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    Hi J Kru,

    The OPC and PCA have good reports on the subject. Have you looked at them yet?

  91. jared said,

    February 4, 2010 at 12:09 am

    The reports aren’t exactly primary sources. If you want a good place to start you can visit the archives over on Doug Wilson’s blog (dougwils.com). From the main page there is a “Main Categories” section on the left and in that list is “Auburn Avenue Stuff”. There’s a ton of posts (409 it looks like) but starting at the beginning makes the most sense (obviously). There’s also a book published in 2004 titled “The Federal Vision” which is a collection of essays by FV advocates; it is edited by Steve Wilkins. Some of the views in that book have since been modified/clarified but for research’s sake it’s another good primary resource.

  92. David Gray said,

    February 4, 2010 at 7:06 am

    Yet judging from Vern’s statement he doesn’t consider Doug Wilson to be FV. Go figure…

  93. GLW Johnson said,

    February 4, 2010 at 7:48 am

    I have noticed the constant refrain from the FV-esp. DW- that the FV is not monolithic, we are told over and over again that they have differences among themselves. However, anytime ANY of the main advocates of the FV is subjected to criticism,for whatever reason ,the rest of them -esp.DW -comes to his defense.

  94. David Gray said,

    February 4, 2010 at 8:03 am

    >However, anytime ANY of the main advocates of the FV is subjected to criticism,for whatever reason ,the rest of them -esp.DW -comes to his defense.

    I’m mystified that this would mystify you. A human dynamic is enough to explain that without too many theological overtones.

  95. GLW Johnson said,

    February 4, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Well, then DG, why does the bishop of Moscow keep harping about ‘swallowing nats’ whenever a FV distinctive (that he claims he doesn’t accept) comes under scrutiny? He has no hestinacy when it comes to expressing his strong opinions-like in his ongoing posts on the articles in TableTalk- but he constantly defends his fellow FVers even when he says he personally doesn’t hold positions that they do. Personally I don’t believe him when he makes these claims. He defends them because his views are very much the same as theirs.

  96. Ron Henzel said,

    February 4, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Gary wrote:

    I have noticed the constant refrain from the FV-esp. DW- that the FV is not monolithic, we are told over and over again that they have differences among themselves.

    This is the same cloak that the Emerging Church movement attempts to hide under. Of course, the EC also claims that it’s only a “conversation” and not really a movement, which makes it the only non-movement I know that has its own support organizations, body of literature, and even its own manifesto.

  97. Mason said,

    February 4, 2010 at 11:35 am

    #93, #95, and #96 are right about Doug Wilson and the other FVers. If their beliefs are so varied, what are the distinctives? What are the uniting factors in their belief system? And if he doesn’t agree with Leithart (and others) on some of the finer points, why does Wilson constantly defend them? I agree with Rev Keister 95% of the time on this blog, but I have not been afraid to comment on here when I disagree. Why can’t Wilson do the same with his fellow FV proponents?

  98. J.Kru said,

    February 4, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    #90. Thanks Mr. Crisler, yes I did look at their reports, but I was thinking of something more in line with actual primary sources – reformed ad fontes guy that I am. The Federal Vision suggested by Jared seems like a good start. Do you (or anyone else) know of any other primary sources, especially print (e.g. non-blog) sources? Or does anyone have an assessment of The Federal Vision

  99. David Gray said,

    February 4, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    >Well, then DG, why does the bishop of Moscow keep harping about ’swallowing nats’ whenever a FV distinctive (that he claims he doesn’t accept) comes under scrutiny?

    I think I already answered that but perhaps too obliquely. Personal loyalty will lead to actions that theology may not require. And I’m hardly the first to observe this, the Baylys have done so as well.

  100. Reed Here said,

    February 4, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    J. Kru:

    Try this, Auburn Avenue Theology, the first substantial effort (and only?) by advocates and opponents to speak together.

    Try here as well, for first level documents on pro FV.

    Try here for a collection of criticism of the FV.


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