John Piper and his Heretical Friends (Revised)

It has just brought to my attention that John Piper has invited Federal Vision pitchman and apologist Doug Wilson to speak at his Desiring God Conference in September.  Not only has Piper previously stated that the heretical and deadly doctrines of Wilson’s Federal Vision IS NOT another Gospel, now he has given FV spokesman Wilson a platform to further advance his FV heresy on unwitting Baptists.  The Judaizers never had it so good.

While as sinful as it is shameful, it is not surprising.  To anyone who has suffered through Piper’s Future Grace (you can read a review of the book here), Piper agrees with the central tenants of the Federal Vision including a denial of the Covenant of Works and a conditional view of grace and the gospel.

World Magazine editor Marvin Olasky (the same magazine that refused to publish Trinity Foundation’s Reformation Statement signed by R.C. Sproul and others)  will be sharing the stage with Wilson and Piper. I should point out that Olasky is (or at least was) an elder in the PCA.  If that’s the case, it is more evidence that the PCA’s committee report on the Federal Vision should be shredded for toilet paper.

For Piper and DG fans, here is a quick recap of Wilson’s theology taken from his book, Reformed is Not Enough, which he wrote to answer the “call to repentance” and heresy charges leveled against him by the  Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States (RPCUS).

First, for Wilson one doesn’t become a Christian by believing the Gospel, but rather becoming a Christian occurs through the waters of baptism.  Wilson writes, “A Christian… is anyone who has been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit by an authorized representative of the Christian church”  Through the magic waters of baptism Wilson tells us that,  “both the true and false son are brought into the same relation” to Christ.

So what is the determining factor that separates the sheep from the goats? Wilson explains that “faith in the biblical sense is inseparable from faithfulness…. But when we have faith that works its way out in love, which is the only thing that genuine faith can do, *then the condition that God has set for the fulfillment of His promise has been met”* (186-187, emphasis added).  Notice, God’s covenant promise, which of course includes the promise of salvation, is conditional and requires us to meet those conditions before we can receive them.  The conditions Wilson tells us are our own faithfulness and it is a faith that works.  God’s covenant promise is met only through our ongoing covenant faithfulness.  The ones who, through their faithfulness, “meet the condition that God has set for the fulfillment of His promise,” become sheep.

In Wilson’s “objective covenant” in which the sinner meets conditions and fulfills his covenantal obligations, thus qualifying himself for the salvation God has promised,  Wilson confuses works done as the result of sanctification with justification.

In case anyone missed it, or if anyone might be tempted to think that I am mischaracterizing Wilson, he also favorably quotes his fellow FV pastor Rand Booth: “Only faithful covenant membership (i.e., those full of faith in the Savior), receive the covenant blessings, *including the blessings of imputed righteousness” (emphasis added).  The imputation of Christ’s righteousness is the result of being a faithful covenant member.  Wilson states “This is fundamental to the central point of this book.”

For Wilson it is the conditions of salvation that God sets at baptism that become the dividing line between salvation and damnation: “Those who obligate themselves under the terms of the covenant law to live by faith but then defiantly refuse to believe are cut away” (134). In Wilson’s scheme, “breaking covenant occurs because of unbelief, lack of faith, and because of lack of good works” (134), and fulfilling the conditions of the covenant occurs by faith and good works.

Wilson rejects the historic Reformed and Biblical view of the Covenant of Grace in which Christ is the Mediator of the covenant and the Savior of his people.  As every Christian should already know, and certainly John Piper ought to know, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is not contingent upon our “faithful covenant membership,” but solely upon Christ’s obedience to the will of the Father.

Wilson rejects the law/gospel distinction saying, “law and gospel divisions or grace and works divisions” is “a trap.”   Wilson asserts, contra Scripture, that belief alone in the truths of Scripture and the Gospel saves no one.  “I do not deny the propositional truth the solas refer to, but I do maintain that to limit them to mere propositions is to kill them. Faith without works is dead. The five solas without works are dead too. Propositions without works are dead — even if the propositions are true.”   Of course, Wilson contradict Christ who said “The words that I speak to you are Spirit, and they are life (John 6:63).”  And, contrary to works as a requirement or the one thing needful to make faith saving, Jesus said; “Most assuredly I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in him who sent me has [right now, not after doing some good works] everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has [already] passed from death to life (John 5:24).”  Wilson is a liar.

As John Robbins points out: “Wilson has things backwards: It is the true words, the propositions, that bring forth good works, not the works that make propositions living. The propositions are living and the source of life, and works are a kind of fruit of that life — a result, an effect of the living propositions. “

As we have seen, for Wilson Christians are saved by fulfilling the conditions of the covenant: “In the historic Protestant view, good works are inseparable from biblical salvation. They are not a condiment  to flavor a “raw” justification [i.e., read “fruit” - SG], but rather are definitionally related to justification…like the terms husband and wife.”   In Wilson’s theology, good works and justification are equals and correlatives, like husband and wife. Justification is not prior to, nor the cause or ground of sanctification and good works, but an equal and corresponding aspect of salvation. He adds;   “No one assumes that every husband will automatically have a successful marriage. Nor should we assume that every Christian will go to Heaven.”

In Wilson’s theology some Christians will go to Hell.

To avoid Hell, salvation requires our ongoing covenantal faithfulness in order to receive what Federal Visionists call “final justification” on the last day.  That’s because, and as we’ve seen in this brief summary, no man is saved by belief alone, but by belief plus works.

Wilson is a Christ denying heretic who has been warmly embraced by John Piper.  Now he will be a featured guest speaker at Piper’s next “Desiring God” conference.   Again, the Judaizers never had it so good.

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245 Comments on “John Piper and his Heretical Friends (Revised)”

  1. theoparadox Says:

    Sean,

    I appreciate the magnanimity of a man like John Piper. He holds fast to the truth of the Gospel, doesn’t major on the minors, and I’ve never heard or seen him putting his consderable intellect to sinful use by uncharitably attacking his opponents. I’d rather hear a man who demonstrates love for God and neighbor than one who is right in his own eyes and glorifies himself by insulting those who disagree with him. There are plenty of that kind of preacher out there, but men like Piper are a precious rarity.

    I sometimes cringe when I see Piper associating with controversial figures, but then I remember our Lord’s example and the fact that the Pharisees attacked Him for eating with, conversing with, and being touched by sinful people. How much more should we speak with grace toward those who are not on our team, theologically, but show a great love for our Lord? Agreement on the essentials goes a long way; didn’t Augustine say something like that?

    Christ, on the other hand, DID rip into His opponents on occasion. But He has the right to, and this also is an expression of His great love. Some of those very Pharisees were later converted. Nicodemus, anyone?

    Thanks for posting the video, I’ve been wondering how Piper would explain his choice. Was it John Calvin who said the BEST of men are only 80% theologically correct?

    Grace & peace,
    Derek Ashton

  2. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hey Derek, maybe you’d be better off recalling Paul’s reaction to Peter playing the hypocrite with the Judaizers.

  3. theoparadox Says:

    Sean,

    That is worth considering. You get a gold star!

    This is a bit off topic, but I’m curious … are you familiar with John Gerstner? Would you class him with Piper, or is he closer to your views? I’m studying Gerstner, so I’m looking for perspectives on his work.

    In fact, would you mind listing some theologians you would consider more or less correct? I know Clark, Robbins and Reymond would figure highly (perhaps Owen on the atonement, also?), but who else would you recommend? Vincent Cheung, perhaps?

    PS – this is not a trick question, I’m sincerely curious.

    For me, it’s Piper, Jonathan Edwards, Curt Daniel, most of the Puritans, and of course we all claim Calvin.

    Also, I’m not that familiar with FV, so can you tell me where to find a good refutation?

    Thanks.

    Blessings,
    Derek

  4. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’ve added some a brief summary of Wilson’s Federal Vision above, most of which I culled from a book I was fortunate to co-write with John Robbins in answer to Wilson, Not Reformed At All, (the majority of which was still written by John, but I was thankful to be apart of the project). You can pick up the book from Trinityfoundation.org and they also have numerous articles that you can find on the FV if you search the Trinity Review archives.

    I would also recommend the PCA’s committee report on the FV and NPP. Other than the strategic and presumptuous error of addressing the FV/NPP men as “brothers,” they do a great job of demonstrating that the FV is another gospel, which, of course, is really no gospel at all. I also really enjoyed Brian Schwertley’s, Auburn Avenue Theology: A Biblical Analysis. There is also Guy Water’s, The Federal Vision and Covenant Theology and any number of other books and articles pro or con. Frankly, just google Federal Vision and you’ll find plenty to get you started.

    As for authors, yes, in addition to Clark, Robbins and Reymond I would also recommend Calvin, Edwards, and most of the Puritans — and Owen *is* great on the atonement. Don’t forget Hodge (I prefer C to A) and most certainly Luther.

    OTOH, I’m not a fan of Piper at all and never was. Future Grace was a horrible tome and I think John Robbins review of the book linked above, which got the ire up of countless Piperites when the review was first published, was guilty of understatement. Desiring God, which was the favorite book of a former pastor of mine, while it had its moments, crashed on your beloved incoherence over the imagined desire of God for the salvation of all. In my naivety, since it was quite a long time ago, I even wrote a long letter to Piper (I still have it) thinking that surely he must see that he was mistaken. LOL! He responded with what I think was a two line letter saying we will have to agree to disagree. I’ve since learned better. ;)

  5. theoparadox Says:

    Sean,

    Thanks for the added clarification. It’s funny that we draw from some of the same sources, yet reach very different conclusions in some cases. Yet I will have to say I probably agree with you about FV. FV sounds like some seriously messed up theology! I’ll have to learn more about it, and I predict Piper will have to address these issues before long.

    It’s odd that FV has so many similarities to NPP, and yet Piper has devoted lots of energy to refuting NPP. Why not FV? There must be a reason, good or bad. The video certainly doesn’t give us any clues.

    Thanks again,
    Derek

  6. Sean Gerety Says:

    The FV is damnable stuff. Interestingly, while Wright’s NPP is another cleverly dressed up outright denial of the Gospel, and in spite of Piper’s refutation of Wright’s position, Piper doesn’t think Wright is advancing another gospel either. I sometimes wonder if the only antichrist men like Piper could identify and mark is if he wore a Miter, a papal stole, and people were lining up to kiss his …., er, ring. My guess is even Rome doesn’t teach another gospel in Piper’s confused mind. I suppose if you’re systematically dedicated to paradox as Piper seems to be, perhaps even Pope Benny and Mother T can be considered brothers and sisters in Christ too. +8-0

  7. Hugh McCann Says:

    One wonders why Dr. Piper defended N.T. Wright’s “very confusing” gospel, as well as Wilson’s “very complicated” theology. (Note appropriate fist bump by Piper’s cronies at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLy88cB3gCQ).

    Piper claims in his February defense of Wilson that the latter is “careful,” “brilliant,” and “a very bright guy,” yet who’s “got people around him who are DUMB!”

    Wouldn’t a wise man surround himself (and do conferences with) good guys? FV men are neither wise nor good, yet Doug counts them comrades in arms.

    Paul said that evil company corrupts good morals.

    1. God’s word calls us to forsake the bad guys. (Pro. 1:10, 2:12-15, 4:14, 5:8[3], etc.)
    2. Wilson does not do so, calling them good guys.
    3. Therefore, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .

    [b]Proverbs 13:20 ~ Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.[/b]

    And from the Piper clip you gave us (above):
    “Doug gets the gospel right.”
    “Doug Wilson is a risk-taker; we all know that!”
    “Doug has a way with language, and what he says is unusually compelling.”

    One has to wonder at the discernment of Piper. He even allows in the February clip that he is concerned about Wilson’s “trajectory.”

    We all should be…

    Hugh McCann

  8. Sean Gerety Says:

    FV men are neither wise nor good, yet Doug counts them comrades in arms.

    Hi Hugh. Of course Doug counts FV heretics as comrades in arms because he is one himself. He is no different on any count then the most egregious and flagrant Neoleglist. He’s just a better salesman than, say, James Jordon.

  9. Hugh McCann Says:

    3. Therefore, “Doug counts FV heretics as comrades in arms because he is one himself. He is no different on any count then the most egregious and flagrant Neoleglist.”

    Thanks for completing the syllogism, Sean!

    Hugh

  10. Monty L. Collier Says:

    Sean,
    Thanks for taking the time to write this article.
    People need to read this.

    I’ve recently been told by followers of both Piper and Wilson that believing the Gospel is not enough, for devils believe and tremble (James 2:19). Federal Vision people are appealing to the “faith of devils.”
    Below is how I respond to them; tell me what you think.

    Listen,
    the devils do not believe the Gospel.
    You will never find a verse that says the devils believe the Gospel. Just consider what the Gospel is for a second. Paul tells us what the Gospel is:

    “I declare unto you the Gospel…how that Christ died for OUR sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
    (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, my emphasis)

    Notice the pronoun “OUR.”
    Notice how the Gospel contains the proposition–Christ died for our sins.
    The devils do not believe Christ died for their sins! They know Christ did not die for them!
    The devils are sinners who don’t believe the Gospel, and that is exactly why they tremble, for they know there is no salvation for them. Those of us who do believe the Gospel have peace with God! See Romans 5:1.

    Finally, James 2:19 does not say, “Thou believest the Gospel; thou doest well: the devils also believe and tremble.” Notice what James 2:19 does say.
    It says very clearly, “Thou believest that there is one God…”
    The Bible is correct in stating that faith in monotheism is not enough to save a person, but it is careful never to say that one can believe the Gospel and be damned.

    O.k., what do you think, Sean?

  11. Eric Broch Says:

    Monte,

    Moreover, God reveals to Satan in Genesis that the seed of the woman–Christ–will crush his head, i.e., the gospel is the means of his undoing. God has declared war on Satan–I will put enmity… If the gospel was intended to destroy the works of Satan, then it is impossible that he believe God is favorably disposed (gracious) to him, ever.

    God tells us in Matthew that the lake of fire was, or has been, prepared for the devil and his angels; therefore, it is impossible that he believe that God will be gracious to him.

    Eric

  12. Jason Loh Says:

    Dear Bro. Sean,

    Keep up the good work! There are not many of us Clarkians around, at least these days. But our calling is to be faithful to the truth, no matter what.

  13. Daniel Chew Says:

    I am very disturbed by Piper’s open endorsement of Doug Wilson. So much for the Gospel Coalition if they cannot even discern a true Gospel from the false one.

  14. Hugh McCann Says:

    Right on, Mr Collier!

    The demons can obviously know there is a God, that his Son is Jesus, that he will torment them at judgment day (Mt 8:29), and even that Christ died and rose again.

    What they obviously cannot believe is that he died for them, as you point out.

    “You shall call his name JESUS,” said the angel, “for he will save HIS PEOPLE from their sins.” (Mt 1:21.)

    Hugh

  15. qeqesha Says:

    That Piper should invite a condemned heretic shows how utterly irresponsible and reckless he is! This is someone who should be aware how much responsibility he bears towards so many people under his influence! Piper, in spite of his “desiring God” does not seem to have come to know much about Him all these years! As anyone who has read his “Future Grace” knows, Piper is fatally confused! Grace is offered to us on the Cross and that is all in the past! Any one who has hope in some future grace will not be getting any!

    As for those who say faith or belief is not enough and think they have James for their support only deceive themselves! All James says is that demons believe in God … not the gospel! I have put it this way in the past:
    All Chritianity is theism, but not all theism is Christianity! {All A is B does not imply all B is A!} Examples abound; Judaism, Islam etc etc Demonic theism is not christianity!

    Denson

  16. Monty L. Collier Says:

    Hey Sean,
    Listen to the analogy in the video where John Piper explains why he is inviting Doug Wilson.

    Listen carefully.

    The teacher cheats by taking the test for the kid. Cheating is a sin. But God does not cheat when He justifies His elect, for God is both “just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).

    God doesn’t cheat the Law, but He satisfies it. Wilson’s analogy is a false one, just like his false gospel. Doug Wilson and John Piper both reject Justification By Faith Alone!

  17. Chris Duncan Says:

    The following excerpt from Piper’s book, “The Future of Justification” is a clear demonstration of Piper’s, Owen’s, and Edward’s contempt for the truth. Piper cites two of your own prophets, whose “unwavering orthodoxy” you dare not blasphemously question. After reading the following in a careful manner, just consider the possibility that the aforementioned unholy trio believe(d) that passages such as Zephaniah 3:4, Galatians 1:8-9, Acts 20:29-30, and 1 John 4:1-3 are meaningless.

    With one antichristian and irenic mind, these three men do not see a false gospel, but a “confusing” or “muddled” gospel. But even if they DID grudgingly (or even cheerfully) concede that the false gospel is an actual post-Apostolic reality, they could just emulate Sean Gerety by emitting billows of bombastic bluster that are bereft of backbone, since unlike the Apostle Paul’s anathemas, these “anathemas” would not fall upon actual real-life persons, but person-less, systematic phantoms.

    Piper:

    ==For these eight reasons, and more that will emerge along the way, I am not optimistic that the biblical doctrine of justification will flourish where
    N. T. Wright’s portrayal holds sway. I do not see his vision as a compelling retelling of what Saint Paul really said. And I think, as it stands now, it will bring great confusion to the church at a point where she desperately needs clarity. I don’t think this confusion is the necessary dust that must settle when great new discoveries have been made. Instead, if I read the situation correctly, the confusion is owing to the ambiguities in Wright’s own expressions, and to the fact that, unlike his treatment of some subjects, his paradigm for justification does not fit well with the ordinary reading of many texts and leaves many ordinary folk not with the rewarding “ah-ha” experience of illumination, but with a paralyzing sense of perplexity.30 ==

    And here is Piper’s footnote [30]:

    == [30] I do not infer Wright’s defective view of justification to mean that he is not himself justified. Jonathan Edwards and John Owen give
    good counsel on this point even if the debates then were not identical to ours. Edwards wrote during one of his controversies:

    “How far a wonderful and mysterious agency of God’s Spirit may so influence some men’s hearts, that their practice in this regard may be
    contrary to their own principles, so that they shall not trust in their own righteousness, though they profess that men are justified by their own righteousness—or how far they may believe the doctrine of justification by men’s own righteousness in general, and yet not believe it in a particular application of it to themselves—or how far
    that error which they may have been led into by education, or cunning sophistry of others, may yet be indeed contrary to the prevailing disposition of their hearts, and contrary to their practice—or how far some may seem to maintain a doctrine contrary to this gospel-doctrine of justification, that really do not, but only express themselves differently from others; or seem to oppose it through their
    misunderstanding of our expressions, or we of theirs, when indeed our real sentiments are the same in the main—or may seem to differ more than they do, by using terms that are without a precisely fixed and
    determinate meaning—or to be wide in their sentiments from this doctrine, for want of a distinct understanding of it; whose hearts, at
    the same time, entirely agree with it, and if once it was clearly explained to their understandings, would immediately close with it, and embrace it: — how far these things may be, I will not determine;
    but am fully persuaded that great allowances are to be made on these and such like accounts, in innumerable instances; though it is manifest, from what has been said, that the teaching and propagating
    [of] contrary doctrines and schemes, is of a pernicious and fatal tendency” (Jonathan Edwards, “Justification by Faith Alone,” in
    Sermons and Discourses, 1734-1738, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 19 [New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001], 242)

    Owen wrote: “Men may be really saved by that grace which doctrinally they do deny; and they may be justified by the imputation of that righteousness which in opinion they deny to be imputed.” But I would add: the clearer the knowledge of the truth and the more deep the denial, the less assurance one can have that the God of truth will save him. Owen’s words are not meant to make us cavalier about the
    content of the gospel, but to hold out hope that men’s hearts are often better than their heads. John Owen, The Doctrine of Justification by Faith, chapter VII, “Imputation, and the Nature of
    It,” Banner of Truth, Works, Vol. 5, 163-164. ==

  18. Hugh McCann Says:

    Or we could emulate Pope Marc by damning (“Yer unregenerate!”) all we find insufficiently erudite, accurate, and doctrinaire with bombastic bluster bolstered by butch blasts of our wee trumpets and, unlike the Apostle Paul’s anathemas, have our curses fall upon dead saints.

    No doubt Edwards and Owen were unregenerate when they wrote the above quotes. (:

    Apparently, in Duncanland too, no one is allowed an error. Ever.

    So glad the angel(s) went easy on John in Rev. 19:10 & 22:8f! And aren’t Rom. 16:17, 1 Tim. 4:16, Jas 3:1 & such like given because we ARE prone to errors?!

    Seriously though, many may have erred in their charity toward some illogical “Christians.” (The long list is outside the camp.)

    And, as seen in Chris’ post, the more specific one gets, the more trouble one gets into. Piper’s quote above is the most problematic, Edwards’s the least.

    By stating the case as he has, Piper has appeared indecisive and confused. He is certainly confusing. Owen nearly as much so. Edwards tries to carefully walk a tightrope and allow for lapses in our thinking, errors due to the fall, and inconsistencies in our systems. Perhaps he went too far.

    Can we angelically help our brethren to their feet? If they’re passed on to the other side, can we not read their works in total, taking all their teaching into consideration before consigning them to the dustbin of the “antichristian,” “unholy,” or those with “contempt for the truth”?

    Yours,
    Hugh

  19. Daniel F Says:

    Monty, please don’t be silly about Doug Wilson’s analogy. Of course it’s not perfect – it’s a parable. Think of the parable of the shrewd manager: is God telling us to be deceitful? Ought you to act like the man in the parable if you think you are going to be fired from your job? No, of course not. There is a point stories. You can’t take them literally.

    Think about your “logical conclusion.” Would you have preferred the illustration if it were a courtroom, and a man were condemned for murder, and his brother comes in and says, “kill me instead”? That would be unjust of the judge…right? Yet it seems to me that this is what Christ did for us. We deserved, ourselves, condemnation. But Christ took it in our stead.

    Sola Deo Gloria
    -Daniel

  20. Lauren Kuo Says:

    Theoparadox:
    How can a minister promote and condone a false gospel and at the same time show love for the Lord?

    Piper is not merely sitting down and eating dinner with a false teacher as Jesus did with sinners. Jesus did not condone their sin – He rather convicted them so that they could repent and receive forgiveness. Truth and love cannot be separated. Piper, on the other hand, agrees with the views of Wilson and is inviting him to a conference to deliberately teach false doctrine and mislead a captive audience – leading them astray from the Truth of the Gospel. How is misleading others demonstrating love for God or for your neighbor?

  21. qeqesha Says:

    Lauren Kuo,
    Absolutely agree! Jesus said, John 8:31 “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;”

    John 15:14, “If you love me keep my commandments!”, v23 “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.”

    Piper is NOT keeping the word of God and hence is not loving Christ!

    Denson

  22. kimeradrummer Says:

    I think that it’s irrelevant if the devils can or cannot believe de Gospel. Why? Because the Gospel is a message for mens, not for angels (Heb. 2:16).

    In fact, I sustain that even if the devils can believe the Gospel, they won’t be saved, because Christ died for mens, not for angels.

    It take James 2:19 as an ironic comment. I interpret it as if James is saying that even devils who believe that God is one tremble for that, but those who says that have faith but doesn’t have works to justify their words doesn’t even tremble for that. I sustain that James is denying to them even the level of faith of a devil. He’s not saying that they have the faith of devils, but he’s denying even that to them.

    God bless…

  23. Eric Says:

    kimeradrummer,

    Obviously what demons believe is important enough for James to mention that they believe ‘something’ in his epistle to the twelve scattered tribes. This ‘something’ is what much of the brouhaha is about.

    I contend that they believe ‘something,’ which James affirms, and this ‘something’ is that God, whom they fear, has irrevocably condemned them for their rebellion, and therefore, this is why they cannot believe in God’s grace extending to themselves. One verse amongst many that proves this to us (men) is the one you use erroneously to justify your position.

    Demons do believe ‘something,’ and the Bible affirms this, therefore, it is not irrelevant what they believe.

  24. kimeradrummer Says:

    Hi Eric, God bless you.

    In my comment I say that it’s irrelevant if demons believe or not IN THE GOSPEL, because the Good News is for mens, not for demons. So, demons can believe (give true assent) to the Gospel and still be condemned. This is true too with reference to the Grace of God, because they can truly believe in the Grace of God and still be condemned.

    Taking in context, the important thing in James 2:19 is not what demons believe. What’s important is that they truly believe, and what they believe makes them fear and tremble. So, the faith of the demons produce something in them, while the lip faith of those mens adressed by James doesn’t produce anything in them (“…faith without works…”).

    Therefore, James is making an ironic comment to them, using demons to make a contrast. Demons believe that God is one and tremble for that. Those mens say that they believe, but they don’t have nothing to justify what they say (vs. 14,18). Therefore, those mens doesn’t have even the faith of a demon. Then, James is denying to them the faith of the demons in an ironic way, not saying that they have the faith of a demon.

    So, those who use this vs. to say that some people have the unsaving faith of a demon are wrong, because the way they use this vs. implies that faith is not enough to save, so you have to add works in order to be saved, wich is a denial of Sola Gratia, Sola Fide and Solus Christus. The vs. is missinterpreted.

    So, yes, demons ‘believe’ something, and what they believe, they truly believe it. Those men say that they believe, but there is nothing that justify they words (vs. 18).

    God bless you…

  25. Eric Says:

    kimeradrummer,

    “So, demons can believe (give true assent) to the Gospel…”

    No! Gospel means good news. There is no good news to demons therefore they can’t, and don’t, believe it. In fact they believe they are eternally and irrevocably condemned. The gospel is the demise of demons as I mentioned above.

    Demons can believe that the gospel is for men, but they can’t believe it is for themselves for the reason Monte, and you, mention above.

    Further, it becomes relevant what demons believe because it is scriptural (they believe ‘something’) and because heretics always find reasons to negate the Word of God when the truth is presented; therefore, Christians must use all of scripture to refute a heretic’s erroneous claims.

    On a personal note, the first time I told someone that faith was assent to an understood proposition they immediately brought up James as a proof text that Demons have assent; therefore, they concluded, my assertion that faith is assent was simply not true. This person sited John MacArthur as proof of his position. John MacArthur rejects assent.

    It is the Christians duty to ‘give a reason for the hope etc…,’ therefore, they must use all of scripture to refute error and error weakens faith.

  26. Hugh McCann Says:

    The demons can obviously know there is a God, that his Son is Jesus, that he will torment them at judgment day (Mt 8:29), and even that Christ died and rose again.

    What they obviously cannot believe is that he died for them, as Monte Collier pointed out.

  27. Hugh McCann Says:

    Pardon me, Monty Collier.

  28. Eric Says:

    Indeed, sorry Monty!

  29. kimeradrummer Says:

    Hi Eric, God bless you.

    You’re not understanding me. When I say that demons can give true assent to the Gospel I’m saying that demons can truly believe that Jesus died for the sins OF MENS, been buried and rise from the dead at the third day. Demons can believe that the Gospel is true, and that implies that they believe that the Gospel is a message FOR MENS, not for them. Because of this, I sustain that those who use this vs. to attack assent are missinterpreting it, because demons can’t be saved even if they believe the Gospel, while if a men give true assent to the Gospel will surely be saved. So, they are aplying something to demons that doesn’t have nothing to do with them, this is, they pressupose that demons can believe the Gospel AND BE SAVED FOR THAT.

    The way you missunderstand me make me contradict myself on the next pharagraph I wrote:

    ‘So, those who use this vs. to say that some people have the unsaving faith of a demon are wrong, because the way they use this vs. implies that faith is not enough to save, so you have to add works in order to be saved, wich is a denial of Sola Gratia, Sola Fide and Solus Christus. The vs. is missinterpreted.’

    Now, my position is that James use demons example as a contrast and in an ironic way. He’s making an ‘ad hominem’ to the people he’s adresing, denying to them even the faith of a demon. Why? Because the emphasis is not on the object on faith, but on the reality of faith in his psicological aspect, expressed in his effects on the believer. If demons fear and tremble is because they truly believe the propositions that makes them tremble (the Gospel is not mentioned; but, as I say before, it is irrelevant if they can or cannot believe it) while the people James is adressing doesn’t have any work to justify their claims.

    I hope I was more clear now.

    God bless…

  30. Eric Says:

    kimeradrummer,

    Fair enough! I agree with your first paragraph, for the most part, and second paragraph, but I’m not sure I agree with your interpretation of James 2 and your assessment that it is irrelevant what demons believe.

    Eric

  31. kimeradrummer Says:

    Hi Eric, God bless you.

    Give the interpretation I proposse a thought for a moment, and take it to the context. That’s all I have to say.

    Ah! one last thing: When James talk about the faith of the people he’s adressing, he’s not conceding real faith to them, but just pressupose it in order to prove if it really exist. “Dead faith” refers to inexistent faith, and “live faith” refers to an existent faith. Given this, the reasons why I understand James 2:19 that way will be more clear.

    God bless…

  32. Eric Says:

    kimeradrummer,

    Will do!

    I will say this: although, for the time being, we may disagree on James 2:19 and ‘demonic faith’ it is reassuring that we agree on faith alone as the only means of justification and that James doesn’t teach that demons can believe that Christ died for them.

    Eric

  33. kimeradrummer Says:

    Hi Eric, God bless you.

    No problem brother. The topic is a very exiting one. In fact, I will make a study about that but in spanish, my native laguage. If I traduce it, I let you know. Sli Deo Gloria.

    God bless you brother.

  34. Pat Says:

    I don’t see how John Piper can be categorized as a Federal Visionist. His book “The Future of Justification” is the best criticism of N.T. Wright’s view of justification. Piper seems to have backed away from what he wrote in “Future Grace”, though he is inconsistent in advocating Doug Wilson. There seems to be a lot of inconsistent, illogical treatment of speaking of false gospels. But we shouldn’t make it proper labelling the issue. The issue is what has been written and communicated. Clearly, much of what has been written is wrong or at best lacking clear and proper teaching, and Piper admits or at least suggests that. Again, it shouldn’t be about accepting persons as teachers, ministers, etc., or classifying them as heretics. We can examine particular statements and teachings of individuals and reject according to the light of Scripture. For neither Piper nor Wilson nor MacArthur put themselves clearly outside Biblical Christianity.

    Regarding faith as assent, I don’t know if any Reformed Church or denomination accepts such a view. In fact, the OPC rejects it and claimed Gordon Clark was outside Reformed theology. I was questioned for that in joining the OPC; for they hold that it is necessary to TRUST Christ alone for salvation (one of the 4 membership vows) to be a member. Of course, I/we do trust Christ alone as my/our basis for salvation. For that is the implication of believing/assenting to the gospel.

  35. Pat Says:

    oops, delete the word “it” before “labelling.”

  36. Maarten Kenter Says:

    What does Piper say in his other books? Is he clear on the gospel or is it more of the same?

    Maarten

  37. Steve Says:

    Sean,

    I am concerned about Piper giving Wilson a platform, because after leaving a local Presbyterian church because of the Pastor’s fondness of N.T. Wright, I have visited Reformed Baptist churches that are into Doug Wilson’s material–and of course, they are fond of Piper as well.

    I want to warn these Pastors, but I am having a hard time knowing for sure where Doug Wilson really stands on the gospel. I find Steve Schlissel and other FV spokesmen clearly heretics; but Wilson I am having a hard time pinning down because of his unclear language, and because he is said to have clarified (supposedly?) his views in an examination.

    So what I’m looking for is a resource that dissects what he says in the examination, and chronicles any heretical quotes Wilson may have made since that examination.

    Not sure if you know of anything like this, but thought I’d ask. Thanks in advance for your time! God bless,
    Steve

  38. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hi Steve. Dr. Robbins and I co-wrote Not Reformed At All, which is a point by point response to Wilson’s diatribe against the Christian faith, Reformed is Not Enough.

    Wilson called the book “atrocious” so you know it’s got to be good :)

    Besides, there is a wealth of info on the Trinity Foundation website. Just search Wilson in the Review Archive.

    I’ve also discussed Wilson’s Federal Vision extensively on this blog.

  39. Hugh McCann Says:

    Also there’s the review of Reformed is Not Enough at APuritansMind.Com.

    Dr. McMahon labels it “moralistic, Dispensational, sacerdotal, ritualistic new perspectivism.”

    I have not found a response from Wilson. Anyone know of one?

    He summarizes Wilson’s position thusly:

    1) He redefines “Christian” to include anyone “in covenant” with God.

    2) He redefines the church invisible and visible as historical and eschatological, overthrowing the ordo salutis and the historia salutis and confusing justification with glorification.

    3) He believes in corporate justification which overthrows individual justification and redefines covenant inclusion by baptism instead of faith.

    4) He believes in sacerdotalism, and believes the Westminster Confession of Faith teaches baptismal regeneration (which it does not) and overthrows justification by faith alone.

    5) He denies that church discipline is of the esse of the church, but the bene esse of the church.

    6) He believes baptism is efficacious for salvation (baptism saves, kept in his context) apart from faith.

    7) He believes good works are the grounds by which one may have assurance of salvation specifically seen in accepting baptism without question. Baptism is then assurance (assurance by works).

    8) He believes that faithfulness to the covenant is justifying (which is his corporate justification).

    9) He affirms that the New Perspective’s “corporate justification” theology is true.

    &tc.

  40. lawyertheologian Says:

    Response to Maarten Kenter:

    Well, Piper is clear on the gospel and justification in that book, and N.T. Wright is not. I think that Piper was strongly criticized for “Future Grace” which does not to me tell the whole story. At least, it was suggested to me that Piper moved away from, or has clarified some of what would appear to be erroneous statements. I think Piper merely intended to state/emphasize the necessity of obedience on the part of believers as evidence and confirmation of their faith. As he says, “How that is the case, while justification by faith alone apart from any basis in that very obedience, has been of the main themes of my teaching and writing for the last thirty years.” (viewing Rom. 2:13 as a theoretical or hypothetical statement in many ways helps to avoid this problem.)

  41. Steve Says:

    Sean,
    That sounds like an excellent book. Thanks. I’ll have to put it on my “to purchase” list! I’ll also have to check out the rest of the blog.

    Would you say then that Wilson has not repudiated anything in “Reformed is not Enough” since he wrote it?

    Thanks, also, Hugh, for the link—another bookmark for my “FV folder”!
    Steve

  42. Sean Gerety Says:

    I don’t think he’s repudiated anything, although he’s perhaps either softened or better disguised his rejection of the visible/invisible nature of the church.

    In any case, I don’t recall anywhere where he has repented of any of his Federal Vision.


  43. Piper is obviously headed down the wrong road. All that silly talk about how “loving” and “tolerant” and “open-minded” people are sets off alarm bells. The Law and the Gospel are offensive to the Pharisees. As Michael Horton put it well, if you have not been accused of antinomianism you have not really preached the Gospel. Piper seems to be more concerned with law than with Gospel.

    Charlie

  44. lawyertheologian Says:

    Isn’t Michael Horton also another Federal Visionist?


  45. No, Michael Horton has a series against the New Perspectives on Paul. Of course, Piper has written against NT Wright on NPP as well. In fairness to Piper, in the video he says that Wilson’s illustration implies antinomianism, which is risky. Anyone who takes risks like that, according to Piper, is preaching the Gospel. However, that might not be the case since heretics tend to be slippery and hard to pin down. Wilson equivocates and dissimulates in other areas as someone else has pointed out above, especially in the areas of baptism, etc. The Federal Visionists are into baptismal regeneration and imply that sanctification and justication are interchangeable in some of their statements.

    I see justification as the ground for salvation with sanctification a fruit that naturally flows out of justification. However, sanctification is not absolutely necessary as a fruit, as the thief on the cross proves.

    In Christ,

    Charlie

  46. Hugh Says:

    Charlie,

    Except that the thief not only pled for mercy, he defended Christ to the other thief!

    Apparently he displayed repentance, penitence, and apologetics — pretty good fruit I’d say!

    A good tree cannot bear bad fruit. Mustn’t it necessarily bear good fruit?

    Hugh


  47. A life long life of sin can never be offset by a last minute bearing of “good fruit.” The fruit is merely evidence to men of a genuine conversion. It is no ground at all for our justification before an absolutely holy God who demands absolute sinless obedience. And even if we were somehow to achieve such a miraculous life from birth we would still be imputed with Adam’s original sin. Thus, salvation is all of grace and nothing at all merits our salvation except faith in the sinless merits of Jesus’ life for us and His atoning death on the cross to pay the eternal penalty for our sins. If you have not been accused of antinomianism, you are not preaching the Gospel.

  48. Hugh Says:

    “The fruit is merely evidence to men of a genuine conversion. It is no ground at all for our justification before an absolutely holy God who demands absolute sinless obedience.”

    “…salvation is all of grace and nothing at all merits our salvation except faith in the sinless merits of Jesus’ life for us and His atoning death on the cross to pay the eternal penalty for our sins. If you have not been accused of antinomianism, you are not preaching the Gospel.”

    Amen and amen!


  49. That last statement should be clarified…. I did not mean that “faith” merits anything because even our faith is a prior gift of God.

    I get sloppy sometimes;)

    God bless,

    Charlie

  50. Daniel Says:

    My brother in Christ,

    It seems that you have acted untruthfully in this post concerning Doug Wilson. You quote, right at the beggining from Doug Wilson, “A Christian is anyone who…” whereas the exact quote is “A Christian, in one sense, is anyone who has been baptized….” RINE, p 19.

    In fact, he goes on, “Does this mean that anyone so baptized is a Christian in the other sense–one who is born of the Spirit of God? not at all.” Later, “In other words, Christians in the first sense alone [the one you quoted] are condemned to hell. As Jesus put it, ‘you must be born again’.” (p 20).

    The part you left out was a qualifier. This is gross misrepresentation of a brother in Christ. Please, amend the post, and let your readers know of your mistake or sin.

    In Christ,
    Daniel


  51. Daniel, the fact that Wilson qualifies his view on baptism to include a genuine conversion does not remove his understanding of baptism as putting both the reprobate and the elect in “the same relationship” to Christ through baptism. Also, Wilson’s view is that justification is completed by doing good works until the end and justification is only completed when we stand justified by our own good works as signs of true conversion. This isn’t the Gospel. The Gospel is that Christ’s good works are what justify us on the Day of Judgment, not our own obedience! Our obedience is imperfect and therefore can never be the basis for an eschatological justification on Judgment Day. No, all the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us. His sinless life becomes imputed to us as if we were actually sinless, though we are not.

    Sanctification is merely the sign of conversion and a testimony to others. It is not and never can be our justification before an absolutely perfect God.

    Furthermore, the idea that the nonbeliever is in the same relationship with God simply because of baptism smacks of sacerdotalism! Baptizing a wicked man only makes him a wet wicked man and accomplishes absolutely nothing for him other than an outward and external joining with the local church or congregation. While there may be an outward appearance of partaking of the divine, in reality the person is blaspheming the Holy Spirit through unbelief and an inward apostasy.

  52. Sean Gerety Says:

    Daniel, I will amend the quote with an ellipsis. Thanks for pointing out my error. However, none of that doesn’t change Wilson’s meaning.

    The point Wilson makes is that a Christian is anyone who has been baptized by a so-called “authorized representative” of the church and it becomes clear later on that the imagined “sense” of the word “Christian” is without any meaning.

    For example, on page 96 he quotes antichirst Peter Leithart who claims, “Objectively, baptism makes me a member of Christ’s body….” From this Wilson asserts that “there is no such thing as a nominal Christian….” Wilson denies the very “sense” of the word he pretends to affirm and that you cite. Since he denies that anyone can be a Christian in name only (the nominal sense), there is only one sense in which the name Christian applies and that is anyone who is baptized by a so-called representative of the “church.” Being born again doesn’t bring one into union with Christ; a member of Christ’s body. Baptism accomplishes that. The question then becomes, how does one remain a member of Christ’s body and that is where Wilson makes the distinction between the faithful and the faithless Christian. The difference between these two so-called “covenant members,” who are both united to Christ and in the same relationship to Christ by virtue of baptism, is their perseverance and obedience to the conditions of his so-called “objective” covenant. Salvation by faith and works by any other name.


  53. Sean, you know these teachings come about as a result of pressing the logic regarding paedobaptism. For if baptized children of believers are in the covenant and deemed Christians, then why should not all who are baptized be deemed Christians and in the covenant? BTW, it is not regeneration that makes one a Christian, or in the body of Christ,but faith (as you state originally in this blog article)and baptism.


  54. Thanks for the follow up comment, Sean. That was my understanding of Wilson’s position as well. It smacks of Romish doctrine and sacerdotalism. Baptism without inward grace in the heart of the believer leaves baptism as merely an empty sign. To put any emphasis on the power of the sign rather than the power of the Spirit in believers is to defeat the purpose of the sign in the first place.


  55. Patrick, faith results from regeneration and not the other way around. The wicked man cannot believe or have faith unless and until he has been born again, regenerated. Secondly, paedobaptism has absolutely nothing to do with the Federal Vision heresy. Most Presbyterians and Evangelical Anglicans accept paedobaptism. However, most know that baptism is merely an outward sign of an inward grace and that regeneration is not inseparably connected with baptism. Unless a baptized infant is instructed and taught the Christian faith, baptism is a useless sign. And even those who are catechized in the Scriptures and the faith are not necessarily regenerated. Regeneration occurs at the point just prior to when the child owns faith as his or her own. True conversion is totally a sovereign work of God and is not part man’s faith and part God’s grace. Such a view is semi-pelagian and not the biblical doctrine that God alone regenerates the lost sinner. Being a member of the church does not necessarily make someone a true Christian. The church contains both the elect and the reprobate. Wilson’s error is in saying that baptism makes someone a Christian. It does not. All that does is make someone a member of a visible church. They might only be “nominal” Christians, that is, Christians in name only never having been regenerated.

  56. Sean Gerety Says:

    Pat, I don’t believe the problem is with paedobaptism properly understood, but with the idea of a conditional covenant that somehow applies to both the elect and non-elect. God made no covenant with the non-elect, baptized or circumcised. In Romans Paul attacked the Jewish misunderstanding of the covenant by denying that God was the God of all loyal, circumcised Jews because he had entered into covenant with Abraham. The FV men are just repeating the same error of first century Jews.

  57. Derek Ashton Says:

    Patrick is correct that alot of this is relative to peadobaptism. Charlie J. Ray’s comment sounds to me like the thinking of one who holds to believer’s baptism (as I do), but it misses the fact that a paedobaptist has to deal with some thorny issues that spring from a certain understanding of “covenant membership.” As Piper (who is not a paedobaptist) says, Mr. Wilson is simply speaking like a consistent Presbyterian in explaining these matters. It is to Piper’s credit that he can be so broad minded on controversial questions about baptism, and can even look past the surface of Wilson’s words to find out what he actually means. What surprises me is that so few Presbyterians are willing to do this.

    I listened to the first 45 minutes of Wilson’s examination, and I found that he was completely solid on justification by faith alone, and his answers were as orthodox as one could ever expect, notwithstanding all the contorted explanations required by his allegiance to paedobaptism. If all I had to go on was that interview, I’d have to agree with Piper’s assessment.

    I’ve been reading up on the FV, and I don’t see or hear them denying the Gospel. I don’t find them proposing a works-oriented system. Maybe I just haven’t come across it yet. In any case, the whole discussion is fascinating.

    Blessings,
    Derek


  58. Paedobaptism is not at issue here. Federal Vision theology is. Secondly, Federal Visionists, like all heretics, use the same terms as Reformed folks do and then redefine the terms in deceptive ways. Pinning down heretics like trying to grab hold of slippery eels or flopping fish. They always try to find a way of wiggling out of the error without actually repenting of the error.

    Paedobaptism is not an error but works righteousness is an error. My view of the sacraments are Zwinglian/Calvinist. That is, apart from true faith the sacraments are merely empty signs. The sign without inward grace in the heart of the believer is no sign at all and in fact defeats the purpose of the sign.

    The sign is not absolutely necessary for salvation. However, since the two sacraments were instituted by Christ,we must obey His commands to honor them as outward symbols of true faith, regeneration, conversion, and participation in the atoning death of Christ once accomplished at Calvary. The body and blood of Christ are in heaven and are only eaten after a heavenly and spiritual manner by faith in the heart of the believer and not in the bread and wine.

    I would suggest that if you do not understand what is wrong with the Federal Vision heresy, you do not understand the law and the Gospel either.

  59. Sean Gerety Says:

    …some thorny issues that spring from a certain understanding of “covenant membership.”

    I think the only thing thorny is the idea that the Covenant of Grace extends to all baptized persons, infants or otherwise. In this sense it’s really no different from the credo-baptists who mistakenly think their churches consist only of true believers and somehow saving faith cannot exist without a profession. Regardless, God’s covenant is made with the elect alone. Election, which is invisible, is the dividing line between who is and who is not in God’s covenant. FVers hate anything that is invisible, logic included.

    I think it interesting that Abraham in Genesis 17 also initially thought that God’s covenant would be established with Ishmael. After all, Ismael was circumcised. But, God said “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him … My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.”

    Of course, I’m not altogether surprised you see nothing in Wilson’s testimony that raises any flags for you. I mean, they are expert in wrapping their doctrine of justification by faith and works in paradox and mystery. Besides, Roman Catholics can profess justification by faith alone by grace alone. Of course, what they mean by words like faith or grace tend to make all the difference, wouldn’t you say?


  60. Charlie, there are many Reformed (some here) who consider paedobaptism an error.

    Again, you don’t seem to recognize the connection between Federal Vision and paedobaptism, which most of those writers against Federal Vision and the New Perspective on Paul have pointed out. Many in the Federal Vision movement are for paedocommunion.

    The so called sacrament of baptism is not a sign of faith for infants. They are in the covenant automatically upon being baptized due to the faith of the parent(s). That makes it an objective covenant for them. And only when they fail to live up to the conditions of the covenant are they deemed outside of the covenant. Again, these baptized children are deemed and called Christians, though there is no basis for thinking that they are regenerated or have faith.

    Yes, the Federal Vision Movement is heretical. It does amount to a works righteousness, a second righteousness to be received into heaven. But a fair and understanding treatment is necessary.


  61. Sean, I doubt that any credobaptist believes that all that are in their church are believers. But I certainly believe it is possible that all in a church are true believers. Though it is likely, and certainly theoretically possible, I see no necessity that a true confessing church have reprobate among themselves.

    Paedobaptism confesses that all baptized children of confessing believers are in the covenant of grace.

    Of course it is possible that infants have faith (and have been regenerated) which they cannot articulate/express. But generally, people don’t come into the world regenerated and having faith, John the Baptist being the only known exception. We shouldn’t baptize children on a presumption of faith or being elected by God.


  62. Patrick, the Reformed position IS the paedobaptism position, with the exception of Reformed Baptists who are rather late comers. Thus, there is NO necessary connection between paedobaptism and federal vision. What is wrong is the federal visionists misunderstanding of the covenant and the sacraments. I might also mention that credobaptism is an Anabaptist doctrine, not a Reformed doctrine. Even Zwingli opposed rebaptism of believers.

    Regarding the debate over credo versus paedo baptism, I would refer you to John Calvin and other Reformers. Even Zwingli held to paedobaptism! The fact is that only Christian children are promised salvation if they die in infancy or prior to coming to an age where they can exercise faith for themselves. The short of it is Acts 2:38-40 promises that the children of believers can expect to receive the grace to believe themselves. While this is not always the case, one could argue that Christian family is the mode by which God passes on the law and the Gospel. This does not mean that every child raised in a Christian family is indeed elect and then regenerated. The sign of baptism is nothing more than a sign without faith. Therefore, the infant has parents and others in the church pledge to raise them up in the Christian faith and to teach them the Scriptures so they too can be converted at the some time when they are able to comprehend. This is the purpose of the Reformed catechisms like the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.

    You’re confusing two separate issues. Federal vision is one issue. Paedobaptism is another. Furthermore, the Federal Vision error may have started with the Presbyterians but I am willing to bet that it has spread to at least some Baptists.

    And lets not forget that Baptists are infected with Arminianism with the exception of the Reformed Baptists. In Anglicanism the battle is against the Anglo-Catholics who are papists of a sort and compromise the doctrines of grace and the doctrine of 2 sacraments only. I personally confess the 39 Articles of Religion and the Lambeth Articles of 1595 as my “statement of faith.”

    Charlie

  63. Derek Ashton Says:

    Charlie,

    I’m no expert on the FV. I’ll leave that to you guys, I’m just trying to learn a bit more about it. As for law and Gospel, those are very common themes in my articles. Feel free to read them and comment if I’m off the mark.

    Sean,

    Yes, definitions are essential. But that’s the point of my comment. On the surface, Wilson’s theology seems weird and obviously wrong, but in the interview he explains and defines what he means. It was precisely when he defined his terms that I began to think maybe some folks are misinterpreting him.

    Often, it is only when one defines terms that paradoxes are solved. I’m keen on solving them this way, as often as possible and as long as we’re not creating new contradictions by violating the overall Biblical balance in the process. By definition, paradoxes (as I deal with them) are only contradictory on the surface level. The big debate (which we’ve already had and don’t need to repeat here) is about whether God allows human minds to get beyond the surface, and in which cases, and to what extent. My guess is, Clark would say “always, and to the fullest extent.” Perhaps Van Til would say “never, not to any extent.” And I would say “sometimes, and to varying extents.” For me it’s all about balance. But I’ve gone completely off the subject now.

    Back to FV and Wilson, I guess I want to see Wilson’s supposed errors in his own words, in context, and with the pertinent terms defined. Until I see that, I can’t label him a heretic.

    Derek


  64. There is an obvious link of paedobapist ideas with the ideas mentioned by Wilson and other FV ers. The whole reason he speaks of baptism the way he does is because he has infant baptisms in view. These operate as an objective covenant. These children are in the covenant and Christians based on their being baptized. Adult and/or believers baptism don’t appear to operate the same way. But Wilson wants to be consistent in having all baptisms to operate the same way. Thus, for him, there are no nominal Christians. Christians are all those who have been baptized (in/by a real church), whether babies or adults.

    I’m not sure if this is the time or place to argue what is Reformed and/or the validity of paedobaptism. That certainlty wasn’t my intent. But Acts 2:38-40 certainly doesn’t teach an expectation of grace to children of believers. Each child of a believer simply may or may not be an elect, just like any patriarch. Nor is anyone’s child promised to be an elect who is in heaven because he/she died in infancy.

    Most of the spreading of the gospel has not been through it being passed down to the children of believers.


  65. Assuming that most if not all adults in a credobaptist church have been genuinely converted and regenerate/elect is as bad as assuming that all baptized infants have been regenerated, will be regenerated, or are elect. Baptism is a sign only. Baptism has absolutely nothing to do with regeneration unless and until there is true regeneration, faith, and conversion. Baptist churches have those who over time fall away from faith into apostasy and never return to faith or the church. I fail to see how you could “assume” that merely because someone makes a confession of faith and joins a Baptist church with water baptism that somehow they are “in”. This smacks of sacerdotalism every bit as serious as any Roman Catholic doctrine.

    The problem with Doug Wilson is his over emphasis on the church as an expression of God’s covenant. While he does answer the questions on justification and sanctification with orthodox answers, if you skip on down the list to the questions involving the visible and invisible church and his views on whether the Roman Catholic Church is legitimately part of the covenant you will notice immediately that he moves AWAY from Scripture and AWAY from true faith, election, and conversion to some outward covenant that means NOTHING. It is precisely on these points that Wilson reveals some of the hidden meanings of his answers in the soteriological sections. In fact, Wilson’s views emphasize a high view of the church and an almost sacerdotal view of the sacraments!

    While I am the first to defend the use of the 2 sacraments, I do not believe that the covenant is necessarily associated with the church either local or denominational. Rather the covenant is based on faith in the Gospel and is entirely of grace, not on outward signs associated with it.

    As I said, heretics are notoriously difficult to nail down because their purpose is to hide their true positions. While I would agree that Wilson “sounds” orthodox, knowing what I do about the Federal Vision teaching, I do not trust Wilson. He’s still suspect in my view.

    The purpose of baptizing infants is the same as baptizing “believing” adults. It is a pledge to teach them the Christian faith. But this does not guarantee that they will indeed grow up to profess the faith and believe it. But this can be said of “believer’s” baptism as well. There is no absolute guarantee against apostasy no matter what your view of baptism is. The problem with Wilson is he insists that the wicked church member is merely a disobedient Christian. I would say he or she is not a Christian is merely fooling themselves and everyone else around them. Wilson’s explanation of 2 kinds of Christians seems strained at best. It’s rather like straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.


  66. Patrick, infant baptism is the historic position of the Reformed tradition. So your point does not follow. It is a non sequitur. In fact, the Federal Vision view not only gets the infant baptism part wrong but adult baptism as well! Simply because someone is baptized does not make them a Christian except in name only. This would apply to unregenerate infants AND unregenerate adults. The purpose of baptism is not regeneration but rather an outward “preaching” of the Word which illustrates what the Bible teaches us in the Gospel. Without election, regeneration, effectual calling, faith, repentance, and conversion what you have is an empty sign, a false profession of Christian faith, and an apostate person who was never part of the church to begin with.

  67. Sean Gerety Says:

    Pat writes:

    “Paedobaptism confesses that all baptized children of confessing believers are in the covenant of grace. ”

    This is incorrect and probably the source of your confusion.

    LC Q31: With whom was the covenant of grace made?

    A31: The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.

    Anyway, the FVers have bastardized and corrupted every doctrine including baptism, but again I am only saying the problem is not with paedobaptism per se since, as Charlie rightly notes, paedobaptism is the Reformed position.


  68. Sean, don’t you affirm, along with all paedobaptists, that baptized children of believers are in the Covenant? I’ve never heard of any paedobaptist deny this. In fact, it provides the basis for the position. Even as it is said that all circumcised children in Israel were in the Covenant, including Ishmael.

    The fact that paedobaptism is pretty much the Reformed view does not mean it cannot be the source of the error. Again, it is clear that the FV ers pressed the paedobaptist position to and beyond its logical conclusion.


  69. Charlie, what point does not follow?

    Baptism is not the same for adults as it is for infants. Nor is it about committing to preaching the gospel to those being baptized ( “a pledge”). It is a sign of the Covenant; for adults, that they are actually believers.

    According to the PCA (and likely the OPC in principle) Book of Church Order, baptized children of believers are to be treated as Christians, not simply in name only. I believe that is what most paedobaptists think regarding their children.


  70. I make no assumptions about adults in a credobaptist church. I only say that we accept one another as believers on a credible confession and baptism which should go together. And I don’t think it is necessary that every church has some reprobate within it, though it is likely, especially in this day and age. A small church of say 10 could very well have all believers within it.


  71. Well, we accept children on the same basis. We instruct them in the faith and when they come to accept the Lord Jesus as their own we acknowledge and confirm them as full members of the church. It’s the same principle. So what are you complaining about? Why do Baptists somehow have the superiority when faith is the reigning principle, not church membership or baptism. Being a member of the church or covenant is meaningless without a “true and lively faith” as the 1662 Book of Common Prayer puts it. Regardless of when you were baptized or the mode, the bottomline is you must have a genuine born again experience with God and you must have true faith. Baptism without the inward grace preceding both faith AND baptism is just an empty sign.


  72. Baptism is the same for everyone who baptized. It is a token or sign of inward grace. Grace is not connected with the sign in any necessary way. So an infant can be baptized at infancy and be regenerated later as he or she is taught the Scriptures and the Gospel. 2 Timothy 3:15-17. Titus 3:5-7, etc. Believing is necessary either way and making an issue out of baptism shows an unhealthy sacerdotal emphasis rather than a true “union” with Christ in a born again relationship with Jesus Christ. Baptists place way too much emphasis on baptism and the mode of baptism, i.e., immersion. I once joined a Southern Baptist church and they insisted that I be re-baptized even though I had already had credo-baptism 2 times as a Pentecostal. I guess my first 2 confessions of faith and immersion weren’t good enough? If I was already a born again Christian, what is the point of having to have a 3rd believers’ baptism????

    It gets ridiculous after awhile. The point is Baptists emphasize immersion and believers’ baptism to the point of legalism and even an almost Roman Catholic sacerdotalism.


  73. Well, Baptists treat children as “innocent” until the age of accountablity. That is actually a pelagian idea since all are guilty of original sin which is imputed to all since Adam. And where is the idea of an “age of consent” in the Bible? I would love to see that one proved from Scripture.

    But yes, we do treat children as part of the covenant promises of salvation unless and until they prove otherwise. And they are taught that they need to repent of their sins continually and to continually follow Christ, pray, and read Scripture. Salvation is not always a “crisis” decision but a decision made to follow Christ. Even Baptists do this. I’ve seen Baptists baptize 6 year-olds. Most six year-olds are not that mature and understand little to nothing of the Bible. So what is your point?

    Most Reformed churches do not give children communion until they have been catechized in the basics of the law and gospel and have made confession of sin and a profession of faith. It’s called “confirmation” even though it is not a sacrament. It is simply confirming that their baptism is legitimate even if it took place in infancy. “Believing” is still a necessity regardless of whether you are Baptist, Presbyterian, or Anglican. Being baptized without a real and genuine faith manifesting at that point or later on is necessary. Regeneration may take place later in life so regeneration is not connected to baptism in any temporal way of necessity, though it can take place before baptism or after baptism.


  74. By that logic, Patrick, we should throw out baptism and the Lord’s supper because Roman Catholics have corrupted the ordinances into sacerdotalism. It does not follow that we are to get rid of a biblical command to baptize and to remember Christ in the supper simply because some have corrupted the biblical ordinances.


  75. You guys aren’t listening to what I’m saying. Look, some of what Wilson says is correct. There is an objectiveness to the Covenant and being a Christian without actually being regenerated and having faith when it comes to baptized children of confessing believers. So, stop the ranting against credobaptists, and deal with or acknowledge that problem.

    BTW, teaching an age of accountability has nothing with being Baptist, that is, credobaptist. And Baptists do not emphasize baptism (paedobaptists do in insisting that infants be baptized)nor claim any efficasy to the rite. It simply symoblizes regeneration, faith, etc., and it is how one gets initiated into the church.

  76. Sean Gerety Says:

    Pat, why don’t you learn what Reformed and Presbyterians believe about baptism first. You clearly don’t have a clue. There is not an “objectiveness to the Covenant” in the sense Wilson and you mean and all baptized, just like all circumcised in the OT, are not in the Covenant or part of the Covenant. For starters, please see The Biblical Covenant of Grace.

    John Robbins rightly argues

    …the Covenant promises of God are not to all the children of Abraham, but only to the children of promise… the Covenant of Grace is made by God the Father with Christ the Mediator, who, acting in the place of (as a substitute for) and on behalf of (as their legal representative), only the people the Father had given him, perfectly fulfills the terms of the Covenant and obtains complete salvation for his people….

    Admittedly if folks understood the biblical Covenant better they wouldn’t have been so easily fooled by Wilson’s so-called “visible” or “objective” covenant.

    As for the so-called “age of accountability” having nothing to do with Baptists, you must be joking. Among many others, Albert Mohler teaches an age of accountability and believes “those who die in infancy and early childhood — along with the severely cognitively impaired — go to heaven when they die…I most often speak of a point or capacity of moral accountability. At this point of moral development, the maturing child knows the difference between good and evil — and willingly chooses to sin.”

    Further, Steve Lemke, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics at the Baptist Theological Seminary in “What is a Baptist?” considers the age of accountability one of the central marks of a Baptist. He states: “By affirming the age of accountability, Baptists deny that children are guilty upon birth, and so deny infant baptism.”


  77. Sean, are not baptized children of believers in the Covenant? Are they not Christians?

    Just because Baptist believe a certain doctrine does not make that doctrine part and parcel of being a Baptist. Now, we were speaking of Baptist as referring/meaning credobaptist. That is, a Baptist primarily is one who believes in believers baptism only, as opposed to paedobaptism. So, I don’t care what prominent Baptists believe. It’s not what I believe, and to me, it has nothing to do with being a Baptist. Just as people speak of Presbyterians having certain beliefs. But presbyterianism is about church polity/government. So, I am presbyterian, for I affirm that as being the only Apostolic form of church government. Similarly, Anabaptists were given that label because they rebaptized those converted from the Catholic church who had been baptized as babies. Thus, I am an a Anabaptist, since I would not count any infant’s baptism as legitimate or proper.

  78. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sean, are not baptized children of believers in the Covenant? Are they not Christians?

    Pat, how many times and ways do I have to say the same thing? No, God did not make any covenant with all baptized children of believers. See the WLC above. Baptized infants of believers may be Christians and may be of God’s elect, but becoming a Christian is by being born again and believing the Gospel and that is a reality whether or not someone is able to profess their faith in terms that some Baptist minster would accept. P&R baptism rightly understood pictures election. Similarly for Baptists those who profess faith in Christ and His Gospel may be Christians and may be of God’s elect. You take them at their word. We take them at their parent’s word.

    In any case, I think Charlie did a good job of explaining the P&R position that you still fail to even acknowledge much less seem to grasp.

    So, I don’t care what prominent Baptists believe. It’s not what I believe, and to me, it has nothing to do with being a Baptist.

    Then you hardly speak for Baptists.

    You said “teaching an age of accountability has nothing with being Baptist,” but this is simply false as I’ve demonstrated. Further, I provided one of the central arguments why Baptists in general (you excepted) believe as they do. I admit Baptists are generally confused since, like you, they seem to believe that P&R folks baptize infants because we think baptism somehow unites infants to Christ, saves them, makes them Christians, or some other nonsense. At best it is a sign that reflects the spiritual reality. At the very least it is recognizing infants and children of believers as being part of the visible church. That doesn’t mean that they are necessary part of God’s chosen seed or members of the Covenant.

    Have you not read the WCF concerning Baptism specifically 28.5:

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

  79. Hugh Says:

    Could some of the confusion for Baptists also be found in this sort of language (esp. as it’s misunderstood and mis-taught by sacerdotalists, FV-ers, etc.?):

    WCF 27:3: “The grace which is exhibited in or by the sacraments rightly used, is not conferred by any power in them; neither does the efficacy of a sacrament depend upon the piety or intention of him that does administer it: but upon the work of the Spirit, and the word of institution, which contains, together with a precept authorizing the use thereof, a promise of benefit to worthy receivers.”

    This could easily been read to mean that the Spirit (w/ the instituting word), inevitably makes it happen.

    And here, I imagine, it gets REALLY dicey for Baptists:

    WCF 28:1: “Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church; but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of life.* Which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in His Church until the end of the world.”

    WCF 28:6: “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.”

    * IF he’s elect, of course (“such… as that grace belongs unto”).

    Yours,
    Hugh


  80. Sean, take a look at the PCA’s Book of Church Order. You will find that it refers to baptized children of believers as Christians. And again, I believe this is the common Reformed Church belief. And again, maybe there is some ambiguity to the language re children being in the church, but I have often heard it spoken that children of believers are in the Covenant. These are not things I made up or misinterpreted.


  81. What does age of accountability,children dying in infancy, no original guilt, have to do with Baptism? Being a Baptist has to do with a belief concerning baptism, just as being a Presbyterian has to do with believing that churches are to form presbyteries/councils rather than function independently. Sure, Presbyterian churches are all Reformed, and most Baptist churches are not. But you can’t redefine a named belief by other beliefs that are associated with it.

  82. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sean, take a look at the PCA’s Book of Church Order. You will find that it refers to baptized children of believers as Christians.

    Where does the BCO state that all baptized children of believers are Christians? How about a citation?

    It’s been awhile since I’ve read through the PCA’s BCO but even in the section explaining baptism it doesn’t make the kind of universal statement you suggest.

    Beyond that, I have no doubt that you have heard it spoken that children of believers are in the Covenant. It is presumed that they are, but they too need to be evangelized regardless. As the PCA’s BCO states:

    By virtue of being children of believing parents they are, because of God’s covenant ordinance, made members of the Church, but this is
    not sufficient to make them continue members of the Church. When they have reached the age of discretion, they become subject to obligations of the covenant: faith, repentance and obedience. They
    then make public confession of their faith in Christ, or become covenant breakers, and subject to the discipline of the Church.

    Again, there is considerable confusion in P&R circles concerning the covenant and FVer’s have capitalized on it. And, yes, FVer’s like Wilson contend that all baptized persons, infants or not, are Christians in his meaningless so-called “objective” sense. But, so what? Since he denies that there is such a thing as a nominal Christian he simply perverts the Reformed doctrine of baptism and comes up with his own. But what do you expect? Doug Wilson isn’t Reformed.

  83. Sean Gerety Says:

    What does age of accountability,children dying in infancy, no original guilt, have to do with Baptism?

    It’s just what most of those calling themselves Baptist and are part of Baptist denoms believe.


  84. Hmm, I’ve never heard a Reformed/Presyterian say (admit? ! :)) that P& R’s are confused about the Covenant. Nor have any problem with calling or counting their children Christians. I’ll try to find the reference and citation from the PCA’s BCO. I think it is in the Directory of Worship. Again, the reason Wilson denies the idea of nominal Christians is because it doesn’t apply to children of believers.

    I’ve never heard age of accountability and the like linked particularly to Baptists till today. I don’t know where Professor Lemske gets off in claiming that it is what it means to be a Baptist. Maybe he links Baptist with an Arminian or Amyraldian gospel. But this would mean that there is no such thing as Reformed Baptists. BTW, don’t many Reformed persons believe that infants of believers go to heaven if they die in infancy?


  85. Sean, you spoke of a presumption of children of believers being in the Covenant. This sounds similar to presumptive regeneration. And maybe calling them Christian is based on a presumption. I find this all quite absurd. We shouldn’t presume anything of our children. They simply may or may not be an elect, just as any child. Simply teach them the gospel, and if they believe it, baptize them and count them in the faith. Discipline them not as Christians, but as an erring sinful child, as any and every parent should.


  86. Patrick, you seem to have a double standard. You are willing to “presume” that all baptized members of the local church are Christians but not that baptized children are Christians unless and until they prove otherwise at the age of discretion. Even Baptists assume that children of Christian parents are not lost on some basis or other. Some will claim they have the promises of the covenant without baptism even. But either way, parents are responsible to teach their children the law and the gospel and to teach them to confess their sins and repent on a daily basis. Our children are baptized as part of the covenant promises to believers. That does not mean that they are all elect as some will commit apostasy and never return to the church or exercise genuine faith in Christ.

    While I would agree with your concerns for any sacerdotal interpretation of the sacraments, your concerns regarding conservative and evangelical reformed churches is misplaced. The Federal Vision heresy began from the New Perspectives on Paul theology which says that Paul didn’t have justiification right. Which led them to also redefine the purpose of the Gospel and the church and the sacraments.

    Perhaps you might profit from listening to some of the talks given on the New Perspectives on Paul at the Monergism.com site.


  87. Patrick, I would not say that the children of believers go to hell if they are unbaptized since baptism does not regenerate anyone in and of itself. Baptism is merely the outward and physical sign of the inward grace and the sign apart from the preaching of the Word is meaningless. This is why the parents and the church pledge to teach the baby the Gospel as he or she grows up. Thus, the baby may be regenerate but that is not certain until he or she owns the faith for himself or herself. This can only happen for the elect and only the elect are irresistibly drawn to faith. God can and does work apart from the sacrament of baptism. However, that is not what is commanded in Scripture. We are told that we must be baptized. And children are part of the covenant just as in the OT children were circumcized as a sign of the covenant. But a true Hebrew is to be circumcized in the heart! Having the outward sign without the inward circumcision leaves you with an empty sign. That is true of adults as well as children, btw. Not every baptized adult will persevere to the end! Only the elect persevere. And remember election is unconditionally granted to the elect before they are born. The decree is given before creation in temporal order but in the logical order in God’s mind the decree for election occurs after the fall.

    How can a sovereign God fail to save His elect? So having the sign of the covenant does not guarantee election or regeneration just as being a member of OT Israel did not make all Israel of Israel. But God does retain a remnant.

    One could liken that to church membership in various denominations. Being a member of a church does not make you a Christian. Having been born again of the Spirit makes you a Christian. We have the covenant promises given to us in visible form through the covenant with the church and in the sacraments. But none of that is effectual; it is only presumed on account of what we are outwardly promised in the Gospel. What IS effectual is the Spirit of God working in whom He wills to work, regenerating, renewing, bringing to faith and repentance, justification, adoption, and sanctification.

    The short answer here is obvious. Being a Baptist does not guarantee you’re saved. Neither does being a Presbyterian or an Anglican. But we by faith presume such is the case if the person has an orthodox understanding of the essentials of the Gospel and has a genuine conversion experience. And, like Baptists, we assume the children of Christians will be saved unless and until otherwise. Those who die in infancy are saved because of God’s promises to His believing people. Those who continue to live we assume will become believers, just as Baptists do. Baptism is merely the outward sign of this promise. Now, whether or not that turns out to be true depends on whether the child is elect. Perhaps he or she was baptized in infancy, departs from the faith and church for decades only to return later. At that point they are regenerated. Others are regenerated in infancy and become believers from the age of discretion when they are able to own the faith for themselves and then they actually persevere to the end never leaving the faith and believing it for themselves.

    This is the biblical faith. There is no power in the sign itself. The power is in God and the instrument is faith and even faith is a gift.


  88. The real issue is genuine regeneration, not when you’re baptized or the mode of your baptism.


  89. Charlie, you’ve completely misunderstood me. I’ve never said or suggested that I would presume that all baptized members are Christians.

    And whether a child of a believer is not lost depends on whether he/she is an elect. We simply do not know and shouldn’t presume one way or another.

    I don’t think it is entirely clear how the FV started. But I don’t think it can be denied that much of it has to do with issues regarding children of believers, such as paedocommunion. Viewing it in this light helps to understand where I think Wilson is coming from. Again, maybe he simply overpressed paedocommunion.

  90. Hugh Says:

    Under the First Main Point of Doctrine in the Canons of Dordt (“Divine Election and Reprobation”):

    Article 17: The Salvation of the Infants of Believers

    Since we must make judgments about God’s will from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature but by virtue of the gracious covenant in which they together with their parents are included, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in infancy.

    Yours,
    Hugh

  91. lawyertheologian Says:

    I find that statement from Article 17 of the Canons of Dordt to be utterly absurd. There is simply no biblical basis/warrant for having any assurance that our children are elect and called/regenerated from infancy.

  92. Sean Gerety Says:

    Just so everyone knows, “lawyertheogian” is Patrick.

  93. Hugh Says:

    No doubt the Dordtians were looking to I Cor 7:14 (where it says the unbelieving spouse is made holy because of the believing spouse; “…Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy”), and the benevolence of God toward his children (and possibly his children’s children: Ps 103:17, Ez 37:25, Mt 18:10 in situ).

    The Baptists MacArthur* and Spurgeon** believed not in infant innocence, but in the election in Christ of all infants and mentally disabled folk who perish.

    Why should grieving Christian parents doubt God’s love toward their deceased infants? Cf. David and his dead bastard son, II Sam 12:23.

    Of course, God is utterly just, and whom he damns is up to him. We all agree that no one is innocent, but all are stained with Adam’s sin, and condemned under the law.

    Hugh

    * John MacArthur yesterday began a radio teaching on the election of deceased infants. It is no doubt downloadable from GraceToYou.

    ** http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0411.htm

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


  94. Election takes place in eternity before creation. The fact that God elects prior to birth is a sign that God is sovereign in election and regeneration and He will accomplish His will in due time. Christian children have an advantage over others because they are actually to be taught the Gospel from an early age. Thus, to say that they do not receive the promises of the covenant is to misunderstand the covenant. Not all will fulfill the covenant as Sean said. They become covenant breakers. But that does not remove the “promises” of the covenant to those who believe. Therefore, assuming that infants of Christian parents are Christian and part of the covenant until they prove otherwise is no different from assuming adult members of a Baptist church are regenerate Christians until they prove otherwise. And even Baptists assume that young children are guilty of sin but elect on the basis of the atonement of Christ if they die before they are able to make a credible confession of faith for themselves.

    As I said, Patrick, you’re making too much out of infant baptism. It is merely a “sign” of the covenant and in and of itself conveys no grace. It only conveys grace if in fact the grace is given. It is not given in any, all or every circumstance. That is in the hands of God in sovereign election and regeneration. God is not bound to operate always in the sacrament of baptism. He can and does work outside the sacraments. But those are exceptions and not the norm. The Scriptures are normative when they command us to baptize and to take the Lord’s Supper.

    It seems to me that Baptists have a higher view of baptism than Presbyterians since one cannot even JOIN a Baptist church without being rebaptized. This smacks of sacerdotalism to say the least. And even more to the point, I was asked to be rebaptized even though I was baptized as an adult believer and by the mode of immersion. How many times does it take????

    Charlie

  95. lawyertheologian Says:

    The Bible nowhere teaches that infants and mentally disabled folk are elected by God for salvation. It may be nice to think so, and comfort ourselves and others by this idea, but again, God has not indicated such. David’s claim was simply that his son could not return to him, but he would go to him, i.e., where the dead are. Unless David had some direct revelation from God on the matter, he also would have had no basis for thinking his bastard son was definitely an elect.

  96. Hugh Says:

    “Christian children have an advantage over others because THEY ARE ACTUALLY TO BE TAUGHT THE GOSPEL FROM AN EARLY AGE.” Emphasis added.

    Amen. And does not the gospel contain the proposition that God love his elect? Too often we neglect this.

    The gospel is objective, external, monergistic, and certain.*

    If God loves mommy or daddy or both, is it absurd to think he loves junior, too? Repentance and faith are still enjoined, but BECAUSE we believe God loves the covenant child, not in order TO GAIN his love, regeneration, election, etc.

    Hugh

    * Man’s perversions (whether Romish, FV, or Arminian) are subjective, internal, synergistic, and uncertain.

  97. lawyertheologian Says:

    “If God loves mommy or daddy or both, is it absurd to think he loves junior, too?”

    God loves whom he chooses to love.

    “but BECAUSE we believe God loves the covenant child”

    Is the child in the Covenant? Either he is or isn’t. Either he is an elect or not. Either he is loved by God or not. “Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated.” Presuming or wishing doesn’t make it so. God’s love is fixed before the child was born or conceived.


  98. Patrick,

    Well, I might agree that there is no “absolute” assurance that infants of unbelievers and the mentally disabled are elect, but I disagree that the children of believers have no promise of salvation given to them. Even Baptists in general believe that their children will be saved if they die before the “age of accountability.” So in your case you are arguing that the children of Baptists who die before coming to a personal faith in Christ are in an uncertain spiritual condition and might even be reprobate and lost for eternity?

    Interesting. At least you’re trying to be consistent. But at what cost? It seems to me you’re still struggling to put the emphasis on baptism rather than grace, election, covenant faithfulness, etc.

    Charlie

  99. Hugh Says:

    Practical Theology: May we tell our children that God loves them?

    Or, “I cannot promise you God’s electing love. But you may be elect; if you repent and believe the gospel, you will be saved, and thereby prove your calling and election. This will not GET you God’s love, election, etc., but would be proof of your election, etc.”?

    Hugh


  100. Patrick, we do not know God’s decrees to election and reprobation. No one disputes that. Deuteronomy 29:29 says: The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. ESV.

    We can only operate on what God reveals to us in Holy Scripture, which contains both law and Gospel. God promises salvation to those who believe and any unhealthy focus on God’s secret decrees is misplaced and anyone excusing unbelief on the basis of God’s decrees is misguided. Unbelief is always man’s responsibilty. In the same way, salvation is promised to the children of believers who are then taught the Gospel and taught to repent of their sins. They are made holy by the covenant until such time that they break that covenant by rebelling against God.

  101. Hugh Says:

    Nice quote, Charlie!

    I missed that one earlier: “the things that are revealed belong to us AND TO OUR CHILDREN FOREVER…”

    Glory!

    Hugh

  102. lawyertheologian Says:

    “Practical Theology: May we tell our children that God loves them?”

    No. We do not know that God loves them. This is no different than telling someone “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”

    “Or, “I cannot promise you God’s electing love. But you may be elect; if you repent and believe the gospel, you will be saved, and thereby prove your calling and election. This will not GET you God’s love, election, etc., but would be proof of your election, etc.”?”

    That is true of any individual.

  103. lawyertheologian Says:

    “In the same way, salvation is promised to the children of believers who are then taught the Gospel and taught to repent of their sins. ”

    Again, salvation is promised to anyone who believes the gospel, not just children of believers. Yes, children of believers have greater benefits, such as having the Scriptures and the gospel taught to them from birth. But children of believers cannot break a Covenant that they were made a part of; that is, not being an elect, they were not actually IN the Covenant.

  104. lawyertheologian Says:

    “So in your case you are arguing that the children of Baptists who die before coming to a personal faith in Christ are in an uncertain spiritual condition and might even be reprobate and lost for eternity?”

    Everyone is either an elect or reprobate from eternity. Thus, their condition. or rather their position is certain. But we simply don’t know a baby’s position.

    I am not struggling to put an emphasis on baptism. Again, as I’ve said, it is a credible confession of faith that provides the basis of acceptance of another as an elect of God. Baptism is the sign of such faith which is used as an initiatory rite into membership of the church.

  105. lawyertheologian Says:

    David McKinney, editor of the Presbyterian Banner of Pittsburgh, during the time the OPC was considering a Proposed Revision of the Book of Discipline of 1858 said that we are to

    “teach our children that they are Christians, educate them as Christians, and treat them as Christians,” in the confidence that God would in fact give them the grace promised in their baptism.


  106. Patrick, your quote from David McKinney is spot on. However, what you are not understanding is that being in the external covenant is no guarantee of election or regeneration. Those are sovereign gifts of God. The covenant is an external covenant made through the signs of baptism and the Lord’s supper. Outward membership in the church is likewise no guarantee of election though we assume that members are elect until they prove otherwise.

    WCF, Chapter 7. Section 3:

    Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, (Gal. 3:21, Rom. 8:3, Rom. 3:20–21, Gen. 3:15, Isa. 42:6) commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein He freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved, (Mark 16:15–16, John 3:16, Rom. 10:6–9, Gal. 3:11) and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life His Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe. (Ezek. 36:26–27, John 6:44–45)

    The Westminster confession of faith : An authentic modern version. 1985 (Rev. EPC ed.). Signal Mountain, TN: Summertown Texts.

    Notice that it says, God requires “of them faith in Him, that they may be saved.” The covenant has conditions even if election is unconditional. God has appointed the means of saving the elect and those means are Word and sacrament. The preaching of the Word is both in the sermon and in outward signs of water in baptism and bread and wine in the Lord’s supper. This are physical object lessions to help us understand in a tangible way what is going on in the spirit through faith. We eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ only in a spiritual and heavenly manner by faith. Children do not take communion until they are able to exercise faith because it is only to be taken by those who understand what it means. However, children are still part of the covenant by the faith exercised on their behalf by their parents and the church until they are able to own it for themselves. If they break covenant, then they are not members of the church nor do they receive the promises unless they repent.

    The problem with Doug Wilson’s view is that he wants to treat errant adults as if they were children. In other words, he wants to treat all as Christians even if they have no faith. This is sacerdotalism. If you will read his answers in the written examination carefully you will notice that he gives solid answers on justification by faith, etc. The problems start to appear later in the interview. Instead of distinguishing between the visible and invisible church, Wilson wants to distinguish between Christians who are believers and Christians who are not believers and not acting like the Christians they are. This is not the Reformed teaching.


  107. Doug Wilson’s examination: 23.How does eschatology shape your understanding of justification? Are there past,
    present, future aspects of justification? “When we are talking about the theological
    justification of an individual sinner, we are talking about a punctiliar event in the life of
    that individual. But this is a particular stipulated (theological) definition of the word
    justification. If we want to talk about justification more broadly, we would have to include
    the demonstrative sense that James uses, the justification of Jesus in His resurrection,
    the apostates falling away from the “way of righteousness,” and so on. I believe that
    Christ’s resurrection was His vindication, His justification. I believe that we will have
    such a vindication in our resurrection, and that a biblical way of describing this would be
    to say that it will be our justification, our manifestation as the sons of God. But this use
    of the word, while not disconnected from individual justification, is certainly to be
    distinguished from it.” [From: http://www.christkirk.com/DougWilsonCREC/WilsonExamAnswers.pdf%5D.

    Notice the equivocation here. He’s not willing to say that in the judgment we will be vindicated by the imputed righteousness of Christ BUT that our justification is like Christ’s righteousness and we will be vindicated like Christ was vindicated at the resurrection. In other words, Wilson is equivocating. He agrees with the WCF on justification as a “punctiliar” event at a point in time BUT it is “more” than that, according to Wilson. Read the entire document and you will see other places where he fudges and equivocates. The heretics are always as slippery as eels. Wilson wants to define individual justification as punctiliar and eschatological justification as our own vindication “like” that of Jesus. In other words, in the judgment our works justify us. This denies justification by faith alone no matter how you slice it! I hope and pray that this is NOT Piper’s view as well???

    Also, I read somewhere else that Wilson might be a reconstructionist? If so, that is part of the reason he’s buying into works. Most theonomists and reconstructionists have no clue about the distinction between law and gospel or the tradition three uses of the law.

  108. Sean Gerety Says:

    If God loves mommy or daddy or both, is it absurd to think he loves junior, too? Repentance and faith are still enjoined, but BECAUSE we believe God loves the covenant child, not in order TO GAIN his love, regeneration, election, etc.

    Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED.”

  109. Sean Gerety Says:

    Wilson wants to define individual justification as punctiliar and eschatological justification as our own vindication “like” that of Jesus. In other words, in the judgment our works justify us. This denies justification by faith alone no matter how you slice it!

    Bingo! I hope this answers Derek’s question.

  110. lawyertheologian Says:

    “Patrick, your quote from David McKinney is spot on. However, what you are not understanding is that being in the external covenant is no guarantee of election or regeneration. Those are sovereign gifts of God. The covenant is an external covenant made through the signs of baptism and the Lord’s supper.”

    So, you are saying, that for believers, and for children of believers, they are both in the external covenant of grace by means of the sacrament of Baptism, though neither may actually be recipients of the covenant of grace? But there certainly is a greater basis for thinking that confessing believers are recipients of the covenant of grace. And “Christians” is a term normally meant to mean follower of Christ, a believer, a disciple of Christ. BTW, it seems to me that what the WCF says is that faith is the means of entering into the covenant of grace. That is, faith evidences that we are recipients of the covenant of grace, that we are one for whom Christ died. You seem to acknowledge this also, but then when it comes to children, the parent’s faith is deemed sufficient for them. But this won’t do; since the parents’ faith cannot evidence anything regarding the child being an elect.


  111. Sean said, “OTOH, I’m not a fan of Piper at all and never was. Future Grace was a horrible tome and I think John Robbins review of the book linked above, which got the ire up of countless Piperites when the review was first published, was guilty of understatement. Desiring God, which was the favorite book of a former pastor of mine, while it had its moments, crashed on your beloved incoherence over the imagined desire of God for the salvation of all. In my naivety, since it was quite a long time ago, I even wrote a long letter to Piper (I still have it) thinking that surely he must see that he was mistaken. LOL! He responded with what I think was a two line letter saying we will have to agree to disagree. I’ve since learned better.”

    Well, that is an excellent point, Sean. In fact, I’ve been asking that same question for a long time now. How can so-called “Reformed” people with a straight face say that God “desires” the salvation of all while knowing that He WILL NOT save all? In fact, God does not have two wills. He has one will with two decrees. One decree is election and the other is reprobation. This is the great error of Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck in teaching the three points of common grace, which are not found in Scripture, the Canons of Dort, or Calvin. Nor is it found in any of the other Protestant Reformers. It isn’t even found in Luther! Any decent read of The Bondage of the Will proves this.

  112. Pat Says:

    Is Piper’s view of God’s desire for the salvation of all in “Desiring God?” I know he doesn’t quote 1 Tim.2:4 in the book.


  113. Patrick said, “So, you are saying, that for believers, and for children of believers, they are both in the external covenant of grace by means of the sacrament of Baptism, though neither may actually be recipients of the covenant of grace? But there certainly is a greater basis for thinking that confessing believers are recipients of the covenant of grace.”

    I think Calvin answers this question for you, Patrick. In dealing with the second commandment Calvin deals with the blessings and the curses for breaking covenant.

    Exodus 20:4-6 (ESV)
    4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

    Calvin specifically addresses the covenant of grace or covenant of mercy here:

    Institutes II.7.19-21

    We must therefore understand it to mean, that a curse from the Lord righteously falls not only on the head of the guilty individual, but also on all his lineage. When it has fallen, what can be anticipated but that the father, being deprived of the Spirit of God, will live most flagitiously; that the son, being in like manner forsaken of the Lord, because of his father’s iniquity, will follow the same road to destruction; and be followed in his turn by succeeding generations, forming a seed of evil-doers?
    20. First, let us examine whether such punishment is inconsistent with the divine justice. If human nature is universally condemned, those on whom the Lord does not bestow the communication of his grace must be doomed to destruction; nevertheless, they perish by their own iniquity, not by unjust hatred on the part of God. There is no room to expostulate, and ask why the grace of God does not forward their salvation as it does that of others. Therefore, when God punishes the wicked and flagitious for their crimes, by depriving their families of his grace for many generations, who will dare to bring a charge against him for this most righteous vengeance? But it will be said, the Lord, on the contrary, declares, that the son shall not suffer for the father’s sin (Ezek. 18:20). Observe the scope of that passage. The Israelites, after being subjected to a long period of uninterrupted calamities, had begun to say, as a proverb, that their fathers had eaten the sour grape, and thus set the children’s teeth on edge; meaning that they, though in themselves righteous and innocent, were paying the penalty of sins committed by their parents, and this more from the implacable anger than the duly tempered severity of God. The prophet declares it was not so: that they were punished for their own wickedness; that it was not in accordance with the justice of God that a righteous son should suffer for the iniquity of a wicked father; and that nothing of the kind was exemplified in what they suffered. For, if the visitation of which we now speak is accomplished when God withdraws from the children of the wicked the light of his truth and the other helps to salvation, the only way in which they are accursed for their fathers’ wickedness is in being blinded and abandoned by God, and so left to walk in their parents’ steps. The misery which they suffer in time, and the destruction to which they are finally doomed, are thus punishments inflicted by divine justice, not for the sins of others, but for their own iniquity.
    21. On the other hand, there is a promise of mercy to thousands—a promise which is frequently mentioned in Scripture, and forms an article in the solemn covenant made with the Church—I will be “a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee,” (Gen. 17:7). With reference to this, Solomon says, “The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him,” (Prov. 20:7); not only in consequence of a religious education (though this certainly is by no means unimportant), but in consequence of the blessing promised in the covenant—viz. that the divine favour will dwell for ever in the families of the righteous. Herein is excellent consolation to believers, and great ground of terror to the wicked; for if, after death, the mere remembrance of righteousness and iniquity have such an influence on the divine procedure, that his blessing rests on the posterity of the righteous, and his curse on the posterity of the wicked, much more must it rest on the heads of the individuals themselves. Notwithstanding of this, however, the offspring of the wicked sometimes amends, while that of believers degenerates; because the Almighty has not here laid down an inflexible rule which might derogate from his free election. For the consolation of the righteous, and the dismay of the sinner, it is enough that the threatening itself is not vain or nugatory, although it does not always take effect.

    Calvin, J., & Beveridge, H. (1996). Institutes of the Christian religion (electronic ed.) (II, viii, 19). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.

    In other words, God insures the covenant promises for the elect but the external covenant does nothing for the wicked. God never breaks covenant with His elect! But the reprobate and and do break covenant and bring curses upon their posterity up to three or four generations or even beyond. Yet, Calvin says even this is not a hard and fast rule since God’s election is free election and of God’s own sovereign will. Simply because there is an outward and external sign or covenant does not make God bound to save all who profess to be part of the covenant community since obviously not all continue in covenant. God keeps covenant with the elect by giving them the grace to keep the covenant from their side. Those who are reprobate are not recipients of the covenant promises or the grace to prevent them from breaking covenant. As Calvin puts it: Notwithstanding of this, however, the offspring of the wicked sometimes amends, while that of believers degenerates; because the Almighty has not here laid down an inflexible rule which might derogate from his free election. Book II.7.21

    We assume all to be part of the covenant based on God’s promises knowing all the while that not all will persevere in covenant. This is sovereign election. And as Calvin points out, the covenant promises are to all believers AND their children, showing mercy to thousands! God is not strictly bound to this external covenant but only to the covenant with His elect, which is in fact part of His secret will. As Paul puts it, not all Israel is really Israel.

    Romans 9:6 (ESV)
    6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,

    So God never breaks His covenant. But He does sometimes allow the children of believers to break covenant because God is not strictly bound to elect all. In general, though God does elect the children of believers who have an advantage as even Calvin acknowledges:

    With reference to this, Solomon says, “The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him,” (Prov. 20:7); not only in consequence of a religious education (though this certainly is by no means unimportant), but in consequence of the blessing promised in the covenant—viz. that the divine favour will dwell for ever in the families of the righteous. Herein is excellent consolation to believers, and great ground of terror to the wicked;

    So understanding election in terms of God’s covenant promises to believers AND to their progeny is a biblical doctrine. Of course, we are not saved by pedegree but by unconditional election, regeneration, and effectual calling. EACH INDIVIDUAL is still responsible for his or her own choices EVEN if they are recipients of the curse being passed on to them by their sinful and reprobate parents. It goes without saying, that according to Calvin, even the children of the elect are responsible to choose to keep the covenant with God.

    Hope this helps, Patrick.


  114. That should have been referenced to Institutes Book II.8.19-21. Sorry.


  115. Sean, I don’t know how I missed your comment above: “The FV is damnable stuff. Interestingly, while Wright’s NPP is another cleverly dressed up outright denial of the Gospel, and in spite of Piper’s refutation of Wright’s position, Piper doesn’t think Wright is advancing another gospel either. I sometimes wonder if the only antichrist men like Piper could identify and mark is if he wore a Miter, a papal stole, and people were lining up to kiss his …., er, ring. My guess is even Rome doesn’t teach another gospel in Piper’s confused mind. I suppose if you’re systematically dedicated to paradox as Piper seems to be, perhaps even Pope Benny and Mother T can be considered brothers and sisters in Christ too. +8-0″

    I cracked up when I read this! I am continually dealing with this sort of stupidity and equivocation in Anglian circles. Even so-called “Evangelical” Anglicans will say that Anglo-Catholics who are “conservative” on moral issues like homosexuality and holding to a prima scriptura as opposed to a sola scriptura position on Scriptural authority are somehow “Christian” and, by implication, “saved”–even if they outright deny all five of the solas of the Reformation!

  116. Pat Says:

    “So understanding election in terms of God’s covenant promises to believers AND to their progeny is a biblical doctrine.”

    That hasn’t been demonstated. Nor that the covenant of grace is an external covenant, similar to or corresponding to the covenant of circumcision. The fact that I believe the gospel and have been baptized has nothing to do with whether I am in, I am a recipient of the covenant of grace, other than evidencing that I am one who has been eternally in the Covenant. For it is the elect qua elect not as believers that God’s Covenant runs to. “The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.”


  117. Patrick, Exodus 20:4-6 proves that the children of believers are part of the covenant promises. I suggest that you go back and actually read what I quoted from Calvin. Even Calvin says this is not hard and fast but up to God’s free election. He can and does sometimes elect the children of the reprobate AND He can and does sometimes reprobate the children of believers. This is not the general rule, however. God does promise to save the children of believers and He does so most of the time. But this is no absolute guarantee as Calvin points out. It is God’s sovereign will:

    Romans 9:15-18 (ESV)

    15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    [1]
    [1] The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

  118. Pat Says:

    Maybe Piper is overly cautious about calling individuals heretics, or claim that they are preaching a false gospel. But then again, maybe N.T. Wright’s teaching regarding justification does not amount to another gospel. For his claim is that justification is not the gospel (what is the gospel then), but a mark of who is in the kingdom. His actual claim of what the gospel is somewhat nebulous: Christ’s victory over Satan, sin, and death. Anyway, Piper does say that “his [Wright's] portrayal of the gospel-and of the doctrine of justification in particular-is so disfigured that it becomes difficult to recognize as biblically faithful.”


  119. Piper is obviously siding with heretics and is afraid to condemn those who deny that justification by faith alone IS the doctrine by which the church stands for falls. An individual, local congregation, or denomination who does not get this right deserves anathema and shunning by all who claim to believe the Gospel and the doctrines of grace. In fact, I’m somewhat of a radical since I believe the so-called “orthodox” Anglo-Catholics in the new Anglican Church in North America are all antichrists. That would include the new “archbishop”, Robert Duncan. The Presbyterians have the Federal Vision and the Theonomy/Reconstructionist heresies. Anglicans have several others: Anglo-Catholicism, Arminianism, Amyraldianism, New Perspectives on Paul, theological liberalism, Open Evangelicalism, etc. Even J. I. Packer, who should know better, being a “Reformed” Anglican, is in cahoots with Anglo-Catholics and even signed that silly document, Evangelicals and Catholics Together. How in the world one can sit at table with antichristian advocates of a false gospel of merits and idolatry I have no idea.

    Well, I sort of have an idea. Piper is a charismatic. Which has its rotten roots in the wesleyan holiness and arminianism of the pentecostals. What would one expect other than to confuse sanctification with justification?

    I think Whitefield saw the danger of this early on.

  120. Pat Says:

    Charlie, Ex.20:4-6 proves no such thing. That is speaking of the covenant of circumcision. That was an external covenant, and all Jewish men were circumcised into this covenant. But it did not make any of them to be in the covenant of grace. I’ve read what you quoted from Calvin also, and I don’t find it relevant.

    In no way has God promised to save the children of believers. In fact, to say He does so most of the time is suggest that He doesn’t alway fulfill His promise, unless you mean that He promised to save at least some of the children of believers. But again, I know of no Scripture that says so; in fact it is contradicted by the passage you quoted: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” God’s choice may be to choose more from among unbelievers children than believers. We simply do not know what God’s choice is. A believer can have a dozen children and hundreds and thousands of descendents without one being an elect of God.

  121. Pat Says:

    Really Piper is a charismatic? He does not confuse justification with sanctification.


  122. Patrick, I have not said that Piper confuses justification with sanctification. What I did say is that Piper confusing justification by faith alone with the “confirmation” of our justification in the last judgment. Either we are justified or we are not. If we are justified then it is already confirmed by our conversion and our faith and it is a free gift. Sanctification does not confirm or add to justification. It is merely a testimony other men that we are indeed Christians.


  123. Patrick, it is becoming increasingly obvious that you do not understand Reformed theology. First of all, the Old Testament “church” is the nation of Israel. The giving of the law is not the establishment of a covenant of works, for that is the covenant with Adam. Rather, the covenant of grace exists in the OT and the giving of the law is an act of grace because it lays out the conditions of God’s covenant upon Israel and God promises to keep covenant with Israel even if Israel does not keep covenant. I.e., God will always keep a remnant, keep a descendant of David on the throne, etc., etc. Exodus 20:1-21 is the giving of the ten commandments and says nothing about circumcision. However, you are correct that the church in the OT is Israel and the sign of the covenant was indeed the outward sign of circumcision. The NT church is the new Israel and the new sign of the covenant is water baptism. Just as the infants of the OT church were circumcised, so in the Testament infants are baptized. In the OT, infants were born into the nation of Israel, the assembly of God’s chosen people. The same is true today though not all members of the visible church are members of the invisible church, the communion of saints.

  124. pat Says:

    “Patrick, I have not said that Piper confuses justification with sanctification.”

    Well, you did say “What would one expect other than to confuse sanctification with justification?” And “Piper is a charismatic” which does not seem to be true. But anyways, maybe it does seem that “Piper confusing justification by faith alone with the “confirmation” of our justification in the last judgment.” But ” It is merely a testimony other men that we are indeed Christians.” Maybe it’s a subtle distinction, but being Christians is a matter of being justified.

    Reformed theology is primarily about the doctrines of grace, the sovereignty of God and Predestination. But Covenantalism, as opposed to Dispensationalism, is also central to Reformed theology, and I affirm that also. But in stressing the continuity of the Old and New Testament, versus the discontinuity per Dispensationalism, Reformed theology I believe sometimes goes to far. No, I don’t accept as Isreal as the Church, but a picture of the Church. The Church existed in the OT for there was always a people of God, though they themselves did not always feel there were others at the time of like precious faith (as in Elijah).

    I do understand Reformed theology, and would not confuse the Covenant of works with the giving of the law (though the law is a matter of works-do this and live). Circumcision however did take on a different role/significance under the law.

    That it is theoretically possible and even likely that not all in the visible church at any time are also in the invisible church, that is a far cry from the fact that Israel for the most part was a rebellious stiffnecked people, acknowledging God with their lips (though not necessarily a credible faith- at best no different than religious people today claiming to be Christians) but their hearts far from God. It is hard to conceive of a true church ever being marked by non Christian belief and practice. For the true Church would separate themselves from such men.


  125. Article VII
    Of the Old Testament
    The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore they are not to be heard which feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet, notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.

    Article VII of the 39 Articles of Religion.

    Patrick, the duty of Christians to follow the moral law is not removed. However, it is not and never will be the basis for justification. However, the giving of the moral law in the 10 commandments are still conditions for the covenant of grace in the OT. Children are included in that covenant on the basis of circumcision. The NT covenant is signed by baptism of infants.

    Whether you want to accept it or not that is Reformed theology. Reformed Baptists are Anabaptist on the point of baptism. In fact, credobaptism is not now nor was it ever the position of the magisterial Reformers and for good reason: it is not supported by either Scripture OR the church fathers. In short, it was not the position of the church until the radical Zwinglians went Anabaptist. Zwingli himself never rejected infant baptism, though he did move in that direction at first.

    So, to be consistently Reformed, you will need to reject the Anabaptist aspects. Scripture teaches that election is the basis of the covenant, not your faith. Why? Because faith is a result of election and not the other way around!

    Read the passage and Scripture references from Calvin again. Book II.8.19-21…

  126. pat Says:

    Charlie, what you are saying is not at all cogent. You have not shown that there are conditions to the Covenant of grace and that children of believers are in it on the basis of the parent’s faith. Again, election and election alone makes one in the covenant of grace. And again, accepting one as a Christian, as a believer, as one who has been regenerated, as an elect, is based on a credible confession of the faith. Calling a baby of a believer a Christian is utterly absurd. We have no basis for thinking the baby is a Christian, is an elect, is regenerated, is a believer.

    And it doesn’t matter to me what was the position of the magisterial Reformers. One’s view on Bapism is not integral to Reformed theology, nor is credobaptsim inconsistent with Reformed theology. Besides, more importantly paedobaptism is not biblical, nor does it even have early NT Apostolic practice. The Anabaptist, for all there other erroneous teachings got that right. It was the rest of the Reformers who introduced a new teaching.

    You can go read Calvin some more. On this issue, Calvin and I part company. Remember, Calvin’s big issue with the Anabaptists was that they didn’t count RC baptisms as legitimate.


  127. Patrick, you have clearly ignored the vast amount of Scriptural evidence in both the OT AND the NT that the children of believers ARE promised salvation. We call them Christians by faith because they are our children and ARE promised mercy. What is more, this plays out in experience! God DOES bless the children of believers with faith in most cases. As Calvin says, this is not always true since God’s election is unconditionally given by His sovereign choice. There are always exceptions to the general or normal way God works. God can and does reprobate the children of believers but that is not what the promises say. We believe the promises until proven otherwise!

    But then, that is true of adult believers as well. Many who “appear” to be elect and who for a time persevere in good works and sanctification in the end depart from the faith and the church never to return. Baptized infants are no different. They will either keep the faith and the covenant or leave the church. In general, it seems that they DO grow up to repent of their sins and have true faith. WHO are you to judge another servant of the Lord?

    Baptism is NOT the means of saving ANYONE. It is and ever will be ONLY a sign. God saves His elect regardless of the signs. So if someone is baptized as an infant EVEN in the Roman Catholic Church, as long as it is done by the biblical formula, it is an acceptable baptism if and when that person comes to true faith and wishes to join a Bible believing and Reformed church. There is no need to be rebaptized as a believer BECAUSE baptism has NO POWER TO SAVE. Hello! Believing is what saves the lost sinner, not credo-baptism and not infant baptism.

    Faith alone saves ANYONE who is saved REGARDLESS of when or where or MODE of baptism. In other words, you don’t need to be DUNKED. Walking the aisle won’t save you either. You can shake the preacher’s hand and still bust hell wide open. It is grace alone that saves anyone!

    Baptism can arguably be dispensed with if it is impossible to administer it in certain circumstances. But this is not normative nor should baptism be ignored.

    Charlie

  128. Hugh Says:

    Charlie,

    As you prolly know (AYPK), many of us Reformed folk (paedo & credo) do NOT regard the Romish baptism as valid.

    Since Luther & Calvin’s day, we’ve seen Trent & 2 Vaticans enshrine as dogma numerous heresies (esp. re: their lady & pope) that put the Roman religious system outside of Christendom.

    See the Trinity Foundation’s republication of J.H. Thornwell’s *Sacramental Sorcery.* This dismantles the weak arguments of those promoting Rome as a true church.

    Robbins’ forward to this tome is at http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/260.pdf .

    Yours,
    Hugh


  129. I haven’t ignored anything Charlie. There simply is no such promise. In fact, to describe a promise as general makes no sense. For you have God promising to give salvation/mercy to your children, but not actually promising to give it to any of your children, or even descendents for that matter. God may have chosen to save/elect your first child, but you don’t know any more than that God has chosen to elect/save a child of a reprobate. Either God has promised to give ALL of our children mercy/salvation or none at all.

    Baptized infants are clearly different from confessing believers. They haven’t confessed anything. We have a rational basis for thinking that one who makes a credible confession of faith has been born again and is among the elect, because they appeaar to be of the like precious faith. Again, disciple of Christ, Christian, believer are all terms in the NT for those who actually confess the faith. At least Sean appears to acknowledge such.

    BTW, no one is arguing that baptism saves a person.

  130. Sean Gerety Says:

    Those who are reprobate are not recipients of the covenant promises or the grace to prevent them from breaking covenant. As Calvin puts it: Notwithstanding of this, however, the offspring of the wicked sometimes amends, while that of believers degenerates; because the Almighty has not here laid down an inflexible rule which might derogate from his free election. Book II.7.21

    It’s amazing how so many fail to understand this point; the covenant is made with the elect alone. The FV dogs prattle on about “in what sense are the non-elect members of the covenant,” but as you and Calvin so nicely point out only in the nominal sense. But, since that proud heretic Wilson says there is no such thing as a nominal Christian he makes a mockery out of God’s covenant and renders it to none effect. The believers true seed are their believing children and those alone. Yet, you’d be amazed (maybe you wouldn’t) how many of eve the FV’s opponents don’t understand this either.


  131. Hugh, I wasn’t aware of that but thanks for pointing it out. My rector takes an extreme position against baptism as necessary and commanded sign in the NT scriptures. His father, D B Knox Sr. said that Matthew 28:18-20 refers to baptism as a metaphor for conversion and not a literal baptism with water.

    I don’t go that far. But I can see your point that one must be baptized properly and in faith.

    Charlie

  132. Sean Gerety Says:

    Charlie, Ex.20:4-6 proves no such thing. That is speaking of the covenant of circumcision. That was an external covenant, and all Jewish men were circumcised into this covenant.

    Amazing.


  133. Sean, thanks for the comment. Sometimes my own presentation of the covenant of grace is less than perfect. It’s not merely an “external” covenant but an actual covenant of grace made only with the elect. So covenant breakers who are not elect were never truly in the covenant of grace.

    Charlie

  134. Sean Gerety Says:

    Charlie, you should read Thornwell’s book Hugh mentions above if you get the chance and not just the excerpt. His was, at least for a time, the position of the Presbyterian church regarding RC baptism, and, even more impressive, his arguments that one the day were in opposition to Charles Hodge. No easy task. I know Thornwell changed my mind on the subject. Arguably an easier task. ;)


  135. Patrick said, “For you have God promising to give salvation/mercy to your children, but not actually promising to give it to any of your children, or even descendents for that matter. God may have chosen to save/elect your first child, but you don’t know any more than that God has chosen to elect/save a child of a reprobate. Either God has promised to give ALL of our children mercy/salvation or none at all.”

    That is not at all what I said. God “promises” salvation to all who repent. But we all know that everyone who actually does repent perseveres to the end. So by your reasoning, Patrick, not even adults can have a “infallible assurance of salvation”. What I said was there are certainly rare exceptions where the children of believers wind up as covenant breaking reprobates. But most often this is because the parents and the church have neglected God’s command to “train” them in the way they should go.

    Children are not automatically excluded from the church of the OT nor of the NT. Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” We would include infants in that invitation. While they cannot come on their own, we can present them for baptism just as Jesus was presented for circumcision.

    I would suggest you take a look at Chapter XVIII of the WCF:

    2. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope; (Heb. 6:11,19) but an infallible assurance of faith founded upon the divine truth of the promises of salvation, (Heb. 6:17–18) the inward evidence of those graces unto which these promises are made, (2 Pet. 1:4–5,10–11, 1 John 2:3. 1 John 3:14, 2 Cor. 1:12) the testimony of the Spirit of adoption witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God, (Rom. 8:15–16) which Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance, whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption. (Eph. 1:13–14, Eph. 4:30, 2 Cor. 1:21–22) WCF XVIII.2

    The Westminster confession of faith : An authentic modern version. 1985 (Rev. EPC ed.). Signal Mountain, TN: Summertown Texts.

    Not only can we be sure of our own salvation through grace but we can have the same kind of assurance for our children provided that we teach them the law and the Gospel, repentance of sins and faith. We must also model for them by teaching them the Bible and prayer at home and by taking them to Christian education and worship at the church. If these things are done diligently and if we ensure they are fully participating in the church instead of going through the motions with them or allowing them to simply go through the motions, there is no reason to fear that our children will not remain faithful to the Gospel or the covenant promises.

    This is true, btw, whether you are a Baptist who rejects paedobaptism or a Presbyterian/Anglican or even a Lutheran. We all pragmatically operate the same way. The biblical principles still apply. Now simply because you adopt the extreme Anabaptist position on this does not carry any obligation or weight for the rest of us because paedobaptism is a secondary issue, though I would place it high on the list as a secondary issue because baptism is a commandment of the Lord Jesus.

    If we cannot trust God to save our children when we do as God commands us in the covenant, then who can trust God at all? We might as well all become semi-pelagians!

    We make our own election and calling sure and we can do the same for our children as much as God enables and empowers us to do so. And God is well able to do exceedingly and abundantly above our human limitations. I will believe God can and will save the children of His elect. Exceptions are not the norm with children anymore than they are the norm with adult believers.


  136. Hi, Sean and Hugh…

    I wanted to thank-you for your comments to me about the covenant. I have read the WCF numerous times and checked the Scriptural references many times in the past. I’ve also read the 3 Forms of Unity, including the Canons of Dort at one time or another. Many times over the years I struggled with the “performance trap” of works righteousness in the pentecostal circles. I thought going to a Methodist seminary would be great because I had read Wesley’s sermon on justification by faith. But I was soon to learn that the holiness movement was just as much based on works as any pentecostal theology.

    I have read the Scriptures through and through many times since I was eight. As Gordon H. Clark says in his book on predestination, the OT is full of references to predestination and election. Also, I was somewhat familiar with the concept of infralapsarianism and supralapsarianism.

    But Asbury Seminary was really the point where God broke me and showed me the error of the Arminian position. I took a class by Jerry Walls, the Christian philosophy professor. In that class Walls attacked the compatibilist view of the Calvinists and tried to assert the sovereignty of human free will as set free by “prevenient grace”, i.e. a general grace. It suddenly occurred to me that a general grace to counteract total depravity didn’t appear to be working! What good is a grace that doesn’t actually change anyone but leaves it instead to your own free will? Is that really a grace at all or is it simply double talk?

    I also took a seminar with Thomas O’Malley, the church history professor, on the Institutes of the Christian Religion. O’Malley kept noting how Calvin appealed to mystery when he reached the end of the propositional reasoning. But I noted how Arminians appeal to mystery without following the logic of Scripture very far!

    At any rate, these two crisis events at an openly Arminian and Wesleyan holiness seminary forced me to rethink my theology. Along with Asbury’s confidence in modern theology and its compromise with liberal theologians, these things God used to compel me to the Reformed position. That happened around 1994-95. I have not looked back since.

    My knowledge is still imperfect but I’m growing. I’ve read Charles Hodge, A. A. Hodge, and Louis Berkhof. I’ve also read Carl F. H. Henry, a student of Gordon H. Clark from what I understand. Henry was strongly opposed to neo-orthodoxy and for propositional truth.

    I though Piper sounded legalistic. Now I know why. He doesn’t understand law and Gospel at all. I’m finding that classical Reformed confessions and books are the way to go. Reading modern “Reformed” theologians can be dangerous if one does not have a firm grasp of the classical Reformed thinkers.

    One thing I’ve found, however, is that the Princeton theologians were influenced by Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck. These men pushed the 3 points of common grace, which I had only vague heard of from reading Berkhof and the Hodges. Haven’t read much of Warfield yet but hope to do so soon. Anyway, I found it troubling that both the Hodges and Berkhof teach that Christ died for the reprobate in one aspect: to give them common grace in this life but not to save them. I don’t find that in Scripture and I noticed that Hodge didn’t give much scriptural evidence for it either.

    Anyway, it looks like Trinity is a great resource to check for problems with these other “Reformed” theologians. I will be reading more. I’m just finishing Clark’s book on Predestination. I’m reading Loraine Boettner at the same time. Seems to me that Boettner is not as firm on predestination as Clark is.

    Take care,

    Charlie


  137. Hugh, I don’t consider Rome as a true church. But I was assuming the baptismal formula is correct as far as I know. But then, I haven’t looked that the words of the service. Carelessness on my part I guess. I do not accept sacerdotalism. But I do accept the Matthew 28 baptismal formula.

    The 1662 BCP pronounces the baptized infant as “now regenerate.” But the Prayer Book has to be interpreted via Scripture and the 39 Articles and not the other way around. I take it as a statement of faith in God’s covenant promises along the lines of the covenant of grace in the WCF.

    The WCF called the pope an antichrist. That has been removed I think in modern versions.
    Charlie


  138. Sean, are baptized children of believers nominal Christians?

    Charlie, what you are saying makes no sense. Your belief that God will save the children of elect is either conditioned upon faith (IF they believe) or that it is not all. Again, God promises to save every individual on the condition of faith. “Everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved.” Again, nowhere in Scripture can we be assured that any of our children or descendents are elect.

    BTW, I deny that adults cannot have an infallible assurance of their salvation. We know the truth and have a hope that WILL NOT disappoint.


  139. Patrick, “faith” is not a condition of election! Election is unconditional and is determined by God prior to creation. Faith is a gift of God which results from a prior regeneration of the Holy Spirit. The ordo salutis of the Reformed position or the temporal order of God’s saving graces are election, regeneration, effecual call, repentance/conversion, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification. I might not have this precise since I’m writing off the top of my head but the general order is correct.

    Patrick, again, I have qualified my position as we cannot have “absolute” assurance of the salvation of our children BUT we can have a reasonable assurance of their salvation based on God’s covenantal promises given through out the OT and the NT. I think you’re just trying to ignore the qualifications mentioned by Calvin in the piece I quoted. Calvin acknowledges that election is God’s sovereign choice, which sometimes produces exceptions. But exceptions do not the rule make. This is why evangelism is important. We reach out to those outside the church because God has elect sinners yet to be effectually called. But we also evangelize our children by catechizing them in Scripture and the Reformed catechisms! We do this because we believe our children need to be saved and because they are members of the visible church. Whether or not they are members of the invisible church is another matter but until they prove otherwise, we instruct them and treat them as Christians. What is wrong with that?

    I suppose Baptists flip a coin and hope God saves the kids? Maybe its just chance in your view?

    Luther erred on the side of baptismal regeneration. The Anabaptists took the Zwinglian view too far and rejected paedobaptism, which Zwingli himself never did. The truth is the Dutch, Swiss and English Reformers had the right view. Baptism is a sign and token of irresistible grace wrought in the heart of the elect. Baptism does not regenerate but neither is it merely for adults. The OT church used circumcision and the NT used baptism. Infant baptism was the position of the majority of Christians since the 1st century. Only with the Anabaptists do we see it becoming an issue.

    And lets not forget some Anabaptists were so spiritually minded they didn’t need the Bible or the Trinity.

    Anabaptists today are something like what you see in the charismatic and pentecostal circles.

  140. Sean Gerety Says:

    It suddenly occurred to me that a general grace to counteract total depravity didn’t appear to be working!

    You’d think it would be obvious, yet instead of abandoning their doctrine of common grace, or at least rechecking their premises, they instead want to forge damnable ecumenical alliances with Romanists and other non-Christians in order to combat atheists, post-modernism, neo-paganism or some such nonsense.

    I think people often forget that Kuyper’s doctrine of common grace was born out of political necessity in order to get the Catholic faction behind him so he might attain the office of Prime Minister.

    I also agree with you about Clark’s predestination. The first and best book I’ve ever read on the topic and the book that ripped me out of my Arminian slumber. Interestingly, I recently pulled it out to reread it again.

  141. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sean, are baptized children of believers nominal Christians?

    Some indeed might turn out to be, just like some professing faith in Christ and who are baptized in Baptist churches may turn out to be nominal Christians.


  142. “Patrick, “faith” is not a condition of election!”

    I’ve never suggested it was.

    “Patrick, again, I have qualified my position as we cannot have “absolute” assurance of the salvation of our children BUT we can have a reasonable assurance of their salvation based on God’s covenantal promises given through out the OT and the NT.”

    Again, that makes no sense. Either God has promised that our children, whether some or all,are elect or not. Your reasonable assurance is nothing more than a wish that it be so.

    “Whether or not they are members of the invisible church is another matter but until they prove otherwise, we instruct them and treat them as Christians. What is wrong with that?”

    The Bible depicts that people generally come into the world needing to be saved and regenerated (not in that order). Thus, we rather assume that people need to be evangelized, unless and until they express that they believe the evangel. Again, we have no basis for thinking our children are Christians. Yes, they may be elect. But so can any child coming into the world. We simply do not know. Only when a credible confession is given are we warranted in thinking someone is a Christian and thus an elect.

    “I suppose Baptists flip a coin and hope God saves the kids? Maybe its just chance in your view?”

    No, not at all. It’s God sovereign will. God will do what God will do. Maybe YOU need to find comfort in thinking that God will save your children. But I would find no problem in leaving that all up to God and simply teach my children the truth.


  143. Patrick,

    You’re inconsistent. Now you’re admitting you teach your children but now you’re doing the same thing that Presbyterians do except you’re not baptizing them. So what’s your point?

    The fact is God uses appointed means through which He calls His elect. Those means are the preaching of the Gospel and the duly administered sacraments of the church, which are physical and tangible means of preaching the Gospel. They are “object lessons” or “illustrations” of the Word in physical form. Now, your point is that God’s appointed means do not save everyone. So what have you said that is meaningful to the discussion? Nothing. I would not argue for a minute that anyone can be saved apart from faith. However, I will argue that God brings the elect into the covenant of grace through the appointed means of preaching law and Gospel. Children are brought to faith the same as anyone else.

    Infant baptism without instruction in the Bible and the Gospel is useless and merely an empty sign. We do not assme that ALL the baptized infants are elect. We BELIEVE they are until they are proven otherwise and we treat them as such by teaching them the Christian faith and that we are all sinners in need of repentance daily and weekly and regularly. In fact, in our church we have a general confession and a reminder of the Gospel absolution every Sunday. It’s part of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which, btw, is Protestant and not Papist.

    If you wish to believe you children will be lost, be my guest:)

    As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.


  144. Sean, are baptized children of believers nominal Christians?

    Some indeed might turn out to be, just like some professing faith in Christ and who are baptized in Baptist churches may turn out to be nominal Christians.

    That’s not the question. Are they Christian in name only, or are they truly Christians or neither?


  145. Children are genuine Christians until they prove otherwise. To suggest that they are “nominal” would mean that they are “false” Christians, which can only be true of adults of an age of assent and accountability. We can be sure that our children are elect if they die before they are old enough to be catechized and confirmed as true believers. But then, most Baptists don’t treat their children as lost either. They would say a believer’s child who dies is saved/elect.


  146. I don’t admit I teach my children. I have none to teach. But of course credobaptists and paedobaptists agree we should teach our children, to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Where’s the inconstency in doing so and not baptizing them? I guess it’s because you take Baptism as a form of teaching. I do not. It is a sign of being in the Covenant, being regenerated, being washed from your sins, etc. It is not a means of evangelism. We don’t preach baptism, and no is saved by believing in or by being baptized. Salvation is by means of the communicated Word only.

    “We do not assme that ALL the baptized infants are elect. We BELIEVE they are until they are proven otherwise”

    Well, you can choose to believe anything. Whether you have a rational basis for it is another thing. I could choose to believe that every baby coming into the world is elect until they are proven otherwise. (BTW, when is that, whey they die?) For I have no way of knowing concerning God’s will to elect anyone. Thus, I think it is more reasonable and appropriate to believe that no one is elect until they manifest themself as one by faith. For, again, we come into the world in sin needing regeneration.

  147. Sean Gerety Says:

    Again, Pat, I presume them to be Christians until they demonstrate otherwise. Since infants are somewhat limited in communicating what they want, much less know and believe, I assume they are all Christians and when they can express their faith, I welcomed them at the Lord’s table as well. Even then, and even after they are examined by the elders and their profession is credible, it may turn out that they were not true believers after all.

    FWIW I have no idea why any of this is difficult or confusing for you? It seems to me part of your problem is that you continually want a level of epistemic certainty that simply is not there.

  148. Sean Gerety Says:

    Where’s the inconstency in doing so and not baptizing them?

    You’re being inconsistent to the pattern set out in Scripture. Beyond that, I know many baptistic churches that have “dedications” services which have no warrant in Scripture and act as a virtual third sacrament.


  149. There is inconsistency in not baptizing them because the New Testament church replaces baptism with circumcision as the sign of the covenant of grace and of union with Christ.

    Calvin’s Institutes IV.16.6

    6. Scripture gives us a still clearer knowledge of the truth. For it is most evident that the covenant, which the Lord once made with Abraham, is not less applicable to Christians now than it was anciently to the Jewish people, and therefore that word has no less reference to Christians than to Jews. Unless, indeed, we imagine that Christ, by his advent, diminished, or curtailed the grace of the Father—an idea not free from execrable blasphemy. Wherefore, both the children of the Jews, because, when made heirs of that covenant, they were separated from the heathen, were called a holy seed, and for the same reason the children of Christians, or those who have only one believing parent, are called holy, and, by the testimony of the apostle, differ from the impure seed of idolaters. Then, since the Lord, immediately after the covenant was made with Abraham, ordered it to be sealed in infants by an outward sacrament, how can it be said that Christians are not to attest it in the present day, and seal it in their children?

    Calvin, J., & Beveridge, H. (1996). Institutes of the Christian religion (electronic ed.) (IV, xvi, 6). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.


  150. Sean, I read that article about the Princeton controversy over Roman Catholic baptism and Hodge’s contention that the Roman Catholic Church was still a true church even if it denied justification by faith alone. I have read about that before. I guess I just had a memory lapse over it. But I agree that the Presbyterian Church was right and Hodge was wrong. I remember reading some of his comments in his systematic theology that the Roman Catholic Church was still a “true” church even if it was defective in its teaching.

    I think Dr. Robbins was right. The seeds Hodge planted have filtered down to us today. It’s very difficult to get folks to say that Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholics are lost. If that much were clear perhaps the Anglican Communion wouldn’t be apostate these days? At least many parts of it are.

    I can’t help wondering if the teaching of common grace adopted by Charles Hodge from Kuyper influenced his ecumenical spirit with the Roman Catholics?

    Anyway, I need to do more reading on that. Also, I want to read the book about the Clark-Van Til Controversy by Herman Hoeksema. It might prove to be enlightening, too.

    I have not read much of Van Til. But I did read Sproul’s book on “classical” apologetics. Sproul and Gerstner reject both Van Til and Clark and adopt the Thomist view. I don’t think classical apologetics can lead to faith.

    Take care,

    Charlie

  151. pat Says:

    “Children are genuine Christians until they prove otherwise. To suggest that they are “nominal” would mean that they are “false” Christians, which can only be true of adults of an age of assent and accountability. We can be sure that our children are elect if they die before they are old enough to be catechized and confirmed as true believers. But then, most Baptists don’t treat their children as lost either. They would say a believer’s child who dies is saved/elect.”

    No, Charlie, a nominal Christian is not necessarily a false Christian. You can give your children the name Christian without asserting that they are actually Christians. But no one should be presumed to be a Christian until proven otherwise. It should always be presumed the opposite: no one is a Christian unless they show themselves to be by making a credible confession. For again, we come into the world not believing the truth. And again, the Bible does not say that anyone not able to communicate their faith must have it; or that they are among the elect. Further, age of accountability or assent doctrine is even more clearly anti biblical. For it implicitly denies original sin.

  152. pat Says:

    “Again, Pat, I presume them to be Christians until they demonstrate otherwise.”

    Again, that is backwards and thus absurd. No it is not a matter of epistemic certainty. For we cannot have such of any man besides ourselves. But there is simply no basis for thinking that our children are Christians any more than any man we happen to see on the street. We simply do not know anyone’s fate. But we do know that outside of John the Baptist people come into the world needing to be born AGAIN.

  153. Sean Gerety Says:

    No it is not a matter of epistemic certainty. For we cannot have such of any man besides ourselves.

    The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Oh, yeah, Pat can. LOL!

    We simply do not know anyone’s fate

    I don’t believe in fate. What I believe is Gen 17:7: And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.

    I believe Acts 2:38,39; Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

    Don’t forget Acts 16:33, “And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.

    You can add Luke 18:15: And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them.

    Sounds like Baptists and Jesus’ disciples have a lot in common. They too, just like you, rebuke those who bring their infants to Jesus “that he would touch them.” Of course Baptists being similarly disobedient were similarly rebuked, “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”


  154. Patrick, the problem with your hermeneutic is you’re stuck in the NT. I’ve already quoted the Westminster Confession of Faith, which cites Genesis 17:5-13. That passage clearly promises the covenant faithfulness of God to Abraham’s seed, meaning his children and his descendants. God is sovereign over generations and is very able to elect entire families if he so wishes. In fact, in the NT book of Acts we see this many times.

    There is no basis for thinking that anyone is a Christian if we cannot trust God’s covenant with Abraham. The NT church is based on the same covenant, which Paul says in Galatians 6:16.

    There are two errors out there. One is is the NPP error of de-emphasizing the individual salvation of elect persons and over-emphasizing community. The opposite error is so emphasizing the individual side that the covenant with God’s people as an elect community and as families is forgotten. The purpose of the covenant is that individuals, families and the nation as a whole are in covenant with God and receive covenant promises.

    This is not a papist doctrine. It is a biblical doctrine. And the Reformers all recognized that Christ and justification by faith alone are taught in the OT! Paul says so in 2 Timothy 3:15-17. The NT was not written yet. Isn’t it amazing that Paul says the patriarchs of the OT were saved by faith and not by keeping the law?

    As a final thought, I looked at the parallel comparison between the WCF and the LBCF 1689 here: Tabular Comparison of 1646 WCF and LBCF 1689, Chapter 7, Of God’s Covenant with Man. It becomes immediately obvious that the Baptists have a less precise statement on the covenant. This makes me realize why I am not a Reformed Baptist.

    It’s not the full teaching of Scripture as in the WCF. The “loopholes” allow for all sorts of opinions not supported in Scripture. The same can be said of the 39 Articles, which is why I don’t use the 39 Articles as my only confession of faith.

    As far as I’m concerned this conversation is over. You’re not going to see the OT as the Bible of the NT church. I’m not Anabaptist because the magisterial Reformers have a more complete understanding of Scripture and the church fathers.


  155. That should have been over-emphasizing individual salvation/election and refusing to see the community and generational side of the covenant and election.


  156. You guys are simply refusing to deal with what I’ve said and continue to postulate the same old stuff.Again,the promise is not that God would/has elected anyone’s child or descendent. The promise is of the Holy Spirit to those who believe. That promise has been extended to everyone, to the Jews and their descendents and to all Gentiles. And sure, God can and apparently has elected whole families, though the household baptism accounts in Acts don’t necessarily indicate that.

    Again, the proper basis for thinking someone is a Christian is a credible confession of faith. For a Christian is precisely one who believes in Christ. A Christian is not one because his parents are, except in name only. There is simply no biblical warrant for deeming one a Christian who has not expressed faith in Christ. This ought to be a no brainer. After all, it’s the same as calling one a believer when you don’t know what the person believes.

    Now you give your children the name “Christian.” And you can believe that they truly are Christians until proven otherwise. Of course, until a person dies, there is always a possibility that a person repents and becomes a Christian. Thus,again, that belief has no more basis than my believing that a man I passed on the street this morning is a Christian until he proves to me otherwise.

    Now you may think that there is a greater likelihood that your children are elect. But it still comes down to that they either are or not. Two possibilities exist and you simply do not know which one it is.

    BTW, believing your children are elect is not the same as believing they are Christians. One can believer the former without necessarily believing the latter.

  157. Sean Gerety Says:

    the promise is not that God would/has elected anyone’s child or descendent. The promise is of the Holy Spirit to those who believe.

    I have noticed this is typical of you Pat, whether on the Scriptualist list or here, and you have seemingly not followed virtually any the arguments advanced so far and you have not interacted with any of them; not with Calvin, not with the WCF, not even with the Scriptures that explicitly teach that the promise of the covenant, of which baptism is the sign, and all the many concurrent blessings that come with it, are to believers and “to their seed after them.”

    That promise has been extended to everyone, to the Jews and their descendents and to all Gentiles. And sure, God can and apparently has elected whole families, though the household baptism accounts in Acts don’t necessarily indicate that.

    Of course it does. Peter said “For the promise [of the Covenant] is unto you, and to your children” which is why he baptized entire households, children and all. Peter’s is just a restatement of the covenant God made with Abraham “and to his seed after him.” And, that covenant extends to “many nations” and not just the nation of Israel. It’s the same covenant and obviously with the coming of Christ the sign of the covenant naturally changed. OT saints were looking ahead to the shedding of blood and Christ’s perfect sacrifice, whereas NT saints are looking back to the blood already shed and that now washes us like water strips away filth.

    Also, you say “The promise is of the Holy Spirit to those who believe.” Well, not exactly. The Holy Spirit is the cause and reason a person believes, not the other way around. So obviously they have to first receive the Holy Spirit in order to assent to the truth of Jesus Christ and his Gospel, much less profess it. We know from Scripture this can take place at any moment even in the womb and long before an infant can express their belief and long before they can even speak. Plus, God’s sovereign determination of election and reprobation, His sovereign love and hatred, extends into eternity and divides even twins while they’re in the womb so “that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls….”

    Baptist practice is implicitly Arminian since it suggests, as you rightly state, that the reception of the Holy Spirit is the result of faith, not its cause. Again, Reformed practice of paedo-baptism is not only faithful to what we see in Scripture, but better pictures the idea of God’s work of election that extends prior to birth from eternity and that which is not the result of faith, or even the profession of faith, but rather its cause.

    Again, the proper basis for thinking someone is a Christian is a credible confession of faith.

    This doesn’t follow. I’ve known many people over the years who professed to be a Christian at one time and who, to the ears of many, made a very credible confession of faith that turned out to be false. Were they Christians? Can a person be a Christian one day and not one the next? Again, Baptist practice and theory is implicitly Arminian.

    For a Christian is precisely one who believes in Christ.

    And those who believe can very well believe without possessing the ability to profess their faith, whether due to age or handicap or some other disability.

    A Christian is not one because his parents are, except in name only.

    Again, this is implicitly Arminian for it implies one becomes a Christian, or can even be considered a Christian, only when and if they can provide a profession of faith, but this doesn’t follow.

    There is simply no biblical warrant for deeming one a Christian who has not expressed faith in Christ.

    Of course there is. We have God’s promise that extends not only to believers, but to their spiritual “seed” as well. Now, I know, you will say nowhere do the Scriptures say “spiritual seed.” And you’d be right. But the idea of the spiritual seed is a necessary inference from Genesis 17 and God’s covenant with Abraham that is established not with Ismael, but with his son not yet even born, Isaac.

    This ought to be a no brainer. After all, it’s the same as calling one a believer when you don’t know what the person believes.

    The Baptist takes a person at his word, which may or may not be true and the Reformed take God at his word which is always true. Now, does God’s promise extend to all our natural seed? Not necessarily. His promise is to all our spiritual seed, whether they’re able to profess their faith or not.

    Now you give your children the name “Christian.” And you can believe that they truly are Christians until proven otherwise. Of course, until a person dies, there is always a possibility that a person repents and becomes a Christian.

    A person can become a Christian without every being baptized too. So what?

    Now you may think that there is a greater likelihood that your children are elect. But it still comes down to that they either are or not. Two possibilities exist and you simply do not know which one it is.

    Alright, but again so what? And someone can provide a very credible profession of faith that turns out to be false. But the question is, per the Scriptures, to whom should baptism be administered? Is baptism to be restricted to just professors alone as baptist maintain? I hardly see support for that in Scripture since in the OT the sign of the covenant (which baptism is) was given to both professors and their children. Not surprisingly, we see the exact same thing in the NT where entire households were being baptized and why not, Jesus said “suffer the little children to come unto me.” And, among those little children we see people bringing to Jesus were infants.

    Paedo-baptist follows the pattern we see repeated throughout Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments, whereas credo-baptists do not.

    BTW, believing your children are elect is not the same as believing they are Christians. One can believer the former without necessarily believing the latter.

    Huh? I can see why Charlie threw in the towel.


  158. Patrick, God gives His promises to us through the instrument of faith, the gift of faith. Your problem is you’re basing your opinions on your presuppositions rather than Scripture. When God promised the covenant promises to Abraham and his “seed” either God meant it or He didn’t. I know you don’t believe God’s promises but I do. Acts 2:38-40 clearly reveal the promises are still for God’s people today. What is more, election and reprobation are in the 2nd commandment. Reprobation and generational curses are passed down through natural generation. And even so the individual is still responsible for their own sin of rebellion. It’s not either/or but both/and.

    Calvin comments on this as I quoted already. But apparently you didn’t read it. When Achan took of the things under the ban his entire family was cursed and they all perished together–men, women, children, and all the animals he owned. The OT teaches over and over that election is not just individual election–though it most definitely IS that–it is also a generational election passed down through family lines. When David sinned God did not remove the promise. David still had an heir to sit on the throne as God promised and that was despite the rebellion of the reprobate side of Israel. In fact, Jesus’ ancestry is traced all the way back to David! God never breaks His covenant promises! Even if the elect sin and break covenant, God remains faithful!

    This all begins with predestination. In fact, Gordon Clark says that the WCF makes predestination the 3rd most prominent doctrine in the confession.

    Your problem is you are so focused on individualism that you have ignored God’s covenant promises, a fact that even the LBCF 1689 upholds in its truncated version of chapter 7 in the WCF!

    Predestination over-rides free will conversion and the idea that children are left to themselves to make their own decisions. Predestination in fact confirms that God’s election can and does go with entire families. God is God and you are not. In fact, the sword cuts both ways. If you say that we cannot rely on God’s promises, then you likewise cannot say that God’s promises will not be fulfilled! You just do not know that! God will do what He jolly well pleases, including keeping covenant with elect individuals and their elect families.

    Get over it.


  159. “that explicitly teach that the promise of the covenant, of which baptism is the sign, and all the many concurrent blessings that come with it, are to believers and “to their seed after them.””

    Once again, you fail to deal with what I’ve said. Again, the promise can’t be a matter of promising believers that their children are elect, whether all or some.

    “Also, you say “The promise is of the Holy Spirit to those who believe.” Well, not exactly. The Holy Spirit is the cause and reason a person believes, not the other way around.”

    That’s true. But in the context, receiving the Holy Spirit is connected with the promise. I think salvation in its broadest sense includes this idea.

    “Baptist practice is implicitly Arminian since it suggests, as you rightly state, that the reception of the Holy Spirit is the result of faith, not its cause.”

    Again, that is not implicit to credobaptism, nor is it my view.

    “Again, the proper basis for thinking someone is a Christian is a credible confession of faith.”

    “This doesn’t follow. I’ve known many people over the years who professed to be a Christian at one time and who, to the ears of many, made a very credible confession of faith that turned out to be false. Were they Christians? Can a person be a Christian one day and not one the next? ”

    I spoke of thinking someone to be a Christian, not knowing someone to be so. Again, the definition of Christian is one who believes the gospel. Now we gather as a church of confessing believers, and we baptize those who make a credible confession, accepting them as brethren of like precious faith.

    “His promise is to all our spiritual seed”

    Which may be none of our physical seed.

    “BTW, believing your children are elect is not the same as believing they are Christians. One can believer the former without necessarily believing the latter.”

    “Huh? I can see why Charlie threw in the towel.”

    Really, you don’t get this. Don’t you realize that most elect only become Christians at some point in their lives other than birth or conception? Again, I realize paedobaptists would hope that their children come into the world regenerated and believing the gospel. But that is hardly what actually takes place. Most converted children of believers would claim a conversion sometime during their life.

  160. Sean Gerety Says:

    Once again, you fail to deal with what I’ve said. Again, the promise can’t be a matter of promising believers that their children are elect, whether all or some.

    What on earth do you mean “the promise can’t be a matter of promising believers that their children are elect”? So when God promised Abraham that He would make a “an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee” God couldn’t do as He promised! That’s just ridiculous.

    Now we gather as a church of confessing believers, and we baptize those who make a credible confession, accepting them as brethren of like precious faith.

    That’s what you do, but that is not what the church has historically done from its creation as already demonstrated from Scripture.

    Again, I realize paedobaptists would hope that their children come into the world regenerated and believing the gospel. But that is hardly what actually takes place.

    How could you possibly know that?

    Most converted children of believers would claim a conversion sometime during their life.

    Once again, how could you possibly know that and how on earth can you speak for “most converted children of believers”? I would say the rule is quite the reverse and many kids brought up in a Christian home and who accept and believe the gospel especially if from a very young age simply cannot point to a specific time when they were converted. Although, I will admit that for some, Baptists in particular, they are treated like nominal Christians simply because they don’t have some 700 Club style “conversion story” to share. FWIW I came to Christ late in life, when I was 19, so for me I can point to a time, but have long forgotten the date. I hope my kids never have to go through that and rather will never remember a time when they didn’t claim Christ and know him as their Lord.


  161. “What on earth do you mean “the promise can’t be a matter of promising believers that their children are elect”? So when God promised Abraham that He would make a “an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee” God couldn’t do as He promised! That’s just ridiculous. ”

    You’ve already acknowledged that the promise was to spiritual seed. There is no promise thus regarding physical seed, that is, your children or descendents.

    Now we gather as a church of confessing believers, and we baptize those who make a credible confession, accepting them as brethren of like precious faith.

    “That’s what you do, but that is not what the church has historically done from its creation as already demonstrated from Scripture. ”

    Really? You don’t baptize new converts who are not born of believers?
    Again, I realize paedobaptists would hope that their children come into the world regenerated and believing the gospel. But that is hardly what actually takes place.

    How could you possibly know that?

    Most converted children of believers would claim a conversion sometime during their life.

    Once again, how could you possibly know that and how on earth can you speak for “most converted children of believers”? I would say the rule is quite the reverse and many kids brought up in a Christian home and who accept and believe the gospel especially if from a very young age simply cannot point to a specific time when they were converted. Although, I will admit that for some, Baptists in particular, they are treated like nominal Christians simply because they don’t have some 700 Club style “conversion story” to share. FWIW I came to Christ late in life, when I was 19, so for me I can point to a time, but have long forgotten the date. I hope my kids never have to go through that and rather will never remember a time when they didn’t claim Christ and know him as their Lord.

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    “What on earth do you mean “the promise can’t be a matter of promising believers that their children are elect”? So when God promised Abraham that He would make a “an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee” God couldn’t do as He promised! That’s just ridiculous. ”

    You’ve already acknowledged that the promise was to spiritual seed. There is no promise thus regarding physical seed, that is, your children or descendents.

    Now we gather as a church of confessing believers, and we baptize those who make a credible confession, accepting them as brethren of like precious faith.

    “That’s what you do, but that is not what the church has historically done from its creation as already demonstrated from Scripture. ”

    Really? You don’t baptize new converts who are not born of believers?

    Again, I realize paedobaptists would hope that their children come into the world regenerated and believing the gospel. But that is hardly what actually takes place.

    How could you possibly know that?

    Because John the Baptist’s case is given as unusual.

    Most converted children of believers would claim a conversion sometime during their life.

    Once again, how could you possibly know that and how on earth can you speak for “most converted children of believers”?

    Well, that is what I’ve heard claimed by such. Even John MacArthur who claims to have always believed the Bible still claimed to have been converted in his late teenage years.

    I would say the rule is quite the reverse and many kids brought up in a Christian home and who accept and believe the gospel especially if from a very young age simply cannot point to a specific time when they were converted.

    Isn’t that my point? If they recall believing the gospel at a young age, wasn’t there a time prior to that they didn’t believe the gospel (and didn’t even have the content of the gospel in their mind yet).

    Although, I will admit that for some, Baptists in particular, they are treated like nominal Christians simply because they don’t have some 700 Club style “conversion story” to share. FWIW I came to Christ late in life, when I was 19, so for me I can point to a time, but have long forgotten the date. I hope my kids never have to go through that and rather will never remember a time when they didn’t claim Christ and know him as their Lord.

    Well, I think 19 is probably close to the norm among those having non Christian parents (same for me). I’m assuming your parents were not Christians.

    ——————————————————————————–

  162. lawyertheologian Says:

    Getting back to my question: Is the Covenant of Grace an external covenant whereby we enter either by our own personal faith or by the faith of our parents? Charlie seems to say yes and Sean seems to say no. (I would say no also). Also, it seems that both are saying that children of believers are presumed to be in the Covenant. And for Sean, and maybe Charlie also, it would seem that it is no greater presumption than we have over those who make a credible confession of faith whom we accept as brethren and Christians. Is the sum of it?

  163. lawyertheologian Says:

    Is “that” the sum of it?


  164. There is a sense in which there is a covenant with the nation of Israel. But not every individual in the nation of Israel is of the remnant or true Israel. The same is true of the church. Not every member of the local and visible church is of the true Israel (Galatians 6:16). Receiving the signs of the covenant do not guarantee the individual is elect. Some are nominal Christians who never persevere. Infants who receive the sign of baptism are part of the visible church but not necessarily true Israel or the visible church. But, like adults, we believe they are truly elect unless and until they leave the church and break covenant. We train them in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it. We teach them to confess their sins, to repent, to pray, to read and study the Scriptures, to learn the catechisms. What more can we do except make disciples of our children and believe God?

    Baptism without the discipleship and nurture of a Christian family and a Gospel preaching and teaching church is meaningless. But why should we doubt the salvation of a child we spend so much time nurturing and teaching the things of God and the Scriptures?

    So Baptists only believe half of the covenant. We believe it is for the entire family, including the children… and this includes infants. In the OT the sign is circumcision and in the NT it is baptism.

    It really does not matter to me if Baptists accept the full teaching of Scripture on the covenant promises and the covenant of grace. But one thing I do not like is a straw man argument which makes it appear that the Reformed view of paedobaptism is automatically sacerdotalist or papist. There is no magic in the water or the bread and wine. The only effectual power of the sacrament is though the faith of the believer which comes only from the Holy Spirit. Infants are given regeneration just as adults are and they prove it out by the results of that initial regeneration.


  165. Children of believers are beneficiaries of the covenant promises, including salvation. We “believe” this because God promises it. It is more than a mere “presumption” but a matter of believing that God will do what He has said. If God as a sovereign decides to do otherwise, we must accept it but until otherwise proven we believe that God will do according to his promises in the covenant of grace.

  166. Sean Gerety Says:

    FWIW I’m virtually 100% in agreement with Charlie, with possibly the one exception that I think all unbelievers, regardless of whether or not they are the recipients of the external covenant or have merely tasted the good things of God, are already covenant breakers quite apart from baptism. We’re by nature all covenant breakers. I think that’s the sum of it.


  167. Amen, Sean. It is grace before we believe, grace that causes us to believe, grace that causes us to persevere, and grace that will see us through to the end. Even Spurgeon had sense enough to see that–though it seems he had some Arminian slips in other areas.

  168. lawyertheologian Says:

    Hmm, I just can’t seem to nail you guys down to simple answers to straightforward questions.

    Either children of believers are in the Covenant or not. Which one is it? Eithe the Covenant is external or not. Which one is it? Either one is presumed to be in the Covenant or not. Which one is it?

    BTW, how can we be covenant breakers if were not in covenant?

    “Children of believers are beneficiaries of the covenant promises, including salvation.”

    Well, then, that means they are all elect, they are all promised salvation, they will all be saved.


  169. Ever heard of the covenant of works, Patrick? If good works are the basis, then you are in violation not only of the covenant of works but also the requirements of the covenant of grace.

    Besides, I can ask you the same question. You believe in the covenant. Which is it? External or invisible?

    The bottom-line is God never breaks the covenant. He keeps the elect in the covenant of grace by giving them faith, repentance, conversion, perseverance, etc. So if God elects and infant and that child receives the sign of the covenant, who are you to complain about it? It’s a matter of believing God’s promises in Genesis 17 and Exodus 20:6, etc.

    Now, I’ve been doing some reading about Spurgeon and other Reformed Baptists and it seems to me that your position has some Arminian implications in it. Rather than trusting God’s covenant promises you tend to trust in faith. Do you believe that God makes a “free offer” of salvation to the elect and the reprobate? Or do you believe that the promises are only extended to the elect?

    In other words, does the preaching of the Gospel save the elect and harden the reprobate? Does God will to harden the reprobate? Or is God up there wringing His hands because the reprobate refuse the hypothetical free offer?

    How could God possibly not keep covenant with the elect when He has chosen them? And how could God possibly offer salvation to someone who is reprobate knowing he has determined not to save him or her? Thus, when Scripture says that the promise is to the seed of Abraham and that God shows mercy to thousands of our descendants because of His election and the faith He gives us, then what is wrong with taking God at His Word.

    I would contend that those who cannot see God’s sovereign election in the covenant of grace, and God’s fulfillment of those promises when the rubber meets the road, have more in common with Arminianism and the sort of thinking of common grace crowd. God is God. We do not save ourselves or even keep ourselves in the covenant of grace. God initiates the covenant of grace, God elects, God regenerates, God sanctifies and God glorifies the elect individual. Try reading Psalm 139. There is an insidious emphasis on your part on the actual faith of the believer as the cause of God’s favor. It is the other way around. We trust God because it all comes from Him–and that includes not only our OWN salvation but that of our children as well! If salvation is dependent on our own faith, persererance, or ability–for our own salvation OR the salvation of our children–then what we are believing is NOT the sovereignty of God in election and salvation but our own ability and perseverance.

    I will believe it is God who is the author and finisher of my faith AND the faith of my children….

    God is God and He is not only able to save me but my children as well! This is why the Calvinist alone can pray and ask God to change the mind and heart of a lost sinner! The Arminian cannot pray that way and be consistent with his theology. Your argument against infants being signed with the covenantal signs is akin to saying that we cannot believe God can and will change the minds of sinners. Of course we leave it in God’s hands but the children of covenant believers have the advantage of the blessing of God to our natural and spiritual seed. We are the church, spiritual seed of Abraham, but the natural seed is not necessarily excluded. On the contrary, they are part of the spiritual promises to the church, the spiritual seed of Abraham. The children of the covenant has access to the appointed means of saving the elect while the children of the reprobate do not. If they are saved it will be by God’s sovereign intervention.

    The children of covenant believers being lost is the exception and not the rule.

  170. lawyertheologian Says:

    “Ever heard of the covenant of works, Patrick? If good works are the basis, then you are in violation not only of the covenant of works but also the requirements of the covenant of grace.”

    I don’t understand this. How is this responsive?

    Besides, I can ask you the same question. You believe in the covenant. Which is it? External or invisible?

    Invisible. Charlie, I have no problem answering questions. And I think I’ve been pretty clear how I view the Covenant.

    “The bottom-line is God never breaks the covenant. He keeps the elect in the covenant of grace by giving them faith, repentance, conversion, perseverance, etc. So if God elects and infant and that child receives the sign of the covenant, who are you to complain about it? It’s a matter of believing God’s promises in Genesis 17 and Exodus 20:6, etc.”

    Again, what does this have to do with anything. You’re just ranting,

    “Do you believe that God makes a “free offer” of salvation to the elect and the reprobate?”

    “Or do you believe that the promises are only extended to the elect?”

    The latter.

    Again, the rest is all ranting, having nothing to do with what I’m asking or what I’ve saying,throwing out a lot of non sequitors and/or assuming things about me that are not true.

    “The children of covenant believers being lost is the exception and not the rule.”

    You don’t know that. And who says there is any rule. I have no idea one way or the other. And neither do you. Only God knows whom He has elected, how many from each family, how many from elect seed, etc.

    Now, I think Sean’s view is that the covenant is not external, that both confessed believers and their children are presumed to be in the Covenant, that only the elect are actually in the Covenant (also my view). Your view is that the covenant is external, but then you seem to allow that one might not actually be in the Covenant if he is not elect. You also claim a promise concerning your children being recipients of the Covenant, yet at the same time claim that they still might not be elect. Both of you claim that a child of a believer can break their Covenant with God, while apparently a child of an unbeliever cannot, since he is not in the Covenant. Sean, though seems to postulate that every human being is in covenant with God; for he claims we are all covenant breakers. I’m really at a loss to not find these claims logically impossible.


  171. Patrick, my view is the covenant of grace is only with the elect. The church is visible and the covenant “signs” are visible. Hence, in at least one aspect it is “visible.” Not everyone receiving the visible signs is elect. That would include infants and adults. That might include even you. By your reasoning there is no assurance for anyone being in the invisible number of the elect who part of the covenant of grace.

    And you’re the one ranting:) I’m just saying you’re not consistent. If its all up to you, what’s the point of God electing individuals, families, and nations. You don’t have to be a Presbyterian or an Anglican to believe that God does that. Your emphasis in on you. Mine is on God and His Word, His sacraments, and His covenant.

    Charlie

  172. lawyertheologian Says:

    Well, that the Covenant “signs” are visible does not make the Covenant visible. But more than the signs themselves, a credible confession provides a good basis for thinking one is in the Covenant. That a person is a child of a believer surely does not provide an equal basis for thinking that such a one is in the Covenant. At best, the basis for thinking so is a matter of a greater likelihood that they are verses children of non believers.Why not wait until they actually confess the faith, and you will be on more solid footing?

    “By your reasoning there is no assurance for anyone being in the invisible number of the elect who part of the covenant of grace.”

    Huh? If a person is in the invisible number of the elect then he is part of the covenant of grace. Of course, we cannot know of anyone apart from ourselves whether he is in the invisible number of the elect and thus part of the Covenant of Grace.


  173. Patrick said, “Huh? If a person is in the invisible number of the elect then he is part of the covenant of grace. Of course, we cannot know of anyone apart from ourselves whether he is in the invisible number of the elect and thus part of the Covenant of Grace.”

    You might be deceiving yourself, though, Patrick. To be consistent with your position you would have to doubt your own election as well:

    1. “Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God and state of salvation, which hope of theirs shall perish;”

    LBCF Ch. 8 Sec. 1

    Furthermore, both the WCF and the LBCF say that the “signs” are meant to increase faith, which is consistent with the faith that believes that our children will be saved. That applies to both WCF and LBCF believers, though only WCF applies the sign to infants. The pragmatic position is the same, however. Since regeneration is not absolutely tied to the signs, I fail to see what your objection is except that you just object. Both the WCF and the LBCF call for genuine faith and conversion so the only difference is whether the signs are significant signs of an inward grace which produces faith in the elect. The sign itself is meant to build faith in the believer, not to produce some magical transformation by the sign itself.

    “1. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts; and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word: by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.” WCF 14.1

    1. “The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord’s supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened.” LBCF 14.1

    I’m wondering what the LBCF means by “other means appointed of God…”?

  174. lawyertheologian Says:

    “You might be deceiving yourself, though, Patrick. To be consistent with your position would have to doubt your own election as well:”

    I can deceive myself in thinking that I am among the elect based on a faulty view of the gospel. But I can’t deceive myself in thinking that I’m not believing what I am in my mind assenting to. Again, being baptized is not the basis of assurance. Nor is believing and accepting one another as brethren based on their being baptized. Nor is it a matter of assurance that they are indeed believers. There is no inconsistency in what I am saying. BTW, “temporary believers” is an impossibility. All true believers will endure/believe to the end.

    “Furthermore, both the WCF and the LBCF say that the “signs” are meant to increase faith, which is consistent with the faith that believes that our children will be saved.”

    No, the faith that believes that our children will be saved is a mere wish; biblical faith, which the WCF and LBCF refer to, is a matter of certain knowledge.

    “Both the WCF and the LBCF call for genuine faith and conversion so the only difference is whether the signs are significant signs of an inward grace which produces faith in the elect.”

    Yes, the WCF says it (baptism) is “to be unto HIM a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of HIS ingrafting into Christ, … of HIS giving up unto God…” Chap.28,1. But the WLC says it is “to be a sign and seal of ingrafting into Himself…” suggesting, according to some, that baptism is not necessarily a sign of the baptized person’s being ingrafted into Christ, but merely a sign, i.e. a picture of being ingrafted into Christ. In any event, it seems to me, based on Biblical accounts and teaching, that baptism is supposed to picture the individual’s having been ingrafted into Christ, having been regenerated,etc. Now the individual obviously must make a confession of faith prior to being baptized. In fact, baptisms were done almost immediately upon conversion. The Ethiopian Eunuch was baptized by Philip as soon as they came upon water. John the Baptist, whose baptism was in substance the same baptism, called people to come and be baptized as a sign of repentance. And one had to show that he had repented by producing fruit. But he was not baptizing children and babies. Again, all of the emphasis in the NT is on baptizing converts as a means of initiating individuals into the church. BTW, church membership is not a matter of explicit consent but implicit consent. Acts 2:41 “So then,those who had received [believed]the word were baptized; and [as a result]there were added THAT DAY about three thousand souls [who had believed and were baptized].” Children and babies are/were not added to the church, which is a community of (confessing)believers.


  175. “Now the individual obviously must make a confession of faith prior to being baptized.”

    Obviously, that does not apply to the children of the household since they are circumcized on the basis of the faith of their parents in the OT. The same applies the NT, except the sign of the covenant is baptism.

    I can see that you don’t accept the Presbyterian or Anglican view. So there is no point in trying to force your views on others, especially since infant baptism is a secondary issue.

    However, the paedobaptism view has plenty of biblical support for those willing to look honestly at the evidence.


  176. No one disputes the passages where faith precedes baptism. So quoting those passages do not prove you case against paedo baptism.

  177. lawyertheologian Says:

    “Now the individual obviously must make a confession of faith prior to being baptized.”

    “Obviously, that does not apply to the children of the household [of course, such were not in the context] since they are circumcized on the basis of the faith of their parents in the OT.”

    No, circumcision was based not precisely on faith, but on a commitment of allegiance to God. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” That is possible regardless of whether your children are believers or not.

    “No one disputes the passages where faith precedes baptism. So quoting those passages do not prove you case against paedo baptism.”

    I’m not trying to prove my case against paedobaptism. All I’ve been trying to do is to present one part involved in the idea of paedobaptism and suggesting that it puts those in a dilemma. FV ers is one result in the sense of viewing the Covenant as objective and external. The other is its discordance with believer’s baptism. That is, a new convert’s baptism seems entirely different than a baby’s non confessing baptism.


  178. The covenant signs are necessary for entry into the visible church. They are objective signs but not everyone receiving the signs are genuine Christians. Some are false, whether baptized as an infant or later as a believer.

    The error of the FV is saying that even the unfaithful are still “Christians.” That is not the case. If they are unrepentant they are to be disfellowshipped and excommunicated. They are no longer “Christians.”

    The covenant of grace is for the elect only. Thus, God keeps covenant with them. There would be no FV controversy if Presbyterians believe what you are saying. Obviously, faith is necessary after the child becomes old enough to understand and be examined. Children dying before that are elect and have been baptized as members of the covenant.

  179. lawyertheologian Says:

    “The covenant signs are necessary for entry into the visible church. They are objective signs but not everyone receiving the signs are genuine Christians. Some are false, whether baptized as an infant or later as a believer.”

    No one is denying this. You obviously are not following what I’m saying. You keep bringing up irreleant stuff.

    “The error of the FV is saying that even the unfaithful are still “Christians.” That is not the case. If they are unrepentant they are to be disfellowshipped and excommunicated. They are no longer “Christians.””

    Of course, of course. But again, for the nth time, ther reason FV ers say this is that if baptized babies are in the covenant, being external and objective, then it should be the same for adults.

    “Children dying before that are elect and have been baptized as members of the covenant.”

    I know of no Reformed who maintains this position. It obviously has no biblical support.


  180. Roger Nicole and most modern Presbyterians believe that all infants who die are elect. I don’t agree. I believe only infants in the covenant are elect, meaning they are baptized children of believers in the covenant. Phillip Schaff held that view as well.

    Even Arminians think that children are covered by prevenient grace.


  181. From Calvin’s Harmony of the Law (Volume 3), which may read online HERE:

    Nevertheless, the question here arises, how the little children could have passed into covenant, when they were not yet of a proper age to learn its contents; the reply is easy, that, although they did not receive by faith the promised salvation, nor, on the other hand, renounce the flesh so as to dedicate themselves to God, still they were bound to God by the same obligations under which their parents laid themselves; for, since the grace was common to all, it was fitting that their consent to testify their gratitude should also be universal; so that when the children had come to age, they should more cheerfully endeavor after holiness, when they remembered that they had been already dedicated to God. For circumcision was a sign of their adoption from their mother’s womb; and therefore, although they were not yet possessed of faith or understanding, God had a paternal power over them, because He had conferred upon them so great an honor. Thus, now-a-days, infants are initiated into the service of God, whom they do not yet know, by baptism; because He marks them out as His own peculiar people, and claims them as His children when He ingrafts them into the body of Christ. Moses goes further, stating that their descendants were bound by the same covenant, as if already enthralled to God; and surely, since slavery passes on by inheritance, it ought not to appear absurd that the same right should be assigned to God which mortal men claim for themselves. What he says, then, is tantamount to reminding the Israelites that they covenanted with God in the name of their offspring, so as to devote both themselves and those belonging to them to His service.

  182. Sean Gerety Says:

    Thus, now-a-days, infants are initiated into the service of God, whom they do not yet know, by baptism; because He marks them out as His own peculiar people, and claims them as His children when He ingrafts them into the body of Christ.

    Ah, what did Calvin know. He’s no Lawyer/theologian. Only those who can make a “credible” profession can be considered to be ingrafted into Christ. You’d think baptism provides for those in the CoG a picture of God’s sovereign election or some such nonsense. =8-P

  183. lawyertheologian Says:

    Well, of course I think Calvin mistakenly considered the Covenant of Circumcision to be the Covenant of Grace. The former could be broken in many ways (not circumcising your sons for example), the latter cannot be broken; for it has and will always be fulfilled by Christ. BTW, how it can be said that He ingrafts them in Christ, if they turn out not to be elect?

    “Roger Nicole and most modern Presbyterians believe that all infants who die are elect. I don’t agree. I believe only infants in the covenant are elect, meaning they are baptized children of believers in the covenant.”

    Well, it’s just a matter of the nature/degree of presumption. You just don’t want to think that God would take an infant’s life, especially a child of an elect, if such is not an elect. But God simply has not revealed to us regarding these cases. And again, you also don’t know whether any or your children, are elect, and will grow up believing the gospel.

  184. Sean Gerety Says:

    Well, of course I think Calvin mistakenly considered the Covenant of Circumcision to be the Covenant of Grace.

    Covenant of Circumcision??!! What do you think circumcision was a sign of? I hope you don’t try cases.

    I give up.


  185. There is no guarantee that the children of unbelievers who die in infancy and childhood are elect. But we do have a promise that the children of believers will be saved. This is not an “absolute” principle but we have no reason to doubt God’s promise. If there is an exception when the child grows up and departs from the face, that does not negate God’s certain and sure promises.

    God guarantees the salvation of our children if they die in infancy, however. It’s not a matter of what I want or don’t want. It’s a matter of God’s Word. He has promised us salvation. You have already seen the Scripture references but you keep refusing to believe God. You base your opinion on your lack of faith in God’s Word and I base mine on God’s certain and sure promises. God never breaks covenant with us.


  186. Thanks for quoting that Daniel. “Moses goes further, stating that their descendants were bound by the same covenant, as if already enthralled to God; and surely, since slavery passes on by inheritance, it ought not to appear absurd that the same right should be assigned to God which mortal men claim for themselves. What he says, then, is tantamount to reminding the Israelites that they covenanted with God in the name of their offspring, so as to devote both themselves and those belonging to them to His service.”

    What Calvin says here has nothing to do with an “absolute” election. But it does say that all are bound to be devoted to the covenant and this is passed on generationally just a slavery is passed on. We are slaves of God and we belong to His service.

  187. Sean Gerety Says:

    God guarantees the salvation of our children if they die in infancy, however.

    Just curious Charlie, while I agree there is an assumption concerning children dying in infancy, where is this either explicitly stated in Scripture? Or, can you provide the necessary deduction? I assume children of believers dying in infancy are saved, but I’m not sure how I would demonstrate or prove that? Maybe I should have knocked off my kids early on just to be safe ;)


  188. But we must remember that Calvin himself said that God is free to elect children of the reprobate and to reprobate children of the elect. But these are exceptions due to God’s sovereignty in making the decrees and not the norm. Furthermore, for those who are old enough to be morally accountable there is no excuse for rejecting Christ because they act of their own willful choice. For those who die outside the covenant and are unable to make a choice, they are left purely to God’s mercy. We cannot say that we can know if they are or are not elect.


  189. Sean, it’s a matter of faith in God’s promises to keep covenant in Genesis 17 and Acts 2:38ff among other places. We cannot “absolutely” know this as Calvin pointed out. God is free to elect or reprobate individuals in the covenant promises or outside the covenant promises. But why should a believer be concerned about a child who dies before baptism is applied or after? The covenant is still a valid promise to believers and we should not be overly concerned with such hypotheticals. We know God is just and we know that He keeps His covenant promises with His people. Exodus 20:4-6 says God keeps covenant with the righteous down to the 1,000th generation showing them mercy. But the curse of unbelief goes only to the 3rd or 4th generation.

    You rightfully point out that God is free to vary from this by His own secret and sovereign purposes. Who are we to argue with God?


  190. Sean, the Arminian should knock off his kids shortly after they are converted and baptized. That way they cannot backslid. Insure they will be eternally secure now. Don’t wait and take a chance.

    Besides, knocking off your children would cut you off from God’s blessings. You never know if you might be one of the reprobate if you do that.

  191. lawyertheologian Says:

    “Covenant of Circumcision??!! What do you think circumcision was a sign of?”

    Well, for some, like Abraham,it was a sign of his being in a righteous relationship with God. But for others (consider especially Ishmael and Esau) it served more broadly as a sign of allegiance to God.

    “I give up.”

    I WIN! HE BACKED DOWN! LOL!!!!!!!!!!


  192. The covenant sign given to Abraham was not a sign of his being in right relationship with God. Rather it was a sign of the covenant of grace which God initiated with Abraham. God called Abram from among the pagans and sovereigned designated him to be the father of many nations. Even Abraham’s faith is a gift of God so the right relationship is always a sovereign gift of God. It is never something Abraham initiates by working up faith within himself.

  193. lawyertheologian Says:

    Charlie, being in right relationship with God depends on the Covenant of Grace. It’s not one or the other. I just didn’t call it the Covenant of Grace because it is not specifically described in the Genesis texts. Yes, he believed in the atonement, in believing in the Promise concerning his seed.


  194. Yes, who is the seed in Genesis 17? And what is the “sign” given to mark them as the seed of Abraham?

  195. lawyertheologian Says:

    Abraham’s physical descendents. Circumcision, but not to mark them as the seed of Abraham, but to mark them as being in Covenant with God, God being their God and they being His people, that is, a nation whose leader is God.


  196. “Abraham’s physical descendents. Circumcision, but not to mark them as the seed of Abraham, but to mark them as being in Covenant with God, God being their God and they being His people, that is, a nation whose leader is God.”

    Oh, so it has nothing to do with those who like Abraham would believe? Which is it? Make up your mind. You’re starting to sound like a FVer. Is it objective and external or is it the spiritual seed referred to in Genesis 17? Or maybe there is both a visible aspect and an invisible election? Maybe the sign is applied to the natural seed but not all Israel is Israel?

  197. lawyertheologian Says:

    Charlie, how can I be any clearer. I said that the seed referred to in Gen.17 is physical. It is not spiritual as I believe the text makes clear. And the sign is not of being in the Covenant of Grace, but rather the Covenant of Circumcision (which was objective and external), that is, a promise of allegiance to God. We in the NT age do not make any covenant/promise to God; we simply believe in the Covenant (of Grace).


  198. Let’s see. You’re a Federal Visionist on the OT signs and a Dispensationalist on the NT fulfillment of the covenant of grace? There is only one covenant of grace, in case you were not aware of that. Furthermore, the NT over and over again refers to Abraham as the father of us all and that we are his offspring. (See Luke 1:55; Romans 4:16; Galatians 3:14-15, 18, 22).

    So the visible sign is given to all without discrimination but the covenant promises abide only with those who are circumcised in the heart by faith (Romans 2:29).

    It seems to me that there is only one covenant and only one church. The NT church supercedes the OT church but it now includes both Jews and Gentiles.

    Just as in the OT in the NT there is a sense in which the covenant is made with the natural seed of members of the NT church. Those who are born into Christian families are signed with baptism just as in the OT male children were circumcised and so were adult converts, btw. So being circumcised or baptized makes one a member of the church or assembly but not necessarily a member of the invisible church which is guaranteed the covenant of grace which God never breaks. Not everyone circumcised or baptized, whether infant or adult, is of the covenant of grace. Some are cut off. In other words, they are not all genuinely Jews in the OT or Christians in the NT. Some are never regenerated as infants or adults.

    Charlie

  199. Sean Gerety Says:

    We cannot “absolutely” know this as Calvin pointed out.

    Good point. Thanks.

    Sean, the Arminian should knock off his kids shortly after they are converted and baptized. That way they cannot backslid.

    And P&R folks should be careful to stay close to Scripture and its necessary inferences also. But, as you say, even Calvin says we can’t absolutely know if even the children of believers are necessarily saved; elect. I am of the opinion, one that I share with you, that they are. I just couldn’t help drawing out that little epistemological point. :)

    Thank you again.

  200. lawyertheologian Says:

    What’s the point of believing something that you can have no assurance from Scripture? If it’s in the Scripture, it can be known. If not, it cannot. Why not admit that the Bible doesn’t say and thus we simply don’t know whether infants who die in infancy our elect. Believing one way or the other doesn’t change the fact that you could be right or you could be wrong. Again, we simply don’t know one way or the other.


  201. Patrick said: “What’s the point of believing something that you can have no assurance from Scripture? If it’s in the Scripture, it can be known. If not, it cannot. Why not admit that the Bible doesn’t say and thus we simply don’t know whether infants who die in infancy our elect. Believing one way or the other doesn’t change the fact that you could be right or you could be wrong. Again, we simply don’t know one way or the other.”

    This is a complete misunderstanding of the covenant promises. Simply because there are exceptions does not mean we cannot trust God’s promises. Just as adult converts can and do commit apostasy, so can a baptized infant later commit apostasy. But since we are believing on his behalf and following through with our responsibility (also a command of the covenant) to teach and train up a child in the way he or she should go (and will not depart from it) we can have an “infallible” assurance that not only are we saved but also that our children will be saved. This is not an “absolute” assurance for we have no license to sin openly or neglect our duty as a Christian, but it can be and should be an “infallible” assurance. It is not based on an “objective” and “external” covenant but on God’s election, effectual calling and His Word.


  202. Patrick, you seem to be confusing two different issues here. The Reformed Baptist can agree with the Presbyterian on every single point I have made here except one: the infant actually being baptized as a sign of the covenant. Everything else I have said can be consistently upheld by the RB. I.e. that their children are promised salvation as part of the covenant of grace.

    Your position departs from even the Reformed Baptist position. The only argument between RBs and paedobaptists like Presbys and Anglicans, etc., is whether the infant should be baptized or not on the basis of the covenant signs.

    That is a significant point. You seem to think that the OT covenant is different. It is not. There is only one covenant of grace.

    39 Articles, Article 7:

    VII. Of the Old Testament.
    THE Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore there are not to be heard which feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet, notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.

    And the article on the sacraments is applicable here as well:

    Article XXV. Of the Sacraments.
    SACRAMENTS ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses and effectual signs of grace and God’s good will towards us, by the which He doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm, our faith in Him.
    There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord. . . .

    Article 25 is essentially the same definition given by John Calvin himself in the Institutes:

    1. Akin to the preaching of the gospel, we have another help to our faith in the sacraments, in regard to which, it greatly concerns us that some sure doctrine should be delivered, informing us both of the end for which they were instituted, and of their present use. First, we must attend to what a sacrament is. It seems to me, then, a simple and appropriate definition to say, that it is an external sign, by which the Lord seals on our consciences his promises of good-will toward us, in order to sustain the weakness of our faith, and we in our turn testify our piety towards him, both before himself, and before angels as well as men. We may also define more briefly by calling it a testimony of the divine favour toward us, confirmed by an external sign, with a corresponding attestation of our faith towards Him. You may make your choice of these definitions, which in meaning differ not from that of Augustine, which defines a sacrament to be a visible sign of a sacred thing, or a visible form of an invisible grace, but does not contain a better or surer explanation.

    Calvin, J., & Beveridge, H. (1996). Institutes of the Christian religion (electronic ed.) (IV, xiv, 1). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.

    Notice that Calvin places all the emphasis on the outward sign. So when we attest our faith in His promises for ourselves, we can likewise attest our faith in His promises for our children by likewise giving them the sign just as in the OT the children were signed or marked with circumcision. The emphasis here is on “faith” and not on any power of the sign itself. So there is nothing unbiblical about believing God’s promises or attesting that we and our children are under the promises.

    Also, note that Article 25 and Calvin both rely on Augustine’s definition of the sacrament as an outward sign of an inward grace. The inward grace creates faith in the heart and the sacraments nurture our faith by giving us a tangible connection to the Word of God preached. In other words, Word and sacrament are necessarily linked together. The true church is where the Gospel is rightly preached and the sacraments are duly and rightly administered.

    In Christ,

    Charlie


  203. Patrick, would you dare to say that God does not create faith in our children as we are faithful to train them up in the doctrines of Christ? Surely you would not say that it is “chance”? God is a personal God and a sovereign king over election. There is no reason to doubt that God cannot or does not elect through families: Exodus 20:6.

  204. lawyertheologian Says:

    “This is a complete misunderstanding of the covenant promises. Simply because there are exceptions does not mean we cannot trust God’s promises. Just as adult converts can and do commit apostasy, so can a baptized infant later commit apostasy. But since we are believing on his behalf and following through with our responsibility (also a command of the covenant) to teach and train up a child in the way he or she should go (and will not depart from it) we can have an “infallible” assurance that not only are we saved but also that our children will be saved. This is not an “absolute” assurance for we have no license to sin openly or neglect our duty as a Christian, but it can be and should be an “infallible” assurance. It is not based on an “objective” and “external” covenant but on God’s election, effectual calling and His Word.”

    This makes no sense whatsoever. You are simply trying to have your cake and eat it too. Look, you can say that God has promised to save more children of believers/elect than children of unbelievers/reprobate. But the promise you quote from Acts 2:39, even if it is to children of elect, and they alone, it does not mean that God hasn’t intended to save an equal or greater number from reprobate offspring. That is the fallacy of denying the antecedent.

    Nor does it affect the fact that your own children you have no way of knowing about. Again, why presume anything. Why not wait till they show themselves to be an elect by believing the gospel?

  205. lawyertheologian Says:

    “Patrick, would you dare to say that God does not create faith in our children as we are faithful to train them up in the doctrines of Christ?”

    Yes, I would. God regenerates a child or an adult at a point in time apart from and prior to their believing what we faithfully instruct.

    “There is no reason to doubt that God cannot or does not elect through families: Exodus 20:6.”

    I think there is plenty of reason to doubt that God elects through families, at least whole families. First, election is primarily an individual matter. That is, God decides/determines from a person by person choice. Thus, He chose Abraham, then Isaac but not Ishmael, Jacob and not Esau, and so on.

    BTW, Calvin mistranslated that verse. It doesn’t actually say “to thousands of generations”, but simply “to thousands.”


  206. Calvin drew the implication from the context, Patrick.

    It’s obvious to me that you refuse to accept the “plain” teaching of Scripture that election is both individual AND corporate. A “lawyer” should know this.

    It seems to me that you have adopted the lawyer mentality that arguing your case and winning is all that matters. But true Reformed and Protestant scholarship bases its case not on what can be “won” but on what is actually and factually true. Futhermore, the Scriptures are so plain that we can establish our case from the Scriptures in several places over and beyond your truncated and tendentious misreading of it. The covenant was made both with Abraham as an individual AND with the people of Israel as a whole. The giving of the law of Moses is proof enough of the latter.

    But your Anabaptist tendencies have blinded you to the more complete teaching of Scripture on this matter. So be it.


  207. I guess “more” of the reprobate are saved percentage wise apart from the appointed means? Maybe we should stop having church and let God sort them all out?

  208. lawyertheologian Says:

    “The covenant was made both with Abraham as an individual AND with the people of Israel as a whole.”

    Again, you fail to distinguish God’s personal individual election from the broader election of Israel as a people. Those are clearly two different things. One has to do with a redemptive salvation. The other has to do with an external non redemptive nationalistic geopolitical relationship.

  209. lawyertheologian Says:

    Reprobate are never saved. That is what it means to be reprobate. As to their children, they will be saved according to the appointed means like anyone. No one gets saved apart from hearing, understanding and believing the gospel. These are the appointed means.


  210. Patrick, if you were honest you would not cut out the qualifications I made when I said,

    would you dare to say that God does not create faith in our children as we are faithful to train them up in the doctrines of Christ? Surely you would not say that it is “chance”? God is a personal God and a sovereign king over election. There is no reason to doubt that God cannot or does not elect through families: Exodus 20:6.

    You deliberately left out the second half of what I said, thereby misrepresenting the context of the remark. Is this your usual tactic?


  211. Patrick said,

    Again, you fail to distinguish God’s personal individual election from the broader election of Israel as a people. Those are clearly two different things. One has to do with a redemptive salvation. The other has to do with an external non redemptive nationalistic geopolitical relationship.

    No, actually you are the one who fails to make that distinction. I accept both the individual and the corporate side of election. The communion of saints is God’s corporate election. Those who are members of the visible church are elect unless there is evidence to the contrary. Otherwise, what we are preaching is just another form of works righteousness whereby we work up our election by “our” faith, “our” works, “our” efforts, etc. But this is not the covenant of grace. The covenant of grace is that salvation is completely of God, including election, faith, repentance and every other element in the ordo salutis.

    If the Bible promises salvation on the basis of the covenant with Abraham, which foreshadows the coming of Christ, then we can stand firm and not doubting God’s power to bring about the results by His own sovereign will and graces/gifts.


  212. The appointed means, Patrick, are always the preaching of the Gospel/Word and the duly administered sacraments which are signs to strengthen our faith. Since the preaching and the sacraments through the local church are God’s means of saving the elect, who are you to tell someone else to whom the sign can or cannot be administered? You are welcome to your Anabaptist opinions, but the consistent message of Scripture is that the promises are to us and to our children, a fact that all Reformed believers accept, including Baptists. Your view is not even the Reformed Baptist view. While we might disagree about giving the sign to infants, Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians are agreed that the covenant promises are for our children through the Gospel and through God’s sovereign will. (Deuteronomy 29:29; Romans 16:25-27)

    I think the problem with Reformed Baptists is there is an appeal to the “free offer” and the “common grace” positions, which are essentially a departure from Calvinism back in the Arminian direction. These doctrines have already been refuted many times over by the Protestant Reformed Church and others. P.122 of Samuel E. Waldron’s commentary on the London Baptist Confession of Faith says,

    The doctrine of this text that God earnestly desires the salvation of every man who hears the gospel and thus freely offers Christ to them is confirmed throughout the rest of Scripture. The Bible teaches that the good gifts which God bestows upon men in general, including the non-elect, are manifestations of God’s general love and common grace towards them (Matt. 5:43-48; Luke 6:35; Acts 14:17). While they do serve to increase the guilt of those who misuse them, this is not the sole intention of God towards the non-elect in giving them. The Scriptures teach that God desires the good of even those who never come to experience the good wished for them by God (Deut. 5:29; 32:29; Ps. 81:13-16; Isa. 48:18). . .

    Samuel E. Waldron. A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. (Durham: Evangelical Press, 1989). Second edition 1995. P. 122.

    It is no coincidence that Waldron makes these kinds of remarks in connection with chapter 7 of the confession, which deals with the covenant of grace. The appeal to the “free offer”, “sincere offer”, and “common grace” is not Calvinist or Reformed theology but rather a capitulation to Arminianism introduced by Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck in the 19th century.

    While you make a great show of pretending to uphold God’s sovereignty, Patrick, the real source of your denial of infant baptism is your incipient Arminianism. How can the consistent Reformed position uphold that God reprobates before the foundation of the world while saying that God “loves” the reprobate and “sincerely” offers salvation to them? This is a particularly hard question for Arminians and promoters of common grace. God “loves” those whom He has reprobated by sovereign decree, those whom He withholds sovereign and effectual grace? How is this consistent? Either Romans 9 is correct or it isn’t. Clearly God “hates” the reprobate before they are born and so how could God “sincerely” offer Pharaoh salvation when God specifically says in Scripture that He will harden Pharaoh and that God gives mercy and hardens by His own sovereign choice? The idea that God is somehow obligated to “love” objects of His wrath is just illogical and inconsistent. (Ephesians 2:3; John 3:36).

    Fact is, God’s appointed means of saving His elect remains in and through the local church which is the visible body of Christ on earth. Those outside the church, like those outside Israel in the OT, have little to no opportunity to be saved apart from God’s intervention by sovereign grace. Those within Israel are not all Israel. No one is arguing otherwise. However, that does not remove the fact that the covenant promises are normative to Israel in the OT and the local and visible congregation in the NT which properly preaches the law/Gospel and duly administers the sacraments. God can and does at times work outside the appointed means but by and large the normative means are the local congregation, the preaching and teaching of the Gospel and the right administration of the sacraments as visible signs of the Gospel meant to strengthen our faith. They are object lessons of the Word.


  213. Article XXVII
    Of Baptism
    Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christian men are discerned from other that be not christened, but is also a sign of regeneration or new birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God, by the Holy Ghost are visibly signed and sealed; faith is confirmed, and grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God. The baptism of young children is in any wise to be retained in the Church as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.

    Article XXVII of the 39 Articles.

  214. lawyertheologian Says:

    Charlie, I did not see any “qualification” in what you said, just an obvious statement regarding faith being a matter a chance. If I misunderstand what you mean, try stating it differently.

  215. lawyertheologian Says:

    “Those who are members of the visible church are elect unless there is evidence to the contrary. Otherwise, what we are preaching is just another form of works righteousness whereby we work up our election by “our” faith, “our” works, “our” efforts, etc.”

    That simply doesn’t follow. But maybe I’m taking you out of context. :)


  216. Waldron does not properly distinguish the Anglicans of the English Reformation from the later deterioration of Anglicanism into the Tractarian/Anglo-Catholic error:

    1. The fundamental distinction in the church historically

    That distinction is between those who have affirmed baptismal regeneration (sacramentalists) and those who have denied it (anti-sacramentalists). Sacramentalists include Catholics, Lutherans and Anglicans, while anti-sacramentalists have included those in the Reformed tradition. In paragraph 1 the Confession classes itself with the anti-sacramentalist Westminster and Savoy Confessions. The doctrine of baptismal regeneration logically and ethically requires infant baptism. At the time of the Reformation those who held this doctrine often defended infant baptism on the grounds of church tradition.

    2. The fundamental cleavage among anti-sacramentalists

    After the Reformation two groups of anti-sacramentalists emerged: the Baptists who opposed infant baptism and the paedo-baptists who supported it. The paedo-baptists, having rejected both the Roman Catholic view of regeneration and their doctrine of the authority of tradition, were forced to construct a biblical rationale for infant baptism. . . .

    Waldron, pp.347-48.

    There are several problems with Waldron’s assumptions here. First of all, he seems completely unaware that the 39 Articles of Religion is a Reformed statement or confession of faith. While it may be true that Anglicanism has degenerated into “sacerdotalism” and Anglo-Catholicism and even pelagianism and theological relativism, it is not true that the formulary confession of faith, the 39 Articles, teaches baptismal regeneration. Anyone who has read Articles 25, 27 and 28 would never contend that the Articles teach baptismal regeneration. This is most certainly not the case. The Church of England is clearly on the Calvinist and Zwinglian side of the theology of the sacraments.

    Furthermore, the idea that Presbyterians, Dutch and Swiss Reformed, and Anglican Reformed are not “sacramentalists” is likewise wrong. There is a distinction between sacerdotalism and sacramentalism. Lutherans, Reformed Anglicans, and Presbyterians/Swiss/Dutch Reformed, etc. are all sacramentalists, though there is a very strong disagreement between the Reformed teaching on the sacraments and the Lutheran view. That being said, the Lutherans cannot properly be called sacerdotalists since they reject apostolic succession and numerous other Roman Catholic errors. The Lutherans agree with the Reformed that word and sacrament are intimately tied together.

    The truth is the Reformed Baptists are closer to the Anapbaptists in their idea of “mere” memorialism. Even Zwingli did not go that far and Zwingli never reject infant baptism.

    Finally, Waldron says that paedo-baptists have a commitment to tradition and seek to substantiate it through Scripture. His point, however, applies to Baptist “tradition” as well. Traditions of every kind must be submitted to the test of Scripture so Waldron has no advantage here. His view as well must be tested by Scripture.

    The point to be taken, however, is that Scripture seems to uphold the principle of the covenant being expressed through the NT church as the visible assembly of God’s people while the two sacraments are visible signs of our inward faith wrought by the Holy Spirit. Not only does Scripture uphold paedobaptism but the practice of infant baptism was normative all the way back to the first century. Credo-baptism is nowhere emphasized or made an issue until the Anabaptists come on the scene.

  217. lawyertheologian Says:

    “You are welcome to your Anabaptist opinions, but the consistent message of Scripture is that the promises are to us and to our children, a fact that all Reformed believers accept, including Baptists. Your view is not even the Reformed Baptist view. While we might disagree about giving the sign to infants, Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians are agreed that the covenant promises are for our children through the Gospel and through God’s sovereign will. (Deuteronomy 29:29; Romans 16:25-27) ”

    Again, all I have been saying is that no one is promised that their own children are elect. I think every Reformer would agree with that. And secondly, we don’t baptize those who might be elect, we baptize only those who make profession of faith. That all Reformed Baptists would agree.

    Let me know if you want to discuss this further, or if you just want to go on ranting.


  218. Waldron:

    4. The fundamental difference in Baptist responses to this argument

    There is the non-reformed Baptist response. Its representatives are Anabaptists and Mennonites stemming from the sixteenth century and Dispensationalists arising in the nineteenth century. Both these groups deny the fundamental unity of the Bible and of God’s covenant dealings with his people. They, therefore, do not appreciate or grapple with the paedo-baptist argument from the covenants and regard the New Testament data as itself conclusive for believer’s baptism.

    Kingdon properly remarks of such Baptists: “Now the reaction of many present-day Baptists to the type of reasoning expounded here is to dismiss it very simply in one sentence as “Old Testament” teaching. The assumption is that it has no relevance to the New Testament. When confronted with the analogy between circumcision and baptism they deny that there is any connection whatsoever between the two ordinances . . . Now such a reaction on the part of non-Reformed Baptists is calculated to earn the scorn of any well-instructed paedo-baptist of the Reformed tradition and rightly so!

    . . .The reformed Baptist response admits that in the unity of God’s covenantal dealings, there is a certain parallel or analogy between circumcision and baptism (Rom. 4:11; Col. 2:11-12). Both were rites or symbols of induction into the covenant people of god.

    Waldron, p. 349.

    Patrick, in light of the above quote, I have ask if you are well informed of the complete teaching on the subject of the covenant of grace by the Reformed Baptists and by their Baptist Confession of 1689?

    Charlie


  219. The end of the quote from Kingdon should be after “. . . and rightly so!”[5] 5. David Kingdon, Children of Abraham, (Carey Publications 1975), p. 17.


  220. Patrick:

    Again, all I have been saying is that no one is promised that their own children are elect. I think every Reformer would agree with that. And secondly, we don’t baptize those who might be elect, we baptize only those who make profession of faith. That all Reformed Baptists would agree.

    Let me know if you want to discuss this further, or if you just want to go on ranting

    Well, I have never said we can absolutely know who is elect and who is not. What I did say is that we are promised salvation in the covenant of grace and in the Gospel preached. God’s appointed means are the preaching of the Gospel and the sacraments and the church. Since God only knows the elect in the absolute sense, there is no reason to reject adult believers or their baptized children who are accepted based on the faith of their parents. Unfaithful parents can give nothing to their children.

    I hardly call my responses “ranting” since I have given long and detailed responses to your dogmatic aphorisms. In fact, “ranting” might be more consistent with your own approach.


  221. Patrick said: Reprobate are never saved. That is what it means to be reprobate. As to their children, they will be saved according to the appointed means like anyone. No one gets saved apart from hearing, understanding and believing the gospel. These are the appointed means.

    I don’t know of anyone who is Reformed who has ever said the reprobate are saved. Not even Calvin would say such a thing. There are two passages in Hebrews which say that they partake temporarily of the divine things through the visible participation in the church and the word and sacraments. But that does not mean they were “saved.” It means they had an outward “appearance” of being a Christian but were false/nominal Christians and never truly Christian to begin with. (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-29).


  222. In a court of law the weight of the evidence should prevail. That is not always the case. However, in theology the situation is different. Scripture is the final authority not the human judge or jury. Sometimes the minority view correct and the majority view is heretical. Regardless, we must remember that churches, councils, and men can and do err.

  223. lawyertheologian Says:

    “don’t know of anyone who is Reformed who has ever said the reprobate are saved. Not even Calvin would say such a thing.”

    You said such a thing. Don’t you remember, or don’t you realize what you are saying?

    “I guess “more” of the reprobate are saved percentage wise apart from the appointed means? Maybe we should stop having church and let God sort them all out?”


  224. Nice try, Patrick. I guess you don’t understand sarcasm when you see it: You said such a thing. Don’t you remember, or don’t you realize what you are saying?

    “I guess ‘more’ of the ‘reprobate’ are saved percentage wise apart from the appointed means? Maybe we should stop having church and let God sort them all out?”

    But the real point is you can only pick out one short statement. You have not bothered to read the quotes I posted from Samuel E. Waldron. Waldron clearly doesn’t understand that the common grace and free offer are unbiblical and are actually more related to Arminianism.

    Secondly, even Waldron admits that the covenant in the OT is the same covenant of grace in the NT. You tried to distance yourself from the covenant in the OT by saying it is “external” which it is not. There are external signs and a “visible” church. But the covenant of grace is God’s dealings with the elect. My statement about the reprobate being saved was meant to point out that election belongs to the church for that is the primary means God works, which is through the covenant.
    The reprobate are lost. And those who are outside the covenant, who are not part of the visible church, can only be reached by preaching the Gospel. Those who are elect outside the church are still reached by the appointed means: preaching, sacraments and the visible church. The exceptions are so small as to be meaningless.

    Likewise, if we know the church is preaching and teaching the Gospel and properly administering the sacraments and church discipline, we have no reason to doubt the salvation or election of its baptized members, including infants. It’s all a matter of faith on our part. If you insist on doubting God’s Word and His promises, be my guest.

    Those outside the range of the preaching of the Gospel have no general call and therefore no effectual call (<a href="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%2010:14-15&version=ESVRomans 10:14-17). This is also the reason Jesus gives the great commission in Matthew 28:18-19, etc.

    I find it interesting that even a Reformed Baptist like Waldron disagrees with your position:

    . . .The reformed Baptist response admits that in the unity of God’s covenantal dealings, there is a certain parallel or analogy between circumcision and baptism (Rom. 4:11; Col. 2:11-12). Both were rites or symbols of induction into the covenant people of god. Waldron, p. 349.

    The covenant is obviously not just with individuals but with the “seed”, meaning many believers who are elect.

    The fulfillment of the covenant of grace is through God’s appointed means:

    5. This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel: (2 Cor. 3:6–9) under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come; (Heb. 8–10, Rom. 4:11. Col. 2:11–12, 1 Cor. 5:7) which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, (1 Cor. 10:1–4, Heb. 11:13, John 8:56) by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the old Testament. (Ga. 3:7–9,14)
    6. Under the gospel, when Christ, the substance, (Col. 2:17) was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: (Matt. 28:19–20, 1 Cor. 11:23–25) which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory, yet, in them, it is held forth in more fullness, evidence, and spiritual efficacy, (Heb. 12:22–27, Jer. 31:33–34) to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles; (Matt. 28:19, Eph. 2:15–19) and is called the new Testament. (Luke 22:20) There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations. (Gal. 3:14,16, Acts 15:11, Rom. 3:21–23,30, Ps. 32:1, Rom. 4:3,6,16–17,23–24, Heb. 13:8)

    The Westminster confession of faith : An authentic modern version. 1985 (Rev. EPC ed.). Signal Mountain, TN: Summertown Texts.


  225. It seems to me, Patrick, that you’re not even clear on your own position, much less the Presbyterian or Anglican position as put forward in their respective confessions of faith.

    Charlie


  226. Regarding my contention that the families of elect believers have an advantage Loraine Boettner says:

    Some are born in Christian and civilized lands where they are carefully educated and watched over; others are born in complete heathen darkness. As a general rule the child that is surrounded with the proper Christian influences becomes a devout Christian and lives a life of great service, while the other whose character is formed under the influence of corrupt teaching and example lives in wickedness and dies impenitent. The one is saved and the other is lost. And will any one deny that the influences favorable to salvation are brought to bear upon some individuals are far more favorable thatn those brought to bear upon others? Will it not be candidly admitted by every candid individual that if the persons had changed places, they probably would have changed characters also?–that if the son of the godly parents had been the son of infidels, and had lived under the same corrupting influences, he would, in all probability, have died in his sins? In His mysterious providence God has placed persons under widely different influences, and the results are widely different.

    Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, p. 265.

    I myself was NOT born into a Christian family. We did not attend church or read the Bible or pray. But God saw fit in His mercy to allow me to hear the Gospel and be saved. But I DO live in the south and in the Bible belt where there are conservative and evangelical churches and where the basics of the Gospel are preached. This, too, is an advantage over those in heathen lands. However, I think Loraine Boettner’s point cannot be denied. This is not to say that God does not work outside the box but that God normally and normatively works through the church.

    XVIII. Of obtaining eternal salvation only by the name of Christ.
    THEY also are to be had accursed that presume to say that every man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law and the light of nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out to us only the name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.

    Article 18

  227. lawyertheologian Says:

    Interestingly, HH in his “Reformed Dogmatics” refers to John Gill as having written the best arguments against paedobaptism, describes them briefly, claims that their not too convincing, but then doesn’t really deal with them.

    BTW, I had thought of the same arguments as Gill and didn’t know anyone had considered such until I read Gill.


  228. I used to believe in the credo-baptism position because the paedo view “sounded” Roman Catholic. I had never heard a clear presentation of the paedo view prior to listening to R.C. Sproul. I know the general arguments in favor of the credo view since that was my position for years as a pentecostal.

    However, after actually looking at the Scriptures and the Reformed view as it acually is understood by the Reformed, I saw that many of the arguments used against it were caricatures and not actual. And, as Hoeksema points out, there is solid biblical evidence supporting paedo-baptism whether the other side wishes to acknowledge it or not. The strongest argument is that even though the covenant of grace is spiritual even in the OT, infants were still signed with circumcision. So if the covenant is only for adults, why did God command infants to be circumcised? The only way around this covenantal emphasis for Baptists, as Hoeksema points out, is to opt for some sort of discontinuity of the covenant of grace in the OT and in the NT. But that is not the Reformed position. Practically all the Reformed confessions uphold the idea that there is only one covenant of grace.

    Charlie

  229. Sean Gerety Says:

    refers to John Gill as having written the best arguments against paedobaptism, describes them briefly, claims that their not too convincing, but then doesn’t really deal with them.

    Doesn’t really deal with them? What are you talking about? After carefully laying out Gill’s central arguments, Hoeksema proceeds with over 12 pages of careful argumentation from Scripture demonstrating where and exactly how Gill’s arguments fail.

  230. lawyertheologian Says:

    That’s not what I read. He lays out about a dozen of Gill’s arguments, then proceeds in the next section “The Grounds for Infant Baptism” to simply argue against all of them and other Baptists by simply setting out to show that “children belong to the covenant and church of God, and therefore should be baptized.” He claims this is the crux of the question. Also, two of Gill’s arguments he claims to be of little significance, which I believe are very significant and need to be dealt with. One is that the covenant with Abraham and his carnal seed and, therefore, included such men as Ishmael.

  231. lawyertheologian Says:

    “The strongest argument is that even though the covenant of grace is spiritual even in the OT, infants were still signed with circumcision. So if the covenant is only for adults, why did God command infants to be circumcised? The only way around this covenantal emphasis for Baptists, as Hoeksema points out, is to opt for some sort of discontinuity of the covenant of grace in the OT and in the NT. But that is not the Reformed position.”

    Blah, blah, blah. I have heard this all before. It is so unconvincing. It does not address what is really at the crux of the matter.


  232. The covenant is not with Ismael.


  233. Besides, Reformed Baptists don’t like John Gill because he’s allegedly a “hyper-Calvinist” who rejects “common grace.” Probably because it didn’t exist yet.

  234. Sean Gerety Says:

    The covenant is not with Ismael.

    Haven’t we been saying that all along?

    The covenant is made exclusively with Christ and the elect. Pat makes the same error as the FV men. The Covenant is not a promise to all those that are circumcised or baptized, but only to those chosen by God in Christ; the elect. Frankly, many P&R folk don’t seem to understand this, why should a Baptist?

  235. lawyertheologian Says:

    The Covenant made with Abraham (covenant of circumcision)was certainly with Ishmael, and every other Jewish decendent. His being circumcised made him a part of the covenant.


  236. Well, you need to go back and read Galatians again. You might want to try reading Romans as well. “Not all Israel is Israel.” The child of the promise is Isaac, not Ishmael. Circumcision alone is not proof that Ishmael is a child of the promise or of the covenant. Isaac is the child of the promise, not Ishmael.

  237. lawyertheologian Says:

    Yes, most Reformed Baptists are hypo Calvinists like Spurgeon, who referred to us as hyper calvinists, for believing that God doesn’t desire the salvation of the reprobate, that the gospel is God’s means of calling out the elect, rather than an invitation for all to receive salvation.

    But again, Charles, I don’t know why you keep presenting unrelated, irrelevant information. Why can’t you just stick to what’s being said?

  238. lawyertheologian Says:

    Again, Abraham’s covenant is NOT the covenant of grace. Though it pictures it to some extent, the covenant of grace was made with Christ. Thus, some but not all who were in the covenant of circumcision were in the covenant of grace. Again, look at Genesis. Clearly, everyone who was circumcised were in the Abrahamic covenant, including Ishmael and Esau. Again, if these are one and the same covenant, it makes no sense for God to tell Abraham to circumcise Ishmael, when they both know that Ishmael is not within the covenant of grace. Do you think they were just pretending that he was in it?

  239. Sean Gerety Says:

    You’re wrong.

    Romans 9:6-7: “But it is not that the Word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called’”

    You need to spend time studying Paul’s entire argument. God made no covenant with all the circumcised decedents of Abraham.

  240. lawyertheologian Says:

    No, Sean, you are wrong. It is not about who are the (spiritual) seed of Abraham. The Romans text is not teaching who is in the Abrahamic covenant. God did indeed make a covenant with all the circumcised decendents of Abraham. Otherwise, they would not be able to break that covenant. Ishmael received the sign that he was in the covenant, that he was promising allegiance to God.

    BTW, is this best place to have a full on discussion on paedobaptism? Do you want to create a separate page for that? Again, it wasn’t my intent to make this a full on discussion/debate on paedobaptism, but if that’s what you want, I’ll continue to show the absurdity of the view, not to mention its nonbiblical support. Clearly, it is not commanded. And implicit commands are nonsense.

  241. Sean Gerety Says:

    Yeah, you’re right Pat. The Apostle Paul was wrong.

    You win.


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