A Standing Judicial Setback

While the verdict is still out on the question can the Presbyterian Church in America be saved, there was a recent setback in the attempt to require TE Joshua Moon account for his thorough defense of the Federal Vision being advanced by TE Greg Lawrence in the Siouxlands Presbytery(SLP).  The Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) denied a complaint charging that the SLP erred in not finding a “strong presumption of guilt” in their cursory and superficial examination of Moon.   This decision was a surprising reversal of the decision made by a preliminary panel of the SJC earlier this year that found that the Siouxlands Presbytery did err in “finding no strong presumption of guilt”  in the case of Moon.  It would seem that the dissenting arguments raised by David Coffin were enough to convince the entire SJC to reverse the panel’s decision.

I confess, when I first read Coffin’s dissent I can’t say I completely disagreed with his reasoning.  It seemed to me that Coffin’s argument was essentially that the investigative process was not necessary since the basis for the complaint against Moon was already part of the public record, and, as such, there was nothing to investigate. Rather than an investigation, which the SLP did conduct, albeit not to the satisfaction of the complaining party, charges should have been filed against Moon instead.  Again, and assuming I understood Coffin correctly, I can’t completely disagree with his reasoning.

Where I do find myself in disagreement with the SJC’s decision is their argument that Moon’s presumed guilt in his defense of Lawrence rests on a non sequitur.  They argued:

Complainants hold that TE Moon’s defense of certain views of TE Lawrence, as views within the permissible latitude afforded by the PCA’s standard for subscription, implies that TE Moon shares in the alleged errors of TE Lawrence. But this is a non sequitur. It may be illustrated as follows: it is widely held that paedo-communion is a permissible minority view within the PCA, but it does not follow that all who consider it permissible, hold to the position of paedocommunion.

First, I confess I did not know that paedocommunion was permissible within the PCA, which is troubling in itself seeing that WLC 177 states: “the Lord’s Supper is to be administered often . . . and that only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves.” However, even if paedocommunion is acceptable in the PCA, the situation with Moon is more akin to someone defending paedocommunion because he agrees that shoving bread and pouring wine into the mouths of unthinking children and infants is a good and God honoring thing to do.  After all, Moon said he agrees with the views advanced by Lawrence:

The fact is, what TE Lawrence says on baptism is held in various ways and with various nuances by a lot of people in our PCA: from ministers and elders here in this Presbytery, myself included, to professors at our (emphasis in original) theological seminary, and even almost entire Presbyteries.

Tellingly and subsequent to making the above admission as part of his floor speech in defense of Lawrence, Moon asked that the paragraph be removed from the Presbytery’s minutes arguing: “I had made these changes prior to submitting the paper to Mr. Golly [SLP’s stated clerk] in good faith, prior to any complaints or actions being taken against me.”  Clearly Moon was just trying to cover his backside.  But the above confession alone should have been enough for the SJC, at the very least, to require the SLP conduct a more thorough investigation of Moon.  Besides, there were  many other things Moon did say that weren’t  later expunged from the public record that should have been more than enough for any sound presbytery to find a “strong presumption of guilt” (see below).

Even more troubling, the SJC was either unwilling or unable to see through the SLP’s duplicity and delinquency in its hasty exoneration of Moon.  They point to “TE Moon’s express and specific denials of the heterodoxy alleged in the Overture, and his affirmations of orthodoxy. The only question, then, is with respect to TE Moon’s credibility.”  No kidding.  However, in the judgment of the SJC they “must defer to Presbytery’s judgment, unless there is a finding of ‘clear error.’”

Of course, the SJC should have recognized the “clear error” rests in Moon’s positive defense of Lawrence including his admissions that Lawrence’s views are his own, contrasted by his questionable affirmations of orthodoxy only after the Presbytery turned its attention in his direction.  Clearly you can’t be orthodox while actively sharing and promoting Lawrence’s views and claiming his views fall within the bound of orthodoxy.    This was a point that didn’t go unnoticed by SJC’s preliminary panel when they wrote:

TE Moon here states very strongly that none of his own views are out of accord with our Standards. TE Moon also stated in his paper to defend his motion, “To assert that TE Lawrence is out of accord with our Standards would be a terrible error of judgment by his presbytery.” As long as TE Moon does not recant this statement regarding the views of TE Lawrence, this statement serves as a measure of TE Moon’s understanding of conformity to our Standards . . . Based on this evidence and these considerations, we hold that TE Moon’s defense of his motion did provide a strong presumption of guilt which warranted the further investigation of his views in a trial.

It would seem that the entire SJC reversing its position in their final decision was due to the fact that they confused the logical fallacies on which the case against Moon rests. Instead of a non sequitur the SJC should have recognized the glaring contradiction in Moon’s testimony.

So, for review, let us look again at just a smattering of Moon’s positive affirmations of the Federal Vision being advanced by Lawrence and others within the PCA.  For example, consider this extended quote from Moon:

We are told that the language of union with Christ cannot be attributed in any sense to the baptized indiscriminately – that it cannot be true for the reprobate. Yet John 15 and Romans 11 both use the language of being “in Christ”, which is union with Christ. And they use that language in speaking of those who might finally be (or have been) cut off. In both cases it is covenantal union in Christ that is then broken. And in both cases the possibility and the reality exist of apostasy. Paul in Romans 11 even speaks of those branches who are being “nourished by the root” who are then cut off.

This language is simply an extension of the marriage and covenant metaphors everywhere present in the prophets: the Lord calls them “my people,” even when they are apostate. “My people are judged for lack of knowledge,” the Lord says in Jeremiah – and knowledge here is faithfulness. Union with Christ language is applied “in some sense” to the reprobate throughout Scripture.

As a personal aside, my own field of scholarly work, such as it is, is in the prophetic books – Jeremiah and Hosea in particular. And I will simply say that I have no idea how someone can make sense of the prophetic books in the terms you are being asked to declare as the only orthodox terms. You remove the concepts of covenantal union, marriage, adoption, forgiveness – or qualify those concepts so that they don’t mean what they seem to mean – you do that and you cut the heart out of what the prophets say again and again and again. I don’t know how to read Hosea’s interaction with Gomer except in terms of union and marriage, or Gomer’s children except in terms of adoption. I cannot read Jeremiah’s moving sermons except that what the people possessed – actually, truly possessed – they turned their back on. The position of the complaint appears to be that the apostate does not in fact possess anything of union, adoption, new life, or these other matters. But such a position can only be held if you rip most of the prophets out of your Bible, or at least make them insignificant for theological discussion. I, for one, will not agree to either course.

Notice, according to Moon to deny that the baptized reprobate are united with Christ, at least in some unspecified sense that includes adoption, new life, and the forgiveness of sins specifically, would require that we “rip most of the prophets” out of our bibles.  And, most importantly, this conclusion is based on Moon’s own “scholarly work.”  To say that the complaint against Moon rests on a non sequitur is simply untrue.  The view of union with Christ via water baptism that Moon advances is not something that he disagrees with, here Moon admits again that Lawrence’s view of baptism is his own.  Moon defends Lawrence’s Federal Vision because he agrees with it.  I fail to see how the charges leveled in the the complainant against Moon does not follow?  The SJC completely dropped the ball here.

But why stop there?  Moon provides a number of exegetical arguments in support of his and Lawrence’s view, including his take on the parable of the unmerciful servant mentioned above:

We are told by the complainants that you cannot attribute forgiveness of sins to the potential reprobate. But that is clearly wrong. The unmerciful servant, Jesus says, was ‘forgiven his debt.’  He moved from a state of condemnation to true and real forgiveness.  This was no pretended forgiveness. Yet the servant was finally apostate, failed to live up to the grace shown to him, and so the privilege of that forgiveness was revoked.

There are so many things wrong with this statement that it boggles the mind how any presbytery could allow Moon to continue to preach from one of its pulpits.  First, what on earth is a “potential reprobate”?  I confess, I don’t recall seeing “potential reprobate” mentioned anywhere in the Confession. For example, concerning the purpose of the final judgment the Confession states: “The end of God’s appointing this day is for the manifestation of the glory of his mercy in the eternal salvation of the elect, and of his justice in the damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient.”  No “potential reprobate” here.  But think about it, according to Moon’s scheme, one that he says is based on his reading of Scripture, the Reformed tradition, and his “own scholarly work,” all baptized persons are united to Christ, receive forgiveness of sins, are cleansed, adopted, and have all the benefits of covenant membership in “some sense.”  Therefore, while one baptized and forgiven sinner united to Christ might be “potentially reprobate,” another might be “potentially elect.”  And, what is the means or instrument by which one is either a “potential reprobate” or “potential elect”?  That has to do with whether or not he lives “up to the grace shown to him.”  Failure to live up to this grace results in having their “forgiveness . . . revoked.”  Notice too that for Moon forgiveness of sins is a “privilege” to be lived up to, not a gift.   Again, there can be no mistake that what Moon is contending for is not something that is “within the permissible latitude afforded by the PCA’s standard for subscription” even though he might personally disagree with it, he is stating positively that those complaining against Lawrence are “clearly wrong.”

I think there can be no doubt that the SJC erred in their decision and the SLP erred in not finding a “strong presumption of guilt” in their superficial examination of Moon.  Thankfully, and despite what seems to be a major setback, the SJC did appear to leave the door open to possible future prosecution of Moon. They wrote:

Process against TE Moon could still be instituted by some person or persons who would undertake to make out a proper charge pursuant to BCO 32-2. Upon such a charge being laid before the Presbytery, the Presbytery must follow BCO 32-3, subject to BCO 31-8.

Admittedly, Wes White previously attempted to lay charges against Moon but was prevented from doing so by his presbytery.  Now it seems that should some “person or persons” decide to bring charges against Moon, provided the charge is made out properly and in accordance with BCO guidelines,  the SLP will now be required to go to trial.  Consequently, there is still some hope for the PCA, if only slight.

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66 Comments on “A Standing Judicial Setback”

  1. drake Says:

    Sean said,
    “Notice, according to Moon to deny that the baptized reprobate are united with Christ, at least in some unspecified sense that includes adoption, new life, and the forgiveness of sins specifically, would require that we “rip most of the prophets” out of our bibles. And, most importantly, this conclusion is based on Moon’s own “scholarly work.”

    The issue here is that the cov. of red. is different than the cov. of grace. Unbelievers in the Covenant of Grace have a certain non-salvific, legally binding union to Christ while remaining at the same time under Adam and the Covenant of Works. Unbelievers (baptized reprobate) are not represented by Christ in the Covenant of Redemption nor have a union to Him with respect to it. The distinction between the Covenant of Redemption and the Covenant of Grace define the nature and function of union to Christ differently. At the end of the Assembly the internal approbation and the external administration of the cov. of grace were still being confused at this time. This was cleared up later in the Sum of Saving Knowledge

    The Sum of Saving Knowledge states,

    “2b The sum of the Covenant of Redemption is this: God having freely chosen to life a certain number of lost mankind, for the glory of his rich grace, did give them, before the world began, to God the Son, appointed Redeemer, that, upon condition he would humble himself so far as to assume the human nature, of a soul and a body, to personal union with his divine nature, and submit himself to the law, as surety for them, and satisfy justice for them, by giving obedience in their name, even to the suffering of the cursed death of the cross, he should ransom and redeem them all from sin and death, and purchase to them righteousness and eternal life, with all saving graces leading there to, to be effectually, by means of his own appointment, applied in due time to every one of them. This condition the Son of God (who is Jesus Christ our Lord) did accept before the world began, and in the fulness of time came into the world, was born of the Virgin Mary, subjected himself to the law, and completely paid the ransom on the cross: But by virtue of the foresaid bargain, made before the world began, he is in all ages, since the fall of Adam, still upon the work of applying actually the purchased benefits of the elect; and that he does by way of entertaining a covenant of free grace and reconciliation with them, through faith in himself; by which covenant, he makes over to every believer a right and interest to himself, and to all his blessings”

    “2c For the accomplishment of this Covenant of Redemption, and making the elect partakers of the benefits of it in the Covenant of Grace, Christ Jesus was clad with the threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King: made a Prophet, to reveal all saving knowledge to his people, and persuade them to believe and obey the same; made a Priest, to offer up himself a sacrifice once for them all, and to intercede continually with the Father, for making their persons and services acceptable to him; and made a King, to subdue them to himself, to feed and rule them by his own appointed ordinances, and to defend them from their enemies.”

    You guys will never be able to shut these FV mouths until you abandon the American system and come back to the Scottish Theology. I suggest Covenant of Life Opened by Rutherford pages 401-474.

    The covenant of redemption is redemption acomplished, the cov of grace is redemption applied.

  2. Sean Gerety Says:

    Unbelievers in the Covenant of Grace have a certain non-salvific, legally binding union to Christ while remaining at the same time under Adam and the Covenant of Works. Unbelievers (baptized reprobate) are not represented by Christ in the Covenant of Redemption nor have a union to Him with respect to it. The distinction between the Covenant of Redemption and the Covenant of Grace define the nature and function of union to Christ differently.

    I don’t agree. I think the problem lies, in part, with a mis-understanding of the CoG. “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.”

    The CoG is made with the elect and their believing seed.

  3. Drake Says:

    I know the fv guys use these verses but so do Presbyterians historically againt baptists: heb 10:29, and 2 pet 2:1 and heb 4:1. This seems pretty clear: there are unbelievers in the cov of grace.

    In reference to your passages, those are the elect children in the cov of redemption I.e. Those who are in Christ with respect to the cov. Of red.

  4. Sean Gerety Says:

    “In reference to your passages, those are the elect children in the cov of redemption I.e. Those who are in Christ with respect to the cov. Of red.”

    Again, I disagree. Besides, the WCF knows nothing of a CoG with the reprobate, even the baptized variety. Further, if the CoG is merely the working out in time of the CoR which was from eternity, then I think it follows that God made no covenant with the baptized reprobate. Romans 2:28 “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.” Now you might argue that Paul’s reference here too is the CoR, but I disagree.

    The Jews whom Paul was addressing failed to understand the nature of the CoG just as the FV men do. This is why the FV men are correctly identified as neo-Judaizers.

    Finally, I think *even if* we were to draw the kind of definitional distinctions you think is the root cause of the FV problem plaguing P&R churches, that would make no difference to the FV view of faith which includes our ongoing obedience. For example, ever notice how these men attempt to harmonize James and Paul? Instead of identifying the Romanish equivocation on the sense of the word to justify, they attempt to harmonize James 2 and Romans 3 by arguing that James and Paul share the same idea of faith; James includes works to make faith “alive” and Paul defines the faith that saves as that which “worketh by love.” According to these emissaries of Rome the sense that justification is IDENTICAL in both James and Paul and is forensic and before the bar of God’s justice.

  5. brandonadams Says:

    I hope you don’t mind me interjecting with some credobaptist questions here. I can’t help but sympathize with Drake’s point (though I disagree with his solution). Kline, who was very strong in his opposition to Shepherd et al, saw this as a primary problem as well http://www.upper-register.com/papers/aahodge_onecov.html This issue is also the entire focus of Crampton’s new book.

    In your view, Sean, what does it mean for baptism to be a seal of the Covenant of Grace, in distinction from a sign? Do you believe the Holy Spirit is a seal of the CoG (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30), or of something else? I ask because the LBC felt the need to remove the language of WCF 29.1 that identifies baptism as a seal of the covenant of grace http://www.proginosko.com/docs/wcf_sdfo_lbcf.html#SDFO29

    Along that line, can you clarify for me the precise relationship you see between baptism and covenant? Is it that you see baptized infants as external (not simply hypocritical) members of the covenant of grace? If so, what does that mean? Crampton highlights my concern when he says:

    it must be said that if the covenant of grace, as the Westminster divines properly define it, is with the elect in Christ, there cannot be an external aspect to it. If one is elect, then he is elect, and he will be “inwardly” regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

    Again, following this, do you consider your children “covenant children”? Reymond elaborates on what it means for children to be covenant children (947, systematic) and he quotes the Westminster Assembly’s Directory for the Public Worship of God:

    That the promise is made to believers and their seed; and that the seed and posterity of the faithful, born within the church, have by their birth, interest in the covenant, and right to the seal of it, and to the outward privileges of the church, under the gospel, no less than the children of Abraham in the time of the Old Testament; the covenant of grace, for substance, being the same; and the grace of God, and consolation of believers, more plentiful than before…

    You have placed a lot of emphasis on Rom 2:28 to show, if I am understanding you correctly, that no one was a member of the Mosaic covenant (covenant of grace) unless they had faith. But there is another way to understand 2:28. Leonhard Goppelt, in “Typos” – his work on typology – notes the following:

    The Christian church is the true circumcision (Phil 3:3). Paul does not simply assert, as the prophets did, that circumcision done in the flesh has no value without circumcision of the heart, without the surrender that corresponds to the sign (1 Cor 7:19; Rom 2:25-28; confirm Jer 4:4; 9:25; Ez 16:30). He is announcing the true circumcision for which the prophets longed. This is not merely an external symbol of membership in the people of God and of one’s obligation to be obedient (Gal 5:3; Rom 4:11; Eph 2:11). This is the new creation by which we are incorporated into God’s people, the new humanity, and by which we are made new people (Col 2:11; Gal 6:5; Eph 2:11, 15) who serve God in Spirit and truth (Gal 6:5; Phil 3:3). This circumcision which Christ performs (Col 2:11) is accomplished in baptism (Col 2:12). It is the bathing in water for which the prophets longed and which would purify the hearts and renew them in the Holy Spirit (Ezk 36:25f.). The idea that the church must have a substitute for circumcision is not a conclusion drawn from the Old Testament. It has happened the other way around: the new creation that Christ brought about in baptism makes circumcision a shadow of the future reality (confirm Col 2:16f). What the prophets longed for is fully present. The old has passed away, including circumcision, and the fulfillment has begun.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=fZFmw2OKZfAC&pg=PA144&lpg=PA144&dq=%22the+christian+church+is+the+true+circumcision%22+goppelt&source=bl&ots=ywvnqRZ0YV&sig=ehkIGt0Zdvpt3aszEzH-7lWcUl0&hl=en&ei=8HTUTJ39HoyesQO38siNCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBYQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

    In other words, the church (true Israel) is the antitype of national Israel (not simply its continuation). Crampton notes: “Unlike the Old era, in the New Testament circumcision that is merely outward is no circumcision at all (Rom 2:25-29).”

    Regarding Romans 9, he also notes:

    Another way the Old Testament typology reflects the difference or discontinuity between the Old Covenant and the New is seen in the doctrine of “adoption.” Paul deals with this subject in Romans 9:4 where he refers to the Old Testament people of God as the “Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption,” while at the same time the apostle speaks of their adoption with a sorrow for their lost condition (Rom 9:1-3). The Bible often addresses Israel as God’s son (Ex 4:22-23; Is 45:9-11; Jer 31:9; Mal 2:10), the nation which God had redeemed out of the land of Egypt (Ex 14). This redemption to sonship, however, was typological; it was not a redemption from slavery to sin, but from slavery in Egypt (Ex 20:1-2)… Here we see a clear contrast between the typical sonship of the Old Testament and the real, substantial and anti-typical sonship conferred by the New Covenant.

    So the issue in Rom 2 and 9 is one of typology, not just simply correction. Edwards notes “So there was an external people and family of God, by carnal generation, which was a type of His spiritual progeny. And the covenant by which they were made a people of God, was a type of the covenant of grace…”

    Consider this alongside http://contrast2.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/understanding-dispensationalists/

    Finally, I think *even if* we were to draw the kind of definitional distinctions you think is the root cause of the FV problem plaguing P&R churches, that would make no difference to the FV view of faith which includes our ongoing obedience.

    I would strongly encourage you to reconsider. It does make a difference because their view of faith is intimately wrapped up in their view of the covenants. This is precisely why Kline said that a failure to separate the CoR from the CoG as Drake suggests:

    has contributed by its formal fusing of the works and grace principles to the confusion of the two and even the repudiation of the works principle in the teachings of Fuller, Shepherd, et. al.

    This has reference to whether the CoG is conditional or not. Kline recognizes that nearly all reformed have said it is conditional, and he agrees, but therefore sees that as presenting a problem for our view of salvation by grace if we do not tie that salvation by grace to a different, unconditional covenant. Very few have argued for an unconditional covenant of grace. That I am aware of: PRCA, Reformed Baptists, Owen & Petto. PRCA has some odd views of covenant theology aside from this point. Owen & Petto both argue against WCF’s formulation of the covenants in favor of the Lutheran view of the Mosaic covenant as a covenant of works. And the LBC agreed. The reason I mention this is because it is all tied up in works/grace, faith/obedience. The current debate over “republication” and the book “The Law is Not of Faith” is shining a spotlight on this issue, and the book is an outgrowth/defense of Kline’s covenant theology.

  6. drake Says:

    Sean said,
    “Again, I disagree. Besides, the WCF knows nothing of a CoG with the reprobate, even the baptized variety.”
    First, would you agree that the old testament had reprobates in the COG? I have heard Robbins say such things.

    Second, would you agree that the Westminster Standards included more than WCF, SC and LC in the original Church of Scotland 1643-1843? I am thinking of Directory for worship, Sum of Saving knowledge, The Solemn League & Covenant, Dir. for family worship, Form of Pres. Church Government.
    If so, would you agree that the SOSK teaches a distinction between the covenants and that the cov. of grace includes reprobates?

    “Further, if the CoG is merely the working out in time of the CoR which was from eternity, then I think it follows that God made no covenant with the baptized reprobate.”
    This is a Bostonian gloss. I am not saying that COR is an eternal aspect while the COG is a temporal aspect of one covenant. I am saying that COR is a distinct covenant than the COG, yet the COR is the Surety of COG.
    “The Jews whom Paul was addressing failed to understand the nature of the CoG just as the FV men do”
    Ok, then if you admit that reprobates were in the COG in the OT I think this inference would lead you to believe they should be in the new.

    “Finally, I think *even if* we were to draw the kind of definitional distinctions you think is the root cause of the FV problem plaguing P&R churches, that would make no difference to the FV view of faith which includes our ongoing obedience.”
    I will have to think through this. You know quite a bit more than I do about the Fv, but from my cursory orientation with it, methinks they will nver be silenced until the issue of the covenants is resolved. The main issue is that collapsing the internal approbation and the external administration into one covenant neccessarily leads to the kind of interpretations that you are refering to. The pasages that mention apostasy are regularly the passages that force people into positing a works/faith cooperating system. Your system cannot answer these passages and I think the Fv guys know it.

  7. Sean Gerety Says:

    This is a Bostonian gloss. I am not saying that COR is an eternal aspect while the COG is a temporal aspect of one covenant. I am saying that COR is a distinct covenant than the COG,

    Bostonian gloss?

    I realize what it is you’re saying, but as I’ve said repeatedly, I disagree. As to your second point, no I do not. I’m certainly no expert on the Church of Scotland, but perhaps Chris Caldwell is and he wrote concerning the Sum:

    “The Sum of Saving Knowledge is not an official Scottish standard, and never received official sanction (Leslie Stephen, ed., Dictionary of National Biography [1888] 15.42). It was first included with the Confession of Faith and Catechisms by the printer Lithgow in 1650. According to Warfield, some Lithgow editions have in place of the Sum, the Directions for Family Worship and the Solemn League and Covenant.4 The expansion of the documents traditionally included in the Scottish standards rests according to B. B. Warfield in his article on the “Printing of the Westminster Confession,” in the effort of printers to “supply as comprehensive a collection as possible” fueled by the dual desires for a volume that would function as an ecclesiastical manual, as well as a “richly furnished popular book of religion.”5 “Our Scotch forefathers turned for spiritual nourishment especially to ‘the Sum of Saving Knowledge and the Practical Use Thereof,’ which had come to be a stated portion of the current editions of the Confession of Faith, just because that volume circulated at first chiefly as a devotional book and a directory for practical religion.”6

    The mistake made by many till the early 18th century, that the Sum was a production of the Westminster Assembly, is due to a punctuation mistake which occurs in the first printing by Lithgow, that caused the impression the Sum was one of their productions. David Hay Fleming traces this history out in an article on the Sum in the Princeton Review.7”

    Hope that helps.

  8. Sean Gerety Says:

    Brandon, you bring up more than I have time to take on right now. Plus, I’ve yet to read Crampton’s book, but this tweaked my interest:

    “it must be said that if the covenant of grace, as the Westminster divines properly define it, is with the elect in Christ, there cannot be an external aspect to it.”

    I know Crampton has said that Robbins had no objections to his logic, but on the face of it, this doesn’t follow.


  9. Thanks Sean. I know I threw a lot out there – its just helpful to hear logical, careful answers.

    I look forward to a review of Crampton’s book if you get time to read it.

    Btw, your last sentence makes it sound like that is common knowledge. Should I somehow be aware of Robbins’ view of Crampton’s position?

  10. Sean Gerety Says:

    You did throw out a lot and I hope to respond more fully later. As for whatever Robbins thought of Crampton’s argument that came from an email exchange.

  11. drake Says:

    1. Ok on the SOSK thing but would you agree that what the SOSK is saying is what I am saying?

    2. I still want to know how your view takes those apostasy passages.

    3. “This is a Bostonian gloss. I am not saying that COR is an eternal aspect while the COG is a temporal aspect of one covenant. I am saying that COR is a distinct covenant than the COG,

    Bostonian gloss? ”

    You has said, ““Further, if the CoG is merely the working out in time of the CoR which was from eternity, then I think it follows that God made no covenant with the baptized reprobate.”

    I am rejecting that “the CoG is merely the working out in time of the CoR.” This is the Bostonian view. That COR and COG are two aspects of the same thing, eternal and temporal is explicitly Bostonian. What I am saying is the the COR is the SURETY of the COG and the two are two different covenants.

  12. Sean Gerety Says:

    “I am rejecting that “the CoG is merely the working out in time of the CoR.”

    Good for you.

    “What I am saying is the the COR is the SURETY of the COG and the two are two different covenants.”

    I know you are and I disagree

    Blessings – S


  13. Sean, someone recently asked Doug Wilson his view on Justification and Future Justification and Works, and he gave a very clear answer here:

    http://www.canonwired.com/ask-doug/justification-works/

    Same thing I’ve believed and was taught by the PCA many years before I ever heard the term “Federal Vision” or even “Moscow, ID.”

  14. Drake Says:

    Daniel,

    From James Buchanan’s, The Doctrine of Justification (Evangelium Eternum—Medium Gratiæ The Everlasting Gospel—A Channel of Grace)

    Buchanan says, “While ‘Justification’ is a forensic or judicial term, it is used in Scripture to denote, sometimes the acceptance of a sinner as righteous in the sight of God,—sometimes the manifestation or proof of his acceptance, by which it is attested and made sure: and this variety in the application of it is the ground of an important theological distinction,—the distinction between ACTUAL and DECLARATIVE Justification ”
    [pg. 118]

    I am not sure is Wilson was saying that there are two justifications or not.

    On the cooperation with grace thing, this is not Reformed. Many Reformed think that Christ merited our justification by free grace but now it is our turn to work and merit sanctification, or even cooperate in sanctification,
    Rutherford says, Christ’s transacting with God as our surety is not only then merely to remove eternal punishment, but to purchase by the merit of his death the healing and sanctifying of our nature, Hebrews 10:10…the will of Christ offering himself once for a sacrifice for sin, is the will which sanctifies us….though this be wrought by degrees.” Covenant of Life Opened, 456-457
    There is no cooperation, it is God at work in me, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Phil 2:13.

    Drake

  15. Sean Gerety Says:

    I hope you don’t mind me interjecting with some credobaptist questions here. I can’t help but sympathize with Drake’s point (though I disagree with his solution). Kline, who was very strong in his opposition to Shepherd et al, saw this as a primary problem as well http://www.upper-register.com/papers/aahodge_onecov.html This issue is also the entire focus of Crampton’s new book.

    I know I’m not going to answer all your questions, but I will try my hand at some. My objection to Drake is not that he distinguishes the CoG from the CoR, but the idea that the CoG somehow entails a “certain non-salvific, legally binding union to Christ” to those who at the same time are “under Adam and the Covenant of Works.” How can someone be under both the CoW and the CoG? Besides, God made no covenant with unbelievers and no one is united to Christ apart from faith.

    It is interesting too that the per the Sum of Saving Knowledge it would appear that the CoR is between the Triune God and God the Second Person. Others have defined it as a covenant between God the Father and the God the Son. Since you mention Hoeksema (and, FWIW, I think his discussion of the “pactum salutis” is probably my favorite portion of his Reformed Dogmatics), he argues that the CoR is made between God and Christ “as the eternal Son in His human nature” in distinction to “Christ as the eternal Son of God in His divine nature.” He also points out that Mastricht had a two-fold Covenant of Grace; “the one is eternal, the other is temporal….” A similar presentation is made by Turretin, Brakel, Hodge, and even Vos. So I’m not sure what the “Bostonian gloss” slam was all about, but I do distinguish between the two even if I don’t see the latter being at cross purposes with the former or either as justification for the doctrines espoused by Federal Visionists.

    In your view, Sean, what does it mean for baptism to be a seal of the Covenant of Grace, in distinction from a sign? Do you believe the Holy Spirit is a seal of the CoG (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30), or of something else? I ask because the LBC felt the need to remove the language of WCF 29.1 that identifies baptism as a seal of the covenant of grace http://www.proginosko.com/docs/wcf_sdfo_lbcf.html#SDFO29

    Along that line, can you clarify for me the precise relationship you see between baptism and covenant? Is it that you see baptized infants as external (not simply hypocritical) members of the covenant of grace? If so, what does that mean? Crampton highlights my concern when he says:

    it must be said that if the covenant of grace, as the Westminster divines properly define it, is with the elect in Christ, there cannot be an external aspect to it. If one is elect, then he is elect, and he will be “inwardly” regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

    I know, Baptists don’t like the idea of a sacrament in general and prefer “ordinance,” however baptism is as much a “sign and seal” as is the Lord’s Supper. Yet, I don’t know of anyone who would argue that all the benefits of Christ death, His body and blood, signify or seal anything to carnal recipients of the bread and wine? Do you? That’s why I said Crampton’s argument doesn’t follow. Do carnal recipients of the Supper (as defined by either the WCF or LBCF) partake in an “external aspect” of the Supper? Of course they do. They’re eating and drinking something after all, even if it is to their own destruction. Christ’s death signified in the Supper seal “all benefits thereof unto true believers….” According to the LC “A sacrament is a holy ordinance [see, we have ordinances too ;-)] instituted by Christ in his church, to signify, seal, and exhibit unto those *that are within the covenant of grace* . . . .” And, just in case there is any missing who are the members of this covenant, the LC answers: “The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.”

    Again, following this, do you consider your children “covenant children”? Reymond elaborates on what it means for children to be covenant children (947, systematic) and he quotes the Westminster Assembly’s Directory for the Public Worship of God:

    That the promise is made to believers and their seed; and that the seed and posterity of the faithful, born within the church, have by their birth, interest in the covenant, and right to the seal of it, and to the outward privileges of the church, under the gospel, no less than the children of Abraham in the time of the Old Testament; the covenant of grace, for substance, being the same; and the grace of God, and consolation of believers, more plentiful than before…

    Yes, I do consider my children “covenant children” even if I’ve grown increasingly fearful for my oldest daughter who is now in her 2nd year of college and seems to have virtually divorced herself from spiritual things.

    You have placed a lot of emphasis on Rom 2:28 to show, if I am understanding you correctly, that no one was a member of the Mosaic covenant (covenant of grace) unless they had faith.

    I hope I have placed a lot of emphasis on all of Romans as much of it has to do with covenant of grace made with Abraham. As Paul says in chapter 9; “it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” In my view Paul is explaining the CoG. So, per above, my prayer concerning my eldest daughter is that she is indeed a child of the promise and not simply my daughter according to the flesh. Similarly, we see in Romans that God made no promise to all the circumcised children of Abraham any more than he makes any promise to all those who are baptized, my children included. The CoG is made exclusively with Christ and the elect. To put it another way, not all who are Christians outwardly, i.e., who have received the sign of baptism, are Christians, but only those who have been cleansed inwardly “by the washing of water with the word” are Christians.

    Anyway, I hope to read Dr. Crampton’s book some day.


  16. Thanks Sean.

    however baptism is as much a “sign and seal” as is the Lord’s Supper.

    To be clear, my specific question is: What is the difference between a sign and a seal? Those are two different things, but they are most often expressed as if it is one word “sign and seal”. The LBC 30.1 does not describe the Lord’s Supper as a seal, and it does not describe baptism as a seal in 29.1 – though they have no problem identifying it as a sign.

    In a recent interview I heard with Horton, he said the following:

    When Paul talks about circumcision as a sign and seal, that language is covenantal language. It’s like the wax seal that is attached to a certificate, to a covenantal document. That’s why we believe baptism and the Lord’s Supper are not only signs but seals of the covenant of grace.

    Can you clarify for me what you believe a seal is, in distinction from a sign?

    Also, how is baptism, as a seal of the covenant of grace, of ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life, different from the Holy Spirit as a seal of ingrafting into Christ (2 Cor 1:21-22), our inheritance (Eph 1:13-14), our redemption (Eph 4:30)? Since the same word is used of both, do you believe that the word (seal) is used with two different meanings? Or do you believe that what is sealed is different between the two (covenant of grace, ingrafting, regeneration, remission of sins vs ingrafting, inheritance, redemption)?

    Yet, I don’t know of anyone who would argue that all the benefits of Christ death, His body and blood, signify or seal anything to carnal recipients of the bread and wine?

    Well I’ll be the first 🙂 I do believe that the benefits of Christ are signified/symbolized to carnal recipients through the picture of bread and wine – though of course they are not blessed by it because they lack faith. And as mentioned earlier, I don’t believe the supper is a seal of anything.

    That’s why I said Crampton’s argument doesn’t follow.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t follow you. Crampton said that there is no external aspect to a covenant that is between Chris and the elect, that is not also internal. If an unbeliever is partaking in the Lord’s Supper, they are doing so as a hypocrite outside of the covenant of grace. They are not doing so as an external member of the covenant of grace. Crampton was responding to this quote from Vos:

    There are two phases of the covenant of grace, (a) a legal or external phase, and (b) a vital or spiritual phase. We may think of these two phases as two circles, one within the other – an outer and an inner circle, the legal or external sphere of the covenant of grace. But only those truly born again are in the inner circle, the vital or spiritual sphere of the covenant of grace. Some people born in the external sphere, the outer circle, are non-elect persons and never come to Christ. Every one that is of the elect will, at some point in his life, come into the inner circle, the vital or spiritual sphere.

    Do you agree with Vos?

    Yes, I do consider my children “covenant children”

    Can you please elaborate? Do you do so because you agree with Reymond that they have, by birth, an interest in the covenant? If not, why do you call them covenant children?

    Anyway, I hope to read Dr. Crampton’s book some day.

    I hope its sooner rather than later. I value your critique of his work.


  17. Also, I know that you may not want to get into this now, but I just wanted to clarify my comments about faith & works and covenants. I realize that in haste I conflated two separate, but related issues. One was whether or not the covenant of grace is conditional or unconditional. The other issue is the matter of a works principle in the Mosaic Covenant.

    What do you believe Leviticus 18:5 means?

    In his review of “The Law is Not of Faith”, Venema notes the following:

    In the Old Testament economy of redemption, Leviticus 18:5 does not appear in a context “that deals with legal righteousness as opposed to that of faith.” Rather, Leviticus 18:5 seems to present the law in the same way as it is presented in Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5, and in many other passages in the Pentateuch, namely, as a rule of gratitude that norms the conduct of a redeemed people in their life-fellowship with the Lord…
    …When Paul adduces Leviticus 18:5 to expose the futility of any effort to obtain justification upon the basis of the works of the law, he does not thereby deny the legitimacy of an appeal to Leviticus 18:5 in support of a sincere and grateful obedience to the law of God. Nor does he deny the sense in which such sincere obedience is the way of life and blessing for the redeemed people of God…
    …The redemption promised in the covenant of grace always requires the response of faith and sincere, albeit imperfect, obedience on the part of the people of the covenant. As it was in the covenant administration of Moses, so it is in the covenant administration of Christ.

  18. Sean Gerety Says:

    The LBC 30.1 does not describe the Lord’s Supper as a seal, and it does not describe baptism as a seal in 29.1 – though they have no problem identifying it as a sign.

    I realize that, but the WCF defines both sacraments as a sign and a seal, not just baptism.

    I do believe that the benefits of Christ are signified/symbolized to carnal recipients through the picture of bread and wine – though of course they are not blessed by it because they lack faith. And as mentioned earlier, I don’t believe the supper is a seal of anything.

    Would you agree that what is merely “signified/symbolized to carnal recipients” is something more to the believing recipient? If yes, then what would you call it? You call it a blessing, but I would think it is this secondary function of a sacrament that is meant by figure of a seal.

    Further, you may not like the word “seal” as something in addition to the “sign,” but how then would you explain Romans 4:11: “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also. . . .”

    Paul describes circumcision as a sign and a seal. From a Baptist perspective, what did he mean?

    Calvin said of this verse:

    In order to anticipate an objection, he shows that circumcision was not unprofitable and superfluous, though it could not justify; but it had another very remarkable use, it had the office of sealing, **and as it were of ratifying the righteousness of faith.** And yet he intimates at the same time, by stating what its object was, that it was not the cause of righteousness, it indeed tended to **confirm the righteousness of faith,** and that already obtained in uncircumcision. He then derogates or takes away nothing from it.

    We have indeed here a remarkable passage with regard to the general benefits of sacraments. According to the testimony of Paul, they are seals by which the promises of God are in a manner **imprinted on our hearts . . . and the certainty of grace confirmed***…. And though by themselves they profit nothing, yet God has designed them to be the
    instruments of his grace; and he effects by the secret grace of his Spirit, that they should not be without benefit in the elect. And though they are dead and unprofitable symbols to the reprobate, they yet ever retain their import and character for though our unbelief may deprive them of their effect, yet it cannot weaken or extinguish the truth of God. Hence it remains a fixed principle, that sacred symbols are testimonies, by which God seals his grace on our hearts.

    So, to answer your question, I think that the difference between a sign and a seal is that only when a sacrament is both a sign and a means of grace is it both a sign and seal (confirming in the hearts of the recipient the blessing that is being signified, or, when the sign is received by the intended recipient they, as you say, are “blessed by it”). This is the difference.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t follow you. Crampton said that there is no external aspect to a covenant that is between Chris and the elect, that is not also internal.

    Again, that is not true and I tried to turn your attention to the Supper to illustrate that point. Unbelievers can be baptized, even, dare I say, in baptistic churches. They are recipients of the symbol, at very least (externally speaking), their head gets wet, or if you believe in full immersion, their clothes get wet too, even if baptism remains “dead and unprofitable symbols to the reprobate.”

    Further, God established his covenant, which circumcision signified in the OT, with Isaac, not Ishmael. In this case God said, “But my covenant will I establish with Isaac…. ” However Ishmael, who also received the sign of the covenant, had some relationship to the covenant, did he not? He at least had a tertiary relationship to the covenant and with those God choose to establish his covenant. I mean, Abraham didn’t cease being his natural father and Isaac his natural brother. And if you agree he did, what would you call it? I think calling it an external relationship to the covenant (what the sign was actually signifying) makes sense. What else would you call it?

    I hope its sooner rather than later. I value your critique of his work.

    Thanks Brandon, but I’ve been a bit spiritually drained lately, so it will probably be later.

  19. brandonadams Says:

    So, to answer your question, I think that the difference between a sign and a seal is that only when a sacrament is both a sign and a means of grace is it both a sign and seal (confirming in the hearts of the recipient the blessing that is being signified, or, when the sign is received by the intended recipient they, as you say, are “blessed by it”). This is the difference.

    Thanks, that provides a small amount of clarity. So baptism is not a seal to all who receive it, though it is a sign to all who receive it?

    Doesn’t that change the meaning of a guarantee though?
    Again, how do you see this relating to the Holy Spirit as a seal?

    They are recipients of the symbol, at very least (externally speaking), their head gets wet,

    Right, but their head getting wet doesn’t connect them in any way to the covenant of grace, not even externally, anymore than someone sitting in on one church service is connected to the covenant of grace. There are hypocrites, and as John says, they went out from us because they were not of us.

    What else would you call it?

    1) I agree with Owen’s view of the Abrahamic covenant that it contained both spiritual and carnal promises and that it contained both spiritual and carnal seed, and that these continued in a mixed way until Christ, at which point the natural were cut off (Rom 11:11-24) So I do not agree that we can learn about a baptized person’s relationship to the New Covenant based upon Ishmael’s relationship to the Abrahamic Covenant and circumcision.
    http://contrast2.wordpress.com/2010/09/14/the-oneness-of-the-church-john-owen/

    2) God specifically told Abraham that the covenant would be established with Isaac, not Ishmael, prior to Ishmael’s circumcision. If you received a direct revelation from God that He would not establish His covenant with your child, would you baptize them anyway? How could circumcision have been a sign and seal to Ishmael of God’s promise of ingrafting into Christ if God already said this would not happen? That can’t be a promise or guarantee of any kind.

    3) If we’re going to use Gen 17 as our model for baptism, then why limit baptism to infants or even family for that matter? Abraham didn’t.

    4) For an elaboration and further explanation, see Pink’s comments on this exact question here:
    http://contrast2.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/pink-on-circumcision/

    But how then would you explain Romans 4:11: “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also. . . .”

    1) Romans 4:11 does not say what circumcision meant to anyone other than Abraham

    2) Abraham’s relationship to circumcision is different from all other people’s

    3) Using the example of Abraham, who received the seal of circumcision after he believed (which is the entire point of the passage) as a reason to give a sign as a seal of righteousness to those who do not yet believe, is wrong.

    4)

    The next thing we would observe is that circumcision was “a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had.” Again we would say, Let us be on our guard against adding to God’s Word, for nowhere does Scripture say that circumcision was a seal to anyone but to Abraham himself; and even in his case, so far was it from communicating any spiritual blessing, it simply confirmed what was already promised to him. As a seal from God, circumcision was a divine pledge or guaranty that from him should issue that seed which would bring blessing to all nations, and that, on the same terms as justifying righteousness had become his—by faith alone. It was not a seal of his faith, but of that righteousness which, in due time, was to be wrought out by the Messiah and Mediator. Circumcision was not a memorial of anything which had already been actualized, but an earnest of that which was yet future—namely, of that justifying righteousness which was to be brought in by Christ

    -Pink

    Thanks for your time Sean. I don’t mean to badger if you’re feeling drained.

  20. Sean Gerety Says:

    So baptism is not a seal to all who receive it, though it is a sign to all who receive it?

    Yes, I think so. As Calvin said, to the reprobate they are “dead and unprofitable symbols.” I can’t say it better than that.

    Doesn’t that change the meaning of a guarantee though?

    You lost me. The sacraments are a guarantee of what exactly?

    Again, how do you see this relating to the Holy Spirit as a seal?

    Read Calvin again. Who else is the one who imprints the meaning of these symbols (baptism and the supper) on our hearts and provides us with “ the certainty of grace confirmed”?

    Right, but their head getting wet doesn’t connect them in any way to the covenant of grace, not even externally, anymore than someone sitting in on one church service is connected to the covenant of grace.

    Was circumcision a sign of the covenant or not? If it was, then how do you account for Ishmael? How do you account for Esau? Yes, they were hypocrites and unbelievers, but it seems to me they had some external connection to the CoG and the people of God.

    I agree with Owen’s view of the Abrahamic covenant that it contained both spiritual and carnal promises and that it contained both spiritual and carnal seed, and that these continued in a mixed way until Christ, at which point the natural were cut off (Rom 11:11-24) So I do not agree that we can learn about a baptized person’s relationship to the New Covenant based upon Ishmael’s relationship to the Abrahamic Covenant and circumcision.

    So, tell me, why wasn’t Owen a Baptist? Also, what are these “carnal” promises? Is a carnal promise similar to an external connection? And, isn’t the church a mixed assembly made up of wheat and tares?

    God specifically told Abraham that the covenant would be established with Isaac, not Ishmael, prior to Ishmael’s circumcision. If you received a direct revelation from God that He would not establish His covenant with your child, would you baptize them anyway?

    Are you saying that Abraham was being disobedient to God’s command? See Genesis 17:11 for starters.

    How could circumcision have been a sign and seal to Ishmael of God’s promise of ingrafting into Christ if God already said this would not happen? That can’t be a promise or guarantee of any kind.

    See Genesis 17:20.

    If we’re going to use Gen 17 as our model for baptism, then why limit baptism to infants or even family for that matter? Abraham didn’t.

    That’s a good question and since my household doesn’t also consist of slaves and I have no concubines or servant mistresses (I have to talk to my wife about that), I guess that leaves just my natural children.

    1) Romans 4:11 does not say what circumcision meant to anyone other than Abraham

    Of course it does talk about the OT sign of the CoG as a sign and a seal. At this point I’ll take little victories. 🙂

    2) Abraham’s relationship to circumcision is different from all other people’s

    Really? Then what about Abraham’s grandchildren? Was Isaac sinning when he circumcised his children?

    3) Using the example of Abraham, who received the seal of circumcision after he believed (which is the entire point of the passage) as a reason to give a sign as a seal of righteousness to those who do not yet believe, is wrong.

    See Genesis 17:11.

    The next thing we would observe is that circumcision was “a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had.” Again we would say, Let us be on our guard against adding to God’s Word, for nowhere does Scripture say that circumcision was a seal to anyone but to Abraham himself;

    That is not true. It was a sign and seal of God’s covenant to Abraham and “with his seed after him.” (Genesis 17:19). The question would seem to be is who is Abraham’s seed?

    Thanks for your time Sean. I don’t mean to badger if you’re feeling drained.

    That’s quite alright. I think this whole FV thing has taken a bit of a toll. FWIW aside from a Reformed Baptist church locally it seems after a year or so of wandering the PCA is the only “Reformed” option for me and my family . . . and, in good conscience, I can’t join a PCA while the FV issue continues unabated. And, I can’t join the Baptist church for reasons we’ve been discussing. Not having a church home is more of a price than I would have imagined. As one of my old employers would say, I can’t win for losing.

  21. brandonadams Says:

    Sorry for the length, but here goes:

    You lost me. The sacraments are a guarantee of what exactly?

    That’s what I’m asking you. You’re the one saying they are seals.

    A seal is defined as:
    a : something that confirms, ratifies, or makes secure : guarantee, assurance
    That is precisely what it means for the Holy Spirit to be a seal. He is a guarantee.

    2 Cor 1:21-22 21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

    Eph 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

    The same meaning is found in the use of “seal” in Esther 8:8
    But you may write as you please with regard to the Jews, in the name of the king, and seal it with the king’s ring, for an edict written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s ring cannot be revoked.

    Michael Horton said this imagery of the king’s ring (which cannot be revoked) is precisely what he has in mind regarding baptism. So this is where you lose me. The Holy Spirit is a guarantee, but apparently baptism is not. That’s why I’m trying to understand how you are defining seal. (Note that I maintain the same definition for seal in 2 Cor 1:22 and Rom 4:11 – see below)

    Was circumcision a sign of the covenant or not? If it was, then how do you account for Ishmael? How do you account for Esau? Yes, they were hypocrites and unbelievers, but it seems to me they had some external connection to the CoG and the people of God.

    1) As mentioned before, I do not equate the Abrahamic Covenant with the CoG. To quote Owen:

    When we speak of the “new covenant,” we do not intend the covenant of grace absolutely, as though it were not before in existence and effect, before the introduction of that which is promised here. For it was always the same, substantially, from the beginning. It passed through the whole dispensation of times before the law, and under the law, of the same nature and effectiveness, unalterable, “everlasting, ordered in all things, and sure.” All who contend about these things, the Socinians only excepted, grant that the covenant of grace, considered absolutely, — that is, the promise of grace in and by Jesus Christ, —was the only way and means of salvation to the church, from the first entrance of sin.

    But for two reasons, it is not expressly called a covenant, without respect to any other things, nor was it called a covenant under the old testament. When God renewed the promise of it to Abraham, he is said to make a covenant with him; and he did so, but this covenant with Abraham was with respect to other things, especially the proceeding of the promised Seed from his loins. But absolutely, under the old testament, the covenant of grace consisted only in a promise; and as such only is proposed in the Scripture,

    2)

    “Circumcision neither signed nor sealed the blessings of the covenant of Abraham to the individuals to whom it was by Divine appointment administered. It did not imply that they who were circumcised were accounted the heirs of the promises, either temporal or spiritual. It was not applied to mark them individually as heirs of the promises. It did not imply this even to Isaac and Jacob, who are by name designated heirs with Abraham. Their interest in the promises was secured to them by God’s expressly giving them the covenant, but was not represented in their circumcision. Circumcision marked no character, and had an individual application to no man but Abraham himself. It was the token of this covenant; and as a token or sign, no doubt applied to every promise in the covenant, but it did not designate the individual circumcised as having a personal interest in these promises. The covenant promised a numerous seed to Abraham; circumcision, as the token of that covenant, must have been a sign of this; but it did not sign this to any other. Any other circumcised individual, except Isaac and Jacob, to whom the covenant was given by name, might have been childless.

    “Circumcision did not import to any individual that any portion of the numerous seed of Abraham should descend through him. The covenant promised that all nations should be blessed in Abraham—that the Messiah should be his descendant. But circumcision was no sign to any other that the Messiah should descend from him,—even to Isaac and Jacob this promise was peculiarly given, and not implied in their circumcision. From some of Abraham’s race, the Messiah, according to the covenant, must descend, and circumcision was a sign of this: but this was not signed by circumcision to any one of all his race. Much less could circumcision ‘sign’ this to the strangers and slaves who were not of Abraham’s posterity. To such, even the temporal promises were not either ‘signed’ or sealed by circumcision. The covenant promised Canaan to Abraham’s descendants, but circumcision could be no sign of this to the strangers and slaves who enjoyed no inheritance in it” (Alexander Carson, 1860).

    quoted by Pink http://contrast2.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/pink-on-circumcision/

    So, tell me, why wasn’t Owen a Baptist?

    Is that a genuine question, or is it rhetorical? It sounds like you are questioning the accuracy of my summary of Owen. I provided a link to a short article from Owen explaining his position very clearly.

    Also, what are these “carnal” promises? Is a carnal promise similar to an external connection?

    No. Owen:

    Two privileges did God grant unto Abraham, upon his separation to a special interest in the old promise and covenant: —

    First, That according to the flesh he should be the father of the Messiah, the promised seed; who was the very life of the covenant, the fountain and cause of all the blessings contained in it. That this privilege was temporary, having a limited season, time, and end, appointed unto it, the very nature of the thing itself doth demonstrate; for upon this actual exhibition in the flesh, it was to cease. In pursuit hereof were his posterity separated from the rest of the world, and preserved a peculiar people, that through them the promised Seed might be brought forth in the fullness of time, and be of them according unto the flesh, Romans 9:5…

    …Answerably unto this twofold end of the separation of Abraham, there was a double seed allotted unto him; — a seed according to the flesh, separated to the bringing forth of the Messiah according unto the flesh;…It is true, they were the children of Abraham according to the flesh: but on that account they can have no other privilege than Abraham had in the flesh himself; and this was, as we have showed, that he should he set apart as a special channel, through whose loins God would derive the promised Seed into the world. In like manner were they separated to be a peculiar people, as his posterity, from amongst whom He should be so brought forth. That this separation and privilege was to cease when the end of it was accomplished and the Messiah exhibited, the very nature of the thing declares;

    And, isn’t the church a mixed assembly made up of wheat and tares?

    No. To continue with Owen:

    It is true, the former carnal privilege of Abraham and his posterity expiring, on the grounds before mentioned, the ordinances of worship which were suited thereunto did necessarily cease also. And this cast the Jews into great perplexities, and proved the last trial that God made of them; for whereas both these, — namely, the carnal and spiritual privileges of Abraham’s covenant, — had been carried on together in a mixed way for many generations, coming now to be separated, and a trial to be made (Malachi 3) who of the Jews had interest in both, who in one only, those who had only the carnal privilege, of being children of Abraham according to the flesh, contended for a share on that single account in the other also, — that is, in all the promises annexed unto the covenant. But the foundation of their plea was taken away, and the church, unto which the promises belong, remained with them that were heirs of Abraham’s faith only.

    It remains, then, that the church founded in the covenant, and unto which all the promises did and do belong, abode at the coming of Christ, and doth abide ever since, in and among those who are the children of Abraham by faith. The old church was not taken away, and a new one set up, but the same church was continued, only in those who by faith inherited the promises.
    Great alterations, indeed, were then made in the outward state and condition of the church; as, —
    (1.) The carnal privilege of the Jews, in their separation to bring forth the Messiah, then failed; and therewith their claim on that account to be the children of Abraham.
    (2.) The ordinances of worship suited unto that privilege expired and came to an end.
    (3.) New ordinances of worship were appointed, suited unto the new light and grace then granted unto the church.
    (4.) The Gentiles came in to the faith of Abraham together with the Jews, to be fellow-heirs with them in his blessing. But none of these, nor all of them together, made any such alteration in the church but that it was still one and the same. The olive-tree was the same, only some branches were broken off, and others planted in; the Jews fell, and the Gentiles came in their room.

    According to Owen, Romans 11:11-24 refers to the fact that the natural branches had a de jure place in the Abrahamic Covenant in the Old Testament, but at the coming of Christ they have now been cut off from any right to it.

    Regarding wheat and tares, here is a quote from Henri Blocher’s chapter called “Old Covenant New Covenant” in a volume titled “Always Reforming”:

    The lack of distinction between church and nation leads to a strong affirmation of the mixed character of (visible) church membership. With Calvin (and Augustine), many have quoted the parable of the tares to buttress this affirmation. However, as Klaas Runia has well perceived, this use collides head on with Jesus’ own explanation: ‘The field is the world’, not the visible church (Matt. 13:38). It is an important theme in prophecies of the messianic age that the unfortunate mixture that was characteristic of the old regime will cease to be: all Zion’s sons will be intimately taught of God (Isa. 54:13; cf. John 6:45); there will only be righteous persons among the people (Is 60:21); under new covenant conditions, everyone in the covenant community will personally know the Lord (Jer 31:34). The burden of John the Baptist’s message [recall Owen’s reference to Mal 3] is that the great sifting, the separation of grain and chaff on the Lord’s threshing-floor, is not starting! The end of the mixed situation is also represented by the cutting off of the unbelieving branches in the Romans 11 olive tree (and, I would argue, of the Vine in John 15) – a cutting off that had not taken place in the Old Testament. The church of Christ, which in some respects at least, is another ‘nation’ (Matt 21:43, represented by ‘other tenants’ in v 41), is the believing part, the Israel of God (Gal 6:15), no longer mixed, the remnant made visible (Rom 11:5ff). [Again, read the link to Owen to hear him argue the same thing] The discourse of continuity tends to mask this basic scheme.

    footnote: Clowney, Doctrine of the Church, p.23, both affirms ‘the remnant is the elect nation’ and argues that ‘individual sonship is not in contrast to the family of God’, ‘the principle which operated in the Old Testament operates also in the New: not all are Israel which are of Israel’. He appeals to 1 John 2:19 and 1 Cor 10:1-12 to establish the mixed character of the New Testament church; but John does not acknowledge any right of citizenship to the ‘false brethren’ in the visible church: they never were ‘of us’ – deceptive appearances involving some element of objective untruth are not equivalent to legitimate, though merely external, status in the visible institution; Paul’s warning are directed to those standing, lest they fall, and imply no mixture of elect and non-elect in the congregation.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=jsJcsuoMks0C&lpg=PP1&dq=always%20reforming&pg=PT240#v=onepage&q=&f=false

    Of course, we cannot know infallibly who the elect are, and thus who is truly a member of the New Covenant. But that does not therefore mean that we should not strive towards that goal (just as we cannot know infallibly who the elect are, yet we are commanded not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers). We have to acknowledge the aspect of realized eschatology in these the “last days” (which is why I previously referenced the Poythress post on typology). To quote Crampton:

    Unlike the Old Covenant, the New Covenant, being a “better covenant” with “better promises” (Hebrews 8:6), is unbreakable. And the New Testament community, unlike the Old, is marked by inward spiritual life, the law internalized. Moreover, membership in the New community is restricted to those who have made a profession of faith in Christ: those who “know the LORD.” This being the case, there is no biblical warrant for paedobaptism. It is a violation of the qualification stipulated for the New Covenant, knowing the Lord.

    It may be objected that Jeremiah 31:31-34 (and cited at length in Hebrews 8:8-12) is strictly an eschatological reference, describing the ultimate fulfillment of the New Covenant with the church triumphant in its final state. To this objection the following observations are made. First, this is not an isolated test in its prophecy of universal saving knowledge in the New Testament age (even prior to the final state). Isaiah promised the coming of such an age in at least four different passages – 11:9; 52:1; 54:13 (compare JOhn 6:45); and 60:21. Second, there is indeed a day coming in which the New Covenant will reach its final state (Rev 21-22), a day when, as the Westminster Confession (33:2) teaches, “the righteous shall go into everlasting life, and receive that fullness of joy and refreshing, which shall come from the presence of the Lord.” But that day is the consummation of the New Covenant age, not the commencement of it. The New Covenant has already commneced. As Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25; and 2 Cor 3:6 say, it was inaugurated at Christ’s first advent. And when Jesus Christ quotes Is 54:13 in John 6:45, He reveals that the initial fulfillment of the prophecy of the day of the universal saving knowledge of the Lord began during His earthly ministry. That is to say, even though there is a “not yet” aspect to the coming of Christ’s kingdom, which will occur at the second advent, the “already” phase commenced with the first advent. Finally, due to this truth, the church militant on earth today foreshadows the perfected church triumphant in the final state. The model, then, must be derived from the redeemed church triumphant. And membership in the present day church should be restricted, as best as can be determined, to those who “know the LORD.” Said another way, the visible church should approximate the invisible church as much as possible.

    As for your question as to “why wasn’t Owen a baptist” I will assume its a genuine question and give you some answers.

    1) There was progress in Owen’s thought throughout his life, which can be seen on a number of topics including covenant theology.

    2) The short tract he wrote defending infant baptism was written sometime around 1644. The arguments he uses are views of covenant theology that he later argues against (in his commentary on Hebrews 35 years later). The same is true of his volume “Biblical Theology” – he espouses a view of covenant theology that he later argues against.

    3) Owen’s masterpiece was his commentary on the book of Hebrews. He dedicated the last 15 years of his life to writing it (1668-1684, died 1683). As you can see, the final volume was published after his death. It was his last work.

    4) It is his commentary on Hebrews that expresses the views I have quoted and referenced here. If he had lived longer and continued to reform, as he had throughout his life, he would have no doubt seen the consequences of his newly articulated views, in my opinion.

    5) There were very drastic consequences for rejecting paedobaptism in his day, which would give anyone hesitancy in doing so. Consider that even today it took Crampton 20 years to sort through the issue before he was willing to write something publicly about it.

    6) That being said, Owen scarcely mentions infant baptism in his work on Hebrews, but he does provide 2 arguments.

    6a) Christians are called the “people of God” which means a group of people and therefore must necessarily include their children. I think we can both laugh at this argument:

    Abram was now become Abraham, “a father of many nations.” And as those who were his carnal seed of old were the people of God, so God had now a people in and of all those who were his children according to the faith. They may see, therefore, that they shall lose nothing, no privilege, by coming over to the gospel state by faith in Christ Jesus. Upon a new account they become “the people of God;” which interests them and their children in the covenant, with the seals and all the ordinances of it, even as formerly. For this name, “people,” doth not firstly respect individuals, but a collective body of men, with and in all their relations. Believers, not singly considered, but they and their seed, or their children, are this people; and where they are excluded from the initial ordinance of the covenant, I know not how believers can be called “the people of God.”…And without this [infant baptism], whatever they were, they were not a people.

    http://www.godrules.net/library/owen/131-295owen_t3.htm

    Note that even here he maintains that the grounds for the nation of Israel being called “the people of God” is different from the grounds for Christians being called the “people of God”.

    6b) At the very, very end of the article I have already linked to (The Oneness of the Church) Owen makes a reference to infant baptism.

    The question is, With whom is this church, founded on the promised Seed in the covenant? This is Zion, Jerusalem, Israel, Jacob, the temple of God. The Jews plead that it is with them, because they are the children of Abraham according to the flesh. Christians tell them that their privilege on this account was of another nature, and ended with the coming of the Messiah; that the church unto whom all the promises belong are only those who are heirs of Abraham’s faith, believing as he did, and thereby interested in his covenant. Not as though the promise made to Abraham were of none effect; for as it was made good unto his carnal seed in the exhibition of the Messiah, so the spiritual privileges of it belonged only unto those of the Jews and Gentiles in whom God had graciously purposed to effect the faith of Abraham. Thus was and is the church, whereunto all the promises belong, still one and the same, namely, Abraham’s children according to the faith: and among those promises this is one, that God will be a God unto them and their seed forever.

    This view if rather easily corrected by pointing out that John Owen is not Abraham, and neither is Sean Gerety. The promise was to Abraham and his seed (which Owen said has a dual meaning). The spiritual promise is to Abraham and his spiritual seed. We are not Abraham, we are Abraham’s seed. Therefore the promise is not made to our seed. Owen conflates the spiritual and carnal seed which he has just labored extensively to separate. Crampton addresses this misreading of Gen 17:7 in his book.

    Are you saying that Abraham was being disobedient to God’s command? See Genesis 17:11 for starters.

    Not at all. I’m simply highlighting a disjunction between circumcision and baptism. I’m guessing that you would have reservations about baptizing your child after God has told you they will not be baptized by the Holy Spirit.

    guess that leaves just my natural children.

    And grandchildren and great-grandchildren
    http://contrast2.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/gordon-clark-on-the-baptism-of-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren/

    2) Abraham’s relationship to circumcision is different from all other people’s

    Really? Then what about Abraham’s grandchildren? Was Isaac sinning when he circumcised his children?

    No, of course not. But that misses the point. I’m not suggesting circumcision had no meaning to anyone else, only that it had a different meaning. The very reason Paul uses Abraham in Rom 4 is because Abraham is in a unique relationship to circumcision that is able to make him the father of the circumcised and the uncircumcised. Therefore, pointing to a unique case (Abraham) and making it mean the same thing for everyone who received circumcision, when that inference is never made in the text, is wrong. To be clear, I am saying that circumcision was a seal/guarantee, by act of special revelation, to Abraham of the righteousness he had before being circumcised (see Pink quote)

    3) Using the example of Abraham, who received the seal of circumcision after he believed (which is the entire point of the passage) as a reason to give a sign as a seal of righteousness to those who do not yet believe, is wrong.

    See Genesis 17:11.

    You’re not distinguishing between sign and seal. Gen 17:11 doesn’t say circumcision is a seal of righteousness. And it doesn’t say it was a seal of righteousness to all who received it.

    The next thing we would observe is that circumcision was “a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had.” Again we would say, Let us be on our guard against adding to God’s Word, for nowhere does Scripture say that circumcision was a seal to anyone but to Abraham himself;

    That is not true. It was a sign and seal of God’s covenant to Abraham and “with his seed after him.” (Genesis 17:19). The question would seem to be is who is Abraham’s seed?

    I think you’re missing the point. You’re taking a passage that is specifically talking about Abraham and no one else and then applying its meaning (seal of righteousness) to everywhere you see circumcision mentioned. Rom 4:11 does not say “circumcision was a sign and seal of righteousness to everyone who received it.” It says “He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.” All you have done is point to where circumcision is given as a sign. You have not demonstrated that circumcision was a seal of righteousness to anyone other than Abraham. It is an invalid inference to do so from Rom 4:11. Gen 17 was a unique revelation from God to Abraham and it was not made to anyone else.

    And, I can’t join the Baptist church for reasons we’ve been discussing.

    Well lets keep chatting then 😉

  22. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sorry for the length,

    I’ll forgive you, although thanks to a little cutting and pasting myself, my reply is easily just as long. 😉

    Also, I do think we’re already starting to talk past each other. Which is probably my fault as I don’t think I have been as clear as I should have been. So forgive me. Also, I really don’t have any interest in getting into a major debate over the question of baptism with you. I’ll probably just end up ticking you off and I would rather not do that. So, we’ll see if I go much past my reply here.

    I’m simply highlighting a disjunction between circumcision and baptism.

    I think this is may be the heart of the issue between us, so I’ll put it right up front. It’s my view that circumcision and baptism mean essentially the same thing and signify the same thing. The disjunction, if you want to call it that, is that the former is a shadow that was looking ahead to the coming of promised seed, Jesus Christ, whereas the latter is a sign to God’s elect where we look back to the fulfillment of that promise. However, the meaning of circumcision and baptism are basically the same and both are a sign of the CoG. To make that point consider the following from Herman Hoeksema (BTW I think the PRC is absolutely correct in their insistence that the covenant is completely unilateral and unconditional and rooted in God’s sovereign election. I think failing to recognize this has also given considerable wiggle room that has allowed the errors of the FV to grow):

    My next observation is that circumcision and baptism, though differing in form, are essentially the same in meaning.
    Also circumcision was a sign of the righteousness which is by faith, of spiritual circumcision of the circumcision of the heart, of regeneration and sanctification, of the cutting away of the old man of sin, of the love of God in a new heart. In all these respects the significance of the old covenant sign is the same as that of baptism. The identity of the two signs, though they differ in form, I will now proceed to prove from the Word of God.

    1) First of all from passages that refer to circumcision only:

    Lev. 26:40, 41: “If they shall confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity.” It is evident here, that an uncircumcised heart is the same as a heart that will not confess sin and iniquity. Of such a heart, therefore, circumcision was a sign.

    Deut. 10:16: “Circumcise, therefore, the foreskin of your heart and he no more stiffnecked.” This is plain language. Circumcision was a sign of a circumcised, that is, of a sanctified heart.

    Deut. 30:6: “And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart and the heart of thy seed to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.” Again, this is plain in itself. Circumcision was a sign of the work of God’s grace in the heart, whereby the heart is filled with the love of God.

    Jer. 4:4: “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and take away the foreskin of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem.” In the language of the N. T. this is the same as saying: put off the old man of sin and put on the new man, which is renewed after the image of God in true righteousness and holiness. Circumcision was a sign of the putting off of the old man of sin.

    Rom. 4:11: “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith, which he had yet being uncircumcised.” Here circumcision seals the righteousness of faith; that is, God seals in the sign of circumcision, that He justifies the believers by faith and count his faith for righteousness.

    2) Secondly, from passages that speak of the significance of baptism:

    Acts 2:38: “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.” Baptism is a sign of the remission of sins, that is, of the righteousness which is by faith.

    Act 22:16: “And now, why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Baptism is the sign of the washing away of sin, of the righteousness which is by faith, the same as circumcision.

    Rom. 6:4: “Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life.” Baptism, like circumcision, is the sign of renewal in Christ. In baptism we die with Christ and we rise with Him in newness of life and walk.

    Gal. 3 :28: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Baptism is the sign of putting on Christ, that is, of being renewed in Him.

    These passages may be multiplied. But there is, of course, no difference of opinion with respect to the significance of baptism. These passages, therefore, may suffice.

    3) Thirdly, from passages that simply identify the two, circumcision and baptism:

    Col. 2:11, 12: “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; buried with him in baptism, whereas also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” Here the apostle plainly identifies the signs of baptism and circumcision with respect to their significance. He writes to the Church of the new dispensation, that believers are circumcised in the spiritual sense of the word; and that this spiritual circumcision took place when they were buried with Christ in baptism. A more direct proof that circumcision and baptism are essentially the same in meaning, the change from the old into the new dispensation, i.e., from the dispensation of shadows into that of the fulfillment could not be given.

    Phil. 3 :3: “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Here the apostle does not mention baptism, neither does he refer to it, but he maintains that not the Jews, but the Church of the new dispensation in Christ Jesus are the circumcision. Even circumcision has not essentially been discarded, but is continued in the Church of the new dispensation!

    My second proposition I regard as sufficiently established by proof from the Word of God.

    The baptist often attempts to dispute the statement that also occurs in our Baptism Form, namely, that circumcision has been replaced by baptism in the new dispensation. Of this the baptist refuses to be convinced. Yet, nothing could be more evident from the Scriptures. It is simply a historic fact, that baptism forced circumcision out of the way. When baptism came, circumcision must be discarded. For a time they existed side by side especially in Jewish-Christian communities, and circumcision tried to maintain itself alongside of baptism. But this proved impossible and circumcision was forced to surrender its place in the Church. And why? Because the Word of God plainly teaches, as we have shown, that essentially baptism has the same significance as circumcision, that two signs with the same meaning could not exist side by side, that circumcision belongs to the time of the shadows, and, therefore, must make room for baptism as being the sign of fulfillment. Hence, if one would still insist that circumcision were necessary for the Christian Church, he could only do so because he attached significance to it as an element of the law, sought the righteousness which is by the law, so that Christ had become no effect to him. And surely, baptism as being the same sign essentially and having the form proper to the new dispensation. So true this is, that the apostle writes that we are circumcised when we are baptized, Col. 2:11, 12; and that we are the true circumcision, Phil. 3:3. http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/pamphlet_7.html

    Moving on to a couple of other points in no particular order:

    The promise was to Abraham and his seed (which Owen said has a dual meaning). The spiritual promise is to Abraham and his spiritual seed. We are not Abraham, we are Abraham’s seed. Therefore the promise is not made to our seed.

    This makes no sense. If the promise is to Abraham and his spiritual seed, and “we are Abraham’s seed,” then the promise is to us as well. The promise is not to Abraham alone, but to him and his “seed” after him, and through it he will be the “father of a multitude of nations.” Therefore, my natural children who are also counted among God’s elect are as much Abraham’s spiritual seed as you or I. Beside as it says in Acts 2 and in the conclusion of Peter’s first public sermon:

    “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”

    The promise of the covenant pictured by circumcision in the old dispensation and by baptism in the new remains the same. As you say, we are Abraham’s (spiritual) seed and on account of God’s sovereign election we are children of the covenant and so are our “spiritual seed” after us. The difference is that I believe that we see God in Scripture working out his covenant through, although not exclusively, believers and their (spiritual) seed, both in the Old and New testaments, and you do not. For you there is a dis-continuity between circumcision as a sign of the CoG in the OT and baptism as a sign of the CoG in the NT — you don’t even see the sign in the OT as even a sign of the CoG (you said, “I do not equate the Abrahamic Covenant with the CoG”).. Consequently, I don’t see a lot of common ground between us on this to work with.

    Is that a genuine question, or is it rhetorical? It sounds like you are questioning the accuracy of my summary of Owen.

    I was being facetious and I suppose I was questioning the accuracy of your understanding of Owen. For example, I wrote “Also, what are these “carnal” promises? Is a carnal promise similar to an external connection?” You reply, “No,” but then you quote Owen as follows:

    It is true, they were the children of Abraham according to the flesh: but on that account they can have no other privilege than Abraham had in the flesh himself; and this was, as we have showed, that he should he set apart as a special channel, through whose loins God would derive the promised Seed into the world. In like manner were they separated to be a peculiar people, as his posterity, from amongst whom He should be so brought forth. That this separation and privilege was to cease when the end of it was accomplished and the Messiah exhibited, the very nature of the thing declares;

    It would seem that Owen IS making this very point and that there is an external aspect to the covenant during the OT dispensation and among the external aspects are “separation and privilege” which ceased for the state of Israel when the purpose for this separation and privilege was “accomplished and the Messiah exhibited.”

    Therefore, if you accept there was an external aspect to the working out of the CoG in the OT, and grant that the meaning of circumcision in the OT is essentially the same as baptism in the new, then it follows that there is also an external aspect of the outworking of the CoG in the NT.

    Further, I asked what are the sacraments a guarantee of and you seem to be saying since they are also a seal (and they are – and not just baptism) therefore it must guarantee the thing signified to all recipients, but that doesn’t follow. It doesn’t follow as it relates to the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper any more than it does concerning the sacrament of Baptism. As I’ve said baptism is only a sign and a seal to the elect. I’ll say it again, God has made no covenant with the reprobate, baptized or otherwise. As Calvin said baptism remains “dead and unprofitable symbols to the reprobate.” I agree. God’s covenant is always effective. Where we differ is that its effectiveness is not somehow confirmed by a confession of faith and I believe children, even before they can and do profess their faith, can be and sometimes are elect of God and are children of the CoG signified in baptism. To them, even before the possess the ability to profess their faith, their baptism is very much a sign and a seal. OTOH baptism is not a guarantee that all my natural seed are “covenant children,” but God does promise that to all my spiritual seed that He too will be their God, and this is the same promise God made to Abraham and his (spiritual) seed after him of which I am one and by God’s grace. The efficacy of baptism is rooted in election and God’s sovereign predestination. Since I mentioned Hoeksema above, let me just say that I wholeheartedly agree with David Englesma too who said:

    God realizes His covenant in the line of generations. He gathers His church from age to age from the children of believers. As the Puritans were fond of saying, “God casts the line of election in the loins of godly parents.” For the sake of the elect children, all are baptized.

    It is the covenantal election of God that determines the viewpoint that believing parents and church take toward the children and that governs the approach in rearing them. We do not view them as unsaved heathens (“little vipers”), though there may well be vipers among them, any more than we view the congregation as a gathering of unbelievers because of the presence of unbelievers among the saints. But we view them as children of God. http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/pamphlet_51.html

    Consequently, and unlike you, and you’re even a new father, I don’t view my children as little heathens, although some may be. Also, let me just add, I find it ironic and completely unbiblical when Baptists have “dedication ceremonies,” yet there is no such ceremony found anywhere in Scripture. OTOH we do see entire households baptized in Scripture. I also find detestable the Baptisitic notion, held by some and hopefully not you, that somehow children before the so-called “age of consent” are somehow innocent of sin. Frankly, the logical thing for all Baptist parents would be to conclude that all their children dying in infancy and before reaching the mysterious “age of consent” and professing their faith all are burning in hell. What a horrible notion.

    Finally, and to the point of the continuity of the CoG between the OT and NT I very much appreciate this from Hoeksema and from the same pamphlet I cite above:

    Now it is the plainly revealed will of God, that these generations of the seed of Abraham shall receive the sign of the covenant, the seal of the righteousness which is by faith, the sign of regeneration, of the putting off of the old man of sin and the putting on of the new man in Christ, of repentance and the forgiveness of sin. This was God’s ordinance for Abraham and his seed. “And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee: every man-child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And be that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger which is not of thy seed,” Gen. 17 :9-12. In the old dispensation, then, children, all children that were born in the generations of the seed of Abraham must receive the sign of circumcision, the seal of the righteousness which is by faith, of a new heart, of conversion and sanctification.

    And this was never abolished.

    Identically the same seed of Abraham still exists, as we have plainly shown, the only difference being, that, instead of being among national Israel it is among all nations.

    … When the Church entered into the new dispensation, when the seed of Abraham burst from its shell of national Israel to develop among all nations, the truth that this seed of Abraham is found in the generations of believers, was plainly revealed and had been brought into practice for centuries. Children were always regarded as belonging to the Church. And this is the sole reason why in the New Testament you have no special command: be sure and baptize. The Church naturally baptized infants. They could never have conceived of anything else. A special command to baptize houses, children included, would have been a strange phenomenon.

  23. Sean Gerety Says:

    And, one more thing, you wrote:

    Of course, we cannot know infallibly who the elect are, and thus who is truly a member of the New Covenant. But that does not therefore mean that we should not strive towards that goal (just as we cannot know infallibly who the elect are, yet we are commanded not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers).

    I see no imperative in Scripture that we should strive toward the goal of ensuring that the numbers in the visible church match or approximate the numbers found in the invisible one. There are plenty of biblical imperatives concerning what a church should do and teach, but that’s not one of them. Therefore to strive to that end would seem to me to be unbiblical. Besides, it is pure presumption to say that through all your striving that you are any closer to approaching a congregations of the elect than say a faithful bible preaching and believing paedobaptistic church. It is pure fantasy and for the reason you say; we cannot know who the elect are (adding the word “infallibly” modifies nothing).

    To say that a profession of faith more likely implies election than say trusting in the promises of God in Scripture is a sure sign of disbelief. However, it would explain the arrogance I sense from some Baptists pastors who have a tendency to look down at P&R churches as somehow less “pure.”

  24. brandonadams Says:

    Thanks Sean. I won’t push this any more. I only want to note a couple of things:

    It is simply a historic fact, that baptism forced circumcision out of the way. When baptism came, circumcision must be discarded. For a time they existed side by side especially in Jewish-Christian communities, and circumcision tried to maintain itself alongside of baptism. But this proved impossible and circumcision was forced to surrender its place in the Church. And why? Because the Word of God plainly teaches, as we have shown, that essentially baptism has the same significance as circumcision, that two signs with the same meaning could not exist side by side, that circumcision belongs to the time of the shadows, and, therefore, must make room for baptism as being the sign of fulfillment.

    I understand his reasoning, but this is simply begging the question. When the Apostles were faced with the question of circumcision for Gentiles, their answer was not: be baptized instead. That is a glaring omission from the Jerusalem Council, and I do not think that is a small matter that can be brushed aside. Their answer was Christ has fulfilled the law, the law which circumcision represented. Hoeksema makes the additional step to then say that baptism now replaces circumcision because of this, but that is begging the question, and in my opinion, glossing over important differences between the two.

    This makes no sense. If the promise is to Abraham and his spiritual seed, and “we are Abraham’s seed,” then the promise is to us as well. The promise is not to Abraham alone, but to him and his “seed” after him, and through it he will be the “father of a multitude of nations.”

    Do you believe that God has promised that Sean Gerety will be the father of a multitude of nations? That was the promise to Abraham. I think you picked up on a semantic mistake of mine. Rather than saying that the promise is to Abraham and his seed, I should have said the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham is the church.

    my natural children who are also counted among God’s elect are as much Abraham’s spiritual seed as you are.

    I never suggested otherwise. They are Abraham’s spiritual seed because they have faith. It has nothing to do with them being your physical seed. That is irrelevant.

    Crampton addresses Acts 2 in his book, and I agree with James White on the matter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl1yEM9bEsU (start at 6:00)

    Consequently, I don’t see a lot of common ground between us on this to work with.

    We have Scripture do we not? I do not say that facetiously. I hope that you are willing to change your opinion on things if you can be convinced otherwise, as Owen did. I would strongly encourage you, at some point in your future, to read Owen’s commentary on Hebrews 8 (if for no other reason than to read his strong defense of the covenant of grace as unconditional and made only with the elect). It is leaps and bounds better than Calvin’s comments on the passage. At least read the outline of his argument http://www.lightandheat.net/owen/demo/owen.html

    The difference is that I believe that we see God in Scripture working out his covenant through, although not exclusively, believers and their (spiritual) seed

    I will simply note in passing that I think the emphasis throughout the OT on physical seed is because the whole OT is the history of the fulfillment of the Gen 3 promise of a physical seed and the line through which He will come.

    Therefore, if you accept there was an external aspect to the working out of the CoG in the OT, and grant that the meaning of circumcision in the OT is essentially the same as baptism in the new, then it follows that there is also an external aspect of the outworking of the CoG in the NT.

    There are a lot of ifs in that statement, but the entire point of Owen’s article is to argue that the “external aspect” of the Abrahamic covenant that created the mixed community is done away with at the coming of Christ because the external aspect concerned “other things” besides salvation, which is why he says the Abrahamic covenant is not the covenant of grace. I encourage you to read it in full.

    Further, I asked what are the sacraments a guarantee of and you seem to be saying since they are also a seal (and they are – and not just baptism) therefore it must guarantee the thing signified to all recipients, but that doesn’t follow.

    Sure it does, otherwise its not a guarantee that cannot be revoked (a seal). Which is why they are not seals. All you’ve done is show that baptism and the Lord’s Supper operate on a different level for those who believe. I don’t disagree. What you need to do is prove that you are properly using the word “seal” – and that would have to be done by appealing to something other than the sacraments whose very status as seals are in question. The Holy Spirit who uses the sacraments as a means of grace in the elect is a seal, a guarantee, the sacraments themselves are not.

    and you’re even a new father!

    Which has only confirmed my convictions. He’ll never take a nap when he’s supposed to! But really, I’m simply being consistent to the Calvinism I was taught by passages such as Psalm 51:5.

    I also find detestable the Baptisitic notion, held by some and hopefully not you, that somehow children before the so-called “age of consent” are somehow innocent of sin.

    I do find that detestable. I also find the following detestable:

    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.

    PCA Book of Order 56-4.j

    To say that a profession of faith more likely implies election than say trusting in the promises of God in Scripture is a sure sign of disbelief.

    Instead of disbelief, perhaps I just think you have misunderstood God’s promises.

    Thanks for your time Sean. You’re in my prayers, keep up the good fight.


  25. Enjoying the clash of iron. Sean, your daughter (along with you and the rest of your family) is in my prayers.

  26. drake Says:

    If you distinguish beteween COG and COR

    Brandon said,
    “Paul deals with this subject in Romans 9:4 where he refers to the Old Testament people of God as the “Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption,” while at the same time the apostle speaks of their adoption with a sorrow for their lost condition (Rom 9:1-3). The Bible often addresses Israel as God’s son (Ex 4:22-23; Is 45:9-11; Jer 31:9; Mal 2:10), the nation which God had redeemed out of the land of Egypt (Ex 14). This redemption to sonship, however, was typological; it was not a redemption from slavery to sin, but from slavery in Egypt (Ex 20:1-2)… Here we see a clear contrast between the typical sonship of the Old Testament and the real, substantial and anti-typical sonship conferred by the New Covenant.”
    To Sean and Brandon, how can you admit covenant promises to unbelievers in Romans 9? Adoption belongs to unbelievers? That only works on my view.

    Brandon said,
    “I would strongly encourage you to reconsider. It does make a difference because their view of faith is intimately wrapped up in their view of the covenants. This is precisely why Kline said that a failure to separate the CoR from the CoG as Drake suggests”
    You know the issues.

    Sean said,
    “My objection to Drake is not that he distinguishes the CoG from the CoR, but the idea that the CoG somehow entails a “certain non-salvific, legally binding union to Christ” to those who at the same time are “under Adam and the Covenant of Works.”
    Now your earlier objection was that “Besides, the WCF knows nothing of a CoG with the reprobate, even the baptized variety”. I have an objection: the confession knows nothing of a distinction between COR and COG? It doesn’t even mention COR. So I’m not sure why you are making the Confession the standard.
    “How can someone be under both the CoW and the CoG? Besides, God made no covenant with unbelievers and no one is united to Christ apart from faith.”
    “Jhn 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every [branch] that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”
    Jesus makes very clear that unbelievers are united to him and those that bear no fruit he breaks them off.
    “God made no covenant with unbelievers”
    So then explain heb 10:29, and 2 pet 2:1 and heb 4:1
    “he argues that the CoR is made between God and Christ “as the eternal Son in His human nature”
    Nonsense. How can an eternal covenant be made with a temporal aspect of the Logos. The COR is made before the creation of the world. Typical Eutychian gloss on Christology that most Christians usually hold to in ignorance.
    “He also points out that Mastricht had a two-fold Covenant of Grace; “the one is eternal, the other is temporal….”
    That is Bostonian
    “but I do distinguish between the two”
    Distinguish them in what way? Distinguish them into two seperate covenants or two aspects of the same covenant?

    Brandon said
    “it must be said that if the covenant of grace, as the Westminster divines properly define it, is with the elect in Christ, there cannot be an external aspect to it. If one is elect, then he is elect, and he will be “inwardly” regenerated by the Holy Spirit.”
    I agree with your ad hominem arg. here which is why I’m Rutherfordian in my view of the covenants.

    Sean said,
    “Do carnal recipients of the Supper (as defined by either the WCF or LBCF) partake in an “external aspect” of the Supper? Of course they do. They’re eating and drinking something after all, even if it is to their own destruction.”
    Sounds to me like there are covenantal terms between God and these people here and the seal of the sacrament is the channel through which this judgment comes, for the exacrt reason that they are in covenant with him.
    “LC answers: “The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.”
    The confession has a general reading in Chap 7 “III. Man by his fall having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace: wherein he freely offered unto SINNERS life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe.”
    It doesn’t seem like you read what I wrote earlier and you are trying to engage it sean.

    Brandon said,
    “To be clear, my specific question is: What is the difference between a sign and a seal?”
    A sign is an amblem or a visible image representing a spiritual truth, or promise, reality, etc. A seal is a channel through which one who is in covenant with God participates in blessings or cursings as consequences of their belief or unbelief.
    “I don’t believe the supper is a seal of anything”
    Then why are people dying in 1 Cor 11?
    “One was whether or not the covenant of grace is conditional or unconditional. The other issue is the matter of a works principle in the Mosaic Covenant.”
    The Mosaic Covenant was an administration of the covenant of grace and was not an administration of the covenant of works or a reviving thereof but is simply republished that the terror of its demands may provoke men to flee to Christ for mercy. This is the same reason it is republished in the New Testament with such scriptures as Gal 3:10, 12, and Rom 10:5.

    Herman Witsius:
    “And first, we observe, that, in the ministry of Moses, there was a repetition of the doctrine concerning the law of the covenant of works. For both the very same precepts are inculcated, on which the covenant of works was founded, and which constituted the condition of that covenant; and that sentence is repeated, “which if a man do he shall live in them,” Lev. 18:5; Ezek. 20:11, 13 by which formula, the righteousness, which is of the law, is described, Rom. 10:5. And the terror of the covenant of works is
    increased by repeated comminations; and that voice heard, “cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them,” Deut. 27:26. Now the Apostle declares, that this is the curse of the law, as the law is opposed to faith, or the covenant of grace, Gal. 3:10, 12 . . . Secondly, we more especially remark, that when the law was given from mount Sinai or Horeb, there was a repetition of the covenant of works . . . Thirdly, we are
    not, however, to imagine, that the doctrine of the covenant of works was repeated, in order to set up again such a covenant with the Israelites, in which they were to seek for righteousness and salvation . . . The Israelites were, therefore, thus put in mind of the covenant of works, in order to convince them of their sin and misery, to drive them out of themselves, to show them the necessity of a satisfaction, and to compel them to Christ.
    And so their being thus brought to a remembrance of the covenant of works tended to promote the covenant of grace.”Herman Witsius, The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man, 2:182-84 from In Defense of Moses: A Confessional Critique of Kline and Karlberg by D. Patrick Ramsey

  27. Jim Butler Says:

    I don’t want to hijack, but I would like to try and get in contact with Brandon Adams. Please email Jim Butler at jpbutler66 at gmail dot com.

    Sean, thank you for your good work on this blog.

    jim

  28. drake Says:

    Sean said
    “However Ishmael, who also received the sign of the covenant, had some relationship to the covenant, did he not? He at least had a tertiary relationship to the covenant and with those God choose to establish his covenant. I mean, Abraham didn’t cease being his natural father and Isaac his natural brother. And if you agree he did, what would you call it? I think calling it an external relationship to the covenant (what the sign was actually signifying) makes sense. What else would you call it?”

    I want to push you on this Sean. If indeed he is a partaker of the external aspects o the covenant and if I am right that after the assembly the external administration of God’s purposes for the elect was understood as the COG and the internal approbation was understood as the COR is Ishmael then in the COG, I think so. Moreover, the covenant promise, “I will never leave you or forsake you” was implemented with Ishmael: Gen 21:20 And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.

    Brandon said,

    “1) Romans 4:11 does not say what circumcision meant to anyone other than Abraham”

    But the passage just said that he is the Father of us all.

    Sean said,
    “Was circumcision a sign of the covenant or not? If it was, then how do you account for Ishmael? How do you account for Esau? Yes, they were hypocrites and unbelievers, but it seems to me they had some external connection to the CoG and the people of God.”

    OK It seems to me you are answering a question I asked earlier. So you do believe then that the reprobates were in the COG in the OT.

    Gal 3:16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.
    Rutherford says,
    “But this seed is only Christ, not mystical Christ head and members: for neither are we blessed in Christ mystical, nor was Christ mystical the Church made a curse for us: Nor did the Church mystical pay a price of satisfaction to offended justice for us, verse 19…Now the seed coming is Christ coming in the flesh to take on our nature. If the seed were taken for Christ mystical, the Apostle must say, The law was added because of transgression, until the seed should come: that is, until Christ mystical, his Church should come in the flesh which is nonsense…”[3]
    Samuel Rutherford, The Covenant of Life Opened, (Originally published in Edinburgh 1654, Andro Anderson. Reprinted by Puritan Publications and edited by Matthew McMahon, 2005), 442

    Brandon said through Owen,
    “The ordinances of worship suited unto that privilege expired and came to an end.”
    Interesting, then why do American Christians use Choirs (1 Chron 9:33, 1 Chron 25:7-13) and musical instruments (2 Chron 29:25) ?

    Brandon said,
    “According to Owen, Romans 11:11-24 refers to the fact that the natural branches had a de jure place in the Abrahamic Covenant in the Old Testament, but at the coming of Christ they have now been cut off from any right to it.”

    Then how do you explain John 15:2, Heb 10:29, 2 Pet 2:1, Heb 4:1? It seems neither of you will touch these passages. While the Scottish view can deal with every passage cited so far.

    In reference to Jer 31:34-Hebrews 8 is not teaching that only saved elect believers are given covenant status. This passage is made clear by the prophecies that actually give the context of the new covenant. The prophecies of the new covenant include statements very familiar like the promise of the Holy Spirit that would be poured out “on the dry ground”(Isa 44:3), “on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions” (Joel 2:28-29), and “on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (Zech 12:10). The giving of the new heart in Eze 36 and Jer 31-32 are also coupled with these promises. What is quite revealing about these promises are the objects of these promises when they are mentioned to be “your offspring And My blessing on your descendants” (Isa 44:3), “their children after them” (Jer 32:39), and the “offspring” (Isa 61:8, 65:23,66:22) of these covenant people. This seems to be exactly what Peter mentions in Acts 2:39 when the promise of the Holy Spirit is given to believers and their children. Moreover, it is also pertinent to take note of the fact that in the context of new covenant prophecies God promises that “All your sons will be taught of the LORD” (Isa 54:13). This statement is directly related to the interpretation of Hebrews 8. What is also important to note is that in the context the new heavens and the new earth are woven throughout these chapters (Isaiah 65:17, 66:22). This is not to be ignored seeing that this event is related to “the new heavens and the new earth which I make will endure before Me,” declares the LORD, So your offspring and your name will endure” (Isaiah 66:22). These prophecies have their ultimate fulfillment in the new heavens and new earth. It is only in the new heavens and the new earth that every human being is saved and knows the Lord in the way the Baptist claims. When Moses prophesied “Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live” (Duet 30:6) not every single person had their heart circumcised. This promise was fulfilled to those who believed though others that did not believe also received the promise.

    With Reference to Crampton’s reply let him explain Deut 30:6. “Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live” (Duet 30:6) The same language is in the OT.

    Brandon
    “It is his commentary on Hebrews that expresses the views I have quoted and referenced here. If he had lived longer and continued to reform, as he had throughout his life, he would have no doubt seen the consequences of his newly articulated views, in my opinion.”

    And then Samuel Rutherford would have smacked some sense into him.

    Brandon said,

    “Note that even here he maintains that the grounds for the nation of Israel being called “the people of God” is different from the grounds for Christians being called the “people of God”.”

    In Ephesians 5 and 6 Paul addresses the parties making up the new covenant. What is fascinating is the exact model that Moses gives in Duet 29. In Ephesians 5 wives are commanded to “be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord” and husbands are commanded “love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” In Ephesians 6 slaves are commanded to “be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh” and children are commanded to “obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” The exact model that Moses gives as the covenant structure is the exact model given by Paul in the New Testament. Now if a Baptist objects that the southern Presbyterians did not baptize their slaves, then they were wrong to not do so. What the southern Presbyterians did makes no difference what the Bible teaches. The southern Presbyterians were wrong to not baptize their slaves and should have stayed consistent.

    Brandon said,

    “This view if rather easily corrected by pointing out that John Owen is not Abraham, and neither is Sean Gerety. The promise was to Abraham and his seed (which Owen said has a dual meaning). The spiritual promise is to Abraham and his spiritual seed. We are not Abraham, we are Abraham’s seed. Therefore the promise is not made to our seed. Owen conflates the spiritual and carnal seed which he has just labored extensively to separate. Crampton addresses this misreading of Gen 17:7 in his book.”

    I deal with this through Rutherford above. Again, you guys are getting twisted because your view of the COR is off. The seed is Christ in Gal 3 is Christ, NOT THE ELECT. So Christ is our surety as we are, as it were, the plants in the seed.

    Sean said
    “I think this is may be the heart of the issue between us, so I’ll put it right up front. It’s my view that circumcision and baptism mean essentially the same thing and signify the same thing.”

    No, the heart of the Issue is who is the seed in Gal 3 and this comes down on both of your heads. The seed here is not the elect it is Christ, and we as little plants comprehended in the seed. This interp would have to commit you to my views of the COR and COG.

    Sean said
    “Therefore, if you accept there was an external aspect to the working out of the CoG in the OT, and grant that the meaning of circumcision in the OT is essentially the same as baptism in the new, then it follows that there is also an external aspect of the outworking of the CoG in the NT.”

    THERE IT IS. You need to be consistent with this Sean, see how this external aspect was developed after the assembly, drop all this Bostonian nonsense and look for a Scottish Presbyterian Church.

    “To them, even before the possess the ability to profess their faith, their baptism is very much a sign and a seal. OTOH baptism is not a guarantee that all my natural seed are “covenant children,” but God does promise that to all my spiritual seed that He too will be their God, and this is the same promise God made to Abraham and his (spiritual) seed after him of which I am one and by God’s grace.”

    You just admitted that there was an external aspect to the COG in the OT and now you are saying it is only spiritual in both testaments. Seems contradictory to me.

    “Consequently, and unlike you, and you’re even a new father, I don’t view my children as little heathens,”

    Then you are admitting that Covenant promises have been given to ALL without exception.

    1.“the seal of the righteousness which is by faith, of a new heart, of conversion and sanctification.
    And this was never abolished. ”
    If you will admit this maybe you should see why. Because the model of the covenants was never abolished.
    Brandon said.
    “I do find that detestable. I also find the following detestable:”
    1. “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.
    PCA Book of Order 56-4.j”
    LoL. He got you here Sean. But hey, what’s your reply if COG promises are not given to ALL in the visible Church? On the Scottish view ALL are subject to the blessing and cursing of the COG from birth you cannot say that on your view and Brandon has come to put your nose to it and I think with some skill.

  29. Sean Gerety Says:

    For a time they existed side by side especially in Jewish-Christian communities, and circumcision tried to maintain itself alongside of baptism. But this proved impossible and circumcision was forced to surrender its place in the Church. And why? Because the Word of God plainly teaches, as we have shown, that essentially baptism has the same significance as circumcision, that two signs with the same meaning could not exist side by side, that circumcision belongs to the time of the shadows, and, therefore, must make room for baptism as being the sign of fulfillment.

    I understand his reasoning, but this is simply begging the question. When the Apostles were faced with the question of circumcision for Gentiles, their answer was not: be baptized instead. That is a glaring omission from the Jerusalem Council, and I do not think that is a small matter that can be brushed aside.

    First, and FWIW, I didn’t even realize it was a point of contention between Baptists and P&R folks that circumcision was still being practiced by early Jewish believers, even though it was dying out and being replaced by baptism as the sign of the covenant. After all, even immediately following the Jerusalem council Paul circumcised Timothy (see Acts 16:1-4).

    Second, it’s not begging the question simply because 1) the question for the council was whether or not Gentiles should be circumcised, and, 2) Gentile believers and their families were already being baptized as Christ commanded. Acts records the baptism of Lydia and her household (which I think again points to the continuity between circumcision and baptism that was replacing circumcision as the NT sign of the covenant):

    14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
    15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

    And, Paul, who was not doing a lot of baptisms said in 1 Cor 1:16; “And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.” You would think if children were exempt from baptism there would be some mention of this prohibition somewhere in Scripture — particularly when we see entire households are being baptized.

    There’s a glaring omission for you. 🙂

    The example time and again in Scripture is that believers and their families, even extended families were baptized. To suggest that this didn’t include the children of believers is quite a leap, akin to the claim made by many Baptists (at least around here) that the wine Jesus drank was nonalcoholic. It’s a fantasy. Jesus said “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” But there are no children in Baptist churches. As David Engelsma rightly notes: “Every Baptist church denies membership to all children. Only sheep belong to the Baptist fold, no lambs. Entrance into the church is restricted to those who are grown up and are able to make confession of their faith. Whatever youth do join the Baptist church do so not as children of believers but as mature individuals. The Baptist church will not suffer the little children to come to Christ, but forbids them.” I think this is an major breach and which is why I cannot be a Baptist or join a Baptist church.

    Their answer was Christ has fulfilled the law, the law which circumcision represented. Hoeksema makes the additional step to then say that baptism now replaces circumcision because of this, but that is begging the question, and in my opinion, glossing over important differences between the two.

    Not sure how you inferred the idea that circumcision “represented” the law from anything Acts 15? Paul said Abraham “received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith” not seal of the righteousness of or by the law. So how can circumcision represent the law and/or law keeping?

    Do you believe that God has promised that Sean Gerety will be the father of a multitude of nations? That was the promise to Abraham. I think you picked up on a semantic mistake of mine. Rather than saying that the promise is to Abraham and his seed, I should have said the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham is the church.

    No, I never said that God promised that I would be the father of many nations, but he did say: “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.”

    They are Abraham’s spiritual seed because they have faith. It has nothing to do with them being your physical seed. That is irrelevant.

    And it would seem you are misunderstanding me, I never said any of us are Abraham’s physical seed (at least I never claimed to be), but we are his spiritual seed not because we have faith, but rather because God chose us to be his children. The truth of the covenant and its efficacy (pictured in circumcision in the OT and later by baptism in the NT, rests on God’s sovereign choice and good pleasure). The Covenant of Grace is a divine promise to the elect. The Westminster Standards say: “the Covenant of Grace: whereby he [God] freely offers unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing and able to believe” (WCF 7.3).

    Notice that the promise of the Holy Spirit is to “those that are ordained unto eternal life.” The promise is not to all men, nor to all who hear the Gospel, nor to all the baptized, nor to all who profess faith (even if Baptists seem to think so), but only to the elect, to “those who are ordained unto life.” Notice also that the promise includes God’s making the elect “willing and able to believe.” Belief is not a condition that sinners meet in order to receive covenant blessings; saving faith is itself a promised blessing of the Covenant of Grace. That is exactly what God says in Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 8 when he speaks of writing his Word in the minds of his people.

    I do find that detestable. I also find the following detestable:

    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.P CA Book of Order 56-4.j

    Detestable? I would have thought this would have been right up your ally. I thought all you guys required a public profession of faith as a requirement for membership. The only difference is that the PCA recognizes that children are members of Christ’s church (even if it turns out that all are not) and you do not.


  30. Sean quoted Engelsma: “The Baptist church will not suffer the little children to come to Christ, but forbids them.”

    This is hardly fair. All Baptists I know care deeply for their children and are always encouraging them and pointing them to Christ. To paint a “forbidding” picture is simply twisting reality.

    Yes, there are differences. Yes, there is history. And yes, charity in debate between brothers is a good thing, even if the FVists overuse the word. Sean, with all due (read “very much”) respect, bringing up things like the common Baptist notion of non-alcoholic wine, dedication services, and children who are sinless before an “age of accountability,” is a distraction from the present discussion, since these issues are not at the heart of what is being discussed. Also, at least one Credobaptist in this thread (me) doesn’t hold to any of those (or altar-calls, or Arminianism, either, both of which are also common in Baptist churches).

  31. Jim Butler Says:

    “Also, at least one Credobaptist in this thread (me) doesn’t hold to any of those (or altar-calls, or Arminianism, either, both of which are also common in Baptist churches).”

    Make that two credobaptists in this thread…

    As far as the household of Stephanas that Paul baptized, he later says of them,

    “Now I urge you, brothers–you know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints–” (1 Cor 16:15)

    jim

  32. Sean Gerety Says:

    Engelsma’s quote might sting, but I hardly think it unfair Patrick. RB’s deny that their children are church members. It is not that they don’t care for their children or fail to point them to Christ, but these children have no part in Christ and can have no part in Christ until such time as they can profess their faith.

    As for the other stuff, I agree some of it might be distractions, but I have been to RB churches and have seen these mock baptisms “dedication” services first hand. I just think there are a lot of odd things that follow from tying a profession of faith to covenant membership (and, no, I’m not saying that all baptized children are defacto covenant members, but I think the judgment of charity that RB’s place on professions extends equally to children in P&R churches).

    Of course, somethings are not so trivial. If I believed RB doctrine and had one of my children died in infancy I would literally be without hope. Of course, to get around this some do argue that children dying before the age of consent are without sin. I mean, it certainly is more comforting that telling someone their child is burning in hell. Now, you say you don’t hold to any of these things, but what relationship can an infant or young child have with Christ prior to professing their faith?

    Further, while I don’t doubt that there are many fine RB Calvinists, I think that the idea that our faith somehow connects us to the covenant tends to imply Arminianism. That’s because it ties covenant membership with not just the act of believing, but with the act of professing as well. Was John a covenant member when he lept in his mother’s womb and before he could testify to the Christ? And, I’m not saying believing and professing are unimportant, but I’m quite comfortable saying that covenant membership can and often does precede it. Saving faith is itself a promised blessing of the Covenant of Grace.


  33. I didn’t even realize it was a point of contention between Baptists and P&R folks that circumcision was still being practiced by early Jewish believers

    Sorry, may not have been clear. That was not my contention.

    You would think if children were exempt from baptism there would be some mention of this prohibition somewhere in Scripture — particularly when we see entire households are being baptized.
    There’s a glaring omission for you. 🙂

    Obviously its a matter of perspective/presupposition – it assumes 1:1 continuity between the two, which I think is an unfounded assumption.

    Jesus said “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” But there are no children in Baptist churches

    You’re right. We make them wait in the car. Come on Sean, I already quoted the PCA Book of Order that requires a profession of faith from children before they are allowed to be “full” members.

    Belief is not a condition that sinners meet in order to receive covenant blessings; saving faith is itself a promised blessing of the Covenant of Grace…I think that the idea that our faith somehow connects us to the covenant tends to imply Arminianism…I’m not saying believing and professing are unimportant, but I’m quite comfortable saying that covenant membership can and often does precede it.

    I 100% agree. And I also fail to see how that is in any way relevant to baptizing your children. Can you please point me to any Reformed Baptist writing that says Christians are not in the New Covenant until after they believe?

    Your perspective appears to rest on the assumption that baptism brings one into the New Covenant. Otherwise I fail to see how your objection to credobaptism says anything against faith as a blessing of the New Covenant. I mean, if we want to follow this logic, we should baptize everyone, because certainly there are heathens who will later believe, and we don’t want to imply Arminianism by waiting until they profess faith to acknowledge them as covenant members.

    but these children have no part in Christ and can have no part in Christ until such time as they can profess their faith…Now, you say you don’t hold to any of these things, but what relationship can an infant or young child have with Christ prior to professing their faith?

    They have as much part in Christ as Christ chooses to have in them. Our acknowledging such is a separate issue. One can be a New Covenant member without getting wet.


  34. Forgot to ask something:

    No, I never said that God promised that I would be the father of many nations, but he did say: “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.”

    Can you clarify what you mean? Are you suggesting that God’s promise to Abraham that he would be a father of many nations was not a covenantal promise? If it was a covenantal promise, then are you picking and choosing which promises you personalize?

    In clarifying, can you mention specifically what you believe descendants refers to in that verse?

    Your argument appears to me to be saying: God promised to be a God to Abraham and to his offspring. By offspring, the passage is referring to Abraham’s physical offspring. In light of the New Testament, I can understand that I am Abraham’s offspring in a different sense because I am united to Christ through faith. Therefore, because I am Abraham’s spiritual offspring, God’s promise to be a God to Abraham’s physical offspring also applies to me.

    Do you believe that this promise to Abraham was fulfilled when God became a God to Sean Gerety, a spiritual son of Abraham? Or do you think that Abraham’s spiritual children are not in view at all in this verse? I ask because you seem to be equivocating on “descendants”. This is a genuine inquiry, not rhetoric.

  35. drake Says:

    Brandon,
    On the Abrahamic Covenant Rutherford is explicit:

    “The Covenant made with Abraham, and with us, THE SAME” [Same mediator, same Rock, Same Justification…with reference to Abraham being the father of many nations, Rutherford teaches that the essence of this promise does pass to us, that the promise of the nations still belongs to us.] For though Canaan was promised to Abraham’s seed there is no reason to call it an earthly Covenant, or another different covenant, for to all believers the blessings of their land are promised, Ezekiel 36:25-26, 30-31; Jeremiah 31:31 compared with 38-43; Matthew 6:33; Luke 12:31; 1 Tim 4:8; Hebrews 13:5-6 .” Covenant of Life pg. 137-138 I would add Mat 5:5, Eph 6:1-5

  36. drake Says:

    To both Brandon and Sean,

    In reference to the Romans 9 “it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.”

    Rutherford says,

    “Children are in Covenant Not by Birth, but by Such a Birth…It’s false that the Jews by birth as birth, had hereditary right to Church-privileges, they had right by such a birth from Abraham taken in our free-love Covenant fellowship with God…ABRAHAM IS NOT THE PHYSICAL BUT MORAL ROOT. For the Covenant was made with Abraham, not as believing Father, but as the believing Head of Children, of Servants, and strangers under him, as the Covenant is laid as an Heavenly depositum upon Zacheus, in relation not to his children only, but to his house, Luke 19. For when he is made a son of Abraham, salvation, that is, the Covenant of Life comes to him and to his house: and so to Cornelius, Acts 10, and to the Jailer, Acts 16, and to their houses, and the same way I distinguish seeds.” Covenant of Life pg. 181-182

    Both Brandon’s and Sean’s system take the Pharisaic interpretation of “the children of the flesh” and in so doing destroy their systems and make unity impossible amongs thinking Refomed people. In the OT the physical descedants of Abraham were not God’s children because they were descended from Abraham’s physical loins as a physical root but as a moral root.


  37. I think Brandon answered sufficiently for me.

    I don’t want to speak for all Credos in this thread, but personally, I don’t (won’t, because I don’t have any children yet) consider my children as heathens until I hear them profess Christ. But just because I’ll consider my children saved until proven otherwise doesn’t mean I’ll baptize them.

    The root of the entire problem is not the question of who should be baptized; it’s what does baptism signify? What is it for? What does it do? When these questions are answered, the question of “Who should be baptized?” becomes clear.

    Perhaps some Baptists consider their little ones hell-bound until they hear “I love Jesus” escape their lips, but I don’t. (Of course they are sinners in need of a savior, please don’t misunderstand me.)

  38. drake Says:

    Brandon,

    Concerning the seals and how the holy spirit is a seal:

    1.If you admit that circumcision was a seal and that Christ took the seal of circumcision then do you believe that promises in the COG are sealed to Christ? If so what promises would Christ need in the COG? He needs no righteousness or adoption, or forgiveness of sins.
    2.I would say the seal of Baptism is a seal of the COG. The Holy Spirit is a seal of COR.

  39. Sean Gerety Says:

    Your argument appears to me to be saying: God promised to be a God to Abraham and to his offspring. By offspring, the passage is referring to Abraham’s physical offspring. In light of the New Testament, I can understand that I am Abraham’s offspring in a different sense because I am united to Christ through faith. Therefore, because I am Abraham’s spiritual offspring, God’s promise to be a God to Abraham’s physical offspring also applies to me.

    Short answer; both. I think the CoG, in which circumcision is a sign in the OT and baptism in the New, is both a promise in reference to Abraham’s physical offspring which is ultimately Jesus Christ, and to his spiritual offspring as well. With the coming of Christ the covenant promise breaks out beyond the geographic confines of the nation of Israel and spreads throughout the world to the Gentiles (hence the new sign — and one interestingly given to both males and females). The point is that in the OT we see that God works out his covenant organically with believers and their seed who are also the spiritual seed and heirs to the promise. We see that right in Genesis 17 where God says he will establish his covenant with Isaac (the miracle baby not yet born) and not Ishmael. But there is no reason to believe, so far as I can see, and, let me just add, you haven’t provided any, why God has somehow ceased to work out His covenant organically as well. As Peter said; “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.”

    Do you believe that this promise to Abraham was fulfilled when God became a God to Sean Gerety, a spiritual son of Abraham?

    Absolutely. As Paul say in Romans 4:

    16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
    17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
    18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.


  40. Thanks for clarifying Sean. And you don’t think that the emphasis on physical lineage has anything to do with the channel of the promised physical seed (Christ)? Or you do, but don’t think it makes a difference in the context of our discussion?

  41. drake Says:

    Brandon said,
    “Thanks for clarifying Sean. And you don’t think that the emphasis on physical lineage has anything to do with the channel of the promised physical seed (Christ)? Or you do, but don’t think it makes a difference in the context of our discussion?”

    I answered this in such detail I don’t know why I am even posting here anymore. I guess my posts are irrelevant. There is too much cost to be paid to be an American gone Scottish for these two.

  42. Sean Gerety Says:

    And you don’t think that the emphasis on physical lineage has anything to do with the channel of the promised physical seed (Christ)?

    Of course. Which is why with the coming of Christ we no longer circumcise our men babies =8-0, but now baptize them instead along with our wimmen babies. Further, with the coming of Christ the covenant has spread beyond the geographic confines of God’s chosen people. Or, to those of us of whom Peter says, “Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” Praise God.

    However, I think the establishment of the covenant which baptism signifies is considerably more “orgainic” and symbolizes more than you seem to allow.

    For example, and since you’re a Baptist this probably won’t mean much to you (and besides, this is more personal and anecdotal), but I was baptized as an infant in a Dutch Reformed church in Flatbush, NY. My grandparents on my mother’s side, who I’m told were very “religious,” were by all reports hard-core Reformed. Now, I never met my Dutch Reformed grandparents as they died shortly after I was born. OTOH, my grandparents on my Dad’s side, whom I did know, were Roman Catholic Irish (fortunately not so hard-core as I’m confident the Lord snatched them from their Roman faith not long before their passing).

    As for me, I grew up a defacto atheist and my mother only came to saving faith late in life, although in her vain attempt to get us into church she at least made sure we went to “Protestant” churches the rare occasions we even went to church. Thankfully my Dad was more of a practicing atheist than I was for much of his life and didn’t seem to care either way but was happy to appease my mother.

    Anyway, to make a long story short, I came to saving faith when I was 18 or so and a decade or more after that I came to the Reformed faith. It was only then did my baptism have any real meaning for me as I could now look back, albeit only a few generations, and see God’s promise being realized through my Dutch Reformed grandparents. Interestingly, I have an older cousin who is also a believer along with his wife and last time I saw them they were starting to study the 5 points (naturally I recommended they read Clark’s Predestination). Anyway, I very much see an organic side to the outworking of the CoG through believers and their “seed.”

  43. Sean Gerety Says:

    Belief is not a condition that sinners meet in order to receive covenant blessings; saving faith is itself a promised blessing of the Covenant of Grace…I think that the idea that our faith somehow connects us to the covenant tends to imply Arminianism…I’m not saying believing and professing are unimportant, but I’m quite comfortable saying that covenant membership can and often does precede it.

    I 100% agree. And I also fail to see how that is in any way relevant to baptizing your children. Can you please point me to any Reformed Baptist writing that says Christians are not in the New Covenant until after they believe?

    Your perspective appears to rest on the assumption that baptism brings one into the New Covenant. Otherwise I fail to see how your objection to credobaptism says anything against faith as a blessing of the New Covenant. I mean, if we want to follow this logic, we should baptize everyone, because certainly there are heathens who will later believe, and we don’t want to imply Arminianism by waiting until they profess faith to acknowledge them as covenant members.

    I know and I’m glad we “100% agree,” which is why I suppose I’m giving you such a hard time and is also why I shouldn’t. But I guess where we disagree is what exactly does circumcision in the OT and baptism in the NT signify?

    You have said in regards to circumcision that “to give a sign as a seal of righteousness to those who do not yet believe, is wrong.” Yet that is exactly what Abraham was commanded to do. Also, you seem to limit circumcision as a sign and a seal to Abraham alone and therefore it would seem to signify nothing in the lives of Isaac, Jacob and the rest of Abraham’s spiritual seed (a class that you even count yourself as a member). Further, you said that you “do not equate the Abrahamic Covenant with the CoG,” despite passages like Lev. 26:40, 41, Deut. 10:16, Deut. 30:6, Jer. 4:4 where time and again, and as Hoeksema rightly observers, “[c]ircumcision was a sign of the putting off of the old man of sin” and “a sign of the work of God’s grace in the heart, whereby the heart is filled with the love of God.”

    Sounds like the CoG to me.

    Then again, you said that according to the Jerusalem council circumcision represents the law and the law’s fulfillment in Christ, so I’m not really sure what you think circumcision represents much less baptism.

    Since I’m not really sure at all what circumcision represents according to you even for OT believers, I would assume baptism represents, as it did for a longtime and former credo-baptist Matthew McMahon, “the outward sign of the inward work of regeneration” (you should read McMahon’s “Retraction” as he makes some interesting points concerning the question of hermeneutics which we really haven’t touched on and could explain why we keep talking past each other).

    I guess my problem with this is that don’t we already have an outward sign of the inward work of regeneration in a person’s profession of faith? If that is all baptism signifies, why baptize? After all, we agree that a profession doesn’t guarantee or seal the truth of a person’s faith any more than baptism guarantees or seals the truth of a non-elect person’s covenant membership. But, the sign of baptism, as I see it, has less to do with what the Holy Spirit works in us and more to do with what Christ accomplished for us and apart from us. Again as Hoeksema demonstrates above, baptism “is a sign of the remission of sins, that is, of the righteousness which is by faith” and that “In baptism we die with Christ and we rise with Him in newness of life and walk.” Baptism really pictures Christ work and what He accomplished on behalf of all the elect. To put it another way, baptism pictures more of what Christ has done for us even preceding our regeneration and coming to faith. That’s not to say that baptism isn’t “the outward sign of the inward work of regeneration,” but it just seems to me to be so much more.

    Anyway, I’m guessing this is one of those debates without end, so unless you have some question for me or if I’ve been fuzzy about anything that perhaps I can clarify, I’ll give you, my Baptist brother, the last word. 🙂


  44. Thanks Sean. I’m surprised you’re referencing McMahon.

    I’ll keep my eye out for your review of Crampton’s book sometime in the distant future, (and maybe a review of Owen’s Heb 8 commentary? 😉 )

  45. Drake Says:

    “I’m surprised you’re referencing McMahon.”

    McMahon is the one who edited the Rutherford book that posits the Scottish view of the Covenants. I believe he holds to it.

    Drake


  46. Well he’s incredibly unreliable Drake
    http://contrast2.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/mcmahons-misrepresentation-of-john-owen/

    Sean, I just looked at the article. He gives 4 reasons why he became a baptist:

    I see four main reasons why I was a Baptist: 1) I was dispensational to in my thinking because of an abrogation of the Old Testament covenant in an extreme manner, 2) I studied the doctrine of the “covenant” from the New Testament backwards to the Old Testament (in other words, I did theology backwards), 3) I defined the “sign” of Baptism strictly as, “the outward sign of the inward work of regeneration,” and 4) I thought that the terms “salvation” and “new covenant” were coextensively the same thing.

    1) Depending on what he means, I don’t mind the accusation. I find the Reformed handling of Heb 8 to be inadequate.

    2) This is why I referenced Poythress. In his book “Understanding Dispensationalism” he notes:

    Third, there is an issue of how the Bible itself is to be used in the controversy. Can we agree that one of the issues, perhaps the key issue, most distinguishing dispensationalists from nondispensationalists is the interpretation of the Old Testament?…

    How do we go about finding the Bible’s own teaching on the interpretation of the Old Testament? By reading the Bible, of course. But that is a big project. Is there some particular passage of the Bible that addresses this issue more directly and speaks to it at great length? I believe there is: the whole Book of Hebrews. Thus we should carefully case our interpretation of the Old Testament primarily [emphasis his] on this book. In the case of the doctrine of justification, for instance, we start with the two great passages of Romans 3-4 and Galatians 3. Then we integrate into the doctrine minor passages like James 2. What would happen if we reversed the procedure? Suppose we tried to fit the major passage or passages into a scheme that we had derived almost wholly from a few verses, verses whose implications might not be absolutely clear in themselves. We would be much more liable to error and distortion that way.

    I propose, then, both to myself and to my dispensationalist friends, the following discipline. Let us all devote ourselves to reading, studying, and meditating on the Book of Hebrews. Let us ask the Lord to teach us how to interpret the Old Testament correctly, and how to properly understand the relation of the Old Testament to the New Testament. Let us not struggle to have Hebrews simply confirm our already existing views. Rather, let us cast those views aside so far as we genuinely can. Let us subject them to criticism wherever things in the Book of Hebrews point us in that direction. Let us be humble listeners, following wherever Hebrews leads us.

    I do not think there is any danger in this discipline. The Bible is able to protect us from going astray. We do not need to cling tightly to our previous beliefs in order to be safe. In fact, we will not be safe if we are not open to having the Bible challenge even views that we dearly cherish.

    Moreover, I think that something like this procedure is probably the ideal way for people who are unsure of their own position to make up their minds. No doubt one of the reasons God has provided us with the Book of Hebrews is so that we would have a safe and sure starting point and guide into the complexities of interpreting the Old Testament. It has proved to be that in my life: the above discipline helped me to make up my mind. I sincerely believe that it will be equally effective in many other lives, too.

    And so I disagree with McMahon that we should not understand the Old Testament in light of the New. And McMahon admits, that when you do so, you end up a baptist 😉

    3) I’ll chew on this some more

    4) He disagrees with you here Sean – and he says this was the catalyst for his rejection of credobaptism – apostasy from the New Covenant. He says:

    If you think the New Covenant is coextensive with salvation, you will always wind up Baptistic. This is probably the most serious error…Until the Baptist comes to grips with this, there is no way for him to understand Covenant Theology

  47. drake Says:

    “If you think the New Covenant is coextensive with salvation, you will always wind up Baptistic. This is probably the most serious error…Until the Baptist comes to grips with this, there is no way for him to understand Covenant Theology”

    I am still trying to figure out how someone could believe that the New Covenant is coextensive with salvation and be Presbyterian.

  48. drake Says:

    Supplement that the Holy Spirit is a Seal of the COR not the COG:

    Doctrine of the Holy Spirit By George Smeaton

    “The intention of the apostle was to bring out with precision the difference of the relation in which Christ and the Spirit stand to the Church,—the one as the meritorious Surety, the other as the life-giving agent who puts us in possession of the whole redemption.
    In the use of a favourite expression, the apostle again calls the Spirit a SEAL and EARNEST. ” After that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, who is the earnest of our inheritance ” (i. 13). To the same effect the apostle warns them not to grieve the Holy Spirit by whom they were sealed (iv. 30). As to the order in which this sealing stands, it comes after believing—that is, next after faith; and as to the SEAL itself, too much ingenuity has often been used in elucidating it. Without appealing to classical or Hebrew examples, it may suffice to say that the impress of a seal implies a relation to the owner of the seal, and is a sure token of belonging to him. From the three passages where the term SEAL is expressly used, we gather that believers are God’s inviolable property, and known to be so by the Spirit dwelling in them. The sealing implies that the image engraven on the seal is impressed on the thing, or on the person sealed.[This is in perfect keeping with the Idea that the COR is coextensive with salvation] In this case it is the image of God impressed on the heart by the enlightening, regenerating, and sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. By that seal believers are declared to be the inviolable property of God (2 Tim. ii. 19); and they are sealed to the day of redemption as something which is to be inviolably secure (Eph. iv. 30). Not only so: there is a subjective assurance which they acquire as to their gracious state and final glory. The Spirit is also called an EARNEST (dppafi&v) as well as a seal—that is, a foretaste which is equivalent to the first-fruits of the Spirit, elsewhere mentioned (Eph. iv. 14).”
    Pg 78-79


  49. Great observation:

    ‘Notice too that for Moon forgiveness of sins is a “privilege” to be lived up to, not a gift.’

    I think that this alone serves to notice the faith-work salvation inherent in FV doctrine, and condemn it.

    God bless…

  50. brandonadams Says:

    Sorry, one last question Sean – can you point me to a commentary or exposition of Heb 8 and Jer 31 that you agree with? I’m curious how you understand the verses that say the Mosaic Covenant was broken, since (if I understand you correctly) you believe this is impossible.

  51. Sean Gerety Says:

    Sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you (been gone for a few days – daughter’s softball tournament), but I’m curious where I even mentioned or made reference to the Mosaic Cov? I keep getting the feeling that you and I have been mostly talking past each other.

  52. Michael Stephens Says:

    Drake– Ok I am not as read as you all so let me see if I have any understanding at all, please correct me as often as needed.

    I am sad to say I have not fully studied the covenants, at least not in depth, but from Galatians 3, it seems to me the covenants are the promise of Christ with some added blessings along the historical route.

    So first we have covenant of works, we fail sin comes to all.

    Then we get promises to Adam and eve and noah and abraham etc etc etc all pointing to Christ.

    I have to admit when God tells moses to keep the covenant I dont understand what he means, unless he is talking about the commands he is about to hand him…. which seems odd to me since the law applies to all men and not just those inside the covenant. maybe you can clear that up for me.

    Now the promises of the covenant in the old testament as I recall do promise to establish an everlasting kingdom, so Christ comes, dies, lives and now we have the new covenant in his blood.

    But you are saying that the CoR is this deal between the son and God, and the New Covenant(CoG) is beliving the CoR…. Isnt it possible that the CoR and all the covenants we see God making, or rather elaborating on in the old testament are one in the same, God just simply revealing more and more of the deal to us?

    If the CoR is a contract between Christ and the God head to save the elect then God’s promise to Abraham is just revealing a hint of that contract with Christ. And the fullfillment of the covenant with Abraham is Christ and his death.

    Maybe I am not understanding the distinction between covenants…if not clear that up for me.

  53. brandonadams Says:

    I’m curious where I even mentioned or made reference to the Mosaic Cov? I keep getting the feeling that you and I have been mostly talking past each other.

    Well, I suppose I assumed it, given your quotations of the Mosaic law regarding circumcision and because I assumed you were in agreement with Calvin and others on this issue. Are you saying that the Mosaic Covenant is not the Covenant of Grace? If so, I would encourage you to read the responses to “The Law is Not of Faith.” The responses have shown clearly (at least to me) that such a view is contrary to WCF.

  54. Sean Gerety Says:

    Aren’t we talking about some 500 years between Abraham and Moses? Wasn’t the command to circumcise given to Abraham?

    9 God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.
    10 “This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised.
    11 “And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.
    12 “And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants.
    13 “A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
    14 “But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”

    I thought where we disagreed is that you deny that circumcision is a sign of the CoG?

  55. brandonadams Says:

    We can’t talk about the Abrahamic Covenant and circumcision without also having the Mosaic Covenant in mind somewhere. Standard reformed theology says the Abrahamic Covenant is the Mosaic Covenant is the New Covenant. So to talk about one is to talk about the other.

    I’m just trying to understand your view as a whole. You seem to take pieces from different theologians to construct covenant theology as you see it in the Bible. I’m just trying to find a systematic explanation of your view. To my knowledge, all of the people you have referenced thus far view the Mosaic Covenant as the Covenant of Grace and do not separate the two (if that is your position). I’m not arguing at this point, just grasping to understand your position better.

  56. Sean Gerety Says:

    I guess I’m not understanding what it is you’re asking? The Mosaic Cov is an expansion of the Abrahamic Cov, but I’m not exactly sure how this impacts the question of whether or not circumcision along with baptism are both signs of the CoG?

  57. brandonadams Says:

    I’m just asking you to provide me with a commentary of Hebrews 8 that you agree with.

    This simply goes back to what started this whole conversation. Your position is that the Covenant of Grace is made with only the elect and that it is unbreakable. However, Jer 31 and Heb 8 compare the New Covenant with the Mosaic Covenant, the latter being breakable and I would say very obviously made with the non-elect.

    In one of Robbins’ recent sermons posted after his death (“The New Covenant of Grace”) he argues that the Mosaic Covenant was not the Covenant of Grace, but that the Abrahamic Covenant was. Is that your position?

    Calvin, for example, argued that the Mosaic Covenant was not in view in Hebrews 8 and that the author was ONLY talking about the ceremonies of the Mosaic Covenant, not the Mosaic Covenant as a whole, which, he says, is the same as the New Covenant. Commenting on Jer 31, Calvin says only the bare law is in view, not the Mosaic Covenant, because, again, it is the same covenant as the New Covenant.

    So I’m just confused with what you believe about the Mosaic Covenant and how it fits with your view of an unconditional covenant made with the elect alone.

  58. Sean Gerety Says:

    I’ll have to take some time and read Calvin’s commentary on Hebrews 8 and the rest of what Calvin taught concerning the covenants, but if “Reformed Answers” (whoever they are) is any indication I am not sure where Calvin and WCF differed? And, if Calvin didn’t differ with the WCF, then I’m not sure how he differed from Robbins, who, so far as I can tell, did not differ in the slightest from the WCF or Scripture (as that sermon you mention certainly attests).

    That said, I also hadn’t listened to John’s lecture until this evening, but I don’t think he offered anything new to what he had written elsewhere. FWIW I can’t find any fault with John’s presentation. Where do you think he went wrong?

  59. brandonadams Says:

    Reformed Answers is led by Richard Pratt as part of Third Mil. The question is not Calvin and WCF’s view of baptism, precisely, but rather their view of the Mosaic Covenant.

    Yes, Calvin and WCF say the same thing on the Mosaic Covenant. But Calvin differed from Robbins in his interpretation of the Mosaic Covenant.

    Robbins:

    Jeremiah chapter 31…Hebrews chapter 8… it’s all about the Covenant of Grace, the New Covenant, not the Mosaic Covenant. That’s the contrast here that the authors of Hebrews and Jeremiah are drawing… Those are the two principle passages from both the Old and the New Testament about the New Covenant, the Covenant of Grace as the Westminster Confession refers to it.

    The New Covenant of Grace

    Calvin:

    Here we are to observe how the covenant of the law compares with the covenant of the gospel, the ministry of Christ with that of Moses. For if the comparison had reference to the substance of the promises, then there would be great disagreement between the Testaments. But since the trend of the argument leads us in another direction, we must follow it to find the truth. Let us then set forth the covenant that he once established as eternal and never-perishing. Its fulfillment, by which it is finally confirmed and ratified, is Christ. While such confirmation was awaited, the Lord appointed, through Moses, ceremonies that were, so to speak, solemn symbols of that confirmation. A controversy arose over whether or not the ceremonies that had been ordained in the law ought to give way to Christ. Now these were only the accidental properties of the covenant, or additions and appendages, and in common parlance, accessories of it. Yet because they were means of administering it, they bear the name “covenant,” just as is customary in the case of other sacraments. To sum up then, in this passage (Heb 7) “Old Testament” means the solemn manner of confirming the covenant, comprised in ceremonies and sacrifices.

    Because nothing substantial underlies this unless we go beyond it, the apostle contends that it ought to be terminated and abrogated, to give place to Christ, the Sponsor and Mediator of a better covenant [cf. Heb 7:22]; whereby he imparts eternal sanctifications once and for all to the elect, blotting out their transgressions, which remained under the law. Or, if you prefer, understand it thus: the Old Testament of the Lord was that covenant [the new -BA] wrapped up in the shadowy and ineffectual observance of ceremonies and delivered to the Jews; it was temporary because it remained, as it were, in suspense until it might rest upon a firm and substantial confirmation. It became new and eternal only after it was consecrated and established by the blood of Christ. Hence Christ in the Supper calls the cup that he gives to his disciples “the cup of the New Testament in my blood” [Luke 22:20]. By this he means that the Testament of God attained its truth when sealed by his blood, and thereby becomes new and eternal.

    Institutes 2.11.4

    According to Calvin, Hebrews 8 is not referring to the Mosaic Covenant, but instead, when it says “old covenant” the author is referring only to the ceremonies of the CoG/New/Mosaic.

    You can read Calvin’s comments on Jer 31 in 2.11.7. He basically argues that Jeremiah is only talking about the bare moral law, not the Mosaic Covenant. Thus men break the moral law, but not the Mosaic Covenant.

    Jeremiah calls even the moral law a weak and fragile covenant [Jer. 31:32]

    Where do you think he went wrong?

    If I’m understanding him correctly, I don’t think he went wrong at all. I do think he differed with Calvin. I think there’s a difference between those two things 😉 I also think that John differed with WCF – see here:
    http://patrickspensees.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/in-defense-of-moses.pdf

  60. Sean Gerety Says:

    According to Calvin, Hebrews 8 is not referring to the Mosaic Covenant,

    What do you think shadowy and ineffectual observances of ceremonies and sacrifices is referring to?! He’s talking about the Mosaic covenant!

    when it says “old covenant” the author is referring only to the ceremonies of the CoG/New/Mosaic.

    I have no idea what this means? What sort of amalgam is “the CoG/New/Mosaic”?

    FWIW I think you’re seriously misreading Calvin, or at least reading him through some odd preconceived Baptistic notion of the covenants. According to Calvin, Hebrews 7 is referring precisely to the Mosaic covenant. When Calvin refers to the “Old Testament of the Lord was that covenant wrapped up in the shadowy and ineffectual observance of ceremonies and delivered to the Jews” he is referring to the Mosaic covenant.

    I have no idea what it is you think you’re reading?

    Calvin writes: “To sum up then, in this passage (Heb 7) ‘Old Testament’ means the solemn manner of confirming the covenant, comprised in ceremonies and sacrifices” he is talking specifically about the Mosaic covenant which was ineffectual and abrogated by the New Covenant. This is the exact same point John makes in his lecture (see also Not Reformed At All) comparing the Mosaic Cov with the CoG.

    I also think that John differed with WCF – see here:

    Since John doesn’t disagree with Calvin, only perhaps your reading of him, rather than having me read a 32 page paper in order for you to make your point, why don’t you just tell me where you think John differed from the WCF?

  61. brandonadams Says:

    What do you think shadowy and ineffectual observances of ceremonies and sacrifices is referring to?! He’s talking about the Mosaic covenant!

    Not precisely. He is talking about one part of the Mosaic Covenant, not the Mosaic Covenant as a whole. He stresses the fact that those are only accidentals and that the Mosaic Covenant itself is not broken or done away with (because it is the same covenant as the new covenant) – only its ceremonies.

    I have no idea what this means? What sort of amalgam is “the CoG/New/Mosaic”?

    It’s what the WCF teaches. The Abrahamic Covenant is the same covenant as the Mosaic Covenant which is the same covenant as the New Covenant. They are all just different dispensations of one Covenant of Grace.

    FWIW I think you’re seriously misreading Calvin, or at least reading him through some odd preconceived Baptistic notion of the covenants. According to Calvin, Hebrews 7 is referring precisely to the Mosaic covenant.

    I’m not. Do you understand Calvin’s distinction between accidentals and substance? He steadfastly refuses to say that the substance of the Mosaic Covenant (the covenant itself) is done away with or is broken.

    In the subsequent history of Reformed covenant theology, Calvin’s insistence upon the unity of the covenant of grace through all its various administrations becomes a commonplace. Upon the basis of this far-reaching formulation, Calvin consistently maintains that all of the essential components that make the covenant of grace what it is belong to each of its administrations. Consequently, whatever may distinguish the Mosaic administration as a distinct administration of the covenant of grace belong to the category of what Calvin terms “accidental” forms that are incidental to the covenant’s nature.

    -Venema, “The Mosaic Covenant: A ‘Republication’ of the Covenant of Works?”, Mid-America Journal of Theology vol 21

    John Robbins says the contrast in Hebrews 8 and Jer 31 is between the New Covenant, which John says is the Covenant of Grace, and the Mosaic Covenant, which is not the Covenant of Grace. Yet that is not what Calvin said:

    Fesko interprets Calvin’s contrast to teach a real contrast between the Mosaic administration of the covenant of grace (at least at some level) and the gospel of Jesus Christ… However, the passage that Fesko adduces for his understanding of this contrast shows that Calvin identifies the contrast as that between a “legalistic” misappropriation of the law of Moses, abstracted from its setting within the broader administration of the Mosaic covenant and used as a means of justification before God, and the gospel.

    -Venema

    So, again, Calvin says that Jer 31 is speaking of the bare moral law when it refers to the old covenant “that they broke”, and not to the Mosaic Covenant in substance or in whole. And in Hebrews, “old covenant” refers only to the ceremonies of the old covenant, not to the covenant as a whole, or in its essential nature.

    Calvin writes: “To sum up then, in this passage (Heb 7) ‘Old Testament’ means the solemn manner of confirming the covenant, comprised in ceremonies and sacrifices” he is talking specifically about the Mosaic covenant which was ineffectual and abrogated by the New Covenant. This is the exact same point John makes in his lecture (see also Not Reformed At All) comparing the Mosaic Cov with the CoG.

    Yes, of course he is talking about the Mosaic covenant – but only part of the Mosaic covenant. He is talking about what he calls the “accidentals” of the covenant (ceremonies), not its substance (which he says is the same as the New).

    Commenting on Heb 8:6 “But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.” Calvin says:

    But what he adds is not without some difficulty, — that the covenant of the Gospel was proclaimed on better promises; for it is certain that the fathers who lived under the Law had the same hope of eternal life set before them as we have, as they had the grace of adoption in common with us, then faith must have rested on the same promises. But the comparison made by the Apostle refers to the form rather than to the substance; for though God promised to them the same salvation which he at this day promises to us, yet neither the manner nor the character of the revelation is the same or equal to what we enjoy. If anyone wishes to know more on this subject, let him read the 4th and 5th chapter of the Epistle to the Galatians and my Institutes.

    So the Mosaic and New are both administrations of the same covenant, the only difference is the “manner and character” of the revelation. See Institutes 2.11 for more

    For Calvin, the foedus legale and foedus evangelicum are not “two separate covenants” as Fesko states, but they are in fact two names for two different administrations of the same covenant. The comparison between the foedus legale and the foedus evangelicum does not refer to the “substance” of the covenants. Rather as Calvin goes on to explain in the same section, the two terms only refer to a twofold way of administering the same covenant:

    Let us then set forth the covenant that he once established as eternal and never-perishing. Its fulfillment, by which it is finally confirmed and ratified, is Christ. While such confirmation was awaited, the Lord appointed, through Moses, ceremonies that were, so to speak, solemn symbols of that
    confirmation. A controversy arose over whether or not the ceremonies that had been ordained in the law ought to give way to Christ. Now these were only the accidental properties of the covenant, or additions and appendages, and in common parlance, accessories of it. Yet, because they were means of administering it, they bear the name “covenant,” just as is customary in the case of the other sacraments. To sum up, then, in this passage “Old Testament” means the solemn manner of confirming the covenant, comprised in ceremonies and sacrifices (2.11.4).

    Kerux 24.3, pg 34 – review of “The Law is Not of Faith”

    To put the matter as simply as possible, Calvin taught that people were saved by the Mosaic Covenant because it was the Covenant of Grace. When the New Covenant comes along, the only thing that changes are the accidentals (ceremonies, etc), because it is the same covenant as the Mosaic, just differently administered.

    Since John doesn’t disagree with Calvin, only perhaps your reading of him, rather than having me read a 32 page paper in order for you to make your point, why don’t you just tell me where you think John differed from the WCF?

    John differed from WCF because he said the Mosaic Covenant was not the Covenant of Grace.

  62. Sean Gerety Says:

    John differed from WCF because he said the Mosaic Covenant was not the Covenant of Grace.

    Perhaps, but in what sense? Since John isn’t around to defend himself and to clarify whether or not he believes the Mosaic Cov is the CoG differently administered, at least in some sense and in relation to God’s elect (who are the exclusive members of the CoG along with Christ as their surety), or if they are somehow mutually exclusive, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Check for example his reply to a questioner at about the 48 min mark. Christ is pictured in ceremonies and sacrifices of the Mosaic Cov. and this is something John “wholeheartedly” agrees with. So I don’t think it is quite as airtight as you want to make it sound.

    As you can probably tell from this reply, I’m done. While there is certainly some level of confusion over the relationship and interconnectedness of various covenants in P&R circles (myself included) there is considerably more agreement than Baptists either acknowledge or give credit. But in all cases there is absolutely no warrant or place for the FV distortion and abuse of the covenant and its signs, nor is the FV sufficient to warrant a Baptistic scheme as a viable, much less a biblical alternative.

    Of course some Baptists do view the FV controversy opportunistically (of course not you) 😉 in order to garner converts to their point of view, and, like the FV men, look at some of the disharmony over the nature of the covenant as something to exploit. However, and in fairness to you, I suppose this is no different from me using the FV in an attempt to garner converts to Clark’s Scripturalism and rip people from their Vantilian slumber. I just think I am on much firmer philosophic and biblical footing. 🙂

    14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
    15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
    16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.

    Peace.

  63. brandonadams Says:

    Check for example his reply to a questioner at about the 48 min mark. Christ is pictured in ceremonies and sacrifices of the Mosaic Cov. and this is something John “wholeheartedly” agrees with. So I don’t think it is quite as airtight as you want to make it sound.

    I don’t disagree that Christ is pictured in ceremonies and sacrifices in the Mosaic Covenant. That is different from saying the Mosaic Covenant is the New Covenant and both are the Covenant of Grace. Owen saw the ceremonies and sacrifices of the Mosaic Covenant as pointing to Christ, but he also rejected the opinion of reformed divines that it was the covenant of grace. He knew very well that he was rejecting WCF when he said:

    The judgment of most reformed divines is, that the church under the old testament had the same promise of Christ, the same interest in him by faith, remission of sins, reconciliation with God, justification and salvation by the same way and means, that believers have under the new… The Lutherans, on the other side, insist on two arguments to prove that there is not a twofold administration of the same covenant, but that there are substantially distinct covenants and that this is intended in this discourse of the apostle…

    …Having noted these things, we may consider that the Scripture does plainly and expressly make mention of two testaments, or covenants, and distinguish between them in such a way as can hardly be accommodated by a twofold administration of the same covenant…Wherefore we must grant two distinct covenants, rather than merely a twofold administration of the same covenant, to be intended. We must do so, provided always that the way of reconciliation and salvation was the same under both. But it will be said, and with great pretence of reason, for it is the sole foundation of all who allow only a twofold administration of the same covenant, ’That this being the principal end of a divine covenant, if the way of reconciliation and salvation is the same under both, then indeed they are the same for the substance of them is but one.’ And I grant that this would inevitably follow, if it were so equally by virtue of them both. If reconciliation and salvation by Christ were to be obtained not only under the old covenant, but by virtue of it, then it must be the same for substance with the new. But this is not so; for no reconciliation with God nor salvation could be obtained by virtue of the old covenant, or the administration of it, as our apostle disputes at large, though all believers were reconciled, justified, and saved, by virtue of the promise, while they were under the old covenant.

    Having shown in what sense the covenant of grace is called “the new covenant,” in this distinction and opposition to the old covenant, so I shall propose several things which relate to the nature of the first covenant, which manifest it to have been a distinct covenant, and not a mere administration of the covenant of grace.

    there is considerably more agreement than Baptists either acknowledge or give credit.

    Are you sure about that? Have you read all of the very heated debate about the views of WSC and republication (such as what I have linked to already)? The WCF crowd is ripping at the seams trying to decide what the bible says about the covenants and who is and is not confessional in their views (and this is entirely separate from FV). All I’ve done to see the tremendous lack of consensus is eavesdrop on the in-house debate.

    Thanks again for the time you’ve given me Sean.

  64. brandonadams Says:

    Of course, Owen did not thank you for your time… looks like I goofed on the formatting 😉


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