John MacArthur is All Wet

Something for my Baptist friends from Sinners and Saints Radio.

I think this will be 45 minutes well spent and the last argument (I won’t give it away) is my favorite.

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55 Comments on “John MacArthur is All Wet”


  1. Ok, I’ll bite. Are you willing to entertain discussion in this thread? Normally you seem to want to avoid baptism threads.

    The introductory article at the link you posted says:

    “Dr. MacArthur’s fivefold argument is summarized as:

    1) The words infant and baptism are nowhere used in conjunction in the NT. Therefore infant baptism is not in the Bible;
    2) The lexical evidence of the NT indicates that the Greek word for baptize points conclusively to baptism by immersion. Infant baptism fails to satisfy that condition because the form of infant baptism is sprinkling. Therefore infant baptism is not baptism;
    3) Baptism does not replace circumcision;
    4) Infant baptism confuses soteriology and ecclesiology;
    5) Infant baptism is inconsistent with Reformed soteriology.”

    Assuming this is an accurate summary, and before I listen to the broadcast, I already reject (MacDaddy’s) arguments #1 & #2, right off the bat. I totally agree with premise #3, although I haven’t heard MacArthur’s reasoning. #4 & #5, in my opinion, depend greatly on definitions and the arguments behind the premises.

    Also, MacArthur is dispensational, whereas I (along with the other Credos that hang out here, that I know of) am covenantal. That means that while I might agree with where he “lands,” I might totally disagree with how he arrives there.

    I’ll listen to this when I get a chance (hopefully at work tonight) and comment more later…

  2. Sean Gerety Says:

    Let me know what you think Patrick. I thought it was a tightly argued refutation of all of Mac’s 5 points. It also helps identify the Reformed view, and, indirectly, contrasts it with the FV perversion (even thought the FV isn’t in view, it annoys me to no end when some RBs confuse the two and attempt to draw a linkage and I think you know who I mean). So, as long as any attempted link isn’t smuggled in I’m not opposed to discussing the correctness of infant baptism. 🙂 I just would like to try and avoid some of the normal pitfalls when discussing it. I also don’t understand why it’s such a big stumbling block for some Baptists? Maybe you can explain that to me?

    I guess another reason that I generally avoid the topic is I frankly don’t place all that much importance on either baptism or the Lord’s supper as I think they are an admittedly necessary condescension to our weakness and need for sensuous signs to confirm a completely spiritual and UN-emperical reality. To put it another way, I think too many people put too much emphasis on the signs and not enough on what they signify seeing there is not always a one to one correlation regardless of which side of the divide you’re on. Or, to put it even another way, it doesn’t really bother men that men like Crampton and Elliot, men I love and respect, have jumped ship and gone over to the watery dark side. ;-P


  3. “…it annoys me to no end when some RBs confuse [the Reformed view and the Federal Vision view of baptism] and attempt to draw a linkage…”

    Me too.

    “I also don’t understand why it’s such a big stumbling block for some Baptists? Maybe you can explain that to me?”

    I’d like to quote Pastor Phillip M. Way (stole this from the PuritanBoard):

    “One quick glimpse at the Scriptures that give us instructions regarding fellowship reveals long lists of things to do for one another and to one another to the glory of God. And a quick glimpse of all the times we are told to withhold fellowship proves that the only reasons for breaking fellowship between believers is unrepentant sin (a brother under discipline) and false doctrine (doctrine that does not lead to godliness, denies the gospel, or causes the ruin of another’s faith).

    Long list on one side. Short list on the other. Why do we spend all our time trying to force extra issues into that short list?”

    I greatly appreciated your last paragraph. Many people need to adjust their priorities.

  4. Hugh McCann Says:

    Reading with interest. Went to sem with Sawtelle and the two Armenians.

    Still not convinced of paedobaptism, but don’t like Mac’s reasoning ever since his Shepherds’ Conf. Anti-Amillennial debacle.

    Will listen to the chatter ASAP.

  5. Hugh McCann Says:

    Sean, this in part,

    . . .too many people put too much emphasis on the signs and not enough on what they signify seeing there is not always a one to one correlation regardless of which side of the divide you’re on.

    answers this:

    I also don’t understand why it’s such a big stumbling block for some Baptists? Maybe you can explain that to me?

    This I like: ‘I frankly don’t place all that much importance on either baptism or the Lord’s supper as I think they are an admittedly necessary condescension to our weakness and need for sensuous signs to confirm a completely spiritual and UN-empirical reality.’

    See horrendous Horton quote below.

  6. Hugh McCann Says:

    From Putting Amazing Back Into Grace:

    The Bible doesn’t beat around the bush here. Whatever baptism accomplishes, the sign and seal (water and the Word) are [inseparably]* linked to the reality (washing of regeneration) itself (Titus 3:5). John the Baptist’s baptism was was still an Old Testament ritual washing. The Jews had many such washings, usually rituals of rededication after lapses. The Baptist informed his converts, “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt. 3:11). In other words, the Coming One will do more than offer rededication ceremonies. He will actually unite believers to Himself through the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, this new baptism will need no repetition; the Holy Spirit himself will be given in this baptism. But he will also baptize with fire. This refers, of course, to judgment, as the next verse makes clear: “His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Thus, there are, as it were, two fonts — the font of salvation and the font of damnation. Christian baptism, when joined by the Word and faith, assures us that our baptism will be of the former type.

    Baptism is, in effect, a “sprinkling by his [Christ’s] blood” (1 Peter 1:2). “God. . . made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:5-6). The apostle Paul further described this New Testament rite:

    Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?. . . in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too may live new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection (Rom. 6:3-5).

    In other words, Christ was baptized with God’s wrath so that we could be baptized with God’s grace. In baptism we are identified with Christ and united to him. He as truly saves us from God’s wrath as Moses saved the Israelites while condemning the Egyptians in the Red Sea.

    The apostle Peter compared baptism to Noah’s ark:

    In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also — not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand — with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him (1 Peter 3:20-22).

    And the apostle Paul compared baptism in Christ to the Isarelites’ wilderness experience when “They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor. 10:2). That cloud was the presence of God following and guiding the children of Israel (Exod. 33:8-11) and the sea, of course, was the Red Sea. Baptism for the apostles, then, was the descent of the indwelling presence of God and the “proof of purchase,” guaranteeing that we have already escaped the raging waters of divine wrath. While there are, of course, exceptions (for instance, the thief on the cross), the general rule is “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

    If we refuse baptism, we are refusing the promise God makes and seals to us and to our children. While we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, it is impossible to separate baptism and salvation, as though we can have gift, but refuse the box in which it comes. We are justified by grace alone through faith alone; baptism nevertheless promises the new life of the convert or child of the believer and attests to the fact that God has come to nurture us even in our earliest days.

    * ‘Inseparably’ is dropped in the 2011 edition.

  7. Hugh McCann Says:

    . . .and that’s why paedobaptism is such a big stumbling block for many Baptists, Charlie Brown.


  8. Ok, I listened to it. First, I should point out that I haven’t listened to the MacArthur sermon they are critiquing. Second, I have no interest in defending MacArthur; I’m not really a fan. Third, I listened to this on my iPod while walking around, occasionally stopping to jot down a few shorthand notes, so my times and quotes are approximate. If anyone thinks I’ve significantly misunderstood or misquoted anyone, please feel free to correct me.

    1st point: If the commentator’s explanation of MacArthur’s argument is accurate (i.e. Because the words “infant” and “baptism” are nowhere placed together in Scripture, “infant baptism” is therefore false), then they are right to object. If this reasoning was sound, then the Trinity is unbiblical. However, I wonder if MacArthur was simply saying that an appeal to household baptisms is inconclusive. Many Paedos often appeal to household baptisms as definitive proof of infant baptism, but the truth is that one cannot definitively prove the existence of infants in these passages. Many Paedos recognize this to be the case, and wisely do not base their arguments upon it (although they may cite them as *probable* examples).

    1 Corinthians 10, while it does speak of little ones being baptized, is not an example of the New Testament sacrament/ordinance. If my suspicion of MacArthur’s actual point (regarding household baptisms & specific NT examples of Christian baptism) is correct, then the commentators’ appeal to 1 Cor 10 says nothing. I strongly suspect that this is a straw man, but having not listened to MacArthur’s original sermon, I cannot say with absolute certainty.

    2nd point: The commentators are absolutely correct, and frankly I’m embarrassed that Credos still use this argument. Even if it were true, it would not disprove paedobaptism; it would only disprove affusion and aspersion and establish immersion as the proper mode.

    As an aside, I am a Credobaptist, immersed upon profession, who is not tied whatsoever to immersion as the only acceptable mode of baptism. In fact, James M. Chaney’s book, “William the Baptist,” (available to read online at http://www.covenantofgrace.com/william_the_baptist.htm) convinced me that affusion or aspersion are probably better modes, although I’m not convinced that immersion is therefore improper.

    Points 3&4 seemed to kind of overlap when I listened to it, so I’ll treat them as one here: At somewhere around the 17:45ish mark, one of the commentators makes a strong connection between Israel and the Church. In fact, it seemed to me that he identified them as one and the same, with the only discontinuity being that in the OT, the church was limited to Israelites only, while in the NT, the church includes gentiles. I specifically remember him saying that the requirements for the covenantal community of OT Israel and the covenantal community of the NT church are the same (!), namely, faith & obedience.

    It is my position that Israel was a *type* of the true church, the bride of Christ. I am NOT saying that the NT Church replaced Israel, as replacement theology does. I am NOT saying that there are two peoples of God, Israel and the Church, as Dispensationalism does. The commentators rightly point out that Israel is referred to as a “church” (ekklesia). However, they are wrong to assume that just because Israel was an ekklesia (a called-out congregation), Israel is therefore synonymous with all references to the ekklesia of the NT age, described as the bride of Christ, for which He died. We must let context determine which congregation (ekklesia) is being referred to in any given passage. Was Israel an ekklesia? Most assuredly. Was every member of that ekklesia someone for whom Christ died? Most assuredly not. Yet the NT often (not always) uses the term ekklesia to refer particularly to the elect.

    Paedobaptists would do well to read one of their own, John Owen, on the difference between the Mosaic and New Covenants. This material can be found in Owen’s masterpiece, his commentary on Hebrews. The pertinent section has also been published in this book: http://www.shop.rbap.net/product.sc;jsessionid=0A58F36F7773DB08629ED3FA41968DD6.qscstrfrnt05?productId=2&categoryId=1.

    The OT ekklesia, the nation of Israel, was a nation in covenant with God. But the Mosaic Covenant cannot be equated with the New Covenant. I honestly cannot understand how one can read Hebrews’ sharp distinction between the Old & New Covenants and come away teaching “one covenant, two dispensations”. I am NOT a New Covenant Theologian (and neither was Owen). I fully hold to a covenant of grace scheme like that of John Gill (although I prefer to use the term Redemption, but that’s getting away from the topic).

    One ordinarily became a member of the Sinaitic covenant by birth. If your parents were Jews (believing or not), you were a Jew, and you were part of the Sinaitic Covenant made with the children of Abraham, and you were circumcised (if you were male) according to the covenant of circumcision made with Abraham.

    Sean, I don’t want to misinterpret you or John Robbins, but in your book “Not Reformed At All” you provide the following statements regarding the Covenant of Grace:

    “The Covenant of Grace accomplishes exactly what God intends. It is to a remnant, not to all Israelites, nor to all church members, that God made his promises.”

    “This ‘new covenant’ (not the covenant made with Moses, and explained in greater detail in the New Testament), this Covenant of Grace, is personal (‘I will put’; ‘all shall know me’); individual (‘I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts’); and absolutely effective (‘I will be their God and they shall be my people;’ ‘None of them shall teach his neighbor….for all shall know me’); and ‘not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt.’ The Mosaic covenant was public, corporate, and ineffective (‘because they did not continue in my covenant’). By this efficacious, sovereign Covenant of Grace, believers are justified and made sons of God.”
    (http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/208a-TheBiblicalConvenantGrace.pdf)

    In these quotations (particularly the second), which I wholeheartedly agree with, the New Covenant is equated with the Covenant of Grace, and distinguished from the Mosaic Covenant. The New Covenant/Covenant of Grace is efficacious and unbreakable. Abraham was, by faith, included in this covenant. But the covenant of circumcision was a *breakable* covenant, and one was included in it *by circumcision*. If one was not circumcised, he was *a covenant breaker* (Gen 17:10-14). Nehemiah Coxe used Galatians 5:3 and other passages to show that the Sinaitic covenant is a works covenant which is basically the “flowering” of the covenant of circumcision given to Abraham. All this is to say that we, like the author of Hebrews, distinguish between the covenants, between their recipients, and between the covenant communities. Israel was a type of the NT ekklesia, the bride of Christ. One may say all they like about unbelievers being “externally” in the Covenant of Grace, but given your own description of the Covenant of Grace above, we must conclude that someone who is “externally” in the covenant is not actually in the covenant at all.

    The commentators act as if all Credos are left blinking and scratching their heads when faced with Col 2:11-12. I don’t know how MacArthur handles this passage, or if he even mentioned it in the sermon being critiqued, but Richard Barcellos, along with Covenantal Baptists like Nehemiah Coxe, certainly don’t ignore it, but rather show how the passage “clearly” does not say what the Paedos think it “clearly” says. If anyone has actually read this far in my “comment,” and is actually interested in a deft Covenantal Baptist interpretation of this passage, check out Barcellos’ paper here: http://www.reformedreader.org/RBTRII.1.Col.2.Barcellos.RPM.doc

    The reference at 30:23ish where Sawtelle talks about “whatever goes on at” MacArthur’s church, “I don’t know, does he baptize people? Maybe they’re baptizing themselves, who knows what kind of disorderly conduct happens at that church” (quote is from memory)… Comments like that honestly make me lose almost all respect for the speaker. But anyway, a couple more comments need to be made in response to the commentators…

    Reformed Baptists don’t baptize upon someone’s regeneration, but upon a credible profession of faith.

    On point #5, both MacArthur and the commentators are wrong. The radio guys are absolutely correct in their clear rejection of Federal Vision theology and that MacArthur has misunderstood Heidelberg.

    But the Heidelberg Q#74 confuses covenants.

    “Question 74. Are infants also to be baptized?
    Answer: Yes: for since they, as well as the adult, are included in the covenant and church of God; and since redemption from sin by the blood of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the author of faith, is promised to them no less than to the adult; they must therefore by baptism, as a sign of the covenant, be also admitted into the christian church; and be distinguished from the children of unbelievers as was done in the old covenant or testament by circumcision, instead of which baptism is instituted in the new covenant.”
    Inclusion in the Old Covenant was based on physical birth. The New Covenant is based upon spiritual birth, and has naught whatsoever to do with one’s parentage. The Old Covenant was breakable. The New Covenant is unbreakable. Haven’t there been recent discussion at this very blog as to the recipients of the promises of the gospel? I do not mean this in an antagonistic way, (and bear in mind that I reject that infants are, by nature of physical birth, included in the New Covnenant), but when Heidelberg says that redemption from sin by the blood of Christ is promised unto them, isn’t that tantamount to a “well-meant offer”? I thought we (at least Sean & I, if not everyone here) agreed that salvation is promised to believers, not to all willy-nilly, or to someone just because of who their parents are.
    33:45ish – The promise is conditional on faith to all in the covenant community? Where’s the scripture to back that up, particularly in regards to the New Covenant? The commentator doesn’t quote directly, but the language reminded me of Acts 2:39, a favorite of Paedos. But even if the Paedos want to chop off the qualifying clause at the end, “as many as the Lord our God shall call” (limiting the promise to believers), they still have to include “all who are afar off,” which leaves them in a well-meant offer situation.
    Finally, at the end, in response to MacArthur’s criticism that paedobaptism undermines Reformed soteriology, the commentator fires the same accusation back at credobaptism, asking “why would you want to get rid of” the “beautiful picture” of God’s monergistic grace that is displayed in infant baptism… “Why would you want to do that?” Two things: First, it’s not some credo plot to undermine sovereign grace. John Gill was one of the most ardent upholders of sovereign, monergistic grace, and he was credobaptist. Rather than being motivated by a hatred of monergism, covenantal credobaptists are motivated by a desire to be faithful to Scripture. Even if Paedos disagree, at least play fair and grant that Credos are attempting to be faithful in obedience to God to the best of their knowledge. If we grant the truth of paedobaptism, then sure, we can see a picture of monergistic grace in the practice. But nowhere do we see Scripture paint such an analogy with the practice of paedobaptism (if we did, there wouldn’t be a debate). If the credobaptist is correct, no amount of imagined picturesque displays of monergism will validate an improper application of God’s ordinance.

    *whew* Ok, I’m braced for the backlash.

  9. Sean Gerety Says:

    @ Hugh. Not having read his book (and I’m glad he removed “inseparably”), it seems to me much of what Horton writes is discussing baptism with the Spirit of which water baptism is its visible analogue. FWIW I was looking for something I saw in Lane’s testimony in regard to something Horton said (it might have been in the defense cross examination), but instead came across this quote from Calvin in Lane’s testimony (this, IMO, sums up the proper view of baptism):

    But when he saith, Wash away thy sins, by this speech he expresseth the force and fruit of baptism, as if he had said, Wash away thy sins by baptism. But because it may seem that by this means more is attributed to the outward and corruptible element than is meet, the question is, whether baptism be the cause of our purging. Surely, forasmuch as the blood of Christ is the only means whereby our sins are washed away, and as it was once shed to this end, so the Holy Ghost, by the sprinkling thereof through faith, doth make us clean continually. This honour cannot be translated unto the sign of water, without doing open injury to Christ and the Holy Ghost; and experience doth teach how earnestly men be bent upon this superstition. Therefore, many godly men, lest they put confidence in the outward sign, do overmuch extenuate the force of baptism. But they must keep a measure, lest they darken the glory of Christ; and yet they may not want their force and use.

    Wherefore, we must hold this, first, that it is God alone who washeth us from our sins by the blood of his Son; and to the end this washing may be effectual in us, he worketh by the hidden power of his Spirit…We must again beware that we tie not the grace of God to the sacraments; for the external administration of baptism profiteth nothing, save only where it pleaseth God it shall.

  10. Sean Gerety Says:

    If this reasoning was sound, then the Trinity is unbiblical. However, I wonder if MacArthur was simply saying that an appeal to household baptisms is inconclusive. Many Paedos often appeal to household baptisms as definitive proof of infant baptism, but the truth is that one cannot definitively prove the existence of infants in these passages. Many Paedos recognize this to be the case, and wisely do not base their arguments upon it (although they may cite them as *probable* examples).

    If it were the latter then that would be a different argument, but since you grant 1 Cor. 10 does speak of little ones being baptized I would say that to assume households did not also include little ones is most probably wrong.

    1 Corinthians 10, while it does speak of little ones being baptized, is not an example of the New Testament sacrament/ordinance.

    How is being baptized into Moses not the analogue of being baptized into Christ? I think the picture painted in 10:1 is the biblical picture of baptism and the important point for our discussion being that there were many who were baptized with whom God “was not well pleased.” Since you say you’re not a dispensational, then how is this not a picture of the church?

    2nd point:

    Seeing this point is moot, we’ll move on.

    It is my position that Israel was a *type* of the true church, the bride of Christ. I am NOT saying that the NT Church replaced Israel, as replacement theology does. I am NOT saying that there are two peoples of God, Israel and the Church, as Dispensationalism does. The commentators rightly point out that Israel is referred to as a “church” (ekklesia). However, they are wrong to assume that just because Israel was an ekklesia (a called-out congregation), Israel is therefore synonymous with all references to the ekklesia of the NT age, described as the bride of Christ, for which He died.

    Didn’t Christ come and die for OT saints too? Aren’t they also Christ’s bride as well and beneficiaries of the blessings of the CoG?

    I don’t know, but I think you’re more of a dispensationlist than you even suspect. 😉

    We must let context determine which congregation (ekklesia) is being referred to in any given passage. Was Israel an ekklesia? Most assuredly. Was every member of that ekklesia someone for whom Christ died? Most assuredly not. Yet the NT often (not always) uses the term ekklesia to refer particularly to the elect.

    I’m not sure what this is supposed to prove regarding who is to be baptized? That Paul addresses his letters to God’s elect as he is instructing them (why would he instruct unbelievers anyway?) seems to be a trivial point. By the same token, it seems plain to me that Paul is under no illusion that the church contains hypocrites, deceivers, and the self-deceived as well. Even earlier in his letter to the Corinthian church he says; “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened.” Who do you think he’s referring to if not the church as a mixed multitude?

    One may say all they like about unbelievers being “externally” in the Covenant of Grace, but given your own description of the Covenant of Grace above, we must conclude that someone who is “externally” in the covenant is not actually in the covenant at all.

    Of course someone who is “externally” in the covenant is not actually in the covenant. God doesn’t establish His covenant with Ishmael, but with Isaac, yet both are given the sign of the covenant just like Christians give the sign of the covenant, baptism, to their children in the NT.

    Since you quote our book I don’t suppose it would be self-serving for me to quote it as well (not that I’ve made a dime from the book, even though I think more people should read it):

    “The Covenant is not a promise to all men, not even to all those that are circumcised or baptized, but only to those chosen by God in Christ from before the foundation of the world.

    Paul writes: “But it is not that the Word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, “In Isaac your seed shall be called”(Romans 9:6-7). Paul insists that God keeps his promises, that his Word has in fact “taken effect.” The problem is not with God’s promises, but with those Jews who misunderstand the promises, thinking that God had made promises to all the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To this Paul replies: “They are not all Israel who are of Israel,” and “they are not all children of Abraham,” echoing his statement in chapter 2: “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly,”visibly, but “he is a Jew who is one inwardly,” invisibly. Paul quotes the Old Testament making that plain, if only the Jews had believed Moses’writing in Genesis 21:12: “In Isaac [not Ishmael] your seed shall be called.” But while they trusted in Moses, as Jesus said, they did not understand or believe Moses’ words in Genesis 21.

    Paul continues: “That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. For this is the word of promise: ‘At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son”(Romans 9:8-9).”

    The commentators act as if all Credos are left blinking and scratching their heads when faced with Col 2:11-12. I don’t know how MacArthur handles this passage, or if he even mentioned it in the sermon being critiqued, but Richard Barcellos, along with Covenantal Baptists like Nehemiah Coxe, certainly don’t ignore it,

    Mac argues in point 3) Baptism does not replace circumcision which is directly contradicted in Col. 2:11-12. How other Baptists dance around the passage and the obvious linkage is beside the point and beyond the scope of their refutation of Mac. Maybe they’ll take up Barcellos and Coxe some time as I don’t want to chase down every Baptistic rabbit trail. In the meantime, I think you would have to agree that Mac’s point 3 is soundly refuted.

    Reformed Baptists don’t baptize upon someone’s regeneration, but upon a credible profession of faith.

    I understand that is what Baptists do, but a credible profession of faith is not what baptism signifies much less seals. You guys connect the sign with the wrong thing and end up distorting what it is that baptism is supposed to picture. As the WCF notes: “grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.” Regeneration is pictured in baptism, not the results or fruits of regeneration, even a “credible profession of faith.”

    IMO you guys put the horse before the cart and end up with the illusion (which often gives rise to arrogance and elitism, things we see in Mac’s denunciation of the Reformed practice of baptism as “demonic”), that you have somehow created churches that are made up of a higher percentage of the “elect.” Admittedly, no RB I know of thinks everyone in their visible congregations are counted among God’s elect, but you wrongly employ baptism as a means to try and achieve this end. I’ve had an RB pastor friend of mine, a guy I’ve known for years in politics, tell me this very thing and that baptism is essentially a gate weed out unbelievers. He believes this is what we should strive for; a visible church made up of mostly, if not entirely, the elect. The point is that a person can be regenerate long before even a profession, much less a credible one, can be made. However, that is not pictured in the RB practice. Quite the opposite. What is pictured in RB practice is the fruit of regeneration and even that is questionable.

    …Inclusion in the Old Covenant was based on physical birth. The New Covenant is based upon spiritual birth, and has naught whatsoever to do with one’s parentage. The Old Covenant was breakable. The New Covenant is unbreakable. Haven’t there been recent discussion at this very blog as to the recipients of the promises of the gospel? I do not mean this in an antagonistic way, (and bear in mind that I reject that infants are, by nature of physical birth, included in the New Covnenant), but when Heidelberg says that redemption from sin by the blood of Christ is promised unto them, isn’t that tantamount to a “well-meant offer”? I thought we (at least Sean & I, if not everyone here) agreed that salvation is promised to believers, not to all willy-nilly, or to someone just because of who their parents are.

    IMO you’re more of a dispensationlist than you even realize. The administration of the covenant certainly changed with the coming of the new, but the covenant, the CoG as opposed to the CoW, extends from the fall till the coming of Christ and includes both OT and NT believers and their spiritual seed which includes the spiritual seed of believers even their children. Paul says in Galatians “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise . . . .” However, while there certainly is some grafting into that line even under the OT administration which explodes in the NT, that doesn’t mean that the organic unity, much less the promise, is therefore abrogated in the NT. After all, in Acts we read: “For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

    Again, I think your error is that you see something else pictured in baptism which is why you try and tie it so closely to a “credible profession of faith.”

    The promise is conditional on faith to all in the covenant community? Where’s the scripture to back that up, particularly in regards to the New Covenant? The commentator doesn’t quote directly, but the language reminded me of Acts 2:39, a favorite of Paedos. But even if the Paedos want to chop off the qualifying clause at the end, “as many as the Lord our God shall call” (limiting the promise to believers), they still have to include “all who are afar off,” which leaves them in a well-meant offer situation.

    Oh, sorry, I did quote Acts 2:39. =8-) But, I’m afraid you miss the point, although hopefully by now you get it. We don’t want to chop off the qualifying clauses at all, much less “as many as the Lord our God shall call.” God’s call precedes faith. That is what is pictured in baptism. It is the washing of regeneration. It is being called out of darkness into the light of Christ. I have to think even a committed RB would agree that being chosen precedes any profession, credible or not.

    Finally, at the end, in response to MacArthur’s criticism that paedobaptism undermines Reformed soteriology, the commentator fires the same accusation back at credobaptism, asking “why would you want to get rid of” the “beautiful picture” of God’s monergistic grace that is displayed in infant baptism… “Why would you want to do that?” Two things: First, it’s not some credo plot to undermine sovereign grace. John Gill was one of the most ardent upholders of sovereign, monergistic grace, and he was credobaptist.

    Right, but “sovereign, monergistic grace” is not pictured in the credobaptist practice. That’s the point. As you say above: “Reformed Baptists don’t baptize upon someone’s regeneration.” But that is precisely what baptism is supposed to signify and something completely lost on RBs who baptize only “upon a credible profession of faith.”

    Rather than being motivated by a hatred of monergism, covenantal credobaptists are motivated by a desire to be faithful to Scripture. Even if Paedos disagree, at least play fair and grant that Credos are attempting to be faithful in obedience to God to the best of their knowledge.

    I don’t deny that at all. To me it’s akin to those who make their wives wear doilies on their heads or those who insist on only singing psalms kicking it all off with a blow of a pitch pipe. I don’t doubt their sincerity or desire worship God correctly, but I think their practice fails on sound exegesis. So, I don’t question your piety, just your arguments.

    If we grant the truth of paedobaptism, then sure, we can see a picture of monergistic grace in the practice.

    I don’t see that at all and I hope by now you see why. Monergistic grace is not pictured in your practice, only perhaps the result of it, since your practice is tied to credible professions of faith exclusively.

  11. Denson Dube Says:

    Mr McWilliams,
    Though I have much gotten tired of arguing with Baptists on almost every subject imaginable in the Bible, and Sean has pretty much debunked your arguments, I will give it one more try.

    (1) “One ordinarily became a member of the Sinaitic covenant by birth. If your parents were Jews (believing or not), you were a Jew, and you were part of the Sinaitic Covenant made with the children of Abraham, ….”

    (2) “But the covenant of circumcision was a *breakable* covenant, and one was included in it *by circumcision*. If one was not circumcised, he was *a covenant breaker* (Gen 17:10-14). ”

    (3) “Inclusion in the Old Covenant was based on physical birth.”

    There seems to be a contradiction here, which one is which?
    In any case, (2) is correct and (1) and (3) are false.

    The Covenant with God was never based on ethnicity. Abraham came into Covenant with God while a pagan, in Ur of the Chaldeans. Any weed smoking old Gentile could become a covenant member, a full Jew, by circumcison. A dubious DNA trail that did not end in Abraham was no barrier.
    The apostle Paul says Abraham was circumcised as a sign for the justification by faith he had before he was circumcised. His implication was that to be in covenant with God has always been through faith alone.

    (4) “… but when Heidelberg says that redemption from sin by the blood of Christ is promised unto them, isn’t that tantamount to a “well-meant offer”? I thought we (at least Sean & I, if not everyone here) agreed that salvation is promised to believers, not to all willy-nilly, or to someone just because of who their parents are.”

    Baptists, as I sometimes say, seem to know more about children than Jesus ever did.
    Matthew 19: 13 “Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The [Baptists] rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.”

    Matthew 18
    1 At that time the [Baptists] came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
    2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
    6 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

    Mark 9:35-37
    35 And Jesus sat down and called the [Baptists] and said to them, He who wishes to be first, let him be the last of men, and the servant of every man.
    36 And he took a little child and made him stand in the middle; then he took him in his arms, and said to them,
    37 Whoever receives a child like this in my name, he receives me; and he who receives me, does not receive me, but him who has sent me.

    Though these passages do not teach infant baptism, they do render arguments against it to begin to sound like they are straight from Moloch, that blood thirsty infanticide demon. Babies are born with drug addiction, Satanists and some pagan religions dedicate their children to demons etc etc; one must wonder what spirit would motivate one to see so much evil in baptising a child to God when alternatives are so horrendous? Reformers used to take Jesus’ “..a millstone were hung around his neck and were drowned ..” quite literally and would drown Baptists for these sort of arguments. One must wonder if the ” .. credible profession of faith..” is not a cryptic phrase for the Arminian “..making a decision..”?

  12. Sean Gerety Says:

    How is comparing credobaptism with the worship of Moloch helpful? Just sayin’….

  13. Denson Dube Says:

    I apologise to McWilliams and others for comparing credobaptism with the worship of Moloch. I went overboard. I meant to say Jesus did not seem to entertain such strong feelings against children as expressed in the opposition of paedobaptism. He invited children to be brought to him.


  14. Sean,

    “…since you grant 1 Cor. 10 does speak of little ones being baptized I would say that to assume households did not also include little ones is most probably wrong.”

    1 Cor 10 refers to an event in Exodus, which is where we get details regarding “little ones.” It is also an entire nation of people; the odds are highly unlikely that nobody had any babies recently. The household baptisms give us no details of little ones, and are single households. Most of the households that I know do not have any infants. So I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be a tad more conservative in our assumptions when dealing with 1. no explicit mentions and 2. vastly smaller groups. (Particularly when trying to establish justification for a practice of worship.)

    “How is being baptized into Moses not the analogue of being baptized into Christ?”

    I didn’t say it wasn’t; I said it is not an example of the NT sacrament/ordinance. Neither the Exodus passage nor 1 Cor 10 gives us a command to baptize anyone. Are we to take every OT example of a “baptizo-ing” as instruction on who we are to baptize as part of the NT rite?

    “I think the picture painted in 10:1 is the biblical picture of baptism and the important point for our discussion being that there were many who were baptized with whom God ‘was not well pleased.’ Since you say you’re not a dispensational, then how is this not a picture of the church?”

    As I said above, 10:1 contains no commands, and refers to an OT event. The WCF says that baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ. I do not deny that OT Israel contained many unregenerates. My contention is that the OT Israel *was a type* of the NT Church. Types are not exact replicas. Adam was a type of Christ, but there are obvious superiorities to Christ. The same is true for Israel and the Church.

    “Didn’t Christ come and die for OT saints too? Aren’t they also Christ’s bride as well and beneficiaries of the blessings of the CoG?”

    Yes. I can see where I may not have been clear enough on this point. The Covenant of Grace must be understood as the temporal outworking of the eternal Covenant of Redemption. Think of the CoG as the “retroactive New Covenant,” if you will. The New Covenant is in Christ’s blood, and it is only by Christ’s blood that the OT saints were saved (not sacrifices), therefore the OT saints were, by faith, in the New Covenant (the historical expression of the CoR). They were already bought with the blood of the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth” – the blood of the New Covenant. That’s the difference between the dispensationalist and the Covenantal Baptist: The Dispy does not see a theological CoR, and sees OT dispensations as separate epochs from the NC era.

    “I’m not sure what this is supposed to prove regarding who is to be baptized?”

    My point was only to say that just because OT Israel was a called-out people, it does not mean that they are the same called-out people as the “invisible church.” Example: replace “ekklesia/church” with “elect.” Israel was elect, in the sense that they were a chosen nation. But they are not elect in the sense of “THE elect” – the bride of Christ. That was all I meant.

    “…it seems plain to me that Paul is under no illusion that the church contains hypocrites, deceivers, and the self-deceived as well. Even earlier in his letter to the Corinthian church he says; ‘Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened.’ Who do you think he’s referring to if not the church as a mixed multitude?”

    Agreed. It was not my intention to deny that. I don’t think either paedobaptism or credobaptism can be proved from the sad reality of goats and wolves among the sheep, however.

    “Of course someone who is “externally” in the covenant is not actually in the covenant. God doesn’t establish His covenant with Ishmael, but with Isaac, yet both are given the sign of the covenant just like Christians give the sign of the covenant, baptism, to their children in the NT.”

    I understand your point, because I understand that you are considering the Abrahamic Covenant & the New Covenant to be different dispensations of the one Covenant of Grace. But I have rejected that assertion. It is my view that the Abrahamic Covenant was a typological covenant that partially paved the way for the full temporal realization of the CoG – the New Covenant. I really, really, really wish you would take the time to check out this short (17 page) paper, written by Sam & Micah Renihan: http://www.reformedbaptist.net/renihan-presentation. I don’t agree with every jot and tittle, but on the whole it is an EXCELLENT concise summary of my view. At the very least, perhaps it will give you more insight into where I’m coming from, as opposed to dispensationalism.

    I like your quote from your book regarding the promises. I just (respectfully) think it contradicts Heidelberg 74, which says that the infant children of believers are automatically in the covenant, and therefore the promises are made to them. The Heidelberg isn’t typological, shadowy OT language; it’s a confession of the Christian church. It clearly says that promises are made to children of believers. Receiving the promises is of course conditional on faith, but isn’t that what the “well-meant offer” supposes? We are, in effect, telling our baptized infants “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” How can we possibly know this?

    “Mac argues in point 3) Baptism does not replace circumcision which is directly contradicted in Col. 2:11-12. How other Baptists dance around the passage and the obvious linkage is beside the point and beyond the scope of their refutation of Mac. Maybe they’ll take up Barcellos and Coxe some time as I don’t want to chase down every Baptistic rabbit trail. In the meantime, I think you would have to agree that Mac’s point 3 is soundly refuted.”

    I do not agree, which is why I pointed you to Barcellos’ treatment of the Colossians passage. I don’t know if MacArthur uses the same reasoning as me (as he is a “leaky dispy”) but I agree with him that baptism does not replace circumcision. Rather, it is the sign of a different covenant. Also, Coxe is hardly a “baptistic rabbit trail,” as he is the likely editor of the 1689 LBCF, and he (and Barcellos) take a solid look at the passage and offer a much different interpretation that the Paedos do. The Paedos may brush it off as a rabbit trail, but they can’t pretend as if Covenantal Credos are dancing around the subject if they haven’t even looked at what they have to say.

    My comment about Reformed Baptists baptizing upon a credible profession of faith was meant as a correction to the commentator’s (and Clark’s) misunderstanding, essentially saying that Baptists think they can determine who is regenerate.

    “…a credible profession of faith is not what baptism signifies much less seals.”

    Agreed. Also, baptism is not said to seal anything in Scripture. In order to make baptism a seal, you must first equate it with circumcision, then interpret “a seal to Abraham” to mean “a seal to everyone who received circumcision.” If we’re going to go anywhere in this discussion, we’re going to have to stop tackling all these implications and get to the root issue – the relationship of the Abrahamic Covenant to the New. As long as we disagree about that, we cannot help but disagree about everything that flows from that point, including the meaning of baptism.

    “As the WCF notes: ‘grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.’ Regeneration is pictured in baptism, not the results or fruits of regeneration, even a ‘credible profession of faith.'”

    Agreed! Are you sure you understand the Covenantal Baptist position? 😀

    “The point is that a person can be regenerate long before even a profession, much less a credible one, can be made.”

    Agreed, but ought we to presume their regenerate nature simply because of who their parents are? The amount of reprobate children of believers under the Old Covenant would seem to indicate otherwise…

    “I have to think even a committed RB would agree that being chosen precedes any profession, credible or not.”

    Of course, I’m not sure what you’re getting at. Baptism is not a picture of someone making a decision for Christ, taking up their cross, etc. Baptism is a picture of regeneration, yes. But it points to what has happened, not what might happen if the parents get their wish.

    “I don’t see that at all and I hope by now you see why. Monergistic grace is not pictured in your practice…”

    Read what you quoted 😉 I was talking about Paedobaptism. Anyway, my point is that even though horses exist, no matter how much one thinks he sees a horse in the clouds, it doesn’t mean the cloud is a horse. In other words, even though Paedos (and thoughtful Credos) may see a picture of monergistic grace in the Paedo explanation of baptism, if it’s not warranted in Scripture, it doesn’t matter how beautiful or glorious the supposed picture appears.

    I find it interesting that Paedos baptize adults upon a credible profession of faith, but they baptize infants for a totally different reason. Except for some Paedos who say they baptize an infant upon their parents’ credible profession of faith, of course. Either way, a CPoF seems to be involved. What about a grandparent’s CPoF? Would that count, in your view? I remember Clark saying something about baptizing babies for generations.


  15. Denson,

    “…I have much gotten tired of arguing with Baptists on almost every subject imaginable in the Bible..”

    No one’s twisting your arm, bud.

    “There seems to be a contradiction here, which one is which?”

    I see no contradiction. One has to be in a covenant in order to break it. Which what is which?

    “The Covenant with God was never based on ethnicity. Abraham came into Covenant with God while a pagan, in Ur of the Chaldeans. Any weed smoking old Gentile could become a covenant member, a full Jew, by circumcison. A dubious DNA trail that did not end in Abraham was no barrier.”
    I’m well aware, which is why I said (as you quoted), “One *ordinarily* became a member…” If you are seriously saying that the covenant, along with its promises, made to Abraham, had nothing to do with his physical children, well… ok… have fun with that. Ya got me there…
    “The apostle Paul says Abraham was circumcised as a sign for the justification by faith he had before he was circumcised. His implication was that to be in covenant with God has always been through faith alone.”
    Hmm, did you actually read my post? Or are you interacting with some old-school Dispy ghosts from your past? I’m not denying that Abraham was in the Covenant of Grace. I’m denying that the Covenant of Circumcision = the CoG, and also denying that circumcision was a sign to anyone but Abraham, the federal head of the CoC.
    Also, you’ll note that I’m not even remotely being vicious or hateful toward paedobaptists. I’m a member of a Presbyterian church, for crying out loud. “Strong feelings against children?” Begging the question much? As for the Arminianism insinuation, see my comment to Sean above. Read it this time, and remember I’m not your enemy, so chill with the rhetoric. Yeah I saw your “apology” with the “strong feelings against children” comment snuck in. Not buying it.

  16. Sean Gerety Says:

    Most of the households that I know do not have any infants. So I don’t think it’s unreasonable to be a tad more conservative in our assumptions when dealing with 1. no explicit mentions and 2. vastly smaller groups. (Particularly when trying to establish justification for a practice of worship.)

    Households are households in the OT and NT. Further, and more importantly, the OT church is not a “type” of church, it is the church. It’s not like believers in NT church are the antitype to the OT’s type. For as Paul states: “all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” The administration of the covenant under Christ changed as Christ is the antitype of the OT types (“By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament”), but that doesn’t mean the church today is somehow the antitype of the OT type.

    Are we to take every OT example of a “baptizo-ing” as instruction on who we are to baptize as part of the NT rite?

    The point you’re avoiding is that we see households baptized in the Old and New Testaments and households, while not always, have children and infant. Households are households. I don’t see how the meaning household has change except perhaps that most households today don’t include slaves and servants.

    As I said above, 10:1 contains no commands, and refers to an OT event. The WCF says that baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ. I do not deny that OT Israel contained many unregenerates. My contention is that the OT Israel *was a type* of the NT Church. Types are not exact replicas. Adam was a type of Christ, but there are obvious superiorities to Christ. The same is true for Israel and the Church.

    A type prefigures an aspect of Christ in the OT, that doesn’t mean that the OT church is a “type” whereas the church today is the antitype. The church with the coming of Christ certainly changed, but that doesn’t mean that it all of a sudden somehow became exclusively the assembly of God’s elect. What do RBs make of the parable of the wheat and the tares? Was Jesus talking about the church? Of course He was. Yet it is made up of both wheat and tares that will “grow together until the harvest.” The church will have to deal with antichirsts and false brothers and the like who “went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

    I fail to see how the OT church which contained many unregenerates has changed in that regard or where the command is in the New that we are to only have churches made up of all wheat and no tares, as if such a thing were possible. Could it be that Baptists are just operating under an false view of the church which is why they have so distorted the sign of baptism?

    I understand your point, because I understand that you are considering the Abrahamic Covenant & the New Covenant to be different dispensations of the one Covenant of Grace. But I have rejected that assertion. It is my view that the Abrahamic Covenant was a typological covenant that partially paved the way for the full temporal realization of the CoG – the New Covenant.

    I see that now, but that is where you are wrong. The covenant God made with Abraham hasn’t changed, it’s the same:

    “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.”

    The promised seed of course is Christ and you can say Isaac was a type in that regard, but the church didn’t somehow become the realization of the invisible into the visible in the NT no matter how much Baptists believe in the imagined purity of their visible, very flawed, and very mixed assemblies. IMO, and I have no way to prove this of course, that Baptist churches are made up of just as many of elect and non-elect as are P&R churches, maybe more, just that P&R churches don’t fool themselves into thinking they are only congregations made up of either exclusively or mostly of members of the invisible church. RB’s I know have made this claim, at least they claim that they have a higher percentage of elect to reprobate which is astounding to me. How could they possibly know? It borders on delusional.

    I really, really, really wish you would take the time to check out this short (17 page) paper, written by Sam & Micah Renihan: http://www.reformedbaptist.net/renihan-presentation. I don’t agree with every jot and tittle, but on the whole it is an EXCELLENT concise summary of my view. At the very least, perhaps it will give you more insight into where I’m coming from, as opposed to dispensationalism.

    Maybe at some point I will, but I already see where you’re coming from regarding types and antitypes and that is already problematic enough.

    I like your quote from your book regarding the promises. I just (respectfully) think it contradicts Heidelberg 74, which says that the infant children of believers are automatically in the covenant, and therefore the promises are made to them.

    You’re reading too much into the catechism and are not grasping what it is saying. Infants “as well as the adult, are included in the covenant and church of God.” Who can deny that except Baptists? Further, who can deny that “redemption from sin by the blood of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the author of faith, is promised to infants no less than to the adult” except Baptists? However, if you read the rest of the Answer to 74 it doesn’t follow that they are “all Israel” by virtue of baptism any more than OT Jews were “all Israel” by virtue of circumcision. The rest of the answer regarding the sign is that they too are “admitted into the christian church; and be distinguished from the children of unbelievers as was done in the old covenant or testament by circumcision, instead of which baptism is instituted (f) in the new covenant.”

    Again, you read too much into the catechism and are accusing it of saying what it does not. Sure, it’s not as clear as the WCF which clearly defines and distinguishes the visible church from the invisible church, but the Heidelberg is not saying anything different.

    Look, if your child, God forbid, were to die (which almost happened to me), don’t you think it possible that your child is redeemed from sin by the blood of Christ and has the Holy Ghost, the author of faith, in death? No Baptist (I hope) thinks all their children, particularly infant children, go to hell if they haven’t yet profess their faith and are baptized. Therefore, you believe that your infant children, particularly infants, may also be “included in the covenant and church of God,” you just don’t want to include such infants (even if you don’t know who they are any more than we do) as members in the Christian church nor do you distinguish them from the children of unbelievers.

    Frankly, I can see why this is outrageous to many P&R folks.

    The Heidelberg isn’t typological, shadowy OT language; it’s a confession of the Christian church. It clearly says that promises are made to children of believers.

    Promises are made to children of believers in the NT just as they are in the OT and it’s the same promise that was given to Abraham. On what other basis could Paul and Silas tell the jailer: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Or as Peter said; “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

    Receiving the promises is of course conditional on faith, but isn’t that what the “well-meant offer” supposes?

    But faith is conditioned on regeneration which baptism is the sign. No, in baptizing infants God makes no promise to believers that all those so baptized are or will be regenerate any more than God promised Abraham that all he circumcised are or will be regenerate. God doesn’t break His promise even if some people don’t seem to understand what that promise is.

    Agreed. Also, baptism is not said to seal anything in Scripture. In order to make baptism a seal, you must first equate it with circumcision, then interpret “a seal to Abraham” to mean “a seal to everyone who received circumcision.” If we’re going to go anywhere in this discussion, we’re going to have to stop tackling all these implications and get to the root issue – the relationship of the Abrahamic Covenant to the New.

    As long as we disagree about that, we cannot help but disagree about everything that flows from that point, including the meaning of baptism.

    I agree, which is why I think you’ve failed to understand the Abrahamic Covenant and why your type/antitype view of the church under the old and new administrations completely fails to understand that the church is the same in both; i.e., a mix multitude made up of wheat and tares.

    So, until you get your understanding of the church correct, you’ll never understand the biblical meaning of baptism.

    “I have to think even a committed RB would agree that being chosen precedes any profession, credible or not.”

    Of course, I’m not sure what you’re getting at. Baptism is not a picture of someone making a decision for Christ, taking up their cross, etc. Baptism is a picture of regeneration, yes.

    But it isn’t a picture of regeneration at all because Baptists inexorably and exclusively tie it to a profession of faith.

    This is what is pictured in biblical baptism as opposed to the Baptist kind:

    “Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

    According to Baptists they can tell where the Spirit comes from and where it goes, because they claim to baptize only those who are born of the Spirit, at least that’s your goal. The problem it’s an unbiblical and unattainable goal.

    even though Paedos (and thoughtful Credos) may see a picture of monergistic grace in the Paedo explanation of baptism, if it’s not warranted in Scripture, it doesn’t matter how beautiful or glorious the supposed picture appears.

    But it is warranted in Scripture and repeatedly. What is pictured in baptism is the same spiritual reality pictured in circumcision:

    “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”

    I find it interesting that Paedos baptize adults upon a credible profession of faith, but they baptize infants for a totally different reason. Except for some Paedos who say they baptize an infant upon their parents’ credible profession of faith, of course. Either way, a CPoF seems to be involved. What about a grandparent’s CPoF? Would that count, in your view? I remember Clark saying something about baptizing babies for generations.

    Sure, why not? My Dutch Reformed grandparents on my mother’s side, who I never knew, are my spiritual grandparents as I was baptized as an infant in the Dutch Reformed church in Flatbush, Brooklyn. IMO I’m one of their spiritual seeds.

  17. bsuden Says:

    I am on King Crimson’s side when it comes to baptism, even more the West. Confession.

    Yet some minor glitches.

    To me it’s akin to those who make their wives wear doilies on their heads or those who insist on only singing psalms kicking it all off with a blow of a pitch pipe. I don’t doubt their sincerity or desire worship God correctly, but I think their practice fails on sound exegesis.

    WCF 1:6, when it comes to some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, says that they:

    are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

    If 1 Cor.11:13, which mentions headcoverings, is cited as a proof text, it might seem that the same are a circumstance and not a worship ordinance.

    Likewise a pitch pipe, which does not accompany per se the acapella singing of the psalms – which is the position of WCF 21:5 – is also a circumstance. (Think microphone. Hardly an apostolic item, yet a lawful circumstance.)

    More to the point, I missed any discussion of Romans 4:11 which would seem to be crucial to the debate:

    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:

    Circumcision is the seal of Abraham’s faith, yet it was applied to the infant seed of his house, and henceforth even to those who did not believe such as Esau, if not Ishmael.

    And if baptism replaces circumcision, much more is a picture of regeneration, so too sprinkling is the better mode.

    After all in 1Pet.3:20.21 it is the reprobate who are immersed and the elect, who are only sprinkled in the rain, “saved by the water”.

     Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
    The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

  18. bsuden Says:

    Rather:

    “Yet some minor glitches.

    “To me it’s akin to those who make their wives wear doilies on their heads or those who insist on only singing psalms kicking it all off with a blow of a pitch pipe. I don’t doubt their sincerity or desire worship God correctly, but I think their practice fails on sound exegesis.”.. . . .”


  19. Sean,

    I said,

    “Are we to take every [descriptive, mind you] OT example of a “baptizo-ing” as [prescriptive] instruction on who we are to baptize as part of the NT rite?”

    Your reply was,

    “The point you’re avoiding is that we see households baptized in the Old and New Testaments and households, while not always, have children and infant. Households are households. I don’t see how the meaning household has change except perhaps that most households today don’t include slaves and servants.”

    What I was getting at is that more than just people are baptized in the OT, but that has no bearing on the NT rite. Also, where do you see a household baptized in the OT? Do you mean when the entire nation was baptized into Moses in Exodus? I see households circumcised, but since my main point in this discussion has been that baptism shouldn’t be equated with circumcision, this seems to be begging that question on your part (unless I have misunderstood you).

    “Further, and more importantly, the OT church is not a ‘type’ of church, it is the church.”

    I already know you disagree, but can you establish that point? It seems clear to me that the physical people typified the spiritual people. Of course, there is some overlap, as there were certainly saints in the OT.

    “What do RBs make of the parable of the wheat and the tares? Was Jesus talking about the church? Of course He was.”

    The visible church, yes. But is the New Covenant made with the visible church, or the invisible? If you say visible, then you posit a breakable New Covenant, and you contradict what I quoted you saying above in NRAA. The Old Covenant was clearly breakable, and made with a visible church. The NC is made with a different party.

    “So, until you get your understanding of the church correct, you’ll never understand the biblical meaning of baptism.”

    Took the words outta my mouth. 😉

    “But it isn’t a picture of regeneration at all because Baptists inexorably and exclusively tie it to a profession of faith.”

    I said it was a picture of regeneration that has happened, not that the parents hope might someday happen. I’m trying to explain my view, do you think I’m being deceptive?

    “According to Baptists they can tell where the Spirit comes from and where it goes, because they claim to baptize only those who are born of the Spirit, at least that’s your goal.”

    I never said that I can do such a thing. I already corrected this error above. Either way, this is getting away from the root: Covenantal Baptists baptize upon profession of faith, not because it symbolizes profession, and not because we (like Driscoll) can tell who’s elect, but because we see it as an ordinance of a New and different Covenant than that made with Abraham, and therefore we must look to the Book of the New Covenant for instruction on this new ordinance of Jesus Christ. Again, we are back to the relationship of the Abrahamic Covenant to the New. Owen took a huge step in the right direction by removing the Sinaitic Covenant from the CoG. What CB’s believe is that he needed to go farther, realizing that the SC was built upon the Covenant of Circumcision made with Abraham. IMO all matters of households, etymologies, etc are pointless discussions if this root issue is not resolved. It’s like arguing with an atheist over the divinity of Christ. He’ll never agree with you because he rejects the very existence of God, which is a more fundamental issue.

    “But it is warranted in Scripture and repeatedly.”
    Not my point there. My point was that a perceived picture of monergism doesn’t prove the doctrine of paedobaptism, so the rejection of that picture by a Reformed Baptist isn’t a denial or undermining of monergism. He simply believes that the picture is imagined (just as you think my typological view of the Abrahamic Covenant is imagined. I don’t go saying you’re undermining spiritual birth b/c you secretly hate regeneration!). I realize that you’re not accusing RBs of hating monergism, but the commentators sure seemed to.

    Why do you use the Col 2 passage as a prooftext? That only works if we agree on its interpretation. Circumcision was the entrance into the Old Covenant. Regeneration (circumcision w/o hands) is the entrance into the New Covenant. Spiritual circumcision replaces physical circumcision. It is amazing to me how clear the passage seems to both Paedos and Credos, though their interpretations are opposite. Again I refer to Barcellos’ 13-page “dance around” this passage.

    Another question, out of sincere curiosity: Say a Christian couple approaches the elders with their 15 year old son, who has never made a profession of faith. In fact, he claims to not believe that God exists, as that is what they taught him in school. The child was never baptized, as the parents only recently became Paedobaptists. They now wish to have their son baptized. The 15 year old boy thinks it’s all very silly, as God obviously does not exist, but to please his parents is willing to have some water sprinkled on his head. Should the elders baptize the unbelieving child? Why or why not?


  20. bsuden, I mentioned Rom 4:11 but didn’t cite it. Circumcision is the seal of the *righteousness* that Abraham had by faith. It is also not described as a seal to anyone else. It is the sign of the covenant, no doubt, but Scripture only says that it is a seal to Abraham. To posit otherwise is going beyond what Scripture says.

    I said above that in order for baptism to be a seal, it must first be proved that baptism actually does replace circumcision (one of the key points under discussion), and then that circumcision was a seal to anyone other than Abraham.

    It is interesting that this is the path that Paedos labor to take, rather than accepting the New Testament’s clear and direct reference to the Holy Spirit as a seal in Eph 1:13; 4:30.

    Also, what do Paedos make of 1 Pet 3:21? I’m not prooftexting, I’m just not familiar with the Paedobaptist view of baptism as an answer (of a good conscience) to God.

  21. bsuden Says:

    Patrick,

    It is the sign of the covenant, no doubt, but Scripture only says that it is a seal to Abraham. To posit otherwise is going beyond what Scripture says.

    Please/really?

    What Scripture might literally say, but not the G&N consequences.

    ‘I will be a god to you and your seed in their generations and as a token of the covenant, circumcision is given’. So Gen 17:7,10 much more Romans 2:29:

     But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

  22. Sean Gerety Says:

    Hi Bob. Good points. I haven’t read Patrick’s reply yet (it’s late), but I’m thinking I may give him the last word, at least as far as I’m concerned. Also, not to start a rabbit trail of my own, but IMO the head covering question is not so much a circumstance as it comes comes down more to a matter of translation and exegesis, particularly vs 16.

    KJ: But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

    NASB:But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.

    NIV: If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice–nor do the churches of God.

    IMO it is a significant difference between having no other practice and having no such custom. I also think this is any example where the KJ got it right and how a particular verse is understood can affect the understanding of the preceding. Clark has an interesting discussion of this verse in his commentary.

  23. brandonadams Says:

    Hey guys, I don’t want to intrude on the conversation, and don’t intend on starting one up – just wanted to add a couple notes:

    Didn’t Christ come and die for OT saints too? Aren’t they also Christ’s bride as well and beneficiaries of the blessings of the CoG? I don’t know, but I think you’re more of a dispensationlist than you even suspect… IMO you’re more of a dispensationlist than you even realize.

    Sean, in order to avoid arguing by rhetoric alone, will you please define precisely what dispensationalism is? That way we can determine clearly whether or not Patrick is a dispensationalist.

    What Patrick said in regards to Israel as a type of the church is exactly the view argued by Jonathan Edwards 100 years before Darbyism – so clearly there is a lack of precision in labeling it dispensationalism.
    Jonathan Edwards on the Nation of Israel as a Type of the Church

    (And, btw, if you would like your question answered, please read Owen, as Patrick already recommended. Owen explains: “This covenant [Sinai] thus made, with these ends and promises, did never save nor condemn any man eternally. All that lived under the administration of it did attain eternal life, or perished for ever, but not by virtue of this covenant as formally such… No man was ever saved but by virtue of the new covenant, and the mediation of Christ in that respect.”)

    Maybe they’ll take up Barcellos and Coxe some time as I don’t want to chase down every Baptistic rabbit trail.

    I certainly hope they do, that way at least a relevant credopbaptist position would finally be debated, rather than picking on dispensationalist pinatas.

    I understand that is what Baptists do, but a credible profession of faith is not what baptism signifies much less seals. You guys connect the sign with the wrong thing and end up distorting what it is that baptism is supposed to picture. As the WCF notes: “grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.” Regeneration is pictured in baptism, not the results or fruits of regeneration, even a “credible profession of faith.”

    I appreciate the explanation here, but I don’t think you’re really being honest. Paedobaptists still baptize adults, and they do so upon a credible profession of faith. Does that mean they are “connecting the sign with the wrong thing” as well?

  24. Sean Gerety Says:

    Two things Bradon. 1) There were types in the OT and the nation of Israel was itself a type but it was still the church and was still a mixed multitude as it is today even in RB “covenantal” churches. Where I think our friend Patrick fails is that he applies the idea of types to the OT church itself. 2) The difference is that P&R folks don’t baptize adults to the *exclusion* of children and by doing so are picturing a spiritual reality that is nowhere to be found in the practice of Baptists.

  25. Sean Gerety Says:

    I already know you disagree, but can you establish that point? It seems clear to me that the physical people typified the spiritual people. Of course, there is some overlap, as there were certainly saints in the OT.

    …we see it as an ordinance of a New and different Covenant than that made with Abraham,

    You forget that the covenant with Abraham includes that he would be the father of many nations, not just one. The church remains the same.

    My last word is the CoG in both the OT and NT is the same whereas the administration and outworking of the CoG is superior in the New as Christ is the fulfillment of the OT types. Circumcision and baptism picture the same thing; the same spiritual reality. As Paul said; “ But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” That’s why when we see households baptized in the NT and for hundreds of years after the passing of the Apostles, the practice of baptizing the children of believing parents never raised an eyebrow.

  26. Sean Gerety Says:

    Actually, Bob, thinking about this more you’re right, it is a circumstance. I was thinking for those who think the church has no other practice it’s not.

  27. brandonadams Says:

    “What do RBs make of the parable of the wheat and the tares? Was Jesus talking about the church? Of course He was.”

    Earlier you poo-pooed the idea that credobaptist churches are any different from paedobaptist churches in terms of the number of regenerate members. Your friend’s comments aside, you seem to have neglected the historic situation of the reformation. Credobaptists were fighting against state churches for the idea of a “believing” church. Paedobaptism was intimately connected to the state-church. (If anyone wants to hear more on this from a RB perspective, I recommend the 3 lectures from Bob Brown, Matrix of Reformed Baptists )

    Henri Blocher explains in his contribution to the volume “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 Klas 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 (Isa. 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 is that the great sifting, the separation of grain and chaff on the Lord’s threshing-floor is now 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:off). The discourse of continuity tends to mask this basic scheme.

    Owen argues similarly here: The Oneness of the Church

  28. Sean Gerety Says:

    “there will only be righteous persons among the people (Isa. 60:21); under new covenant conditions, everyone in the covenant community will personally know the Lord (Jer. 31:34)”

    And you believe that everyone in your RB covenant community personally knows the Lord? And, if “yes,” how do you know?

  29. Sean Gerety Says:

    OK, but you just quoted me someone who argues: “the unfortunate mixture that was characteristic of the old regime will cease to be…” Maybe you need to find another church.

  30. brandonadams Says:

    Nah.

    The point of the quote is fairly obvious. The New Covenant kingdom of Christ will not be glorified, perfected, free from false professors until Christ returns – but the New Covenant kingdom of Christ introduces a concept absent from the Old Covenant kingdom of Israel. As Owen states:

    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.

    The difference between Owen’s view and yours is that you deny any non-believing Jew was ever a “de jure” Jew, and thus you see absolutely no change taking place in the tree of Rom 11 or the sifting of Mal 3.

  31. Sean Gerety Says:

    The New Covenant kingdom of Christ will not be glorified, perfected, free from false professors until Christ returns

    So the “New Cov kingdom” is a mix multitude just as the OT was, right? Or is the NC kingdom a type too? But notice what Owen says: “The old church was not taken away, and a new one set up, but the same church was continued…” Further, why on earth do you always cite in defense of your credobaptist position men who would be appalled by your practice? For example, Owen said:

    “To deny, therefore, that the children of believing, professing parents, who have avouched God’s covenant, as the church of Israel did, Exod. xxiv. 7, 8, have the same right and interest with their parents in the covenant, is plainly to deny the fidelity of Christ in the discharge of his office.”


  32. bsuden, What good and necessary consequences? If you read my posts above I affirm that circumcision was a sign of the Abrahamic covenant, to all who received it. But just because it was both a sign & seal to Abraham, it does not follow by G&N consequence that it was both to all who received it. Surely, it was not a seal of righteousness by faith to the unregenerate Jew, but it was still a sign of God’s covenant to Abraham. Please read what I’ve written already, quoting Gen 17:7 and Romans 2:29 don’t hurt me or even present any problem for what I’ve been arguing for.


  33. Sean, you said to Brandon,

    “There were types in the OT and the nation of Israel was itself a type but it was still the church and was still a mixed multitude as it is today even in RB “covenantal” churches. Where I think our friend Patrick fails is that he applies the idea of types to the OT church itself.”

    I keep rereading this, and all I see is 1) Israel was a type. 2) Israel was the church. 3) Patrick fails by applying the idea of types to the OT church. What am I missing here? Why shouldn’t I apply the idea of types to the OT church, if the OT church is Israel, and it’s a type?

    Brandon’s question (which I already raised, and which Crampton raises in his book) seems to still be unanswered. Upon what basis do Presbies baptize adults? It cannot be the same reason that Presbies baptize infants. Therefore, you have two different reasons for baptizing. Yet Scripture speaks of one baptism, not one for infants and one for adults. Where is the glorious picture of monergism when Presbies baptize professing adults? Perhaps the Presbies are encouraging decisionism in that adult’s theology! Of course I am not serious, but the same accusations that are being leveled against credobaptism can be fired right back at Presby baptism of adults. Is baptism a picture of monergism? The Presby answer must be “sometimes.” Also, nobody answered my question regarding the 15 year old unbelieving son. A few points from that post went completely ignored, actually. But since Sean has offered me the last word, I’ll accept.

    Brandon has already done a good job of clarifying and answering some objections, but I’ll answer Sean’s last question to him, namely, “why on earth do you always cite in defense of your credobaptist position men who would be appalled by your practice?”

    The answer is because paedobaptist covenant theologians such as Owen are a wealth of insight into God’s dealings with men. We would be fools not to learn from them. But that does not mean that they were always right. We quote good solid passages from these guys, not to misrepresent them, but to show that they were right on target in these crucial areas, and that if they allowed Scripture and logic to develop their implications for them, instead of seeking to justify an age-old practice, they would arrive at a covenantal credobaptist position. We also quote such men for the same reason the editors of the 1689 LBCF built their confession upon the foundation of the WCF: to demonstrate that we are on the same side. This ought to be a respectful in-house discussion, not two factions at war.

  34. bsuden Says:

    Patrick,
    It was a seal for Abraham’s faith also applied indiscriminately to his household, both the believing and unbelieving seed.
    Your argument I take, is that the seal aspect only applies to Abe, but not Issac or David.
    Hmmmm.
    I think that is sketchy, much more that you agree that it is the sign of the covenant.
    Which covenant?
    That of grace or?
    Particularly in light of what (spiritual) circumcision represents in the OT.
    The simplest non convoluted way to understand it is that of the WCF, imo. There is one covenant of grace, two different admins.
    Hence paedo baptism just as there was paedo circumcision.
    Rom 2:29 is fundamental to the Book of Romans, itself the gateway to the Scripture.
    I didn’t see your references to Gen 17:7 or Rom. 2:29 above.
    Yes, if the 15 yr. old is under the authority of confessing parents, he could and should be baptized.
    Why? Abraham did no less, circumcising Ishmael, as well as Isaac and later, Esau, as well as Jacob.

    cordially.


  35. Come on Bob, fess up. You haven’t read my posts above. Otherwise you wouldn’t be asking me if I thought circumcision was the sign of the covenant of grace. These kinds of convos are no fun.

    Dude, I get that you think that baptism is the new and improved circumcision. I really get it. I understand it, and I understand why you think it. Simply repeating your position is not a substitute for defending it.

    I understand what you’re saying: The Abrahamic Covenant is the same in substance as the New Covenant; they are both administrations of the Covenant of Grace. Thus there is only one way of salvation. The sign of the covenant of grace in the old administration was circumcision and was applied to children. The sign was changed in the new administration to baptism, thus we ought to baptize our children too. It is a picture of monergistic grace, picturing the Holy Spirit’s regenerating power. Am I on the right track?

    The fundamental, underlying assumption is the first sentence: The Abrahamic Covenant is the same in substance as the New Covenant. I am denying this, I’ve given several reasons why, and it seems that you’re still operating under the assumption that we’re in agreement that the Abrahamic = New covenant. We’re not. Different mediator, different promises, different purpose, different parties.

    Look, I honestly won’t even mind if you disagree. I’m happy to explain my position, but not if you won’t read what I’ve posted. It should be exceedingly obvious by now that I don’t believe that circumcision is a sign of the Covenant of Grace, so I’m not sure why you asked.

  36. Sean Gerety Says:

    Patrick, while there are many typical aspect of the OT church, including, in Kline’s words per Brandon’s blog, “socio-geo-political sector of the Israelite kingdom,” that doesn’t mean that Israel is no less the church than it is with the coming of Christ and the fulfillment of the OT types. But I think one of the comments on Bradon’s blog is typical of the central error I see in the entire credo position.

    Sean, of course there will never be a pure church this side of the eschaton but that is not to say we should not strive for one. It is quite clear we should. That is why excommunication was practised. Wheat and chaff are to exist together in the world not the church. To change the image – the old leaven is to be purged out.

    Notice, we should “strive” for pure churches and that the wheat and chaff exist together in the world, but not in the church. How could the Baptist position NOT be a source of arrogance and pride? I mean, they think their churches are purer and made up of a higher percentage of the elect, if not exclusively, even if they view their children as little reprobates until they’re old enough to make a profession, even one just to please mommy and daddy. At least it creates the illusion that RB congregations are pure. Give me a break.

    Here is my reply that I posted on Bradon’s blog, maybe it will be helpful to some here:

    Actually, the parable does not teach that we should strive for a pure church, which would be impossible even if you could find a congregation made up of believers only. There is no command in Scripture that I know of that says, even in so many words or even as a deducible conclusion, that we should strive for a pure church. I think this is a figment that Baptists unfortunately operate under. Of course their should be church discipline, but wheat and chaff do exist together in the church. Calvin in his Institutes writes:

    They claim that the church of Christ is holy [Ephesians 5:26]. But in order that they may know that the church is at the same time mingled of good men and bad, let them hear the parable from Christ’s lips that compares the church to a net bin which all kinds of fish are gathered and are not sorted until laid out on the shore [Matthew 13:47-58]. Let them hear that it is like a field sown with good seed which is through the enemy’s deceit scattered with tares and is not purged of them until the harvest is brought into the threshing floor [Matthew 13:24-3-]. Let them hear finally that it is like a threshing floor on which grain is so collected that it lies hidden under the chaff until, winnowed by fan and sieve, it is at last stored in the granary [Matthew 3:12]. But if the Lord declares that the church is to labor under this evil—to be weighed down with the mixture of the wicked—until the Day of Judgment, they are vainly seeking a church besmirched with no blemish.

    And in his Harmony of the Gospels he has a very long discussion on this parable. Here is just a portion:

    Although Christ has cleansed the Church with his own blood, that it may be without spot or blemish, yet hitherto he suffers it to be polluted by many stains. I speak not of the remaining infirmities of the flesh, to which every believer is liable, even after that he has been renewed by the Holy Spirit. But as soon as Christ has gathered a small flock for
    himself, many hypocrites mingle with it, persons of immoral lives creep in, nay, many wicked men insinuate themselves; in consequence of which, numerous stains pollute that holy assembly, which Christ has separated for himself.

    …In my opinion, the design of the parable is simply this: So long as the pilgrimage of the Church in this world continues, bad men and hypocrites will mingle in it with those who are good and upright, that the children of God may be armed with patience and, in the midst of offenses which are fitted to disturb them, may preserve unbroken stedfastness of faith. It is an appropriate comparison, when the Lord calls the Church his field, for believers are the seed of it; and though Christ afterwards adds that the field is the world, yet he undoubtedly intended to apply this designation, in a peculiar manner, to the Church, about which he had commenced the discourse.

    I love you guys, but I have to say, if what I’ve been seeing so far is the best RBs can offer, even armed with the Crampton book which was supposed to be a bombshell, I’m considerably more interested now in actually reading it for myself. You would have thought that Crampton would have helped my RB friends to plug some of the gaping holes in their arguments.


  37. I hope you do read Crampton’s book, but FWIW his CT is different than mine, and closer to yours. Also, FWIW, what you’re seeing from me is not the best RBs have to offer, which is why I keep recommending better sources 🙂 . I’m content to stop here (for now). May the Holy Spirit continue to conform us all to the truth of God’s Word.

  38. Sean Gerety Says:

    I wasn’t singling you out Patrick. I just think the RB position is untenable. Maybe Crampton is the exception, but I doubt it.

  39. LJ Says:

    Patrick wrote to Sean: “… Brandon’s question (which I already raised, and which Crampton raises in his book) seems to still be unanswered. Upon what basis do Presbies baptize adults? It cannot be the same reason that Presbies baptize infants. Therefore, you have two different reasons for baptizing. Yet Scripture speaks of one baptism, not one for infants and one for adults …”

    Converts in OT Israel to the God of Abraham underwent circumcision, the sign of the covenant. If they had been born in Israel and not converted, they would have already received the sign.

    Converts in the NT, the bloody OT type having been fulfilled in Christ, undergo baptism, the sign of the covenant now fulfilled. If they had been born into the “Israel of God,” the church, they would have already received the sign.

    Therefore, Presbies baptize infants and adults for precisely the same reason; the sign of the covenant.

    This seems to me to be the clearly Biblical answer to the question posed above by both Crampton and Patrick, both of whom are pretty cool dudes for a couple a RB’s!!!! :-}


  40. Thanks LJ. I do understand that (disagreeing of course), I just wanted Sean to admit that at least sometimes, baptism for Paedos is based upon a credible profession of faith, and such an application does nothing to undermine monergism.

  41. Sean Gerety Says:

    Patrick, where have I denied such a thing? What I have objected to is the exclusivity of baptizing believers only which paints a completely different picture. If P&R folks did what you claim is biblical my complaint would be the same. The promise God made is to believers and their (spiritual) seed. I have never said that individual believers shouldn’t be baptized, just that you guys seem to be operating on a different promise or no promise at all.


  42. So do I understand you correctly that in order to get a monergistic picture from Paedobaptism, you must look at it as a whole, as the picture cannot be seen in a single instance of adult baptism?

  43. Sean Gerety Says:

    Right. It restricts the promise in a way that God does not.

    Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”

    Consequently Baptist practice only pictures one aspect of monergism. Interestingly in most Baptist churches the act of faith is not only the only thing pictured in baptism, but the act of believing is central even to their worship compete with alter calls and the like.


  44. See, this is what I still don’t get. Are you interpreting the Acts passage to be saying that the promises are made to:
    1. You
    2. Your children
    3. All believers afar off?
    In other words, does “as many as the Lord our God will call” apply only to the “all who are afar off” bit? If yes, then that clears up your view of the passage for me considerably.

    If no, then it seems that there is no difference (at least in this passage) between the children of believers and all who are afar off, as to their being in the covenant community. Thus, I see promises made to:
    1. You (believers, who have been called)
    2. Called children
    3. Called “afar off” people.

    Let me know what you think.

  45. Sean Gerety Says:

    Patrick, all of the elect, whether members of Peter’s immediate audience or their households, along with those far off (even those not yet born), are members of the covenant and are the necessary recipients of all its benefits, whether they believe at the time of their baptism or not. But the important thing to note is that households were baptized, which, at least in most of the households I know of and we see in Scripture, are often made up of elect and reprobates alike along with children and infants.

    Acts 16:14-15 “Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us.”

    Acts 16:31-34 “So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.”

    Acts 18:8 “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.”

    1 Corinthians 1:16 “Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other.”

    There are more passages and I realize I should have just dropped it as we can just go round and round, but Baptists have to read these passages as “believers within the households” or as “all members of the household believed and were baptized,” but I hardly think that is a valid method of interpretation or even valid inferences. Why would Jews and proselytes in Acts 2 for example not think of households in the same way they always thought of them and per the application of the OT sign? I would think that would be the natural way to read those verses. All males in a household were circumcised in the OT and all members in a household were baptized in the New. It seems to me that Baptists have to read into these and other passages ideas that aren’t there.

    Again, I think the importance people place on the sign sometimes borders on superstitious lunacy. By the same token, I think the practice of baptists and the belief that we should strive for pure churches and that the wheat and chaff exist together in the world but not in the church, is simply misguided, disobedient, and breeds arrogance. I mean, why don’t you and other Baptists object when your fellow Baptists make such baseless claims combined with shoddy exegesis? I don’t want to read into your silence but it makes me wonder. I certainly don’t have problems criticizing P&R folks who go off the rails to Rome in their view of baptism saying things like baptism unites elect and reprobates to Christ.

  46. Sean Gerety Says:

    How would baptists understand 1 Cor 7:13:

    For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

    I ask because Calvin has some interesting things related to the question of baptism in his commentary that he infers from this passage.


  47. Sean,

    “Patrick, all of the elect, whether members of Peter’s immediate audience or their households, along with those far off (even those not yet born), are members of the covenant and are the necessary recipients of all its benefits, whether they believe at the time of their baptism or not. But the important thing to note is that households were baptized…”

    So is this an admission that this passage cannot be used as a proof for paedobaptism, as many do by simply quoting “the promise is to you and your children”?

    “Why would Jews and proselytes in Acts 2 for example not think of households in the same way they always thought of them and per the application of the OT sign?”

    This is, again, presupposing that baptism replaced circumcision as the single sign of the single covenant of grace. I’ve rejected this premise, so you’re gonna need to go deeper.

    Actually, I do have conversations and disagreements with other credos regarding baptism. In fact I’ve had to spend a good bit of time convincing some that WCF paedobaptism isn’t a damnable heresy. Quite a frustrating ordeal, especially since I personally (obviously) disagree with WCF’s baptism chapter. Even in this very thread I mentioned the embarrassment of credos arguing from the meaning of “baptizo.”

    As for 1 Cor 7:14*, I understand it as Paul giving a reason for believers to stay with their families. Elsewhere we know that we are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, but if one spouse gets saved, that doesn’t nullify their marriage or their responsibilities as a parent. Having a believing parent or spouse is a great blessing, and in a sense that family is set apart because of the believer, but that doesn’t mean that the unbelieving spouse is all of a sudden a member of the New Covenant.

  48. Sean Gerety Says:

    So is this an admission that this passage cannot be used as a proof for paedobaptism, as many do by simply quoting “the promise is to you and your children”?

    You’re right, this verse, by itself, does not prove paedobaptism, but combined with the many examples of believers and their entire HHs being baptized it does. You admit that HHs include children and at times even infants. So, the argument goes: Baptism, which is the NT sign of the covenant promise, is for believers and their children. Believers and their children were baptized in the NT. Therefore children of believers should receive the sign of the covenant. That doesn’t mean that all recipients of baptism are de facto members of the covenant or are necessarily the children of promise. God makes no promise to all the children of believers, but only to those whom He calls. And those whom He calls will surely believe, but they believe because He first calls them and because they were chosen in Christ. Baptism is a sign of this promise, not just the resulting faith but the call as well.

    Further, since Peter is addressing the “Men of Israel” in Acts 2, to somehow conclude that if a Jewish man came to faith in Christ he wouldn’t then have his whole family baptized but only the believing members of his family is to beg the question. No, believers and their entire HHs were baptized. Therefore, when you and your wife have your child you should baptize him/her because the promise of the covenant is to you and your children.

    “Why would Jews and proselytes in Acts 2 for example not think of households in the same way they always thought of them and per the application of the OT sign?”
    This is, again, presupposing that baptism replaced circumcision as the single sign of the single covenant of grace. I’ve rejected this premise, so you’re gonna need to go deeper.

    What is there to assume? It’s hard for me to think of something more plainly obvious, so I’m not sure what going “deeper” can possibly accomplish? Circumcision, which was the OT sign of the CoG signifies the exact same reality as does NT baptism. What do you think the “circumcision made without hands” means anyway?

    Compare Deu 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, in order that you may live.”

    … with what Paul says in Col. 2:12;

    “having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”

    …. And, again in 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 also should walk in newness of life.”

    John Murray put it this way:

    “That baptism signifies purification from the defilement of sin by the regeneration of the Spirit and purification from the guilt of sin by the righteousness of Christ — the righteousness of faith — appears on the very face of the New Testament. That, we have found already, is the real meaning of circumcision. There is, therefore, a basic identity of meaning and signification. Circumcision, bearing the same basic meaning as baptism, was administered to infants who were born in the covenant relation and privilege flowing from the covenant made with Abraham.”

    Now, if circumcision does not signify “purification from the defilement of sin by the regeneration of the Spirit and purification from the guilt of sin” I’d like to know what you think it does signify?

    As for 1 Cor 7:14*, I understand it as Paul giving a reason for believers to stay with their families. Elsewhere we know that we are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, but if one spouse gets saved, that doesn’t nullify their marriage or their responsibilities as a parent. Having a believing parent or spouse is a great blessing, and in a sense that family is set apart because of the believer, but that doesn’t mean that the unbelieving spouse is all of a sudden a member of the New Covenant.

    That’s certainly part of it, however the bigger issue you need to grasp is the relationship a believing spouse has on the rest of their family. For example, the “unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife” and the children by virtue of the believing parent are “not unclean but holy.” The believer affects the entire family’s standing and sets them apart, regardless of whether or not an unbelieving spouse or even their children ever come to saving faith.

    Here’s what Calvin writes in part (notice how he ties this verse to the covenant promise):

    The passage, then, is a remarkable one, and drawn from the depths of theology; for it teaches, that the children of the pious are set apart from others by a sort of exclusive privilege, so as to be reckoned holy in the Church.

    But how will this statement correspond with what he teaches elsewhere — that we are all by nature children of wrath; (Ephesians 2:3;) or with the statement of David — Behold I was conceived in sin, etc. (Psalms 51:7.) I answer, that there is a universal propagation of sin and damnation throughout the seed of Adam, and all, therefore, to a man, are included in this curse, whether they are the offspring of believers or of the ungodly; for it is not as regenerated by the Spirit, that believers beget children after the flesh. The natural condition, therefore, of all is alike, so that they are liable equally to sin and to eternal death. As to the Apostle’s assigning here a peculiar privilege to the children of believers, this flows from the blessing of the covenant, by the intervention of which the curse of nature is removed; and those who were by nature unholy are consecrated to God by grace. Hence Paul argues, in his Epistle to the Romans, (Romans 11:16,) that the whole of Abraham’s posterity are holy, because God had made a covenant of life with him — If the root be holy, says he, then the branches are holy also. And God calls all that were descended from Israel his sons’ now that the partition is broken down, the same covenant of salvation that was entered into with the seed of Abraham is communicated to us. But if the children of believers are exempted from the common lot of mankind, so as to be set apart to the Lord, why should we keep them back from the sign? If the Lord admits them into the Church by his word, why should we refuse them the sign? In what respects the offspring of the pious are holy, while many of them become degenerate, you will find explained in the tenth and eleventh chapters of the Epistle to the Romans; and I have handled this point there.

  49. brandonadams Says:

    I love you guys, but I have to say, if what I’ve been seeing so far is the best RBs can offer, even armed with the Crampton book which was supposed to be a bombshell, I’m considerably more interested now in actually reading it for myself. You would have thought that Crampton would have helped my RB friends to plug some of the gaping holes in their arguments.

    Ironically, I feel the same way towards you and paedobaptism. I do appreciate the opportunity to hear your thoughts on the subject though.

  50. chuck Says:

    wow. just spent forever reading these posts. very interesting and informative. some bright people posting here. do feel like, sometimes, that while the dam has burst, the city falls down from an earthquake, and fire reigns down from the sky, that those in the house of God are too busy arguing whether we should escape through the front door or the back. nonetheless, enjoyable reading. and credit to all who think so seriously through their faith. God bless.

  51. Steve M Says:

    Chuck

    Even when the dam has burst and there is an earthquake and fire is raining down from the sky, truth remains important. Correct doctrine is always important. Understanding and assenting to more truth and less falsehood should be the ultimate goal of every believer. It is knowledge that sets us free from sin.


  52. Sean, if the New Testament contained a command to baptize entire households without regard to individual faith, then you’d have an argument.

    “Believers and their children were baptized in the NT.”

    You cannot prove this. Many Paedos have recognized this (Do you have Reymond’s systematic?).

    “Further, since Peter is addressing the ‘Men of Israel’ in Acts 2, to somehow conclude that if a Jewish man came to faith in Christ he wouldn’t then have his whole family baptized but only the believing members of his family is to beg the question.”

    You are question-begging by assuming that the Men of Israel shared your idea that baptism replaces circumcision.

    “Therefore, when you and your wife have your child you should baptize him/her because the promise of the covenant is to you and your children.”

    Go ahead, finish the quote… the promise is to me, my children, and all who are afar off. So whenever I travel, I should go around baptizing people? No wait, the verse qualifies “me,” “my children,” and “all who are afar off” by restricting those groups to “as many as the Lord shall call.” In other words, *believers* in all times and places. I ask again why Paedos always quote only the first part of that verse…

    “It’s hard for me to think of something more plainly obvious, so I’m not sure what going “deeper” can possibly accomplish? Circumcision, which was the OT sign of the CoG signifies the exact same reality as does NT baptism.”

    My position is obvious to me, but that does not establish its truth. I’ve tried to show qualitative differences between the covenant of circumcision and the New covenant, but despite pointing to Hebrews where Holy Scripture refers to “two covenants” (could it be more plainly obvious?), I still keep hearing “one covenant, two dispensations” ad nauseum, as if that ends the discussion.

    “What do you think the ‘circumcision made without hands’ means anyway?”

    Spiritual circumcision, the removal of sin: primarily justification, secondarily sanctification. The ones baptized were the ones who had been spiritually circumcised. (Time for another “plainly obvious”? 😛 ) Your presupposing that the New Covenant is one in essence with the Covenant of Circumcision has colored the plain reading of Colossians.

    “or example, the ‘unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife’ and the children by virtue of the believing parent are ‘not unclean but holy.’ The believer affects the entire family’s standing and sets them apart, regardless of whether or not an unbelieving spouse or even their children ever come to saving faith.”

    I believe I already said that…

  53. markmcculley Says:

    I am still looking for a definition of “dispensationalism”. Of course there are different kinds, as there are different kinds of “covenant theology”. In a recent essay, David Gordon challenges fellow “covenants/the covenant” folk to define what they believe without depending on a counter-notion of “dispensationalism” to supply the missing gaps.

    This essay is titled “John Murray’s Mono-Covenantalism”, in By Faith Alone, edited by Gary Johnson and Guy Waters (Crossway,2006, p121

    “I am perfectly happy with retaining the covenant of works, by any label, because it was a historic covenant; what I am less happy with is the language of the covenant of grace, because this is a genuinely unbiblical use of biblical language; biblically, covenant is always a historic arrangement, inaugurated in space and time.

    Once covenant refers to an over-arching divine decree or purpose to redeem the elect in Christ, confusion Is sure to follow. In my opinion, John Murray kept what ought to be discarded and discarded what ought to be kept.

    John Murray despised dispensationalism. We all disagree with it, but few of us with the passion of John Murray. Indeed, some of the historic premillenialists who left Westminster Seminary complained that Murray’s attack on dispensationalism made them feel attacked also.

    What Murray jettisoned was the notion of distinctions of kind between the covenants. He wrote that there was no “reason for construing the Mosaic covenant in terms different from those of the Abrahamic.” Murray believed that the only relation God sustains to people is that of Redeemer. I would argue, by contrast, that God was just as surely Israel’s God when He cursed the nation as when He blessed it.

    The first generation of the magisterial Reformers would have emphasized discontinuity; they believed that Rome retained too much continuity with the levitical aspects of the Sinai administration. But the Auburn theology cannot describe covenant theology without reference to dispensationalism, despite the historical reality that covenant theology was here for several centuries before dispensationalism appeared.

    My own way of discerning whether a person really has an understanding of covenant theology is to see whether he can describe it without reference to dispensationalism.

    The word covenant is rarely employed in the Bible; indeed Paul never uses the expression. Where it is used, there is almost always an immediate contextual clue to which biblical covenant is being referred to, such as “the covenant of circumcision” (Acts 7:8) The New Testament writers were not mono-covenantal regarding the Old Testament (see Rom 9:4, Eph 2:12; Gal 4:24).


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