Archive for August 4, 2012

Righteousness is Not An Objective Thing Out There?

August 4, 2012

new perspective: “Christ Himself is our righteousness. There is no objective thing out there called the righteousness of Christ, but it is Christ Himself who earned it as the Federal Head for His people. ”

The denial sounds like Osiander’s. I commend to every reader Calvin’s responses to Osiander in the Institutes. If there is no objective merit to Christ’s work of obedience, then Christ presumably could have skipped the cross and entered directly and personally into our hearts. NP says Christ earned “it”, but if it’s not an objective thing, then what is “it”?

Romans 1:16– “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”

the NP gloss. For in the gospel, there is this person and that person has this history but that history does not result in an objective thing called “the righteousness” because you see it’s the person who is revealed….

Romans 3: 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

the NP gloss. But now Christ Himself has been revealed, and He Himself is the priority, so this means that there is no objective thing called “the righteousness of God”. I mean, first you get faith to get it, but the it you then get it is not an objective thing which itself could be the real difference between life and death before God….

Romans 4:6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

the NP gloss. I don’t deny that God counted righteousness to David, or that this meant “not counting David’s sins against him”, but let’s not think that this “righteousness” and the not counting are “objective things”, The righteousness which God counts is only a means to an end, and really not even that, “it” is only a result of a real relationship that David had with Christ in his heart, because we need to remember not to give the priority to the benefits, even when we have fallen into sin big time, the pious thing to do is to focus on Christ Himself and not on something objectively done in time and space, obtained in the past, and then “transferred” (like a thing) to us as if it were merit points, without which we would have no hope. I don’t deny that Christ earned something of course but I do deny that this something is an objective “out there” commodity which has legal value….

Romans 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

NP gloss. Of course it’s important to have knowledge, but we have to know that knowing a person is not like knowing an objective thing like the value of something a person did. And in the case of “the righteousness of God”, it’s not an objective thing we know from hearing the gospel, so we need to know Christ before we can know about it, and indeed if we know Christ, then we won’t be trying to establish our own righteousness. And you don’t need to know anything positively objective about the righteousness of God in order to stop trying to build your own righteousness. I mean, if you know that righteousness is not a thing that really counts as the legal gatekeeper between you and Christ, you will stop worrying about righteousness all together, yours or God’s!

II Peter 1:1 –Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

NP gloss: This needs to be reversed. We get righteousness by faith. And our faith is not in the righteousness of Christ, as if the object of faith were some objective commodity that belonged to Christ instead of Christ Himself If we are spiritual, we don’t want what Christ has,but instead we want Christ personally. Some say that the righteousness of Christ is the means we get Christ, but they have it backwards since the truth is we must get Christ before we get the righteousness. And having Christ in your soul is the important reality. Because then Christ in you is no longer out there as merely some object of faith. He Himself is the righteousness, and He is not an objective thing, so Jeremiah 23 means that His righteousness is not an objective thing….

NP: the only way one obtains the imputation of the righteousness of Christ is to be one with Christ.

mark: which being translated means—- being imputed with the righteousness, obtaining the righteousness that Christ obtained is NOT THE WAY TO BE ONE WITH CHRIST. This is NP begging the question NP thinks “union with Christ” is not legal but real and personal. He sometimes agree that there is a “legal aspect” but only to then disagree that “union” has anything to do with legal placement into Christ’s death.

The NP is not the only one to want an “union with Christ” apart from Christ’s righteousness which then permits those thus united to then be imputed with such righteousness. Some give the priority to sacramental “union”. Some give the priority to “experience” which is not about an “objective thing”.

Water Baptism Has Not Replaced Physical Circumcision

August 4, 2012

Paedobaptists agree that Abraham has “only one true seed, the spiritual seed”. But they still can’t let go of the fact that Abraham’s “carnal seed” were circumcised. Therefore, they still think that DNA has something to do with water baptism. Those with DNA from Abraham were circumcised in the old covenant, and certain versions of paedobaptism say that those (in the first generation only) with DNA from Christian parents are to be baptized as infants because of that parallel.

They explain that “biological descent from Abraham is never a sufficient reason for one to expect covenant blessings.” But some paedobaptists think that biological descent IS ONE REASON to expect blessing. WITHOUT biological descent, one had very little reason to expect blessing in the old covenant. I recall for you the language of Ephesians 2:12–”being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope…” But also we
remember the exceptions (Ruth) in the genealogy of Jesus

Not all of Israel is Israel or ever WAS EVER Israel. God chooses individuals to be justified. The new perspective not only neglects the law/grace distinction of the Mosaic covenant, but also attempts to ignore  the “new individualism” of the new covenant. We do not get into the new covenant corporately, and then stay by our works of faith, as NT Wright (with many others) would have it.

Conservative paedobaptists do “believe in” church discipline. Even though the “covenant sign is objective”, they don’t want to place that sign on any and every pagan. They “abhor a nominal church.” Conservative paedobaptists only baptize infants of the first generation. They still attempt to determine if parents are believers before they will baptize their children. In this way, they attempt to avoid a national church (even if those parents were infant watered by Roman Catholics).

John Murray: “no organization of men is able infallibly to determine who are regenerate.”  But then again, no presbytery can determine infallibly which parents are regenerate. And no preacher can infallibly preach God’s Word. And no magistrate can infallibly kill enemies. And no writer can infallibly free themselves of prejudice. We all know these things. But knowing this does not decide for us if a church includes the children of believers, or only those who profess to be justified believers.

Although some paedobaptists practice infant communion, most paedobaptists have “criteria for adult membership”. The difference with baptists is finally not a different kind of “certainty”.  The difference is that paedobaptists have TWO kinds of church membership. So the question becomes— does the new covenant have two kinds of membership? If the Lord’s Supper is a “sacrament both received and performed”, does this mean that only some (non-infant) members take and eat the Lord’s Supper?

Assurance–for credobaptists or for paedobaptists– should not be based on our continuing to meet “covenant conditions”. I Peter 3:21: “an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Christ.” Gospel assurance does not come from a promise of ours to get busy and to keep working enough! “Dead works” come from that.

“Feeling one must match the experiences of others” is not an error isolated to credobaptists. Believer baptism is no solution to a puritan produced (the practical syllogism) crisis of assurance: only the imputed righteousness of Christ can give us peace with God.

If we follow the advise of Charles Hodge and Horace Bushnell, our children should always presume themselves to be Christians. I do know many paedobaptists who do not agree with Hodge and Bushnell on this  question But perhaps those who dissent from Bushnell on this matter are not consistent.

Questions remain. Are the infants born to paedobaptist Christians in a better position after “water baptism” than the infants born to credobaptist Christians? If infants are baptized not in order to be included in “the covenant” but because they were born in “the covenant”, wouldn’t that mean that infants born to credobaptist Christians are in “the covenant” despite the sinful neglect by their parents and church?  Do they still have the “opportunity” to be “cursed by the new covenant” fi they don’t live up to the conditions which come with having Christian parents? Or is the only way to actually receive the “greater negative sanctions” is to receive the “water of the church”?

Paedobaptists (Calvin) accuse credobaptists of missing the spiritual dimensions of the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants. But they themselves miss the physical dimensions of the old covenants. In Acts there is no second generation “born of Christian parents”. From this silence, some even infer that the second generation must have been baptized in their infancy. I am not against inferring but I would like to be rational in doing so. In Acts there is a second generation “born of circumcised and in the covenant” parents!

I get from the silence in Acts (about second generation water baptism) that Acts knows nothing about two kinds of water baptism. We could infer just as well that very few were baptized in Acts since most had already been circumcised. We could infer that none who had been circumcised were baptized in Acts. But such an inference would be wrong.

Acts is not silent about one important matter—we read the record there of many Jews, who having already received the circumcision symbol of the old covenant, do not rest content with that infant ritual but are water baptized after they believe. I infer, not from silence but from this clear pattern, that water baptism and circumcision are not only different, but also that water baptism is not a substitute for circumcision. Physical circumcision as theologically significant has ended, but not because water baptism has replaced it.