Posted tagged ‘infant baptism’

If God’s sovereignty causes it to happen, it must be grace-which is why you were born a Christian and an American

February 14, 2017

Douthat–“That’s not who we are.” So said President Obama, again and again throughout his administration, in speeches urging Americans to side with him against the various outrages perpetrated by Republicans. And now so say countless liberals, urging their fellow Americans to reject the exclusionary policies and America-first posturing of President Donald Trump. The problem with this rhetorical line is that it implicitly undercuts itself. If close to half of America voted for Republicans in the Obama years and support Trump today, then clearly something besides the pieties of cosmopolitan liberalism is very much a part of who we are.”

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/kingdom-through-covenant-a-review-by-michael-horton

Mike Horton–Hebrews assumes a category of covenant members who are in some sense beneficiaries of the Spirit’s common work through the means of grace. They are covenant members “who have once been enlightened” (ancient church documents use “baptized” and “enlightened” interchangeably), “who have tasted the heavenly gift [the Supper], and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away” Specifically, they have fallen away from the new covenant… Through their covenant membership they have shared in God’s common grace, and now, if they respond in unbelief, they will bear the curses of the new covenant. A Baptist interpretation cannot account for this category of common covenant beneficiaries of grace who spurn the objective common grace delivered to them and fall away. It is only covenant theology that accounts for this tertium quid between “foreigners to the covenant” and “elect members.” Some non-elect brothers and sisters share the new covenant in common with the elect.

Mike Horton—”Covenant theology does not teach that the covenant of grace itself is “breakable”. God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not… The word proclaimed and sealed in the sacraments is valid, regardless of our response, but we don’t enjoy the blessings apart from receiving Christ with all of his benefits. …..To be claimed as part of God’s holy field comes with threats as well as blessings. Covenant members who do not believe are under the covenant curse. How can they fall under the curses of a covenant to which they didn’t belong? ”

We did not choose to be born in America, so doesn’t that prove that it’s grace to be born in America?

If God’s sovereignty causes it to happen, it must be grace—This is why you were born a Christian and this is why you need to become a Christian?

Was the election of Obama and Trump an accident OR was it OUR mistake?

If American cannot become some better, isn’t that saying that America is equivalent to what America always was?

We made some bad decisions, but that’s not who we are?

If America did something terrible even one time, does that mean that American could maybe do it again?

When we go to the meetings, we say, We are Americans, it’s been four years since we voted

But we were born here, and so we cannot say that we are not Americans anymore (we are not baptists anymore)

We can watch everybody else, but nobody but us can watch us

having a king was not God’s idea
your idea, God told them, but God is still king
and what will happen now with your king
is not God’s will but then again not against God’s will
call it a “hand over”

Since you did not choose your parents, and you did not choose where to be born
therefore it must be all grace, not a choice

so why do you hear so many sermons commanding you to “become what you are”?

Do this because of who you are now or because of who you will become—Those appeals makes sense.

But become what you are?

If we are x, we do not need to become x unless of course there is some kind of “as if fiction” happening.

Because you are justified, become thankful

If you are justified, you stay justified, unless you are in a covenant where Christ is not the mediator.

if you are justified, you don’t become condemned, unless you are in a covenant which is not governed by election and take as good news an atonement which is not governed by election.

Nobody has always been justified, but those who have been justified are not still being justified, unless they are in a covenant where law is grace and grace is law.

http://www.samstorms.com/all-articles/post/four-views-on-eternal-security

Sam Storms: “The contention is that the blessings listed in Hebrews 6: 4-5 are experienced neither by the “saved” nor the “unsaved” but by those persons who belong to the covenant community but who have not been regenerated or come to saving faith in Christ. The contention is that to such persons the warning passages, threatening the consequences of apostasy, are addressed. Other views are faulted for failing to recognize “a category for a person who is in the covenant but not personally united by living faith to Jesus Christ”

Sam Storms– I find this entirely unpersuasive. There is no indication in the New Testament that anyone was regarded as a member of the New Covenant (as promised in Jeremiah 31 ) apart from faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. …

There is Now Only One Israel, So We Don’t need the Pharisee Infant Water

May 25, 2014

Galatians 3:16 Now the promiseS were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to seedS,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your seed,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean–the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul A covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promiseS of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that THE PROMISE by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those AS MANY AS WHO believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we would be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus YOU are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For AS MANY AS YOU many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.

I am not somebody who reduces the Abrahamic promises to one promise. I am all for noticing the various promises, beginning in Genesis 12. Abram will become a great nation, and he can’t have a great nation without land, territory for many people, mostly all biologically related to Abram, a land with no other altars allowed except to Yahweh the King. God also promises blessings for other nations based on their relation to Abram’s nation, with curses for those nations which don’t relate favorably to Abram’s nation.

So I am not reducing all these promises to one promise. I deny that the Abrahamic covenant is the new covenant. I deny that the Abrahamic covenant is “the covenant of grace” or “part of the covenant of grace” or “an administration of the covenant of grace”. Since I know how to talk about the continuity of the Abrahamic covenant to the Mosaic covenant and to the new covenant without saying that they are one covenant, I very much want to notice the various promises associated with Abraham, and to see how they are fulfilled in the circumcision of Christ on the eighth day (Luke 2).

Circumcision is not simply about “spiritual cleaning”. The sign of circumcision is not even only about pointing to the bloody sacrifice of Christ, which cuts the justified elect off from legal solidarity with Adam. Circumcision is an initiation rite for priests, and every male in Abraham’s family (even if one parent did not go testify before the presbytery!) was obligated by Abrahamic law to be circumcised as a sign that Abraham’s family consisted of consecrated priests.

So circumcision was a sign of many things, but not a sign to any person in particular (except Abram himself )of election to justification and eternal life and faith in the gospel.

What belonging to Abraham’s family means now and what it meant then is not the same thing. Zwingli and other Reformed folks like to start with what they think it means now and then read that back as if that was what belonging to Abraham’s family meant then. Thus they notice the promise about the one seed which will bring in the righteousness, but they don’t notice some of the other promises.

To put it a different way, instead of saying “you already have what the pharisees offer”, better to say what the pharisees offer, you don’t need, and could not have anyway.” Now you can be children of Abraham in only one way.

Now that Christ has been born and circumcised, it’s not possible for every jewish male infant to be born as types of the birth to come. The land promise needed for the jewish people to remain the genetic incubator for the Seed is now abrogated, and we need to attend to the discontinuity between the promise of the earth to those who believe the gospel and the promise back then in the Abrahamic covenant.

Reformed paedobaptists (besides Meredith Kline and Gary North) don’t like talking about the bothersome “intrusive” stuff (like negative sanctions) which otherwise does not fit with their neat straight-line continuity They say we should all agree about the unity of the Abrahamic covenant, but paedobaptists can’t stay with that, because they need to harmonize (homogenize) covenants so that we then identify the Abrahamic covenant with the new covenant (or with their “the covenant of grace”)

Sure, the promises to Abraham are typological. But they put non-Abrahamic people out of the territory, to make room for the biological-political heirs of Abraham. Why just look at Genesis 17, when you need to look back also to Genesis 12 and 15? Why not talk about all the promises, unless of course your confessions have already told you what “the promise” is?

So is the “inheriting the world” promise about Christ (the one seed) bringing in the righteousness so that the world belongs to Him and His elect? Or is “inheriting the world” about some conditional promise being made to everybody with one parent who professes to be Christian? Galatians 3 speaks of a promise given to “as many as believe”, and not about a promise given to the children of as many as who believe.

We need to notice the different “seed of Abraham”. Galatians 3 talks about the one seed, not the many, but then it ends with the many who believe the gospel. So two different seeds are in Galatians. But the seed born to the seed are not in Galatians 3, and the only way they can get there is in the collective imagination of some paedobaptists (not Lutherans or Roman Catholics but Reformed)

I am glad to recognize (as I have many times) that the Abrahamic covenant included by design many who were non-elect. Being circumcised and getting in was not the only thing one had to do to “stay in”. But if Reformed folks want to argue that the new covenant people of God are the same set as the people who were in the Abrahamic covenant, they are going to have to make their case.

These Reformed folks need to affirm again that Christ did not die for any non-elect people. If it is not Christ who kept all the conditions of the elect being in (and staying in) the new covenant, then we need to hear a lot more from these folks about the kind of “conditionality” involved in the new covenant. Is “election” simply a corporate thing, with which individuals to be decided later?

Is the new covenant “unbreakable” only in the sense that the covenant stands even if no individuals do what they have to do to “get connected” (and stay connected) with Christ’s death? If water baptism has no efficacy for the non-elect, what efficacy did water baptism have for the elect? Does water baptism promise that anybody will believe? Does water baptism cause anybody to believe? The gospel promises grace only to those who believe the gospel. It’s not the faith given to the elect which causes grace to be given. It’s grace that gives faith to the elect, and those who are never given faith in the gospel were NEVER given grace.

Ephesians 2 says covenantS, plural. The text in no way proves that the Abrahamic covenant is the new covenant, or that the Abrahamic covenant is “the covenant of grace.”. Nobody I know denies that the promise of the gospel concerning the one seed. But Reformed folks ignore the other promises, as they ignore other covenants.

When God says “not all Israel is Israel”, God is NOT saying “you gentiles can now be the kind of Israel you always wanted to be, the kind that there was before Christ was born”. Rather, there is only one kind of Israel now, and you can be in this Israel, and if Jews want to be in Israel now, this is the only Israel even for them now.

So sure, there’s continuity, but don’t ignore the great redemptive-historical change. Before those in the Abrahamic covenant could be in Israel and then become strangers to Israel. But now there is an Israel, the only Israel, and those in that Israel know the Lord.

Jews who don’t believe the gospel are not now Israel. They were Israel ( in one real sense) before Christ was born. But not anymore. Only as many as are called by the gospel (Acts 2) are now the rightful heirs. If your children are among the “as many as God shall call”, they too are rightful heirs. If not, not.

Many Reformed folks like to associate credobaptism with dispensationalism. It makes for a simple equation, and then they don’t have to think too much! But many of us credobaptists are NOT dispensationalists (who just don’t know it). There is only one Israel now and it’s the justified elect of God. Nor am I am of the tribe (John Murray, many amills as well as postmills) that says God has promised those with Abraham’s DNA something extra in the future. There is only one Israel, not a different second Israel which has been promised some land the others of us have not. There is only one Israel, not a different second Israel which are children born to one professing Christian, who are not yet allowed to eat at Israel’s table.

There is Only the One Israel Now, So You Don’t Want or Need what the Judiazers Offer You

October 8, 2012

Galatians 3:16 Now the promiseS were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to seedS,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your seed,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean–the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul A covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promiseS of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that THE PROMISE by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those AS MANY AS WHO believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we would be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus YOU are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For AS MANY AS YOU many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to promise.

I am not somebody who reduces the Abrahamic promises to one promise. I am all for noticing the various promises, beginning in Genesis 12. Abram will become a great nation (goy, polis), and he can’t have a great nation without land, territory for many people, mostly all biologically related to Abram, a land with no other altars allowed except to Yahweh the King. God also promises blessings for other nations based on their relation to Abram’s nation, with curses for those nations which don’t relate favorably to Abram’s nation.

So I am not the one reducing all these promises to one promise. I deny that the Abrahamic covenant is the new covenant. I deny that the Abrahamic covenant is “the covenant of grace” or “part of the covenant of grace” or “an administration of the covenant of grace”. Since I know how to talk about the continuity of the Abrahamic covenant to the Mosaic covenant and to the new covenant without saying that they are one covenant, I very much want to notice the various promises associated with Abraham, and to see how they are fulfilled in the circumcision of Christ on the eighth day (Luke 2).

Circumcision is not simply about “spiritual cleaning”. The sign of circumcision is not even only about pointing to the bloody sacrifice of Christ, which cuts the justified elect off from legal solidarity with Adam. Circumcision is an initiation rite for priests, and every male in Abraham’s family (even if one parent did not go testify before the presbytery!) was obligated by Abrahamic law to be circumcised as a sign that Abraham’s family consisted of consecrated priests.

So circumcision was a sign of many things, but  not a sign to any person in particular (except Abram himself )of  election to justification and eternal life and faith in the gospel.

What belonging to Abraham’s family means now and what it meant then is not the same thing. Zwingli and other Reformed folks like to start with what they think it means now and then read that back as if that were what belonging to Abraham’s family meant then. Thus they notice the promise about the one seed which will bring in the righteousness, but they don’t notice some of the other promises.

To put it a different way, instead of saying “you already have what the judiasers offer”, better to say” what the judiasers offer, you don’t need, and couldn’t have anyway.” There is no more Abrahamic economy, and you can be children of Abraham now in only one way, not in the ways you could be before.

Now that Christ has been born and circumcised, it’s not possible for every jewish male infant to be born as types of the birth to come. The land promise needed for the jewish people to remain the genetic incubator for the Seed is now abrogated.
Many Reformed paedobaptists (besides Meredith Kline and Gary North) don’t like talking about the bothersome “intrusive” stuff ( negative sanctions) which otherwise does not fit with their neat straight-line continuity?

We should all agree about that the Abrahamic covenant is one unit (all or nothing), but paedobaptists can’t stay with that, because they need to harmonize (homogenize) covenants  so that we then identify the Abrahamic covenant with the new covenant (or with “the covenant of grace”)

Sure,  the promises to Abraham are typological. But they put  non-Abrahamic people out of the territory, to make room for the biological-political heirs of Abraham. Why not talk about all the promises, unless your confessions have already told you what “that one promise” is?

So is the “inheriting the world” promise about Christ (the one seed) bringing in the righteousness so that the world belongs to Him and His elect? Or is “inheriting the world” about some conditional promise being made to everybody with one parent who professes to be Christian? Galatians 3 speaks of a promise given to “as many as believe”, and not about a promise given to the children of as many as who believe.

We need to notice the different “seed of Abraham”.   Galatians 3 talks about the one seed, not the many, but then it ends with the many who believe the gospel. So two different seeds are in Galatians. But the seed born to the seed are not in Galatians 3, and the only way they can get there is in the collective imagination of some paedobaptists (not Lutherans or Roman Catholics but Reformed)

I am glad to recognize (as I have many times) that the Abrahamic covenant included by design many who were non-elect. Being circumcised and getting in was not the only thing one had to do to “stay in”. But if Reformed folks want to argue that the new covenant people of God are the same set as the people who were in the Abrahamic covenant, they are going to have to make their case.

These Reformed folks need to back up to the beginning by affirming that Christ did not die for any non-elect people.  If it is not Christ who kept all the conditions of the elect being in (and staying in) the new covenant, then we need to hear a lot more from these folks about the kind of “conditionality” involved in the new covenant. Is “election” simply a corporate thing, with which individuals to be decided later?

Is the new covenant “unbreakable” only in the sense that the covenant stands even if no individuals do what they have to do to “get connected” (and stay connected) with Christ’s death? If water baptism has no efficacy for the non-elect, what efficacy did water baptism have for the elect? Does water baptism promise that anybody will believe? Does water baptism cause anybody to believe? The gospel promises grace only to those who believe the gospel. It’s not the faith given to the elect which causes grace to be given. It’s grace that gives faith to the elect, and those who are never given faith in the gospel were NEVER given grace.

Ephesians 2 says covenantS, plural. The text in no way proves that the Abrahamic covenant is the new covenant, or that the Abrahamic covenant is “the covenant of grace.”. Nobody I know denies that the promise of the gospel concerning the one seed is one of the Abrahamic promises. But Reformed folks ignore the other promises, as they ignore other covenants.

When God says “not all Israel is Israel”, God is not saying “you gentiles can now be the kind of Israel you always wanted to be, the kind that there was before Christ was born”. Rather, there is only one kind of Israel now, and you can be in this Israel, and if Jews want to be in Israel now, this is the only Israel even for them now.

So sure, there’s continuity, but don’t ignore the great redemptive-historical change. Before those in the Abrahamic covenant could be in Israel and then become strangers to Israel. But now there is an Israel, the only Israel, and those in that Israel know the Lord.

Jews who don’t believe the gospel aren’t Israel anymore. They were ( in a real sense) before Christ was born. But not anymore. Only as many as are called by the gospel (Acts 2) are now the rightful heirs. If your children are among the “as many as God shall call”, they too are rightful heirs. If not, not.

Many Reformed folks like to associate credobaptism with dispensationalism. It makes for a simple equation, and then they don’t have to think too much! But  many of us credobaptists are NOT dispensationalists (who just don’t know it). There is only one Israel now and it’s the justified elect of God. Nor am I am of the tribe (John Murray, many amills as well as postmills) that says God has promised those with Abraham’s DNA something extra in the future. There is only one Israel, not a different second Israel which has been promised some land the others of us have not. There is only one Israel, not a different second Israel which are children born to one professing Christian, who are not yet allowed to eat at Israel’s table.  The dividing wall is gone.

Are Christians Under the Abrahamic Covenant?

July 2, 2012

Galatians 3:9: “So then they which be OF FAITH are blessed with faithful Abraham.” Blessed with faithful Abraham, NOT by faithful Abraham! Abraham is not the spiritual father. We are not blessed BY Abraham, but we are blessed WITH Abraham, through the same means of grace, through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Abraham’s Covenant was strictly peculiar to himself. Neither in the
Old nor in the New Testament is it ever said that the Covenant with
Abraham was made on behalf of all believers or that the Abrahamic covenant was given to those who believe the gospel. Abraham is called the father of those who believe the gospel.

God did not promise Christians that they will have a seed.

If the same Covenant promise made to Abraham is made to Christians through Abraham, then that would means that there could be no justified child of God without a seed

http://www.bereantapeministry.com/articles/pdf/abrahamic_covenant.

Ferrell Griswald

The main thrust of the Abrahamic Covenant is spiritual. For the accomplishment of the spiritual objective, there is given a
temporal arrangement with inferior privileges that were to be enjoyed by the nation of Israel, for the fulfilment of the the spiritual
promises. Therefore, the contents of the Covenant were of a mixed kind, involving both the natural descendants, and the spiritual seed of Abraham. This was necessary because there had to be a preservation of the natural seed of Abraham so that the spiritual seed would be brought in.

Therefore, the promises made to Abraham receive a minor and a major fulfillment. There was to be a temporary accomplishment of these promises to his natural offspring here on earth in preparation for the realization of those spiritual benefits in the Elect of God throughout all ages.

We must distinguish between the two kinds of promises. Otherwise we shall fall into the error of others who insist that the spiritual
blessings belong not only to the natural seed of Abraham, but to the natural offspring of Christians as well. But spiritual blessings cannot be communicated by carnal propagation. Romans, chapter 9:6- 8: “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel which are of Israel: Neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children; but in Isaac shall thy seed
be called. They which are the children of the flesh, THESE ARE NOT the children of God: but the children of the promise are
counted for the seed.”

Children of the flesh ARE NOT the children of God! The children of PROMISE, the children of GRACE, are counted for the seed! All of Abraham’s descendants did not participate in the spiritual blessings promised to him. As our Lord Jesus said in John 8:24: “ye shall die in your sins,” speaking to those who claimed to be Abraham’s seed. Nor do all the children of Christians enter into the spiritual
privileges promised to Abraham. Only those who are chosen by God before the ages unto salvation. And who they are cannot be known until they believe.

Galatians, chapter 3, verse 7: “Know ye therefore that they which are of FAITH, the same are the children TEKNON of Abraham.” The infant is not of faith. The natural descendants of Abraham are not of faith. Only believers are the children of Abraham. Some may be the SPERMA , but they are not the children.

What then is the Covenant of Abraham? The great thing that the Covenant of Abraham secured to Abraham was that HE, and not anyone else, but that HE WOULD HAVE A SEED. When God made the Covenant, He said, “YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE A SEED!” And THEN THROUGH YOUR SEED the nations of the earth will be blessed. So the Covenant was given to Abraham to secure for him a seed, and that God would be the God of that seed.

Now that’s not applicable to Christians. It cannot be said that this Covenant refers to Christians. Christians have no warrant whatsoever
in the Word of God that God will be the God of their seed. He only saaid He would be the God of Abraham’s seed. Who are the seed of
Abraham? True believers, through THE SEED, Christ, singular. It is not promised to Christians that they will have a seed.

The Abrahamic covenant promised that Abraham himself would have a seed, and that God would be the God of that seed. It is something like the promise that God made to Phinehas, when He said that you will always have a seed to be a priest, or to David, that he would always have a posterity to sit on the throne.

Let us look at the original promises that were made to Abraham, and see if they are applicable other than to Abraham himself. Genesis chapter 12, verse 2 and 3: “And I will make of thee a great nation,” Has he promised that to believers? Then He said: “and I will bless
thee, and make thy name great;” Has God promised to make your name great? He may make it great, but He has not promised to do so.
Most of us will die in obscurity, not known outside of our own small circle He says: “thou shalt be a blessing;” Well, we may be a blessing in a small way but not in the way that all families of the earth shall be blessed

In Genesis chapter 17: 5, God says: “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many
nations have I made thee.” You and I have not been made fathers of many nations. Verse 6: “kings shall come out of thee.” How many kings have come out of regular Christians? He says, “your descendants will occupy Canaan.” You and I have probably never set foot on Canaan. There are many who will have to mourn along with David, who cried, “though it be not so with my house.”

Furthermore, the Covenant made with Abraham established no spiritual relationship between Abraham and his offspring. There was a physical
relationship, but no spiritual relationship. Still less, does it establish a relationship, a spiritual relationship between believers
and infants. Abraham was not the spiritual father of his own natural offspring, for spiritual qualities cannot be propagated by carnal generation. If there was any spiritual relationship between Abraham and his carnal offspring, it was as the result of THE SEED, Christ Jesus, our Lord. Therefore it is by GRACE and not by RACE, that men are saved.

And what is this blessing? Galatians 3: 7: “Know ye therefore that they which are of FAITH, the same are the children of Abraham.” verse
9: “So then they which be OF FAITH are blessed with faithful Abraham.” Blessed with faithful Abraham, NOT by faithful Abraham! Abraham is not the spiritual father. We are not blessed BY Abraham, but we are blessed WITH Abraham, through the same means of grace, through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Was Abraham Esau’s father spiritually? Or Ishmael’s? Look at Romans 4: 11 “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the
righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he would be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness would be imputed unto them also.” This is a household of faith, and not of natural generation. Abraham
rather than being the spiritual father of his own natural offspring, becomes the spiritual father only of The those who walk in the steps of his faith. And just as a believing father becomes a spiritual father only of those who walk in the likeness of his faith.

But are not Christians under the Abrahamic Covenant? Again, if you will turn to Galatians 3:14, you will see that the answer is, No!:
“That the blessing of Abraham would come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we would receive the promise of the Spirit THROUGH
FAITH.” The blessing of Abraham consists not in creating spiritual relations between believers and their infant offspring, but the
Spirit of God. Those who are blessed with Abraham are those who are of the faith of Abraham, and not those who receive a parental oath at the time of their water baptism.

Dispensationalists Miss the Spiritual Aspect of the Covenants, but Paedobaptists Miss the Physical Aspects of the Old Covenants

November 18, 2011

Paedobaptists may claim 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 Paedobaptists say that those (in the first generation only) with DNA from Christian parents are to be baptized as infants.

Of course “biological descent from Abraham is never a sufficient reason for one to expect covenant blessings.” But paedobaptists say 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 rather strong language of Ephesians 2:12–”being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope…”

The new perspective not only neglects the law/grace distinction of the Mosaic covenant, but also fails to do justice to the “new individualism” of the new covenant. We do not get into the new covenant corporately by the cross, and then stay in individually by our works of faith, as NT Wright (with many others) would have it.

Not all of Israel is Israel or ever was Israel. God chooses individuals to be justified at the last day.

Of course conservative paedobaptists do “believe in” church discipline. 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 nominal church, even if those now-believing parents were infant baptized by Unitarian Anglicans or Roman Catholics.

John Murray: “no organization of men is able infallibly to determine who are regenerate.” Of course. 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. How does that decide for us if a church includes the children of believers, or only those who profess regeneration?

Although more consistent paedobaptists practice infant communion, most paedobaptists have “criteria for adult membership”. The difference with baptists is finally not a less subjective claim to “certainty”; the difference is that paedobaptists have TWO kinds of church membership. So I ask you: does the new covenant have two kinds of membership?

It is simply not true that believer baptism encourage many rebaptisms during “crises of assurance.” It is true that believer baptism does advocate that those baptized have assurance of salvation.

But 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 that one must match the experiences of others” is not an error isolated to baptists. 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.

But a crisis of assurance can be a good thing!. It’s not a good thing to “join the church” without ever having a crisis of assurance. But if we follow the advise of Charles Hodges and Horace Bushnell, then our children will always presume themselves to be Christians.

Of course I know many paedobaptists who do not agree with Bushnell and Hodge! Nevertheless they makes any crisis of assurance less likely by putting into the covenant infants who do not profess salvation. Are the children of Christians to think of themselves as Christians from the beginning? Ask your local paedobaptist this question. And for extra credit, ask: Are the infants born to paedobaptists Christians in a better position after “water baptism” than the infants born to credobaptist Christians?

If someone has discovered that they did not become a Christian until after their “baptism”, then they are simply being obedient to God to disregard that previous ritual. You have to be prejudiced to call this “re-baptism”. Paedobaptists who do not practice infant communion shift the “crisis of assurance” to communion. Those who don’t know that they are justified are encouraged “to abstain”, at least in conservative paedobaptist groups.

It would be difficult for them to find this scruple in the old covenant with which they claim continuity. Passover was a family meal, with the children of the covenant included. But then again, the new covenant is different, and most paedobaptists’ practice of the Lord’s Supper shows that.

Yet many paedobaptist accuse all baptists of being some kind of “dispensationalist”. They accuse of us missing the spiritual dimensions of the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants. But they themselves miss the physical dimensions of the old covenants.

In Acts of course 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. I get from this silence that Acts knows nothing of two kinds of baptism.

But 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 symbol, but are water baptized after they believe. I infer, not from silence but from this clear pattern of events, that water baptism and circumcision are not only different, but also that water baptism is not a substitute for circumcision.

Circumcision has ended, not because water baptism has replaced it, but because Jesus has brought a new covenant.

Infant Baptism Will Save the World?

February 7, 2011

Stanley Hauerwas, A Better Hope, p43–“Gerald Schlabach sent me criticisms of my work that another Mennonite had posted on an e-mail forum. The critic argued that my work is far too Catholic and thus incompatible with an Anabaptist perspective: ‘Hauerwas has a Constantinian fear of Christian liberty. He wants the clergy to tell us the story and the church to have the sanctions to enforce it.’ In his response Schlabach agreed that this is an accurate (although insufficiently nuanced) summary of my views but defended the position nevertheless. ”

Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom , Peter Leithart, IVP, 2010

Leithart is a high church theonomist. He teaches at Doug Wilson’s little school in Idaho. Like others in the anti-federal “federal vision”, he teaches justification by works, with a particular emphasis on “sacrament”. His book is endorsed by Anglicans who teach justification by works: Stanley Hauerwas, John Milbank, and NT Wright.

Leithart believes that infant baptism will save the world. Constantly caricaturing one side against the other, he calls John Yoder an “anti-realist”, then puts the Niebuhrs on the other end, and then sits himself in the middle. “In the end it all comes down to infant baptism.” P341.

When we ask how Constantine and infant baptism will save the world, Leithart asks us to stop being so impatient. Baptism has happened, and it will change the world, because justification by works has worked and will work.

Make no mistake: Leithart is still a theonomist, and the ritualism of James Jordan has not changed his dogmatic agenda that “the Old Testament is normative for politics”. (p131). When somebody like James Carroll (Constantine’s Sword) complains about the anti-semitism of Augustine, Leithart is quick to defend the good old days of the middle ages. The Jews were merely not allowed to proselytize, and besides, he is pro-Jewish because he thinks the OT is normative for politics. And he’s against all kinds of sectarian proselytizing, except of course his own proselytizing for one universal church.

Leithart very much opposes the “John Locke” Protestantism in which separatists (isolationists) “hold opinions that divide them from the general public”. We are reminded that theonomy is not about a combination of church and state but about having one church (with bishops) which can stand up to the state. He quotes Rushdoony (p181) about Trinitarians resisting imperialism. If you won’t support killing heretics, then you are left with “invisible churches”.

Of course we could ask all kinds of questions here, like which kind of visibility? Which church? Which bishops? Whose ordination? But Leithart cautions us to be patient about all such details. All we need to know for now is that infants are being baptized in the name of Trinitarianism. It’s happening, no matter what kind of “nominalist” objections and theories are being suggested. And Leithart himself is still ordained by the PCA, and if the PCA were to become a sect and disqualify him, then he would simply move on to the one church which remains the one church.

If you won’t defend Augustine for killing Donatists who “re-baptise”, then you simply show that you are a baptist at heart. True Anglicans still know that it’s a sin not to have your infants baptized by the one church. We cannot say that Constantine had no mission, because his mission was the empire, and in order to become a citizen in that empire, you also needed to be baptized (and have your infants done, along with your wife and slaves) and if you object to that, you show yourself to be modernist plain and simple.

Indeed, argues Leithart, Constantine really subverted the empire (you see) because he used his great power in the empire to change the empire! How could he have ended the gladiatorial shows, if he had retreated from cultural engagement like the quietists and separatists? If you can vote, you must, and if you can kill for a more civilized culture, then the killing itself becomes civilization!

If Joseph and Daniel can dream for the emperors, doesn’t it stand to reason that you also must become emperor if you can kill enough people to do so? And shame on Constantine for refusing to wear the purple when he thought he was near death, as if being emperor and being Christian were in competition. There is a bad justification by works, like when you do stuff not commanded, or stop doing stuff not forbidden, like stop killing, but then there is a good justification by works, when you can baptize the nations in the name of the Trinity.

Leithart knows that anti-Constantinianism is a cover for liberalism, or even worse, for pacifism. And so he argues simply, for those of us who are too dumb to get it. Augustine was a Christian. Augustine was not a pacifist. Therefore Christians do not need to be pacifists. Christians need only to reject “their wars” (that of the Marxists or the Anabaptist sectarians). But when Constantine becomes a Christian, then his wars become Christian wars, and thus our wars.

Leithart explains to us that John Yoder was effected by his social location: writing in Europe against the state churches of Europe, Yoder could not see that this kind of sectarian nation-building is not the same thing as the medieval achievement of cultural unity. In other words, with Milbank and Hauerwas, Leithart is accusing the ecclesiology of Yoder of still being “modernist”. Even if we can’t be quite Roman Catholic yet, we must all agree now that justification by faith is mere Gnosticism and that justification is by obedience to God’s law, and for that we need both character and community.

And of course Constantine’s history Is somewhat messy (especially his family life) but the alternative is the impatience of perfectionism. Leithart appeals to all us who grew up in dispensationalism and now see ourselves as superior to all that. Surely, “church history is not an empty parenthesis.” (p325) We need to work with that which has come about with the passing of time, and if we resist the gradualism of the Magisterial Reformers, we will end up with no church at all, and no conservative culture!

In order to “de-sacrifice the empire” and thus eliminate the confusion of patriotism and religion, we need to do two things, according to Leithart. First, we need to sacrifice (kill) the enemies of Rome. Second, we need to move the patriotic rituals out of the realm of the empire and move them into the church (which will support the empire). And one great immediate effect of this is that blood sacrifice is ended in the Jewish temple in Ad 70. Sure, in theory, the blood in the temple never worked, certainly not after Christ died, but if you want to see the real coming of the Christ, see it there in the Roman invasion of Jerusalem in Ad 70. (No wonder the theonomists and the preterists like NT Wright’s “end of exile” theology so much!)

If you are patient enough, you can make a nation Christian in the same way that you make an infant a Christian. You baptize it. And the great commission is for you who baptize, which is to say, first you say to a nation that it is Christian, and then you can talk to it like you do to Christians. But if you do not agree that the Romanists and the Americans are all already Christians, already baptized, then what can you say to them about what they should do?

You may think that my sarcasm has simply got the best of me, and that there’s no way that Leithart can be saying any of the things I think he is saying. To that, I say: read him for yourself. If you don’t have time to read the other theonomists (Rushdoony, Doug Wilson, James Jordan, Greg Bahnsen, Andrew Sandlin) or the preterists ( American Vision, Gentry), begin with Leithart’s earlier book: Against Christianity.

I quote from Leithart’s page 333: “The Creator made man to participate in and prosecute His wars.” Of course he is not only describing what God has predestined; his concern is ethics. Mine two. No triangulation needed here. Either he is right or we pacifists are right. According to him, Adam’s problem was that he was a pacifist in regard to Satan. If Leithart is right, as we get to newer covenants (or, “newer administrations of the one covenant”, as the ideology likes to say it), then the newer the covenant, the more responsibility all of us have to kill for the sake of the covenant.

And thus Leithart contextualizes Jesus, so that His dying at the cross rather than killing, is particular, specific, and unique, and not an example for anybody. I remember the old days when theonomists mocked Ron Sider for his leading questions: is God a Marxist? Ron never said he was, but he kinda implied it. And so today, the theonomists ask the leading questions: is turning the other cheek a rebuke of self defense or the defense of others?

How could we possibly think that what Jesus said in the Sermon was for all Christians in all places and for all times? We know that church history is not an empty parenthesis, and we know that Augustine was a Christian, and thus we know that Augustine’s version of Just war (not like that of Bush and Rumsfield) was also the politics of Jesus.

It’s sad that IVP published the book. What’s next for IVP? Will one day they even publish a book defining Calvinism in way that you don’t have to believe the doctrines of “tulip” to be a Calvinist?

Some Who Once Got Into the Abrahamic Covenant Will Not Stay In

December 1, 2010

Gen 17:9 And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.”

Gen 18:19 “For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”

When Jeremiah contrasts the new covenant with the one made with the fathers, the contrast is to the Mosaic covenant and not to the Abraham covenant. But neither is it accurate to say that the new covenant is only a renewal of the Abrahamic covenant. As Genesis 17 and 18 suggest, the Abrahamic covenant also had its “conditional” aspects.

One way some people put this all together is to say that the unconditional aspect of covenants only refers to God’s promise to save a people, but that which INDIVIDUALS are part of the people is conditioned on covenant obedience.

I speak not only of Arminians, who say that Jesus died for everybody and that the difference is their faith and obedience.
Instead of saying that all blessing is conditioned only on the imputed righteousness, many Calvinists bring into the picture the sovereign grace of God which enables the elect to meet the conditions of the covenant.

This failure to glory only in the cross is supported by a view of the new covenant which separates “covenant” from election and particular redemption. Abraham stayed in because he was enabled to obey, but some who are in get broken off because they do not obey.

The “state” of those in the new covenant does not depend on our conduct and walk. Those who try to walk to life will never arrive there. The Christian walk is a fruit of life and a guaranteed “stand in grace”. (Romans 5:1-2).

I want to think about Meredith Kline’s By Oath Consigned (Eerdmans, 1968). Despite Kline’s use of new information about extra-biblical treaties to talk about “covenant”, his conclusions are more traditional than many Reformed writers who are now distancing themselves from ANY conditional/unconditional distinctions.

I interact with Kline because I agree with his holding the line on the law/gospel antithesis. Ultimately of course Kline’s book is about infant baptism. Unlike the confessions which speak of the water as a means of assurance, Kline says that the water puts individuals into a conditional covenant, and introduces them to potential curse as well as potential blessing. But my focus in this short essay is not baptism, but Kline’s view of covenants.

If there is such a thing as “being in the covenant” but not being in Christ, what are the blessings of “being in the covenant” for those for whom Jesus did not die? Is there a “common grace” of being “in the covenant”, if one assumes that the non-elect can be included for a time in the covenant? Kline cautions that “we are not to reduce the redemptive covenant to that proper purpose.”

Those who don’t continue to believe the gospel are condemned. (John 3:18). But this is something different from saying that the non-elect are in the new covenant, and will be cursed and broken off if they don’t continue to believe..

But Kline resists the “bent toward such a reduction of covenant to election. To do so is to substitute a logical abstraction for the historical reality…” The historical reality for Kline is the reality of covenant threats and “actual divine vengeance against the disobedience as covenantal elements”. I agree about divine vengeance but my question is if this wrath is “covenantal”.

Do those who are never initiated into the new covenant experience wrath? I am sure Kline would agree with me that they do. But this is something different from saying that those who experience the wrath of God were once members of the new covenant. This is one way that the new covenant is not like the Abrahamic covenant.

Those who hear the gospel and reject it face greater condemnation but this does not prove that they EVER knew the Lord covenantally. Matthew 7 teaches us that there are those who never knew the Lord. I agree that the blessing of the new covenant comes through covenant curse on Jesus Christ. But if Christ has kept the covenant for all those in the new covenant, then how can Kline speak of “dual sanctions” for those in the new covenant?

Kline thinks that those who were never elected and those for whom Jesus never died can be initiated into the new covenant. And his pattern for this is not only the Mosaic covenant but the Abrahamic covenant. Not all the children of Abraham are children of Abraham. It was possible to be in that covenant but not be justified like Abraham was.

Not all Israel is Israel, and there is nothing the non-elect can do about it. The non-elect cannot get themselves out of the Abrahamic covenant, no matter how much they might want to, and they can never get themselves into Christ (not that the non-elect ever want to saved by the true Christ.)

Kline agrees that Jeremiah 31 sounds like “discontinuity” with earlier covenants. “Jeremiah speaks, to be sure, only of a consummation of grace; he does not mention a consummation of curses in the new Covenant.” p76. But Kline maintains this is only a matter of focus: the emphasis is on eschatological blessing but curse is not denied

Kline asks: “But the theologian of today ought not to impose on himself the visionary limitations of an Old Testament prophet.”But why should we take this (Marcionite? to turn the tables!) attitude to Jeremiah? Perhaps the prophet really is seeing a new covenant which has no “dual sanctions” because it is altogether conditioned on the obedience of Christ.

Yes, there is excommunication in the New Testament. But what Kline needs to show is that those judgments are exclusions of those who are in the new covenant. Otherwise we simply assume the paradigm with which we begin. I John 2:19 says that those who sent out “were not of us.”

But John 15 says that those who do not abide in the vine are thrown away. Is the right exegesis here that those who began to abide were later broken off from “the covenant”?

As for me, I don’t see how saying that the vine is the covenant fits with Christ saying He is the true vine. Certainly there is such a thing as a false profession and assurance about Christ, but does it really answer any questions to introduce into John 15 a covenant with dual sanctions?

But Kline argues that the new covenant of Jeremiah 31 is ultimately not about now but about after the second coming. Thus he says that we who say that only the elect are now in the new covenant “prematurely precipitate the age to come.” (p77, footnote about Jewett). In other words, Kline does the already/ not yet number, with an emphasis on the not yet. The new covenant is really not yet, he thinks, because now there are those in it who do not know the Lord.

Kline argues from the covenant breaking of Israelites in Romans 11:17-21. If gentiles in the new covenant are grafted into the Abrahamic covenant, then we must not say that the new convent is unconditional because the Abrahamic covenant was not unconditional. Verse 21: “he may not spare you either”.

Of course we have the promise of Romans 8:32 that all those for whom God did not spare His Son will be spared. The condition of this blessing is Christ’s obedience (even to death) . So I think it is possible to warn and threaten folks ( he may not spare you either) without telling them that they have been initiated into the new covenant. I think Kline would agree: not all are in the new covenant, we have to be initiated.

But are there some in the new covenant who will not be spared? What good would it do to warn people in the new covenant about this if it were not possible for them to be broken off? Then again, what good would it do to warn people about any disobedience if they are so reckless as to put all their hope in Christ as the only condition of blessing?

Since I reject the theology of paradox, I seek reconciliation of all the biblical data. I don’t want a reduction which leave out the warnings. But I would argue that the issue in Romans 9 to 11 is not about “covenant keeping” but about continued faith in the righteousness of Christ.

When Romans 9:32 complains that some of the children of Abraham did not seek righteousness by faith, this does not mean that they did not work in the right way. Faith in the righteousness means NOT TO WORK AT ALL. Those who rejected Jesus were perfectly willing to give God credit for their works. They were just not ready to be told by Jesus that their works were not only unprofitable but also ungodly! .

The reason the works of the Israelites who stumbled were evil was not simply a lack of sincerity or moral effort. Their works were evil because they were done without faith in the gospel Abraham believed.

That gospel says that God justifies the ungodly who do not work (Romans 4:5). It was not a situation of being in a covenant but failing to meet certain conditions. The problem was people not believing the promise of the gospel.

Romans 10:3 “for they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. “

This is not a “premature” anticipation of the age to come. ALREADY in Romans 9-11, Paul makes two points:

1. Not every Jew is elect or justified: one could be in the Abrahamic covenant but not justified by God as an individual. So far, with this even the Jew who stumbled could agree. Yes, we are elect because God has made us able to keep the covenant. Thus we teach grace but also conditional covenant.

2. Paul has a second point to make in Romans 9:11, and this is the one many stumble upon. Paul claims that we cannot establish our own righteousness, not even if we give God the credit for our doing.

The claim of Romans 11:32 is finally that “God has committed them all to disobedience, to have mercy on all.”.This is not a claim that every individual will be justified. All for whom Christ kept all conditions will be justified. But this gospel hope is not founded on the obedience of those who will be justified.

There was a law-aspect to the Abrahamic covenant so that we can speak of some Israel being broken off. Some who once got into the Abrahamic covenant will not stay in. Not all Israel is Israel.

But those for whom Christ died will be spared. To tell a person that “you may not be spared either” is to warn her that she may not yet be in the new covenant.