Posted tagged ‘paedobaptism’

The New Covenant is Not Identical with the Abrahamic Covenant

August 17, 2012

The Abrahamic covenant came before the old covenant, and therefore the Abrahamic covenant is NOT the new covenant. Abraham had two sons.

If circumcision was for Abraham a seal of the promise to Abraham thatAbraham would have children and own a lot of land, then we cannot saythat circumcision is ONLY a seal of righteousness that he had by faith. The circumcision is a sign of more than one thing. But

paedobaptists tend to read the Old Testament as if the Arahamic
covenant and the new covenant were the same, and thus reduce the
Abrahamic covenant to being only about the righteousness earned by

In addition, the Romans 4:11 text says that circumcision was a sign to Abraham that he Abraham had the righteousness. The circumcision is a sign that Christ will bring in the righteousness, but not a sign to
anybody else that they have or are promised the righteousness.

Israel is a type fulfilled by Christ, not by a mixed body of justified and non-justified folks we call “the church”. Circumcision is a type of the forensic “cutting off” from legal identity in Adam by means of Christ’s death. Christ’s death is our death, and that death is not water, not regeneration, not “covenant membership” in a conditional (full gospel) probation.

It’s not water that fulfills the type of circumcision, because it’s Christ’s death to the law imputed to the elect which is the ultimate thing signified by circumcision. Christ did not become cleansed or regenerated, but His blood was shed to satisfy justice, and that’s the central truth to which circumcision speaks.

But this does not mean that paedobaptists should ignore the other preliminary things signified by circumcision. We don’t have to agree with Hodge that there were two different Abrahamic covenants to agree that circumcision had more than one significance.

So when Deyoung writes “And if this spiritual sign—a seal of the
righteousness that comes by faith—was administered to Abraham and his
infant sons, then we cannot say that the thing signified must always
be present before the sign is administered.”, we have to say 1. in the case of Abraham, the righteousness signified had already been imputed to Abraham before circumcision. and 2. there is more than one thing signified but Deyoung has ignored that and now only focuses on the righteousness. 3. and even in regard to the righteousness which is signified, there is an ambiguity in which paedobaptists have their
cake and eat it also.

On the one hand, they tell us we can’t know who is justified, and so the sign is not about an infallible knowledge that this infant will be justified. But agreeing with that, why not then give the sign to everybody? But then, on the other hand, the confessions teach that there is a promise to the children of those who are Christians. And here there is more ambiguity, since first we can’t infallibly know which parents are justified, and second, there is no promise to Christians that they will even have children, and third, What exactly is this promise to the children of those who are Christians?

There is no promise that specific children will be justified. So at
most, what you have is some idea that they are “in the covenant” and
thus subject perhaps to “covenant curses”. But again, how are these
infants different from any other infants, since all infants are born
guilty in Adam and all need that righteousness, and none of them is
promised that righteousness, and they can only know they have it if
God gives them faith in the gospel?

To summarize, dispensationalists can’t really see the newness of the
new covenant, because they can’t let go of the idea that the Abrahamic covenant promised land unconditionally to ethnic Israel. And paedobaptists can’t really see the newness of the new covenant,
because they can’t let go of the genealogical principle of Abraham
having a seed which would be fulfilled in Christ.

Despite that fulfillment, paedobaptists still think there is a genealogical principle at work in the new covenant. They think the Abrahamic covenant is no different from the new covenant, and that the new covenant is no different from the Abrahamic covenant. This is why they can’t really read what Colossians 2:11-13 say, so they assume that water baptism is the fulfillment of the sign of circumcision.

God Does Not Deal with Individuals?

July 18, 2011

Many reformed defenses of infant baptism depend in some way on not focusing the redemptive-historical character of covenants. Despite his Meredith Kline (some would say dispensational) model, Stellman also relies on “the covenant” talk, expecially when he claims that worship is the same in the new as the old covenant.

My aim here is not to pit one paedobaptist against another (though that’s fun enough, see the little book from Evangelical Press by TE Watson).That does not get to the crux of the question, which has to do with ordained “ministers” doing something and saying that God is doing and man is not.

“Ancient sacramental” folk spend a lot of time quoting Calvin and Nevin to their pietist congregations. And I will grant them that the Constantinian tradition is on their side: the Godfrey-Horton-Doug Wilson types can find plenty to support them even in Zwingli. But it’s going to take more than accusing others of being Gnostic and quoting the confessions about the office of the “minister” to convince us.

Stellman claims that “God never deals with us as individuals” (p9) I do not agree. I disagree that, when we hear Christ preached, we then hear Christ preaching. (p13) I disagree that we hear an official “minister” absolving our sins, that we hear Christ forgiving our sins.

WHO IS HEARING? Are the non-elect not hearing, because they don’t care about their sins? If so, then it comes back again to the faith of the hearers? Or, instead, are the non-elect hearing “you are forgiven” by the “minister” as telling them that THEIR sins are forgiven?

Is it “pietism” to warn people that the New Testament is written only to “as many as” are individually Christian? It’s ironic that Stellman can make distinctions for Sabbath (no death penalty for this! ) but he won’t divide individual Christian from individual nonChristian for those “taking the sacrament”.

Why go on pretending that everybody listening to the sermon and observing the sacrament is an exile from the world and a Christian? But since he refuses “to speak to the church as if were the world” (even though he baptises the infant world into the church), he needs to think more about about the possibility of water passing on salvation to pagans who are not children, and about the supper being converting for those halfway in.

Or, as he himself asks, Even if there is no faith, is there no blessing? (p 14)

To the extent Stellman uses “the covenant” to argue for sacraments, his distinction between the old and new covenants collapses. When he talks Sabbath, he doesn’t want the death penalty to apply, but when he talks sacraments, he still wants to talk sanctions and curses. (p77) Like his mentor Kline, he warns that God may break you off if you don’t observe the rituals.

Stellman doesn’t want us to talk about “dead” Christians (p80) as if some internal work of the Spirit needed to be done, but rather ask if people are “observant” at the sacraments. Maybe you agree with him.

My point is that not even all paedobaptists agree with him on that.

If you are faking it at the sacrament, then God can kill you. That argument in itself does not prove that it is a sacrament or that God is the agent in water baptism and in the Supper. Those questions have to be answered biblically. By that, I don’t exclude any sense of individuality at conversion. Neither do I exclude use of confessions.