Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Primer on Covenant Theology & Baptism


Immediately after the fall of man God promised that he would inflict a deep seated hatred between the seed of the woman and the seed of the Satan. That promise, which would come to fruition being a promise(!), included the good news that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). Then the Lord of the covenant covered with skins the two who were naked and ashamed (Genesis 3:21).

God later expanded upon his promise with respect to the seed, saying that he would establish his covenant between himself and Abraham; but not only would God establish his covenant promise with Abraham, he would also establish it with Abraham’s seed after him. This promise that was made to Abraham and his seed was that God would be a God to them and that they would occupy the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession (Genesis 17:7, 8). In response to the promise of God, which was one of redemption of a people and land for them to occupy, Abraham pleaded that his son Ishmael might live before God in faithfulness. (Genesis 3:18) God refused Abraham’s request, saying “as for Ishmael, I have heard thee… but my covenant will I establish with Isaac” not Ishmael (Genesis 17: 20, 21).

God’s promise of redemption of the seed would come to fruition; yet it did not apply to all of Abraham’s physical descendents. In fact, it even applied to those who were not of physical descent. Notwithstanding, all those who were of the household of Abraham were to receive the sign and seal of the covenant, as if they themselves were partakers of the promise of God. Even more, those within a professing household who did not receive the sign and seal of the covenant were to be considered outside the people of God and covenant breakers. In other words, infants who did not receive the sign of the covenant due to a parent’s spiritual neglect were to be considered lost and, therefore, under the dominion of Satan (Genesis 17:13, 14). This sign of the covenant was so closely related to the covenant that it was actually called the covenant by the Lord (Genesis 17:10). Consequently, those who had received the sign were to be considered in covenant with God; whereas those who had not received the sign yet qualified to receive it were to be treated as covenant breakers. We might say that the invisible church was to be found within the visible church, "out of which there was no ordinary way of salvation" (Acts 2:47b; WCF 25.2).

When we come to Galatians 3 we learn something quite astounding. The promise was made to a single Seed, who is the Christ; and it is by spiritual union with him, pictured in the outward administration of baptism, that the promise is received by the elect (in Christ). “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ…For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ… And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:16, 26-29) The apostle in no uncertain terms teaches that the covenant promise is established with the God-man - the incarnate Christ, and by covenantal extension with all who would be truly, by the Spirit, buried and raised with him in baptism.

Although God’s covenant was established from the outset with the elect in Christ, it was to be administered to all who professed the true religion along with their households. The theological distinction of the visible and invisible church was well in view, even at the time of Abraham. Although this was the theology of the Covenant, the apostle still had to labor the point to the New Testament saints at Rome. After telling his hearers that nothing could separate God’s people from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39), the apostle had to explain how the people of God who had an interest in the covenant could have fallen away. How, in other words, could the people of God become apostate if the promise of redemption had to come to fruition being a promise from God? With his pedagogical background in place, the apostle explained the timeless Old Testament Covenant Theology, which is that although God established his covenant only with the elect in Christ, it was to be outwardly administered to the non-elect as long as they were of the household of a professing believer and had not demonstrated visible apostasy. Consequently, it is not hard to imagine that they are not all true Israel who are from external Israel (Romans 9:6); and that all the New Testament church is not the true church. “That is, 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” (Romans 9:8).

With respect to the promise of the land of Canaan, it too was a type as were the sacrifices that have passed away. And also, the land was a microcosm (i.e. part-for-whole) of that which would be realized in the consummation of the earthly eschaton. The promise was seen as part-for-whole even by Abraham, who in his own time was looking not for the dirt of Palestine but the streets of gold, “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:10). In fact, all the “heroes of the faith” died without receiving the promises, “but having seen them afar off…confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth… For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God [the very essence of the covenant! “I will be your God...”]: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 11:13-16)

In sum, God’s promise was that he would redeem a people that he would place in his recreation, the church. The church’s final destiny is the consummated New Heavens and New Earth, wherein righteousness dwells. Until God separates the sheep from the goats, the visible church will contain unbelievers and hypocrites. Upon consummation, the visible church and the elect will be one and the same.

From a proper view of the covenant, we can now take a look at the practice of covenant baptism.

As we just saw, under the older economy, although the covenant of promise was established solely with the elect in Christ it was to be administered to the households professing believers. This means that the children of professing believers were to receive the mark of inclusion and, therefore, be counted among the people of God prior to professing faith in what the sign and seal of the covenant contemplated. Covenant children, even if they were not elect, were to be treated as the elect of God and heirs according to the promise based upon corporate solidarity with a professing parent.

When we come to the New Testament nothing has changed with respect to the heirs of the promise. The promise remains established with the elect in Christ, as it always was. The question Baptists ask is whether the children of professing believers have somehow lost the privilege of receiving the sign of entrance into the New Testament church. They say YES, which places a burden of proof upon them to demonstrate such a conclusion by good and necessary inference if not explicit instruction.

Quick Review

By way of review, God's promise to save Abraham and his "seed" was without any preconditions (Genesis 17:7) that had to be met by those prior to God establishing his promise with the elect. Abraham responded to God's promise of salvation in faith, which was first issued in Genesis 12, whereby he was justified (Genesis 15:6). Although God promised Abraham and his elect son Isaac salvation, God rejected Ishmael (Genesis 17:18-21). Nonetheless, Ishmael was to receive the outward sign of the covenant-promise, which was circumcision (Genesis 17:10ff). Accordingly, God's precept was that his covenant sign be administered to the household of Abraham, even though God established his covenant solely with the elect in Christ. The apostle Paul reminds us in Romans nine that the promise of salvation was not intended for every single person to whom the outward administration of the covenant was to be administered. In fact, the apostle explicitly tells us that the children of the "promise" are counted as Abraham's seed, and not the children of the flesh (Romans 9:8). Accordingly, all those who would believe the promise are the true children of Abraham (Romans 9: 8; Galatians 3:9). Most importantly, the "seed" to whom the promise was made was actually Christ alone (Galatians 3:16). It is through union with Christ, the single Seed of Abraham, that we become seeds of Abraham. As Galatians 3:29 states, "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, and heirs according to the promise."

Some misguided arrows, continuity and discontinuity

With respect to national implication as it pertains to circumcision, we must keep in mind that Abraham was not Jewish. Indeed, Israel according the flesh eventually came from Abraham's loins, but the promise was that Abraham would be the father of many nations. Israel did not even become a nation until 430 years after God called Abraham according to the promise (Galatians 3:17). Consequently, contrary to what so many evangelicals think, the sign of circumcision primarily had spiritual significance as opposed to national or ethnic significance. As Romans 4:11 states, "[Abraham] received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith..." The verse does not state that Abraham received the sign of circumcision, a seal of his ethnic origin. God always had an elect people, which he so happen to form into a nation about 2400 years into redemptive history. Nonetheless, the promise both precedes and transcends the nation and could, therefore, not be abrogated upon the apostasy of the nation. God has now taken the kingdom away from the nation of Israel and has started his final building project, the church. The church is the international people of God, a "nation" bearing the fruit of the covenant. Consequently, when one is converted to Christ he need not become part of the nation of Israel; for Christ has sent his followers into the world to make disciples of all nations.

God commanded 4,000 years ago that the sign of the covenant be placed upon the males within the household of professing believers. Although the sign of entrance into the people of God has changed from circumcision to baptism, God never rescinded his covenant principle concerning the subjects who were to receive the sign and seal of the covenant promise. In the same way that all Israel was not Israel, all the church is not the church. Nonetheless, we are by precept to place the sign of covenant membership in the church upon those who qualify, per the instruction of God – which was never rescinded or abrogated.

The disagreement and the error of both groups, Baptists and Paedobaptists

Here's the problem that many paedobaptists run into when dealing with Baptists, especially Reformed Baptists. Reformed Baptists argue that the Old Covenant was established with the elect and reprobates in professing households since many who were to receive the sign of the covenant fell away. Then they rightly show that the New Covenant is established only with the elect. Accordingly, they reason: if the covenant has changed from including non-believers to including only true believers, then baptism should be reserved only for professing believers in order to ensure (as best as possible) that the visible church resemble the true regenerate church of the New Testament. The paedobaptist gets tripped up by that argument when he tries to argue that both the New and the Old Covenants are established with both the elect and non-elect within professing households, which Randy Booth tries to do in his book "Children of the Promise." Such paedobaptists are certainly correct with respect to the continuity from Old to New but they cannot argue effectively that the New Covenant is established with certain unbelievers because Scripture doesn't support it. Consequently, the Baptist argument often goes like this: "Hey Mr. Paedobaptist, you and I agree that the Old Covenant was made with the visible people of God, which includes believers and unbelievers (since many Israelites fell away from the true religion); therefore, we can agree that circumcision was to be administered to all males, elect or not, within a professing household. However, since the New Covenant is clearly made with the elect in Christ who will persevere in the faith (unlike unfaithful Israel), then it is reasonable to maintain that the covenant has changed with respect to inclusiveness. Therefore, the sign of the covenant should be reserved for those the elders are persuaded are actually believers." In other words, the Baptist argues that since the people of God fell away under the older economy, then the Old Covenant promise must have been made with at least some reprobates; yet the elect of God will not fall away in the New Covenant, therefore, the New Covenant promise must be made with the elect alone. There is a flaw in reasoning that must be considered. The Baptist is contrasting the Old Testament visible church with the New Testament invisible church. By using a faulty comparison, the Baptist is trying to prove whom the Old Covenant was established with by showing who were to receive the sign (elect and reprobate); then he argues for the proper recipients for New Testament baptism on the basis of God establishing his NT covenant with the elect alone. By changing their criteria in this way, they arrive at logically unsubstantiated conclusion. In other words, our Baptist brethren establish with whom the covenant was established under the older economy by looking at who was to receive the sign; then they try to establish who is to receive the sign under the new economy by looking at with whom the New Covenant was made! That's simply fallacious.
The one, single covenant of promise was established with the incarnate Christ and all who were elected in Him; yet this covenant, although established with the elect in Christ, was to be administered even to the reprobate who qualifies, by precept, even by birth.

Now, for those who like formal proofs:
The Best Baptist Argument Out There:

1. In the older economy the covenant was established with professing believers and their households (whether elect or not)

2. It should be ensured as best as possible to place the mark of the covenant upon those with whom the covenant is established

3. Therefore, the mark of circumcision was to be placed upon professing believers and their households (whether they would ever believe or not)

4. The new covenant is established only with those who possess saving faith

5. Given (2 and 4), we should therefore wait until someone makes a profession of faith before admitting them to baptism

The Baptist argument has many problems:

1 is False: The old covenant was established only with the elect.

2 is True: The question is who qualifies?

3 is True: The conclusion is true but it is logically unsound because premise 1 is false. The reason the mark of the covenant was to be placed upon the households of professing believers is not because the covenant was established with them but because due to the head of household’s professed faith it was to be administered to them by biblical precept.

4 is False: Both covenants are established with the elect and the sign is to be administered to those who profess faith, along with their households

5 is False: The falseness of 4 is sufficient to make 5 false.


A Sound Paedobaptist Argument:

1. An Old Covenant precept was that whenever possible the sign of entrance into the covenant was to be placed upon all who were to be regarded as God’s people

2. Children of professing believers were to be regarded as God’s people under the Old Covenant

3. Children of professing believers whenever possible were to receive the sign of entrance into the Old Covenant by way of precept (1, 2)

4. God’s precepts may not be abrogated without explicit instruction or good and necessary inference

5. God never abrogated the Old Testament precept regarding who was to receive the sign of entrance into the Old covenant

6. The sign of entrance into the New Covenant is water baptism

7. God’s precept is that children of professing believers receive the sign of entrance into the New Covenant (3, 4 and 5)

8. God’s precept is that children of professing believers receive water baptism (6, 7)

A Reformed Baptist use of Jeremiah 31

Baptists, of course, will disagree with point 5. They will say that the abrogation of the principle in view is implicit in Jeremiah 31:34: "...they will all know me....”, which they say means that the New Covenant is made only with believers who know the Lord. Accordingly, they reason that we should ensure as best as possible to administer the New Covenant only to those who profess faith in Christ, which infants cannot do. The problem they run into with this line of reasoning is that the verse does not teach that the covenant is only made with those who posses belief! The promise of Jeremiah 31 is a promise of greater fidelity (verse 32), greater empowerment (verse 34), and a greater depth of knowledge (verse 34). It does not address the qualification for covenant entrance. (I’ll address “depth of knowledge” later). Verse 34 does not speak to the question of with whom the covenant will be established. It merely teaches that those with whom the covenant will be established will indeed “know the Lord.” Before considering what it means in that context to “know the Lord” we must first appreciate that verse does not teach us that the covenant will be made only with true believers after they believe. At the very least, if Baptists were correct, then the knowledge of the Lord would not be a blessing of the covenant but rather something that first must be obtained in order to enter into the covenant! Moreover, the verse cannot possibly exclude infants from covenant entrance who will grow up to “know the Lord” because the verse does not imply a change in qualifications for covenant entrance, but rather it speaks to the increase of blessings that will be received by those with whom God establishes the New Covenant. The verse is not speaking of a new qualification for entering into the covenant; rather it is speaking about something different that will occur under the newer economy as compared to the older economy for those who will be in covenant.

The glory of the New Covenant

Since the Old Covenant was established with the elect alone, we may safely say that a saving knowledge was granted to all with whom God established the Old Covenant, barring no early deaths that would preclude saving knowledge. Consequently, the verse must be speaking to the quality and depth of that saving knowledge under the newer economy as opposed to the mere possession of it, which all those with whom God established the Old Covenant would have received. Not surprisingly, that is what we see in the New Covenant. Under the New Covenant with the establishment of the priesthood of all believers, through the revelation of Christ, the completed Canon and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit – we all “know the Lord”(!) in a manner vastly different than that under the old economy. In summary, Jeremiah 31 may not be used to defend a more stringent entrance examination for covenant privileges simply because it does not imply anything more than increase of blessings. Thankfully the glory of the New Covenant is not to be found in the exclusion of infants!

Ron


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53 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good primer, thanks.

Jimmy li said...

Good to see you posting again

Dennis Maranto said...

Good post Ron. looking forward to the next one.

J.B. Aitken said...

Hi Ron,
This was helpful, but still I have to think on it. For a while I took Randy Booth's view of the covenant. I am rethinking that. Your post was enlightening.

On another note, do you hold that the Sinaitic covenant was a republication of the Covenant of Works?

J.B. Aitken said...

Thanks, Ron. I still need to reflect on this but I definitely see where you are going.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

At a Van Til conference (a few years ago) I discussed with Randy his view of the covenant. Although I think his book is very good, I believe he makes the mistake of calling the promise of the covenant conditional, suggesting that it is made with the reprobate and the elect. There are indeed conditions that must be met in order for the elect to receive the blessings that the covenant contemplates; yet that does not imply that the covenant is established with the reprobate.

As for Moses - NO - certainly not! I see Sinai as a means of appropriating the blessings of the one covenant of grace.

Hurry up and finish your thinking on the last one, for another one is coming! :)

rgmann said...

Although I think his book is very good, I believe he makes the mistake of calling the promise of the covenant conditional, suggesting that it is made with the reprobate and the elect.

This “mistake” seems quite widespread in Reformed circles today. In my experience most Reformed Christians subscribe to this erroneous “conditional” view of the Covenant of Grace -- that it is made with professing believers and their children (elect and reprobate alike). It was great to read your clear, concise, and correct explanation of the Covenant of Grace and paedobaptism!

As for Moses - NO - certainly not! I see Sinai as a means of appropriating the blessings of the one covenant of grace.

I believe there’s a sense in which it is correct to describe the Sinaitic covenant as a “republication of the Covenant of Works” without denying the underlying Covenant of Grace (Gal. 3:17; cf. 4:21-31; 2 Cor. 3:4-18). As Robert Shaw points out in his exposition of the WCF:

It may be remarked, that the law of the ten commandments was promulgated to Israel from Sinai in the form of a covenant of works. Not that it was the design of God to renew a covenant of works with Israel, or to put them upon seeking life by their own obedience to the law; but the law was published to them as a covenant of works, to show them that without a perfect righteousness, answering to all the demands of the law, they could not be justified before God; and that, finding themselves wholly destitute of that righteousness, they might be excited to take hold of the covenant of grace, in which a perfect righteousness for their justification is graciously provided. The Sinai transaction was a mixed dispensation. In it the covenant of grace was published, as appears from these words in the preface standing before the commandments: "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage;" and from the promulgation of the ceremonial law at the same time. But the moral law, as a covenant of works, was also displayed, to convince the Israelites of their sinfulness and misery, to teach them the necessity of an atonement, and lead them to embrace by faith the blessed Mediator, the Seed promised to Abraham, in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed. The law, therefore, was published at Sinai as a covenant of works, in subservience to the covenant of grace. And the law is still published in subservience to the gospel, as "a schoolmaster to bring sinners to Christ, that they may be justified by faith."—Gal. iii. 24. (An Exposition Of The Westminster Confession Of Faith, 19.2)

Thus, I believe the best description is that the Sinai covenant “was a mixed dispensation,” to use the words of Robert Shaw.

Roger

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Hi Roger,

Thanks for your thoughts. Though I don't know that I find a basis for Shaw's construct, I do agree that many in the Reformed tradition unhappily don't grasp that the promise of the covenant is made only to the elect in Christ. Thanks for sharing your agreement!

Ron

rgmann said...

Lee Irons has written an article that delves into the historic background of this construct within covenant theology, if you’re interested in looking into it a little more.

Works in the Mosaic Covenant: A Survey of Major Covenant Theologians

Take care,
Roger

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

I cannot think of anyone that I'd be less inclined to read.

Ron

Puritan Lad said...

Excellent examination of Baptist theology. Let me ask you this, as it come up in a discussion with another Baptist. I'm sure that you are familiar with the argument that, since Baptism replaced circumcision, and thus should be applied to Covenant children, then what about Communion? Why do we not allow children to take Communion, since they took the Passover under the Old Covenant?

I'd be interested in your take on that, if you have the time.

Blessings,

PL

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Hi Brother,

Let's go w/ three points only.

1. If there was an inconsistency in not serving infants communion, it cannot be used as an argument against infant baptism. We'd simply be inconsistent on communion and not baptism. :)

2. There is a difference in precedence between infant baptism and infant communion. The former is built upon the OT precedence that infants of professing believers are to receive the mark of inclusion into the people of God. It is not suggested under the older economy that infants should participate in a covenant meal of communion with God. In fact, as Stuart Jones points out in this month's New Horizons (OPC publication) "The essential unity of the covenant of grace traced back to Genesis 3 and fulfilled in Christ means we need to view the Passover as part of the larger covenantal process rather than something unique that we assign too much weight to when understanding the Lord’s Supper. When we examine the Book of Hebrews, Christ’s death is viewed primarily in terms of the New Covenant. A fleeting reference to Passover is found in Heb 11:28 where it assumes an incidental place among the faith-events in the registry of Old Testament faith saints. Though the Lord’s Supper is inaugurated at the Passover, the true linkage between these feasts is Christ’s cross and its covenantally defined atonement.

The importance of recognizing the Lord’s Supper as a covenant renewing seal is that it provides a serious basis for withholding the sacrament from undiscerning children apart from the grave warning in 1 Corinthians 11. In Nehemiah 10:28 'knowledge and understanding' are prerequisite to entering the curse and oath that was part of the covenant renewal exercise of Nehemiah’s day. This factor parallels Paul’s call to discernment in 1 Corinthians 11. While Paul’s purpose in warning the Corinthians is not directed toward children, the foundation of his warning has implications for undiscerning participants be they children or adult. In the covenant meal, we are to contemplate the greatest covenant curse ever experienced—Christ’s atoning death."


The point being, we have a precedence to baptize infants whereas the precedence for covenant renewal is absent in the older economy and the NT nowhere overturns this OT principle.

3. The reality that the sign and seal of circumcision signifies need not be tied to the moment of the administration of the sacrament, whereas the practice of communion IS communion. Communion, in other words, is not merely a sign and seal that is to be considered later but rather it IS communion at the moment of partaking. Accordingly, whereas one can be passive when receiving the sign of entrance into the visible, covenant people of God such is not analogous to the practice of paedocommunion. The mind must be engaged in communion.

Blessings,

Ron

Puritan Lad said...

Thanks.

BTW: There is a discussion of this at http://www.sfpulpit.com/, if interested. I seem to be the only oikobaptist there.

David Weiner said...

Ron,

I have been following your discussion over on Greenbaggins and have now become a reader of your blog. (Just what I need, another blog to read!). Clearly God has blessed you with salvation and a keen intellect and I am greedily taking in as much as I can of your writings.

In the spirit of full disclosure (I do dislike labels; but . . .) I would classify myself as a dispensationalist and have been trying to understand covenant theology. (Please understand, that I am not questioning the idea that God has made covenants.) I see the following sentence near the beginning of the post "In response to the promise of God, which was one of redemption of a people and land for them to occupy, . . "

It seems to me that this might be the beginning of the divergence of the two positions? REDEMPTION is not what I see in the promise; BLESSING is what I see. These people will bring forth the Christ (now that is a blessing all by itself!); but to say that any of them will be 'saved' does not seem to be in the text. Certainly, circumcision never 'saved' anybody. Does covenant theology read in too much; or am I just missing the connection? I really would appreciate your help in understanding this fundamental issue. Regardless, I will keep reading and enjoying your blog. Keep up the good work!

In His service,
David

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Hi David,

Welcome to the blog!

REDEMPTION is not what I see in the promise; BLESSING is what I see.

Doesn’t the blessing include redemption? What was the promise in the garden, but that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head - a clear reference to the work of the cross – amen? The seed that is reference there is also referenced to Abraham and then again in Galatians 3.

These people will bring forth the Christ (now that is a blessing all by itself!); but to say that any of them will be 'saved' does not seem to be in the text.

Take another look at Galatians 3 – where it says that the single Seed with whom the covenant is established is Christ, and by extension those who are in union with him are counted as the seed and heirs according to the promise. This union with Christ is salvation.

Moreover, don’t let anyone trick you into believing that Romans nine is referring to the line that would produce the Savior. It is clearly speaking about God’s sovereign choice to save the children of the promise and not the children of the flesh. Isaac was counted as the seed but not Ishmael, and although the Savior came through the line of Isaac and not his brother, the promise was that of blessing that included salvation and the promise was made to Christ and in him w/ the elect.

Certainly, circumcision never 'saved' anybody.

Correct, but it did mark off the people of God. What that means is that those who bear the mark of the covenant are to be regarded as saved.

Blessings,

Ron

David Weiner said...

Hi Ron,

Sorry to see the Greenbaggins discussion end that way, it was really enlightening and I am sure there was more to be gained by all of us lurkers had it continued. Alas. . . .

"Doesn’t the blessing include redemption?

I'm fairly sure we agree on what the promise in the garden was. Now we come to the promise to Abraham. To be sure the Christ is 'involved' in both of these promises. The part I haven't yet been able to get my mind around is the equating of these two promises as if they are the same promise. Related yes; congruent, no. Can you help me see why they are one and the same?

Take another look at Galatians 3

No question that God (the Father) established a covenant with God (the Son) regarding the elect. What I don't see is that that covenant was congruent with the covenant God made with Abraham. Part of the covenant with Abraham was that the Christ would come from his offspring. Galatians even says that Abraham had the gospel preached to him; but still that does not mean that the two covenants are the same covenant, does it?

Correct me if I am wrong but it seems that the interpretation of Galatians 3:14, 16 is where covenant theology finds much support. I would like to tell you what I see and then would very much appreciate your take. First, do we agree that the context for these verses in the preceding 13 verses is that salvation is by faith in God (not by works) and that it has always been that way. Abraham is pointed to as the first and father of all those who would be declared righteous because they 'exercised' a saving faith. Certainly, Abraham being called a father is analogical talk. I am trying to be brief; but does this capture the main point of the first part of the chapter?

Galatians 3:14 - The phrase 'the blessing of Abraham' would seem to be a potential sticking point in this verse? The problem is that this is talking about ONE blessing when in fact he was promised several blessings. Anyway, I take the blessing talked about here to be the declaration of righteousness through faith in God since this blessing is the one that would come to the gentiles through faith as it came to Abraham.

Galatians 3:16 - My guess is that the words, the promises, are where disagreement enters. What are the referents of the promises? Again, based on the context of Galatians 3, I say salvation by faith through the Christ coming from Abraham's one unique offspring. Nothing about the physical blessings that Abraham would receive or the land or the multitude of physical offspring were promises to the Christ. But, as far as I can tell, covenant theology sees all of these as having been part of the promises in this verse and now given to Christ and the church in Him. In your opinion have I identified where the divergence arises? If so, can you provide any support for the one-for-all view regarding the promises?

Moreover, don’t let anyone trick you into believing that Romans nine is referring to the line that would produce the Savior.

Romans 9 seems to be talking about a few different groups of people, so I don't know what to make of your comment. Those in verse 5 would seem to be the physical group from whom the Christ came. Yet no mention is made there of their situation regarding eternal life.

The group in verse 9:8 seems to be the physical people descended from Abraham who are called the 'ones of promise' since they proceed from Isaac and Jacob. Nothing said there about their situation vis-a-vis eternal life, either.

The group in verse 9:24 is us (you and me and all the rest who are to spend eternity with our Lord). My guess is that you came from the gentile part of humanity and I came from the line of Abraham. But, we are now one body according to God's sovereign choice. Alas, Abraham, although 'saved' was never identified in Scripture as being 'in Christ' or in the body of Christ. However, I do look forward to talking to him when we all are called to be with the Lord.

So, right, those belonging to the nation of Israel according to the flesh are not all of Israel, if one means the remnant of the nation of Israel who were placed into the body of Christ. God has sovereignly chosen who is in these various groups. Salvation is not a discriminant of the first two groups; but it is of the last. And, via the 'remnant of Israel' there is some overlap. Do you see me as having been tricked?

Correct, but it did mark off the people of God. What that means is that those who bear the mark of the covenant are to be regarded as saved.

Sorry, I am not following. We start by agreeing that circumcision never saved anybody and then you seem to say that we are to consider those who bear the mark as if they were saved? In the case of Abraham didn't it just mean that they were in the line, and also household, of Abraham? And, as such were also recipients of some of the blessings that were promised to Abraham. Salvation not being one of these promises except in the case that an individual in that line may have possessed the faith to believe God.

In Him,

David

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

David,

You're baptistic (dispesnationalist) tendencies run very deep. That's obvious from what you've written. Accordingly, I'd be more inclined to talk with you on the phone; it would be much more efficient for me to do so. Would you be up for that? I'm an elder in the OPC and not some nut. :-)

As for the GB site, I'm thinking of blogging on the matter. It's one thing to be utterly confused and say things like "Adam coudn't thwart God's plan... but Adam could have chosen contrary to how he chose." It's much worse that when the one saying such things is a minister and to add insult to injury would accuse me of denying the Confession because I consistently note that if one cannot act contrary to God's decree then one cannot act contrary to the choice God decrees.

Let me know if you'd like to talk.

Ron

David Weiner said...

Hi Ron,

First, I am glad you cleared up that part about you not being a nut.

Your offer is gracious indeed. Obviously, talking and typing each have their strengths and weaknesses. I believe I do better with the typing mode since it gives me time to think before I speak. It helps me to be more gracious and to keep my feet out of my mouth! However, I don't see how I can turn down such an opportunity. I've run into a number of people through these blog discussions who say they were baptisitic but now are reformed and very comfortable with the 'truth.' Reading/Study has not helped me to grasp the degree of continuity that reformed theology sees as truth.

Rather than play telephone tag, here is my email. We can use that medium to set a time that would be convenient for both of us to talk. Please let me know what your preferences are. cdweiner at comcast dot net is my email.

In Him,

David

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Expect an email from me.

Ron

David Weiner said...

Hi Ron,

In parallel with thinking about all that you brought up on our call the other day, I decided to interact specifically with your 8 step proof of paedobaptism that you outline here. Alas, I ran into trouble in the first premise!

You start in item 1 with "An old covenant precept . . ." Is the Abrahamic Covenant, the Old Covenant to which you are referring? If it isn't then I am really lost. If it is then I am just confused. Until I hear otherwise, I'll assume you mean the Abrahamic Covenant.

My confusion comes from my not being able to find any place where God says that circumcision, the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant, was "the sign of entrance into the covenant?"

You go on with the phrase "whenever possible." All I see is God says 'do it.' There is no indication that there were mitigating circumstances where it would be OK to not do it. Can you clarify the import of this phrase?

Finally, you indicate that this sign was to be put on all who were to be regarded as God's people. I really would like to understand your definition of God's people? I could guess; but, I think it would be much simpler if you would just share your definition with me.

I hope you don't think that I am being picky; but, in trying to interact with covenant theology, I find that a shared understanding of the 'real' meaning of the words is very important.

In Him,
David

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

David, your words will be in italics and quotes.

My confusion comes from my not being able to find any place where God says that circumcision, the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant, was "the sign of entrance into the covenant?"

God says, “This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised." Accordingly, God equates the covenant with circumcision; the two are inexorably tied in other words. Yet God also stated in Genesis seventeen that he would not establish his covenant with Ishmael but he would with Isaac. Accordingly, all of the circumcised were to be regarded as being in the covenant yet the covenant was only established with the elect in Christ (i.e., the Isaac’s if you will).

You go on with the phrase "whenever possible." All I see is God says 'do it.' There is no indication that there were mitigating circumstances where it would be OK to not do it. Can you clarify the import of this phrase?

If a male had nothing to circumcise due to a birth defect or an accident, then it would not be possible to circumcise him. As well, women in households of professing believers or women who came to faith from outside the twelve tribes could not have been circumcised.

Finally, you indicate that this sign was to be put on all who were to be regarded as God's people. I really would like to understand your definition of God's people? I could guess; but, I think it would be much simpler if you would just share your definition with me.

The sign was to be put on all those that the people and prophets were to regard as God’s elect people. Again, the covenant included a promise of salvation. The covenant was made only with the elect, yet all who qualified to receive the mark of the covenant were to be regarded as God’s elect people (until they should demonstrate otherwise). Accordingly, all Israel was not Israel, and all the children of Abraham were not the true children of Abraham.

Ron

Anonymous said...

Hi Ron,

I'm still working my way through the Baptism issue.

Recently I heard a sermon by Greg Bahnsen where he moves from 1 Corinthians 7:10-17 to build a case for paedobaptism.

Near the end of his sermon (argument) he states (note: this is an audio lecture which I transcribed, so the wording may sound awkward): "the word clean is often used in the New Testament for those who are set apart to God, those who are members of his household, those who are no longer common, part of the world, those who are not outsiders but rather insiders to God. Ephesians 5:26, what has Christ done for the sake of the Church? Verse 25, he loved the church and gave himself up for it why? Verse 26, "that he might sanctify it," making it holy, set it apart, "having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word." Cleansing and sanctification go hand and hand again, here in this text. What's of interest to us as we approach the end of our service is that Paul says that this cleansing is marked out by the washing that takes place in baptism. What is the symbol of being clean or cleansed, set apart from the world, and made holy? Well, very simply, it is baptism. The outward symbol of that inward setting apart is precisely the ritual of baptism. In Hebrews 10:22 a similar reference is made to being clean through baptism: "Let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience: and having our body washed with pure (that's the word in Greek for clean) water." What is the symbol of cleansing? Well, in the New Testament church it's baptism. If we had time we could look at John the third chapter--you might study it this afternoon yourselves--verses 22-26: a dispute arose between the followers of Jesus and the disciples of John over purifying, over cleansing, and if you look at the text it was a dispute over the baptisms that were being performed. In Luke 11:38, 39 cleansing is called a baptism in the New Testament. In Acts 22:16 baptism is taken as a symbol of washing away of sins. Now many of you already knew this but I wonder if you connected it then with the language of 1 Corinthians 7:14. The symbol of cleansing in the New Testament is baptism, the washing of the body with water. Now that doesn't save a person automatically but it is a declaration fo the way of salvation and how God takes care of our impurity in his sight: through the blood of his son, Jesus Christ. Baptism is the way in which we symbolize cleansing and what does Paul tell us about our children in 1 Corinthians 7? They are cleansed, they are clean."

I have listened to several arguments and debates by paedobaptists and so far I have never heard anyone try to build their case or even mention 1 Cor. 7:14. Is Bahnsen way off here?

Should we also baptize the unbelieving spouse since they too are set apart and cleansed?

Thanks.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Bahnsen was not far off at all but I don't think he'd base his entire polemic on the passage. One hopes to preach another day! :)

Yes to your question. I believe the household, of which the spouse is a member, should be baptized - but not by force.

Ron

Anonymous said...

Hi Ron,

I've spent a lot of time studying baptism and I have to admit that right now I would probably call myself a tentative paedobaptists. I'm still doing some studying and praying.

I was wondering if you could say a word or two about Piper's response to the paedo understanding of Romans 4?

http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/1999/1088_How_Do_Circumcision_and_Baptism_Correspond/

(If the link doesn't work you can find it at his website with the search "How Do Circumcision and Baptism Correspond")

If you can, thanks.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Piper says: "What's relevant in this text for our purpose is that there were two "Israels": a physical Israel and a spiritual Israel. Verse 6b:"They are not all Israel [i.e., true spiritual Israel] who are descended from Israel [i.e., physical, religious Israel]." Yet God ordained that the whole, larger, physical, religious, national people of Israel be known as his covenant people and receive the sign of the covenant and the outward blessings of the covenant—such as the promised land (Genesis 17:8).

The covenant people in the Old Testament were mixed. They were all physical Israelites who were circumcised, but within that national-ethnic group there was a remnant of the true Israel, the true children of God (verse 8). This is the way God designed it to be: he bound himself by covenant to an ethnic people and their descendants; he gave them all the sign of the covenant, circumcision, but he worked within that ethnic group to call out a true people for himself.
"

Hello,

Piper's analogy is incorrect, which is why his conclusion is fallacious. It might be a good exercise if you try to find where I address his fallacy in my post. Let me know what you find and we can go from there, if that's o.k.

Blessings,

Ron

Boms said...

Thank you for such an intricately thought-out rationalisation of paedo-baptism. Someone should've shown this post to Joseph and Mary so they could've had Jesus baptised much earlier than when he actually did.

Grace and Peace from a Sovereign Grace Baptist brother in Christ!

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Christian baptism hadn't been instituted when Jesus was a baby. Accordingly, your point fails.

Ron

danielj said...

For the Baptist, as long as one was baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit the baptism is regarded as "efficacious" and there is never a need for another baptism. That is, if one is baptized and then walks away from the faith and demonstrates open rebellion then repents, the baptist grants no necessity for another baptism.

If one who was demonstrably a non-Christian is capable of having a fitting baptism why would the baptizing of a covenant child present an offense?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Daniel,

I'm not sure I'm following anything you wrote, though I'm probably missing something. Baptism should never be repeated but given baptist theology re-baptisms are always in order since any crisis of faith would require another baptism since all baptisms are to follow true faith, so they say.

BR,

Ron

Resby said...

Hey Mr. Giacomo, I recently started reading your work on TAG and Covenant Theology and it has been very helpful.

With that aside I would like to ask a question. Objections have been brought up recently by friends of mine in the Reformed baptist camp about Scripture's identification of "Covenant breakers".

Well my question is, if the Covenant promises are made to the elect, does it follow that the unregenerate cannot be in the covenant as well? If so, why does the Old Testament Scripture use "Covenant Breakers'? Is it just to identify the same thing as John Identifies in 1 John 2:19? and the author of Hebrews identifies throughout the book?

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Covenant breaker is a term for one who no longer lives his life in accordance with the requirements of the covenant. The term and the theology behind it can be reconciled with the paedobaptist postion. The unconverted who receive the outward administration of the covenant are to be regarded as God's covenant children until such time they prove otherwise.

Regarding Hebrews there are many warnings given in the book yet the warnings in Scripture end with statements such as "we're persuaded of better things of you - the things that accompany eternal life..." In other words, even though the authors of Scripture realize that non-elect persons are on the "roles" so to speak, Scripture regards them as united to Christ - hence, we're persauded of better things of you. Some might argue that Scripture is only written to the elect, but I would say that Scripture is written to the visible church which is treated as the elect. The reason I opt for the latter is that it is possible that the severe instructions written to the churches did not pertain to the elect because it is possible that those who were walking disorderly may have all been unconverted and not elect. In other words, the apostles and prophets had to regard the visible church as the elect because the only thing they knew was who was in the visible church. They did not know who was converted.

Thoughts?

Ron

Don P said...

New covenant and old are often confused with Cov of Works and Cov of Redemption. This 1st has to be corrected. Old covenant is the OT administration of the Cov of Grace which is why the 10 Commands were not a republication of the Adamic cov. And the new covenant is just a better admiistration of the covenant of grace after the reality of Christ has come. Scripture is clearly written to the visible covenant people, and they are addressed as if they are all saved. Proof, God says, leave the tares in with the wheat because you can't tell them apart always and the angels will separate at the end. Therefore the instruction is if one walks like a believer they are regarded as a believer. Other warnings and admonitions would be unnecessary of the books were only intended to be read by the elect. If one is tempted to think it was I hope they can see how seriously blinded they have become.

Not only was the new covenant to be know the Lord, but also it was said, the law will be written on their heart.
So do you believe the law has been written on every person's heart in your church?
Of course not. So again this speaks only of the invisible covenant with the elect and how much stronger and better benefits the new covenant will offer. But it has nothing to do with who is included in the visible church or how to gain acceptance.
Acceptance is by a simple profession of faith as the Eunuch had and baptism is administered to such.
So when a Baptisticaly conditioned mind looks at scripture, wanting to be right, they mix the statements about the invisible covenant, the elect, with the visible church, wheat and tares.
When you compare apples with apples you come out there was no outcry of the mothers as to how this new covenant could be better if the children were no longer included and there was no statement it had changed and there was no argument explaining why children were no longer included.

Ron you said:
The sign was to be put on all those that the people and prophets were to regard as God’s elect people. Again, the covenant included a promise of salvation. The covenant was made only with the elect, yet all who qualified to receive the mark of the covenant were to be regarded as God’s elect people (until they should demonstrate otherwise).

I hope by this extreme language you do not believe in presumptive regeneration.
More clearly it might be good to say, were made partakers of the benefits of the covenant people and treated as any member.

We do not treat people like elect anyway. We have nothing to do with who is elect. All our judgments are made based on visible outward conformity. So the children are treated as members, but we know they may not be yet converted so we pray for them and have great hope in the general promises, but God may not save all of them. we do not presume they are elect.

Otherwise great article, keep putting this out, precise clear teaching on this is far to scarce and it is far too important especially with the heresy of dispensationalism weakening man's view of God, His plan of Redemption and so much more of the word

Reformed Apologist said...

We do not treat people like elect anyway.

Don,

Not only do we treat people as elect, we treat them as converted too. For instance, when Paul praised the saints in Ephesus for their faith he was granting the members of the churches (plural) in Ephesus (circular letter) the status of being elected in Christ and united to Him by the Spirit. He was regarding them according to their baptism without any conditional reservation. When he addressed the children in chapter six, they were regarded as being among those who were seated in heavenly places in Christ (chapter 1).

Anonymous said...

Can you cite a single example where the New Testament Church ever baptized an infant? An argument from silence is not very convincing. You are equating baptism as a sign of the New Covenant with circumcision as a sign of the Old Covenant. There is no clear teaching of that in the New Testament.

Reformed Apologist said...

Both sides argue from silence. Baptists say that the NT is silent about commanding children to be baptized. Paedobaptists argue that the NT is silent on forbidding the practice. So, at the very least you may not use “silence” as a criteria. Not all arguments from silence are fallacious. A fallacy occurs when one argues from silence given the burden of proof to bring forth positive evidence. For instance, it would be fallacious to argue that the apostle Paul was an adulterer based upon the NT being silent on saying he wasn’t an adulterer. Yet it would not be fallacious to argue that he wasn’t an adulterer based upon the silence in the NT with respect to calling him an adulterer. The reason one is a fallacy and the other isn't is based upon burden of proof. What precedent is there to think the apostle was an adulterer? Is there any precedent to think he wasn't?

Now then, children were always considered part of God’s people and whenever possible were to receive the mark of inclusion. Accordingly, the burden of proof based upon precedent points to the Baptist who wants to argue a change in precedent has occurred based upon silence with respect to repeating the precedent.

Moreover, the NT, which spans about forty years, is silent with respect to a covenant child coming to faith and then receiving baptism. In other words, we don't see the baptistic model anywhere in the NT. To baptize adults on a mission field is not peculiar to baptistic thought. It's consistent with Reformed thought though.

Finally, regarding "no clear teaching" in the NT for infant baptism, well is there clear teaching that bestiality is a sin in the NT, or do we presuppose continuity from the OT unless abrogated?

Anonymous said...

Hey Ron,

I've enjoyed many of the topics covered and have been edified by the interaction in the comments area of those topics. I was wondering, in light of this topic, if you'd ever read Greg Nichols book, "Covenant Theology; A Reformed and Baptistic Perspective on God's Covenants"? I think you would find that he doesn't appeal to the arguments you stated for his position. It's by far the most compelling approach to the subject I've read yet and I was on the fence for a while about it.

Reformed Apologist said...

Haven't read Nichols. If he doesn't appeal to Jer. 31 then his arguments are probably of the weakest variety, which I don't address here. Secondly, I'm quite sure his polemic does not overcome the deductive proof I offered because *sound* proofs cannot be refuted. Feel free to offer a deductive argument from his perspective and I'll try to show you his error. The baptist position is simply wrong, so if he has a valid argument, in that the form is cogent, then at least one of the premises must be false.

Bryan Hale said...

Hello again,

I'm not much of a debater so I'll humbly decline entering into that arena with you lol. It would, in all fairness, not be right to try to construct an argument from his entire work, as he doesn't really head in that direction. The book I mentioned above takes more of an entire survey of "The Covenants" approach. He not only addresses the ideas Paedobaptist's have put forward in their works on the Covenants, but also Baptist's. If you ever get the chance and feel like reading the book, I think you'd actually appreciate the way in which the whole thing is approached. He's seeking unity much more than division. I just thought I'd make mention of it because it is such a different approach and very refreshing.

Reformed Apologist said...

Bryan,

My only concern is, what sort of "unity" can there be on antithetical postions that have divided the church more than any other doctrine? Baptists have separated themselves from the historical Christian church. In the process they have excommunicated their children by perverting the covenant. Any attempt to minimize the antithesis can only be pure sophistry I'm afraid. I know that must sound harsh to you, but from where I'm standing this matter was never open for discussion in the apostolic age. They need to repent and quit looking for scholarly acceptance. They certainly have no audiance here for that sort of thing.

Please consider, the answer is not to try to find some slice of supposed unity but rather for Baptists to quit trying to be big fish in small ponds and unite themselves with the historic Christian church.

Bryan Hale said...

Ron,

Again, I have absolutely no desire to "Debate" over the issue, much greater men than I could ever hope to be have done so and the issue obviously isn't so "clear cut".

In reference to this being an issue that has "divided the Church more than any other doctrine", I would find that a strange comment considering all of Church history lol.

"They have excommunicated their children by perverting the Covenant", again, different understandings of the essence of the Covenants obviously. I would highly recommend Nichols work once again, it's by no means "Sophistry".

"Baptists have separated themselves from the historical Christian church". Surely you're term "historical" here only extends as far back as the earliest reformers? Surely you wouldn't be trying to connect your concept of Paedobaptism to history beyond that, would you? It's pretty clear that such said practice was held in radically different approaches than your own throughout Church history.

As I originally stated, I have no desire to debate this with you, I was simply trying to point out a new work on this issue that might shed some light on a much clearer Baptist position. And I'm not referring to any old Baptist's here, I'm talking about brothers that walk side by side with you on almost every topic in the Westminster Confession. I'll gracefully bow out at this point, I have nothing spectacular to say here other than I hope you'll actually give it a read before judging it.

Grace and Peace to you in the name of The Lord Jesus Christ my brother.

Bryan


Reformed Apologist said...

Bryan,

You post that Nichol's argument is the most compelling you've read and then when asked to repeat it you say it's not that sort of argument - doesn't lend itself to formulation, (yet somehow you found it, the argument, compelling.) You then make a few contra-assertions to what I've said yet, again, warn me that you're not interested in debating. Are you only interested in espousing? Bryan, you are debating, like it or not. Just badly I'm afraid. What is it you want me to do, read a book that puts forth a non-argument that you found compelling as an arguement yet concludes with an unbiblical position? Please consider what you're really after here.

Jon said...

Hard to believe that anyone can't see that the issue of baptism has without question divided the church more than anything else. How can baptists possibly plant a church with anyone other than baptists? Their sole distinctive is exclusive.

Reformed Apologist said...

Actually baptists can help start non baptist churches but the reverse isn't true. Baptists may practice their beliefs within a presbyterian context but a Presbyterian is forbidden to exercise infant baptism in a baptist church, hence the baptistic imposition of their convictions requiring them to separate.

Reformed Apologist said...

In other words, baptists came along and demanded that nobody could baptize infants so holding to their convictions within a Reformed context wasn't good enough. Their insistence that all subscribe to this doctrinal departure from the historic church made them a sect.

Jon said...

Bryan is also confused on history of infant baptism if he doesn't think it applies before the Refirmation.

Reformed Apologist said...

He must be referring to the effects of baptism, which isn't relative to my point. Certainly, as Samuel Miller argued, the practice precedes the Protestant Reformation as far back as we can ascertain,

Anonymous said...

Bryan,

I don't think you were invited to debate. I believe you were asked to put forth Nichols's case for infant baptism. :)

Bryan Hale said...

As I said before, "It would, in all fairness, not be right to try to construct an argument from his entire work, as he doesn't really head in that direction.", I'll now restate myself clearer. Nichols work isn't a "Polemic" in the true sense that that usually entails. It is an approach to "God's Covenants with men" from a, as we Baptists obviously believe, consistent hermeneutic throughout.

As I told you before, in this work, it's not like it's specifically set out to conquer Paedobaptism, but more to review the massively respected Theologian's that have written on these issues and see if they can be consistent with their own definitions, Paedobaptist's and Creedal Baptist's alike. Then Greg puts forth his own understanding, seeking strict consistency from start to finish. It is the "WHOLE WORK" that is compelling to me, not just some isolated argument, this was my point above.

I don't have the time right now to type this all out, so I'm going to upload a few pics from the book that is in discussion of inconsistencies. Maybe this is what you're looking for? If this isn't allowed Ron, than you can just check them out yourself and delete the links. They go in this order;

1. http://i1035.photobucket.com/albums/a434/cooter181/CAM00079_zps5ba41704.jpg

2. http://i1035.photobucket.com/albums/a434/cooter181/CAM00081_zps5aa9a743.jpg

3.http://i1035.photobucket.com/albums/a434/cooter181/CAM00082_zpsac654705.jpg

Reformed Apologist said...

Bryan,

That was a painful read. It's remarkable how you, or anyone else, could fall for the equivocal nature of "participate" that is thrown around by the author. That the covenant is established with Christ alone and in him with the elect yet administered to those who qualify for the visible church is a clear distinction, yet one that is blurred by the author by his introducing "participate" as he does. Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Deal with this…

1. An Old Covenant precept was that whenever possible the sign of entrance into the covenant was to be placed upon all who were to be regarded as God’s people

2. Children of professing believers were to be regarded as God’s people under the Old Covenant
3. Children of professing believers whenever possible were to receive the sign of entrance into the Old Covenant by way of precept (1, 2)

4. God’s precepts may not be abrogated without explicit instruction or good and necessary inference

5. God never abrogated the Old Testament precept regarding who was to receive the sign of entrance into the Old covenant

6. The sign of entrance into the New Covenant is water baptism

7. God’s precept is that children of professing believers receive the sign of entrance into the New Covenant (3, 4 and 5)

8. God’s precept is that children of professing believers receive water baptism (6, 7)

I'll talk with you if you want to post your number, which I wouldn't publish. Otherwise, we're done I'm afraid. Sorry, but I simply don't have time to "debate" on-line one who says he's not up for debate yet would like to paste links to statements that warrant refutation.

You are correct about one thing. Nichols doesn't offer a polemic. He simply strings together unrelated assertions and then leaps to a conclusion that exceeds the scope of the premises, all the while employing equivocal language. Not an analytical thinker I guess.

Best wishes

Reformed Apologist said...

Bryan,

I enjoyed our talk and look forward to more as you have time.

Bryan Hale said...

Hey Ron,

I enjoyed talking with you as well! It's nice to be able to ask questions directly and specifically. Hopefully it makes sense now when I said "I have no desire to "debate" this issue" lol. As I think you learned from our conversation, I'm not settled on my position and am very much wanting to discuss this without the often associated "Hostile" feelings debate can muster.

I would like to publicly thank you for your genuine hospitality and gentleness on the phone, it was refreshing and greatly appreciated!

Bryan

Chris Nyland said...

Ron

Great post! You present the clearest and most biblical presentation on infant baptism I have read that addresses the Baptist's concerns and objections. I will be steering my Baptist friends to your blog. I have been reading your blog for sometime, but I cannot find any bio on you on your blog. Is this by design or am I not looking in the right place?

Reformed Apologist said...


I'm delighted that the post is of use to you. I sincerely hope it can be a source of discussion for your baptist friends and you.

I'm an ordained elder in the OPC and attend Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia. There's no bio (yet) on the blog so it's not that you couldn't find it. :)