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The Case for Credobaptism

A note from Executive Editor, Jonathan Master:

Theology matters. Place for Truth has no interest in smoothing over the rough edges of disagreements within the Reformed confessional tradition. But we also know that debates can often descend into name-calling and straw man arguments. Over two days, we are posting two brief summaries – one by a pastor of paedo-baptist persuasion, one by a Baptist pastor – on a subject that matters. We hope you’ll read both. They’ve each read the other’s article, and they’ve both presented their own arguments clearly and fairly. Both men argue – as you’ll see – from a theological perspective that reflects the framework of the Reformed confessions. Neither backs down. But the arguments they employ, and the spirit with which they employ them, are worthy of our time and attention.


by Samuel Renihan

The practice of baptizing professing believers is grounded upon two complementary foundations. The first is an argument from the covenants of Scripture. The second is an argument from the commands of Scripture related to those covenants. Credobaptists and paedobaptists often assume, or argue, that the people of a given covenant receive the covenant sign. Thus, in the case of the subjects of baptism one must simply identify the covenant people. This is insufficient. The administration of covenantal ordinances is governed by specific laws, which must be obeyed strictly. For example, women were members of Abraham’s covenant but they were not recipients of its sign, circumcision. Likewise, infant males were circumcised, but only on the eighth day. As a result, to determine the subjects of baptism one must first identify and distinguish the covenants involved and then examine the accompanying laws.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

What’s new in the revised edition of the Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology?

February 13, 2017 Leave a comment

distinctiveness-revised-194x300By Pascal Denault

Since my book first came out in January of 2013, I wanted to revise it. At first it was minor corrections and typos, but along the way came some important precision that I wanted to include in my work. I have written this blog post to explain what’s new in the revised edition of the Distinctiveness. If you think it’s worth it, you may buy the paperback version or the kindle version (available beginning of next week Feb. 12th) on Amazon. Let’s start with a new endorsement by an important French theologian.

HENRI BLOCHER

The French-speaking Baptists, at least those from Europe (as I am), often ignore the Reformed origin from which the Baptist faith emerged—the genealogical continuity is certain. The fine work of this French Canadian pastor on the theology of the covenant, or the covenants, which was elaborated by the ancient Baptist doctors debating the other Reformed theologians, vividly presents this rooting. It also highlights….

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

I lost another Facebook friend to Presbyterianism!

Tennessee 009I get it, I get it! You’ve come to the knowledge of Reformed Theology, your young in the faith, you have been defending the gospel with fervor and zeal, but every time you run across a Paedo-baptist you hear this: “Your not really Reformed!” So under the guise of wanting to be fully Reformed and wanting to stand in the tradition of men like Calvin, Knox, Bucer, etc…., you jump head first into the deep end of Paedo-baptism, not even understanding the theology behind infant baptism.

I too cut my teeth on Reformed Theology under a Paedo-baptist. I came to the knowledge of Reformed Theology while listening to R. C. Sproul on the radio. At the time I was in a Charismatic church which held deeply to mysticism and emotionalism. The Charismatic theology of this church did not really have that much of a hold on me. I had already begun to be skeptical of this movement and had questioned much of its main tenets. All the emotionalism and hype, but no love for scripture. No expository preaching, only picking and choosing of texts of scripture which seemed to agree with the fanatical doctrines of Benny Hinn, Kenneth Hagin, Jr., and many others. (1)

No, charismatic doctrine did not particularly have a hold on me, but the dispensationalism of these type churches sure did. I carried my cherished Scofield Bible everywhere I went. Studying the doctrines of such men as: Hal Lindsey, Scofield, Walvoord, LaHaye, Blackstone, and my all time favorite minister Jack Van Impe. Yes, dispensationalism was the doctrine to live and die for. It was my pet peeve and is something I knew the in and outs of. I could hear the daily news and was able to recite scripture from memory to show how all the terrible things going on in society and the world, had been predicted thousands of years ago, right there in Holy writ. Little did I realize that what I was doing was not Biblical exegesis, but instead was ripping scripture apart by picking and choosing what seemed to fit the morning headlines. (2)

One of the problems with both of these systems is the fact that they have Arminianism as their door keeper. Arminianism stands with all man made systems. It is the glue which holds them all together. Is this an over exaggeration? I think not. Charismatic doctrine has man at the center and it is all about what God can do for me. It possesses no doctrines which teach that God owes us nothing and that it is our duty to give to God. Yes, we are to give to God true worship. The church service is not about us or what we are to receive. This is why so many of these type churches split down the middle. The congregants are not satisfied with anything because they are always seeking a new experience. (3)

Dispensationalism on the other hand possesses no Biblical unity. God has his separate plans: One for Israel and one for the Church. God is not working out one over-arching purpose, which purpose was to save a people for his name through his Son Jesus Christ, but instead is building on two plans. Yes, both of these systems are flawed and do not seek to rightly interpret scripture with Christ at the center. (4)

But back to my story:

Upon discovering the doctrines of grace I knew that they were true. Having had a born again experience, that could only have been called supernatural, I began to read scripture with new eyes. I saw that the acronym ‘TULIP’ was truly contained within scripture. I begin to read the giants of Church History and 2 years later called a local Presbyterian Church and made an appointment with the Pastor. When I arrived for the appointment, I began to question this Pastor concerning Reformed Theology. I wanted to know if what I had been learning concerning Reformed Theology were true? He affirmed that what I had been learning was in fact the Reformed tradition and that it was a system, not forced into scripture, but derived from scripture. This man possessed the titles of a learned man, seeing that Presbyterians require some formal education in order to be an elder, but after hearing me recite from Augustine, Calvin, Knox, and many others, he admitted that I had read more of the Reformation writings than he had. As I was leaving, he handed me a copy of The WCF and told me, “Now you must choose which ecclesiology is truly found in scripture.” In other words, is Presbyterianism truly the ecclesiology of scripture or is congregationalism truly present within scripture? (5)

After meeting with this elder I vacillated between Paedo-baptism and Credo-baptism. I set my anchor on the side of the Reformed Baptists, but after many debates with Presbyterians and not truly understanding the RB position, I moved to a Presbyterian position because I truly wanted to be considered Reformed. I was extremely happy. I now stood with Calvin (whom I loved reading and thought to be one of the greatest theologians of all times), and many others of the Reformation. I could read my WCF and have a warm feeling in my gut because I knew that men had died to recover the doctrines contained therein.

A year rocked on and though I was happy my conscience bothered me. All I kept hearing is, “Did you arrive at paedo-baptism through scripture?” Yes, I was happy, but why this nagging conscience? I have always, no matter what I believed at the moment, tried to derive my views from scripture. I constantly pointed charismatics to scripture, not emotionalism and not hype, but scripture. After a year, I stopped and asked myself, “Did you arrive at paedo-baptism because you wanted to be associated with certain men of the Reformation or because you actually studied scripture and found paedo-baptism contained therein?” I had to admit that the former was true. I did not derive my views of paedo-baptism from scripture, but instead held to this view because I wanted to be associated with Calvin. I wanted to be in that group which goes around hollering, “We are truly Reformed!” (6)

So a journey began. I put away paedo-baptism and told myself that I was not going to believe anything concerning baptism, unless I could find it contained within the Word of God itself. The more I studied, the more I became convinced that paedo-baptism is a man-made system. It is not in scripture. The entire system, like dispensationalism, is built on Old Testament principles. In order to hold to this system, the exegete must have a presuppositional bias before ever examining a text.

This past weekend I spent several hours debating with a teacher of a PCA church. One of my friends on Facebook announced that he had switched from a Reformed Baptists position to Presbyterianism. So I began to challenge him to think about the differences in the covenant theology of the two. He could not answer any of my objections and never made an attempt to do so. So another guy I am friends with, who is also a teacher in a PCA Church, stepped in and stated that he had this for him. This friend who had been a teacher of a PCA Church for more than 20 years, did not even realize that the WCF holds to a one substance under two administrations view of the covenants. I was told that I was misrepresenting PCA covenant theology, but as we neared the end of the debate and me showing him what the WCF teaches, he admitted that that is what he held to, even though he was arguing against it before I pulled his confession into the discussion. He finally tagged someone else to come in and try to help him debate me on this matter. Go figure! (7)

So what about my friend who switched to Presbyterianism? He still stands with Presbyterianism, even though he sat back and watched his learned teacher fail at explaining the system of paedo-baptist covenant theology. My objection from the get go was, “Why do you have to step in and help this fellow who switched views?” “Seems to me that he should not switch positions, unless he can articulate for himself, why Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology is wrong.” This is the crux of the matter, if a man does not know how to defend the position he has switched to, then maybe he should not hold said position.

The more I study Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology the more I am convinced that my position is true. It is still sad to see someone switch to paedo-baptism, without even knowing why.

So another friend dives into the deep end of paedo-baptism. I just hope he knows how to swim.

 


(1) I was also an elder of this church and began teaching against the fanatical doctrines of the head elder. I pointed this congregation to scripture and not experience.

(2) I stated that Jack Van Impe was my all time favorite teacher, but that was at that time. I have since gained a few other all time favorite teachers. Also a course in hermeneutics made me see the errors present within dispensationalism.

(3) I stated that Arminianism was one of the problems with Charismatic doctrines and Dispensationalism. I did not say that it was the only problem. I understand that there are some who call themselves Dispensational Calvinists, but the fact is, is that Reformed Theology and Dispensationalism are two opposing systems. One can only hold to both at their own peril.

(4) Not to mention that Dispensationalists also do the same thing that Charismatics do and that is they pick out certain scriptures which they believe teach their doctrines. They ignore the rest of the Bible.

(5) I stated that I had had a born again experience that was supernatural in character. So upon studying Reformed Theology and examining ‘Unconditional Election,’ I knew that Reformed Theology was true because I knew that God had intervened in my life and saved me. I was not seeking to be saved. So when I was quickened it was as if scales fell off my eyes and I began seeking Christ. But after I came to the knowledge of Reformed Theology, is was as if I had been born again, again. Some call this ‘Cage Stage Calvinism.’

(6) Paedo-baptists have a warped view of what truly Reformed means. They associate being truly Reformed with infant baptism, as if infant baptism is the ‘sine qua non’ of Reformed Theology. A Reformed Baptist is truly reformed. Matter of fact, he holds to semper reformanda or ‘always reforming,’ more than paedo-baptists do. I know many will object to the last statement, but they still hold to a view of baptism, which rejects the RPW and is not backed by scripture.

(7) Actually this teacher of a PCA Church was trying to show me a position on covenant theology similar to Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology. All I can do is shake my head at this. Holding to the WCF, but don’t even know what it confesses.

1689 Federalism Response to Wellum’s “Progressive Covenantalism and the Doing of Ethics”

by Brandon Adams

A 20 page paper by Stephen J. Wellum titled “Progressive Covenantalism and the Doing of Ethics” was posted in the New Covenant Theology Facebook group recently [Note: it has since been removed as it was not supposed to be posted publicly – it will be available in this volume]. It presents a good opportunity to bring to attention some of the important areas where 1689 Federalism (a particular version of covenant theology) disagrees with Westminster Federalism (what Wellum simply refers to as “covenant theology”), as well as highlight where 1689 Federalism believes Progressive Covenantalism errs. My comments will be brief, and I won’t be summarizing his argument, so make sure to read it first.

Covenant theology has sought to do ethics and establish the basis for moral law by following the venerable tradition of dividing the Mosaic law into three parts: moral, civil, and ceremonial… A direct equation is made between the Decalogue and eternal moral law and a general hermeneutical rule is followed: unless the NT explicitly modifies or abrogates the Mosaic law (as in the ceremonial and civil parts), it is still in force today. This rule becomes the principle by which moral law is established across the canon.

This is an important point. This is how modern RB and paedobaptist covenant theology answers the question, but it is not how 1689 Federalism answers the question. Unlike the other groups, we do not believe the Old and New are two administrations of the same covenant, therefore we do not believe the Mosaic covenant continues to be in force today aside from specific laws (or categories of laws) that have been repealed. Progressive Covenantalism is simply unaware of our position (I don’t blame them for that). We believe the entire Mosaic covenant, and thus the Mosaic law, is abrogated. Therefore we do not follow Westminster Federalism (“covenant theology”) in arguing that all Mosaic law is still in force today unless abrogated (because it was all abrogated).

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

A Critique of R. Scott Clark’s Covenant Theology

By Brandon Adams

Recently R. Scott Clark spoke on the Calvinist Batman podcast about covenant theology and baptism. He also has A Curriculum For Those Wrestling Through Covenant Theology And Infant Baptism, a 5-part series called Some of the Differences Between Baptists and Reformed Theology on the New Covenant, as well as a printed booklet called Baptism, Election, and the Covenant of Grace.

I greatly appreciate Dr. Clark’s work in defense of justification by faith alone. He sees quite clearly how much of the professed reformed church has been infiltrated by a false gospel. He sees it for the threat that it is and he speaks loudly against it. I stand beside him in that and I am thankful for his work in that respect. The critique I offer below should not take anything away from that. I offer it in an effort to sharpen iron and edify the church.

The critique is long, but I think you will find it worth your time. I appreciate your patience.

Summary of Clark’s View

Clark has offered this concise summary:

The Abrahamic covenant is still in force. The administration of the Abrahamic covenant involved believers and their children (Gen 17). That’s why Peter said, “For the promise to you and to your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39). That’s a New Testament re-statement of the Abrahamic promise of Genesis 17 and in the minor prophets (e.g., Joel 2). Only believers have ever actually inherited, by grace alone, through faith alone, the substance of the promise (Christ and salvation) but the signs and seals of the promise have always been administered to believers and their children. It’s both/and not either/or.

 

 

 
Read the entire article here.

A Summary of Why Baptists Appeal to Owen

By Brandon Adams

In published works (see here, here, here, and here), baptists have pointed out that Owen’s covenant theology, as articulated in his commentary on Hebrews, departs from Westminster Federalism and aligns very closely with 1689 Federalism.

However, as this information has begun to reach wider audiences and become general knowledge, many people have not taken the time to understand the claims. For example, I continue to see people post links to Owen’s tract on infant baptism and to Lee Gatiss’ articles at Ref21 (the ones he wrote against Denault’s book without bothering to read Denault’s book), thinking that this addresses the claim. None of these people demonstrate they understand why baptists reference Owen, yet they are content to dismiss any such appeal as unfounded.

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.

Proverbs 18:2

I am disappointed by this, not simply because I want to win an argument, but because I genuinely value the opportunity to discuss with people I disagree with. Iron sharpens iron. But a discussion requires both parties to listen when the other speaks. Please take the time to listen to this summary. If you are then interested in discussing the claim, please take the time to read the published works. If you don’t have time, please don’t bother forming an opinion on the matter.

 

 

 
Read the entire article here.

Creation Then Covenant

In our first installment, we noticed that eschatology drives revelation, and revelation, in turn, drives the illumination of that covenantal structure by which our God has deigned to communicate His will to us in an ever-increasing manner of promise, via the historic covenants, which promises find their final form in that which we call the ratified Covenant of Grace, which is the New Covenant.

In our second installment, we noted that God relates to us, in His revelation, by covenants. We also noted that “covenant” is not a construction superimposed upon the Scripture, and so revelation, but that it is imbedded within it by our God from before the world began, so it behooves us to pay attention.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

1689 Federalism

1689 Federalism is the Particular Baptist understanding of the Covenant of Grace as stated in the Second London Confession of Faith of 1689. This particular view is distinct from the Westminster view that holds to the concept of one Covenant of Grace under two distinct administrations which are the Old and the New Covenants. From this view, the Westminster Confession allows the Old Covenant to define the Covenant of Grace (its nature, its stipulations, its blessings) and end up with a Covenant of Grace that is mixed by nature because it includes the physical posterity of all those who profess faith. This understanding was perceived by the Particular Baptists to alter the nature of the New Covenant which is « not like » the Old Covenant (Jer. 31:32) and is pure by nature (Jer. 31:34).

The 1689 Confession rejects the One Covenant/Two administrations view of the Westminster. Instead, it affirms that the Covenant of Grace was only revealed in the Old Testament time until it became a formal covenant when the New Covenant was established. Therefore, the Particular Baptist understanding considers that only the New Covenant is the Covenant of Grace and defines it. This involves that the Old Covenant was not the Covenant of Grace and was only typologically linked to it but was in itself an earthly covenant that came to an end when the heavenly reality was established. Instead of seeing two realities (earthly/heavenly, internal/external) inside of the same covenant of grace, the 1689 Federalism affirms two distinct covenants: an earthly external covenant (the Old) and an heavenly internal covenant (the New). The New Covenant was first a promise that was put under the guard of the Law (the Old Covenant). It was then accomplished, sealed in the blood of Christ and given to believers in the form of a covenant.

In the lectures below, I expose chapter 7 of the 1689 (Of God’s Covenant). These lectures were given at the Reformed Baptist Seminary module on Creeds and Confessions held in Las Vegas October 2014. I offer here the MP3 files, the videos are available at RBS website: http://rbseminary.org/home/pascal-denault-on-the-covenant-theology-of-the-1689-baptist.html

You can find a French version of this teaching here: http://www.unherautdansle.net/alliances/

1. The Covenant of Works (7.1) – Audio MP3

2. The Covenant of Grace – Paedo view (7.2) – Audio MP3

3. The Covenant of Grace – Credo view (7.3) – Audio MP3

4. Summary and conclusions – Audio MP3

5. Q&A (Dr. Bob Gonzales and Pascal Denault) – Audio MP3

 

 

Source [ unherautdansle.net]

Did Spurgeon hold to 1689 Federalism?

…..“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” — Hebrews 8:10.

THE doctrine of the divine covenant lies at the root of all true theology. It has been said that he who well understands the distinction between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace is a master of divinity. I am persuaded that most of the mistakes which men make concerning the doctrines of Scripture are based upon fundamental errors with regard to the covenants of law and of grace. May God grant us now the power to instruct, and you the grace to receive instruction on this vital subject.

The human race in the order of history, so far as this world is concerned, first stood in subjection to God under the covenant of works. Adam was the representative man. A certain law was given him. If he kept it, he and all his posterity would be blessed as the result of obedience. If he broke it, he would incur the curse himself, and entail it on all represented by him. That covenant our first father broke. He fell; he failed to fulfil his obligations; in his fall he involved us all, for we were all in his loins, and he represented us before God. Our ruin, then, was complete before we were born; we were ruined by him who stood as our first representative. To be saved by the works of the law is impossible, far under that covenant we are already lost. If saved at all it must be all quite a different plan, not on the plan of doing and being rewarded for it, for that has been tried, and the representative man upon whom it was tried has failed for us all. We have all failed in his failure; it is hopeless, therefore, to expect to win divine favour by anything that we can do, or merit divine blessing by way of reward.

But divine mercy has interposed, and provided a plan of salvation from the fall. That plan is another covenant, a covenant made with Christ Jesus the Son of God, who is fitly called by the apostle, “the Second Adam,” because he stood again as the representative of man. Now, the second covenant, so far as Christ was concerned, was a covenant of works quite as much as the other. It was an this wise. Christ shall come into the world and perfectly obey the divine law. He shall also, inasmuch as the first Adam has broken the law, suffer the penalty of sin. If he shall do both of these, then all whom he represents shall be blessed in his blessedness, and saved because of his merit. You see, then, that until our Lord came into this world it was a covenant of works towards him. He had certain works to perform, upon condition of which certain blessings should be given to us. Our Lord has kept that covenant. His part in it has been fulfilled to the last letter. There is no commandment which he has not honoured; there is no penalty of the broken law which he has not endured. He became a servant and obedient, yea, obedient to death, even the death of the cross. He has thus done what the first Adam could not accomplish, and he has retrieved what the first Adam forfeited by his transgression. He has established the covenant, and now it ceases to be a covenant of works, for the works are all done. “Jesus did them, did them all, Long, long ago.”

And now what remaineth of the covenant? God on his part has solemnly pledged himself to give undeserved favour to as many as were represented in Christ Jesus. For as many as the Saviour died for, there is stored up a boundless mass of blessing which shall be given to them, not through their works, but as the sovereign gift of the grace of God, according to his covenant promise by which they shall be saved.

The Wondrous Covenant (Hebrews 8:10)………

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Did A.W. Pink Agree with 1689 Federalism?

A.W. Pink’s covenant theology came up recently in a Facebook discussion. It was being questioned if Pink held to 1689 Federalism or “20th Century Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology“. (Federalism is just an old word for covenant theology)

First, here is a summary of 1689 Federalism:

By rejecting the notion of a Covenant of Grace under two administrations, the Baptists were in fact rejecting only half of this concept: they accepted, as we have previously seen, the notion of one single Covenant of Grace in both testaments, but they refused the idea of two administrations. For the Baptists, there was only one Covenant of Grace which was revealed from the Fall in a progressive way until its full revelation and conclusion in the New Covenant… If the Westminster federalism can be summarized in “one covenant under two administrations,” that of the 1689 would be “one covenant revealed progressively and concluded formally under the New Covenant.

-The Distinctiveness of 17th Century Particular Baptist Covenant Theology, Pascal Denault, p. 61

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.