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Four principles of older hermeneutics

February 14, 2017 1 comment

Four principles of older hermeneutics:

#1 The Holy Spirit is the Only Infallible Interpreter of Holy Scripture.

#2 The Analogy of the Scriptures (Analogia Scripturae)

#3 The Analogy of Faith (Analogia Fidei)

#4 The Scope of the Scriptures (Scopus Scripturae)

 

Source [RBAP]

The Household Baptisms Of The New Testament

by David Cason

I. Preliminary Considerations

If the great debate over who should be baptized could be distilled into one question, it would be this:

Should only those who personally profess gospel faith be baptized, or should the children of those professing believers be baptized as well?1

When an argument is made for the latter, paedobaptist2 view, an appeal is inevitably made to those instances in the New Testament when a “household” is said to have been baptized. Since all agree that every other recorded instance of baptism is that of a professing believer, the interpretation of these texts is crucial. Only in these “household” passages can the paedobaptist allege that the Scriptures record the actual baptism of the non-confessing child of a believer (or, put more carefully, the baptism of one party on the basis of another’s faith). A close exegetical examination of those passages is therefore desirable.3

If they evidence a difference from the other recorded New Testament baptisms, or exegetically connect with the Old Testament concept of household circumcision4 , much legitimate ground is gained in the argument for infant baptism. But, if the texts in question fail to yield such evidence, the argument for the practice of infant baptism will have been dealt a substantial blow.

Understanding the pivotal importance of these verses, it is worthwhile to consider briefly some simple interpretive principles which apply to the exposition of the Word. Scripture is the interpreter of Scripture. The clear passages of Scripture must be allowed to interpret the dark, and the complete passages to interpret the elliptical. There exist in Scripture both detailed and abbreviated accounts of these “household” baptisms. It is neither sound nor admissible for the paedobaptist to use the shorter accounts in such a way as to bring them into conflict with the fuller narratives.6 This implies, naturally, that the passages must be exegeted. It is entirely inadmissible, though common enough in practice, to merely reference such passages as conclusive proof texts, or to dismiss anti-paedobaptist arguments with a casual wave of the word “house” or “household,” without looking at what the verses actually record.7 With these ground rules in mind, we turn to the Scriptural narratives.

Download the pdf here.


1 This is a modern way of putting the question. It ought to be stated, Should only those who profess gospel faith be baptized, or should those subject to that professed believer’s household authority be baptized as well? But because this more accurate phrasing seriously damages the paedobaptist argument in the modern world, the question is rarely framed in this more logically (and biblically) consistent fashion.

2 paedobaptist – one who advocates infant baptism

3 And yet, it is this close exegetical examination which is almost never present in paedobaptist apologetic. For example, James Bannerman, in his crucial and exhaustive work on the Presbyterian view of the church, spends 26 pages giving what amounts to a purely theological argument for infant membership in the covenant. He disposes of the household baptism passages in less than two pages, never undertaking an actual exegesis of any. Despite the lack of careful analysis, he does not hesitate to cite the verses as absolute and final testimony in favor of infant baptism, with overstatement that borders on the fantastic. He writes, “…nothing more is necessary, in regard to the practice of the Primitive Church in the matter of infant baptism, than to refer to the frequent and almost constant mention of the Baptism of ‘households’ and ‘families,’ in which it is morally certain that there must have been infant members….Such expressions as these, interpreted in the light of the previous undoubted practice of the Jewish Church, can admit of only one meaning….Under the circumstances of the Apostolic Church, the repeated mention of household or family Baptism is itself decisive evidence of the practice by which infants were baptized.” (Bannerman, James, The Church of Christ, 2:92-93).

Samuel Miller is carried away in similar fashion, but for Miller, two pages is two too many. After merely adducing three “household” passages, and admitting that there is no proof of actual infant baptism in any of them, he nonetheless offers them as a kind of impregnable defense. Miller writes “Now, though we are not certain that there were young children in any of these families, it is highly probable there were. At any rate, the great principle of family baptism of receiving all the younger members of households on the faith of their domestic head, seems to be plainly and decisively established. This furnishes ground on which the advocate of infant baptism may stand with unwavering confidence.” (Miller, Samuel, Infant Baptism Scriptural and Reasonable). Miller also exemplifies the characteristic misstatement of the question described in footnote 1 above.

John Calvin, after a discussion marked most by the number and diversity of its ad personam attacks on those who question the doctrine of infant baptism, dispenses with all the household passages in a single sentence. He writes, “For although this is not expressly narrated by the Evangelists, yet as they are not expressly excluded when mention is made of any baptized family, (Acts 16:15, 32), what man of sense will argue from this that they were not baptized?” (Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book IV, Chapter 16.8).

4 E.g. Genesis 17:23

5 This is not a controversial doctrine. It is standard Reformation interpretive practice. The principle is so widely recognized that it was made a matter of confessional bond by the Puritan authors of the Westminster documents. “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of and Scripture (which is not manifold, but one) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.” (Westminster Confession of Faith, 1:10).

6 Again, this is hardly an extreme notion. Every Calvinist regularly uses the “Scripture with Scripture” methodology when explaining the meaning of the word “world” in the various passages concerning the extent of the atonement. And no sound interpreter would say that the more limited narratives in the Gospel of Mark control the interpretation of the longer accounts given in Luke or Matthew.

7 This is the interpretive norm in paedobaptist treatments. See footnote 3 for some notable examples.


Disclaimer: I am not familiar with David Cason, therefore a link to this article does not mean that I endorse everything he believes or teaches concerning doctrine. However, linking to this article means that I believe he has rightly exegeted the “household baptism” texts over and against the paedobaptists interpretation of said text.

God has supplied us with an unerring standard by which we may test every exercise of our reason upon His Word, namely the Analogy of Faith

Arthur PinkGod has supplied us with an unerring standard by which we may test every exercise of our reason upon His Word, namely the Analogy of Faith. And it is there that we have a sure safeguard against the wrong use of this faculty. Though it be true that very often more is implied by the words of Scripture than is actually expressed, yet reason is not a law unto itself to make any supplement it pleases. Any deduction we make, however logical it seems, any consequence we draw, no matter how plausible it be, is erroneous if it be repugnant to other passages. For example, when we read “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), we may conclude that sinless perfection is attainable in this life, but if we do so we err, as Philippians 3:12, and 1 John 1:8, show. Again, should I draw the inference from Christ’s words “no man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him” (John 6:44) that therefore I am in no wise responsible to come unto Him, that my inability excuses me, then I certainly err, as John 5:40, and other passages make clear.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Another example of a failure to interpret Scripture properly

Arthur PinkAnother example of failure at this point is the frequent use made of Galatians 6:15, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (or “new creation”). It is most proper and pertinent to use that verse when showing that neither the ceremonial ordinances of Judaism nor the baptism and Lord’s supper of Christianity are of any worth in rendering us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. So too, though much less frequently, we are reminded that,

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6),

that is out of gratitude to God for His unspeakable Gift, and not from legal motives—only for what they may obtain. But how very rarely does the pulpit quote

“Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God” (1 Corinthians 7:19)

—that which respects our submission to the Divine authority, our walking in subjection to God’s will, is omitted. It is only by placing these three verses side by side that we obtain a balanced view. We are not vitally united to Christ unless we have been born again; we are not born again unless we possess a faith that works by love; and we have not this saving faith unless it be evidenced by a keeping of God’s commandments.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

HERMENEUTICS: Analogia Scripturae and Analogia Fidei

By Bill Hier

This is the title of chapter two of CONFESSING THE IMPASSIBLE GOD: The Biblical, Classical, & Confessional Doctrine of Divine Impassibility (CIG). The purpose of this chapter is to highlight the two most necessary hermeneutical principles that are required when doing theology – not only theology proper, as is the concern of CIG, but all theology. As the title states, these are the hermeneutical principles of Analogia Scripturae and Analogia Fidei, which are the Latin phrases for The Analogy of Scripture and The Analogy of the Faith.

Before going forward, defining these most important hermeneutical principles, and stating where they come from, is necessary.

To put it simply, these principles are not formulated and then imposed upon Scripture, but rather, and drawn from the way that the Biblical writers themselves did theology. Thus, they come from Scripture, and so, from God – they are principles of understanding Scripture which the Author of Scripture imbedded in His Special Revelation to us, that we might not make the mistake of pitting Scripture against Scripture, but could rather understand it, and all the doctrines which it teaches us, by a synthesis of the whole.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Approaching God in prayer through our mediator Christ Jesus

Arthur PinkAsking God in prayer is one thing; asking becomingly, rightly, acceptably and effectually is quite another. If we would ascertain how the latter is to be done, the Scriptures must be searched for the answer. Thus, in order to ensure a Divine hearing, we must approach God through the Mediator:

“Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you” (John 16:23).

But to ask the Father in His name signifies very much more than just uttering the words “grant it for Christ’s sake.” Among other things it signifies asking in Christ’s person, as identified with and united to Him; asking for that which accords with His perfections and will be for His glory; asking for that which He would were He in our place. Again, we must ask in faith (Mark 11:24), for God will place no premium upon unbelief. Said Christ to His disciples, “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7), where two further conditions are stipulated. In order to receive we must ask according to God’s will (1 John 5:14) as made known in His Word. What a deplorable misuse has been made of Matthew 7:7, through failure to interpret it in the light of collateral passages!

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Briefer statements are to be interpreted by fuller ones-Example 1: Brother sins against me

Arthur PinkBriefer statements are to be interpreted by fuller ones. It is an invariable rule of exegesis that when anything is set out more fully or clearly by one writer than another the latter is always to be expounded by the former, and the same applies to two statements by the same speaker or writer. Particularly is this the case with the first three Gospels: parallel passages should be consulted, and the shorter one interpreted in the light of the longer one. Thus, when Peter asked Christ, “How often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” and our Lord answered “Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21, 22) it must not be taken to signify that a Christian is to condone wrongs and exercise grace at the expense of righteousness; for He had just previously said, “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear [heed] thee, thou hast gained thy brother” (v. 15). No, rather must Christ’s language in Matthew 18:22, be explained by His amplified declaration in Luke 17:3, 4—“If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him”: God Himself does not forgive us until we repent (Acts 2:38; 3:19)! If a brother repents not, no malice is to be harbored against him; yet he is not to be treated as though no offense had been committed.

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures