Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Covenant Theology’

A Critical Evaluation of Paedobaptism

August 23, 2016 2 comments

I may have shared this article once before, but here it is again


Revision 1.3

By Greg Welty (M.Div, Westminster Theological Seminary; B.A., UCLA)

The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him–Proverbs 18:17 A printed version is available from:

Reformed Baptist Publications

2001 W. Oak Avenue

Fullerton, CA 92833-3624

(714) 447-3412 (Office & FAX)

Introduction

As a Baptist student at a Reformed seminary, I encountered many theological pressures — from students and teachers alike — to convert to a paedobaptistic view. After much study, I came out convinced that “Reformed Baptist” was not a contradiction of terms (as my paedobaptist peers admonished me), but a qualification of terms, a subjecting of the traditionally Reformed version of covenant theology to a more careful biblical scrutiny. And so while abundantly grateful for my training in Reformed theology at seminary, for both the piety and the scholarship of my professors, I have concluded that the doctrine of infant baptism is neither a good nor necessary consequence deduced from Scripture (to use the language of the Westminster Confession of Faith, I.vi).

In my readings on the subject of baptism, Paul K. Jewett’s Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace(2) was a revolutionary treatment of the subject. It was the first full-length book I had seen which actually critiqued the doctrine of infant baptism from the perspective of covenant theology itself. Some may debate as to how faithful Jewett actually is to the details of covenant theology, as those details are spelled out in the Reformed confessions. But his basic identification of the problem as one of biblical theology was quite insightful. Avoiding a blatantly dispensational approach, he applies the Reformed emphasis on unity and progress in redemptive history to the sacraments themselves, thus beating the paedobaptists at their own game of continuity and discontinuity. To those who are familiar with Jewett, it will be clear that I am indebted to him at several points.

This paper was originally written to fill a primary need among the seminary interns and other young men at my church. My own experience has taught me that nondispensational, Calvinistic baptists are perpetually tempted to look over the fence of their small and often divisive camp and covet the ministry opportunities available in conservative Presbyterian circles. Many have made this leap, and often do so because they simply don’t have a deep, Scripturally-based conviction that the baptist view is correct. Rather, they have absorbed their baptistic sentiments culturally and emotionally, and thus often lose them by the same means. Many have not been presented with an extended series of biblical arguments against infant baptism, a set of arguments which is at the same time consistent with their own nondispensational and Calvinistic perspective. So consider the following to be a resource for seminary and Bible students who want a quick, clear, and accessible summary of the leading reasons why Reformed Baptists (and all biblical Christians) ought not to embrace the doctrine of infant baptism.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

The Case for Credobaptism

by Sam 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.

1. A positive credobaptist argument asserts that the relevant covenant involved is the new covenant, and that this covenant is distinct from the biblical covenants that preceded it in history, particularly the Abrahamic covenant. Simply put, the Abrahamic covenant promised earthly blessings to an earthly people (Abraham and his offspring) in an earthly land. This covenantal relationship was expanded and developed in the Mosaic covenant….

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

A Brief Survey of Covenant Theology, Part 1-3 – Richard Barcellos

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.

A Proleptic Rest in Genesis 2?

Copyright © 2016 Richard C. Barcellos. All rights reserved.

Some have understood the Creator’s rest as establishing a pattern for man to follow, but not revealed as such until much later in man’s history (Exod. 16 and 20). This view is not new. In the early sixteenth century Bownd acknowledges a form of this view and interacts with it.[1] Likewise, Owen interacts with this view in at least two places in his treatise on a day of sacred rest.[2] Owen recognized that some viewed Genesis 2:3 as “a prolepsis.”[3] The Creator’s rest in Genesis 2:3 represents something to be instituted for man in the future. Between the Creator’s initial rest and that future institution, there is no Sabbath day for anyone (and no seven-day week according to some). One form of the proleptic view Owen addresses sees the sanctification of the seventh day occurring at Sinai. Owen seeks to state this view as follows:

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Are the Republicationist & Coxe/Owen Views of the Mosaic Covenant Related?

While the majority of Particular Baptists agree that the Mosaic Covenant is a Covenant of Works, how it relates to the original Covenant of Works varies in their thought. Some state in the strongest terms that it IS the original Covenant of Works reapplied to Israel. That would make eternal life possible through the Mosaic Covenant itself, a point that Coxe and Owen would have disagreed with (and I disagree there too). Coxe makes a brief but helpful comment here:

 

 

 

Read the entire blog post here.

Spurgeon, the Forgotten Calvinist

April 4, 2016 1 comment

Some people have drawn wrong conclusions about Spurgeon’s theology because his sermons were frequently very evangelistic. And one popular edition of his sermons edited out his frequent criticisms of Arminianism. According to Andrew Chan “the result of such censorship is that today, while many know Spurgeon to be the “Prince of Preachers,” few know that he was a staunch Calvinist”.

The following article addresses Spurgeon’s strong support of Calvinistic theology.

“Spurgeon, the Forgotten Calvinist” by Godwell Andrew Chan:

Spurgeon-TheForgottenCalvinist-GodwellAndrewChan.pdf

 

 

Source [Theologue]