Friday, November 09, 2007

Thoughts on Yesterday's Baptism Debate

I had the pleasure of listening to most of Yesterday's Baptism between Dr. White and Mr. Strawbridge.

Some thoughts:

1) I don't think that Dr. White was consistent in his exegetical method. Dr. White (it seemed to me) insisted that we have to read the New Testament first, and then go back and read the Old Testament. Normally, however, Dr. White would encourage people to read the writings in the order they were written. Dr. White himself set the bar that if he uses different methods on this doctrine than other doctrines, he is imposing tradition on the text. With respect, I think he may have fallen afoul of his own standard in this case. Possibly, though, I simply misunderstood the argument he was trying to make.

2) Dr. White made much of the fact that the new covenant is "not like" the old covenant, and that the new covenant is better than the old covenant. Dr. White seemed to suggest that this difference was faith, with the implication - not always made explicit - being that only those with faith (evidence of regeneration) should be given the sign of the new covenant.

This argument has several flaws.

a) The difference between the old and new covenant is in the priesthood and sacrifices in the context of the passages upon which Dr. White relies;

b) Faith is not the difference: for Abraham was circumcised after faith, just like first generation believers under the new covenant, and just like old covenant proselytes; and

c) Circumcision and Baptism picture the same thing, the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart, but the recipients of circumcision were not necessarily regenerate; nevertheless they were given the sign of the covenant.

I listened with a number of sola-credo-baptists (or anti-paedo-baptists - or simply "baptists"), who seemed to think that Dr. White's point about "not like" the old covenant was a very good and very strong argument. I didn't really see why they thought it was strong. In fact, I'm going to listen to the debate a few more times to see if I missed something, because it seemed quite weak to me.

3) Mr. Strawbridge started well, but did not really seem to be able to concentrate and make good use of his time during the debate. Unfortunately, he got distracted by his cell phone going off mid-debate, and lost track of his allotted time. He made a few good points, but as far as debating ability goes, I really feel he was outgunned by Dr. White. Dr. White spoke significantly faster, and focused much better.

Also, it was suggested to me (by the folks I was listening with) that Mr. Strawbridge may be part of the "Federal Vision" (FV) movement. If so, of course, that would be a reason for me to distance myself from Mr. Strawbridge's presentation, as the FV movement has some questionable views when it comes to the issues connected with the sacraments.

-Turretinfan

21 comments:

TheoJunkie said...

I missed it unfortunately, in part because I probably (?) was commuting during it's "airing"... but also because the Covenant Radio site didn't seem to say what time it would be on, when I checked the last time.

Do you have a link to the audio file?

Turretinfan said...

Dear TJ,

It was on yesterday at 8 p.m. EST.

I have not seen a link to an audio file yet, but as soon as I see one, I'll post it.

-Turretinfan

Micah said...

"Dr. White (it seemed to me) insisted that we have to read the New Testament first, and then go back and read the Old Testament."

You're faulting Dr. White for using the New Testament to interpret the old? Doesn't the New Testament, and Hebrews specifically, provide a God-breathed commentary of the Old?

"Normally, however, Dr. White would encourage people to read the writings in the order they were written."

Not if the New Testament is providing specific commentary on the Old Testament types and shadows, which, I believe, he would argue in this case it does.

"Dr. White made much of the fact that the new covenant is "not like" the old covenant, and that the new covenant is better than the old covenant. Dr. White seemed to suggest that this difference was faith..."

Then you missed Dr. White's position completely. The New Covenant and its blood sacrifice saves perfectly, the Old Covenant could only mitigate God's could not. The Old Covenant perfected no one, the New perfects forever.

"...with the implication - not always made explicit - being that only those with faith (evidence of regeneration) should be given the sign of the new covenant..."

He specifically mentioned a couple reasons for this, firstly the Biblical pattern is "belive and be baptized" and "repent and be baptized". The content of the New Covenant is specifically "AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN, AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, 'KNOW THE LORD,' FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME", therefore, unlike the Old Covenant which required the covenant sign applied to those who did not know the Lord and had to be taught.

"The difference between the old and new covenant is in the priesthood and sacrifices in the context of the passages upon which Dr. White relies;"

That is not the ONLY difference between the Old and New Covenants, especially as highlighted in Hebrews. The New Covenant is a "better" covenant in many ways it is "NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS". The differences of the content of the Covenant are at the center of this debate.

"Faith is not the difference: for Abraham was circumcised after faith..."

Yes, but his son, Ishamel was not, nor was his grandson Esau, they were circumcised before faith, as the Covenant conditions stipulated, however the Abrahamic Covenant and its promises are NOT identical to the Old Covenant, its promises and conditions. One must carefully consider what was promised in the Abrahamic covenant and how the thread of that covenant is revealed later in Scripture, specifically Romans 4 etc. For circumcision was not a seal of an individual's righteousness, rather it was a sign and seal of the promise made to Abraham. Baptism is something different, and this is what must be defined.

"Circumcision and Baptism picture the same thing, the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart..."

Just because one aspect of baptism and circumcision picture one aspect of regeneration, that does not make them identical in every way. That direct connection is not made in the NT.

Circumcision was applied to all males in a family, regardless of whether they desired the circumcision or not, slaves and sojourners were required to be circumcised. Do paedobaptists therefore require everyone living in their households, their employees, relatives, occasional visitors to be baptized, regardless of their belief?

Also, consider the implications of what Strawbridge said, roughly: 'placing the sign of the covenant upon the child obligates the child to the conditions of the covenant'. The conditions of the Old Covenant are clear, "Keep all my decrees and all my laws and follow them" and the Israelites agreed "all this we will do". Are you saying (with Strawbridge) that the New Covenant is basically the same contentwise so as to make the New Covenant one with blessings and curses?

"...but the recipients of circumcision were not necessarily regenerate; nevertheless they were given the sign of the covenant...."

Yes, because that is what that Covenant was about and the sign pointed to the promise made to Abraham, not promises made to the individual on the basis of faith. Baptism is not like circumcision in this way, it is applied to those who believe on Christ as Lord and Savior, and it carries with it the promises thereof on the basis of faith.

"Also, it was suggested to me (by the folks I was listening with) that Mr. Strawbridge may be part of the "Federal Vision" (FV) movement. If so, of course, that would be a reason for me to distance myself from Mr. Strawbridge's presentation, as the FV movement has some questionable views when it comes to the issues connected with the sacraments."

It is my opinion that unless one takes the view that Strawbridge holds, they have no consistent ground on which to accept paedobaptism. That is, that unless one is willing to apply baptism (regardless of faith) to all the members of their "household" including visitors, uncles and brothers, employees (if you have those in your house) etc. they're inconsistent in their belief. And herein lies one of the central points of the credobaptist argument, the paedobaptist position is inconsistent, and this inconsistency can be dramatically seen in Dr. White's debate with Pastor Shisko. The Paedobaptist position wants all the trappings of the Old Covenant without the responsibility therein, it is the Federal vision position that seems to recognize the contrast and attempts to correct it with covenant cursesm, blessings and conditions.

In Christ,
Micah

Turretinfan said...

Micah:

I appreciate your comments, but:

1) Dr. White did not simply say that he wants to interpret old testament shadows in light of the new;

2) The point about the New Covenant perfecting vs. the Old Covenant not perfecting is a non-issue -> if that was the entire point, it was a red herring;

3) Just as not everyone who was circumcised as an infant was saved, so also not everyone who is baptized as an infant is saved -> that's an argument for infant baptism, not against it;

4) The direct connection is made in the New Testament, in Peter's first catholic epistle;

5) Your opinion that S-bridge's position is the only consistent paedo position is a tangent I'm not willing to entertain (as such) in this particular thread, especially since it is not clear to me how well-developed S-bridge's position is.

6) Whether or not a child is baptized, a child that grows up in a godly home is given greater benefits and consequently will be held to a higher standard. To tweak Wilson's catchphrase, you can grab the youth by their catechism or by their sermon notes. The benefits of the parents faith do flow to their children and (if they have them) slaves (strangers were NOT circumcised).

-Turretinfan

Micah said...

"1) Dr. White did not simply say that he wants to interpret old testament shadows in light of the new;"

I never said he did, I'm giving you some insight on the normative procedure for Biblical interpretation, clearer passages illumine less clear ones and so on. Hebrews IS the NT commentary on the Old Covenant and its relationship to the Old.

2) The point about the New Covenant perfecting vs. the Old Covenant not perfecting is a non-issue -> if that was the entire point, it was a red herring;

You said in your initial post: "...the new covenant is better than the old covenant. Dr. White seemed to suggest that this difference was faith...", I'm informing you of what you missed in the exchange. There is no red herring herein, rather it is White's position that the newness and 'betterness' of the new covenant is specifically related to the fact that everyone in the New Covenant is perfected by the blood of that covenant. We therefore are to apply the covenant sign not to those who do not profess faith, rather to those who do.

3) Just as not everyone who was circumcised as an infant was saved, so also not everyone who is baptized as an infant is saved -> that's an argument for infant baptism, not against it;

Who said anything about this??? It has nothing to do with who is/isn't saved, rather, who is and is not in the covenant and what the content of that covenant is. No one has said anything about whether or not babies are/can be saved, or if truly unbelieving people get baptized, rather, the whole question boils down to, what is the consistent pattern of the New Testament and how does the Old Covenant sign relate in light of the God-breathed commentary found in Hebrews.

I'm not arguing the position, I'm simply informing you what the Dr. White's argument is, as you seemed to miss it.

The benefits of the parents faith do flow to their children and (if they have them) slaves (strangers were NOT circumcised).

On the contrary:

Genesis 17:12
"And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants."

Exodus 12:48
"But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it."

Exodus 12:49
" The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you."

Slaves and visitors WERE circumcised.

Micah

Turretinfan said...

Micah:

As to (1), if that's not what you think Dr. White was doing or advocating, why are you mentioning it as a response to my criticism of Dr. White's method? I agree with the principle you presented - that's a non-issue.

As to (2), call it a red herring, or a non-issue, or simply a waste of space. We agree that the new covenant is different from the old covenant. The question is how.

(2b) But you raise the issue that Strawbridge addressed sarcastically (Doc mislabeled it as a straw man), when you say: "There is no red herring herein, rather it is White's position that the newness and 'betterness' of the new covenant is specifically related to the fact that everyone in the New Covenant is perfected by the blood of that covenant. We therefore are to apply the covenant sign not to those who do not profess faith, rather to those who do."

Not everyone who receives the sign of the New Covenant is perfected. We both (you and I) reject baptismal regeneration.

Only those who had faith in the coming Messiah were perfected under the Old Covenant, and only those who have faith in the already-come Messiah are perfected under the New Covenant. People of both covenants were perfected only by the blood of Christ.

So the "better Covenant" argument does not provide a ground for distinguishing the application of the sign of the covenant.

3) You try to distinguish between the Old and New Covenant based on everyone in the New Covenant (according to you) being saved, whereas (also according to you) not everyone in the Old Covenant was saved. However, you have to admit that not everyone who receives the sign of the covenant (of either covenant) is saved, and this debate is about who should receive the sign of the covenant.

Recall that true circumcision was always heart circumcision, just as true baptism is always the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.

Salvation was always by faith, never by works.

Those who have been baptized are outwardly part of the new covenant, just as those who have been circumcised were outwardly part of the old covenant.

That's not where the difference lies, and that cannot serve as a ground for excluding the newborns of believers from being baptized.

4. Slaves were circumcised (as I said) but visitors were not - at least not automatically. If they wanted to be part of the sacrament of the Passover, they had to be circumcised (including the children, not just the believing adults). If someone wants to partake in the Lord's Supper in our churches, we require that they be baptized first (as do you, I would hope). On the other hand, we do not require houseguests to partake in the Lord's Supper, and consequently we do not baptize them.

You may find Joshuaic circumcision interesting: recall that the people in the wilderness doubted the promises of God, and were cut off. Their children were uncircumcised, so on Joshua 5, Joshua circumcised all the males of Israel, these being they who had recently professed faith before Moses before entering into the promised land.

-Turretinfan

Micah said...

"...You try to distinguish between the Old and New Covenant based on everyone in the New Covenant (according to you) being saved..."

So you now believe that not everyone in the New Covenant is elect? Do you agree with Strawbridge, Wilson etc.?

Keep in mind that Christ intercedes on behalf of those in the New Covenant, I ask that you read Hebrews 8, specifically 6-13 and reply as to what the primary difference between the Old and New Covenant is.

It is Scripture which describes the New Covenant and those who are in it as: "ALL WILL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM. FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE." It is not I who say those in the New Covenant are saved, it is God.

It is the paedobaptist who points to the Old Covenant, and its Laws who, on that basis, believes in Baptizing unprofessing infants. Therefore, the content, character and perfection of the New Covenant is what is in question.

whereas (also according to you) not everyone in the Old Covenant was saved... Only those who had faith in the coming Messiah were perfected under the Old Covenant...

Uh, no. The Old Covenant did not save anyone, it had no power to save, the blood of bulls and goats never remitted sin. There is no allowance in the Old Covenant for "faith in the coming Messiah" for perfection, the Old Covenant MADE NO ONE PERFECT, period, end of story.

Those who had faith in the God through the promise Messiah (Abrahamic language here) were perfected, saved, not by the Old Covenant, but by the promise of a savior made with Abraham.

This is why it is written, Eze 16:59 For thus says the Lord GOD, "I will also do with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath by breaking the covenant.
The Covenant Remembered
60"Nevertheless, I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you."

Regardless of Israel's breaking of the Old Covenant (made with Moses and Israel at Sinai) God remembers his Covenant of promise made with Abraham.

All of this is important to understand that the New Covenant IS NOT LIKE THE OLD in that one could "break it" and be damned, rather, the New Covenant is IN THE BLOOD OF CHRIST and it actually saves, actually perfects, actually fulfills the promises made to Abraham. Therefore, for you to believe that one can be "in the New Covenant" and yet either not in Christ, or not saved, shows that you're adopting the argument of Strawbridge and Wilson etc.

That part of the argument speaks to the nature of the New Covenant and that the application of the sign should only be applied to those who profess faith in the Messiah, for the Covenant is in His blood.

The second part of the argument is this: the pattern in the NT is that believers are baptized, not once is a professed unbeliever, or unprofessing individual baptized, yet in the Old Covenant, the sign of circumcision was given to individuals who by nature may not, did not or could not believe, specifically slaves, servants, vistors, as well as infants.

Those who have been baptized are outwardly part of the new covenant, just as those who have been circumcised were outwardly part of the old covenant.

Where do you find any such language of being "outwardly" part of the Covenant? Were those who fell in the wilderness not judged according to the Old Covenant? If they were only "outwardly" part of it, on what basis could they be judged?

Can you be only "outwardly" bound to the Law? When they come to repossess my car and put a lean on my income, can I say "I was only outwardly a car owner"?

Also, since it seems the more I press, the further into Strawbridge's language you retreat, I just want to point out that the definition for the New Covenant does not allow for this kind of thinking. I again point you to Hebrews 8, Eze 36, etc wherein the content and character of the New Covenant is expressed... wherein this language do you find that one can be part of the New Covenant and yet not saved, not regenerate, not a believer?

Slaves were circumcised (as I said) but visitors were not - at least not automatically.

Anyone who entered the household of a circumcised Jew for the purpose of dining with, staying with, marrying within, working therein etc were required by the Law of Moses to be circumcised. This must have included non-believers or at least unprofessing ones.

Do you, therefore, as a paedobaptist, believe that employees who work in your home, any relatives who stay at your home, or servants you may hire must be baptized? If not, on what basis do you hold to this inconsistency?

On the other hand, we do not require houseguests to partake in the Lord's Supper, and consequently we do not baptize them.

Yes, this is the inconsistency, you do not require house guests to be ritually clean, to have themselves circumcised of heart, therefore you are either inconsistent or simply disobeying the Law of God, which is it? Or do you recognize as discontinuity here? And if so... what Biblical basis do you hold for it?

Let me conclude our discussion with the following summary of the Reformed Baptist position.

The New Covenant is a covenant made in the blood of Christ. Those in the New Covenant are IN CHRIST, and therefore receive the benefits of His intercession on their behalf. There is no Scriptural language that supports the view of someone in Christ, and yet not perfected by Him and His intercession. (Heb 8, Rom 8, etc.)

The only valid subject of Baptism, as revealed in the New Testament are those who profess faith according to the pattern laid down by the Apostles. There is not a single passage of Scripture where in the baptism of infants or non-believers is commended, commanded or even suggested.

While the sign and seal of the Old Covenant was circumcision and it was indeed applied to infants and unbelievers who were attached to Israel, the New Covenant is a new and better covenant in the blood of Christ which promises, on the basis of faith, salvation for all those who enter it. One does not enter the New Covenant by blood relation, or human federal headship but by FAITH in CHRIST. Therefore, the only proper subjects for baptism are those who profess faith in Christ.

This does not mean that infants are unsaved, unsaveable or otherwise "excluded" from the Covenant, rather, we accept that God is gracious and merciful according to His will and mercy, we are, however, excluded from applying the sign of the Covenant until a profession of faith is made as is described in every occasion in the New Testament.

God bless you,

Micah

Albert said...

Turretinfan,

I am new to the baptism debate. I have some questions.

1. If only the male infants were circumcised in the OT, why are BOTH male and female infants baptized today?

2. Do Reformed pedobaptists believe that the the inclusion of infants in the household baptisms in the Acts of the Apostles was a reality, and not just a mere possibility?

Thanks.

Turretinfan said...

Dear Albert,

1. We can be sure that only male infants were circumcised, because only male infants have foreskins. Female infants are baptized, because female adults who profess faith (and were not already baptized) were baptized in Scripture.

2. I think most folks (Reformed paedobaptists and others) would expect that households would typically include at least some infants. I don't think anyone would say that we must dogmatically hold that any of the households in Acts included infants.

Proselytes to Old Testament Christianity were circumcised (as were their infants); proselytes to New Testament Christianity were baptized (and it seems reasonable to infer from the relationship between the signs that so were their infants).

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

Dear Anonymous,

When you use phrases like "off your rocker" and "closet papist" you shouldn't expect that your comment is going to get posted.

Look at Micah: he strongly disagrees, but he's able to be civil about it.

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

TF: "...You try to distinguish between the Old and New Covenant based on everyone in the New Covenant (according to you) being saved..."
Micah: "So you now believe that not everyone in the New Covenant is elect? Do you agree with Strawbridge, Wilson etc.?"

I respond: I'm not a FV, and neither are other Reformed paedobaptists. There seems to be a semantic disconnect between what you mean by "New Covenant" and what I mean by "New Covenant."

Those who are "in the congregation" of a Christian church are the "New Covenant" equivalent of those "in the congregation" of Old Testament Israel under the old administration. Not all "in the congregation" outwardly are "in the congregation" inwardly. That's the difference between the visible and invisible church.

Micah: "Keep in mind that Christ intercedes on behalf of those in the New Covenant, I ask that you read Hebrews 8, specifically 6-13 and reply as to what the primary difference between the Old and New Covenant is."

I respond: The difference that Hebrews 8 is discussing is the difference between the shadows in the old covenant and the realities to which they pointed. It really has nothing to do with whether infants of believers should receive the sign of the covenant. That's why I call it a red herring.

Micah: "It is Scripture which describes the New Covenant and those who are in it as: "ALL WILL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM. FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE." It is not I who say those in the New Covenant are saved, it is God."

I respond: A prooftext out of context is what?

The phrase in context is:

"And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more."

Do you suppose that this might be speaking of heaven, not earth? I know that, as I have opportunity, I try to tell my neighbors to "know the Lord." I suspect you do to.

Micah: "It is the paedobaptist who points to the Old Covenant, and its Laws who, on that basis, believes in Baptizing unprofessing infants. Therefore, the content, character and perfection of the New Covenant is what is in question."

I respond: We just recognize that the sign of the covenant was applied to unbelieving infants in the OT, and consequently we see no reason to vary that practice in the NT.

TF: "whereas (also according to you) not everyone in the Old Covenant was saved... Only those who had faith in the coming Messiah were perfected under the Old Covenant...

Micah: "Uh, no. The Old Covenant did not save anyone, it had no power to save, the blood of bulls and goats never remitted sin. There is no allowance in the Old Covenant for "faith in the coming Messiah" for perfection, the Old Covenant MADE NO ONE PERFECT, period, end of story."

I respond: You seem to have severely missed the point (or perhaps it is us using terms like "covenant" in semantically different ways). The old testament sacrifices did not make anyone perfect. God did make those who trusted in Christ perfect. Circumcision was a picture of that. There were people saved under the Old Covenant administration: and their faith was greater not less than ours (since they had to trust in a Messiah as yet unknown: simply pictured in the bloods of bulls and goats).

Micah: "Those who had faith in the God through the promise Messiah (Abrahamic language here) were perfected, saved, not by the Old Covenant, but by the promise of a savior made with Abraham."

I answer: It is one God who made both covenants. The promise of the messiah was one of the promises of the old covenant.

Micah: "This is why it is written, Eze 16:59 For thus says the Lord GOD, "I will also do with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath by breaking the covenant.
The Covenant Remembered
60"Nevertheless, I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you."
Regardless of Israel's breaking of the Old Covenant (made with Moses and Israel at Sinai) God remembers his Covenant of promise made with Abraham."

I answer: If your point is to distinguish between the Mosaic and Abrahamic covenants, well: circumcision is part of the latter, not the former, as Jesus himself observed to the Pharisees.

Micah, I realize you wrote more, but I'm out of time to respond to it all, right now, and I have some questions (that I'll ask in another post). I'll try to pick up again where I left off, later.

-Turretinfan

Micah said...

"there were people saved under the Old Covenant administration: and their faith was greater not less than ours..."

Yes, but they were NOT saved by the stipulations of the Old Covenant.

Turretinfan said...

Micah, you wrote: "Yes, but they were NOT saved by the stipulations of the Old Covenant."

I'm not sure what you mean by that.

If you mean that they were not saved because they were circumcised (and performed all the ceremonial parts of the Mosaic law) I agree. But then, surely you will grant that no one is saved in the New Testament era by going through the outward ceremonies of the New Testament era, such as Baptism.

Since I'm sure you agree about that, I'm not sure why you bring up the issue. After all, on the moral side, were commands to believe on the Lord and repent of sin, even in the Old Covenant, and those who did so would be saved.

Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

Since I'm sure you don't disagree with me on that, I'm at a loss to understand why you bring up the "stipulations of the Old Covenant" in the discussion.

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

Continuing to respond to Micah's earlier comment:

Micah: "All of this is important to understand that the New Covenant IS NOT LIKE THE OLD in that one could "break it" and be damned, rather, the New Covenant is IN THE BLOOD OF CHRIST and it actually saves, actually perfects, actually fulfills the promises made to Abraham. Therefore, for you to believe that one can be "in the New Covenant" and yet either not in Christ, or not saved, shows that you're adopting the argument of Strawbridge and Wilson etc."

I answer: Hold on a second, don't jump to conclusions based on my questions. Since, as you admit, there was no way to be saved by keeping the Old Covenant, to say that one would be "damned" for breaking the Old Covenant is a bit disjoint.

Anyone who sins is under judgment. Nevertheless, one could break the Old Covenant, and still be saved both physically (see the book of Judges) and spiritually (see Jeremiah 31).

Micah: "That part of the argument speaks to the nature of the New Covenant and that the application of the sign should only be applied to those who profess faith in the Messiah, for the Covenant is in His blood."

I answer: I sincerely do not see the connection, though I would like to see it. Perhaps it is because I do not understand the argument itself that I cannot see its connection to the conclusion. Hopefully our discussion will help me understand the argument.

Micah: "The second part of the argument is this: the pattern in the NT is that believers are baptized, not once is a professed unbeliever, or unprofessing individual baptized, yet in the Old Covenant, the sign of circumcision was given to individuals who by nature may not, did not or could not believe, specifically slaves, servants, vistors, as well as infants."

I answer: Slaves and infants were circumcised. I respectfully but firmly disagree with your claims about visitors being lightly circumcised. The patriarch's circumcision of their sister's rapist was clearly an abuse of the ordinance.

That debate may be important, but I think it will get us off the path here. Perhaps we will need to return to it later, if it turns out you are basing your views on that position.

TF: "Those who have been baptized are outwardly part of the new covenant, just as those who have been circumcised were outwardly part of the old covenant."

Micah: "Where do you find any such language of being "outwardly" part of the Covenant? Were those who fell in the wilderness not judged according to the Old Covenant? If they were only "outwardly" part of it, on what basis could they be judged?"

I answer: They were judged for sin and especially for unbelief, as Scripture says.

Hebrews 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

They were circumcised, but circumcision is not enough. The same applies to baptism: it is not enough.

They were circumcised in the flesh, but not in the heart. They are only outwardly in the Old Covenant (i.e. not all were Israel who were of Israel). Those who are baptized with water and not with the Spirit are likewise only outwardly in the New Covenant.
Matt. 3:11, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, and John 1:26-33.
See also Acts 1:5 and 11:16.

Micah: "Can you be only "outwardly" bound to the Law? When they come to repossess my car and put a lean on my income, can I say "I was only outwardly a car owner"?"

I answer: I'm confused by the analogy. I'm certainly not giving anyone an excuse by the fact that they were only "outwardly" members of the Old Covenant. On the contrary, because they were only "outwardly" members, they only received the "outward" benefits. As Jesus said: "they have their reward." And yet as Jesus also said:

Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

What is a hypocrite, but someone is outwardly one thing and inwardly another?

So to, there are hypocrites in the New Testament era. There are those who - like good Baptists - attend Wednesday night Bible Study, and both Sunday services, and yet inwardly do not love God. (and while I used Baptists as an example, I could do the same for Presbyterians, or Anglicans, or Lutherans, etc.)

Does their hypocrisy make the Covenant and the promises of God ineffectual? Surely not!

Micah: "Also, since it seems the more I press, the further into Strawbridge's language you retreat, I just want to point out that the definition for the New Covenant does not allow for this kind of thinking. I again point you to Hebrews 8, Eze 36, etc wherein the content and character of the New Covenant is expressed... wherein this language do you find that one can be part of the New Covenant and yet not saved, not regenerate, not a believer?"

I answer: See above regarding to jumping to conclusions because what I'm saying sounds (at points) like what Strawbridge said. As for the question: one can receive the sign of the New Covenant and can participate in the congregation of the New Covenant people of God, and can participate in the other sacrament of the New Covenant, and still not be saved, because just as in the Old Covenant external conformity is not enough. If one truly has faith, it does not matter whether one is under the Old Covenant and part of the Jewish nation or under the New Covenant and part of the church.

TF: "Slaves were circumcised (as I said) but visitors were not - at least not automatically."

Micah: "Anyone who entered the household of a circumcised Jew for the purpose of dining with, staying with, marrying within, working therein etc were required by the Law of Moses to be circumcised. This must have included non-believers or at least unprofessing ones."

I answer: You seem to be confusing 1st century Jewish traditions with the Law of Moses. I'm not going to debate this with you for now, unless it turns out that it is central to your position. I will just respectfully but firmly disagree.

Micah: "Do you, therefore, as a paedobaptist, believe that employees who work in your home, any relatives who stay at your home, or servants you may hire must be baptized? If not, on what basis do you hold to this inconsistency?"

I answer: If I had slaves, I would baptize them. In this modern era, practically no one has slaves. Hirelings are not the same as slaves, and visitors are not the same as slaves. I would require a person to be baptized before they could:

a) participate in the Lord's supper; or

b) marry a member of the church.

Nevertheless, I would not view an unbaptized as ceremonially unclean, because the ceremonial law has been abrogated, as was revealed to Peter and Paul. We don't have to live in every respect like 1st century Jews.

TF: "On the other hand, we do not require houseguests to partake in the Lord's Supper, and consequently we do not baptize them."

Micah: "Yes, this is the inconsistency, you do not require house guests to be ritually clean, to have themselves circumcised of heart, therefore you are either inconsistent or simply disobeying the Law of God, which is it? Or do you recognize as discontinuity here? And if so... what Biblical basis do you hold for it?"

I answer: I think your perception of inconsistency is based on your misperception of the proper administration of circumcision. However, for the reasons noted above, I think we can leave this issue aside for now.

Micah: "Let me conclude our discussion with the following summary of the Reformed Baptist position."

I answer: I hope this will not be the end of the discussion. I feel like we are still largely talking past one another, and since I consider you a brother in Christ, I'd really like to understand your position better, either to persuade you to agree that I have understood correctly, or to be persuaded by you that I have misunderstood something.

Micah: "The New Covenant is a covenant made in the blood of Christ. Those in the New Covenant are IN CHRIST, and therefore receive the benefits of His intercession on their behalf. There is no Scriptural language that supports the view of someone in Christ, and yet not perfected by Him and His intercession. (Heb 8, Rom 8, etc.)"

I answer: I don't think that's necessarily a point of disagreement between Baptists and Presbyterians, but perhaps it is, depending on how rigidly or loosely things are being defined.

Micah: "The only valid subject of Baptism, as revealed in the New Testament are those who profess faith according to the pattern laid down by the Apostles. There is not a single passage of Scripture where in the baptism of infants or non-believers is commended, commanded or even suggested."

I answer: "Even suggested" stretches things. Places like Acts 16:15 might suggest it. We certainly agree there is no explicit command: baptize your children on the eighth day. We believe that the baptism of households is a reasonable inference from Scripture, though. Surely you acknowledge that such is our position, though you may disagree.

Micah: "While the sign and seal of the Old Covenant was circumcision and it was indeed applied to infants and unbelievers who were attached to Israel,"

I interrupt (rudely, I know): If (and you may not grant me this but just suppose) the New Testament equivalent of Israel is the church, then isn't it true that baptism is applied to those who become a part of the church, whether or not they truly are believers?

Micah continued: "the New Covenant is a new and better covenant in the blood of Christ which promises, on the basis of faith, salvation for all those who enter it. One does not enter the New Covenant by blood relation, or human federal headship but by FAITH in CHRIST. Therefore, the only proper subjects for baptism are those who profess faith in Christ."

I answer: Faith in Christ was always the way to be saved, even under the Old Covenant. Abraham believed and was circumcised (and his household). We believe and are baptized (and our households).

Micah: "This does not mean that infants are unsaved, unsaveable or otherwise "excluded" from the Covenant, rather, we accept that God is gracious and merciful according to His will and mercy, we are, however, excluded from applying the sign of the Covenant until a profession of faith is made as is described in every occasion in the New Testament."

I answer: It is simply untrue to say that in the case of Lydia's household (for example) that a profession of faith (by them) is described. Furthermore, give me an example (aside from the patriarchs' abuse of the symbol for murderous purposes) of when an adult who did not profess faith in the God of Israel was circumcised in the Old Testament (either implicitly - as Ruth did [and yes, obviously, she was not circumcised] - or explicitly).

Newborn infants are incapable of professing faith in Christ: of confessing him with their mouth before men. Therefore, according to the practice of Baptists, they are excluded from outward participation in the New Covenant.

Nevertheless, if they have faith (whether they can communicate that or not) in Christ, they will be saved: they will benefit from Christ's perfect work.

-Turretinfan

William said...

The program is available at the Covenant Radio website here:

http://www.covenantradio.com/topic-baptism.html

You can also subscribe to the podcast at:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/CovenantRadioBraodcast

Anonymous said...

For those who missed it, it was only live on Dr. Whites site, but is now on both his archives, as well as streaming on the CovenantRadio.com site as usual

Turretinfan said...

Thanks to William and Anonymous!

-Turretinfan

Micah said...

Two final points:

It is simply untrue to say that in the case of Lydia's household (for example) that a profession of faith (by them) is described.

Are you saying that unbelievers were baptized in Lydia's household? Can you name the members of Lydia's household who were baptized but not believers? Or does this whole thing require a great amount of assumption?


Therefore, according to the practice of Baptists, they are excluded from outward participation in the New Covenant.

What is "outward participation in the New Covenant"? If we both agree they can be "inward" members of the New Covenant according to grace, where does the need to baptize come? There's no New Testament command, commendation or even suggestion that infants should be baptized.

Thanks.

Turretinfan said...

Micah wrote: Are you saying that unbelievers were baptized in Lydia's household? Can you name the members of Lydia's household who were baptized but not believers? Or does this whole thing require a great amount of assumption?

I respond: No, I'm not saying that. I'm disputing your claim that in every case faith was clearly demanded. I'm saying that the Scriptural example is not quite as extremely one-sided as you claimed.

Micah wrote: What is "outward participation in the New Covenant"? If we both agree they can be "inward" members of the New Covenant according to grace, where does the need to baptize come? There's no New Testament command, commendation or even suggestion that infants should be baptized. Thanks.

I answer: As noted above, I would respectfully disagree with your conclusion that the NT does not suggest that infants be baptized.

Outward participation is congregating with the church. Your churches include as "members" only truly regenerated folks and hypocrites (or self-deceived). Ours also include the children of such folks.

Baptism is an outward sign, and those who are baptized are outwardly part of the church: the new covenant equivalent of the congregation of Israel in the OT.

-Turretinfan

William said...

A little note about Covenant Radio:

First, I am one of the co-hosts (which means basically nothing)
Second, we have just celebrated our one year anniversary streaming broadcasts on the internet. To date we have had 34 broadcasts and we see nothing that will slow us down.

Please give the site a visit and subscribe to the podcast if you are able. Thanks!

Turretinfan said...

For those who are too lazy to cut and paste, here's a link.

Topic Baptism @ Covenant Radio

To Subscribe to the Covenant Radio Podcast (via Feedburner)