Monday, December 08, 2014

Assurance and Baptism - Leithart Should Read 1 John

Peter Leithart should read the First Epistle of John. Peter Leithart writes: "Justification by grace through faith cannot be sustained, either in theology or in our experience, without confidence that God works in the sacraments. We cannot get assurance unless we’re convinced that God declares me His beloved child in the water of baptism. Which means, No baptism, No justification." (link)

But read 1 John. That book's raison d'etre is expressed this way:
(1:4) ... these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full ... (5:13) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
John mentions a lot of things that help give us confidence, the primary one being that we have faith in Christ. John never mentions baptism in this epistle.

Leithart should learn from 1 John that Baptism is not what provides us our assurance.



c.t. said...

Leithart's statement is a Spiritless demand. And this is what sacramentalism in whatever guise or degree does: it downgrades the doctrine and reality of regeneration by the Word and the Spirit.

It sounds combative, but I say this over and over: the Devil called people night and day to come and be baptized, but he kept the living language of the Bible from people upon pain of torture and death. The Devil knows what regenerates, and it is not sacraments. It is the Spirit working through the Word of God.

The Devil would exalt man and ritual over the Word and the Spirit.

c.t. said...

Just want to add that I don't hold a position that says knowing orthodox doctrine to the level of a Reformed systematic theologian saves you. But on-the-mark doctrine does need to be stated and clarified and defended so that anybody can access it when they are ready or need it.

God knows what's in our heart, Roman Catholic, Protestant, whatever.

There also is the angle of doctrine being armor of God, and the need to have real armor when on the spiritual battlefield. This takes the subject of theology out of the ivory tower of academic style debate and discussion and puts in into the famously practical realm of the soldier on a battlefield. At that point vanity and pride melt away and just what is needed comes to the fore. Perspective and clarity make themselves known.

For instance the Devil wants you thinking you can gain salvation by your own works. That keeps you in bondage to him. So the soldier on the spiritual battlefield says, what is the alternative to that? Oh, it is the shield of faith in the Savior/Mediator whose perfect works are imputed to me giving me the necessary advantage I need over the Devil and his army. That is practical doctrine that manifests in our very state on the battlefield. I.e. it's not merely an academic argument or intra branch debate at that point. It is the practical needs of a soldier on the battlefield. What is practically needed comes into focus.

Kirk Skeptic said...

I find some. Of ths talk on baptism to smack of popish ex opere operato magic. Ca't we just say that the sacraments, as the Word made visible, always brings judgment just like the Word enscripturated or preached, either for weal or woe?

Tim Harris said...

Wondering if there aren't a couple refs to baptism in I John, specifically, 5:6 "not by water only, but by water and blood," and then again 5:8, "There are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood." I'm not dogmatic yet as these are difficult to exegete, but it seems at least maybe.