Fides et Ratio

Faith Seeking Understanding

Location: Texas

I am a 21 year old student at Dallas Baptist University majoring in Philosophy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Election: Individual, Corporate or Both?

It always amuses me when people come to the doctrine of election that they do not even mention the corporate elements of election. They purely analyze the individual elements. This is what the big controversy is over right now over the Auburn stuff. Are the concepts of the covenant and election equated or is the covenant a conditional promise of an unconditional election? Baptists and any other Calvinists with revivalistic and rationalistic categories will go with the former while the historic Reformed (because of the concept of apostasy) go with the latter. I am including an excellent assesment by Tim Gallant on the issue.

Someone who used to be a friend of mine took a pot shot at me today, of course not mentioning me by name. Here is the substance of what they say:

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

I found this great hymn in the Baptist Hymnal Sunday and copied down the words to it as well as added two new veses of my own. I guess I was kind of disappointed that it was only a two verse hymn. Jason actually found this hymn first and told me about it last week. I think we are both just so overjoyed to find this jewl of a hymn in the Baptist Hymnal. It's number 289 for anyone with access to this hymnal. Here it is:

My Lord, I Did Not Choose You
Josiah Conder 1789-1855

My Lord, I did not choose You,
For that could never be;
My heart would still refuse You,
Had You not chosen me.
You took the sin that stained me,
You cleansed me, made me new;
Of old You have ordained me,
That I should live in You.

Unless your grace had called me
And taught my opening mind,
The world would have enthralled me,
To heavenly glories blind.
My heart knows none above you;
For Your rich grace I thirst.
I know that if I love You,
You must have loved me first.

Here are the verses I added:
If you did not save me
And call me to Your side,
Satan would have seduced me
In flesh only to abide
Christ’s atonement was so perfect
Saving sinners such as I
In life Your Spirit You connect
And the gift of glory when I die.

Thank you for the grace you give me
You bestow it day to day
Teach me, Oh God, to fear thee
And keep all sin far away.
For I know that Thou art drawing
Wretched Sinners to Your Son
Until Your whole church is singing
Christ’s victory that’s been won.


Ugh, why must Xanga double space that?!? errrrr!! Anyway, I've always said that I suck at poetry. I don't know how these words came to me last night. It must be something about hymns about election in the Baptist Hymnal and awesome prayer and fellowship at Faith Baptist last night.

Whoever thinks that being Baptist and being Calvinist are mutually exclusive (I think most of my readers know better) should really read that hymn again.

Grace and peace,

Kacy S.S.

This is an obvious pot shot at myself since I do not believe that Baptists can be Reformed, however, I never denied the fact that they are SOTERIOLOGICALLY Calvinists. Once again, it comes down the the question of Calvinism. Are they five abstract points that are unconnected to the rest of life? Or are the five points actually part of an entire system and worldview. The fundamental question of Calvinism is this: Why is there a covenant instead of nothing at all (a play on Heidegger's fundamental question of Metaphysics from his Introduction to Metaphysics), since the covenant and election are the same?

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Our 1 Year Anniversary!

Today is Stephanie's and my 1 year anniversary! This has been the greatest year of my entire life. I thank God everyday for her and her example upon my life.

On to other issues. It seems that Westminster West and its good ol' law/gospel Hermeneutic has made a statement on Justification. James White showed his obvious love for the law/gospel hermeneutic by posting an applaud for this article with a quote by Calvin and a personal attack on Doug Wilson (although Wilson was not mentioned). Here is the substance of his reply:

5/24/04: Westminster Escondido Speaks to the Truth of Justification

I am thrilled to link to the statement on justification by the faculty of Westminster Seminary in Escondido. I truly believe over the next decade we will need to continue to epagonizomai in defense of the "once for all delivered to the saints faith" (Jude 3) and that it will be this very area that will be at the center of the battle. And as with preceding generations, the lines of battle will shift and change, for the enemies of truth are always busy redefining themselves and their position so as to create as much confusion as possible in the hearts and minds of others. As Calvin said in the sermon linked below, "His meaning then is that there were Cozeners [deceivers, frauds] which intermeddled themselves underminingly with the faithful, and yet all was no more but to cause the truth of the Gospel to be corrupted....Furthermore let us fight against such dogs, knowing that they be deadly plagues, and do much more harm then they that leap quite out of their sockets, and show themselves manifestly to be despisers of the Gospel. Those then that are intermeddled among us are the worser sort, and it standeth us on hand to resist them manfully. For if we shrink from them in the battle, surely we shall have so much the greater confusion, and men shall not be able anymore to put a difference between white and black." Goodness, yes, I know his phraseology is politically incorrect these days, and what is worse, he seemingly forgot to just grab these "frauds" by their baptism, they being false-but-still-true-in-a-sense brothers who are just like unfaithful husbands but are still husbands.

He always speaks of his "meaningful interaction", which is very subjective anyway (who determines what is meaningful?), but he is quoting Calvin, and not offering any "meaningful interaction" with Dennis Bratcher's Master's Thesis. Bratcher devoted an entire chapter(!) of his Master's Thesis to the concept of apostasy in Calvin. If White wants to talk about "meaningful interaction" then he ought to stop taking a few quotes here and there and do it his self.

If the original Westminster had put something out on justification, White probably wouldn't think twice about it, because Norman Shepard was there (and supported by notables such as Cornelius Van Til, Greg Bahnsen and Richard Gaffin). However, since "Reformed" Baptists have their "school" at Westminster West, White is quick to put it on his website.

White seems to put a very large emphasis on what he perceives the central tenet of Pauline Soteriology to be (at least from what I have gleaned from his writings): namely, justification by faith. I would have to disagree, however, and agree with the Reformed view (cf. Richard Gaffin, Resurrection and Redemption: A Study in Paul's Soteriology) that the ressurection is THE key tenet of Paul's thought not justification by faith.

N.T. Wright has even stated that he is a reaction to LUTHERAN understandings of Paul (that the central tenet is Justification by faith), and that if the REFORMED understanding were the dominant view, there would be no need for a New Perspective. I find this interesting since White is such a critic of Wright. Once again we see White's utter inability to live up to his own standards of "meaningful interaction".

DBU schedule

I found out yesterday that DBU posted the schedule for the fall online. I am excited about the fall. I had a rough spring, and will get only a minor break this summer. I will be taking New Testament I and World Literature I this summer. But, my schedule looks good for the fall.

At 9:30-10:45 on TTh I will have Dr. William Bell for Greek Exegesis I (Third Year). I disagree with Dr. Bell on many things, but I love him to death. He is an amazing teacher who knows his stuff. He got his Th.M. from DTS back in the 60's and wound up rejecting Dispensationalism all together. In fact, he wrote his Doctoral Dissertation critiquing Dispensationalism (although, not Progressive Dispensationalism. Keith Mathison mentions him in his book Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God?). However, in the Fall of 2003, I took his Eschatology class, and he still has Dispensational interpretation of many passages, but he just has changed his millenial view to Historic Premillennialism. He doesn't really like Biblical Theology, either, so he didn't incorporate the Vosian notion that Eschatology starts in Genesis and the fact that it preceds Soteriology. But, that is to be expected :). But, he really knows Greek really well, and I am blessed to study under him.

At 11:00-12:15 on TTh I will be taking a Contemporary Theology class. This should be an interesting class. We will be investigating the Theology of Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Jurgen Moltmann, Wolfhart Pannenberg, Paul Tillich, Hans Kung, Karl Rahner, Feminist Theology, Liberation Theology, Narrative Theology, etc. This will be a great class for me to see where contemporary Theology is going.

At 12:30-1:45 on TTh I will be taking Ethics with Professor Kappelman. I have already taken Metaphysics and Epistemology with Professor Kappelman (I should have taken History Phil I and II before those two, but it always conflicts with something else!). Professor Kappelman is something of an anamoly. He is a Heideggerian Calvinist(!). He is ther funniest professor I have ever had, too.

At 3:30-4:45 on TTh I will have Advanced Written Communication. This class is for my English minor, and is a required class for English majors. Here is the course description from the DBU website: "Study of rhetorical situation, audience analysis, and discourse analysis theories will provide a basis for ascertaining appropriate and ethical strategies for both personal and professional discourse opportunities and for evaluating existing texts." I am lookign forward to taking this class, too.

At 1:00-1:50 on MWF I will be taking Research and Writing for Biblical Studies. This will be a good class on how to write well and how to use Turabian.

And finally I will be taking Ancient History on Fridays (every other Friday) from 5:30-10:30. I am looking forward to this class, too (I am also a History minor).

That will be my schedule for the Fall semester. My TThs will be packed for the third straight semester, but that's fine. I am looking forward to the fall also, because when I start that semester, I will be married as well!

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Calvin's Relations to Baptists

For some excellent Calvin sources (primary and secondary), Dennis Bratcher's excellent Master's Thesis:

"Baptism means covenant to Calvin, and covenant means almost everything else! To preserve the Calvinian system, paedo-baptism is not an option but a prerequisite. It is thus clear that Calvin's answer to the Anabaptist perspective on baptism was that they failed to understand this foundational doctrine of the covenant between God and his people and their children" (Lillback 1982, 232).

This destroys the constant nagging of Baptists to always address the issue of baptism, and not address the real issue, namely the Covenants, and the real apostasy therein. I also like the fact that he states that to preserve the system, paedobaptism is essential. The tital "Reformed" needs to come off of churches, because it is not so.

Auburn Stuff

Here are some great quotes I got from Covenant Media Foundation (anti-Auburnites beware):

"All who are baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, recognizing the Trinity of Persons in the Godhead, the incarnation of the Son and his priestly sacrifice, whether they be Greeks, or Arminians, or Romanists, or Lutherans, or Calvinists, or the simple souls who do not know what to call themselves, are our brethren. Baptism is our common countersign. It is the common rallying standard at the head of our several columns."

[A.A. Hodge, Evangelical Theology (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth: 1976), p. 338.]

"…the covenant is just as real as a cow in the pasture and a child in a crib, and a bench in the church, and the cloth this chair is upholstered with; the bond is created by God and is therefore real and genuine."
[Klaus Schilder, "The Main Points of the Doctrine of the Covenant," A speech given in the Waalsche Kerk in Delft, the Netherlands on August 31, 1944, (Translated by T. vanLaar, 1992), printed in Canada.]

"Before baptism, the minister is to use some words of instruction, touching the institution, nature, use, and ends of this sacrament, shewing . . . that they [children] are Christians, and federally holy before baptism, and therefore are they baptized."
"Almighty God, heavenly Father, we give you eternal praise and thanks, that you have granted and bestowed upon this child your fellowship, that you have born him again to yourself through holy baptism, that he has been incorporated into your beloved son, our only savior, and is now your child and heir..."
[Martin Bucer's 1537 liturgy for infant baptism.]

"It cannot be too insistently stressed that circumcision was and baptism is the sign and seal of the covenant in the highest reaches and deepest significance of its soteric and spiritual meaning. In a word, they are signs and seals of the covenant of grace, not of certain external blessings accruing from or following upon the covenant of grace. And this is so even though many who bear the sign and seal do not possess and may never possess the blessings of the covenant itself.
…What is being contended for is that baptism may never properly be said to be the sign and seal of the external relationship rather than of the covenant itself in its richest and deepest blessing. There is not the slightest warrant from Scripture for the notion that baptism or, for that matter, circumcision is simply the sign and seal of external privilege." (p. 55).

"To conclude: these two assertions: (1) that little children belong to the kingdom of God; (2) that they are to be received in Christ's name do not offer stringent proof of infant baptism and they do not provide us with an express command to baptize infants. They do, however, supply us with certain principles which lie close to the argument for infant baptism and without which the ordinance of infant baptism would be meaningless. These principles are: (1) that little children, even infants, are among, Christ's people and are members of his body; (2) that they are members of his kingdom and therefore have been regenerated; (3) that they belong to the church, in that they are to be received as belonging to Christ, that is to say, received into the fellowship of the saints." (p. 65).

[John Murray, Christian Baptism, (Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company: 1970), pp. 55, 65.]

"What is the Reformed view of the efficacy of the sacraments? The sacraments are efficacious through the work of the Holy Spirit, and they are always efficacious, not in virtue of the church, not in virtue of man's non-resistance, but in virtue of the power of the Spirit. And they are always efficacious to either bless or curse their recipients. The Holy Spirit is present in the sacrament. And so if you have unworthy people being baptized, children who rebel or adults that are hypocrites, or you have unworthy people taking the Lord's Supper, the sacrament is still efficacious to curse you in the power of the Holy Spirit. What proof do we have of that? What comes to your mind? 1 Corinthians where Paul says some of you are sick and even have died because you were taking the Lord's Supper in an unworthy way. Okay, well, here on the top of page 1286, Calvin says, 'The Spirit confirms it when, by engraving this confirmation in our minds, he makes it effective.' According to the Calvinist approach, the Holy Spirit makes the sacraments efficacious."

[Greg L. Bahnsen, Lecture on Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion, tape #GB1125]

"The covenant of grace curses people who have the privilege of being among God's people on earth, distinguished from the world, and yet don't live up to what He teaches. That's why the church sometimes has to intervene, lest the church profane God's covenant and its seals."
[Greg L. Bahnsen, Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 7, Sections 1-3, audio tape of lecture presented in Calif., 1994.]

"The New Testament and Covenant continue the same demand for obedience. Entrance to the kingdom is dependent upon attesting obedience (Matt. 7:21), and the kingdom itself is synonymous with righteousness; the kingdom (and its commandments) is not solely future, but absolutely demands that everything be subjected to it in this current age.…Continued blessing for Adam in paradise, Israel in the promised land, and the Christian in the kingdom has been seen to be dependent upon persevering obedience to God's will as expressed in His law. There is complete covenantal unity with reference to the law of God as the standard of moral obligation throughout the diverse ages of human history."

[Greg L. Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics, (pp. 201-2.]

"I think that when we begin with the idea of faith, we have to think first of all that the devils also believe and tremble. Now we have faith by which we need not to tremble because Christ on the cross said "my God my God which hast thou forsaken me?" so that His people might not be forsaken. It is finished! It was finished, once for all. Now that is, I think, beautifully expressed in this word of our Lord. [Begin discussion of John 6:22ff]

When the multitudes wanted to make him king because He had given them bread, and they thought it would be easy to have a handout, Jesus said, when they found the other side, 'Rabbi, when did you get here?' Jesus said 'truly I say to you, ye seek me not because ye see signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. (VT: "Now then comes the crucial point.") Do not work for food which perishes but for food which endures to eternal life which the Son of Man shall give to you, for of him the father even God has been sealed. They therefore said, What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye may believe on Him Whom He hath sent.' Here faith and works are identical. Not similar but identical. The work is faith; faith is work."

[Transcription of a speech by Cornelius Van Til at the Justification Controversy meeting of the Committee of the Whole of the OPC Philadelphia Presbytery.]

"The Westminster Confession, one of the great documents of the Christian faith, has at one point been rightly criticized over the years. Its concept of a covenant of works is not only wrong but shows a misunderstanding of the nature of the covenant...

Having said all this, it must now, be added, in defense of the Westminster Divines, that they never intended the covenant of works to be seen as a covenant of merit. However, in view of the common Protestant hostility to Rome for its ostensible doctrine of works, any talk of a covenant of works carried a like connotation. Both Rome and Westminster could justly plead that their doctrine did not assert a salvation by works, but both could be justly charged with opening the door to such a concept, although Westminster limited it to the time of Eden. The term "covenant of works" was also thought of as a covenant of "Nature." [John H. Leith: Assemble at Westminster, (Richmond, Virginia: John Knox Press, 1973). p. 91.]...

The judgment is particular and personal. The covenant is always and only instituted by God's grace. It always is a covenant of law, because covenants are a form of law, and therefore it always requires works. This, however, does not make it a covenant of works."

[R. J. Rushdoony on "The Covenant of Works", Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, (Ross House Books, Vallecito, CA: 1994), pp. 376-379.]

Monday, May 17, 2004

Homosexual Marriage and Anabaptism

Since the rise of American Baptist Culture, this country has gone into the pots. But, this is the logical conclusion of American Baptist Culture. It is correct that modern day Baptists did NOT come from the Anabaptists. They are the fundamental failure of the English Puritans and Separatists. However, their rigid dichotomy of separation of church/state and Ecclesiology is fundamentally Anabaptistic in origin. This is a good expose, The Failure of American Baptist Culture of the topic.

The Anabaptists totally ended the Societas Christiana of the Medieval period. Their Ideaology is also what is prevalent in modern day church (Believer's only baptistism, memorial view of the Eucharist, strong dichotomy between church/state, etc.). Of course, you did have the extreme radicals like Karlstadt at the Munster rebellion, but these were limited. They were totally interested in "New Testament" Christianity, which is totally what Anabaptism is about. All of the Magisterial reformers rejected outright their heretical doctrines.

The problem didn't come until the English Puritans (as great as they were) bought (unknowingly, to be sure) into their false vision of autonomy. How is it possible to be Reformed Soteriologically, yet be an Arminian Ecclesiologically (as baptists are)? Yet, they say they are "Reformed" (I do highly respect the Baptist churches in the CRE, because they are willing to come under admonishment of a more bbilical Presbyterian church goverment)? Has the term "Reformed" become so watered down as to only symboloize five abstract points that to them, are Platonic forms ontologically? Is the notion of "Reformed" some Heideiggerian 'Dasein'? This is not the grand vision of Calvin, Bucer, Bullinger, etc. They had a grand vision that REFORMED was a total world and life view. I guess we could see this as another vision of the Realism/Nominalism controvery of the Medieval ages. The "Reformed" Baptists take the five points of Calvinism to be universals extended somewhere in space. However, I do not see this position. If this makes one Reformed, becuase there is a universal "Reformed" extended in space, then I do not want to be "Reformed". They would say that the form of "Reformed" exists outside of our minds. I will have to side with the Nominalist side, and state that the "idea" of Reformed is a result of the the classification by the human beings (i.e. The Protestant Reformation), and not some universal outside of the human mind.

The Legalization of homosexual marriage is where all of this was leading up to. Before the rise of American Baptist Culture (pre-Revivalism), America was (for the most part, anyway) a Societas Christiana. But, with the populazation of the Anabaptistic views, America has rapidly declined. The ultimate cause would be the Anabaptists. However, when you progress forward, it would be attributable to the Puritans, then Revivalists and finally the Baptists. We need to wake up, and see the failure which has resulted because of this. There are many breakthroughs in the church today, and many people in the Evanjellyical world do not even see. This is why I refuse to classify myself as an Evangelical, and consider myself a sacramentarian and would gladly side with a Lutheran or Anglican (High-Church), anyday. The sarcraments fundamentally DO accomplish something, as all the Magisterial Reformers (except for maybe Zwingli) affirmed. If we do not rapidly change something, the secularists will take over. It is time to realize that Anabaptism is not the way out. We need something more. We need the entire world and life view centered on Christ, His church and theSacraments that only TRUE-blue historic Reformed Theology can and will offer.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

New Books

Stephanie is here in Dallas, and we are having an amazing time. She really is a true gift of God. I am not going to be able to post the Redemptive-Historical essay on the Baptisms of Acts until this weekend. I have started working on it, but with exams and such coming up, I will not be able to do it during the week.

I have my Renaissance/Reformation final on Thursday. It shouldn't be very hard at all. It will be over John Calvin, the Counter-Reformation (or Catholic Reformation) and the English Reformation. My other test grades have been really well in there, so I am hoping for a trifecta.

I went to Half-Priced books here in Dallas last night and got some really cool books. I got Ford Lewis Battles' Interpreting John Calvin, which is a collection of essaysthat he wrote. It should be really excellent, considering he was a terrific Calvin scholar, and translated the Institutes in the Library of Christian Classics series. I got Leland Ryken's The Word of God in English where he is arguing for essentially literal translations of the Bible. I am very interested by Bible translations issues, and I heartily agree with Ryken's standpoint. What is the best about it, is that he is arguing from a literary standpoint. I got two old issues from Bibliotecha Sacra, which is the quarterly journal of Dallas Theological Seminary. They are a very good, conservative school, and I got the issues for $1.98 a piece, and I cannot pass up a good deal like that (I can look past the Dispensationalism for that good of a deal). I have gotten about 10 others there before.

I bought another book on John Calvin. It is called John Calvin: Student of the Church Fathers by Anthony N. S. Lane. I love to have secondary sources on Calvin, and hope to have many by the time I am finished. However, I am also interested in the Patristics, and figure this to be a good resource to combine the two. I also got Old Testament Textual Criticism by Ellis Brotzman. I must admit that I have not studied Hebrew, but my knowledge of Greek textual Criticism has gotten me interested in all forms of textual criticism. I also got No Place for Truth by David Wells. I am interested in the empact (or lack there of) that Christianity has had on the culture, and the affect which evanjellycallism has had on life. I purchased a book by John Cooper, from Calvin Seminary entitled Our Father in Heaven. It is on inclusive language for God. Although, he believes in women ministers (which I think he is wrong on that issue), he still defends the thesis that God fundamentally cannot be relagated to the kind of language feminists wish to use for God. Of course, this gets into the Philosophical question of 'how can we speak adequately of God'? This is a very interesting topic, which I do not know anything about. The last book I purchased was William Cunningham's The Reformer's and the Theology of the Reformation. I really liked looking through his book on Historical Theology, and figured tht this would be a good book, too.

Tim (Enloe) has really gotten me interested in the Nominalism vs. Realism controversy over the later Middle Ages. I plan on doing much reading in William of Okham this summer. I read a little introduction to him today, and I found it quite interesting. In the introduction it described his breakaway from the Philosophy and Theology of St. Thomas and Duns Scotus and, how he rejected the rationalisim which was the common view of his time period. It was also interesting that he had to go visit the Pope in Avignon, rather than Rome. I actually asked a Catholic Priest, which Pope was infallible during the time period of the Papal Schism. He didn't answer my question, but I wonder what a Catholic would say. That is an interesting question to ponder.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Everyone Else is Doing This, So I Might as Well

Everyone else is doing this, so I might as well:

"The only certain and the only really important point about Thales' doctrine is that he conceived "things" as varying forms of one primary and ultimate element." (Taken from Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy, Volume 1: Greece and Rome)


1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

Saturday, May 01, 2004


I haven't posted in a long time, because I have been incredibly busy with school, work, life, et al. But, in this post, I am going to give a post by my fiancee, Stephanie, because it is an amazing post on something that "Reformed" Baptists do not think of. I have done a little editing to the post (uncapatalized the all the capital letters, removed excessive punctuation, etc.). Here is the link to her blog Songs of a Sinner's Heart if you wish to read it. She is an amazing woman of God, and I love her more than anything :).

How Can an Infant Have Faith?

What is the relationship between faith and baptism? Those who advocate “believers only” baptism understand baptism as an outward sign of an inward faith that is in existence prior to coming to baptism. With this view emphasis falls upon both baptism and faith as man’s act. The individual is qualified and able to receive baptism only after regeneration and faith have taken place in their life. Then they are ready and qualified to receive baptism.

So, how can an infant have faith? I answer this question with a question; How can an adult have faith? The reformed sacrament of paedobaptism is in no way similar to the Roman Catholic teaching of baptismal regeneration. Baptism does not save the infant or give them faith. Instead, it vividly captures the offense and scandal of the Gospel as it demonstrates God’s unmerited gift given freely to a helpless, ignorant, needy soul. Infant baptism bears a living testimony that each of us are Christians only because of what God has come to us and done. He alone makes us family members at a point in our lives when we have done absolutely nothing to deserve that adoption. No knowledge, age, or understanding was conditioned upon our position and place with Christ. We are all totally ignorant and totally helpless no matter how old we are. How can anyone have faith? While we were yet helpless captives of sin God reached out in His grace to embrace us. The motion of redemption and all of God’s work is always from God toward helpless humanity.

So long as it is God who is the “actor” in baptism, and so long as salvation is by grace alone, any question of age or intellectual qualifications on the part of the persons baptized will inevitably compromise the Scriptural doctrine of salvation by grace alone and lead to a form of theological synergism. But to affirm the validity of the baptism of helpless, ignorant, incapable of faith infants is to acknowledge the objective nature of saving grace. The Gospel Word connected to the waters of baptism loudly proclaims God as the seeker and actor.

When an infant is presented to God at the baptismal font, a mighty sermon is being visualized to all of us who behold that baptism. It reminds us that we as sinners are exactly as helpless as the infant. Baptism acknowledges our continual, desperate need, whether as infants or adults, to be connected to Jesus Christ and to be cleansed. Baptism signifies our deep need for a spiritual change that we in our spiritual death and slavery could never produce. It is a testimony: a declaration that something more is needed.

Infant baptism does not guarantee inward cleansing of the heart, just like outward circumcision did not guarantee inward circumcision of the heart, nor does it guarantee that an infant will later receive the spiritual reality symbolized through the sacrament. “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will punish all who are circumcised only in the flesh- and all who live in the desert in distant places. For these nations are really uncircumcised, and even the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart” [Jer. 9:25-26]. Can you imagine how shocking these words would have been for an Israelite boy to hear? For him to be grouped among the unclean Gentiles. But only if he never understood that circumcision was a sign pointing to his heart’s need for cleansing and the external surgery brings no blessing or favor from God [Romans 2:25-29].

Circumcision symbolized the righteousness that believers receive by faith, and the cleaning and renewal of the heart by the Holy Spirit. Yet God commanded that it be administered to Israelite boys at 8 days old, before anyone could tell whether God would change their hearts by His spirit or whether He would enable them to trust His promises.

My Addition Part 1

That is an amazing thing to say by an amazing woman. I do have some things to add to the post which she said. I do not focus on the same thing she does, however. I focus on the concept of the covenant. I became a paedobaptist after Stephanie did. I wanted to be a "Reformed" Baptist more than anything. But, I started studying the concept of the New Covenant. I started to really take seriously the warning passages in the book of Hebrews (afterall, Hebrews is about the New Covenant "not made with hands"). I did not take the warning passages in the book of Hebrews seriously before. I was like every other Baptist and said that they just reffered people who were part of the visible church and not the invisible church (simplified of course). But, this does not adequately deal with the text.

Hebrews 6 is dealing with the people of the New Covenant. The author of Hebrews is contrasting the truly Covenant keeper verses the Covenant breaker. He is also telling us to press on in the faith leaving behind elementary doctrines to more mature things (6:1; cf. 12:1-3). He then goes on to tell us what to do. We are not to, "lay again a foundation from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings of feet and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits." (Hebrews 6:1-3, NASB).

Verse 3 is a third class condition used witht he particle 'eanper'. The third class condition represents that it might or might not happen in the future. What the author is stating is that God may or may not permit us to "press on..". Our pressing on is contingent upon God's allowance (which no "Reformed" Baptist would disagree with). But, the next verse is the dividing verse.

It goes to on to say that people have partaken of the Heavenly gift, yet they still fell away. There are debates about what the heavenly gift is, but I do not have the time to discuss this. Being a part of the people of God is a gift of God. Partaking of the sacarments of baptism and the eucharist are heavenly gifts. Hearing the Word preached is a heavenly gift. All of these things could be said to be the heavenly gift. These people partook of the heavenly gift and yet the fell away. How can this be? In the baptistic system (this includes many Presbyterians, too), the visible church and the invisible church are obscured. Church membership is limited to "regenerate" people who have made a "credible" profession of faith.

Now, my question is this: is this what this passage teaches (cf. Matthew 7:21-23)? We do not know who's profession is "credible" and who's isn't. And, what happens when someone apostasizes in the baptistic system? "Well, they were just not saved in the first place." While, this is true, it doesn't take into account the fact that they "tasted of the heavenly gift". They were members of the Body of Christ, yet not regenerate.

In this instance (and in others of course) baptistic Ecclesiology is inconsistent. We do not know who will be be truly regenerate and who will not. If we do not persevere until the end and the Eschaton, then we will not be saved. And, this passage plainly teaches it. So, the baptistic system of the Covenant ultimately fails. In my next post, I will tackle the question of the baptisms in the book of acts, and show how only from a redemptive-historical standpoint can they be understood.