Are Baptism and the Lord's Supper sacraments and "means of grace"?

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KMK

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Yes, a Scottish one. I think he is correct when he advises paedobaptists "By keeping this distinction in view, you will save yourselves from a world of confusion. By not attending to it our views have been sadly misrepresented." There is a great deal of nuance involved.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, a Scottish one. I think he is correct when he advises paedobaptists "By keeping this distinction in view, you will save yourselves from a world of confusion. By not attending to it our views have been sadly misrepresented." There is a great deal of nuance involved.

Certainly a sound and sobering admonition for Presbyterians; however he doesn't speak to Baptists as to the sign and seal. While I appreciate M'Crie's detailed explanation on the sealing aspect of baptism, I still find myself with a material disagreement as to his conclusions, as did the vast majority of Baptists during his time.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, a Scottish one. I think he is correct when he advises paedobaptists "By keeping this distinction in view, you will save yourselves from a world of confusion. By not attending to it our views have been sadly misrepresented." There is a great deal of nuance involved.

Certainly a sound and sobering admonition for Presbyterians; however he doesn't speak to Baptists as to the sign and seal. While I appreciate M'Crie's detailed explanation on the sealing aspect of baptism, I still find myself with a material disagreement as to his conclusions, as did the vast majority of Baptists during his time.

That may be true, but he helps to clarify the disagreement.

Paedos and credos agree that it is the Holy Spirit alone that 'secures' an individual in the NC.
Paedos and credos agree that it is the Holy Spirit alone that 'distinguishes' an individual in the NC from those who are without.

The disagreement lies in whether water baptism confirms the faith of the church in the NC.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
KMK said:
Paedos and credos agree that it is the Holy Spirit alone that 'secures' an individual in the NC.
Paedos and credos agree that it is the Holy Spirit alone that 'distinguishes' an individual in the NC from those who are without.

Ken,

I do not believe there is any disagreement between the camps on the role of the Holy Spirit in securing/distinguishing the members of the New Covenant. There is a systemic disagreement on whether the Holy Spirit plays a role in securing/distinguishing unbelievers within the New Covenant; that is why Baptists do not baptize infants. Those whom the Holy Spirit secures (or more properly "seals"; Eph. 1:13) are permanent members of the New Covenant.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
KMK said:
Paedos and credos agree that it is the Holy Spirit alone that 'secures' an individual in the NC.
Paedos and credos agree that it is the Holy Spirit alone that 'distinguishes' an individual in the NC from those who are without.

Ken,

I do not believe there is any disagreement between the camps on the role of the Holy Spirit in securing/distinguishing the members of the New Covenant. There is a systemic disagreement on whether the Holy Spirit plays a role in securing/distinguishing unbelievers within the New Covenant; that is why Baptists do not baptize infants. Those whom the Holy Spirit secures (or more properly "seals"; Eph. 1:13) are permanent members of the New Covenant.

Are you saying paedos believe the "Holy Spirit plays a role in securing/distinguishing unbelievers within the NC"?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Yes, a Scottish one. I think he is correct when he advises paedobaptists "By keeping this distinction in view, you will save yourselves from a world of confusion. By not attending to it our views have been sadly misrepresented." There is a great deal of nuance involved.

Thankyou, Pastor Klein. With you, I think the nuance must be understood from the antipaedobaptist side as well. Afterall, the discussion has been raised because the London Confession omits the word "seal" in its revision of a paedobaptist Confession. Before anything substantive could be based upon that omission it is imperative to understand what was meant by "seal" in the first place.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Should you demonstrate from extra-confessional sources that this gloss is shared by particular baptists then you will have shown that this is an extra-confessional gloss -- that is all.

It was suggested to me in a private message that a parallel with the Westminster Confession might prove helpful for demonstrating the above point. There are numerous examples in the Presbyterian tradition where intra-mural discussion has come to acknowledge the limitations of the Confession and has accepted that the inferences being drawn from it are extra-confessional. The prime example is the 1647 Adopting Act of the Church of Scotland with relation to the civil magistrate having the power to call synods. Is this power lawful in the case of a settled or unsettled church? The Confession does not specify. The General Assembly expressed its mind that the Confession was to be regarded as speaking of an unsettled church and that ordinarily the church has the power to convene at its own discretion. This example has been raised in relation to numerous discussions to show the prudence of distinguishing between the confession and its adoption/adaptation in the confessing tradition.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
KMK said:
Paedos and credos agree that it is the Holy Spirit alone that 'secures' an individual in the NC.
Paedos and credos agree that it is the Holy Spirit alone that 'distinguishes' an individual in the NC from those who are without.

Ken,

I do not believe there is any disagreement between the camps on the role of the Holy Spirit in securing/distinguishing the members of the New Covenant. There is a systemic disagreement on whether the Holy Spirit plays a role in securing/distinguishing unbelievers within the New Covenant; that is why Baptists do not baptize infants. Those whom the Holy Spirit secures (or more properly "seals"; Eph. 1:13) are permanent members of the New Covenant.

Are you saying paedos believe the "Holy Spirit plays a role in securing/distinguishing unbelievers within the NC"?

I'm saying that paedos believe their children are members of the New Covenant community; hence members of the New Covenant. If I have that wrong I welcome a correction by my paedo brethren. I do not want to intentionally misrepresent them. If their baptized children are members of the New Covenant is that or is that not a work of the Holy Spirit?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
KMK said:
Paedos and credos agree that it is the Holy Spirit alone that 'secures' an individual in the NC.
Paedos and credos agree that it is the Holy Spirit alone that 'distinguishes' an individual in the NC from those who are without.

Ken,

I do not believe there is any disagreement between the camps on the role of the Holy Spirit in securing/distinguishing the members of the New Covenant. There is a systemic disagreement on whether the Holy Spirit plays a role in securing/distinguishing unbelievers within the New Covenant; that is why Baptists do not baptize infants. Those whom the Holy Spirit secures (or more properly "seals"; Eph. 1:13) are permanent members of the New Covenant.

Are you saying paedos believe the "Holy Spirit plays a role in securing/distinguishing unbelievers within the NC"?

I'm saying that paedos believe their children are members of the New Covenant community; hence members of the New Covenant. If I have that wrong I welcome a correction by my paedo brethren. I do not want to intentionally misrepresent them. If their baptized children are members of the New Covenant is that or is that not a work of the Holy Spirit?

Bill,

You're failing to distinguish the senses in which Baptism is spoken of in the WCF:
I. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life: which sacrament is, by Christ's own appointment, to be continued in his Churchy until the end of the world.

...

VI. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in his appointed time.
Note the qualifier in paragraph 6 that the "...grace promised is...conferred by the Holy Ghost, to such...as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God's own will."

In other words, while Baptism signifies the graces that are promised in the Sacrament, it does not confer them. The relationship to the Spirit is that He sovereignly confers them upon the elect. If by "in the New Covenant" a person insists that baptism confers the benefits it signifies then not even the WCF confesses such a thing. The sense that Presbyterians believe all baptized members are in the New Covenant is their separation from the world and participation in the visible Kingdom. Whether or not a baptized member enjoys the spiritual graces signified by that Covenant depends upon the Holy Spirit.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Rich, thank you for the explanation. I did not want to misstate the paedo position.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
No, Matthew. I'm making the point that you are so locked in your opinion of what Reformed and Particular Baptists believe about their own confession that it makes me question your motives. Is it historical theology to cite such men as Benjamin Keach and William Kiffin, both signatories to the 1689 LBC, as being on record that baptism is a sign only of the thing signified? Those are some of the additional proofs I am able to provide. The 1689 LBC is not a republication of the WCF. There are notable differences between the two confessions and those differences exist for a reason. The framers of the 1689 held to baptism being a sign only. Why then would they leave it intentionally ambiguous so as to allow subscribers to differ with a core and defining Baptist doctrine? Answer: it was not left ambiguous. The omission of baptism being a seal in 29.1 was purposeful.

Bill, I haven't offered an opinion on "their own confession." The point I have made in this thread with respect to "your own confession" is that the requirement of an exception is not warranted by the confession itself. It is your gloss. Should you demonstrate from extra-confessional sources that this gloss is shared by particular baptists then you will have shown that this is an extra-confessional gloss -- that is all.

I dislike your method of "owning the confession" to the point that it excludes impartial interpretation from those who do not "own the confession." One main purpose of a confession is full disclosure of beliefs. The idea that some hidden hand shake is needed in order to understand it is simply cultish. This is an historical document and should be interpreted accordingly. As such it is an item of public domain.

As noted earlier, if the omission is purposeful, one must still explain the actual purpose before leaping to a specific conclusion.

I think you might need to go back and rethink your strategy with respect to the "seal" argument. You seem to think that the "Spirit-seal" is exclusive to particular baptists. Some research on the matter would reveal that this is the Reformed teaching. See WCF 12.1, "sealed to the day of redemption." The sacramental seal is of an entirely different nature. There is no justification for setting the two in exclusive contrast.

Matthew, regardless of the vigor our discussion has exhibited I always appreciate our interaction. My point is not to state the paedo position but to explain the Baptist position. I appreciate your suggestion to research the "Spirit-seal" issue. I have done so from the Baptist perspective and remain unconvinced that the omission of "seal" from 29.1 was accidental or, worse yet, a sign of ambivalence. The Baptists from history that have been quoted here (as well as many others that time and energy have prevented me from listing) would see a connection between the Spirit-seal (Eph. 1:13) and the sacramental seal only to the degree that the latter is not represented in baptism. At this point I am content to let the conversation rest on the points that have already been shared. As always, thank you for challenging me.
 

Grimmson

Puritan Board Sophomore
Even the Anglican Antipaedobaptist John Tombes had issue with associating sealing language with the sacrament of baptism, he writes in A Short Catechism about Baptism (1659):

Quest. 24 Did Circumcision seal the Gospel Covenant? Rom. 4.11

Answ. That text speaks not of any Circumcision but Abrahams, which sealed the righteousness to all, though uncircumcised, who should believe as he did.

Quest. 25. Are not the Sacraments of the Christian Church in their nature, Seals of the Covenant of Grace?

Answ. The Scripture doth nowhere so call them, nor doth it mention this as their end or use.

Furthermore, according to Mike Renihan, Tombes never left the Church of England. Tombes’ work on baptism parallels Particular Baptist thought during that period and later on with the subscribers on the 2nd London Baptist Confession. Tombes died on May 26 1676, therefore placed before the writing of the second London.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Even the Anglican Antipaedobaptist John Tombes had issue with associating sealing language with the sacrament of baptism, he writes in A Short Catechism about Baptism (1659):

Quest. 24 Did Circumcision seal the Gospel Covenant? Rom. 4.11

Answ. That text speaks not of any Circumcision but Abrahams, which sealed the righteousness to all, though uncircumcised, who should believe as he did.

Quest. 25. Are not the Sacraments of the Christian Church in their nature, Seals of the Covenant of Grace?

Answ. The Scripture doth nowhere so call them, nor doth it mention this as their end or use.

Furthermore, according to Mike Renihan, Tombes never left the Church of England. Tombes’ work on baptism parallels Particular Baptist thought during that period and later on with the subscribers on the 2nd London Baptist Confession. Tombes died on May 26 1676, therefore placed before the writing of the second London.

Tombes suffered from the same misunderstanding spoken of above. I find his answers quite facile.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I just ran across this for those who were interested in this thread.

Philip E. Johnson, of Chowan College:

We turn now to discuss the ways in which the early Baptists believed God, particularaly the Second and Third Persons of the Holy Trinity, works in and through the life of the Church...Early Baptists called these means of God's grace "ordinance" in a sense larger than that usually intended by contemporary Baptists...

The sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper were also among God's ordinances. A word of clarification is in order here. Given the (presumed to be historical) non- or anti-sacramentalist view of many contemporary Baptists in America, the early Baptists' use of the word "sacrament" may cause some consternation. It may be tempting to argue that they called baptism and the Supper "sacraments" because that was the linguistic convention of their day. Early Baptists meant by "sacrament," however, what contemporary Baptists mean by "ordinance."

This argument, as tempting as it may be, would simply be wrong. The early Baptists were careful in their terminology. As we noted above, they numbered several ordinances of ecclesial life by which God works for salvation. Two of these were sacraments. In Keach's catechism, 'The Child's Delight', the question was asked, "what are those gospel Ordinancs called Sacraments which do confirm us in this Faith?" This shows a precision not commonly acknowledged. Not only did they employ carefully a sacramental terminology, early Baptists held a sacramental understanding of the two rites...

...Most basically, our Baptists believed that God the Spirit acts redemptively in the rite of baptism. This stands in marked contrast to the dominant contemporary understandings that baptism is either an obligation placed upon the regenerate in order to formalize membership in a local congregation, or a ritual depiction of the conversion experience...

...The spiritual presence of Christ in the Supper was affirmed with wide consent..."

"Practicing the Freedom of God: Formation in Early Baptist Life"; from Theology and Lived Christianity; David M. Hammond, editor; Vol 45; pgs 126-130.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
...Most basically, our Baptists believed that God the Spirit acts redemptively in the rite of baptism. This stands in marked contrast to the dominant contemporary understandings that baptism is either an obligation placed upon the regenerate in order to formalize membership in a local congregation, or a ritual depiction of the conversion experience...
I'm trying to understand this from a baptist point of view and am having trouble reconciling it. If this is true, it is a very high sacramentology indeed! It could be viewed as even higher than that of paedobaptists, bringing the act of baptism and election/salvation even closer together.
 
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