Argument Against Classical Covenant Theological Paedobaptism For Your Consideration

Status
Not open for further replies.

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
It is true that the Old Testament worked according to families, and to some degree such is the case through Adam in our sin nature, however we do start to see a shift in the Old Testament to a different covenant to come; which is by far a better covenant. In fact we do start to see changes in the language, such as in Acts 2:39 for you see it is also for “ all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” and not just for you and your children. For we see salvation is not through direct decent to a line of believers, but by the calling and drawing of the Lord to his self (See John 6: 36-37, 44).

PeaceMaker]This is the one unfolding plan from a small number of people to larger and larger number of people.Thus the language is consistent with the promise to all nations in the beginning. Still part of that promise.

In regards to household baptisms, I think this was a rarity instead of the norm. In Lydia’s case we already know that she was a “worshiper of God”(Acts 16:14).Therefore she already had a strong influence in her household in regards to religious practice and there a good chance that they may have been present at the riverside; hence implying that they heard the Gospel from Paul and was baptized. Now with the Philippian jailer, in verse 34 we see that the “his entire household rejoiced that he believed in God”. I find it strange that non-believers would rejoice. In fact Jesus words are what echoes in my mind for the norm:

Wow that is a lot of adding to the word of God and speculation of what might have been a hence this. Rather than plainly taking what it tells us and which would be consistent with what went on in the OT.

The simple fact is even if it was a rarity it proves the point that it is legitimate.
So it doesn't have to be the norm.

But can you tell me examples where it wasn't done, that cause you to come to this conclusion, or is this pure conjecture based on nothing in the word?

Is there even one example where children were excluded from baptism?
Or to have been noted the children believed or made profession?
The absence of any instance would lead us to believe because it was not the practice to require a profession or exclude them and it continued without change as in the previous administration or we would be told of the change.

On what basis would one change the practice if not specified in the word to do so?

Deut 4:2 You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. NKJV
 

Sven

Puritan Board Sophomore
It is rather presumptuous indeed to assert that one can only disagree with the "Classical Covenant Theology" thesis (as I specifically titled the thread) out of lack of education regarding CT and it's thoroughly reductionistic to confound my argument with Dispensationalism.

Let me point out that I've never been a dispensationalist. Never watched a "Left Behind" movie (much less read one of the books), never had a Scofield Bible, never adopted premillennialism of any kind. After being converted to Christ in college, I attended a PCA church, then an OPC church. I learned the 1647 WCF, but eventually chose to adopt the 1689 LBCF over exegetical issues relating to Col. 2. I am now, however, considering adopting the 1646 LBCF for some of the reasons related to the points of conflict in this thread, namely the CT axiom regarding "one covenant - multiple administrations," as well as an exaggerated emphasis on Moses over Christ (a different but related issue).

I'm not presumptuous at all. You're understanding of the covenant betrays the fact that you haven't done a very good job of studying classical Reformed Covenant Theology. I don't say that based upon the fact that you disagree, but HOW you disagree.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
It is rather presumptuous indeed to assert that one can only disagree with the "Classical Covenant Theology" thesis (as I specifically titled the thread) out of lack of education regarding CT and it's thoroughly reductionistic to confound my argument with Dispensationalism.
As it is reductionistic to assert that the only kind of dispensational approach to the Scriptures is Scofield dispensationalism.

I am now, however, considering adopting the 1646 LBCF for some of the reasons related to the points of conflict in this thread, namely the CT axiom regarding "one covenant - multiple administrations," as well as an exaggerated emphasis on Moses over Christ (a different but related issue).

I would suggest you consult the scholarship of Fred Malone which defeats the illusion that the 1646 is somehow in competition with the 1689 LBCF on key doctrines. Either way, it is the 1689 LBCF that is required for subscription and participation without waiver here.
 

Sven

Puritan Board Sophomore
Grimson, when I said that covenant works along familial lines I did not mean in any respects that being a child of a believer automatically qualifies the child as a covenant member. I wholeheartedly affirm that faith in Christ is a prerequisite for being in the covenant. However, God blesses those who are a part of His covenant, promising blessings not only to them but to their children. This language is all over the Bible: "to you and your seed," "to you and your children," "showing mercy to a thousand generations," etc. This same lanquage is continued into the New Testament. To reiterate my point: it is the SAME covenant.
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
First, salvation in the Jewish mind, including Peter initially was only for the Jews. Your right to say that membership in the old covenant was through physical descendants, however that does change in the new covenant for all knows the Lord in that covenant as members. Also we see the giving of baptism to those that believe. In fact those who are TRUE members of this covenant are also elected to salvation; and thus a major difference between the old and the new. You do find a mixture visibly, however their leaving is proof they were never members to begin with.

Slow down a minute and look what you wrote here.

You just merged the visible aspect of the covenant with the invisible elect.

There is no difference here between the old and the new.

There were people who were in the visible covenant, members of Israel. Got the temporal earthly benefits, by descendancy, but were not true believers.

There were some of these who were elect and True believers, but not all.

This is the same now, there are many who, fallible men, have judged to meet the standard for membership in the visible church. These are not all elect. So not all who have a good profession are really converted.

I am sure you are not saying you can tell who is really regenerated and who is not and you only baptize the true believers?

So membership in the nation of Israel and outward covenant was by descendants primarily, though also by an outsider making a profession and if make taking the sign. But entrance into salvation was by the covenant of grace through faith only.

Jews were not saved by being a descendant as sited in the vrs in my previous post.
I hope you will study that, it does clear all this up for you if you are open.

So there were two aspects to the old covenant just as there are 2 aspects to the new.

And still people are admitted to the membership of the church through being the children of believers and also by a profession coming from outside or as children become of an age or maturity to give a credible profession.

And yet none of this gives them admission to regeneration. That is still by the covenant of grace through faith only.

Do you disagree that not all in the visible church are regenerated true believers, elect?

Do you then see it was the same in Israel? 2 aspect to membership.

-----Added 7/9/2009 at 08:42:29 EST-----

Grimson, when I said that covenant works along familial lines I did not mean in any respects that being a child of a believer automatically qualifies the child as a covenant member. I wholeheartedly affirm that faith in Christ is a prerequisite for being in the covenant. .

Which covenant? You mean being a child of a member of the visible church covenant does not mean they will be in the eternal covenant of grace.

Covenant children are in the covenant. The visible one. Else they can't be a covenant breaker.

There are always these two aspects to the covenants and membership which people forget and speak in confusing ways.

I am sure in your church you do have children in membership. This is the visible covenant people of god just as Israel was the visible covenant people.

We can't have covenant mean only elect. Or covenant of Grace without specifying this.

This causes the confusion.

God calls all the covenant people, My People. All Israel is called the Children of God. My people.
But they are not all His savingly. Not all in the covenant of grace.

So we can tell our children they are the children of God in this sense and yet that they need to repent, and believe and show evidence of regeneration to be eternally God's.

They are holy, set apart for God in a special way, but they must be regenerated. If they were regenerated early in childhood, at some point there will be visible evidence of this and profession.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
What is a Covenant breaker? If you guys are referring to Romans 1:31, that passage is referred to covnenat breaking in a common sense. Everyone is a covenantbreaker.

(Rom 1:31) Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

(Rom 1:32) Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Gill
covenant breakers; had no regard to private or public contracts:

Henry
Against the ninth commandment: Deceit, whisperers, back-biters, covenant-breakers, lying and slandering.

Robertson
Covenant-breakers (asunthetous). Another paronomasia or pun. A privative and verbal sunthetos from suntithēmi, to put together. Old word, common in lxx (Jer 3:7), men “false to their engagements” (Sanday and Headlam), who treat covenants as “a scrap of paper.”

Barnes
Covenant breakers - Perfidious; false to their contracts.
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
Covenant breaker

Heb 6:4-6

4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. NKJV

Note they only tasted and did not eat Christ.

They sat under the teaching and vowed or were baptized or born in but left the covenant people.

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. NKJV

Whether OT or new, they broke the covenant. For you a baptized member who vowed, covenanted, contracted to obey and walk in the faith and leaves.

One who makes a covenant and does not keep it.

So yes in one sense we who are under the covenant of works have broken it.

But there is a more specific application also.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I actually believe you are assuming too much in the Hebrews passage. But maybe not. The only passage that I know of that specifically addresses covenant breaking is not specifically about falling away from Christ.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
This text is the most explicit:
Heb 10:29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?

But it may and ought to be taken in conjunction with the rest of the warning passages.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
This text is the most explicit:
Heb 10:29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?

The word sanctified can be applied to Christ as Owen and others do.

It seems from vs. 14 that those who are sanctified are perfected for ever.

(Heb 10:14) For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
But that's not the MAIN point that relevant to what was being asked.

WHO profaned (attacked. broke, whatever negative) the blood of the covenant? And how did he do so, unless he's somewhere in the vicinity? If "sanctified" applies to the "profaner", then obviously it isn't a "salvific" sanctification. If it applies to Christ, we still have to deal with someone who is close enough to "profane" that covenant blood.

If you go back to 9:18ff, you have the "blood of the first covenant," and who was connected to it, and we know how that blood/covenant was profaned: mainly by unbelievers yoked outwardly by it.
 

A.J.

Puritan Board Junior
"Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham." -Gal. 3:7

This is true. In fact, it has always been true. In no way could unbelieving Jews (e.g., the Pharisees) say to themselves that they had Abraham as their father (Matt. 3:8; John 8:39). Those who believe in Christ in both testaments are the true seed of Abraham, and those only (Rom. 4:13; Gal. 3:29). Isn't this the very argument of the Apostle Paul in defending justification against the Judaizers? Paul appealed to Abraham because the heretical Judaizers did not understand the patriarch in the first place. Paul's view was also defended by Christ (the seed of Abraham, Gal. 3:16) and John (the last Old Covenant prohpet) in the Gospels. Only those who trust Christ are the seed of Abraham.

Are your children the physical descendants of Abraham by birth? No?
Then don't give them the sign of the covenant.

This is a serious misunderstanding of who received the sign of the covenant. Were the physical descendants of Abraham by birth the only ones who received circumcision?

And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. - Genesis 17:12-13

The truth is even Gentiles who were not the physical descendants of Abraham could become members of God's covenant community in the Old Testament. They received circumcision, and became like the "native of the land."

And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. - Exodus 12:48

Are your children "those of faith who are the sons of Abraham"? No?
Then don't give them the sign of the covenant.

But this begs the question. It's one thing to say that those who are of faith are the children of Abraham. But it's another thing to assert that only those who profess faith are to be baptized. The issue here is not who the true children of Abraham really are. Our concern is who should receive the sign of the covenant.

Your argument also goes against the baptism of professors. Many adults who profess faith and are consequently baptized eventually commit apostasy. Are they then true children of Abraham? No. Therefore, they should not have received the sign of the covenant. At this point, the argument against infant baptism has become an argument against adult baptism.
 
Last edited:

Grimmson

Puritan Board Sophomore
This will probably be my last response in a while, because I’ve been quite busy, so I apologize for the length.

It is true that the Old Testament worked according to families, and to some degree such is the case through Adam in our sin nature, however we do start to see a shift in the Old Testament to a different covenant to come; which is by far a better covenant. In fact we do start to see changes in the language, such as in Acts 2:39 for you see it is also for “ all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” and not just for you and your children. For we see salvation is not through direct decent to a line of believers, but by the calling and drawing of the Lord to his self (See John 6: 36-37, 44).

PeaceMaker]This is the one unfolding plan from a small number of people to larger and larger number of people.Thus the language is consistent with the promise to all nations in the beginning. Still part of that promise.

I never said there were no similarities. I just pointed out that there were clear covenantal differences. For why would we need a new covenant, if the old was the same and good enough? I am not at this point making the works and grace covenantal distinction, but the old and new covenantal distinction; which I may add is not dispensational, but orthodox. It is from there we need to start to construct are covenantal theology. Which from a historical note was developed to stand against the covenantal theology of the Anabaptists.

This now moves me to Household baptisms

In regards to household baptisms, I think this was a rarity instead of the norm. In Lydia’s case we already know that she was a “worshiper of God”(Acts 16:14).Therefore she already had a strong influence in her household in regards to religious practice and there a good chance that they may have been present at the riverside; hence implying that they heard the Gospel from Paul and was baptized. Now with the Philippian jailer, in verse 34 we see that the “his entire household rejoiced that he believed in God”. I find it strange that non-believers would rejoice. In fact Jesus words are what echoes in my mind for the norm:

Wow that is a lot of adding to the word of God and speculation of what might have been a hence this. Rather than plainly taking what it tells us and which would be consistent with what went on in the OT.

You just accused me of adding to the word of God, instead of taking the plain reading of scripture. One could say the same to you and those in your position. You ignored my reference to Matthew 10:34-36 as if it had no meaning to the issue of households. But the simple truth is that the Gospel does divide and that has not changed over time. You also gave no reference to the fact that the Philippian jailer’s family rejoiced that the head of the household believed in God. So you find that normal that unbelievers rejoice as such? Nor did you respond to the fact that Acts 18:8, that it was more then just the head that believed and as a result the household was baptized along with him, but all those that believed were baptized in the household; which happen to be the entire household.

The simple fact is even if it was a rarity it proves the point that it is legitimate.
So it doesn't have to be the norm.

Legitimate to what? Just because something was practiced under the old covenant does not mean that such a practice continues to this day. Nor does it mean that it ends. In the case of NT scripture, belief before baptism was the norm. Now what about children? Remember what I said earlier:

“There is a sense that God is still working through family lines, but it is not by present physical families that are through Adam, but through the Christ who is the second Adam. We are made live again not by our parents, were we inherit original sin, but through the Holy Spirit. And it is through the Holy Spirit that we are children of God and heirs in Christ. Therefore a distinction is made between the physical and the spiritual. We are all children of Abraham in this sense, but we are the spiritual offspring through faith and not the physical.”

We are truly the children of God, and our children are holy in the same sense as an unbelieving spouse is holy. Relook at 1 Corinthians 7:14 on that issue. We are not to look at the unbelieving spouse and see them as being believers; likewise the same would also be true of children; which is very much different with the structure of the old covenant.

Is there even one example where children were excluded from baptism?
Or to have been noted the children believed or made profession?

Those are good questions, even though I have a sense that they were being asked in a condescending way. The evidence is that believing/faith is a requirement for baptism. Does that mean children were not baptized? If they showed simple faith then I see no reason to assume that one was not baptized. The scripture does not make that clear. I do think we can assume believing children because of Ephesians 6.

Hopefully it can be seen that I was true to these texts that I provided. I did try to impose a covenantal outside element to the text, but stayed simply with what information the text provided. We need to be careful that we are not like Rome or other traditions that impose the practice of eisegesis to a text, but to go with only with the information that is provided.
On what basis would one change the practice if not specified in the word to do so?

Deut 4:2 You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. NKJV

The basis is simple, the Word of God. You are making the assumption that the new covenant works the same as the old. It does not. In fact based on your line of reason, in support of John Knox and Henry Alford, you would say that adult baptism should be the exception and was the case in the time of the new testament. Of course today, hopefully we would not say such and would also say that biological growth in the church alone is a mark that the church itself is desperately sick. The word of God is not being added to like you suggest of me. I would suggest relooking at the text and seeing what the plain reading is with respect to the text, outside one traditional applied hermeneutic. And make your decisions based on what the text offers alone before adding to it like many of us do.

First, salvation in the Jewish mind, including Peter initially was only for the Jews.
Their ignorance (as professed by you) doesn't make the statement true. That's not what scripture teaches. Where would it put Ruth? :think:
There seems to be an initial denial that in the Jewish mind that salvation was only for the Jews. I would suggest looking at Acts 10 as an example of the move towards salvation also being for the gentiles; therefore implying that it was once considered to be for the Jews alone and not considering in the back of their mind passages like Psalm 87. They would probably see individuals like Ruth as being saved because of her marriage relationship with Boaz. I am not saying I agree with the position, I am just looking at it from a Jewish perspective. Today if you speak with Jews they still have the same mind set that salvation is strictly for them and for no one else. Of course as Christians we would say salvation only comes from Christ.


Your right to say that membership in the old covenant was through physical descendants, however that does change in the new covenant for all knows the Lord in that covenant as members. Also we see the giving of baptism to those that believe. In fact those who are TRUE members of this covenant are also elected to salvation; and thus a major difference between the old and the new. You do find a mixture visibly, however their leaving is proof they were never members to begin with.
It means that they were never elect, which is not = being in covenant. Else, there would be no such thing as Covenant Breakers. How can one break what they're not in?

Le us back up here. There was two ways to enter into membership in the old covenant. The first way was to be make a profession of faith, be circumcised, be baptized, and then sacrifice an animal; at least according to Herman Witsius in his second volume of Economy of the Covenants. The second way, which was the common way, was by being the offspring of one already in the covenant. Now the real question is whether or not the new covenant is different. Another important question is what is the nature of this new covenant? Another important one is who is saved and who is not and on what grounds?

The best book to look at the similarities and the differences between the old and new covenant is Epistle of the Hebrews. In Chapter 8, verse 7 through 13, we see the old covenant as being inferior to the new, with better promises associated with it. And ratified by Christ on the cross as implied by Luke 22:20. In verse 9 of Chapter 8 of Hebrews the text clearly states that this covenant is not like the one that made after the Israelites left Egypt. So there are established differences and we see what those differences are as we move through the text. One of those difference is the law is in their minds and written on their hearts; this is done by that single offering for those who would be sanctified (Hebrews 10:14-16). As I said before all those in this covenant know the Lord (Hebrews 8:11). And the sins will be forgiven of all those who are given life by the Spirit and loved by God ( 2 Corinthians 3:6, Ephesians 1:13-14, Hebrews 8:12, and 10:17). Life in the old covenant was based perfect obedience, do this and you shall live (Deut. 30:16-18). But in Christ it is based on that once for all sacrifice and not of bulls or goats that looked to Christ. For that was nothing more of a shadow to come.

There was a comment made on the fact that I recognized a mixture in today’s churches of the elect and the unelect. This particular problem of the church is really the fault of the church. For we are to be not that type or shadow anymore. That invisible distinction has been allowed to develop because of a lack or orthodox and discipline within our churches. Where we many times call sheep that are goats and vice versa. Now we do not know in reality who the elect are, but are fruit must be purer then the example set forth from Israel. We use the visible and invisible distinction as an excuse for what is allowed in the church. This acceptance of individuals that are clearly not a part of us, and I am not indicating the weaker brother here, is a sin on our part for scripture shows the church as being that of a holy nation and priesthood. And we should through out the truly wicked among us and focus on the teaching of God’s word instead of the many distractions we have set use.

If anyone has questions about what I have written in any of the posts in this tread I will be more then happy to respond. Even if there are points that I have not answered yet. It may take a while for my response because I am quite busy and do not have much time to spend online right now, because of my own studies that I am behind in. Therefore I wish you all good day or night and God bless you all remembering your forgiveness of sins, paid by the high price of our Savior and Lord.
 

LockTheDeadbolt

Puritan Board Freshman
As it is reductionistic to assert that the only kind of dispensational approach to the Scriptures is Scofield dispensationalism.

Please show where I asserted that Scofieldian Dispensationalism is the only kind of dispensationalism.

I would suggest you consult the scholarship of Fred Malone which defeats the illusion that the 1646 is somehow in competition with the 1689 LBCF on key doctrines. Either way, it is the 1689 LBCF that is required for subscription and participation without waiver here.

Thanks for the suggestion. I will do that. I imagine the definition of "key doctrines" is important to whether or not they are in competition.

If/when I decide to adopt the 1646 I will be sure to resign my membership at PB.
 

LockTheDeadbolt

Puritan Board Freshman
I apologize for "reneging" on my withdrawal from participation in the thread.

But to distill and summarize the constructive criticisms above regarding the original argument presented:

(2a.) is mis-stated in its use of "identical" relating the Abrahamic and New covenants. They are "the same" covenant of grace, but not identical.

As stated, (2a.) begs the question against paedobaptistic interpretations of the NT and requires further argumentation.

(2b.) begs the question against classical Covenant Theology and requires further argumentation.

Accurate summary?

Beyond that, it's valid with true premises, right?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
As it is reductionistic to assert that the only kind of dispensational approach to the Scriptures is Scofield dispensationalism.

Please show where I asserted that Scofieldian Dispensationalism is the only kind of dispensationalism.
When you accuse another of an egregious misrepresentation of your position as dispensationalism (of the variety of owning a Scofield Study Bible or reading Left Behind books) then the accusation of being reductionistic is apt only of your pugilistic response.

I would suggest you consult the scholarship of Fred Malone which defeats the illusion that the 1646 is somehow in competition with the 1689 LBCF on key doctrines. Either way, it is the 1689 LBCF that is required for subscription and participation without waiver here.

Thanks for the suggestion. I will do that. I imagine the definition of "key doctrines" is important to whether or not they are in competition.

If/when I decide to adopt the 1646 I will be sure to resign my membership at PB.
Or apply for a waiver.

I apologize for "reneging" on my withdrawal from participation in the thread.

But to distill and summarize the constructive criticisms above regarding the original argument presented:

(2a.) is mis-stated in its use of "identical" relating the Abrahamic and New covenants. They are "the same" covenant of grace, but not identical.

As stated, (2a.) begs the question against paedobaptistic interpretations of the NT and requires further argumentation.

(2b.) begs the question against classical Covenant Theology and requires further argumentation.

Accurate summary?

Beyond that, it's valid with true premises, right?
(1a) is imprecisely stated as circumcision does not correspond directly with baptism in Covenant theology.

(1b) should note that they are different administrations of the same Covenant of Grace, which substance is the person and work of Christ.

(2a) is wrong as circumcision is regularly used of regeneration in both the NT and OT (Deut 10:6, Deut 30:4, Rom 4, Col 2). It may be typological but it is hardly a mere physical act so much so that it is apt to speak of baptism as circumcision without hands.

(2b), as noted, begs the question but all the premises must be rehabilitated before the question is asked if the argument is valid.
 

Brian Withnell

Puritan Board Junior
I thought I'd put it up an argument here and just let people poke holes in it for awhile. So without any further ado, have at it:

Major Premise: 1. If Covenant Theology is true (A), then its doctrines will be expressed or implied in Scripture (B).

1a. CT contains a doctrine that baptism corresponds directly with circumcision (both being given to infants as signs of the covenant).

1b. This doctrine rests heavily on the doctrine that the Abrahamic and the New Covenant are the same identical covenant of grace in different administrations.

Minor Premise: 2. Even in the most conspicuous places (Acts 15, Col. 2) Scripture nowhere expresses or implies doctrines (1a) and (1b). (~B)

2a. Scripture presents a typological relationship between circumcision and baptism, where the emphasis on the material type (circumcision) is replaced by the emphasis on the spiritual substance (regeneration) (Col. 2), and baptism is linked to union with Christ (Rom. 6), which is by rebirth, not physical birth.

2b. The “one covenant – multiple administrations” supposition (1b) which (1a) rests on is also in contradiction with the plain teaching of Scripture regarding multiple covenants with multiple respective administrations (Jer. 31, Heb. 8-9).

Conclusion: 3. Therefore (~A) CT is false (or "not true," for the strict logicians out there) by modus tollens.

If A, then B.
Not B.
Therefore Not A.

First, 1a is plainly supported by Col 2:11, 12 -- the passage uses parallel of equivalent action. The text without the intervening parenthetical states:

and in Him you were also circumcised ... having been buried with Him in baptism

1a is established as true. We are circumcised because we have been baptized. The only change is removal of the parenthetical clause.

Translate, “Having been buried with Him in your baptism.” The past participle is here coincident in time with the preceding verb, “ye were (Greek) circumcised.” Baptism is regarded as the burial of the old carnal life, to which the act of immersion symbolically corresponds; and in warm climates where immersion is safe, it is the mode most accordant with the significance of the ordinance; but the spirit of the ordinance is kept by affusion, where immersion would be inconvenient or dangerous; to insist on literal immersion in all cases would be mere legal ceremonialism (Ro 6:3, 4).
Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., Fausset, A. R., Brown, D., & Brown, D. (1997). A commentary, critical and explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. On spine: Critical and explanatory commentary. (Col 2:13). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.


Your minor premise 2 is just false. The passage above establishes it. The parallel in both the English and Greek establishes that Paul was saying the need for circumcision not only was not because of the law passing, but also because it was already accomplished for those in Christ when they are baptized. Paul states clearly in the Col 2 passage that baptism is how the gentiles are in fact circumcised. Any denial of that is not from exegesis but from eisegesis. The passage is within the context of Paul opposing circumcision, and points out that Christians are all already circumcised -- while the argument is to oppose circumcision, it clearly has to state the basic premise for which it is being used.

And while the first portion is sufficient to destroy the argument, it is fully worthwhile to tear down 2b.

WCF 7.5. This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel: under the law, it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come; which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the old testament.
And while it is worthwhile noting it is differently stated, the conclusion that there is but one covenant of grace is clearly seen in the LBCF 1689:
3. This covenant is revealed in the gospel; first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation by the seed of the woman, and afterwards by farther steps, until the full discovery thereof was completed in the New Testament; and it is founded in that eternal covenant transaction that was between the Father and the Son about the redemption of the elect; and it is alone by the grace of this covenant that all the posterity of fallen Adam that ever were saved did obtain life and blessed immortality, man being now utterly incapable of acceptance with God upon those terms on which Adam stood in his state of innocency.
Talking of many covenants is well and good as long as you are speak outside of the means of salvation. Different administrations of the only means of salvation is clearly taught in scripture and clearly described in all three statements of reformed faith. 2b is clearly not in agreement with any of the confessional standards of reformed faith. Either there is one covenant of grace, or one opposes the statements of the confessions.

Your logic is flawed:
If A, then B
not A, so B is irrelevant.
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
I actually believe you are assuming too much in the Hebrews passage. But maybe not. The only passage that I know of that specifically addresses covenant breaking is not specifically about falling away from Christ.

I hope you don't seriously mean people can fall away from Christ??

Could you clarify?

No one loses salvation, they are in the visible outward covenant and never were in the inward invisible covenant. They were never regenerated.

So when they quit the church, leave and don't come back, continue in sin and are kicked out, they have broken the covenant they were in.
The visible covenant, church membership but not members of the invisible church of the elect.

The visible church on earth and its members are not the sane as the elect.

Many are unregenerate who are in the visible church.

We cannot tell who is regenerate and who is not. We can not tell who is elect and who is not.
We can only see the works and profession. And anyone who can maintain a minimal outward lifestyle consistent with scripture gets to stay in even if they are not born again.

So when it says someone leaves the church, tasted of the Spirit we must know it was because they never were of us, or they will repent of their covenant breaking and come back. They will either repent and be converted or they will stop the backsliding and return and we will not know for sure.

Man judges the outward visible, only god knows the heart and inward work of grace.
Matt 13:28 The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' 29 But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."'"

Matt 13:40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
NKJV
 

DonP

Puritan Board Junior
This text is the most explicit:
Heb 10:29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?

The word sanctified can be applied to Christ as Owen and others do.

It seems from vs. 14 that those who are sanctified are perfected for ever.

(Heb 10:14) For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

This is what it means in the word sanctified.
1 Cor 7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. NKJV

Now you baptists have to figure out what that is. It isn't Christ.

It is clearly they are the same as Jews. Not all necessarily converted, because man can't know that, but definitely in the visible church and covenant and to be called by the same terms as the Jewish children, Children of God, People of god, Saints, Brethren, Israel, etc. and all other covenant terms and benefits they get for being in the visible outward covenant.

Here are the main benefits of being in the visible covenant people.

Rom 3:1 What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? 2 Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. NKJV

Gal 3:24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith NKJV

So being in the visible covenant, or in church membership does not mean you are regenerated, but it means humanly speaking you have a better chance and if you turn out to be a covenant breaker you will have a more severe judgment.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

LockTheDeadbolt

Puritan Board Freshman
Brian, thank you for the critical analysis of the argument presented in the OP.

First, 1a is plainly supported by Col 2:11, 12 -- the passage uses parallel of equivalent action. The text without the intervening parenthetical states:

and in Him you were also circumcised ... having been buried with Him in baptism

1a is established as true. We are circumcised because we have been baptized. The only change is removal of the parenthetical clause.

I'm afraid you've removed a wee bit more than the parenthetical clause. A bit which is rather crucial in weakening your assertion of equivalent action parallelism.

Without the parenthetical it states: "In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands... having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith..."

The statement that it is a circumcision "without hands" makes it non-equivalent to baptism, in contradiction to your reading of the text.

Your logic is flawed:
If A, then B
not A, so B is irrelevant.

I'm not sure what you're getting at here. The re-structuring of the argument's form you provide here doesn't really reflect any of the reasoning you gave in the body of your response. I didn't argue "not A," but "not B, therefore not A." You disagreed with the "not B" portion, that (2a) is in contradiction with Col. 2 and (2b) is in contradiction with WCF/2LBCF/3FU. That doesn't reflect any change in the form of the argument, however.

I proposed the argument in the title of the thread as an "argument against classical covenant theology...", so I can't disagree with your position that my argument contradicts those confessions. Clearly, it does. But if I can't propose arguments against it for the sake of considering the confessions' biblical faithfulness from within (as a subscriber to one of those confessions), then mustn't we admit to being cessationists with regards to Semper Reformanda, that the "theological canon" was unquestionably closed in the 17th century?

In that respect, many of the responses thus far have committed ad hominem or even tu quoque fallacies at worst and have presented mere appeals to authority at best. I'm just looking for a bit more demonstration than it appears folks are interested in providing. And that, simply, just "is what it is." I wouldn't presume to expect more time on this thread from anyone than they are willing to freely give.

-----Added 7/15/2009 at 10:38:03 EST-----

Rich, thank you for the critical analysis of the argument presented in the OP.

As it is reductionistic to assert that the only kind of dispensational approach to the Scriptures is Scofield dispensationalism.
Please show where I asserted that Scofieldian Dispensationalism is the only kind of dispensationalism.
When you accuse another of an egregious misrepresentation of your position as dispensationalism (of the variety of owning a Scofield Study Bible or reading Left Behind books) then the accusation of being reductionistic is apt only of your pugilistic response.

I've got to admit, I've got no idea what you're saying here. Can you show me where I asserted what you claim I have or not?

(We both know I never asserted anything like that. It's okay to admit it. I'm not going to make a big deal out of it.)

(1a) is imprecisely stated as circumcision does not correspond directly with baptism in Covenant theology.

How about this:
(1a) CT contains a doctrine that baptism corresponds directly with circumcision (both being given to infants as signs of the covenant), albeit with minor administrative adjustments (baptizing infant males and females, whereas circumcision was limited to males, etc.).

(1b) should note that they are different administrations of the same Covenant of Grace, which substance is the person and work of Christ.

How about this:
(1b) This doctrine rests heavily on the doctrine that the Abrahamic and the New covenants are the same, single eternal Covenant of Grace in different administrations.

(2a) is wrong as circumcision is regularly used of regeneration in both the NT and OT (Deut 10:6, Deut 30:4, Rom 4, Col 2). It may be typological but it is hardly a mere physical act so much so that it is apt to speak of baptism as circumcision without hands.

I agree that circumcision typifies regeneration in both testaments, but I'm going to have to disagree with your conclusion, since I don't think the text actually "is apt to speak of baptism as circumcision without hands," per my response to Brian. In what way is baptism performed "without hands"?

(2b), as noted, begs the question but all the premises must be rehabilitated before the question is asked if the argument is valid.

I'm going to go ahead and "rehabilitate" (2b) anyway (I like the way you put that), in an effort at begging the question a little less.

(2b) The “one covenant – multiple administrations” supposition (1b) on which (1a) rests is also in contradiction with the plain teaching of Scripture regarding multiple covenants with multiple respective administrations (Jer. 31, Heb. 8-9), each a progressively-revealed, prophetically-typological shadow of the one, eternal covenant in Christ (the New Covenant).

Okay, done and done. Now what do you say?
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
re. Col.2:11-12 --

How does one "circumcise the heart" WITH hands?
That's a Spirit-operation.
So, there's a bodily and a spiritual procedure, right?

Are today's faithful baptized with hands/water or with the Spirit?
Exactly; its both.

So, what IS Paul's argument in Colossians, if not some sort of analogy?
It seems pretty intransigent to deny that circumcision and baptism are being brought into close connection here.

And you really didn't overturn the grammatical argument. A subordinate clause cannot change the relationship between the main verb (circumcised) and a dependent participle (having been baptized). Simply pointing to the intervening, expansionistic phrase doesn't remove your duty of explaining differently how the parts of speech/sentence relate to one another.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
To build upon what Bruce notes, I find it odd that people assume that those reading the passages and connecting circumcision and/or baptism to regeneration (and any variety of the above) are ignorant of the spiritual language used in those passages. In fact, one of my criticisms of some Baptists is the improper confusion of language when Paul speaks of "being buried with Christ" to miss the fact that spiritual union is being spoken of rather than a prescription of mode. At least the Baptists get right that there is a vital connection between the sign and the thing signified but only make improper application of it.

What I see, however, in your response is the improper assumption that, because spiritual realities are in view that we can logically separate them from the sign. Do you suppose Paul lacked other terms and just drew on the terms "circumcision" and "baptism"? From a pedagogical perspective, for a man who is trying to defeat Gnostic misapprehensions of spiritual realities, it is quite odd for Paul to add to the confusion by bringing in terminology only to have us read between the lines and say: "Oh, well this is in NO way related to circumcision because, after all, this is spiritual." It stretches all credulity.

One of the reasons I don't buy such theologies is because the un-Biblical wedge that is driven between sign and thing signified leads to all sorts of qualifications that the Apostle never forces himself to make. The reason why both OT and NT passages use circumcision to refer to Sovereign operations of the Holy Spirit is because the sign has always signified this and it takes a concerted confounding of the Truth in the service of a pre-supposition to be blind to this fact.
 

LockTheDeadbolt

Puritan Board Freshman
So, what IS Paul's argument in Colossians, if not some sort of analogy?
It seems pretty intransigent to deny that circumcision and baptism are being brought into close connection here.

It certainly does. I'm looking at the original argument and I've nowhere made the disjunction which you (and Rich) appear to think that I have. I affirmed from the outset that "circumcision and baptism are being brought into close connection here." My argument has been that the connection is typological, yours is that it is equivalent. To say that one of these two connections is actually a disjunction is to obfuscate the matter.

I'm not arguing for "logically separating" the signs from the spiritual realities which they signify. I'm arguing that the NC reflects the principle of applying the covenant sign to Abraham's children of rebirth by faith, rather than Abraham's children by physical birth. It actually takes quite a bit of qualification to find a basis for giving the covenant sign to people who are not Abraham's children by faith or by birth, and creates a much greater practical disjunction between the sign and the thing signified (since, in the case of infant baptism, the faith of those receiving the sign is not even part of the equation).

And you really didn't overturn the grammatical argument. A subordinate clause cannot change the relationship between the main verb (circumcised) and a dependent participle (having been baptized). Simply pointing to the intervening, expansionistic phrase doesn't remove your duty of explaining differently how the parts of speech/sentence relate to one another.

To borrow a quote from "The Norseman Moderator":
"It is a mistake to suppose that baptism has come in the place of circumcision. As that which supplanted the Old Testament sacrifices was the one offering of the Saviour; as that which superseded the Aaronic priesthood was the high priesthood of Christ; so that which has succeeded circumcision is the spiritual circumcision which believers have in and by Christ.‘In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ’ (Col 2:11)- how simple! How satisfying! ‘Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him’ (v12 ) is something additional: it is only wresting the Scriptures to say these two verses mean, ‘Being buried with Him in baptism ye are circumcised.’ No, no; verse 11 declares the Christian circumcision is ‘ made without hands’ and baptism is administered with hands! The circumcision ‘made without hands in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh’ has come in the place of the circumcision made with hands. The circumcision of Christ has come in place of the circumcision of the law. Never once in the New Testament is baptism spoken of as the seal of the New Covenant; rather is the Holy Spirit the seal (Eph 1:13; 4:30 )."

Divine Covenants by A. W. Pink
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I'm not arguing for "logically separating" the signs from the spiritual realities which they signify. I'm arguing that the NC reflects the principle of applying the covenant sign to Abraham's children of rebirth by faith, rather than Abraham's children by physical birth.
In other words, the principle is to apply the Covenant sign to the elect alone.

Could you point me to the principle of the NC where it states that the Church will know who has been regenerated so they can apply this principle?
It actually takes quite a bit of qualification to find a basis for giving the covenant sign to people who are not Abraham's children by faith or by birth, and creates a much greater practical disjunction between the sign and the thing signified (since, in the case of infant baptism, the faith of those receiving the sign is not even part of the equation).
Just curious, was the faith of Simon the Sorceror "part of the equation" when he was baptized? How about Demas, who was a missionary with Paul?

Since you're about avoiding this "practical disjunction" as a cornerstone of your argument, perhaps you can provide a Scriptural basis for this bare assertion. In other words, as we're trying to avoid extensive qualification, it ought to be easy for you to provide some Scripture that didactically instructs the baptism of the regenerate and, further, that this is to avoid a confounding of the sign of baptism as more proximate to "the people who should be really marked out" in contrast to that sloppy OT methodology that created far too many that didn't possess the spiritual reality.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
BC,
Pink doesn't explain grammatically how v12 happens to sit (in space?), in relation to the rest of the sentence, which is v11. Perhaps he didn't do Greek grammar? But his whole analysis is based on a reading of the English KJV text, even ignoring the punctuation in his Bible.

The circumcision without hands (of the heart, an OT phrase, I must add, e.g. Dt.10:16) is connected to
"baptism [-]is[/-] administered with hands"?!? (quote, Pink)

I hope you'll understand why it might make sense to me that the clear connection is:
"spiritual" OT to "spiritual" NT.
 
Last edited:

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
I'm not arguing for "logically separating" the signs from the spiritual realities which they signify. I'm arguing that the NC reflects the principle of applying the covenant sign to Abraham's children of rebirth by faith, rather than Abraham's children by physical birth. It actually takes quite a bit of qualification to find a basis for giving the covenant sign to people who are not Abraham's children by faith or by birth, and creates a much greater practical disjunction between the sign and the thing signified (since, in the case of infant baptism, the faith of those receiving the sign is not even part of the equation).

Aside from the excellent grammatical points made above, you have another problem with your argument. You previously said there are multiple everlasting covenants. Therefore, in your scheme how can Gentiles be Abraham's children at all (whether by birth or rebirth), if we are not under the same covenant as Abraham in some way?
 
Last edited:

A.J.

Puritan Board Junior
It certainly does. I'm looking at the original argument and I've nowhere made the disjunction which you (and Rich) appear to think that I have. I affirmed from the outset that "circumcision and baptism are being brought into close connection here." My argument has been that the connection is typological, yours is that it is equivalent. To say that one of these two connections is actually a disjunction is to obfuscate the matter.

I'm not arguing for "logically separating" the signs from the spiritual realities which they signify. I'm arguing that the NC reflects the principle of applying the covenant sign to Abraham's children of rebirth by faith, rather than Abraham's children by physical birth. It actually takes quite a bit of qualification to find a basis for giving the covenant sign to people who are not Abraham's children by faith or by birth, and creates a much greater practical disjunction between the sign and the thing signified (since, in the case of infant baptism, the faith of those receiving the sign is not even part of the equation).

You seem to be denying this:

Circumcision of the flesh (sign) -> Circumcision of the heart (thing signified)

Water Baptism (sign) -> Circumcision of the heart (thing signified)

Baptism and circumcision of the flesh signify the same reality, namely, the circumcision of the heart. This is established by Col. 2:11-12. Baptism, therefore, is the sacramental equivalent of circumcision. The sign did change, but the thing signified did not.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
As I've noted previously, this boils down to a discussion on Covenant Theology. The problem with this thread as it has developed:

1. A weak presentation of CT in the premises.
2. Begging the question in premises.
3. A novel multi-Covenantal system that remains unpresented in full but merely asserted in snippets in response to challenges to the premises.
4. A less than patient attitude toward others that have every reason to be impatient with "prooftext fly bys".

I'm waiting to see how the response proceeds but will likely close this thread down as it serves no purpose. Premises to an argument have to contain some definitions and you have not given any common definitions. You are admittedly extra- or contra-Confessional in your use of terms and your understanding of the Covenants.

It is not an "appeal to authority" to require a common framework for understanding if the Confessions are to serve as a normative or standard exposition of the Scriptures. It is even in the forum rules that those that desire to depart from the Confessional understanding of the Scriptures bear the burden of proof because the exegetical work that went into the Confessions is in the public domain. We're not hiding anything or slipping anything under the door when we state that we agree with the conclusions.

In contrast, you simply want to assert an argument and have provided no basis for key premises.

If all you want us to do is to say: "Ah, well, if we ignore our understanding of the meaning of words then your argument is airtight" then I suppose some can oblige. Yet that is hardly compelling except in the small universe of people that know what color the sky is in the world in which you are standing. You haven't described where you're coming from yet in adequate detail so we can apprehend what this multi-Covenantal view of yours is.

Thus, I'm not going to waste any more of the board's time with orthodox answers that get brushed aside and you are not required to defend the ground you are standing on. I don't see that you've done any exegetical or systematic work to even begin to mount an external critique.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top