Baptism as sign of covenant of grace

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steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
I was looking at the tabular comparison of the WCF and LBC and noting that the LBC does not (necessarily?) confess that Baptism is a sign of the covenant of grace but rather an ordinance of the New Testament.

One of the arguments for paedobaptism asks whether the covenant sign should be placed on covenant members (the obvious answer: yes). However if Baptists do not confess that baptism is a sign of the covenant of grace, the argument rests on a category that is not common to both sides. Another argument is necessary.

Many Reformed Baptists might prefer calling baptism the sign of the New Covenant, which is in keeping with the New Testamental emphasis of the ordinance.

I don't think this view downplays covenant theology for the Reformed Baptist, but it shows that their theology of baptism is not as dependent on covenant theology as it is for paedobaptists.
 

Bill The Baptist

Puritan Board Graduate
Baptists tend to view the Lord's Supper as the sign of the New Covenant. "And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood." Luke 22:20 ESV
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
I don't think this view downplays covenant theology for the Reformed Baptist, but it shows that their theology of baptism is not as dependent on covenant theology as it is for paedobaptists.

Baptist covenant theology is very much dependent on baptism; not baptism alone but baptism as part of the entire schema. Baptism is the sign of the New Covenant, and as such it is to be applied to those who profess faith in Christ. Without baptism covenant theology is stunted and, therefore, made invalid.
 

KingofBashan

Puritan Board Freshman
Maybe the confusion is rooted in forgetting this: the Baptist view is that the New Covenant is made only with regenerate sinners.

On this solid foundation we would note two facts:

1. Baptism is a sign of the regenerate sinner's union with Christ.
2. Baptism is also an ordinance to be practiced in the visible church.

Proof:

LBCF 29 "On Baptism"
29:1: Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized, a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of remission of sins; and of giving up into God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.

29:2: Those who do actually profess repentance twoards God, faith in, and obedience to, our Lord Jesus Christ, are the only proper subjects of this ordinance.

For those who are regenerated, and enter into the covenant God has made with them (ie the New Covenant), baptism is a sign of their baptism into Christ.

For those who are not regenerated, but profess faith when they have no faith (whether maliciously or ignorantly), baptism is an ordinance they partake of, but it is a sign for nothing, since they have no fellowship with Christ, in his death or his ressurection. They are not engrafted into him. They do not enjoy the remission of sins. They have not been given up into God to walk in newness of life. The Lord will one day face them in judgment and declare "I never knew you", although they may have lived long lives under false pretenses of faith, maybe even having accomplished great things for God. Even if it might be called a sign for them, it would be a lie, since they are signaling something that isn't true - God indeed has not entered into the terms of the New Covenant with them.
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks for that thread, Rev. Winzer. I think it's important for the covenant of grace to be more than simply an offer of the gospel to all (Bill have you moved on from that thought, or is that orthodox to the LBC?). I've always understood it to be an efficacious covenant, and I think Baptists would disagree with paedobaptists in that there is an administration thereof that does not save.
What has been helpful for me is that article by the Renihans on how the covenant of grace should be considered within the framework of the New Covenant. It is the life, death, and resurrection of Christ that vivifies the covenant of grace, and it is this that must be retroactively applied to Old Testament saints in order to effect their regeneration. That is one way to ensure that the New Covenant and the Covenant of Grace are not two separate covenants.

What I like about the Baptist scheme is that it seems to appreciate in greater measure the chronological/salvation-historical flow through the testaments, along with its moments of punctuation. This is what makes it smell Dispensational, but it is not. Hence, Baptists would not take their cues for a sign of the covenant of grace from the Old Testament - it makes no sense for us to do that.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Price,

Our paedobaptist brethren would claim that the sign of baptism, as applied to an infant, is not dependent on the professed faith of that infant. They apply the sign based partly on their conviction of the continuity of the Abrahamic Covenant. Paedobaptists would agree with Baptists that the sign does not reveal the actual internal spiritual condition of the one receiving the sign. You said:

For those who are not regenerated, but profess faith when they have no faith (whether maliciously or ignorantly), baptism is an ordinance they partake of, but it is a sign for nothing...

Maybe we can phrase this differently. For the unregenerate person who submits to baptism, their baptism does not reflect their inward spiritual condition. However, baptism itself signifies union with Christ. Even if a person submits to the ordinance ignorantly or deceptively, baptism still signifies union with Christ. In that sense we should hold baptism in high regard. As a Baptist I still believe the only proper recipient of baptism are those who profess faith in Christ, but I still hold the ordinance itself in high regard.
 

reformedjason

Puritan Board Freshman
I see that the scripture teaches us that only people that profess faith in Christ should be baptized. I am not a baptist, but I was one for many years. I now do not claim any denomination.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I see that the scripture teaches us that only people that profess faith in Christ should be baptized.

Your profile says that you subscribe to the Westminster Standards. Did you mean to say that you subscribe to the LBC? If so, please edit your profile. Thanks.
 

reformedjason

Puritan Board Freshman
I see that the scripture teaches us that only people that profess faith in Christ should be baptized.

Your profile says that you subscribe to the Westminster Standards. Did you mean to say that you subscribe to the LBC? If so, please edit your profile. Thanks.

honestly I dont really care about creeds and confessions, I just picked one because i had to. I have read through these, but I could care less, my theology is based on scripture. I see that this forum puts more merit in creeds and what not than I am comfortable with , therfore I believe I am going to back out of the forum. I don't get how anyone can just do something because it is in the creed, if the creed does not line up with scripture then the creed is wrong.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Jason,
As you wish, your membership is suspended forthwith.

Please let us know if you change your attitude, and wish to be reinstated, by adopting a common confession. And meaning what you say next time.

The point of adhering to one of several historic "pattern of sound words" (2Tim.1:13), is that by agreeing (coming in the door) that some Creed or Confession is "what the Bible teaches" on certain subjects, we reduce friction and fractiousness.

There is still room for debate here--after all, we have Presbyterians and Baptists together.

But this is a place for learning, in a structured environment. That's why we asked you to tell us which confession you believed was "what the Bible teaches." It's a front-loaded screen, so that participants are aware that they will be held to the standard they profess.

If you don't have a standard, then you are unsafe as a guide or follower. All heretics quote Scripture. This is not a free-for-all playground. We have a duty to the safety of others on the site we police.

Lone-rangers, such as yourself, are a part of the landscape. But your "don't fence me in" attitude means you will have to go find a Wild-West-region of the internet to shoot off your opinions.

And, by your own admission either 1) you were frivolous about our standards; or 2) you were disingenuous about your own.
 

GulfCoast Presbyterian

Puritan Board Junior
I see that the scripture teaches us that only people that profess faith in Christ should be baptized.

Your profile says that you subscribe to the Westminster Standards. Did you mean to say that you subscribe to the LBC? If so, please edit your profile. Thanks.

honestly I dont really care about creeds and confessions, I just picked one because i had to. I have read through these, but I could care less, my theology is based on scripture. I see that this forum puts more merit in creeds and what not than I am comfortable with , therfore I believe I am going to back out of the forum. I don't get how anyone can just do something because it is in the creed, if the creed does not line up with scripture then the creed is wrong.

This is not specifically directed at Jason. However, I have found in community bible studies in my area, there are many, many people who mistrust and misunderstand the confessions. Especially ex-RC's who are suspicious of the false delimma of exchanging "Scripture plus the teachings of the magisterium" for "scriptures plus a confession." This is a misunderstanding, I think. The reasons the various creeds and confessions were created was due, in large part, to doctrinal errors in the Church propigated by folks who thought their theology was "based on scripture." Since the time of the Reformation, the “reformed church” has believed and taught that the scriptures were only infallible source of doctrine. Therefore, we do not hold any doctrines that we cannot find directly, or properly deduce from, the face of the scriptures themselves. See WCF 1, 6. "The whole counsel of God conerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequene may be deduced from Scripture: unto whih nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the sprit, or traditions of men...." The creeds/confessions are a unifying document by which we focus on the teachings of the scriptures, not a replacement "of" the scriptures. I have this discussion regularly with a dear lady who just left the RCC and really struggles with having both "sola scriptura" and the WCF. I have tried and tried to come up with different ways to explain this to her.
 
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