Paedo-Baptism Answers Critique of Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology and Biblical Theology (Renihan)

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Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
Pascal Denault in his, The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology,
I am not sure if you mean the first or the second edition, Steve. Denault tries to clarify his arguments better in the second edition to maximise communication between Covenantal Baptists and Paedobaptists. The first edition sounded a bit dispensational!
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
You are right, Stephen - I have the First (2013) Edition, not the Revised (2014). Thanks for that update.

While looking this up, I found an Amazon customer review (by a Presbyterian) of both editions that may be of interest to some:

Here's the link to the review (the pdf attached didn't connect to it): https://smile.amazon.com/gp/custome...ef=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00QZNH38S

[Even so, I prefer my Reformed approach]
 

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Taylor Sexton

Puritan Board Junior
You are right, Stephen - I have the First (2013) Edition, not the Revised (2014). Thanks for that update.

While looking this up, I found an Amazon customer review (by a Presbyterian) of both editions that may be of interest to some:

Here's the link to the review (the pdf attached didn't connect to it): https://smile.amazon.com/gp/custome...ef=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00QZNH38S

[Even so, I prefer my Reformed approach]
I loved reading that review. Thank you, brother.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The review I had just attached / & linked to from Amazon on Pascal Denault’s book, it will not solve the impasse between credo and paedo, but simply be part of the ongoing theological ping-pong match.

Decades ago I had it drilled into my head that “A covenant is a promise suspended upon a condition”, which were Charles Hodge’s words in his commentary on 2 Cor 3:6, and he was referring to the CoW, but applying them in the following sentences to other “dispensations” he also terms covenants.

This is where Hoeksema, Engelsma, and company depart from what is admittedly the general consensus among Presbyterian and many Reformed with respect to conditional covenants, where men must accept and act upon the promises—so that access into the covenant of God’s free grace towards the elect depends upon the will of man, and his fulfilling posited stipulations.

Rather, God has quickened me, and He will keep me experientially through the Holy Spirit’s work within me in conjunction with God’s word:

Ezek 36:26,27: A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. [Emphasis added]

Jer 32:40: And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. [Emphasis added]​

Of course I am responsible, but He will see to it—by the sanctifying and illumining Holy Spirit, in conjunction with His disciplining providence—that I have a mind and heart to be conformed to His will, even if the flesh puts up a struggle.

Hoeksema addresses this, in his chapter, “The Meaning of the Covenant”:

“Nor does it [the covenant] consist in a certain agreement between two parties according to which mutual stipulations and conditions must be met, as it is also often presented: for the covenant is God’s, and He bestows upon His friends all that is necessary for the life and the battle of the covenant. But the essence of the covenant is to be sought in this living relation of friendship whereby God the Lord is the sovereign friend of His people, and they are the Lord’s friend-servants, partaking of His fellowship, by grace possessing and manifesting His life and fighting the battle of His cause in the midst of the world. The realization of that covenant as it shall presently be revealed in everlasting glory constitutes the history of salvation; the struggle in the cause of that covenant is the battle of the ages.

“If we keep this fundamental idea of God’s covenant in mind, we also understand the Scriptures. In “the beginning,” the dawn of creation, lies also the beginning of the realization of God’s covenant. For man is immediately placed in Paradise as the covenant friend-servant of the Lord. That is his position. That determines the relation in which he stands to the Lord his God, on the one hand, and to the entire earthly creation, on the other hand. Of an agreement, according to which God and Adam posit mutual certain stipulations, we read literally nothing in the history of Paradise. God indeed establishes His covenant with Adam; and the Lord delineates the place which Adam assumes in relation to Himself and in relation to creation; but Adam stands in God’s covenant without any condition laid down beforehand. Nor is it true that in the first chapters of Holy Writ we read of any promise constituting the essence of the covenant — a promise dependent upon Adam’s consent or acceptance. Indeed, God threatens death, should Adam violate His covenant; and indeed, this implies by way of contrast that Adam had life and that only in God’s covenant of friendship could he enjoy life. But one certainly does not find a promise that Adam could merit eternal life in the way of obedience.” (Believers and Their Seed: Children in the Covenant; pp 65, 66)​

The unique thing about the PRCA view is that there is one covenant between God and men, the covenant of grace to the elect in Christ Jesus, although the illumining and narrowing of the one covenant—as in the cases of Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David—are also termed covenants, as refinements of the essential covenant of grace.

In this context the inclusion of infants of believing parents in this one covenant, both before Jesus Christ and after Him, makes sense in such continuity. Repeating the quote of Engelsma above:

“God realizes his covenant in the line of generations. He gathers his church from age to age from the children of believers. As the Puritans were fond of saying, ‘God casts the line of election in the loins of godly parents.’ For the sake of the elect children, all are baptized.”​

This despite reprobates being among the seed of believers and receiving the sign of the covenant. “For the sake of the elect children, all are baptized.” Those branches that bear no fruit are pruned off and burned.
 
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RickG

Puritan Board Freshman

God realizes his covenant in the line of generations. He gathers his church from age to age from the children of believers. As the Puritans were fond of saying, ‘God casts the line of election in the loins of godly parents.’ For the sake of the elect children, all are baptized.” [Emphasis added]​
Thank you. Your bolded quote was helpful to me in my journey on this. I too have been perplexed over the elect / seed / baptism area, and more recently, pondering what appears to be the great emphasis on the work of the Spirit in the NT, and what bearing or impact this may have on this issue. I too can see that simplicity is actually vital evidence we can grasp the much bigger picture of the scope of salvation. I'm currently in the labyrinth of it all, but looking for those connections in order to bring the threads together for that reason.
 

RickG

Puritan Board Freshman
Briefly, and hurriedly, I have been troubled on the position of the reprobate in this way: I've often had the reprobate explained to me in terms of the 'occasional' reprobate, being that God's usual method of bestowing salvation is via family lines. However, where does that leave what appears to be entire generations of reprobates in the life of Israel? It would appear the circumcised rebelled in mass numbers, entire generations, which I assume were lost. Is this to be explained by the unregenerate nature of the parents of the seed/children during such times? I assume in NT times, believing parents are more generally, truly believing parents, therefore we live in times where we may expect the reprobate position to be more of the exception than the rule?
 

RobertPGH1981

Puritan Board Sophomore
“God realizes his covenant in the line of generations. He gathers his church from age to age from the children of believers. As the Puritans were fond of saying, ‘God casts the line of election in the loins of godly parents.’ For the sake of the elect children, all are baptized.”
Excuse my ignorance but this area confuses me as a Baptist and I will try to explain. How does one line this up with the idea of gentiles being grafted into the covenant? Reprobate to me always meant people that are not elect. Isn't the idea of human family lineage eliminated in the New Covenant with gentiles being grafted in? How is this different from Israel's physical line in the OT view?

Some examples:
Joh 1:12-13 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Rom 9:6-8 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named." This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello Patrick,

There were times in Israel’s (the northern tribes) or Judah’s (the southern tribes) histories that the nation(s) were so corrupted they warranted judgment, the elect remnant very small. When the northern tribes (Ephraim) separated from Judah at the accession of Jeroboam I to the throne, and his instituting an idolatrous worship to rival the true worship and temple in Jerusalem, many of the believing remnant left the north and migrated to Judah. At that point Ephraim was mostly apostate.

It also came to pass that idolatry overtook Judah as well, many apostatizing from faithful cleaving to Jehovah, His law, and His worship. The whole nation was judged in the Babylonian captivity. There were all children of Abraham, descended in the line of generations from him. But they were not all elect, children of the promise. Nonetheless, the line continued through the generations of Judah, and the line finally saw the birth of Christ.

In the churches founded by the apostles (initially Jews and later Gentiles), it was families of believers who—knowing Paul’s words, “And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:29)—continued the faith in their children. Even when they began evangelizing and discipling the Gentiles, baptizing those who made a good profession of faith, the hope of the new churches they planted and nurtured was that their children would be the continuing generations of believers. Some churches were strong, and some were weak (depending in large measure on the pastors who tended and fed them), and in some churches there were many elect, and in some less. We can see the churches in Asia that Paul and his fellow laborers founded, some 30 – 40 years later were not in very good shape (all but two of them), judging by the seven letters in Revelation 2 and 3 that the risen Jesus dictated to John to give them.

But what church of fervent and sound believers does not ardently hope and long for their children to carry on the work and maintain the testimony of the church? And that, even in Baptist churches, is the labor and desire of all its members—that their children follow in their footsteps. But look at the churches in our day—many of the youths are falling away.

In times of darkness the churches often get decimated. In affluent and comfortable America we have so many in our churches—no matter whether Baptist or Paedobaptist—that are members but not regenerated. Some are just along for the ride among a pleasant society of people, but not genuine, burning saints. And even the true saints, it is hard to stay awake with the satanic lullaby permeating so much of Christian life and culture here.

In lands where the saints suffer persecution, and Satan has fear and bloodshed in their ears, at least there is no lullaby playing, and the believers are awake, even if bleeding. But our time—in the West, and America particularly—will come, and we shall see a great falling away. Many will be seen to be reprobate as they apostatize. My eschatology no doubt bears on how I see these end times playing out – I am of the Amillennial school, per Greg Beale, Wm. Hendriksen, Dennis Johnson, and the like.

-----

Hello Robert,

You asked, “Isn't the idea of human family lineage eliminated in the New Covenant”? I had a long interaction with a Reformed Baptist professor here at PB on just this topic: John 1:12-13. Check that post out; I do answer it in minute detail. But no, it is not eliminated; as I mentioned above, “if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:29). It is the same covenant of grace Abraham was saved in and by—and his seed with him—that we ourselves are in.

When Gentile adults are being evangelized (or Jews), of course believer’s baptism is called for if they credibly profess faith. But their infants and children, now that the parents are believers and Abraham’s seed—in the very same covenant of grace as he was—they are to be raised as covenant children, and administered the seal and sign of that covenant appointed by decree of the King. Now the women also are given the covenant token—no longer does the old patriarchal system of authority exist, where only the males bear the covenant sign—but the women are given it, as fathers, elder brothers, or husbands may now be enemies of the King of Israel, and women may come under the authority of Jesus Christ directly, even if the males do not believe. That is the remarkable thing of baptism being made the sign and seal, not that children are given it. Now women and girls—even infant girls—bear the covenant seal. In some countries the death sentence falls upon those women who receive this seal, just as it falls upon the men.

The children of the promise are still counted as the offspring, and not the children of the flesh! But we raise and instruct all the children born to us in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, for we cannot tell which are those of the promise, or of the flesh, so “For the sake of the elect children, all are baptized.” This was the way of Abraham, and of the Jews, and it is our way in the same covenant.
 
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RickG

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you. Appreciated your thoughtful and helpful answers. Yes, the doctrine of the remnant. This is a thread that runs right through history, and of course, up to the end of time. I agree with the purity v impurity of the church, and times of apostasy and deadness, and therefore, within all camps/churches, there will exist the wheat and the tares, showing that even the best 'profession' and 'church membership' safeguards, we cannot guarantee a pure church. This is a strong point that can be used in the event of some who may claim one position offers more 'security' than another. Both are flawed humanly speaking, hence the charge to all of us to 'test ourselves' and examine etc. No system of doctrine can immunise against that.

I guess at the back of my mind, being rather new to examine this perspective (coming from over 30 years with a baptist viewpoint) I have subconsciously equated the sign and seal as carrying some further significance, or perhaps some efficacy, where it is not scripturally offered. Thus I may have been expecting there to be some operation upon marked individuals, where clearly, true Israel is spiritual, and no amount of external rites will change this. Faithfulness, and times of revival (even OT revival) account for a renewal it seems, and a return to true spirituality and life.

The reprobate and the faithful obviously describe the work of election in a fashion, and that is where I found your quote helpful, as to me, that puts an emphasis I can relate to upon the sacrament, rather that what I have found quite strong language used around election and baptism, which have linked this to a form of presumption, which I find most difficult to reconcile. At this stage, I prefer the word assumption, but the issue of infant mortality at that point I find both comforting but somewhat problematic if we take the 'presumption' pathway.

One more question: I try to imagine the great sermon preached after the giving of the Spirit, and the instructions to be baptised. I imagine them entering multiple homes, or perhaps the households coming together for sprinkling etc. Do we have any record outside of the biblical record, of responses to these events? Could we imagine members of households, who perhaps did not hear Peter preaching, taking exception to this, or perhaps already having their own idols to worship, say in the case of slaves/servants? I say this, because I can imagine a believer who has been graciously saved immediately upon hearing the Spirit-filled sermon, rejoicing and immediately consenting to baptism, but I'm still thinking over the response of others. Of course, it appears he was preaching to the Jewish nation, therefore they understood circumcision, but what of gentiles (if present) and subsequent mass conversions amongst gentile populations? Obviously one could be baptised and inwardly resent it? However, perhaps there is no issue with this, as the important point is to separate the rite/act (the sign and the seal) from what it signifies, that is, the promise/offer of salvation etc (to put it briefly!).

Update: I noticed this quote on another thread that answers this question somewhat:

"We need to overcome our astonishment over the fact that the New Testament nowhere explicitly mentions infant baptism. This fact can be explained by saying that in the days of the New Testament, the baptism of adults was the rule, and the baptism of infants, if it occurred at all, was the exception. It was the period in which the Christian church had been founded and expanded by conversions from Judaism and paganism. It is precisely that transition that is clearly depicted in baptism. Adult baptism is therefore the original baptism; infant baptism is derivative; the former must not be conformed to the latter, but the latter must be conformed to the former. The validity of infant baptism does not lapse on that account, nor does it need tradition to sustain itself, as Roman Catholicism asserts."

—Herman Bavinck, Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend, vol. 4, 4 vols., Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 526.

Although I imagine he is saying that, perhaps, the baptism of children happened shortly thereafter? Or is the implication that the generation of children 'yet' to be born are proper subjects of baptism, or can we take it they would have returned home and administered the sacrament in a short space of time? I guess we can't expect the exception (first believers and their baptism - and their children's baptism) to necessarily draw conclusions from. These were exceptional circumstances in the founding of the early church. Excuse me thinking out loud here!

This post on household baptisms I also found helpful: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/household-baptisms-in-the-new-testament.99172/
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello again, Patrick,

You referred to Peter’s Pentecost sermon in Acts 2, and wondered about those who did not hear the sermon—would they be doubting upon hearing of it? But when you go through Acts 3, 4, and 5, it can be seen that Peter and the apostles continued preaching throughout Jerusalem, and many sought out his preaching. It was a major event in the city, and all therein would both know of it, and seek to learn more of this reported manifestation of the promise of God. In Acts 5:12,13,14, after Ananias and his wife perished, it is said,

And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)​

When Peter (back now in Acts 2:38-39) said, after he finished that message,

“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call”​

please note he referred to the children. Regarding this, I quote from an earlier post of mine:

Those listening to Peter speaking were both local Jews and "foreign" Jews, some with family present, some without. There would have been some women, for we know that a company of women were with Peter and the apostles that day, and likely others not of their number were present.

The announcement of the Promise fulfilled – in Peter's sermon – included women as recipients ("I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy...And on My servants and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit..." Acts 2:17, 18); and this inclusion of women as direct recipients was remarkable.

And what was the Promise received? In essence it was union and friendship with God through the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the promised Seed of Abraham. This commencement of the New Covenant promise was dramatic and in the power of Jesus' resurrection, in order to jar His elect from the corrupted religion: "Save yourselves from this untoward [perverse] generation!" (2:40).

These were Jews, newly believing in the Seed, their Messiah, now themselves the spiritual seed of Abraham as well, so when Peter commanded them to be baptized, "every one of you" (38), "for the promise is unto you, and to your children..." it was clear that baptism was the mark (the "token", Gen 17:11 KJV) of submissive obedience to the administration of the New Covenant, without which one would not be counted a member, nor a friend of God.

It was not a new thing for it to be given the male infants / children; what was new was for it to be given to the girls / women! These were Jews, you would sooner tear their hearts from their bodies than tear their children from the Covenant of their God through disobedience to the ancient and irrevocable law, changed in token but not practice.

Were the children present baptized with the fathers? And the women as well? It seems clear both classes were. Had the children been denied, the newborn church would have aborted that day, for it would clearly not have been in continuity with the covenant (and promise) made with Abraham to his seed, to those “who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham” (Ro 4:12).

That women and children were present among the listeners to Peter’s sermon is clear from verses of Deut 16:10-11, which speak of the feast of weeks / Pentecost, saying,

10: And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the LORD thy God.... 11: And thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place where the LORD thy God hath chosen you to place his name there.
This feast was to be a festive one, and although it was mandated all the males were to be there, the entire family, including servants, were invited in this time of rejoicing in the city of Jerusalem, and at the temple in particular. There were women and children in the milling crowds. And listening to Peter.

To tell these Jews that their children needed to believe and profess faith in Abraham’s Seed before receiving the token of the covenant would have caused riots in Jerusalem that day! I have said it before, Baptists would have been run out of town that day!
You may not have read this from earlier in our thread, but it is helpful, a pamphlet by David Engelsma, which broaches this topic of children and the covenant: The Covenant of God and the Children of Believers.
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Stephen, I’m sorry if I did not stick to the sort of response you were hoping for, that is, a rebuttal of the Renihan brothers’ essay—thus short-circuiting the request of the OP. It was just that I saw it as – for myself at least – a vain endeavor, seeing as I thought the Presbyterian view of the covenants just as problematic as the 1689 Federalists, and the PRCA approach I used as the best.
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
In post 32 @Taylor Sexton wrote of an examination and response in Joel Beeke and Mark Jones’ A Puritan Theology to the credo-paedo discussion. Looking through that I came across what seems to me the very gist of the issue (and perhaps I will continue looking at the Renihan brothers’ essay Stephen is soliciting comments on in this light) :

“The debate [between baptists and paedobaptists] focused on how the Abrahamic covenant relates to the new covenant. The question…is whether we may speak of the Abrahamic covenant (singular, so the Reformed) or Abrahamic covenants (plural, so the Baptists). The antipaedobaptists had to speak of two covenants made with Abraham: works and grace. By doing so they were able to argue that circumcision belonged to the Abrahamic covenant of works and not to the Abrahamic covenant of grace. Reformed paedobaptists would view this as forced exegesis that is wholly unpersuasive—particularly in light of Romans 4:11—and a major departure from classic Reformed covenant theology.” (A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life, Beeke and Jones, p 740-41)​

This clarifies and simplifies the issue for me. So, Stephen, I will continue examining the Renihan essay you posted. As I have said earlier, I also differ with some of the Presbyterian views on the covenant (which is manifest in the Beeke chapter too), as well as the Baptists. So I continue seeking to sort this out.
 
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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I am not sure if you mean the first or the second edition, Steve. Denault tries to clarify his arguments better in the second edition to maximise communication between Covenantal Baptists and Paedobaptists. The first edition sounded a bit dispensational!
Yes, the book did sound like it stressed the discontinuity too much. His book (the first edition) actually drove me AWAY from the 1689 Federalism position. I am glad he is modifying his stance. The first edition also said some critical things about Presbyterians (such as they formulated Covenant Theology to protect their pet doctrine of infant baptism).
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
On p 3 of their essay, the Renihans say:

“The Abrahamic covenant, called the Covenant of Circumcision by Stephen in Acts 7:8, promised Abraham three things primarily. It promised him a land, a people, and a kingship. In other words, Abraham’s physical descendants would inherit the land and grow into an innumerable people ruled by their own kings. This was called the Covenant of Circumcision because circumcision was the sign of these blessings and separated Abraham’s offspring from the rest of the world as the heirs of these promises.

… All those who were of Abraham, or in Abraham we might say, were heirs of the national promises. This defined the membership of the covenant.”​

Here we have the Renihan brothers (RBs) working at their misguided task of trying to establish two covenants with Abraham, one the covenant of grace (CoG), and the other a national covenant including the merely physical—one might say carnal—members receiving God’s provision for Abraham’s seed.

The Covenant of Circumcision—the “national covenant” imagined by the RBs—is a Baptist invention. Rather, in truth, it was an historical development of God’s covenant with Abraham—the same covenant of grace, although further developed, He made with Adam and Eve (implicit in the protoevangelion in Gen 3:15) and with Noah in Gen 9:9, 10 (a further development), and now with Abraham. As Homer C. Hoeksema writes,

“The observing of this sign [circumcision] is an acknowledgment that they are unclean and bring forth unclean seed. As the sign of God’s covenant in the old dispensation, circumcision is a symbol of the circumcision of the heart, and of the death of our unclean nature on the cross.” (H.C. Hoeksema, Unfolding Covenant History: An Exposition of the Old Testament, Vol 2, From the flood to Isaac; 2001, RFPA; p 171)​

Besides setting the nation issuing from Abraham and Sarah apart from all the other nations and unto God,

And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live (Deut 30:6).​

This was an outward sign of a spiritual reality wrought by God in the hearts of the elect. And more than that:

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised (Rom 4:11a).​

Paul continues even further:

…that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised (Rom 4:11b-12).​

This was not a carnal or merely national sign! It was also a covenant seal of the imputed righteousness they received from the God upon whom they believed.

And what was the essence of the covenant God made with His people?

And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. (Gen 17:7) [emphasis added]​

Yes, there were proximate blessings and promises, but this was the essence of the covenant.

2 Corinthians 6:16 says it well: “…as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” “My people” not as an owner of servants, but as a Father, elder Brother, and to this latter a beloved bride.
_____

It is true that Abraham (A.) had two seeds, even as many godly families do. A., even though by command he circumcised all his children and household, we know that they—the covenant family—were a mixed seed, regenerate and reprobate. But this in no wise warrants postulating two covenants, a carnal and a spiritual. The carnal, i.e., the reprobates, seed of the serpent, were not covenant children in any respect.

Looking at the OT period, God realized his covenant of grace in the line of generations: from Eve, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, etc. He gathers his church from age to age from the children of believers. But not all the children of the above men were the children of promise (the line of the Seed promised to Eve in the darkened garden -Gen 3:15). With Abraham, already regenerated and in the CoG in Gen 12:3 / Acts 3:25; 7:2,3,4 / Heb 11:8, the children in his covenant community were mixed, but for the sake of the elect children therein all were circumcised. The reprobate in this family were not all of Abraham in spirit and truth:

For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. (Rom 2:28, 29)​

Shortly afterwards, referring to the children of A.’s grandson, Paul famously says,

For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. (Rom 6b-8)​

As noted above, the children who were the seed of the serpent, and not the seed of the woman, were not covenant children in any wise, but imposters in the camp. I elaborated on this replying to a Reformed Baptist prof (Dr. Bob Gonzales) in an earlier PB discussion. A. is not the father of two covenants, but one only. In New Covenant times, when the CoG came to full fruition in Christ Jesus, the general rule is as David Engelsma put it, “the Puritans were fond of saying, ‘God casts the line of election in the loins of godly parents.’ For the sake of the elect children, all are baptized.” [speaking of paedo families; emphasis added]

That’s the way it works—unless one is evangelizing heathen adults. Then of course baptism only follows conversion and a credible profession of faith.

In the godly Reformed churches this is their view also, save that they, for the sake of the elect among their seed, baptize all their children (continuing the command given to Abraham), knowing that there may be “little vipers” among them, who are not of the family of God, nor in His covenant.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Renihan brothers essay, p 6:

“we are arguing that the Covenant of Grace has always been an internal covenantal relationship with God through Christ while the national covenants were an external covenantal relationship with God through Abraham.”​

I think I answered this sufficiently in the previous post.
____

On page 9 the Renihans say,

“If it is possible to be born into the Covenant of Grace through the mediated federal headship of a parent, then, unless regeneration is presumed, one is both in Adam and in Christ at the same time. However, this is impossible. One man sinned and brought death to all mankind; another obeyed and brought life to his people. You are either in Adam or in Christ.”​

It is a false assertion if paedobaptists say as the RBs assert above. There is a vast difference between being “born into the Covenant of Grace”, especially “through the mediated federal headship of a parent”, and simply being born into a covenant family—there possibly being both elect and reprobate among such children. No one is naturally born into the CoG by human generation (whoever the parents were), but must be placed there before the foundation of the world, chosen—adopted—in Christ, by the heavenly Father (Eph 1:4,5).

In Baptist congregations the external evidence (or criteria) acted upon to allow applicants for membership is a credible profession of faith. Yet, as is well known, often these “credible professions” are false. In paedobaptist congregations the “external evidence” for allowing applicants into membership are, 1) for adults, a credible profession, and, 2) for infants or underage children, being born of one or two godly parents.

It is understood that not all professing Baptist are regenerated elect. It is also understood that not all baptized infants are elect, but for the sake of the elect among them all are baptized.

Entrance into the Covenant of Grace cannot, as the RBs rightly say, be through the mediated federal headship of a parent. Neither may we presume regeneration of infants. But we know that God realizes his covenant of grace in the line of generations of godly parents. He has both explicitly said this numerous times, and demonstrated it.

What Baptists among you, with children in your churches, do not ardently long that your children shall grow up and be godly, and themselves raise godly children, continuing this through generations? In our hearts we know that this is the survival of our churches, and the salvation of our little loved ones.

The paedos long for the same, only they realize this is the way God normally operates. They do not presume their infants to be elect or regenerate, but they treat all of them as though they were, raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, bestowing love and care and time upon them, rightly grieved when some manifest signs of reprobation, yet still hoping that repentance will be forthcoming.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
As a baptist I can affirm that the children of believer are born into the external blessings of the covenant. They are "under" the covenant blessings in that their parents take them to church and teach them the bible. I cannot affirm that they are "in" the covenant, but being "under" the blessings of the covenant is pretty close, indeed.

I certainly cannot affirm that God was actually making two covenant with Abraham, one for a physical seed and one for a spiritual seed. Inevitably, this is where much baptist theology leads (dividing up the promises and people of God even if they deny outright Dispensationalism).
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
I cannot affirm that they are "in" the covenant, but being "under" the blessings of the covenant is pretty close, indeed.
Would you be comfortable saying that they’re under the “temporal” (or outward) administration of the covenant of grace?
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Concerning the Baptist attempt to add a covenant—a physical covenant separate and distinct from the spiritual covenant of grace, consider the following:

In the uncircumcised-in-heart house of Israel, which God did not recognize as His people, there remained a believing and faithful remnant, which was Israel indeed. Scripture is clear that those who were unbelieving, who were without faith, though they were the seed of Abraham after the flesh, were not his true seed, neither were God’s covenant people.

So when it is asserted that warrant for membership in New Covenant Israel is no longer based on blood ties of natural descent as per the old dispensation, but strictly on faith in Christ and the new birth, I must object and answer that inclusion into God’s house has always been by faith, and not natural descent. Those who were but Abraham’s seed after the flesh were not included in His covenant household, though they may have appeared to be, being circumcised.

Those who were not of faith had neither de facto (as a matter of fact) nor de jure (as a matter of right) membership in the Old Covenant house of God. When the LORD spoke through Moses saying to the multitude of Israel, “Ye are the children of the Lord your God....For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deut 14:1, 2), He was not addressing those whose father was the devil, who were the reprobate, though they were among the house of Israel. What they had was an appearance of being the tekna Theou (children of God), but in fact rotten grapes on the vine of Israel. This is the purport of the apostle Paul’s making distinction between true and false Jews, being Israel or merely of Israel.

Will it be said that they were de facto members by virtue of their presence in the camp? And that they had the right to enter the temple to worship? They were imposters, known to God, and were considered by Him uncircumcised, as it is written: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh” (Ro 2:28), and, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord” (Prov 15:8), even his thoughts and prayer are abomination! (Prov 15:26; 28:9). No, their presence in the camp, and names on the scrolls of their tribes, are as vessels in a great house, some for use unto honor and some unto dishonor (2 Tim 2:20), some unto mercy, and some unto wrath, these latter “endured [by God] with much longsuffering” (Rom 9:22, 23). Just as the Jewish state of our day is an imposter “Israel”, so these reprobates were imposter Israelites. The Israel of God was holy.

The unbelievers within the house of Israel had membership neither by right nor by fact. They were tares among the wheat, or to switch metaphors, but chaff. So things did not change regarding membership in the New Covenant house of Israel. It was the same. Only those of faith are counted as the seed.

To assert that God makes a covenant—call it the Covenant of Circumcision, if you will—with the merely physical children of Abraham, is equal to saying that He makes a covenant with the seed of the serpent, with the reprobate. But this He does not do.
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Note that the house of God in the New Covenant is the house of Israel, our king sitting and governing on the throne of David in the heavens. In Amos 9:11, 12 the LORD speaks through the prophet concerning the latter days,

In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:

That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.​

In the remaining three verses there appear to be prophecies concerning material blessings and promise concerning the land, but in Acts 15:13, 14, 15 where James is addressing the Jerusalem council, we see him applying the Amos passage to the spiritual blessings given the New Covenant house of Israel and the Gentiles which had been included into it. This hermeneutical principle shows that the material blessings promised to Israel under the Old Covenant were typical of the spiritual blessings awaiting the New Covenant house of Israel.

The material blessings, and the land promises, never were realized by Old Testament Israel – save for those periods of prosperity under David and Solomon, which themselves were types of the blessings to be received in the kingdom of David’s greater Son – and we are not to say that God’s promises failed, but that they were pictures, shadows, of the spiritual blessings promised Abraham. The church of God in the Old Covenant (Acts 7:38) was essentially the same as the church in the New, and all the promises were spiritual, painted in temporal garb.

Lest anyone object to the OT people of God being called the church (ekklesia), which is easier, to call old Israel the church, or to call the new church Israel? They are one body, one people, saved the same way – regenerated, justified by faith, through grace; in Galatians 3 it shows old Israel as a child under tutors, and then as a man after being renewed in faith in Christ – he is one person. When Paul speaks, he speaks as a bridge between the two ages of Israel: “...the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ...after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (vv, 24, 25).

When Peter was preaching on Solomon’s Porch (Acts 3), reiterating Moses’ warning in Deuteronomy 18:19, that whoever did not heed the Prophet (Messiah) would “be destroyed from among the people”, at that moment God revealed His judgment: as with a great cleaver cutting gristle from meat, He cut off from the people of Israel all those who in wicked unbelief denied Christ. Israel was now constituted of those who bowed the knee to the resurrected king, be they Jew or Gentile.

This is why Paul can use the terminology he does in Ephesians, telling the Gentiles that in time past they were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel”, but now, having cleaved to Christ, they “are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God...” (Eph 2:12, 19). And again, in Hebrews 3, he says that it is one house, Moses being a servant in it, but Christ the Son and builder – “whose house we are” (Heb 3:2–6).

To sum: God’s Israel in the Old Covenant was spiritual, although within the confines of Abraham’s actual physical descendants, with the promises of material and land blessings as pictures of the spiritual blessings that would be theirs in Messiah's kingdom.

To further support this, I quote from Herman Hanko on the phenomena of the Baptists seeking to bring an unbiblical hermeneutic and thereby add the alleged carnal “covenant” mentioned above which posits covenant reality to that which is essentially typical:

“The Reformed do not blur the lines between the two dispensations by making them identical. The Reformed do not identify the unity of the dispensations by making them identical. The differences are there, but these differences are not in the essential ideas of the covenant, the covenant people, the promise of the covenant, and the fulfilment of the covenant. The differences lie in the mode of the administration. God administered his covenant differently in the old dispensation than in the new. And this difference of administration centers in the coming of Christ. This is the point on which the Reformed insist.

“The whole Old Testament administration of the covenant was in types and shadows. Before God fulfilled his covenant promises in the coming and work of Christ, he gave his people many centuries of instruction about the nature of Christ’s coming, the salvation accomplished in Christ, and the riches of God’s covenant as embracing all the blessings of that salvation. This began when God first revealed the promise to Adam and Eve in paradise and continued until the close of the Old Testament canon. Throughout the four thousand years of Old Testament history, God gradually said more and more about Christ’s work and expanded on the revelation of the salvation which Christ would accomplish.

“God used many different ways to do this. Sometimes he spoke directly to his people through theophanies, as he spoke to Adam, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham. Sometimes angels brought information from heaven concerning God’s work of salvation in Christ. Sometimes prophets were appointed to bring the prophecies of Christ to the people. Sometimes God used miracles to give signs of the heavenly realities relating to the wonder of salvation to his people. Whatever means God chose to speak of his covenant promises fulfilled in Christ, he did so in connection with and by means of types. These types were various ceremonies, rituals, or institutions that prefigured the reality of Christ and his work.

“God gave the church in the old dispensation a beautiful picture book to which he continually added new pages with new pictures. Already prior to the call of Abraham and the formation of Israel as God’s chosen people, the church was in the possession of some of these pictures. For example, evidently God introduced the whole idea of sacrifices and the need for the forgiveness of sin through the shedding of blood with skins from animals. Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain did, because Abel’s sacrifice pointed ahead to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Heb. 11:4). The flood and the salvation of Noah and his family in the ark were graphic and powerful pictures of baptism (1 Pet. 3:20, 21) and of the final salvation of the church through the destruction of this present creation at the coming of Christ (2 Pet. 3:5-7).

“Believing Israel looked often at the book and were amazed at the wonderful pictures. These pictures included the ten plagues which destroyed Pharaoh and enabled Israel to be delivered from the house of bondage; the passage through the Red Sea, also a picture of baptism (1 Cor. 10:1-3); the manna from heaven; water from the rock; the Aaronic priesthood; and the tabernacle. There were pictures of Canaan, the nation of Israel, the temple, and the sacrifices offered in the temple. These pictures even included the kingdom of David and Solomon, the defeat of Israel’s enemies under David’s generalship, and the prosperity of the wealthy kingdom of Solomon.

“The wonder of it is that believing Israel never mistook the picture for the reality. This is precisely the point that Baptists fail to appreciate. How foolish it would be to see colored slides or a video of Yellowstone National Park and confuse the pictures with the reality. Israel was not that foolish. Canaan was the land of promise to the patriarchs, but only as a picture of heaven, for they walked the land of Canaan as pilgrims and strangers who died ‘not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them.’ What were those promises which they embraced? They were the promises of heaven itself as an inheritance, for they ‘desire a better country, that is, an heavenly,’ and they sought a city the Builder and Maker of which is God (Heb. 11:10, 13, 16).

“The patriarchs never confused the picture with the reality [1]. They never perceived the promise that God would give the land of Canaan for a possession to them and their seed as being the reality. Canaan was only a picture. They never mistook the promise of God to be the land of Canaan.

“ [1] A principle of hermeneutics is involved here into which we cannot go, in spite of its importance. Also in the determination of what in the Old Testament is a type and what is not, the principle, Scripture interprets Scripture plays a decisive role. That is, we must limit those elements in the Old Testament to types which Scripture itself designates as types. If we cannot find such a designation, we are forbidden to define that element as typical. If that rule is not observed, we soon become guilty of allegorization, a common enough practice in Baptist and Reformed circles…
“The nation of Israel itself was a picture of the church of all ages. The same was true of Mount Zion and Jerusalem…

“We may ask the question: Why did God administer the covenant in such a different way in the Old Testament? The answer is that Israel was a child and not a mature adult. They could not have understood the realities of the promise. They needed pictures. When a small child asks a theological question, I do not refer him to a page in a Reformed dogmatics book. I draw him a picture if I can, or try to explain the answer in language as picturesque as I can find. He understands pictures. It is impossible to teach children without them.” (Herman Hanko, We and Our Children: The Reformed Doctrine of Infant Baptism; (pp 14-16, 17) ISBN 978-0916206796
It is an illicit enterprise to take the typical pictures of Old Testament life—though it was real life to the people living it!—and assert the types were as well covenant realities. They were not! They were typical of things to come, but not in themselves the realities of the spiritual promises Christ would establish in His everlasting kingdom.

This is a hermeneutic failure causing grievous harm to both elect infants and to the doctrine of the covenant of grace.
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
RB bring in so many disparate sources and voices to try to support their theories, most basic of which are, 1) there are two people of God; with a separate covenant for each; 2) there are two distinct covenant canons or polities governing each.

I often find in these Baptist arguments a blurring of terms. A primary one I notice is how the term “Old Covenant” is used. In Hebrews 8 we see written in verse 7 mention of a “first covenant”, which is referred to as “old” in verse 13: “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” In the NKJV, NIV ’84, ESV, NASB the first use of the word “old” is replaced by “obsolete”. What is it that is made old and obsolete? Not the Old Covenant as in the entire Old Testament, but strictly the Mosaic Covenant, as the verse in Heb 8:9 shows: “Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt”.

What is certainly not referred to is the covenant of grace made with Abraham in Gen 12:1,2,3, and formalized, reaffirmed, and expanded in Gen 15, and again reaffirmed and expanded in Gen 17—in both 15 and 17 with additional promises and requirements, these latter typical and pointing to the Messianic kingdom Abraham’s Seed would establish. Abraham was brought into covenant relation with the LORD when he was first called in Gen 12:1,2,3, being regenerated and given faith at that first meeting with God (Heb 12:8), as “The God of glory appeared” to him then (Acts 7:2,3).

When Zacharias in Luke 1 prophetically says of the coming Christ, He would “perform the mercy promised [by God] to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear…” (Luke 1:72,73,74), is Zacharias not referring to the words of Genesis 12:3, when the LORD said, “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed”? (emphasis added). In Christ the people of God would be safe, resurrection dispelling the power of (and fear of) death, with God being at enmity against their enemies.

This covenant with Abram was initially realized at the calling of him out of Ur, when Abram was brought into regenerating relationship with Jehovah God. A little more on the nature of this covenant relation from HC Hoeksema:

God’s establishment of his covenant with Abram implies that he will be exceeding fruitful and will develop into many nations . . . [and] he shall have a son, the beginning of the realization of that covenant; and that all of the land of Canaan shall be given to him and to his seed for an everlasting possession. All of these details stand intimately related to God’s covenant; they are all aspects of and phases of its historical realization. They do not constitute the essence of that covenant, but rather follow from it. The covenant itself is neither a promise, nor a way, nor a contract, nor an alliance, but a very definite relationship with Abram and his seed. This relation is here expressed in the words “to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” This is the everlasting, central idea of the covenant. The covenant is everlasting not as it consists in the land of Canaan or in the fruitfulness of Abraham and his seed, but in this one truth, namely, that Jehovah Almighty is a God to his people. Here, then, we touch on the heart of the covenant. (Herman C. Hoeksema, Unfolding Covenant History Volume 2: From The Flood To Isaac, RFPA 2001, p 167)​

This covenant Abram was brought into was never made “old” or “obsolete”, as it was an everlasting covenant. With regard to the Mosaic covenant, which was made old or obsolete, this took place when Messiah came, not to destroy, but to fulfil the law, and the prophets (Matt 5:17).

Baptists do not see the people of God as one people in both dispensations (Old Testament and New), whereas the Reformed hold that God has one people, one covenant, and one sign of the covenant although this latter changes form but not meaning as the old dispensation becomes the new with the advent of Christ. And there are different aspects to the covenant’s signs. It was an outward sign of a spiritual reality wrought (or to be wrought) by God in the hearts of the elect. Yet more than that:

Herman Hoeksema (Homer’s father) remarks,

It is by no means correct to say that in the old dispensation the Jews were the seed of Abraham, while in the new dispensation believers are his seed. The Jews as such never were the seed of Abraham. It is indeed correct to say that for a time the seed of Abraham were found exclusively among Abraham’s descendants, as they are found now among all nations. But Scripture never identifies Abraham’s descendants with the seed of Abraham. The latter, the children of the promise, are at all times only the believers. (Reformed Dogmatics, p 687)​

Circumcision, the initial covenant sign was a first step into making a marked difference between the people of God and those of the other nations. And the LORD knew Abraham would keep this sign of God’s covenant with him: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD” (Gen 18:19a). God furthered His instructions to His people after the Exodus from Egypt, giving His law through Moses.

But why did God give the elect seed of Abraham—the children of promise—the Mosaic Law as an addition to and refinement of His covenant with Abraham? The law of the Mosaic covenant was given to fulfill a number of different purposes: 1) To preserve the Messianic line and the community in which the children of promise were born and lived, separating them by law from the other nations; 2) It was added because of transgression, concluding all under sin—all failing to keep God’s law—as a schoolmaster teaching a lesson; 3) Provision was made for the failure of the people (referring to the elect) to keep the law, by forgiveness through the sin offerings of the sacrificial system; 4) Through the types in both prophecy and the Levitical sacrifices which pointed to the prophesied Messiah, Christ—thereby warranting (and giving) faith in Him for right standing with God, who justifies the ungodly by this faith; 5) To provide a perfectly innocent and sinless human—the last Adam (1 Cor 15:15)—who would be born under the law (Gal 4:4) thus subject to it, yet perfectly keeping it and not subject to its curse; 6) As the representative and covenant Head of a new humanity, Himself—as a priest of the order of Melchisedek—bearing the curse that was upon His people, as both priest and victim, in His active and passive obedience unto death on the tree; 7) And in His death, resurrection, and ascension—in union with His covenant people—raising them to eternal life in Him in God’s new creation.

The Mosaic covenant—which had been added to the Abrahamic for the purposes noted above—now fulfilled and made obsolete for God’s elect, it was fitting that a new covenant sign and seal be administered as entrance into God’s everlasting covenant of grace was no longer restricted to the Jewish nation, but now exclusively through the finally manifested—and long awaited—Seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ.

In Him alone, the King of Israel, the new federal Head of the human race (the last Adam) was salvation through covenant inclusion to be found, and Gentiles were brought in; as Paul declared to the crowds in Pisidian Antioch concerning the Christ,

For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed (Acts 13:47,48).​

The remarkable thing about the new covenant sign, baptism, was that women were now were to receive it, whatever the men in authority over them did or did not do with respect to the covenant of God’s saving mercies, widely proclaimed by the apostles and evangelists of the Lord of heaven and earth, God’s appointed King now reigning on His “holy hill of Zion” (Psalm 2:6).
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Part of what I am trying to convey in the posting I’ve been doing here, is that there is a profound simplicity and great depth in the covenant(s) of the Bible. I will be responding to / interacting with some of the Baptist assertions, primarily the Renihan brothers’ essay, but also the book by Pascal Denault, The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology (1st Ed.), as I have it at hand and found it interesting. Because of what I read in this latter, I just today obtained through Interlibrary Loan a copy of Samuel Petto’s work from the late 1600s, The Great Mystery of the Covenant of Grace: Or the Difference between the Old and New Covenant Stated and Explained (it’s for sale nowhere!). Petto was a paedobaptist but with some ideas that resonated with the antipaedos, and thus he was quoted often by Denault, and I found his ideas helpful. I will probably be commenting on them at some point.

Understanding the covenant of grace by which God undertakes to gather to Himself a beloved family of children in Christ, and a bride for His Son, is a study worth our attention, wondrously good for the health of our hearts, and one doesn’t have to be a rocket-scientist to get it. It is not a complex labyrinth of convoluted ideas—such as the RH essay struck me as being—but a beautiful construct of divine wisdom, glory and love. I hope I can convey this, without going on too long.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
In the Conclusion to their essay, the RBs state this:

‘In closing we want to consider a quotation from Charles Hodge.

“The difficulty on this subject is that baptism from its very nature involves a profession of faith; it is the way in which by the ordinance of Christ, He is to be confessed before men; but infants are incapable of making such confession; therefore they are not the proper subjects of baptism. Or, to state the matter in another form: the sacraments belong to the members of the Church; but the Church is the company of believers; infants cannot exercise faith, therefore they are not members of the Church, and consequently ought not to be baptized. In order to justify the baptism of infants, we must attain and authenticate such an idea of Church as that it shall include the children of believing parents.” (Systematic Theology, Vol 3, pp 546-547)​

‘Hodge recognizes that the doctrine of baptism itself excludes the idea of baptizing infants, and so he resorts to defining the church in such a way that it may allow for this practice…’​

First of all it needs to be determined if Hodge was right when he said, “baptism from its very nature involves a profession of faith… but infants are incapable of making such confession; therefore they are not the proper subjects of baptism…”. It appears that the prof has given away the farm to his opponents! He then, however, goes on for eleven more pages showing why infants may and should be baptized. But the Renihans will have none of his explanations! (which involve equating the OT elect people of God with the NT elect).

I have spoken above of the RBs seeking to divide the Abrahamic covenant into two covenants: a secular/national covenant and a spiritual covenant of grace (see, for instance, posts #81 and 82 above, among others). It remains that there is one covenant of grace in both the OT and the NT, and the covenant with Abraham is of that one covenant with additions / refinements to it, but not separate covenants! (One needs to be following the rebuttals of the RBs I have been positing to follow this.)

When the LORD commanded Abraham to circumcise all his children—including the males and the male children of all those in his house, servants or otherwise—that they may partake of the covenant He was unilaterally making with Abraham, it was to put the seal and sign of the covenant upon them—God’s elect—and it obviously could not require of them a profession of belief, at least not the very little ones. But for the sake of the elect children among them, all were circumcised. Yes, there will be the non-elect in their midst, as we see with Esau and many others up though the centuries, leading Paul to say, “they are not all Israel which are of Israel…That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Rom 9:6, 8). But the elect were marked and sealed. The others, reprobate imposters among them, were not in God’s covenant, despite appearances.

The New Testament manifestation of the covenant of grace, inaugurated and ratified by Jesus Christ with His blood, was the final stage of the covenant with Abraham: “if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:29).

This is the point: if we are Abraham’s seed (in Christ), then God’s command to Abraham to put the sign and seal on his infant offspring, for the sake of the elect among them, this command applies to us as well: “for the sake of the elect children among us, all are baptized”. For adult converts, the command to be baptized applies to them also (Mark 16:16; Matt 28:19). The LORD will make manifest who are elect and who reprobate, by their fruit.

Thus Hodge is wrong: it is not upon profession only baptism is warranted or not, but upon the fact that God realizes his covenant of grace in the line of generations of godly parents—whether OT or NT—and the command to put the sign of the covenant upon them, including infants, stands. It is the ancient command giving warrant to baptize them, not profession of faith.

To build their case upon the flaws of Charles Hodge, or upon the brilliant but at times unbiblical Meredith Kline (who savages the creation testimony of God with his infamous “framework hypothesis”) shows them wanting, and clutching for straws. This latter, should we trust him with another major Biblical matter, seeing what he did with Genesis?

To be commented on shortly: what is new in the New Covenant, if it is identical to the covenant of grace in the OT dispensation, save its administration?
 

B.L. McDonald

Puritan Board Freshman
In the meanwhile, I notice that R. Scott Clark, in an excellent post of his on the Heildelblog interacts with the RBs' Essay Stephen has asked for comments on in this post: One Important Difference Between The Reformed And Some Particular Baptists: God The Son Was In, With, And Under The Types And Shadows. I had been noticing this myself, but Dr. Clark brought it out clearly and succinctly. He also interacts with Nehemiah Coxe.
Thanks for posting this. I'll read the entire post when I get some free time. In the interim I skimmed the comments (I'm always interested in the comments) and this response by R. Scott Clark caught my eye:

"This distinction should help settle the debate about whether Baptists can be Reformed. If one covenant of grace, multiple administrations is essential to the Reformed confession (it is) and Baptists deny this (most do) then those who do cannot be Reformed."
I've always found the comments about whether or not a Baptist can be properly classified as "Reformed" or not to be unhelpful and rather smug sounding. To be accepted as "Reformed" is like the theological equivalent of gaining admittance into a country club or something. Who the heck cares about whether or not a Baptist can be "Reformed" or not? I mean really?...seems trivial to me.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Hello BLM,

Yes, I know — this is a vexing issue. I suppose the crux of it is defining “Reformed”. Reforming doctrine to be in accord with apostolic, Biblical doctrine? The Reformation itself was launched by paedobaptist émigrés from Roman Catholicism, and there were some (not including the radical anabaptists) who thought such had not reformed enough—holding the baptism of infants as they did—but still wanted to be considered under the banner of the Reformed due to the latter’s profound doctrinal excellence, save in the matter of infant baptism, which also, however, required their having radically differing views of the covenants. Basically, they did not want to be rejected by the paedobaptists.

In my signature, after thinking this over some weeks ago, I changed the description of the church I am presently a member of (the PCA Presbyterians having gone too far off the track in my area) from Baptist – [Reformed] to [Doctrines of Grace]. That way the Baptists are identified with the “five points of Calvinism” as regards soteriology, but not the original Reformers with their covenantal and paedo views.

It is a major difference. Not “country-clubish” or “trivial”, but such that the two churches cannot join in spiritual outreach and discipleship activities, save one silence itself and its distinctives.

To be Reformed reflects on how we consider and view our children, and subsequently raise them. To the Doctrines of Grace Baptists, are they not, although beloved, still seen as “little vipers” save they be regenerated and converted? To the Reformed they are seen as bearing the sign and seal of the elect and treated—nurtured and admonished—as such, the parents yet understanding there may be reprobates among them; nonetheless they cherish and nourish all in the hope and trust of God’s grace. It’s a different attitude and approach to child-rearing, as well as teaching and preaching.

The difference in the communities in that regard is great. Which is not to say that among the Baptists there are not godlier men and women than many in the paedo community! The paedos are not better followers of Christ, save in the matter of the children. And some of their children turn out to be godlier than many of the paedos’. Though the communities of the PRC, which I have been speaking of and drawing upon in previous posts, I consider exemplars in this matter—which is not to say that I agree with all their teachings.
 

B.L. McDonald

Puritan Board Freshman
Hello BLM,

Yes, I know — this is a vexing issue. I suppose the crux of it is defining “Reformed”. Reforming doctrine to be in accord with apostolic, Biblical doctrine? The Reformation itself was launched by paedobaptist émigrés from Roman Catholicism, and there were some (not including the radical anabaptists) who thought such had not reformed enough—holding the baptism of infants as they did—but still wanted to be considered under the banner of the Reformed due to the latter’s profound doctrinal excellence, save in the matter of infant baptism, which also, however, required their having radically differing views of the covenants. Basically, they did not want to be rejected by the paedobaptists.

In my signature, after thinking this over some weeks ago, I changed the description of the church I am presently a member of (the PCA Presbyterians having gone too far off the track in my area) from Baptist – [Reformed] to [Doctrines of Grace]. That way the Baptists are identified with the “five points of Calvinism” as regards soteriology, but not the original Reformers with their covenantal and paedo views.

It is a major difference. Not “country-clubish” or “trivial”, but such that the two churches cannot join in spiritual outreach and discipleship activities, save one silence itself and its distinctives.

To be Reformed reflects on how we consider and view our children, and subsequently raise them. To the Doctrines of Grace Baptists, are they not, although beloved, still seen as “little vipers” save they be regenerated and converted? To the Reformed they are seen as bearing the sign and seal of the elect and treated—nurtured and admonished—as such, the parents yet understanding there may be reprobates among them; nonetheless they cherish and nourish all in the hope and trust of God’s grace. It’s a different attitude and approach to child-rearing, as well as teaching and preaching.

The difference in the communities in that regard is great. Which is not to say that among the Baptists there are not godlier men and women than many in the paedo community! The paedos are not better followers of Christ, save in the matter of the children. And some of their children turn out to be godlier than many of the paedos’. Though the communities of the PRC, which I have been speaking of and drawing upon in previous posts, I consider exemplars in this matter—which is not to say that I agree with all their teachings.
Thanks for the response. The definition of "Reformed" is indeed key. I personally don't use the label to describe myself and increasingly find it to not be very useful in discussions today. I think the debates over who is in and who is out to be rather unfortunate...especially considering the elastic qualities the category has taken on, but I digress.

I appreciate you bringing Clark's post to light. I still intend on reading it over.

Have a joyful week ahead!
 
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