Paedo-Baptism Answers Puritan Board resources on Paedobaptism

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
Friends, on my signature you will note there has been a shift on my thinking re Baptism.

I am just trying to cement my convictions more strongly together. Those of you who have been involved in rigorous discussions on the Puritan Board before, what are some of the best posts/threads on the Puritan Board that might help cement paedobaptist convictions together. I have found some but I am sure there are some very helpful discussions I have not seen yet. Thank you. I am sure this would also be helpful to others thinking through the issue.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Friends, on my signature you will note there has been a shift on my thinking re Baptism.

I am just trying to cement my convictions more strongly together. Those of you who have been involved in rigorous discussions on the Puritan Board before, what are some of the best posts/threads on the Puritan Board that might help cement paedobaptist convictions together. I have found some but I am sure there are some very helpful discussions I have not seen yet. Thank you. I am sure this would also be helpful to others thinking through the issue.
I knew something was up when you ditched the tractor/cat avatar!:detective:
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Btw...Ligon Duncan’s RTS lecture series on Covenant Theology really helped cement things for me after I committed. You can listen to all the lectures for free through the itunes U app.
 

JP Wallace

Puritan Board Sophomore
Not on PB (Puritanboard) but excellent on PB (paedobaptism) - if you haven't already listened these sermons by Prof Edward Donnelly are the best short sermons on the subject I have found.

I used to be a reformed baptist too, but I must confess I don't think I have read too many threads on the subject on Puritanboard - I did ready a far few books./articles etc. though if you want some direction there.
 

JTB.SDG

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think you've read the ruin and redemption section, right?

I kind of liked the cat avatar. I love MLJ, but the pic is a bit stodgy. Wow, maybe we could just call him MJ...
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member

JTB.SDG

Puritan Board Sophomore
Yes. Hoping to finish off the material on the Sinai Covenant soon. Very helpful.

Yes I did like the cat avatar. Mittens remains a special friend :) Did not get your 'MJ' comment though.
MJ is usually used to refer to Michael Jordan, which is fresh on the mind with the recent documentary :D
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
Any other suggestions? There have been some vigorous discussions on Paedobaptism on the Puritan Board at various times. It would be great to have access to the best of them.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
@JP Wallace posted the sermons by Ted Donnelly. Those were a great help to me. @JTB.SDG also helped me in this thread Finer question on the New Covenant to better understand the nature of the New Covenant. The nature of the NC was the last objection I had before switching over. A long-time friend of mine who was making way on the subject of baptism finally turned the corner after she read this one, or another one about the New Covenant posted around the same time.

Really, it wasn't any particular thread. The biggest thing was praying and hammering out the Scriptures. That's the most important thing you can do for any practice, but also because many Baptists are not persuaded that we get our doctrine from Scripture. The real big thing is to make sure you can go full ad fontes and defend your position. It will keep you stable and confident, and you will get the most spiritual comfort possible from it.

But, the ultimate to that is the view of God that you come to, of which the subjects of baptism rests downstream. The ultimate reward of Reformed Covenant Theology is to see a 6,000-year panorama of God's mercy, grace, patience, and faithfulness to keep His oath, to provide a Mediator, and to persuade us that "neither height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
 
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Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
@JP Wallace posted the sermons by Ted Donnelly. Those were a great help to me. @JTB.SDG also helped me in this thread Finer question on the New Covenant to better understand the nature of the New Covenant. The nature of the NC was the last objection I had before switching over. A long-time friend of mine who was making way on the subject of baptism finally turned the corner after she read this one, or another one about the New Covenant posted around the same time.
Thank you. These resources are very helpful, also Jon's course "Ruin and Redemption".

The ultimate reward of Reformed Covenant Theology is to see a 6,000-year panorama of God's mercy, grace, patience, and faithfulness to keep His oath, to provide a Mediator, and to persuade us that "neither height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
That is true, but one could also say this is true of ch 7 of the 1689 Baptist Confession. Eg, 7:3 "This covenant is revealed in the gospel. It was revealed first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation through the seed of the woman. After that, it was revealed step by step until the full revelation of it was completed in the New Testament. This covenant is based on the eternal covenant transaction between the Father and the Son concerning the redemption of the elect. Only through the grace of this covenant have those saved from among the descendants of fallen Adam obtained life and blessed immortality. Humanity is now utterly incapable of being accepted by God on the same terms on which Adam was accepted in his state of innocence."

It seems to me it comes down to your historic-redemptive approach re covenant theology.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
Thank you. These resources are very helpful, also Jon's course "Ruin and Redemption".


That is true, but one could also say this is true of ch 7 of the 1689 Baptist Confession. Eg, 7:3 "This covenant is revealed in the gospel. It was revealed first of all to Adam in the promise of salvation through the seed of the woman. After that, it was revealed step by step until the full revelation of it was completed in the New Testament. This covenant is based on the eternal covenant transaction between the Father and the Son concerning the redemption of the elect. Only through the grace of this covenant have those saved from among the descendants of fallen Adam obtained life and blessed immortality. Humanity is now utterly incapable of being accepted by God on the same terms on which Adam was accepted in his state of innocence."

It seems to me it comes down to your historic-redemptive approach re covenant theology.
I can be edified and subscribe to LBC 7:3 without sensing any inconsistency with what I now profess about covenant theology.

However, I've subscribed to both 1689 Federalism and to Reformed Covenant Theology, and I like the latter much better. It's a damper on your devotional reading to read through two-thirds of the Bible and think of it as being written to and for people living under a meritorious covenant which delivered promises only pertaining to this life, but somehow only in a shadowy sense pertaining to the Gospel. It's too difficult to look at Abraham as being the paradigm of all who believe if you think of him as fulfilling conditions in a bilateral contract, to get blessings that only pertained to this life.

But in Reformed CT, Christ and the Gospel, although not so clearly and plainly in the OT as in the NT, are front-and-center at all times, and the deliverance of the virtue of the mediation of Christ is the aim and purpose of the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Davidic Covenants.

The difference when I subscribed to Reformed CT was almost immediate. It cleared away many lingering doubts and objections I had about the grace of God. It made me see the astounding wonders of the character of God, who is so good and so kind that He would bind Himself to bless, and would do it freely and graciously.

1689 Federalism cannot do that with the Old Testament narrative. "Do this" and then shall "neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation" separate you from your covenant blessings. "Do this, and then will you know God's mercy, patience, and faithfulness." Israel's prosperity is always in some measure because of "something in my hands I bring." We are reminded frequently in Baptist covenant theology that no grace was given in the Old Covenant to fulfill the conditions. So the story of the Mosaic Covenant then becomes the recycling of the story of Adam standing in his own righteousness before God, although this time around man has less to work with than Adam did, and God is much more lenient in how He passes judgment. I think it ultimately distorts both law and grace.

In Reformed CT, it's far, far easier for me to open the Old Testament, see the grace of God, see them as addressed to me, and say, "These books are mine."
 

RobertPGH1981

Puritan Board Sophomore
Ligon Duncan’s RTS lecture series on Covenant Theology r
I am so glad you posted this because I forgot about Apple U lectures. i used to use them all the time but shifted over to Audible for the Free Courses series they started to use.
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
It's a damper on your devotional reading to read through two-thirds of the Bible and think of it as being written to and for people living under a meritorious covenant which delivered promises only pertaining to this life, but somehow only in a shadowy sense pertaining to the Gospel. It's too difficult to look at Abraham as being the paradigm of all who believe if you think of him as fulfilling conditions in a bilateral contract, to get blessings that only pertained to this life.
Note. I said the 1689 Confession. I said nothing about 1689 Federalism. I do share your reservations about 1689 Federalism. Whatever one thinks of 7:3 of the 1689 Baptist Confession, surely you get a clear articulation of the important Reformed truths of the pactum salutis, the historia salutis and the ordo salutis.

1689 Federalism cannot do that with the Old Testament narrative. "Do this" and then shall "neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation" separate you from your covenant blessings. "Do this, and then will you know God's mercy, patience, and faithfulness." Israel's prosperity is always in some measure because of "something in my hands I bring." We are reminded frequently in Baptist covenant theology that no grace was given in the Old Covenant to fulfill the conditions. So the story of the Mosaic Covenant then becomes the recycling of the story of Adam standing in his own righteousness before God, although this time around man has less to work with than Adam did, and God is much more lenient in how He passes judgment. I think it ultimately distorts both law and grace.
I'm struggling to get a precise understanding of what you are getting here but I am assuming two things: the problem of 1689 Federalism arguing that the New Covenant is the Covenant of Grace, which does raise questions about how Old Testament saints were saved; and also maybe you are concerned about the 1689 Federalism argument that the Mosaic Covenant is a Covenant of Works, which raises questions about the exact nature of grace in the Mosaic Covenant. I would be interested in how you clarify.

This issue reminds me of an interesting quote I recently read in Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics. Bavinck makes some comments about Cocceius' approach to covenant theology including his biblical-theological method. He then states that Cocceius followed "the historical order of the dispensations of the covenant and distinguished these distinctions so sharply that their unity was lost and could be preserved only by arbitrary typological exegesis" [Reformed Dogmatics 1:104]. Now I understand 1689 Federalism is not exactly the same as Cocceius' covenant theology so one has to be careful making comparisons, but some of the distinctions that 1689 Federalism makes seem to me to weaken the unity of the Covenant of Grace. Further, making the Mosaic Covenant a Covenant of Works seems to me to create problems with the perpetuity of the moral law that they appear to 'solve', in Bavinck's words, by 'arbitrary typological exegesis'. Actually there was an article on Greenbaggins blog critiquing 1689 Federalism approach to typology https://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2020/04/27/types-and-sacraments/ so I see some linkages.

In fairness to 1689 Federalism I think it is still a work in progress.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
Note. I said the 1689 Confession. I said nothing about 1689 Federalism. I do share your reservations about 1689 Federalism. Whatever one thinks of 7:3 of the 1689 Baptist Confession, surely you get a clear articulation of the important Reformed truths of the pactum salutis, the historia salutis and the ordo salutis.


I'm struggling to get a precise understanding of what you are getting here but I am assuming two things: the problem of 1689 Federalism arguing that the New Covenant is the Covenant of Grace, which does raise questions about how Old Testament saints were saved; and also maybe you are concerned about the 1689 Federalism argument that the Mosaic Covenant is a Covenant of Works, which raises questions about the exact nature of grace in the Mosaic Covenant. I would be interested in how you clarify.

This issue reminds me of an interesting quote I recently read in Bavinck's Reformed Dogmatics. Bavinck makes some comments about Cocceius' approach to covenant theology including his biblical-theological method. He then states that Cocceius followed "the historical order of the dispensations of the covenant and distinguished these distinctions so sharply that their unity was lost and could be preserved only by arbitrary typological exegesis" [Reformed Dogmatics 1:104]. Now I understand 1689 Federalism is not exactly the same as Cocceius' covenant theology so one has to be careful making comparisons, but some of the distinctions that 1689 Federalism makes seem to me to weaken the unity of the Covenant of Grace. Further, making the Mosaic Covenant a Covenant of Works seems to me to create problems with the perpetuity of the moral law that they appear to 'solve', in Bavinck's words, by 'arbitrary typological exegesis'. Actually there was an article on Greenbaggins blog critiquing 1689 Federalism approach to typology https://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2020/04/27/types-and-sacraments/ so I see some linkages.

In fairness to 1689 Federalism I think it is still a work in progress.
I did tangent a little, with a sudden switch from general Baptist covenant theology to 1689 Federalism specifically.

In short, I find it too difficult to see the free grace of God in the Old Testament if all the dealings that we see with the people of God are ultimately bilateral and meritorious. According to Federalism not only is the Mosaic conditional and bilateral, but so is the Abrahamic Covenant, or at least in Genesis 17. And all for things pertaining to this life, not the life after. It seems strange then to start talking about how the bulls exhibit substitutionary atonement, Canaan represents heaven, the Exodus represents deliverance, the Red Sea represents baptism, etc. That's not how they primarily applied to the OT worshippers under the 1689er scheme, as the rule of their world was, "If you obey all the conditions, you get the promises." That's not how grace works. But in Westminster CT, WLC 34, the spiritual meaning is the meaning, the spiritual blessings are the intended end, and that's how they were to be understood, and by this way God would teach the people to believe in the Mediator who would save them.

I've not heard that expression, "arbitrary typological exegesis," but maybe that describes it for me.
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
In short, I find it too difficult to see the free grace of God in the Old Testament if all the dealings that we see with the people of God are ultimately bilateral and meritorious. According to Federalism not only is the Mosaic conditional and bilateral, but so is the Abrahamic Covenant, or at least in Genesis 17. And all for things pertaining to this life, not the life after. It seems strange then to start talking about how the bulls exhibit substitutionary atonement, Canaan represents heaven, the Exodus represents deliverance, the Red Sea represents baptism, etc. That's not how they primarily applied to the OT worshippers under the 1689er scheme, as the rule of their world was, "If you obey all the conditions, you get the promises." That's not how grace works. But in Westminster CT, WLC 34, the spiritual meaning is the meaning, the spiritual blessings are the intended end, and that's how they were to be understood, and by this way God would teach the people to believe in the Mediator who would save them.
Thank you. That makes good sense I am working through Jon's material on the Mosaic Covenant and appreciating more and more the richness of the Reformed view of the Mosaic covenant. https://www.ruinandredemption.com/curriculum
I've not heard that expression, "arbitrary typological exegesis," but maybe that describes it for me.
Yes. I would be interested if others would make that connection. As I said above Bavinck makes that comment about Cocceius' approach to covenant theology, but it seems to me that 1689 Federalism makes some sharp distinctions and the only way they can then bring covenantal unity is - in Bavinck's words - by arbitrary typological exegesis.
 
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