Return of the Bible Thumper

Bill Smith tries to pull the church calendar out of the solar year:

Does Dr. Hart really think that the solar year and the interadvental age are at odds with one another? Does not the interadvental age consist of some finite number of solar years? Does living in this interadvental age mean not recalling the works of Christ by which the corner of history was turned and we entered the last age? And how is focusing one’s mind on the redemptive works of Christ by following the Christian year contrary to setting one’s mind on Christ?

Well, what does the Bible say?

Jesus told us how to remember him, right?

18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 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)

Isn’t it enough to remember Christ weekly in Word and Sacrament?

I seem to recall Paul also saying something about where we should direct our thoughts. I remember. It’s about Christ in heaven not Christ on earth.

1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is youra life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Col 3)

Passages like these may not be slam dunks, but can’t the church-calendar people at least interact with scriptural injunctions about remembering and thinking, or is it the case when the church calendar comes in the Bible goes out?

Here’s the thing: when I think of my beloved parents, I have lots of memories to which I might turn. My mother behind the driver’s wheel, my father rubbing my cherub face on his two-days of stubble while he recovered from surgery, my parents’ singing duets to enraptured cousins, aunts, and uncles during summer vacations (yikes!). I also sometimes think of what their intermediate state might involve (and I know it doesn’t involve looking “down” at me or hearing my prayer requests).

But my parents aren’t Jesus. Duh. How I think about my Lord is on a different order of importance. And get this — the Bible gives some instruction about how I should remember and think about Jesus. Replaying his life and participating in it (Lent) or thinking that I’m preparing for the savior’s birth (Advent) don’t make sense.

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27 thoughts on “Return of the Bible Thumper

  1. Really, your typically excellent exegetical skills just go out the window when it comes to a church calendar. The things which are above with Christ, based on the full context are the fruits of the Spirit. Paul is arguing with Jews in regards to the old Jewish Sabbaths and Holy Days (Col 2:16-17), and he is arguing on the other side with Greco-Roman stoics bent on asceticism (Col 2:18-19). In Christ we are freed from such things.

    But being free does not mean that the law is meaningless. It has not been put aside but fulfilled. It is perfectly proper, if it should be for the Lord to observe a Church calendar (Rom 14:5ff). Heck even Paul would observe the old days when it seemed proper. (Acts 21:26) A church calendar is nothing put a piety practice. If we were on the point of demanding the world keep Christmas, if man was made to keep the church calendar, then let’s smash it. But, seeing as chronos reigns supreme, adding a little kairos would seem appropriate. The Sabbath made for man to escape the crush of mere days. And nothing about these things keeps us from word and sacrament on Sunday. It just helps to encourage a full reading of the scriptures instead of avoiding large sections.

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  2. “A church calendar is nothing but a piety practice. If we were on the point of demanding the world keep Christmas, if man was made to keep the church calendar, then let’s smash it.” Wrong! There are churches that demand keeping Christmas. It’s like the making of images problem. Knowing how weak we are God gave us this (partly) so pious people wouldn’t make pictures and statues that they end up kissing, praying and generally worshiping.

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  3. DG: Isn’t it enough to remember Christ weekly in Word and Sacrament?

    Oh DG. What is man that He ‘remembers’ us continually (thank goodness or we’re toast). How can we not ‘remember ‘Him continually. No wonder He says “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Our pictures are on His refrigerator, but His is not on ours?

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  4. Luke 20: 34 Jesus told them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are counted worthy to take part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. 36 For they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are sons of God, since they are sons of the resurrection. 37 Moses even indicated in the passage about the burning bush that the dead are raised, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 He is not God of the dead but of the living…

    William Tyndale, 1530—- “Nay, Paul, thou art unlearned; go to Master More, and learn a new way. We be not most miserable, though we rise not again; for our souls go to heaven as soon as we be dead, and are there in as great joy as Christ that is risen again. And I marvel that Paul had not comforted the Thessalonians with that doctrine, if he had known it.” An Answer to Sir Thomas More’s Dialogue (Parker’s 1850 reprint), bk. 4, ch. 4, p. 180

    William Tyndale—“When More proveth that the saints be in heaven in glory with Christ already, saying, “If God be their God, they be in heaven, for he is not the God of the dead;” there he stealeth away Christ’s argument, wherewith he proveth the resurrection: that Abraham and all saints should rise again, and not that souls were now living in hell or in purgatory or in heaven; which doctrine was not yet in the world. With that doctrine More taketh away the resurrection quite, and maketh Christ’s argument of none effect.”

    N T Wright—“In I Corinthians 3, Paul does not say that the people who have built with gold, silver and precious stones will go straight to heaven, or paradise, still less to the resurrection, while those who have used wood, hay and stubble will be delayed en route by a purgatory in which they will be punished or purged. No: both will be saved. . This is a solemn passage, to be taken very seriously by Christian workers and teachers. But it does not teach a difference of status, or of celestial geography, or of temporal progression, between one category of Christians and another.” http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Rethinking_Tradition.htm

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  5. Paul Helm–“Calvin’s understanding of assurance is that it is a distinctive impression made known to the believer through introspection, self-knowledge, which tells him that however weak his faith may be it can never be extinguished. Augustine never mentions assurance as far as I can see, but uniformly refers to ‘piety’ as the sign of perseverance, indeed as what perseverance is. The prominence that Calvin gives to assurance as an interior impression suggests that Calvin reckons that the believer knows that he will endure to the end, because he presently is favoured with an infallible sign of his adoption as a child of God. ”

    Paul Helm—“By contrast the use of the language of ‘perseverance‘ by Augustine suggests a linear progression, a walk, a race, a fight, a climb. Then the answer to the question of personal belief is grounded on the fact that the Lord continually makes the person to stand. That is, the Lord enables him to press on as a Christian, to have ‘pious thoughts’ which produce faith which works by love. (Gift of Perseverance, ch.20) . This continuation of the believer’s ‘standing’ is expressed by Augustine in terms of obedience, virtue, and continued communion with the visible church.” http://paulhelmsdeep.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-temporary-christian-calvin.html

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  6. Mark, B. “nothing about these things keeps us from word and sacrament on Sunday.”

    Maybe, but why have churches that observe the church calendar so poorly misunderstood word and sacrament on Sunday?

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  7. D. G. Hart says: Oh Ali.

    ….yes, and even o’course, sometimes, even ‘woe’ ….
    be appalled, O heavens, at this, and shudder, be very desolate,” declares the LORD, for My people have committed two evils: they have (not only not remembered Me but have) forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jer 2:12-13)

    We are ever, permanently, always, continually,not just on Lord- Supper-Sundays inscribed on His palms, ought not He be continually on our minds?

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  8. Nick the Romanist—Some Evangelicals will say they base their Christian liturgy off of “The Acts 2 Church,” but at that point in the Church (Acts 2:42-47) there wasn’t even a book of the New Testament written yet, so “The Acts 2 Church” couldn’t even have been a Sola Scriptura based Christian liturgy.

    http://www.creedcodecult.com/the-biblical-basis-of-man-made-liturgy/

    James White: “You will never find anyone saying, “During times of enscripturation—that is, when new revelation was being given—sola scriptura was operational.” Protestants do not assert that sola scriptura is a valid concept during times of revelation. How could it be, since the rule of faith to which it points was at that very time coming into being? One must have an existing rule of faith to say it is “sufficient.” It is a canard to point to times of revelation and say, “See, sola scriptura doesn’t work there!” Of course it doesn’t. Who said it did?”

    “God, by bestowing sufficient help, offers us, in the means of grace efficacious grace; but since man resists sufficient grace, he is deprived of the efficacious grace which was offered to him.”

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  9. Once you flatten out covenant change into monocovenantalism (one covenant of grace, different administrations) , you can promote ritualism. If typology is not about future realities now accomplished, then you don’t think the types are finished yet. And so you continue with cycles and types. One type (physical circumcision) is supposedly fulfilled not by reality but by another type ( water baptism) and then the new covenant is postponed once again. This way you don’t really ever have anything new yet, but only a continuity in which covenant can’t change substantially but only “ceremonially” (cherry-picking what’s accidental and not of the substance)

    theonomist George Gillespie—”If The analogy betwixt the Jewish & the Christian church faile, the argument of Baptisme from circumcision will faile also…The state of the Jewish church is y a warrantableness for the analogy of the Old Testament & New. If we must cut loose the argument of the Jewish church, how shall we prove pedo-Baptism?”

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  10. @ Mark:

    Another way to see the Gillespie quote is that theonomy and anabaptism imbibe the same error, but differ on the particulars.

    The theonomist Gillespie argues that paedobaptism requires theonomy; since paedobaptism is clearly correct, so must theonomy be.

    The (esteemed) anabaptist McMark argues that paedobaptism leads inevitably to theonomy; since theonomy is clearly wrong, so must paedobaptism be.

    The mutual error is in the inference. Paedobaptism (nor circumcision) does not require theonomy, for baptism is not a sign of Moses, but of Abraham, who had no theocracy, and of Christ, whose kingdom is not of this world.

    The reason that we do not need circumcision, says Paul in Gal 3, is that having been baptized into Christ, we are already children of Abraham and heirs according to the promise.

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  11. Jeff, 1. Why say “anabaptist”, when you could say baptist, unless you want to imply that all baptists (if consistent) would attempt to take over Munster as a theocracy (like Geneva)? Is “anabaptist” more pejorative than “baptist”?

    2. Baptism into Christ is not by water. Baptism into Christ Saves. Baptism into Christ is not by human hands. Water baptism is not the fulfillment of the sign of circumcision. But in arguments with “anabaptists” (but hoepfully not with “federal visionists”, there tends to be Reformed equivocation between sign and what is signified, so that one type is thought to fulfill another type.

    John Fesko —“Even though we can talk about a distinction between the visible and the invisible, or between the external and internal, why should we have to choose between water and the Spirit (Word, Water and Spirit, p 241, “Baptism as Covenant Judgment)

    mcmark—Instead of focusing on the significance of physical circumcision in pointing to Christ’s death (Colossians 2), most “reformed” writers assume that water baptism is always pointing to the Holy Spirit, and therefore baptism by John and by Jesus and by the church are about BOTH the water and about the HOLY Spirit, but NOT about legal identity with Christ’s atoning death. And then they infer that it’s not Jesus cHRIST who baptized with the Holy Spirit, but rather that the Holy Spirit “baptizes us into Christ” and thus they know that water baptism is not about Christ’s death but about the hOLY Spirit uniting persons to Christ’s person. John Fesko– “It is unnecessary to choose between water baptism and Spirit baptism” On the same page Fesko (322) CHOOSES to conclude (without arguments) that Spirit baptism is NOT God’s imputation. Fesko explains (again, it’s obvious to him) that baptism (both water and by the Spirit) is NOT Christ’s giving the Spirit, because the Westminster Confession teaches us that Spirit baptism is the Spirit giving us Christ by uniting us to Christ by faith

    3. The Abrahamic covenant came before the old covenant (the Mosaic covenant), and therefore the Abrahamic covenant is NOT the new covenant. Abraham had two sons. If circumcision was for Abraham a seal of the promise to Abraham that Abraham would have children and own a lot of land, then we cannot say that circumcision is NOTHING BUT (essentially, don’t notice anything else) a seal of righteousness that Abraham had by faith. Don’t pay attention to the fact that circumicision was a sign of more than one thing. Sure, in the Mosaic covenant maybe it was. But not in the Abrahamic!

    Reformed folks read the Old Testament as if the Abrahamic covenant and the new covenant were the same covenant. But Romans 4:11 teaches that circumcision was a sign to Abraham that Abraham had Christ’s imputed righteousness . The circumcision is a sign that Christ will bring in the righteousness, but not a sign to anybody else but Abraham that they have or are promised the righteousness. The righteousness is promised only to as many as believe the gospel.

    Israel is a type fulfilled by Christ, not by a mixed body of professing to be justified folks and not professing folks we now call “the church”. Circumcision is a type of the forensic “cutting off” from legal identity in Adam by means of Christ’s death. Christ’s death is the legal death of the justified elect, and that death is not water, not regeneration, not “covenant membership” in a conditional covenant. It’s not water that fulfills the type of circumcision. Christ’s death to the law imputed to the elect is the ultimate thing signified by circumcision. Christ did not become cleansed or regenerated, but His blood was shed to satisfy justice, and that’s the central truth to which circumcision speaks.

    In the case of Abraham, the righteousness signified had already been imputed to Abraham before circumcision. On the one hand, the “Reformed” tell us we can’t know who is justified, and so the sign is not about a presumptive knowledge that any person will be justified. But then why not give the sign of the gospel promise to everybody? On the other hand, the Reformed seem to teach that there is a promise to the children of those who are Christians which is different from the gospel promise given to anyone who believes the gospel.

    Scott Clark—The typological period of redemptive history and revelation pre-existed the Mosaic covenant… Because Abraham and Moses both belong to the typological period… they share certain characteristics and features …The land and seed promises came to be administered through and under the Mosaic covenant…”

    http://heidelblog.net/2016/01/abraham-moses-and-circumcision/

    The Covenant of Circumcision was established with ordinances in the typological period including Abraham and given to the seed according to the flesh. This seed was not the church. It was a type of the church. .Abraham’s natural offspring were a type of Abraham’s spiritual offspring

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  12. Brandon Adams—How is the land promise distinctively Mosaic in contrast to Abrahamic? Previously Scott Clark wrote that the typological land promise was something the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants shared in common. Now he categorizes Mosaic elements as “distinctively” temporary and thereby seeks to distinguish them from things that are not “distinctively” Mosaic, and therefore not temporary.

    Scott Clark—This leads us to a necessary corollary to the principle of Mosaic inferiority: The typological period of redemptive history and revelation pre-existed the Mosaic covenant. All of those types and shadows have also been fulfilled and have been expired but that there were typologies under Adam, Noah, and Abraham does not make them Mosaic. In other words, not all types are Mosaic. This is an important distinction. The Mosaic covenant, strictly speaking, the Old Covenant, was typological but not all types and shadows are Mosaic. The Mosaic covenant was unique…

    Brandon Adams—We are told that we must distinguish between Mosaic and non-Mosaic types, but we are also told that both Mosaic and non-Mosaic types are temporary and have “expired.” How is “not all types and shadows are Mosaic” an important distinction if all types and shadows, Mosaic or non-Mosaic, were temporary and have expired? Just because something is Abrahamic does not mean it is not obsolete. The Mosaic/non-Mosaic distinction is irrelevant to the point Clark seeks to make since he argues that there are Abrahamic types that have expired. Clark’s point is that there is a typical aspect of circumcision that has expired and a non-typical aspect of circumcision that has not expired.

    Brandon Adams—The Mosaic/non-Mosaic issue is a bit of a non-sequitur smoke screen in this regard. The real issue is determining which aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant are typical and which are not. Scott Clark is not consistent. He will say on one hand that the Abrahamic and Mosaic share a common typological promise of land and seed, but on the other hand he will say only the anti-typological promise of land and seed is actually Abrahamic, and thus the Abrahamic and New are identical.

    Brandon Adams—The Abrahamic Covenant received a two-level fulfillment and so we should not limit its fulfillment to the earthly and temporal. But that is not what Scott Clark arguing. He is arguing the promise was ONLY anti-typical. It was ONLY spiritual. . According to Clark, the seed God promised to Abraham was ONLY Christ and the land God promised to Abraham was ONLY heaven. The Mosaic Covenant was national, but the Abrahamic is not.

    https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/a-critique-of-r-scott-clarks-covenant-theology/

    mcmark—I want to watch me some nba, Jeff, but first let me thump one paragraph of the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 15: 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know this for certain: Your offspring will be foreigners in a land that does not belong to them; they will be enslaved and oppressed 400 years. 14 However, I will judge the nation they serve, and afterward they will go out with many possessions. 15 But you will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a ripe old age. 16 In the fourth generation they will return here….

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  13. Mark,

    1. Because “anabaptist” is generic, encompassing both Baptists and Dallas Dispies.

    No pejorative implied; I have no concerns about you setting up a kingdom.

    2. McM: Baptism into Christ is not by water. Baptism into Christ Saves. Baptism into Christ is not by human hands. Water baptism is not the fulfillment of the sign of circumcision.

    This is a string of facts not in evidence.

    Wrt baptism into Christ “not being by water,” you really have three options for understanding something like Acts 22.16 “Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins.”

    (a) The sacerdotalist option: the sacrament accomplishes the thing signified.

    (b) The Reformed option: the sacrament signs the thing signified, and is united to the thing signified in efficacy: when the thing signified is received by faith, the sign is efficacious.

    (c) The Anabaptist option: the ordinance is an outward sign of an inward change, and no more.

    Option (b) seems to me to capture Biblical usage the best. A sacerdotalist has a hard time with Romans 2.29 because he must posit an ad-hoc difference between sacramental efficacy in the cases of circumcision and baptism. An anabaptist on the other hand must say that while Ananias was free to speak of baptism washing away sins, we must not do so. The net effect is to drive a wedge between water baptism and Spirit baptism, which difference is not attested in Scripture.

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  14. @ Mark:

    Really quickly: your linked article shows evidence of the same Gilespie confusion when he starts contrasting Winzer with Clark.

    Winzer’s characterization of Clark’s view as “new” is utterly mistaken. There *are* new elements in Klinean republication, but identification of the new covenant with the Abrahamic is not one of those; nor is it new to observe that Israel the nation was under the law as a matter of accident and not substance.

    We had a looong discussion of Turretin that established those points some time ago.

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  15. Jeff, not responsive, not that you had any duty to be.

    mcmark–“Reformed” writers assume that water baptism is pointing to the Holy Spirit but NOT to legal identity with Christ’s atoning death. And then they infer that it’s not Jesus Christ who baptized with the Holy Spirit, but rather that the Holy Spirit “baptizes us into Christ” and thus they know that water baptism is not about Christ’s death but about the Holy Spirit uniting persons to Christ’s person. Fesko– “It is unnecessary to choose between water baptism and Spirit baptism” Fesko (322) then chooses to conclude (without argument) that baptism is NOT God’s legal placing of the elect into Christ.

    Beisner: Many of the Scripture passages on which the Federal Visionists rely for their theology of baptism use the term (or its cognates) to denote not the rite but the spiritual reality signified by it (for instance, Romans 6:1ff; 1 Peter 3:21). The nineteenth-century Presbyterian James Wilkinson Dale’s five-volume study on baptizo persuades me that in many instances the original readers of the New Testament would not have taken baptism to denote the rite at all. See Dale, Christic and Patristic Baptism: An Inquiry into the Meaning of the Word as Determined by the Usage of the Holy Scriptures and Patristic Writers (1874), Classic Baptism: An Inquiry into the Meaning of the Word as Determined by the Usage of Classical Greek Writers (1867), Johannic Baptism: An Inquiry into the Meaning of the Word as Determined by the Usage of the Holy Scriptures (1898), and Judaic Baptism: An Inquiry into the Meaning of the Word as Determined by the Usage of Jewish and Patristic Writers (1869) (all reprinted, Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1995, 1989, 1993, and 1991, respectively….In Romans 6:baptism does NOT denote the rite– consistent application of that sense in the immediate context (verses 1-10) would yield the conclusion (contrary to other passages of Scripture) that all, without exception, who undergo the rite are, justified, sanctified, and finally glorified,

    http://www.ecalvinbeisner.com/freearticles/AATConclusion.pdf

    mcmark– But when you have one ritual type being fulfilled by another ritual type (but not by Christ’s death), then you tend to assume water and say the word “gnostic” if anybody disagrees.

    In the text of Romans 6, why is Christ free from the law and sin? Is it that the Holy Spirit who makes Christ free? No, it’s Christ’s death as satisfaction which makes Christ free, The law has no more power over Christ in that one and only sense. And the law has no more power over the justified in that one and only way.

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  16. Colossians 2:–In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by THE CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST, 12 having been buried with him in BAPTISM, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead……, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses. 14 He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross….20 If you DIED WITH the Messiah

    Colossians 2 does not teach an “inner circumcision” by the work of the Holy Spirit. Baptism in Colossians 2 is not about regeneration but about “death with Christ”. Christ was not regenerated. Christ died under the law to satisfy and erase debt and obligations to the law.

    Mike Horton, Covenant and Salvation, p111–The believer passes through judgment with Christ to the other side. God does in fact condemn the guilty with Christ. Because of their identification with Him, they are circumcised by the “cutting off” of the old self while Christ himself fully undergoes the “cutting off’ in death, suffering the divine wrath.

    Dewey Roberts, Historic Christianity and the Federal Vision, p 130—“The idea of sacramental regeneration was a part of pagan religions centuries before Christ was born in Bethlehem>” http://www.exposingthefederalvision.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Federal-Vision-text-Sampler-b.pdf

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  17. Well, let me narrow the field so as to increase responsiveness.

    I perceive you to be advancing a complex argument for credobaptism as the only possible way to keep Law and Gospel distinct. Is that fair?

    Piecing together, your argument appears in broad strokes to be that

    (1) Baptism is sui generis, unconnected to circumcision in meaning. (MMC: Water baptism is not the fulfillment of the sign of circumcision.)

    (2) The meaning of baptism is federal union with Christ, being united with Him in death, (MMC: On the same page Fesko (322) CHOOSES to conclude (without arguments) that Spirit baptism is NOT God’s imputation. Fesko explains (again, it’s obvious to him) that baptism (both water and by the Spirit) is NOT Christ’s giving the Spirit, because the Westminster Confession teaches us that Spirit baptism is the Spirit giving us Christ by uniting us to Christ by faith — this was hard to parse, because you are clearly disagreeing with Fesko, but it’s not clear to what degree or in what particulars. Do you wish to argue that Spirit baptism IS God’s imputation? If so, then wouldn’t you be arguing that union in both parts is logically prior to imputation, contrary to your earlier strong stance? I don’t have Fesko, so this part was very fuzzy).

    (3) If applied to children of believers, baptism creates an unstable situation in which the children must simultaneously regard themselves as certainly elect but potentially non-elect.

    (4) This opens the door to a perhaps subconscious attempt to retain election through law-keeping (ie, not getting kicked out of the covenant community),

    (5) Which is a backdoor salvation by works, specifically covenantal nomism.

    (6) (New point, but reaching back to (1)) The view that the Abrahamic covenant, Mosaic covenant, and New Covenant are all different administrations of the one covenant of grace also opens the door to legalism by importing ritualism from one covenant to another. (MMC: Once you flatten out covenant change into monocovenantalism (one covenant of grace, different administrations) , you can promote ritualism.)

    (7) In fact, it is certain that the Abrahamic and new covenants are entirely different entities (MMC: The Abrahamic covenant came before the old covenant (the Mosaic covenant), and therefore the Abrahamic covenant is NOT the new covenant.)

    (8) Hence, the signs have completely different meanings

    (9) As a subpoint, you want to argue the importance that types by fulfilled by Christ the antitype (MMC: But in arguments with “anabaptists” (but hoepfully not with “federal visionists”, there tends to be Reformed equivocation between sign and what is signified, so that one type is thought to fulfill another type.), so that it is inappropriate symbology to view baptism as a fulfillment of circumcision.

    So putting this together, we might say that the three pillars of your argument are

    * Absolute distinction between Abrahamic and new covenants, leading to distinction in signs,
    * Argument modus tollens that paedobaptism leads to covenantal nomism, which we agree is wrong,
    * Supplementary argument from symbols that circumcision must point to Christ and baptism must point to Christ, so that it is impossible for circumcision to be fulfilled in baptism.

    Is that a fair summary? If not, what differences would you suggest. If so, can we focus on one of those points?

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  18. Jeff started— McMark argues that paedobaptism leads inevitably to theonomy; since theonomy is clearly wrong, so must paedobaptism be.

    mark: No, It’s not a slippery slope. I wrote— “One type (physical circumcision) is supposedly fulfilled not by reality but by another type ( water baptism).”

    Then Jeff wrote—” baptism is not a sign of Moses, but of Abraham, who had no theocracy….” Then I responded that the distinction between Abraham and Moses (which is correct and not new) must not ignore the continuities. The Abrahamic covenant had more than one promise, and the Abrahamic covenant also had temporary types.

    Then Jeff: –The reason that we do not need circumcision, says Paul in Gal 3, is that having been baptized into Christ, we are already children of Abraham and heirs according to the promise.

    Mark—In point of fact Galatians does NOT say that “baptism” has replaced circumcision. This is why it’s so important to talk about the nature of “baptism”. “We have have been baptized into Christ” is NOT about water ritualism. It’s NOT ‘an outward sign of an inward change”

    1. It’s not an outward sign, because it’s not water. That was my original point at the start. Water does not fulfill the type of physical circumcision.

    2. Nor is it about “inward change”, because it’s not about regeneration or about “Christ indwelling us”. The baptism of Romans 6, of Galatians 3, of Colossians 2 is God’s imputation into Christ’s death.

    “In the days of Noah while an ark was being prepared. In it a few—that is, eight people[—were saved through water. 21 Baptism, which CORRESPONDS TO THIS,, now SAVES YOU. The Noah water was not regeneration but legal judgment by death…

    3. The “Baptism that saves” is not possible efficacy conditioned on other factors. “The Spirit is life because of righteousness. ” The Holy Spirit is given to all those placed into Christ’s righteousness. The righteousness is not given because of or by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given because of and through the righteousness imputed (II Peter 1:1)

    Now, Jeff, you can say–I don’t want to talk about all this stuff, I only want to talk about a distinction between Abraham and Moses. I only want to say that there are no temporary types, no other promises in Abraham, or at least that the types and other promises in Abraham are not like those in Moses. But if you want to be “responsive” to what I really wrote, You need to agree that Abraham had heirs according to different promises. You need to agree that circumcision was also part of the Abrahamic covenant, and you need to agree that Galatians does NOT say that Circumcision was temporary because it was replaced by WATER baptism. Nor does it say that circumcision was temporary because it was only a Mosaic kind of thing, and not an Abrahamic kind of thing.

    Jeff–I perceive you to be advancing a complex argument for credobaptism as the only possible way to keep Law and Gospel distinct. Is that fair?

    mark: No, not at all. Lutherans keep law and gospel distinct, and they don’t talk about covenants. And I know some Reformed folks who are not all “mono-covenantal” who still know the difference between law and gospel. Some credobaptists know the difference between the law and the gospel, but most do not. But then again, most credobaptists do not know the gospel. And Lutherans….well, I won’t go on in that direction. But for sure, I was not saying that law-gospel confusion is inherent in the “one covenant with many administrations” world view. You can be wrong about covenants, and still be right about the gospel. And you can be right about the covenants, and still be wrong about the gospel. .

    (1) Baptism i, unconnected to circumcision in meaning. (: Water baptism is not the fulfillment of the sign of circumcision.

    mcmark: no. Baptism is not water, but circumcision pointed to the legal reality of federal identification with Christ’s death. So unless you want to keep begging the question about all “baptism” being water, you can’t say that I deny the connection. Imputation without hands into “the circumcision of Christ” (Christ’s death) is the fulfillment of the circumcision with hands.

    Do you wish to argue that Spirit baptism IS God’s imputation?

    mark: no, I thought I made that clear above. Christ gives the Spirit. It’s not the Spirit who gives Christ. Imputation before regeneration. I understand that I confuse people when I quote those with whom I disagree—that often happens because I am more likely to quote the disagreement rather than someone saying the same thing as me (in this instance, that would be Bruce McCormack or Berkhof or John Cotton). I quoted Fesko in disagreement. I quote WCF in disagreement (at this point).

    “Fesko explains that baptism (both water and by the Spirit) is NOT Christ’s giving the Spirit, because the Westminster Confession teaches us that Spirit baptism is the Spirit giving us Christ by uniting us to Christ by faith .”

    mcmark—This is one of those points where I disagree with the WCF, and my point was not that Fesko was only saying what he said because the confession said it , but that he did not make arguments for his position that regeneration is before imputation. Fesko defines “Spirit baptism” as the Spirit uniting us to Christ. I don’t. The Spirit is life because of righteousness.

    Jeff—(3) If applied to children of believers, baptism creates an unstable situation in which the children must simultaneously regard themselves as certainly elect but potentially non-elect

    mcmark: No, all I asked was how is the promise to “covenant infants” any different from gospel promise to anybody. The gospel does not say to anybody that “God loves you” or that “you are elect”. The grace is for those who believe the gospel , and it’s grace that causes sinners to believe. There’s no problem with sinners asking if they are elect, but they won’t be able to answer that question until they believe the gospel. It doesn’t matter if it’s a paedobaptist “covenant not governed by election” or a credobaptist construct about “preparation by regeneration”, there’s no shortcut or any other way for them to discover their election except by believing the gospel. Acts 2:39 as many as the Lord our God will call.

    https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/i-will-be-god-to-you/

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  19. Hi Mark,

    Still trying to parse where we are. Let me start here:

    MMC: But if you want to be “responsive” to what I really wrote, You need to agree that Abraham had heirs according to different promises….

    Well, can I be responsive by disagreeing?

    I understand the Abrahamic covenant to contain two basic promises, one dependent on the other. The first is, “I will be your God, and you and your descendants will be my people.” The second is, “All of this land, I will give to you.”

    What is hidden in shadows and types in the Old is revealed in the New. Specifically, it is made clear that God will be a God to all of Abraham’s true descendants — that is, those who are of the faith of Abraham — by justifying them by faith. Likewise, it is made clear that the scope of the land that God has promised is the entire world:

    For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. — Rom 4.13 – 14.

    And then Paul goes on to argue that the “descendants of Abraham” who are the heirs to this promise are all those who share the faith of Abraham.

    So now we have to ask, “When did God promise to give Abraham the world?” Logical options are

    (1) He didn’t; Paul is wrong. Bzzt.
    (2) He did, but the Scripture did not record it. Maaaaayybe.
    (3) He did, implied within the terms of the covenant given in Gen 15, 17. Bingo.

    The land of Canaan is well-known as a type of the new heavens and new earth. When God promised to give Canaan to Abraham’s descendants, it is understood — at least to Paul — that this implies the promise of new heavens and new earth to the true descendants of Abraham.

    So I would NOT say that the Abrahamic covenant contained different promises aimed at different people. I would say rather that the covenant contained two promises (I will be your God; you will inherit the world) aimed at the same group, who was Abe’s descendants by faith. At the same time, being pre-cross, the covenant with Abraham had types that signified the reality. The land of Canaan was one such type. It was not a separate promise to a different group of people (“Land to the physical descendants; justification to the believers”), but a type, almost a down-payment, of the world to come. Not two different sets of heirs, which would overthrow Romans 4, but one.

    MMC: You need to agree that circumcision was also part of the Abrahamic covenant…

    Sure.

    MMC:

    …and you need to agree that Galatians does NOT say that Circumcision was temporary because it was replaced by WATER baptism. Nor does it say that circumcision was temporary because it was only a Mosaic kind of thing, and not an Abrahamic kind of thing.

    I’m not glossing that heavily. Paul’s argument in Galatians is that the Galatians do not need to receive circumcision, and that they do not need to be Law-keepers in order to be or remain justified. In fact, to receive circumcision or to submit to being under the Law is to fall away from grace.

    To get there, Paul advances several arguments.

    The first is that the gospel of God simply is not a gospel of circumcision and law-keeping (Gal 1); this is confirmed by the other apostles (Gal 2.1 – 14, the rebuke of Peter being understood as accepted by Peter).
    The second is that if righteousness is through the Law, then Christ died needlessly (2.15 – 21).
    The third is that the Spirit was given through faith and not through law-keeping (3.1-6)
    The fourth is that the true heirs of Abraham are those who are of faith (3.7 – 4.31)
    The fifth is that Christ set us free from bondage to the law (5.1 – 25, where the fruit of the Spirit is a part of the freedom from the sin nature that is given by Christ).

    Contained within that fourth argument is this:

    for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

    The argument is that all who are baptized into Christ are Christ’s, hence Abraham’s descendants and heirs.

    So, two questions:

    (1) What is the intent of “baptized into Christ” — water, Spirit, both?
    (2) How does this relate to the discussion of circumcision?

    It turns out that (2) is easier than (1). The Judaizers argued that circumcision was necessary to bring the Gentiles into the scope of God’s blessing — into the covenant. Paul rebuts: You have no need to be brought into the covenant by circumcision. By being baptized into Christ, you have already been made children of Abraham.

    In this way, baptism into Christ makes circumcision superfluous. Everything that circumcision would confer, and specifically becoming a child of Abraham, is already given to you in baptism into Christ.

    I’m indifferent as to whether we want to call this a “replacement” or an “upgrade” for circumcision. What is clear is that having been baptized into Christ, they have no need to be circumcised.

    Now to (1). Is Paul speaking of water or Spirit, or both?

    I think we agree that he is not speaking merely of water. But here you’ve categorically rejected “both” for reasons that are not clear to me.

    Why would it not be the case that Paul is speaking of the outward sign as that which points to the inward reality?

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  20. Sense and sensibility:

    The church calendar is something that evolved over a very long period of time. Even after the first two or three ecumenical councils, the church calendar was still in a state of flux.

    As diligent students of the church fathers, the Reformers were well aware of that fact.

    The Reformers knew that there was an unbroken tradition of Lord’s Day worship handed down from the apostolic age. And they were eager to preserve that apostolic practice.

    But many of them had misgivings about the church calendar. One reason for those misgivings was the lack of evidence from the ancient church to substantiate its apostolic origins.

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