If More Anglicans Read Machen

Would they avoid the problem that Alan Jacobs describes here (for Anglicans who read Machen see this)?

What should Anglicans do with a gay couple that wants to have their baby baptized? Jacobs thinks the child should be baptized:

[T]o deny people the sacraments is to deny them one of the primary means by which they can receive the enlightening and empowering grace by which they can come to know God and follow Him. For the Anglican with a high sacramental theology, it is to deprive them of the “spiritual food and drink” that should be our regular diet. This strikes me as a massively dangerous thing to do. How can we expect people to think as they should and act as they should if we are denying them access to this empowering grace? If we could think and act as mature Christians without regular access to the sacraments, then what need do we have for those sacraments?

But how has the enlightening power of grace worked out in the lives of this gay couple which Jacobs admits has disregarded church teaching and Scriptural imperatives on marriage and sex? It hasn’t worked well and that is why Jacobs thinks the problem is not really with the sacrament but with the failure of Anglican catechesis (in effect a failure of ministry that includes baptism and catechesis):

It is extremely unlikely that any of the people involved have been well-catechized in the Faith. We all need to face up to the fact that almost no churches in the Anglican tradition, conservative as well as liberal, have taken catechesis seriously for a long time. To deny the sacraments to people the Church has failed to catechize is to make others suffer for the failings of the Church’s leadership.

Almost everyone in our society — with the exception of monastics, the Amish, and a few fundamentalist Protestants — has been deeply and persistently catechized by the mass media into a very different model of sexuality than the Christian and biblical one. We should have the same compassion for them as we would for people who have been raised in a brainwashing cult.

So you continue to do what Anglicans have done for a long time — baptize without catechesis? Or do you admit that for baptism to take, it needs the work of instruction in the faith?

[W]e should remember that the task of re-catechizing the Church is going to take a very long time — decades, perhaps centuries — and in the meantime we must be generous and loving to those who have been brainwashed by the world, and not prevent those who desire it from taking the true spiritual food and drink on which we were meant to live.

Why doesn’t Jacobs see how much his sacramental theology really depends on catechetical theology? Or that the ministry of the sacraments cannot be isolated from a larger understanding of pastoral theology? Is it because he doesn’t want to admit that Puritans had a point about the Elizabethan Church?

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90 thoughts on “If More Anglicans Read Machen

  1. Forget, Machen. They should read Cryil’s catechetical lectures to get a sense of how far the Anglicans have wandered from the patristic understanding of the sacrament. Heck, how about the Lord’s unambiguous command to “baptize” and “teach”? It seems they’ve been inseparable since their institution.

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  2. Forget Machen and Cyril. Why don’t they read their damn Bibles and see that infant baptism is no more than dumping water on a baby. It has absolutely zero meaning.

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  3. Cw, and what sort of troll are you? Oh, the fundamentalist “rock music and swearing send you to hell” kind. And no, I’m not Baptist. I prefer to avoid denominational constraints. But please, show me where in the Bible infant baptism is supported. Dedication on the eighth day is certainly not baptism, and all examples of baptism in the New Testament are public declarations of faith by ADULTS.

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  4. Bryan, if you baptize only older children and adults on profession of faith then you are a “baptist” (what I said) not a Baptist (which I didn’t say), which would mean a member of some sort of baptist denomination. But who needs the constraints of a denomination and all that doctrinal stuff that (sometimes) goes with it? Try Colossians 2:11-12 and read this, but you probably won’t since you sound like a knucklehead.

    https://heidelblog.net/2012/09/baptism-and-circumcision-according-to-colossians-211-12/

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  5. From the article you linked to, cw:

    “Everyone, (adults and children), who has been baptized must be united by faith to Christ for salvation. Unbaptized, adult converts, profess their faith before baptism. Children of believers who received the sign in infancy profess their faith as soon as they are able. Both are responsible before God to be faithful to the grace represented by the sign and seal they have received.”

    This is the crux of Clark’s argument, based upon Acts 2:38-39. Verse 39 says the “promise of salvation” is given to everyone, including the children. In verse 38, however, Peter is calling people to be baptized of their own volition, which means they must have been old enough to understand that they were sinners in need of Christ’s “promise of salvation.” Colossians 2:11-12 implies that circumcision is replaced by baptism, but it also speaks of being raised from the dead by faith. I’m not really sure how an infant will be able to understand the concepts of sin and faith.

    If you’re really going to base the rest of your argument for infant baptism on the apostles baptizing “households,” with no more information about those households given, then that is a pretty weak argument.

    Knucklehead indeed.

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  6. Bryan,

    The case for infant baptism depends largely on whether you believe there is a fundamental continuity between God’s purposes and people under the old and new covenants or not. If there is, then infant baptism is ultimately a no-brainer. If God’s purposes and people are radically different under the new covenant, then infant baptism is a no-no.

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  7. Bryan, and how will an adolescent any more than an infant be raised from the dead by faith since the one you’re dunking or sprinkling is already alive?

    Strengthen up.

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  8. Robert – ya you’re right, but what if baptism isn’t actually a direct replacement for circumcision? I believe the Jews also practiced baptism before the time of Christ (I’m not positive about that, though). Christ fulfilled the law, but that doesn’t mean that baptism is suddenly required for salvation instead of circumcision, which the Roman Catholics would claim.

    Dr. Hart – I’m not really getting your point. I don’t see baptism as being anything other than a public declaration of faith in Christ. Is it mandatory? Yes, clearly. But it merely represents being raised out of spiritual death, which comes through faith in Jesus. How can an infant have faith when it hasn’t developed to the point where it has reason? How is sprinkling or dunking an infant anything other than giving the baby a bath. Parental dedication makes sense to me – parents agreeing to raise their child up in the way he/she should go. Infant baptism seems meaningless, since it isn’t an act of obedience on the part of the child.

    All of these arguments for infant baptism sound really Catholic to me.

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  9. Bryan: “Forget Machen and Cyril. Why don’t they read their damn Bibles and see that infant baptism is no more than dumping water on a baby. It has absolutely zero meaning.”

    Quite right. All the baby has gotten out of this is a nice warm bath. All of the high church talk about “sacramental theology” and “catechetical theology” doesn’t mean anything to anybody in this ritual. The blind leading the blind into the abyss. The very concept of a “gay couple” is wholly unbiblical – the disobedience is root and branch and neither they nor the apostate church can offer anything other than false teaching and false assurance.

    Jacobs is a Public Intellectual and using Scripture is obviously not for him (lest he be lumped in with Jerry Falwell or James Dobson).

    Whatever happened to using the Ol’ Timey Bible to defeat these stupid ideas? Whatever happened to Sin? Whatever happened to Hell!

    Can’t anybody play this game?

    Give me back my Ol’ Time Religion, Please!

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  10. Bryan, not that this will help, but if the Jews were saved by the promise to Abraham and the NT church is saved along the same continuum(Rom 4), which is also the WHY of the Col. parallel with circumcision AND if the promise was to Abraham and his children and thus, they(children and adult converts) received the sign of the abrahamic covenant(circumcision) then you need to argue for discontinuity when it comes to withholding the sign from covenant children(familial solidarity). Rom 4 and Col. argue specifically for continuity.

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  11. Bryan, so you seem worried about the (alleged) absence of faith in the young. Such a small view of the power of God to be active in the weakest of creatures. But let’s allow it. In traditional Protestantism, a child is baptized on the grounds of at least one professing parent, is then catechized, then welcomed to the table only after a credible profession. Your worry about profession being absent is taken care of in the latter half of that bookend formulation–no communion until profession. It’s a typically misplaced emphasis for Baptists. But God initiates in ordinary baptism and the sinner responds in due time after catechesis.

    Protestant up, son.

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  12. Zrim, then tell me how your view of baptism and communion is in actuality any different from the Roman Catholic view of the sacraments? It sounds to me like you guys are saying baptism is necessary for salvation, which would also say that there are certain works required for our salvation. Mine isn’t the small view of the power of God. I believe God is powerful enough to save us without any effort on our part, yet He asks us to do certain things to honor and remember Him, namely baptism and communion. Baptism is meaningless if it is forced upon someone. An infant doesn’t get to choose whether or not he/she gets baptized. It means so much more when they decide to be baptized when they are older and actually understand exactly what they are doing.

    Another issue I have with infant baptism is that it falsely convinces many people that they are Christians or are going to Heaven simply because they have been baptized. Millions around the world have no concept of Christ’s actual work of salvation, but they think, since they’ve been “baptized” as a baby, then everything is good. Sadly, they are deceived by this false idea of baptism. If we are actually going to throw stones at the Catholics over theological issues, then maybe we should, as Protestants, actually disagree with them on some basic issues.

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  13. “We all need to face up to the fact that almost no churches in the Anglican tradition, conservative as well as liberal, have taken catechesis seriously for a long time.”

    Well, that’s an understatement. For many of the conservative Anglicans I know, the emphasis is far less on sound Biblical teaching and preaching (much less on catechesis) than on getting the high liturgy just right, e.g. well-performed classical music, expensive vestments, well-crafted religious artwork, a pinch of incense to help get in the mood. Anglo-catholic bling, in a word. And the homily must under no circumstances exceed 12 minutes.

    Three cheers for Dr. Mody for recognizing the genius of Machen. As for Dr. Jacobs, I’m glad he recognizes the need for improving biblical and doctrinal literacy in his communion, but I wonder whether he or many of his Anglican companions are up to the challenge of making the difficult theological choices that would be required for a sound, coherent, Biblical program of catechesis. The 39 Articles are a good place to start, but they’re pretty much a dead letter, even among conservative Anglicans – they’re way too Calvinistic, or something.

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  14. ” An infant doesn’t get to choose whether or not he/she gets baptized.”
    Nor does she get to choose to be born to believing parents or in a culture where the gospel has been heard. Even as an adult, she doesn’t get to choose whether to be regenerated.

    ” Millions around the world have no concept of Christ’s actual work of salvation, but they think, since they’ve been “baptized” as a baby, then everything is good. Sadly, they are deceived by this false idea of baptism.”
    Do you have evidence for this claim? Is it really any different from the presumption one makes that because you raised your hand after saying the sinner’s prayer at VBS (with every head bowed, every eye closed, natch), you’re saved and anyone who makes you doubt that is a tool of Satan. One might note the abysmal stats on nominal evangelicals (who are overwhelmingly baptist) before making stuff up about the purported connection between covenantal theology and presumption.

    ” …tell me how your view of baptism and communion is in actuality any different from the Roman Catholic view of the sacraments…”
    The reformed do not believe that baptism washes away the effect of original sin nor does it regenerate one. Read the TFU and WMSs for the reformed view. The RC view is in their catechism.

    You have awfully brash opinions for someone who is not particularly well educated. One would think that the weight of far greater minds throughout history would at least motivate some humility.

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  15. Dr. Hart, No I don’t believe they go to hell, but I also don’t think that baptism has anything to do with that. God is merciful, and only His grace can save the souls of those children. Baptism has no impact on that, since our works don’t save us.

    I think we can all agree that the doctrine of the Trinity is much more central to Christianity than an opinion on baptism, especially for Protestants. Trinitarian views of God certainly predate the tradition of infant baptism, and a stronger argument for the Trinity can be made from the Bible alone than an argument for infant baptism.

    In the end, I’m really arguing that arguments for infant baptism are really based on tradition, not the Bible. There is no clear evidence in the New Testament supporting infant baptism, and just because some theologians, who happened to be sinners just like the rest of us, support it doesn’t make it a Biblical position. Basing any belief or doctrine on tradition is shaky at best.

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  16. Jacobs writes,

    We are surrounded by sexual revolutionaries who insist that sexuality is fundamental to identity, is the most important thing imaginable — and in order to resist them we end up agreeing with them, and elevating disputes on sexuality to a level of importance which properly speaking only should belong to credal questions.

    Suggesting that unrepentant sexual sin is unworthy of excommunication. It is interesting to contrast that with what the Apostle Paul writes,

    It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

    3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

    6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

    9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

    So I am at a loss at how to square Jacob’s characterization of where sexual sin ranks relative to creedal error. The context here suggests that the one to purged isn’t the sinner struggling against his sin, but the sinner who sins proudly. How does one purge the shameless sinner and baptize his child?

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  17. “You have awfully brash opinions for someone who is not particularly well educated. One would think that the weight of far greater minds throughout history would at least motivate some humility.”

    Wow. Blame my education on Dr. Hart’s colleagues, then. As far as evidence for my comment on infant baptism as deception, try talking to your average “American Catholic.” Ask them if they believe in Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, and they’ll point to their baptism as a baby. There are a lot of people that think their salvation is due to the “work” of baptism, rather than actual faith in Jesus. After all, though, as Mattie Ross put it, “Who knows what’s in a man’s heart.” I guess we’ll find out which one of us is right on judgment day.

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  18. Bryan, your arguments are cliché. Better credos show much more charity for the paedo view, even if they finally dissent. I half wonder if you’re really serious. Have you really engaged padeobaptism? But this is fun:

    I think we can all agree that the doctrine of the Trinity is much more central to Christianity than an opinion on baptism, especially for Protestants.

    Not confessional Prots. We confess things like Belgic 29 (the second mark of a true church includes the right administration of the sacraments), 34 (detesting the errors of credos), and WCF 28.5 (a great sin to neglect it, meaning to neglect the baptism of covenant children). It’s not merely a pious opinion. It’s a central doctrine, a vital of religion. Again, better credos know this (and apply it in the other direction). You clearly haven’t seriously engaged this historically or confessionally.

    But, curious, why would trinitarianism be so much more central than sacramentology? It may be more ecumenical, but more central or essential? Huh? Your Willow Creek is showing.

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  19. I believe God is powerful enough to save us without any effort on our part, yet He asks us to do certain things to honor and remember Him, namely baptism and communion…An infant doesn’t get to choose whether or not he/she gets baptized. It means so much more when they decide to be baptized when they are older and actually understand exactly what they are doing.

    First you downplay human effort (in order to up-play God’s power), then you make a point about the value of human ability. But that an infant is passive in baptism actually demonstrates the sovereignty of God in salvation, i.e. that he is the one who initiates and seeks out and saves completely. Where your modernity slip shows and you see some kind of trespass against human autonomy, Protestants see the greatness of God. Where you see God’s greatness magnified in human understanding, Prots see in magnified in our total inability and weakness.

    Repent and become Christian, Bryan.

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  20. Romanists: Baptism removes original sin and allows the person to gain merits toward salvation
    Protestants: Baptism is a promise from God to be believed
    baptists: er… ah… I like “just as i am” and watching people weep as they walk the aisle.

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  21. ” As far as evidence for my comment on infant baptism as deception, try talking to your average “American Catholic.” ”

    Obviously you have no idea what you are talking about. The catholic view of baptism is that it causes regeneration and washes away original sin. That is not the reformed view. Crudely speaking, in the rc system baptism does save you until you commit a mortal sin (there is more to it), but that is not the reformed view.

    Reformed baptism and Catholic baptism are similar in that it is applied to infants just as baptist, church of christ, and mormon baptism are similar in that they are not applied to infants. That does not entail the underlying theology of the rite is the same for the reformed and catholic any more than the meaning of Mormon and Baptist baptism are the same. Note that the church of christ teaches credobaptism and baptismal regeneration.

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  22. Post says for baptism …’to take’

    CW says you sound like a knucklehead.

    DG Hart says: how will an adolescent any more than an infant be raised from the dead by faith since the one you’re dunking or sprinkling is already alive? Strengthen up.

    Zrim says credible profession – It’s a typically misplaced emphasis for Baptists.

    sdb says: You have awfully brash opinions for someone who is not particularly well educated.

    Zrim says: Bryan, your arguments are cliché. You clearly haven’t seriously engaged this historically or confessionally. Repent and become Christian, Bryan.

    sheesh, and good luck Bryan.

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  23. Bryan, thanks for sharing what you think. It has absolutely no relation to the arguments or scripture or comparisons provided to try to answer your objections but it is often a forgotten perspective(by me) of where the basic evangelical lives. Btw, just for future reference, ‘liking’ or preferring adult baptisms are not an argument against paedobaptism.

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  24. So let me get this straight. Out of all of you, cw was the only one to try and use Scripture to defend his position on infant baptism, and I, despite being a knucklehead, read the article he linked to and compared it to the Scripture cited, and I showed how weak that argument really is. The rest of you have only cited vague tradition and denominational creeds, rather than using the Bible. Yet somehow, I’m the one who isn’t a Christian? Strip away all the extra fluff, and please give me a sound Biblical support for infant baptism. I really would like to understand your position from a Biblical perspective.

    Zrim, you mentioned Willow Creek. You do know that Hybels grew up Dutch Reformed, right? He calls himself a Calvinist to this day. Willow’s problems, at their core, aren’t theological.

    https://youtu.be/kdsJUxVIANk – In case any of you want something to listen to while you condemn me to hell.

    Sola scriptura.

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  25. I really would like to understand your position from a Biblical perspective.

    So, Bryan, is this an implied admission that hitherto you really haven’t sought to understand paedobaptism? But you flew in here one who had it all figured out from the biblical perspective and aimed to straighten out all the non-biblical doctrine. Your plea is suspect. I doubt you want to understand anything. This is a ploy to bait, switch, and then clobber. You’re an ardent credo who hasn’t engaged baptism fully, zeal without knowledge.

    What’s your point about Hybels? Osteen calls himself Christian. So what that Hybels “calls himself Dutch Reformed”? He’s not. “Willow’s problems aren’t theological”? What are you talking about? It’s allegedly a church, right? Then its problems are inherently theological. Do you also wonder if the Pope is Catholic?

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  26. I’m gonna live to regret this, Bryan go wrestle with Rom 4, Col 2, and Gal. 3 and 4. The obligation is on the credo to show discontinuity in the abrahamic covenant at the precise point of allowing covenant children(children of at least one professing parent) the initiatory sign of the covenant. Remember, adult baptism is not an argument against paedobaptism.

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  27. Zrim, you’re only proving my point that there isn’t one. If there were a biblical perspective, I’m sure you would provide it. Sure, I’ll admit I haven’t spent every waking moment studying infant baptism, but I also haven’t spent all my time studying Islamic theology, which I also believe to be untrue. Tradition isn’t theology, unless you’re a papist.

    My point about Hybels was to ask what your point was in bringing up Willow. A church can have problems that are inherently spiritual but not necessarily theological in the sense that they are related to doctrine. I also didn’t say that he calls himself Dutch Reformed. I said he grew up Dutch Reformed and calls himself a Calvinist. There’s a difference.

    Did you like the song?

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  28. Brian,

    So let me get this straight. Out of all of you, cw was the only one to try and use Scripture to defend his position on infant baptism, and I, despite being a knucklehead, read the article he linked to and compared it to the Scripture cited, and I showed how weak that argument really is.

    No. You asserted that you found it weak. You didn’t show anything.

    The rest of you have only cited vague tradition and denominational creeds, rather than using the Bible.

    When you make sociological arguments (infant baptism causes presumption) and philosophical arguments (it doesn’t many anything if the recipient can’t choose), then you should expect sociological and philosophical responses rather than exegetical ones. You still misunderstand what is believed by the reformed, so it seems that perhaps turning to the confessional docs would be useful before turning to the scripture to see if there is support for it. It would be strange for us to turn to scripture to defend your catholic understanding of baptism.

    Yet somehow, I’m the one who isn’t a Christian? Strip away all the extra fluff, and please give me a sound Biblical support for infant baptism. I really would like to understand your position from a Biblical perspective.

    Really? The way you ask people to spend the time explaining their faith to you is by writing, “Why don’t they read their damn Bibles and see that infant baptism is no more than dumping water on a baby. It has absolutely zero meaning.” And then going on the attack before admitting you don’t know what you are talking about. Curious…

    Anyway, if you want to understand the biblical basis for the reformed understanding of baptism, I would at start with the reformed confessions to understand what is being claimed. Then consider what Peter’s words in Acts 2 would have brought to mind to one reared in the Jewish tradition (reflection on Genesis 17 is helpful here – note the allusion to Genesis 17 in Acts 2:39):

    “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off”
    “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”
    ” you and your descendants after you for the generations to come.”
    “This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you…For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant.”

    Note a couple of things here:
    1) The Abrahamic covenant is everlasting (not temporary)
    2) receiving the sign of the covenant (circumcision) did not require a volitional act by the child (one of your criticisms of paedobaptism). Further, iit was for entire households.
    3) the sign of the covenant did not guarantee that one would be saved.
    4) the structure of Peter’s sermon is parallel to that of God’s covenant with Abraham – to refer to households in this context to those catechized in the Jewish faith would have triggered this connection.

    The sign of the promise is still to be applied to the God’s covenant community. To neglect to do so is a grave sin (cf. Moses in Ex 4). If you want a longish exposition on the reformed understanding of the meaning of baptism (and covenant more generally) you might also consider this.

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  29. Zrim asserted I wasn’t Christian when he said, “Repent and become Christian, Bryan.” That implies I currently am not a Christian, an idea I certainly reject.

    sdb – At least now we are getting somewhere instead of just sending me to hell. Think about this – when God created the covenant with Abraham, He explicitly told them that circumcision would be the sign of the covenant. Where in the New Testament does it explicitly say the same thing about baptism? Of course the sign of the covenant doesn’t guarantee salvation, and neither did the sacrifices. Both pointed to Christ’s redemptive work. Ask yourself this question: if the Jews already received the sign of the covenant, then why was John the Baptist baptizing people? Why on earth would Jesus need to be baptized if he was circumcised on the eighth day, if indeed baptism is to be a replacement for circumcision? You’re equating baptism and circumcision, when they may not actually be the same thing or serve the same purpose. I’ll read the link and the chapters Letmesplainsean cited tonight.

    I’m not equating baby bathers with Islam. Just using two things I don’t believe in to show how one only has so much time to spend studying any one thing.

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  30. Hey Zrim, my friend:

    Your comment to Bryan:”First you downplay human effort (in order to up-play God’s power), then you make a point about the value of human ability. But that an infant is passive in baptism actually demonstrates the sovereignty of God in salvation, i.e. that he is the one who initiates and seeks out and saves completely. Where your modernity slip shows and you see some kind of trespass against human autonomy, Protestants see the greatness of God. Where you see God’s greatness magnified in human understanding, Prots see in magnified in our total inability and weakness.”

    At the risk of being told that I never understood Reformed soteriology, would you mind telling me what you think happens from God’s side when a baptized infant grows up and rejects God either morally( as in having sex outside marriage) or intellectually( as in skepticism or atheism)? From the Reformed perspective, even covenant children can,unbeknownst to the parents, actually be children of sovereign perdition, right?
    Do they get grace that sanctifies or not, in the reformed view, and how far does it take them?
    I think this might be what you guys should focus on, instead of stepping on each other to lift yourselves out of the quicksand of sola scriptura, because it can never arbitrate by itself. Unless you and Bryan both are going to take the side of the church’s long traditional understanding you will fall again onto your own opinion.
    The whole reason Catholics call you separated brethren is because either you are already baptized( for the remission of sin), or because you love the Saviour, you would desire baptism if you only knew that it does remove the hereditary stain that comes from our first parents.

    I know that you reject the Catholic view, but don’t know what scripture you use or what early fathers you appeal to in order to demonstrate your needed departure from it.

    In other words, if you read the info I’m linking, do you mentally place it under “Catholic” and not try to see if it is the case that protestants are mistakingly rejecting the correct understanding?
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02258b.htm#xii

    I will step out of the way and let you and Bryan resume your battle.

    “Some men are Baptists, others Catholic. My father was an Oldsmobile man” :)~

    Have a blessed Advent season,
    Susan

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  31. Bryan, if you really wanted the exegetical case it’s not hard to find. It’s not as if this combox is the only place to get it. I could easily link you up, but you’re not an honest contender or at least come across as one.

    Repent and become Christian on baptism, Bryan. Is that better? The point of the exhortation is that baptism matters more than you allege in your recoiling at the exhortation. And yet, you accuse up one side and down another. Dual mind, heal thyself.

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  32. Speaking of Oldsmobile leads, by association,s to the “rust belt”, so what do you guys think of Trump’s trying to keep Carrier in Indiana?

    🙂

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  33. Susan, Esau have I hated. Baptism, like its precedent circumcision, isn’t magical. Efficacious, bit not magical. (See, Bryan, no frustrated RCCism over here.)

    “He worked in He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium, a master.” God save the Oldsmobile man.

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  34. Zrim, you could really stand to cut down on the arrogance. I don’t think you even understand my position. If baptism is nothing more than an outward sign of personal acceptance of Christ’s redemptive work and a confirmation of a beginning of ministry, then it really doesn’t matter as much as you’re alleging. It matters, but some things matter more. Baptism is like communion – an outward sign of obedience. That is our real point of disagreement. From my point of view, I could say the same thing to you – repent and become Christian on baptism – I could, but I won’t.

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  35. Bryan, I wish you would. It would show more chutzpah and seriousness.

    But agreed. You see the sacraments as fundamentally the work of the sinner to demonstrate his faith. Prots see them as evidence of God’s work. That is one fundamental difference between the Prot view and the modernist view. Golf clap.

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  36. Morn’n Sean,
    “Wait, what?! You mean I wasn’t relieved of the corruption and guilt of my original sin when I was baptized! I was even salted. Did they get the Latin wrong?”

    Of course you were! So was I! Our souls have been washed by water and the spirit.

    Letmeaskyou so you can ‘splain,sean…….Are you( and I) guaranteed heaven now or could either of us mess-up so badly with our own actually sins committed after our baptisms that we forfeit our new-birthright?

    Did you see the content of my question to Steve about double predestination in regards to covenant children?
    Would love to hear your take on these kind of cases. Do you wring your hands, ” My kid wasn’t predestined!” or do you pray that they will benefit from the grace received through baptism and have a conversion of heart?

    Like

  37. Zrim, you won’t allow for any view but your own to even be called Protestant? Wow. Furthermore, I didn’t say that baptism as a demonstration of faith and evidence of God’s work are mutually exclusive. It is both in that the demonstration of faith acts as evidence of God’s work. If God doesn’t work, then it would be pretty stupid for someone to demonstrate faith in something they don’t believe.

    The correct phrase is slow clap. A golf clap is merely a polite quiet clapping that doesn’t disturb a golfer, which really doesn’t make sense in this context. A slow clap is used to show abject stupidity. Slow clap to you.

    Like

  38. Susan, I haven’t read your question to Zrim. I only have time for drive by. I could bear fruit in keeping with a false confession/profession of faith. Perseverance, exhibiting supernatural preservation is certainly ‘required’ of my faith, though the faith itself is not meritorious, nor is it self-generated though exhibited by me in time and space. No, I don’t wring my hands. I place my trust in the one who promises the Holy Spirit to me and my child through the ordinary means of grace. Catechism and confirmation is required-Make disciples.

    Like

  39. Sean,

    I understand that you only have time or patience for a drive-by.( although, sdb, used to chide me for doing those) so I won’t press you to continue. But I will address your comments and make comparisons.

    .” I could bear fruit in keeping with a false confession/profession of faith. Perseverance, exhibiting supernatural preservation is certainly ‘required’ of my faith, though the faith itself is not meritorious, nor is it self-generated though exhibited by me in time and space.”

    Nonbelievers do actual “good” but it doesn’t benefit them for eternity. There is no merit without faith. First comes grace then comes actual human response. If there is an actual human response it means that there exists a resisting response to grace, and this is what it means to do the opposite of love”. If our exhibiting(or holding in our hearts) the privation of good isn’t self-generated, who’s doing it?

    ” No, I don’t wring my hands. I place my trust in the one who promises the Holy Spirit to me and my child through the ordinary means of grace. Catechism and confirmation is required-Make disciples.”

    I agree with you, but what if your child outright denies the faith or your version of what it means to be catechised. Perhaps they hate your doctrine of double-predestination or choose to be Baptist. How do you have certainty that the promise is for your own child. I can see trusting that the means of grace are available in your covenant community( like circumcision was), but not all children of covenantal Christian’s are finally of the elect. That means that some are reprobate. How do you know whose child is reprobate?

    For me, the answer is solved in God’s loving and dying for the whole world, of actual grace( everywhere ) calling sinners to see the beauty and goodness of God which causes us to see ourselves for who we are( sinners), and sanctifying grace( in the church) helping each of us on our freewill journey to our supernatural end; and teaching, loving and prayer where we work as co-labors for their continued conversion.
    I never speak of my covenant children as possibly being of the reprobate since that isn’t predetermined( even though God knows). I love them and pray that they will respond to the grace and will finish the race.

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  40. Bryan,

    If baptism is nothing more than an outward sign of personal acceptance of Christ’s redemptive work and a confirmation of a beginning of ministry, then it really doesn’t matter as much as you’re alleging.

    As Zrim noted, this is quite different from the Reformed (and Lutheran, Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican). If you are anything like me, I thought the position of the Reformed was ridiculous. Of course baptism is an outward expression of an inward change (my confession of faith and posture towards God)! Infants cannot make an outward expression of an inward change so of course they cannot be baptized!

    However, I came to realize this definition of baptism was not satisfactory exegetically or theologically. When I consider my definition of baptism specifically and the sacraments in general I realized that what seemed so obvious at first seemed far less obvious on second look. You may not follow the same path as me, but I think you would still be well served to consider your definition of baptism as you evaluate paedo-baptist arguments.

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  41. Susan, not that I follow you all that well, but here goes;

    “Nonbelievers do actual “good” but it doesn’t benefit them for eternity. There is no merit without faith. First comes grace then comes actual human response. If there is an actual human response it means that there exists a resisting response to grace, and this is what it means to do the opposite of love”. If our exhibiting(or holding in our hearts) the privation of good isn’t self-generated, who’s doing it?”

    Susan, see corruption. See inability as defined in regards to salvation, merit, faith. Natural fitness lost at the fall. I deny necessity of superadded grace in the edenic situation-prelapsarian.

    Susan, I’m not God. I don’t know who is ultimately reprobate. I’m not promised a one for one correlation of baptism(membership) to eternal election. I also don’t presume upon the possibility of their being reprobate, just the opposite, I trust in the promises of God toward them in Christ(familial solidarity)signed and sealed to them. Freewill would cause me to despair(depravity), I trust in the sovereignty of God(monergism).

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  42. From the Westminster Confession of Faith (http://www.reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/):

    “IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ,[11] but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized.[12]
    V. Although it is a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance,[13] yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it:[14] or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.[15]
    VI. The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered;[16] yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time.[17]”

    Can somebody please explain to me (I’m serious!) what happens to an individual who was bathed… er… baptized as a baby but never in their life shows any signs of being a Christian. As Matthew 7:16 says, you shall know them by their fruit. It says that no everyone baptized is regenerated, but it says grace is still bestowed upon them. Is the grace of the Holy Spirit conferred upon them even if they never show any fruit? This document is basically saying that grace is bestowed by God through baptism, yet it also says that one can be saved without baptism. How is that not a contradiction, and how is that fundamentally different from the RC position?

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  43. Susan,

    For me, the answer is solved in God’s loving and dying for the whole world, of actual grace( everywhere ) calling sinners to see the beauty and goodness of God which causes us to see ourselves for who we are( sinners), and sanctifying grace( in the church) helping each of us on our freewill journey to our supernatural end; and teaching, loving and prayer where we work as co-labors for their continued conversion.

    No pope?

    Like

  44. Bryan, the golf clap was for alighting onto a difference between the modernist (yours) and the Protestant views. But you show more historical ignorance again. Historically, Protestantism included across the board paedobaptism. Anabaptists and modernists broke with that essential, thus moving away significantly from Protestantism. To deny PB is just not Protestant, sorry.

    Can somebody please explain to me (I’m serious!) what happens to an individual who was bathed… er… baptized as a baby but never in their life shows any signs of being a Christian.

    That person remains fenced from the table. Baptism isn’t magic (already noted above) but it is efficacious. The formulation isn’t contradictory any more than saying a wedding ring is efficacious but doesn’t magically conjure up marital maturity in its recipient is contradictory. The ring, like baptism, carries significance to communicate something from the giver to the receiver, but it doesn’t work like some sort of magic button.

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  45. “Historically, Protestantism included across the board paedobaptism.” That is certainly an historically arguable point, as protestants who practiced credo-baptism were very present in the 16th century, which could hardly be called “modernist”. Nonetheless, the statement carries as much weight as “historically, for the better part of history, there’s been a pope in Rome”. I suspect DGH, who is licensed to do history, would agree.

    When Z says “Baptism….is efficacious”, it begs the question: efficacious “for what”?

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  46. Zrim, since Christianity is normally divided by historians into 3 categories (here, I’ll list them for you: Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant), I’m including whatever I am under Protestantism. Protestantism implies a difference from Catholicism, yet the very thing you say makes me different from a Protestant is one of the very beliefs you share with the Catholics! You’re still clinging to tradition. Let it go.

    Golf clap, btw, still doesn’t adequately portray what you’re trying to get across.

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  47. Petros, “raises” (not “begs”). Efficacious to convey grace to the recipient. “protestants who practiced credo-baptism were very present in the 16th century.” I think you’re thinking of Anabaptists, but they weren’t Protestants. Even they said so. Hello?

    Bryan, you’re eeeeevangelical, which is more a creature of modernity than any of those camps, none of which really know what to do with you. Quit wandering and plant yourself.

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  48. If I’m an evangelical, then I am a really bad one. I wander because none of the existing “denominations” are worth setting roots in. This infant baptism thing is the biggest thing keeping me from fully embracing the WCF.

    There’s also much more to being Protestant than accepting infant baptism (which you took from the Catholics anyways), and rejecting that idea doesn’t make me not a Protestant. Funny how you think evangelicals aren’t Protestant, though, especially considering the fundamental tenet of Protestantism has always been salvation by grace through faith in Jesus.

    Arrrrroooogaaaannnncccceeeee.

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  49. Hi again Sean,

    An onlooker might wonder if we Christians have ever hashed this stuff out once and for all. Have we? or is it one theological school against another with no way of knowing who’s right?
    I don’t know how important some of what we discuss it is for our salvation, but some of it does seem to have eternal implications. If I believed that monergism is correct, I might have continued to wonder what this earthly stage is for, and when I consider my sin even while possessing faith,might have despaired that I was of the elect.
    Then there is the different views about how sanctifying grace is applied. Zrim says it’s efficacious and uses wedding rings as an analogy. But wedding rings are symbolic for love shared between persons. So self-giving love is what’s efficacious, and after it has come to us, we are actually able to respond with real love. Perfect in as far as we finite beings are capable. From God’s side he is giving us what He has eternally wanted to give us- Himself, under the species of bread and wine as both the OT and NT reveal. There’s no magic button but there is an incredible mystery.

    “Susan, see corruption. See inability as defined in regards to salvation, merit, faith. Natural fitness lost at the fall. I deny necessity of superadded grace in the edenic situation-prelapsarian.”

    Maybe I don’t understand this very well, but I don’t understand what is totally depraved about us “after” baptism and the other sacraments. I also don’t know how the idea of “natural fitness” isn’t Pelagian. What about us, without grace, makes us friends of God?

    “Susan, I’m not God. I don’t know who is ultimately reprobate. I’m not promised a one for one correlation of baptism(membership) to eternal election. I also don’t presume upon the possibility of their being reprobate, just the opposite, I trust in the promises of God toward them in Christ(familial solidarity)signed and sealed to them. Freewill would cause me to despair(depravity), I trust in the sovereignty of God(monergism).”

    I agree with you, that we can’t know who is ultimately reprobate, but i know that we disagree about whether or not those who ultimately aren’t saved receive grace. And I agree with you about the one-to-one correlation of baptism to election. I’m sure too, that you know the RCC understanding of original sin, actual sin, and concupiscence.
    The sovereignty of God along with confidence that you are not elect because of your own sin, can also cause one to despair. Or(as in my case) some highly prized Reformed doctrine no longer is tenable and as a result that pushes one outside of the Reformed faith can also lead one to despair, IF there was no other place to go.

    Anyways, you have probably weighed all these things, so I will just wish you well!

    BTW, is any of your family still Catholic?

    Kind Regards,
    Susan

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  50. Bryan, you can’t find one denom to settle in because none are good enough and I’M arrogant? Plank alert. But we kept a fair amount from the Cats, what of it? Your religious bigotry is showing. Modernist, heal thyself.

    PS you forgot the solas. Oh snap.

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  51. “although, sdb, used to chide me for doing those)”
    Sorry Susan. I guess i was unclear. Drive-by all you want! But don’t you think it is kinda rude to ask someone a bunch of questions and then respond with “I’m too busy now” when they take the time to answer?

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  52. Helo Sdb,

    “Sorry Susan. I guess i was unclear. Drive-by all you want! But don’t you think it is kinda rude to ask someone a bunch of questions and then respond with “I’m too busy now” when they take the time to answer?”

    I agree that that was rude, but it was never purposely rude as in I choose not to answer. I was either overwhelmed by having to give answers to several people or I honestly believed that we had been down certain roads already and didn’t need to go further. If there is anything that you’d like me to clear-up, I can attempt it!! 🙂

    Wish you well!
    Susan

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  53. @Brian

    Can somebody please explain to me (I’m serious!) what happens to an individual who was bathed… er… baptized as a baby but never in their life shows any signs of being a Christian.

    The same thing that happened to a circumcised son of Abraham who never in their life showed signs of being a believer in the promise.

    As Matthew 7:16 says, you shall know them by their fruit. It says that no everyone baptized is regenerated, but it says grace is still bestowed upon them. Is the grace of the Holy Spirit conferred upon them even if they never show any fruit?

    Well there is a a general grace that all those who are enemies of God receive in that they do not constantly face the full wrath of God every moment of their pitiful life. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. But that isn’t what the WCF has in view here. Note that the WCF does not say that grace of the Holy Spirit is conferred upon everyone who is baptized. Let’s break it down: by the right use of [baptism], the grace promised is…conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such…as that grace belongs…according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time.”
    By baptism the grace promised is conferred by the Holy ghost to the elect when God determines the time is right. Regeneration does not follow for all nor does it necessarily occur at baptism.

    “This document is basically saying that grace is bestowed by God through baptism, yet it also says that one can be saved without baptism. How is that not a contradiction, and how is that fundamentally different from the RC position?”
    Let’s try a parallel syllogism and see if there is a contradiction: Flowers grow by the rain given by God, yet not all flowers grow from rain (some get their water from irrigation). In the case of the thief on the cross, he was saved sans baptism. That is not the ordinary way that grace is bestowed though.

    Once again, the RC position is roughly that baptism washes away the stain of original sin. Once baptized you are capable of responding to grace and resisting sin (living a perfect life). If you commit a mortal sin, you have fallen from grace and need to be restored. The reformed position is described pretty well in the article I pointed you to. You should digest that so that you understand what a covenantal sign is and what it does. Then you will better understand the reformed position and at least distinguish it properly from the RC position.

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  54. “If there is anything that you’d like me to clear-up, I can attempt it!!” I’m sure we will eventually come around to these issues again. Honestly though, I forget where we were in those conversations and even which threads they are.

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  55. If I’m an evangelical, then I am a really bad one. I wander because none of the existing “denominations” are worth setting roots in.

    I’m sure the people you could be serving as a fellow congregant wish they could be more deserving of your commitment.

    This infant baptism thing is the biggest thing keeping me from fully embracing the WCF.

    So be baptist…surely you can find a credo-church somewhere worthy of your commitment.

    There’s also much more to being Protestant than accepting infant baptism (which you took from the Catholics anyways)…

    Well, we do confess our belief in a holy catholic church. We’re part of the magisterial reformation, not the radical.. (sola not solo as the cool kids like to say).

    and rejecting that idea doesn’t make me not a Protestant.

    Says you.

    Funny how you think evangelicals aren’t Protestant, though, especially considering the fundamental tenet of Protestantism has always been salvation by grace through faith in Jesus.

    Is that *the* fundamental tenet of Protestantism? I bet Susan and our other RC friends wouldn’t quibble with your statement that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus. You might find this article written by an anabaptist explaining why he does not consider anabaptists protestant worth a read.

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  56. Ha ha. Well, DGH’s TKNY-anti-crush is definitely false consciousness, evidenced by the fact that bringing up paedo-TKNY is a complete non-sequitur in this context. Go ahead and re-litigate the paedo-v-credo topic, if you must, but at least get the history straight, as the credo position is hardly ‘modernist’.

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  57. “So be baptist…surely you can find a credo-church somewhere worthy of your commitment.”

    Interestingly enough, the non-denominational church I currently attend (which I generally like – I wish it would go more in depth with doctrinal issues, but I doubt the congregation could handle it – the area I’m in is heavily RC and most people at the church were once Catholic – most have never even heard of the Protestant Reformation) was founded in the 1870s by Swedish Baptists. The church has no official connections with the Baptist church now, though. I’ve spent my whole life in non denominational churches, ranging from “seeker friendly” places like Willow to the small, mildly fundamentalist Bible church I attended in college (best church I’ve ever attended). All have called themselves Protestant, have rejected infant baptism, and are all non-denom.

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  58. Zrim, you’re really obsessed with labels, aren’t you. Maybe I’ll stick with calling myself a Christian, or do you want to hog that label for yourself too? This lack of unity in Christianity really is sad.

    “Bryan, ‘Arrrrroooogaaaannnncccceeeee’
    1 e will do since it’s silent.”

    – Good call, Dr. Hart.

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  59. Bryan, “Christian” is a label. There’s that non-denom reasoning rake again. So why do you get to pick a label but I’m obsessed? But there are many different kinds of religionists in the world, so you’re going to have to distinguish yourself, which you’re doing with “Christian.” Hi again, square one. And since there are many different kinds of Christians in that same world, you’re going to have to do the same thing again. And round and round we go, sir above-it-all.

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  60. Zrim, maybe when I use the label, “Christian,” I actually mean follower of Christ. That is what it means, after all. Maybe it sounds cliché, but the non denoms may actually be getting somewhere when they say they want to turn people into wholly devoted followers of Christ. The “Christian” label is really the only thing all of us who call ourselves by it have in common. I don’t follow the teachings of Muhammed or Buddha or Krishna. I follow the teachings of Christ. Therefore, I’ll use the label “Christian.” You’re obsessed because the moment I try to use a subcategory for the sake of clarification, you start whining over the fact that someone who doesn’t perfectly agree with every minutia of your theology dares to use the same subcategory.

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  61. Bryan, you’re trying too hard. Every Christian means that. What kind of follower of Christ? There are many different kinds. But there’s that above-it-all tick again. You want for just you what everyone already shares. You have to distinguish yourself in light of so much diversity and even fracture. Don’t act like none of that exists. Get your hands dirty, young son.

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  62. Zrim, Ya, and as soon as I tried to do that, you complained about the label I used. One minute you complain I’m using the wrong label, and the next you complain because I pulled back from labels.

    It might be helpful for you to remember that not everybody fits into neat, clean, little boxes and subcategories. The left likes to use that ploy – assume that every member of a particular arbitrary category (such as race or gender, or in your case, Protestant) thinks exactly the same way. Guess what, people are unique and think differently, and forcing them into categories or getting upset if they agree with you on many things but disagree on a particular detail is, in actuality, quite lame.

    Pardon me if I continue to call myself a Protestant despite your vain protests.

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  63. Bryan, the country is free so do as you please. But if you actually humbled yourself and tried to land denominationally, you’d find that there is diversity within on a range of things–it’s inevitable. If a rrrrrrrrrrradical2ker can co-exist with theocrats within Reformedom, maybe your assessment is still waving from left field?

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  64. I think what’s really going on is a kind of alternative sacramentalism, where a dramatic conversion experience, rather than baptism, is the rite of Christian initiation…Infant baptism runs counter to this entire system. It declares visibly that God induces a change of heart and a saving faith in those too young to even speak or remember their “conversions.” It illustrates that the branches God grafts in to His Son aren’t sterile. They bud and blossom, producing new branches that have never drunk another tree’s sap. And most importantly, it matches the lived experiences of believers’ children, rather than continually imposing a system on them that was designed for first-generation converts.

    Ding.

    Liked by 1 person

  65. Yes, let’s baptize pagan babies. Absolutely! St Francis Xavier, pray for us! And St. Rachel Ray, please cater our christening party.

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  66. DGHart say Bryan, “Arrrrroooogaaaannnncccceeeee” 1 e will do since it’s silent.

    unlike, of course, the e in meeeeeeeee 🙂 which reminds me, If nothing else, at least, I’m sure we all agree about this about baptism: we die

    3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life…8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him Rom 6

    so for cw today : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfIqOOSvHmI

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  67. @ Bryan,

    Hi. I can resonate with your objections, since I walked in baptist ways in the 80s and 90s yet am now firmly paedo. Which is not to suggest anything condescending, since others have gone in the opposite direction.

    I’d be happy to share the development of my own thought process, how I got from point C to point P if that would be helpful.

    What I wanted to mention is that along the way, I discovered that certain assumptions I made about paedos were incorrect:

    * “Paedo’s are driven by a theological system, not Biblical fidelity”
    * “Paedo’s are more likely than credo’s to give false assurance of salvation”
    * “Paedo’s believe that baptizing a child saves that child.”

    None of these are true representations of Presbyterian paedo belief, but they were either the impressions or direct statements that I received from my credo teachers about paedos. It was eye-opening when I learned that those representations were not correct.

    Peace,

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  68. We have to treat them as Christians even if they don’t have to act as Christians:

    I think if you put these passages together they have a common theme: Jesus asks people to obey rather than calculate consequences — and if you are going to think about consequences, focus on the consequences for yourselves of disobedience. If, as I have suggested, we are commanded to treat those who disagree with us on matters of sexuality but “confess the faith of Christ crucified” as brothers and sisters, then that’s what we have to do, regardless of what consequences we anticipate or fear. I say If because my interpretation may be wrong, but the question that I’ve raised is the one question that must be answered before we go any further. Because once we acknowledge people as brothers and sisters then a whole bunch of other commandments kick in. At every stage our only concern, it seems to me, is our own obedience to the Lord’s teaching. To say “But if I do that, then X will happen” is to invite the reply: What is X to you? Follow me.

    Isn’t this what got Hillary in trouble?

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  69. ” If, as I have suggested, we are commanded to treat those who disagree with us on matters of sexuality but “confess the faith of Christ crucified” as brothers and sisters, then that’s what we have to do…”
    I don’t know about Clinton, but I wonder if Jacobs could have saved the church at Corinth a lot of grief if he had been able to advise them rather than Paul. After all Paul’s insistence that one have nothing to do with the sexually immoral doesn’t seem as reconciling as what AJ has in mind. But then maybe we shouldn’t worry about such consequences.

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  70. If Anglicans read more Machen, they might have an easier time with Calvin:

    People who love Calvin often say that his thinking and theology must be clearly distinguished from the use later made of them. If certain Calvinists are dour, rigid, cold, insensitive to the human condition, prone to make vast theological generalizations from a handful of biblical passages while ignoring the greater part of the biblical witness, those vices should not be attributed retrospectively to Calvin. Which is certainly true, and something I try to keep in mind. But as I read Calvin now, I consistently find him to be dour, rigid, cold, insensitive to the human condition, and prone to make vast theological generalizations from a handful of biblical passages while ignoring the greater part of the biblical witness.

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