Wednesday, August 01, 2007

UPDATE

Thank you to all who have been praying for us and concerned with our theological wrestling matches lately. Our study on baptism has led us to an even deeper study, going as deep as the New Covenant itself.

Below is a copy of an e-mail I sent to a brother recently which helps explain what is going on right now. I would appreciate interaction with this in the comments section, or over the phone or in person.
_________________________

______________, that is basically how we were wrestling with it. Over the years I have come from being so dogmatically against it (even critiquing it on Gene Cook's radio show three years ago), to admitting that I don't have much left to refute it.

However, recently this study has led me even into a deeper study of the New Covenant itself. I am beginning to doubt even traditional covenant theology. I have thought that, perhaps paedobaptism is kind of like a "magic trick," in that, everything looks good on the surface, and it appears to have a strong case, but when the deeper questions are probed, the case does not appear as strong. Some of the questions include the following:

*Since female infants obviously did not receive the sign of the covenant in the OT, why do we assume that female infants should receive baptism?

*Baptism in the NT seems to be actually about union with Christ (Romans 6, 1 Co 12, Gal 3),
rather than about being brought into a covenant which has both blessings and curses. Furthermore, it speaks of those having received it as having "died unto sin," and having received the Spirit, and having been clothed with Christ. For that reason, there seems to be less of a connection between baptism and circumcision.

*Even if we do take the household principle, could it not be argued that this was common thinking because that was the way the culture of the day thought? Indeed, non-Jewish cultures, as Kline points out, had that principle as well, so it seems to have been merely a cultural thing. Perhaps this is why the Philippian jailer is told that he and his household will be saved, which would explain why we don't speak that way today. In fact, Jim was mentioning to me that in Leonard Verduin's book, he argues that this was tied to a view of the unity of the state and religion. America is the first country in all of history to finally separate church and state.

*How far do we go with the "unity of the covenant of grace" idea? How was the Noahic covenant part of the administration of it? Are we saying then that animals can be in the covenant of grace, since the Noahic covenant was made with all of creation?

*What about the covenant of works? It seems that Adam was created in perfect harmony with God. How do we know that if he would have obeyed, that he would have been "confirmed" in righteousness? How do we know, in fact, that it was even a probationary period to begin with? It seems that God would have just left the tree of the knowledge of good and evil there.

It seems to me that the glory and power of the New Covenant is much grander than traditional covenantal theology makes it out to be, with it flat-line carryover between the Old and New Covenants. This study has led me even deeper into a study of the New Covenant itself, and not just baptism.

Anyways, that's where I am right now. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts so we can sharpen one another as we both continue our pilgrimage here.

In Christ,
Josh Brisby

44 comments:

RubeRad said...

rather than about being brought into a covenant which has both blessings and cursesCircumcision has nothing to do with curses -- it is the sign of the Abrahamic covenant of grace, and as we can see from the fact that God commanded Abraham to circumcise all males in his household, even not-seed-of-the-woman Ishmael, it is really a sign of Abraham's faith, not the child's faith. And all of us who have faith are Abraham's spiritual children -- yet God's example with Abraham is that natural children receive the sign of Abraham's faith.

RubeRad said...

"How far do we go with the "unity of the covenant of grace" idea? How was the Noahic covenant part of the administration of it?"

Where is grace (or redemption or works) involved in the Noahic covenant? Do you see more in the Noahic covenant than "God will never again destroy the world by water"? I thought the Noahic covenant was purely a common grace covenant. I guess animals would be included in the Noahic covenant because if they kill a man, they are liable to be killed by man -- but that doesn't mean animals are involved in the covenant of grace.

RubeRad said...

"It seems to me that the glory and power of the New Covenant is much grander than traditional covenantal theology makes it out to be, with it flat-line carryover between the Old and New Covenants."

I would agree with you, if there were flat-line carryover between the Old and New Covenants -- but I think such an extreme emphasis on continuity is an error -- the kind of error that leads to Theonomy, Paedocommunion, NPP, and FV, etc.

But I do totally agree with you that "the power and glory of the New Covenant is much grander" than that of the Old Covenant.


"Since female infants obviously did not receive the sign of the covenant in the OT, why do we assume that female infants should receive baptism?"

I don't really have a good answer for this, but I'll throw you some ideas. For one thing, on the same basis, you could ask the question "Since covenant children of all ages certainly partook of the passover meal, why do we assume paedocommunion?" When things (sacraments) change, something somewhere is going to have to be different. Don't assume so much "flat-line carryover."

Josh Brisby said...

Brother Ruben,

Thank you for your thoughts. I appreciate them and will consider them.

Ron Smith said...

Josh,

Let me try to answer a few of your concerns. As you will see, my approach may be a little (or a lot) different that my brother Rube's, but I still love him.

1. We baptize little girls because Lydia was baptized.
- We believe infants are worthy recipients of baptism
- The account of Lydia's baptism proves that females within the covenant are worthy recipients of baptism.
- Therefore, we believe infant girls are worthy recipients of baptism since they fall into both of the aforementioned classes.

2. Union with Christ and being brought into covenant with God are synonymous in scripture. 'In Christ' means in Him federally and united to Him. This is Christ's own terminology from John 15. He identifies God's covenant people as those 'in Me'. Covenant baptism places the recipient into covenant with God in Christ.

3. The household principle that includes children as members is explicitly Christian. Neither the Jews nor the Greeks of the first century would have included their children at the dinner table, much less in worship. When a boy became a man (13-15) he could join the men at the table, but the women and children always ate separate from the heads of house.

But this contradicts clear scriptural language to bring and teach your children to worship.

4. The covenant God makes with His people extends (or will extend) to the whole earth. The Noahic Covenant reveals God’s will to reverse the curses upon man and the rest of creation wrought by Adam’s sin.
- Gen 3:17 …Cursed is the ground because of you…
- Gen 5:29 Now he called his name Noah, saying, "This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the LORD has cursed."
- Gen 8:21 …the LORD said to Himself, "I will never again curse the ground on account of man…”

Further, there is no problem seeing animals included within the covenant. Look at God’s protection of Israel’s animals while the rest of the animals in Egypt were being slaughtered by His wrath. In the end, all of creation, including animals, will be re-created. If you ask me, a lion that eats straw is regenerate. (Isaiah 11)

5. Adam was created righteous. All of creation was.

Isaiah 45:8
"You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the LORD, have created it."

The so-called notion of a covenant of works (nowhere to be found in scripture) has caused so much confusion. I suggest you consider dropping it from your covenant theology.

Adam was created in a state of grace where if he were to have obeyed, he would have had to do so in trust and reliance upon his Father. His first sin was losing faith. He should have believed his Father's truth instead of the serpent's lies. Had Adam stood, it would have been a matter of faith, not works.

6. I’m not sure who you mean when you say ‘traditional covenant theology … with its flat-line carryover between Old and New Covenants’, but I don’t think it would be ‘grander’ or ‘more powerful’ if God were to cease accepting children based upon birthright (like Adam was accepted; Gen 1:22; Deut 1:39) and begin basing His acceptance of them on what they know or can say. That is a covenant of works if there ever was one. Knowledge is not faith. Faith comes first, then goodness, then knowledge. (2 Peter 1)

The New Covenant is grander and more powerful because its scope has been extended, not retracted.

And finally, less you actually believe FV holds to a ‘flat-line carryover’ covenant theology as some ignorant or malicious people have accused, http://www.federal-vision.com/pdf/fvstatement.pdf

Grace and Peace in Christ,
Ron

PS: I look forward to having dinner with you and the family tomorrow.

VA ~Susan said...

Josh,
I liked your excellent question on your earlier post "Who is the federal head of the "covenant child"?"
Here is a related quote.
---------------
One of the most brilliant illustrations of covenant theology is that used by the Puritan divine Thomas Goodwin. In his exposition entitled Christ Set Forth, he explains that 'Adam was reckoned as a common public person, not standing singly or alone for himself, but as representing all mankind to come of him'. In this he was a type of Christ, who is also a representative figure. This is why the apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:47, speaks of Adam and Christ as 'the first man' and 'the second Man' respectively 'He speaks of them', says Goodwin, 'as if there had never been any more men in the world, nor were ever to be for time to come, except these two. And why? but because these two between them had all the rest of the sons of men hanging at their girdle.'

Can you visualize the picture which Goodwin draws for us? He imagines two great giants, one called Adam and the other Christ. Each is wearing an enormous leather 'girdle' or belt with millions of little hooks on it. You and I, and all humanity, are hanging either at Adam's belt or at Christ's belt. There is no third option, no other place for us. And God deals with us only through Adam or through Christ. If you are hanging at Adam's belt, you share in the experience of sinful, fallen Adam, and your entire relationship with God is through him. But if you are hanging at Christ's belt, all God's dealings with you are through Christ. When you received Jesus as your Saviour, you were involved in a massive and momentous transfer. The Almighty himself unhooked you from Adam's belt and hooked you on to Christ's. So you now have a different Head, a different Mediator, a new Representative. You have passed from Adam into Christ, and whereas God formerly dealt with you only through Adam, he now deals with you only through his Son. You are in Christ unchangeably and for ever.
[Edward Donnelly Heaven and Hell p. 87, citing ' Goodwin's Works, James Nichol edition, 1862, Vol. 4, p. 31. ]
-------------------------

The paedo argument of household baptisms being the norm is a very weak one. Out of all the thousands of baptisms in the NT--I think I once counted only seven (could only find 6 tonight) Most passages say that all those who heard the gospel believed who were baptized. So a lot of weight is resting on those couple of cases of household baptisms which do not mention specifically the faith of the hearers. It's quite a stretch to assume there were infants baptized and to base theology on silence.
1.John 4:53
The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household.
2.Acts 11:14
he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’
3.Acts 16:15
And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
4.Acts 16:31 Jailer
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
5.Acts 18:8
Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.
6.1 Corinthians 1:16
(I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)
[all said to be converts later on]1 Corinthians 16:15
Now I urge you, brothers[1]—you know that the household[2] of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints—16 be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer.

Ron Smith said...

Susan said, "It's quite a stretch to assume there were infants baptized and to base theology on silence."

I agree, Susan. Neither side of this argument has explicit text to point to that says, "Thou shalt" or "Thou shalt not baptize infants." The NT household baptisms are silent either way.

This is why historically, covenant theology has based the argument for infant baptism on the continuity of the covenants. I don't know any paedobaptist who bases his argument for infant baptism solely on the NT household baptisms.

God's people have been commanded via Abraham to place the sign of the covenant upon their infants. Under the Old covenant, that was circumcision, and of course was only placed upon the little boys. But this is not a problem because elsewhere, we see daughters of the covenant defined as such. For instance, the regulations concerning ceremonially clean eating is prescribed to sons and daughters alike (Lev 10; Num 18), and instruction concerning worship at the temple in Deut 12 includes daughters:

Deut 12:11 “Then to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name—there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the LORD. 12 And there rejoice before the LORD your God, you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites from your towns, who have no allotment or inheritance of their own.”

The New Covenant sign is baptism. Paul calls baptism "the circumcision of Christ" (Col 2). It is clear that under the New Covenant, baptism has replaced circumcision as the sign of initiation into God’s covenant household.

And throughout the scriptures, the children of God's children are identified as God's children.

Take Ezekiel 16:20-21:
"And you took your sons and daughters whom you bore to Me and sacrificed them as food to the idols. Was your prostitution not enough? You slaughtered My children and sacrificed them to the idols."

This hasn't changed under the New covenant. Paul identifies the children of even one believing parent as "clean" (1 Cor 7)

- Clean outwardly or clean inwardly? Clean inwardly.
- Now, how can they be clean inwardly under the New Covenant? Only in Christ as their high priest who offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins (Heb 10).
- How can they be united to Christ as their high priest? Through the faithful administration of baptism: “…all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death.” Rom 6:3

In Christ,
Ron

Josh Brisby said...

Susan,

Both sides agree that the household passages are inconclusive.

I also no longer use the argument asking "who is the baptized infant's federal head," because the same thing could be asked of Isaac in the OT.

Ron, I appreciate your points as well. But, as mentioned, one of the problems I currently see with the paedo position is the way that the NT describes baptism itself. One paedo brother tried to argue that "all" means a general sense when it speaks of all who have been baptized dying to sin, clothed with Christ, and given the Spirit. You have argued that indeed it does mean that the children possess those things.

However, the problem I see is that when you continue reading in Romans 6, it mentions how those who have been baptized were once walking after the flesh, the ways of the world, the sinful nature. It seems to me that the only position which makes sense of that language is the credo position.

Sean McDonald said...

One thing that I see as getting lost in the Reformed Baptist argument from the new covenant is covenantal representation. Adam represented his children in the covenant of works; Christ represented His (elect) children in the covenant of redemption; and believers represent their children in the covenant of grace. On the Reformed Baptist reading of Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 8, God covenants with believers without them representing anyone. This would be a radical discontinuity between the covenants of the Old and New Testaments, which is not indicated or warranted by the text of Scripture.

*Regarding female reception of baptism, I recommend reading Gal. 3:27-29, especially with Matthew Henry's commentary on that passage.

*Regarding baptism as a covenant sign (blessing, curse, etc.), see Kline's "By Oath Consigned;" my pastor preached a baptism sermon on this point a while back (http://www.reformedvoice.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=5107161542).

*Yes: everyone recognizes children being comprehended together with their parents. Children born in a country are citizens of that country, as infants. God recognizes the same principle, though; He describes Himself as being, in His own essence, a God who blesses or curses to multiple generations (Exod. 20:4-6; Exod. 34:6-7).

*Why was Noah's family saved? For their own sake, or for his? And this has a direct correspondent in covenantal baptism (1 Pet. 3:20-21). The covenant made after the flood wasn't a precise correspondent to the covenant of grace; but it still shows how God treats of people in covenants according to generations.

*I recommend that you read one of the older theologians on the subject of the covenant of works, such as Turretin or Witsius.

Reid said...

Josh,

I tried to leave a comment the other day to say I am praying for you. Somehow it didn't post... but now you know.

To the commenting crowd:
When 1 Peter 3:21 says, "Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you--not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience..." does it not mean that appealing to God (repentance) is what saves? Of course this is coupled with faith, but can infants appeal to God?

Thanks for any paedo explanation on this passage.

IMO, This is clear that (although there is not a passage that says infants are not to be baptized) one neads to have the mental capacity to appeal/repent.

Reid said...

needs

Anonymous said...

Brisby sez,

"I have thought that, perhaps paedobaptism is kind of like a "magic trick," in that, everything looks good on the surface, and it appears to have a strong case, but when the deeper questions are probed, the case does not appear as strong."

***********

Responder sez,

1) Malone's already tried the same pithy catch phrase, you're just stealing from his concept, and changing the terms, not very original, Josh. Malone sez, "Paedobaptist arguments look good on the surface, they're like a 'string of pearls,' but when pressed, the arguments don't look so good."

2) Let's look at your "deep questions" and apply Brisby-credoapologetics to them:

a) *Since female infants obviously did not receive the sign of the covenant in the OT, why do we assume that female infants should receive baptism?

a*) Looks like a magic trick. Strong stuff, but you have strings attched making you look like you're levitating.

b) *Baptism in the NT seems to be actually about union with Christ (Romans 6, 1 Co 12, Gal 3),
rather than about being brought into a covenant which has both blessings and curses.

b*) Looks like a magic trick. Strong stuff, but you have strings attched making you look like you're levitating.


[...]

Get the hint? I can do that to all your "deep, probing questions." What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, right? Rational arguments get answered by rational counter arguments. Irrational arguments get answered by irrational counterarguments.

Anyway, I find it interesting that traditional covenant theology has to be denied, covenant of works and all(!), in order to save your credobaptism. Very telling, indeed.

I would interact with a lot more of this but wouldn't want any secrets getting out before the debate. But it's not like I haven't rebutted all of those before. You simply laughed and said you were still going to hold to credobaptism.

Houdini said...

Hi Josh,

How do you take this:

I Cor. 10:1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.

Does Paul mean the infants here? Even the breast feeding ones?

Are you maybe employing an over-literalistic, rationalistic, and rigid hermeneutic on teh Bible when it is clear that for thousands and thousands of years the prophets of God had revealed things about "all" the people even though clearly the infants were not being referred to?

Harry Houdini said...

Hi Josh,

According to your "alls got to mean all to save my credoism" how do interpret these texts?

Exodus 12:6
Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.

Numbers 14:1
[ The People Rebel ] That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.

Deuteronomy 17:13
All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not be contemptuous again.

Deuteronomy 27:15
"Cursed is the man who carves an image or casts an idol—a thing detestable to the LORD, the work of the craftsman's hands—and sets it up in secret." Then all the people shall say, "Amen!"

Deuteronomy 27:16
"Cursed is the man who dishonors his father or his mother." Then all the people shall say, "Amen!"

Deuteronomy 27:17
"Cursed is the man who moves his neighbor's boundary stone." Then all the people shall say, "Amen!"

(Hmmm, looks like covenant ratification cerimonies included things infants can't do. I guess the infants of believers weren't included here and they had to be confirmed once they were able to make a personal profession of "Amen." riiight)

Joshua 24: 19 Joshua said to the people, "You are not able to serve the LORD. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you."

21 But the people said to Joshua, "No! We will serve the LORD."

22 Then Joshua said, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the LORD."
"Yes, we are witnesses," they replied.

23 "Now then," said Joshua, "throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel."

24 And the people said to Joshua, "We will serve the LORD our God and obey him."

25 On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he drew up for them decrees and laws. 26 And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the LORD.

27 "See!" he said to all the people. "This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the LORD has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God."

(Hmmmmm, guess the infants weren't involved in covenant renewal. Covenant renewal ASSUMES things that the infants couldn't have ASSUMED of them)

1 Kings 18:39
When all the people [of Israel] saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, "The LORD -he is God! The LORD -he is God!"

(Hmmm, no infants in all of Israel. How was Jesus born?)

2 Kings 23:3
The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD -to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.

Jeremiah 43:4
So Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers and all the people disobeyed the LORD's command to stay in the land of Judah.

(Those naughty infants).

I mean, I can keep going. This was just a SAMPLING!

Isn't it more obvious, presuppositions aside, that Paul is just continuing in this long line of speaking to 'all" the people about spiritual things while not intending to be a goof ball and include the infants?

Isn't it more probable that Paul is thinking about those who have accepted Christ by faith?

Indeed, isn't it more probable that he's talking to adults in Romans 6 considering he's responding to adults in ch.5 and 6 who are wondering if their new life in Christ, by grace their faith, provides them license to sin all they want to? Sin all the more so that grace may abound! No, says Paul, don;t you know that all of us who have been baptized in Christ have been baptized into his death, therefore we shouldn't go around sinning so that grace may abound because we - those who have been saved by grace through faith - have died to sin.

I mean, I don't know about you, but from where I'm sitting it seems like you're lacking a bit of exegesis on your end.

I mean, I could make an argument from "the nature of covenant renewal." Covenant renewal involved "all the people" repenting, saying amen, and agreeing with the terms of the covenant. Since it would be ludicrous to say the children were not involved in covenant renewals, and thus under the obligations, then how can you make sense of this given that "the nature of covenant renewal" says "all" and uses spiritual and cognitive terminology that we wouldn't assume infants currently possessed?

Kisses,

harry Houdini, the magician's nephew

Josh Brisby said...

Houdini,

OK, two can play at that magic trick. :0)

In the past, you have told me that you thought the credo position is a kind of "Vulcanism" because it is rationalistic and has to take "all" as always meaning "every last one."

Yet you argued (and forgive me if I misunderstood you here) that children and women did not partake of the Passover because it was to be done "in great haste, with your cloak tucked in your belt and your staff in your right hand." You argued that toddlers and women couldn't have done that. (I know elsewhere you argue from uncleanness with the women's monthly cycle--that is not necessarily in dispute here.)

The above seems to me to be a kind of "Vulcanistic" approach, don't you think? Let's apply the covenant renewal ceremony to the Passover as well, and then let's apply it to communion.

Indeed, it seems we're back now to the paedobaptist position quite possibly leading to paedocommunion! (I'm not necessarily saying that it does, but I'm just applying the logic of what you're saying.)

RubeRad said...

"The so-called notion of a covenant of works (nowhere to be found in scripture) has caused so much confusion. I suggest you consider dropping it from your covenant theology."

Nice try, Ron. The covenant of works is a "notion" that has been confessed and accepted for hundreds (if not thousands) of years, and the notion to eliminate that category has been decisively smacked down by the RPCUS, OPC, PCA, and URC.

I don't want to rehash all of that controversy here, so I'll just give you a couple of links. Undoubtedly, the definitive dialog on CoW in this millennium occurred here (across many pages of comments), although this is pretty good too.

As for your original question of "Where's all the life?" in the "Covenant of Life"?, which seems to express only threat of death, perhaps it is implied in Gen 3:22.

RubeRad said...

For Reid asking whether 1 Pet 3:21, requires "mental capacity to appeal/repent" prior to baptism, here's Calvin:

And though, in adults, the receiving of the sign ought to follow the understanding of its meaning, yet, as will shortly be explained, a different rule must be followed with children. No other conclusion can be drawn from a passage in Peter, on which they [credobaptists] strongly found. He says, that baptism is "not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God by the resurrection of Jesus Christ," (1 Pet. 3: 21.) From this they contend that nothing is left for paedobaptism, which becomes mere empty smoke, as being altogether at variance with the meaning of baptism. But the delusion which misleads them is, that they would always have the thing to precede the sign in the order of time. For the truth of circumcision consisted in the same answer of a good conscience; but if the truth must necessarily have preceded, infants would never have been circumcised by the command of God. But he himself, showing that the answer of a good conscience forms the truth of circumcision, and, at the same time, commanding infants to be circumcised, plainly intimates that, in their case, circumcision had reference to the future. Wherefore, nothing more of present effect is to be required in paedobaptism, than to confirm and sanction the covenant which the Lord has made with them. The other part of the meaning of the sacrament will follow at the time which God himself has provided.

Or, more succinctly from WCF 28.6:

The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; 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.

Josh Brisby said...

Just to make clear about my doubts about the covenant of works:

I am merely curious how we know for sure that Adam would have been "confirmed" in eternal life had he not sinned. How do we know this? In fact, how do we even know that it was a probationary period? It seems to me that Adam had perfect fellowship with God. He wasn't on a path to glorification, because in a manner of speaking he already had it. Indeed, he had perfect fellowship with God.

It is speculation, but it appears that had he not sinned, the tree of the knoledge of good and evil would always be there, yet he would have perfect fellowship with God.

The covenant of works idea (that is, the Adamic covenant in this discussion) seems to be somewhat speculative to me. Yet, we build an entire system of theology on that--on speculation.

I agree that Christ came and fulfilled the Mosaic Law. Christ becomes our Second Adam because He obeyed in Adam's place. But I think we can still say that without speculating as to whether Adam was under a probationary period or not, or if he would have been confirmed in righteousness or not.

RubeRad said...

"I agree that Christ came and fulfilled the Mosaic Law. Christ becomes our Second Adam because He obeyed in Adam's place."

That's kind of a non sequitur. I'm sure you would agree also with the switcheroo that 'Christ obeyed in Israel's place. Christ becomes our Second Adam because he fulfilled [X].' Whatever [X] is for Adam, that's the Covenant of Works.

I guess what I'm saying is that even though only the curses side of the Adamic covenant (which is a covenant: Hos 6:7) are made explicit in Gen., the first Adam/second Adam parallel allows us to infer from the benefits Christ merited for us, what Adam would have received if he had fulfilled his covenant.

Bruce S said...

Josh,

You said "It seems to me that Adam had perfect fellowship with God. He wasn't on a path to glorification, because in a manner of speaking he already had it. Indeed, he had perfect fellowship with God."

It seems to me that this could not have been the case since Adam was in the "possible to sin" state. To be hovering in this condition forever seems to me to be a bit hellish.

Now, of course, we are in the "not possible to not sin" state. (Wesley and mono-covenantalists disagree here - but probably for different reasons and with different spins). For those in Christ, once the consummation state arrives, we will be in the "not possible to sin" state. Which is what Adam would have attained had he not sinned. You can call this a probation if you insist on a label. How long Adam would have remained in this state no one knows. But the point is that Adam was "suspended" in a "possible to sin" and at the same time "possible to not sin" condition. Nobody but A&E&J will/can, with their rational minds, know what that condition is like.

Bruce S said...

BTW, Adam's state WRT being able to sin or not comports well with Christ's two natures. In his human nature Christ was able to sin. In his divine nature, he was not.

Josh Brisby said...

I appreciate everyone's interaction here!

Ruben and Bruce,

I appreciate your thoughts, but I don't see the connection with regards to Adam receiving eternal life had he fulfilled the covenant of works. Indeed, it seems to me that he already had eternal life.

I also agree that it was certainly a covenant, as Hosea 6:7 plainly states. However, I don't think that it was theologically the traditional covenant of works that traditional covenant theology makes it out to be.

Adam had eternal life, and he had perfect fellowship with God. It seems to me that anything less leads to a kind of Platonism, namely, that creation and Adam were created less than perfect, and needed to progress toward perfection.

Josh Brisby said...

BTW, I also want to make very clear that I believe the imputation of the active obedience of Christ is vital. Christ fulfilled the Mosaic Law for us, and that perfect Law-keeping is imputed to us as well. But to deny that the Adamic Covenant was a covenant of works I don't think affects this truth. Indeed, Luther held to the imputation of the active obedience, and he certainly did not see the Adamic Covenant as a covenant of works in the traditional covenantal theological sense.

Josh Brisby said...

Bruce,

The peccability or impeccability of Christ with regards to His human nature is debatable. I'm not so sure that we can dichotomize His human and divine natures to say that one was peccable and the other was impeccable.

I think that with BOTH of His natures, He was impeccable, not able to sin. If someone asks how He could be tempted in every way as we are, I would remark that it is quite different to be tempted at to sin. Being tempted is not a sin in and of itself. Giving in to that temptation is.

Bruce S said...

So do you maintain, then, that you will still be able to sin after the consummation?

And I still maintain that if Jesus was unable to sin (in his human nature) then he didn't really have a human nature after all. (IOW, what else could having a human nature mean?)

Bruce S said...

Josh,

You said "Adam was created perfect". Where do you get that idea?

I see where God said Adam was good, but nowhere do I read him saying he was perfect.

If Adam were perfect as you claim, how could he haved screwed up so badly - you know, not guarding the temple and all?

Platonism is all about a progress or return of being back to the supreme being. Plato had no concept of an ethical distinction between creator and creature.

Josh Brisby said...

Bruce,

You said that if Jesus weren't able to sin WRT His human nature, then He couldn't have been human.

I think you are mistaking the essence of what a human is. Are you saying then that Adam wouldn't have been human unless he could have sinned?

In glory, we will be unable to sin. Will we no longer be human?

In other words, you may not be meaning to say it, but you are inadvertantly saying that sin is part of the essence of what it means to be human. I am saying that it is not. Sin is not part of the normal makeup of human beings.

Anonymous said...

Josh,

"In the past, you have told me that you thought the credo position is a kind of "Vulcanism" because it is rationalistic and has to take "all" as always meaning "every last one.""

Excuse me, but let's make sure we get the context correct. The "Vulcanization" was in response to a *specific* claim made by some Baptisists WRT the households only having believers in them. Nevertheless, you've not successfuly countered my posts (indeed, you just left plenty of stuff unanswered for. Stuff detrimental to your position. I even have "baptized into" and "all" but you wouldn't say that "nursing infants" ate the bread and drank from the rock. Furthermore, you never bothered to respond to my brief exegesis of Rom. 6. AT any rate, this will be my last post on the matter since I'm busy preparing for you know what.)

"Yet you argued (and forgive me if I misunderstood you here) that children and women did not partake of the Passover because it was to be done "in great haste, with your cloak tucked in your belt and your staff in your right hand." You argued that toddlers and women couldn't have done that. (I know elsewhere you argue from uncleanness with the women's monthly cycle--that is not necessarily in dispute here.)"

Again, let's get the context of the arguments correct.

My response to the paedocommunion argument is based on theological grounds regarding the nature of the Passover and the cleanliness required.

My comment above, was a *response to* the *paedocommunionists claim* that *all household* meant *everyone in it.* it was an internal critique. In fact, I was picking on *their own* Vulcanizing of the text and showing them to apply "all" passages inconsistently.

All I ask is that you please represent our conversations and my arguments correctly. I wouldn't want to think that you are misrepresenting things people say just to save your credoism. That would be unfortunate.

"The above seems to me to be a kind of "Vulcanistic" approach, don't you think? Let's apply the covenant renewal ceremony to the Passover as well, and then let's apply it to communion."

Let's do it. No threats. Make your argument.

My argument was that "the nature of covenant renewal" excludes children on Brisby terminology. Thus Brisby has an apparent internal inconsistency.

My point is that the argument isn't as simple as you want it to be. I've demonstrated that it is not *necessarily* the case that because X seems to imply that infants don't currently posses Y, that X still couldn't be attributed to infants.

So, we can take each case on a case by case basis. You're trying to put me in a box and say that all my comments can be applied across the board. All I've really done is just *begin* my counter argument. I've shown that your interpretation does not *necessarily* exclude infants from getting the sign. Thus you have to do *more than* simply *quote* a passage, thinking it is some brute and uninterpreted text that all paedos will crumble upon reading it.

And, more than that, you didn't even respond to my argument! You just played games and argued tu quoque. Fallacious till the end I see, eh?

"Indeed, it seems we're back now to the paedobaptist position quite possibly leading to paedocommunion! (I'm not necessarily saying that it does, but I'm just applying the logic of what you're saying.)".

Indeed, only if we apply a simplistic and ignorant approach to things!

You didn't "apply the logic."

If you have refutations for my arguments against paedocommunion, let me know. Otherwise, since it's defeated, you can't use it!

In fact, since YOU DON'T believe that THE BIBLE teaches paedocommunion you've granted me all I need.

So, we can drop PC and move on to PB.

Anyway, anytime you feel like actually putting together some coherent thoughts and arguments do let me know, okay?

I mean, I can just as easily say, "Well, you're arguing for baptismal regeneration. You're confusing the sign and the thing signified. You're acting like a Federal Visionist in your view of the sacraments. You're an Arminian because not "all" baptized will be "raised to life." etc etc etc.

Catch my drift, partner? It's unwise to try to box someone in with a simplistic understanding of how details can affect things. I'm sure you'd make *qualifications,* wouldn't you?

Therefore, just like you can avoid baptismal regeneration and Arminianism with your qualifications, so too can I avoid paedocommunionism. Don’t be so simplistic josh. And, save the rhetoric for someone else. It doesn't suite you and you're better than that. I'll not play such petty games with you, why don't you return the favor?

Harry Houdini

Anonymous said...

"Adam had eternal life, and he had perfect fellowship with God. It seems to me that anything less leads to a kind of Platonism, namely, that creation and Adam were created less than perfect, and needed to progress toward perfection."

That's not Platonism, Josh. Platonism is that we (or, everything) were originally perfect, and then fell from that. So, actually, your doctrine is closer to Platonism!

And, the text does not say "perfect." So, for someone so worried about imposing things on the text not found in them, you should watch out.

Furthermore, most people would agree that Jesus took on a covenant of works for his people.

He was the "second Adam."

Do the math.

Hayy Houdini

Josh Brisby said...

Harry,

I do agree that Jesus took on a covenant of works for His people. He fulfilled the Mosaic Law for them. Indeed, He is the One the Law pointed to. No dispute there.

As for your other ideas, I will let them rest. We have dialogued about this ad infinitum, and there comes a point where one has to be convinced in his or her conscience. At this point, I am not convinced of paedobaptism (or paedocommunion).

Having said that, I admit that you are a better debater than me, and I would not want to publicly debate you. I know I would lose. But does that necessarily imply that my position is wrong?

The unanswered question is the last word.

VA ~Susan said...

Josh,
Check out this. Fred Malone knows the arguments since he used to be a Presbyterian minister before he changed his views.


http://www.founders.org/FJ35/article1.html

Josh Brisby said...

Susan,

Thank you, but I am very familiar with Malone's arguments and do not find them persuasive. It seems clear to me that currently the already/not yet aspects of the New Covenant retain the non-elect within the covenant (see esp. Hebrews 10:30; Romans 11; 1 Co 5; etc.).

I am also not persuaded by his argument from the regulative principle, although ironically recently one paedobaptist friend of mine said that he did not hold to the regulative principle because he was a paedobaptist. I thought that was at least somewhat interesting.

RubeRad said...

"I do agree that Jesus took on a covenant of works for His people. He fulfilled the Mosaic Law for them. Indeed, He is the One the Law pointed to."

I don't see why you keep redirecting the CoW to Moses -- did not Jesus fulfill the covenant Adam was in?

Moses had a covenant, which you agree was of Works (although it pointed also back to Abraham's and forward to Jesus' Covenant of Grace)

Israel broke it by disobeying.

Jesus fulfilled it by obeying, and was the true Israel of God.

Adam was in a covenant.

Adam broke the covenant by disobeying.

Jesus obeyed and became the second Adam

All of those facts (I believe) you have stipulated -- so why the reluctance to say that the pre-fall Adamic covenant (whatever it was), was fulfilled by Christ?

Otherwise, that covenant is uniquely flapping in the wind unfulfilled, while every other covenant has been fulfilled by Christ.

Josh Brisby said...

Ruben,

How did Christ not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? I don't mean for that to sound like a disrespectful question; it is an honest question. Also, how does He fulfill the Noahic Covenant?

I think we can say that our Lord fulfills the Law and the Prophets, because they all point to Him. I have no problem saying that. He kept the Mosaic Law in our place. He is the Second Adam because, as Romans 5 says, sin entered the world through Adam, the first man, but righteousness entered the world through Christ, the Second Man (Second Adam).

Again, to build an entire system of theology on the speculation that Adam was under a probationary period, and to speculate that he would have been confirmed in righteousness, I think is problematic.

Josh Brisby said...

Houdini,

I noticed a "magic trick" from you. I know you said that was your last post, so that's fine. But nowhere did you answer my claim (indeed, my argument) that to argue against paedocommunion because infants and toddlers cannot eat in great haste, with their cloak tucked in and their staff in their hand, was sheer Vulcanism. In other words, why couldn't "whole household" include toddlers in Exodus 12, and of course God didn't have to qualify when He told the men to eat in great haste with their cloak tucked in and staff in their hands, that He only meant the men? Indeed, elsewhere you pointed out the community language and used it against credobaptists. Now you want to Vulcanize here and use it against the credocommunionists?

I'm calling your bluff, Houdini. You didn't even answer my argument! Part of the magic trick of paedobaptism is that, on its own grounds, it would lead to paedocommunion, yet most paedobaptists don't do that!

Josh Brisby said...

Sorry, I meant, now you want to Vulcanize here and use it against the paedocommunionists?

Anonymous said...

Josh,

Stop it, okay. Take a breath and read what I write.

" But nowhere did you answer my claim (indeed, my argument) that to argue against paedocommunion because infants and toddlers cannot eat in great haste, with their cloak tucked in and their staff in their hand, was sheer Vulcanism."

I did answer it. I'll re-post what I said:

"My comment above, was a *response to* the *paedocommunionists claim* that *all household* meant *everyone in it.* it was an internal critique. In fact, I was picking on *their own* Vulcanizing of the text and showing them to apply "all" passages inconsistently."

Try to understand my argument, Josh?

Paedcommie makes this claim: "It says all in the household ate the passover, therefore infants and toddlers did."

My response is: "Okay, it says that all must eat it fast, with their staff in their hand and their shirt tucked in. It furthermore says that the entire congregation is to kill the lamb. So, does THIS ALL include infants as well??

See that, Josh. The stuff you're pointing out isn't my POSITIVE argument AGAINST paedocommunionism. What it is, is a RESPONSE to the PAEDOCOMMY Vulcanizing of the "all" passages.

I have proven that it does not NECESARILY mean that infants were involved because it says "all."

Get it?

Therefore, the paedocommy argument must GO BEYOND simply citing "all household ate, so that means every single person numerically." They must make OTHER argument which SUPPLAMENT their original claim because I have shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that JUST BECAUSE it says "all" that does not mean that the infants and toddlers were included!

So you see, you're actually closer to the paedocommy than I am. It is YOU GUYS who do the Vulcanizing. It is YOU GUYS who fail to engage in sustaained and substantive argumentation.

Look, you say "all who have been baptized have died to sin."

Really, ALL. How do you escape Arminianism or FV then?

Oh, you say, it is ASSUMED that ALL (each and every single person individually) have REALLY died to Christ.

Oh, really? All? So the billion or so Christians who have been baptized on earth you ASSUME that they ALL have died to sin?

Romans 6 is about introspection. it deals with sanctification after justification in ch. 5. Paul is not telling us to look around the congregation and say, "hey, you've been baptized, so Paul was talking to you. You've died to sin." Or, "hey, that guy was lusting after a women the other day, I don't think Paul should assume that that guy has died to sin. I'll go correct Paul after the service."

So, both you and the paedo commy and the FV need to lay off the Vulcanizing!

My argument wasn't "sheer vulcanization," Josh. I was applying paedocommy Vulcanization to other texts to see how he deals with them. My purpose in that is to show that HIS POSITIVE ARGUMENT is ultimately arbitrary. So, try to understand my points before you publicly slander my arguments. At least give me the respect of calling me and making shure you've understand my arguments.

"In other words, why couldn't "whole household" include toddlers in Exodus 12,"

I suppose it *could.* But is that how we do theology? So, make the positive argument. It surely can't be JUST BECAUSE it says "whole household" because I've refuted this. So, you need some OTHER argument. Not some simplistic "duh, it says whole household and so that means whole household."

And, reversal,

"and of course God didn't have to qualify when He told the men to eat in great haste with their cloak tucked in and staff in their hands, that He only meant the men?"

And of course God/Paul didn't have to qualify that he meant people who have faith, did he! (Assumung he's not talking about spirit baptism, which your argument must assume to even have any force.)

"I'm calling your bluff, Houdini. You didn't even answer my argument!"

I did answer it! You didn't GET WHAT I SAID. Now you look ridiculous, Brisby.

"Part of the magic trick of paedobaptism is that, on its own grounds, it would lead to paedocommunion, yet most paedobaptists don't do that!"

Where's the argument. Make it. Are you saying that part of the magic trick of credobaptism is that they can only bully and assert slipperly slope fallacies???

Look, keep holding to your credobaptist beliefs by blind faith. Stay out of the reason giving game, though.

And, lastly, how about this answer:

"Yeah, Josh, you beat me in the debate, I can't answet you, but that doesn't prove you're right! Just because you can debate that it leads to paedocommunionism doesn't mean that is does!"

What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

bye-bye now,

Harry Houdini

Ron Smith said...

Josh said, "He [Adam] wasn't on a path to glorification, because in a manner of speaking he already had it."

Nope. He was naked. In order to be glorified, you need clothes. If you do a survey of how the scriptures describe clothing, covering, glory, nakedness and shame, I think you'll see this. (Or alternatively, you could just pick up The Federal Vision and skip to James Jordan's article "Merit vs Maturity". That article will aptly address many of your concerns. I have a copy if you'll read it.)

Is God ever described as naked? Only in His humility on the cross. But now, Christ is exalted on high and He is clothed with splendor and majesty. And in the end, when She returns to the garden, His Bride will not be naked, but dressed in white, pure, glorious righteousness.

Nakedness is inherently shameful. Don't miss this: Adam and Eve were unashamed in their nakedness because they did not yet know good and evil. They were like small children who themselves do not yet know good and evil and are therefore not ashamed to be running around naked.

Josh Brisby said...

Ron,

Interesting thoughts. Are you implying, then, that to know good and evil was something necessary for Adam and Eve to grow up? That is the problem I see here.

On a non-related note, when you speak of His Bride being dressed in white, pure, glorious righteousness, I would like to deviate a bit from the above topic and ask, what is that righteousness? Of what does it consist? What is righteousness?

ron smith said...

Josh,

Yes, the knowledge of good and evil was necessary as part of man's maturation process. The whole earth was given to them to subdue, but there was evil in the world. Man would have had to eventually come to a knowledge of this evil if they were to defeat Satan and subdue the earth. But he took it before he was ready. And then, like when Israel demanded a king, God gave him what he asked for, even before he was ready for it. He sent him out into the world, ill-equipped as he was.

We see the opposite rebellion in God's people following the Exodus when He gives them the Garden to conquer and take back and they say, "No Thanks." Similar language with regard to the taking of good fruit is used in both accounts:

Genesis 3:6
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good... she took some...

Deuteronomy 1:25
Taking with them some of the fruit of the land, they brought it down to us and reported, "It is a good land that the LORD our God is giving us."

On the one hand, God commanded His people to not partake of the fruit and they did, and on the other hand, God commanded them to partake, and they didn't. I know you'll accuse me of reading too much into the text, but I can't help it anymore. When I see gardens and fruit, I see a return to Eden. For instance, I don’t think it a coincidence that John mentions that when Mary Magdalene saw Christ after His resurrection, she thought He was the gardener. He is the Gardener of the New Eden.

Look at how Moses describes the "probationary" period of immature "forbidden" fruit trees of the New Eden prescribed in Leviticus:

Leviticus 19:23
"When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. For three years you are to consider it forbidden ; it must not be eaten. 24 In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD. 25 But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit...

I don't believe Moses minces words. When he says forbidden fruit he means something. I believe passages like this, coupled with the revelation of the Last Adam’s work on behalf of the first Adam, speaks to the idea that God intended to eventually provide man with the knowledge of good and evil required to conquer the earth.

Knowledge of good and evil is not inherantly sinful. It was man's lust for this knowledge before due time that was sinful. Think about Jesus. Did He, as a perfect sinless man, have the knowledge of good and evil necessary to crush the Serpent's head? Did He inherit that knowledge from the first Adam, or did His Father reveal it to Him?

ron smith said...

The righteousness of Christ's Bride is of course first and foremost Christ's righteousness. But it is not unbiblical to describe that righteousness as Her righteousness.

Revelation 19:8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

This is consistent because even the works that visibly come from our hands are a manifestation of Christ at work in and through us. Soli Deo Gloria.

RubeRad said...

"How did Christ not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?"

Did he ever eat of the ToKoGaE? Less flippantly, I think the point is less about the particular command regarding a particular tree, but rather that he demonstrated "personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience", where Adam did not. Probably the way the tree fits in is that it is somehow analogous/typological of Christ's mission. For instance, you can't go asking whether Christ really fulfilled the Mosaic covenant, because was his blood smeared on the horns of the altar and his carcass burned? That's kind of looking past the point.

"Also, how does He fulfill the Noahic Covenant?"

Noahic Covenant = No More Destruction of Humanity by Water. Christ continually fulfills this by (Heb 1:3) upholding the universe by the word of his power.

Josh Brisby said...

Ruben,

Thanks. When you explain it like that, I think it makes sense.

In Christ,
Josh

RubeRad said...

Hey Josh,

I hope you went to (or at least will listen to) Gene & Paul's debate. You can see my response (and a comment trail that you might find useful) here:

http://ruberad.wordpress.com/2007/08/22/father-abraham/