Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Between Orange and Trent



An Evangelical Introduction to Church History, part 3

See Part 1

See Part 2

“Semi-Pelagianism condemned at Orange in 529 AD, but reaffirmed at Trent” (1545-1563) (Basically, the essence of statements by Bavinck, Berkouwer, and Sproul; see below)

The full text of the canons of the Council of Orange of 529 AD.


Historical Background: Augustine battled against Pelagius, Coelestius, and Julian of Eclanum. After Augustine died in 430 AD, his disciple Prosper took up the mantle against Pelagianism. There were others who later disagreed with Augustine and Prosper’s doctrines of grace. One of the main leaders of this, known as “semi-Pelagianism” was John Cassian.

Two articles that focus on the beneficial canons of the Council of Orange that Protestant Reformers also emphasized in their battles against the false doctrines of Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism and how the Council of Trent is contradictory to much of the council of Orange.

Canons 5 - 8 of the Council of Orange

Shows contradictions between Orange and Trent

R. C. Sproul on the Council of Orange of 529 AD


Faith Alone: The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification, by R. C. Sproul. Baker, 1995.

In chapter 7, entitled “Merit and Grace”, R. C. Sproul discusses the issues of merit and grace, Pelagianism, semi-Pelagianism, the Council of Orange in 529 AD and the council of Trent (1545-1463), which seems to affirm semi-Pelagianism.

“Rome has repeatedly been accused of condemning semi-Pelagianism at Orange [in 529 AD] but embracing it anew at Trent. Herman Bavinck held that “although semi-Pelagianism had been condemned by Rome, it reappeared in a ‘roundabout way’”. G. C. Berkouwer observed:

“Between Orange and Trent lies a long process of development, namely, scholasticism, with its elaboration of the doctrine of the meritoriousness of good works, and the Roman system of penitence . . . “
Bavinck and Berkouwer are cited by Sproul in Faith Alone, pages 140-141.

The big Problem with the Council of Orange of 529 AD:
Baptismal Regeneration – that baptism in water causes regeneration and gives grace so one may then be able to choose Christ.

This is one of the earliest false emphases and doctrines of the early church. Justin Martyr, who wrote many other good things, writing around 155 AD, seems to be the first to write and teach baptismal regeneration – that water baptism gives grace or causes someone to be born again. This is wrong, and based on a wrong understanding of John 3:5; Acts 2:38; I Peter 3:21, and Titus 3:5; and some other texts. (see the comprehensive exegetical papers on links at the end of this article that deal with all the relevant verses.) Since Jesus rebukes Nicodemus for being the teacher of Israel and not understanding in John 3:10-11, Jesus is pointing to Ezekiel 36:24-27. The water of John 3:5 points to the spiritual internal cleansing from the idolatry in Ezekiel 36:25 – “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and cleanse you from all your idols” . . . how? Ezekiel 14:3, 4, 7 speak of “idols in the heart”. Water cannot cleanse the heart. But the Holy Spirit can. And it is by faith alone that the heart is cleansed. Acts 15:9 “cleansing their hearts by faith”. I Peter 3:21 says that the “baptism that saves” is “not the removal of dirt from the flesh”; that is, is not an outward, physical thing, but an appeal to God for a good conscience” – an internal thing, a crying out and Godly sorrow over sin and a repentance and faith in Christ. Acts 2:38 is using “causal eis” – the Greek preposition eis means here, “because of” or “at” – like in other places. One example of the “causal eis” usage is Luke 11:32 - “they repented at the preaching of Jonah”, meaning, “they repented because of the preaching of Jonah”. (Other places in the NT where the causal eis is used are: Romans 4:20; 11:32; Matthew 3:11; 12:41. See Dana and Mantey, Greek Grammar, pp. 103-104.

24 “I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:24-27

The Holy Spirit causes us to be born again, not an external rite of baptism in water. (John 7:37-39; John 3:3-8; Acts 10:43-48; I Corinthians 12:13) Baptism in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is an external picture/symbol/testimony of an inward reality of faith and repentance, an appeal to God for a good conscience, and expression of faith and discipleship in following Christ, and a commitment to Christ’s body in a local congregation. (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:41 – “those who received his word were baptized”)

The Council of Orange in 529 AD
Against Semi-Pelagianism

CANON 13. Concerning the restoration of free will. The freedom of will that was destroyed in the first man can be restored only by the grace of baptism, for what is lost can be returned only by the one who was able to give it. Hence the Truth itself declares: "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).


Correction: It, the freedom of the will, can be only restored by the grace of God that He gives in repentance and faith in Christ. Acts 16:14; John 6:44, 65; Romans 6:22; Ezekiel 36:26-27; I Corinthians 12:13 – we are baptized by one Spirit into the body of Christ – water baptism is the outward symbol of the internal repentance and trust in Christ.

The Conclusion of the Council of Orange of 529 AD:
“CONCLUSION. And thus according to the passages of holy scripture quoted above or the interpretations of the ancient Fathers we must, under the blessing of God, preach and believe as follows. The sin of the first man has so impaired and weakened free will that no one thereafter can either love God as he ought or believe in God or do good for God's sake, unless the grace of divine mercy has preceded him. We therefore believe that the glorious faith which was given to Abel the righteous, and Noah, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and to all the saints of old, and which the Apostle Paul commends in extolling them (Heb. 11), was not given through natural goodness as it was before to Adam, but was bestowed by the grace of God. And we know and also believe that even after the coming of our Lord this grace is not to be found in the free will of all who desire to be baptized, but is bestowed by the kindness of Christ, as has already been frequently stated and as the Apostle Paul declares, "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake" (Phil. 1:29). And again, "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). And again, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and it is not your own doing, it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). And as the Apostle says of himself, "I have obtained mercy to be faithful" (1 Cor. 7:25, cf. 1 Tim. 1:13). He did not say, "because I was faithful," but "to be faithful." And again, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7). And again, "Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights" (Jas. 1:17). And again, "No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven" (John 3:27). There are innumerable passages of holy scripture which can be quoted to prove the case for grace, but they have been omitted for the sake of brevity, because further examples will not really be of use where few are deemed sufficient.


[The above was very good. Now comes the problem: ]

According to the catholic faith we also believe that after grace has been received through baptism, all baptized persons have the ability and responsibility, if they desire to labor faithfully, to perform with the aid and cooperation of Christ what is of essential importance in regard to the salvation of their soul. . . . “


There is more, see the full text of the Council of Orange here:

Some good articles that show that baptismal regeneration is not good exegesis of the Scriptural texts.

A Brief Rebuttal of Baptismal Regeneration, by James White


Baptismal Regeneration is not part of the gospel: Analysis of the main texts that some groups use to teach baptismal regeneration and a refutation of them all.

On Titus 3:5 Not By Works
http://vintage.aomin.org/NotByWorks.html

Sam Storms on John 3:5 – Part 1
http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/john-35-part-i/

Sam Storms on John 3:5 – Part 2
http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/john-35-part-ii/

Sam Storms on Acts 2:38
http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/acts-238/

Refuting Sacramentalism: Part 1
http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/sacramentalism-part-i/

Refuting Sacramentalism: Part 2
http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/sacramentalism-part-ii/

On Sacraments, Part 1

On Sacraments, Part 2
http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/sacraments-part-ii/

94 comments:

Ryan said...

A little biblical theology goes a long way. Similar to the way in which we are circumcised by a circumcision made without hands by partaking in Christ's circumcision-death, we are baptized with a baptism made without water by partaking in Christ's baptism-death.

Ken said...

Yes, following Jesus in water baptism is evidence of the Spirit's work inside us, not the cause of it.

I Cor. 12:13
Romans 6:1-7
Colossians 2:11-12
Matthew 28:18-20
Acts 22:16

Ryan said...

Are you a Reformed Baptist, Ken?

Ken said...

yes, Reformed, Calvinistic, Southern Baptist, member of F.I.R.E.

Rhology said...

The Michael Brown FIRE?

Ken said...

The Michael Brown Fire? no - that's "The Line of Fire" or maybe you are joking (can't tell) or maybe talking about the his "Fire" school of training when he was connected to the Brownsville "revival" thing. ( I don't know; and I think that was the name of it.)

F.I.R.E is something different -
http://firefellowship.org/

Dr. White spoke either last year or two years ago at the national conference. I was not able to attend it.

Ken said...

http://firefellowship.org/2008/05/2008-national/

Dr. White spoke at the 2008 National Convention.

Of course, this FIRE cannot be associated with Michael Brown, since he is Arminian in his theology.

Brigitte said...

http://www.cph.org/t-topic-catechism-baptism.aspx

This above is what Luther taught us to memorize and get our children to memorize regarding baptism.

All my children and god-children learned to sing this short verse from little up: "I was baptized happy day. All my sins were washed away. God looked down on me and smiled. I became his own dear child." Which is a proclamation of good news to each every time. Romans 1:16. This is most certainly true.

Rhology said...

Unless of course they aren't believers, in which case their sins are very much on them. And that song becomes a terrible curse.

Brigitte said...

What a wonderful thing to tell little children in your care about Jesus.

Rhology said...

Tbh, I'd prefer just to tell them the Law and the Gospel. Not false hope.

Ken said...

Yes, I realize that other Protestants have forms of baptismal regeneration, not just Roman Catholics. I am glad Lutherans and others have a better form of it than the RC version.

It (baptismal regeneration) was a leftover from the earlier mistakes/human traditions added to the word of church history, especially the RC that developed it so much from Orange (529 AD) to Trent (1545-1563).

I think Tertullian was more correct, to delay baptism until the person is old enough to understand their sinfulness and repent and trust in Christ alone for salvation.

From Tertullian, On Baptism 18 -

"And so, according to the circumstances and disposition, and even age, of each individual, the delay of baptism is preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children. For why is it necessary—if (baptism itself) is not so necessary
—that the sponsors likewise should be thrust into danger? Who both themselves, by reason of mortality, may fail to fulfil their promises, and may be disappointed by the development of an evil disposition, in those for whom they stood? The Lord does indeed say, “Forbid them not to come unto me.” [ Matt. xix. 14; Mark x. 14; Luke xviii. 16.]
Let them “come,” then, while they are growing up; let them “come” while they are learning, while they are learning whither to come; Or, “whither they are coming.” let them become Christians. when they have become able to know Christ."

Ken said...

It (baptismal regeneration) was a leftover from the earlier mistakes/human traditions added to the word of church history, especially the RC that developed it so much from Orange (529 AD) to Trent (1545-1563).

Better:
It (baptismal regeneration) was a leftover from the earlier mistakes/human traditions added to the word of God in church history, especially the RC that developed it so much from Orange (529 AD) to Trent (1545-1563).

Brigitte said...

Baptism is Gospel. "God is favorably disposed towards you." Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them. It is so simple. How shall they believe if they have not heard.

Rhology said...

Gospel is Gospel. Baptism is baptism. It honestly really scares me when people talk like you're talking.

Baptism does not communicate that God is favorably disposed toward anyone. Regeneration does. They are not the same, and one can be present without the other.

Joe said...

Hi Ken.

Do you know what the difference is between the Lutheran & RC view of baptismal regeneration? And what the differences are between the Council of Orange, and the RCC view is today...since you said that the RCC "developed it so much from Orange".

And out of curiosity, would you say that most ecf's and early christians held to infant baptism, and to bapt regeneration?

Thanks.

In Him,

Joe

Brigitte said...

Rhology, this is a very important question. Is what I say scary or what you say scary? And does God want you to trust him or not?

He does want you to trust him and this is the most important thing in the world. He is our good Father in heaven. Baptism is one more way he tells us. A pledge and promise and seal to his word. It would be immeasurably wrong to doubt him.

What is the worst thing that could happen if someone believed that God is favorably disposed to them? They might believe.

Rhology said...

Joe,

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/02/patristic-rejection-of-infant-baptism.html

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/03/history-of-infant-baptism.html

Rhology said...

Brigitte,

What you say is scary, because you're equating something one does (baptism) with the Gospel. Doesn't get a whole lot scarier than that.

Yes, God wants me to trust Him. The regenerate man can trust Him to bring him safely to glory. The unregenerate man needs the Law and the Gospel, not false talk about how baptism did something for him.

Baptism is one way He tells US, yes, but not the unregenerate. So the focus needs to be on the SOUL, not the BAPTISM.

No, the worst thing that could happen to someone falsely believing that God is favorably disposed toward them is that they may well go to Hell and be sorta surprised when they get there. Kind of like a huge horde of "good people" Americans. Preach the Gospel to your godchildren! Not baptism; baptism is for later.

Ryan said...

Confusing analogies for their symbolized spiritual realities is what landed the Jews in trouble.

Ken said...

Hi Joe,
Rhology provided some good links on the issue of baptismal regeneration and infant baptism.

Jason Engwer's articles at Triablogue are excellent.

Your question about Orange and Trent may indicate you did not read my article first and the link (at Monergism.com) that actually show the differences.

As I wrote in my article (not comment box) - Justin Martyr around 155 AD, seems to be the first to communicate a belief in baptismal regeneration, based on a wrong understanding of John 3:5; but infant baptism seems to have become common much later. Justin Martyr definitely did not ascribe to infant baptism, as he emphasized in his writings the need for understanding, repentance, and faith.

Even many Christians delayed baptism until their death bed into the fourth and fifth centuries - infant baptism was around around 200 AD, but did not become the "norm" until after Augustine.

I think Dr. White said, "Infant baptism was a practice in search of a theology". The theology of original inherited sin that Augustine rightly taught, based on Romans 5:12 and Psalm 51, but it was wrongly applied to infants, as they thought it could cleanse the soul from original sin. That was wrong.

Only regeneration does that - Colossians 2:11-12 - by faith in the resurrection.

Ryan said...

I think Dr. White said, "Infant baptism was a practice in search of a theology". The theology of original inherited sin that Augustine rightly taught, based on Romans 5:12 and Psalm 51, but it was wrongly applied to infants, as they thought it could cleanse the soul from original sin. That was wrong.

While we're on the same page with respect to whether or not the sacrament saves, could I not say that "because circumcision doesn't save, infant circumcision was a practice in search of a theology"?

I don't want to turn this into a paedo vs. credo comment section if you want to stay on topic, though.

Brigitte said...

Rhology, can you tell me how you would word the Gospel, as not to mislead anyone into believing that God is favorably disposed toward them when he is really proposing to damn them? What would you actually say to them?

And what would you tell them about their baptism, past or future? What would you actually say? How is anyone supposed to believe that God is good? How would you inculcate this message? How would you teach a child that God is their dear Father in heaven of whom they should ask all things that they need?

Ken said...

The difference between the Lutheran view of Baptismal regeneration and the RC view -I don't know how to articulate it; and I confess I have not studied it deeply (the Lutheran view), because it seems so foreign to "justification by faith alone", that Luther is famous for.

But the Lutheran view is better than the RC view, for it also has justification by faith alone for children who grow up and then can understand sin, repentance, what Christ did, who He is, and what it means to trust Him and His atonement and resurrection.

It is probably similar, but not the same as other Protestant groups who baptize infants, but also believe in justification by faith alone.

Luther did speak of "infant faith" - but that is strange to me. ( Dr. White mentions it whenever this subject comes up.)

Maybe Brigitte can explain the difference between the Lutheran view and the RC view.

Very hard for a baptist to wrap his brain around, when he thinks of the pertinent verses in Scripture. I understand the "entry into the covenant community" view of infant baptism of Presbyterians, but only after years of studying it. But it does not teach baptismal regeneration. (and that is a good thing; because it seems unbiblical to hold to BR; so it makes it more understandable.)

Ken said...

The point of the article is that baptismal regeneration was an early mistake/human tradition added on to the word of God in church history, and that it became very entrenched from the Council of Orange in 529 to the Council of Trent in 1545-1563; and that while Orange rejected semi-Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism developed by the Roman sacramental and penitential and ex opere operato and sacerdotal system and the treasury of merit and indulgences, until Wycliffe, Hus, and Luther started realizing how wrong and unbiblical it was.

Trent affirmed semi-Pelagianism, but denies that they do.

Ken said...

While we're on the same page with respect to whether or not the sacrament saves, could I not say that "because circumcision doesn't save, infant circumcision was a practice in search of a theology"?

Hi Ryan - that's a good point. circumcision was clearly commanded for male infants in Israel (Genesis 17) as a sign of the covenant "I will be your God, and you shall be My people".

But baptism is not clearly commanded to be done to infants in the NT. Baptism came after repentance and confession of sins. - Matthew 3:6-8

But, Deut. 30:6 speaks of God doing the work of circumcising the heart, not just the foreskins. (done by man) Jeremiah 4:4 also. the external law nor the external physical rite of circumcision - these things could not change the heart.

See also Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 9:25; Jeremiah 9:26; Romans 2:28; Romans 2:29; Colossians 2:11

isn't that the point of the New covenant? It is new and different, an internal thing. (Ezekiel 36:25-27; Jeremiah 31:31 ff)

Even the classic passage that paedo baptizers use - Colossians 2:11-12 - the phrase "by faith in the power of God who raised Him from the dead", to me, speaks more clearly that baptism is not for infants, than the parallel to circumcision in Genesis 17.

The law came first (before the fulness of the gospel in Christ in the NT) for a purpose to show us our sins. Circumcision for infants came first in the OT to show that trusting in external rite or national identity cannot save.

Romans 9:6
"For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;" and Romans 2:28-29;
Phil. 3:3

Edward Reiss said...

Ken,

I disagree with the proposition that unless something is not, in your words, clearly commanded, that we should refrain from doing it. For the purposes of discussion, I would like to limit the discussion to Baptism and Holy Communion.

I would like you to show me where Scripture clearly commands that women should receive communion.

Brigitte said...

Ken, if you would like to see what Luther has to say about Baptism and how he differentiates the understanding both to the Roman Catholic side and to the "new spirits" side, please read the Large Catechism. He explains it like none other could as well. I highly recommend it. Please read it! Pretty please.

Baptism in Luther's Large Catechism

If you would like me to post quotes from it (I have the new Reader's Edition in front of me), or summarize it, I can do that if you like. It might just take several comment boxes.

Brigitte said...

(I just made a hyperlink with title. My first one. haha.)

Ken said...

Edward wrote:
I disagree with the proposition that unless something is not, in your words, clearly commanded, that we should refrain from doing it.

Hi Edward; I did not write that as a principle for anything and everything.

For the purposes of discussion, I would like to limit the discussion to Baptism and Holy Communion.

I would like you to show me where Scripture clearly commands that women should receive communion.

Touche ! I don't think there is an explicit verse on that; but that is not really what I was saying as I wrote above. All the examples of baptism in the NT are commands or actions that are based on repentance and faith, that is; they come after repentance and faith in Christ. Matthew 3:4-6 shows that they were all adults and "confessing their sins, they were baptized".

But, there is clearly a principle for men to treat women (their wife) as "fellow heirs of the grace of life" in I Peter 3:7; and Galatians 3:28 shows that in Christ, there is no difference between men and women, slaves and free and Greeks and Jews. (also Colossians 3:9-10) - that does not mean that there are no differences in roles. So, that shows that women should receive communion, but that is so elementary, it feels weird to even spend time fleshing this out.

Ken said...

Brigitte,
Thanks for the link to the Lutheran confession on baptism and infant baptism. I will try to study it as soon as I can.

Ken said...

John Piper has an excellent chapter on baptism in his book, Brothers, We are not Professionals: A Plea for Radical Ministry. Broadman and Holdman, 2002.

http://www.amazon.com/Brothers-We-Are-Not-Professionals/dp/0805426205

the key is that the covenant communities are different in the OT vs. the NT. The Israelites were children of Abraham by birth and circumcision in the OT; but the children of Abraham in the NT and beyond are children of Abraham by faith, and they are church communities among all the nations.

Baptism in the Early Church by Stander and Louw is also an excellent book; maybe the best one that works through all the relevant evidence in the efcs. Written by two Paedo-baptists, they "argue that infant baptism was not the practice of the apostles and their immediate successors, but developed through the convergence of several factors. Gradually, paedo-baptism came to be the majority position in the church, but probably not until the latter part of the fourth century." (From the Preface by James Renihan, p. 10)

http://www.amazon.com/Baptism-Early-Church-H-Stander/dp/0952791315

Another good book on the issue is
Infant Baptism and the Covenant of Grace by Paul K. Jewett

Edward Reiss said...

Ken,

"Touche ! I don't think there is an explicit verse on that; but that is not really what I was saying as I wrote above. All the examples of baptism in the NT are commands or actions that are based on repentance and faith, that is; they come after repentance and faith in Christ. Matthew 3:4-6 shows that they were all adults and "confessing their sins, they were baptized".

But, there is clearly a principle for men to treat women (their wife) as "fellow heirs of the grace of life" in I Peter 3:7; and Galatians 3:28 shows that in Christ, there is no difference between men and women, slaves and free and Greeks and Jews. (also Colossians 3:9-10) - that does not mean that there are no differences in roles. So, that shows that women should receive communion, but that is so elementary, it feels weird to even spend time fleshing this out."

That an infant cannot repent or have faith is a philosophical proposition. And I would submit that Jesus' words regarding the "little ones" refutes this. Indeed, this is pretty much the same kind of inference you use (correctly) regarding the communion of women.

I think you also forget that Jesus commanded the disciples to baptize all the nations, teaching them. And nations--like housholds--contain children. In other words, we have "examples" of *whole households* being baptized. It is importing into the text to argue from silence that we must assume either there were no children in the household who were baptized, or that the households necessarily did not include children.

The point is that a lot of the arguments against infant baptism have more to do with philosophical commitments about what "faith" is and who can have faith, than with the actual words of Scripture.

I would suggest you check out Brigitte's link for more details.

James Swan said...

Ken,

I didn't read all the comments here, but just wanted to say thanks for the post.

Ryan said...

Ken,

But baptism is not clearly commanded to be done to infants in the NT. Baptism came after repentance and confession of sins. - Matthew 3:6-8

That was John's baptism. Recall people who were baptized with John's baptism were later baptized in Christ's name (Acts 19). John's baptism was closer to a re-circumcision whereby people could identify with the coming Christ who would bring them eschatological rest, a Christ who was like them [appropriately] baptized in the Jordan River (cf. Joshua 5:1-12).

But, Deut. 30:6 speaks of God doing the work of circumcising the heart, not just the foreskins.

Yes. I agree with you that neither circumcision nor baptism effects any of its attendant signs.

isn't that the point of the New covenant? It is new and different, an internal thing. (Ezekiel 36:25-27; Jeremiah 31:31 ff)

I think that the debate hinges on the scope of the covenant community. Is the new covenant community familial? I think so. I think Edward makes a few staple paedo points: household baptisms and the underestimated capabilities of infants (e.g. Luke 1:44, 18:15-17). Another would be that rather than looking for an instance in which infant baptism is explicitly commanded, the burden of proof is on the credobaptist to show that the covenant community has shrunk with the institution of the new covenant.

Even the classic passage that paedo baptizers use - Colossians 2:11-12 - the phrase "by faith in the power of God who raised Him from the dead", to me, speaks more clearly that baptism is not for infants, than the parallel to circumcision in Genesis 17.

Are you suggesting that baptism here is a reference to the rite rather than a metonymy for regeneration (cf. Romans 6:3-4)? I would disagree.

Rhology said...

BTW, for all involved, I am not going to get involved in the pædo vs credo debate, especially out of respect for my pædo brethren here such as James.

Brigitte,

can you tell me how you would word the Gospel, as not to mislead anyone into believing that God is favorably disposed toward them when he is really proposing to damn them?

Sure.
Strictly speaking, the Gospel isn't exactly that which is the persuasive power pertaining to God being DISfavorably disposed to the unregenerate - that's the Law.
So I share the Law AND the Gospel, the Law being a measurement of the person up against the 2 greatest commandments and getting into specific outgrowths thereof, and the Gospel being 1 Cor 15:
3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

The "died for our sins" is very important and usually needs to be unpacked so that it's not misunderstood. That means that Jesus took the punishment you deserve b/c of your sin. It means He gives you His righteousness, by virtue of His sinless birth and sinless life and His divine nature. It means God sees you as He sees Jesus, that you're clothed in an alien righteousness. And by virtue of His rising from the dead, He grants eternal life.
All this is obtained by repentance and faith. Adding any work to it (circumcision, baptism, penance, Mass) empties it of its power and results in trust in something other than Christ alone for salvation from sin and death.


what would you tell them about their baptism, past or future?

I suspect I may differ with my Presbyterian brethren here, so with that understood, I'd tell them that any past baptism was performed on an enemy of God and that disciples of Jesus need to be baptised. It's not optional; true believers get baptised.
It's the same thing Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20 - go into all the world and make disciples, baptising them. When I meet a disciple or someone gets saved (thus becoming a Christian and becoming a ready-to-be-discipled disciple), I tell them that pretty much the 1st step of obedience to Jesus is baptism. After all, Jesus didn't say "go into all the world and baptise people and then pray that they become disciples later on".



How is anyone supposed to believe that God is good?

I'm sorry, but I think there is some disconnect here, or perhaps you're really really emotionally involved in this baptism question.
You really think it's in question how a Reformed Baptist would be able to consistently tell someone how God is good? Creation, the giving of Jesus Christ, His death on the cross, eternal life offered as a free gift, the Holy Spirit' indwelling, none of that has any bearing on whether God is good if it's not true that we can tell children that God is favorably disposed to them b/c they were dipped in water as babies? Really?



How would you teach a child that God is their dear Father in heaven of whom they should ask all things that they need?

I know for certain that giving them false assurance that getting dipped in water as a baby somehow nullifies the fact that they were born into sin and the Fall and that they actively live as active enemies of God.
What I *would* teach them (and indeed, what I *do* teach my kids) is that Jesus died for sin, the just for the unjust, in order to bring us to God. That they are sinners. That Jesus will forgive and give eternal life and that they must trust Him alone for such.

How is your formula superior to this, the pure and unmixed Gospel?

Ken said...

Ryan,
You make some good points - Bill Shishko, R. C. Sproul, Robert Strimple, and Greg Strawbridge make those same points in arguing for the Paedo-baptist position and practice. Dr. White debated Shisko and Gregg S. and also Robert Strimple. I recommend those debates - available at www.aomin.org

McArthur debated R. C. Sproul on the issue.

I respect them all, and in fact Greg S. is a personal friend of mine. And we debated the issue intensely when he made the switch from credo/believer's baptism to Paedo-baptism. (around 1995-1996 ?)

I have never understood the argument against the texts that about baptism from John the baptizer - like Matthew 3:4-6 - ok, Acts 2:38 at least points to repentance before baptism. (yes, I realize also that Acts 2:39 is a key verse for the infant baptist position.)

You make a good point on Acts 19; but that was because they were disciples, but had not been taught about the Holy Spirit and did not know about the Holy Spirit and had not received the Holy Spirit.

I think Luke 1:44 points to a miracle of the prophet in the womb of Elizabeth leaping for joy over sensing Jesus is near. I don't think we should use that as "normative" to tell us that an infant can understand sin and repentance and faith. But as parents, as we teach them the basics of the gospel, we can see fruit at a young age when they show understanding of their sin and desire for forgiveness and salvation. As Tertullian seems to be saying, "as they are learning and growing"

Luke 18 - Jesus certainly welcomes the children and babies and blesses them. Children who can understand the gospel when they are 5 or 6 or 10 certainly can be baptized and the point is that we should not hinder them from coming to Jesus. The infants being brought to Jesus is good precedence for "baby dedication" ( Deut. 6:4-7; I Sam. 1, etc.)

Colossians 2:11-12 - yes, along with Romans 6:3-5, baptism is primarily pointing to the spiritual reality of regeneration, but the external rite of being baptized in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is the symbol of that spiritual baptism. They are two aspects of the "one baptism".


I don't want to debate the issue much any further; except to say here that this discussion shows that any discussion of church history and baptismal regeneration will usually by nature draw us all into the issue of infant baptism also. We cannot really avoid it when seeking to understand the issues of church history and how other traditions developed as time went on.

Personally, I think that was a mistake of the early church, and that it was not apostolic. Origen was the first to just assume that it was apostolic and Augustine also assumed it; but without any convincing proof. I am not convinced, after wrestling with it for years and reading the main books and listening to the key debates.

But I do appreciate Presbyterians and Reformed brothers and sisters and Lutherans and conservative Anglicans who are diligent to teach their children the gospel and the truths of Scripture, after they had them baptized as an infant. The "entry into the covenant community" is the next best explanation.

Ken said...

I didn't read all the comments here, but just wanted to say thanks for the post.

James,
You are welcome!

I hope you don't mind our friendly debate in the com-boxes of infant/paedo vs. credo/disciples/believer's baptism.

To me, it shows that understanding church history and the council of Orange/Semi-Pelagianism and between the times of Orange and Trent and baptismal regeneration will by nature lead to debates about infant baptism.

I recommend the books and debates I mentioned above in other comboxes and the links in the main article.

Brigitte said...

Rhology, with you, baptism is then a "first step of obedience", so, therefore, God is really not doing anything in it, telling them anything in it, giving them anything in it. ?? Why do you think God puts such an emphasis on it, then? Just to make you jump through a meaningless hoop? It becomes an outward act to show your piety, and Jesus has never been interested in outward acts. And why all those wonderful words about washing, rebirth and dying and rising?

And talking about someone being "really, really emotionally involved" is belittling the issue. By the way Jesus was really, really emotionally involved in how children were handled and used his strongest language for those who interfered with them. He wanted you to listen to that not call him "really, really emotionally involved."

Also, if you had read the link to Luther on Baptism you would know how he connects living in your baptism exactly to continuing, life-long repentance and faith. I encourage you, also, to read the explanations he gives, so we don't unnecessarily talk past each other.

What I *would* teach them (and indeed, what I *do* teach my kids) is that Jesus died for sin, the just for the unjust, in order to bring us to God. That they are sinners. That Jesus will forgive and give eternal life and that they must trust Him alone for such.

How is your formula superior to this, the pure and unmixed Gospel?


I am not interested in any formula, you know that. We speak the Gospel in myriad ways to different people. I would like to hear your words, for example, exactly how you would speak to "Johnny" about Jesus' love for him--so that he CAN trust in Jesus.

Can you make any sentence that actually includes the person you are speaking to? The devil has faith that all this is true also, but he does not trust or want to trust God. He does not want to live in a dependent relationship and he does not want to call anyone good or God, and especially not good God. He is the accuser even of God. (Should he really have said... such a stupid thing?)

What can you say to the one who needs to know that Jesus loves THEM? That he died for THEM? Should God really have said, that baptism now saves you?

Brigitte said...

Listen to how the apostle Peter puts it:

"Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call. With many other words he warned them."

He tells them what they have done. They have killed the Messiah. (So have we.) He tells them in the clearest terms, how could it be plainer, that the promise is FOR THEM (the Messiah killers, not wonderful disciples) and FOR THEIR CHILDREN and FOR ALL who are far off.

He also says some specific things about baptism and Peter does in various other places.

The other thing to note, Rhology, with your reply is that there are already these distinctions regarding whether children should be baptized, as you keep mentioning your difference with the Reformed. So we see that those who do not hold that baptism saves have even more divisions among them than those that say that it does. This is very strange, in any case, since baptism is held to be only a step of obedience. But with only outward things, like the Pharisees did in general, we get hung up on exactly "what" and "how we" do it, instead of the substance of the matter, which is Gods word and promise. Hence you will find that those who hold to baptismal generation agree with each other.

Most importantly, we should not have any "little biblical theology" as Ryan put it right at the top, to explain away clear words and promises of God, to fit our systematics. Luther calls such people "robbers" because they rob people of the comfort that God wishes to give them. It is very serious business.

Rhology said...

Hi Brigitte,

God is really not doing anything in it, telling them anything in it, giving them anything in it.

Like what?
How would you propose this "telling" would be understood? Some sensus divinitatis? A feeling burbling up from deep inside?
God need reveal nothing more than what He has already revealed in Scripture. Regenerating us and allowing us to see the truth of Jesus is far more than enough already.
And God *IS* doing something in baptism just like He is always at work in all of our obedience and sanctification. We can do nothing apart from Him. But that's not even close to all that you've been saying.



Why do you think God puts such an emphasis on it, then?

B/c it glorifies Him in an outward demonstration of an eternal truth - that we have been put to death in Christ and are born again.



Just to make you jump through a meaningless hoop?

This is what I mean when I say your emotions are pretty clearly getting the better of you. Is it really possible that you think a serious Baptist thinks that baptism is "meaningless"? A "hoop to jump through"? Even after I just told you what the Gospel is?
No, rather, it seems more like a hoop to jump through, given YOUR position. Apparently if you jump through it, God is somehow automatically favorably disposed toward the tiny enemy of God. Whereas the Scripture teaches that we are transformed from enemy to child, orphan to adopted child, by regeneration and faith.



And why all those wonderful words about washing, rebirth and dying and rising?

B/c that's what baptism is representing. The glorious truth of baptism is that it is demonstrating what great things God has done for me, the vile wretch that I am.


talking about someone being "really, really emotionally involved" is belittling the issue

Then please do us all a favor and try to approach my position fairly.



Jesus was really, really emotionally involved in how children were handled and used his strongest language for those who interfered with them

Quite so. I should think He'd be quite annoyed with someone for misrepresenting their eternal destiny to them.
Yet that sin too is forgivable by the greatness of His shed blood on the cross. Yet it is a sin.



you would know how he connects living in your baptism exactly to continuing, life-long repentance and faith

Good, I truly hope so. Yet what you've been saying here has not made that connection.
Bottom line - unregenerate are enemies of God. We must, if we love them, tell them the Law and the Gospel, not point them to unrealities like "you were baptised; you're in good shape".



how you would speak to "Johnny" about Jesus' love for him--so that he CAN trust in Jesus.

Asked and answered.



Can you make any sentence that actually includes the person you are speaking to?

Nadia, you are a sinner and always have been. You have broken God's law. You deserve Hell, and you will go there.
However, Jesus died to save sinners. Repent of your sin and ask Him to forgive you solely on the basis of His gift and generosity. He will, and He will give you eternal life.

(Contrast that with, "Johnny, you were baptised as a baby. You're bound for Heaven.")

Rhology said...

What can you say to the one who needs to know that Jesus loves THEM?

I'd say Jesus loves you.
I'm not sure what any of this has to do with the topic, tbh.



Should God really have said, that baptism now saves you?

Oh, you mean when it says "NOT the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a clear conscience"? NOT?
Clearly discussing Spirit baptism?



So we see that those who do not hold that baptism saves have even more divisions among them than those that say that it does.

That's questionable, but it's also irrelevant.



But with only outward things, like the Pharisees did in general, we get hung up on exactly "what" and "how we" do it, instead of the substance of the matter, which is Gods word and promise

Quite so. It's thus ironic that you want to tell children they're OK with God b/c of "what" they did. Rather than call them to repentance and faith.



Luther calls such people "robbers" because they rob people of the comfort that God wishes to give them

"Comfort" through doing something (in other words, through works) is no comfort at all. My comfort is in the cross of Christ.

Brigitte said...

Rhology, thanks for your thorough reply, but I do feel we are completely talking past each other. This may not be the forum to discuss this, as we will be going on forever.

I notice, though that you have not told Nadia that her sins are forgiven. This is what all converts to Lutherans complain about. They do not know that it is for them, now. "Pro me". Notice that Jesus goes around saying "Your sins are forgiven" to people directly not "I will forgive your sins."

That Jesus loves them is exactly the point of baptism, that "God is favorably disposed towards them." They are part of God's family circle, of the kingdom. It is saying the same thing. This is how faith is combined with the water.

You have also not dealt with Peter's sermon at Pentecost.

Also, I don't think you have looked at the Large Catechism link to get a coherent presentation of Luther's doctrine. I will quote the end section to you, so you will see how baptism is linked to repentance and our persevering in the faith in Christ.

Rhology said...

Hi Brigitte,

you have not told Nadia that her sins are forgiven

Yes, that's true.
Her sins are not in fact forgiven; that's why I haven't told her they are. I tell her her sins CAN BE forgiven, but not that they already are. That would be a lie, and an awful one.


They do not know that it is for them, now.

That what is for them? The Gospel? I'm sorry, and I obviously can't speak for everyone, but I do know for sure that many, many Baptist and baptistic evangelicals do make sure to inform people with whom they share the Gospel that forgiveness is right there for them. To be taken while it is still called "Today".



Notice that Jesus goes around saying "Your sins are forgiven" to people directly not "I will forgive your sins."

And He said that to people whose sins He had forgiven! Yes, of course!
But to the ones whose sins WEREN'T forgiven, He didn't say "your sins are forgiven", did He? Of course not.


That Jesus loves them is exactly the point of baptism, that "God is favorably disposed towards them."

Well, that's the very question here. Jesus is NOT favorably disposed to the unregenerate, whether baptised or not. Far better to preach the Gospel to people rather than having them place false trust in baptism.



You have also not dealt with Peter's sermon at Pentecost.

Why would it bother me that Peter told those who'd just been saved that they should be baptised? That is precisely what I tell people.



I will quote the end section to you

Thank you. I'll be happy to read it.

Brigitte said...

Here you see that Baptism, both in its power and meaning, includes also the third Sacrament [Luther sometimes calls Confession and Absolution the third sacrament, though technically he only has two], which has been called repentance. It is really nothing other than Baptism. What else is repentance but a serious attack on the old man, that his lusts be restrained, and an entering into a new life? Therefore, if you live in repentance, you walk in Baptism. for Baptism not only illustrates such a new life, but also produces, begins, and exercises it. For in Baptism are given grace, the Spirit, and power to suppress the old man, so that the new man may come forth and become strong [Romans 6:3-6].

Our Baptism abides forever. Even though someone should fall from Baptism and sin, still we always have access to it. so we may subdue the old man again. but we do not need to be sprinkled with water again [Ezekiel 36:25-26, Hebrews 10:22]. Even if we were put under the water a hundred times, it would still be only one Baptism, even though the work and sign continue and remain. Repentance, therefore, is nothing other than a return and approach to Baptism. We repeat and do what we began before, but abandoned.

I say this lest we fall into the opinion in which we were stuck for a long time. We were imagining that our Baptism is something paast, which we can no longer use after we have fallen again into sin. The reason for this is that aptism is regarded as only based on the outward act once performed and completed,. this arose from the fact that St. Jerome wrote that "repentance is the second plank by which we must swim forth and cross over the water after the ship is broken, on which we step and are carried across when we come into the Christian Chruch." Bu this teaching Baptism's use has been abolished so that it can no longer profit us. Tehrefore, Jerome's statment is not correct, or at any rate isnot rightly understood. for the shi8p of Baptism never breaks, because (as we have saide) it is God's ordinance and not our work [1 Peter 3:20-22]. But it does happen, indeed, that we slip and fall out of the ship. Yet if anyone falls out, let him see to it that he swims up and clings to the ship until he comes into it again and lives in it, as he had done before.

In this way one sees what a great, excellent thing Baptism is. It delivers us from the devil's jaws and makes us God's own. It suppresses and takes away sin and then daily strengthens the new man. It is working and always continues working until we pass from this estate of misery to eternal glory.

For this reason let everyone value his Baptism as a daily dress [Galatians 3:27] in which he is to walk constantly. Then he may ever be found in the faith and its fruit, so that he may suppress the old man and grow up in the new.
(74-83)

I notice, too, how this section is linked to the other recent discussion we had regarding the perseverance of saints. Here we have it, that Baptism is what we can keep going back to. God's grace is there for us.

Brigitte said...

Jesus is NOT favorably disposed to the unregenerate, whether baptised or not.

That is just the rub, isnt' it. In German we say: "Der springende Punkt"--"the jumping point".

Jesus is indeed favorably disposed towards the unbeliever. He wants them to believe. As you said: "Today is the day of salvation." For You and Your Children and for All Those Far Off. He is the lamb of God who carried the sins of the world, even yours and mine. Baptism is to help me believe it more.

Rhology said...

This illustrates quite well what concerns me so greatly about this issue. Notice how this text takes the great verbiage that should be exalting Christ's work on the cross for sinners and the Holy Spirit's regenerative power, replacing the old dead heart with a new living heart, and turns it into an exaltation of a work - baptism.


Therefore, if you live in repentance, you walk in Baptism

Therefore, if you live in repentance, you walk in faith and newness of life.


For Baptism not only illustrates such a new life, but also produces, begins, and exercises it.

Baptism, a work produces, begins and exercises the new life.
So you're saved by what you do. And on and on.

Now, you will no doubt object, as Luther does further down in this text:
it is God's ordinance and not our work

That exact statement can be made about ANYTHING. Put that objection on the lips of the Judaisers of Galatia with regard to circumcision, and Paul's Epistle to the Galatians is now null and void.
Put it on the lips of 16th-century Romanists and the Reformation is pointless.
Put it on the lips of a clueless 21st-century American with regard to "a good life" and the Gospel is empty. Hey, I'm trusting in my good works to get me to Heaven. No, no, no, *I* didn't do them. God did them. It's all God, man.



For this reason let everyone value his Baptism as a daily dress

I'd rather value the Gospel and the new man as a daily dress - Colossians 3:10


Jesus is indeed favorably disposed towards the unbeliever. He wants them to believe.

This is a clear deviation from what I've been meaning, and made quite clear, this entire time.
Sure, He wants them to believe, fine. But they are His enemies. You would have us believe that He is favorably disposed to them b/c of their baptism, and as such they will have eternal life. NO! They will NOT have eternal life unless they repent and believe the Gospel!

Telling them what you've been telling them will cause no conviction to repent and believe it. Why should they? They already have eternal life according to you.

Joe said...

Hi Ken.

Sorry for the delay. My pastor retired, and I am on the call committee in finding a new one..busy busy.

Jason Engwer's articles at Triablogue are excellent.

Yea, I respect Jason's work, and frequent his "Historical Roots of the Reformation" much. But am not convinced on his argument concerning IB.

Your question about Orange and Trent may indicate you did not read my article first and the link (at Monergism.com) that actually show the differences.

Correct. I missed the link you had, and did read it now. Thank you. Do you know if Rome sees a difference between Orange and Trent? Or if they considered this something that can be and has been "re-interpreted" at the time of Trent? I realize they do not consider themselves semi-pelag.

but infant baptism seems to have become common much later. Justin Martyr definitely did not ascribe to infant baptism, as he emphasized in his writings the need for understanding, repentance, and faith.

What evidence is there that Justin "definetly did not ascribe to IB"? IB's also emphasize understanding, repentance, and faith..for adults. Read anything from an IB and you will find this language as well. As far as when IB became universal...I know Sproul in his writings (Taste of Heave, Essential Truths) says that it was the universal practice mid second century, but he does not reference this at all.

Very hard for a baptist to wrap his brain around, when he thinks of the pertinent verses in Scripture.

Agree. Before going from Baptist to Reformed/Luthern...I had the same thoughts. But, actually have the opposite view now. If bapt is not supposed to be administered to infants...than this would be a complete shift from bapt's counterpart in circumcism. Circum, as a sign of the convenant, of course was commanded to be given to infants...and if the NT is a more inclusive, better, gracious convenant, where is the biblical warrant for withholding the sign of the covenant of baptism from the children of believers? It appears clear to me that the principle of corporate solidarity for children is continued in the NT.

Thanks.

In Him,

Joe

Ken said...

Joe,
No problem on the time - answering a day later is not much of a delay in my opinion.

Yes, I understand what you have written and heard that before. Gregg Strawbridge, my friend, (see above in another combox I mentioned him - one of the best defenses for infant baptism to me is his book he edited - a very detailed book on the case for infant baptism) - Gregg kept saying the same thing to me, "that's for adults" - of course it will speak of understanding of sin and repentance and faith.

It seems to me that Justin Martyr did not believe in Infant baptism, but he did teach baptismal regeneration. Infant baptism is nowhere in his writings ( I have not seen it and no one I know sites him) and he always speaks of understanding of sin, repentance, faith in Christ, agreeing with what the Christians taught, etc. My "definitely" may be a little strong to you, but it seems to me if paedo-baptists assume there are infants in the 2-3 references to household baptisms in Acts, then it is even more likely that the local churches that Justin Martyr describes in his Apology and Dialogue with Trypho - those churches are even more likely to know that infants are in the church; and so his silence on that matter would be even stranger than the Acts silence. He is giving a formal description and apology for the Christian faith and it would seem weird to not mention infant baptism at all.

My main point was against baptism regeneration anyway; and how Rome developed it more and more between Orange and Trent with its system of penance, indulgences, merit, grace as a substance, treasury of merit, ex opere operato sacerdotal powers, etc. and then applying those powers to the sacraments, thus nullifying grace alone and condemning faith alone.

We are unified around the gospel and the Scriptures and the Reformation; and I love the "Together for the Gospel" and "Gospel Coalition" type movements of unity between different Evangelical churches.

May the Lord give you grace in your increased ministry responsibilities!

Love in Christ,
Ken T.
Ephesians 4:1-16

Ken said...

Brigitte - my words to Joe are for you also - thanks for all your work in translating Luther materials and helping James Swan!

We are unified around the gospel and the Scriptures and the Reformation; and I love the "Together for the Gospel" and "Gospel Coalition" type movements of unity between different Evangelical churches. We are brothers and sisters in Christ.

May the Lord give you grace in your life and ministry.

Love in Christ,
Ken T.
Ephesians 4:1-16

Ken said...

Joe wrote:
Do you know if Rome sees a difference between Orange and Trent? Or if they considered this something that can be and has been "re-interpreted" at the time of Trent? I realize they do not consider themselves semi-pelag.

I don't know what their official documents exactly says, if they even address the issues; but I have seen RC e-pologists claim that that Trent is just a more explicit development and not contradictory. But it honestly seems contradictory to us.

That was what I found so interesting about Sproul's book, and the statements by Bavinck and Berkouwer - they assert that Trent is semi-Pelagian and it was developed slowly over centuries from Orange by the sacramental and penitential system, indulgences, etc. Even though they deny that they are semi-Pelagian. Their whole "initial justification" at baptism is an indication of allowing semi-Pelagianism, since justification can be lost and gained back through the sacraments. This seems contradictory to Romans 5:1 - and 3:28, chapter 4, and the whole book of Galatians, and Philippians 3:9 and 2 Cor. 5:21 - one is either justified or not justified.

Joe said...

Hi Ken.

It seems to me that Justin Martyr did not believe in Infant baptism, but he did teach baptismal regeneration. Infant baptism is nowhere in his writings ( I have not seen it and no one I know sites him) and he always speaks of understanding of sin, repentance, faith in Christ, agreeing with what the Christians taught, etc.

Right, if one argues for Justin not being an IBer, it would have to be from silence, from my limited research. But, this then of course could just be explained because it was universally accepted and assumed as well. Also, his remarks of, "many men and women of the age of sixty and seventy years who have been disciples (or 'who were made disciples') of Christ from childhood" do imply at least a very young age for baptism. I have read some "point out that the word translated "have been disciples" is in the passive and is used elsewhere by Justin to refer to baptism." So, again, it seems to me that there is no real evidence that he was not an IBer and the info we do have suggests that he was. But certainly I am not going in the bunker as to whether Justin believed it or not, since there is not very strong evidence either way.

My "definitely" may be a little strong to you, but it seems to me if paedo-baptists assume there are infants in the 2-3 references to household baptisms in Acts, then it is even more likely that the local churches that Justin Martyr describes in his Apology and Dialogue with Trypho - those churches are even more likely to know that infants are in the church; and so his silence on that matter would be even stranger than the Acts silence. He is giving a formal description and apology for the Christian faith and it would seem weird to not mention infant baptism at all.

Would agree that your "definetly" is too strong, and then multiply it by 10. :) Again, yes, I see your argument from silence only...but do not see a need for him to bring IB up in his apology anyhow. I have not read his entire apology, but assume that he did not touch on every aspect of the faith directly. And at least to me, his writings may imply it anyhow.

My main point was against baptism regeneration anyway; and how Rome developed it more and more between Orange and Trent with its system of penance, indulgences, merit, grace as a substance, treasury of merit, ex opere operato sacerdotal powers, etc. and then applying those powers to the sacraments, thus nullifying grace alone and condemning faith alone.

Agree with this, we are on the same page here.

We are unified around the gospel and the Scriptures and the Reformation; and I love the "Together for the Gospel" and "Gospel Coalition" type movements of unity between different Evangelical churches.

May the Lord give you grace in your increased ministry responsibilities!


Amen brother...you as well!

In Him,

Joe

Joe said...

Hi Ken.

I don't know what their official documents exactly says, if they even address the issues; but I have seen RC e-pologists claim that that Trent is just a more explicit development and not contradictory. But it honestly seems contradictory to us.

Okay...and agree.

That was what I found so interesting about Sproul's book, and the statements by Bavinck and Berkouwer - they assert that Trent is semi-Pelagian and it was developed slowly over centuries from Orange by the sacramental and penitential system, indulgences, etc. Even though they deny that they are semi-Pelagian. Their whole "initial justification" at baptism is an indication of allowing semi-Pelagianism, since justification can be lost and gained back through the sacraments. This seems contradictory to Romans 5:1 - and 3:28, chapter 4, and the whole book of Galatians, and Philippians 3:9 and 2 Cor. 5:21 - one is either justified or not justified.

Yea, I struggle with the concept of BR. My church teaches it, and it seems to be the very majority view in the early church..but am somewhat torn between Reformed and Lutheran thought on the matter of sacraments...especially since if all are regenerated when baptized, and some end up unbelievers (which is doubtless), it would seem one would lose their salvation, become unjustified, etc. And this goes against my theological grain.

Anyhow, thanks for the post! and wish you blessing in your Christian walk.

In Him,

Joe

I am not torn on the IB issue, but am on BR issue.

Brigitte said...

If I may, I'd also like to make a distinction between what it seems Rhology makes to be a definition of faith, i.e. confessing that Jesus rose from the dead. This is true; it is a centerpiece of our faith. Without that we have nothing and we are not Christians. And yet, the devil knows it, too.

But trust in God and faith is something more overarching, a matter of the heart and its clinging to God through thick and thin. It is not easy and maintained in the face of all kinds of difficulties. This only is done with the constant help of God and his encouragements, gifts and nourishment. We would not be able to do it on our own and yet this is what God wants from us: this ultimate trust. We do not have it by nature. By nature we trust in many other things.

Trusting in your baptism is not one of those other things. Trusting in you baptism is trusting the God who gives it to you and speaks his name over you and makes a beginning with you.

For my blog, I quickly made a summary today, about what Luther has to say regarding the first commandment in the large catechism. This is the same kind of trust which the old testament people had only their deliverances were of various different sorts and the Messiah was still anticipated; no less were they to trust in him. St. Paul goes at length into how Abraham, too, was saved by faith. Faith in the true God is one thing. Believing that Christ rose from the dead is one of the articles of this trust.

I trust that God can turn around my circumstances and help me, I trust that God can raise the dead, I trust that he raised Lazarus from the dead and Christ rose. And I trust that he will come again and bring all those with him who believed in him. He is the one who can do this.

Brigitte said...

Oops, the fabled link does not work. Try this:

http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com/2011/06/luthers-large-catechism-on-first.html

Rhology said...

By nature we trust in many other things. Trusting in your baptism is not one of those other things.

By nature we trust in many other things. Trusting in your circumcision is not one of those other things.

By nature we trust in many other things. Trusting in your almsgiving is not one of those other things.

By nature we trust in many other things. Trusting in your hospitality is not one of those other things.

By nature we trust in many other things. Trusting in your tithing is not one of those other things.

By nature we trust in many other things. Trusting in your abstinence from greedy and lustful thoughts is not one of those other things.

Trusting in your circumcision/almsgiving/tithing/hospitality/abstinence is trusting the God who gives it to you and speaks his name over you and makes a beginning with you.

Brigitte said...

You seem to have no regard for God's word, command, promise attached to baptism. I will not list what this all implies.

Brigitte said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwxHzo0QVYY

Rhology said...

Who here is claiming that "baptism doesn't actually do anything"? Your video is responding to somebody else.

You seem to have no regard for God's word, command, promise attached to circumcision. I will not list what this all implies.

You seem to have no regard for God's word, command, promise attached to almsgiving. I will not list what this all implies.

You seem to have no regard for God's word, command, promise attached to hospitality. I will not list what this all implies.

You seem to have no regard for God's word, command, promise attached to tithing. I will not list what this all implies.

You seem to have no regard for God's word, command, promise attached to abstinence from greedy and lustful thoughts. I will not list what this all implies.

Brigitte said...

What makes baptism a work, saying God is doing something according to his promise, or saying it is an act of obedience? You are speaking from your own framework.

Rhology said...

The fact that you do it makes baptism a work.
As opposed to regeneration, which is solely an act of God.
You keep talking like a closet synergist.

Joe said...

Hi Rhology,

The fact that you do it makes baptism a work. As opposed to regeneration, which is solely an act of God. You keep talking like a closet synergist.

But the child, or even adult for that matter that is being baptized....is not doing anything in terms of regeneration.

From my understanding, one can hold to IB and BR and still be monergistic.

It appears the definition you give to monergistic cannot have God do anything at all through man. The internal work of regeneration is God's work, but why would that have to preclude any involvement at all through man? After all, you would agree that God does most of salvation through man in some form.

For ex, God uses man to preach the gospel in order that man may believe in Christ....but assume you would not ascribe synergism to this act of hearing the gospel and believing to synergism because God used a preacher.

So it is with BR...God can use man and the work be considered monergistic.

In Him,

Joe

Rhology said...

Joe,

God can use man and the work be considered monergistic.

Just apply the same reasoning to the other works (ie, circumcision, hospitality, "perseverance in doing good" from Romans 2:5-8) I've brought up and you'll see why I object.

Brigitte said...

So Lutherans and Luther are now closet-synergists?

You have called me a few adjectives and nouns in the course of this conversation, though I am only trying to show you biblical doctrine.

Those who reject BR (as it seems to be called and abbreviated here), one notes, seem to find that they need to invent their own little tradition for their children--note the "baby dedication." What is this supposed to be? A work of God? A work of man? Who gets to have one of these and where is this commanded? Also baptism as an "act of obedience" is another "invention". You will not find this taught in the Bible.

Rejected is the idea, which the Bible teaches that, God uses the means he has linked himself to: the word and sacramental gifts with the word, which create faith through the Holy Spirit. But never the Holy Spirit just as I fancy. God has made his own commands and promises regarding this. To look for the Holy Spirit acting solo, so to speak, is to look again inside myself to see if this has happened. Splippery ground. Sand, in fact.

This is what the reformation calls "fanatics" or "enthusiasts". They make up things as they fancy and reject the objective. It is only the objective that you can hold on to. God has only pinned himself down for you where he promises it. And the simple water with the word is not to be despised as God's tool.

Rhology said...

to invent their own little tradition for their children--note the "baby dedication."

What's wrong with tradition?
What in the Scripture would oppose such a practice?



What is this supposed to be? A work of God? A work of man?

A work of man.



Who gets to have one of these and where is this commanded?

It's not commanded. When was the last time you read through and meditated on Colossians 2, Romans 14, and 1 Corinthians 8?



Also baptism as an "act of obedience" is another "invention". You will not find this taught in the Bible.

Oh, so when Peter commands the people to be baptised, he wasn't expecting them to act? You know, in obedience?



God uses the means he has linked himself to: the word and sacramental gifts with the word, which create faith through the Holy Spirit

Where does "sacramental gifts" appear in the Bible? Even the concept?
Where is it said that the Word, ie the Scripture, creates faith? Isn't it instead God Himself Who directly creates it?



And the simple water with the word is not to be despised as God's tool.

I haven't seen anyone "despising" those things, least of all myself. I do despise, however, making them into what they're not, like "Baptism is Gospel".

Brigitte said...

Rhology, I am not talking to you about this anymore.

You want me to abandon scriptural baptism to the tradition of men. You are trying to tell me that believing in Jesus does not come by the word (notice I have never called it by "scripture" though scripture can do it, too, since preaching and the sacrament are word, too.)

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

This is elementary, and you know it very well, just you don't want to acknowledge it.

You have called me names and "scary" and "emotional" and you have made a post about "emotional Lutheranism." I have linked you various things, which it appears to me you haven't read.

I believe I have done my part.

Rhology said...

OK, nice talking to you.

Brigitte said...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1592442498/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_1?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER

Rhology said...

"A Dialog Between John Bapstead and Martin Childfont"

Haha, those names are quite clever, I'll give 'em that.

John Stebbe said...

Brigitte, you might find my story interesting:

http://www.fromlutherantoreformed.blogspot.com/

I was raised in the LCMS, and became Presbyterian when I was 25, when I got married. I am now 51. When I became Presbyterian, I thought I might retain my Lutheran beliefs while worshiping in this new (to me) church, but along the way, I became increasingly aware of how very Biblical Reformed theology really is. That's what my story is about, and the link goes into more detail.

John

Brigitte said...

Dear John, please, a story and some generalities will not do here.

I've just assembles a list of links on my blogs dealing with Calvinism which have been of interest to me lately. If you'd like to add something to those threads or comment to me on those, that would be great.

Steve said...

I have always found it odd that many Christians believe that Christ can actually live and be present in their heart, but deny that He can be present in a bowl of water accompanied by His Word of promise.

Odd, isn't it?

Steve said...

By the way, God does the baptizing...not us.

So God is doing the work. he commanded it (Matthew 28), so He is at work in it...for us.

he never commanded us to do anything where He wouldn't actually be the One at work in what He's commanded.

And if we do a little theology, we will see that the Living God in Christ Jesus is NOT into empty religious rituals... just for kicks.

Rhology said...

Steve said:
By the way, God does the baptizing...not us.

I wish you'd read my comments above, Steve.

Ken said...

Yes, God does the internal baptizing in the Spirit - John 1:33; I Cor. 12:13; Romans 6:3-4; Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; Acts 1:5; Colossians 2:11-12

And then water baptism is the external sign of that inward reality and rite of entering into membership of a local church. By the Spirit we are members of the body of Christ, by water, members of local fellowship.
I Peter 3:21 - an appeal to God for a good conscience = "repentance". Water baptism is a sign and evidence of true repentance and faith.

Ken said...

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2011/06/blomberg-on-apostasy.html

Blomberg's comment highlighted here is very good; and from an article where he argues that baptism is important.

Water baptism is not required for justification/salvation ( I Cor. 1:13-17); but it is required for obedience and evidence of faith and evidence of true justification and for discipleship. ( Matthew 28:19)

Those who claim to be Christians cannot then say "I don't need to be baptized or go to church or be a member of a church or obey the Lord".

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi Brigitte,

I recall a previous thread where you agreed that there are baptized Lutherans in Hell.

Do you recall that?

Do you still affirm that there are baptized Lutherans in Hell?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

From He Used to be a Christian:

Me: "Brigitte,

Do you think there are baptized Lutherans in Hell?"

LPC: "Truth Unites,

I won't answer for Brigitte but I for one as a Lutheran do believe there are baptized Lutherans in hell."

Brigitte: "Excellent explanations LP and 27th. Thanks. I won't recapitulate then, but endorse them."

Brigitte, do you still endorse your belief that there are baptized Lutherans in Hell?

David Waltz said...

For reasons unknown to me, the link provided by Blogger is not functioning...for those who may be interested in the issue of Pelagianism/semi-Pelagiansim and the RCC, here is the correct link:

http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2011/06/does-roman-catholic-church-teach-either_29.html

Tom Eckstein said...

I see this conversation, which included discussion about the Lutheran view of baptismal regeneration and infant baptism, had its last post back in 2011. I found this in September of 2017, but will attempt to add to the conversation. Below is a brief article I (an LCMS pastor) wrote responding to objections people have to baptismal regeneration in the hope of clearing up misunderstanding of the Lutheran teaching on this issue. In addition, for a more thorough treatment in a Q & A format, see this book: "Water with The Word" (http://www.lulu.com/shop/kelly-klages/water-with-the-word/paperback/product-6021940.html) Anyway, below is my brief article, which may be too long for one post, so I will do more than one if needed.

Some of you may have Christian friends in other denominations (e.g., “Baptist” or “Assembly of God”) who ask you why Lutherans baptize infants. They want to know what our reasons are for this practice. They think we are in error. How would you answer them? Below are seven common objections to infant Baptism, and I will give a very brief response to each objection. However, before I respond to each of these objections it would be helpful to briefly summarize what Lutheran’s DO and DO NOT believe regarding Baptism and Infant Baptism.

First we must understand what Lutherans DO NOT believe about Baptism and Infant Baptism. We do NOT believe that all infants who have not been baptized are going to hell! Some wrongly think Lutherans teach this. Even though Baptism is one important way that God brings Christ and His gifts to infants, Baptism is not the only way that God does this. God also uses His spoken Word to bring infants to faith in Christ. (In response to one of the objections to Infant Baptism below I will discuss what Scripture teaches about infant faith.)

In addition, Lutherans do NOT believe that Baptism is a magical work of humans that guarantees salvation even if a person later rejects Christ and lives as an unbeliever. Sadly, some who were baptized as infants were not nurtured by God’s Word over the years and in certain cases they eventually lost their faith in Christ. (In response to one of the objections to Infant Baptism below I will explain how those who are baptized also must have their faith in Christ nurtured by God’s Word throughout life.)

Now that we know what Lutherans do NOT believe about Baptism and Infant Baptism, I would like to carefully explain what Lutherans DO believe Baptism actually is. Simply put, some Christians view Baptism as only an outward symbol of an adult’s conscious decision to trust in Jesus. However, Lutherans do not have this understanding of Baptism because in no place does Scripture ever speak of Baptism in this way! Instead, Scripture always defines Baptism as something much more than a mere symbol. According to Scripture, Baptism is the work of God through which He gives us various gifts!

God uses Baptism to put His Name on us (see Matthew 28:19). God uses Baptism to give us “new birth,” that is, faith in Christ (see John 3:5 and Titus 3:5). God uses Baptism to give us forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:28 and 22:16; Ephesians 5:26). God uses Baptism to connect us to the death and resurrection of Jesus (see Romans 6:3-4 and Colossians 2:11-12). God uses Baptism to clothe us with Christ (see Galatians 3:27). God uses Baptism to save us by the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection (see 1st Peter 3:18 & 21).

Now that we understand what Lutherans DO and DO NOT believe about Baptism and Infant Baptism, I will give a brief response to the 7 most common objections to Infant Baptism. (Continued next post)

Tom Eckstein said...

My article on "baptismal regeneration and infant baptism" continued:

The first objection is: “But we’re saved by Jesus, not by our work of Baptism!” This objection wrongly thinks that Baptism is a human work. If that were the case, then Baptism could not save us. However, Scripture teaches that Baptism DOES save us (see 1st Peter 3:21) because Baptism is GOD’S WORK! In addition, this objection fails to understand that Baptism is one of the means God uses to give us the salvation of Christ. In other words, Jesus ACCOMPLISHED our salvation by His life, death and resurrection for us. However, this salvation is GIVEN and DELIVERED to us through God’s “means of grace” – and one such “means of grace” is Holy Baptism! (See Acts 2:38-39 and Titus 3:5)
The second objection is: “But infants are not sinners! Therefore, Baptism is not for infants because Baptism is for those who have consciously sinned.” On the contrary, Scripture clearly teaches that we are sinners from the time of our conception (see Psalm 51:5) because we inherit a sinful nature from Adam (see Romans 5:12). The fact that infants die is God’s sign that they are sinners (see 1st Corinthians 15:22). We sin BECAUSE we are sinners, and we have this condition even as infants and little children (see Genesis 8:21 and John 3:6). Also, Romans 3:23 clearly shows that ALL have sinned and need the salvation that Jesus gives.

The third objection is: “But infants can’t have faith!” First, Scripture clearly teaches that infants and children CAN have faith. In Psalm 8:2 we see that infants can give praise to God. In Psalm 22:9 we see that David trusted in the Lord when he was a breast-feeding infant. In Matthew 18:6 Jesus teaches that “little ones” can believe in Him. Jesus is speaking about the “child” mentioned in Matthew 18:2. The Greek word for child is “paidion” which can also refer to infants. For example, the plural form of “paidion” is used in Matthew 2:16 for the children who were 2 years old and younger. Also, in Luke 18:15-17 we see that Jesus uses babies as examples of sincere faith. The Greek word for babies is “brephos” which means infant. In addition, John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb (Luke 1:15 & 39-45). The fact is that Jesus holds up infants as ultimate examples of faith (Matthew 18:5-6 and Luke 18:16-17). Second, Scripture clearly teaches that faith is MORE than a conscious knowledge of facts about God. Faith is trust in God that flows from a heart made new by the Holy Spirit. If faith is ONLY a conscious awareness of God’s Word, then does one lose his or her faith when asleep or in a coma? What about those with mental disabilities? Third, those who say “Infants can’t have faith!” must either 1) say that infants who die are damned or 2) say that faith in Christ is not necessary for salvation.

Tom Eckstein said...

My article on "baptismal regeneration and infant baptism" continued:

The fourth objection is: “Jesus was baptized as an adult!” If one takes this assertion to its logical end, then you must say: “Jesus wasn’t baptized until he was about 30, so no one should be baptized BEFORE that age! In addition, Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, and so all baptisms must take place in the Jordan or they are not valid. In fact, Jesus was a man and so women should not be baptized!” This is ridiculous, of course! One must note that Jesus was baptized for reasons completely different than why we are baptized. First, Jesus was sinless and so He did not need the forgiveness delivered in Baptism. Second, Jesus’ Baptism was God’s way of showing that Baptism saves us because Jesus has made Himself part of it. In other words, Jesus was not baptized to give us an example to follow (salvation by works!). Instead, He was baptized to show us the source and power behind the salvation given in Baptism. This becomes obvious when God uses Jesus’ Baptism as a public witness to show us that Jesus is His Son, our Savior!

The fifth objection is: “The Bible never says that we should baptize infants!” First of all, the entire Old Testament assumes that infants were always part of the salvation acts of God. For example, God gave Abraham the ritual of circumcision as an outward sign that the Savior would come from his family line (see Genesis 12:1-3 and Galatians 3:6-9). The sign of circumcision was given to infant boys when they were only 8 days old! In Colossians 2:11-13 the Apostle Paul shows that circumcision has been replaced with Baptism through which Christ Himself works to give spiritual life to those who are dead in sin. The Jews who became Christians would have assumed that Baptism was for infants because infants had also received the Old Testament ritual of circumcision. In addition, the infants and children of Israel participated in many of the Old Testament rituals (the Passover, the Sabbath, the Day of Atonement, etc.). The infants and children of Israel were included in the high priest’s blessing which God used to put His Name on His people (see Numbers 6:22-27; also Matthew 28:19). The infants and children of Israel took part in the crossing of the Red Sea which was a picture of the New Testament gift of Baptism (see 1st Corinthians 10:1-4).
Secondly, Jesus says that we should MAKE disciples by baptizing them. He says to do this for ALL nations, and he gives no exceptions as to age. Then in Acts chapter 2:38-39 Peter tells the crowd who had been convicted by his preaching: “Repent and be baptized EVERY ONE of you in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of your sin and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you AND YOUR CHILDREN.” Simply put, the bible assumes (especially based on the practice of the Old Testament!) that infants will be baptized, and Matthew 28:19 and Acts 2:38-39 confirm this. Therefore, the burden of proof is not on Lutherans to find yet ANOTHER text that says infants should be baptized. Instead, the burden of proof is on those who deny infant baptism. They must find just 1 passage that says infants should NOT be baptized. However, there is no such passage! The reason there is no such passage is that Scripture assumes that infants will be baptized!

Tom Eckstein said...

My article on "baptismal regeneration and infant baptism" concluded:

The sixth objection is: “Adults were taught first and then were baptized later. So we should wait for infants to grow up so we can teach them before we baptize them.” This objection fails to distinguish the difference between infants and adults. Scripture clearly teaches that humans are conceived in sin. However, unbelieving infants have one advantage over unbelieving adults. Infants do not yet have a rebellious reason! Scripture teaches that we are conceived in sin and if we grow up as unbelievers we develop a conscious reason that is hostile to the Gospel. So, unlike infants who are in a position to receive the Gospel, adults need to have their reason humbled through the preaching of God’s Word. Adults must become like “little children” or “spiritual infants” before they can receive Holy Baptism. I use the following analogy: Unbelieving infants are like a plowed field. They do not have the “seed of life” but they are in a position to receive it. In contrast, unbelieving older children and adults are like a field with hard soil (covered by weeds and rocks) that needs to be broken up and cleared out before it can receive the “seed of life.” This explains why infants are baptized and then taught, whereas older children and adults are taught and then Baptized.

Finally, the seventh objection is this: “Joe Lutheran was baptized as an infant. But now as an adult he never attends church and he lives a life of unrepentant sin!” The Bible teaches that our faith must be nurtured by God’s Word, or it will die! Sadly, some who were baptized as infants are now living as unbelievers because their faith was not nurtured by hearing and reading God’s Word. Such people should be called back to faith in Christ by the preaching of God’s Word! However, the fact that some fall away after Baptism does NOT mean we should stop baptizing infants! For example, some adults are brought to faith in Christ through the preaching of God’s Word, but then later fall away from the Faith. Does this mean we should never preach God’s Word to adults because some later fall away? Of course not! In the same way, we still baptize infants even though, sadly, some later fall away from the Faith.

I hope this helps you understand why we Lutherans baptize infants. For a much more thorough study of this issue, read the book Baptized into God’s Family (The Doctrine of Infant Baptism for Today) by Dr. A. Andrew Das.

James Swan said...

Hi Tom:

I posted your comments /article. Thank you for taking the time to post it here. There is much confusion as to what Lutherans believe about baptism. Because of the age of this entry, I do not believe there will be further conversation (but who knows?). Ken, the person who wrote this entry will probably come across your comments. He's a great guy- a very level-headed baptist. As to some of the others... most of them I haven't heard from in a while. Perhaps they've moved on to Facebook or Twitter, or perhaps they've finally grown weary of all my Luther entries.

Here's a question I have for you. Before I pose it, let me state upfront that I am not a Lutheran (much top the consternation of Lutherans, Roman Catholics, and my own Reformed brethren). I am Reformed (not a baptist, or a Presbyterian, my church finds its roots in the Dutch tradition). I'm not sure how much of this blog you've read, but I've been focusing on the polemics hurled at the Reformers. There has never been any attempt on my part to turn Luther into a Calvinist. No, by all means, let Luther be Luther. he is a peg that's hard to fit into any preconceived hole.

To the question(s): the Reformed strongly insist that faith is a gift given by God. There are a number of Biblical passages used to support this, but I'll spare you the proof-texting. In a Reformed worldview, that gift of faith could be given by God at any time, but primarily it comes through the powerful preaching of God's Word. Certainly, John the Baptist kicked in the womb, expressing his gift of faith. On the other hand, someone could receive that same blessed gift at 90 years old. That gift of faith is supernatural. it's given to a person dead in their sins.

Do Lutheran believe the gift of faith is given in baptism? Do Lutheran believe that all those who are properly baptized receive the gift of faith? If so, this is difference between Lutherans and the Reformed.

To throw a monkey wrench in: In Luther's Small Catechism he says in regard to the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit...

Question 161 asks, "Why do you say that the Holy Spirit has done this by the Gospel?" Answer: "The Gospel is the means by which the Holy Spirit offers us all the blessings of Christ and creates faith in us."

Question 162 asks, "Besides faith, what else does the Holy Spirit create in you by the Gospel?" Answer: The Holy Spirit sanctifies me in the true faith, that is, by faith He works renewal of my whole life- in spirit, will, attitude, and desire- so that I now strive to overcome sin and do good works (sanctification in the narrow sense).

Regards, James

Tom Eckstein said...

Hi James! I want to give a proper answer to your questions, but I need to get to bed early as I have a speaking engagement all day tomorrow and also Sunday afternoon/evening. Let me get through this weekend and I'll get back to you with a thorough answer to your questions.

One question from me: Does your denomination baptize infants? (Many Reformed denominations I know do.)

James Swan said...

One question from me: Does your denomination baptize infants? (Many Reformed denominations I know do.)

Yes they do.

fwiw, I posted this some years back:

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2013/09/a-primer-on-luthers-view-of-baptism-for.html

Joe said...

Hi James.

"Do Lutheran believe the gift of faith is given in baptism? Do Lutheran believe that all those who are properly baptized receive the gift of faith?"

I am sure Tom will comment, but as a Lutheran....I would say yes to both. Baptism brings Christ and all His benefits, not to the exclusion of faith...but with it. Faith links us to Christ, and baptism imparts this.

As far as question 161 and 162, not sure what the wrench is, so is the wrench because there is no specific mention of baptism?

Thanks!

In Him,
Joe

James Swan said...

Hi Joe: Yes, I included it for a reason:

"The Gospel is the means by which the Holy Spirit offers us all the blessings of Christ and creates faith in us."

From a Reformed perspective, the preaching of the Gospel is the means by which the Holy Spirit imparts the gift of faith to a dead sinner. I suspect that Lutherans have something different in mind, but I'll let the Lutherans speak for themselves.

Joe said...

Hi James.

"From a Reformed perspective, the preaching of the Gospel is the means by which the Holy Spirit imparts the gift of faith to a dead sinner. I suspect that Lutherans have something different in mind, but I'll let the Lutherans speak for themselves."

Lutherans would agree of course that the preaching of the Gospel is a means by which the Spirit imparts faith... But I would say it is not the only means to bring the gospel. Gospel can come by Word and Sacrament... So the sampling that Tom provided above as to what baptism actually does is a good reference:

"God uses Baptism to put His Name on us (see Matthew 28:19). God uses Baptism to give us “new birth,” that is, faith in Christ (see John 3:5 and Titus 3:5). God uses Baptism to give us forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:28 and 22:16; Ephesians 5:26). God uses Baptism to connect us to the death and resurrection of Jesus (see Romans 6:3-4 and Colossians 2:11-12). God uses Baptism to clothe us with Christ (see Galatians 3:27). God uses Baptism to save us by the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection (see 1st Peter 3:18 & 21)."

In Him,
Joe

Ken said...

Hi James and Tom Eckstein, and Joe,
I just noticed this but have not had time to digest it all. Right now, I just don't have time to read all of what Tom Eckstein wrote.
Sorry about that. I hope I can get to it someday.

I agree with James White and the baptist position (see his 3-4 debates vs. infant baptism - vs. Robert Strimple and another guy, whom I have forgotten his name, vs. Bill Shishko, and vs. Gregg Strawbridge (twice). Gregg is a friend of mine, and we debated vigorously at the time, many years ago, when Gregg changed from the credo-baptist position to the paedo-baptist position.

But after all that debate, I view Reformed folks like James Swan as my brothers in Christ, and love the Presbyterians, Lutherans, and other Protestants, etc. who hold to inerrancy. I appreciate the Lutheran Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Synod, but I have no respect for the liberal Lutherans who ordain homosexuals and think that Rome and Sola Fide agree. I love the groups of "Together for the Gospel" and "the Gospel Coalition" that promote the gospel and high commitment to Scripture but can disagree on secondary issues like baptism.

James' research into Luther is amazing and great and some of his articles are the very best around on key issues like Luther and Sola Fide & Allistair McGrath's book in Justification, and issues about adding the word "alone" to Romans 3:28 and on the Luther's comment that "James is an epistle of straw" comment.

Tom Eckstein said...

James, sorry for my delay in getting back to you with answers to your questions. I've been very busy, and even now can only give a brief response.

You asked: "Do Lutheran believe the gift of faith is given in baptism? Do Lutheran believe that all those who are properly baptized receive the gift of faith? If so, this is difference between Lutherans and the Reformed."

Simply put, yes, Lutherans believe that baptism is ONE of the ways the Holy Spirit comes to us and creates or sustains faith. (I say "sustains" faith because if may be possible that an infant or adult has already been given faith by the Holy Spirit through the proclaimed Word prior to baptism. Luther once commented that John the Baptizer, while in his mother's womb, was called to faith by the Holy Spirit through God's Word which was being spoken by his mother and others.)

As to whether all who are properly baptized receive the gift of faith - your question about this leads to one difference Lutherans have with those who follow a strict TULIP position, and that is that Luther and Lutherans believe that the Holy Spirit can be RESISTED (e.g., Stephen's comments at the end of Acts ch. 7 re: the Jewish leaders who heard his sermon). Of course, this leads to a mystery that Lutherans do not attempt to explain in a way that makes sense to our reason because such explanation usually leads to false teaching, in our view. The mystery is that all descended from Adam are "spiritually dead" and can ONLY resist the Holy Spirit. Therefore, if we have faith at all, it is because the Holy Spirit has given us new hearts of repentance and faith. Why the Holy Spirit is able to create faith in some whereas others are able to resist His work, Scripture does not answer. Therefore, Lutherans refuse to solve that mystery with the answers 1) fallen humans still have a "free will" that is able to reject or accept God apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, or 2) God really doesn't want all to be saved, and so the Holy Spirit does not actually attempt to create repentance and faith in some who are baptized or hear the Word proclaimed.

So, is it possible that an infant could resist the Holy Spirit in baptism? Theologically, Lutherans would answer: "Yes." But we still baptize infants in the promise that God is working in baptism to give them "new birth" and adopt them as His own. In other words, one's refusal to believe doesn't make baptism meaningless anymore than an adult's refusal to believe the proclamation of the Gospel makes the proclamation of the Gospel a futile effort.

As for why Lutherans baptize infants and then nurture them in the faith via the teaching of the Word as they grow older versus teaching unbelieving adults first and not baptizing them until they repent and believe - I answered that particular objection to infant baptism in my post above. Simply put, even though we are all conceived in sin, infants have one advantage over unbelieving older children and adults, and that is that infants have not yet developed a conscious, rebellious reason that is opposed to God's Word and must therefore be "killed" by preaching/teaching to their minds before baptism can take place.

Anyway, I hope my answers were helpful.

James Swan said...

Hi Tom:

Thanks for your clarifying response, and for taking the time to visit here. Your brief response wasn't brief, so thank you! Likewise, I'm super-busy, so if you visit here, don't feel any time obligations in regard to comments. I think your comments are nice additions to this entry in clarifying the Lutheran position. This blog has received a lot of traffic over the years, so your comments probably won't go unnoticed.

Your answer would probably never be accepted by Reformed baptists, but it would find some similarities within other branches of Reform-dom. For instance, if you visit one of my recent entries involving John Calvin and infant baptism, you'll see what I mean:

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2017/09/john-calvin-believed-in-infant-baptism.html

I certainly agree one of the major differences between our two camps is the resistance of the Holy Spirit... so if an infant has been given the supernatural gift of faith... but later has some sort of innate ability to reject that supernatural gift of faith... well, call it the use of logic, but the Reformed (well, the conservative ones!) would not agree. No time for me now to go into a Biblical defense, perhaps at some later time I'd like to put together a post on infant baptism within our two traditions.

One final comment: you mentioned, " Of course, this leads to a mystery that Lutherans do not attempt to explain in a way that makes sense to our reason because such explanation usually leads to false teaching, in our view"... your words still present a use of "our reason" and is still an "attempt to explain in a way that makes sense to our reason." You've used "reason" to explain something to have it make sense in your worldview. From my perspective, it's a logical presuppositional conundrum inherent in Lutheranism.

Again though, thanks so much for stopping by,

James

James Swan said...

Hi Ken:

But after all that debate, I view Reformed folks like James Swan as my brothers in Christ, and love the Presbyterians, Lutherans, and other Protestants, etc. who hold to inerrancy. I appreciate the Lutheran Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Synod, but I have no respect for the liberal Lutherans who ordain homosexuals and think that Rome and Sola Fide agree. I love the groups of "Together for the Gospel" and "the Gospel Coalition" that promote the gospel and high commitment to Scripture but can disagree on secondary issues like baptism.

Agreed. Sort of like a "White Horse Inn" paradigm.... (are those guys still on the air???)

James' research into Luther is amazing and great and some of his articles are the very best around on key issues like Luther and Sola Fide & Allistair McGrath's book in Justification, and issues about adding the word "alone" to Romans 3:28 and on the Luther's comment that "James is an epistle of straw" comment.

Ken, thanks so much for the kind words!

Tom Eckstein said...

Thanks for your response, James.

Also, to James and others who may read my posts, I've got a ton of stuff demanding my time in the next couple months and I honestly don't think I'll have the time to get into an ongoing dialog here. So, if I don't respond to your post, you'll know why. In addition, my intention with my initial "multiple post" was to clarify the Lutheran position on baptismal regeneration and infant baptism so that you all know what we actually believe about this and why. You may not agree with us, but at least you'll better understand where we're coming from.

Again, if you really want to understand the Lutheran position on this, I recommend you get the book "Water with the Word" by Kelly Klages which you can purchase fairly cheaply at www.lulu.com

God Bless!