Vos Group #16: The Ethical Dimension of Circumcision

Geerhardus Vos develops the ethical elements present during the patriarchal period through a brilliant treatment of circumcision. In this episode, Lane Tipton and Camden Bucey discuss pages 88–90 of Vos’s book Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments to shed light on the indicative and imperative dimensions of God’s covenantal relationship to his people. In the course of this study, the relationship of circumcision to baptism is developed as both are signs of the righteousness God’s people have by faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 4:11–12; cf. Col 2:11–12).

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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program or subscribe to the podcast feed.

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Glen Clary

5 years ago

Good stuff on infant baptism! Thanks brothers.


4 years ago

Sigh. I guess I have to be the fussy credo-baptist on this one.

Hinting that credo-baptists are offering to God some sort of “self-mutilation” seems odd (42 minutes in), since self-mutilation is what Paul wishes on those Judaizers still applying the old covenant sign in the new covenant age (and pressuring Gentile believers to do the same, Galatians 5:12). Perhaps I am mistaken, and you didn’t imply this connection between pagans and Baptists. Or maybe you were joking (I appreciate your humor). Or maybe you’re correct in making this connection with Baptists of a more semi-Pelagian bent.

I think Reformed Baptists would utterly agree that the imperative of baptism flows out of the indicative of God’s gracious gift of covenant inclusion (via regeneration and “Spirit-wrought union,” as Dr. Tipton says). Credo-baptists also attribute salvation to “the activity, agency, and promises of God” no less than pedo-baptists! Not all Baptists are Arminians/semi-Pelagians! We are not all offering this act to God, but are obeying out of the Spirit-wrought faith graciously gifted by God, and our obedience to the command to be baptized shows forth that God-work. Our placement of the indicative-imperative order is the same as described by Vos (and you guys).

I continue to be appreciative to all of you guys for all I have been taught by you over the years, and will continue to be a faithful listener to Christ the Center. For five seconds on this episode, though, I have to raise my hand and object to this characterization of credo-baptist sacramental theology. At least with me (and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone).

Godspeed, my dear brothers.

Michael Head

4 years ago

Left an empty blank above…sorry, didn’t mean to be ANONYMOUS fussy credo-baptist…I was still working on my first cup of coffee.



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