Credo-Baptism During the Reformation

When approaching the question of credo-baptism during the Reformation, James Dolezal argues for viewing three distinct categories: Anabaptists, general baptists, and particular baptists. The theological differences between these groups are as great as the differences among all forms of paedo-baptism. As such, it is important to trace these three groups separately throughout the Reformation. This informative discussion chronicles this history and concludes with a friendly debate on the issue of credo-baptism from a covenantal position. For credo- and paedo-baptists alike, this discussion will be both engaging and insightful.

Bibliography

Belyea, G. “Origins of the Particular Baptists.” Themelios. 32, no. 3 (2007): 40–67.

Klaassen, Walter. Anabaptism in Outline: Selected Primary Sources. Kitchener Ont. Scottdale Pa.: Herald Press, 1981.

Renihan, James. True Confessions: Baptist Documents in the Reformed Family. Owensboro Ky.: RBAP, 2004.

White, B. The English Baptists of the Seventeenth Century. London: Baptist Historical Society, 1983.

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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 and learn how to subscribe.

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Paul

8 years ago

As a regular Reformed Baptist listener thank you for this edition. I listen to Christ the Center because it is the one medium that reflects most consistently my own positions on almost everything. James does an excellent job of explaining accurately our genesis and our practices. It has concerned me that most paedo-baptists misunderstand the credo-position and vice-versa, in truth many frequently mis-understand or do not articulate their own positions accurately. Both arguments (I mean the RB and Covenant PaedoB) are better than most people on both sides assume. Hopefully this edition goes some way to aiding mutual understanding at least.

Nick, you expressed that many Reformed Baptists you come across explain and practice an understanding of baptism that reflects a more general/anabaptist understanding as compared to James’ explanation – I fear you are correct, that many who claim to be Reformed/Particular/Calvinistic Baptist are not consistent with their confessions in regard to the sacraments – the 1689 expresses the function of baptism as being a sign of God to man and of our union with Christ, as James said, likewise when we come to the Lord’s Supper in the Confession it is explained almost identically to the WCF, yet many still teach/preach/practice it in a Zwinglian way.

As you all said, this is a complex subject, but candidly and openly discussing it is the only way forward.

Jason D.

8 years ago

Thanks for being “Baptist Sensitive” for guys like us. 😀

Julio Martinez Jr.

8 years ago

I don’t know if it’s a sensitivity but the simple dissemination of historical fact(s). I like that Presbyterians, like myself, are not afraid of the truth. I don’t know if you’re aware but there’s been some emails and blog correspondence between James White and R. Scott Clark on this issue of baptism. It’s interesting to see how both sides respond to eachother considering the long history of Baptist-Paedo relations. You should check out the Heidelblog and the Alpha and Omega Min. blog for the debate. (Here’s an FYI: the conversations are not cordial.) Dr. Clark also provides some audio on the buoying debate, namely two debates on Baptism.

Tim H.

8 years ago

Great episode guys! I really appreciate the clarity with which James always presents himself.

I’ve wrestled with that exact typology issue James brought up, and I’d love to hear a reply (Nick? Camden?) or for someone to direct me to sources that have addressed that specific issue. In particular, I’ve struggled with the texts in the New Testament that speak of the true children of Abraham as those who believe.

I was happy to find recently that Calvin tackles that exact matter in brief (IV.xvi.15), but I could benefit from more thoughts on the matter.

DS

8 years ago

I’ve struggled with the texts in the New Testament that speak of the true children of Abraham as those who believe.

Here’s a question to consider: Was Paul repudiating OT teaching or was he repudiating false interpretation of this OT teaching?

Tim C

8 years ago

As a first time listener (and a reformed Baptist), this was a fascinating look at the historical roots of credo-baptism. Good discussion of the theological meaning of baptism as well! I’m thankful to hear believers on both sides of the issue rationally discuss it, recognize the serious Biblical thought behind both positions – and admit that it is a difficult issue.

Even as a calvinistic baptist, I am more familiar with the ‘Anabaptist’ view of baptism as a personal act of commitment. I appreciated the articulation of a more ‘theocentric’ or covenantal perspective on the ordinance (although I don’t believe the two necessarily conflict!).

I look forward to listening more in the future.

Jeff Waddington

8 years ago

A very fine discussion indeed. James really is the Reformed Baptist Richard Muller! I am sorry I was not able to participate in this useful and informative discussion. Of course, unlike Camden and Nick (or is that Nick and Camden?) I have never been drawn to the Credo-Baptist position.

Tim H.

8 years ago

By the way Camden, I caught and enjoyed the SVN/diff joke.

Camden Bucey

8 years ago

I knew we had some techies out there. 😉

Chris Caughey

8 years ago

Thank you, guys, for a great issue of Christ the Center! I really appreciate the charity all were able to demonstrate in the discussion, and I especially appreciate James explaining the different origins and rationale of the different types of Baptists. I have to admit that I had assumed all Baptists descended from the Anabaptists. Thank you for the education! Also, James definitely gave the best and most thoughtful articulation of the Particular Baptist position I have ever heard.

As a quick aside, the discussion about Church/State/war issues at the beginning was intriguing. Through a confluences of influences like Meredith Kline’s biblical theology of cult and culture/saving grace and common grace, of suffering, etc., and Darryl Hart’s historical theological analysis of the relationship between Church and State (with his particularly striking comment that the authors of the NT are “profoundly indifferent” to matters of the State), I can no longer understand how (especially) Reformed Christians can advocate violence (military or personal), let alone condone it. I know that I will be immediately labeled a “pacifist,” but that is a political term, and I’d rather keep my point theological than political.

But just to interact with the main discussion of baptism, I’d like to say that I think the analysis of covenant and election is the touchstone (and it is another way of talking about the “seed issue” which James mentions). And I think that too often, Reformed folk, especially Presbyterians, don’t help matters when they adopt a Baptistic ecclesiology when they talk about the Covenant of Grace in the Larger Catechism Q/A 31. Let me qualify that immediately, before I’m shot: I know many Presbyterians who parse that Q/A differently. In order to allow for a pactum salutis and the covenant/election distinction, they’ll talk about a distinction between the historical administration of the covenant of grace and the eternal decree. But Dr. Strimple, and many others insist that there is no such distinction.

That leads me to the puzzling and intriguing observation that (a) the Continental Reformed – especially Caspar Olevianus – were big on the pactum salutis, yet there is only passing mention of “covenant” in the 3 Forms, (b) the Westminster Standards do not make an explicit pactum salutis/Covenant of Grace distinction, (c) but the Particular Baptists DO make such a distinction in the London Confession (although they do not make the covenant/election distinction).

Let me try to wrap up quickly by pointing out that while James gave the best and most thoughtful articulation of the Particular Baptist position I have ever heard, there are two textual problems I would like to point out (there are other points, theological and hermeneutical – for another time). In response to his categorical statement covenant and election are ALWAYS coextensive, even in the Old Testament, I would point to Ishmael. Exceptions may prove rules, but they also damage categorical statements. In terms of the New Covenant, I would point to Romans 11 and the olive tree. If covenant and election are coextensive, then there should be no breaking off of gentiles who have been grafted into the olive tree of God’s covenant.

Nicholas T. Batzig

8 years ago

The only thing I want to say here is that there is no way that the language of Isaiah 59:21 and Acts 2:39 can be taken in a typological way. What is the antitype of the type? Children of believers in the New Covenant have covenantal promises as the children of believers did in the Old Covenant. I think that James has nobly argued his position and it is the most nuanced version of the Reformed Baptist stance I have heard. Saying this, however, does not mean I agree. Vos and Ridderbos were both paedo-baptists. That being said, we as confessional Reformed men are few in number and need to work together with one another for the advancement of the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Chris Caughey

8 years ago

I agree with you about Acts 2:39, Nick, because like Vos said, “we know full well that we ourselves live just as much in the New Testament as did Peter and Paul and John.” But while I think James’ categorical statement about covenant and election ALWAYS being coextensive precludes an easy appeal to typology in Isaiah 59:21, I think he may be hearing the language of election there. We have to allow that possibility, given the nature of prophetic idiom. Besides, the use of “seed” language with reference to the elect is fairly common: e.g., Romans 9:6-8 and Galatians 3:26-29. This is the same phenomenon I was referring to with regard to WLC 31.

Brandon

8 years ago

Nick,

I don’t believe Acts 2:39 is typological in any way. However, I’m not quite sure how to make your interpretation of Acts 2:39 work. If you believe Peter is saying that the children of believers are members of the covenant of grace and should therefore be baptized, then you also have to believe Peter is saying everyone in the world (all who are far off) are members of the covenant of grace and should therefore be baptized. It seems clear to me that Peter is simply proclaiming that the gospel is for the whole world (which is a main point of Pentecost). You mentioned your view is tied in with the free offer of the gospel – perhaps your view of the offer is muddying things? I’m not sure.

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If you’re going to argue with credo-baptists, you can’t import your paedo assumptions. I see no reason why Isaiah 59:21 cannot be taken typologically. It seems if you want to take it literally you have a tremendous problem because God would then be a liar (God promises an unbroken chain of saints down the generations “forevermore” – or at the very least an unbroken chain of professing saints). I’m not sure how you can avoid that, but please let me know if I’ve missed something.

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I don’t mean this rudely at all, but I would recommend that you do some more reading. See Waldron & Barcellos’ “A Reformed Baptist Manifesto” and the Nehemia Coxe & John Owen compilation “Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ”

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Amen. And in the spirit of semper reformanda part of that working together should include continuing to sharpen each other on this issue. If James’ one hour (really only half devoted to this topic) presentation was the most intricate you’ve heard, I would encourage you to dig some more.

Thanks for this episode of Christ the Center.

Brandon

8 years ago

Nick,

I don’t believe Acts 2:39 is typological in any way. However, I’m not quite sure how to make your interpretation of Acts 2:39 work. If you believe Peter is saying that the children of believers are members of the covenant of grace and should therefore be baptized, then you also have to believe Peter is saying everyone in the world (all who are far off) are members of the covenant of grace and should therefore be baptized. It seems clear to me that Peter is simply proclaiming that the gospel is for the whole world (which is a main point of Pentecost). You mentioned your view is tied in with the free offer of the gospel – perhaps your view of the offer is muddying things? I’m not sure.

What is the antitype of the type? Children of believers in the New Covenant have covenantal promises as the children of believers did in the Old Covenant.

If you’re going to argue with credo-baptists, you can’t import your paedo assumptions. I see no reason why Isaiah 59:21 cannot be taken typologically. It seems if you want to take it literally you have a tremendous problem because God would then be a liar (God promises an unbroken chain of saints down the generations “forevermore”). I’m not sure how you can avoid that, but please let me know if I’ve missed something.

I think that James has nobly argued his position and it is the most nuanced version of the Reformed Baptist stance I have heard.

I don’t mean this rudely at all, but I would recommend that you do some more reading. See Waldron & Barcellos’ “A Reformed Baptist Manifesto” and the Nehemia Coxe & John Owen compilation “Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ”

That being said, we as confessional Reformed men are few in number and need to work together with one another for the advancement of the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Amen. And in the spirit of semper reformanda part of that working together should include continuing to sharpen each other on this issue. If James’ one hour (really only half devoted to this topic) presentation was the most intricate you’ve heard, I would encourage you to dig some more.

Brandon

8 years ago

btw, “A Reformed Baptist Manifesto” includes an appendix written in response to Richard Pratt in regards to the “already/not yet.”

All Things Expounded » Credobaptism During the Reformation

8 years ago

[…] Reformed Forum just recently had an excellent podcast on Credobaptism During the Reformation.  Anyone interested in Baptist history and the Reformation will find this fascinating. The […]

Mark N

8 years ago

I’ve already sent you feedback on the show via e-mail.. It was outstanding.

Just one more comment–don’t worry about not having that many credobaptist listeners. One day all your listeners will be credobaptist

🙂

Are Baptists Reformed by Kenneth Good?

8 years ago

[…] this on the RBLIST. Give it a listen. Reformed Forum Credo-Baptism During the Reformation […]

Camden Bucey

8 years ago

I personally don’t think the “oiko-baptist” arguments are the most convincing for the paedo-baptist position. Apparently Ridderbos didn’t make much of the household baptisms or the Acts 2:39 passage either. If we want to formulate an argument along those lines, I think drawing a theological connection between Christian baptism and the flood and exodus is much more forceful given the NT discussion of the issue in 1 Corinthians 10:2 and 1 Peter 3:20-21.

The argument that kept me a paedo-baptist after several years of thinking through the issue is one of eschatology. Particularly, I am convinced the credo-baptist position espouses an over-realized eschatology.

I’m all for going down the road James paves for us typologically, but I think he’s gone too far down the road too fast. I alluded to this in a joke during the episode. But if we really should realize our eschatology regarding the sign of the covenant as far as James realizes it, should we not also realize our eschatology considering teachers? Read through Jeremiah 31. If we’re going to say the sign of the covenant should only be given to professing believers because of the picture portrayed in Jeremiah 31, we shouldn’t need pastors or teachers any longer either. I struggle with parsing this verse into chunks we can realize and other chunks that are convenient to leave under realized. I don’t see textual warrant for the credo-baptist eschatology in Jeremiah’s promise of the new covenant.

John Mays

8 years ago

It seems to me that what Jeremiah had said in chapter 31:34,” And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying , know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest…” , was fulfilled in the comming of Christ and the giving of the Holy Spirit by the Father to the elect. In John 6:44-45 Jesus responds to the Jews mumuring(unbelief) saying that no man can come to Him except the Father draws them. He then goes on to quote Jer. 31:34 saying ,”As it is written, they shall all be taught of God.” Every man therefore that hath herd, and hath learned of the Father, comes unto me.”(vs. 45) In John14;26 Jesus says to His disciples that the Father would send the Comforter(Holy Spirit) to them and that he would teach them all things….” John makes mention of the same thing in I John 2:20, 27 and yet we would not say that based on these texts we should not preach or teach the gospel, so why should we interpret Jer.31:34 as something yet to be fulfilled? Thank you.

By the way, I greatly enjoy Christ the Center. I listen every Saturday. Keep up the great work brother’s.

Camden Bucey

8 years ago

John, I brought this line of thinking up below. While I still think this is over-realizing the eschatology given the broader prophetic context (Isaiah 2; Micah 4:1-2; etc.) I can follow the argument. Given the continued disagreement, the discussion would have to turn to exegesis of Hebrews 6-10. Who is a member of the covenant? What is the nature of apostasy? One’s answer to those questions will determine paedo- or credo- convictions.

Jason

8 years ago

John,

I been doing some thinking on this and to further elaborate on what Camden is saying, consider this:

All the prophecies regarding the new reality brought about by the new covenant require us to understand them this way, i.e. already/not yet. Same goes for Jeremiah 31:31-34. It is ultimately speaking of a time when all will be perfect, just like other prophecies (e.g. Ez. 37:21-28, Zech 8:1-8, etc.). It is speaking of a time when all will be made new, the dwelling place of God will be with man, and he will be our God and we his people (Rev. 21). Pictures of the peace of this new reality are painted for us with images that we can understand and give us some idea of what it will be like (e.g. old people sitting in the streets while children run and play, lions lying down with sheep, all knowing the Lord, etc). Even when the NT speaks of this as an ‘already’ reality, that is God dwelling with his people (e.g. 1 Cor. 3:10-16; Eph. 2:22), it is still spoken of as a “work in progress”.

It is important to notice the corporate nature of all these NT passages. They are speaking to the church corporately, yet we tend to read them speaking to individuals (e.g. do you not know that you are God’s temple becomes my body is a temple, but the Greek for ‘you’ is plural in 1 Cor. 3:16 & 17). So when Jeremiah speaks of the days that are coming, even though they have come to some degree, he is ultimately speaking of a whole new reality in the new heavens and new earth. This is when and where all will know the Lord, where everything will be made new.

Yet Baptists read Jeremiah to be saying this is true of the church right now, but as you can see from the “already” passages above it is still a work in progress. Yes it is true now to some degree for the individuals that are saved, but as long as we are in this age we have to realize that there are people in covenant with God (in the church) who do not know the Lord. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 that when he said to separate from the sexually immoral, he was not talking about those in the world, but the church. So when he says in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers since we are the temple of the living God and quotes the prophets’ call for believers to go out from their midst, he isn’t telling the church to separate from the world. He is telling them that as the temple of God it needs to be holy and pure in order to fully enjoy this reality. And this will only happen in the age to come.

The days are coming that Jeremiah spoke of, and Rev. 21 speaks of their fulfillment. Yet for now we live in tension between this age and the age to come, and passages such as Jeremiah do not provide any warrant to stop initiating believer’s children in to the church and the covenant of God’s grace, based on the reasoning that an infant “can’t possibly know the Lord”.

Overly Curious

8 years ago

I’ve heard the ‘over-realized’ argument numerous times. The only problem with that argument is that it is unnecessarily dissecting the Scripture. The over-realized argument is only applied to half of the text.

“And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Question: do all those in the New Covenant have the forgiveness of sins?
Answer: Of course!

Question: Do all know the Lord in the New Covenant?
Answer: The paedobaptist says, “No.” The credobaptist says, “Yes.”

If the paedobaptist is correct, then one portion of the text is realized and the other is not. That is not entirely consistent. Whereas, the credobaptist has a consistent hermaneutic, which shows that both portions are realized.

I would definitely consider another argument.

Jason

8 years ago

@curious:

You should definitely consider the ‘over-realized’ argument one more time, as we do not argue as you have stated. We do not say one part of it is realized and one part is not, but that all of it is yet to be fully reallized. The reality depicted in Jer. 31 is not yet consummated. All of it has been realized to some degree, but none of it has been realized completely.

So the answer to your first question, would be “not yet.” And the second one would be “to some degree.”

Brian Hedgcorth

8 years ago

Hey Camden,

In context the passage in question seems to me only to say we in the NC will need no one to teach us saying “Know the Lord” (verse 34) . This seems to my admittedly biased ears to be affirming the Baptist position of regenerate membership in the NC.

In fact I would argue that the New Testament affirms this sort of thing as a present reality (1st John 2:27).

To say that Jeremiah foresees a time when no teachers at all are necessary but 1st John allows them is inconsistent IMHO.

regardless great show!!!

Camden Bucey

8 years ago

Brian,

Taken alone I can concede that Jeremiah 31’s “teachers” isn’t a knock-out argument. By itself, it does [ironically] presuppose some kind of Anabaptist view of teaching. But if read in conjunction with Micah 4:1-2 and the broader prophetic context, I think the eschatological argument is more forceful. But again, it’s going to come down to how much “already” versus “not-yet” you have in the present age. One could certainly read John 6:45 and 1 Thessalonians 4:9 with respect to being the taught-by-God motif and come down on what I think is an over-realized eschatology.

The question would then have to go to Hebrews chapters 6-10. If you exegete these passages and conclude that the new covenant – in present eschatological realization – allows for apostasy of covenant members, you will think the credo-baptist position is over-realized.

Good discussion Brian – and everyone else as well.

Brandon

8 years ago

But again, it’s going to come down to how much “already” versus “not-yet” you have in the present age.

To my mind (and I would appreciate some clarification), there seems to be some confusion between typology and “already/not yet.” They are not the same thing. The OC was typological of the NC. The NC was an antitype, not simply just a progression of the “already” towards the “not yet”.

This confusion regarding typology also manifested itself in a comment at the end of the program when someone said that baptism and the lord’s supper are typological. No they’re not. They’re signs of a present reality. They are not awaiting fulfillment.

Nicholas T. Batzig

8 years ago

When I said I was an “Oiko-baptist,” I meant that this is a more accurate title than paedo-baptist. God did not tell Abraham to only circumcize his baby boys. He was told to circumcize his entire household. That makes the NT baptisms more conclusive than a credo-baptist will allow. I agree though that the 1 Cor. 10 an 1 Peter 3 passage are unanswerable by credo-baptists.

Arthur Sido

8 years ago

“I agree though that the 1 Cor. 10 an 1 Peter 3 passage are unanswerable by credo-baptists.”

Because the word “baptism” occurs in both? Are you suggesting that no credobaptist has ever interacted with those verses or just that you disagree with them? Those verses are completely compatible with the credobaptist position just as Acts 2:39 is.

Paul

8 years ago

I think Camden you correctly identify the main issue of disagreement – i.e for want of a better phrase – the extent to which the New Covenant prophecies made during the Old Covenant period “are” or “have been” or “will be” realised this side of the final state.

That for me is the deciding factor – there are many good arguments on both sides, but it seems this is the tipping point; whichever way you fall on this will determine your position on the nature of the present Church and on the baptismal position.

DLeaman

8 years ago

Thank you, as a paedo baptist attending a credo church I am always curious as to how reformed baptists get to the “reformed” position while abstaining from covenant baptism so listening to this show opened my eyes a bit. We lay level “theologians” on either side of the debate always hang our positional hats on certain verses or certain arguments that seem irrefutable to us, so the end of your show started to be more familiar with me but then it ended! Maybe you have an after show recording that you’ll post? Either way who better to have an argument/fellowship over baptism than with a reformed credo-baptist brother.

Jason

8 years ago

I simple reply to, “the best and most thoughtful articulation of the [Particular] Baptist position [some] have ever heard.”

While it is possible for Particular Baptists to be in agreement with the language used in the Reformed documents to articulate the doctrine of baptism, it is not possible to be Reformed and withhold baptism from the children of believers no matter how much one says, “I’m Baptist because I’m Reformed.” The Reformed have articulated not only what they believe regarding baptism, but many things, and the least of which is not the covenants and the church. So tell me how adopting the language used in articulating the doctrine of baptism, while denying it to the children of believers due to a refusal to consistently make the same distinctions the Reformed do regarding the covenants and the church, makes one Reformed. It doesn’t.

This refusal is seen when James states his reason for being Baptist based on his take on the already/not yet. He states that the church is the eschatological people of God because Christ is the eschatological Son and the church is vitally in Christ by faith. So far so good. But if asked to point out this church he is unable, because he is talking about the invisible church when he defines it this way. Yet when we are discussing baptism and its function in the the church, we are talking about the visible administration of the covenant of grace. Normally at this point the Baptist says that he is only trying to make sure the visible church resembles as closely as possible the invisible church. So the only option this reasoning leaves us is that there is no room for infants in the invisible church (i.e. it is impossible to be a part of the invisible church until one reaches a certain level of mental maturity and can understand and respond in faith). Therefore all infants who die in infancy must be damned. This is a conclusion I’m sure most Baptists don’t want to make, but nevertheless this is the logical end of their position. Thankfully their confession makes room in the invisible church for elect infants dying in infancy, even though they don’t make room for them in the visible church. But wait a minute, I thought they were trying to resemble as closely as possible the visible church with the invisible. Hmmm…

Now the distinctions made regarding the elect: the eschatological and the typological. James says the typological elect gives way to the eschatological elect. So whereas in the OT we had both typological elect and eschatological elect, now we only have eschatological elect. So there is only one way to be in the covenant now, and that is all the way. There is no longer any “outward only” way to be in the covenant. (Here again is a refusal to make the same distinctions as the Reformed.) This is similar to the the FV, but instead of saying to infants you’re in all the way, the Baptists say you’re not in at all. This hits on the saving sense of the covenant just as the above hits on the invisible sense of the church; but just as before, as long as we still live in this age we have to make room for and deal with the external and physical aspects. Why is it that the Baptists are uncomfortable dealing with the realities of this age? Also when did the Reformed make distinctions regarding election? (As an aside: Nick, do you think this is “very powerful” when coming from the FV? If not, how can it be when coming from James?)

James also said that he applies the same scrutiny to both sacraments, but where is the biblical warrant for this? Is it the historical narratives, where we have people asking what they must do to be saved when pricked in their conscience and are told to repent and be baptized? Are we to form our worship practices based on historical narrative? Or is it in the Great Commission, which is often cited as a command to baptize disciples (which cannot be the children in your home that you are raising in the ways of the Lord)instead of making disciples by baptizing and teaching them. In order to be honest, one has to say that there is no explicit, didactic teaching to apply the same scrutiny to baptism as Paul commands the Corinthians to do with the Lord’s Supper. If there was then there would be no debate.

Finally, the question to be asked regarding the seed is not whether or not it gives way as does the typological temple, priesthood, sacrifices, and land. Of course Christ fulfills the seed promise as he did the others. So just as I’m no longer looking for the Messiah to be born of woman, neither am I looking to build a temple, establish a priesthood, offer sacrifices, or conquer a land. The question instead, when it comes to applying the sign of the covenant to children of believers, is whether or not initiating children into the covenant of grace and covenant community is typological. I don’t see any NT text that says so.

Chris Caughey

8 years ago

Jason,

While I’m absolutely sympathetic to the case you’ve made, and while I understand that the Reformed have historically used the language of “internal” and “external” with regard to membership in the covenant of grace, I’m not sure that language is ultimately helpful and I’m fairly sure it is not biblical.

That is why I find the concrete, covenantal phenomenon of dual sanctions of blessing and curse more helpful. That way, not only are we using categories that arise from real, historical instances of covenant and from the biblical text, but we don’t have to approximate the baptistic angst over who is REALLY in and who is REALLY out. Baptized persons are members of the Church, and even if we happen to miss the evidence that a particular baptized person demonstrated unbelief, the warning passages in Hebrews are no less eschatologically true and applied to those people than the ones we do notice and discipline. Baptized unbelievers WILL be pruned off the covenant olive tree – either by the Church, or by the Lord on the Last Day.

Jason

8 years ago

Are you sympathetic to the FV too? The covenant of grace is not biblical language either, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not biblically accurate and appropriate to speak in such a way.

The dual sanctions of blessing and curse still apply because those who have a mere external relation to the covenant are really ‘in’ the covenant, just not ‘of’ the covenant, so I don’t have any “baptistic angst” over who’s really in or out. Of course baptized persons are members of the church, visible that is; but to suggest that we can’t make internal/external distinctions because it’s not biblical language and since they will be “pruned off” is absurd. We make that distinction when it comes to believers’ relation to the world (“in but not of”). Why is it so hard to see and accept this in relation to the church and the covenant? It wasn’t that hard for the apostle John (1 Jn. 2:19).

Chris Caughey

8 years ago

Jason,

I’m not sympathetic to the FV at all. Perhaps they raise some interesting questions or have some valid concerns, but the answers they offer are completely contrary to the gospel. And to use covenant theology to aid and abet another gospel is disgusting! Besides, which FV proponent do you know who sees baptism as anything other than blessing?

I wasn’t really trying to pick a fight. My point is just that seeing baptism as signifying salvation for those who have faith and condemnation for those who do not have faith is a more helpful approach than the internal/external distinction. For instance, while we all know who is in the “external” covenant, how do you know who is in the “internal” covenant? That is all I meant by approximating the baptistic angst. We’re on the same side, here – just using different language.

Bruce

8 years ago

The language of “internal/external” not biblical?

This is patently false, Rom. 2:28-29 “A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.”

This text alone is sufficient to establish the propriety of the language; and furthermore it speaks directly to the question of manner of administration re. the covenant. The Spirit’s realm of adminstration is inward, and it is His alone. Man’s realm of administration is outward, and it is the ONLY sphere he has any access to, 1Sam.16:7.

Nicholas T. Batzig

8 years ago

Jason,

Me sentiments exactly concerning the non-typological nature of the children in regard to the covenant!

Reformed Family » Blog Archive » The Baptism Discussion

8 years ago

[…] the Center recently had the privilege of discussing credo-baptism with James Dolezal.  There is a very interesting discussion currently underway in the comment thread.  While this […]

Miscellanies « knoxville

8 years ago

[…] good friend James Dolezal defends the credobaptist position. I haven’t listened to it yet (hope to this week), but I’m sure to be stimulated and […]

Chris Caughey

8 years ago

I want to let James speak for himself. In other words, I don’t want to put words in his mouth or say that because the logical conclusion of Baptist doctrine “x” is “y,” that all Baptists must therefore believe “y.”

Having said that, I appreciate that James talked about baptism and the “engrafting” of the believer into Christ (LC 29:1). But why do I rarely hear that from Particular Baptists? I came out of broad evangelicalism to the 5 points at the feet of James White, who ALWAYS spoke of baptism as a human work.

So even though that language is in the London Confession, this is leading up to my question: In what sense do Particular Baptists believe in the means of grace? The means of grace are a hallmark of Reformed theology, and yet, even after spending about 5 years under James White’s tutelage, I never encountered the idea of the means of grace until I attended Wednesday night Bible studies with Kim Riddlebarger at Christ Reformed Church. When I thought James White defined Reformed theology, I was taught that the Holy Spirit only operated immediately (or, perhaps, there may have been exceptions to the rule that He operates immediately). I always understood James White to mean that we were engrafted into Christ (if I ever heard that) by an immediate, regenerative act of the Holy Spirit which produced the faith by which I was engrafted into Christ. True, being baptized was an act of obedience that was no more optional than any other act of obedience we have been commanded to do, but the engrafting had really and truly happened sans baptism.

I ask this in a spirit of honest inquiry into understanding more about what James Dolezal means about Particular Baptists descending from same magisterial Reformation as the Lutherans, Calvinists and Anglicans.

Brandon

8 years ago

Chris, I think you have misunderstood what James said. He did not say that baptism engrafts one in Christ. He said that it pictures engrafting into Christ. The whole discussion was not about God doing something to you in baptism, it was about what is God saying in baptism.

Jason

8 years ago

Chris,

There wasn’t a reply to you last reply to me, so here’s my reply:

It wasn’t because you want to see baptism as signifying both blessing and curse that I asked if you were sympathetic to the FV. It was because you seem to not like the internal/external distinction since it isn’t biblical language, and you desire to be able to say that someone is REALLY in the covenant by virtue of baptism. That sounds to me like you don’t want to make distinctions about how people are in the covenant. That you want to say one is either in or out, and if you’ve been baptized, you’re in. That’s FV, and this is what leads to their distortion of the gospel.

How does seeing baptism as blessing and curse depending on the presence or absence of faith remove the need for distinguishing between an internal and external relation to THE covenant (not 2 covenants by the way – not an internal and external, but one with two ways of relating to it or being in it)? The same question could be asked about baptism. That is, “How do I know what my baptism signified?” The answer is the same as it is for how you know which way you relate to the covenant of grace, which is to say, if you have faith then your baptism signified blessing (and you have an internal/spiritual relation to the covenant, i.e. you are not only in it but also of it).
So are we really on the same side? You know they say that too. 🙂

Chris Caughey

8 years ago

Jason,

Right. So the more helpful way to talk about this is to use the terms “covenant” and “election.” Being baptized, or being in the covenant does not make one elect. That is what fundamentally sets me apart from the FV. My understanding of their argument is that a baptized person IS elect, and that everything that baptism signifies (for them: blessing), including election, can be lost if a person fall away.

The FV folks are concerned about the objectivity of Christ in the sacraments, and I think there is something helpful about that concern (although, as I’ve said before, they arrive at the wrong answer to their own concern). When Reformed folk start navel-gazing and asking “how do I know I’m really elect/invisibly related to the covenant, then they lose their sanity or we lose them to Lutheranism, Romanism, etc. I think it is better to baptize believers and their children, keep pointing them away from themselves to Christ, and use discipline appropriately when one of them proves to be an unbeliever. So to answer your question, “How do I know what my baptism signified?” I would answer: Did Christ die for YOUR sins? If the answer is “Yes,” then your baptism signifies your having been engrafted into Christ. If the answer is “No,” then your baptism signifies your ultimate doom in the floodwaters of God’s judgment.

I really don’t see why this is so difficult.

Jason

8 years ago

Right being in the covenant doesn’t make one elect, but there are elect in the covenant. Therefore there are two different people in the covenant and their relationship to it is not the same. Hence the need to distinguish between how people are in the covenant.This is not what sets you apart only from the FV, but also the Baptists. This gets back to my original comment. Both Baptists and FV say there is only one way to be in the covenant; it’s either all or nothing. For both of them covenant = election, albeit a conditional election for the FV. So Baptists don’t baptize their children because they believe no one in the covenant can fall away, and FV baptize children but say if you fall away it is due to only being temporally elect (but you’re REALLY were in the covenant during that time). So I still see the need to make the internal/external distinction.

Chris Caughey

8 years ago

Well, Jason, when you figure out how to infallibly determine if someone is elect or not, please do let me know. I grant that the theological distinction between covenant and election is absolutely necessary, but I am wary of pressing that distinction into praxis outside of discipline.

Could you tell me how you think Israel understood circumcision? Was Isaac aware that Esau was not REALLY in the covenant?

And if you want to say that Isaac was not REALLY in the covenant, I should ask whether you believe in a distinction between the eternal Covenant of Redemption and the historical Covenant of Grace such that the COR was made between the persons of the Trinity on behalf of the elect, while the COG was made between Christ and believers with those believers’ children. If you DON’T see such a distinction, I understand why you’re stumbling over my position (and actually, I’m just following M.G. Kline at this point). If you DO see such a distinction, I’m at a real loss to understand why we’re debating this.

One final question: How do you understand Hebrews 6:4-6 and 10:26-31?

Jason

8 years ago

I’m not trying to determine infallibly who is elect. And I’m not sure why you think I’m trying to act upon the internal/external distinction of how people relate to the covenant, or why you keep insisting that I’m saying people who have only an external relation to the covenant aren’t REALLY in it. I’ve said repeatedly that they are IN it. For instance, some of my previous comments:

1. “The dual sanctions of blessing and curse still apply because those who have a mere external relation to the covenant are REALLY ‘IN’ the covenant, just not ‘of’ the covenant”
2. “That sounds to me like you don’t want to make distinctions about how people are IN the covenant.”
3. “one [covenant] with two ways of relating to it or being IN it”
4. “Therefore there are two different people IN the covenant and their relationship to it is not the same”

By external relation to it I mean they only experience the outward administration of it, not the spiritual substance of it, namely Christ and his benefits. This doesn’t mean that they are outside of the covenant though. Again they are IN it and their relation to it is external (or outward) only.

I admit I may have added confusion when I said, “and FV baptize children but say if you fall away it is due to only being temporally elect (but you’re REALLY were in the covenant during that time).” And also when I said, “It was because you seem to not like the internal/external distinction since it isn’t biblical language, and you desire to be able to say that someone is REALLY in the covenant by virtue of baptism.” I should have said FULLY instead of REALLY. That is what I take you to mean when you desire not to make distinctions about how people IN the covenant relate to it. You seem to want to tell them they’re elect because they’re IN the covenant. You seem to want to make distinctions between the types of election (like James did on the program, which I took to mean one way to be in the covenant) instead of types of relation to the covenant by those IN it. This still doesn’t solve the issue you have with the internal/external relation however. The question still remains how do I know if I am (to put in FV terms) decretally elect vs. temporally elect. Do you like that question better than how do I know if I have an internal relation to the covenant that I’m IN? The answer would be the same for both, i.e. do you have faith (a certain knowledge and hearty trust that God grants forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and eternal life on the basis of Christ’s merits)? That’s how you know you’re relation to the covenant!

But I’m hesitant to make distinctions regarding election because I don’t any biblical warrant for doing so. What I do see though is a distinction in the relationship to the covenant by those who are IN it.

Yes I see a distinction between the COR and the COG.

I think I’ve made it clear from the above how I see Hebrews 6:4-6 and 10:26-31. And the same goes for John 15:1-6. But not only do we have to make sense out of those verses, but also others like 1 John 2:19, Mt. 7:21-23, Rom. 2:29. I haven’t seen a better (read: more biblical) way to do this than to make the distinction in the relationship to the covenant by those IN it.

Stephen

8 years ago

This episode was like crack for those of us fascinated by Reformational church history. This discussion helped me to see that I’ve been guilty of lumping all Baptists (or baptists) with the Anabaptists. I still find the term Reformed Baptist quite a stretch though.

Claudiu

8 years ago

I am a Reformed Baptist as well (thats another one on the list of listeners :p). This episode was great. I have been following Reformed Forum for some months now. Greatly appreciated.

Thanks guys!

John B

8 years ago

Thank you for this excellent and informative discussion. I’m hoping that it might lay the foundation for further discussion on the Christ the Center program, specifically on the issue of re-baptism. This presents a practical dilemma for many; especially Reformed or Presbyterians who find themselves in a region of the country where the local churches with a similar confession of faith are Particular Baptists, who require re-baptism as a condition of church membership. This often presents an insurmountable stumbling block. Specific pastoral preferences for discipleship aside, how do local churches best handle the reality of different baptismal practices?

More thoughts on baptism « knoxville

8 years ago

[…] problem with infant baptism). Here are a few thoughts on it, in conjunction also with listening to this defence of baptism by my friend James […]

Peter

8 years ago

…Wondering whether or not people actually listen to the Federal Vision guys first hand, or just through the eyes of secondary sources…

Bob

8 years ago

I’m late this discussion but here are a few thoughts.

1. I grant that, in the Scriptures, “good an necessary inference” is just as binding as that which is explicitly revealed.

2. “Good and necessary inference” must be an unavoidable conclusion in order for it to truly be a “good and necessary inference”.

My present struggle with paedobaptism is…

3. Every single text employed to demonstrate the inclusion of children in the New Covenant merely presents a “plausible argument”. That which is merely plausible is not a “good and necessary inference”.

One does not have to demonstrate an air-tight interpretation of these texts to cause problems for paedobaptism. All one needs to do is demonstrate that there are plausible alternative understandings. “Good and necessary inference” demands that there is no other logical conclusion that can be drawn (else it is neither good nor necessary) so if other plausible explanations exist, the text cannot rightly be used UNLESS it is merely employed for support in light of the fact that the doctrine in question is irrefutably proven elsewhere.

What I am finding with every single text employed for paedobaptism, whether in the Old or New Testaments, is that it can be explained in a different light. In short, paedobaptism is defended using a series of passages that, at best, only prove it is plausible, not the unavoidable conclusion. It’s not a “good and necessary inference”.

What I would challenge paedobaptists with is this…for every text you use to support your view, ask yourself whether or not your conclusions are unavoidable or merely plausible. The hard part of this excercise is to stay within the Scriptures and not fall back upon systematic theology (which is who I used to reconcile this problem). Systematics are to be developed from biblical exegesis, not the other way around.

If you find you cannot get beyond plausibilities, a defense of paedobaptism must be made upon different grounds (again, if it all boils down to plausibilities, good and necessary inference is not present).

My offer to this discussion…give me any text you believe to be irreconcilable with any other conclusion other than one which leads to paedocommunion and I’ll demonstrate that there is a viable alternate understanding of it.

Jason

7 years ago

My present struggle with credobaptism only is…

3. Every single text employed to demonstrate the exclusion of children in the New Covenant merely presents a “plausible argument”. That which is merely plausible is not a “good and necessary inference”.

One does not have to demonstrate an air-tight interpretation of these texts to cause problems for credobaptism only. All one needs to do is demonstrate that there are plausible alternative understandings. “Good and necessary inference” demands that there is no other logical conclusion that can be drawn (else it is neither good nor necessary) so if other plausible explanations exist, the text cannot rightly be used UNLESS it is merely employed for support in light of the fact that the doctrine in question is irrefutably proven elsewhere.

What I am finding with every single text employed for credobaptism only, whether in the Old or New Testaments, is that it can be explained in a different light. In short, credobaptism only is defended using a series of passages that, at best, only prove it is plausible, not the unavoidable conclusion. It’s not a “good and necessary inference”.

What I would challenge credobaptists only with is this…for every text you use to support your view, ask yourself whether or not your conclusions are unavoidable or merely plausible. The hard part of this excercise is to stay within the Scriptures and not fall back upon systematic theology (which is who I used to reconcile this problem). Systematics are to be developed from biblical exegesis, not the other way around.

If you find you cannot get beyond plausibilities, a defense of credobaptism only must be made upon different grounds (again, if it all boils down to plausibilities, good and necessary inference is not present).

My offer to this discussion…give me any text you believe to be irreconcilable with any other conclusion other than one which leads to credobaptism only and I’ll demonstrate that there is a viable alternate understanding of it.

Bob

8 years ago

Too bad I can’t edit my replies 😉 in the last paragraph of my last post “paedocommunion” was meant to read “paedobaptism”. I really to type out posts like that in Word first so I can more easily edit them. 😉

Reformed Forum - Reformed Theology Podcasts, Videos, Blogs and More - » Blog Archive » Christ the Center 2010 March Madness

7 years ago

[…] (24) Credo-Baptism During the Reformation with James Dolezal #ctc96) […]

Reformed Forum - Reformed Theology Podcasts, Videos, Blogs and More - » Blog Archive » The Sweet 16

7 years ago

[…] (24) Credo-Baptism During the Reformation with James Dolezal #ctc96 […]

Credo-Baptism During the Reformation « Soli Deo Gloria

7 years ago

[…] 2, 2010 by kennethclayton The guys at Reformed Forum have available a helpful podcast looking at the history of credo-baptist or baptism of believers alone.  The podcast looks at the […]

London Baptist Confession and the Means of Grace « Tea Time

7 years ago

[…] I also recommend the Reformed Forum episode on Credo-Baptism During the Reformation for anyone who wants to discuss a reformed baptist doctrine of baptism. Baptism, Church, […]

Credo-Baptism During the Reformation | The Latest Post's from Claudiu E. Catuna

6 years ago

[…] Source: http://reformedforum.wpengine.com/ctc96/ Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

Baptist During the Reformation « Soli Deo Gloria

5 years ago

[…] talking with a reformed baptist about paticular baptist history and theology. Listen or download here. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

Brandon

5 years ago

An important new work on seventeenth-century credobaptist covenant theology was just published. Its thesis is a bit surprising in that it presents a covenant theology different from what Dolezal presents here. I recommend reading it!

http://www.amazon.com/The-Distinctiveness-Baptist-Covenant-Theology/dp/1599253259/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361632807&sr=8-1&keywords=pascal+denault

Brandon Adams

4 years ago

For those interested, there is a new website explaining 17th century particular baptist covenant theology:

http://www.1689federalism.com

Mopping Up the Trail of Blood: Part 3 | Covenant Legacy

4 years ago

[…] Reformed Forum: Credo-Baptism During the Reformation […]

Mopping Up the Trail of Blood: Part 3 [Eric Ayala] | The Confessing Baptist

4 years ago

[…] Reformed Forum: Credo-Baptism During the Reformation [81 min. – James Dolezal] […]

Credo-Baptism During The Reformation | The Confessing Baptist

4 years ago

[…] Forum’s Christ the Center podcast, a while back, interviewed James Dolezal on Credo Baptism during the Reformation, great […]

Credo-Baptism During the Reformation | Reformedontheweb's Blog

2 years ago

[…]   Source [Reformed Forum] […]

Sharpening the saw

2 years ago

[…] Christ the Center. This weekly podcast is produced by a group of former Westminster Seminary students. The show focuses especially on Reformed theology and ministry. I have broadened my understanding of theology through this show. I would say that the participants have their particular interests, which may or may not coincide with mine or yours. For example, they love talking about Jonathan Edwards (me too), historical theology (amen), Cornelius Van Til (okay), Karl Barth (a little) and Geerhardus Vos (nope). If you want to hear a fascinating episode on Baptists to get a taste of the show, listen to this episode. […]

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