Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Gospel versus emotional Lutheranism

Over at Beggars All, I'm discussing a bit with one Brigitte, who is a conservative Lutheran. She is apparently of the persuasion that Baptism is Gospel. "God is favorably disposed towards you." 
I beg to differ, to be sure. I paste here our conversation so far.


Brigitte:
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.


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


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


Brigitte:
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.


Me: 
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.



Brigitte:
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.





Me: 
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.

Brigitte:
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?





Me: 
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?

255 comments:

1 – 200 of 255   Newer›   Newest»
The Chemist said...

I remember being quite surprised when my Lutheran sister and her husband had their first child baptised. His dad, a Lutheran minister, was very serious about the baby being a regenerated Christian now.

Rhology said...

That's a screwup, man. And it's a terrifying holdover from Rome.

The Chemist said...

No doubt.

Tim Enloe said...

Just a thought, here, Rhology:

While your concern to keep justification free from human "works" is utterly commendable, and is shared by Lutherans, perhaps if you considered that Lutherans think baptism is a work OF GOD, not of man, what Brigitte said wouldn't be so "scary" to you, let alone look like some half-baked holdover from Rome.

Luther explicitly says that in baptism, CHRIST uses the hands of the minister to apply the water to the person. Baptism is a work performed by CHRIST, not by human beings. It's always surprising to me that Baptists miss this very simple point in their commendable zeal to keep justification free from "works." If you brothers would just try harder to understand classical Reformation theology on its own terms rather than on terms you read into it from your own tradition, much of your antipathy towards it might be softened. You might still disagree with the Reformation on that point, but at least your disagreement would be couched in more reasonable terms than "It's a scary holdover from Rome that damages the Gospel." Nothing could be further from the truth.

Rhology said...

Thanks Tim.
I'd like to ask for your comment, then, on what I said further on in the linked Beggars All thread:

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.

Brigitte said...

Rhology, why don't you read the entire section in the Large Catechism for a coherent explanation instead of excerpts. What Tim Enloe quoted to you, also comes from there.

I don't sense a lot of good-will in this conversation and this title of "Gospel vs. emotional Lutheranism" is pretty weird.

Here is the link once more, for your convenience: http://www.bookofconcord.org/lc-6-baptism.php

Rhology said...

OK, but I've asked some specific questions based on your quotation from Luther.

dwcasey said...

God has given us three means of grace to create and strengthen our faith; His Word, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper.

Why is it easy to say of one of these means, the Word, when preached, can be effective when met with the Spirit. I dare say there are not many Christians that would deny the preaching of the Word as an effective means of creating and strengthing faith.

But when it comes to baptism, all bets are off, "no way water can do that" you say. But it's not just the water, it's the water met with the Word and the Spirit. Where does 1Peter3:21 fit in Rhoblogy theology?

Matthew C. Martellus said...

DWCASEY SAID:

But it's not just the water, it's the water met with the Word and the Spirit. Where does 1Peter3:21 fit in Rhoblogy theology?

I can't speak for Rho personally, but as one with a very similar theology, the simple answer is that Peter is using baptism, in this context, as a symbol to refer to the forgiveness of God, which baptism symbolizes in general. See this post.

Matthew C. Martellus said...

TIM ENLOE SAID:

While your concern to keep justification free from human "works" is utterly commendable, and is shared by Lutherans, perhaps if you considered that Lutherans think baptism is a work OF GOD, not of man, what Brigitte said wouldn't be so "scary" to you, let alone look like some half-baked holdover from Rome.

The issue is not who performs the work of regeneration. Everyone, to my knowledge, agrees that only God can regenerate (though some might challenge the necessity of regeneration). The issue is the conditions of regeneration. Speaking of regeneration, Jesus said: "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit" (Jn. 3:8). However, if regeneration automatically takes place whenever a person is baptized, then one can indeed tell where the wind comes from, and where it is going - it is blowing through whatever church someone is happening to be sprinkled in.

Much like the mass, in which Christ is called down to be sacrificed again at the beck and call of the priest, so also in baptismal regeneration, the Holy Spirit is called in to perform the work of regeneration, at the beck and call (and the sprinkling/dunking/pouring action) of the minister. Being such a man-centered doctrine, where God performs His divine work at the beck and call of man, it has the essential elements of a holdover from Rome, whatever intentions the Reformers may have had to the contrary.

Viisaus said...

"Baptism is Gospel."

I do not want to slight the dignity of baptism, but I don't think one can use such simplistic declarations like this. After all, it is written:

"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel" (1 Corinthians 1:17)

Rhology said...

dwcasey,

My only quibble with what you've said would be your use of "creating".
Jesus creates faith, in the heart, through regeneration. That goes back to what I've been saying to Brigitte in her apparent confusion of baptism and regeneration/Gospel. Scary.

dwcasey said...

Matthew, thanks for the link, reading it now. I would like to add the following to what I wrote earlier.

The overall theme of the 1 Peter 3 passage, if you will, is that ***God desires to bring us to Him "that he (Christ) might bring us to God"*** How? By suffering for our sins, his righteousness in exchange for my unrighteousness. The great exchange as it's called. When we're saved, Christ takes my sin, and we get his righteousness.

Now, if that is the overall theme, God saving (salvation) through
Christ through this great exchange and he then goes on to talk about the salvation of Noah, still talking God's desire to save and then says Baptism, which corresponds to this, NOW SAVES YOU.

But wait, before the reader of this letter thinks it's the water that is saving, he says, no, that the water is not removing dirt from the out side but the inside. The inside has to change before an appeal to God can be made. The inside, changed by the Holy Spirit, not the water, cleanses the inside.

If our inside was not cleansed, how else would we have an appeal before God? Where is this appeal coming from? Not from my sin sick sorry self, but from a renewal of inside. What grounds would a non-believer, without faith, have an appeal to God? They wouldn't, something has to change in order to have grounds for an appeal. Faith must be transmitted in order to have ground to stand on for an appeal.

To me it looks like pre-baptism, no appeal, post baptism, we have an appeal, we have grounds to stand on because of what Christ has done for us.

dwcasey said...

Along the lines of the "theme" of that whole paragraph, what if we look at the Greek definitions for the words save/saved as it is used of Noah and baptism.

Noah saved " 1) to preserve through danger, to bring safely through a) to save, i.e. cure one who is sick, bring him through 2) to save, keep from perishing 3) to save out of danger, rescue "

Looks like if someone didn't intervene, Noah and his family would have perished. They were in danger. To bring him through, to translate from a dangerous place to a safe place.

Baptism saves " 1) to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger
or destruction a) one (from injury or peril) 1) to save a suffering
one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well,
heal, restore to health 1) to preserve one who is in danger of
destruction, to save or rescue b) to save in the technical biblical
sense 1) negatively a) to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic
judgment b) to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the
Messianic deliverance "

Again, we see baptism rescues, saves (salvation) from perishing, to
heal, to deliver.

If it was only symbolic, why use this language? Especially in the
context of this paragraph speaking about salvation? So in the context of talking about salvation, real, actual salvation by God through Christ "through water" for Noah and us...in that whole context, it's just a symbol of what ***could*** happen? Christ is the only one who can make that sort of appeal to the Father. And through baptism, the cleaning of our inside, by the Holy Spirit, we are now able to make that sort of appeal.

dwcasey said...

One more, please :)...sorry to spam your blog with comments. I've just had this sort of conversation with a good friend of mine via email, so it's all quite fresh ( and readily available) on my mind.

Discussing what Historical Reformed (Calvinist) beliefs have been regarding baptism. Below the link are some quotes.

http://www.hornes.org/theologia/rich-lusk/baptismal-efficacy-the-reformed-tradition-past-present-future

+++
Martin Bucer, Calvin’s mentor, wrote the following in his 1537 liturgy for infant baptism: “Almighty God, heavenly Father, we give you eternal praise and thanks, that you have granted and bestowed upon this child your fellowship, that you have born him again to yourself through holy baptism, that he has been incorporated into your beloved son, our only savior, and is now your child and heir…”

This, then, is the point: God blesses us in baptism with new life,
though baptism itself does not guarantee perseverance. Thus, we must combine the waters of baptism with enduring faith (cf. 1 Cor.
10:1-12). If not, the heavenly waters God has poured out upon us will drown us in a flood of judgment

What is different, it seems, is that the higher views of baptism are now more out of favor than ever. If we categorically reject “baptismal regeneration,” it must be acknowledged that we have moved significantly away from some traditional Reformed formulations.

Baptism has been watered down (pun intended) from a means of
sovereign, saving grace, to a means of granting external privilege.

The importance of baptism to one’s identity as a child of God can
never be overestimated. In baptism, we are enfolded into the family of God and begin our enculturation in the life of the eschatological kingdom. In baptism, God unites us to his Son and pours out his Spirit upon us. He weds us to Christ and ordains us to his royal priesthood. He forgives our sin and grants us new life. As the WSC teaches, baptism is not a mere picture, but an effectual means of redemption.

True, baptized persons can renounce their Father and become prodigals; they can reject Jesus as their husband and become adulterers. Baptism is an act with eternal consequences for the faithful and the unfaithful, and covenant members who renounce their baptismal identity and fall from grace can only expect God’s harshest judgment (cf. Gal. 5:4; Heb. 10:26ff). But apostasy is never our expectation for the baptized. Baptism itself is blessing through and through; indeed, it is the gospel in liquid form.

Brigitte said...

Viisaus:

"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel" (1 Corinthians 1:17)

Lutherans keep to a strict way of not mingling law and gospel. Gospel is gift of God, forgiveness of sins, release of captives, grace etc.

Law is do this and it is never done and it always accuses.

In baptism and the Lord's supper we have the promise of the forgiveness of sins, which makes it gospel, not a work. Really, the one who is baptizing is doing the work and as Tim showed that is Christ himself.

Your passage says "preaching the gospel". Preaching is the "naked word" so to speak and baptism is a word with water, so to speak.

Preaching requires a whole different level of competence and calling than baptizing does, though they are usually linked. Baptizing being simpler, such as waiting on tables, preaching being more complex. Baptizing is usually linked to catechesis, which is often delegated to deacons and women.

Rhology said...

The inside has to change before an appeal to God can be made.

Quite so. That's what Brigitte has been implicitly passing over, though, in her comments, in favor of her comments making an equivalency between Gospel and baptism. That's too far, way too far.


If our inside was not cleansed, how else would we have an appeal before God?

Great question, and it shows that your heart is in the right place, which makes me glad. So let's make sure to keep these categories in their proper place and order. "Baptism is Gospel" is not doing so.


What grounds would a non-believer, without faith, have an appeal to God?

According to what Brigitte has so far been saying, the grounds would be that a Lutheran pastor doused them when they were babies.
I'm glad you're on my side on this one.



Looks like if someone didn't intervene, Noah and his family would have perished.

Interestingly, this militates against a strict equivalency between water of Flood and water of baptism.
Noah et al were saved by the ark from the water, not in or by the water.
The emphasis here is, again, on Jesus, not water or baptism.


If it was only symbolic, why use this language?

Nobody is saying it's ONLY symbolic. But it's not sacramental either, and it's certainly not a reason to pronounce a wet baby regenerate.



Martin Bucer, Calvin’s mentor, wrote the following in his 1537 liturgy for infant baptism: “Almighty God, heavenly Father, we give you eternal praise and thanks, that you have granted and bestowed upon this child your fellowship

I would not agree to that statement without some serious unpacking of what "fellowship" means here.



God blesses us in baptism with new life,

Darn it, there you go again! It's like you get all biblical and Gospel-y, and then retrace your steps when you want to start talking Lutheran. It's a bad habit that I hope you'll reconsider.
The new life is a blessing related to regeneration, not baptism.



baptism itself does not guarantee perseverance

The only thing baptism itself guarantees is that you're wet. Anything else I can think of is questionable by oneself or others.
Regeneration guarantees perseverance.


If we categorically reject “baptismal regeneration,” it must be acknowledged that we have moved significantly away from some traditional Reformed formulations.

Let them perish in favor of biblical teaching.

Rhology said...

The importance of baptism to one’s identity as a child of God can never be overestimated.

I beg to differ. Brigitte and you to a lesser extent have been providing some outstanding examples of just such overestimation.



In baptism, God unites us to his Son and pours out his Spirit upon us. He weds us to Christ and ordains us to his royal priesthood. He forgives our sin and grants us new life.

No, that's in regeneration. Yeesh, you started off this string of comments so well, too!



As the WSC teaches, baptism is not a mere picture, but an effectual means of redemption.

Great reason, then, to remember that confessions are secondary in authority to the Word of God.



Baptism itself is blessing through and through; indeed, it is the gospel in liquid form.

Nobody's denying it's a blessing through and through unless one makes it equivalent to the Gospel. A work qua Gospel becomes a terrible curse; who can do enough works sufficiently well to be saved?
And what prevents us from "baptising" ANY WORK AT ALL in the same manner?


Brigitte said:
In baptism and the Lord's supper we have the promise of the forgiveness of sins, which makes it gospel, not a work.

What happens at regeneration, Brigitte? You've asked me a lot of questions; I'd like you to answer this one.

dwcasey said...

Rhoblogy, how were/are you saved? Was a decision required in order for you to be justified?

Rhology said...

dwcasey,

Jesus sacrificed Himself for me, died for my sins, was raised for my justification and glorification.

Yes, God made a decision from eternity past that He would save me. Then He saved me, and I decided to follow Jesus.

Why, how are you saved?

dwcasey said...

"then he saved me, so I decided to follow Jesus"

So God, through the Holy Spirit, created faith in you and you responded by following Jesus.

Brigitte said...

We don't use the word regeneration so much. What exactly do you mean? Walther talks about "conversion" quite a bit, but a child reared in a Christian home may never remember a time of not knowing God. Children have the best faith, often. Jesus said so, too.

Our faith grows as we grow up in him.

Many of us, however, not all, can recall a time, when we fully realized that none of our hope will be in ourselves, but that God has given us everything. We have learned to no longer rely on ourselves, but on God. I had such a time and it came from reading Luther's Galatians commentary. No more looking for fruit, no more looking for an experience, no more looking at anything in myself.

When we look at our baptism as infants we realize that we have done nothing there, either, but God did it all.

dwcasey said...

Sorry, I think I got off track. I re-read the exchange between you and Brigitte and I think I need to understand better where you are coming from. This comment, in particular, stood out:

You said "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. "

So your kids are on the outside, so to speak, until you recognize a credible profession of faith? They are non-Christians living with Christian parents.

You said Jesus died for sin, not their sin? Are your kids allowed to say the Lord's Prayer ( since the prayer is to Our Father ) or the Apostle's Creed, a statement of Christian beliefs?

Is there an age where, if something happened to them prior to that age, you would have assurance as to their eternal state, but after that age you expect a profession? What if they don't quite "get" what your telling them, maybe because of a disability perhaps?

What do you and your kids to with passages ( in quotes ) like "Suffer the little children to come unto me," that I may touch them, bless them, impart my Grace to them, and thus make them partakers of my kingdom. "Of such is the kingdom" because I desire and purpose to bring them into the kingdom.

Again, just trying to step back and understand. I'm afraid I was little too punchy before.

Rhology said...

your kids are on the outside, so to speak, until you recognize a credible profession of faith?

"The outside" is not biblical language, so I have no way to know what it means really. Let's stay firmly within the Scriptures for this discussion.
My kids are children of believers, so they get to grow up around believers and in the covenant community of God. They are, however, not part of the church of Jesus. They are not His servants or His children. They are enemies of God, of depraved mind and heart, and prefer death and the devil to serving Jesus.
They are dead in their trespasses and sins, in which I formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

My prayer for them is that God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, will make them alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6and will raise them up with Him.


They are non-Christians living with Christian parents.

Exactly.
Do you have kids? Are they Christians? Why or why not?


You said Jesus died for sin, not their sin?

Jesus died for the sin of His elect. I don't know if my kids are elect. His death is more than sufficient for their sin if they're elect, but only time will tell that. In the meantime, I am commanded to share the Law and the Gospel with them.
And then after they get saved, I am commanded to share the Law and the Gospel with them.



Are your kids allowed to say the Lord's Prayer ( since the prayer is to Our Father ) or the Apostle's Creed, a statement of Christian beliefs?

"Allowed"? Sure!
I just don't pretend they actually mean it until, well, they actually mean it. And getting wet in a church as a baby doesn't make them mean it more than otherwise; their heart is either transformed or it isn't.



Is there an age where, if something happened to them prior to that age, you would have assurance as to their eternal state, but after that age you expect a profession?

Biblically speaking, that's unclear, so I don't know. I'll take it on a case-by-case basis and pray for wisdom.



What if they don't quite "get" what your telling them, maybe because of a disability perhaps?

Don't know, but that doesn't apply to my children, thankfully.




What do you and your kids to with passages ( in quotes ) like "Suffer the little children to come unto me,"

Yes, I hope the little children will come to Jesus. I certainly won't prevent them and will in fact encourage them with all of my enthusiasm.



that I may touch them, bless them, impart my Grace to them, and thus make them partakers of my kingdom.

Please quote what passage you're referring to, so we can examine it in context.

Rhology said...

Brigitte,

Regeneration is synonymous with conversion, yes. The new creation. The removal of the heart of stone and replacement with the heart of flesh a la Ezek 36.
The being saved by grace. The repentance. The being made alive.
If you don't use "regeneration", may I suggest you start?


a child reared in a Christian home may never remember a time of not knowing God.

Then the regeneration occurred early in their lives, and thanks be to God for that!
Yet let us regard with suspicion anyone who basically says "I was born a Christian". No, nobody is born a Christian, and nobody is a Christian as a baby, wet or dry. We are of depraved mind and heart, and we are enemies of God until God has mercy on us to save us.



We have learned to no longer rely on ourselves, but on God.

Equating a work with the Gospel doesn't fall under that pious-sounding category, however.


our baptism as infants we realize that we have done nothing there, either, but God did it all.

No, God didn't do it ALL. The pastor held the water. The parents held the baby, or however it goes.
Again, I could say this about ANY WORK WHATSOEVER. May I please ask you to answer my question about how it seems to me we could "baptise" ANY work and say "it's Gospel"?
It's central to my case.

dwcasey said...

Rhology, I applaud you, and I mean this, on your thoroughly consistent Reformed Baptist beliefs. Usually folks are a mishmash of this and that.

I have enjoyed and will continue to read your blogs.

Rhology said...

I appreciate the kind words. May the Lord bless your weekend.

Brigitte said...

It is not a "work". It is a sacrament, and as such it is nothing beyond God's gift. In Baptism and the Lord's Supper we have

1. the promise of forgiveness of sins.
2. water plus the word
or else the bread and wine (body and blood) with the word.

And we are not despise it.

In the explanation to the small catechism with have this also:

"It is only unbelief that condemns. Faith cannot exist in the heart of a person who despises and rejects Baptism against better knowledge. but those who believe the Gospel, yet die before they have opportunity to be baptized are not condemned." (Mark 16:16)

God has given this to us. We dare not despise it or belittle it.

Brigitte said...

http://www.issuesetcarchive.org/issues_site/resource/archives/godsown.htm

This is another song we sing. This one is in the hymnbook. Lutheran Service Book 594.

Brigitte said...

I don't think that link pasted properly. So here it is copied and pasted.

Stanza 1
God's own child, I gladly say it:
I am baptized into Christ!
He, because I could not pay it,
Gave my full redemption price.
Do I need earth's treasures many?
I have one worth more than any
That brought me salvation free
Lasting to eternity!

Stanza 2
Sin, disturb my soul no longer:
I am baptized into Christ!
I have comfort even stronger:
Jesus' cleansing sacrifice.
Should a guilty conscience seize me
Since my Baptism did release me
In a dear forgiving flood,
Sprinkling me with Jesus' blood!

Stanza 3
Satan, hear this proclamation:
I am baptized into Christ!
Drop your ugly accusation,
I am not so soon enticed.
Now that to the font I've traveled,
All your might has come unraveled,
And, against your tyranny,
God, my Lord, unites with me!

Stanza 4
Death, you cannot end my gladness:
I am baptized into Christ!
When I die, I leave all sadness
To inherit paradise!
Though I lie in dust and ashes
Faith's assurance brightly flashes:
Baptism has the strength divine
To make life immortal mine.

Stanza 5
There is nothing worth comparing
To this lifelong comfort sure!
Open-eyed my grave is staring:
Even there I'll sleep secure.
Though my flesh awaits its raising,
Still my soul continues praising:
I am baptized into Christ;
I'm a child of paradise!

Rhology said...

It is not a "work". It is a sacrament

What would stop me from assigning the word "sacrament" to the other things I've listed? Circumcision, tithing, hospitality, abstinence from evil thoughts?
How would you answer that in a way consistent with what you've been saying?


In Baptism and the Lord's Supper we have
1. the promise of forgiveness of sins.


In regeneration, is that not already accomplished?



And we are not despise it.

Nobody is suggesting that we despise either. Rather, we should and do love them.
Equating them with the Gospel is not love, I'd suggest.


Should a guilty conscience seize me
Since my Baptism did release me
In a dear forgiving flood,


Regeneration does that.


Satan, hear this proclamation:
I am baptized into Christ!


Satan, hear this proclamation: Jesus died for me and I am saved.


Baptism has the strength divine
To make life immortal mine.


Jesus has the strength divine to make life immortal mine, and He did when He saved me. Not when I was baptised.

Sad to say, I think you're just digging still.

Brigitte said...

Me: a child reared in a Christian home may never remember a time of not knowing God.

Rhology: Then the regeneration occurred early in their lives, and thanks be to God for that!

The difference being that when we speak the Gospel--the powerful Gospel--we say: God loves you. Not God loves you if you believe that he loves you.

When we reconcile with someone we say: I forgive you; not I forgive you if you believe I will forgive you.

The announcement has to be made in a straightforward and direct manner that you ARE loved, forgiven to create this reconciliation and faith in your heart. The is the proclamation of the good news.

Brigitte said...

Rhology: What would stop me from assigning the word "sacrament" to the other things I've listed? Circumcision, tithing, hospitality, abstinence from evil thoughts?
How would you answer that in a way consistent with what you've been saying?



Does the Bible say the same things about those other things? No it does not. You are obfuscating.

Rhology said...

God loves you. Not God loves you if you believe that he loves you.

Well, God does love the unregenerate, but not the same as He loves His people.
He sends them grace every day! Lets them live in this world, calls them to repent, provides them Bibles and leaves Christians on Earth to proclaim the Gospel, lots of stuff.
But I don't love my wife the same as I love Osama bin Laden. I love her more, and differently, yet I also love ObL in that I would've wanted him to be saved, to repent.

So it IS true to say that God loves you in a saving way if you repent and believe.
Strangely, let's reverse this for your position:

God loves you. Not God loves you if a pastor dipped you in water as a baby.
What's the big deal here?


The announcement has to be made in a straightforward and direct manner that you ARE loved

OK, fine.
What has this to do with your statement that "Baptism is Gospel"?


Does the Bible say the same things about those other things? No it does not

It promises great blessings for circumcision all throughout the OT.
Promises blessings in the church for the other things. Says stuff like Romans 2:5But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: 7to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.

So let me just change my point a bit.
By nature we trust in many other things. Trusting in your perseverance in doing good is not one of those other things.
You seem to have no regard for God's word, command, promise attached to perseverance in doing good. I will not list what this all implies.

dwcasey said...

Rho, Do you believe Romans 6:1-4 as only symbolic/figurative?

What about Acts 22:16
16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

As mentioned before, 1Peter 3:21. What about Gal 3:27? All just spiritual/symbolic? Col 2:11-12.

Rhology said...

1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

What would be your argument that this refers to water baptism and not Spirit baptism?


Acts 22:16 - yes, calling on the name of the Lord is concurrent with sin being washed away. That's what I've been saying this whole time.
And when one is saved, yes, one gets baptised. It's a command. You know, a work. Law.
Also, alternatively, what in the text informs you that Paul had already believed at that time?
It doesn't. You're assuming he had already believed, but I see no reason to grant that assumption.
What, besides your assumption, makes you think that the "wash away your sin" is related to baptism and not "calling on His name"?


I already dealt with 1 Peter 3:21, so I invite you to answer that.

Gal 3: 26For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.

Yes, quite so, for baptism is an outer identification of a person with Christ, which fits the context.
Notice that we're sons of God THROUGH FAITH in Christ. Not "sons of God through baptism".
Baptism is next, and it's among other things the outer identification of oneself as obedient to Jesus, a Christian. v28 discusses the former identifications to which the heathen hold, but we hold no longer because we are now sons of God.

Colossians 2:11and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

What's your argument that this is water baptism and not Spirit baptism?
Why does the text mention that the circumcision that is here paralleling baptism was made without hands?


Now, a couple of questions for you:
1) I could say this about ANY WORK WHATSOEVER. May I please ask you to answer my question about how it seems to me we could "baptise" ANY work and say "it's Gospel"?
2) How does an up-to-this-point unbelieving man have eternal life? Lay out the order, please, from start to finish.

Rhology said...

Oh, and about Romans 6, it says "baptised into His death". But you didn't really die like He did when you were baptised. So I guess Paul is "just" being symbolic, no?

dwcasey said...

You said "What, besides your assumption, makes you think that the "wash away your sin" is related to baptism and not "calling on His name"? "

The verse, Acts 22:16 'And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'

Because it wasn't written that way; Baptize, wash, call.

Are you saying it should be written "arise, be baptized and wash away your sins by calling on his name" ? That would still put baptism first, the what is wholly different sentence structure that what was actually written.

titus 3:5
he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit

washing ( here literally mean bathing or bath ) is put separate from, but joined to the work of the Holy Spirit.

Rhology said...

Yes, the washing of rebirth. Doesn't say baptism.
Done BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. That's not water baptism either, b/c that's done by a man.

dwcasey said...

Isn't preaching done by man? Just words on paper, how can they "do" anything?

Rhology said...

No one's claiming that "words of men are Gospel".

Brigitte said...

Rhology, so we now have to distinguish between "love" and "love". The love for your wife would hopefully include some eros, which would be natural and normal; however, your love for Osama, being a love for an enemy is better, and not natural; it is from above. So it is the more miraculous love. And this is the love God has for all of us: while we were his enemies he loved us.

This is the word for us, today: you stinking, rotten, selfish, know-it-all, piece of ... (sack of maggots, Luther loved to say), are loved by the most high, holy, God for no really good reason except because he is love and because he made you, knows you and cares for you on the deepest level, in spite of how you are. This is true for Rhology and for Brigitte and everybody.

And we are no better than the next guy or gal. We could not fathom this and thought he is unjust in accusing us through a law we could not keep. But he came in the flesh and kept the law for us, he took the penalty for sin and death and reconciled himself to us, we who had no clue and did not look for his mercy. In the blood of Christ all our sins are washed away. The cross of Christ is the most scandalous and profound historical event and message. The Almighty gave himself for you. He wants to have a relationship with you, even you. He did whatever was necessary to present you without stain. You are ok. You are loved. You are precious. Your sins are washed away. You, yes, you are invited to the feast of love. You are his own blood-bought child, inheritor of the kingdom, just the way you are right now.

This is not just a story. Jesus died and rose from the dead and ascended to plead for you. He is your intercessor and nothing can separate you from the love of God. Your sins were taken care of on the cross.

So, far this. It was not a formula. It is just how I said it right now.

This was Gospel for you and me. They are the words of a woman (in this case, I just wrote it), but it is not her message. The message itself is powerful, not the witness. Yet it is the living word which is not without results and it is the gospel. So was typing it a work? Was sitting at your computer and reading it a work? Was turning on the computer a work? Was paying the electricity bill so that you can have a computer on a work?

You might ask me where baptism fits into this if one can just believe this.

Baptism is one of the physical ways in which God manifests his grace to us, to help us believe. He has always used means to communicate his presence and forgiveness, not the least, of course, the coming in the flesh of the Son of God himself. Why did he come in the physical flesh? Surely, this was not absolutely necessary? Such a horrible death? It is really quite unpleasant to contemplate parts of that. Well, this is how he does it. And we simply thank him for his gifts.

Going to church on foot or by car and coming up front and having water put on or being put in it, is not a work any more than you keeping your computer turned on and your eyes peeled.

It is always God'promise that matters. There we have a firm foundation. And the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off and for all nations.

Andrew said...

Bridgette,

I have been going through the Book of Concord and yesterday I read Luther's section on baptism in the Large Catechism. I then remembered your post over at BA the other day and then stumbled upon this thread. Anyway, I read it and it didn't sound to me like Luther was teaching baptismal regeneration. He said that baptism avails nothing without faith; and yet the local LCMS pastor with whom I have been speaking says that baptism works faith. How can something be said to be ineffective without the very thing it produces?

Rhology,

I am having trouble seeing the passages on baptism the Lutheran way; but I also find the Baptist interpretation to be difficult to reconcile with the fact that it seems the bible says baptism does something and never calls it a symbol. What led you to your conclusion on baptism?

Rhology said...

Brigitte shares the Gospel

1000 times yes!
See, you didn't need to mention baptism that whole time, to share the Gospel. That's what I've been saying. You were artificially adding baptism where it doesn't belong. Where it belongs is right after regeneration, and I mean right after, but it's not part of regeneration. Not part of the guilty sinner being justified before God.


Baptism is one of the physical ways in which God manifests his grace to us

It's more telling than you perhaps realise that, when I press you, you come up with a definition of baptism that is quite acceptable to this Baptist. When the BapRegen-ist is forced into consistency with his/her own position and tested with the Scripture, BR is shown to be false. That's just it.


Andrew,
All these things I've been discussing have played into it.
I reject the seemingly-arbitrary assumption that every time baptism is referred to, it's automatically water baptism in the NT. I canNOT abide tainting the Gospel with works, as I am convinced BapRegen does. I have not yet seen a decent response to my challenge about how one can "baptise" ANY WORK and say "it's God's work". The EOx do that too.

It's mostly that. I don't think it's just a symbol, but that is primarily what it is. It is also a means of sanctification and public identification, and that means something. It is an entryway, if you will, into the church, and that means sthg too.
If you want to say "means of grace", I could accept that if you didn't go too sacramental on me. :-)

This from a liberal Methodist turned atheist turned charismatic turned Baptist turned Reformed Baptist.

Andrew said...

Okay, thanks.
You should stop by Jolly's. I picked a fight:)

Brigitte said...

Andrew, I think the point is made, that Luther simply accepted the fact that children do have faith. Finished. End of discussion. No how and what and big debate. He notes that baptized people grow up to be Christians in good standing with productive lives. He would just say: look around, do you see faith in people who were baptized. Yes. There you go. That's good enough proof.

For me, the phrase King David's phrases in the Psalm about his mother's womb and being thrown upon God there already, speak to me about a person who is blessed by having believing parents. Also, the fact that a baby or child is so helpless and trusting, is an indicator for faith. Really, it is the perfect example of faith. So how can we say they have no faith.

Rhology, I am glad we agree on something. At the bottom of it, I am sure we know that we are in need of Savior and trust in Jesus Christ.

But this analogy just came to me: just like an engagement is the making of a commitment of faith, not until the wedding is it an official marriage. In the similar way, baptism is an actual thing which consummates this faith, your death and resurrection with Christ.

Baptism, in a way, puts the ring on your finger. It is not that God did not love you or you did not have faith before. You can look at your ring and enjoy it. You can wave it in the face of temptation.

Brigitte said...

Maybe the way to say it is that none of these things should be separated from each other: faith/forgiveness of sins/baptim/regeneration/death and resurrection/washing clean. There is no meaning in prying these apart.

In any case from A to Z it is a gift through Christ, who is the way, truth and life.

Brigitte said...

--via word (and sacrament, which is a kind of word) eliciting and strengthening faith, not without.

Rhology said...

Luther simply accepted the fact that children do have faith.

Some may indeed, and by children here I mean children who have some capacity to understand. Not infants.
What you've been saying in this discussion, however, doesn't follow from that. For one thing, dipping them in water in church doesn't create faith in anyone, and that includes babies. So you have no business and in fact every reason NOT to tell them that they're regenerate b/c they were moistened.
Do you accept an adult believer who can't tell you what he's saved from or by what/Whom he is saved? Do you baptise him?
If not, on what basis do you do so for a child who can't? Like an infant?
When Jesus said "Let the little children come to Me", can infants come? These aren't infants.


He notes that baptized people grow up to be Christians in good standing with productive lives.

And plenty of others never actually have faith and end up living degenerate lives and die in their sin.
Yet Jesus says that He cannot lose any of His own. You've got a biblical problem here.


So how can we say they have no faith.

David was a believer!
Plenty others are not.
Besides, I don't think David says what you're saying he says. Please quote it and we'll look at it in context.



Rhology, I am glad we agree on something

I only wish you'd consistently testify as such. Rather, it's been like 10 comments now since you blurted out "Baptism is Gospel", and only now are you seemingly turning back on that nonsense.



In the similar way, baptism is an actual thing which consummates this faith, your death and resurrection with Christ.

Nowhere does the Scripture speak about "consummation" in baptism.
One is not really married until one consummates the vows with sexual union. Such can hardly be said of regeneration. Man is not required for God to save him. Man contributes sin.
You seem, again, to be throwing your hat into the synergist ring - your salvation is not complete until you do something about it. I'm glad you're so holy and righteous that you can get that done, but I don't trust myself with my own soul.



Maybe the way to say it is that none of these things should be separated from each other: faith/forgiveness of sins/baptim/regeneration/death and resurrection/washing clean

I would agree with that, yes.
And the way to NOT say it is by conflating them, à la "Baptism is Gospel".

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Baptism is Gospel."

I do not want to slight the dignity of baptism, but I don't think one can use such simplistic declarations like this. After all, it is written:

"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel" (1 Corinthians 1:17)"


This comment gets the gold medal award for best short comment.

John Stebbe said...

Brigitte said...
Andrew, I think the point is made, that Luther simply accepted the fact that children do have faith. Finished. End of discussion. No how and what and big debate. He notes that baptized people grow up to be Christians in good standing with productive lives. He would just say: look around, do you see faith in people who were baptized. Yes. There you go. That's good enough proof.

Brigitte, Rhology answered you well when he wrote, "And plenty of others never actually have faith and end up living degenerate lives and die in their sin. Yet Jesus says that He cannot lose any of His own. You've got a biblical problem here."

Exactly, Rhology, thank you. Some people who are baptized as infants grow up to be Christians, and others do not. How do you account for this?

I read a book by LCMS seminary professor David Scaer called "Law and Gospel and the Means of Grace." On page 107, Dr. Scaer writes,

“In the church’s administration of the means of grace God maintains His freedom and determines who will believe, so there are no mechanical or magical formulas whose results in every case can be assured.”

I was very surprised to read that. Growing up in the LCMS, memorizing the Small Catechism, attending 13 years of Lutheran school, going through confirmation at a church in Fort Wayne, I never ever heard that. We were always taught that if a person baptized as a baby rejects the Christian faith later in life, then that person has lost his/her salvation. Never that the person may not have been saved at the time of his baptism. Water baptism was always assumed to be effective as a means of grace for God to grant salvation, every time it was performed.

So which position is yours? The non-Christian person baptized as an infant:
1) truly was saved at the time of his baptism, and rejected it later in life, or
2) Dr. Scaer's position, that perhaps God does not really save each infant who is presented for baptism?

If you believe #1, you've got a problem with John 6, as Rhology pointed out. If it's #2, it's a position which is not well-known in confessional Lutheran circles, as far as I know. It appears to me to be a novel position originating with Dr. Scaer. I am willing to be corrected on this point.

Having said all that, Brigitte, would you please respond to Rhology's point regarding John 6?

John Stebbe said...

Test

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi John Stebbe and Rhology,

I've used excerpts from this post and from John Stebbe's review of Kolb's book to comment over at Dr. Gene Veith's blog called Cranach.

The post is called Where are the Lutherans? and it is a long thread. But you might find it interesting in that it affirms the title of this post:

Gospel versus emotional Lutheranism

John Stebbe said...

Dear Truth Unites: Thanks for your note. I am also glad that you have found my review of Dr. Kolb's book. Dr. Kolb is a Lutheran, of course, and so that means that he and I would likely disagree on certain non-essential issues. Having said that, I did come away from his book with a whole bunch of humility. There is so much to know about the early Reformation, and even after reading his book, I only know a teeny tiny bit.

I have noticed that you are asking Lutherans to respond to the question, "Are there baptized Lutherans in hell?" If they answer yes, then you reply, "Then that means their baptism did not save them, right?"

Having been Lutheran from age 0 to age 25 (I am past 50 now), I can tell you that the idea that there are baptized Lutherans in hell does not bother Lutherans, nor does it make them think that infant baptism is not a means by which God grants salvation. They would simply reply that if a baptized Lutheran is in hell, that means that he/she rejected salvation later in life. They would not say that the baptism was not used by God to effect salvation.

Perhaps a better way to ask Lutherans to compare Lutheranism with Scripture is to compare John 6 to the Lutheran idea that a person can be truly saved and then lose his salvation. I just don't see a way to maintain such a view in light of the clear teaching from our Lord to the contrary.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi John,

Thanks for your counsel. I would ask you to participate on that thread over at Gene Veith's Cranach blog, but they'd treat you pretty badly for being a former Lutheran and becoming a Reform Christian.

"They would simply reply that if a baptized Lutheran is in hell, that means that he/she rejected salvation later in life."

And that would impale them on the other horn of the dilemma that you posed:

"All of a sudden, once I’m saved, I am in charge of my own salvation."

"Perhaps a better way to ask Lutherans to compare Lutheranism with Scripture is to compare John 6 to the Lutheran idea that a person can be truly saved and then lose his salvation."

And this would probably met by the deafening silence that you have received from Brigitte thus far.

P.S. Thanks John for writing up your thoughts on your journey from Lutheranism to Reform in such a thoughtful, reasoned, and calm manner.

John Stebbe said...

Dear Truth Unites:

They might treat me badly, they might not. I like to give folks the benefit of the doubt.

Yes, I would be pleased if more Lutherans would respond to my questions. But I don't always assume that Brigitte and her Lutheran friends don't reply because my posts present real challenges to Lutheranism. If they don't reply, maybe they are busy with life, and blogging has taken a back seat to more important activities, which is OK. Blogging ought to be an 'icing-on-the-cake' activity for most Christians. If you get a good debate with someone, wonderful. But if that person 'goes dark,' don't brood about it -- go out and jog a couple of miles, or take your wife out to dinner, or do something else you enjoy.

Having said all that, I do think Lutherans have a real problem with these words from Luther's catechism: "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith."

If you're saved, and then you lose your salvation, then the Holy Spirit has not kept you in the true faith, as these words from Luther assure us He will. On this point, as a Reformed Christian, I can take Luther's words at face value and believe them, while Lutherans, oddly, must keep a qualifier in the back of their minds, "but we know Luther also taught that you can lose your salvation."

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"They might treat me badly, they might not. I like to give folks the benefit of the doubt."

I certainly hope they don't either, John.

Would you like to go over there and contribute some comments to the conversation over there?

Also, fwiw, I took your counsel and queried them about John 6 by excerpting your last comment to Brigitte as a fine exemplar.

John Stebbe said...

Truth, I think I will stay on the sidelines for now.

I would be interested to see Brigitte's response to your post.

God's blessings,

John

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I would be interested to see Brigitte's response to your post.

You and me both.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Emotional Lutheranism is not a very pretty thing to behold.

There were a large number of Lutheran commenters on that Cranach thread who emote ugly vitriol when their doctrine of baptism is shown to be faulty.

Rhology said...

And they get pretty bad over at: http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Rho,

Do you have a particular post/thread over at that blog that you're thinking of?

I've run into that Steve Martin fellow before so it doesn't surprise me that it gets pretty bad over there too.

Rhology said...

I don't read it regularly, but I've perused at least a few threads where some Reformed have debated those guys. The Lutherans got UGLY.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"but I've perused at least a few threads where some Reformed have debated those guys. The Lutherans got UGLY."

Why do you think the Lutherans got UGLY?

I have my suspicions, but I wonder if you have any hypotheses of your own as to why these Lutherans get so UGLY.

Rhology said...

My guess is it's like RCs, how they won't stand for any criticism of their pet doctrines - Eucharist and Mariolatry.

Same with Lutherans - criticise "Baptism is Gospel" and their blood pressure spikes.

And same with fundy-tending SouthernBaptists, when you start proposing it might not be a sin to drink a wine cooler. Sparks fly!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Let me show you some examples of Lutheran Ugliness:

o "TUaD 207

"Great quote from your god Calvin. I used to a Calvinist and I have since repented of that system. That quote you coughed up is all the more reason I can see how Calvin was a creator of an unbiblical system. He runs right over the Bible to make his pathetic points. Calvin was a dick and Geneva was a failure of the collision of the Right and Left hand kingdoms. And worst of ALL is that doctrine from the pit of Satan’s belly…the Limited Atonement! Total bullshit and a killer of young Christians. Used by Huguenots and those who follow them to scorn God’s dear children with their devilish fear mongering. If I hear another Lutheran tell me that the Reformed are our cousins I’m gonna puke! You Calvinists are of another spirit! Calvin was so deceitful with the sacraments. When talking with the Lutherans Calvin (and his followers) use Lutheran language to deceive. When they are with the Zwinglians they use memorial language. Calvinists have been sneaking into Lutheran churches for centuries (google crypto-calvinists) because they are a dishonest sect who are totally jealous of the freedom of the Lutheran gospel."

o "Larry 242

You’re a brilliant man! Sometimes I feel I am the only one sounding the Piper is a clown alarm. But I shudder when I hear you say J Mac nailed it. Even by accident. That deceiver is so divisive. He calls his show Grace to You. Listen to it and its Law to you. Also listen to this bit on children. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3F2TnvB07E Listen to 1:18 The children of the Devil? Age of accountability? What a total dick! Didn’t Jesus mention millstones for stumbling little children? This guy’s doctrine is awful! Anyway Piper and Mac are so full of themselves and their doctrine/passion it is sick. I am so glad that my pastors put on a robe (our churches’ robe/clothes) and hide themselves behind an altar or pulpit. It is amazing now less of them ends up becoming more Jesus."

o "What Louis suggests is perhaps the most loving thing to do. The woman [A credobaptist Calvary Chapel member] is mean and obdurate. She only engages others on her own terms, attending only to those things she can attack with her ugly, faith-murdering diatribes, attempting to pull people away from the promise of Christ given for each of us to her false doctrine of works. Baptism is worthless, and afterthought! That is heresy.

I’m with Cinncinatus who said earlier “why bother?” Why bother anymore with her (and her friend)? Can we agree to shut her out? I’m game. And I mean completely. Close the door. Who is with me? Let her twist in the wind of her own works and the despair she peddles. She offers no one help, no one comfort, no one kindness let alone the truth of the Gospel, mired as she is in her own self-satisfaction."

Rhology said...

You forgot this one:

Craig June 27, 2011 at 11:15 pm
TUaD 186
You are obsessed with Reformed magisterial logic and you have crafted this shitty little argument and it doesn’t hold water. Pun intended. You for whatever reason believe that you are really throwing Lutherans a curve ball with your “If he was baptized….fallacy” Sorry but it’s retarded. Maybe this will help you understand the Lutheran/Biblical position:

Baptism saves. That’s a promise and a gift!

If one is unable to be baptized i.e. if you convert on a Roman cross and you have the words of Jesus promising you eternal life great, take it. If one is baptized and later denies the faith, well your soul is in danger. The promise of baptism is still in effect but you have forfeited it benefits.




I note that Brigitte showed up and misrepresented me on that thread. That was awfully fair of her.

Matthew C. Martellus said...

I note that Brigitte showed up and misrepresented me on that thread. That was awfully fair of her.

Speaking of Brigitte, she wrote this on her blog:

Rhology seems to be also Truth Unites and Divides. Such big names for not the greatest mind or debater. I guess one pseudonym is not enough.

When you can't win the argument, I guess it's time to start digging into the bag of logical fallacies.

John Stebbe said...

Gentlemen, I just don't see the point of pursuing this "look how ugly Lutherans can get" series of postings. All you are proving is that some Lutherans sin by using intemperate language in debate. I would not be surprised if Lutheran bloggers could produce posts from Calvinists which are similar. We would say, "They don't represent us." And then they would say the same about the Lutheran quotes we have used.

Time would be better spent just asking Lutherans to try to reconcile John 6 with the idea that a person can lost his salvation. If you get a response, great, and if not, just move on to something else. Reminding each other of disparaging Lutheran quotes just makes it seem like Calvinists are an unforgiving, unforgetting lot. You attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Coll 4:6

Rhology said...

It's just that some Lutherans' quick trigger has been noticeable to me.
I don't wish it so.

Thanks though for the good reminder.

Matthew C. Martellus said...

On the one hand, "Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful" (2 Tim. 2:23-24). On the other hand, however, TUAD and Rho have not been participating in a "foolish" or "stupid" argument. If this back-and-forth persisted for another 50 posts, I might start to get concerned. But as it is, this is simply a discussion of a phenomenon which has manifested itself in this context: professing Christians reacting in a decidedly un-Christian manner when their unbiblical beliefs are challenged with Scriptural truth. I myself would like to understand this phenomenon more, as also Rho and TUAD. From my perspective, these comments simply comprise an exploration of a certain behavioral phenomenon that we would all be further edified to better understand.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Thank you very much Matthew for sharing this humorous speculation by Brigitte.

John Stebbe,

You wrote: "I would be interested to see Brigitte's response to your post."

Please notice that rather than respond and engage your question (or Rho's) about John 6, she'd rather speculate that Rho and I are the same person posting under different names.

"I note that Brigitte showed up and misrepresented me on that thread. That was awfully fair of her."

That's really quite wrong of her to do that. A retraction and apology would be the Christ-like thing to do for her.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Brigitte to James Swan: "I do think Rhology needs some help and you, I would think, are the one to give it to him. I am thinking you are needing to dig deeper yourself, James, and you may be assured of my sincere prayers and friendly devotion but the word always comes first. You will not deny me this."

I believe that Brigitte is quite sincere in her comment to James Swan here.

Hence, this makes it so much more funny.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I went and checked on that Cranach thread again.

Oh my goodness. They are being extremely vicious in their self-righteous vitriolic hatred towards Grace.

Just compare and contrast Grace's comments to theirs from about #395 on.

It's Emotional Lutheranism in all its ungodly shame.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi John Stebbe,

From your experience when you were a Lutheran, what was the typical or usual age that Lutheran parents had their infant children baptized?

What was the youngest age that you saw Lutheran parents baptizing their babies?

John Stebbe said...

One or two months was typical. Often premature or sickly babies would be baptized within minutes or hours of delivery.

Why do you ask?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Wow, that's really young!

"Often premature or sickly babies would be baptized within minutes or hours of delivery."

This makes sense when given the Lutheran view that Baptism confers salvation.

If an infant of Lutheran parents dies before it is baptized do Lutherans think that the deceased baby is Hell-bound because the deceased baby wasn't baptized?

John Stebbe said...

Not necessarily. For unbaptized babies dying in infancy, an appeal is made to the grace of God, especially if the parents are Christians. 1 Cor 7:14 is often remembered in such cases: "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy."

And truth be told, most other Protestant churches would quote the same verse to grieving parents of children dying in infancy, whether they were baptized or not. For that matter, RC's and Eastern Orthodox would likely quote that verse.

The story of David and Bathsheba's child who died is often remembered in such cases, where David said, "He will not come to me, but I will go to him."

So if an infant were to die before baptism, Lutherans don't automatically assume the child is not in Heaven. But having the child baptized does give Lutheran parents more assurance that the child is with the Lord.

Rhology said...

having the child baptized does give Lutheran parents more assurance that the child is with the Lord.

That's...problematic.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Hi John,

Thanks for your reply.

"For unbaptized babies dying in infancy, an appeal is made to the grace of God, especially if the parents are Christians. 1 Cor 7:14 is often remembered in such cases: "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy."

This illustrates my point. Baptism is *NOT necessary* for salvation despite Lutheran claims.

John Stebbe said...

Truth, I don't think you'll find too many rank-and-file Lutherans who will say that baptism is essential for salvation. There are, of course, some obstinate Lutheran bloggers (and Lutherans don't have a monopoly on obstinacy) who will claim otherwise, but it's not a mainstream view within confessional Lutheranism. So I think your efforts to prove this point make for interesting blogging, but won't really cause any Lutherans to re-think their commitment to being Lutheran. And I hasten to add that being Lutheran (confessional Lutheran, that is) is a pretty great thing, and while we disagree on the sacraments and on the perseverance of the saints, there is a whole lot of wonderful stuff in the Lutheran confessions that Reformed folks can say 'amen' to. We are united in the essentials. As well, confessional Lutherans are comfortable using the word 'inerrant' to describe the Bible, which is not to be taken for granted these days.

I think a better road to take, if you want to engage a Lutheran in a theological debate, is the issue of perseverance. As I wrote in my review of Dr. Kolb's fine book, I think that if a person becomes convinced that a true Christian cannot lose his salvation, then it follows that infant baptism cannot be a means by which God grants salvation.

So argue the overarching point of perseverance, and the baptism issue will take care of itself. That's how it happened in my own case.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"I think that if a person becomes convinced that a true Christian cannot lose his salvation, then it follows that infant baptism cannot be a means by which God grants salvation.

So argue the overarching point of perseverance, and the baptism issue will take care of itself. That's how it happened in my own case."


I'm very glad that that was the route for you to disavow (infant) baptismal regeneration.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Truth, I don't think you'll find too many rank-and-file Lutherans who will say that baptism is essential for salvation. There are, of course, some obstinate Lutheran bloggers (and Lutherans don't have a monopoly on obstinacy) who will claim otherwise, but it's not a mainstream view within confessional Lutheranism.

Here's an excerpt from the Large Catechism by Martin Luther on Baptism:

"For as truly as I can say, No man has spun the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord's Prayer out of his head, but they are revealed and given by God Himself, so also I can boast that Baptism is no human trifle, but instituted by God Himself, moreover, that it is most solemnly and strictly commanded that we must be baptized or we cannot be saved, lest any one regard it as a trifling matter, like putting on a new red coat."

I appreciate Luther's clarity on this issue.

"You ain't baptized, you ain't saved."

John Stebbe said...

Thanks, Truth, I did not know that was in there. Or if I did know it I had forgotten. My impression is, however, that most Lutherans would not take such a hard line. So there is a tension there for many Lutherans.

John Stebbe said...

A practical example of the tension for Lutherans here when tragedy strikes and a baby is delivered stillborn. The child's soul has departed. His eternal destiny has been decided. Baptism of the child at this point, no matter what your view of baptism, will not accomplish anything for that child. How many Lutheran clergy are prepared to say to the grieving parents of stillborn infants, "We have no assurance that your child is with the Lord. The Large Catechism tells us clearly that unless you are baptized, you cannot be saved." My guess would be that most Lutheran clergy would not think that or say that. Most would have words of comfort for the parents, along the lines of my post from yesterday.

I heard a Lutheran pastor say once, "Is baptism necessary for salvation? As Lutherans, we say that it is necessary, but not absolutely necessary."

I heard those words with twenty-year-old Lutheran ears, and I remember thinking, "How paradoxical. I suppose I will understand that statement better when I am a more mature Christian." Well, here it is 30+ years later and I look back at that statement as simply meaningless double-speak. Is it necessary or not? That statement really did not answer the question.

Rhology said...

Quite so. Much better to be in the position where I am; it's up to God, not up to baptism.
If you can't be consistent, then I'm just not sure what good your system is.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"A practical example of the tension for Lutherans here when tragedy strikes and a baby is delivered stillborn."

Hi John,

You wrote this before up above:

"For unbaptized babies dying in infancy, an appeal is made to the grace of God, especially if the parents are Christians. 1 Cor 7:14 is often remembered in such cases: "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy."

And truth be told, most other Protestant churches would quote the same verse to grieving parents of children dying in infancy, whether they were baptized or not.

So if an infant were to die before baptism, Lutherans don't automatically assume the child is not in Heaven."


So then I'm a bit unclear as to why Lutherans would experience "theological tension" when tragedy strikes and a baby is delivered stillborn.

John Stebbe said...

Because on the one hand the Large Catechism says that without baptism, you can't be saved, and on the other hand most Lutherans would have at least some hope that their stillborn child is in Heaven, in spite of what their own confession tells them.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"on the other hand most Lutherans would have at least some hope that their stillborn child is in Heaven, in spite of what their own confession tells them."

Cognitive dissonance, theological dissonance, and emotional dissonance all contribute to what Rhology has aptly named as

Emotional Lutheranism

Matthew C. Martellus said...

"Is baptism necessary for salvation? As Lutherans, we say that it is necessary, but not absolutely necessary."

What he probably meant was that within the context of normal life circumstances, baptism is required for salvation. However, for those who haven't attained such circumstances (i.e., those who die in the womb), baptism isn't a requirement. Or put another way, baptism isn't inherently necessary for salvation, but God has structured things such that it is a requirement within the context of normal life circumstances.

So, the statement isn't meaningless. The question is whether or not it is an ad hoc contrivance produced to salvage a failing position.

Brigitte said...

Rhology, I am sorry I jumped to conclusions. I am apologizing. However, some of you gentlemen, under however many names, and or pseudonymns you go, need to consider this:

simply quoting a dialogue or passage from somewhere else, including comments other people made, to be discussed or picked apart somewhere else for your purposes, and especially without notifying the person you are inadvertently involving, hijacking threads and making unflattering titles, not really engaging the points people are making... is not fair. Secondly, this manner of proceeding, is not a conversation with the people who you are posting this to (TUaD). You are not listening to them. You are bringing your pre-conceived notions and are not prepared to listen or interact. This is wrong, too.

Lutherans believe that Calvin was very wrong and that Piper is very wrong, and their loud protests are anti-scriptural, no matter how much they claim that they are, so you can call us all manner of things, but it won't change our mind on Christ's clear words.

To now switch the subject from what is biblical to the hard cases of stillbirths, etc. does not speak to the essence of the question. We are not trying to have an air-tight system. This is Calvin's approach. We don't believe in baptism because it helps us believe that our children are ok, and that feels good, but because we have God's promise.

And that is the only thing that matters. And this faith is what God requires of us, that we trust him to keep his word.

I will not respond on this thread again. I don't feel your manner of going about things is effective or helpful. However, again, I apologize for jumping to conclusions.

Perhaps, if each of you gentlemen provided a bit more real information about yourselves, it might be easier to keep you apart, as you seem to similarly follow a script more than speak from the fullness of your heart and mind and apply it to the situation and matter being discussed, engaging human beings.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Brigitte,

Hello? Have you engaged Rhology's and John Stebbe's questions to you about John 6?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Brigitte,

Many of Gene Veith's posts are posts where he copies-and-pastes excerpts from another article.

And then he occasionally adds commentary and questions and asks for feedback.

Ever notice that Brigitte?

John Stebbe said...

Brigitte, I know you said you would not post anymore on this thread. I agree, the title of the thread, “Emotional Lutheranism,” is not exactly rolling out the red carpet for Lutherans. So I don’t blame you too much for not participating on this thread any more than you have.

Having said that, I would like to respond to your latest post. If you do want to reply to me, perhaps you could tell me a friendly blog site where you and I could interact. Or if you’d like to converse privately by e-mail, that is OK too. You can go to my website, www.johnstebbe.com, and get my e-mail. And if you don’t want to take this any farther, that’s OK too. But there are a few things I would like to say, for you, and for anyone else reading this thread.

Brigitte said: Rhology, I am sorry I jumped to conclusions. I am apologizing. However, some of you gentlemen, under however many names, and or pseudonymns you go, need to consider this:

John here: I myself have no pseudonymns. What you see is what you get. Go to my blog page and read my bio.

Brigitte said, simply quoting a dialogue or passage from somewhere else, including comments other people made, to be discussed or picked apart somewhere else for your purposes, and especially without notifying the person you are inadvertently involving, hijacking threads and making unflattering titles, not really engaging the points people are making... is not fair.

John here: Brigitte, there is some truth to what you say. However, there are several Lutherans who have posted to this thread, whom I assume can read the various posts from their e-mail alerts, and they could have easily jumped in to clarify any points.

Brigitte wrote: Secondly, this manner of proceeding, is not a conversation with the people who you are posting this to (TUaD). You are not listening to them. You are bringing your pre-conceived notions and are not prepared to listen or interact. This is wrong, too.

John here: Please give an example.

Brigitte wrote: Lutherans believe that Calvin was very wrong and that Piper is very wrong, and their loud protests are anti-scriptural, no matter how much they claim that they are, so you can call us all manner of things, but it won't change our mind on Christ's clear words.

John here: Strong words, Brigitte. Please give an example of what you mean.

Brigitte wrote: To now switch the subject from what is biblical to the hard cases of stillbirths, etc. does not speak to the essence of the question.

John here: Yes, Brigitte, the question of stillbirth really does speak to the essence of the question. Is baptism necessary for salvation or not? If there are exceptions, then the answer is no, contra Luther’s words in the LC.

(Continued)

John Stebbe said...

Brigitte said: We are not trying to have an air-tight system. This is Calvin's approach.

John here: First, you admit, it appears, that the Lutheran doctrine of the necessity of baptism for salvation is not ‘air-tight.’ Is this what you are saying? Second, when did Calvin ever write that he was ‘trying to have an air-tight system’ or anything comparable to that? Third, Reformed theology does not stand or fall with Calvin. He was a sinner and made mistakes. If you could find fault with Calvin in some way, it would not be a strike against the Reformed faith. Fourth, the fact that the Reformed faith is internally consistent is a good thing. It's what you would expect from a Biblical theology.

Brigitte wrote: We don't believe in baptism because it helps us believe that our children are ok, and that feels good, but because we have God's promise.

John here: Brigitte, you are begging the question. Please cite the chapter and verse which promises that God will use baptism to effect the regeneration of an infant. And what do you believe about the fate of stillborn infants?

Brigitte wrote: And that is the only thing that matters. And this faith is what God requires of us, that we trust him to keep his word.

John here: No argument with that statement.

Brigitte wrote: I will not respond on this thread again. I don't feel your manner of going about things is effective or helpful. However, again, I apologize for jumping to conclusions.

John here: Not sure what you’re referring to.

Brigitte wrote: Perhaps, if each of you gentlemen provided a bit more real information about yourselves, it might be easier to keep you apart, as you seem to similarly follow a script more than speak from the fullness of your heart and mind and apply it to the situation and matter being discussed, engaging human beings.

John here: I don’t think those comments apply to me.

Brigitte, you are an intelligent lady, and I would welcome the opportunity to interact with you.

Eric said...

To whom does the work of Baptism belong? In Baptism, who is doing the baptizing?

Eric said...

Apparently my question has been covered... somewhat. I'm sorry, I don't mean to retrace old paths. (Who has the time to read the crazy volume of comments on this blog post?)

It seems as though Rhology is taking the only position he can take, namely, that Baptism is "our" work. I would only challenge him to support that view from didactic (not narrative) texts of scripture. We know that Baptism is "our" work because that's what our eyes tell us every single time we see it -- whether we are seeing it in person or "seeing" it in the narrative texts of scripture. But we know that Baptism is God's work, because that is how scripture describes it in every single didactic text on the subject (and even a few of the texts from Acts). Search the scriptures. The Lutheran position is not a "holdover from Rome." It is the result of a Berean devotion to the Lutheran/Reformed doctrine of sola scriptura.

Rhology, where is the text that says Baptism is something we do?

John Stebbe said...

Eric, you ask some interesting questions.

Whether or not the doctrine of infant baptismal regeneration is a holdover from Rome is really not the point. Rome did not get everything wrong. The Trinity, the Resurrection, the two natures of Christ, and many other doctrines are taught correctly by Rome. But they go off the mark in the most important area, and that is salvation. And in the end, for our purposes here, the question is not, is baptismal regeneration a holdover from Rome, but rather, does the Bible teach this doctrine?

Eric, let's say that you're right, and that baptism is a work of God, not men. Even if a Reformed person agrees with that, you would still need to demonstrate that baptism is a means by which God imparts salvation to a person.

Let's say that God does use baptism as a means to grant salvation to an infant. Will that infant stay saved? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, from a Lutheran point of view. Lutherans do teach, as you know, that a person can lose his salvation.

But it's odd that Luther himself, in the Small Catechism, contradicts that doctrine when he wrote, "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith."

Eric, if you lose your salvation, then the Holy Spirit has not kept you in the true faith, as Luther said He would.

Can you see why Reformed people see an inconsistency in Lutheran theology on this point?

Eric said...

John,
I'm sorry, but I will have to press my point a little further, because as long as Baptism is "our" work, it cannot save. Period. Lutheran... Reformed... It does not matter. No work of man saves.

Recognizing that God is at work in Baptism, we can read scripture and begin to accept what it actually says about the regenerative nature and work of this divine institution. But when we come to scripture with the presupposition that Baptism is man's work (entirely, or in the main), then it does not matter what the text says about Baptism. It must be talking about something other than Baptism, because a work of man cannot save.

As an aside, though the language of any conversation on this topic will sometimes (unavoidably) lead to confusion in this regard, I would not turn the work of God/work of man distinction into a mutually exclusive dichotomy. I would not say that Baptism is a work of God, and therefore man does nothing in Baptism. There is no means of grace in which man is absent or uninvolved.

And, yes, we can lose our salvation. You are right to recognize the significance of that teaching in this discussion. But I think it is a fallacy to assume that Martin Luther contradicted himself in his explanationon to the Third Article of the Creed. That the Holy Spirit keeps us does not mean that divine grace is irresistible.

Eric said...

So let me again make my original appeal... Please direct my attention to any passage of scripture that clearly teaches that God is not at work in Baptism -- it's all man's work, or mainly man's work.

John Stebbe said...

Eric wrote:
John,
I'm sorry, but I will have to press my point a little further, because as long as Baptism is "our" work, it cannot save. Period. Lutheran... Reformed... It does not matter. No work of man saves.



John here: Eric, you’re the one claiming that baptism saves, not us Reformed folk.

Eric wrote: Recognizing that God is at work in Baptism, we can read scripture and begin to accept what it actually says about the regenerative nature and work of this divine institution.

John here: Please tell me what Scripture verse you are thinking of.

Eric wrote: But when we come to scripture with the presupposition that Baptism is man's work (entirely, or in the main), then it does not matter what the text says about Baptism. It must be talking about something other than Baptism, because a work of man cannot save.



John here: We agree that a work of man cannot save. I don’t see why you are belaboring this point.

Eric wrote: As an aside, though the language of any conversation on this topic will sometimes (unavoidably) lead to confusion in this regard, I would not turn the work of God/work of man distinction into a mutually exclusive dichotomy. I would not say that Baptism is a work of God, and therefore man does nothing in Baptism. There is no means of grace in which man is absent or uninvolved.



John here: I agree with you that both God and man are involved in the act of baptism.

(Continued)

John Stebbe said...

Eric wrote: And, yes, we can lose our salvation. You are right to recognize the significance of that teaching in this discussion.

John here: If we can lose our salvation, please tell me how Lutherans understand Romans 8:29-30: For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
John again: If we can lose our salvation, Paul should have said, “Those he justified, some of those he also glorified.” But no, the same group which is justified is the group which is glorified.

Eric wrote: But I think it is a fallacy to assume that Martin Luther contradicted himself in his explanation to the Third Article of the Creed. That the Holy Spirit keeps us does not mean that divine grace is irresistible.

John here: Two things to say here:
First: When a baby is baptized in a Lutheran church, Lutherans believe that the baby has received the gift of salvation. (Right?) But the baby has no say in the matter. Is this not a perfect picture of irresistible grace? The baby cannot resist the act of baptism and its effect, which is regeneration, in Lutheran thinking. So why do many Lutherans see the concept of irresistible grace as something alien to the faith?
Second: You wrote, “That the Holy Spirit keeps us does not mean that divine grace is irresistible.” Eric, you have not explained the apparent contradiction, you have only asserted that no contradiction exists. I must ask you to tell me why this is not a contradiction. Luther says that the Holy Spirit keeps me in the true faith. But if I lose my salvation, then the Holy Spirit has not kept me in the true faith. It seems to me that Luther agrees with Paul: “ . . . being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.“ (Philippians 1:6)

Eric wrote: So let me again make my original appeal... Please direct my attention to any passage of scripture that clearly teaches that God is not at work in Baptism -- it's all man's work, or mainly man's work.
John here: Eric, I don’t see the point of pursuing this "man's work / God's work" question. Lutherans are the ones who claim that God uses baptism as a means of grace to grant salvation. And the Reformed also do not deny that God is at work in this sacrament, much as He was at work in circumcision in the Old Testament. So you won’t get an argument from me that God is at work in baptism, or even that it’s mainly God at work. What I would ask you to demonstrate is that God uses baptism as a means of grace to grant salvation.

Eric, thanks for the time you have put into this exchange.

Your brother,

John

Rhology said...

It seems as though Eric is taking the only position he can take, namely, that circumcision/tithing/hospitality/abstinence from evil thoughts/speaking in tongues is "our" work. I would only challenge him to support that view from didactic (not narrative) texts of scripture. We know that circumcision/tithing/hospitality/abstinence from evil thoughts/speaking in tongues is "our" work because that's what our eyes tell us every single time we see it -- whether we are seeing it in person or "seeing" it in the narrative texts of scripture.


where is the text that says Baptism is something we do?

Acts 2: 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins..."

BE BAPTISED. That is law.



The Lutheran position is not a "holdover from Rome."

It looks like a duck, Eric. Luther was a Roman Catholic monk for decades. He held to almost-transubstantiation, and so does Lutheranism to this day. The similarities are more than striking.

Eric said...

Wow... I spent almost two hours writing a response to John and Google just ate it!!! I'm sorry, John, I won't be able to get that back, but you should consider yourself lucky. It was a bit too long anyway.

John Stebbe said...

Eric, that's awful! I am sorry to hear that. Thanks for the effort, anyway.

That has happened to me several times. Lately I have been writing blog posts in Microsoft Word and then copying it to the comment box, just because of crazy stuff like what happened to you.

I am looking forward to your response, whenever you get the time.

While I am posting here, let me say again that I think being a confessional Lutheran is a pretty great thing. The emphasis on Sola Fide as well as the other Solas of the Reformation are definitely points in favor of the Lutheran faith.

If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I was LCMS until age 25 (I am 51 now) and I went through 13 years of Lutheran gradeschool and high school. I am thankful to the Lord for so many Godly teachers and pastors who led me in God's ways for all those years.

So I hope you don't consider me an adversary, but a brother.

Eric said...

Rhology,
Since this is a discussion of Baptism, perhaps we should stick to Baptism. The (overly?) simple answer to your hodge-podge of red herrings is to say, "Let's not try to understand apples by examining the attributes of oranges... or wrenches, or squirrels, or highchairs, or wine bottles."

To see that man is active in Baptism requires only a single functioning eyeball. To see that God is active in Baptism requires divine revelation, and it is there in sufficient quantity.

When dinner is ready I call my boys to the table. "Dinner's ready! Come to the table!" My boys have to do something to eat. They have to come to the place where the food is set. But this does not transform the food from gift into wage. And calling people to receive Baptism, as St. Peter does in Acts 2:38, does not turn Baptism from Gospel into Law.

Matthew 28
Here Baptism is instituted in the church. The institution is prefaced by the fact that all authority has been given to Jesus. This is not a new development. Jesus had this same authority prior to his Passion (see Mt. 11:27). It is a new application of this authority -- to make disciples by baptizing and teaching. Here we see that certain works of men (baptizing and teaching, at least) are conduits for the work of God (making disciples, building the church, adopting all nations into the name/family of God). These are means of grace. These are means, chosen by Christ, whereby he continues to exercise his authority in the earth.

So here, at the very first mention of Baptism in the New Testament, we see that it is a work of God, for it does what only God can do. Our eyes tell us that the church or the twelve disciples are going to be doing the work of Baptism, but where is the text that tells us that the disciples, by their own will, can accomplish what Jesus says Baptism will accomplish? Where is the text that tells us that Baptism itself is man's work... particularly the work of the person who receives it?

Eric said...

Thanks, John. I did visit your profile and learned a bit about you from the information posted there. I do appreciate much of the spirit in which you posted your comments. As Pastor Fisk recently pointed out on Worldview Everlasting, there is a somewhat different set of presuppositions at work in comments coming from a Reformed perspective, and it makes it very hard to dialogue; but I hope to contribute more. It looks like this has been a pretty spirited conversation so far.

Rhology said...

Eric,

No, this is a discussion of works, not merely baptism. That's why I keep bringing up this crucial, absolutely fundamental point.

To see that man is active in circumcision/tithing/hospitality/abstinence from evil thoughts/speaking in tongues requires only a single functioning eyeball. To see that God is active in circumcision/tithing/hospitality/abstinence from evil thoughts/speaking in tongues requires divine revelation, and it is there in sufficient quantity.

Why can't I say that?


But this does not transform the food from gift into wage.

This can be said of ANYthing. You're not correctly expressing anything close to a monergistic outlook here. Rather, this is more like a semi-Pelagian outlook.
Hey, if your boys don't come to the table, I guess they weren't hungry. Or they were too stupid to know where to come eat.
No, the question of salvation of a sinful man is a unilateral move of God that results in the sinner being regenerate and having faith.



It is a new application of this authority -- to make disciples by baptizing and teaching.

I pause here to note that those who are taught are baptised. No mention of babies being saved by getting wet in church.


Here we see that certain works of men (baptizing and teaching, at least) are conduits for the work of God (making disciples, building the church, adopting all nations into the name/family of God). These are means of grace.

That's not all you mean by the words "means of grace", however. You have quite a bit further to go before you demonstrate Lutheran sacramentology biblically.


at the very first mention of Baptism in the New Testament, we see that it is a work of God, for it does what only God can do.

I'm sorry? No, that's not correct at all. The command to baptise is just that - a command. Law.
You're engaging in special pleading with this issue of baptism. The challenge before you is to show why the exact same thing can't be said of circumcision that you're saying of baptism.

Eric said...

John,
Let me take a moment to focus on the sidebar on Luther's explanation on Third Article. For me it is a secondary issue, but from the Reformed perspective it may be central or key. I called your take on this point a "fallacy" because there seems to be an equivocation of sorts -- two entirely different understandings of the expression, "kept" or "keeps" are at work here. To Luther the Holy Spirit calls the elect by means of grace. He enlightens the elect by means of grace. He sanctifies the elect by means of grace, and he keeps the elect by means of grace. The Holy Spirit does nothing apart from the Word of God. So we do not have a keeping based on God's sovereign power to do whatever he determines and (pre)destines to do (although, he does have that power and is working according to the hidden counsel of his own good will). Instead we have a keeping based on God's promise to work through means. So when someone falls away from the faith, it isn't because the Holy Spirit failed to keep that person. The table is still set. The beasts are still slaughtered. The wine is still mixed. And the call is still going out day after day, and especially Sunday after Sunday. The Holy Spirit is still "keeping" that straying lamb in the sense that all the means and gifts whereby God distributes his grace, are still freely available to any and all who thirst. That person is not any less "kept" on account of the fact that he resisted the Holy Spirit or absented himself from the holy catholic church and the communion of saints wherein is continually found the forgiveness of sins.

I realize that won't make my square peg fit in your round hole, but it should suffice to show that Luther is not being illogical or contradictory. He simply does not understand "keeps" in the same way that you do; and it really is not fair for the Reformed theologian to impose his definition on Luther's text, so that he can accuse Luther of inconsistency.

Eric said...

Rhology,
This is not a discussion of works in general because it is fully conceded that man's works do not and cannot save. There is no promise of eternal salvation even remotely connected with any of the diversionary categories you are introducing to the topic. Mark 16:16 explicitly connects Baptism with salvation. 1 Peter 3:21 explicitly connect Baptism with salvation. So the question the Christian must confront has nothing to do with tithing, etc. Instead he must reconcile the numerous texts about Baptism's salvific effects with the clear truth (from John 1:12ff, among others), than no one is born again of the will/work of man.

Rhology said...

Mark 16:16 is extracanonical. Further, it connects baptism with obedience, as should be, since it's a work.
16“He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned."
Of course he who believes will have been baptised.
Fortunately, Eph 2:8-10 describes salvation w/o benefit of works. Thank God - who knows whether your baptism was good enough?

1 Peter 3:21 - I don't suppose you could give some argument proving that this is water baptism, not Spirit baptism?
It says "NOT the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience". Sounds like NOT water.


than no one is born again of the will/work of man.

Exactly. Speciously redefining baptism as a not-work when it's clearly SOMETHING YOU DO is not particularly helpful. Like I keep saying, I can do that with any of those other works.

You don't think that salvific language is associated with these other things? How about circumcision?
Col 2:11 - and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;
Romans 2:29But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

John 7:22“For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. 23“If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken

See that? Circumcision means that the law of Moses isn't broken!

Acts 7: 8“And He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.

Philippians 3: 3for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh

John Stebbe said...

Eric wrote: So when someone falls away from the faith, it isn't because the Holy Spirit failed to keep that person. The table is still set. The beasts are still slaughtered. The wine is still mixed. And the call is still going out day after day, and especially Sunday after Sunday. The Holy Spirit is still "keeping" that straying lamb in the sense that all the means and gifts whereby God distributes his grace, are still freely available to any and all who thirst. That person is not any less "kept" on account of the fact that he resisted the Holy Spirit or absented himself from the holy catholic church and the communion of saints wherein is continually found the forgiveness of sins.

John here: So you’re saying that ‘keeps’ for Luther means, ‘keeps, as long as the person continues making use of the means of grace of Word and Sacrament.’ That interpretation sounds like it conflicts with the LCMS “Brief Statement” of 1932, “Of The Election Of Grace:”

“ . . . while the universal will of grace is frustrated in the case of most men, Matt. 22:14; Luke 7:30, the election of grace attains its end with all whom it embraces, Rom. 8:28-30.”

But, Eric, as I have said before, if you lose your salvation, then this election of grace has not attained its end. And I think the authors of the “Brief Statement” correctly use Romans 8:29-30 to support the idea that “the election of grace attains its end with all whom it embraces.” That passage in Romans makes no allowance for a Christian to lose his salvation.

Eric wrote: I realize that won't make my square peg fit in your round hole, but it should suffice to show that Luther is not being illogical or contradictory. He simply does not understand "keeps" in the same way that you do; and it really is not fair for the Reformed theologian to impose his definition on Luther's text, so that he can accuse Luther of inconsistency.

John here: I am not trying to impose a Reformed definition of ‘keep’ on Luther’s text. I am only trying to use words in their normal way. And it seems the 1932 statement seems to understand ‘keep’ in its normal way. Who is doing the keeping? It is God. That’s why it happens 100% of the time. “The election of grace attains its end with all whom it embraces.” There is no sense in this 1932 statement that God’s keeping can be frustrated by man’s decision to stop making use of the means of grace.

You spoke of the ‘straying lamb.’ In the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15, a lamb is straying. The Shepherd does not say to himself, “Well, that lamb is exercising his free will, and I don’t want to interfere with the choice he is making. He is free to return and be under my care, but it’s really up to him.” No, the Shepherd goes out and brings that sheep back to the fold. It is the will of the Shepherd that is most important here. As Jesus said elsewhere, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” (John 15:16)

I don’t want to think in Reformed categories or Lutheran categories. I only want to believe what the Bible tells me about salvation (and anything else it teaches).

Eric said...

Rhology,
How is it that Colossians 2:11, Romans 2:29 or either of the other two verses establish a connection between circumcision and salvation?

Rhology said...

Col 2:11 in particular - what if you're not circumcised?

Eric said...

I don't see anything in Colossians 2:11 pertaining to circumcision at all -- and certainly nothing connecting circumcision with salvation. What am I missing there?

Brigitte said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaKs3ygMBuo&feature=player_embedded

Eric said...

I mean, yes, the word, "circumcision" does appear three times in that verse; but what is it referring to? The circumcision of Abraham? Well, of course not. We know how St. Paul stands on Judaic circumcision for the Gentiles. Clearly he is not telling a bunch of Gentile Colossian and Laodician Christians that they "were" circumcised with the circumcision of Abraham. So Colossians 2:11 is not talking about circumcision at all, and it is certainly not connecting Abrahamic circumcision with salvation. But it is connecting the circumcision of Christ with salvation, because that circumcision cuts off the old man, our sinful flesh (see also Rm. 6). And what is this "circumcision of Christ," that all you Colossians have received, this circumcision made without hands? The text tells us that it is Baptism. You can disbelieve the text and invent "spirit baptism" to make your unbelief fit in a Christianish theology, but you cannot change what the text actually says.

Rhology said...

You can disbelieve the text and invent "spirit baptism"

Invent?

OK, so given that, I'd like to ask you whether the doctrine of Holy Spirit baptism is a derivation from the NT or is an invention of human tradition.

Eric said...

As a concept "spirit baptism" is not without merit. It is observed easily enough (in scripture as well as day-to-day life) that some people go to baptism in faith, and thus, in a sense, regenerate -- or "baptized" in the Spirit. But it is a misuse of reason to take that observation and apply it to Romans 6 and Colossians 2 in a manner that fundamentally changes what the words of those texts actually say about baptism. That there is a distinction between the work of the Spirit and the work of the pastor is plain enough in the text (Col. 2:11), where St. Paul calls Baptism a circumcision "made without hands." But this is not separated from the washing ("baptidzo") in verse 12.

John Stebbe said...

Rhology, I must say that Eric has a point. True, there is such a thing as 'being baptized in the Spirit" which is not necessarily the same thing as water baptism. For example, Acts 1:5 says, "for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

However, we must all admit that in normal NT usage, 'baptism' refers to the application of water to a person in the name of the triune God. If we are going to say that 'baptism' in a certain verse refers to spirit baptism and not water baptism, the burden of proof is on us to show that this is the case.

Eric, while I have your attention, would you please reply to my recent posts regarding the 1932 statement and Romans 8:28:29? Thanks.

Eric said...

John,
I have not had a chance to read that document, and will not venture a response unless and until I do. I do not trust my instincts or training to answer your question. It requires study, and I'm not sure when or if I will have the time. I will look for it, but I can't promise... at least not this week. Sorry.

Rhology said...

But it is a misuse of reason to take that observation and apply it to Romans 6 and Colossians 2

Why?
B/c you assume those psgs refer to water baptism only?
As if Spirit baptism is not an equally valid NT concept?


in a manner that fundamentally changes what the words of those texts actually say about baptism

Unless they're discussing Spirit baptism, in which case this objection has no force.
You're simply begging the question so far.


That there is a distinction between the work of the Spirit and the work of the pastor is plain enough in the text (Col. 2:11), where St. Paul calls Baptism a circumcision "made without hands." But this is not separated from the washing ("baptidzo") in verse 12.

Bingo!
And that's precisely what we see in 1 Peter 3:19, and it's also what we see, incidentally, in Titus 3:5 - the text makes a clear separation such that the objective reader has no reason to think the psgs are discussing WATER (ie, physical) baptism.
Why? B/c baptism is a work, and works don't save. (At least, that's one of the reasons.)




John,
there is such a thing as 'being baptized in the Spirit" which is not necessarily the same thing as water baptism.

Nor did I claim such.



Acts 1:5 says, "for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Yes, but I'm not sure what you're getting at.



we must all admit that in normal NT usage, 'baptism' refers to the application of water to a person

When that's the very thing under dispute, I see no reason to grant that. Words mean diff things depending on their context.

To lay all my cards on the table, I think it's debatable whether, say, Romans 6 does actually refer to Spirit baptism. Probably it's water baptism, but I ask the questions I ask so as to draw out the baptismal regeneratist's obsession with putting baptism where it doesn't belong.
The true NT teaching is that baptism is so intimately connected and symbolic of the old self's death and the new self's new birth, that it is not even a question in the mind of NT writers that a born-again person will be baptised, will obey Jesus.
To quote Matthew Martellus: Within the context of normal life circumstances, baptism is required for salvation. However, for those who haven't attained such circumstances (i.e., those who die in the womb), baptism isn't a requirement. Or put another way, baptism isn't inherently necessary for salvation, but God has structured things such that it is a requirement within the context of normal life circumstances.

Thing is, that's the same that could be said of OT covenant-keepers and circumcision, and yet those who seem to be at least partially the Lutherans' doctrinal forebears, the Judaisers of Galatia, were condemned for getting the ordo salutis wrong. Why? B/c it added works to the Gospel! And we know from Galatians 1:6-10 and Romans 11:6 that Gospel + works = anathema.
I have no idea where that leaves the faithful Lutheran and won't opine, but it sure scares me. Thank God I'm a Baptist.

Eric said...

John,
Okay, I've read the 1932 "Brief Statement" on "the election of grace," and I am still not comfortable entering into an extended discussion of predestination in any of its three points (the L,I, or P of TULIP). It is a difficult topic because we are free to speak where scripture speaks and where it is silent we are well advised to remain silent. On this subject, according to "blind reason" the scriptures clearly contradict themselves. On the one hand they tell us that all whom God foreknew he also... glorified. On the other hand the scriptures tell us of those who receive the word of the kingdom with joy, endure for a while, but when persecution comes they immediately fall away. Because God is almighty and immutable, it is ultimately impossible (I think) to understand -- to grasp by human reason -- the relationship between what the 1932 "Statement" calls the "election of grace" and the "universal will of grace." Because the Bible seems to speak in an inconsistent manner on this topic, Lutheran theology will also seem incoherent. But in the end this is more tolerable than the alternative, which is (it seems to me) the Reformed denial that there is such a thing as God's "universal will of grace." I would rather preserve the tension found in scripture between these two poles than to jeopardize it with a systematic theology that brings perfect harmony at the expense of one of the poles.

But then... you knew that I would be compelled to write something along these lines, and it won't be an answer that satisfies. If I get a chance later on I'll try to write something about the relationship of this topic to Baptism.

Rhology said...

Because the Bible seems to speak in an inconsistent manner on this topic, Lutheran theology will also seem incoherent.

I would suggest that this is rather your (and other Lutherans') flawed understanding of the Bible that is leading you to this conclusion.
The "problem" is easily resolved when we realise that there's more to regeneration and adoption by God than "receiving the Word with joy" and then falling away.
Rather, "they went out from us because they were not really of us" (1 John 2), and Jesus says "Depart from Me, for I ***NEVER*** knew you".


But in the end this is more tolerable than the alternative, which is (it seems to me) the Reformed denial that there is such a thing as God's "universal will of grace."

Yet since the Bible clearly speaks of God's preservation of His people and never gives any indication of a "universal will of grace"... I guess that's one more good reason to be Reformed.

John Stebbe said...

Eric wrote: John, Okay, I've read the 1932 "Brief Statement" on "the election of grace," and I am still not comfortable entering into an extended discussion of predestination in any of its three points (the L,I, or P of TULIP). It is a difficult topic because we are free to speak where scripture speaks and where it is silent we are well advised to remain silent.

John here: Calvin would agree. He wrote in the Institutes: “Only I wish it to be received as a general rule, that the secret things of God are not to be scrutinized, and that those which he has revealed are not to be overlooked, lest we may, on the one hand, be chargeable with curiosity, and, on the other, with ingratitude.” III.21.4

Eric wrote: On this subject, according to "blind reason" the scriptures clearly contradict themselves.

John here: I don’t think so.

Eric wrote: On the one hand they tell us that all whom God foreknew he also... glorified.

John here: Yes, Romans 8:28-29 is pretty clear that true Christians will persevere.

Eric wrote: On the other hand the scriptures tell us of those who receive the word of the kingdom with joy, endure for a while, but when persecution comes they immediately fall away.

John here: It is not at all a given that the Parable of the Sower clearly teaches that true Christians can be eternally lost. These who ‘fall away’ have no root and no fruit. How can a true believer have no root and no fruit? As well, the last category is described by Christ as “those with a noble and good heart.” Since you and I agree (I assume) on the topic of total depravity, no one is born into this world with a noble and good heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) God is the one who must change the heart (regeneration) before true faith can take root and bear fruit. Before conversion, unbelievers are not simply neutral folks who might believe the Gospel with the right persuasion. Rather, we are God’s enemies. Romans 5:10 (NASB): “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Enemies of God are not characterized by noble and good hearts. But you need a noble and good heart to receive the Word and grow roots and fruit. So I don’t think this parable is teaching that true Christians can lose salvation. So perhaps this information will help resolve the tension you see.

(Continued)

John Stebbe said...

Eric wrote: Because God is almighty and immutable, it is ultimately impossible (I think) to understand -- to grasp by human reason -- the relationship between what the 1932 "Statement" calls the "election of grace" and the "universal will of grace."

John here: The phrase ‘universal will of grace’ does not appear in Scripture, as far as I know.

Eric wrote: Because the Bible seems to speak in an inconsistent manner on this topic, Lutheran theology will also seem incoherent.

John here: Eric, it troubles me that you can write a sentence like this. Since God is the author of all of Scripture, then Scripture cannot be inconsistent with itself. And a theology which seems incoherent (your words) – I don’t know how to complete this sentence without offending you.

Eric wrote: But in the end this is more tolerable than the alternative, which is (it seems to me) the Reformed denial that there is such a thing as God's "universal will of grace."

John here: Again, the phrase ‘universal will of grace’ is not found in Scripture. As for the Reformed denial of such, read Romans 9. God makes some pots for noble use and some for common use. He is the potter and we are the clay.

Eric wrote: I would rather preserve the tension found in scripture between these two poles than to jeopardize it with a systematic theology that brings perfect harmony at the expense of one of the poles.

John here: I don’t think such a tension exists. And you would not expect it to exist in a book with one perfect Author.

Eric wrote: But then... you knew that I would be compelled to write something along these lines, and it won't be an answer that satisfies.

John here: Eric, it sounds like you are the one who is not satisfied with the answer.

Eric wrote: If I get a chance later on I'll try to write something about the relationship of this topic to Baptism.

John here: Eric, if you’ve read my blog on my profile (From Lutheran To Reformed) then you know that it was this issue (perseverance) that ultimately led me to reject the idea of infant baptismal regeneration. I think the two ideas are incompatible, which perhaps is one reason why you are having difficulty resolving this in your mind.

Eric said...

John,
It is precisely because I do agree with you in your description of Total Depravity that I read both the rocky soil and the thorny soil (but especially the rocky soil) as being examples of those who came to faith, and were truly regenerate, but then fell away. The unregenerate soul does not have the ability to receive the "word of the kingdom" "with joy."

As to the objections to the "universal will of grace," I am borrowing that phrase from the 1932 Statement. True, the term is no more biblical than "Trinity," but the concept is equally faithful to God's Word. There are numerous places in the sacred text where God speaks of his will that none should perish and of his propitiating work on behalf of the whole world. That is the pole that Reformed theology simply dismisses. It is just willful unbelief. Lutheran theology says both of these things (predestination and universal grace) are true. We can't explain how they fit together in a rationally satisfying way, but they are both true according to the actual apostolic words of the sacred texts.

John Stebbe said...

Eric wrote: John, it is precisely because I do agree with you in your description of Total Depravity that I read both the rocky soil and the thorny soil (but especially the rocky soil) as being examples of those who came to faith, and were truly regenerate, but then fell away. The unregenerate soul does not have the ability to receive the "word of the kingdom" "with joy."

John here: The phrase ‘with joy’ must be interpreted in light of Jesus’ later explanation of the parable. Jesus told us that only the last group possesses ‘good and noble hearts.’ Those without good and noble hearts, who are enemies of God, (the rocky soil and thorny soil) cannot receive God’s Word with the joy that accompanies salvation. Some other kind of joy must be in view. Also consider 1 John 2:19: “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.” The ones who fell away were ‘not really of us,’ otherwise they would not have fallen away.

Eric wrote: As to the objections to the "universal will of grace," I am borrowing that phrase from the 1932 Statement. True, the term is no more biblical than "Trinity," but the concept is equally faithful to God's Word. There are numerous places in the sacred text where God speaks of his will that none should perish and of his propitiating work on behalf of the whole world. That is the pole that Reformed theology simply dismisses. It is just willful unbelief.

John here: I don’t think that’s accurate. What are the texts that you believe teach ‘universal will of grace?’

Eric wrote: Lutheran theology says both of these things (predestination and universal grace) are true. We can't explain how they fit together in a rationally satisfying way, but they are both true according to the actual apostolic words of the sacred texts.

John here: I hope that I am not misreading texts to create a rationally satisfying theology. But I am human, and I have been wrong before. So aside from the parable of the sower, what texts do you think I might be misreading?

Rhology said...

There are numerous places in the sacred text where God speaks of his will that none should perish and of his propitiating work on behalf of the whole world. That is the pole that Reformed theology simply dismisses.

It's not that we "dismiss" them.
It's that we recognise that 2 Peter 3:8-9 is written addressing believers, and the context is believers, and thus the elect. If God were not willing that any person should perish, He's still going to end the world eventually and so that means that, by your own standards, He won't have exercised the same "universal will of grace" toward EVERYone, b/c He'll have cut off some people who are living and unrepentant at the end.
And we recognise that 1 Tim 2:4 refers to all kinds of people, not all people.
And we recognise that if Jesus' death propitiated EVERYONE'S sin, then there is no basis that anyone should go to Hell.

See, it's through thinking these things through and reflection that we reject these ideas, not "dismiss" them.

Eric said...

John,
The phrase "with joy" is from the explanation to the parable, not only in Matthew (the account I was working from), but also in Mark and Luke.

As for 1 John 2:19... Let's take it for granted that when John says "they were not really of us," it means they were never really regenerate. (I think that conclusion is at least as tenuous as saying that the "rocky soil" receiving the word of the kingdom with joy is not representative of a regenerate person, but let's grant it for the sake of discussion, recognizing that the concept of "regeneration" is something we are bringing into each of these texts.) With that stipulation let me say that I agree wholeheartedly with 1 John 2:19. When we are looking at a departure from the faith through the lens of God's predestining the elect to salvation, we must understand it as an external revelation of the internal reality that the person who leaves the faith and dies in unbelief was not predestined according to the "election of grace." Yet this does not change the fact that Jesus died for all the world, and God desires that none should perish. And we are not at liberty to use 1 John 2:19 as a pretext for changing or ignoring Jesus' explanation to the parable of the sower.

I'm not ignoring your requests for specific texts. I am reluctant to introduce other texts, just so we can argue them the same way these have been argued thus far (i.e. Me: "The texts are true in what they actually say." You: "The texts can't mean what they actually say, because that would contradict this other text.") You are familiar with John 1:19, John 3:16-17, 1 John 2:2, etc. If I have time maybe we can wrangle over a few other ones, but from my perspective the exercise is almost pointless.

I want to bring this back to Baptism.

(continued)

Eric said...

(continued)

Although the classical Reformed position on Baptism is more nuanced than the Baptist point of view, it basically amounts to the same hermeneutic approach. Instead of accepting the texts in Romans 6 and Colossians 2 and 1 Peter 3, etc. to mean what they actually say, you contend that they cannot and do not mean what they say, because...

The Baptist goes with reason and plain observation in a simple and even crass sort of way. He observes the work of the pastor in the water and decides that this is all there really is to baptism. It is merely an external rite, and thus it has no efficacy toward salvation.

The classical Reformed theologian comes to essentially the same conclusion in basically the same way. Observing that there are baptized people who ultimately "fall away" from the visible church and live degenerate lives, he concludes that baptism is essentially an external thing. To say otherwise poses insurmountable problems to the systematic theology he has built around the absolute sovereignty of God.

In both cases, when you come to sacred texts that clearly say that Baptism is something more than merely external, you disbelieve them because those texts are not consistent with the conclusions you already obtained through observation and reason.

This is not a good way to read scripture. Do not make it conform to your observations. Instead, make your reason and observations conform to the truth of God's Word.

So, when God's Word says, "Baptism... now saves you," don't respond by saying, "Well, it can't mean 'baptism.'" Instead say, "There must be something more to Baptism than my eyes can perceive."

When God's Word describes Baptism as a "circumcision of Christ" "made without hands," don't respond by saying, "Well, obviously this isn't talking about baptism, because, look, see? There are hands doing the baptizing!" No. Instead say, "There must be something more to Baptism than my eyes can see or my reason can comprehend, because God's Word is clearly saying as much, and God's Word must be true."

John Stebbe said...

Eric, I thank you for your willingness to go back and forth on these questions. You are helping me to sharpen my understanding of Scripture, and perhaps I am helping you as well. Proverbs 27:17

Eric wrote: The phrase "with joy" is from the explanation to the parable, not only in Matthew (the account I was working from), but also in Mark and Luke.

John here: Yes, my bad. I made it sound like the phrase ‘with joy’ was from the first part of the parable. But I would say, Eric, that this is a distinction without a difference. You still have not dealt with the idea that only the last group had good and noble hearts, and given the idea of total depravity, no one comes into this world with a good and noble heart.

Eric wrote: As for 1 John 2:19... Let's take it for granted that when John says "they were not really of us," it means they were never really regenerate. (I think that conclusion is at least as tenuous as saying that the "rocky soil" receiving the word of the kingdom with joy is not representative of a regenerate person,

John here: Not tenuous at all, given Christ’s description of only the last group having good and noble hearts.

Eric wrote: but let's grant it for the sake of discussion, recognizing that the concept of "regeneration" is something we are bringing into each of these texts.) With that stipulation let me say that I agree wholeheartedly with 1 John 2:19. When we are looking at a departure from the faith through the lens of God's predestining the elect to salvation, we must understand it as an external revelation of the internal reality that the person who leaves the faith and dies in unbelief was not predestined according to the "election of grace."

John here: I am having a hard time following you here, Eric. It seems like you are saying that those who ‘went out from us’ in 1 John 2:19 were not elect. Is that what you are saying? If that’s true, we don’t disagree. But that still leaves open the question of whether a person can be a true Christian for a time and then lose his salvation.

Eric wrote: Yet this does not change the fact that Jesus died for all the world, and God desires that none should perish.

John here: Did Jesus die for every person ever born? Consider Matthew 1:21: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Jesus came to save ‘his people.’ Also John 10:15 “and I lay down my life for the sheep.” Not the goats.

Eric wrote: And we are not at liberty to use 1 John 2:19 as a pretext for changing or ignoring Jesus' explanation to the parable of the sower.

John here: Scripture is in harmony with itself, and neither of those texts can change the meaning of the other. I think we agree on that.

John Stebbe said...

Eric wrote: I'm not ignoring your requests for specific texts. I am reluctant to introduce other texts, just so we can argue them the same way these have been argued thus far (i.e. Me: "The texts are true in what they actually say." You: "The texts can't mean what they actually say, because that would contradict this other text.")

John here: Well, Eric, that’s the chance you take when you blog about salvation! ☺ But I think we both learn from the process.

Eric said, You are familiar with John 1:19, John 3:16-17, 1 John 2:2, etc. If I have time maybe we can wrangle over a few other ones, but from my perspective the exercise is almost pointless.

John here: Not pointless if this discussion causes us to think more deeply about what Scripture says, even if we don’t convince each other about perseverance.

John 1:19 – did you cite the right verse? I don’t see what this verse has to do with our discussion.

John 3:16-17 Yes, of course this verse is often cited by those who believe in universal atonement. Many things could be said in response, from a Reformed perspective. What comes to mind first is this: “For God so loved the world . . .” The word ‘world’ need not mean every person ever born. For example, Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 16:18) But here ‘world’ cannot mean every person ever born. So the word 'world' in Scripture does not always mean every person ever born.

1 John 2:2 “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” “Whole world” for John could mean “Jews and Gentiles, not just Jews.” “Ours only” could refer to the Jews. In the opening verse he says of Christ, "Which we have seen with our eyes . . . . and our hands have handled". This could not apply to Gentiles, so it must refer to the Jewish believers. So in turn, the ‘whole world’ must refer to elect Gentiles. As well, if John had meant ‘every single person ever born,’ he did not need to say, ‘not for ours only.’ Just saying “sins of the whole world” would be enough to make the point.

John Stebbe said...

Eric wrote: Instead of accepting the texts in Romans 6 and Colossians 2 and 1 Peter 3, etc. to mean what they actually say, you contend that they cannot and do not mean what they say, because...

John here: Let me respond to each of those three Scripture references.

Romans 6:4 “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

There is symbolic language here in ‘buried with him.’ We were not literally buried when we were saved. Our sins were buried with him, on that much we would agree, although even that is figurative language. So just as ‘buried’ is non-literal, baptism here is not the literal way we enter the kingdom of God. As well, Paul says, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) So when an adult believes and confesses Christ, are we to say that he is not saved until he is baptized? That would contradict Paul.

Colossians 2:12 “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Same arguments above apply to this verse.

1 Peter 3:21 “Baptism now saves you.” Even the most hard-core confessional Lutheran does not believe this to be literally true. It is the person and work of Christ that saves you, not baptism itself. So there is non-literal aspect to this passage. Lutherans would say that God uses baptism as a means of grace by which the merits of Christ are applied to a person, and his sins are forgiven. So Lutherans would do some un-packing to truly understand what 1 Peter 3:21 means. And this Lutheran un-packing would be based on their understanding of verses like Romans 6:4 and Col. 2:12, which have been discussed above.

Just as Lutherans un-pack this verse with their own doctrine of baptism, Reformed folks un-pack it by stating, as Lutherans would, that this verse cannot be literally true. We are saved by the person and work of Christ, not by baptism itself. But baptism is the way in which a believer is identified with Christ, and so in that sense ‘baptism now saves you.’ For infants (and here Rhology will likely debate me) baptism corresponds to circumcision and so identifies the baby with God’s covenant people, but does not guarantee the child’s salvation.

Eric said...

John,
In the Large Catechism, the Lutheran Symbols put it this way, "...since we know now what Baptism is and how it is to be regarded, we must also learn why and for what purpose it is instituted. We must learn what it profits, gives, and works. For this also we cannot find a better resource than Christ's words quoted above, 'Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved' [Mark 16:16]. Therefore, state it most simply in this way: the power, work, profit, fruit, and purpose of Baptism is this -- to save [1 Peter 3:21]. For no one is baptized in order that he may become a prince, but, as the words say, that he 'be saved.' We know that this is nothing other than to be delivered from sin, death, and the devil [Colossians 1:13-14]. It means to enter into Christ's kingdom [John 3:5], and to live with Him forever."

Forget the adjectives "hard-core" and "confessional." Technically speaking, anyone who cannot say with St. Peter, "Baptism... now saves you," and mean by those words simply and precisely what they actually SAY, is not a Lutheran at all. He is contradicting the Word of God and the confessional standard by which the word "Lutheran" is defined. He is as "Lutheran" as your piano.

There is a tendency in Reformed logic to separate things that ought to be held together. Confessing and believing in Romans 10:9 goes with Baptism in Romans 6:4, and they both save. Believing and receiving Baptism go together in Mark 16:16 and they both save. Water and the Spirit go together in John 3:5 and without them (together, as a single unit), Jesus says that we cannot enter the kingdom of God. In Acts 2:38, repentance and receiving Baptism are presented in unison and both bring the forgiveness of sins. In each and every instance Reformed theology (ignoring the explicit conjunction in the last three examples) separates the two and builds an impenetrable wall of separation between them; so that forgiveness, life and salvation belong to the one, but not the other. Next I suppose you will tell me that as long as I affirm the salvific effect of Baptism I must also deny the salvific effect of Holy Communion; because I would be contradicting myself if I said that Baptism saves and Holy Communion saves. I'm sorry, but your reason at this point has become highly unreasonable. If the same Jesus who says, "...unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God," turns around three chapters later and says, "...unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;" we are not at liberty to say that one thing conveys forgiveness, life and salvation but the other one doesn't -- even if the two events happen at different points in time. That a person might be saved on Friday night and receive the same gift again on Sunday morning may confuse us, but this is yet another example of how our reason and observations must be conformed to Scripture and not the other way around.

John Stebbe said...

Eric, I am going to make this my last post on this topic. I appreciate the time and effort you have contributed to our exchange. It has been a good experience for me.

Eric wrote:
John, in the Large Catechism, the Lutheran Symbols put it this way, "...since we know now what Baptism is and how it is to be regarded, we must also learn why and for what purpose it is instituted. We must learn what it profits, gives, and works. For this also we cannot find a better resource than Christ's words quoted above, 'Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved' [Mark 16:16].

John here: Mark 16:16 is a disputed text. Not in the earliest and best manuscripts. Even if it were not disputed, why does the verse end, “whoever does not believe will be condemned”? The mark of salvation appears to be belief, not baptism.

Eric continues quoting the LC: Therefore, state it most simply in this way: the power, work, profit, fruit, and purpose of Baptism is this -- to save [1 Peter 3:21].

John here: I responded to 1 Pet 3:21 in my previous post.

Eric continues quoting the LC: For no one is baptized in order that he may become a prince, but, as the words say, that he 'be saved.' We know that this is nothing other than to be delivered from sin, death, and the devil [Colossians 1:13-14].

John here: Col 1:13-14 is a powerful verse, but has nothing to do with baptism, as far as I can tell.

Eric continues quoting the LC: It means to enter into Christ's kingdom [John 3:5], and to live with Him forever."

John here: John 3:5 is often quoted by Lutherans to support the idea of baptismal regeneration. A few observations:
First, if Jesus had used the word ‘baptism,’ then this argument would carry more weight.
Second, if Jesus had meant baptismal regeneration, Nicodemus would have had no idea what he was talking about, since Christian baptism was not yet instituted.
Third, it is possible that Jesus was referring to the amniotic waters present when a baby is born physically. In that sense, Jesus would have been saying, “Being born of water is not enough. You must also be born of the Spirit.”

Eric wrote: Forget the adjectives "hard-core" and "confessional." Technically speaking, anyone who cannot say with St. Peter, "Baptism... now saves you," and mean by those words simply and precisely what they actually SAY, is not a Lutheran at all. He is contradicting the Word of God and the confessional standard by which the word "Lutheran" is defined. He is as "Lutheran" as your piano.

John here: So you’ve seen my profile pic! That’s actually not my piano, although I wish it was. As to ‘baptism now saves you,’ sometimes we don’t take the words of Scripture in the most literal way, as in “My God is a Rock.” That’s a metaphor. Neither you nor I would believe those words to mean that God really is a rock. So your formula, “. . . mean by those words simply and precisely what they actually SAY . . .” does not apply everywhere in Scripture. It’s not wrong to consider the possibility that “Baptism now saves you” has a non-literal meaning.

(continued)

John Stebbe said...

Eric wrote: There is a tendency in Reformed logic to separate things that ought to be held together. Confessing and believing in Romans 10:9 goes with Baptism in Romans 6:4, and they both save.

John here: I responded to Romans 6:4 in my previous post. If I was in error, please tell me how.

Eric wrote: Believing and receiving Baptism go together in Mark 16:16 and they both save. Water and the Spirit go together in John 3:5 and without them (together, as a single unit), Jesus says that we cannot enter the kingdom of God.

John here: I have responded to those two verses earlier in this post.

Eric wrote: In Acts 2:38, repentance and receiving Baptism are presented in unison and both bring the forgiveness of sins.

John here: The verse says, “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.’” The key word is ‘for.’ Does it mean ‘to receive’ or ‘because of?’ The same Greek work “eis” (“for”) is also found in Matt 12:41, where the people of Ninevah repented “eis” the preaching of Jonah. So I don’t think it’s a sure thing at all that Acts 2:38 teaches baptismal regeneration.

Eric wrote: In each and every instance Reformed theology (ignoring the explicit conjunction in the last three examples) separates the two and builds an impenetrable wall of separation between them; so that forgiveness, life and salvation belong to the one, but not the other.

John here: If you could respond to my discussions of the verses you cited in support of baptismal regeneration, that would be great. If you could demonstrate that I have done what you are claiming (“builds an impenetrable wall”), I would appreciate that.

Eric wrote: Next I suppose you will tell me that as long as I affirm the salvific effect of Baptism I must also deny the salvific effect of Holy Communion; because I would be contradicting myself if I said that Baptism saves and Holy Communion saves. I'm sorry, but your reason at this point has become highly unreasonable.

John here: I did not bring up Holy Communion. Don’t call me unreasonable for an argument I have not made.

Eric wrote: If the same Jesus who says, "...unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God," turns around three chapters later and says, "...unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;" we are not at liberty to say that one thing conveys forgiveness, life and salvation but the other one doesn't -- even if the two events happen at different points in time.

John here: When Jesus said those words about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, the sacrament of the Eucharist had not yet been instituted. His audience would not have had any way to know what He was referring to.

(continued)

John Stebbe said...

Eric wrote: That a person might be saved on Friday night and receive the same gift again on Sunday morning may confuse us, but this is yet another example of how our reason and observations must be conformed to Scripture and not the other way around.

John here: Yes, reason and observation need to be conformed to Scripture. No argument. But when a harmony between passages can be found, clearing up confusion, we ought not ignore the harmony to maintain our denominational traditions.

To sum up my thoughts here, Eric, as you know it was the issue of perseverance that finally caused me to give up the idea of infant baptismal regeneration. To believe that infants are regenerated at the time of baptism, one must account for the phenomenon of unbelieving adults who were baptized as infants. You would say they were saved at baptism, and then abandoned the faith. I would say that those people never were saved, because if they were, they would have persevered, because the Holy Spirit keeps them in the true faith, as Luther said. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays his life down for the sheep, and promises that his sheep will never perish (John 10). If a true Christian can lose his salvation, then we must say that this person was Christ’s sheep for a time, but then perished, in contrast to Jesus’ promise. As well, Jesus elsewhere said, “37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” (John 6) Jesus says He “shall lose none.” I believe Him. Many other strong Biblical arguments can be made for the perseverance of the Christian, and several of these can be found in the LCMS 1932 Brief Statement.

Eric, you have replied to the idea of perseverance by citing the Parable of the Sower, saying that those who receive the Word “with joy” are true Christians who then later fall away. But I have repeatedly pointed out that only the last group have ‘true and noble hearts’ which God gives only to His children. We are not born with these sorts of hearts. You have not responded to this point.

Eric, you are my brother in Christ, and I hope that you can say the same of me. I rejoice that, as a confessional Lutheran, you affirm the five Solas of the Reformation and the inerrancy of Scripture. You and I have much more in common than what separates us. I have been enriched by our interaction, and hope that we might meet face-to-face someday. May the Lord bless you.

John

Rhology said...

When Jesus said those words about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, the sacrament of the Eucharist had not yet been instituted. His audience would not have had any way to know what He was referring to.


It's also pretty questionable as to whether Jesus would commend us to believe a doctrine that results in monophysitism.
I tend to think Jesus was heresy-free both in explicit and implicit teachings.

Eric said...

John,
There is no way I can respond to everything you wrote in just the last three comments (much less to every point you have made in this thread). This is not because there is no response. The volume simply overwhelms me. It is a matter of making prudent selections in the interests of time.

So, for example, I did not respond specifically to your point about "good and noble hearts." Well... I think I covered that (in part) when complaining of the Reformed tendency to make distinctions into separations. I do not believe the distinction between "good and noble hearts" and hearts that "receive the Word with joy" is a material one. It seems silly to say that the good and noble hearts belong to regenerate persons but the hearts that receive the Word with joy belong to unregenerate persons. I'm sorry. I'm not trying to be rude anymore than you are trying to be rude in chastising me for failing to address your point. I just didn't think it was all that important in relation to some of the other concerns and objections you were raising, and the sheer volume required a selection be made.

I am intrigued by your work in the texts, and if the opportunity presents itself I would like to take a closer look at them and work through some of your claims and objections. That may not take the form of a response so much as a more thorough exegesis of the texts from a Lutheran standpoint. I'm not sure yet how this is going to materialize, but if it is along the lines just described it will probably appear on my own blog instead of posting here.

I sincerely appreciate the time you have taken to present your views. Nothing you have said has been all that surprising. My own journey began in a liberal Lutheran church (at my Baptism), continued in a charismatic evangelical church (from age 5 to 29), progressed through R.C. Sproul's Reformed theolgoy (from about age 26 to approximately age 33), joined an LCMS congregation at age 29 and finally became a Lutheran at around age 34 (about four or five years ago). Though I never joined a Reformed congregation, I was militantly Calvinist for several years. Thus the familiarity with your views. Still, it is invaluable to have another human being giving expression to the "other" point of view, and I thank you for that.

And, yes, I do consider you a brother in Christ. You are confessing the redemptive work of the Triune God, and, as Jesus said, "They will know you by your love." There has been a certain patience and charity in so many of your remarks, and it has been much appreciated.

aztexan said...

Wow. Choice post and meta. I'mma link to it. :-)

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Eric: "Instead, make your reason and observations conform to the truth of God's Word."

Hi Eric,

This article Proof-Texting Perils will show you that reason and observations conforming to the truth of God's Word is being done by Rhology and John Stebbe.

Excerpt: "Further, when the Jews later take issue with Peter about his involvement with Gentiles, he simply recounted the event and they were satisfied (Acts 11:1-18). In this passage regeneration clearly follows faith, not baptism.

Note the wording:

If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” And when they heard this, they quieted down, and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:17-18)

Notice baptism isn’t even mentioned here, only the salient details of regeneration: repentance, faith, and salvation. By all appearances, Acts 10 is unambiguous. Baptism is not necessary for salvation.

GUIDANCE FROM GRAMMAR

What about in Acts 2? Is it possible this passage means something different than it appears to at first? On closer inspection the answer is that it does. The key is in the grammar."

(Read the rest of this article).

Eric said...

Hi anonymous entity assuming the handle "Truth Unites... and Divides",

I have a lot of respect for Greg Koukl, but the article you cite is a remarkable example of "the pot calling the kettle black." Mr. Koukl is proof-texting. He is creating a contradiction. He is pulling up two texts -- one to support each side of a false dilemma -- and then forcing one verse to yield to the other. It is fascinating and ridiculous. The Lutheran confession of Christ has denied BOTH positions in his false dichotomy for nearly 500 years. He is putting up his evangelical doctrine against the teaching of the Churches of Christ. I do not have a horse in that race. They BOTH misrepresent the true relationship between baptism and salvation.

At the outset Mr. Koukl presents his subject in this form: "Is baptism necessary for salvation?" So, let me ask you, is this article going to present a discussion of baptism? Is baptism actually the subject of this conversation? Well, if you jump ahead to page three, under the heading "Doing Your Homework," Mr. Koukl seems to think that it is. He tells his readers that they should grab a concordance and look up all forms of the word, "baptize," and systematically study the topic. It is very good advice, but baptism is not his topic in this article. He is exploring is a different topic -- the moment of conversion.

The moment of conversion is a special obsession in evangelical theology. It begins with the assumption that such a moment exists. The assumption is reasonable and valid. The premises are biblical. We were all conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity. As Christians we are no longer in this lost condition. It follows, therefore, that at some point in time we must have been transitioned from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. We were converted. We "got saved." WHEN did that happen? Leaving aside its teaching on baptism, the Word of God really doesn't have a whole lot to say on the subject.

Now I could take you to all the verses that very clearly describe what God is doing in baptism to accomplish your conversion (see my previous comments above for a sampling), but that wouldn’t go very far with Greg Koukl or any other evangelical. Why not? What is standing in the way?

It is that element of necessity Greg slips into his original question. "Is baptism necessary for salvation?" Do that systematic Bible study on the word "baptize," and you will find God's Word saying some very remarkable things about baptism, including the very plain statement in 1 Peter 3:21 that baptism now saves you. But you will not find anything that says baptism is necessary for salvation. Scripture simply does not use that category -- it does not apply that category to baptism one way or the other. It does not put baptism into that category, and it does not take baptism out of it. And yet Mr. Koukl is coming to these two texts (Acts 2:38 and Acts 10:44-48) demanding that Scripture do one or the other. Put it in or take it out, but, God, you MUST answer my question!

This is the essence of proof-texting. This is making Scripture speak to a question God chooses not to address. And Mr. Koukl compounds his error by requiring God's Word to speak through his logical apparatus: If baptism is necessary for salvation, then faith is not sufficient for salvation; and if faith is sufficient for salvation, then baptism is not necessary for salvation. Mr. Koukl expresses it this way: "If the repentant believer is baptized 'for the forgiveness of sins,' then repentance and belief are not enough."

[To be continued...]

Eric said...

[Continued]

Do you see the mechanics of this thing? Do you see how Greg's position on the interpretation of Acts 2:38 was developed and came into being? It was not that he was reading through the passage in the original language, when something popped off the page, and he discovered a nuance in the grammatical structure that no other Greek scholar in nearly 2,000 years of church history had ever seen before. That would be an interpretation drawn out of the text, but that is not what happened here. No, this interpretation was born in the rational, a priori assumption that, "If the repentant believer is baptized 'for the forgiveness of sins,' then repentance and belief are not enough." But repentance and belief are enough (which is true; they ARE "enough"), therefore we cannot accept what that verse says about baptism, and we must find some way to deconstruct it into a new and different meaning. That last part is not true. One can be completely born again through repentance and faith alone, and still receive the gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation in the waters of baptism. The either/or contradiction is imposed on the text, and it is entirely unnecessary. God’s Word is giving us a both/and.

We struggle with this both/and idea because our human reason gets in the way. We see that time is linear, and regeneration seems like it must be a singular sort of event; so we rationally assume that if regeneration occurs at one point in time, it cannot occur at any other point in time. Well, maybe that makes a lot of sense, but God and His Word are not subject to our limited, linear perception of time. If He gives you repentance and forgiveness through the proclamation of the Word, and you receive it in faith and "get saved" in that moment (as would be the case), it does not mean that God is not able to give you the gifts of repentance and forgiveness at a subsequent moment in the waters of baptism, and then again at many other subsequent moments in the proclamation of God’s Word and in the eating and drinking of Christ's body and blood at Holy Communion. This idea, that it can only happen once, comes from the analogy of "new birth" combined with a sold-out, fanatical commitment to the totally linear nature of time. It does not come from anything God has actually said about forgiveness, life or salvation in His Word.

A skeptical scholar, like Greg Koukl, needs to grapple with the fact that Acts was written after both events described in these two texts (Acts 2:38 and Acts 10:44-48). If there really is a conflict between the idea that baptism is for the forgiveness of sins, and the idea that repentance and faith can appropriate forgiveness to the believer prior to baptism, why is that conflict not clarified and deliberately resolved in the text? I mean, obviously something extraordinary takes place in Acts 10. Peter is expressing his surprise, and he gives "orders" that the household of Cornelius be baptized. But did the fact that he witnessed this conversion prior to baptism change his mind about baptism? Did he do something to "revise and extend" the statement he made in Acts 2:28? Did it stop him from writing at a later date that baptism saves you? Did it move him to quash St. Paul's letters to the Romans and Colossians, where Paul said that our baptism was the circumcision of Christ made without hands, and that by baptism we were made dead to sin but alive to God in Christ?

This conflict -- this perception that an efficacious baptism is incompatible with the idea that faith alone is sufficient for salvation -- is a conflict of our own making. It exists only in our minds. It is based in the rational (but extra-Scriptural) assumption that if baptism does all that stuff, then faith is not sufficient for salvation. It is a rational assumption, but it is not true because it does not conform to the revelation of God’s Word.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Mr. Koukl is proof-texting."

No, he isn't.

"He is creating a contradiction."

No, he didn't. He's responding to a contradiction that others have noted.

"He is pulling up two texts -- one to support each side of a false dilemma -- and then forcing one verse to yield to the other. It is fascinating and ridiculous."

Your response is fascinating and ridiculous.

"The Lutheran confession of Christ has denied BOTH positions in his false dichotomy for nearly 500 years."

Lutherans deny that baptism is necessary for salvation and Lutherans deny that baptism is not necessary for salvation?

This is rather incoherent.

"He is putting up his evangelical doctrine against the teaching of the Churches of Christ. I do not have a horse in that race."

Actually, your response shows that you do have a horse in this race.

"They BOTH misrepresent the true relationship between baptism and salvation."

BOTH? So you're admitting that Confessional Lutheran churches have misrepresented the true relationship between baptism and salvation?

Rhology said...

[quality]
Lutherans deny that baptism is necessary for salvation and Lutherans deny that baptism is not necessary for salvation?
[/quality]

Eric said...

Hmmm... I must have hit a nerve, because the anonymous entities have been reduced to scoffing.

I did not merely assert that Greg Koukl is proof-texting. I defined the term accurately, and explained how/why Mr. Koukl had crossed that line. Coming back with, "No, he isn't," sets an unfortunate and childish tone for the rest of your remarks.

On your second point, I yield. Technically speaking, Mr. Koukl did not create the contradiction. But I make that clear enough later in the same paragraph, when I say he is pitting his own Evangelical doctrine against the teaching of the Churches of Christ. Obviously, Koukl is not the author of either one. The point remains valid. He is assuming that the contradiction is real, and therefore must be resolved. If that were true, it would present a genuine problem. Peter commits to writing the apostolic doctrine that "baptism... now saves you," AFTER the events of Acts 10. Observing the events in that Acts 10 narrative, modern evangelicals conclude that baptism does absolutely nothing. It is safe to assume that Peter and Paul understood the significance of the events in Acts 10 better than we do, no matter what conclusions Koukl may draw from them.

To your fourth point, I will admit that biblical (i.e. Lutheran) doctrine on baptism is hard to understand -- especially for evangelicals. (I used to be one. It is hard to change.) This difficulty begins with the fact that evangelicals are using categories that God does not use. Evangelicals are intensely interested in knowing whether baptism is or is not necessary for salvation. God, in His Word, very carefully avoids discussing baptism under the constraint of that category.

For Lutherans, approaching this idea of "necessity" becomes a matter of the proper application of Law and Gospel. To the unbaptized person, who thinks baptism is a mere symbol -- who thinks that baptism conveys nothing, and he doesn't need it to be saved -- we endeavor to demonstrate from God's Word that baptism is more than mere symbol, and that you cannot be saved if you despise God's gifts. But to the baptized person living in sin and unbelief, we must caution him not to think that his baptism can save him. It is not some sort of talisman or lucky charm that does its saving work automatically. It is not an incantation. It works by conveying the promise of the Gospel. The promise creates faith. The fruit of this faith, repentance, should be evident in the life of the baptized. If it is not there -- I mean, clearly, not there; as demonstrated by some public sin without repentance -- then that person has rejected the gift of God's grace as surely as the "believer" who thinks that he doesn't need to receive baptism at all.

To your fifth point... despite the continued scoffing, I will yield... sort of. The Churches of Christ retain the biblical teaching that baptism regenerates. Good for them! But they completely eviscerate this teaching when they present baptism as something YOU must do to get regenerated after coming to faith in Christ. In their theology baptism is seen as a work of the Law -- a work that saves you. (Personally, I think their distortion is worse than yours.) To the extent that Greg Koukl is presenting a conflict between a baptism "for the forgiveness of sins," and a baptism that merely symbolizes forgiveness and testifies to it... Yes, I have a horse in that race. I'm going with the plain reading of Acts 2:38. But that is not what he is doing in his article. He is explicitly pitting the order of "faith, then baptism, resulting in salvation," (Churches of Christ) against, "faith, resulting in salvation, followed by [the merely symbolic ordinance of] baptism" (Evangelicalism). The biblical order, at least insofar as adult baptism is concerned, is "faith, resulting in salvation, followed by baptism for the forgiveness of sins."

Rhology said...

The promise creates faith.

That's funny, I thought God created faith and gave it as a gift.

Eric said...

The promise of God. The promise God makes and communicates through means.

What is Baptism?
Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God's command and combined with God's Word.

"I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

When we translate (instead of transliterate) the word baptidzo it means "wash." "I wash you in the name of the Father..." What sort of washing is this? If you are simply removing dirt from my flesh, you had better keep doing it over and over again! But, no, this is a washing away of your sins (Acts 22:16). This is a cleansing of your conscience (1Peter 3). This is a promise for you and for your children (Acts 2).

The word and promises of God create faith, and Baptism is one of the means whereby God is communicating this most sacred promise of forgiveness, life and salvation in Christ Jesus.

Is it funny that God would do such magnificent things in such humble and ordinary ways? Well, yes... I suppose it is. I mean, I might have expected Him to send the man of God to come out and call upon the name of the Lord and wave his hand over the place and cure my leprosy in some grander fashion. But I think, maybe, God likes to laugh.

Rhology said...

The word and promises of God create faith

Supporting exegesis, please?


Is it funny that God would do such magnificent things in such humble and ordinary ways? Well, yes... I suppose it is

Who is complaining about that?
My problem is and has always been that baptism is a work and works don't save.

Eric said...

Don't pretend this is some radical new concept. Go read Genesis 1 and then explain to the rest of us how God creates things.

You really have no right to demand exegesis from me, when you have failed to demonstrate from Scripture how baptism can be rightly considered "a work." If commands to be baptized in the book of Acts confine baptism to the status of human work, how is it that commands to believe (Mark 1:15; Mark 5:36; Luke 8:50; John 4:21; Acts 16:31; Acts 19:4) don't have the same effect on faith? If that is why you believe baptism is a human work -- if that is the mechanism you use to transform baptism from a gift to a law -- (and you did offer that explanation several weeks ago in a previous comment), how can it be that faith is not a human work as well?

You method for making baptism into a purely human work is invalid, and your conclusion is invalid as well.

Rhology said...

You really have no right to demand exegesis from me

Haha, oh, OK.
Sorry I asked.



how baptism can be rightly considered "a work.

Tell you what, let's go over this again.
You really have no right to demand exegesis from me, when you have failed to demonstrate from Scripture how circumcision can be rightly considered "a work."

You really have no right to demand exegesis from me, when you have failed to demonstrate from Scripture how tithing can be rightly considered "a work."

You really have no right to demand exegesis from me, when you have failed to demonstrate from Scripture how hospitality can be rightly considered "a work."

You really have no right to demand exegesis from me, when you have failed to demonstrate from Scripture how abstinence from evil thoughts can be rightly considered "a work."

And let me give you a shortcut. Once you've told me how you know those things aren't works, tell me why that same argument is inapplicable to baptism.



if that is the mechanism you use to transform baptism from a gift to a law

Is not baptism a command?
Are commands gifts?



command to believe

Believing is a state of mind, not something one does.
And faith is a gift of God, explicitly - Eph 2:8-9. Baptism is not.

Eric said...

When you quote half a sentence of mine for no other purpose than to misrepresent the nature of what I said casting it into a negative light, you are bearing false witness. I'm sorry that your conduct offends me, and I'm sorry that I don't have enough wisdom and self-control to more carefully conceal it. I am a poor, sinful being. But your deceitful abuse of those who disagree with you is not cute. It is not funny. It's a sin.

I suppose there is a sense in which the commands of God's law are gifts. God did not tell the Jews to circumcise their babies to harm them. He did this as a sign of His favor -- to bless them. He did not command a tithe in Israel to harm the people. He did it to provide for their priests -- to bless the people. Etc., etc., etc.

Baptism is not like these other things, because nowhere does God say that circumcision unites the circumcised to the death and resurrection of Christ. Nowhere does God say that tithing now saves you. Nowhere does God say that abstaining from evil thoughts washes away your sin. Nowhere does God say that we are to show hospitality for the forgiveness of sins. God says all those things and much more about Baptism.

Baptism is not a command -- not in the way that you are using that word. Outside of the narrative texts, where we also find commands to believe, you will not find a single passage ordering the individual to get baptized. The "command," such as it is, properly belongs to the baptizers, to the Church, to the ministers acting on Christ's behalf. Thus it is HIS work, as the command itself sufficiently proves.

Rhology said...

When you quote half a sentence of mine for no other purpose than to misrepresent the nature of what I said casting it into a negative light, you are bearing false witness

I'd like to ask you not to be so melodramatic. It's not as if I deleted your comment and then half-quoted you.


God did not tell the Jews to circumcise their babies to harm them.

Is it possible to circumcise one's baby without committing sin of any kind or degree?


Baptism is not like these other things, because nowhere does God say that circumcision unites the circumcised to the death and resurrection of Christ

So baptism is a special work. It's left out when it says "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis works, else grace is no longer grace" just b/c it's a work that is so expected of Christians that it's unthinkable that a Christian wouldn't do it?


Nowhere does God say that tithing now saves you.

Doesn't say that about baptism either. What was that about quoting half a sentence?
It says "...NOT THE REMOVAL OF DIRT FROM THE FLESH, but an appeal to God for a clean conscience". And this after describing Noah and family who were saved by Jesus without getting wet. The water was condemnatory. It was not a vehicle of salvation; the ark was.


Baptism is not a command -- not in the way that you are using that word.

Repent, all of you, and be baptised.
So that's not an imperative?


The "command," such as it is, properly belongs to the baptizers, to the Church, to the ministers acting on Christ's behalf. Thus it is HIS work, as the command itself sufficiently proves.

You can say that over and over all you want, but MEN DO IT. Thus it's a WORK. That's the definition of the word. Sad to see you acting like this.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Eric: "It is that element of necessity Greg slips into his original question. "Is baptism necessary for salvation?"

Eric, listen to yourself from an earlier comment to John Stebbe:

"Technically speaking, anyone who cannot say with St. Peter, "Baptism... now saves you," and mean by those words simply and precisely what they actually SAY, is not a Lutheran at all. He is contradicting the Word of God and the confessional standard by which the word "Lutheran" is defined."

Eric, it's your own Lutheran doctrine of Baptism which prompts Koukl to address the question of "Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation?"

Eric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric said...

To the anonymous entity called "Truth Unites... and Divides":

I do not understand the connection you are trying to make between Koukl's preoccupation with the question of whether baptism is necessary for salvation and my earlier defense of the apostolic doctrine in 1 Peter 3:21. I could venture a decent guess, but I really don't understand. Can you please try to explain how these two things are related?

If it helps clear things up a bit (and it won't), let me say that I do believe baptism is necessary for salvation (see Augsburg Confession, Article IX). But in saying this, I am not using the word "necessary" in the same way as Greg Koukl is using it in this article, and I am certainly not saying anything even remotely like what the Churches of Christ mean when they speak of baptism as being necessary for salvation.

Eric said...

To the anonymous entity called "Rhology":

What does 1 Peter 3:21 say about baptism? I mean, I understand that you think it does NOT say that baptism now saves you. Okay, whatever... I can’t begin to wrap my mind around that denial, and how you find the license to do that with the text, but... whatever. It is a somewhat difficult passage, with complex imagery. We're not going to agree, so let's forget about that dispute for the moment.

What DOES 1 Peter 3:21 actually about baptism? Anything at all?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Eric: "let me say that I do believe baptism is necessary for salvation (see Augsburg Confession, Article IX). But in saying this, I am not using the word "necessary" in the same way as Greg Koukl is using it in this article, and I am certainly not saying anything even remotely like what the Churches of Christ mean when they speak of baptism as being necessary for salvation."

Alright Eric. You have a communication problem. You're claiming that there's a fallacy of equivocation going on. Let's do this to clear away the fog.

"Necessary1" = Eric's definition of necessary.

"Necessary2" = The plain meaning of necessary which Koukl uses.

Now please define Necessary1 in such a way that it is clearly distinct from Necessary2.

Next, when you refer to the Churches of Christ, what exactly are you referring to? The Roman Catholic Church? The Eastern Orthodox Church? The United Church of Christ? What??

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Eric from his most recent blog post: "I grew up in a charismatic church. In December 2001 it was over. I had to move on.


About three years prior to that I had started listening regularly to R.C. Sproul on the radio during my drive home from work. Dr. Sproul opened the Scriptures in a way that I had never heard before. He taught with the authority of one who had spent many years studying the texts in their original languages, and his teaching was firmly grounded in the history of the church. ... But the teaching from Dr. Sproul that really shook me was on the subject of infant baptism. He was the first person to tell me that there is a Biblical case to be made for the practice.

To hear Dr. Sproul present a Biblical case for the practice of infant baptism was nothing short of stunning. From my perspective this was truly impossible, and yet... There it was. In listening to Dr. Sproul, I didn't run into a wall of internal conflict. Sproul seemed more than willing to let the text speak for itself. The difference was so remarkable that I had come to place a very high degree of trust in him as a teacher. So when he spoke on Baptism -- when he opened the Scriptures on this new topic -- what he said was a surprise, but I never really doubted him."

Eric, I hope you don't doubt Dr. RC Sproul when he wrote the following too:

"Just as an aside, the word significance has as its root the word sign. A sign is something that points to something beyond itself. We all recognize that whatever baptism signifies, Jesus obviously thought it was very important because he gives a command to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Whatever else it is, baptism is the sign of the new covenant that God makes with his people. We do have the clear mandate in the New Testament that Christians are to be baptized.

I personally do not believe that baptism is essential for salvation. If I believed that, I would think that the thief on the cross who was promised paradise with Jesus would have been disqualified because he obviously didn’t have an opportunity to get baptized. But I do believe that baptism is essential for obedience because Christ commands it. It’s just the same thing as when people say, “Do you have to go to church to go to heaven?” I would say, “Obviously not.” But do you have to go to church to obey Christ? Yes, you do. And if you are not inclined to obey Christ and have no inclination to follow his mandates, that may be a sign that you are not headed for heaven. So church involvement becomes a very serious matter of obedience.

I would say the same about the sacrament of baptism."

Read the rest at What is the Significance of Baptism?.

Matthew C. Martellus said...

TUAD SAID:


"Necessary1" = Eric's definition of necessary.

"Necessary2" = The plain meaning of necessary which Koukl uses.

Now please define Necessary1 in such a way that it is clearly distinct from Necessary2.


I would add to what TUAD has said by noting the following. When one says that "X is necessary for Y," what is generally meant (in symbolic logic) is the following:

◻(Y ⊃ X)

That is, in all possible scenarios, if Y is true, then X must be true as well. Substituting "Baptism" for X and "Salvation" for Y, then the usual meaning is that in all possible scenarios, if one is saved, one must also have been baptized. It follows from this that if one is not baptized, one cannot be saved, as there is no possible scenario in which Y is true and X is not.

I too am interested in receiving a definition of Eric's notion of "necessity" in clear and formal terms that can be used to explain non-equivocally how that notion is different from the general usage, yet still be justifiably termed "necessity."

Rhology said...

1 Pet 3:21 refers to "an appeal to God for a clean conscience".
Probably Peter is playing off what he is in reality referring to (ie, Spirit baptism) and the inextricable relationship that water baptism has to one's regeneration. That is, water baptism is what all believers should do, and it is so powerfully connected and so explicitly commanded and such a beautiful picture of one's dying to oneself, that it deserves to be mentioned in the same breath.
Yet Peter sets it apart from what saves us, b/c we would hardly expect an apostle of the Lord to preach that one is saved faith+works.

Eric said...

To Rhology:

"Baptism, which corresponds [to God's saving of eight persons in Noah's ark], now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

Grammatically speaking, how do you escape the fact that the subject of this sentence is "Baptism"? Let's look at a similar sentence: "The shovel digs -- not by removing feathers from your pillow, but by removing dirt from a particular spot in the ground." What is the subject of that sentence? Can it really be something other than the shovel? Looking at this Scriptural text for what it says and the way it is actually constructed, how can we say that the real subject is not Baptism?

Also, you mentioned "Spirit baptism" again. You said that this is probably what Peter is "in reality referring to." Try as I may, I cannot comprehend that. This Spirit baptism thing keeps popping like some magical jack-in-the-box into each and every New Testament text that portrays "baptism" as doing or accomplishing anything. In 1 Peter 3:21, according to the text, you have a Baptism that actually removes dirt from the body. Granted, this is not how it does its work of (not) saving you. It does that work by making an appeal -- "as an appeal to God for a good conscience." But still it does remove dirt from the body. What kind of "Spirit baptism" can remove dirt from the body?

The reason you give for making "an appeal to God" the subject of the sentence is that "we would hardly expect an apostle of the Lord to preach that one is saved [by] faith+works." So we have an a priori assumption that any word, whether from God or from man, that grants any kind of salvific effectiveness to Baptism would bring us inescapably, and of necessity to a salvation by faith plus works. And it is this assumption that gives you license to do these strange things to the text. I will grant that you believe you are drawing this assumption from other parts of God's Word, and I would be willing to walk with you through these other verses one at a time to explore that question and see if they do indeed support your presupposition. Can you tell me something about where this article of faith comes from?

Rhology said...

Yes, baptism is an appeal to God for a clean conscience.
That clean conscience is achieved b/c God has regenerated the baptisee, forgiven his sin, etc. Baptism pictures all of that and more.

In 1 Pet 3:21, you have baptism that actually appeals to God for a clean conscisnce and is not the removal of dirt from the body. Water baptism is the removal of dirt from the body. See?


What kind of "Spirit baptism" can remove dirt from the body?

It can't.
What kind of water baptism DOES NOT remove dirt from the body? Since that's what the text emphasises.


So we have an a priori assumption that any word, whether from God or from man, that grants any kind of salvific effectiveness to Baptism

So, let me get this straight. You think it's an a priori assumption that we're saved by grace alone by faith alone.
The massive "Um, what?!!??!" of that aside, it's hardly an assumption. It's sort of all over the Bible. It's a conclusion.


Can you tell me something about where this article of faith comes from?

Are you being serious?
Fine, I am willing to debate you on this resolution:
Resolved: The sinner is made right with a holy God by God's grace alone through faith alone.
I'll take the affirmative and you can have the negative.

I'll begin with:
Ephesians 2:8-10 - 8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9*******not as a result of works*******, so that no one may boast. 10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

So, we see here that salvation is NOT BY WORKS.
Question: Are we saved by works?
Answer: Not by works.


Romans 11:4-6 - 4But what is the divine response to him? “I HAVE KEPT for Myself SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL.” 5In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. 6But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

God's elective choice of a people for His own possession entails everything those people receive - regeneration, adoption, salvation, justification, glorification, sanctification.
Here God reminds us that it is NO LONGER ON THE BASIS OF WORKS. Otherwise, what? Grace is no longer grace.

I'll look fwd to seeing how you would like to argue that grace is no longer grace. Lutheranism sure is funny.

Eric said...

To "Truth Unites... and Divides":

When Greg Koukl or R.C. Sproul say that baptism is not necessary for salvation they mean that baptism is not the sine qua non of salvation. They would argue that the "without-which-nothing" of salvation is FAITH -- and FAITH ALONE. I would wholeheartedly agree, noting with approval that they are borrowing a distinctly Lutheran phrase and doctrine. The Reformers who presented the Augsburg Confession to Emperor Charles V -- who explicitly said that "Baptism is necessary for salvation" -- would have agreed with that too.

The sine qua non of salvation is faith and faith ALONE, but the "without-which-nothing" of faith is the Word. There is no faith in any corner of your heart (or any other heart on the planet) that God has not put there by the ministry of His Word.

The administration of the Sacraments falls under the same heading -- it is in the same category -- as the ministry of the Word. It is an extension of that same ministry. Baptism is not a magical incantation that automatically saves people through some outward act. It is a ministry of the Word commanded by God as a means of conveying His grace. Only God can forgive sins. Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:2; Eph. 5:26). The Lord's Supper is for the forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:28; 1 Cor. 11:24,26). The entire work of the pastoral office is one of forgiving and retaining sins through the ministry of God's Word (Jn. 20:19-23) using the instruments God has given.

When a Lutheran says that Baptism is necessary for salvation he means that A) Baptism is non-optional, and B) God has not given it for any other purpose than to convey the divine grace of forgiveness, life and salvation in Christ Jesus. As Luther said, "No one is baptized to become a prince." Every single denomination of the Christian Church in the world affirms the first part. We all agree that Baptism is not optional. The individual Christian cannot take-it-or-leave-it according to the dictates of his own wisdom or whim. We all need to be baptized.

If I believe that God has given Baptism for the purpose of conveying forgiveness, life and salvation its only because that's what the Bible says EVERY SINGLE TIME it says anything at all about what Baptism is for. If you want me to believe that it has some other purpose, you need to open the Bible and begin showing me the passages that say things like, "Baptism is your opportunity to confess your faith in Christ," or, "Baptism is your chance to tell the world about the work of regeneration God has already done in your heart," or some such thing. Are there any Scriptures that say anything of the sort? (Acts 10:44-48 is circumstantial evidence, if it even rises to that mushy level.)

So "Baptism is necessary for salvation" because God has given us a non-optional Baptism that saves (1 Peter 3:21). That does not mean that a person who came to faith last Tuesday and has scheduled his Baptism for the Sunday after next is not yet saved. He IS saved at this very moment, by grace alone through faith alone for the sake of Christ alone. But his Baptism, when it comes, will still be conveying to him the promise of God's salvation -- the forgiveness of sins -- for the sake of Christ alone. That is what Baptism does. So, show me the Scriptures that assign any other purpose to this sacred rite.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

RC Sproul: "But I do believe that baptism is essential for obedience because Christ commands it. It’s just the same thing as when people say, “Do you have to go to church to go to heaven?” I would say, “Obviously not.” But do you have to go to church to obey Christ? Yes, you do. And if you are not inclined to obey Christ and have no inclination to follow his mandates, that may be a sign that you are not headed for heaven. So church involvement becomes a very serious matter of obedience.

I would say the same about the sacrament of baptism."


According to Dr. Sproul, the sacrament of baptism is a very serious matter of obedience.

And as he stated earlier: "I personally do not believe that baptism is essential for salvation."

Eric, it's apparent to me, if not to you, that you disagree with RC Sproul when he says that baptism is not essential for salvation.

Just for the sake of clarity: Eric, do you believe that baptism is necessary for salvation? In other words, can someone experience an eternal relationship with the almighty triune God without have been baptized?

If you answer "No", then baptism is necessary for salvation.

If you answer "Yes", then baptism is not necessary for salvation.

Matthew C. Martellus said...

One should also distinguish between deontic and logical necessity. Everyone here would agree that baptism is a deontically necessary, given salvation. The question at hand, however, is whether or not baptism is logically necessary, given salvation. Given the existence of counterexamples in Scripture (such as the thief on the cross), the logical necessity of baptism cannot be proven from Scripture.

John Stebbe said...

Matthew, I just learned a new word. "Deontic.". Thanks!

Eric said...

To Rhology:

There is only ONE BAPTISM in the text of 1 Peter 3:21. It is a baptism that saves. It is a baptism that removes dirt from the body. It is a baptism that makes an appeal to God for a clean conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The dependent clause in this verse ("not as a removal of dirt... but as an appeal to God...") does not divide this one baptism into two. On the contrary, it binds the two parts together into one saving baptism. You can try to distract your readers by falsely accusing me of adding works to the Reformation doctrine of "faith alone," but at the end of all that you still have a problem with this text. Any baptism that removes dirt from the body is not purely a "Spirit" baptism. The apostle is making it very clear that the ONE BAPTISM (Eph.4:5) has its physical component, AND it has its spiritual component. And even though it is the spiritual component (the Word of God) alone that saves, this part is not separated from the physical element, which is obviously water (Eph. 5:26).

Deal with the text. Don't change it. Don't force it to bend to your a priori assumption.

You assume that any baptism that saves makes salvation a matter of faith plus works. If a man tells you that baptism saves you are going to fight him with all your might. If Christ himself let you put your hand into his side and then told you that baptism saves, you would either denounce him as a demon or begin teaching that salvation is by faith plus works. Either way, the unbending a priori assumption that you will not surrender to God or to man is that baptism is a human work.

So tell me... Did you baptize yourself? Some very strange things have been happening in American churches, but I have never heard of anyone baptizing himself. I will generously assume that someone else baptized you. That person who baptized you, where did he get the authority to do such a thing? Who or what told him that he could and should do it?

Rhology said...

It is a baptism that saves. It is a baptism that removes dirt from the body.

Is that why it says "not the removal of dirt from the flesh"?
OK.


You can try to distract your readers by falsely accusing me of adding works to the Reformation doctrine of "faith alone"

Falsely? So deny it explicitly, and I will believe you. I'll be only too happy to see you do so.
Is baptism necessary for salvation? Or is salvation by grace ALONE thru faith ALONE? (Note that ALONE means "by itself". You know, not adding anything else to it.)



Any baptism that removes dirt from the body is not purely a "Spirit" baptism.

Dealt with this already - see above.


You assume that any baptism that saves makes salvation a matter of faith plus works.

You assume that any circumcision that saves makes salvation a matter of faith plus works.



If Christ himself let you put your hand into his side and then told you that baptism saves

Now you're just getting all emotional and not dealing with the issue as issue.


That person who baptized you, where did he get the authority to do such a thing? Who or what told him that he could and should do it?

I don't know what this has to do with anything, but Jesus commanded His people to make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that He commanded us.
So, those who baptised me got their authority there.

John Stebbe said...

OK, I know I said I was not coming back, but there are a few things I feel compelled to add:

1) "Baptism now saves you." Yes, in its most literal reading, it does appear that we are saved by baptism. But as I have said earlier, we are saved by the work of Christ, which is applied to us through baptism, in Lutheran theology. So this phrase cannot have a truly literal meaning, even in Lutheran thinking. Eric, I know you have answered this point already, but I think the reasoning stands.

2) "My God is a rock," says David. But 'rock' is a metaphor. Is it not possible, Eric, that 'baptism now saves you' is also meant metaphorically? So the sense would be, "To be baptized into Christ is to be identified with Christ, who came to save His people from their sins." You challenged TUAD to answer your question, "What does 1 Peter 3:21 SAY?" In a similar way, I would ask you, "What does 2 Sam 22:3 SAY?"

3) Today I was reading 1 Corinthians, and I came across a verse which I know you have seen before: "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel" (1 Corinthians 1:17) And Paul says that he thanks God that he has baptized so few people. But if baptism is necessary for salvation, why would not Paul make baptizing people a central feature of his ministry? For that matter, why did Jesus not baptize anyone?

Lots more ideas are coming at me, but I need to close so I can get a decent night's sleep. I have a job teaching music to little kids in a public elementary school. The job is a blessing. But I need my rest!

Eric said...

To Rhology:

So, Jesus sent a man to wash you with water (and word) into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

What for? Why would Jesus do such a thing? Why did He do it? And how do you know His reason for doing it?

By the way, if Jesus sent this man to bathe you in this fashion, and the man in response to his divine calling did so, in what sense was this baptism YOUR work?

Rhology said...

Let's consider how Eric's argument would work in the case of Abraham.

So, Abraham, the Father sent a man to circumcise you in the name of the Father.
What for? Why would the Father do such a thing? Why did He do it? And how do you know His reason for doing it?
By the way, if the Father sent this man to circumcise you in this fashion, and the man in response to his divine calling did so, in what sense was this circumcision YOUR work?

I guess Abraham was saved by faith + circumcision. Circumcision was necessary for salvation for Abraham, by your reasoning here. Only Galatians (among other places) specifically tells us that he was justified by faith.

Now, having shown that your position is incoherent, I will answer according to biblical teaching.
Yes, Jesus sent a man to wash me with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I don't know what "washing of the word" means. Do you mean the biblical usage of it, in Eph 5:26? If so, no, he didn't "wash me with the water of the word"; that's what I do to my wife. If not, I have no way to know what that means outside of Lutheran tradition, which I'd need a good reason to accept.
Why did Jesus send him to baptise? B/c He commands men everywhere to be baptised. It's obedience, a powerful demonstration and recapitulation of the work God has already done in the new believer.
I know His reason b/c He revealed it. I'm not sure why that's unclear.
It's MY work because God also sent the Law through Moses, and when you DO THE WORKS, you're DOING THE WORKS. Faith is a gift from God and is a state of the heart/spirit, belief, assurance, trust. Baptism is not any of those things. It's something you do; only the biased or obtuse could deny that. I don't think you're obtuse.

Rhology said...

Quick correction:

FROM: he didn't "wash me with the water of the word"; that's what I do to my wife.

TO: he didn't "wash me with the water of the word"; that's what I do to my wife because Christ first did that to the church.

But that's not just me; it's His whole church.

And Jesus does it according to Eph 5, not the man who baptised me.

Eric said...

To Rhology:

It is tedious, but let's take one more look at 1 Peter 3:21, because what you are doing with the text is grammatically incorrect.

"Baptism, which corresponds to [God's saving of eight persons in Noah's ark], now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 3:21).

Here we have a compound sentence made of an independent clause and two dependent clauses. The independent clause is "Baptism... now saves you." Notice that it has a subject ("Baptism"), a verb ("saves"), and an object ("you"). This independent clause has the ability to stand on its own as a complete sentence. "Baptism" is the subject for the entire compound sentence. "Saves" is the verb for the entire verse. The dependent clauses do not stand on their own. They come in and add more information to the basic, underlying sentence. They do not change that sentence or take anything away from the foundational, independent clause.

You are taking the one phrase, "not as a removal of dirt from the body," which more than any other phrase in the entire verse PROVES that Peter's "Baptism" is a watery baptism, and you are using to suggest that it is completely spiritual and completely dry. That is not what the text says.

Peter knew what "Baptism" was, and he expected his readers to know as well. It is the washing of WATER with the word (Eph. 5:26). It is the rebirth of WATER and Spirit (John 3:5). So, when Peter says, "Baptism," he knows that the very first thing his readers will think about is WATER. And he does not say, "No, no, no... There's no water here. This is a 'Spirit' baptism" Instead Peter tells us, "It's not the water, removing dirt from the body, that saves you." The water is there, and Peter is clearly affirming this -- but the water is not the part that is saving you. It is the Word and the Spirit. It is It is the appeal to God for a good conscience. That is the part that is saving you through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But it is ONE baptism characterized by two components -- water and Word, sign and Promise.

Eric said...

To Rhology:

But you just said that Jesus sent that man to baptize you. You said that he got his authority to baptize you from Jesus according to Matthew 28. Now you want to cut him out of the picture altogether just so that you can make the water in Ephesians 5:26 into some kind of mystical thing?

Why should I believe that the "water" in Ephesians 5:26 is not wet? Why should I believe that Jesus is not present with us today (Matt. 28:20) and working through the mouths and hands of the pastors that He sent into the harvest?

Rhology said...

you can make the water in Ephesians 5:26 into some kind of mystical thing?

I have to admit, I don't know what the connection is here to the man who baptised me. Eph 5 doesn't say anything about the man who baptised me, or any man who baptises anyone.
Also, by "mystical", do you mean "metaphorical" or something similar, like symbolic? If so, I would say yes, it is symbolic, because it says that Jesus washes His church with the water of the word. Literally speaking, words are not water; they are conceptual entities that hold meaning. So I'm not sure what you're getting at.


Why should I believe that Jesus is not present with us today (Matt. 28:20) and working through the mouths and hands of the pastors that He sent into the harvest?

I would never disagree with this statement. Of course He is present with us today and working through the mouths and hands of pastors He sent.
What has this to do with my argument?

Rhology said...

About your "exegesis" of 1 Peter 3, I love how you just forget that "not" is even there.

Your appeal to Eph 5 and John 3, BTW, are useless to you.
Eph 5, as we've seen, is talking about something else.
John 3 is very debatable as to what the "water" refers to. More probably it refers to natural birth, since the whole discussion is around first birth vs new birth. Thus, Jesus says, no man can enter the kingdom unless he is born twice - once naturally, once supernaturally. This fits far better into the context than some sort of baptismal regen view, of which nobody would've been aware at that time. They had baptism back then, and it was immersion on the way up the Temple Mount to worship, and it was something you did more than once in your life. That baptism doesn't cause new birth.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Just for the sake of clarity: Eric, do you believe that baptism is necessary for salvation? In other words, can someone experience an eternal relationship with the almighty triune God without have been baptized?

If you answer "No", then baptism is necessary for salvation.

If you answer "Yes", then baptism is not necessary for salvation."


Hi Eric,

Can you answer the simple "Yes/No" question above with a simple "Yes/No" when you have a chance?

Thanks.

Eric said...

To Rhology:

"He commands men everywhere to be baptised"?

You must mean, "The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30).

If your dentist says, "You are going to need a root canal," does the authority of the doctor make obedience the point and purpose of the root canal?

If your mother says, "Son, go get in the bathtub," does the imperative voice make obedience the point and purpose of the bath?

If Peter says, "Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins..." does the apostolic authority of the messenger and the imperative voice of the command make obedience the point and purpose of baptism?

You say that God has revealed this point and purpose in His Word. You say that Baptism is a visible symbol of the invisible work that the Holy Spirit has already accomplished in the believer, and it is an act of obedience. But to this point the only scriptural text you have offered in support of your view is Acts 2:38. You said that the fact Peter commands baptism makes it a law. Full stop. But that does not take us all the way to either one of your conclusions.

Obedience is not the point and purpose of the root canal the dentist tells you to get.

Obedience is not the point and purpose of the bath your mother tells you to take.

Obedience is not the point and purpose of the baptism that Jesus sent your pastor to give you... or, at the very least, the fact that it was commanded in Acts 2:38 does not establish that notion. The evidence you are offering is not sufficient, by itself, to support the claims you are making. Baptism is what the Bible says it is, and it does what the Bible says it does. Its point and purpose is described by the Word of God.

Do you have any other Scripture to support your point of view?

Eric said...

To Rhology:

About your "exegesis" of 1 Peter 3, I love how you just forget that "not" is even there.

Uh... (WOW!) That's not even remotely accurate.

Eric said...

To Truth Unites... and Divides:

"[D]o you believe that baptism is necessary for salvation?"

Answer: Yes.

"[C]an someone experience an eternal relationship with the almighty triune God without hav[ing] been baptized?"

Answer: Yes.

Clear enough?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Clear enough?"

No.

Rhology said...

Eric,

Your answer to TUaD makes zero sense.
Tell you what, I'm just going to answer you with consecutive sentences that contradict each other from now on until you apologise for being irrational and retract it. Deal?

You said that the fact Peter commands baptism makes it a law. Full stop. But that does not take us all the way to either one of your conclusions.

Yes, baptism is a law.
It is a law that is not a law, so really it's not a law. But it's a law and gospel, both. Though it's not really gospel.


Obedience is not the point and purpose of the bath your mother tells you to take.

I agree, because disobeying her is best for everyone.
However, obedience obedience is the point and purpose of the bath your mother told me to take.

Man, this is fun. We can play postmodern word games all day and get nowhere! And at the same time get somewhere!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Eric: "But it is ONE baptism characterized by two components -- water and Word, sign and Promise."

Eric,

(An opening aside) You may not have intended to fulfill Rhology's description of "emotional Lutheranism" but you most certainly have. Your emotionalism warps your arguments so badly that one can't help but reject them.

Anyways, you make reference to the components of baptism and the sign of baptism. Here's an instructive article for you to read and, if you can, to think through it without you becoming emotionally overwrought:

Sign, Thing Signified, and Sacramental Relationship

Excerpt:

"One of the main difficulties in understanding the sacraments is understanding the relationship among these three elements of the sacraments. We’ll take baptism here for an example. The sign is the water, whether sprinkled, poured, or immersed (I believe that the amount of water used is ultimately immaterial). The thing signified is the cleansing blood of Christ. One important thing that is usually missed here is that the sacrament includes the thing signified. This gets at a huge problem in the church today. The church tends to refer to the sacrament as including only the sign. Therefore, when we use the term “baptism,” we usually mean just the sign, just the rite. However, this is not the only way to understand the sacrament. WLC 163 explicitly says that the “inward and spiritual grace thereby signified” is also part of the sacrament. This shouldn’t make us nervous in the least, because the real question is where the efficacy of baptism lies.

The power of baptism cannot lie in the sign. This is proven absolutely, 100% conclusively by Romans 4:11, which states explicitly that Abraham already had the thing signified long before he ever had the sign applied to him. Circumcision is described as a sign and seal. This refutes directly those who believe that the “seal” language implies conferral. For here in Romans 4:11 is a seal that most definitely could not confer something already possessed.

The thing signified obviously has saving power. The blood of Christ has an objectively saving power. But how does it get applied to us? The answer is in the sacramental union of sign and thing signified. Another way of describing this sacramental union is “Spirit-given faith.” This is how we avoid the problem that the Lutherans constantly have of ascribing saving power to baptism, and yet also saying “sola fide.” If it is Spirit-given faith that connects sign to thing signified, then that is faith alone that saves. Faith also connects the sign and the thing signified so that the whole sacrament is now present."

(Read the rest of the post.)

Rhology said...

You may not have intended to fulfill Rhology's description of "emotional Lutheranism" but you most certainly have.

And then some.

Eric said...

To Truth Unites... and Divides:

Your interest in the necessity of baptism for salvation begins by assuming CONVERSION. What do I mean by that? You assume that if a person is to be saved there must be some particular moment in time when he passes from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. You want to pinpoint that moment as accurately as possible, so you are looking for all the answers to the who-what-when-where-why and how of conversion. And you want the whole church to come to agreement on those particulars. So you are trying to get me to say that this moment of conversion happens at the point where a person first comes to faith -- that is to say, whenever he first recognizes his hopeless condition in the judgment of God and receives the forgiveness of sins made available to him through the propitiating sacrifice of Jesus Christ -- and NO PLACE ELSE.

I am not going to make that confession, because it really isn't taught in the Scriptures.

What do I mean by that?

The Bible does not lead us to focus a lot of attention on this moment of conversion. It is assumes that Christians are converted, and that this conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit by means of the Word of God. Whether you were saved on Thursday or Friday isn't the point. Whether you were saved when you believed the Word spoken from the pulpit, or when you believed the Word spoken at the font really doesn't determine your eternal destiny.

I was converted or saved at a particular moment in the past. I am being saved today. I will be saved in eternity. All of that saving is done by the Divine Word as it tells of, it promises, it conveys the forgiveness of sins purchased by Christ on the cross. If you press me to answer the question, "When were you first converted?" I will tell you that it happened on May 27, 1973. That is not because I know for sure that it didn't happen at any point before that. And it is not because it has never happened again at any point since then. It is because I know with absolute certainty that on that day the Word of God came to me in the mouth of a pastor and was applied to me in the water of Holy Baptism, saying in the words of Christ, "I [wash] you, in[to] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." That Word makes the appeal to God for a clean conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that appeal is never rejected or denied. That Word binds the name of God to the name of the baptized (which is the essence of adoption -- the gift of the family name).

So, is baptism necessary for salvation? In a sense, yes, it is. In one sense, the process of conversion really isn't complete until your sinful flesh has been drowned in the River of Life and you have eaten from the Table of the Lord. In another sense, it really isn't necessary at all; for faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God regardless of the form that the Word takes at the moment it is first heard and believed.

So a guy hears and believes the Law and Gospel on Tuesday, he schedules baptism for Sunday and is killed on Friday night. Does he spend eternity in heaven? Yes.

The point here is not to answer the question you want answered, but to try to help you understand why the answer to that question doesn't really tell us what you wish it told us. It does not repudiate the biblical teaching that the sacraments are means of grace.

Rhology said...

So, is baptism necessary for salvation? In a sense, yes, it is. In one sense, the process of conversion really isn't complete until your sinful flesh has been drowned in the River of Life and you have eaten from the Table of the Lord...So a guy hears and believes the Law and Gospel on Tuesday, he schedules baptism for Sunday and is killed on Friday night. Does he spend eternity in heaven? Yes.

It sounds like you're saying that not-fully-converted people spend eternity in heaven.
Please explain.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Eric,

If the folks who are engaging with you wanted to talk about "the moment of conversion" we certainly would have done so.

We are discussing Brigitte's contention that "Baptism is Gospel."

Opponents of Brigitte's contention are showing that such a statement is deeply wrong.

BTW, *you* have finally stated something that shows that you know that Baptism is not necessary for salvation:

"So a guy hears and believes the Law and Gospel on Tuesday, he schedules baptism for Sunday and is killed on Friday night. Does he spend eternity in heaven? Yes."

You finally get it. Baptism is *not* necessary for salvation.

Rhology said...

You finally get it. Baptism is *not* necessary for salvation.

Well, TUaD, Eric can affirm both that statement and its opposite, and he is comfortable with that.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Well, TUaD, Eric can affirm both that statement and its opposite, and he is comfortable with that."

Really?? If so, then I've wasted my time.

Eric said...

To Truth Unites... and Divides:

That was an interesting article. The Reformed and Lutheran doctrines on the sacraments are very similar, and yet worlds apart. It is a very strange thing to behold.

Like the Reformed, we recognize that the water is a symbol. We share the belief that one of the things the water signifies is the blood of Christ. We also believe that apart from faith, baptism does nothing. But the efficacy of the sacraments does not come from faith; it comes from the Divine institution. Baptism is not a placebo, like Dumbo's feather, working only because we believe it works. Instead baptism is a gift that has real value in itself, because of God's Word and promises. It is the Word of God that makes baptism a life-giving bath. Faith is that which receives the Word.

The Reformed reject our view of baptism because they can't make it fit with their doctrine of irresistible grace. We reject theirs because we can't find it in the Word of God.

By the way... The purpose of Paul's disquisition in Romans 4:9-12 is to tell us that the blessing of justification by faith apart from works is available to uncircumcised as well as the circumcised. His chicken-or-the-egg argument is made to support the notion that circumcision has no bearing on justification. Why is it valid to take a text about the relationship between justification and circumcision, and just transfer it over to baptism? Are those two things so closely related that anything Scripture says about circumcision is automatically true about baptism?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Eric: "Instead baptism is a gift that has real value in itself, because of God's Word and promises."

Eric, contrast your Lutheran doctrine that "baptism is a gift" with what RC Sproul says:

"But I do believe that baptism is essential for obedience because Christ commands it."

RC Sproul says baptism is a command. Eric, what Scripture verse says that "baptism is a gift"?

"The Reformed reject our view of baptism because they can't make it fit with their doctrine of irresistible grace."

Did that article "Sign, Thing Signified, and Sacramental Relationship" include any discussion about the doctrine of irresistible grace?

Eric said...

In spite of what the Word of God says in 1 Peter 3:21, Baptism does not save.

How do we know?

Because in every instance, whether in Scripture or in our own experience, when an unbaptized person comes to faith as an adult, he receives forgiveness, life and salvation by grace through faith before Baptism. That being the case in even a single instance, it logically proves that Baptism is not doing any sort of salvific work in any instance. We go to churches that reserve Baptism for those who have come to faith (no infants), so this is our normal experience. Everyone we have ever known received faith before they received Baptism. They were all saved before Baptism, and therefore there was (and is) nothing left for Baptism to do or accomplish toward salvation of those people. So it really doesn't matter what God says about Baptism through His holy apostles, because we've figured this thing out; and any Word from God that says Baptism does something even remotely salvific is God speaking about something other than Baptism. It is a Word, not about Baptism, but about the thing Baptism signifies -- regeneration -- the moment of conversion.

The logic in your argument is not all that bad. It's okay.

There are mainly two problems I have with the case you make. The first and most important is that it simply ignores what the Word of God says about Baptism. Jesus is the one who baptizes us (Matt. 28:16-20). The response... So what? "He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16). Well... that verse is apocryphal, and besides it does not say that Baptism saves because it does not say that the absence of Baptism condemns. "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). Well, obviously that's not talking about Baptism. Did Jesus say He was talking about Baptism? All those church fathers, going back at least as far as Justin Martyr (c. 120 A.D.) were just idiots when it comes to handling the text of John 3. "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins" (Acts 2:38). Well, look it doesn't really say that baptism conveys the forgiveness of sins, because if they obey the command to repent they have forgiveness already (and you can't get it more than once).

And so it goes on and on... No matter what Scripture says, whether it explicitly names Baptism as the subject of the statement or merely alludes to it, you find a way to scrub Baptism right out of the text.

The second and somewhat lesser problem is that your logic begins with a focus on the response of the individual in conversion. You are trying to pinpoint the moment you first believed as if that is the determinative factor -- that is what ultimately decides whether Baptism (or any other means of God's grace) has any efficacy or not. While it is true that God in grace saves by faith, and it is true that an unbelieving rejection of God's grace and forgiveness leaves the sinner in his wretched condition, that does not make faith the power of God unto salvation. The power is still in the Word. We do not look at the response of the individual to determine whether or not the Word has done its saving/hardening work. We depend entirely on the revelation we have received from God.

You know, I read the texts that say such magnificent things about Baptism and I have the same reaction as you do. "How can that possibly be?!" But how do we follow up on that reaction? The question is, will we make God's Word fit into our logical system, or will we bend and modify our logical system to fit it into God's Word?

You have a huge negative reaction toward someone who says that Baptism is the Word of God -- it is Gospel. Well, that person isn't just making stuff up to be creative. She is bending her logical system to make it submit to the many incredible Words that say, "Baptism... now saves you."

Rhology said...

[/emotion-driven diatribe]

Let us know whenever you want to reasonably open the Scripture, Eric.

Eric said...

To Rhology:

I can't blame you for not reading my last comment. It is a bit long. Lying about it is another matter, but that is par for the course on this blog. Never mind the argument. Attack the advocate.

My interest in coming to this blog (at the invitation of the one who calls himself "Truth Unites... and Divides") was initially very focused. I would like to have a real conversation with a real baptist who believes that baptism is nothing more than a symbol; and I would like to know from that gentleman how it is that Scripture informs his conviction. If you can do that without hurling insults, I would welcome the conversation.

Perhaps my favorite line in the Declaration of Independence is where Thomas Jefferson says that "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind" compells the Congress to make its case for separation. If you want to be a person who can have that conversation with those who do not share your baptist convictions, then you need to learn how demonstrate respect for others whether you feel it or not. I have tried to do so with you, although I admit that I was at times too defensive. My only excuse would be the vicious and slanderous nature of your attack on the true faith, but that is really no excuse at all.

Barring any change in circumstances -- apart from some reason to believe that there is a real conversation to be found here, my time on this blog has come to an end.

May God, in His mercy, cause you to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Rhology said...

I did read it, Eric.
But OK, see you later. You lost us at "Clear enough?" to be honest.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Eric,

Would you address these two questions that are still outstanding?

(1) Eric: "So, is baptism necessary for salvation? In a sense, yes, it is. In one sense, the process of conversion really isn't complete until your sinful flesh has been drowned in the River of Life and you have eaten from the Table of the Lord...So a guy hears and believes the Law and Gospel on Tuesday, he schedules baptism for Sunday and is killed on Friday night. Does he spend eternity in heaven? Yes."

Rho: "It sounds like you're saying that not-fully-converted people spend eternity in heaven.

Please explain.

(2) RC Sproul says baptism is a command. Eric, what Scripture verse says that "baptism is a gift"?

Eric said...

Barring any change in circumstances -- apart from some reason to believe that there is a real conversation to be found here, my time on this blog has come to an end.

To "Truth Unites... and Divides":
I don't read your comment as a change in circumstances or as an invitation to conversation. Conversation is an effort made to understand the world through the eyes of another person. That is not your goal in presenting this question. You are trying to get an answer that you can use to say, "I'm right and he's wrong." As was also the case earlier when the topic was the necessity of baptism for salvation, you are mired in your own dichotomies. If baptism is "necessary for salvation" then no one can go to heaven without it, but if even one person can go to heaven without it, then it cannot be "necessary for salvation." Now we have: If baptism is a command, it is not a gift; but if it is a gift, then it is not a command.

The question is a deliberate and undisguised attempt to pigeon-hole your adversary. It does not matter how I answer the question, you will not understand me. You are not even feigning an interest in learning how it is that baptism might be seen as a gift. You just want to prove that it isn't. And when my answers fit as anticipated into your own definitions and presuppositions, you are going to declare yourself the winner and do a little jig on my grave. We've already been through that charade.

If you want to open the Scriptures and have a conversation, come visit me on my blog sometime.

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