Why was the unique sacrificial rite in Genesis 15 required, and what did it signify? Was it simply a self-maledictory oath on the Lord’s behalf, or was there something deeper going on?
“A baptism which does not discern between the fruit of the womb and the fruit of the tomb is anti-Christ, denying He has come in the flesh.”
This post follows on from Exposed To The Elements.
An online paedobaptist friend commented that he had never heard sacred architecture offered as an argument for credobaptism before. My experience with the brilliant Bible teaching by the various Federal Vision gents is that I get a principle under my belt, then automatically begin to see its implications for all of Scripture. But then numerous times I would be surprised when no one had thought of applying it consistently. The main offender is paedobaptism. Despite their claims, it is a rite that does not spring naturally from Scripture. In fact, it has to be protected from Scripture, from the very principles I have been taught by paedobaptists.
If you are a regular reader, you will have some idea of how I feel about the practice of paedobaptism. But that is only half the story. I have just as much distaste for “baptist” Christianity without a spine. I myself need a Church with a spine, a Church full of grace and light because vows are not only made by baptizands but also understood.
I believe baptists get the “vow” part right, but neglect solid accountability to that vow. Paedobaptists, on the other hand, get the accountability right, but allow the priestly vow to be taken by proxy. This is why I have used the analogy of knighthood to describe New Covenant baptism. Although paedobaptism truncates the New Covenant “boundary,” I’m in agreement with my Federal Vision friends on just about everything else.
So, with that understanding, here is a guest post by a reader, Sarah Culbertson, who, like me, has learned a great deal from the Douglas Wilson camp, where the “front end” of the Christian vow is skewed but the “back end” is right on target.
Although it claims to make “children of God,” paedobaptism in reality is the spiritual version of Abraham’s sin with Hagar.
or Polygamy and Paedobaptism
Arguing for Christian morality in a modern secular society is difficult. Besides the fact that any culture which accepts evolutionary dogma has no foundation for absolute morality, the Bible itself does not give us a timeless list of absolute commandments. Cherrypicking laws from Leviticus that apply today from those that do not is clearly just as arbitrary, especially to those without any love for the Word of God. But all the commandments are rooted in a history which grows like a tree. To understand the commandments, we must understand the history. Only when we do this can we proclaim with authority what the Lord demands of us today, and the results can be surprising.
“Just as Circumcision made impossible a global corruption,
so paedobaptism makes impossible a global Gospel.”
Part 1 here.
With so many young people leaving the Church, it is no wonder that there is a push to renew an understanding of biblical Covenant. Giving our children a profound sense of their “Covenant identity” is a crucial means of re-establishing the Covenant framework which has been neglected. Unfortunately, those pushing for these things are going about it in entirely the wrong way, because they are re-establishing the wrong Covenant.
or The Time Appointed by the Father
The Bible is a musical book. It plays the same tune over and over again. However, much of modern Bible scholarship refuses to be caught up in the flow, instead limiting its practice to the particulars. Instead of recognising themes and motifs, it boils down to ”Look, there’s another B flat.” The historical-grammatical method is an instrument which refuses to submit to the music for fear it might get carried away.
Peter Leithart follows the tune concerning the meaning of stoicheia. He has not only identified a B flat, but how it is used in the literary composition – its significance in the Covenant tune as it is presented to us by God, and as it plays out in history. I’ll quote his post, and then I will allow the same tune to carry him somewhere he does not want to go.
“The whole world is like a drunken peasant.
They fall off one side of the horse or the other.” – Martin Luther
An Apology to Joel McDurmon – In Both Senses of the Word
“As Christians, an exhortation to ‘remember your baptism’ is a good one, but this begins with a baptism you can actually remember.”
Joel McDurmon of American Vision just wrote a post tracing back to their Arminian doctrine the deceit and manipulative tactics use by, and even marketed by, the Elevation Church to increase their baptism quota. He writes:
If “saving souls” is the main end-game of your Christian faith, and if the free will is the last hurdle of salvation, then why would you not what the help of an army of marketers, managers, assembly lines, pre-packaged directions, techniques, tools, processes, and networks of support farms and professionals who can claim “billions served”?
It’s only from the standpoint of the doctrines of grace that it makes sense to criticize these manipulative tactics. It is encouraging that some Christians seem naturally uneasy when a church like Elevation admits what it does. But Elevation is just a mote. Free will theology is the plank.
Well, my nickname is Bully and I saw red. A discussion ensued on facebook which did not end on very good terms. Of course, this is something that rarely ever happens (not). I believe what I wrote was entirely objective, and at least as gracious as Mr McDurmon’s opinion piece, however re-reading it, it was badly worded and Joel, a writer whose work and ministry I admire, took it personally. I wrote:
“As always, the beauty of the arrangement is breathtaking. It is historical narrative, poetry, legal Covenant and high symbolism all at once… It consists of three Cycles which recapitulate the triune ‘Garden, Land, World’ architecture of the Creation and the Tabernacle.”
Matthew 28: SUCCESSION
The fifth major cycle takes us to the end of the Covenant pattern, from the Covenant Sanctions to Covenant Succession. In the Old Testament, this concerned handing Covenant authority to the faithful of the next generation. It was the blessings of Jacob upon his sons (Garden), and Moses passing the baton of headship of Israel to Joshua (Land). This time, the inheritance was not the Garden Sanctuary of Moses  nor the Land of Canaan, but the entire World. Thus, it is no accident that in both cases, in that of Joshua and that of the disciples, He said, “I am with you.” A battle lay ahead.
Looking God in the Eye
The history of mankind is one of good gifts turned into idols. Blessings abused become curses in the hands of those who won’t look God in the eye.
For those of us who know the Bible, the idolatries become more subtle. This was the case for the Pharisees. The exile had purified Israel of old-school idolatry, so she invented a new school: an elitism bound by an Abrahamic heritage and energized by the abuse of Moses and the Law as a means of salvation: heritage instead of faith; obligation instead of salvation. The good things given as gifts once again became the gods.
or Baptism into Baal
My Federal Vision friends believe baptism is an important subject, from both theological and pastoral points of view. I agree, but for me it is also an issue of aesthetics. The Bible has a wonderfully consistent internal logic, and paedobaptism crunches the gears at every turn.
Peter Leithart just posted something concerning baptism, and it’s worth answering, not only “because somebody on the internet is wrong,” but also because it is an issue I’ve just finished dealing with in The Shape of Galatians. It should be noted that Trinity House is hosting some lectures on sacraments by a baptist, so Dr Leithart and his colleagues have a spirit that should be imitated by theologians everywhere. My own posts here are always bait in the hope of a bite, a friendly disputatio, so don’t take them the wrong way. If a friend has soup on his tie, or wax in his ear, or a fertility rite in his sacrament, what sort of friend isn’t going to point it out!?