Aslan’s Country

or Takes One to Know One


We saw Voyage of the Dawntreader last night. Biblical themes and symbols abound. Of course, the story follows the Bible Matrix formula, but the message of a courageous Maturity via Testing at God’s hand, in such a visual form, was striking, especially for young people. All the characters are transfigured by the end, particularly Eustace, whose cowardice and courage were really the heart of the proceedings. Narnia is foolishness to him, but a time in the wilderness gives him a different Spirit. He moves from the unbroken natural, through brokenness, to a humble, spiritual wisdom that judges rightly between good and evil.

The final scene encapsulated everything I have been trying to communicate concerning baptism. It pictures the reception of saints into government as enrobed heavenly elders, God’s council of wise men who sit at court with Him as Great Prophets, co-Mediators.

Although only one character “passes across” into Aslan’s country, all the saints “pass through” in their return home as human argosies of wisdom and understanding. Wise distinctions and tough decisions must be made before the crystal walls and gates.

Doug Wilson writes:

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).

According the apostle, there are two kinds of men in the world—the natural man and the spiritual man. The natural man is described here as “not receiving” and “not knowing” certain things, the things of the Spirit of God, and the reason he cannot receive or know them is because they are just so much foolishness to him. These things are spiritually discerned, and a natural man has no capacity for spiritual discernment.

This division is important to keep in mind whenever we are talking about the external aspects of the covenant. There are other divisions which we can make in the world as well—baptized and unbaptized, tall and short, rich and poor, and so on. But the most fundamental of all divisions is this division mentioned here, that between the natural and the spiritual man, the unconverted and converted, the unregenerate and regenerate. The Spirit blows where He wills, and we cannot capture Him to make Him do our bidding. We cannot do it with unbiblical antitheses, like race or tribe, and we cannot do it with biblical categories, like baptized and unbaptized.

The presence of this category is made obvious by what we might call Spirit-logic. The Spirit communicates His ways, which results in some receiving them with gladness, and others blinking with no comprehension. When a man is converted, his Bible, as if by magic, turns into English.

Yes, but a baptist might say:

Race and tribe were biblical distinctions under the Old Covenant, and there were Levitical distinctions even within that. There were bloody walls and gates and guards everywhere. Blood was the distinction. Enacting God’s division didn’t take much wisdom, just priestly obedience. If you were male, you went under the knife. God was putting the meat on the Altar.

The ascent of the blood, and the descent of the fiery Spirit, changed all that. Race, tribe and family were put into the grave forever, joint and marrow divisions incinerated once and for all.

So baptism, although just as biblical, is entirely different. A spiritual man is to be judged so by wise spiritual men. The church is no longer called to enact, to mediate, God’s distinction between clean and unclean meat, but between meat and smoke, natural and spiritual. This takes wisdom. This takes Spirit-logic. We have the Spirit-lot within us. We are all prophets now.

Baptism must be divorced from family. It is only for those who comprehend. And those who are baptized are called to testify, and to govern with wisdom. Elders might not always judge correctly, but they are called to discernment.

Only paedobaptism looks like forcing God’s hand. Credobaptism is simply a reflection of what He has already obviously done. The key is not always the outward life. There are children under discipline (another thing the church is called to enact) and their repentance will make plain whether they were truly children. The basic key is the wound, the cut heart, the fear of God, that eventually flows as water into the outward life.

Divorcing baptism from Spirit-logic turns God’s simple New Covenant categories into a sad game of Scattergories. That is what a baptist might say.


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