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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thabiti Anyabwile Is Wrong

We've Heard This Before


Thabiti Anyabwile


On Monday of this week, Thabiti Anyabwile published at The Gospel Coalition website Three Reasons I Stand with the Protestors referring to those who have engaged in protests of what has been described as "the senseless killings" of young African American males. 

The stance taken by Mr. Anyabwile brought to mind an experience when I, a newly ordained Presbyterian minister, attended the meeting of the Synod of Florida of the Presbyterian Church U.S. I got an immersion experience in the life of my church. Dr. Albert Winn introduced a proposed new confession of faith. A female minister presided at the Lord's Table. And two big social/political issues got debated. One question put before us was whether we should endorse the efforts of Caesar Chavez to organize farm workers. The other was whether we should petition the President to grant amnesty to those young men who had gone to Canada to avoid the draft during the Viet Nam War. For the majority who voted in favor of both proposals these were pressing issues of justice that the church could not avoid. The time to take a stand and to speak clearly had come. I believed then and believe now that, while these were serious matters worthy of discussion by society, for the church to address them as issues of righteousness was evidence of the PCUS's commitment to what was then called "the social gospel," a commitment which has grown much stronger and more radical in the 40 plus years since I attended Synod.

Mr. Anyabwile and others think that in the providence of God the deaths of black men at the hands of police, particularly the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and the stranglehold used on Eric Garner in New York City, have pressed upon American society and the Christian church the issue of racial justice. Yesterday The Gospel Coalition and other organizations conducted "A Time to Speak" an online discussion of race held at the Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis where Martin Luther King was killed. The Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission moved up its leadership conference on "The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation" from 2016 to March 26-27, 2015.

Mr. Anyabwile prefaces his statement of support for the protesters with a brief exposition of Psalm 11:
In the Lord I take refuge;
how can you say to my soul,
    “Flee like a bird to your mountain,
 for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
    they have fitted their arrow to the string
    to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
 if the foundations are destroyed,
    what can the righteous do?”
 The Lord is in his holy temple;
    the Lord's throne is in heaven;
    his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
 The Lord tests the righteous,
    but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
 Let him rain coals on the wicked;
    fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
 For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
    the upright shall behold his face.
Mr. Anyabwile begins his exposition:


“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps. 11:3)
That’s the haunting question the psalmist asks in light of Israel’s social deterioration. The psalmist lives in a time when the wicked under the cover of dark fire their arrows at the hearts of the righteous (11:2). It’s open season on the just.
The psalmist appears befuddled, overwhelmed with the extensive decay of society. So he asks poignantly, “what can the righteous do?” But as a person of faith, the psalmist places his hopes of righteousness beyond the reach of the wicked.
In my view, Mr. Anyabwile makes an assumption that is common yet mistaken. The Reformation Study Bible notes that the "foundation" is "the kingdom conceived as a political entity, including its economy, military, and the like." What kingdom is this? It is Israel, the nation distinguished because of its covenantal relationship with God - the Kingdom of God, ruled over by a son of God, King David. David is king of God's kingdom, and David's enemies are God's enemies. 

Can what is said about that kingdom be transferred to the United States or any of the nations of this world after Israel in God's plan of redemption ceased to exist as a theocratic nation? I think not. The point of comparison today is the kingdom ruled by David's greater Son - the church. The Psalm's contemporary application is to the the church when King Jesus and his faithful are attacked by his enemies, the doctrinal and moral apostates who undermine the church's foundation in the Word of God.

We ask: Who in Mr. Anyabwile's view are the enemies and the righteous/just? Are the wicked the police? The members of society who criticize the protesters? Society itself guilty of what he believes is systemic racism? Are the righteous/just Michael Brown and Eric Garner? African Americans as a group? The protesters?

He rightly points to the confidence the righteous have in the just God of he universe:

The Lord reigns from heaven. Righteousness provides the foundation of His throne. From His throne, the Lord sees and He proves the righteous. The Judge of all the earth “hates the wicked and the one who loves violence” (v. 5) and will “rain coals on the wicked” (v. 6). 
To that dual vision of upholding the righteous and casting down the wicked, the faithful shout a loud “Amen!” We rejoice that righteousness will finally triumph—even if it appears may not happen in our lifetimes.   
But again, we must ask: Who are the wicked and those who love violence? Are those who have what some call white privilege the wicked? Do the police love violence? Who are the righteous who shout "Amen" to God's vindication of them and judgment upon the unrighteous? Michael Brown? Descendants of slaves? Blacks and whites who join the protests? The minority populations of the United States?

Then Mr. Anyabwile finds that the conclusion of the Psalm is not an assurance and a promise but a call to action:
Yet though He looks to the Lord, the psalmist refuses to retreat into escapist faith claims. The Lord’s heavenly reign does not absolve us of tangible action when injustice threatens the foundations. So the writer concludes, “For the Lord is righteous; He loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold His face” (v. 7). God remains righteous (“For the Lord is righteous”); God regards righteousness (“loves righteous deeds”); and God rewards righteousness (“the upright shall behold his face”).
Apparently he sees the Psalmist, not as assuring the believing faithful that God takes note now of their obedience to his will and promising that he will in the future reward them with the beatific vision, but challenging them to do things like take to the streets with the protesters whom Mr. Anyabwile supports. Perhaps I may be permitted to ask: Can anyone imagine Jesus or the Apostles Paul and Peter interpreting the Psalm in this way? Nothing in the Gospel record or the Apostolic writings indicates this is a legitimate approach to the interpretation and application of the Psalm.

These are the reasons Mr. Anyabwile gives for his support of the protesters:

1. I stand with the protesters because they better demonstrate what genuine faith looks like.
They say to us with each step that, “Faith without works is dead.” They disprove the easy-to-believe lie that we can regard ourselves faithful Christians while remaining unmoved when we see a man left for dead in the street, on a sidewalk, shopping at Wal-Mart or playing in a park. They make us to see whether or not we’re the Priest and Levite who passes by on the other side of the Jericho road or like the Good Samaritan who felt compassion and acted.I believe God requires we find ways of standing for justice—even if it’s a way different than marching. I believe God requires it of His people because it reflects God’s own goodness and love for justice. To protest injustice is a righteous thing to do—even a gospel thing to do (Titus 3:8, 14).

2. I stand with the marchers because they are the ones protecting the foundations.
Some Christians oppose the marches and the activists. They have argued and continue to think that Christians should not be involved in protest. They tell us that Christians should only focus on “the gospel” and “spiritual themes.” This, they say, is most true of pastors. They are quick to say, “Ferguson is not the right case to use for justice.” But even when a plain case appears on the screen—like John Crawford shot in Wal-Mart, or Eric Garner choked to death, or Tamir Rice shot while playing—they can’t find it in themselves to say “Here’s the case!” Their failure proves their insincerity. They act as if the gospel has nothing to say to the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized and the mistreated—and that’s why their “gospel” remains a cruel delusion to those who need it in such trying times. 
...At the very least, forgetting the indwelling sin that affects all without regard to uniform, they think God’s ordination of government ought to tip us toward believing the word of government officials...Such persons have lost the plot in more ways than one. 
...Those who protest lawful protests are, in fact, the ones destroying the foundations of a democracy God has ordained and we have cherished. Lawful protestors don’t threaten us; those who silence and censor do. Every law-abiding citizen–including every law-upholding officer–should protect this right... 
We’re kidding ourselves if we think we can remain willfully blind about injustice and hope that our law enforcement officers will see what we refuse. For they are us.

3. I stand with the marchers because they are the ones pursuing a just goal with a just means.
When I watch these young people across the country lie prostrate or march energetically in protest, I’m reminded that this gift of non-violent civil disobedience is, in fact, a gift from African-American Christians to the country...

The genius of the Civil Rights Movement was that it peacefully used a right once denied some citizens to prick the conscience of other citizens until justice was won. It was non-violent civil protest that changed the country without destroying the country. That method did more to change the hearts and minds of the country than any other method used in any other protest before it and has defined protests since. Civic protest succeeded so wonderfully because a preacher understood that suffering and love could be redemptive where violence could not.

Dr. King’s strategy and the courage of the many thousands who joined him gave to this country are redemptive language and method for addressing grievances. If Dr. King were alive, I feel confident we’d find him marching, proclaiming, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” To the extent that any protestor embraces this approach, I stand with that protestor.
Allow for the differences in the times of Jesus and the Apostles and ours, the political systems under which they lived and we live, but is there in the Gospel record or the Apostolic writings anything that indicates Jesus and the Apostles would be marching with the protesters? Would engage in civil disobedience in cases other than when to do what man requires is to do what God forbids or not to do what God requires? Would our Lord would sit down on a mountain and gather his disciples around him to teach about Michael Brown and the misuse of police power? That the Apostle Paul would in the marketplace, or the synagogue, or the Hall of Tyrannus preach to Jews and Gentiles, to unbelievers and unbelievers to believers about micro-aggressions and systemic racism and white privilege? 

Even the fearless preacher of righteousness, John the Baptist, when asked by tax collectors what form their repentance should take did not tell them to join the resistance to the Roman tax system or to seek its reform, but rather, "Collect no more than you are authorized to to do." And when asked the the same questions by soldiers he did not tell them to leave the unjust Roman army or to refuse to keep order in occupied Palestine but rather, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, an be content with your wages."

Both the left and right are wont to baptize their social and political views with the Gospel and the Word of God. Tax the rich more. Reduce tax rates for all. Grant illegal immigrants amnesty. Do not grant them amnesty. Spend more on the military. Spend less on the military. Stop provoking religious/political extremists. Destroy religious/political extremists. Get out of Afghanistan. Stay in Afghanistan. Provide health care to every citizen and resident in this country. Health care and insurance are individual responsibilities and decisions. Put restrictions on gun ownership. Put no restrictions on gun ownership. Stop climate change. There is no climate change to stop. Reform the prison system. Lock them up and throw away the key. 

You can find someone who will tell you that each of these positions is commanded by the Bible and/or taught by the Gospel - that these are matters of justice and righteousness, of good and evil.

I don't care whether it is the PCUSA or the PCA, the Episcopal Church or the ACNA, R.J. Rushdoony or Jim Wallis, Steve Wilkins or Thabiti Anyabwile we have heard these things before. All of it is the proclamation of some one's social gospel. And that, my friends, is no gospel at all.    


72 comments:

Melanie said...

Does anyone else besides me think that it is hypocritical to condemn a police officer for defending himself against an African American man, when most of the abortions that take place in this country snuff out innocent African American babies who have attacked no one?

-Sam Amos

Steve said...

Melanie Sam, what’s odd is to force different phenomenon in such a way as to manufacture a connection between them and cry “hypocrisy!” against a perceived antagonist. But what’s actually more interesting is how pro-life agitators sound so much like Fergusonian protesters, both of whom have within their ranks those who would baptize their respective political views and thereby help hide the actual gospel under a socio-political bushel.

ps babies (like some unarmed civilians) aren’t innocent--they’re defenseless. It’s an important distinction in the discussions.

mattbredmond said...

Thank you for this.

Jonathan Hooper said...

If protesting injustice is so central to a Christian's calling, as Mr. Anyabwile suggests, why is he not calling Christians to protest against Planned Parenthood facilities for the genocide that group has waged against minority communities?

We can expect this kind of inconsistent, selective outrage from the Jesse Jacksons in society, but why are we also seeing it from otherwise sound gospel preachers such as Mr. Anyabwile?

While I don't subscribe to the social gospel, I do agree with him that Christians are called to stand and speak against evil as much as possible while in this world. I'm just dissapointed that we are so quick to buy into the liberal narrative, because it blinds us to the real systemic injustice in the world. In reality, it's open season on unborn babies. The death toll far exceeds that of the Halocaust, and the most haunting thing is that it's legal and celebrated in what is supposed to be a developed, enlightened nation. There are many injustices that Christians ought to oppose, but why is the great American Halocaust not at the top of the list?

Joseph Randall said...

So if we should be quiet about racism, we should be quiet about abortion too?

Surf The Shores said...

Steve - all babies (of all races) are indeed "innocent". You just blew your distinction. :-(

Steve said...

Jonathan, if you think that “Christians are called to stand and speak against evil as much as possible while in this world,” then how do you oppose the social gospel? That’s the social gospel’s basic tenet. (And using intensified rhetoric like “Holocaust” to describe certain political phenomenon is a social gospel device.) And to the extent that reproductive politics has been the signature political issue of modern Christians (across denominations) for the last 40 years, what do you mean it’s not at the top of the list?

Joseph, if by “we” you mean “the institutional church,” then yes. If you mean “private members of the institutional church” then be vocal if you want, but some of us see more virtue in quietly living out our convictions about abortion.

STS, if you’re using the term “innocent” loosely, which means “weak and defenseless,” then ok. But if by “innocent” you mean “a special class of human beings who are less sinful than the rest and so deserve a special kind of treatment,” then no. My own hunch is that the pro-life movement by and large means the latter, another iteration of the modern west tendency to exalt youth to super-human status. It’s odd that Augustinian-Calvinists who traditionally have a high view of abiding sin (and refer to them as “conceived in sin and children of wrath”) should so often be found in the ranks of those who romanticize babies and their plight.

Surf The Shores said...

Steve - "innocent" means "not guilty of a crime or offense". It never means "weak and defenseless". No pro-lifer has ever attributed the definition you have ("a special class of human beings who are less sinful than the rest and so deserve a special kind of treatment"). There is no contradiction in holding to the Biblical view of sin (Total Depravity) AND also affirming that babies are innocent, as long as you use the correct definition (which it appears that you have not). For example, even a grown man may be Totally Depraved while at the same time "innocent" of any murder. Do you understand?
We pro-lifers simply believe abortion is murder. The murder of any human being is by definition the murder of someone Totally Depraved. Does that make sense?

Steve said...

STS, I should clarify. My own views are anti-abortion (contra the spin of the positivistic modern age, pro-life)—I oppose elective abortion morally and politically, even in the cases of rape and incest (contra most pro-lifers) and politically think it should be a states’ rights issue (again contra PLers who seem to want it to be a big government consideration). That said, if innocent means “not guilty of a crime” then why do pro-lifers use it? Nobody is saying the unborn are guilty of a crime.

So yes, as a conservative Calvinist I do see how a human being can be at once spiritually depraved and temporally innocent. But I don’t see how “innocent” is relevant in a discussion where nobody is calling them criminally guilty, unless the idea is to simply score rhetorical points, which actually undermines the better case for the unborn as being weak and defenseless and it being the duty of the born and strong to protect them.

My point has been not why conservative Calvinists should be found among those who champion the duty of the (sinful but) strong and born to protect the (sinful but) weak and unborn. Rather it has been to wonder why they should be uncritical of those who refer to the unborn as innocent, since they are neither innocent spiritually nor being cast as politically guilty, or found among those who talk of right-to-life since Calvinism is less about asserting rights and more about duty-to-neighbor. Do you understand?

Curt Day said...

I usually don't, but in this case, I agree with Thabiti Anyabwile. The challenges presented to Thabiti's stand seem to forget the historical and culture contextual differences between the times of Jesus and Paul and today's world. This neglecting of context usually leads one to apply the regulative principle not just to worship, but to all of life. And yet, we don't see that regulative principle being applied to life in such parables as the Good Samaritan.

How is Thabiti is standing for at least partial justice against the God of justice? And how is his stand providing a different gospel than the one preached by Paul? And how do what the OT prophets apply to today? Do they not apply at all?

Unfortunately, our silence goes against the Scriptures that tell us to preach repentance whether those we are preaching to are practicing individual sins or are participating in the practice of systemic sins. Both the prophets and Paul would tell us that our silence is a refusal to warn those who are sinning makes us partially responsible for their sin. OUr silence is nothing more than complicity with sin.

Thabiti is right on this one. And I think it is time that we conservative see the nuance needed in discussing the social gospel.

William H Smith said...

Curt, you lose me here:"The challenges presented to Thabiti's stand seem to forget the historical and culture contextual differences between the times of Jesus and Paul and today's world. This neglecting of context usually leads one to apply the regulative principle not just to worship, but to all of life. And yet, we don't see that regulative principle being applied to life in such parables as the Good Samaritan."

1. What does "historical and cultural contextual differences" mean? And, whatever you mean by that statement was are the differences and how do they affect the way we read the Bible and apply it to ourselves and situations?

2. I am really confused when you say that "This neglecting of context usually leads one to apply the regulative principle not just to worship, but to all of life." How does this work? What is the dynamic at work? And how does the cause you state lead to the effect you say follows?

3.What in the world does the regulative principle have to do with the matter at hand. The regulative principle is the Presbyterian understanding that what may be done in worship is only that commanded in the Bible.

4, On the other hand the doctrine of Christian liberty is the the church may require for belief and behavior only what the Bible requires and forbid only what the Bible forbids.If this is what you are talking about rather than the regulative principle, I am not sure how it relates to the matters at hand.

5.What does any of that have to do with the parable of the Good Sammaritan?

Then you say (see my comments interspersed):

1."How is Thabiti is standing for at least partial justice against the God of justice?

I do not undersand that this sentence means

2."And how is his stand providing a different gospel than the one preached by Paul?" I can't see the NT gospel Paul preached at all in what he is calling for as Christian response to Ferguson, NYC, etc incidents. When did Paul ever do anything like that? Include such in his preaching and teaching?

3."And how do what the OT prophets apply to today? Do they not apply at all?"
The OT prophets preached about and to the kingdom of God which in the OT period was Israel. Their relevanc today remains to the kingdom of God which is the church. I demonstrate this hermeutic at work in the expositon of the Psalm I offer.

Then your write: "Unfortunately, our silence goes against the Scriptures that tell us to preach repentance whether those we are preaching to are practicing individual sins or are participating in the practice of systemic sins. Both the prophets and Paul would tell us that our silence is a refusal to warn those who are sinning makes us partially responsible for their sin. OUr silence is nothing more than complicity with sin."

Of course, my contention is that you do not find Jesus or the Apostles engaging in this kind of preaching - when, if they believed in doing it, there were ample situations they could have addressed in the world of their day. Again as I point out, Jesus and the Apostles do not take on Rome, protest against it, call it to repentance, resist it, or any such thing.

Finally your write:"
Thabiti is right on this one. And I think it is time that we conservative see the nuance needed in discussing the social gospel.

Of course, the point of my blog is to say that Mr Anyabwile is wrong. You say he is right, but by what you write I am not convinced to change my view. Moreover, you need to flesh out exactly what nuances you want us to apply to the social gospel.

Robert Bailey said...

mr. Smith, lease explain what you mean by 'social gospel'.

William H Smith said...

Robert,this is a pretty good introduction:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Gospel

Jonathan Hooper said...

Steve, I didn't say that standing against evil in the world is the chief calling of Christians, with the end of merely bettering the world in this life. No, that would be the social gospel, which I hate because it's powerless to save anyone's soul and is in fact no gospel at all.

So while our chief concern is glorifying God and loving neighbors by preaching the gospel and making disciples, nonetheless I can't read the gospels, (teachings of our Lord such as in Matt. 25), and conclude that Christians don't also have a secondary obligation to promote justice and the well-being of others in this life to the extent that we are able.

I also don't mean to minimize the pro-life that Christians have been doing for the last 40 years. What I was attempting to reference is my observation that in our American Christian culture, generally speaking, it seems to be just as you said; a political issue, and is not so much viewed as a social justice issue, (such as sex trafficking). Again, I'm making a broad generalization about American Christianity, and I know there are many exceptions.

The point I was trying to make is that if Thabiti and so many other voices are right that Christians should peacefully protest injustice, why are there not as many voices calling us to protest for justice at the abortion mills?

Surf The Shores said...

Steve - Thanks for adding clarification. But, I don't know of any Pro-Lifers who stop being Pro-Life in the cases or rape or incest, unless you are talking about liberal Republicans. You seem to affirm there are two distinct movements - Pro-Life and Anti-Abortion. Is this what you affirm?
I think PL-ers want the laws to be changed on the Federal level b/c Roe v. Wade is Federal. Pro-Lifers call aborted babies "innocent" because we should only be executing those who are guilty of a crime, and not the unborn. Precisely - the unborn are innocent and not guilty of any crime, and there is no law that warrants their murder, except for Roe v. Wade. But this law warrants the murder of innocent babies b/c of something their parents did - which is also not biblical. A person may not be condemned for the actions of his parents. This is why their innocence is relevant to this discussion. Are the unborn "weak and defenseless" as well? Yes. But they are also innocent, and our laws are supposed to protect the innocent from unlawful death. The argument of innocence is with reference to the law. Even spiritually speaking, the unborn are completely innocent, as most babies are, until they commit their first actual sin. But we are talking about the unborn, and not babies. As a Calvinist, your duty is to protect the innocent, even those in the womb. So I still don't know why you react against calling the unborn "innocent" - which means "not guilty of any crime". Fetuses don't commit sins and they are ALWAYS spiritually innocent.

Surf The Shores said...

If the Social Gospel is supposed to be equivalent to a sanctified version of Socialism, then it is heresy. Those who want to appeal to the Acts as a springboard forget that Christians gave freely, while Socialism takes freely.
But this is not what Black men and women are arguing for in America. In my opinion, they are arguing for Black Liberation Theology.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_liberation_theology
Jesus did not come to set the black man free from the white man. Jesus came to set the sinner from from his sin.

Steve said...

Jonathan, so maybe semi-social gospel? But any form of it should be opposed, I say. And I still don’t know where you’re living that you don’t see “many [Christian] voices calling us to protest for justice at the abortion mills.” That calling is alive and well in Christendom. My guess is that you esteem the pro-life cause more than the anti-racism cause and feel that calls like Anyabwile’s take thunder away from the pro-life cause.

STS,

“Even spiritually speaking, the unborn are completely innocent, as most babies are, until they commit their first actual sin…Fetuses don't commit sins and they are ALWAYS spiritually innocent.”
And there it is. Calvinism is not informing you and Calvinists who are tempted by your line of argumentation should be much more wary than they tend to be, because your theology lends itself to a spiritually bankrupt view of man. But wooed by the social gospel of pro-lifery, often they are willing to sacrifice their doctrine for the sake of a cause-orientated Christianity.

Surf The Shores said...

Steve - You have thrown up several straw-man arguments in your last post. I don't know what you mean by "Calvinism is not informing you". But actually, my Bible informs my Calvinism, and as a Reformed Baptist, I see no contradiction in anything I have written or currently believe. So please - instead of speaking to the wind, just come out and state the inconsistencies you see in any of my statements - and please use the correct definitions for words (like "innocent") or you will just keep digging a hole for yourself.
And yes, my theology DOES lend itself to a "spiritually bankrupt view of man", because that is what the Bible teaches. Man is conceived in sin and born in iniquity. He is born into *bondage* to sin, and born a hater of God. It doesn't get more spiritually bankrupt than that, and yet that little sinner is innocent of sin until he or she has consciously violated the Law of God. There is therefore only ONE gospel. The *social gospel* and any *liberation theology* you might find out there in Liberal (Christian) culture is NOT a part of the gospel of the Bible. Jesus Christ came to save sinners from God's wrath and from sin. Every duty to mankind stems from that, and cannot REPLACE the true gospel.
So, please don't attribute any social gospels to *me* personally. I preach Christ, and Christ alone.

Curt Day said...

William,
Thank you for your response and questions. What historical and cultural differences am I referring to. Some are listed below

1. Christianity, in the times of the apostles, was a new and location specific religion when it started and it had the charge to evangelize the world in order to make disciples.

Christianity today has been spread throughout the world. But not only that, because of Western Civilization, Christianity has a track record in terms of culture, society, and legislation. And some of that track record has provided stumbling blocks to people hearing the Gospel now. If we are going to preach the Gospel as well as we can, we have to address those stumbling blocks in our preaching. Those stumbling blocks revolve around wrongful actions taken by the state or society in the name of Christianity and the silence of at least a significant part of the Church in the midst of great sin.

2. In the time of the apostles, we had autocratic governments.

Today, we have democracies and as such, our responsibilities as citizens in society and before the state has greatly expanded. To not be involved and take advantage of the privileges afforded to us by our democratic structure and processes is to become complicit in the sins of the state and society.

By neglecting these differences, some of us theological conservatives will only interact with society in ways that either specifically commanded or set as an example by the apostles. Thus, there is a Biblical literalism that practiced by some Conservatives Christians. Unless they are following a specific command or imitating the actions of an apostle, they will refuse to be involved with the state and society. What is the Regulative Principle when it comes to worship?

As for liberty, are we free to live for ourselves as long as we don't break certain taboos such as committing sexual sins? Or are we called on to love God with our whole being and our neighbor as ourselves. And here, we should remember the Good Samaritan parable's definition of neighbor and how that is expanded in our current technological age. After, the Good Samaritan parable teaches us that to love our neighbor as ourselves is to be a neighbor to those in need who cross our path.

As for the sentence you didn't understand, that is my fault. I do not always edit my posts and comments very well. The crux of the question is how does Thabiti's concern and stand for justice contradict or go against our God especially when he is a God of justice?

To keep this response from going way past too long, I will respond to your other comments later on. Let me know if this comment helps you understand what I am getting at.

Steve said...

STS, here is the contradiction:

First: “Even spiritually speaking, the unborn are completely innocent, as most babies are, until they commit their first actual sin…Fetuses don't commit sins and they are ALWAYS spiritually innocent.”

Then: “And yes, my theology DOES lend itself to a ‘spiritually bankrupt view of man’, because that is what the Bible teaches. Man is conceived in sin and born in iniquity. He is born into *bondage* to sin, and born a hater of God.”

So which is it—from conception humans are completely and spiritually innocent (only sinful when he has consciously violated the Law of God) or they are conceived in sin and born in iniquity? It can’t be both. If you think it can, how did you ever pass any ordination process with actual Calvinists examining you?

But you seem unable to understand that since social gospel is a matter of principles applied and not merely bad guys identified that there is such a thing as the social gospel among the good guys. IOW, social gospel isn’t simply what the religious lefties think. The religious right is another iteration of social gospel. Or are you willing to wink at the religious right because you agree with them socially and politically?

Surf The Shores said...

Steve - I apologize for not being very clear. I can see how some of my statements appear confusing.

Let me summarize and try again:
1. Spiritually speaking, the unborn (all fetuses) are completely innocent of any crime.
2. Spiritually speaking, babies are completely innocent of any crime, until they commit their first actual sin.

...but just what kind of a "human nature" is everyone born with?

3. All men are conceived in sin and born in iniquity, born in *bondage* to sin, and born a hater of God. He has a sin "nature" from conception through birth, all throughout life, until he is " made alive", "quickened", and "born from above". He is a "child of wrath" until the Holy Spirit "regenerates" him. The sin nature is received at "conception" from Adam. The new nature is received at the "new birth" from the new Adam.
4. Sin is imputed when the sin is committed. Innocence (not being guilty of a crime) is maintained *until* the sin is committed. But sin is imputed because of his sin nature. The imputation of sin and sin nature itself are not the same thing. A sinner by nature (a fetus, a baby) is still a sinner by nature, even though he is not yet guilty of any crime and remains "innocent".

Also, I don't know what it is you think I agree with socially or politically. So I can't answer your very loaded question.

Plain and simple - I disagree with Thabiti Anyabwile about Ferguson. I also disagree with the "Social Gospel" (initially a Liberal movement in history), and everything that "Black Liberation Theology" teaches. Jesus Christ did not come to save black men from white men, or to redistribute wealth, or to right the social ills of sinners. Jesus Christ came for one purpose - to save sinners from the wrath of God and the curse of their sins. This is the ONLY gospel in the Bible. Thankfully, the gospel has repercussions toward a sinful society. All good deeds done to men are the result of men first being "caused to be born again".
If you have "redefined" what the "Social Gospel" has been in history to - "do good to all men, especially to the household of God", - then you are agreeing with what I am saying. No good deed apart from faith in Jesus Christ is acceptable to God. The Gospel changes men, so that changed men (and women) have an influence in society as a *result* of being changed ("born from above"). So I don't buy into any *social gospel* - either from the left or right.

Is this more clear now?

Steve said...

STS, you are confusing the spiritual with the temporal. It makes no sense to connect the spirituality of the unborn with temporal crimes. But spiritually speaking, the unborn are indeed guilty of spiritual crimes, every bit as much as you and me.

But you are also an age-of-accountability Arminian who holds that children are spiritually innocent until they commit a sin (“sin is imputed when the sin is committed”). You don’t understand imputation. Sin is imputed at conception and made manifest when sin is committed. How do you think sin is committed without previously being sinful by nature? You are a behavioralist, not a Calvinist.

If you don’t buy into any social gospel of the right then you’d be more skeptical of the pro-life movement, which is the quintessential social gospel of the right. Lifers talk about the unborn the same way Anyabwile talks about blacks (and Christian liberals talk about women)—there is a special class of human beings who are the oppressed victims and who deserve Christians to “stand up for justice in their cause against their oppressors.” It’s the same script applied to a certain class of people for whom the religious speaker has the most sympathy. Look, you and Anyabwile might have your socio-political persuasions about the unborn and the minority, and that’s all fine and dandy, but don’t invoke our shared faith to lend religious hegemony to your particular cause as if it’s incumbent upon the rest of us as a litmus test for piety.

Surf The Shores said...

Steve - I think it's you who is confused. You don't seem to understand the plain words I have written. But if you believe "the unborn are indeed guilty of spiritual crimes", tell us which ones? Please give us chapter and verse. Name the law that the fetus has broken. What commandment have they violated while in the womb? What sin have fetuses committed?

I also do not believe in the age-of-accountability theory - so please do not attribute that to me. I am not talking at all about "children". Read my last post again. Where did I mention "children"? I have only written of the "unborn" and "babies". You are now confusing "children" with the "unborn" and "babies". You seem to have a problem with understanding the meaning of certain words. Please read more clearly!

Where does the Bible teach that "sin" is imputed at "conception"? I think you are confused. It's the "sin nature" that is imputed at conception, and not sin.
"Sin is NOT imputed when there is no Law" (Romans 5:13), and neither when there is no violation of the Law - or do you disagree with Scripture? The "sin nature" is imputed at conception, and "sin" is imputed when there is a violation of the Law, and the sinnerhood of the person is confirmed when sin is manifested.

I don't believe the unborn are a special class of sinners - just innocent. But you don't seem to agree or want to agree. But like I asked - give us the chapter and verse to prove your point. Abortion is murder - this is why I am Pro-Life and Anti-Abortion.

Is it just me, or are you insisting I am in some agreement with Thabiti Anyabwile, when I have expressedly told you I am not??? Here it is again from my last paragraph in my previous post:
"Plain and simple - I disagree with Thabiti Anyabwile about Ferguson. I also disagree with the 'Social Gospel' (initially a Liberal movement in history), and everything that 'Black Liberation Theology' teaches."
I think everyone understands my point. Do you understand now???

I have no cause but Christ.

Surf The Shores said...

Steve - Here is Calvin on Romans 5:13;
"[Paul] expressly says, that sin reigned before the law, but was not imputed, and that is, that WE MAY KNOW that the cause of death proceeds not from the law, but is ONLY MADE KNOWN BY IT. Hence he declares, that all became miserably lost immediately after the fall of Adam, though their destruction was only MADE MANIFEST BY THE LAW."

So please tell us which sins the fetus has violated before even becoming conscious of any Law???

Steve said...

STS, Calvinists wrote and confess the Belgic Confession which says in part in article 15 (The Doctrine of Original Sin): “We believe that by the disobedience of Adam original sin has been spread through the whole human race. It is a corruption of the whole human nature—an inherited depravity which even infects small infants in their mother’s womb, and the root which produces in humanity every sort of sin. It is therefore so vile and enormous in God’s sight that it is enough to condemn the human race, and it is not abolished or wholly uprooted even by baptism, seeing that sin constantly boils forth as though from a contaminated spring.”

If you were a Calvinist who held to a doctrine of original sin you wouldn’t be so nonplussed over the idea that the unborn are spiritually guilty.

You say, “It's the ‘sin nature’ that is imputed at conception, and not sin.” If your point is that the unborn have an inherited sin nature from Adam but have not committed actual sin themselves, then agreed. So why are you pushing back on my point that they are not innocent? To have a sin nature is to be spiritually guilty. But you seem to think that sin isn’t imputed until one commits actual sin. Huh? Sin is imputed from the disobedience of Adam, not from the disobedience of the sinner. Imputation means that something from one is ascribed to another, not that something from within one is ascribed to himself.

I understand you disagree with Anyabwile. What I’m saying is that if you were more consistent then the reasons you cite for such disagreement would also lead you to being more skeptical of the pro-life movement. So I’m not saying you do in fact agree with Anyabwile (because you say you don’t, I’m reading you). I’m saying you’re not being consistent. Then again, if you’re defining social gospel as simply the baptized politics of progressives, then maybe you are, i.e. there’s bad social gospel and there’s good social gospel. Something tells me you also think “political correctness” means “whatever lefties think” and isn’t an affliction of all people, even conservatives.

But you did say you oppose the social gospel of the right. I’m curious, what is an example of the social gospel of the right? You don’t seem to think it shows up in the pro-life movement. Where does it show up then? What’s it look and sound like?

Surf The Shores said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Surf The Shores said...

Steve - I myself am a Reformed Baptist and subscribe to the 2nd London Baptist Confession of 1689, where our Confession affirms the BC; Article 15 (not withstanding the Pedobaptist understanding of "baptism") in spirit. See Chapter 6 in http://www.1689.com/confession.html.
Yet, where does the Belgic Confession state what *you* state - that the unborn are "spiritually guilty"? IT DOES NOT STATE THAT!

Did you actually read the post where I quoted Calvin on Romans 5:13? At least now you are no longer confusing "children" with the unborn or babies. So please, show chapter and verse where the Bible teaches that the unborn are "spiritually guilty" of some crime, sin against God, sin against the Law of God, or sin against man. You are welcome to quote Reformed Confessions, but you won't find any evidence for your *brand* of Calvinism.

It's you who has deviated. You simply are not being consistent with historical Calvinism, the Reformers, or the Scripture on the understanding of "innocence" or "guilt". You have failed to show us evidence for your position, because I think you misunderstand the difference between the imputation of the sin nature, and the imputation of sin.

Here is that quote from Calvin again, since you missed it, which proves my point - that the unborn are NOT GUILTY of any crime, and are therefore INNOCENT, though still having sinnerhood...
Calvin on Romans 5:13;
"[Paul] expressly says, that sin reigned before the law, but was not imputed, and that is, that WE MAY KNOW that the cause of death proceeds not from the law, but is ONLY MADE KNOWN BY IT. Hence he declares, that all became miserably lost immediately after the fall of Adam, though their destruction was only MADE MANIFEST BY THE LAW."

Did you understand Calvin? ...sin is "imputed" to the sinner when the sinner is made known of his sin by the law. His sin is "credited to him" once the law *accuses* him. For this, there must be a sufficient level of consciousness and understanding - things not present in the unborn!

So please tell us which sins the fetus has violated before even becoming conscious of any Law???

In case I have not been clear enough for you, prove your point(s) here;
"To have a sin nature is to be spiritually guilty."
"Sin is imputed from the disobedience of Adam, not from the disobedience of the sinner."

If you think that "Imputation means that something from one is ascribed to another, not that something from within one is ascribed to himself" then you don't understand Romans 5:13, and must not be in agreement with Calvin above. :-(
I know WHY you are wrong. You don't have a CORRECT definition for "imputation". It means "to credit" to a person. Your word "ascribed" is insufficient. I have solved your problem! :-)

I don't need to be skeptical of the Pro-Life movement in order to disagree with Thabiti Anyabwile. I don't need to be more consistent then that. I am not a politician, so I simply don't care about *any* social gospel. I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ - this is what I care about.

Surf The Shores said...

Steve - I should have more correctly stated:
...sin is "imputed" to the sinner when the sinner [sins. He] is made known of his sin by the law. His sin is "credited to him" once [he sins. He knows of his sin when he knows and understands just how] the law *accuses* him. For this, there must be a sufficient level of consciousness and understanding - things not present in the unborn!

There. You still have to prove your theory.

Melanie said...

Wow, I would never have thought that my comment would have erupted into such a poop-storm.

Steve, you can keep all of your distinctions and nuances about the guilt of the unborn. I was making a legal comparison to the crime and punishment of both the African American Michael Brown and the innumerable thousands (millions?) of African American babies aborted in this country.

And on a different note, it's this very attitude of yours that made me abandon Calvinism. James White once said of 5-point Calvinism, that it "kept one from assigning an anthropomorphic definition to God's love." I agree with White; Consistent Calvinism is dehumanizing. And what else does it mean to jettison a human understanding of love, only to replace it with an understanding of love that would damn babies? That is a perfect definition of dehumanization.

I also once heard a sermon from a Reformed Baptist pastor shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting, in which he said that "although the shooting is sad and tragic, we must understand that those children were not innocent, they were God-haters." Perhaps this same pastor would like to console the grieving parents with those toxic words. How does all of this conceited theological trash comport with the words of Christ who said,"let the little children come and forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God"?

In closing, Steve, I want to thank you for proving my point with your sophistical attempt at eloquence, and also reaffirming my decision to leave Calvinistic theology.

-Sam

Steve said...

STS, you’re right, I don’t follow your reasoning here at all. I’ve made my points in response to you and to continue will simply to be repetitive. Suffice it to say, you’re exactly what I worry about when conservative Calvinists throw in uncritically with pro-lifery—they end up compromising their doctrine for the sake of a social and political movement.

Steve said...

Melanie-Sam, my response to your initial comment was to suggest it odd to draw out the African-American connection between the Brown case and abortion. It’s not obvious what the connection might be, but from where I sit, it tends to be a way of lending momentum to the pro-life cause, i.e. if one really wants to be non-racist (and don’t we all?) then he should also not be pro-choice since so many black babies are aborted. Again, I also politically oppose elective abortion, but this line of reasoning isn’t very persuasive. It just comes off as race baiting.

Agreed that the Reformed Baptist remarks were toxic. That’s not pastoral Calvinism, nor is it consistent Calvinism since nobody knows the state of those young souls—Calvinism is about humility, as in not speaking definitively about that which is a mystery.

But to your point about consistent Calvinism being dehumanizing, I think it quite the contrary to say that not exempting babies from the judgment of God is to dehumanize; it is to consider them fully human to say that they are just as vulnerable to that judgment as any 100-year-old man. To exempt them is to suggest that they are something other than human, perhaps even angels. Does it help to know that Calvinists confess the children of believers who die in infancy are spared eternally? Some non-Calvinists abhor that teaching though since it irritates their high octane individualism.

Melanie said...

Steve,

You say that, "Calvinism is about humility, as in not speaking definitively about that which is a mystery", but with all the honesty that I can muster I must say that Calvinists (the ones that I know) are the most arrogant bunch that bear the name "Christian." And the whole system is founded on things that cannot be known (e.g. eternal decrees, lapsarian debate, crux theologorum).

The problem that I have with damning babies is that it is entirely inconsistent with God revealed in Christ. As I stated before, damning children (and the mentally infirm for that matter) does not comport with the man who said, "let the little children come to me...for of such is the kingdom of God." The same man then took the children up into His arms and blessed them. If one of those same children were to go home that night and die in their sleep, would the God that blessed them that morning damn them that very night?

If you try to answer this conundrum by saying that "God's thoughts are not your thoughts, nor his ways your ways", I would respond by saying that if the incarnation is not an accurate and lucid manifestation of God, then for what purpose did Christ say to Philip, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father"? And in John," The only begotten Son, who is on the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him"? And in Hebrews,"Who being...the express image of His person"?

So for me, the eternal state of deceased babies is a fundamental concern, in that, according to the typical Calvinist response to the issue, God cannot be comprehended through the Son. Indeed, this is the fulcrum upon which the whole of Calvinism pivots, else, why would the Calvinist concern himself with infralapsarianism, supralapsarianism, sublapsarianism, and all of God's unsearchable decrees? Why would he not simply find satisfaction in what has been revealed in Christ?

My conclusion (although you will disagree) is that Calvinism's most fundamental presupposition is that the Father is not comprehensible through His Son. It does not matter one iota to me that the Calvinist will never admit this. It is my rule to deal with things according to their reality and not according to their profession. There is no other reason for the believer to try to peer beyond the incarnation, except that he thought Jesus Christ insufficient.

-Sam

Steve said...

Sam, what can I tell you, other than I understand your assessment of many Calvinists as aggressive and arrogant and some of the system speculative in ways that are discomforting.

Still, what helps this Calvinist is the fulcrum laid between elect and non-elect instead of between young and old. It isn’t clear to me how youth somehow increases one’s innocence to the point of circumventing God’s judgment. To keep the discussion at least somewhat on topic, it betrays a sentimentality about youth which doesn’t square with a reality about all human persons. And this is the irony for me in discussions involving Calvinists (I know you aren’t one) and abortion which seems to lean heavily on this functioning sentimental theology in relation to children—it conceive of children as something other than fully human, if to be fully human is among many other things is to be in natural enmity with God. It seems to me the theology of pro-lifery is one that wants to afford children at once the advantage of special bodily protection and the benefit of a spiritual status that Calvinism simply cannot abide. In fact, it often seems to me that it wants children to never have to suffer the pains of this life (up to and including death) precisely because they are so specially precious. But babies die, sometimes due to natural cause, sometimes due to human policies. That isn’t to be callous and fatalistic about situations medical or legal. It’s simply to bring the functioning theology in for a criticism that seems sorely lacking among those who profess a Calvinist theology.

Melanie said...

Steve,

I appreciate your consistency as a Calvinist, but you are only further proving my point. That is, that Calvinism is ultimately at odds with revelation and has a dehumanizing effect on its adherents.

The Son Himself makes a distinction between children and adults. Again, it was He who said, "let the little children come...for of such is the kingdom of God" (in contradistinction to adults), and "unless you be converted and become as little children, you shall not see the Kingdom of Heaven." Why make these distinctions if there is no qualitative difference? But there is a qualitative difference.

Church history also bears this out. Historically the Church has regarded Herod's murder of Bethlehem's children as the "Massacre of the innocents." Why are they called innocents? Because, as Martin Luther puts it in his commentary on Romans, infants, thought they have original sin and are subject to death, have no "actual sins" of their own. Even Augustine, by reason of his inflexible sacramentalism, regarded unbaptized infants as lost, though not in Hell proper, but in Limbo. Your sentiment is really only an abstraction of Calvinism and has no sway outside of the Reformed camp.

As for Christian opposition to abortion, this too may be justified from scripture. Proverbs 24:11&12 states:

"If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest 'Behold, we knew it not', doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it?...and shall He not render to every man according to his works?"

Is God telling us to rescue inmates from death row? Or is He telling us to rescue "innocent blood"? There is a recurring theme of "innocent blood" in the Old Testament; but if your beliefs hold true, there can be no innocent blood. Only sinners with varying degrees of guilt, all deserving worse than what they receive in this life. But scripture does not align with your opinions. In Deuteronomy 21 we see the significance of shedding "innocent blood." If anyone was found murdered in a field, the elders would swear over a slaughtered heifer that they knew nothing of the event, and repeat the following.

"Be merciful, O LORD, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel's charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them."

The seriousness of shedding innocent blood can also be shown from the punishment given Judah for Manasseh's sins. Jerusalem was destroyed partly because Manasseh "filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon."

To summarize, you conflate original sin and guilt with individual sin and guilt, and by so doing, destroy a biblical distinction between those who deserve temporal death and those who do not. You also fail to see the value in Paul's instruction to "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." True, it is not the Church's primary objective to combat injustice,and on that point we agree, but to "reprove" such things fits well within the scope of the Church's activities.

-Continued, Sam

Melanie said...

Continued...

In closing, I must say that I find your thinking to be utterly morbid. You claim that assigning children an innocence that adults do not possess is to make them something less than human. You say:

"to be fully human is among many other things is to be in natural enmity with God."

This is demonstrably false. Was Christ fully human? Was He at enmity with the Father? Were Adam and Eve not fully human before the fall? Were they at enmity with God before they ate of the tree? Hating God is not a necessary component of humanity, but is a corruption of the human nature. To love God, or in the the case of infants, to not actively hate God, makes one more human, not less. You are operating under a false anthropology, and potentially, a false Christology, when you say that the fall is a necessary element of humanity.

As far as I'm concerned, being a consistent Calvinist is de-humanizing, and you have proven it here. Yes, children are precious, and the whole tenor of scripture bears this out. Christ, Augustine (whom the reformed have co-opted), and Luther all place a distinction between children and adults, and so do I. In fact, so does all of humanity, except for consistent Calvinists and abortionists. You claim you should not be read as callous, but why should you not be taken that way? The Reformed Baptist who commented on Sandy Hook was toxic, but he was also being consistent. There is a problem with one's theology when you have to be dishonest to avoid sounding like a monster. There is a problem with one's theology when to express it honestly and consistently, makes you sound like anyone but Christ. Don't react to that last one, just think about it for a while.

-Sam

Steve said...

Sam, contrary to what you suggest, I have already above conceded the difference between original sin and actual and further that the unborn only possess original sin while not yet committing actual sin. What I don't concede is that a human being needs both to be under the judgment of God--original sin is sufficient. So, no, I am not destroying the distinction between original and actual sin. I am working with it and saying it makes no sense to say those with only original (and not actual) are somehow innocent. Original is sufficient to condemn since nobody possessing any kind of sin can be said to also be innocent in any way.

You bring up Herod slaughter of the so-called innocents. What is striking to me is that those who would cite the Bible to make the case for the innocence of the unborn never consider how the Bible itself doesn't seem scandalized by that slaughter, at least not scandalized the way modern pro-lifers tend to be.

My point does not preclude human beings being innocent of crimes. My point is that legal guilt or innocence in the modern abortion debate is irrelevant, since nobody is saying the unborn are legally guilty. So why invoke the category of legal innocence? It's to score rhetorical points.

To be human post fall is to be condemned, regardless of age. Christ as the sinless God-man is in a class all his own, and Adam and Eve lived pre fall. Using them as examples to defeat the point is pointless since none of us regular shlubs share their traits.

Melanie said...

Steve,

You say,"Original is sufficient to condemn since nobody possessing any kind of sin can be said to also be innocent in any way."

This is directly contradicted by scripture which makes prodigious use of the term "innocent blood". So obviously there is some sense in which a person may be innocent, original sin notwithstanding.

Then you say," To be human post fall is to be condemned, regardless of age."

This is not the point that you made originally. You said that human nature necessitates corruption, with no qualifier. My point stands. As far as Adam and Christ are concerned, they prove my point sufficiently because they were/are both fully man without corruption. It is irrelevant to mention the necessity of original sin in the present because your original point was concerning the essence of humanity.

And you say,"You bring up Herod slaughter of the so-called innocents."

Yes, I do. Historically, the Church has regarded them as innocent and so do I. In much the same way that King Manasseh shed "innocent blood", Herod massacred the "innocents" in Bethlehem.

And you said, "the Bible itself doesn't seem scandalized by that slaughter."

This is what I'm talking about Steve. No one in a right state of mind would read that passage and make your comment. This is why I am not a Calvinist, Steve. It is your philosophy that causes you to think the way that you do, not scripture. No one, not even many of your Calvinist friends, would sit idly by and listen to the way you talk. Why do you think your original comment generated so much response? Because you are representing God's truth, and everyone else is blind and carnal? Or are you suffering from morbidity of thought?

My default position is always Jesus Christ. What did He think of children? He made a clear distinction between them and adults, otherwise, why would we be instructed to have "faith like a child"?

And finally, a point you will never answer: Would the God who said "Let the little children come to me", tell those same children to "Depart ye accursed into everlasting fire"?

Would the God who took the children up into His arms and blessed them, send them to Hell if they breathed their last that night? Would the God that blessed them in the morning, damn them in the evening?

OK Steve, now show us how warped you are.

-Sam


Steve said...

This is directly contradicted by scripture which makes prodigious use of the term "innocent blood". So obviously there is some sense in which a person may be innocent, original sin notwithstanding.

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” The only innocent blood is that of Jesus--you know, the one you say is your constant default. If you’re not Jesus, then you’re not of innocent blood. That includes precious coochy-coo babies.

And you say,"You bring up Herod slaughter of the so-called innocents."

Yes, I do. Historically, the Church has regarded them as innocent and so do I. In much the same way that King Manasseh shed "innocent blood", Herod massacred the "innocents" in Bethlehem.

And you said, "the Bible itself doesn't seem scandalized by that slaughter."

This is what I'm talking about Steve. No one in a right state of mind would read that passage and make your comment. This is why I am not a Calvinist, Steve. It is your philosophy that causes you to think the way that you do, not scripture. No one, not even many of your Calvinist friends, would sit idly by and listen to the way you talk. Why do you think your original comment generated so much response? Because you are representing God's truth, and everyone else is blind and carnal? Or are you suffering from morbidity of thought?


If by innocent it is loosely meant those who are physically weak, defenseless, and have done nothing legally wrong to have incurred such treatment, sure. That’s how language works, either loosely or precisely. The looser use in this case doesn’t mean they are spiritually innocent. And part of my point here was to say that it is arresting (at least to my morbid mind) how matter-of-fact the Bible reports this incident, and it is arresting because it scandalizes my own conscience (warped as it is). The Bible doesn’t seem very interested in my personal scandal. It makes me wonder why. You, on the other hand, presume the Bible is as scandalized as you. Can you say eisegesis? Sure you can.

My default position is always Jesus Christ. What did He think of children? He made a clear distinction between them and adults, otherwise, why would we be instructed to have "faith like a child"?

What does this have to do with the spiritual guilt or innocence of children? It has to do with the nature of faith and how it is masterfully embodied in children, etc.

And finally, a point you will never answer: Would the God who said "Let the little children come to me", tell those same children to "Depart ye accursed into everlasting fire"?

Would the God who took the children up into His arms and blessed them, send them to Hell if they breathed their last that night? Would the God that blessed them in the morning, damn them in the evening?


What are you talking about, I keep answering this. You keep bringing it up as if it’s the sure fire proof that my conception of God is monstrous. We get it, you’re on the side of righteousness and I’m on the side of religious barbarism. Boo! How many times can the point be made? Children are not exempt from judgment simply because we find them so precious and lovely. They are as much citizens of fallen humanity as big, hairy, ugly men. I’m sorry that offends your sensibilities (and causes you to stoop to impugning my character—my, my for such a guardian of piety you sure have lost control of yours), but to my warped mind it’s the plain teaching of holy writ. And though you frame it as a cowardly way of circumventing the uncomfortable, the remarks of the RB pastor were not the sort that more delicate Calvinists affirm, and I’ve already told you why.

Melanie said...

Steve says,"You keep bringing it up as if it’s the sure fire proof that my conception of God is monstrous."

Steve, your conception of God is monstrous. Even most Calvinists would not come to your conclusions. My position is consistent with Piper's. Is he enough of a Calvinist for you?

Then Steve says," Children are not exempt from judgment simply because we find them so precious and lovely. They are as much citizens of fallen humanity as big, hairy, ugly men."

Children are not without original sin, true, but it does not follow that children or the mentally infirm will spend eternity in Hell. That is your assertion which you have failed to prove from scripture. What can be known and inferred from scripture tells us that children are regarded as innocent. Do you remember what David said at the death of his son? He said that "he cannot come to me, but I will go to him." Now, unless David went to Hell, it is safe to assume that the child went to Paradise, no? Or maybe this is just wishful thinking on the part of David, and the Spirit inspired these words as a kind of Divine trickery? Or perhaps David was granted knowledge concerning his son's election and therefore could speak with assurance in this case only? But then I would return you to my original premise; that Christ's gracious attitude toward children was universal and the hands that held them temporally would also hold them eternally, and not cast them into the fire.

It is this point that you have consistently failed to address. Would the Christ who blessed the children also damn them? Do you believe that Christ is Bipolar? Schizophrenic? I believe that infants are as safe in eternity as they are in the Savior's arms, but you believe something quite different.

Why don't you just say it? Tell me that Christ will preside over the eternal suffering of the unborn. How does that square with the one who is "meek and lowly in heart"? It does not.

Then Steve says,"I’m sorry that offends your sensibilities (and causes you to stoop to impugning my character—my, my for such a guardian of piety you sure have lost control of yours)"

Steve, your position offends the whole tenor of scripture and the character of Christ presented in the Gospels. As for impugning your character, I don't really see your point. I haven't misrepresented your position. You do believe that the unborn, children, mentally infirm, etc. will burn in Hell. Are you trying to tell me that this is not evidence of psychological trouble? Calvinism will wreck one's mind. Left unchecked, it will cause you to view the people around you as mere Hell-fodder. When this mindset becomes firmly entrenched, even the most heinous crimes (abortion for instance), become meaningless and the thought of opposing such evil becomes equally ridiculous. After all, if God will torment the unborn for eternity, why should we be offended if the physician spares them a lifetime of trouble in the interim? This is not Christianity, but baptized Stoicism.

Then Steve says,"And though you frame it as a cowardly way of circumventing the uncomfortable, the remarks of the RB pastor were not the sort that more delicate Calvinists affirm, and Iv'e already told you why."

Yes, you've already told me why. Because it would not be "pastoral." So then, you admit that consistent Calvinism is not compatible with the pastoral ministry? How is my conclusion not valid? You have already told me that grieving parents should be told something other than what you believe. Or maybe you mean that they should only hear it later, after they have been strengthened by solid Calvinist preaching, and will glorify God at the news of their son or daughter's damnation? Steve, you are not providing me with a convincing argument.

-Sam



Steve said...

Sam, as I’ve said, election is that as opposed to age the fulcrum that decides the eternity of human sinners. So, no, it is not an accurate portrayal of my view that I “believe that the unborn, children, mentally infirm, etc. will burn in Hell.” Those who are both born and unborn, mentally inform and mentally fit, etc. who are also not elect will be preserved for eternal judgment. WCF 10.3 says: “Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.”

You say that “Calvinism will wreck one's mind. Left unchecked, it will cause you to view the people around you as mere Hell-fodder.” Well, I’ve been a Calvinist for a good many years and I do not view the people around me as mere hell-fodder. I get that this is a popular portrayal of Calvinism and its adherents, but I must admit that it does not accurately capture the real Calvinists I know.

And this: “When this mindset becomes firmly entrenched, even the most heinous crimes (abortion for instance), become meaningless and the thought of opposing such evil becomes equally ridiculous. After all, if God will torment the unborn for eternity, why should we be offended if the physician spares them a lifetime of trouble in the interim? This is not Christianity, but baptized Stoicism.”

No, what can happen is that while one can believe that abortion is a moral and political blight on a society, it is also quizzical how those who have a system that explains the big bad world as part of the territory for living east of Eden can also hyperventilate about a particular state of affairs in that big bad world. You call this a baptized Stoicism, but I think it more a version of “you don’t care like I care, thus you don’t care at all.” Evidently there is a sufficient amount of moral indignation a Christian must demonstrate about a particular thing in the world (abortion, racism, etc. And so forth and so on and on and on), and if he doesn’t then he is a monster. Have you considered that the point here is that it is a virtue to get a grip in such a way as to be able to maintain an opposition to a thing while also not slipping into judgmentalism and moralism and emotionalism?

Steve said...



Sam, as I’ve said, election is that as opposed to age the fulcrum that decides the eternity of human sinners. So, no, it is not an accurate portrayal of my view that I “believe that the unborn, children, mentally infirm, etc. will burn in Hell.” Those who are both born and unborn, mentally inform and mentally fit, etc. who are also not elect will be preserved for eternal judgment. WCF 10.3 says: “Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.”

You say that “Calvinism will wreck one's mind. Left unchecked, it will cause you to view the people around you as mere Hell-fodder.” Well, I’ve been a Calvinist for a good many years and I do not view the people around me as mere hell-fodder. I get that this is a popular portrayal of Calvinism and its adherents, but I must admit that it does not accurately capture the real Calvinists I know.

And this: “When this mindset becomes firmly entrenched, even the most heinous crimes (abortion for instance), become meaningless and the thought of opposing such evil becomes equally ridiculous. After all, if God will torment the unborn for eternity, why should we be offended if the physician spares them a lifetime of trouble in the interim? This is not Christianity, but baptized Stoicism.”

No, what can happen is that while one can believe that abortion is a moral and political blight on a society, it is also quizzical how those who have a system that explains the big bad world as part of the territory for living east of Eden can also hyperventilate about a particular state of affairs in that big bad world. You call this a baptized Stoicism, but I think it more a version of “you don’t care like I care, thus you don’t care at all.” Evidently there is a sufficient amount of moral indignation a Christian must demonstrate about a particular thing in the world (abortion, racism, etc. And so forth and so on and on and on), and if he doesn’t then he is a monster. Have you considered that the point here is that it is a virtue to get a grip in such a way as to be able to maintain an opposition to a thing while also not slipping into judgmentalism and moralism and emotionalism? Why is that so warped?

Surf The Shores said...

Steve - You have failed to answer any of my questions...

Where does the Belgic Confession state what *you* affirm - that the unborn are "spiritually guilty"?

Where does the Bible teach that the unborn are "spiritually guilty" of some crime, sin against God, sin against the Law of God, or sin against man?

Which sins has the fetus violated before even becoming conscious of any Law?

If you can't defend your position from Scripture, then you have to admit you are wrong.

Surf The Shores said...

Melanie - If you have abandoned "Calvinism", then I can only guess that you don't rightly understand it. Your quote of James White seems accurate, but you have redefined him to say that he meant *consistent calvinism is dehumanizing* by his quote, when that is simply *your* interpretation of his words. I know him, and I bet he was contrasting a biblical definition of God's love to "an anthropomorphic definition of God's love" (God's love made in the image of man). But God's love simply chooses whom He will save out of that mire of humanity that doesn't desire salvation nor has the ability to save itself. That is true love.

As for your quote of the RB Pastor with regard to Sandy Hook, did any of the parents of those murdered children come forward and state their children were indeed *saved*? Did their Pastors affirm the same? To the extent that no parent claimed their child was saved, yes, their child died in a state of sin, and was not "innocent" (see my discussion and refutation of Steve's view of *innocence* above). Once the first sin is committed (no matter the age), that baby/infant is no longer "innocent". Any violation of the Law of God is sin, and therefore must be punished. Those who are not in Christ are indeed "God haters" - read Romans 1. There is no middle or *undecided* ground.

I think you also took Christ out of context. The Kingdom of God is definitely for children who "come unto [Him]". Where were those children when Jesus was crucified? Where were those children in Acts? If children do not come to Him by faith in Him and then die as children in their natural state of sin (never having been regenerated, been born from above), they have died in their sin and will go to hell.

Lastly, while Steve seems rough around the edges, don't judge Calvinism by his words, or even mine. You have to first understand the Word of God before you can receive or reject to doctrines of the Reformation, and Calvinism. Your alternative to Calvinism is Arminianism - which in its Soteriology is nothing more than Roman Catholicism without a Pope.

I will wait patiently for your answers to my questions above.

Surf The Shores said...

Melanie (Sam) - Jesus also stated that no one will enter the kingdom unless "converted". The kingdom is for those who enter "as" little children. Jesus did NOT say the kingdom is for little children. But notice after "blessing" the children, He did not baptize them, nor pronounce all "children" everywhere for all time "saved". Children, just like adults, must "come" to Jesus by faith and be "converted". Being "blessed" by Jesus is not the same as being "saved" by Jesus. Judas was there at the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus was pronouncing "blessing" on thousands at a time. But again, where were they at the crucifixion? Many are given blessings in the Bible, and were still reprobate. Look at Pharaoh in Genesis 47:7. Jacob "blessed" Pharaoh. But was Pharaoh "saved". No! Paul tells us in Romans 9 Pharaoh was reprobate.

Steve said...

Where does the Belgic Confession state what *you* affirm - that the unborn are "spiritually guilty"?

BC Article 15 (on the doctrine of original sin, in part): “It [sin] is a corruption of the whole human nature—an inherited depravity which even infects small infants in their mother’s womb, and the root which produces in humanity every sort of sin.”


Where does the Bible teach that the unborn are "spiritually guilty" of some crime, sin against God, sin against the Law of God, or sin against man?

Psalm 51:5: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”


Which sins has the fetus violated before even becoming conscious of any Law?

Have you followed the discussion above? The point was made to another here that while the unborn have obviously not committed any particular or personal sin or crime, they have inherited original sin which makes them just as spiritually guilty as the born; Calvinism does not hold that spiritual guilt is initiated by the first personal act of sin, rather it is set in motion at the moment of conception. And since they are obviously not legally guilty of any particular crime, nobody is contending they are, which is what makes the language of being legally innocent completely irrelevant and more a way of scoring rhetorical points in a highly charged debate where the losers swing for the groin. So while they are spiritually guilty, that fact is also irrelevant since spiritual and temporal innocence and guilt do not always have a one-to-one correspondence in this life. The most appropriate language in the discussion involves the weak and the strong (not the innocent and guilty). The debate is also unsatisfatory since choicers and lifers seem to want to pit the modern American virtues of privacy with those of life respectively, which is to say they frame the discussion in terms of rights. That may satisfy those who take the modern cue and prioritize personal rights, but if biblical ethics is supposed to be at play here, it doesn’t satisfy those of us who read those ethics to be less about rights and more about caring for one’s neighbor. In which case, the debate is better framed in terms of responsibility and duties to the other, and so it’s better say that the strong owe the weak protection, as in the sixth and second greatest commandments beat references to Psalm 139 which tend to erroneously prop up the doctrine of rights.
This means choicers lose the day, so why can’t you get on board?

Steve said...

Where does the Belgic Confession state what *you* affirm - that the unborn are "spiritually guilty"?

BC Article 15 (on the doctrine of original sin, in part): “It [sin] is a corruption of the whole human nature—an inherited depravity which even infects small infants in their mother’s womb, and the root which produces in humanity every sort of sin.”


Where does the Bible teach that the unborn are "spiritually guilty" of some crime, sin against God, sin against the Law of God, or sin against man?

Psalm 51:5: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”


Which sins has the fetus violated before even becoming conscious of any Law?

Have you followed the discussion above? The point was made to another here that while the unborn have obviously not committed any particular or personal sin or crime, they have inherited original sin which makes them just as spiritually guilty as the born; Calvinism does not hold that spiritual guilt is initiated by the first personal act of sin, rather it is set in motion at the moment of conception. And since they are obviously not legally guilty of any particular crime, nobody is contending they are, which is what makes the language of being legally innocent completely irrelevant and more a way of scoring rhetorical points in a highly charged debate where the losers swing for the groin. So while they are spiritually guilty, that fact is also irrelevant since spiritual and temporal innocence and guilt do not always have a one-to-one correspondence in this life. The most appropriate language in the discussion involves the weak and the strong (not the innocent and guilty). The debate is also unsatisfatory since choicers and lifers seem to want to pit the modern American virtues of privacy with those of life respectively, which is to say they frame the discussion in terms of rights. That may satisfy those who take the modern cue and prioritize personal rights, but if biblical ethics is supposed to be at play here, it doesn’t satisfy those of us who read those ethics to be less about rights and more about caring for one’s neighbor. In which case, the debate is better framed in terms of responsibility and duties to the other, and so it’s better say that the strong owe the weak protection, as in the sixth and second greatest commandments beat references to Psalm 139 which tend to erroneously prop up the doctrine of rights.
This means choicers lose the day, so why can’t you get on board?

William H Smith said...

Warfield on infant salvation.

https://archive.org/stream/developmentofdo00warf#page/10/mode/2up

William H Smith said...

Hodge: “All who die in infancy are doubtless saved, but they are saved by grace.”

Warfield: If only a single infant dying in irresponsible infancy be saved, the whole Arminian principle is traversed. If all infants dying such are saved, not only the majority of the saved, but doubtless the majority of the human race hitherto, have entered into life by a non-Arminian pathway” (Two Studies on the History of Doctrine, 230).

“Their destiny is determined irrespective of their choice, by an unconditional decree of God, suspended for its execution on no act of their own; and their salvation is wrought by an unconditional application of the grace of Christ to their souls, through the immediate and irresistible operation of the Holy Spirit prior to and apart from any action of their own proper wills . . . And if death in infancy does depend on God’s providence, it is assuredly God in His providence who selects this vast multitude to be made participants of His unconditional salvation . . . This is but to say that they are unconditionally predestinated to salvation from the foundation of the world” (Two Studies on the History of Doctrine, 230).

Boettner: “The doctrine of infant salvation finds a logical place in the Calvinistic system; for the redemption of the soul is thus infallibly determined irrespective of any faith, repentance, or good works, whether actual or foreseen. It does not, however, find a logical place in Arminianism or any other system. Furthermore, it would seem that a system such as Arminianism, which suspends salvation on a personal act of rational choice, would logically demand that those dying in infancy must either be given another period of probation after death, in order that their destiny may be fixed, or that they must be annihilated.” (Unconditional Election, 145).

William H Smith said...

Calvin: "I do not doubt that the infants whom the Lord gathers together from this life are regenerated by a secret operation of the Holy Ghost."..."to say that the countless mortals taken from life while yet infants are precipitated from their mothers' arms into eternal death is a blasphemy to be universally detested"

Surf The Shores said...

Steve - The BC Article 15 affirms exactly what I have been saying - that Total Depravity is NOT the same as being *spiritually guilty*. Nowhere does the BC affirm that fetuses or babies, in or outside the womb, are *spiritually guilty*. You have FAILED to prove your point from the BC.

Psalm 51:5 doesn't help your cause either. It too speaks ONLY of Total Depravity: "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." It does NOT say "I sinned in the womb", or "I came forth sinning". It's simply the same *idea* with regard to Original Sin stated twice. It's called Hebrew Parallelism.
Original Sin affects all men AT CONCEPTION, and this sin nature is "brought forth" into the world in every person *at birth*. But nowhere does this Psalm say that a baby has sinned and is *spiritually guilty* of a crime against God. You have FAILED AGAIN to prove your erroneous position.

Though you try to acquiesce ("while the unborn have obviously not committed any particular or personal sin or crime, they have inherited original sin"), you still make a slippery-slope error in logic here ("which makes them just as spiritually guilty as the born"). Did you catch your error in your last phrase??? Why is this an error? Because you STILL DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT DEFINITION FOR *GUILT*.

"Original Sin" DOES NOT *make* anyone "spiritually guilty".

Do you believe Jesus Christ when He taught that guilt comes as the result of having *sinned* against the Law of God. Read Christ's rebuke to the Pharisees in Matthew 12:7. The disciples were "innocent" of that Pharisaic and false accusation - doing something "not lawful", but Jesus said the disciples did NOT break the Sabbath. But you, like the Pharisees, want to "[condemn] the innocent". Go now and look it up!

Having a "sin nature" IS NOT the same as "sinning" against the Law of God. That is where you err.

The Bible, Calvinism, The Westminster Confession, The Belgic Confession, nor The Baptist Confession, teach that babies are conceived/born *spiritually guilty*. This is simply an invention of yours.

You have to prove that the Bible teaches that the unborn are "spiritually guilty" of some crime, sin against God, sin against the Law of God, or sin against man, that the fetus has committed a violation before even becoming conscious of any Law.

If you can show FROM SCRIPTURE that the unborn are capable of sinning, have sinned, or sin in the womb, then you would be right to believe that the unborn are "spiritually guilty". But you CANNOT show it, and therefore, you ARE NOT correct.

Steve said...

SOS, I see the problem. You deny that original sin is sufficient to condemn (and that actual sin must be manifest to incur condemning guilt). I associate that theology with more with Arminianism than Calvinism (I don’t know how you harmonize a sinful creature enjoying the presence of a holy God forever, young or old). But I affirm what you deny and along with WCF 10 that “elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.” You seem quite scandalized by the idea that election covers sin before youth—another signal of a functioning Arminianism.

You ask, “Do you believe Jesus Christ when He taught that guilt comes as the result of having *sinned* against the Law of God.” Don’t you affirm what he says in chapter 15 of the same book that it’s not what goes in but what comes out of the heart that defiles? What lurks in the heart is what condemns, not what one does (though only compounds guilt). And what about Paul in Romans 7, making the case that indwelling sin is what condemns and that the law only makes it manifest when it comes along to demand but is made weak by that indwelling sin?

Surf The Shores said...

Steve - You have no Scriptural warrant to believe that Original Sin "makes [the unborn] just as spiritually guilty as the born". You have NOT shown from Scripture that "original sin is sufficient to condemn".

As a matter of fact, judgement and the condemnation that follows is always according to deeds for everyone (the unborn and the born).
Revelation 20:12-13 "And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, ACCORDING TO THEIR DEEDS. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them ACCORDING TO THEIR DEEDS." Even the unborn are judged ACCORDING TO THEIR DEEDS, and NOT according to their Original Sin or sinful nature!

Prove that the Bible teaches that the unborn CAN commit a "deed" that demands a "guilty" verdict, that they are "spiritually guilty" of some sin against God, sin against the Law of God, or sin against man!!!

If you can show FROM SCRIPTURE that the unborn are capable of sinning, have sinned, or sin in the womb, then you would be right to believe that the unborn are "spiritually guilty". Please, show us one irrefutable verse!

You stated: "I don’t know how you harmonize a sinful creature enjoying the presence of a holy God forever, young or old".
I can do that by affirming what you DON'T understand in WCF 10 that "elect infants, dying in infancy, ARE REGENERATED..."
Do you understand NOW? A fetus that was conceived with a sin nature, that was never guilty of any sin, was "REGENERATED" before death because of their election and went into the presence of God at death. In other words, their "regeneration" made them a "new creation".

You seem to not understand what Jesus Himself taught about human innocence, and therefore have erroneous views of *guilt*. Your citation of Matt 15 does not apply to this discussion because a fetus (the unborn) can't *say* anything with their mouth - so that there is no judgment against their *speech* which would condemn their hearts. OR, do you have some ability to hear the speech of the fetus in order to interpret what is in the heart of a fetus? And, Romans 7 addresses a conscious adult, NOT a fetus. You are falsely attributing to the "innocent" fetus what the Scriptures attribute to "guilty" adults.

Does your Presbytery know you treat Scripture this way - taking it out of context and misapplying it and all? Maybe you should speak with them about this "spiritually guilty" view of yours? Maybe they can help you?

Funny how me being a Reformed Baptist seems to infuriate you and refute your theology. I bet I am WAY MORE REFORMED and a WAY MORE CONSISTENT CALVINIST than you have ever been... :-)

William H Smith said...

Can Baptists Be Reformed?

http://thechristiancurmudgeonmo.blogspot.com/2012/06/contradiction-in-terms-anthony-bradley.html

Surf The Shores said...

William - Your article leaves out one main component of Reformed Orthodoxy, and your conclusion that "Reformed Baptists" can't be "Reformed" is incorrect. Historically, the Pedobaptist system functions under a slightly differing definition of what it means to be "Reformed". In Credobaptist history, the Particular Baptists were and still are "Reformed" because we have always been 1) Covenantal, 2) Confessional, and 3) Calvinistic. Your understanding of Covenantalism is not ours, so naturally *you* don't want to call us "Reformed" (according to *your* definition).

We Reformed Baptists believe your Covenantalism is incorrect, which is why we are Credobaptists. Reformed Baptists are "The Only Thorough Religious Reformers". John Quincy Adam wrote that small book. You might like it for starters, and you just might find you are not as "Reformed" as you thought you were.
:-)

http://www.aren.org/prison/documents/religion/Misc/Baptists, The Only Thorough Religious Reformers--John Quincy Adams.pdf

Surf The Shores said...

William - Sorry about that... this link should work. Click and the file will download. It's a free pdf.
:-)

http://www.aren.org/prison/documents/religion/Misc/Baptists,%20The%20Only%20Thorough%20Religious%20Reformers--John%20Quincy%20Adams.pdf

William H Smith said...

Sorry, Surf, but you don't get to redefine what Reformed means.

http://thechristiancurmudgeonmo.blogspot.com/2012/07/baptists-are-more-reformed-than.html

Surf The Shores said...

William - Since Pedobaptism has not properly understood the Covenants, Pedobaptism doesn't get to define what it means to be "Reformed" to begin with.

Believe Jeremiah 31:31-32...
"Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, NOT LIKE the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD.

Pedobaptists still need to Reform further in their Covenantalism.

John the Baptist, Jesus and all New Testament disciples were Credobaptist. Pedobaptism didn't start until well after the 1st Century. Credobaptism was then recovered before the Reformation, and persecuted by many of the Pedobaptist Reformers. But Particular Baptists remained faithful to Jeremiah 31:31-32.

This is why Pedobaptist have been outshined by Credobaptists in their Covenantalism.

"Reformed Baptists are the only thorough Reformers" - John Quincy Adams

William H Smith said...

That stands exegesis, theology, history, and logic on their heads.

Surf The Shores said...

William - Here is what Jeremiah 31:33-34 teaches...
33 "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
34 "And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

No one, even a baby, is part of the New Covenant inaugurated in Christ's blood until they are:
a. Regenerated (v. 33)
b. Converted (v. 34)
c. Forgiven (v. 34)

Your WCF Ch. 28, Paragraph 1 affirms:
Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church; but also to be unto him a

...SIGN AND SEAL...

of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of life. Which sacrament is, by Christ's own appointment, to be continued in His Church until the end of the world.

But it appears many Pedobaptists who have been baptized as babies were not REALLY "[sealed in] the covenant of grace", or "[ingrafted] into Christ, or "[regenerated]", or had "remission of sins", or had been "[given] up unto God", because it appears that after no longer "[walking] in the newness of life" they were excommunicated as unrepentant unbelievers.

Did your baptized, excommunicated babies-turned-adults lose their salvation or something???

Yes, we Credobaptists are standing *your* Pedobaptist "exegesis, theology, history, and logic" on its head.
:-)

Surf The Shores said...

William - Will you not be posting my last response to you for everyone to see?

William H Smith said...

All the world is welcome to see what you write. And I will post what you write as I get around to it. Debating with Baptists is not a very high priority for me. Credo-baptistist arguments I have never found compelling. Nor do I see credo-baptists, though they may profess the so-called 5 Points, to be part of the Reformed stream of Christianity. Credo-baptists hold a novel position that really is outside the mainstream of historic orthodox Christianity.

Here is what Reformed orthodoxy teaches:

The Second Helvetic Confession:
Baptism is instituted by Christ (Matt. xxviii. 19; Mark xvi. 15). There is only one baptism in the Church; it lasts for life, and is a perpetual seal of our adoption. To be baptized in the name of Christ is to be enrolled, initiated, and received into the covenant, into the family and the inheritance of the sons of God, that, cleansed from our sins by the blood of Christ, we may lead a new and innocent life. We are internally regenerated by the Holy Ghost, but we receive publicly the seal of these blessings by baptism. Water washes away filth, and refreshes and comforts the body; the grace of God inwardly and invisibly cleanses the soul.
The Scots Confession:
Now to be baptized in the name of Christ is to be enrolled, entered, and received into the covenant and family, and so into the inheritance of the sons of God; yes, and in this life to be called after the name of God; that is to say, to be called a son of God; to be cleansed also from the filthiness of sins, and to be granted the manifold grace of God, in order to lead a new and innocent life. Baptism, therefore, calls to mind and renews the great favor God has shown to the race of mortal men. For we are all born in the pollution of sin and are the children of wrath. But God, who is rich in mercy, freely cleanses us from our sins by the blood of his Son, and in him adopts us to be his sons, and by a holy covenant joins us to himself, and enriches us with various gifts, that we might live a new life. All these things are assured by baptism. For inwardly we are regenerated, purified, and renewed by God through the Holy Spirit and outwardly we receive the assurance of the greatest gifts in the water, by which also those great benefits are represented, and, as it were, set before our eyes to be beheld.
The Articles of Religion:
Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed, Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God.

The Westminster Confession:
Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ,not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church; but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in the newness of life.
Although it is a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it, as that no person can be regenerated, or saved, without it: or, that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.
The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered;yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto...

If you want someone to feel the force of your argument I suggest you preach to a Baptist choir, because the Reformed congregation is getting borend.

Surf The Shores said...

William - You still didn't answer my question from my previous post.

Did your baptized, excommunicated babies-turned-adults lose their salvation or something?

Now I have two more...

Or is your "sign and seal" not really a "sign and seal"?

Or do you simply NOT have an answer?

Oh, I know that you are bound to your Pedobaptist position by ordination and that you MUST believe your (leftover, Romanist) traditions. Otherwise, you would lose your pastorate, and your income.

Please answer my questions so your choir can see.
:-)

William H Smith said...

All baptized persons by virtue of the power or the water of baptism are infallibly saved.

Surf The Shores said...

William - The one baptized is "infallibly saved" in your schema? ...so that even one who is excommunicated is really still "saved" in your schema?

In other words, as a Reformed Anglican, you believe in Baptismal Regeneration?
(Yes, or No)

Do Reformed Anglicans actually excommunicate unrepentant congregants?
(Yes, or No)

Can you see how silly the Pedobaptist traditions make you look, especially in light of my comments on Jeremiah 31 above?
(Yes, or No)

Or did you simply not study Jeremiah 31 in Seminary?
(Yes, or No)

:-(

Surf The Shores said...

William - I am sure you know that the Apostle Peter was a Credobaptist.

Do you believe that the Apostle Peter pronounced an infallible judgment on Simon the magician in Acts 8:9-24, even AFTER Simon was baptized?

But should we believe your schema, that Simon was "infallibly saved" instead?

Or should we believe the Apostle Peter, the Credobaptist, when he said to Simon "Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity."?

I will believe the Apostle Peter, the Credobaptist, over your schema that "baptism" "infallibly saves", because Simon the magician was baptized, but NOT SAVED.

...there go your traditions and schema... :-(

William H Smith said...

As the first drop of water comes in contact with the head of the baptized person, he/she is immediately regenerated, justified, sanctified, and glorified, except for those who like those who remained oustide the ark of salvation go beneath the waters.

Surf The Shores said...

William - You are not being serious are you? Baptismal Regeneration, really? How about you honestly answer all my questions so far?

Here are two more:
1. Were the *adults* who were baptized (baptizo - Greek, submersed) by full submersion in Acts saved, or not saved, since they were not dripped on according to you schema?
(Yes, or No)

2. Did you know that the word "to sprinkle" in the Greek does not occur ONE TIME in the New Testament?
(Yes, or No)

Really, I am beginning to feel sorry for you. You seem to transgress the commandments of God for the sake of your tradition.
:-(

Melanie said...

One of the reasons that I am a Lutheran is because historically Christianity has always been a sacramental religion, placing the utmost significance in the efficacy of baptism, while simultaneously allowing for a genuine apostasy, as in the case of Simon Magus.

Baptismal regeneration just doesn't seem to work without a doctrine of apostasy. This is one of many reasons that I left Calvinism. Calvinism would not allow me to be honest with the NT's ubiquitous warning passages.

-Sam

William H Smith said...

Melanie, I have unwittingly mislead you by several of my recent posts. I stayed out of the discussion till recently and did not know you were still following. I am sure you notice that the discussion has wandered rather far afield from the original subject and the point of my post re Thabiti Anyabwile. Some would say the comments got "highjacked" by people who wanted to talk about orginal sin, the salvation of infants, etc. But, inasmuch as I don't like the way some highanded administrators of blogs handle the comments section, my tendency is to let people comment as they will unless they say something derogatory about a person, or appear to be irrational, crazy, etc.

Which brings me to my recent comments. Frankly I was getting tired of my Baptist friend's snarky remarks which are not nearly so profound, insightful, or compelling as he assumes them to be. So I have been saying some things about baptism that have been intentionally meant to have some fun with him. It is that which mislead you.

Moreover, I was irritatatd by his assuming that his minority view of baptism is right against the majority of Christians and Christian churches throughout the Christian era. The so called "Reformed Baptist" positions on the covenant and baptism are no more an organic development of the Reformation than a dog born without legs is a development of "dogdom" - it is an aberration, a deformity.

These things said, I remain both a Calvinist and an Anglican. If I have to "take a side" then I am going to be with the Lutherans not the Baptists. But I am neither.

I believe Christinity is both a Word and Sacrament religion. Baptists and some Presbyterians so emphasize the Word that they make the Sacraments nothing. I have a much higher view of the significance and efficacy of the Sacraments. However, I think the Sacraments are attached to the Word and not vice versa. If we detach the Sacraments from the Word then they do become nothing.

I believe that Baptism is both sigh and seal and a means of grace. It is primarily God's action, not ours. On that my Baptist friend and I vehemently disagree. I, however, do not believe that all baptizeed people are regnerated either infallibly or conditionally.

Nor do I agree that a person who receives salvation can apostasize. Christ holds his sheep in his hand and no one, inluding themselves, can snatch them out of his hand. They can fall, wander, go far away from God, but they cannot fully or finally turn away from Christ.

Simon Magus is an example of a adult convert who was bapitzed upon profession of faith. Was he regnerate ever? I think not. He was a false believer, which btw counts against the Baptist idea of baptizing only those who are already regenerate and of the church consisting of only the converted. He slipped through even an Apostle's examination of his state. He is an example of the fact that, whatever your view of baptism and its subjects, not all baptized persons are converted.

I think there are mysteries about how God's Word and God's sacraments "work." I don't have to have answers to all my questions. I just have to do what God called me to do - be a Minister of his Word and Sacraments with confidence that he will work through them to the temporal and eternal salvaton of his people.



William H Smith said...

The 39 Articles on the Sacraments:


XXV. Of the Sacraments.
Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God's good will towards us, by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in him.

There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.

Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures, but yet have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord's Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.

The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same, they have a wholesome effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves damnation, as Saint Paul saith.

XXVI. Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments.
Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the Ministration of the Word and Sacraments, yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ's, and do minister by his commission and authority, we may use their Ministry, both in hearing the Word of God, and in receiving the Sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ's ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God's gifts diminished from such as by faith, and rightly, do receive the Sacraments ministered unto them; which be effectual, because of Christ's institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.

Nevertheless, it appertaineth to the discipline of the Church, that inquiry be made of evil Ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally, being found guilty, by just judgment be deposed.

XXVII. Of Baptism.
Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed, Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God.

The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.

Surf The Shores said...

Melanie (Sam) - The Bible doesn't teach Baptismal Regeneration. That is a heresy.
:-(

William H Smith said...

OK, Surfer Boy, you have had your say on baptism and have said enough offensive things to and about the Reformed and the Lutheran. All your comments, which are quite repetitive, are here for anyone who wishes to read. So, I suggest you now let this off-topic discussion cease. I think your baptism is valid though defective. You think my baptism is non-existent. You think those who hold a high view of sacramental efficacy to be heretics. I hold your view to be wrong and aberrant, though not sufficently so as to make you a heretic. You are an Anabaptist. I am an Anglican. Luther, Calvin, and Cranmer all had problems with this radicalism as out of line with the Bible, history, and theology. Your view is discontinuous with the Reformation. It's my Blog. I get the last word on this.