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Posts Tagged ‘Covenant Theology’

The Baptized BodyThe Baptized Body by Peter J. Leithart

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For me, this book, like Leithart’s writings generally, was both a hit and a miss. Let’s take it from the top.

Chapter one, “Starting before the Beginning,” was intended to clear “enough ground to move ahead” to discuss the biblical texts about baptism. This chapter seemed a bit choppy, as Leithart’s hitting on different philosophical, ontological, and theological topics. It was intended to be controversial with section headings such as, “Why Sacraments Are Not Signs,” “Why Sacraments Are Not Means of Grace,” and “Why Sacraments Are Not Symbols.” That said, I found the concept of Sacraments as rituals to be compelling and helpful. Sacraments can, however, be signs, means of grace, symbols, AND rituals. (more…)

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The Historicity of Adam

The belief in the historicity of Adam is certainly not a given, now-a-days. I recall Westminster California touting that they held to Adam’s historicity a couple of years ago, wearing it as a badge of conservatism. The fact that a Reformed seminary can wear a badge like that (and that is actually is such a badge) shows that the early chapters of Genesis have fallen on tough times. There are, however, a few rubes left that hold to the historicity of the first eleven chapters of God’s Word, including the historicity of person of Adam.

I ran across one of these unfortunate rubes today. The words of his sermon went a little something like this: “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.” Now, I don’t place much stock in these pre-modern, pre-critical views, antiquated as they are. I’m well aware that moderns (Modernists?) have it figured out. (more…)

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The following is an articulation, not an attempt to “prove” covenant theology from Scripture. Maybe it will be a benefit to you.

The so-called Covenant of Redemption (CoR) is between the Persons of the Godhead. It is God’s plan for redemptive history. The CoR gives rise to two distinct but related *historical* covenants: the Covenant of Works (CoW) and the Covenant of Grace (CoG).

BAD Covenant

The CoW is between God and Adam. Adam failed in it and death was the divine sanction (consequence/punishment). Adam was constituted (by God) as a public figure, representing all his posterity. Thus, we all fell in Adam. We all broke the CoW and stand condemned under it. This, of course, was God’s plan. God (according to his eternal plan, which we’re calling the CoR) purposed to send a second public person, Christ, the Last Adam.

Since the CoW failed to bring life, God immediately instituted another covenant, which we call the CoG. In the CoG, fallen and sinful men receive not just forgiveness, but the fullness of life (the same thing that God implicitly offered Adam in the CoW). These blessings come to fallen man as sheer grace. Fallen man (under the condemnation of the CoW) could never earn these blessings. The Last Adam, Jesus Christ, however, could and did earn them.

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This post is the second (here’s the first) in a series that should provide a biblical defense of the practice of infant baptism, and I admit that it’s way too long. I hope, however, that it is very clear and compelling. Having corresponded with my friend, I have come the conclusion that he holds to the spiritual unity between the believers before Christ and those of us after him, which was the concern of the first post. Since that is so, I hoping to progress in this post and examine the question of who is in the New Covenant. That is, is the New Covenant (NC) administration peculiar in that only the faithful are a part of it, or are unfaithful hypocrites also a part of the NC? The purpose of examining this question is that a significant number of folks hold that the NC is exclusively for the faithful (and thus quite distinct from the covenants that precede it). I think that such a view of the NC is incorrect. What’s more, I think it’s easy to show that such a view of the NC is incorrect. Finally, I think that such a view of the NC tends toward a misunderstanding of both the progression of administrations of the Covenant of Grace and the place of the children of believers in that Covenant. So, I’m still laying groundwork so that we can progress toward baptism and infant baptism specifically. Anyhoo… let us now look how the Bible views the NC and who it includes in that covenant. (more…)

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Meredith Kline

Three students from Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary produced a paper (which can be found here) critical of a stream of thought rightly embodied in the impressive persons of Meredith Kline and Michael Horton. This article has, I think, some weaknesses, but it certainly got me thinking. First, it highlights some aspects of what might be called the Klinean version of covenant theology that have been troubling me for a few years.  In other words, I find myself in a great deal of sympathy with the positions and criticisms of the paper. Thus, there’s very little original content to my questions below (which makes me happy). Other Reformed brothers are having similar problems, and our thinking on these issues is quite similar. Second, it clues me in that, even though covenant theology is a topic that I’ve studied with a good deal of energy and attention, there’s still a great deal more for me to learn. I am quite willing to learn from Kline and Horton, as I consider them both my teachers. Consequently, a good deal of patience, humility, and brotherly love is requisite. In the spirit of brotherly love, here’s an article of similar length that I have not yet read. It’s by Lee Irons, and it defends Kline’s covenant theology. I’m quite interested to hear any responses from these articles or to my question below.

Okay, I’ll now take a few brain cells and a minute or two to ask a series of questions of the theologians that follow or defend the Klinean model of covenant theology. I ask these questions in earnest. As I’ve already admitted, I have a great deal of studying yet to do; maybe these brothers can lend me a helping hand. (more…)

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I have a friend who did not want to teach her child a catechism saying that she’d rather have her daughter learn the Bible. (Come to think of it, I have scores of friends who don’t even know what a catechism is or how it could be of any value!) What are we to think when the Bible (the inspired, inerrant Word of God) is opposed to the great creeds and catechisms of the church? Doesn’t historic Protestantism (indeed, historic Christianity) take the Bible as the only standard of faith and practice? In a word: NO! Not even Protestants have a single standard, but we do have a single ABSOLUTE standard, the Bible. I’ll elaborate on the value of subordinate standards another time. For now, I want to show that the Bible itself moves toward a condensation of doctrine and, in that vein, toward subordinate standards.

The Bible can be a big and confusing book. There is, to be sure, a number of difficult things in it, some of them are downright strange (to modern readers). (more…)

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The Shaping of the Reformed Baptismal Rite in the Sixteenth CenturyThe Shaping of the Reformed Baptismal Rite in the Sixteenth Century by Hughes Oliphant Old

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this book to be fascinating, greatly informative and easily accessible. Old offers a look at the development of the practice of baptism among the Reformers, but in so doing he gives us much more than that. For anytime one studies the Reformers, one necessarily studies all of church history before the Reformers. This book offers a sweeping (but detailed) view of the baptismal rite from NT times into the early Christian centuries, through the long Middle Ages into the Reformation. Old analyzes changes in the rite of baptism in light of historical, political, and theological developments in the church and the culture generally. He demonstrates how the baptismal rite developed through the centuries and what the Reformers had to work with as they set to reforming the baptismal rite in their own churches. I’ve read a good deal about the Reformed doctrine of baptism, but I was blown away by how much I didn’t know about the Reformed practice of baptism. Further, I am impressed at how conversant the Reformers were (generally, but specifically with regard to baptism) with the early and medieval church. The Reformers (and Old’s presentation of their work and thought) should encourage us to read more broadly and be less provincial. This is an excellent book and is highly recommended for anyone interested in the doctrine and practice of baptism in the Reformed churches.

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