July 27, 2006

If baptized babies had flames of fire appear on their heads and spoke in tongues immediately afterward, would they be able to take assurance from their baptism?

These men (those being critiqued by Dr. Waters) are urging Christians to accept the promises of God to His people at face value. Waters simply doesn’t seem to get what they mean by this. He writes: "Schlissel appears to point to covenant membership and baptism as grounds upon which a believer may receive the promises to be his. Neither of these, however, is a secure ground. We have plenty of example in both the old covenant (many in the wilderness generation) and the new covenant (Demas) of covenant members who have proven to be not true Christians at all (Waters, p. 130-131)."
I don't think the wilderness generation took any assurance from the Spiritual drink or the Spiritual baptism they received.

They said, "you took us out of egypt [through the cloud and through the sea] to kill us"

They said "we hate this manna you're feeding us. We want meat, or the curcumbers of egypt"

But they WERE fed by the manna (the same spiritual manna [=Christ] the elect receive) and they were baptized with the same spiritual baptism [=Christ] that the elect are, and they WERE out of egypt. But they took no assurance from the deliverance God had wrought, or the objective facts of their status before God in the wilderness. They were convinced it was all a sham, and was something that could give no assurance.

But they were wrong. If they had taken assurance from their baptism, and from the manna God provided, they would not have fallen in the wilderness.

David A Booth reviews Waters
Waters criticizes Steve Schlissel for emphasizing the importance of Assurance for the Christian faith: 'Schlissel seems to be saying that the Christian life cannot be lived (or at least cannot be lived well) unless the believer has confidence and assurance that he is accepted in the beloved, that is, assured of his salvation (Waters, p. 130).'

Is this some strange and 'poisonous exotic (Waters, p. 300)' from outside of the Reformed Tradition? If so, Schlissel has a lot of highly respected company:
The question of assurance is important for at least two reasons. First, because the lack of assurance has often been a serious problem for Reformed Evangelicals. Not only have we lacked assurance: we have even tended to cultivate the lack of it. … It is all too easy to assume that lack of assurance reflects real humility and conversely, that assurance is a mark of spiritual pride. Secondly, because it bears very directly on the quality of our Christian lives. Without assurance it becomes very difficult to serve the Lord. Without assurance it is hard to cultivate sanctification or to mortify sin. Without assurance there is not joy in our discipleship, and joy, remember, is the lubricant of obedience. I suspect that many of the most pressing problems in the church today stem form the lack of assurance. … Our service is driven by the persuasion that God loves us (Donald Macleod. A Faith to Live By, p. 149).
Who knew that those wily advocates of the Federal Vision had achieved such deep inroads into Scotland? Later Macleod clearly demonstrates that he is in cahoots with the Federal Vision by making a direct appeal to Scripture: "Where, may I ask, do we find the New Testament parallel to a man who is ‘exercised’ day in, day out, about whether he is saved or not (Donald Macleod. A Faith to Live By, p. 161)?" Amazingly, Macleod managed to smuggle this teaching into a book with a forward written by my friend Lig Duncan.
Read the whole thing.

It is rather amazing that Beeke's list of all the archaic techincal terminology for assurance that Schlissel poked fun at is cited by Waters as a positive thing. I mean, NOBODY uses that language today, though I suppose 'mediate assurance' is what the FV is trying to get at.

July 25, 2006

Interesting editorial from First Things on why 'religious' voters and issues are identified with mainly the Republican party
What all these observers point out, and what the anti-theocrats ignore, is that the religious polarization of American politics runs in both directions. The Republican party has become more religious because the Democrats became self-consciously secular, and the turning point wasn’t the 1992 or the 2000 elections but the putsch of 1972, when secularist delegates—to quote Phillips, quoting Layman—suddenly “constituted the largest ‘religious’ bloc among Democratic delegates.” Yet having noted this rather significant fact, Phillips sets it aside and returns blithely to his preferred narrative, which is the transformation of the GOP into America’s first “religious party.” But that’s not what happened at all—or rather, it’s the second half of the story, the Republican reaction against the Democrats’ decision to become the first major party in American history to pander to a sizable bloc of aggressively secular voters.

This was very much a strategic electoral move on their part. As Mark Stricherz pointed out last year in a Commonweal essay titled “Goodbye Catholics,” Democrats in the McGovern era were faced with the crack-up of the old New Deal coalition and made a conscious decision to jettison blue-collar voters in favor of what a 1969 memo called "a different political and social group with rising educational levels, affluence, and . . . greater cultural sophistication." At the time, pursuing a coalition of younger voters, minorities, and affluent suburbanites seemed a better bet than trying to hang on to socially conservative voters, especially given that all the energy in the party seemed to be coming from the Left. But it required the Democrats to identify with a segment of the population—self-identified secularists and nonbelievers—that has grown rapidly over the past three decades and grown more assertive along the way. Which in turn has alienated the devout plurality of Americans and left the Democratic party stuck just shy of majority status for the better part of a generation.

July 18, 2006

Paradox is difficult to understand.

Calvinism involves paradox. It's much easier to understand a position that free will is a completely illusory epiphenomenon. That's what I used to think, actually.

A memorialist view of the supper is easy to understand. When I held it, it was easier to understand too. The calvinist view of the supper has been attacked by lutherans and baptists as being a confusing mess, and accused of various things by critics.

The occasionalist view of the sacraments is an easier one to understand than the instrumentalist view. When I held it, it was easier to understand too.

Noone should be surpised that memorialist and occasionalist critics of the FV misunderstand the FV. They adopted occasionalism and memorialism because it didn't involve areas that they couldn't underatand. Nobody wants to hold beliefs they can't get fully behind.

July 12, 2006

Sins and Duties of the Westminster Larger Catechism that include the 'corporate' as well as the 'individually' moral.

The duty to: yielding all obedience and submission to him with the whole man; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the Word; the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintainance thereof; performance of those duties which we mutually owe in our several relations, as inferiors, superiors, or equals; just defence [of life] against violence; the preservation of [chastity] in ourselves and others; marriage by those that have not the gift of continency, conjugal love, and cohabitation; truth, faithfulness, and justice in contracts and commerce between man and man

The sins of: Corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others; taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defence; prohibiting of lawful, and dispensing with unlawful marriages; allowing, tolerating, keeping of stews, and resorting to them; injustice and unfaithfulness in contracts between man and man, or in matters of trust; oppression; ingrossing commodities to enhance the price;

Further: The charge of keeping the sabbath is more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors, because they are bound not only to keep it themselves, but to see that it be observed by all those that are under their charge; and because they are prone ofttimes to hinder them by employments of their own.

As when I questioned Waters's claim that the FV had a 'flat' hermeneutic, I sometimes wonder what confession he's been reading.

Leithart provides an extended response to Waters, including this
He says I am 'most comfortable' when speaking of sin and redemption in corporate rather than 'moral' terms, but, since I won't give up the moral, he suggests, quoting Warfield on Chafer, that this leaves my mind divided between two systems of religion, and thinks I should 'choose one and set the other free.'

I simply do not understand this criticism. I have written a good deal about the communal aspects of sin, but I don't see how this in any way comes at the expense of the moral or theological. Unless one assumes that 'moral' means 'individual morality,' I don't see that talking about the communal dimensions of sin is talking about moral issues. Righteousness is, inevitably, theological and moral and social all at once - and so is sin; sin is always offense against God, an individual moral fault, and damaging to community.
I recall the numerous times in Walkte's commentary on Proverbs where he emphasizes that the fool is foolish because his folly brings harm to whole communities of people. And his folly is dealt with by the magistrate.

Proverbs can be used as a guide to individual morality, but its written to a man who would be magistrate.

Maybe we're seeing the way that changing the WCF, and resituating its discussion of moral law from the confession of a covenanted social order, including magistracy, 'unravels' the seamless garment of the divines' intentions for the text. Its one thing to say that we need to get rid of our personal idols. Its another to say that we need to stop "tolerating false religions".

July 07, 2006

For all the Bush/U2 fans in my audiance: Sunday bloody sunday

July 06, 2006

Usquare Free Concert Series. Now I can remember which ones I want to make time for.

July 05, 2006

Inspired by Barb and Smackin's I present the following FV jokes: (highlight to reveal answer)

Q: How many Federal Visionists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A1: FVers trust the manufacturer's promise that the bulbs they buy never go out and then they remind the bulbs that they're not supposed to go out.

A2: FVers prefer to rewire the house to ensure that electrical flow is never interrupted.

Q: How many antiFVers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A1: The number of lightbulbs that aren't sure whether they're actually on or not exceeds the number of antiFVers to change them

A2: Bulbs that go out never really completed a circuit with the house electricity. Enjoy the remianing bulbs!

De script shun




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