Home > 1689 federalism, baptism, typology > Riddlebarger interviewed on Amillenialism

Riddlebarger interviewed on Amillenialism

Riddlebarger was recently interviewed on Christ the Center. Talking about dispensationalism, he made the following statement that stood out to me:

…the problem with that is, when you’re using a Christ-centered hermeneutic, you don’t start with Genesis 12 and look at the promise God made to Abraham and then insist that that reading of the promise overrides everything that comes subsequent to that. So for example the land promise in Genesis 12 – and it’s repeated throughout 15, 18, 22, on and on and on – when that land promise is repeated, dispenationalists say “See, that must mean Israel means Israel and that God is going to save Israel again to fulfill the land promise at the end of the age.” Whereas I would look at that and say, “How do Jesus and the Apostles look at the land promise? How do Jesus and the Apostles look at the Abrahamic Covenant?” And that is at the heart of this entire debate.

In reading reformed amillenial critiques of dispensationalism, I can’t help but notice that their best arguments against dispensationalism are two-edged swords that cut equally against their own paedobaptist hermeneutic. For example, in a recent post I quoted Poythress at length in his discussion of the typology of Israel:

Since the existence of Israel itself has symbolic and heavenly overtones from the beginning, the fulfillment of prophecy encompasses these same overtones. The eschatological time is the time when the symbolic overtones in the very nature of Israel itself are transformed into reality… Eschatological prophecy may indeed have the same two dimensions: the dimension of the symbol in itself, and the dimension of what the symbol symbolizes. But the time of fulfillment of the eschatological prophecy is the time of climactic revelation. Hence, it may well be that, at that future time, the symbol is superseded by the reality, and no longer needs a separate historical realization along side the reality.

In my opinion, that is an excellent way of explaining how the nation of Israel was a shadow of the kingdom of God, a nation that is not of this world – as well as how Abraham’s physical offspring, in the way they benefited from God’s promise to Abraham (Ex 6:5; 32:13, etc), were a shadow of Abraham’s spiritual offspring – a distinction that was not clearly made until the New Covenant age of fulfillment. And so Poythress’ extended argument that the symbolic overtones in the very nature of Israel itself are transformed at the coming of Christ cuts against dispensationalism, but also against his paedobaptism – leaving him without a defense against the baptist argument that the nation of Israel was only a shadow of the church, not the church itself.

The same is true of Riddlebarger’s statement. It too is a double-edged sword. Allow me to simply re-state his argument:

…the problem with paedobaptism is, when you’re using a Christ-centered hermeneutic, you don’t start with Genesis 17 and look at the promise God made to Abraham and then insist that that reading of the promise overrides everything that comes subsequent to that. So for example the offspring promise in Genesis 17 – and it’s repeated throughout 12, 15, 22, on and on and on – when that offspring promise is repeated, paedobaptists say “See, that must mean offspring means offspring and that God included physical offspring in the church and never took them out.” Whereas I would look at that and say, “How do Jesus and the Apostles look at the offspring promise? How do Jesus and the Apostles look at the Abrahamic Covenant?” And that is at the heart of this entire debate.

  1. October 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    I should have thought you would view faith as a product of regeneration.

    Of course I do, but the fact is that the signs of circumcision in the old and baptism in the new encompasses both, that is unless you’re a Baptist.

    Circumcision is a seal of the righteousness he had by faith.

    Yet this same seal is place on reprobates, Esau and later Ishmael included and while as infants. What is pictured in circumcision is regeneration and is the same spiritual reality pictured in baptism:

    “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”

    And,

    “But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.”

    Sean, of course there will never be a pure church this side of the eschaton but that is not to say we should not strive for one. It is quite clear we should. That is why excommunication was practised. Wheat and chaff are to exist together in the world not the church. To change the image – the old leaven is to be purged out.

    Actually, the parable does not teach that we should strive for a pure church, which would be impossible even if you could find a congregation made up of believers only. There is no command in Scripture that I know of that says, even in so many words or even as a deducible conclusion, that we should strive for a pure church. I think this is a figment that Baptists unfortunately operate under. Of course their should be church discipline, but wheat and chaff do exist together in the church. Calvin in his Institutes writes:

    “They claim that the church of Christ is holy [Ephesians 5:26]. But in order that they may know that the church is at the same time mingled of good men and bad, let them hear the parable from Christ’s lips that compares the church to a net bin which all kinds of fish are gathered and are not sorted until laid out on the shore [Matthew 13:47-58]. Let them hear that it is like a field sown with good seed which is through the enemy’s deceit scattered with tares and is not purged of them until the harvest is brought into the threshing floor [Matthew 13:24-3-]. Let them hear finally that it is like a threshing floor on which grain is so collected that it lies hidden under the chaff until, winnowed by fan and sieve, it is at last stored in the granary [Matthew 3:12]. But if the Lord declares that the church is to labor under this evil—to be weighed down with the mixture of the wicked—until the Day of Judgment, they are vainly seeking a church besmirched with no blemish.”

    And in his Harmony of the Gospels he has a very long discussion on this parable. Here is just a portion:

    “Although Christ has cleansed the Church with his own blood, that it may be without spot or blemish, yet hitherto he suffers it to be polluted by many stains. I speak not of the remaining infirmities of the flesh, to which every believer is liable, even after that he has been renewed by the Holy Spirit. But as soon as Christ has gathered a small flock for
    himself, many hypocrites mingle with it, persons of immoral lives creep in, nay, many wicked men insinuate themselves; in consequence of which, numerous stains pollute that holy assembly, which Christ has separated for himself.

    …In my opinion, the design of the parable is simply this: So long as the pilgrimage of the Church in this world continues, bad men and hypocrites will mingle in it with those who are good and upright, that the children of God may be armed with patience and, in the midst of offenses which are fitted to disturb them, may preserve unbroken stedfastness of faith. It is an appropriate comparison, when the Lord calls the Church his field, for
    believers are the seed of it; and though Christ afterwards adds that the field is the world, yet he undoubtedly intended to apply this designation, in a peculiar manner, to the Church, about which he had commenced the discourse.”

    Like

  2. October 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    One of the blockquotes didn’t work (I must have left off an > ) .

    Like

  3. November 14, 2011 at 7:11 am

    Sean said, “the signs of circumcision in the old and baptism in the new encompasses both [regeneration]”

    Can you provide any scriptural support that circumcision was a seal to anyone but Abraham? The paedobaptist makes this claim, therefore the burden of proof is on them.

    “Yet this same seal is place on reprobates, Esau and later Ishmael included and while as infants.”
    Hmm, I see where Writ says they received a sign, but still looking for a seal. And of course Ishamael preceded Esau.

    “What is pictured in circumcision is regeneration and is the same spiritual reality pictured in baptism…”

    Your prooftext actually says the opposite.

    ““In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands [the audience is regenerate], by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism [it is assumed that regeneration precedes baptism], in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God [it is assumed that those baptized possess faith and are raised with Christ], who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us [Baptism is intended to picture an accomplished reality of which circumcision pointed to as a mark of Abraham’s physical seed]. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”

    I love Genesis 17 and Colossians 2. They support, rather than destroy, a credobaptist position.

    Liked by 1 person

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