The Theolodudes had me on a few weeks ago to discuss my understanding of Romans 13:1-7 – that it refers to God’s sovereign, decretive, providential empowerment of specific men to rule over others, rather than to God’s establishment of the office of civil magistrate.
Writing in 1863, Hodge notes
The Puritan or Independent theory of the Church, that it consists exclusively of those who are deemed regenerate, and their minor children, has unfortunately gained ascendency over many of our ministers and members. This is to be attributed partly to the general familiarity with the writings of Owen and other English Independents, but especially to the all-prevailing influence of the ideas and principles of the New England Congregationalists.
Church Polity (244)
Compare with an 1857 essay in the Princeton Review titled “The Neglect of Infant Baptism.”
[W]hat most concerns us, we have often known it to be said, that in the Presbyterian Church there has been, for some time, a growing disregard for the baptism of children. Indeed, we have heard it boldly and publicly asserted, that this doctrine is fast becoming “a dead letter” in many parts of our Church…
[A]dverse influences were more and more operating on the minds of parents, and gradually destroying their regard for this seal of the covenant; thus producing increasing neglect of the ordinance from year to year.
It is our opinion that the decrease of infant baptism has really been caused by increased neglect. And, after carefully considering the subject – after conversing with brethren in all parts of the Church, and observing the proportion of baptism to members in many Churches; and after no only examining our own General Assembly’s early and later statistics, but also the statistics of baptisms in Churches in old and new settlements, 30, 40, and 50 years ago; we are with pain inevitably driven to the conclusion, that there cannot be less than one infant subject of baptism for every six members of the whole Church. And consequently we must conclude that whilst there were but 205,041 children reported as baptized during the last 20 years, the reports should have amounted to 618,339, leaving not less than 413,298 unbaptized.
What causes have been at work to produce such extensive neglect of infant baptism?
1. We may mention the greatly increased and very extraordinary efforts of the various anti-Pedobaptist bodies, to disseminate their sentiments within the past thirty-five years.
The careful student of history cannot fail noticing a connection between the history of those efforts and the variations of the tables given above.
Compare with Ron Baines’ excellent essay SEPARATING GOD’S TWO KINGDOMS: Two Kingdom Theology among New England Baptists in the Early Republic in JIRBS 2014, as well as Presbyterian vs Congregationalist vs Baptist Sacramentology and The Evolution of Reformed Paedobaptism, as well as 1689 Federalism & America’s Founding.
Part 2 of my discussion of covenant theology on Semper Reformanda Radio is now live: https://thorncrownministries.com/srr/2018/11/28/srr-93-brandon-adams-on-covenant-theology-amp-republication-part-ii
The State of Nature During the English Civil War era (the time of the Westminster Assembly), English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes explained the social contract theory in his book Leviathan (1651), largely influencing modern political philosophy. The theory is a […]
All these things came upon Jerusalem the bond woman, in which some also reigned who were children of the free woman, holding that kingdom in temporary stewardship, but holding the kingdom of the heavenly Jerusalem, whose children they were, in true faith, and hoping in the true Christ.
Chapter 10.—How Different the Acts in the Kingdom of the Earthly Jerusalem are from Those Which God Had Promised, So that the Truth of the Promise Should Be Understood to Pertain to the Glory of the Other King and Kingdom.
The phrase “natural law” itself is capable of so many interpretations that anyone who advocates natural law must expend a great deal of effort explaining what he means.1 In his excellent essay Perspective on Natural Law, Gordon H. Clark argues […]
In the long list of things I have found that are detrimental to my health (see health category for some background), I have realized that EMF from cell phones and WiFi are up near the top. Treating it (through EMF detox and avoidance) has given me a great deal more energy. I sent the following list of resources to someone recently and thought some of you may be interested:
- Parts 1, 2, and 4 in this series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pr9Z0WeGtDk&list=PLf41Jom1MpoZu_JqaQHOSDzr2ymamWY8m
- Part 2 is from a Washington State University professor emeritus who has done significant studies demonstrating the mechanism (voltage-gated calcium channels) by which EMF causes autism symptoms. Here is one of his studies http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0891061815000599
- EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of EMF-related health problems and illnesses
- BioInitiative 2012 a comprehensive study by an international team of 29 doctors and scientists
- 700 Studies Showing Health Effects from Cell Phone Radio Frequency Radiation
- I certainly haven’t read all of this, but it’s a helpful table of contents categorizing scientific studies by health effect
- 136 Studies Showing Health Effects from WiFi Radio Frequency Radiation
- similar but focused on WiFi
- The insurance industry has begun officially excluding coverage for health effects related to EMFs
- WI-FRIED? a helpful television episode about it. Note: This episode got the entire series cancelled. There are tremendous politics involved.
- Autism One 2016 EMF Talks
- Peter Sullivan’s website and short Youtube videos are helpful
- Have you been duped by Crony Science? Some of the politics behind it
So we have removed WiFi from the house and I use my cell phone much, much less. I finally got a VOIP yesterday so I will be using my cell phone only when I am away from home and need to make a call now (what a novel idea).
Alan Maher’s grounding products (starting with the shoe inserts) have been shockingly helpful. I would encourage everyone to take steps away from EMF exposure, and if you have chronic health issues, it is very likely EMFs are a contributing factor.
An objection is often raised as to how God could enter into a covenant of works with fallen sinners. (Note: “a” covenant of works, not “the” covenant of works)
It is argued that a covenant that operates upon a principle of works (If you do this, then you will get this) must start from the basis of innocence. If someone is innocent, then they can earn a reward. However, if they are not innocent, if they have a guilt that must be paid, then they cannot earn anything until that guilt is paid. So a fallen sinner cannot enter into a covenant of works for any kind of reward (even temporal) until that guilt is paid (which they cannot do).
It is a strong argument on the face of it. However, the problem is that Scripture throws us a curve ball. Leviticus 18:5 says that the Mosaic Covenant, which is made with fallen sinners, operates upon the principle of “if you do this, then you will get this.” That principle is repeated throughout the Old Testament, particularly in Ezekiel when Israel is being prosecuted for their violation of the covenant. Bryan D. Estelle notes
Leviticus 18:5’s influence on Ezekiel is of paramount importance. The purpose of these echoic allusions in Ezekiel is to show that what Israel has failed to do, God will do… Leviticus 18 allusions are seen throughout the entire book of Ezekiel and not merely restricted (as often) to chapter 20 of Ezekiel where three citations of Lev 18:5 have frequently been noted… Israel’s failure to fulfill the stipulations is highlighted repeatedly in Ezekiel 1-24…
Paul also quotes Leviticus 18:5 twice in the NT. Both times he does so to demonstrate the antithesis between the law and faith (Rom 10:5, Gal 3:12).
Those who object that God could not make a covenant of works with fallen man usually argue that Lev 18:5 is not stating the terms of the Mosaic Covenant. They claim it is just a reference, or proclamation of the original Adamic Covenant and it is just reminding Israelites of it. It’s not stating the terms of the Mosaic Covenant, they argue, only declaring the original terms of the Adamic Covenant. However, not only is this an impossible reading of the text itself, it fails the systematic test as well. (See Guy Waters on Leviticus 18:5)
So, biblically speaking, Lev 18:5 proves that a covenant made with fallen sinners operates upon a works principle. So there must be a problem with the original objection. The problem is that not only are fallen sinners unable to earn anything, fallen sinners are unable to breathe the very air they breathe each day and eat the food they eat each day. They deserve only God’s wrath and death. Yet somehow they continue to eat and breathe and live. That is because of God’s long-suffering towards them. All mankind deserved immediate eternal punishment upon Adam’s breach of his covenant of works. But God delayed and preserved mankind. God is willing and able, while maintaining his justice, to give them gifts (Matt. 5:45) when they only deserve wrath – and to do so apart from union with Christ.
So then what is preventing him from choosing some of those fallen sinners and offering them gifts above and beyond the norm (rain and sun) upon the condition that they do something? There can be no objection of injustice anymore than there can be an objection of injustice on God’s part towards every fallen sinner.
“But,” they will object, “that would mean that there is some kind of grace involved, and therefore it cannot be a covenant of works!” Not so fast. WCF/LBCF 7.1 teach that even the original Covenant of Works was established through God’s “voluntary condescension.” Mankind owed obedience to God by nature without the expectation of any reward, yet God “graciously” condescended to reward that obedience with something. So offering man something that he does not deserve, on the condition of his obedience, is not inconsistent with a covenant of works. Note what Owen says:
The covenant of works had its promises, but they were all remunerative, respecting an antecedent obedience in us; (so were all those which were peculiar unto the covenant of Sinai). They were, indeed, also of grace, in that the reward did infinitely exceed the merit of our obedience; but yet they all supposed it, and the subject of them was formally reward only.
(Hebrews 8:6 commentary)
Finally, here is how John Erskine answers:
But, if this reasoning proves anything, will it not prove, that a God of spotless purity, can enter into a friendly treaty with men, whom yet, on account of their sins, he utterly abhors. And what if it does? Perhaps, the assertion, however shocking at first view, may, on a narrower scrutiny, be found innocent. We assert not any inward eternal friendship between God and the unconverted Jews. We only assert an external temporal covenant, which, though it secured their outward prosperity, gave them no claim to God’s special favour. Where then is the alleged absurdity? Will you say it is unworthy of God to maintain external communion with sinners, or to impart to them any blessings? What then would become of the bulk of mankind? Nay, what would become of the patience and longsuffering of God? Or is it absurd, that God should reward actions that flow from bad motives when we have an undoubted instance of his doing this in the case pf Jehu? Or is it absurd, that God would entail favours on bad men, in the way of promise or covenant? Have you forgot God’s promise to Jehu, that his children of the fourth generation should sit on the throne of Israel? Or have you forgot, what concerns you more, God’s covenant with mankind in general, no more to destroy the earth by a flood (2 Kings 10:30; Gen 9:12)?
Thus there is no valid systematic objection to God making “a” covenant of works with fallen sinners concerning temporal life and blessing in the land of Canaan.
[Note: there is a valid objection God making “the” covenant of works with fallen sinners concerning eternal life. See Republication, the Mosaic Covenant, and Eternal Life.]
Under the appellation of children the difference they [Anabaptists] observe is this, that the children of Abraham, under the old dispensation, were those who derived their origin from his seed, but that the appellation is now given to those who imitate his faith, and therefore that carnal infancy, which was ingrafted into the fellowship of the covenant by circumcision, typified the spiritual children of the new covenant, who are regenerated by the word of God to immortal life. In these words we indeed discover a small spark of truth…
We certainly admit that the carnal seed of Abraham for a time held the place of the spiritual seed, which is ingrafted into him by faith (Gal. 4:28; Rom. 4:12).
Commenting on this, Peter Lillback notes “It is true that the offspring of Abraham’s flesh foreshadowed the future offspring of Abraham by faith.”
Our paedobaptist brothers simply do not recognize the implications of these admissions (for more like this, see here). If Abraham’s carnal seed were a type and shadow of his spiritual seed, which “held the place of the spiritual seed” for a time, then to determine the proper recipients of baptism by appeal to Abraham’s carnal seed is necessarily to return to types and shadows that have passed away at the coming of Christ.
- P1 Abraham’s carnal seed was a type/shadow of Abraham’s spiritual seed.
- P2 Abraham’s carnal seed received the sign of circumcision.
- C1 The sign of circumcision was given to the type/shadow of Abraham’s spiritual seed.
- P3 The sign of circumcision was given to the type/shadow of Abraham’s spiritual seed.
- P4 Types and shadows have passed away and become obsolete at the coming of Christ.
- C2 The sign of circumcision was given to a group that has passed away and become obsolete.
- P5 The sign of circumcision was given to a group that has passed away and become obsolete.
- P6 Baptism serves the same covenant function as circumcision, therefore its proper recipients are determined by the recipients of circumcision.
- C3 The proper recipients of baptism are determined by looking to what has passed away and become obsolete
The final conclusion is logically valid, but it is false because P6 is false.
I just updated the Church Membership: De Jure or De Facto? post with quotes from Ussher, the Second Helvetic Confession of Faith, a WTJ article, John Murray, and Doug Wilson. Give it a read.