"notsoelder" continues his contributions in the debate over what it means to be "Reformed". He's directed most of his ire at RBs and their doctrines. I have no dog in this fight. I'm a Three Forms of Unity guy. But on behalf of my RB brethren and their "Reformed" status, I'll continue to comment on notsoelder's remarks.
Although this might strike some as arrogant, it seems to me that the right view on this matter is pretty much self-evident. There is a reason why Reformed Baptists call themselves "Reformed Baptists," whereas Presbyterians don't. What RBs mean by the label they affix to themselves, I would have thought, is: "We're Reformed, except for our views on baptism". It seems pretty silly, then, to argue: "You're not Reformed because of your views on baptism, like rejecting that it's a seal, and rejecting its application to infants." Well, duh. RBs never claimed to be Reformed in that respect. That's why they call themselves Reformed Baptists, remember? They're qualifying the Reformed tradition in this particular respect.
Of course, I suppose there will be those who say, "If you don't hold to the seal status and infant application of baptism, then you can't be Reformed at all!" To these I say, "Phooey". Since Reformed doctrine is constituted by many, many doctrines, then being "Reformed" comes in degrees. The RBs, to their credit, have nailed their colors to the mast for all to see, and openly confessed that they disagree with the Reformed tradition on some matters of baptism. They don't claim to hold to the Reformed tradition in every respect. But I think they have a better case for their status, then that of some of their detractors against their status, who seem to think: if you don't agree with the Reformed tradition on everything, then you can't be Reformed at all. This is, in effect, a denial of the substance of the Reformed tradition, reducing it to a few shibboleths, which is sad. It overlooks the fact that the 1689 LBCF agrees with at least 95% of the WCF, verbatim.
I'm not sure if notsoelder actually falls into this category, but it's looking more and more like that to me.
Notsoelder has replied to my earlier comment over here.
I was asking what was distinctive about RBs and why they don't expend more apologetical effort against calvinists.
No, you said a lot more than that. In particular, you said that RBs reduce Reformed doctrine down to tulip, and that they deny that the sacraments are means of grace. On these points, I refuted you several times over. Anyone who holds to the 1689 LBCF holds to covenant theology, and to the Lord's supper as a means of grace. In addition, if you look up the FAQ I pointed you to, it argues that "Reformed Baptists fully affirm a Reformed view of the sacraments as a means of grace."
In response to the above, you've said... exactly nothing. In your original post, you said: "Furthermore, as others have pointed out, covenant theology decisively frames Reformed doctrine and practice." That's right. Which is why it's laughing-out-loud insane that you think RBs reject covenant theology. As I said before, 95% of the 1689 LBCF is verbatim from the WCF.
I was asking what was distinctive about RBs and why they don't expend more apologetical effort against calvinists.
Since RBs are Calvinists, why would they do apologetics against Calvinists?
Of course, I'm using the term 'Calvinist' fairly broadly. If you define it narrowly, such that one must hold to infant baptism in order to be a Calvinist, then... surprise! RBs have tons of polemics against infant baptism. Did you actually read the FAQ I pointed you to, and look at the resources listed there? We might agree that their polemics are all bogus at this point. Nevertheless, it is there, and you are simply clueless to make public pronouncements about RBs without knowing otherwise. This is a basic fact about RBs in the 20th century. Obviously, if they're going to subscribe to a confession that advocates covenant theology, but rejects infant baptism, they're going to develop polemics in support of their distinctives. And they have. Ever heard of John Tombes, John Gill, J. L. Dagg, Walter Chantry, or Fred Malone? RBs have. That's why they've been busy republishing their polemics against infant baptism as long as they've been around.
I hope that the above constitutes an answer to your question as to why RBs don't do apologetics against Calvinists. They do and they don't, depending on how broadly you define 'Calvinist'.
When it comes to baptism, however, I would find it interesting to hear an RB argument against the calvinist view.
Gosh, nosoelder, did I or did I not point you to a list of resources on this precise topic?!
You cite Calvin:
"baptism is...a true and effectual sealing of the promise, a pledge of sacred union with Christ, it is justly said to be the entrance and reception into the Church. And as the instruments of the Holy Spirit are not dead, God truly performs and effects by baptism what He figures."
Yes, and Keach's catechism, written to clarify the theology of the 1689 LBCF, says:
Q. 95. What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption?
A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are His ordinances, especially the Word, Baptism, the Lord's Supper and Prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation. (Rom. 10:17; James 1:18; 1 Cor. 3:5; Acts 14:1; 2:41,42)
Q. 98. How do Baptism and the Lord's Supper become effectual means of salvation?
A. Baptism and the Lord's Supper become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them or in him that administers them, but only by the blessing of Christ and the working of His Spirit in them that by faith receive them. (1 Peter 3:21; 1 Cor. 3:6,7; 1 Cor. 12:13)
Q. 99. Wherein do Baptism and the Lord's Supper differ from the other ordinances of God?
A. Baptism and the Lord's Supper differ from the other ordinances of God in that they were specially instituted by Christ to represent and apply to believers the benefits of the new covenant by visible and outward signs. (Matt. 28:19; Acts 22:16; Matt. 26:26-28; Rom. 6:4)
What more do you want? As Reeves puts it, "Baptism is a means of grace in Reformed Baptist theology".
The key word in this quote and in the WCF is "seal." According to the Reformed, the sacraments are not only signs, they are seals.
Sure. RBs reject this view. But the view being rejected is not a Reformed distinctive. Roman Catholics also believe that baptism is a seal. So RBs are not rejecting any Reformed distinctive.
Interestingly enough, in that last comment of mine I said:
RBs hold to every Reformed distinctive. If someone can name a Reformed distinctive to which RBs do not hold, I'd like to see it.
And interestingly enough, on this point you've said exactly... nothing.
So I agree with you about this: baptizing infants is not the sole provenance of the Reformed. The Reformed have their own theological take on it, but the outward form is not distinctive. But that wasn't the point. The point was that the Reformed view of baptism is decidedly distinct from the RB view.
Why don't you take a moment and reflect on the above citation. Do you see the circularity yet in the charge that RBs are not "Reformed"?
Of course, if "RB" is being defined such that they are not Reformed due to their view of baptism, then -- surprise! -- you're going to get to that conclusion. But you won't have anything resembling a cogent argument.
All you are saying is: the "Reformed" baptize infants, but RBs don't; therefore they're not Reformed. Well, duh, if you have to baptize infants to be Reformed, then RBs aren't Reformed. But if the argument was that easy, this discussion would have been over long ago.
Of course, you're talking to someone who thinks it's perfectly OK to engage in evangelical co-belligerence with Roman Catholics in various political and social causes (though not the Great Commission or local church ministry). So my ecumenicity in welcoming RBs into the Reformed fold might not be to your liking. Sorry, it's who I am, and I think I have good arguments for my view.
Was your point that it is the RBs that have the proper Reformed understanding of baptism, church government, etc?
No, my point was that RBs views on baptism and church government don't disqualify them from being Reformed. There are no Reformed distinctives that they deny. If you can think of one, please let me know. Notice that my argument, unlike yours, isn't circular. So far all of the 'Reformed distinctives' you've brought up have been nothing of the sort, since non-Reformed professing Christians hold to them as well.
Why should RBs be denied the label of "Reformed," simply because they refuse to accept some particular doctrines that are typical of the non-Reformed? Like I said, it's insane ;-)
(3) Therefore, the Reformed are in theological error regarding x, y and z.
Please point out the place in my commentary where I deny the doctrines of baptism being a seal, sacraments as means of grace, etc. I'm making room for regarding RBs as Reformed, even if they reject some doctrines I accept. One doesn't have to be a RB to make the case that it's more plausible to grant them this label, then to deny it.
I had never read or heard an attempt to defend the RB view and practice of the sacraments in contradistinction to the Reformed.
Then it's interesting, isn't it, that you felt yourself warranted to make the public pronouncements about RBs that you made, when as a matter of fact you hadn't bothered to make yourself conversant with their steady stream of material on this topic.
Steve, the quotation from Ch 7 of the LBCF really highlights the difference between the RB understanding of the covenant and the Reformed (cf. WCF 7.5 and 7.6).
LOL. Let me know when you can make a case that RBs deny any doctrine found in WCF 7.5 and 7.6. Also, looks to me like you're overlooking 1689 LBCF 8.6:
Although the price of redemption was not actually paid by Christ till after His incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefit thereof were communicated to the elect in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices wherein He was revealed, and signified to be the seed which should bruise the serpent's head; and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, being the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.
RBs believe that "the virtue, efficacy, and benefit" of Christ's redemption was "communicated to the elect... in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices wherein He was revealed." Yup, you heard it here first: RBs believe that OT sacrifices and circumcision communicated the benefits of Christ's death to the elect. Gee, sounds like their doctrine of OT sacramental efficacy is the same as their doctrine of NT sacramental efficacy :-) News to you? ;-)
I don't want to knock you too hard over this stuff, notsoelder. After all, you don't live in Grand Rapids. If you did, you might know a bit more about RBs :-)
Given the Reformed view of actual applied grace through the means of the sacraments (WCF 27), how can we and the RBs be talking about the same sola?
You're not reading very well, are you? In my last posted comment, I said:
Re: the Lord's Supper, RBs hold that Christ instituted it, in part, for the "confirmation of the faith of believers in all the benefits thereof, their spiritual nourishment, and growth in him." Yep, according to them it's a means of grace, in some significant sense, and not a mere memorial.
Of course, if you want to micromanage the whole affair -- "They didn't use the word 'seal'!" -- then I give you your shibboleths and bid you adieu. In the meantime, I'll just remind you yet again that holding to "actual applied grace through the means of the sacraments" is not a Reformed distinctive! So how can RBs be non-Reformed for denying it?
So jus may be satisfied that the Lord's Supper is a means of grace in some vague and undefined "significant sense," but if I were an RB and wanted to claim that I had an authentic reformational understanding of sola gratia, I'd want quite a bit more substance to my theology of the sacraments than that.
Yes! There goes that circular argument again ;-) "Authentic reformational understanding of sola gratia". Uh-huh, whatever you say!
Is the preference for the name "Particular Baptist" an admission of that or are there intra-baptist reasons for that?
As I understand it -- and you must forgive me that this is not my area of speciality -- PBs took that designation to distinguish themselves from the Arminian "General Baptists" of their day, even as PBs take the designation of "Reformed Baptist" to include themselves among the Reformed of the present day. But who knows? Maybe the Particular Baptists weren't particular enough for the hyper-Calvinists, in which case they weren't "really" Particular Baptists. What do you think? ;-)
notsoelder continues his commentary here:
Jus divinum, you can scoff all you like; I have direct experience that "calvinistic" baptists believed nothing about calvinism per se; the only, and I do mean only area of agreement was on the subject of regeneration: monergism.
Then... surprise! Those guys weren't Reformed Baptists. Talk to any elder of a church which subscribes to the 1689 LBCF. They'll be happy to inform you as to the differences between Reformed Baptists and Sovereign Grace Baptists. (The latter are also often called "Calvinistic Baptists".)
This isn't "scoffing". It's informed commentary :-)
I was raised a tulipy baptist and am familiar with a lot of the tulipy baptist stars (Spurgeon, duh). Reformed covenant theology was as foreign to that system as prayers for the dead.
What a relief, then, that the 1689 LBCF teaches Reformed covenant theology :-)
I think it is inaccurate to describe polemical RBs as the "Truly Reformed" (that's a term I first heard in the context of the PCA, where it makes some sense), or, for that matter for RBs to describe themselves as Reformed. It would be more accurate to describe polemical RBs as the "Truly Baptist." The theological debates internal to, say, the SBC make perfect sense in this respect.
I'm sorry, but this is one of the most ignorant comments I've read from you. Despite the fact that RBs derive 95% of their doctrines verbatim from the WCF, it is more accurate to describe them as "Truly Baptist" rather than "Truly Reformed". Sure ;-)
It still seems obvious to me that RBs (shall we opt for MBs: Monergistic Baptists?), with regeneration excepted, share next to no doctrinal agreement with other monergists, including the puritans from which they are descended.
Oops, my bad. This is the most ignorant comment I've read from you :-) Holy cow, there's a lot more in the 1689 LBCF than the doctrine of regeneration! Have you even read the document?