Saturday, February 11, 2006
It would have been preferable to avoid a public scene, but like a screaming kid who hurls her cup of soup in the face of the waiter, Clark’s outburst necessitates some firm adult intervention.
Since Scott Clark is not the only one with inside information on the past controversy, I’ll take the occasion to put his distortions in perspective.
1. Back when I was there (1993-1994; 1999-2000), WSC, as it now calls itself, was quite cliquish. One reason, I think, is that it's so much easier for factions to fester in a smallish seminary than one of the larger institutions where the sheer size and rapid turnover of the student body naturally diffuses and dilutes that divisive tendency.
2. Among other factions, there was a Klinean coterie, represented by Kline himself as well as the then-librarian.
They venerated biblical theology as the only heaven-sent theological method.
In addition, Kline has a view of church/state relations which resembles Anabaptism.
This ended in the train-wreck of Lee Irons' heresy trial.
3. Then you had Joey Pipa. Pipa's a deep-fried S. Presbyterian. I think he's still fighting the War of Northern Aggression.
He's since taken the helm of Greenville Seminary, which views itself as heir to the grand mantle of Dabney, Thornwell, and Girardeau.
We might dub it Confederate Calvinism! :-)
4. Then a major change took place when our man Godfrey become Prez.
i) Bob Godfrey is a church historian. So he has shifted the theological orientation away from exegetical theology to historical theology, teaching Reformed theology out of the creeds and confessions rather than straight from Scripture.
ii) This reorientation is seconded by the fact that Godfrey identifies himself with the Dutch-Reformed tradition. Dutch-Reformed theologians like Bavinck, Berkhof, Hoeksema, Hepp, and Berkouwer are far more in the groove of historical theology than exegetical theology.
As the Prez, Godfrey is in a position, through hiring and firing, to remake the seminary into his own image.
5. By contrast, Frame stands in the Princetonian tradition of exegetical theology. Charles Hodge, J. A. Hodge, Warfield, Machen, Vos, and Murray were all exegetes, writing commentaries and/or exegetical monographs. Obviously, this tradition goes all the way back to Calvin himself, the premier commentator of the Protestant Reformers.
6.Another flashpoint of controversy was the regulative principle of worship. At one level, I’ve never known what all the fuss was about since, to my knowledge, none of the faculty ever worshipped in the auld Skreegh-me-dead style.
If you want to get a flavor of the debate, go here:
In my opinion, Hart came out of this encounter in about the same shape as a possum challenging the business end of an eighteen-wheeler, but I leave it to each reader to judge the performance for himself.
7.Yet another source of friction was overemphasis on the objectivity of assurance at the expense of the subjective dimension.
Frame takes the traditional position, but others, like Horton, overemphasize the objective dimension.
I’m not quite sure where this is coming from, although it may have something to do with Horton’s checkered theological background, as he’s drifted from fundamentalism to Anglicanism to Presbyterianism, with some carryover from each. If you combine Anglican sacramentology with the residual antinomianism of eternal security, so popular in fundamentalist circles, you can easily end up with a doctrine of assurance in which the objective aspect eclipses the subjective.
8.Scott Clark’s equation of the traditional Reformed theological method with the archetypal/ectypal axis is incredibly parochial.
By his provincial criterion, Calvin, Cunningham, Helm, Hodge, Murray, Owen, Turrettin, Vos, and Warfield aren't doing Reformed theology.
Truth be told, while there’s definitely such a thing as Reformed theology, there is no one Reformed theological method.
9. Notice too, and this is typical of Scott Clark in my personal experience, how he doesn't actually show where Frame goes wrong. All he does is to say that Frame isn't quite Gordon Clark, and isn't quite Van Til. But, of course, that's not an argument for or against any of the three parties. Nor is theological cloning always a virtue.
10. Likewise, Frame doesn't both affirm and deny that we can know God. Rather, Frame carefully distinguishes between the ways God can and cannot be known. Scott Clark simply disregards the nuances.
11.The same holds true for his simplistic summary of Frame’s position on Biblicism.
Just compare his tendentious characterization with Frame in his own words:
12.The same holds true for his simplistic summary of Frame’s position on analogy.
A pretty shabby performance, all and all. But perhaps his comments read better in the original Latin.
by Rev. Fred Klett
Can one be Covenantal in theology, that is, believe the New Covenant community is spiritually Israel and as such is already experiencing in this age the promises of the prophets to Israel, and yet still maintain in some way ethnic Israel is unique? Let us consider how the term "Israel" is used.
The word is used in many ways in the Scriptures, yet all the uses are interrelated. It means "He who has struggled with God". Ultimately, God is the one who has the right to answer the question as to who or what is Israel. He determines who or what is Israel, not man or men's traditions. Here is a provisional list of some of the uses of the word in the Scriptures.
1. The man Jacob Genesis 32:28
2. Jacob's Physical Descendants Gen. 46:8; 48:28; Ex.1:7 (The Jewish People)
3. All Old Testament Believers Ex. 12:38,47-49; Dt. 23:8 (Both Jews and Gentiles) Nu. 15:13-16; Ruth 1:16
4. The Land Josh. 11:16; Jud.19:29 1 Sam. 13:19; Mt.2:20
5. The Northern Kingdom Is.7:1, 9:12
6. Citizens of the North Is. 9:14; Jer. 3:11,17
7. The Spiritual Remnant among the Jewish People? Rom. 9:6? 11:1? 11:26?
8. All Who are in the Messiah Eph. 2:11-19; Rom. 4:12-17; (A continuation of #3, that Rom. 9:6,7,8,24-26 is, all believers, the Church) Rom. 11:17; Gal.3:29, 4:21-31
9. Modern Ethnic or Political Israel Is. 19:24-25; Acts 1:6 (maybe?) (Jews and Gentiles!?) (Israel is certainly one of the nations of Rev. 7:9!)
10. The Messiah Himself Mt. 2:15; Is. 49:3-6; Gal. 3:16
There are then a number of possible Scriptural meanings of "Israel". But, is there a most ultimate meaning of the word Israel? There is -- it is the Messiah Himself (#10), for all the promises of God have their `yes' in Him (2 Cor. 1:20). Jesus is the ultimate seed of Abraham, (Gal. 3:16)
And if Messiah has the supreme right to the name Israel, then all who are in Him also have that right, since we are joint heirs with Him (Rom. 8:17) Indeed this is what Jesus gained in Redemption, "that the blessings given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles" (see Gal. 3:14). God can raise up sons of Abraham from the stones, if He wills. (Mt. 3:9) What else can Ephesians 2:11-22 mean? We are clearly told that Gentile Christians formerly had been excluded from citizenship in Israel (v. 12) and now, through the Messiah, are now fellow citizens (v. 19). If Gentile believers are no longer excluded from citizenship in Israel, that means they are included in citizenship in Israel. It's that simple. How can anyone deny that this is the clear and obvious meaning of the text?
But what of the Jewish people? If all who are in Jesus Christ are spiritually Israel, does that mean God has replaced the Jewish people with the Church and is finished with them? Of course not! There can be several meanings to the word "Israel" which can exist simultaneously, and there can be some overlapping of these meanings. The Church has a right to one of the connotations of the word "Israel". The Church has become an enlargement of and progression from "All Old Testament Believers" (#3), and it includes now, as it even included then, all who share in Israel's faith, both Jews and Gentiles. In essence then, the Church doesn't replace Israel, rather it expands Israel, that is the Believing Israel of #3 above.
Remember, Old Testament Israel (#3) included the physical descendants of Jacob (#2), but went beyond it and also included Gentiles (such as Ruth) who were willing to join themselves to the people of God. Today Gentiles who believe in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, have in essence converted to New Testament Judaism. This is what Christianity really is, New Covenant Judaism. It is the same today, in a sense, as it was in the Old Testament. All who believe become, in a sense, part of Israel, the Holy Congregation of the people of God. Both Jews and Gentiles relate to God on the basis of the same New Covenant. (The denial of this truth leads to one of two errors: one which seeks to bind again Jewish believers to the particulars of Mosaic Law, rather than to the moral principals of the Law which bind all believers today and the second which sees a separate way of salvation for the Jewish people.)
We must see the unity of the purpose of God, to glorify the Son. I contend that the Jewish people, the Messianic Jewish believers, the Church, and perhaps even the Modern state of Israel too, (numbers 2,7,8, and 9) will all be brought together under the Messiah, together with the whole earth (Col. 1:20; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Eph. 1:22; Isaiah 11:9). Until the Jewish people return to Messiah, there is yet a certain incompleteness to Spiritual Israel (#8), the Church. Therefore the Jewish people should be of great importance to the Church, as indeed should be the whole missionary enterprise. The mission of the church must always include the preaching of the gospel to the Jewish people, indeed it begins there.
Then what of the promises to the Jewish people? Does the Church take over the promises in such a way as to exclude the Jewish people from them? No! The promises of God are still valid for the Jewish people, yet only experienced by those who believe. The coming of the Messiah and the concomitant salvation he brings can only be received by faith. This is the most ultimate and most sacred Hope of Israel! Unbelief and rejection of God and His Covenant means forfeiture of the promises which are part of the Covenant. This was the case in the Old Testament, and this is still the same today. God does not change. The promises have been expanded to include the all in the Church, even Gentiles, but this does not mean they are no longer for the Jewish people. But the Jewish people must come to Messiah Jesus to have access to them, they must rejoin the faith community of Spiritual Israel.
What of the promise of the Land? This is a sticky issue. The land promises are also expanded to include all believers. Jesus promised that "the meek shall inherit the earth" (compare Ps. 37:11), and in doing so he expanded the promise that God's people would inherit the land of Israel. Paul says that the promise to Abraham should be understood as to inheriting "the earth" (Romans 4:13). Does this contradict the idea that the Jewish people should specifically inherit the land of Israel? God has changed the order of things and brought the fulfilment of the promises to Israel in a glorious expanded way. The Temple in Jerusalem is no longer the center of the worship of the true God in all the earth. And therefore Israel as a geopolitical-political entity is no longer the center of God's kingdom and blessing (John 4:21-24). Does this mean the Jewish people no longer have a right to the land? Does this aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant cease to be? The New Covenant promise is an expansion and fulfilment of the land promise, not a negation of it. Yet Israel is in the land in a state of unbelief, and belief and obedience were always the conditions for dwelling in the land. How can it be that the modern state of Israel exists, then? Perhaps God in His mercy has brought the people back in order to preserve them and also as a means of facilitating the hope of Romans 9-11 that the Jewish people should return to faith. The modern state of Israel can then be seen as part of the providential preservation of the Jewish people working toward the fulfillment of Romans 11. Certainly if the Jewish people are to be restored to faith as a people, one could argue that as a people they also need to dwell in a specific location.2 There are moral, historical, and political reasons arguing for Israel's right to exist, yet the Jewish people can in no way claim, while still in unbelief, any Biblical right to possession of the ancient borders. When they come to faith as a people again, so will the surrounding Gentile nations, and I believe in Messiah's peace all the current border issues can finally be settled. But most basically, the land promise is realized in the final state when all believers inherit the earth. If one fails to understand that the land Old Covenant land promises were the down payment on a renewed Earth, the restoration of Paradise lost, one is missing the most important meaning and purpose of the promised land. The ultimate experience of this promise certainly includes physical children of Abraham who believe, along with all other believers!
Is ethnic Israel still properly called Israel? Certainly no one would deny the name Israel to Jewish believers in Jesus. But what about those Jews who don't believe? Can they still truly be called Israel? Paul used this appellation of the Jewish people, even in unbelief. Romans 11:25 states, "Israel has experienced a hardening in part...", clearly using the name "Israel" to describe Jewish non-believers. Could it be that the continued existence of the Jewish people in spite of centuries of oppression and attempts at annihilation is a witness to God's faithfulness, sovereignty, and mercy?
We need to avoid errors in two extremes. Some would deny Gentile New Covenant believers the right given to Gentile Old Covenant believers (!), that is, the right to the name "Israel" and full and absolutely equal status as part of the people of God. These have claimed that the Church and Israel are two separate peoples of God and have nothing to do with each other. According to this view, God has two separate peoples and two separate plans.3 This view essentially denies full glory to Jesus and the gospel. In effect it says the salvation which has come in the Messiah is only a plan, not the plan and all who believe are not the recipients of all blessings, just some! (But see 1 Peter 1:3-12; Eph. 1:3!) Those of the other extreme have claimed that God is finished with the Jewish people as a people (though not as individuals) and say the Church has replaced the Jewish people and become the only true Israel.4 In such a theology the Jewish people themselves are denied any use of the name Israel!
Neither extreme is correct. The first extreme fails to see the centrality of Jesus in the meaning of Israel and the second fails to see the continuation of the Jewish people in the purpose of God as a people who are still heirs to the Covenants as taught by Romans 9:4 and 11:28-29. Good theology must be Biblical rather than a polemical overreaction to error.
We need to affirm the Biblical position that all believers are grafted in to the tree of Israel, whether they are natural or "wild" branches, and that God can, and will, graft in once again the natural branches, the Jewish people (Romans 11:11-24). Gentiles need to recognize that they have been grafted into Israel, and therefore have a certain kinship with the Jewish people. Jews are no less Jewish for believing in Jesus. Jews do not become Gentiles when they come to Jesus (quite the opposite!), rather all who trust in the Jewish Messiah and serve Him are part of that Spiritual tree rooted in the Patriarchs.
How do these "Israels" relate to one another? First, recognize there is a fundamental unity in the purpose of God. Spiritual Israel is the congregation of witness, the "Holy Priesthood and Royal Nation" (Compare Ex. 19:6 and 1 Peter 2:9) which brings the light of God and blessing of Abraham to the world. Those who follow the Messiah are part of this community, made up of both Jews and Gentiles. We must recognize that all glory goes to God and that all creation serves Him. This means that whatever our understanding of Israel, it must have the Glory of God at heart. Secondly, as the Rabbis have said, "the world was created for the sake of Messiah". Therefore Israel, too, is for the sake of Messiah. In the Messiah are found all who trust in Him, both in the Old and New Covenants (numbers 3, 7, and 8). The Israel of "All Believers" will only be fully realized when the fullness of both Jewish and Gentile believers comes and ethnic Israel is restored to faith. In order for God to be glorified the Messiah must be exalted. In order for Messiah to be exalted, His Body, All Believers, the Church, is being blessed and is prospering. In order for the church to fully prosper, the Jewish people must be restored to faith and join in the missionary enterprise (Romans 11:12). In order for them to be restored, they must, of course, be preserved. I would argue that in order for the Jewish people to be preserved, the Nation of Israel needed to be created and needs to exist. We must stand for the continued existence of the state of Israel and for a just expression of that existence.5
The fate of ethnic Israel and Spiritual Israel, the Church, are bound up together. The church is to make Jewish evangelism a priority and must stand by the Jewish people for the glory of God. We must look with hope and expectation for the glorious day when the natural branches are grafted in and "all Israel will be saved." In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and the place of his rest will be glorious (Isaiah 11:10).
1 This is a provisional statement written as part of a process of theological development. It is tentative in nature and subject to further revision.
2 See John Owen's commentary on Hebrews, Volume 1, 443-455 (2nd edition, 1812).
3 This is the essence of the Dispensational teaching regarding Israel and the church.
4. I would accuse some of those in the Covenantal camp of this position, though they rarely put it quite this way. Older reformed theologians are much more positive towards ethnic Israel because they were not reacting against the errors of dispensationalism mentioned above! See our section quoting Calvin, Hodge, Murray, Vos, etc.
5 An additional reason for Christians to be concerned for the Jewish people is that Christians have an ethical duty to uphold the cause of oppressed peoples (Amos 2:7). Historically, few have been so oppressed as Jesus' own ethnic group, the Jews. The Palestinian Arabs have also suffered injustices. They have been mistreated by their own Arab brothers and are not always treated fairly in Israel. They have also committed injustices themselves. The Messiah is the ultimate solution to this conflict.
by Rev. Fred Klett
Much fuss has been made in our Jewish evangelism circles regarding "replacement" theology, the idea that the church has "replaced" the Jewish people in the plan of God. Some have even accused all who think New Covenant believers are "Spiritual Israel" as being guilty of this "replacement theology", that is, of replacing the Jewish people with the church. Charges have been made that this idea of "Spiritual Israel" leads to anti-semitism.
Ironically my first exposure to the idea of all believers being spiritually Israel came about through involvement in "Messianic Judaism"! Way back in 1975 I attended a seminar by Manny Brotman, president of the "Messianic Jewish Movement International" on "How to Share the Messiah". In the seminar notes I read: "When a Gentile asks the Messiah into his heart and life, he is accepting the Jewish Messiah, the Jewish Bible, and the Jewish blood of atonement and could be considered a proselyte to biblical Judaism and a child of Abraham by faith!" Isn't this essentially a statement of the "Spiritual Israel" idea?
Getting The Big Picture
We must submit our thinking to the scriptures and derive even our method of interpreting of the Bible from the Bible itself! We must learn how the text interprets itself! Many have not done this. We can't base our understanding of doctrine on "spiritual" intuition or emotional arguments. We must strive, asking wisdom from the Spirit, to interpret the word of God correctly, and this certainly means we submit to the approach used by the apostles the Messiah appointed to represent Him. And we must understand how the whole Bible fits together and derive our doctrine of Israel within that framework.
God has had one purpose and plan for mankind ever since the Fall: to restore a people for Himself from fallen humanity through Messiah Jesus. Because of the Fall of Adam we have all come under the curse of God, or as the Puritans put it "through Adam's Fall sinned we all". The Jewish people, and ultimately the Jewish Messiah, brought to the world the Abrahamic promise of blessing to redeem us from the curse of the Fall. Jesus brought the blessings of Abraham "first to the Jew" and then expanded the blessing "also to the Gentile" (see Galatians 3:14 and Romans 1:16). There are not two sets of Covenant promises and Covenant obligations, one for Jewish believers and one for Gentile believers, there is one New Covenant people and one faith (Eph. 2:16 and 4:5).
God has had but one program from the beginning: salvation through Jesus. God purposed to restore blessing once again to a cursed world. The core of the Abrahamic promise was to bring a restoration of blessing to all peoples through the seed of Abraham. This seed is ultimately the King of Israel, the Messiah. Psalm 72:17 tells us this by applying the very words of the Abrahamic promise to the Son of David: "May his name endure forever...all nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed".
National and ethnic Israel can only find true meaning within the larger context of the renewal of all things through the Messiah. God's purposes are one. God created the Jewish people to bring Messiah to the world. You cannot divorce any of the promises to Israel from the "big picture" of redemption from the Fall through Messiah.
God has not withdrawn His promises to the Jewish people. Rather, Paul clearly tells us, "no matter how many promises God has made, they are "yes" in Messiah" (2 Cor. 1:20). The New Covenant promise of eternal life through faith in Jesus is greater than any other blessing of God ever given. Indeed this is the fulfillment of the blessing promised to Abraham. The curse of death and separation from God is overturned through Messiah. Paul clearly says "He redeemed us in order that THE BLESSING PROMISED TO ABRAHAM MIGHT COME TO THE GENTILES through Messiah Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit" (Galatians 3:14). Only through Jesus can people truly come to the blessings of Abraham, life in the Spirit.
Whether we are Jews by birth or Gentiles, we who trust Messiah Jesus have one common faith. As Paul put it "There is one body and one Spirit -- just as you were called -- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all." (Eph. 4:4-6)
Some Jews who are for Jesus call their movement "Messianic Judaism". A few of these Jewish believers distinguish "Messianic Judaism" from "Christianity". I believe it would be better theology to distinguish between a culturally Jewish expression of New Covenant Judaism and a culturally Gentile expression of New Covenant Judaism. Our New Covenant faith is the true, Biblical Judaism.
Gentiles who come to believe in the Jewish Messiah convert to Biblical Judaism! Our New Covenant faith is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant faith. Christianity is New Covenant Judaism, the true religion of the Jewish people -- even if most Jewish people don't know it yet! The concept of "Spiritual Israel" is a Biblical doctrine. It doesn't mean "replacement"...it means EXPANSION! God has joined Gentiles to the true faith of Israel --He has expanded the nation spiritually!
Kingdom Blessings Depend Upon Following The King
To be a member of a kingdom means to swear allegiance to its king. Jesus is the King of Israel and those who follow him are members of his kingdom. Consider the implications of these passages:
John the Baptizer, said: "For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham" (Luke 3:8).
The Scriptures teach that all those who believe are Jesus' brothers (Romans 8:29 and Hebrews 2:10-11). Jesus said "whoever who does God's will is my brother and sister and mother" (Mark 3:35). Jesus said he had other sheep, not of that flock (10:16). All believers are Jesus' family and the sheep of His flock.
Paul says Gentile believers are grafted in to the tree of Israel, become Abraham's children by faith, become heirs to the blessing of Abraham and are citizens of Israel (Romans 4:16-18; 11:17-21; Galatians 3:14; and Ephesians 2:19).
So, we see that every believer is a brother of Jesus, a child of Abraham, part of the flock of the Shepherd of Israel, grafted into the tree of Israel, an heir to the promise given to Abraham, and a citizen of the commonwealth of Israel! How wonderful to have become, spiritually, part of Israel!
The New Covenant
We are all covenant breakers before God. God made a covenant with Adam and we have all followed in the footsteps of our first father. What was said of Israel is also true of us "They like Adam have transgressed the covenant (1)". We can only be saved from the curse of the first covenant of Works made with Adam if God provides a Covenant of Grace for us. This is what is in focus in the covenant made with Abraham (2). The blessings promised to the nations refers to the reversal of the curse we came under through Adam. The New Covenant (3) brings to fruition the promise of blessing for the nations made to Abraham (4). Without the New Covenant all are in Adam and under the curse. Yet, the New Covenant is made with the house of Israel and the House of Judah (5)! Gentiles must join themselves to the Holy Nation in order to be a part of this covenant. Yet amazingly I have been told by an opponent of the "Spiritual Israel" doctrine that Gentile believers do not have the New Covenant! He told me that since the covenant was made with Israel only Jewish people have it! Oy Vey! Do you see where the denial of the doctrine of "Spiritual Israel" logically leads?
Can it really be doubted that all believers are spiritually Israel? The scriptures tell us that Gentile believers are spiritual members of the Jewish family of faith along with the remnant of Jewish believers, even if most of the natural family members have temporarily left the household of faith by rejecting the New Covenant. By adoption Gentiles come into a relationship with the Jewish people and so should have a concern for the estranged members of their own faith family, just as they should be concerned for the spiritual return of children of Christian parents who have departed from the faith.
How can anyone reasonably deny that through the great salvation provided through the Jewish Messiah, Gentile believers have become spiritually Israel? This is the truth Jesus taught and this is the doctrine Paul taught -- pretty good theological company to find oneself in!
A Key Passage: Romans 11
Though all believers are spiritually Israel, if we truly understand Romans 11 there should be no question about the fact that God still has a claim on the Jewish people. The natural children of Abraham are still in some way chosen because of the patriarchs, even in unbelief. He will restore the Jewish people to faith one day. Romans 11:28 clearly tells us "As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account, but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs." Consider these comments by leading Covenantal theologians:
"I extend the word Israel to all the people of God, according to this meaning, -When the Gentiles shall come in, the Jews also shall return from their defection to the obedience of faith; and thus shall be completed the salvation of the whole Israel of God, which must be gathered from both; and yet in such a way that the Jews shall obtain the first place, being as it were the first born in God's family.
...as Jews are the firstborn, what the Prophet declares must be fulfilled, especially in them: for that scripture calls all the people of God Israelites, it is to be ascribed to the pre-eminence of that nation, who God had preferred to all other nations...God distinctly claims for himself a certain seed, so that his redemption may be effectual in his elect and peculiar nation...God was not unmindful of the covenant which he had made with their fathers, and by which he testified that according to his eternal purpose he loved that nation: and this he confirms by this remarkable declaration, -that the grace of the divine calling cannot be made void. (6)"
"The second great event, which, according to the common faith of the Church, is to precede the second advent of Christ, is the national conversion of the Jews....that there is to be such a national conversion may be argued...from the original call and destination of that people. God called Abraham and promised that through him, and in his seed, all the nations of the earth should be blessed...A presumptive argument is drawn from the strange preservation of the Jews through so many centuries as a distinct people.
As the rejection of the Jews was not total, so neither is it final. First, God did not design to cast away his people entirely, but by their rejection, in the first place, to facilitate the progress of the gospel among the Gentiles, and ultimately to make the conversion of the Gentiles the means of converting the Jews...Because if the rejection of the Jews has been a source of blessing, much more will their restoration be the means of good...The restoration of the Jews to the privileges of God's people is included in the ancient predictions and promises made respecting them...The plan of God, therefore, contemplated the calling of the Gentiles, the temporary rejection and final restoration of the Jews...
He shows that the rejection of the Jews was not intended to result in their being finally cast away, but to secure the more rapid progress of the gospel among the heathen, in order that their conversion might react upon the Jews, and be the means of bringing all, at last, within the fold of the Redeemer...
The future restoration of the Jews is, in itself, a more probable event than the introduction of the Gentiles into the church of God. This, of course, supposes that God regarded the Jews, on account of their relation to him, with peculiar favor, and that there is still something in their relation to the ancient servants of God and his covenant with them, which causes them to be regarded with special interest. As men look upon the children of their early friends with kinder feelings than on the children of strangers, God refers to this fact to make us sensible that he still retains purposes of peculiar mercy towards his ancient people.
As the restoration of the Jews is not only a most desirable event, but one which God has determined to accomplish, Christians should keep it constantly in view even in their labors for the conversion of the Gentiles. (7)"
"To the Jew first, and also to the Greek...It does not appear sufficient to regard this priority as that merely of time. In this text there is no suggestion to the effect that the priority is merely that of time. The implication appears to be rather that the power of God unto salvation through faith has primary relevance to the Jew, and the analogy of Scripture would indicate that this peculiar relevance to the Jew arises from the fact that the Jew had been chosen by God to be the recipient of the promise of the gospel and that to him were committed the oracles of God...
While it is true that in respect of the privileges accruing from Christ's accomplishments there is now no longer Jew or Gentile and the Gentiles "are fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel" (Eph. 3:6), yet it does not follow that Israel no longer fulfills any particular design in the realization of God's worldwide saving purpose...
Israel are both "enemies" and "beloved" at the same time, enemies as regards the gospel, beloved as regards the election..."Beloved" thus means that God has not suspended or rescinded his relation to Israel as his chosen people in terms of the covenants made with their fathers.
Unfaithful as Israel have been and broken off for that reason, yet God still sustains his peculiar relation of love to them, a relation that will be demonstrated and vindicated in the restoration. (8)"
"The elective principle, abolished as to nationality, continues in force as to individuals. And even with respect to national privilege, while temporarily abolished now that its purpose has been fulfilled, there still remains reserved for the future a certain fulfillment of the national elective promise. Israel in its racial capacity will again in the future be visited by the saving grace of God [Rom. 11.2, 12, 25]....such conversions (of Jewish people) remain for the present but sporadic examples, though at bottom expressive of a divine principle intended to work itself out on the largest of scales at the predetermined point in the future. (9)"
Let us recognize with these great men of theology God's continuing love for the Jewish people, yet not center our theology on ethnic Israel. Speaking of "replacement theology", let's not replace Jesus with Israel, or even put it on an equal footing with him in the plan of God! (10)
God has not replaced the Jewish people with the church. Quite to the contrary, God has grafted Gentile branches into the tree of believing Israel, a tree made up of all true believers, both Jewish and Gentile, a tree rooted in the faith of the patriarchs (Romans 11:17-24). God has expanded Israel, not replaced it.
It precisely because of the fact that Gentile believers have been grafted into the tree of Israel, a tree foreign to their nature, that they have an obligation to the Jewish people, those natural branches which were cut off and which will be grafted in again. The doctrine of spiritual Israel should never be abused to imply God is finished with the Jewish people -- quite the contrary! It is expressly because of the truth of this doctrine we must stand by the natural branches and pray for their grafting in again!
And how foolish is any form of anti-semitism on the part of some so-called "Christian!" For a Christian to hate Jewish people is to hate his own adopted family and nation -- and even His own Jewish Lord and Savior!
Towards A Commonwealth Theology
How do we reconcile a view of the church being "Spiritual Israel" with a belief that God still has a place for the physical descendants of Abraham? This is where "Commonwealth Theology" comes in (11). The church might be compared to a commonwealth. Consider the British Commonwealth in it's heyday. Indians and Pakistanis became citizens of the British Commonwealth, even while living in India and Pakistan. These people were under the dominion of the King of Great Britain, and were therefore part of the Commonwealth. They weren't English, but they were British citizens. So it is with those who are ruled by the Jewish Messiah. Have they not submitted to the King of Israel? Are they not voluntary members of His Kingdom, under His rule and in His service? Those who believe have accepted Israel's King and are now members of His Kingdom, known as the Commonwealth of Israel. Israel is the Kingdom of the King of Israel. Ethnic Israel is at the core, it is the root (12), but the greater Commonwealth of Israel is made up of all who believe. Gentile believers are citizens of the commonwealth, even if not resident in the land and not physically "Jewish", just as one could be a citizen of the commonwealth of Great Britain without living in the British Isles and not being English, Scottish, or Welsh.
Spiritual Israel is made up of Jews and Gentiles submitting to the King of Israel. Physical Israel is made up of those who are Jewish, most of whom do not presently submit to the King. All who submit to the King are under His blessing. All who don't submit are not under His blessing and have cut themselves off from any participation in the eternal blessings of the Covenant of Grace. However God certainly seems to have a special place in His heart for the natives of the center of the original borders of the commonwealth, even in unbelief, just as the King of the British Isles would have a special place in his heart for natives of the British Isles and be more upset at their rebellion than at the rebellion of India or Pakistan. But rebellion is rebellion, whether conducted by natives of the home territories or members of the commonwealth. Ultimately, God's glory is at stake. Messiah will re-conquer his original territory for the sake of his own Glory. Tell me, how is such a concept in any way either showing an unbalanced ethnic favoritism on the one hand or anti-semitic on the other? Isn't this consistent with what Paul says in Ephesians 2:19? He says that Gentile believers are "no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people (13)".
Messiah, The True Israel
To expand Israel it first had to be narrowed down to one person. The scriptures teach that Jesus is the ultimate Israel. In Matthew 2:15 the Holy Spirit quotes a verse referring to national Israel "Out of Egypt I called my son" (Hosea 11:1) and says Jesus fulfills this prophecy! We are being told Jesus is the true faithful Israel of God. He alone is worthy of the covenant blessings. Messiah is the supreme seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16). Paul explicitly says: "The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say `and to his seeds', meaning many people, but `and to his seed' meaning one person, who is Messiah". It is only through faith in Jesus that we come into the fullness of the promise to Abraham. This is to the Jew first, and also as for Gentiles.
Understanding The Prophets Biblically (Spiritually)
Alfred Edersheim, the greatest Messianic Jewish theologian ever, said:
"..we have the glowing descriptions by all the prophets, but especially in the Book of Isaiah, of the time of the new covenant, with its blessings to Israel and to mankind. That these bear reference to a spiritual world-wide dispensation in the Messianic days needs scarcely argument, any more than that all the conditions of it have been fulfilled in that dispensation which was introduced under the New Testament." (14)
Edersheim's statement that through the New Covenant we have come to the glorious fulfillment of Messianic promises given to Israel by the prophets is clearly true to the scriptures. Consider these Biblical truths:
Israel was told "the meek will inherit the land" (Psalm 37:11). Jesus said the meek would inherit the whole earth (Mt. 5:5). Paul says Abraham was to inherit "the world" (Rom. 4:13).
God promised Israel a city named Jerusalem. We are told we have come to a glorious heavenly Jerusalem, the community of the redeemed, superior (when seen through spiritual eyes) to anything experienced under the Old Covenant administration (Hebrews 12:22-23).
Paul says the true Jerusalem, the one which fulfills Isaiah 54, is the heavenly (spiritual) Jerusalem. (See how Isaiah 54:1 is interpreted in Galatians 4:26-27). This heavenly city, the church, is the congregation of the faithful (Hebrews 12:22-24).
Israel was promised a Temple; the New Covenant promises to both Jews and Gentiles (and still to the Jew first) that they can actually be the Temple! (1 Peter 2:5)
According to Isaiah 56:3 and the following verses Gentiles are admitted to God's people and come into the Temple. Hebrews says the old Temple has found fulfillment in the new. (See Hebrews 7:18, 8:13 and the whole rest of the book of Hebrews!)
Israel was promised a king -- God sent the world the King of Kings!
Certainly Edersheim was right to say of the New Covenant community: "all that had been national, preparatory, symbolic, typical, would merge into the spiritual reality of fulfillment." (15)
According to this great Jewish Christian theologian, the promises to national Israel have been realized in a glorious spiritual way through the Messiah! Even Rabbi Maimonides said: "All similar expressions used in connection with the Messianic age are metaphorical. In the days of King Messiah the full meaning of those metaphors and their allusions will become clear to all." (16)
Israel's Hope Fulfilled Beyond Expectation
Through Jesus we have more than could be conceived of by the prophets or their ancient readers. Peter says: "Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Messiah in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things" (1 Peter 1:10-12). Amazing! God says the Old Testament prophets were speaking us that salvation which we have received! Our current experience of salvation was spoken of by the Hebrew prophets!
Why didn't most Jewish leaders recognize it? They interpreted the promises in worldly terms rather than understanding the deeper spiritual meanings. This is still the case with the Orthodox rabbis today, who openly claim to be heirs to the Pharisees. The Orthodox rabbis today say God did not bring about the fulfillment of the messianic promises through Jesus, therefore either Jesus is not Messiah or God is a liar.
Did God fail to deliver what He promised to the Jewish people? Consider this example: What if you expected me to give you a hamburger and then I gave you filet mignon? What if you were told you would inherit an apple tree, but instead you inherited a whole glorious orchard? What if you thought I promised you $10, but then I delivered a million? What if I promised a child a typewriter when he turned 18 and when the time came I gave him the latest computer. Would I be a liar? No! When someone gives IMMEASURABLY MORE than that expected, the gift giver is no liar. God has given an even greater gift through Jesus, superior to what many think was promised!
Sadly, even many believers today do not fully understand how much greater the New Covenant redemption is that Jesus brought to Israel and the world. Why dine on hamburger when you can have filet mignon? Why settle for a single tree, when you can have the whole orchard? Why stress the $10 when there is $1,000,000 available? Why use an old Underwood manual typewriter when you can have the latest personal computer and laser printer? The Messiah and His Eternal Kingdom are the great blessings promised to Israel.
All of what God was doing in the Tenach (Old Testament) and all of the promises of God to bring redemption throughout the ages are centered in Jesus. "No matter how many promises God has made, they are "yes" in Messiah" (2 Cor. 1:20). God has something better in mind for the Jewish people, the $1,000,000 rather than the $10. Messiah offers the Jewish people (and Gentiles who believe) a greater redemption which makes the old look small in comparison.
The greatest gift and blessing of all is offered: eternal salvation through Jesus, the only name by which people can be saved. Through Messiah we are heirs to the glorious kingdom of the New Jerusalem (see Galatians 4:26 -- and notice carefully how Paul, under the Spirit's inspiration, interprets the original prophecy, Isaiah 54:1!)
The Kingdom of God is more magnificent than anything experienced under David. The past splendor of the Davidic kingdom is but a shadow of what God has done, is now doing, and will do through the Messiah (Hebrews 10:1). If we miss how God's promises reach their greater fulfillment in the New Covenant we rob Jewish and Gentile believers of a deeper understanding of the our glorious identity as sons of God through Messiah!
We must always be vigilant to combat the danger of diminishing the centrality of Jesus in the plan of God. Anything which takes the spotlight off of Jesus or diminishes the glory He is due should disturb us. Jesus alone saves us from death and Hell. He alone is the hope of the world. He alone should occupy the center of our theology. Nothing should ever take His place.
All creation groans in waiting for God's sons to be revealed. This will be the ultimate expression of the Passover liberation Messiah has brought. Renewal of all creation has already begun in those who believe -- and when Jesus returns He will liberate this creation from its bondage to decay (2 Cor. 5:17, Romans 8:17-23). The curse of the Fall is being replaced with the blessing of salvation as the kingdom of Messiah goes forward.
Let's affirm the great expansion of blessing the Messiah has brought. He has tremendously expanded the promises to Israel, and He has greatly enlarged Israel by bringing Gentiles into His spiritual commonwealth, the Kingdom of God. This was promised to Israel by Isaiah when he said "You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy...of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end" (9:3 and 7) and "Let no foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, `The LORD will surely exclude me from his people...these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer" (56:3 and 7). We have now come to "Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God...to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn..." (Hebrews 12:22-23)
Through Jesus Israel has been expanded in a glorious way, not replaced. Fulfillment of the promise to Abraham has come and will go forward until its completion when Messiah returns. Jesus must reign until all his enemies are placed under his feet. He will conquer all nations, including the Jewish nation with the gospel. Therefore, let us recommit ourselves to bringing the message of restoration to blessing "to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile"!
"You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy...For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this." (17)
1. Hosea 6:7
2. Genesis 12:3 and 22:18.
3. Jeremiah 31:31ff
4. Galatians 3:14.
5. Jeremiah 31:31.
6. (Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. XIX, Epistle to the Romans, Baker Book House, 1981, p. 434-440.)
7. (Systematic Theology V.3, James Clark & Co. 1960, p. 805. and A Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, by Charles Hodge Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1836, pp. 270-285 passim. Now Published by Banner of Truth Trust)
8. (The Epistles to the Romans, John Murray, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984, Vol. I, p. 28 and Vol. II pp. xiv-xv and 76-101, passim.)
9. (Biblical Theology, Old and New Testaments, by Geerhardus Vos (c)1948 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Tenth Printing, page 79 and The Pauline Eschatology, by Geerhardus Vos, (c) 1979 Baker Book House, page 88.)
10. This is the sin of ethnolatry. Anything can become an idol, even good things, even Israel.
11. See Ephesians 2:12
12. Romans 11:18
13. I take the phrase "God's people" to mean Jewish believers in Jesus in tis context.
14. Quoted from Prophecy and History in Relation to the Messiah, Baker Book House, 1955, page 180.
15. Prophecy... page 174.
16. Speaking of Isaiah 11:6 "And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb". From Guide to the Perplexed, III, ch. 11; also II, ch. 29. Quoted in A Maimonides Reader, by Isadore Twersky, page 224, Behrman House Publishers, Copyright 1972.
17. Isaiah 9: verses 3, 6 and 7.
It is indeed a wonderful thing to behold the growth and advancement of the Good News of Messiah among the Jewish people. In the last 25 years or so, we have seen the establishment of many Messianic congregations which proclaim Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah of Israel. A renewed vision to worship and live out the New Covenant faith in a Jewish way is something we can all rejoice in. We have also seen a renewed interest in bold outreach to the Jewish community and a renewed sense of the Jewishness of the gospel in many churches. Many speak of a zeal to return to the true Biblical faith as practiced by the early believers. There are some parallels between this movement and the early days of the Reformation when society had a desire to return to "the fountains," the original documents Christendom had been founded upon. But also in that climate aberrant groups arose, sects whose doctrines and practices were less than Biblical. Today in Jewish ministry we must learn from the Reformers or we will see error arise and revival tarry.
As the Reformation began, a number of important principles were established as guidelines. As the Reformation advanced, additional principles were added as the need for further reform was evident. After twenty five years exposure to and involvement in Jewish ministry, I am aware of some of the problems we face as well as some of the achievements. It is my thesis in this brief article that we in Jewish ministry must once again consider the relevance of the principles of the Reformation if we are to see the renewal of New Covenant faith among the Jewish people that we all hope for. The princliples of the Reformation are not crusty old pieces of history. They continue in relevance for us today. What are these principles? Let me briefly list and define five beginning principles, called the five "solas" and then articulate how these principles are relevant, indeed essential, to the ongoing enterprise of restoring the Biblical faith to the Jewish people.
Sola Scriptura - Scripture Alone
Everything that I command you you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to it or take from it. (Deut.12:32) All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
By the time of the Reformation, Christianity had become dominated by many non-Biblical Roman Catholic church traditions. This had happened to the extent that the essential message of the New Covenant had become obscured beyond recognition. The cry of the Reformers was: "Scripture Alone!" Only the sacred text of the Bible could be trusted as the rule for faith and practice. Man's traditions, while at times of value, had to be radically submitted to the truth of the Word of God. Whatever was contrary was to be discarded. All doctrine had to be either explicit in Scripture or a necessary consequence of reasoning from the Scriptures. They were not rejecting or devaluing, however, all previous thinking. Indeed the Reformers recognized there were those who went before them to whom God had given much wisdom. They had a sense of humility as they approached the Scriptures to ascertain what was the true Biblical teaching. But, one thing was certain, no matter who held to a given interpretation or doctrine, it had to be proven by the text itself. How does one go about interpretation? Scripture is self-sufficient. Scripture interprets itself. By comparing Scripture to Scripture, by going from what is most clear and basic and then progressing to more difficult passages, one can arrive at theological truth.
We greatly need a renewed understanding of this principle today in Jewish ministry. First, most obviously, no matter what the great sages of Christianity and Judaism have said, a teaching must be derived solely from Scripture. We cannot ultimately depend on the traditions of Catholicism, the teachings of the Mishnah and Talmud, or even the beliefs of the Reformers themselves to come to truth. We can consider what has been said and done before by wise men, but we must base what we believe and what we do on the Bible alone. We have seen the Messianic Movement tossed about by every wind of doctrine circulating today. We have seen men claiming to be God's prophets, even after their prophecies fail. There have been leaders vested with authority beyond Scripture. Some Messianic groups give credence to Rabbinic tradition. In Jewish ministry today, there is a serious need to return to the Scriptures alone as the sole authority for faith and practice. God's people are suffering for lack of sound teaching of the word of God.
Sola Christo - By Messiah's Work Alone are We Saved
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Messiah Jesus, (1 Tim. 2:5) For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:13-20)
Today we hear in some circles the speculation that Jewish people can be saved through the Abrahamic Covenant and without explicit faith in Yeshua, Jesus, as Lord and Savior. This generally is not found in Jewish ministry circles, but there have been some offshoots that have begun to stress Torah more than Messiah. Certainly we have seen statements such as "National Israel is at the center of what God is doing on earth." Wrong! Messiah is at the center of what God is doing on Earth! When we place anything at the center other than Messiah himself, we begin to go astray in our thinking. One evangelistic tract I've seen proclaims Messianic Judaism. It should have proclaimed Messiah, not an "ism"! At one conference I was asked about my theology. I said: "Messiah is at the center of everything God has done. All the promises of God have their yes in him. Old Covenant believers were saved by looking forward to what Yeshua would do. We are saved only by what he did. All there is to inherit can only be inherited in and through him. Apart from him we have nothing and inherit nothing." My friend was astonished and clearly his spirit resonated to these ideas. He said: "What do you call this wonderful Messiah centered theology?" It is called Sola Christo! We must stress once again that it is only through the work of Yeshua that anyone can be saved. Apart from him the wrath of God abides on all fallen men. In him we are counted righteous because of his perfect obedience of the Torah and his complete payment of sin for all who believe. Abraham's natural children have no hope at all apart from Messiah. Through him alone all the promises of God are realized and apart from him we have nothing. This must always be our message.
Sola Fide - Faith Alone
Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6) The righteous man shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4).
One of the the most basic doctrines of the Reformation was a rediscovery that we are saved only through faith - not through tradition, not through good deeds, not through rituals, only through faith. The Reformers, however were by no means antinomians. They saw a continuing relevance to the Moral Law, summarized in the Ten commandments, as a guide for our lives. Often today among believers there is a tension. Some seem to make salvation too cheap. Just pray a prayer and you are saved. Others, seeing the abuse of cheap grace, teach one can lose one's salvation. The Reformers did not hold to the doctrine of "Eternal Security," but neither did they believe one could loose one's salvation! How is this possible? They saw the Scriptures taught that when God saves us he also sanctifies us. Salvation is a "package deal." The same sovereign God who grants us faith also grants us repentance and has predestined us to good works in conformity Messiah, the Second Adam. Romans 8:29-30 states: "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified." God no more gives faith without repentance than one can give a child one side of a coin. Only through faith do we receive salvation, however faith is not alone. True believers persevere in the faith. But the only merit in the whole process is the merit of the Messiah. His sacrifice for sin legally secured the salvation of all who trust in him. Justification has its ground solely in the righteous life and atoning death of Messiah. Nothing can be added to our justification before God. So the Reformers were clear about salvation through faith alone, but they also recognized that, if one is truly saved, one lives for the Lord, imperfectly, true, but there is a new direction in one's life towards conformity to the image of the Messiah. They recognized the value of the Moral Law as a standard and guide in life, but also were unabashedly clear in preaching that the Law cannot save. This is the way we must proclaim the Good News to the Jewish community. We must avoid cheap grace and we also must also radically avoid any principle of merit on our part. How we need to recover the crystal clear preaching of salvation through faith alone in the work of Messiah alone!
Sola Gratia - Grace Alone
When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Messiah Jesus our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)
In the Torah is it repeatedly stressed that anyone who does any work on Yom Kippur would be cut off from his people. Why? Because the Day of Atonement, when atonement was made for Israel, was the Sabbath of Sabbaths. It was a picture of the redemption that would be provided by God through the atoning Sacrifice of Messiah. Sabbath rest is a picture of Grace alone. We can add no good works of our own to what Messiah did, as far as our standing before God and as far as salvation is concerned. We are saved by grace alone through faith. We have no merit apart from the merit of Messiah. We have no righteousness apart from the righteousness of Messiah counted in our behalf. This also means that the faith itself is a gift from God. How liberating this truth is! We ultimately depend upon God for our salvation, and for the salvation of the Jewish people! It is all up to him. It is all in his hands. It is not something we can take any credit for. No one can save himself or anyone else, for that matter. Only God can save, and that by grace alone. If we truly understand this truth there is no basis for human pride. Left to ourselves we are totally depraved, that is, evil has tainted every part of our nature. We are spiritually dead and unable and unwilling to believe. God in his mercy unconditionally elects those who will be saved. Messiah's sacrifice secures the salvation of his people and God will complete the work he begins in his people. A renewed sense the truth of the doctrine of Grace Alone gives us confidence, hope, boldness, freedom and humility in sharing the message of Messiah. A renewed understanding of Grace Alone is essential for revival.
Soli Deo Gloria - Glory be to God Alone
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31) For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen. (Romans 11:36)
God is the supreme king to whom all glory goes and for whom all life is lived. This is the essence of the Ceremonial Law. The Mosaic sacred signs and symbols had this as their deeper spiritual meaning. Circumcision symbolized a heart purified and devoted to God's glory. The dietary laws, the tzitsit (fringes) on garments, the mezuzzah on doorpost all were to remind the Israelite to glorify God in all areas of life. All of life is to be lived for God's glory. There is no division between the sacred and the secular. Everything belongs to God and is to be sanctified. Israel was also reminded in the Mosaic ceremonies that they were redeemed by God's power alone. The Passover was accomplished by God, not man. All glory goes to him in all things. How often we attempt to build our own kingdoms to our own glory! How easily we seek to bring glory to ourselves through what we do. The only truly pure motivation for bringing the good news to the Jewish people must be God's glory. It is out of a desire to see God glorified that we pray and work toward a restoration of the Jewish people to faith. And we know only God is able to restore Abraham's natural descendants to the family of faith. No method, no evangelistic program, no gimmick, no sort of pressure, emotional or otherwise, is able to bring people to true faith. God is the one who will graft in again the natural branches back into the olive tree of the Israel of faith. All glory goes to God in this as well.
In the five "Solas" we have a beginning. These doctrines of grace must be our foundation, but a New Reformation in Jewish ministry must go further still. In future articles we will explore how other important Reformation principles, such as the Regulative Principle of Worship, the Covenant of Grace, the Continuity of the Covenants, the Interpretation of Scripture by Scripture, and the Unity of the Word of God, are extremely important in Jewish ministry. There is much to do indeed, but God is able! Let us pray he brings the needed reformation that we may see the renewal and revival among the Jewish people that we hope for.
It is our hope and vision that CHAIM can serve some small role in helping to advance revival and renewal in Jewish ministry through bringing this perspective. There can be no revival without reformation and return to the Word of God. May the Holy One of Israel grant us hearts and minds that seek his truth.
If eternal life is conditioned on surrender, obedience, commitment, repentance, then as much as these are required, so as much as the reception of eternal life depends on self.
If a person believes, as MacArthur and company, that commitment of life and obedience are required for salvation, so much that they are taking their eyes off of Jesus and putting them on self.
Can anyone understand logic?”
Indeed we can, which is why we understand Antonio’s illogicality as well.
To begin with, we are putting our faith in a Jesus who demands repentance as well as faith, and who tells us that you can’t be a true disciple unless you abide in his word and take up your cross.
So the difference is that we are keeping our eyes on the Jesus of the Gospels, while Antonio, like Marcion before him, is putting his eyes on half a Jesus—a truncated Jesus. Half a Jesus can’t save you.
Unlike Antonio, we also believe in a Risen Lord who sent the Holy Spirit to renew his people and keep them in the faith (Jn 14-17; Eph 1).
For Antonio, Christ is still nailed to the cross. The Christ whom he believes in never came down from the cross. That’s the effect of Antonio’s “gospel.”
But a Calvinist believes, not only in Christ crucified, but in a Risen Lord who ascended to heaven and sits at the right hand of God, from where he is able to send forth his Spirit to renew his people.
“I thought I was being rational and logical.”
Yes, and a lunatic also thinks that he alone is sane while everyone else is crazy.
“Faith only in Jesus is a different gospel
faith PLUS (you add here whatever, surrender, commitment, repentance, obedience, etc!)
Why do you think that Paul was so blisteringly emphatic about false gospels in gal 1?”
Notice how Antonio puts words in the mouth
of St. Paul. Notice his blatant Scripture twisting.
What Paul is so “blisteringly emphatic” about in the letter to the Galatians is not “salvation” by faith alone, but “justification” by faith alone.
Antonio persistently, willfully, and wickedly bends and stretches what Paul taught to make him teach something he didn’t teach.
“People are not saved by belief in false gospels.”
That’s true. And that’s bad new for Antonio.
“Calvinism gives lip service to "faith alone in Christ alone", to the solas.”
The soli are Reformation slogans with a very specific historical import. None of the Protestant Reformers understood their own slogans the way Antonio redefines them. None of the Protestant Reformers adhered to his Sandemanian, antinomian theology.
It is Antonio who pays lip service to historical formulations by quoting them contrary to original intent.
And notice how selective he is in quoting the Reformation soli. We are saved by faith alone in Christ alone—through grace alone.
Antonio’s problem, from start to finish, has been his mutilated concept of grace, as if saving grace is a coat of paint that covers the outside of sin, but leave the inside as maggot-ridden as ever.
Antonio’s gospel is the gospel of the Pharisees. Antonio’s gospel is the whitewashed sepulcher, pretty on the outside, wormy on the inside (Mt 23:27).
A Calvinist, by contrast, appreciates the fact that saving grace works on the inside as well as the outside. Grace is indivisible.
“But how do they preach the gospel? Faith alone in Christ alone is the farthest thing in their mind when they preach their "gospel":
“This is not faith alone! This is faith PLUS.
You all may think that this is fine and dandy, but Paul did not.”
Faith alone for what? Sufficient for what? Faith alone for justification. Yes. That’s what Paul taught.
Likewise, what kind of faith? Is saving faith regenerate faith, or unregenerate faith?
You might as well say that Calvinism subscribes to faith plus grace, or faith plus the Holy Spirit.
“What is a false gospel if it is not the "faith plus" messages of Roman Catholicism, Calvinism, and Arminianism.”
One wonders if Antonio is really that ignorant. I wouldn’t put it past him.
Roman Catholicism believes in meritorious works. Supererogatory works. Calvinism does not.
As to Arminianism, Antonio’s doctrine of saving faith is identical to Arminian theology.
Both believe that freewill makes it possible for the unregenerate to exercise saving faith in Christ.
By contrast, Calvinism has this quaint idea that, in order to be saved, you must be born again. If memory serves, there’s even a verse of Scripture that says something about that. Connects it with the work of the Holy Spirit. Sound familiar?
Antonio’s gospel is a faith-minus gospel: faith minus grace, faith minus the Holy Spirit, faith minus the new birth, faith minus God the Father in election.
For Antonio, these are just accessories—or worse. As I’ve said before, Antonio is a function Unitarian.
“The "faith plus" message of the Lordship Salvationist is not the only facet of their false gospel. Perseverance theology, when preached front-loading the gospel makes the gospel false as well.”
No, we’re not redefining faith. We’re not front-loading faith. We’re not cramming sanctification into faith.
It isn’t the object of faith that’s at issue here, but the source of faith. Is the Holy Spirit the author of saving faith?
If so, then the same Holy Spirit who ingenerates saving faith will also sanctify and preserve the regenerate.
In Antonio’s false gospel, a dead tree can bear living fruit.
In Reformed theology, the dead tree must be revived by the Holy Spirit before it can produce the first-fruits of saving faith, followed by good works.
“Perseverance theology destroys the gospel.
‘Only those who persevere until the end will be saved’
This is a false gospel.”
So when Jesus said that “whoever endures to the end will be saved” (Mt 10:22; cf. 24:13), he was preaching a false gospel.
In Antonio’s book, if you want to hear the true Gospel, take your eyes of Jesus and look at Antonio instead.
In Antonio’s book, Jesus was a false prophet.
Speaking for myself, I’d rather be in Jesus’ company than Antonio’s. But that’s just my damnable preference.
These things all NECESSARILY make salvation contingent upon man's actions and not FULLY on Christ alone through faith alone in Him.”
No, they make man’s salvation contingent upon the action of the Holy Spirit.
“I can't believe that no one can see this.”
That’s because, unlike Antonio, we haven’t gouged out our eyes.
“If I preach:
‘To be saved you must surrender your life to Jesus, follow Him, turn from your sins, and persevere until the end.’
I am making eternal life CONTINGENT ON SELF and not on Christ.
How is this so difficult to understand?”
Here’s a novel idea for Antonio: how about putting your faith alone in Christ alone…in the actual teaching of Christ?
You see, it’s because a Calvinist believes in faith alone in Christ alone that he puts his faith in the gospel of Christ as Christ himself taught it, and authorized his Apostles to teach it:
“Whoever endures to the end will be saved” (Mt 10:22; cf. 24:13).
“Whoever confesses me before men, I will confess before my Father…but whoever denies me before men, I will deny before my Father” (10:32-33).
“Whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow me isn’t worthy of me” (10:38).
“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples” (Jn 8:31).
“Whoever abides in me and I in him bears much fruit, for without me you can do nothing. If anyone doesn’t abide in me, he is thrown away like branches that are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (15:5-6).
“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized everyone one of you n the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:28).
“Repent therefore and turn again, so that your sins may be blotted out” (3:19).
“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’; but doesn’t keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him…whoever says he abides in him ought also to walk in the way he himself did.” (1 Jn 2:3-6).
But when passages like this are quoted to him, Antonio, parroting Zane Hodges, chooses to “import” all kinds of “provisos” and “caveats” into the “to the beautiful and simple expressions of the Gospel offer that are given in the Bible.”
For all his talk of faith alone, Antonio’s problem is his fundamental lack of faith in God’s grace over all spheres of the believer’s life, including the condition of his heart.
Antonio doesn’t believe in all the promises of God. He only believes in those promises which, taking in isolation, offer him a shortcut to the assurance of salvation.
Antonio is a Marcionite. So is Zane Hodges, and Charles Ryrie, and R. T. Kendall.
Quote: Gene, let's look at the clear wording of the 1963 and 2000 Baptist Faith and Message dealing with this subject:
The statement is describing the church in glory, not a hypothetical, invisible,
"The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of
Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages." The key phrase
is "all the ages." This includes past, present, and future ages. Obviously,
the future is not yet here, and thus this church is not yet in existence.
universal church of the present era. The redeemed of the future are not yet in
existence, and the church described as including all the redeemed of all the
ages is not yet in existence.
a. All the ages includes this one, Theo. That church certainly does exist now. If Christ returns in the next five minutes it exists now. The term "universal" church refers to all the elect in any given age at any level. You're conflating "universal church" with "church militant." This is a category error.
b. If you wish to interpret that line of the 2000 BFM, then it should be interpreted in its own historical context and by its author's intent.
c. The BFM did not contain this statement until 1963. At the time the SBC was formed the churches affirmed the Philadelphia Confession. It reads:
1. The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internalI'd add that not all Southern Baptists affirm the 2000 BFM. Many affirm the 63. Many affirm the LCBF2 or LCBF1. Others affirm the New Hampshire Confession or even the BFM 25. The BFM 2000 is approved for use by the churches and the denominational agencies, it is not a universal standard for the churches.
work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the
whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one,
under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him
that filleth all in all. (Heb. 12:23; Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:10, 22, 23, 5:23, 27,
d.. That context for the statement is Dr. Hershel Hobbs. Dr. Hobbs did NOT affirm Carroll's view of the "glory" church. To read that back into the BFM from 1963 and then 2000 you need to read it by what the author himself meant. In the Convention that year, when McAllen confronted him with Pendleton's statements in Convention and askd him about the use of the term "the redeemed of all ages", he stated simply, according to the Convention minutes, "Pendleton refers to the church in aggregate." So you can cry about it all you want, but Hobbs, not Carroll, is the lens through which to read this statement, and Hobbs believed as Dr. Dagg did. This is "the church in aggregate" period. It is not a reference to the "glory" church that B.H. Carroll articulated. It is a simple statement to which both those of us that affirm the universal church can agree and those like you who disaffirm it can agree. You may interpret it your way, and I may interpret it in my way. Hobbs wrote that confession so that different parties could agree to these statement and come at them with different perspectives. It is well known that the BFM is such a document. You are preseing it in a direction it is not intended to be pressed. When Hobbs made that comment, there was no more discussion and the article was passed unanimously. You'd be hard pressed to find a statement from the framers of the BFM 2000 that assert what you are asserting here.
The church in glory is a different concept from the "invisible, universalIn B.H. Carroll, not in Dagg. We're discussing Dagg, not Carroll. If you wish to discuss Carroll, go for it on your own blog.
The "invisible, universal church" is usually a reference to all Christians on earth at a particular point in time. This would leave out redeemed infants dying in infancy.
I have before me a text that reads very specifically that the invisible church is simply the fellowship of all genuine believers and can apply to any level, from the regenerate people in a local church to the regenerate people on at 2:28pm Sept. 24, 1040 or to the church at the end of the age as Carroll says in Baptist Church Polity on page 8. That same text points us to Hebrews and the joint worship of the saints on earth and in heaven at any given time the church on earth worships.
There is a distinction to be drawn between the church as we humans see it and as
God alone can see it. This is the historic distinction between the “visible
church” and the “invisible church.” Invisible means, not that we can see no sign
of its presence, but that we cannot know (as God, the heart-reader, knows, 2
Tim. 2:19) which of those baptized, professing members of the church as an
organized institution are inwardly regenerate and thus belong to the church as a
spiritual fellowship of sinners loving their Savior. Jesus taught that in the
organized church there would always be people who thought they were Christians
and passed as Christians, some indeed becoming ministers, but who were not
renewed in heart and would therefore be exposed and rejected at the Judgment
(Matt. 7:15-27; 13:24-30, 36-43, 47-50; 25:1-46). The “visible-invisible”
distinction is drawn to take account of this. It is not that there are two
churches but that the visible community regularly contains imitation Christians
whom God knows not to be real (and who could know this for themselves if they
would, 2 Cor. 13:5). (JI Packer Concise Theology: A Guide To Historic Christian Beliefs )
The invisible Church of Christ is made up of all those who will be saved (the elect) from the foundation of the world until the return of Jesus Christ. We are all part of this invisible Church of Christ if we are saved. As the Westminster Confession of Faith defines the “invisible church” in contrast to the “visible church”:
“The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all. (25.1) (Charles Biggs, "Forsaking Our Mother": Reclaiming Calvin's View of the Visible Church of Christ)
The "invisible, universal church" does not include physically dead people from the past or people from the future who do not yet exist.
The invisible, universal church includes all the elect. You are directly contradicted here by Wayne Grudem, "In speaking of the church as invisible the author of Hebrews speaks of the assembly (literally "chuch") of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven" (Heb. 12:23), and says that present day Christians join with that assembly in worship.
The church in glory is a different concept from the "invisible, universal church."
Dr. Dagg deals with the term "invisible church"
But the saints above and the saints below, make only one communion, one church;As to infants dying in infancy, this still comports with Dr. Dagg on this issue, since they would enter through sovereign regeneration. Dr Dagg will, in point of fact, discuss the union between the church triumphant and the church militant. Those of us here constitute the visible portion of the universal church. This is the church militant. Those who are dead now and in heaven are the church triumphant.
and theologians, when they mean to distinguish these two parts of the one
whole from each other, are accustomed to call them the church militant and
the church triumphant. By the church invisible, they mean all true
Christians; and by the church visible, all those who profess the true
religion. The invisible consists wholly of those who are sons of light;
and the visible includes sons of light and sons of darkness in one
community. We have seen that Christ does not recognise mere professors as
his disciples, and that he has taught us not so to recognise them. A
universal church, therefore, which consists of all who profess the true
religion, is a body which Christ does not own. To be visible saints, a holy
life must be superadded to a profession of the true religion; and they who
do not exhibit the light of a holy life, whatever their professions may be,
have no scriptural claim to be considered members of Christ'a church.
Without a doctrine of the universal church, you make the Romanist error. Local churches, despite Baptist ecclesiology, are composed of regenerate and unregenerate persons.
Regeneration admits one to the universal chuch.
It is not the door into the spiritual universal church; for men enter this
by regeneration, and are, therefore, members of it before they are fit subjects
for baptism. It is not the door into a local church; for, though it is a
prerequisite to membership, men may be baptized, and remain unconnected with any
Baptism admits you to the local church, but baptism, unless you affirm baptismal regeneration, does not guarantee you are regenerate. Ergo, local churches are visible churches, but the universal church militant is visible, but only to God, for only He knows of a certainty who is regenerate, and not all regenerate persons are, from the credo-baptist perspective part of visible, organized churches. The "invisible universal church" is comprised of the regenerate church militant and the church triumphant at any point in history.
Over at Jason Sampler's place, we find some interesting comments on Dr. Dagg:
First of all, I'd like to note that the whole of chapter 3 of Dagg is taken up explicating the doctrine of the universal church using Theodosia Ernest as his foil. I find it rather ironic that the one who denied the validity of the church universal at one blog would then use Dagg, who contradicts his own doctrine to support his doctrine.
Theo has now decided to use Dr. Dagg (thus the above comment by me) He writes:
"Admission to membership belongs to churches; but admission to baptism belongs
properly to the ministry. A single minister has the right to receive to baptism,
on his own responsibility; as is clear from the baptism of the eunoch by Philip,
when alone. But when a minister is officiating as pastor of a church, it is
expedient that they should unite their counsels in judging of a candidate's
qualifications; but the pastor ought to remember, that the responsibility of
receiving to baptism is properly his. The superior knowledge which he is
supposed to possess, and his office as the shepherd of the flock, and the
priority of baptism to church membership, all combine to render it necessary
that he first and chiefly should meet this responsibility, and act upon it in
fear of the Lord."
Yes, he does write that and he further devotes chapter 12 to these issues, the chapter from which you quoted.
"From the investigations in the preceding part of this work, we have
learned that a candidate has no right to baptize himself, or select his own
administrator, without regard to his being duly qualified according to the
divine will. The proper administrators are persons called of God to the
ministerial office, and introduced into it according to the order established by
the apostles. To such persons the candidate was bound to apply; and, if he
received the ordinance from any other, it was as if he had selected the
administrator at his own will, or had immersed himself. . . . Because when
church order has been destroyed, something unusual may be done to restore it, we
are not, on this account, justified in neglecting the regular order when it does
exist. Every church is bound to respect this order, and a candidate who has
failed to respect it in a former baptism, may, with a good conscience, proceed
anew to obey the Lord's command, in exact conformity to the divine requirement.
. . . By a wise provision the social tendency of Christianity is shown at the
very beginning of the Christian profession. The candidate cannot obey alone, but
he must seek an administrator to unite with him in the act of obedience, and by
this arrangement Christian fellowship begins with Christian profession. But that
two may walk together in this act of obedience, it is necessary that they should
be agreed. If the administrator and candidate differ widely in their views
respecting the nature and design of the ordinance, they cannot have fellowship
with each other in the service."
--This invites scrutiny of what was previous stated, does it not? Prior to the section you quoted, we find this:
With respect to rebaptism:
.First, the ones of a differing conclusion, for Dagg are the Landmarks, for Theodosia Ernest is his foil in Chapter 3, and he goes to great lengths to contradict it. I have before me a copy of Baptist Theologians by Dockery and George and they agree. Second, what does he say here...differences are to be T O L E R A T E D .
It has sometimes happened, that ministers have differed in their views; and a
candidate, whom one minister has refused to rebaptize, has been rebaptized by
another. In such cases, no breach of fellowship between the ministers occurs;
nor ought it to be allowed. In like manner, a difference of opinion may exist
between churches; and one church may admit without rebaptism, when another
church would require it. This difference should not disturb the kind intercourse
between the churches. But if the individual who has been received without
rebaptism, should seek to remove his membership to the church that deems
rebaptism necessary, the latter church has authority, as an independent body, to
reject him. --So, this is a local church issue and the several churches are free
to differ accordingly. No one church can tell another what its baptismal
practices shall be. Though some difference of opinion on these questions does
exist, and ought to be tolerated, yet every one should strive to learn his duty
respecting them, by a diligent study of the Holy Scriptures. The directions of
the inspired word are clear, so long as men keep in the prescribed way; but when
they have wandered from it, no surprise should be felt if the method of return
is not so clearly pointed out. Hence it arises that men who interpret the
express precepts of Christ alike, may, in applying them to perplexing cases,
differ in their judgment. In what follows I shall give my views, with deference
to those whose investigations have led them to a different conclusion.
What is the criterion for baptism according to Dagg?
Baptism was designed to be the ceremony of Christian profession. If, in the
first baptism, the candidate believed himself to be a Christian, and received
baptism on a credible profession of faith in Christ, no higher qualification can
be obtained for a second baptism. They to whom the administration of the ritehas
been committed, do not possess the power to search the heart. A credible
profession of faith, sincerely made, is all that fallible men can expect; and,
since the ordinance has been committed to fallible men, it is duly administered
on sincere and credible profession. Some confirmation of this view may be
derived from the case of Simon the sorcerer. Though baptized on profession of
faith, it was afterwards discovered that his heart was not right in the sight of
God. On making the discovery, Peter did not command him to repent and be
baptized, as he commanded the unbaptized on the day of Pentecost: but his
address was, "Repent, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be
---This is what we look to for baptism. The discussion on the IMB policies has to do with indexing baptism to eternal security. These missions candidates are already credo-baptized. For Dr. Dagg, a credible profession of faith alone is what is necessary for valid baptism, not adherence to a full scope of doctrines. This is very, very clear for him, and he very carefully notes that all Baptist local churches are full of both regenerate and baptized and unregenerate and baptized persons, so baptism doesn't guarantee orthodoxy, much less regeneracy. This is just an assumption we make based on that profession.
If, in the first baptism, the candidate believed himself to be aDr. Dagg did not deny that Arminians are regenerate. Why then, if he believed a credible profession of faith is necessary for baptism, would anybody believe he would recommend that somebody credobaptized in a Free Will Baptist or Assemblies of God church that disaffirmed eternal security be rebaptized? That wouldn't make sense. Dr. Dagg was many things, a hyper-Calvinist was not one of them. If all the regenerate constitute the universal and visible church (Chapter 3 of his Manual), and he is not a hyper-Calvinist, then what possible logic can you pull from Dr. Dagg that would infer he would support the rebaptism of persons coming to us from Free Will Baptist churches or the Assemblies of God?
Christian, and received baptism on a credible profession of faith in Christ, no
higher qualification can be obtained for a second baptism..
I'd add that Dr. Dagg believed in the perseverance of the saints not the version of eternal security that is so popular in a great many of our churches today. If one is going to invoke Dr. Dagg to support the IMB policies, then let him invoke what Dr. Dagg believed about that issue as well. Why say "eternal security' and not "perseverance of the saints?" One of those says you can bear no fruit and apostatize and still be counted as a true convert, so how exactly is "eternal security" in that form in any way reflected in baptism? Speaking for myself, that's not the version I want to see IMB candidates affirm, and if I'm going to be told by the IMB to look back at another church's doctrine for a person in my church, then that's a doctrine I reject, so why should I say that that doctrine is acceptable and disaffirmation of it is not? To be blunt, I reject "eternal security," and i reject "conditional security." I believe in perseverance of the saints.
A local church is to make the evaluation. The church cannot throw the question fully on the candidate or the administrator. Ministers have differed in their views on this. Ergo, there is variance in how this is done. The differences should not disturb the "kind intercourse" between the churches. One church can reject the member not rebaptized and require them to do so if they wish to join with them. However, they are not OBLIGATED, to do so. Notice the appeal to the local church itself. One looks in vain for anything that says that an ecclesiastical committee like a board of trustees can dictate baptismal practice and who to accept and not accept or baptize and rebaptize to a local church.
So, prior to the section from Chapter 12 quoted, we find that no one church can dicate policy on this to another, whatever its position might be, but the interesting thing here is that Dagg does not index eternal security to baptism nor does he say that churches are under obligation to agree with each other with respect to rebaptisms. He does not reject immersions by paedobaptists completely. He would reject *some* based on certain conditions, but not *all*, and this is for the local church to decide and variances are allowable between them.
In the very section quoted Dr. Dagg stops short of saying the candidate MUST be rebaptized. He says that it is up to the local church to decide. He would advise them to do so, from the look of his statements, but he would not mandate that a man be rebaptized. I certainly don't believe he would rebaptize a man who came from a general Baptist church. I'd ask where there is ever any writing to that effect within Southern Baptist history and theology? I don't think so.
Notice also these words:
Some Pedobaptist ministers will administer immersionSome, notice he does not say ALL. He says some, and it is this "some" about which he speaks. Take the PCA for example. In the Pacific NW, I am informed by a good friend who is a PCA Teaching Elder that, because there are no Reformed Baptist churches in the area, a great many have come into his church. Those that desire baptism, he baptizes accordingly, according to our doctrine. He does this affirming that the Westminster Confession and the 2LCBF differ, but, because he considers a Baptists convinction about his baptism strongly and knows they have no Baptist church which they believe themselves able to attend, he will gladly and happily help this brother obey the conclusions that he has reached about baptism. Would he, then qualify in this "some?" He is not "reluctant" at all.
reluctantly, believing it to be an ineligible mode of baptism..."
Then he says: .
Pedobaptist ministers do not, in general, administer the rite as an emblem ofNot all. Moreover, I have before me a Presbyterian theology text (Reymond)that says it rejects appealing to the burial and resurrection of Christ in baptism with respect to the mode (immersion itself) because that is rightly found in the Lord's Supper, but it is the administration of the new covenant that is symbolized in baptism. While Dr. Dagg rightly rejects pouring, he does say that rebaptism bec. of previous pouring is not rightly called "baptism." Also, in Presbyterian theologies, you find that baptism seen as an administration of the covenant of grace, a covenant that is directly dependent on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for its administration. So, they do, in point of fact, include the cross and the (empty) tomb in the administration of baptism, and it certainly represents that when they baptize adults who are unbaptized after they have been converted.
Christ's burial and resurrection.Note, he says "in general."
It is high time that Presbyterians and Baptists quit talking past each other. Dr. Dagg, in my opinion, is mistaken, or his words apply to a different age, and Covenant Theology itself has been revised in the last century anyway. I'd add the WCF speaks of regeneration, ingrafting into Christ, remission of sins, and walking in newness of life. Before writing this, I checked several resources and found Presyberians contradicting what Dr. Dagg here says about them not viewing baptism as an emblem of Christ's resurrection and burial. They view it that way with respect to the administration of the covenant in a particular manner, but they apply to all, because they view children as included in the covenant. This is massively inconsistent to do this if you believe in effacious grace in the opinion of Baptists, and that is in a nutshell, why Reformed Baptists disagree with them.
Since when does the IMB board constitute a local church? Answer: It does not. According to the explication of the BFM 2000 by Southern Seminary's own faculty:
Boards and conventions are not the church; they are merely means to accomplish
the church’s mission. There is no Southern Baptist Church or Kentucky Baptist
Church. Conventions are the creation of the churches and subject to them. They
are large committees appointed by the churches.
Can the IMB reject the baptism of a local church that is recommending a baptized candidate for missions if the church has already declared their baptism valid? Can it dictate rebaptism to a local church, if the Board is not a local church? I think not.
Furthermore, the issue here isn't baptism for local church membership. The policy is not being applied to all church members . The issue here is about rebaptism not for church membership but for service on the mission field, the discharge of the duties of ministry, fulfillment of a call to serve and preach the gospel by a specfic person. Pointing to what Dagg says about baptism and rebaptism with respect for church membership is somewhat relevant, but not all that you need to examine. I don't think you'll find support for the IMB policies in Dagg when you consider that portion of Dagg. Baptism in the policy is being indexed to eternal security for missions candidates alone, not all church members. Thus, what Dr. Dagg says about the call to ministry is germaine to the issue.
Dr. Dagg clearly and unequivocably indexes a person's call to service not to his baptism, but to REGENERATION.
In Chapter III. we have investigated the Scripture doctrine concerning the
church universal. If we have not mistaken the divine teaching on the subject,
every man who is born of the Spirit is a member of this church. Regeneration,
not baptism, introduces him into it. The dogma that baptism initiates into
thechurch, and that those who are not baptized are not church-members, even if
they are Christians, denies the existence of this spiritual church, and
substitutes for it the visible church catholic of theologians. The evils
resulting from this unscriptural substitution, have been shown on pp. 132, 133.
They are sufficient to deter us from an inconsiderate admission of the dogma
from which they proceed. Later he writes:The lawfulness of inviting Pedobaptist
preachers into the pulpit, has been defended on the ground that any Christian
has the right to talk of Christ and his great salvation. Our Landmark brethren
admit that all have a right to make known the gospel privately, but deny that
any have the right to proclaim it publicly, except those who have been regularly
inducted into the ministerial office. The distinction between talking of Christ
privately and proclaiming his gospel publicly, appears to me to respect
obligation rather than right. If a Christian has a right to tell of Christ to a
fellow man who sits by his side, or walks in the highway with him, he has the
same right to address two in like manner, and, so far as I can see, he has an
equal right to address ten, a hundred, or a thousand. The obligation to exercise
this right is limited only by his ability to do good, and the opportunity which
Providence presents of using such talents as he possesses to the glory of God
and the benefit of immortal souls. A divine call to the work of the ministry
being always accompanied with qualifications for public usefulness, creates
obligation rather than confers right, as wealth creates obligation rather than
confers right, to relieve the poor.
Now, to defend the lawfulness of inviting a Pedobaptist preacher into the
pulpit, it has been deemed sufficient to maintain that the person so invited has
a right to talk of Christ to perishing men, and recommend his salvation to their
acceptance. The argument appears to me to be valid; but I have chosen to take
higher ground, and to maintain that many Pedobaptist ministers give convincing
proof that the Holy Spirit has called and qualified them to preach the gospel,
and that it is therefore not only their right, but their duty, to fulfil the
ministry which God has committed to them. The Landmark inquires for the
authority on which Pedobaptist preachers act. "If Pedobaptist societies are not
churches of Christ, whence do their ministers derive their authority to preach?
Is there any scriptural authority to preach which does not come through a church
of Christ? And if Pedobaptist ministers are not in Christian churches, have they
any right to preach? that is to say, have they any authority according to the
gospel? They are doubtless authorized by the forms and regulations of their
respective societies. But do they act under evangelical authority? It is
perfectly evident to the writer,that they do not."(23) We answer, that, if the
Holy Spirit has qualified men to preach the gospel, they preach it with divine
authority. The Holy Spirit, who divides to every man severally as he will, does
not give the necessary qualifications for the gospel ministry, without designing
that they shall be used; and since he only can give these qualifications, we are
sure that every man who possesses them, is bound, by the authority of God, to
use them to the end for which they are bestowed. We arrive at this conclusion,
aside from all reasoning about ceremonies and churches; and the proof brings
irresistible conviction. Here is a landmark of truth, which must not be
deserted, however much we may be perplexed with reasonings about outward forms.
The policies are not simply about indexing baptism to eternal security for church membership. They are indexing eternal security to baptism then indexing this to service on the mission field. If this was solely about indexing baptism and eternal security, they would be saying that all church members should be rebaptized, period. They do not. The policy is aimed solely at missionaries. So, if you're going to invoke Dr. Dagg, then what he says about a man's call to service is very germaine here.
These candidates today have already received credobaptism and have been active in their recommending churches, where they are already members in good standing, which by definition means those churches have already received their baptisms as valid for upwards of 3 years!
What does Dr. Dagg say? He says the churches are free to vary as to whose baptisms they will accept in these difficult cases and that the intercourse of churches should not suffer. He says no church has the right to dictate its baptism policy to another church, and the explantion of the BFM 2000 SBTS faculty denies that the boards have any authority over local churches; ditto for the Convention, so I would ask where the IMB thinks it gets the power or the right to tell me who I need to rebaptize or not rebaptize if I and my church recommend a missionary to them?
Why are other church members exempt and only missionaries named? This makes the guidelines quite arbitrary, and it invites scrutiny as to why baptism in a church affirming eternal security, even if (a) the individual is already testifying to the board that they affirm Article V of the BFM and (b) the recommending church affirms the doctrine and has already accepted this missionary candidate's baptism.
This is extremely important. Dagg explicitly states contrary to the Landmarks, that (a) there is a universal church; (b) he used the word church to refer to local assemblies without regard to denominational distinctives , and (c) un-credobaptized ministers are to be recognized as true ministers of the gospel, though erring. He rejects infant baptism. When he addresses the question of the rebaptism of those baptized by paedobaptists, he says not that there is a uniform practice, but that differences should be tolerated and no one church may dictate to another how to answer difficult situations. He lays out certain guidelines, but stops short of declaring the churches must adhere to them or rebaptize any person or accept each others baptisms or anybody elses for that matter. In addition, both the administrator and the candidate must be willing. If the candidate is satisfied with his baptism and his church is satisfied with it, then it would seem that the best another church could do is either reject the person and tell him to go elsewhere, but they cannot ever tell the sending church, "rebaptize him." Moreover, the only paedobaptist immersions he recommends rejecting are those in which the baptismal candidate himself (not the receiving church if you read him carefully) realizes the minister was doing so "reluctantly" or without regard to the cross,burial,and resurrection. History has shown this was not always the case, and it is not always the case today. He also says that sprinkling must be repeated with an immersion but is not rightly called baptism.
Most importantly, and most relevant here is the fact that he was not a hyper-Calvinist, and he very specifically says that a credible profession of faith is what is necessary for a candidate's baptism to be valid. How can any right thinking individual use Dr. Dagg to assert that he would approve of the new policy when he was not a hyper-Calvinist? Will you seriously argue that after saying that other ministers are to be considered true ministers and other churches are true churches and all the while not affirming only Calvinists are Christians Dr. Dagg would then say a person should be rebaptized (for service on the mission field) if they came from a Free Will Baptist Church? That would require that a person coming from said church not be able to give a credible profession and those in that church not be giving a credible profession and not be a true church, a premise he denies.
Most of all, Dr. Dagg says:
"Because we differ from other professors in our faith and practice
respecting the externals of religiion, we are under a constant temptation to
make too much account of these external peculiarities. Against this temptation,
we should ever struggle. If we magnify ceremonly unduly, we abandon our
principles, and cease to fulfill the mission to which the Head of the church has
assigned us." Treatise on Church Order 301-302.
Having said that, there are Baptists who connected eternal security to the validity of baptism.
Ben Stratton chimes in:
In J.R. Graves' book Trilemma, he has a chapter on why Free Will
Baptist immersions should be rejected. His first sentence deals with the eternal
This actually worth noting. R.L. Vaughn notes, however, that those chapters appear in the 1881 edition, not the original edition from 1861. I think this is an important point, as Graves had a stroke in 1883 or 84, and, as it turns out Graves was not a very pleasant person when it came to his Landmarkism.
Dr. Graves, in 1858 was subject to a church trial at FBC Nashville, in which he was found guilty of slandering RBC Howell, the pastor; seeking to divide the church; using The Baptist to attack other Baptist leaders, publishing "sundry foul and atrocious libels," and uttering falsehoods in 9 specifications. He was placed under the discipline of the church and excluded from it. When the verdict was rendered, he and 46 of his followers at FBC Nashville declared that RBC Howell and the rest of FBC Nashville were not a true church and they decided to form their own church, which became known as State Street Baptist. At that time, they still called themselves the one true FBC Nashville.
In 1858, he gathered his supporters in Concord Association and, in so doing violated his own affirmation of local church autonomy in order to overturn FBC Nashville's decision. He also succeeded in persuading the TN Baptist Convention to not seat Howell's church at their state convention. At the 1859 Convention, the SBC itself seated both Grave's church, and despite Graves' efforts to persuade them to do otherwise, they seated FBC Nashville (Howell). On the first ballot, they reelected Howell as President. Then, they defeated the move by the Landmarks to dismantle the FMB.
This is not the behavior of a man, in my opinion, that says that he believed Free Will baptisms invalid were solely theological. This is the behavior of a man who would exclude those who disagreed with him about a great many thing, so his rejection of free willers is, to be blunt, an outgrowth of more than just theological convictions. Who of us would also declare RBC Howell's church wasn't a true church?
I'd add that the churches that formed the SBC in Augusta adhered to the Philadelphia Confession. What was the practice of Reformed Baptists at that time?
Even though B.H. Carroll became known as one of the 3 leaders of the anti-Whitsett movement, Carroll still opposed Hayden in Texas, and he did so on the basis that he believed Hayden's movement would only divide the BGCT and the SBC and directly threatened missions.
The SBC has consistently voted to facilitate the service of missionaries when Landmarkism in its forms has intersected with missions. Landmarkers have historically lost when their activity has intersected with the missions boards.