Thursday, May 27, 2021

Justification Apart From Baptism After The Time Of The Apostles

Gavin Ortlund recently posted a YouTube video about the common assertion that baptismal regeneration was universally accepted by the early church. Ortlund is a credobaptist, as I am. He discusses some of the relevant Biblical passages, whether infants should be baptized, and other issues, but not much is said about early views of the relation between baptism and justification. Some commenters beneath the video mentioned that they hadn't come across many discussions of such topics, presumably meaning that credobaptists rarely address the relevant patristic issues.

We've been discussing the issues here for many years, and I want to link some of those threads for anybody who's interested. See here for an overview of the history of belief in justification through faith alone between the time of the apostles and the Reformation. Read the comments section of the thread as well, since other relevant information is discussed there. Regarding how passages like John 3:5 supposedly were universally interpreted early on, see here. Timothy Kauffman has argued that the church fathers have often been misinterpreted on baptismal issues like these. I disagree with many of his conclusions, but you can go here for links to his material and my brief response to it. Ortlund often referred to 1 Peter 3:21 in his video. I don't think the salvation mentioned by Peter is justification, so the reference to salvation isn't even relevant, but what the passage goes on to say probably contradicts the concept of justification through baptism. See here for a discussion of that passage and other Biblical material. You can find many other posts about the relevant Biblical passages elsewhere in our archives. See here on Galatians 3:27, here on the idea that baptism isn't a work and the notion that it should be assumed to be present in passages that don't mention it, and so on.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The Significance Of Galatians 2:9

I've often discussed how unlikely it is that Galatians 2:9 would have been written if the earliest Christians had believed in a papacy. Not only is Galatians a good place to go when addressing the doctrine of justification, but it's also a good place to go when the papacy is being discussed. But notice that Galatians 2:9 is also significant in the context of the historicity of the gospels and Acts. Those documents portray Peter, James, and John as the most prominent members of the Twelve (for non-papal reasons), frequently putting Peter and John together, and Galatians 2:9 has Peter and John together as reputed pillars of the church (James the son of Zebedee being dead by then). And the prominence of James the brother of Jesus in Galatians 2:9 is what we'd expect from Acts. So is the placing of Paul and Barnabas together. There's other relevant material in Galatians as well, but 2:9 is a good passage to remember as one that concisely illustrates so much.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Overcoming The Temptation To Take Revenge

"Awe your heart, then, with the authority of God in the Scriptures; and when carnal reason says, 'My enemy deserves to be hated,' let conscience reply, 'But doth God deserve to be disobeyed?' 'Thus and thus hath he done, and so hath he wronged me'; 'But what hath God done that I should wrong him? If my enemy dares boldly to break the peace, shall I be so wicked as to break the precept? If he fears not to wrong me, shall not I fear to wrong God?' Thus let the fear of God restrain and calm your feelings….Set before your eyes the most eminent patterns of meekness and forgiveness, that you may feel the force of their example….Remember that by revenge you can only gratify a sinful passion, which by forgiveness you might conquer. Suppose that by revenge you might destroy one enemy; yet, by exercising the Christian's temper you might conquer three - your own lust, Satan's temptation, and your enemy's heart." (John Flavel, Keeping The Heart [Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 2019], 82, 84)