Thursday, May 04, 2023

The Advantages Of A Low Social Status

"I have a Bible that my parents gave me when I was 15. I look at it and how it’s marked up in red. I have memories of lying in my single bed with the trolley cars on the wallpaper on the wall above me, reading my Bible late at night, desperate because I couldn’t speak [well]. That was a great gift to me by the way, that God shut me down socially and cut me off from all fast tracks, all party tracks, and all cool-guy tracks. I was just shut down into my little world of going hard after God when I was 15. So I’ve been reading my Bible every day since I was 15, and it has been my life." (John Piper)

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Early Christian Conversions Independent Of Baptism

I want to discuss a neglected line of evidence against baptismal regeneration and baptismal justification. There's a widespread pattern of early Christian conversion accounts that involve significant changes in the individual's life prior to his baptism. Those changes range across a spectrum. Often, it can be shown to be probable that regeneration or justification occurred before baptism (e.g., through a reference to forgiveness of sins, through a reference to the reception of the Holy Spirit). But even if prebaptismal regeneration or justification is only possible rather than probable when a conversion account is considered in isolation, that account can have more evidential significance than is typically suggested, such as when it's considered in a larger context, like one of the ones I'll be discussing below.

More Discussion Of The Problems With The Eliakim Argument For The Papacy

John Cranman and Jeremy Kidd recently produced a video that makes a lot of good points about the argument for a papacy based on Eliakim in Isaiah 22. (I came across the video by means of a link from The Other Paul on Twitter.)

Sunday, April 30, 2023

How Baptismal Justification Conflicts With The Nearness Of Redemption

The concept that salvation is at hand, often expressed by the phrase "Today is the day of salvation", is common in scripture (2 Corinthians 6:2, Hebrews 4:7) and Evangelicalism. In the first of the two passages just cited, we see not just the term "today", but even "now". In Romans 10:8, Paul writes of the nearness of redemption in a context in which faith is mentioned as the means of justification without any reference to baptism or people sent to baptize (whereas people sent to proclaim the gospel message are mentioned). Tertullian advocated justification through baptism, but conceded that "in days gone by, there was salvation by means of bare faith, before the passion and resurrection of the Lord" (On Baptism, 13). Cyril of Jerusalem, one of the church fathers who used highly efficacious language both when discussing faith prior to baptism and when discussing baptism, commented, "Die to thy sins, and live to righteousness, live from this very day….Say not, How are my sins blotted out? I tell thee, By willing, by believing. What can be shorter than this?" (Catechetical Lectures, Prologue, 5, 8) A line of a popular hymn tells us, "The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives" (Fanny Crosby, "To God Be The Glory"). That theme doesn't go well with the concept of justification through baptism, however. Under baptismal justification, not only are we not justified the moment we believe, but we often have to wait until a baptism days, weeks, or months later.