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Paedocommunion Addendum

I did find a few quotes that seem to speak to the issue of paedocommunion. I think they demonstrate that paedocommunion is a departure from the historic Reformed faith.

The first is not explicitly about paedocommunion but it does show that there was a distinction between a baptized infant and someone entitled to the full membership in the church. This is from Jonathan Edwards’The Qualifications Requisite To A Complete Standing and Full Communion: An Humble Inquiry Into The Rules Of The Word Of God Concerning The Qualifications Requisite To A Complete Standing And Full Communion In The Visible Christian Church (my emphasis):

All that acknowledge infant baptism, allow infants, who are the proper subjects of baptism, and are baptized, to be in some sort members of the Christian church. Yet none suppose them to be members in such standing as to be the proper immediate subjects of all ecclesiastical ordinances and privileges. But that some further qualifications are requisite in order to this, to be obtained, either in a course of nature, or by education, or by divine grace.

The next comes from John Calvin in his Institutes, Book 4, Chapter 16, Paragraph 30 (my emphasis):

How, pray, can we require infants to commemorate any event of which they have no understanding; how require them “to show forth the Lord’s death,” of the nature and benefit of which they have no idea? Nothing of the kind is prescribed by baptism. Wherefore, there is the greatest difference between the two signs. This also we observe in similar signs under the old dispensation. Circumcision, which, as is well known, corresponds to our baptism, was intended for infants, but the passover, for which the Supper is substituted, did not admit all kinds of guests promiscuously, but was duly eaten only by those who were of an age sufficient to ask the meaning of it (Exod. 12:26). Had these men the least particle of soundness in their brain, would they be thus blind as to a matter so very clear and obvious?

My Problem with Paedocommunion

Part 3 in a series.

Paedocommunion (the act of giving baptized children and infants communion) is an outcropping of the Federal Vision . Since baptism places the individual in the covenant, unites them to Christ and makes them full members of the church, what reasons are there to not give them communion infant or not? Or so they reason (roughly).

In order to explain why I am saddened by paedocommunion, I need to explain my view of communion. The central text on the rite of the Lord’s Table is 1Co 11:23-31. Here Paul gives us the most detailed discussion of the ceremony and even then it isn’t as much as we might have hoped for. The phrase I feel is most important here is not “who eats and drinks without discerning the body” (v. 29) though it is important and will come in later. The phrase that I think says the most about the meal is “you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (v. 26).

There are then two time elements in the Lord’s Supper. There is the backward look in faith to Jesus’ death and a forward look to his return which also speaks of his resurrection. Communion is a gospel pronunciation.

One of the things the Reformed have said about Communion is that it is a “means of grace”. This means that God gives us grace when we take part in the sacrament. The 1689 London Baptist Confession speaks of it like this “The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls…by the administration of baptism and the Lord’s supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened” (BCF 14.1, similar to WFC 14.1). The grace that is communicated in the sacrament is not a “new grace” it simply feeds the grace we received that enabled us to believe to begin with.

There are, I suppose, a number of ways of formulating how this strengthening takes place. The way I understand it is that since the Lord’s Supper is a gospel proclamation in physical form, it communicates grace through the gospel. It isn’t subjective where the pastor has to do a really good devotional in order to get you emotional enough to receive the grace, the act of eating broken bread and poured out wine communicates beyond the devotion. It reaches your soul whether you’re paying attention or not.

The reason this won’t work with infants is that the saving faith that is to be fed is not necessarily present in them. Furthermore, for the meal to be the gospel communicated, the recipient must be aware of what the gospel is. I agree with Jonathan Edwards, this sacrament is not a converting sacrament. Conversion ordinarily takes place through the preached word.

At this point, the dire warning of verse 27 comes into play. Hebrews 10:29 pronounces a more severe punishment on those who trample under foot Christ’s blood and that is what would be happening. A person who does not believe the gospel eats judgement upon himself. Non-believers must not participate in the Lord’s Table but should use the time to reflect on what keeps them from closing with Christ, asking God to remove that impediment and to look forward to participating the next time.

So that is briefly my take on Communion. Notice that gospel is central to the rite and faith to apprehend this gospel pronouncement is essential.

There are a number of ways paedocommunionists respond. Passover was the precursor to the Lord’s Table and Passover was intended to include the children (Ex 12:26). They point to 1Co 10 and notice that all ate the same spiritual food which would necessarily include the children. Why then would be deny our covenant children this means of grace? Their response to 1Co 11:28, where self-examination prior to the meal is required, is likely to be that strictures such as these are not intended for children. For example, in 2Th 3:10 Paul commands “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” Clearly this did not apply to the infants.

These objections seem reasonable, as far as they go. But they are lacking. While Passover was a precursor to the Lord’s Table, it is significantly modulated in Christ. Jesus didn’t simply change Passover, he fulfilled it (1Co 5:7, 1Pt 1:19). Passover was the shadow and while we can look back at it for the significance of the Lord’s Table we shouldn’t look to it as regulative for the Table. How do we determine which elements come forward? Instead we are best to stick with what we are taught about the Lord’s Supper in its fullness rather than in its shadow.

First Corinthians 10:1-6 is an important text for understanding redemptive history and I think it helpful in the discussion of the relationship of the Old Covenant to the New. There baptism is not linked with circumcision but with a passage through water. The “spiritual food” in that passage is not Passover but the manna. Jesus is not eaten or drunk, he is a Rock that follows them and provides. It seems to me that what the water may signify is the Holy Spirit (see John 7:38-39) that Jesus gives to his church.

Finally, while it is clear that 2Th 3:10 cannot apply to children, it is not equally as clear that 1Co 11:28 does not. One must presuppose that children are supposed to be given Communion in order to read the 1Co 11 passage the same way as the 2Th 3 command. Otherwise, there are no commandments that apply to children! Furthermore, there are explicit commands for a man to provide for his family (1Ti 5:8) and so children are provided for in the commandment via their father.

So why is paedocommunion sad to me? First of all, because it seems to lessen the impact of what communion is. In other Christian traditions that place a high value on communion (Anglican, Lutheran, Roman Catholic) there is a process of confirmation and First Communion. In other words, they have a similarly high view of the sacraments and yet recognize that there is something about communion that bears waiting. When children who haven’t a clue what communion is about partake simply because they are “covenant children” any distinction between those who have examined themselves and who discern the body and those who have not is lost. Even among the adult members of the covenant community there is supposed to be this difference, an adult who is “unworthy” or who does not “discern the body” (however we define those terms) is not to partake. Yet the children are ushered to the table without this distinction. Some of the exegetical gymnastics paedocommunionists do to get around 1Co 11:28 make me dizzy.

Next, and more crucial in my mind, is that the fulfillment of “covenant seed” is diminished and confused. Consider this quote from Tim Gallant’s book Feed My Sheep:

[Discussing Matthew 19.13-14] Covenant children are the epitome of the kingdom of God. And the kingdom of God must be understood in new covenant terms. Children of believers are received by Christ as His, notwithstanding all the language elsewhere about the necessity of faith. Covenant children, to the very youngest, are partakers in what the new covenant is all about. If it is correct to say that conversion is necessary for salvation, it is also correct to say that conversion is precisely becoming like a covenant child (Mt. 18:3). (pp. 25-26)

There is a lot I could comment on in that paragraph that I am going to let it slide and instead make my point about covenant seed. I have a lot to say about it but in summary let me point to this:

1. All of the promise of the Davidic Covenant, especially his seed, was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Acts 13:23).
2. It is generally agreed that the Seed of Eve promised in Genesis 3:15 was a promise of the coming Christ.
3. Paul is explicit on this in Galatians 3:16, in at least one aspect, the seed of the Abrahamic is fulfilled in Christ.

The above observations show that the concept of covenant see can be fulfilled. It is my contention that the concept of “covenant seed” or “covenant children” was pointing toward and was therefore fulfilled in Christ. Yes, in God’s covenants there was a promise of and to covenant children but those covenants were all looking forward to a promised One who would come from amongst the covenant people of God. Now that Jesus has come, what other seed are we looking forward to?

Calling our children members of the covenant just because they are our children is to read the New Covenant as if it contained the unfulfilled promises of older covenants in their same unfulfilled form. Baptizing them makes the issue hazy but most Reformed paedobaptists don’t consider baptized children to be full participating members of all that the New Covenant (and therefore the Covenant of Grace) offers. They still look forward to a time when their children will offer signs of a genuine faith of their own. Admitting them to the Lord’s Table blurs the lines even worse.

Okay, this post is quite long enough.


Baptistic Covenant Theology

Rich Barcellos is an old friend of mine. He’s a pastor of a Reformed Baptist church in California and a busy editor of academic Reformed Baptist publications. Reformed Baptist Academic Press is publishing Covenant Theology from Adam to Christ. It is largely a text written by Nehemiah Cox, one of the framers of the 1689 London Baptist Confession, that demonstrates that Particular Baptists in England at that time were Covenant Theologians. Rich has also included a section by John Owen on Hebrews 8:6-13. I found that curious since Owen was not a Baptist. It turns out that Cox began working on something along those lines but abandoned it because he agreed with and appreciated what Owen had written.

The book is on a special pre-publication sale for 50% off. I’ve already ordered mine.

Another book I am interested in getting is The Excellent Benjamin Keach. Keach likewise was an author of the 1689 confession and there is a Baptistic Catechism (inaccurately?) attributed to him. I have been interested in Keach for a while for a number of reasons. He introduced hymn singing in the church. At that time amongst the Puritans, singing was only psalms and there were no instruments. Keach believed so much in the necessity of congregational hymn singing that he wrote some hymns himself. Another thing I find curious about him is that he added some chapters to the 1689. This amended confession came to America and was adopted in Philadelphia. He added a chapter on singing which I think was a good idea and one on laying on of hands that I feel was inappropriate.

There is a story of Keach’s son Elias being converted under his own preaching!

Complementarianism Addendum

There are two thoughts that have come to my mind after I posted my thoughts on complementarianism.

First, the similarity I noted between the egalitarian hermeneutic and the pro-homosexual hermeneutic is not intended to imply that egalitarianism necessarily leads to either pro-homosexuality nor to license in general. I have never been fond of “slippery slope” arguments. What I wanted to show is that it is a faulty hermeneutic. It allows history, or at least a view of history that may in fact be wrong, to modulate the understanding of scripture. That injects a very subjective element into interpretation and that weakens it.

Second, I believe what I have outlined is Biblical and therefore to be believed. But an additional positive aspect to it is that it does not denigrate women. It shows that Holy Spirit does not say that women are gullible and therefore cannot lead or that they are easily mislead and therefore cannot teach. It does not subjugate women because of defect, instead it appeals to an authority structure. Adam was created and given the Law of the garden (Gen 2:15-17) and then Eve was created. Adam was then to teach the Law to his wife.


I’m not sure why the issue of women in pastoral roles has been weighing on my mind lately but it has. I am a convinced complentarian, which means that I believe that men and women have different and complementary roles in the Church. Women are not to be elders or authoritatively teach men in spiritual matters. Here’s why I believe this.

My reason for being a complimentarian has to do with my view of God’s covenants. First Timothy 2:11-15 is the passage where the discussion usually comes down to. There, Paul expressly forbids “a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man” because “Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” I believe that in taking verses 13 and 14 together (they appear to be a single thought-unit) we see that there is more to the argument than just that Adam was created first (fact A) and that Eve was deceived (fact B). The key that draws facts A and B together is when Paul says that Eve “became a transgressor.” There is a lot of theological weight packed into that phrase, more than is obvious from a cursory reading. To burrow into that theology, we need to consider what the scriptures say about the fall.

The Bible says that mankind fell in Adam (Rom 5:12, 1 Cor 15:22) and yet Paul states here that it is Eve who becomes a transgressor. So why, then, is it not the biblical view that mankind fell in Eve since she ate first (Gen 3:6)? Her being deceived is no excuse (consider Israel’s covenant with the Gibeonites in Joshua 9) and Paul does not extend it as one here. I believe that humanity fell in Adam because Adam represented all of mankind (Rom 5:11-21) when he broke covenant with God (Hos 6:7) and that included his wife. Though Eve was deceived and broke the Law, mankind did not fall in her because she did not represent the human race, but we did fall in our federal head Adam.

The way this informs 1 Tim 2:11-15 is not so much that women are more easily deceived than men (personally, my wife has often rescued me from foolishness), but more that from the beginning of mankind the man was the head, the leader. True, Adam was formed first but the order of creation does not automatically invest authority or else the animals would be in charge! The divinely instituted arrangement was that Adam was given the role of leadership in the garden and in that role he represented all of mankind that came after him, Eve included. Adam’s existence prior to Eve is significant only in the same way it is significant for all of mankind: federal headship in the Covenant of Works.

Taking all this theology back to 1 Timothy we see that Paul does not allow a woman to have authority over a man nor to teach him because in the beginning it was the man who was considered the leader and was held responsible. Furthermore, this was not some arbitrary whim of God in creation; He did it to express the relationship between Christ and the Church (Eph 5:25-33, esp. 5:32). Christ represents the Church in the New Covenant (Luke 22:20 & Acts 20:28). The Church is not to have authority over Jesus nor are we going to teach him and so it is with the relationship between man and women in the Church. This situation is much more than just cultural.

My experience with egalitarian (men and women are equal in the New Covenant) hermeneutics has been “interesting.” At the time I was taking a class in which I had to study the issue, homosexual Gene Robinson was being promoted to Episcopal Bishop. These things seem unconnected till I heard Robinson being interviewed on the radio. In defense of his homosexuality, he said:

The other problem there is that homosexuality, as a sexual orientation, is a construct that’s only about 100 years old, so for us to take that construct and read it back into ancient texts just does not do justice to those texts. There’s no question that the seven very brief passages that are seen to be related to homosexuality, in scripture, both Old and New Testaments, are negative, but what I would maintain is that they do not in any way address what we’re talking about today, which are faithful, monogamous, life-long intentioned relationships between people of the same sex. The scripture simply does not address that issue.

When I heard this I recognized that the egalitarian hermeneutic was the same! Craig Keener in his essay in “Two Views on Women in Ministry” claimed that the issue was that women were uneducated and therefore easily deceived. Paul would never have envisioned a situation where women were just as educated as men.

But there are errors with this hermeneutic. The qualifications that Keener and Robinson place on the prohibitions they are responding to are not found in the Bible. History can help Biblical interpretation but it should not set a text on its head. What would happen to Keener’s argument if the ruins of a first century, all-women college were excavated in Ephesus? Even if we allow his premise, the qualifications prove too much. For Keener, are we to assume that all the women and none of the men were being deceived? For Robinson, are we to assume that “faithful, monogamous, life-long intentioned relationships between people of the same sex” never existed in biblical times? Once we embrace this kind of hermeneutic, anything is justifiable and nothing relates to us today, such as something like this:

Jesus and Paul were speaking to Jews who believed that they could be saved by following the Mosaic Law. That is not the situation in Roman Catholicism; they don’t think you can be saved by following the Mosaic law. You cannot take the biblical teaching of that time and apply it to them today, it just doesn’t apply.

In the end, we need to allow the Bible to stand on its own. It may seem archaic and dated, indeed I know some women who would be very good pastors. But God did not say these things to no purpose. If the Bible is authoritative and sufficient then we must abide by its teaching no matter what the conventional wisdom of the day dictates.


Profaning Mammon

Another great quote from Hughes:

Theologian Jacques Ellul says that the only way to defeat the godlike power that money seeks to impose on our lives is to give it away, which he calls profaning it: “To profane money, like all other powers, is to take away its sacred character.” This destroys its power over us. “Giving to God is the act of profanation par excellence,” says Ellul. Every time I give, I declare that money does not control me. Perpetual generosity is a perpetual┬áde-deification of money. – R. Kent Hughes, Set Apart, 33.

This is brilliant to me. When we turn money into a false god, an idol, in order to break its hold over us we must desecrate it. In 2 Kings 23:6 Hilkiah the high priest under Josiah’s command removed the Asherah from the temple, burned it at Kidron (a place that had become increasingly unclean) and then scattered the ashes in a grave yard. This didn’t defile the grave yard, it defiled the ashes. This was desecrating the false god.

Os Guinness has some great advice on recognizing idols in our hearts:

This is the ultimate moral challenge–that hope rests in complete and excuse-free dependence on God and His forgiving grace, plus nothing. The forgiveness is joyfully offered to us through Christ.

An idol is something within creation that is inflated to function as a substitute for God. All sorts of things are potential idols, depending only on our attitudes and actions toward them. If this is so, how do we determine when something is becoming or has become an idol? — Os Guinness, No God but God, 32

In other words, when there is something other than God that we run to to find comfort, to feel better about things, something we seek to “make it alright” and that is not God revealed in Jesus Christ, we may have created an idol. Guinness goes on to explain that this can be all kinds of things, even godly things. He lists the obvious ones of money, power and sex and some that are less than obvious like family and evangelism! The human heart is an idol factory that we must be leery of.

So how do we do that with mammon? Do we just burn our money and head to the cemetery? No, that is foolish. Besides, it fails to address the heart issue of desiring money. If we take it away and put nothing in its place, the hole grows bigger and hungrier. “Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused. Men can go wrong with wine and women. Shall we then prohibit and abolish women?” – Martin Luther.

We need to follow Ellul’s advice and counter money’s grip on us. By giving it to the Lord, we begin to replace that false joy money offered with a real joy. It isn’t instantaneous nor is it easy. But by desecrating the idol in our hearts and erecting an altar to the Lord, we stand a better chance of being free.

God is Powerful to (Keep) Save(d)

‘Tis by God’s power also that we are preserved in a state of grace. I Pet. 1:5, “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” As grace is at first from God, so ’tis continually from him, and is maintained by him, as much as light in the atmosphere is all day long from the sun, as well as at first dawning, or at sun-rising.

Men are dependent on the power of God, for every exercise of grace, and for carrying on that work in the heart, for the subduing of sin and corruption, and increasing holy principles, and enabling to bring forth fruit in good works, and at last bringing grace to its perfection, in making the soul completely amiable in Christ’s glorious likeness, and filling of it with a satisfying joy and blessedness; and for the raising of the body to life, and to such a perfect state, that it shall be suitable for an habitation and organ for a soul so perfected and blessed. These are the most glorious effects of the power of God, that are seen in the series of God’s acts with respect to the creatures.

Man was dependent on the power of God in his first estate, but he is more dependent on his power now; he needs God’s power to do more things for him, and depends on a more wonderful exercise of his power. It was an effect of the power of God to make man holy at the first; but more remarkably so now, because there is a great deal of opposition and difficulty in the way. ‘Tis a more glorious effect of power to make that holy that was so depraved and under the dominion of sin, than to confer holiness on that which before had nothing of the contrary. ‘Tis a more glorious work of power to rescue a soul out of the hands of the devil, and from the powers of darkness and to bring into a state of salvation, than to confer holiness where there was not prepossession or opposition. Luke 11:21-22, “When a strong man armed keepeth his place, his goods are in peace: but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armor wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.” So ’tis a more glorious work of power to uphold a soul in a state of grace and holiness, and to carry it on till it is brought to glory, when there is so much sin remaining in the heart, resisting, and Satan with all his might opposing, than it would have been to have kept man from falling at first, when Satan had nothing in man. – Jonathan Edwards, God Glorified in the Work of Redemption, by the Greatness of Man’s Dependence upon Him, in the Whole of It, The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, 72-73

Sensus Plenior?

No, not the comment service I use(d) (Plug: They are great!) but what the Reformers referred to as the “fuller sense” of the scriptures. Sometimes it gets a rough ride from scholars. Especially Biblical scholars (such as NT and OT professors) and I know Dispensationalists are not very keen on it. But this Sunday in Sunday school the issue came to the fore for me. We were discussing Lot in R. Kent Hughes’ book Set Apart. Hughes speaks of Lot as a righteous man who was troubled about the culture he lived in, but he still clung to it. Then in reference to Lot’s daughters, he said, “We see, then, that it is possible for believing people like us who are truly distressed by the course of this world to live lives that are so profoundly influenced by the culture that Sodom is reborn in the lives of those we love the most” (p 15).

So back to the sensus plenior. Some in the class were uncomfortable speaking of Lot in this fashion. They pointed out that the angels didn’t deride him nor did Peter (2Pt 2:7-8) but he was declared a righteous man. So does Hughes have room to criticize Lot in the fashion he is? Well, I would go even one step further and point to Abraham’s exchange with God just before the episode with Sodom and Gomorra in which God promised not to destroy the cities if there were 10 righteous in them. He didn’t find that number and so he extracted the righteous and destroyed the city. So there are three witnesses to Lot being righteousness. May we fairly criticize him? Well, if you read Genesis alone you would be hard pressed to declare him righteous. The temptation, based on some of the events in Lot’s story, would be to say that God was blessing him strictly because of his relationship with Abraham. After all, when Sodom was raided and Lot taken captive, God blessed him with delivery because it was Abraham doing the delivering. The events of Lot’s life were not what we would call righteous. It is only because the Apostle later tells us that he is righteous and distressed that we recognize it. Perhaps there was some OT grist for that mill though.

What about Jephthah? In Judges 11:30-31 he makes a foolish vow to kill whatever walks out of his front door. His daughter walks out and in verse 39 he fulfills his vow. What is our reaction to this? Would we call Jephthah righteous or foolish for making such a vow? In Hebrews 11:32 he is listed amongst the faithful heroes. It seems that according to verse 33 it is because he conquered kingdoms rather than the fact that he made and kept foolish vows. But if we didn’t have Hebrews what would we think of him, how would we remember his time as a judge of Israel? Would the end of his time overshadow the good parts?

In the end, we have to acknowledge that the NT corrects and informs our reading of the OT. That doesn’t mean that it overrules or changes the meaning, but in the examples above it merely amplifies and confirms what our suspicions might be. These people in the OT are a lot like us. They sinned and did stupid things. We sin and do stupid things. Yet, God considered them righteous as he does us. Not because we do enough good so that it outweighs our bad, but because he has fixed his love upon us and justified us so that we are righteous in his sight, sinners though we be. Without the sensus plenior, we are tempted to judge the OT saints the way we may all too often judge the NT saints. Only by their most recent episode, be it good or bad. When it comes to our brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus is the sensus plenior. They are righteous because they are in Christ. That does not mean that we ignore the bad they do. We can agree with Peter that Lot was righteous and yet not ignore the bad things he did. Offering his daughters to the mob to protect the angels, no matter how you slice it, is a bad thing. No hospitality code may compel us to send our daughters into a situation in which we know that they will be raped and abused. The better answer was “no” all the way around. “No you cannot have my guests and no I’m not going to offer anyone in their place just to sate your wicked lusts.”

So yes, I think Hughes was justified in his critique of Lot. He affirmed with Peter that Lot was righteous and yet remained critical of Lot’s actions. This is not odd. We can affirm in our own lives that our justification in Christ does not always match our actions.

My Problem with the Federal Vision

Part 2 in a series.

The acronyms clumped together are usually NPP/FV/AA which represent the New Perspective on Paul, Federal Vision and the Auburn Avenue Theology. In truth, only the last two somewhat belong together. Though there is some sympathy between them and some cross-polenization, they really are not the same things. I sort of lumped them together in my previous post and then really only dealt with the NPP. The reason was because I understand NPP better than I do FV. Well, I’ve tried to understand the FV better and decided that it warrants its own post.

The Federal Vision was first articulated under that name in 2001 at the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church’s Pastors’ Conference. It wasn’t really anything blazingly new, it was a trajectory within Reformed Theology that had been brewing for a while. The AA conference was just kind of a harmonic convergence where it all came together. What they didn’t realize was that it actually came together like flint and iron in a gasoline factory. The presbytery Auburn Avenue is part of began investigating, accusations flew and there is still a lot of bitterness going around, though I think it is beginning to settle down. The funny thing is that one of the speakers, Doug Wilson, isn’t even a presbyterian!

What was articulated at the conference was a high view of the covenant. Too high in my opinion, I think FV is essentially hyper-covenantalism.

There are different themes and different trajectories within the movement (and which movement is that not true of?) but here are some of the threads that stand out for me:

Baptism actually saves you, unites you with Christ unless and until you apostatize. In a sense anyway. There goes perseverance of the saints, as the “saints” (who are not necessarily elect) are united to Christ and can still be apostate. Next, anyone who is baptized is fully are really a member of the Church. Period. When they become apostate they are then removed from the church. There goes particular redemption (see Acts 20:28). Now of course, the folks who hold to the FV are Reformed with a capital R and they still affirm Calvinist soiterology so they aren’t denying these doctrines. They simply have to do some redefining of terms to make them work properly.

Next, there is a conflation of Christ and Church. They become essentially one entity. There is some biblical support for that. The imagery Paul uses of Head and body. This is where that baptism thing comes in. But there are other metaphors in the Bible that show Christ as different than and over his Church. The Bridegroom and the bride. The wedding feast is in the future, at the eschaton, not yet. There is the imagery of the Shepherd and the sheep. In Revelation Christ walks amongst the lampstands, he isn’t one of them or made of them. Surely the Shepherd is not one of the sheep. The problem is what I heard DA Carson call “parallel-a-mania” in a talk on the NPP (parts 2 & 3 are here). You take a good idea, a biblical concept and then press it in to every place in the Bible, even where it doesn’t belong.

What I find sad about this is that a good, biblical idea, covenant, is taken for a ride across everything. It reshapes how everything is understood. Even things it shouldn’t. Baptism is part of the New Covenant, to be sure. We are baptized into the Body. But I maintain that it is not the sign and seal of the New Covenant, that is only and ever applied to the Holy Spirit (2Co 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:13-14; 4:30). Also, the FV moves salvation from a personal issue to one of the Church. Instead of a person exercising faith and being saved and justified, faith is moved to the sacrament and salvation is moved to the church. This is Romanism as far as I can tell. The “objective” nature of the covenant sounds great but what it really means is that much of the Reformation is lost.