Summary on Covenant Continuity and Development – Response to Gavin Ortlund

Gavin Ortlund has written another response to my last rejoinder.  I agree with him that this has been a great discussion, and I also feel that we should draw it to a close. I think we have painted a clear distinction, and hopefully I can bring more clarity with this response.  Much of the question under debate here revolves around the terms continuity, overlap, and identity.  These are all possible ways of describing the relationship between the old pre-Christ covenants and the New Covenant.  Development of redemptive history is another key component.  Gavin has acknowledged overlap between the covenants, but he is wary of pressing to the point of identity.  He is wary of over-spiritualizing the Old Covenant to the point that redemptive history is “flattened”, having minimal real development.  Let me see if I can summarize my perspective here, then try to answer some of Gavin’s specific questions in a follow up blog post. Continue reading

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Follow Up Response to Gavin Ortlund on Baptism

Gavin Ortlund has been kind enough to offer a rejoinder to my initial critique of his blog post against infant baptism.  I appreciate Gavin’s taking the time to respond to me, and I also hope that this exchange will be useful, edifying, and encourage everyone reading it to examine the Bible very thoroughly for themselves on this topic.  I also want to thank Gavin for his charitable demeanor and I have every intention of maintaining that.  Before diving into specific responses, I think it is good to take a step back and state the big picture.  It is clear that what is under debate here is the nature of the old (pre-Christ) covenants between God and His people, and how our perspective on these covenants (specifically the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants) impacts our view of the New Covenant in Christ. Continue reading

Reformed Paedobaptist Response to Gavin Ortlund’s Article – “Why I Changed My Mind About Baptism”

Gavin Ortlund, a PhD student at Fuller Theological Seminary in California, recently wrote a brief article for The Gospel Coalition’s blog, entitled “Why I Changed My Mind About Baptism”  Mr. Ortlund was baptized into the Church of Scotland and raised as a Presbyterian.  Through the course of his study, he has departed from the paedobaptist position and become a credo Baptist (i.e. believer’s baptism).  His article gives a brief summary of the reasoning behind this transition.  The article has garnered quite a bit of attention, with 120+ comments on the article and 540+ facebook “likes” at the time of my writing.  My attention was drawn to this article by an interview with Mark Horne on the City of God blog.

Here’s a link to the Gavin Ortlund article:
http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/03/08/why-i-changed-my-mind-about-baptism/ Continue reading

Infant Baptism Part 7 – The Formation of the Church

The Promise is to You and Your Children
Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 after the outpouring of the Spirit is indicative that baptism should be applied to the children of believers.  I have written a far more detailed post addressing this passage, found here. Peter begins by quoting Joel 2, and by citing the outpouring of the Spirit that has started with the disciples as the explicit fulfilment of this passage.  Remember Joel 2:28-29:

Joel 2:28-29 28 “It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. 29 “Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. Continue reading

Infant Baptism Part 6 – Jesus and the Children

Jesus addresses small children of the covenant extensively in Matthew 18, and briefly in Matthew 19 and the corresponding passages of Mark 10 and Luke 18.  I believe these passages are critical to the debate over infant baptism.

Matthew 18:1-14 18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Continue reading

Infant Baptism Part 5 – Introduction to Covenant Children in the New Testament

As has been shown, great emphasis is placed throughout the Old Testament on covenant children and their position and relationship with God from the beginning of their lives.  Given this fact, and the general continuity between the covenants demonstrated in the previous post, it would take a strong statement from the New Testament to make clear to the earliest Christians (predominantly Jews) that their children had been removed from the covenant, and were no longer looked upon with favor by God.  This is why arguments from silence, which are typically taken to favor the argument for believer’s baptism, actually favor the argument for infant baptism!  With NO New Testament data concerning covenant children, the sheer weight of the Old Testament evidence would push one towards the belief that children should still be included in God’s covenant.  Continue reading

Infant Baptism Part 4 – General Continuity Between the Old and New Covenants

Large books have been written on the topic of HOW God’s covenants with Israel transition into the New Covenant.  What changed with the coming of Christ?  On the other hand, what stayed the same – what parts of God’s dealings with His people carried through into the New Covenant era?  There is much debate over this topic, and the key terms that define the debate are continuity and discontinuity.  One’s view of baptism will be largely determined by the degree of continuity he sees between the older covenants and the New Covenant in Christ.  The Reformed position of infant baptism rests solidly on the belief in a strong continuity between the covenants, particularly in the area of covenant children.

Continue reading