Caught Between the Scylla and Charybdis

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David Van Drunen recently answered a few questions by Chris Cooper at “Credo’s” blog. One answer struck me as particularly insightful, very likely because it captures what my own sense was all those years ago as a smoldering wick within broad funda-evangelicalism of just what Reformation Christianity had to offer. As any recovering eeeevangelical knows, the world is a hard thing to negotiate and drawing upon its fundamentalists roots, American evangelicalism knows basically only two modes: hands off or death grip. Coming initially from broad secularism myself, where we were all perfectly fine with the world, broad evangelicalism seemed to have a sort of neandrathal mentality about the world. We either retreated into our cave from the beast, or we came to its edge in order to hurl rocks at it.

Most former evangelicals seem to have come to Reformation Christianity based on soteriological differences. That is, they hear the doctrines of grace and realize the Arminianism of their present environs jibes neither with the Bible nor their inner Calvinist. That was certainly true for me. (In fact, after hearing of the doctrines of grace, I went running to my evangelical pastor whereupon he chuckled and said, “Of grace I say, give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.” He went on to speak of grace as if she were a former girlfriend who had scorned him somehow. The sneeking suspicion that I had been hitherto subject to glorified moralism was confirmed.) But principally, my own conundrum was with the Gnostic and world-flight piety of big-box evangelicalism. Worldly principles seemed just fine to adopt when it came to worship and evangelism, but the creation and maintenance of a second rate sub-culture seemed to be the function of a fear of the material world. Contra Paul, we were to be of the world but not in it. On the other hand, there was a culture decaying and had to be won back from the infidels. What Reformation Christianity seemed uniquely able to do was affirm on the one hand the very goodness and dignity of creation, while at the same time maintaining a moderated perspective on just what the provisional order of earth east of Eden could afford.

And so to the question, What are the dangers of rejecting Two-Kingdoms Theology, Van Drunen aptly answers:

Let me put this positively. The two kingdoms doctrine provides an excellent antidote to the two great temptations that have afflicted Christians through the centuries with respect to the Christianity and culture issue: I’ll call them Retreat and Takeover. Many Christians have been tempted to retreat from the world and to avoid participation in the common vocations of human society—perhaps because they’re so infected with sin or because, in comparison with the proclamation of the gospel, such things seem like a waste of time. Many other Christians have been tempted to see their duty as taking over all areas of human life so as to form some kind of fully integrated Christian society. Both understandings are very understandable—but both also very dangerous, I believe. The two kingdoms doctrine is a bulwark against not one, but both, of these temptations. On the one hand, it guards against the danger of despising ordinary human society and common vocations, because it teaches that these are blessed by God through his common grace and serve his good purposes in preserving this world. On the other hand, it guards against the danger of a triumphalist spirit and utopian crusades, because it teaches that God’s redemptive kingdom is now being established through the humble ministry of the church and that Christians are sojourners and exiles in this world until Christ cataclysmically ushers in his new creation at the second coming. You see, I think Christians who recognize only one kingdom of God run into a dilemma. Either you see the broader human society as part of that one kingdom (in which case the triumphalist temptation will be strong) or you see the broader human society as not part of that one kingdom, and thus not under God’s rule in any sense (in which case the temptation to retreat will be strong). The two kingdoms doctrine avoids this dilemma.

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76 Responses to Caught Between the Scylla and Charybdis

  1. Lily says:

    Dear Jason and the Argonauts (couldn’t resist the play off your title),

    I read your post a couple of times and wondered if the problem behind the problem (rejecting 2k) is a rejection of law/gospel?

    In a post by a Lutheran pastor, he pointed out that C.S. Lewis showed an intuitive understanding of law/gospel in his 1953 letter to Fr. Don Giovanni Calabria (the last line is a hoot):

    But God who is the God of mercies, even now has not altogether cast off the human race. We must not despair. And among us are not an inconsiderable number now returning to the faith. For my part, I believe we ought to work not only at spreading the Gospel (that certainly) but also to a certain preparation for the Gospel. It is necessary to recall many to the law of nature before we talk about God. For Christ promises forgiveness of sins, but what is that to those who, since they do not know the law of nature, do not know that they have sinned? Who will take medicine unless he knows he is in the grip of a disease? Moral relativity is the enemy we have to overcome before we tackle atheism. I would almost dare to say, “First let us make the younger generation good pagans, and afterwards let us make them Christians.”

  2. Zrim says:

    Lily, “I will turn your face to alabaster when you find your servant is your master.” Which isn’t too unlike the response some do seem to have when it is suggested that a rejection of 2k owes to a prior rejection of law and gospel.

    Lewis is best when provocative. Thanks for that one.

  3. Lily says:

    Zrim,

    Thanks for the correction. A line from a song! I’m afraid I don’t understand it – would you please explain?

    This may be dumb, but after following the comments at OL, I can’t help but think there is even more than a rejection of law/gospel behind the rejection of 2k. I’m thinking: Old Lutheranism hangs together as a whole cloth. Old Presbyterianism hangs together as whole cloth. Mess with the Christology of either tradition and it starts clunking (or the means of grace). I’m beginning to think this is the main problem we see in our different traditions – there is a lack of training in our traditions (eg: cafeteria style theology). It requires time and discipline under good teachers in a tradition which is something not all wish to adhere to?

    My problem with so-called Reformed Baptists is that they aren’t Reformed and don’t have a whole cloth theology. This seems clear in both Driscoll and Piper and their wandering/rambling personal theologies. I’ve come to the place of thinking it would be better if the RB called themselves Particular Baptists since they reject the majority of Reformed theology. It might help them better understand who they are? All I know is that they are incredibly confusing when it comes to their wax-nose theology. I’m guessing that is where RS (at OL) is coming from – he appears clueless on infant baptism and the Lord’s Supper. My best guess is that when you deny or diminish the work of God in the means of grace there will be a natural drift towards theonomy because the means of grace belong to God’s right hand kingdom. They cannot see the distinction in the kingdoms because they deny or do not rely upon his means – if that makes sense?

  4. Lily says:

    P.S. May I add or clarify that when we believe God gives his kingdom to us through the means of grace (eg: the Revealed God) vs. the common grace (eg: the Hidden God) then we are better able to distinguish the two kingdoms? Or to somehow phrase it so that his kingdom only comes through the gospel not our community service to our neighbors (not confusing cause and effect) then it helps distinguish the two kingdoms? Help. My Reformed speak is terrible.

  5. Zrim says:

    Lily, The Police, “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” the title of the post means to be caught on the horns of a dilemma, in this case between escapism and triumphalism. Reformation Christianity solves it.

    I’m of the opinion that the Reformed haven’t been jealous enough for the tradition, the way the Lutherans have been. This is why “Reformed Baptist” doesn’t strike any within our camp as odd. But has anyone ever heard of a “Lutheran Baptist”? This is how we get the Gospel Coalition which is more like Presbyterians and Baptists Together (I don’t think even one Lutheran is involved formally). Again I say, the Reformed have a lot to learn from our closest theological cousins.

  6. Lily says:

    Thanks for the explanation, Zrim.

    FWIW – I think that you, Westminster West, and others are vying well for the Reformed tradition and successfully winning many over to return to the old path or at least to consider it. I do wish you well and I’m rooting for ya’ll. I would hope that the OPC and URCNA, both being fairly young, semi-small, and having escaped from the more liberal ranks, would be jealous for your tradition? Are there any boundaries that separate ya’ll from the other Reformed groups?

    I’m not sure what you can learn from the Lutherans that might be useful other than we appear to have tighter boundaries in pulpit and altar fellowship and thus not very ecumenical. We’d like to be ecumenical, but there are boundaries that cannot be crossed. We haven’t had pulpit/altar fellowship with the ELCA for a long time, but now with their recent expanded liberalism, we ended working on service projects with them too. WELS dumped us long ago as too liberal. I’m afraid our example in boundaries would probably go over like a lead balloon in your circles. Theologically speaking, I think Phillip Cary said it well that there may be a narrow chasm between our traditions, but it is extremely deep. As a personal aside: I am clueless how ya’ll can teach 2k without vocations in tandem with it.

    TGC doesn’t seem to be a draw for our wayward Lutherans, they went in the direction of seeker-sensitivity, Emergent, and CGM. Some of them out-eeeevangelical the eeevangelicals. It can be stomach churning. The only connection I know with TGC are some confessional Lutherans who influenced Tullian and perhaps another there, but this was as individuals. Since we’re supposed to have tight boundaries in a number of areas – TGC would probably be out of bounds as an organization. We have our own woes. It’s my understanding that the confessionals make-up about 1/3 of the LCMS. Another 1/3 are moderates and the last 1/3 are the worrisome ones with a small activist group that are pro-female pastors, homosexuality, and other such ilk. There are efforts underway to win our brethren back to the old confessional path. We’ll see. I hope our current synodical president will be re-elected. We have a long way to go before our synod is back on track.

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  8. Zrim says:

    Lily, I can’t speak for the OPC, but from what I can tell the URC does pretty well being jealous for the tradition; it strives to be conscientiously confessional, unlike the CRC which is on a trajectory toward broad evangelicalism and likely the safe harbors of the mainline. On the down side, what it didn’t seem to shed from the CRC (out of which it–and I–came) was neo-Calvinism and worldview, which makes work quite cut out for two kingdom theology. And in our own congregation an odd category called “associate membership” was created for “Reformed Baptists,” which I gather isn’t altogether unusual across NAPARC. It seems to be a common practice in the PCA to make members of those who reject Reformed teaching on baptism. My understanding is that this is more a latitudinarian development in 19th century American Presbyterianism and is different from the more precisional practice of the Continental Reformed and British Presbyterianism.

  9. Richard Smith says:

    Lily: I’ve come to the place of thinking it would be better if the RB called themselves Particular Baptists since they reject the majority of Reformed theology. It might help them better understand who they are? All I know is that they are incredibly confusing when it comes to their wax-nose theology. I’m guessing that is where RS (at OL) is coming from – he appears clueless on infant baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

    RS: As a very particular Baptist, I reject very, very little of Reformed and Presbyterian theology. The theology that I hold dear is not that of the wax nose type, but instead it demands that all things be proven from the Bible. This means that we would say that those who believe in infant baptism do not get it from the New Covenant, but instead have to heat and shape their theology from history rather than the Bible. As to being clueless on infant baptism, that used to be my position until I tried to find it in the Bible. As to the Lord’s Supper, once again, when a theological tradition puts so much focus on something that the Bible puts hardly any focus on at all, that is, Jesus teaches on it once and Paul gives instruction about it once, then one can know that their tradition is perhaps following the traditions of Roman Catholicism rather than Scripture.

    At some point you might begin to consider that there is not a single thread that is Reformed tradition. Particular Baptists and/or Reformed Baptists simply consider our theological position to be more Reformed than Presbyterianism because it has reformed more from the unbiblical traditions of Roman Catholicism and gone back to Scripture. Putting so much stress on infant baptism (a practice that is not commanded in the New Covenant nor do we have one example of it in the New Covenant/Testament) and the Lord’s Supper (again, something that is discussed once by Jesus and once by Paul) in reality are practices that have been carried on and not reformed from Roman Catholicism. They are remnants of sacramentalism and sacerdotalism.

  10. Richard Smith says:

    Lily: My problem with so-called Reformed Baptists is that they aren’t Reformed and don’t have a whole cloth theology.

    RS: But Reformed Baptists are Reformed. In fact, they have reformed from the unbiblical traditions of Roman Catholicism more than the Presbyterians. What you mean by “a whole cloth theology” is rather interesting, but until one grasps the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant I guess it will not seem like a whole cloth. However, I would say that the cloth of your theology has a lot of (w)holes in it. Only the elect are in the New Covenant and only those in the New Covenant are to receive the sign of the New Covenant and the New Covenant supper. I made a longer reply to you below.

  11. Zrim says:

    Richard, you make plenty of interesting statements, but this is one that stands out to me: “Putting so much stress on infant baptism (a practice that is not commanded in the New Covenant nor do we have one example of it in the New Covenant/Testament) and the Lord’s Supper (again, something that is discussed once by Jesus and once by Paul) in reality are practices that have been carried on and not reformed from Roman Catholicism. They are remnants of sacramentalism and sacerdotalism.”

    It sounds like you’re saying that the Reformed put too much emphasis on paedobaptism. This seems not a little ironic coming from one whose own tradition identifies itself sacramentally, as in “Baptist.” It sure seems like if anyone is making too much ado about baptismal sacramentology, it’s the Baptist. It seems respectable and consistent that credo-Baptists would claim that paedo-baptists are in serious error, but when the paedo-baptists says the same of the credo-Baptist (Belgic 34) he gets dinged for making too much out of things. And this from people whose whole nominal identity rests on baptism. Huh?

    But there are those who also claim to be Reformed in every way except when it comes to the Supper. Just like “Reformed (credo) Baptists” say this of baptism and refuse their children the sign and seal of the covenant at the font, there are some within the Reformed camp who say this of the Supper and invite their unexamined children to the Table. Oddly, we have yet to see anyone call themselves “Reformed (paedo) Communionists.” Maybe they will come out of the CREC. But neither practice, whatever else it may be, is Reformed.

  12. Lily says:

    Thanks, Zrim. May God grant ya’ll good fences and good neighbors.

  13. RubeRad says:

    RS:

    it would be better if the RB called themselves Particular Baptists since they reject the majority of Reformed theology.

    As a very particular Baptist, I reject very, very little of Reformed and Presbyterian theology.

    I’m confused; are you affirming that “Reformed Baptists” are very different (have no–or at least a different–reformed “whole cloth” theology) but claiming Reformed & Presby whole-cloth for yourself because you differ very, very little? Because saying things like “Only the elect are in the New Covenant” destroys a heck of a lot of cloth…

  14. Richard Smith says:

    RubeRad: I’m confused; are you affirming that “Reformed Baptists” are very different (have no–or at least a different–reformed “whole cloth” theology) but claiming Reformed & Presby whole-cloth for yourself because you differ very, very little? Because saying things like “Only the elect are in the New Covenant” destroys a heck of a lot of cloth…

    RS: This is a statement that I was quoting from Lily: “it would be better if the RB called themselves Particular Baptists since they reject the majority of Reformed theology.”

    RS: This is a statement that I was responding to Lily with: “As a very particular Baptist, I reject very, very little of Reformed and Presbyterian theology.”

    RS: Notice that the two statements that you started off with that I am replying to are given just above and the correct authorship assigned to them. It may be part of your confusion. Yes, saying that “Only the elect are in the New Covenant” does destroy a lot of unbiblical cloth and traditions, but it does not destroy the heart of the biblical teaching on the New Covenant.

    Hebrews 8: 8 For finding fault with them, He says, “BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH;
    9 NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS ON THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT; FOR THEY DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT, AND I DID NOT CARE FOR THEM, SAYS THE LORD.
    10 “FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
    11 “AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN, AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, ‘KNOW THE LORD,’ FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM.
    12 “FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.”
    13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.

    RS: In the New Covenant, as set out in the Old Testament/Covenant, there is a difference between the covenants (v. 8). The differences is that for those in this covenant the law of God will be put into theri minds and written on their hearts. All in this covenant will know God (v. 11) and all in this covenant wll have God as their God and all in this covenant will be His people (v. 10). All in this covenant He will be merciful to their sins and will remember their sins no more (v. 12). These things were not true in the Old Covenant and these things are not consistent with infants being in the new covenant unless one wants to say that all infants who are baptized are really and truly saved. But even the Old Covenant had Esau.

  15. Richard Smith says:

    Zrim says: Richard, you make plenty of interesting statements, but this is one that stands out to me: “Putting so much stress on infant baptism (a practice that is not commanded in the New Covenant nor do we have one example of it in the New Covenant/Testament) and the Lord’s Supper (again, something that is discussed once by Jesus and once by Paul) in reality are practices that have been carried on and not reformed from Roman Catholicism. They are remnants of sacramentalism and sacerdotalism.”

    It sounds like you’re saying that the Reformed put too much emphasis on paedobaptism.

    RS: Yes, in terms of being in the covenant and in terms of salvation.

    Zrim: This seems not a little ironic coming from one whose own tradition identifies itself sacramentally, as in “Baptist.” It sure seems like if anyone is making too much ado about baptismal sacramentology, it’s the Baptist. It seems respectable and consistent that credo-Baptists would claim that paedo-baptists are in serious error, but when the paedo-baptists says the same of the credo-Baptist (Belgic 34) he gets dinged for making too much out of things. And this from people whose whole nominal identity rests on baptism. Huh?

    RS: I am Reformed first and Baptist second at best. I don’t think that I put all that much stress on being Baptist, though I see your point. However, when the focus is on the Gospel and how God’s glory is manifested in the salvation of men, being Baptist means that the stress is put on God’s sovereign choice rather than the acts of men. I say that paedobaptists should feel free to ding away on that issue, but that means we should be free to do so as well. I don’t think that my whole nominal identity rests on baptism at all, but instead on striving for the sovereignty of God at all points which includes the sovereignty of His grace as well. In fact, there is no other grace other than a sovereign grace. Any other grace makes grace no longer to be grace (Rom 11:6).

    Zrim: But there are those who also claim to be Reformed in every way except when it comes to the Supper. Just like “Reformed (credo) Baptists” say this of baptism and refuse their children the sign and seal of the covenant at the font,

    RS: There is no biblical warrant to say that anyone is in the New Covenant until that person is a true believer. Again, we don’t have a command or an example of infant baptism in the New Covenant/Testament.

    Zrim: there are some within the Reformed camp who say this of the Supper and invite their unexamined children to the Table. Oddly, we have yet to see anyone call themselves “Reformed (paedo) Communionists.” Maybe they will come out of the CREC. But neither practice, whatever else it may be, is Reformed.

    RS: But what does it mean to be Reformed? Again, there is no singular thread coming out of the Reformation that allows one to make a singular claim to that. Since the Baptists have carried the reform from Roman Catholicism to the Bible even more, I think they are the ones with the claim to being Reformed. By the way, I am not being totally serious with that last claim, but I am saying it to make a point.

  16. Richard Smith says:

    Zrim says: Richard, you make plenty of interesting statements, but this is one that stands out to me: “Putting so much stress on infant baptism (a practice that is not commanded in the New Covenant nor do we have one example of it in the New Covenant/Testament) and the Lord’s Supper (again, something that is discussed once by Jesus and once by Paul) in reality are practices that have been carried on and not reformed from Roman Catholicism. They are remnants of sacramentalism and sacerdotalism.”

    It sounds like you’re saying that the Reformed put too much emphasis on paedobaptism.

    RS: Just to be clear, the point I am making is in a sacramental context. There is a lot of stress placed on the sacraments in certain circles and in fact seems to be the focus of where God gives grace to people. My point is that there is so little in the New Covenant/Testament about these things that people should begin to wonder why there is so little about these things in the Bible. The stress on these two items are what divides Presbyterians and Baptists (Reformed types). The stress on these two items can actually divide people in other ways. While Paul stressed that circumcision was of no value, now people come along and say baptism replaced circumcision and then they place a lot of value on the replacement of what has no value. Interesting, I think, to say the least.

  17. Lily says:

    RubeRad,

    Please note, RS’s claims to be more Reformed than the Reformed:

    “Reformed Baptists are Reformed. In fact, they have reformed from the unbiblical traditions of Roman Catholicism more than the Presbyterians.”

    But apparently that means he’s a Baptist who rejects the means of grace.

  18. RubeRad says:

    Yes, my reading comprehension was indeed the problem, that clears up my confusion.

    Without jumping into the whole IB debate here, my point remains, which is that you cannot say on the one hand “I reject very, very little”, and also affirm that ““Only the elect are in the New Covenant” does destroy a lot of unbiblical cloth and traditions”. The latter statement means that you find “a lot” (not “a very, very little”) of the reformed & presbyterian theological whole-cloth to be unbiblical (and therefore you reject it)

  19. Lily says:

    Richard, you are not Reformed. You are a Baptist who likes some Reformed theology.

  20. Zrim says:

    Richard, you talk about sacraments the way non-creedalists talk about creedalism but don’t realize they are being even more creedalist than the creedalists. Do you see how you have a sacramentology every bit as stalwart as the Reformed whom you criticize? Rome says there are seven, Prots say there are two, and you say maybe there aren’t any.

  21. Richard Smith says:

    RubeRad says: Yes, my reading comprehension was indeed the problem, that clears up my confusion.

    Without jumping into the whole IB debate here,

    RS: Sorry, you are in it now.

    RubeRad: my point remains, which is that you cannot say on the one hand “I reject very, very little”, and also affirm that ““Only the elect are in the New Covenant” does destroy a lot of unbiblical cloth and traditions”. The latter statement means that you find “a lot” (not “a very, very little”) of the reformed & presbyterian theological whole-cloth to be unbiblical (and therefore you reject it)

    RS: I see your point, though I think we may be looking at this from different angles. My angle is that if you look at Reformed doctrine as a whole in terms of how many doctrines there are, then the baptism issue is a very small part of it. If you look at Reformed doctrine from a sacramental angle and think of it as very important, then perhaps you see it as a whole. Another angle is that there are those who believe in infant baptism but don’t assign to it the importance that some do, so they are actually closer to some Reformed Baptists than those who assign a great amount of importance to infant baptism.

  22. Richard Smith says:

    Zrim says: Richard, you talk about sacraments the way non-creedalists talk about creedalism but don’t realize they are being even more creedalist than the creedalists. Do you see how you have a sacramentology every bit as stalwart as the Reformed whom you criticize? Rome says there are seven, Prots say there are two, and you say maybe there aren’t any.

    RS: But I claim two, it is just that I think that I leave them in the place that the New Covenant places them rather than continue with the traditions of Roman Catholicism with them. But you are correct, I am rather staunch on this point and I admit that. You are also correct in that everyone has a creed. However, there are big differences in how those things are looked at. Some seem to think they are saved as long as they give an intellectual assent to a creed and do some christianly things. Others look to the creeds as a guide rather than as a statement of truth that they have to follow.

  23. Richard Smith says:

    Lily says: Richard, you are not Reformed. You are a Baptist who likes some Reformed theology.

    Lily, Earlier: Help. My Reformed speak is terrible.

    RS: When your Reformed speak is less than terrible, I might listen to that. However, as one who has read widely and deeply of the major Reformed theologians from centuries past and agree with them on a vast majority of things, I consider myself to be Reformed. Like I said earlier, and as you have noted, I would consider those who are truly Reformed and Baptist and simply going farther with the Reformation which was and is greatly needed.

  24. Lily says:

    From your own mouth: an Anabaptist.

  25. Richard Smith says:

    Lily says: RubeRad, Please note, RS’s claims to be more Reformed than the Reformed:
    “Reformed Baptists are Reformed. In fact, they have reformed from the unbiblical traditions of Roman Catholicism more than the Presbyterians.”

    But apparently that means he’s a Baptist who rejects the means of grace.

    RS: No, I don’t reject the means of grace. I just don’t see the Bible as teaching that the sacraments are virtually automatic means of grace. God only gives grace according to His sovereign will and pleasure and they are not in the hands of men to give or receive as they please.

  26. Zrim says:

    Richard, how do the Reformed continue in the traditions of Roman Catholicism when we confess in HC 80 that the difference between the Lord’s supper and the popish mass is that “The Lord’s supper testifies to us, that we have a full pardon of all sin by the only sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which he himself has once accomplished on the cross; and, that we by the Holy Ghost are ingrafted into Christ, who, according to his human nature is now not on earth, but in heaven, at the right hand of God his Father, and will there be worshipped by us. But the mass teaches, that the living and dead have not the pardon of sins through the sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is also daily offered for them by the priests; and further, that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine, and therefore is to be worshipped in them; so that the mass, at bottom, is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry.” That’s pretty strong language for those continuing in the traditions of Rome.

    But I still wonder why you get to be staunch about leaving baptism in the context of the new covenant, yet when we are staunch about seeing both continuity and discontinuity between the covenants as it concerns baptism it’s either unshaken Roman Catholicism or just being too uptight? Is it more you can because you’re you but we can’t because we’re us (you know, the way Mormons can’t have a burning in the bosom because they’re them but revivalists can for the same reason)?

  27. RubeRad says:

    That does seem to be the point; there is a delta between P&R and RB, P&R thinks that delta is very large and significant, and RB thinks it is trifling. So it would seem that part of the “very, very little” of P&R theology that you reject is the assertion that there is much more to P&R theology than TULIP. It’s like saying you love America, but disagreeing about whether anything other than Texas is American.

  28. RubeRad says:

    RS: I just don’t see the Bible as teaching that the sacraments are virtually automatic means of grace. God only gives grace according to His sovereign will and pleasure and they are not in the hands of men to give or receive as they please.

    If you think the Reformed support ex opere operato then you don’t understand why we’re not Lutherans.

    Some seem to think they are saved as long as they give an intellectual assent to a creed and do some christianly things

    That is an extremely unhelpful mischaracterization. Please point me to any Presbyterian or Reformed person who has ever written that anybody is saved by intellectual assent + works. How about instead you research the origin of the understanding that Faith=Knowledge+Assent+TRUST?

  29. Lily says:

    Re: I (Richard) consider myself to be Reformed.

    According to your standards, I’m Reformed.

  30. RubeRad says:

    (or from your perspective, disagreeing about whether Guam is American)

  31. Richard Smith says:

    Lily says: From your own mouth: an Anabaptist.

    RS: One, it was the keyboard and not my mouth. Two, infant baptism is not a legitimate baptism and so it is not appropriate to speak of anabaptism when the first was not a real baptism. Three, some think of anabaptism as having a lot more connected to it than those who have reformed more from Roman Catholicism in the sacraments (some would say one sacrament) would go with. Therefore, some Reformed Baptists have a lot more in common with those who are Reformed and Presbyterian than with the Anabaptists.

  32. Richard Smith says:

    Lily says: Re: I (Richard) consider myself to be Reformed.

    According to your standards, I’m Reformed.

    RS: Then you don’t understand my standards.

  33. Lily says:

    No, Richard. Your standards cherry pick what you want to keep or discard in the Reformed tradition. Anyone can do that. And yes, you are an Anabaptist when you say the Reformed did not go far enough and you are truly Reformed because you go further than them in reforming the church. Your theology is piecemeal based upon the formula: your feelings + your reason.

  34. Richard Smith says:

    RubeRad says: Quoting RS: I just don’t see the Bible as teaching that the sacraments are virtually automatic means of grace. God only gives grace according to His sovereign will and pleasure and they are not in the hands of men to give or receive as they please.

    RubeRad: If you think the Reformed support ex opere operato then you don’t understand why we’re not Lutherans.

    RS: I understand that in concept many of the Reformed don’t hold to that, but it seems as if in practice they do hold to that in some degree. Sometimes we use our theology and/or creeds to hide our own hearts from us.

    RubeRad, qyoting RS: Some seem to think they are saved as long as they give an intellectual assent to a creed and do some christianly things

    RubeRad: That is an extremely unhelpful mischaracterization.
    Please point me to any Presbyterian or Reformed person who has ever written that anybody is saved by intellectual assent + works. How about instead you research the origin of the understanding that Faith=Knowledge+Assent+TRUST?

    RS: The standard of whether the truthfulness of my statement is not whether anyone actually asserts that or not, but how that works out in life. I understand that since the Reformation people have went past assent to trust, but how that works out in reality is a different thing. Not that it is possible to do so, but if we had a machine that could measure assent and then measure trust, how many people that believed that they assented would also believe that they also trusted? Despite what they really believed, would the machine show differently? The Bible says a lot more about faith than that it equals knowldge, assent, and trust. Turretin even gives seven points of what faith is. Remember that the heart of man is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick (Jer 17:9). Remember that the devil is the deceiver. It is easy to deceive a person into thinking that just because s/he believes in some facts of a Christian creed and does christian things that person is truly converted. So a person believes in a creed, lives a moral life, and takes the sacraments. Yet Jesus may say to that person, “depart from me.” Mat 7: 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

  35. Richard Smith says:

    Zrim says: Richard, how do the Reformed continue in the traditions of Roman Catholicism when we confess in HC 80 that the difference between the Lord’s supper and the popish mass is that “The Lord’s supper testifies to us, that we have a full pardon of all sin by the only sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which he himself has once accomplished on the cross; and, that we by the Holy Ghost are ingrafted into Christ, who, according to his human nature is now not on earth, but in heaven, at the right hand of God his Father, and will there be worshipped by us. But the mass teaches, that the living and dead have not the pardon of sins through the sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is also daily offered for them by the priests; and further, that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine, and therefore is to be worshipped in them; so that the mass, at bottom, is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry.” That’s pretty strong language for those continuing in the traditions of Rome.

    RS: The fact that those who are truly Reformed differ with Rome does not mean that they have broken completely from Rome on a particular issue. For example, where in Scripture does it teach us that the Lord’s Supper does testify those things to us? Yes, it is different, but it is not a complete break from the traditions of men. It is just different.

    Zrim: But I still wonder why you get to be staunch about leaving baptism in the context of the new covenant, yet when we are staunch about seeing both continuity and discontinuity between the covenants as it concerns baptism it’s either unshaken Roman Catholicism or just being too uptight? Is it more you can because you’re you but we can’t because we’re us (you know, the way Mormons can’t have a burning in the bosom because they’re them but revivalists can for the same reason)?

    RS: I would simply argue that my position is biblical. Let the Bible define those who are in the New Covenant. My argument (part of it) is that in the days of the Reformation when one was baptized as an infant that infant was baptized into the church and into the state as a citizen at the same time. The break with this practice did not happen. Indeed there came to be different reasons for the baptism of infants, but the practice itself was not dealt with. The issue is not me and not you (as such), but simply over what the Scripture teaches on this subject. Those who are more confessional are relying on what others have said is true and those were written during and after the Reformation. Since there was not a fuller Reformation at the time, that needs to be continued.

  36. Richard Smith says:

    Lily says: No, Richard. Your standards cherry pick what you want to keep or discard in the Reformed tradition. Anyone can do that. And yes, you are an Anabaptist when you say the Reformed did not go far enough and you are truly Reformed because you go further than them in reforming the church. Your theology is piecemeal based upon the formula: your feelings + your reason.

    RS: No, my theology is based on Scripture first and the confessions second. If you wish to call me an Anabaptist, you would need to first demonstrate some of the major points of what an Anabaptist was and then that I adhere to those points. Second, you would need to demonstrate a command or example from Scripture that demonstrates infant baptism is biblical. Third, from your view, show me how baptizing an infant gives them grace.

  37. Lily says:

    Richard,

    You say your theology is based upon the bible while failing to acknowledge that your beliefs are all based upon your own reasonings with no regard to understanding how to properly divide the word of truth or that scripture interprets scripture. You are your own little pope judging men’s writings, keeping this and discarding that, with no regard towards your lack of training in the theology you judge. You have a haphazard personal theology. Anyone can do that. Even your belief that you are elect is based upon your own judgement of yourself. You are the one with a man-made religion that is foreign to the Reformed tradition. And yes, you are still an Anabaptist who says he has truly reformed the church whereas the Reformed did not go far enough.

  38. RubeRad says:

    I think that to call you an Anabaptist we would only need to do #1. If we want to demonstrate that Anabaptists are wrong, then we would proceed to #2 and #3. For me #1 is satisfied by “Reformed did not go far enough; we need to get rid of infant baptism”, as that is THE major point of Anabaptism.

  39. RubeRad says:

    Richard, this has grown very tiresome. Returning to your original entrance into this discussion:

    But Reformed Baptists are Reformed. In fact, they have reformed from the unbiblical traditions of Roman Catholicism more than the Presbyterians.

    It seems we could end all this by simply stating some definitions and clarifying by changing the case of a few ‘R’s.

    I (and I assume Z and Lily) define “Reformed” to mean “confesses that the Three Forms of Unity and/or Westminster are biblical”. This is not an uncommon definition of the term (especially when qualified with “Presbyterian and”)

    But there is also a generic meaning to the word “reformed” which basically just means “changed” (for the better, from the perspective of the parties doing the changing). In this context, little-r-reformed can basically be substituted with “Protestant”.

    So it seems that you would agree with this:

    “The group of people who bear/claim the label “Reformed Baptists” are more different from Rome than Presbyterians are, because they do not believe that the Three Forms of Unity or Westminster are sufficiently biblical”

    If you agree with that, then you agree with what we mean, when we say the words “Reformed Baptists are not Reformed”.

  40. Richard Smith says:

    RubeRad says: I think that to call you an Anabaptist we would only need to do #1. If we want to demonstrate that Anabaptists are wrong, then we would proceed to #2 and #3. For me #1 is satisfied by “Reformed did not go far enough; we need to get rid of infant baptism”, as that is THE major point of Anabaptism

    RS: I don’t think that the major point of Reformed theology is infant baptism, but still to prove the point that Anabaptism is wrong in this connection you would have to prove that infant baptism is biblical and secondly that baptizing an infant that is baptized is wrong. Again, it is easy enough to throw around words and terms. But to actually go to the heart of the matter and to be biblical, that is not quite so easy.

  41. Richard Smith says:

    RubeRad says: RubeRad: Richard, this has grown very tiresome. Returning to your original entrance into this discussion:

    RS: Sorry you are weary. Perseverance is a good thing.

    RubeRad, quoting RS: “But Reformed Baptists are Reformed. In fact, they have reformed from the unbiblical traditions of Roman Catholicism more than the Presbyterians.”

    RubeRad: It seems we could end all this by simply stating some definitions and clarifying by changing the case of a few ‘R’s. I (and I assume Z and Lily) define “Reformed” to mean “confesses that the Three Forms of Unity and/or Westminster are biblical”. This is not an uncommon definition of the term (especially when qualified with “Presbyterian and”)

    But there is also a generic meaning to the word “reformed” which basically just means “changed” (for the better, from the perspective of the parties doing the changing). In this context, little-r-reformed can basically be substituted with “Protestant”.

    So it seems that you would agree with this:
    “The group of people who bear/claim the label “Reformed Baptists” are more different from Rome than Presbyterians are, because they do not believe that the Three Forms of Unity or Westminster are sufficiently biblical”

    If you agree with that, then you agree with what we mean, when we say the words “Reformed Baptists are not Reformed”.

    RS: I believe I will go right between those horns. If you think that each and every Reformed denomination agrees with each and every point of the Three Forms, it appears that you are mistaken. This is one reason why there are so many denominations and even several denominations of Presbyterians. Not all agree with each point of interpretation of the Three Forms and not all agree with each point on how to interpret the WCF. So no one is Reformed in the eyes of other denominations (using your position) if it means to agree on each point of the Three Forms or the WCF.

    So again, I think that many Reformed Baptists are in agreement with at least as much of the Three Forms or the WCF as many denominations do with each other who claim to hold them. If you have ever studies the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, you will note that it is essentially a restatment of Westminster with just a few things changed. Baptists can be Reformed as to the heart of the teachings of the Reformation. But it is also true that Baptists were more thorough reformers.

  42. Richard Smith says:

    Lily says: Richard, You say your theology is based upon the bible while failing to acknowledge that your beliefs are all based upon your own reasonings with no regard to understanding how to properly divide the word of truth or that scripture interprets scripture. You are your own little pope judging men’s writings, keeping this and discarding that, with no regard towards your lack of training in the theology you judge. You have a haphazard personal theology. Anyone can do that. Even your belief that you are elect is based upon your own judgement of yourself. You are the one with a man-made religion that is foreign to the Reformed tradition. And yes, you are still an Anabaptist who says he has truly reformed the church whereas the Reformed did not go far enough.

    RS: Well, since you have spoken plainly, I guess I will do the same. It would appear that you are quite ignorant of many things if you think that I am simply some person out here holding to a theology that no one has ever thought of before. While I hold to the doctrine of the Trinity as the early Church Fathers did, I do think that the biblical theology and practices of the Puritans were superior to that of the Reformers in some areas. While you may not recognize the fact, not all the Puritans were of one accord on all things. Some were Presbyterian, some were Anglican, some were Congregationalists, and there were some in the mix who were Baptists.

    The theology I espouse is not something that has never been found in the history of the Church, but almost everything is right in line with some of the main teachers of the Church. Not all who practice infant baptism teach the same thing about it. Not all who practice the Lord’s Supper teach the same thing about it. You might want to consider, though you speak quite boldly, that there is no such think as one thread of Reformed theolgy. D.G. Hart does not believe the same theology as many people who are considered Reformed. So it might be wise to consider while you are up on your high horse that there are some things you don’t understand yet. As all true Confessions will tell you, the Scripture is the real authority and is the final authority in and on all matters.

    It is to Scripture that I look to with the help of Confessions and the writings of men that wrote the Confessions, but those Confessions are not to have the authority that Scripture does. My theology comes from Scripture and is solidly buttressed with the Confessions. The Confessions must agree with Scripture and not Scripture with the Confession. While some laugh and say that people are not to interpret Scripture by themselves, you must also understand that the Holy Spirit promises to help people understand Scripture. The interpretation of the Confessions do not receive that same promise. So I have no man-made religion, but it seems to me that you have one made of a woman.

  43. Lily says:

    Richard,

    You continue to assume that I am uneducated, uncatechized, and unread. Like so many other things, you are ill-informed. I am well aware that what you espouse is popular on the broad path of American evangelicalism. The contention is that you claim you are Reformed when you are not. When you want to justify yourself by saying that there are many flavors of Reformed folk, well… you sound like the teenager who claims it’s okay to speed because others break the speed limit. You still get the ticket with the penalty fine attached. You have repeatedly demonstrated that you are a man of great hubris who thinks far more of himself and his abilities than is even vaguely warranted. To ascribe the Holy Spirit with your misinterpretations is fatuous. There are plenty of heretics who have tread the same path you have chosen and lost their way.

  44. Richard Smith says:

    Lily says: Richard, You continue to assume that I am uneducated, uncatechized, and unread. Like so many other things, you are ill-informed.

    RS: No, I do not assume those things. What I do assume and willingly state is that you continually jump to unwarranted conclusions regarding what I do and do not believe. You make deductions based on your assumptions and then just apply them to me as if I believe what you think I believe.
    That leaves you ignorant of my real beliefs and the historical and biblical basis of what I believe.

    Lily: I am well aware that what you espouse is popular on the broad path of American evangelicalism.

    RS: What I espouse is not popular at all on the broad path of American evangelicalism. That is another deduction you have made that is simply highly incorrect.

    Lily: The contention is that you claim you are Reformed when you are not.

    RS: But I really am Reformed. Your denial of it does not make it a fact and you are not the pope that makes the decision of what is or is not Reformed.

    Lily: When you want to justify yourself by saying that there are many flavors of Reformed folk, well… you sound like the teenager who claims it’s okay to speed because others break the speed limit.

    RS: I will refrain in commenting on your bad analogy. My point is that there is no consensus on what is Reformed in a specific way. That is why there is so many people claiming to be truly Reformed when they disagree with so many others who claim to be truly Reformed. That is why people like D.G. Hart can dislike the teachings of Jonathan Edwards and the Puritans while many other think of that strain of Reformed teaching as being the most pure of Reformed teaching.
    You still get the ticket with the penalty fine attached.

    Lily: You have repeatedly demonstrated that you are a man of great hubris who thinks far more of himself and his abilities than is even vaguely warranted.

    RS: Which is to say that you value your own abilities and your own self so much that anyone who would dare disagree with you must be a person of great hubris.

    Lily: To ascribe the Holy Spirit with your misinterpretations is fatuous. There are plenty of heretics who have tread the same path you have chosen and lost their way.

    RS: When my doctrines and views in virtually all cases align with those who are considered to be the greatest theologians in history, I view your view with a great deal of skepticism. When John Owen, considered by many the prince of Theologians, wept at the preaching of John Bunyan (the Baptist) and said that he would give all of his learning if only he could preach like that Tinker, I think even my Baptist beliefs are in great company. This is also not taking into account some of the men that God has used across the centuries who were Baptists. I don’t know of a single heretic (judged by real theologians) that has trod the path that I am on. I will not leave this path to follow the path you think I should take.

  45. Lily says:

    Richard,

    I have repeatedly pointed out that you condemn yourself with your own words. If you don’t like them repeated back to you then duct tape your keyboard. Since you are not Reformed, it’s useless to try to convince anyone that you are. Consider it grace that takes you to the woodshed for not having enough sense to question your hubris. You fail to understand that you opt for immature and ill-informed opinions because you have never been trained in an orthodox systemized theology. You are not a titan who understands doctrine and how it must fit in an orthodox understanding of the faith. Pretending to be one because you read some of the older theologians doesn’t make you one. As badly as you mangle Luther, it’s not hard to understand why the Reformed theologians aren’t immune to distortion or that you cannot tell when you are wandering in la-la land.

  46. RubeRad says:

    So no one is Reformed in the eyes of other denominations (using your position) if it means to agree on each point of the Three Forms or the WCF.

    No, there are many denominations within NAPARC that all consider each other Reformed, and yet remain separate denominations. There are probably even denominations outside of NAPARC that would be considered Reformed (CRC?). It is only when church groups seriously mess with the core of Westminster that anybody calls them “not Reformed” (CREC — note, that confederation accepts Baptist congregations!)
    And yes I am aware that LBC is an edit of Westminster. And although LBC (or any confession at all) is a step in the right direction for all baptists, that doesn’t make it a Reformed confession.

    At this point, I’ll simply point back to the inconsistency between “very, very little” and “a lot”, and bow out.

  47. RubeRad says:

    Just when I thought I was out, you pulled me back in!

    John Owen, considered by many the prince of Theologians, wept at the preaching of John Bunyan (the Baptist) and said that he would give all of his learning if only he could preach like that Tinker

    How is that the same as Owen granting Bunyan the label of “Reformed”? Can you find one Reformed preacher alive today that does not covet Spurgeon’s gift for preaching? And yet Spurgeon is not considered Reformed, but Baptist.

    you are not the pope that makes the decision of what is or is not Reformed

    So how is that decision made? I would contend that the definition lies not in a who, but in a what: the artifacts: Westminster and Three Forms. Were they not crafted by the Reformed in an act of self-definition? Of course, you would widen that to include LBC, Savoy, Philadelphia. So we are operating with different definitions of “Reformed”, and this discussion was predestined to be as fruitless as it has.

  48. Lily says:

    RubeRad,

    All discussions with RS prove fruitless no matter who tries to reason with him. With that hard-earned understanding, I bid the discussion adieu and wish you well.

  49. Zrim says:

    The fact that those who are truly Reformed differ with Rome does not mean that they have broken completely from Rome on a particular issue. For example, where in Scripture does it teach us that the Lord’s Supper does testify those things to us?

    Richard, you here are responding to my point about HC 80 in relation to the Supper and how Reformed Prots differ from Roman Catholics. If you want to know the scriptural reference in order to make such statements, simply look at the footnotes. On this particular matter, those footnotes are pretty extensive.

    You go on to suggest that your position is biblical and to let the Bible define the new covenant. Well, that’s precisely what we believe we are doing as well. But the difference between us is what some have called the difference between sola scriptura (us) and solo scripture (you). (Keith Mathison is helpful on this point.) While we Reformed Prots have always maintained that the Bible alone informs our views, we have also never made the claim that we follow the Bible to the exclusion of tradition or history. Our high view of tradition is always mistaken by “solos” as an infallible view of tradition. But that’s Rome’s view. For us, the only thing that is infallible is the Bible. I know you scoff at that suggestion, but that really is what we confess and practice.

    So this is nothing more than the descendants of the Radical Reformation repeating the age-old claim that the descendants of the Protestant Reformation haven’t reformed nearly enough. The latter are telling the former they are on steroids and way overplayed the hand. And once again we see that what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again and there is nothing new under the sun.

  50. Richard Smith says:

    RubeRad says: [LBC] is a step in the right direction for all baptists, that doesn’t make it a Reformed confession. At this point, I’ll simply point back to the inconsistency between “very, very little” and “a lot”, and bow out.

    RS: Since you are bowing, I will not take long. However, in an attempt to reconcile the two statements, there are two different contexts and two different meanings. With some who are less sacramental, the issue of infant baptism is a small part of a whole confession. and so the differences between some Presbyterians and some Reformed Baptists is very, very little. The LBC would be considered to be a Reformed confession. With those who are heavily sacramental, their differences would be a lot whether with the some Presbyterians or the Reformed Baptists. Remember, there are covenantal Baptists in the world and the real difference has to do with who is in the New Covenant.

  51. Richard Smith says:

    Lily says: Richard, I have repeatedly pointed out that you condemn yourself with your own words. If you don’t like them repeated back to you then duct tape your keyboard. Since you are not Reformed, it’s useless to try to convince anyone that you are.

    RS: Indeed, so a non-Reformed person who at one point questions her own abilities regarding “Reformed speak” tells me that I am not Reformed. But even besides that, the heart of the Reformation was the “five solas” and I will stick with that. In case you are interested, in my view you have denied some of those.

    Lily: Consider it grace that takes you to the woodshed for not having enough sense to question your hubris.

    RS: For some reason when you use the word “grace” it is hard to understand it coming from someone who prefers to jump to conclusions and then call names rather than discuss.

    Lily: You fail to understand that you opt for immature and ill-informed opinions because you have never been trained in an orthodox systemized theology.

    RS: Another ill-informed opinion of yours that most likely was another deduction based on false reasoning. I have been trained in an orthodox systemized theology. But whatever that means, consider very closely the words of Jesus in John 6. It is only those that the Father has taught that will come to Him. One can have all the training of men in the world and still not be taught of God.

    Lily: You are not a titan who understands doctrine and how it must fit in an orthodox understanding of the faith.

    RS: Again, I will consider the source.

    Lily: Pretending to be one because you read some of the older theologians doesn’t make you one.

    RS: I wasn’t aware that I was pretending to be anything, but that does not stop you from leaping to another false conclusion.

    Lily: As badly as you mangle Luther, it’s not hard to understand why the Reformed theologians aren’t immune to distortion or that you cannot tell when you are wandering in la-la land.

    RS: Well, as I remember the issue I said that Luther’s own opinion was that he only had two works that were worth keeping. One of them was his Bondage of the Will and the other his work on the small catechism. You kept telling me that I need to read all of the writings of Luther to understand him. As I said earlier, I have read a fair amount of Luther but certainly far from all of him. However, when I quote Luther from his Bondage of the Will which he says is one of the two works worth keeping and you disagree with that saying I must read all of Luther, I will believe Luther’s own words. Again, it is much better both intellectually and from the Christian point of view to discuss things rather than call names. You can take that as you will.

  52. Richard Smith says:

    RubeRad says: Just when I thought I was out, you pulled me back in!

    RS: Good for me.

    RubeRad, quoting RS: John Owen, considered by many the prince of Theologians, wept at the preaching of John Bunyan (the Baptist) and said that he would give all of his learning if only he could preach like that Tinker

    How is that the same as Owen granting Bunyan the label of “Reformed”? Can you find one Reformed preacher alive today that does not covet Spurgeon’s gift for preaching? And yet Spurgeon is not considered Reformed, but Baptist.

    RS: Indeed I am making a deduction, but I think it is a sound one. Owen would not have given up being essentially Reformed for anything. So I think we can safely make the deduction that if Owen would have been willing to give up all his learning he would not have given up his Reformed doctrine to have preached like Bunyan, and that sure seems to include Bunyan as Reformed in some way.

    RubeRad, quoting RS: you are not the pope that makes the decision of what is or is not Reformed

    RubeRad: So how is that decision made? I would contend that the definition lies not in a who, but in a what: the artifacts: Westminster and Three Forms. Were they not crafted by the Reformed in an act of self-definition? Of course, you would widen that to include LBC, Savoy, Philadelphia. So we are operating with different definitions of “Reformed”, and this discussion was predestined to be as fruitless as it has.

    RS: The decision has to be made by going back to what it means to be Reformed which is to go back to what is biblical. I hope that we all would prefer to be biblical over anything else. I would argue that to be Reformed has to do with the major doctrines that came out of the Reformation and that included the “five solas” and some other doctrines as well. One of the other teaching is that the Church must be Reformed and always be Reforming. I would argue that to understand the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms as virtually inerrant and the static standard of true for all time would be an understanding that is not Reformed. If you think a discussion is fruitless only because you have not convinced another person of something at that very moment, then I would say that is also not Reformed. People change when God changes them and we are to plant and water seeds and wait for Him to cause the change and growth. If these discussions have sharpened our understandings in any way then they were not fruitless.

  53. Richard Smith says:

    Lily says: RubeRad, All discussions with RS prove fruitless no matter who tries to reason with him. With that hard-earned understanding, I bid the discussion adieu and wish you well.

    RS: RubeRad, Lily just thinks I should bow down and accept whatever she says at the moment she says it without the evidence of anything but her word. While she wants to believe what people say about Luther rather than Luther himself, there is good evidence that when he was standing before the Diet of Worms he said that he would not be convinced to recant unless he was convinced by Scripture or evident reason. Included in that statement was his reasoning that both Councils and popes had erred. So I consider myself to be quite Lutheran when I want the evidence to be from Scripture and not from leaps of logic that are based on deductions which were based on massive assumptions.

  54. Richard Smith says:

    Zrim says, quoting RS: The fact that those who are truly Reformed differ with Rome does not mean that they have broken completely from Rome on a particular issue. For example, where in Scripture does it teach us that the Lord’s Supper does testify those things to us?

    Richard, you here are responding to my point about HC 80 in relation to the Supper and how Reformed Prots differ from Roman Catholics. If you want to know the scriptural reference in order to make such statements, simply look at the footnotes. On this particular matter, those footnotes are pretty extensive.

    RS: There are several verses but I still don’t think that they demonstrate the points that they set out to prove. It is also a different thing to give a verse that may or may not speak to the issue than it is to show that a verse demonstrates the actual point in hand.

    Zrim: You go on to suggest that your position is biblical and to let the Bible define the new covenant. Well, that’s precisely what we believe we are doing as well. But the difference between us is what some have called the difference between sola scriptura (us) and solo scripture (you).

    RS: But again, it is not just me speaking on this issue. For some reason you make the leap that I am the only one in history that has said these things when you say what you just said above. I would argue that it is at least two historical points of view that are colliding and is much like the tip of two icebergs. There is a whole lot under the water (like that Baptist analogy?) that is not seen.

    Zrim: (Keith Mathison is helpful on this point.) While we Reformed Prots have always maintained that the Bible alone informs our views, we have also never made the claim that we follow the Bible to the exclusion of tradition or history. Our high view of tradition is always mistaken by “solos” as an infallible view of tradition. But that’s Rome’s view. For us, the only thing that is infallible is the Bible. I know you scoff at that suggestion, but that really is what we confess and practice.

    RS: I don’t scoff at your theory, but I do disagree that this is the way it is carried out in practice. I would argue that both the tradition I am in and I have a high view of tradition. But we diverge at some points that we don’t think Scripture will allow us to go. For example, I argue that there is no command or example in the New Covenant for infant baptism. I think of that as a very powerful argument and it should be weighty for those who believe in the Regulative Principle of Worship.

    Zrim: So this is nothing more than the descendants of the Radical Reformation repeating the age-old claim that the descendants of the Protestant Reformation haven’t reformed nearly enough. The latter are telling the former they are on steroids and way overplayed the hand. And once again we see that what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again and there is nothing new under the sun.

    RS: I would argue quite strongly against the Anabaptists as well in most areas. I would also argue that using them as an example allows you to dismiss far too easily those you disagree with and so you should be very careful in doing so. While it is biblical to say that there is nothing new under the sun in one sense, there is a lot that is on the other side of the sun that may not have been revealed. Some of that may just not be in accordance with your interpretation of your tradition which has interpreted the Bible in its own tradition. However, my tradition has said that the Church should always be Reformed and reforming. We must not be static in all things.

  55. RubeRad says:

    this is nothing more than the descendants of the Radical Reformation…

    So Richard, maybe it would make you happy if we all agreed to call you “Radically Reformed”? Or how about “Hyper Reformed”? Or at least “Ultra Reformed”.

  56. RubeRad says:

    I think we can safely make the deduction…

    As my (unaddressed) counterexample wrt Spurgeon demonstrates, I of course do not feel that such a deduction is safe.

    The decision has to be made by going back to what it means to be Reformed which is to go back to what is biblical.

    But that just backs up the question to what is biblical. I don’t find your theology sufficiently biblical, I don’t find your theology to be in alignment with Westminster/TFU, I confess that Westminster/TFU is biblical, I define “Reformed” as “adhering to Westminster/TFU”, I don’t find your theology to be Reformed. All those are equivalent. And you have a different judgment because what you think is biblical is different than what I think is biblical.

    And you will not find anybody who says “I guess you’re right, I’ve got my theology, but your theology is more biblical”; so the criterion “is more biblical” is unhelpful. If “Reformed” simply means “biblical”, then everybody will claim the label “Reformed”, because everybody claims to be biblical. Rather, “Reformed” refers to a particular understanding of what “biblical” means, and that understanding was shared by millions of Reformed in history, and they wrote it down, so you and I can refer to it today.

    I would argue that to understand the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms as virtually inerrant and the static standard of true for all time would be an understanding that is not Reformed.

    Well, truth does not change, so if something is correct, we should not be surprised or suspcious that it would remain static and correct for all time. And nobody is saying that W/TFU is inerrant in theory, or by principle; however we are saying that, in practice, we can’t find any errors. I know you find errors, which is why you are not Reformed (tautologically, according to my definition of Reformed, which is W/TFU).

    I would argue that to be Reformed has to do with the major doctrines that came out of the Reformation and that included the “five solas” and some other doctrines as well.

    There you go again, choosing a minimalistic definition of “Reformed”. For someone who claims to care about the bible more than labels, you sure are anxious to craft a definition of the label “Reformed” that lets you in!

  57. RubeRad says:

    The theology I espouse is not something that has never been found in the history of the Church, but almost everything is right in line with some of the main teachers of the Church.

    Wow, that’s a HUGE red flag. You have cobbled together a theology which no single great mind has ever had before; though all the great minds before have had their differences, and argued about them to no resolution, you have managed to solve the puzzle that none of them could figure out. You must be really smart.

    You know what, this is a very important problem you’ve solved. It would be a sin to deprive the rest of Christianity of it. You should write down everything you’ve figured out, so Christians centuries from now won’t have to muddle along without it. I wonder what we would call such a document? What role would such a magnificent statement of accurate, biblical theology have in the church?

  58. Richard Smith says:

    RubeRad says, quoting RS: The theology I espouse is not something that has never been found in the history of the Church, but almost everything is right in line with some of the main teachers of the Church.

    RubeRad: Wow, that’s a HUGE red flag. You have cobbled together a theology which no single great mind has ever had before; though all the great minds before have had their differences, and argued about them to no resolution, you have managed to solve the puzzle that none of them could figure out. You must be really smart.

    RS: I have no idea of what you are talking about when you jump to the conclusion you must have jumped to in writing what you wrote above. Lily accused me of having basically a theology that I dreamed up. I was simply noting that the heart of the theology I hold to is what all the great theologians have held to. You may call the theology that I hold in terms of the sacraments something that not the majority of the great theologians have held to, but there are many theologicans that have held that. I have no idea how you could arrive at the conclusion that I have cobbled together some theology that no single great mind has ever had before. I was simply informing her that my theology is in the line of the history of the Church.

    RubeRad : You know what, this is a very important problem you’ve solved. It would be a sin to deprive the rest of Christianity of it. You should write down everything you’ve figured out, so Christians centuries from now won’t have to muddle along without it. I wonder what we would call such a document? What role would such a magnificent statement of accurate, biblical theology have in the church?

    RS: Your sarcasm is this section does not correlate with a real discussion. The theology that I hold has already been written down in the great confessions of history, I am still not sure how you jumped out of the discussion to such a ridiculous conclusion.

  59. Richard Smith says:

    RubeRad says, quoting RS: The theology I espouse is not something that has never been found in the history of the Church, but almost everything is right in line with some of the main teachers of the Church.

    RubeRad: Wow, that’s a HUGE red flag. You have cobbled together a theology which no single great mind has ever had before; though all the great minds before have had their differences, and argued about them to no resolution, you have managed to solve the puzzle that none of them could figure out. You must be really smart.

    RS: The double negative in the statement you quoted me must have turned your eyes away from what I was saying. That is the only way that I can make out your response. Read it again slowly. Instead of saying that the theology I espouse has never been found in the history of the Church, I was saying that all of it is in the history of the Church.

  60. Richard Smith says:

    RubeRad says: So Richard, maybe it would make you happy if we all agreed to call you “Radically Reformed”? Or how about “Hyper Reformed”? Or at least “Ultra Reformed”.

    RS: Reformed Baptist would do.

  61. Richard Smith says:

    RubeRad says, quoting RS: I think we can safely make the deduction…

    RubeRad: As my (unaddressed) counterexample wrt Spurgeon demonstrates, I of course do not feel that such a deduction is safe.

    RS: I don’t think your example of Spurgeon does what you want. Owen was willing to give up all of his learning in order to preach like Bunyan. People today just say they would like to preach like Spurgeon. For what it is worth, Spurgeon was not a very consistent Calvinist and so I would not disagree with him not being Reformed.

    RubeRad, quoting RS: The decision has to be made by going back to what it means to be Reformed which is to go back to what is biblical.

    RubeRad: But that just backs up the question to what is biblical. I don’t find your theology sufficiently biblical, I don’t find your theology to be in alignment with Westminster/TFU, I confess that Westminster/TFU is biblical, I define “Reformed” as “adhering to Westminster/TFU”, I don’t find your theology to be Reformed. All those are equivalent. And you have a different judgment because what you think is biblical is different than what I think is biblical.

    RS: But just who gets to decide what is Reformed? Who has been appointed to decide that? If we are talking about the theology of the Reformation, then how much theology does one have to hold of Luther and Calvin in order to be Reformed? I would think that someone that did not hold to Sola Scriptura or the “five solas” would not be Reformed. Those things were more at the heart of the Reformation than infant baptism. Flowing from that is justification by grace alone through faith alone to the glory of God alone.

    RubeRad: And you will not find anybody who says “I guess you’re right, I’ve got my theology, but your theology is more biblical”; so the criterion “is more biblical” is unhelpful. If “Reformed” simply means “biblical”, then everybody will claim the label “Reformed”, because everybody claims to be biblical. Rather, “Reformed” refers to a particular understanding of what “biblical” means, and that understanding was shared by millions of Reformed in history, and they wrote it down, so you and I can refer to it today.

    RS: Indeed they wrote it down, but they also would abhor the idea that people would not be driven to understand Scripture and that if they did err that others would follow them rather than Scripture.

    RubeRad, quoting RS: I would argue that to understand the Westminster Standards and the Three Forms as virtually inerrant and the static standard of true for all time would be an understanding that is not Reformed.

    RubeRad: Well, truth does not change, so if something is correct, we should not be surprised or suspcious that it would remain static and correct for all time. And nobody is saying that W/TFU is inerrant in theory, or by principle; however we are saying that, in practice, we can’t find any errors. I know you find errors, which is why you are not Reformed (tautologically, according to my definition of Reformed, which is W/TFU).

    RS: That is fine if you don’t think that I am Reformed according to your definition. But do you really think that your definition itself is biblical?

  62. Richard Smith says:

    RubeRad, quoting RS: I would argue that to be Reformed has to do with the major doctrines that came out of the Reformation and that included the “five solas” and some other doctrines as well.

    RubeRad: There you go again, choosing a minimalistic definition of “Reformed”. For someone who claims to care about the bible more than labels, you sure are anxious to craft a definition of the label “Reformed” that lets you in!

    RS: I don’t think that is a minimalistic defintion at all, though I would argue that it is best to be biblical than Reformed if the two divide at some point. Perhaps I am even using the word “Reformed” differently than you are. I think of it as those who follow the heart of the Reformation and the spirit of the Reformation. Luther was willing to risk life and limb to recover the biblical Gospel of the glory of God back into its primary state rather than follow the creeds and traditions of the state Church. It is sad to see people unwilling to follow the Reformed principle of Reformed and always Reforming. Unless the Church is always Reforming, it will be returning to the basic principles of Rome even though it is Protest-ant in creed.

  63. RubeRad says:

    Oopx. Once again my too-quick reading is a problem. I did indeed speed read “not something that has never been found in the history of the Church” as “not something that has ever been found in the history of the Church”. I apologize again for my uncareful reading, and consequent jumping to a conclusion.

    I’ll take that as a sign that I should stop talking now. James 1:19.

  64. Zrim says:

    Richard, on the one hand you ding the confessionalist for subscribing to the scriptural mining his forbears have done, as in “Those who are more confessional are relying on what others have said is true and those were written during and after the Reformation. Since there was not a fuller Reformation at the time, that needs to be continued.”

    Then on the other you say things like: “But again, it is not just me speaking on this issue. For some reason you make the leap that I am the only one in history that has said these things when you say what you just said above. I would argue that it is at least two historical points of view that are colliding and is much like the tip of two icebergs…I would argue that both the tradition I am in and I have a high view of tradition.”

    So, again, I ask: why do you get to have a high view of your tradition but when others have one of theirs it’s ding-worthy? It begins to look more and more to me like your problem is with those who cite a historical precedent for what they affirm/reject what your tradition rejects/affirms, respectively. Don’t look now, but that’s being fairly confessionalist. The problem is that you’re saying you get to be one but when I speak like one I’m being all Roman Catholic-y about it. Boo, hiss on your double standard and rigged strategy.

    I would argue quite strongly against the Anabaptists as well in most areas. I would also argue that using them as an example allows you to dismiss far too easily those you disagree with and so you should be very careful in doing so.

    Not when it comes to baptismal sacramentology you wouldn’t. The long and short of it is that you and the AB’s withhold the sign and seal of the covenant from children of the covenant. But it’s also ironic (hypocritical?) to dismiss me for being latently Roman, then turn around and give me instruction on dismissing you for being Anabaptist-y on baptism. First of all, you are Anabaptist on baptism. Second, pot meet kettle.

  65. RubeRad says:

    Just answering questions at this point, trying to wind down…

    how much theology does one have to hold of Luther and Calvin in order to be Reformed?

    Luther is/was not “Reformed”; he was Lutheran (which was the original group of the “Protestant Reformation”, the following group being “The Reformed”, which in turn was followed by “The Radical Reformation” a.k.a. the Anabaptists. And I suppose the Particular Baptists, if you want to put a fine point on it.) Although I think we have very strong agreement between Lutherans and “Reformed” on the solas, they reject most of TULIP, they have not sufficiently reformed their sacramentology from Rome (sound familiar? Yet I am not claiming to be Lutheran), and their normative (as opposed to regulative) principle of worship has significant consequences wrt what we Reformed would consider idolatry.

    But do you really think that your definition itself is biblical?

    No, “Reformed” is a man-made label, and I cannot point to a verse that says “The label ‘Reformed’ should mean ‘affirms the W/TFU'”. Or maybe your question is, “what does the bible have to say about how wide or narrow any group should make their own labels?” That again is another discussion; I am not talking about what should be, but what is. The Reformed label is what it is, and it has been for hundreds of years, but now people (like you) want to come along and chop off the fiddly bits to reduce it to a smaller core definition that will admit a wider diversity of beliefs.

    “Christian” on the other hand, is a label about which we could argue about a biblical meaning. And it is a label I do not deny to “Reformed Baptists”, or Lutherans, etc or any that trust in Christ for forgiveness of their sins.

  66. Richard Smith says:

    RubeRad says: Just answering questions at this point, trying to wind down…

    Quoting RS: how much theology does one have to hold of Luther and Calvin in order to be Reformed?

    RubeRad: Luther is/was not “Reformed”; he was Lutheran (which was the original group of the “Protestant Reformation”, the following group being “The Reformed”, which in turn was followed by “The Radical Reformation” a.k.a. the Anabaptists. And I suppose the Particular Baptists, if you want to put a fine point on it.) Although I think we have very strong agreement between Lutherans and “Reformed” on the solas, they reject most of TULIP, they have not sufficiently reformed their sacramentology from Rome (sound familiar? Yet I am not claiming to be Lutheran), and their normative (as opposed to regulative) principle of worship has significant consequences wrt what we Reformed would consider idolatry.

    RS: But if you think of Reformed as the heart of the theology that came out of the Reformation, then Luther was Reformed since he was the major Reformer and the one that God used to bring justification by grace alone though faith alone back to the front of the Gospel. But I think I am understanding your point.

    RubeRad, quoting RS: But do you really think that your definition itself is biblical?

    RubeRad: No, “Reformed” is a man-made label, and I cannot point to a verse that says “The label ‘Reformed’ should mean ‘affirms the W/TFU’”. Or maybe your question is, “what does the bible have to say about how wide or narrow any group should make their own labels?” That again is another discussion; I am not talking about what should be, but what is. The Reformed label is what it is, and it has been for hundreds of years, but now people (like you) want to come along and chop off the fiddly bits to reduce it to a smaller core definition that will admit a wider diversity of beliefs.

    RS: So one can follow Luther and Calvin quite closely on most issues and still not be Reformed by your definition since Luther and Calvin were not around when the WCF and TFU were written. I find that very interesting. By the way, I don’t think that I am trying to chop of bits as such, but simply saying that there parts that needed to be Reformed and still need reforming. In particular I am speaking of the sacraments. For example, Rome believed and practiced infant baptism and they had their reasons for baptizing infants. The Reformers after Luther rejected Rome’s reasons for infant baptism and came up with reasons of their own.

    RubeRad: “Christian” on the other hand, is a label about which we could argue about a biblical meaning. And it is a label I do not deny to “Reformed Baptists”, or Lutherans, etc or any that trust in Christ for forgiveness of their sins.

    RS: Let me boil this down. You are saying that one has to hold to (more or less) a rather tight understaning and belief of the TFU in order to be Reformed. Okay, in that case I would admit that I am not Reformed. I, however, would hold that one who holds to the heart of the teachings of the majesterial Reformers would be Reformed. In that case, I would be Reformed.

  67. Richard Smith says:

    Zrim says: Richard, on the one hand you ding the confessionalist for subscribing to the scriptural mining his forbears have done, as in “Those who are more confessional are relying on what others have said is true and those were written during and after the Reformation. Since there was not a fuller Reformation at the time, that needs to be continued.”

    RS: I would understand what I am doing as arguing against being unwilling to examine things in light of Scripture. The Council of Nicea changed in 381 after its statements in 325, and then there was even more done at the Council of Toledo in (memory failure) the 500’s. In other words, they were willing to change things a bit in order to state the truth as things changed. These things had to do with the deity of Christ.

    Zrim, mainly quoting RS: Then on the other you say things like: “But again, it is not just me speaking on this issue. For some reason you make the leap that I am the only one in history that has said these things when you say what you just said above. I would argue that it is at least two historical points of view that are colliding and is much like the tip of two icebergs…I would argue that both the tradition I am in and I have a high view of tradition.”

    Zrim: So, again, I ask: why do you get to have a high view of your tradition but when others have one of theirs it’s ding-worthy?

    RS: I am not against you or anyone having a high view of their tradition, but I would argue that it is necessary that each generation (at least) needs to go back to Scripture and with much prayer be sure these things are truly biblical. History did begin before Calvin and the TFU.

    Zrim: It begins to look more and more to me like your problem is with those who cite a historical precedent for what they affirm/reject what your tradition rejects/affirms, respectively. Don’t look now, but that’s being fairly confessionalist.

    RS: Yes, I agree that I am fairly confessional. However, I hope I am willing to change when I am shown that Scripture iteself teaches something that the confession does not. It seems to me that a rigid confessionalism is not willing to examine Scripture to be sure the teachings are biblical.

    Zrim: The problem is that you’re saying you get to be one but when I speak like one I’m being all Roman Catholic-y about it. Boo, hiss on your double standard and rigged strategy.

    RS: It will not shock you I guess when I disagree. I am simply saying (I think) that all confessions should be built on Scripture and should be examined to be sure that is true. I think that is is biblical to want people to believe something because they see it as taught in Scripture rather than just believe it because it is taught in a confession. The issue of being like Rome is when the confession seems to function as the standard and the teaching of “sola scriptura” is dismissed in reality.

  68. RubeRad says:

    So one can follow Luther and Calvin quite closely on most issues and still not be Reformed by your definition since Luther and Calvin were not around when the WCF and TFU were written.

    Issues of anachronism aside, not quite. Certainly, as I said before, Luther was not Reformed, but we would claim that WCF/TFU are just a later-in-time expression of the same theology that Calvin, Knox, Beza, Bucer, etc. had. So I would say (and I believe all Reformed would agree) that if you stick with Calvin, you will find WCF/TFU to be in agreement, and vice versa.

  69. Richard Smith says:

    Zrim quoting RS: I would argue quite strongly against the Anabaptists as well in most areas. I would also argue that using them as an example allows you to dismiss far too easily those you disagree with and so you should be very careful in doing so.

    Zrim: Not when it comes to baptismal sacramentology you wouldn’t. The long and short of it is that you and the AB’s withhold the sign and seal of the covenant from children of the covenant.

    RS: We don’t withhold what Scripture does not command or give an example of. If Scripture commanded it and we did not do it, then it would be withholding.

    Zrim: But it’s also ironic (hypocritical?) to dismiss me for being latently Roman, then turn around and give me instruction on dismissing you for being Anabaptist-y on baptism. First of all, you are Anabaptist on baptism. Second, pot meet kettle.

    RS: I don’t dismiss you for being latently Roman, but the point on that is simply an argument for a position you hold. I am looking at where a view you hold came from in a sense. I am not Anabaptist (= Baptize again) since infant baptism is not true baptism. I do not accuse you of being Roman Catholic and I deny that I am an Anabaptist. I do agree, however, that I have a point in common with the Anabaptist and that is only believers should receive baptism. Since virtually all of the real Anabaptists were not Reformed, we would even disagree on parts of what it means to baptize believers. You disagree with Roman Catholics, but on that point, while you do not believe all they believe on it, I am just saying that is the source of the belief rather than Scripture.

  70. Richard Smith says:

    Lily says: RubeRad, All discussions with RS prove fruitless no matter who tries to reason with him.

    RS: I missed the part of your trying to reason with me. You jumped to conclusions and then resorted to calling names. It was not fruitless as it certainly appeared that you were demonstrating some fruit of the flesh.

  71. Lily says:

    As has been continuously demonstrated as normative for you, Richard, you twist the truth.

  72. Richard Smith says:

    Lily says: As has been continuously demonstrated as normative for you, Richard, you twist the truth.

    RS: I deny what you said in your post. I don’t twist the truth, but I do twist away at times on the things you say.

  73. Lily says:

    My comment stands. I’ve confronted you on this problem a number of times. I see no reason to continue since your habit is to “weasel” on your previous statements and continuously change your story. Fini.

  74. Richard Smith says:

    Lily says: My comment stands. I’ve confronted you on this problem a number of times. I see no reason to continue since your habit is to “weasel” on your previous statements and continuously change your story. Fini.

    RS: As stated before, my attempts to correct your wrong assumptions and leaps of “logic” when responding to me does not mean that my attempt to correct you is an attempt to weasel or change my story. It was attempts to show you that once again you had responded before you understood.

  75. RubeRad says:

    OK Lily, Richard, clearly your interaction has devolved into “Did so! Did not!” I recommend a cease-fire.

  76. Lily says:

    Already walked away, RubeRad. Thanks for making it official.

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