Regeneration – Baptism – Circumcision

In a recent post responding to some comments from R. Scott Clark, Dr. White states:

In the same way, once we see that fulfillment of circumcision in the New Covenant is regeneration, not baptism, the consistency of the biblical revelation is seen.

(source)

I have heard Dr. White make this claim repeatedly, but it seems odd to me for two reasons:

1) The claim from his Presbyterian brethren is not that baptism is the fulfillment of circumcision, but that it is the replacement. The unbloody sign of baptism replaces the bloody sign of circumcision (just as the unbloody Lord’s Supper replaces the bloody Passover).

2) Regeneration is the the thing symbolized by both Circumcision and Baptism. I guess one could call it the “fulfillment” of the sign, but it is properly speaking the antitype of which both circumcision and baptism are the type. Both the type and the antitype coexisted in the Old Testament, and there was an incomplete overlap then as now. For example, Abraham believed (demonstrating regeneration) before he was circumcised, whereas we can question whether Ishmael ever believed – yet he was circumcised.

So, I find Dr. White’s claim puzzling. It doesn’t make sense to me to say that “fulfillment of circumcision in the New Covenant is regeneration” because on the one hand it would be more appropriate to say “fulfillment of circumcision in the Old Covenant was regeneration” or on the other hand “fulfillment of baptism in the New Covenant is regeneration.”

-TurretinFan

81 Responses to “Regeneration – Baptism – Circumcision”

  1. Coram Deo Says:

    TF – I've been keeping tabs on this unfolding discussion over at The Heidelblog this weekend.In light of the exchanges there it would appear that Dr. White's comments neatly hit the mark.Relative to old/new covenant signs of circumcision/baptism it seems that the inspired Apostle Paul had copious opportunities to explain to the Jews of his day that baptism was the New Covenant version circumcision, yet he never once took up this line of argumentation.It also seems more than a bit strange to me that the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 would have failed to formulate infant baptism as the New Covenent "circumcision", were this the case; and it's hard to imagine a better venue for the Holy Spirit to have resolved the matter for the fledgling church.When Paul does take up the subject of Old Covenant circumcision in light of the New Covenant it's always jutaposed with something that happens inwardly, not outwardly:For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (Phil. 3:3)Does an infant "worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus"? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. (Romans 2:28-29)Inwardly.Of the heart.By the Spirit.Is paedobaptism outward in the flesh; or is it inward, of the heart, and by the Spirit?In Christ,CD

  2. Turretinfan Says:

    "Relative to old/new covenant signs of circumcision/baptism it seems that the inspired Apostle Paul had copious opportunities to explain to the Jews of his day that baptism was the New Covenant version circumcision, yet he never once took up this line of argumentation."Silence is easier to eisegete than words."It also seems more than a bit strange to me that the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 would have failed to formulate infant baptism as the New Covenent "circumcision", were this the case; and it's hard to imagine a better venue for the Holy Spirit to have resolved the matter for the fledgling church."Silence again – and historical evidence doesn't suggest it was a divisive issue for the church."When Paul does take up the subject of Old Covenant circumcision in light of the New Covenant it's always jutaposed with something that happens inwardly, not outwardly:For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (Phil. 3:3)"Paul is reiterating an Old Testament theme there."Does an infant "worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus"?"Scripture doesn't explicitly say. Yet more silence to eisegete, I suppose."For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. (Romans 2:28-29)Inwardly.Of the heart.By the Spirit.Is paedobaptism outward in the flesh; or is it inward, of the heart, and by the Spirit?"All baptisms are outward of the flesh.-TurretinFan

  3. Coram Deo Says:

    TF said: The unbloody sign of baptism replaces the bloody sign of circumcision (just as the unbloody Lord's Supper replaces the bloody Passover).Where in the Bible do we learn that "baptism replaces circumcision"?As indicated in my prior post, spiritual circumcision under the New Covenant consistently points towards obedience to the gospel, e.g. Col. 2:11-12. Therefore how can an outward, in the flesh sign replace an inward, of the heart, by the Spirit reality?Lastly, unless I misunderstood your reply to my inquiry about infants worshipping God in the Spirit and rejoicing in Christ, you seem to intimate that infants who are baptized at least potentially have knowledge of sin, and faith in the working of God. Is this your belief?In Christ,CD

  4. Turretinfan Says:

    CD:You use quotation marks as though you want me to find a verse that has those exact words.Of course, those exact words are not used."As indicated in my prior post, spiritual circumcision under the New Covenant consistently points towards obedience to the gospel, e.g. Col. 2:11-12."Spiritual circumcision under the Old Covenant pointed to the same thing (more or less clearly). Compare:Leviticus 26:41 And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: Deuteronomy 10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. Acts 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Deuteronomy 30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. Romans 2:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. Jeremiah 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. Jeremiah 6:10 To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it. Jeremiah 9:26 Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart. Ezekiel 44:7 In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations. Ezekiel 44:9 Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel. Baptism is similarly a cleansing of the flesh that pictures spiritual cleansing:1 Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Acts 15:8-9 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. "Is this your belief?"I believe all salvation is miraculous:Luke 18:26-27 And they that heard it said, "Who then can be saved?" And he said, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God."Whether God does give repentance and faith to infants, I do not know. It is possible with God, though it seems impossible for man. -TurretinFan

  5. natamllc Says:

    CD,an interesting thread exchange today!I am paedobaptist.Here's why.You asked: "….Does an infant "worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus"? …".I would comment this way about that question.Do you not misunderstand spirituality and Godly worship then by that question?Our baptism is a Work and Word of God. We are the passive recipients of both the Work and Word of God. Spiritual worship is "what" Jesus does that we cannot do and fail to do.If I could do it, I would not need a Savior.Infant baptism or any baptism is a True Baptism when it is done with the Word of God as a part of it.It is the "giving" of spiritual Life that makes me alive.It is no longer I who live. It is Christ in me, the Hope of Glory. And the life I now live I live by the same Faith once delivered to the Saints. Faith is the gift of God, not man.Baptism is an act of Faith. The decision rests with God not man.The argument that I must wait and make a decision to be baptized makes no sense to me.I would ask you to angle it from this posed question's point of view.What does a three day old infant have to do to be adopted?Nothing.Baptism is the act of God's Faith not man's.Therefore I say that God, by His Own Will adopts and baptises Whom He wills. Baptism is equally a sacrament according to the Will of God that we do.

  6. natamllc Says:

    Oh yeah, TF, your words are so powerful, it seems to me, if one takes the time to enter into that Sabbath Rest by the power of them, your words I will cite following, as we are instructed to do as Royal Priests through baptism, [which, parenthetically, we can't do ourself to ourself,] one would come into the clearing the Light brings us into in understanding baptism, coming out of the darkness and into His Light:::>"….Spiritual circumcision under the Old Covenant pointed to the same thing (more or less clearly)….".This wisdom you point to goes all the way back to Heaven itself and before Adam's "life" with the Triune God before his transgression that spread the curse of death to all humanity; onto Cain's, Able's, Seth's and on and on and on to the last human born sometime historically in the future.The transgression of Adam followed the encounter with an evil spirit being, who by that time was cast out and fallen from Heaven himself.The obedience that followed the birth and physical Life of the Eternal, Holy Spirit Being, Christ, Who was sent, came after that time of His Sufferings, death and resurrection as He would be cast out of Heaven Himself too, so that He could become the only substitutionary curse in the present heavens and earth to free God's Elect from the curse of the Law of Righteousness put on us in this life by Adam's transgression.Baptism follows as an outward event of an inner event predestined by God Himself before the foundation of the world, adoption, as prophesied.Baptism joins us to Christ's death and Resurrection at infancy or anytime after that.Rom 6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Rom 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Rom 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. The obedience isn't our obedience, but His for us.What is the obedience then?Paul gives us some understanding of it here:::>Col 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, Col 2:14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Col 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. I could go into much broader areas of this spirituality and Truth. Suffice it enough though now to say again, what I cited above that you wrote is powerful stuff, indeed because:Pro 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

  7. Coram Deo Says:

    TF – just getting back to this thread after an amazing Lord's Day, our God is so good!You said: "You use quotation marks as though you want me to find a verse that has those exact words."Actually the reason I used quotation marks was because I was quoting you. Granted it was a paraphrase, but I think it captured the essence of your statement in point #1 of your original post.I was a bit surprised to see you anachronistically note that "historical evidence doesn't suggest it [circumcision] was a divisive issue for the church."It seems obvious enough that this should be the case following the Council of Jerusalem which specifically addressed this heretofore divisive issue. But sadly, as we know from Paul's epistle to the Galatians, the Judaizer's desire to glory in the flesh (circumcision) of the Gentile converts merely went underground after the council's decision, as heresy is often wont to do. Presumably you hold the book of Galatians to be a historical document, therefore I assume your allusion to the dearth of historical evidence for circumcision being a divisive issue for the church refers to the period following the Judaizer's final apostolic smack down.But just as there are still Arians around today (JW's), there's little doubt there are still Judaizers around as well. Perhaps the modern day Judaizers are the Reformed Baptists who agree with the Judaizers that baptism doesn't replace circumcision? In Christ,CD

  8. Turretinfan Says:

    CD:You wrote: "I was a bit surprised to see you anachronistically note that 'historical evidence doesn't suggest it [circumcision] was a divisive issue for the church.'"a) By "it" I was referring to infant baptism, not circumcision.b) My reference isn't "anachronistic". You made a claim that "it's hard to imagine a better venue for the Holy Spirit to have resolved the matter for the fledgling church" and my point is that there is no historical evidence to suggest that infant baptism was a matter that needed to be resolved in the fledgling church.The discontinuity of circumcision was an issue, and it was resolved.-TurretinFan

  9. Louis Says:

    Paul doesn't say "baptism replaces circumcision", because he is arguing against keeping any law or ceremony as a requirement to be justified. If he had said "baptism replaces circumcision", the Galatians would have made baptism legalistic, just as the jews had made circumcision legalistic. Thus, Paul contrasts circumcision with faith; law with gospel. This doesn't mean that baptism no longer occupies the same place as circumcision, rightly understood. circumcision was supposed to be a sign and seal of faith (Romans 4:11), just as baptism is.

  10. Andrew Suttles Says:

    CD -You might well give up the fight, as TF said:"Silence is easier to eisegete than words."I agree with TF here. There are no scriptural passages in the NT commanding infant baptism, so there is nothing to exegete.

  11. Andrew Suttles Says:

    natamllc -"Our baptism is a Work and Word of God. We are the passive recipients of both the Work and Word of God…It is the "giving" of spiritual Life that makes me alive…Baptism is an act of Faith. The decision rests with God not man.Baptism is the act of God's Faith not man's…Therefore I say that God, by His Own Will adopts and baptises Whom He wills"I'm not sure I'm tracking on all this. Baptism gives spiritual life? Baptism is an act of faith – God's faith? In what? Us? If you allow that God baptizes whom he will, why don't you leave to it Him to select the candidates for baptism?

  12. Andrew Suttles Says:

    Circumcision was given to Abraham as a physical sign of the promise that was given to him and his physical seed, who were the type of the Spiritual seed. In a carnal sense, the promise to Abraham was passed on physically from one generation to the next until THE seed came to whom the promise was given.Now that the wall of partition is destroyed there is no longer a carnal seed. The Spiritual seed of Abraham do not pass along the blessing of Abraham from one generation to another – never have in either covenant. This is the circumcision which the Holy Spirit performs. We do not have a covenant of promise, but fulfillment. We do not pass a promise along to our children, we embrace it by faith.

  13. Turretinfan Says:

    Mr. Suttles:1) Baptism is also a physical sign.2) Why do you say, "sign of the promise that was given to him"? Romans 4:11 says it was "a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised."3) It is fairly clear that before Christ the blessings of God were on believers and on their children. What makes you think this stopped when Christ came?4) In view of your answer to (3), how to do you understand "else were your children unclean; but now are they holy" (1 Corinthians 7:14)?5) "But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;" (Psalm 103:17) – is this speaking only to Jews?

  14. Turretinfan Says:

    Andrew:Also no verse commanding female communion.If absence of a specific command is significant, consider what its significance may be.-TurretinFan

  15. Andrew Suttles Says:

    TF -Perhaps you should change your "About Me" to include "Too 'dry' for James White's taste":>

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