Baptized Children Should Know Their Election?

So then, for those who are baptized (for those in God’s covenant), a proper sense of identity involves knowing that they are chosen by God to receive grace and inherit glory with all his people, and that they are called to live with God and for God forever with all his people, fulfilling the purposes for which he made his human creatures.

I was surprised to find the above paragraph on an OPC website (here), attributed to Benjamin W. Miller, who is presently an associate pastor at the Franklin Square OPC. I don’t mean to suggest that Pastor Miller is in any way associated with the Federal Vision, although my criticism of Pastor Miller’s argument is similar to the criticism I would have of certain Federal Vision ideas. Pastor Miller eagerly makes reference to the fact that certain covenant membership is specifically visible, and he does so in this very paragraph. My understanding is that some (if not all) Federal Vision proponents refuse to acknowledge the visible/invisible distinction. The first portion of the paragraph states:

These people are visibly identified as the households of those who profess the Christian faith, on whom God places his covenant name in baptism. They are nourished on Christ, the covenant Mediator, as he gives himself to his people through the means of grace in his church. Their lives are progressively renovated to worship God (cultus) and to work for God (culture).

With respect to Pastor Miller, however, I think he’s overstated his case. The children of believers are certainly visibly and outwardly members of the covenant. However, those children may or may not be nourished spiritually, for the spiritual nourishment of Christ is associated with invisible covenant membership of which regeneration and faith (not their sacrament, baptism) is the entrance.

While it is permitted to hold to views of presumptive regeneration in the OPC, it seems that Pastor Miller may have taken his position of presumptive regeneration too far. Those who are only visibly identified are provided with the means of grace, but they may not be provided with grace. Christ nourishes his people through the church, but as with the Old Testament church – not all are Israel which are of Israel.

There is real danger in attempting to discern one’s election based solely and specifically on membership in the visible covenant, particularly for those whose membership is as a result of household baptism. The danger is not merely hypothetical: we have the example of the Jews to remind us of the fact that true circumcision – true membership into the covenant – is inward circumcision of the heart.

While children in the covenant ought to be reminded of their identity, they also ought to be reminded of the fact that their membership is presently external and visible until by repentance and faith, as instrumental means, they are justified before God and become true children of Abraham by faith.

-TurretinFan

27 Responses to “Baptized Children Should Know Their Election?”

  1. Hoary Headed One Says:

    Very well stated. Another way to look at it is in terms of the verse – many are called but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). Mr Miller's statement – "they are chosen by God to receive grace and inherit glory with all his people, and that they are called to live with God and for God forever with all his people, fulfilling the purposes for which he made his human creatures" has confused this simple teaching of scripture. Those who are baptized are, in a particular way, called to live with God and with his people. However, they may well not be "chosen by God to receive grace and inherit glory with all his people." All who are baptized are called to such a relationship but may not be chosen to occupy it. It appears to be either sloppy reasoning or careless use of language. In a similar fashion one might examine the closing section of his statement as well. While I don't think Mr. Miller is a universalist. Yet he states that being elect is "fulfilling the purposes for which he made his human creatures" ignoring completely the purposes for which God made the reprobate, who are undoubtedly his human creatures.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Miller appears to hold to presumptive election (not just presumptive regeneration). I remember one old minister/philosophy professor saying, "Children are baptized because they are in the covenant and not the other way around." But he, of course, did not mean that being "in covenant" meant the children are necessarily believers, any more than Esau was. In children,the new birth could have taken place before or even during the sacrament, but of that we have no knowledge, nor does the Bible tell us to treat the baptized child as though already regenerated. Mr. Miller is no doubt in error. Sad to see it in an OPC publication. Godith

  3. Anonymous Says:

    You can also see Mr. Miller's own blog (http://www.relocatingtoelfland.com/manifesto/) in the section of his Manifesto for an OPC, section "Covenantal Piety", last para: "The baptism of our little ones does not express our wish that they may one day be God’s people; it expresses His sovereign pronouncement that they are His people, and will be so, long after we have gone to be with our fathers. There is, therefore, not a moment to lose in training them to be what they are by grace." The man is definitely confused.Godith

  4. Gordan Says:

    As a Calvinistic Baptist looking in on the Federal Vision debate from the outside, this is a topic that I am not clear on, with regards to Westminster/confessional Presbyterianism. Doesn't the WCF say that baptism joins the subject to Christ, in some way as to secure for him actual, spiritual benefits? How would you define that sort of sacramental unity with Christ?

  5. Turretinfan Says:

    Godith:Yes, I should have mentioned Ishmael and Esau who were both outwardly in the covenant and both (we presume) received the visible sign (we know Ishmael did), but only in Isaac was Abraham's seed called, and only Jacob was loved of the twins.-TurretinFan

  6. Turretinfan Says:

    "Doesn't the WCF say that baptism joins the subject to Christ, in some way as to secure for him actual, spiritual benefits?"The WCF states: "VI. The efficacy of baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited and conferred by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto, according to the counsel of God's own will, in his appointed time."Arguably, Pastor Miller's position that seems to imply that all recipients of Baptism actually receive grace is out of accord with this confessional statement."How would you define that sort of sacramental unity with Christ?""Sacramental union" is a term in the confession that refers to the fact that there is a relationship between the sacrament and the things signified by the sacrament.I'm not sure whether the confession has room for a category "sacramental unity" as such.-TurretinFan

  7. louis Says:

    The key phrase from the WCF is "to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongeth unto", which is understood to be a subset, if you will, of all who are baptized.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Have any of you considered how Paul addresses the children, with regularity in the NT, or could it be that this is lost on you because you are disgruntled 30-somethings who haven't raised children? Have any of you read the Canadian Reformed? What Miller is underscoring here is right out of the 3-Forms-confessing Canadian Brethen such as Jelle Faber, or do merely read Banner of Truth reprints and pretend on that basis, to be apt interpreters of the Scriptures. No wonder people are flocking to Rome with this kind of half-baked treatment of what Miller has actually written. Get a life!

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Godith – It is actually the JV team here who is confused, not Miller, unless you hold the absurd position that God is making predictions AND NOT PROMISES in His covenant.Futher, if you cannot property identify to whom it is your covenant children belong, you are of all men most to be pitied.A covenant child's praying the Lord's Prayer demolishes the nonsense being purveyed on this blog as somehow biblically faithful. Would that the so-called heirs of Calvin actually read Calvin and his Genevan catechism:"Are you a Christian my son" – Teacher"Yes, my father" – Child"How dost thou now" – Teacher"I have been baptized"- Child.Amen. Let God and His promise be true, and contemporary pop Calvinists be found out for what they really are – Losers and liars whose churches are dwindling away into nothingness, entirely consistent with their love for the invisible church. Hard to imagine being more invisible and ineffectual as contemporary American Tulip Calvinists are. They've got a corner on that market!

  10. Anonymous Says:

    What does it mean that he holds "not just to presumptive regeneration but presumption election". Are not the regenerate, on scholastic Calvinism's grounds also the elect? What kind of sophistry is this which is posing for a critique of Miller's argument?Haven't you male cheerleaders read Schilder, let alone Abraham Kuyper, or did theology stop as a discipline, after 1689 (you are, after all, whether you realize it or not, "1689 London Baptists", LOL….

  11. Turretinfan Says:

    Anonymous (I assume that there is just one of you and not three of … if you would use some sort of handle, it would help us avoid lumping you together with all the other anonymous folks):Before addressing the substance, let me note that your tone is not particularly conducive to serious discussion. Go back and re-read what you wrote."Have any of you considered how Paul addresses the children, with regularity in the NT, or could it be that this is lost on you because you are disgruntled 30-somethings who haven't raised children?"Yes, we've considered how Paul addresses the children in the NT."Have any of you read the Canadian Reformed?"Specifically?"What Miller is underscoring here is right out of the 3-Forms-confessing Canadian Brethen such as Jelle Faber, or do merely read Banner of Truth reprints and pretend on that basis, to be apt interpreters of the Scriptures."a) Miller is not in a three-forms confessing denomination. He's in a Westminster Standards confessing denomination.b) Yes, presumptive regeneration is more prevalent in three-forms churches.c) I'm not sure why harmony with Faber is necessarily the touchstone of orthodoxy. Perhaps, since you seem to be familiar with Faber, you could identify for the readers of this blog the specific argument from Scripture that Faber uses to justify this position."No wonder people are flocking to Rome with this kind of half-baked treatment of what Miller has actually written. Get a life!"a) People aren't exactly flocking to Rome. The overall trend is away from Rome, even in places like America where Rome's proselytizing is very active.b) People follow false gospels for a variety of reasons. However, as between an argument from Scripture (as I've presented) and argument from Faber (coupled with insulting speculation), I'm comfortable that the approach I'm taking is preferable."Godith – It is actually the JV team here who is confused, not Miller, unless you hold the absurd position that God is making predictions AND NOT PROMISES in His covenant."a) God is making predictions? And you're calling us the "JV team." That truly is amusing. Surely you mean something else.b) Miller's position, as stated in the post above, is that "a proper sense of identity involves knowing that they are chosen by God to receive grace and inherit glory with all his people." If God unconditionally promised something rather than "predicting" that would actually help Miller's position – but of course God's promises connected with the outward covenant are not unconditional."Futher, if you cannot property identify to whom it is your covenant children belong, you are of all men most to be pitied."a) I suppose "property" should be "properly" and "Futher" should be "Further." (and again, in the context of calling the other side the "JV team")b) Confusion between the visible and outward covenant and the invisible and inward covenant is a serious error. It is one thing to believe and hope that your children are both outwardly and inwardly in the covenant – but it is unjustified to claim to "know" that.[cont'd in part 2]

  12. Turretinfan Says:

    [cont'd from part 1]"A covenant child's praying the Lord's Prayer demolishes the nonsense being purveyed on this blog as somehow biblically faithful."How that is even supposed to be an argument is not clear."Would that the so-called heirs of Calvin actually read Calvin and his Genevan catechism:"Are you a Christian my son" – Teacher"Yes, my father" – Child"How dost thou now" – Teacher"I have been baptized"- Child."The copy at this link, doesn't have those lines. It does, however, have the following: "Scholar. – Baptism is a kind of entrance into the Church; for we have in it a testimony that we who are otherwise strangers and aliens, are received into the family of God, so as to be counted of his household; on the other hand, the Supper attests that God exhibits himself to us by nourishing our souls. "a) The lines that are badly transcribed above appear to come from the Hessian Catechism (1607) which is an adaptation of Luther's Small Catechism (see here for evidence). And again, we're the JV team?b) Knowing that one is a Christian can have more than one sense. Outwardly, it means we are part of the congregation. Inwardly, it refers to election. However, election cannot be discerned from infant baptism alone, just as it was not properly discerned from infant circumcision alone."Amen. Let God and His promise be true, and contemporary pop Calvinists be found out for what they really are – Losers and liars whose churches are dwindling away into nothingness, entirely consistent with their love for the invisible church. Hard to imagine being more invisible and ineffectual as contemporary American Tulip Calvinists are. They've got a corner on that market!"See above."What does it mean that he holds "not just to presumptive regeneration but presumption election". Are not the regenerate, on scholastic Calvinism's grounds also the elect?"They are indeed. This is the first good point you've made!"What kind of sophistry is this which is posing for a critique of Miller's argument?"And then you follow it with that.Godith would have been better to express the matter more precisely, because otherwise presumptive regeneration sounds like presumptive election. "Haven't you male cheerleaders read Schilder, let alone Abraham Kuyper, or did theology stop as a discipline, after 1689 (you are, after all, whether you realize it or not, "1689 London Baptists", LOL…."a) We're a Westminster Standards group here … not so much a three-forms group, and we're critiquing Miller on those grounds.b) The Westminster Standards (circa 1646, the date of the confession) are derived from the Irish Articles and other previous Anglican and Presbyterian confessions. The LBCF 1689, while similar, is based on the WCF 1646, not the other way 'round. (and again, we're the JV team?)-TurretinFan

  13. Turretinfan Says:

    I should add … the final Child's answer is actually:"Because I have been baptized in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and know and believe the Christian teaching."That's an important caveat, don't you think?

  14. Thomas Cranmer Says:

    Turretinfan, you have suggested that Rev. Miller has overstated his case saying that, ‘the children of believers are certainly visibly and outwardly members of the covenant. However, those children may or may not be nourished spiritually, for the spiritual nourishment of Christ is associated with invisible covenant membership of which regeneration and faith (not their sacrament, baptism) is the entrance.’ But I find your response rather odd given the confessional language by which you critique Rev. Miller. When I teach my kids from Bible as well as WCF,WSC,WLC I do so utilizing the language and meaning of the sources and not some kind of alien baptistic system. In other words, the very children who are baptized and who are being instructed by the Scriptures and cathechisms themselves are to understand, by virtue of those sources themselves, that they are in God and that the Lord Jesus is their redeemer. The language of the confession and cathechism backs up my assertion:WSC 44 asks and answers;Q: What doth the preface to the ten commandments teach us? A: The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us, That because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandmentsNow unless I’m missing something, the ‘our God, and Redeemer’ section teaches my kids that God is equally the God of their father and their (my kids) God. In the same manner, God is their father’s Redeemer and He is their (My children’s) Redeemer. In this sense does not the WCF,WSC,WLC teach that those baptized are to be view themselves as Christians, redeemed, elect and chosen by the grace of God? WSC 21 supports WSC 44, does it not?WLC 101 asks and answers;Q. 101. What is the preface to the Ten Commandments?A. The preface to the Ten Commandments is contained in these words, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Wherein God manifesteth his sovereignty, as being JEHOVAH, the eternal, immutable, and almighty God; having his being in and of himself, and giving being to all his words and works: and that he is a God in covenant, as with Israel of old, so with all his people; who, as he brought them out of their bondage in Egypt, so he delivereth us from our spiritual thraldom; and that therefore we are bound to take him for our God alone, and to keep all his commandments.It appears that A101 teaches that God is indeed in covenant with my family. The WLC says “as with Israel of old, so with all his people; who, as he brought them out of their bondage in Egypt, so he delivereth us from our spiritual thraldom;” This is very clear and exact language and unless there is something missing altogether Rev. Miller has it right when he says, “These people are visibly identified as the households of those who profess the Christian faith, on whom God places his covenant name in baptism. They are nourished on Christ, the covenant Mediator, as he gives himself to his people through the means of grace in his church.” “All his people” means all his people, God does not distinguish between those elect or those who are not. St. Paul applies a similar understanding when he uses inclusive language when he addressed the Corinthians, elect and non-elect, does he not?WLC 102Q. 102. What is the sum of the four commandments which contain our duty to God?A. The sum of the four commandments containing our duty to God, is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind.We (my children and I) are to love our God. If I understand you correctly, children cannot say this because they “may or may not be nourished spiritually, for the spiritual nourishment of Christ is associated with invisible covenant membership of which regeneration and faith (not their sacrament, baptism) is the entrance.” Is this so? Can those who have not entered into invisible covenant membership say, “our God?” The Scriptures have numerous examples testifying otherwise.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    The impetus behind the attack on Miller's teaching, the casual throwing out of the dreaded "FV" bogeyman and other errata can be attributable to a pathology which unfortunately drives contemporary pop Calvinists who have cut their teeth on BOT re-prints and the kind of reductionist tripe which passes for "the Reformed faith" from guys like RS Clark can be best described as follows:Contemporary Calvinists in America are largely losers – losers in their personal lives, losers in their families, losers as concerning the continued dwindling of their eclessiastical number, losers as to the culture, losers as to civilization itself.Being such, their emphasis then, instead of rightly being directed toward the advancement of the crown rights of King Jesus over all spheres of life and thought (Calvin, Bullinger, Kuyper, Dooweyard, Van Til, Rushdoony), is erroneously directed at fighting with other Reformed Christians who agree with 99% of what they do. Losers in all realms, destined for the ash-heap. If you doubt that, read the sloppy seconds served up "Green Baggins" and other drive-by blogs traversed by 20 and 30 somethings who have nothing better to do with their time than carp at fully orthodox Christians.Good riddance and Semper Deformanda!

  16. Anonymous Says:

    HERE HERE Thomas Cranmer whoever you are! A voice of reason amidst the cackles of the TULIP gallery here who are really, truth be told, "Reformed" Baptists, who actually are less honest than the 1689ers, for their wishing to retain a little water on Timmy's head, while at the same time saying that's all it is!It really would be delicious to hear some of the TULIP combox jousters explain how, OTHER than putting water on the heathen forehead, are saying anything SUBSTANTIALLY different from five-point Baptists. "Er, the child's got privileges, but can't believe he's elect. SOMETHING ELSE other than God's promise, and the sign thereof, must perhaps, possibly, maybe, ONE DAY occur, then in turn, be scrutinized by the "Session" before validated. A rose by any other name……

  17. Turretinfan Says:

    "But I find your response rather odd given the confessional language by which you critique Rev. Miller."Oh?"When I teach my kids from Bible as well as WCF,WSC,WLC I do so utilizing the language and meaning of the sources and not some kind of alien baptistic system."I'm glad to hear that."In other words, the very children who are baptized and who are being instructed by the Scriptures and cathechisms [sic] themselves are to understand, by virtue of those sources themselves, that they are in God and that the Lord Jesus is their redeemer."No, that's not the case."The language of the confession and cathechism backs up my assertion:"No, it doesn't."[WSC 44 (see text above)] Now unless I’m missing something, the ‘our God, and Redeemer’ section teaches my kids that God is equally the God of their father and their (my kids) God."You're missing something."In the same manner, God is their father’s Redeemer and He is their (My children’s) Redeemer."You're missing the same thing."In this sense does not the WCF,WSC,WLC teach that those baptized are to be view themselves as Christians, redeemed, elect and chosen by the grace of God?"No. The "our" referred to in the text is true believers. That's the thing you're missing."WSC 21 supports WSC 44, does it not?"Not in the sense you have in mind."[WLC 101 (see text above)] It appears that A101 teaches that God is indeed in covenant with my family."You've misunderstood the Catechism."The WLC says “as with Israel of old, so with all his people; who, as he brought them out of their bondage in Egypt, so he delivereth us from our spiritual thraldom;”"It does. Notice the "us" that, like the "our" denotes a more limited group than say, everyone who happens to pick up the catechism."This is very clear and exact language and unless there is something missing altogether …"What has been missed has been pointed out above."… Rev. Miller has it right when he says, “These people are visibly identified as the households of those who profess the Christian faith, on whom God places his covenant name in baptism. They are nourished on Christ, the covenant Mediator, as he gives himself to his people through the means of grace in his church.”"No. They are not his people any more than unbelieving Israel was God's people, unless they also believe. Not all are Israel which are of Israel, but in Isaac shall thy seed be called.[cont'd in part 2]

  18. Turretinfan Says:

    [cont'd from part 1]"“All his people” means all his people, God does not distinguish between those elect or those who are not."Actually, God does."St. Paul applies a similar understanding when he uses inclusive language when he addressed the Corinthians, elect and non-elect, does he not?"You'd have to be more specific than that. Sometimes Paul speaks to the visible church as such. In those cases, he obviously would not be differentiating."[WLC 102 (see text above)] We (my children and I) are to love our God."That duty is common to all men."If I understand you correctly, children cannot say this because they “may or may not be nourished spiritually, for the spiritual nourishment of Christ is associated with invisible covenant membership of which regeneration and faith (not their sacrament, baptism) is the entrance.” Is this so?"No, not only the elect and those inside the visible church (without distinction) but even the reprobate as such and those outside of the visible church (again without distinction) have a duty to obey the moral law. The duty of obedience to the moral law is absolutely universal."Can those who have not entered into invisible covenant membership say, “our God?”"a) Can any unbeliever say that?b) To answer my own question, in some sense all can say that by virtue of the fact that God is their Creator and the only living and true God. However, of course, he is only "our God" in the proper sense to believers.c) Nevertheless, see above regarding "our" in the Catechism and its reference to believers."The Scriptures have numerous examples testifying otherwise."Not really.-TurretinFan

  19. Turretinfan Says:

    "HERE HERE Thomas Cranmer whoever you are!"I assume this is from the guy/gal making the "male cheerleader" crack above? Heartily entertaining."A voice of reason amidst the cackles of the TULIP gallery here who are really, truth be told, "Reformed" Baptists, who actually are less honest than the 1689ers, for their wishing to retain a little water on Timmy's head, while at the same time saying that's all it is!"If you really understand the Westminster Standards so poorly as to suppose that is our understanding of them, you ought to spend your time re-reading them, rather than trolling this comment box."It really would be delicious to hear some of the TULIP combox jousters explain how, OTHER than putting water on the heathen forehead, are saying anything SUBSTANTIALLY different from five-point Baptists."Entrance into the visible church and means of grace (as per the caveats of the Standards). Of course, that will not be enough substance for those who have fallen prey to the error of baptismal regeneration … "Er, the child's got privileges, but can't believe he's elect."Not on that basis alone."SOMETHING ELSE other than God's promise, and the sign thereof, must perhaps, possibly, maybe, ONE DAY occur, then in turn, be scrutinized by the "Session" before validated."An unbelieving baptized child has no right to think he is elect. A believing one, however, is another story."A rose by any other name……"The argument here may be compared to the idea that because both a rose of Reformed Baptism and a sunflower of Presbyterianism are edible (orthodox in that they do not teach the errors of the Federal Vision), they are both the same flower since they differ from the poisonous (heterodox) foxglove (Federal Vision). Yet while we love our Reformed Baptist brethren, we are not the same flower.- TurretinFan

  20. Turretinfan Says:

    "The impetus behind the attack on Miller's teaching, …"Criticism and attack are two different things – you've done the latter, I've done the former."… the casual throwing out of the dreaded "FV" bogeyman …"It's not thrown out casually. It's a serious error, not a "bogeyman."" … and other errata …"That's certainly not the right word." … can be attributable to a pathology which unfortunately drives contemporary pop Calvinists … "Nothing says "contemporary" and "pop" like Francis Turretin :eyerolls:" … who have cut their teeth on BOT re-prints … "a) Banner of Truth reprints are hardly contemporary.b) Nor are they pop." … and the kind of reductionist tripe which passes for "the Reformed faith" from guys like RS Clark … "Oh come on. I don't agree with Clark's view of the "two kingdoms" but he's far from "reductionist tripe." That's just an unjustified insult." … can be best described as follows: [in short, losers]":eyerolls:"Being such, their emphasis then, instead of rightly being directed toward the advancement of the crown rights of King Jesus over all spheres of life and thought (Calvin, Bullinger, Kuyper, Dooweyard, Van Til, Rushdoony), …"Just because one rejects the Federal Vision's errors on the covenant doesn't mean one affirms a radical two kingdoms position." … is erroneously directed at fighting with other Reformed Christians who agree with 99% of what they do."Correcting one statement Miller made, is hardly "fighting" with him. Now, whatever it is you're doing here … (but I'll leave you to ponder whether you are consistent)"Losers in all realms, destined for the ash-heap. If you doubt that, read the sloppy seconds served up "Green Baggins" and other drive-by blogs traversed by 20 and 30 somethings who have nothing better to do with their time than carp at fully orthodox Christians."More insults."Good riddance and Semper Deformanda!"How odd.-TurretinFan

  21. disappointed Says:

    What's wrong with "Anonymous"? He seems very insecure and is not acting like a brother at all.The criticism of Miller was intellectualy fair, and the tone wasn't demeaning (though calling Miller confused could have insulted him). There's gotta be a way for him (Anonymous) to register and discuss his disagreements and refute his opposition without all the gasoline. Perhaps Anonymous knows Miller and is therefore personaly offended?Whatever his beef, he shouldn't be allowed to post those hurtful, waste of energy comments. It's a guarantee we'll all be judged for every idle, destructive word we utter. Every christian should work to restrain himself if he believes this. I hope this isn't so, but I wouldn't be surprised if Anonymous curses me in his heart or attacks me on this blog for saying these things.

  22. Turretinfan Says:

    Let me add something. There is another Catechism, which may the catechism that anonymous had in mind. That is Calvin's Strasbourg Catechism.The relevant Q/A there is as follows:The First PartTeacher: My child, are you a Christian in fact as well as in name?Child: Yes, my father.Teacher: How is this known to you?Child: Because I am baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.Teacher: What faith and knowledge do you have of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit?Child: I have that which the principal articles of our religion signify to us, of which we make profession through individual confession.Teacher: What is this confession?Child: I believe in God the Father almighty, maker…etc.Teacher: In how many parts are these articles divided?Child: In three.Teacher: What is the first part?Child: Concerning God the Father.Teacher: The second?Child: Concerning God the Son.Teacher: The third?Child: Concerning God the Holy Spirit.Teacher: Recite the first part.Child: I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth.Teacher: What do you confess in saying this?Child: That God is the sovereign and everlasting good, who has created all things, that his power and his action are present in every place.Teacher: But what benefit do you receive from this faith you have in God?Child: It teaches me that I must find any consolation only in God, that I must have my hope in him alone, that I must use the creatures that he has created and given to humanity with thanksgiving and in moderation.Teacher: May the Lord grant you the grace to accomplish this and always take care of your growth in it. Now recite the next part of the Christian confession. (Joe Garver's Translation)Notice that this catechism likewise connects both baptism and faith to the belief of the child, though the immediate answer to the question has to do with baptism.-TurretinFan

  23. Turretinfan Says:

    Furthermore, I should point out that the catechism mentioned is among the "uncertain" or "dubious" works ascribed to Calvin, as explained at footnote here: at this link – and continuing to the next page

  24. Elihu Smails Says:

    Turretin Bro,One can discern a fair amount about a man from the things about which he protests, or conversely, what he advocates. I've noticed on your blog your advocacy of men like Ray Comfort (a Calvary Church, adult-baptism-by-immersion Charismatic) and James White (a 1689, or "Savoy Lite" Baptist). Then at the same time, here, and elsewhere (other generally useless "Reformed" blogs), you take to task wholly sound and Reformed thinkers like Ben Miller, who happens actually to be ministering in of the 2 or 3 growing OPC churches on the planet ("growing" in every biblical sense of that word). This, I would suggest, along with one of the "Anonymous" here, reflects a certain turn of mind, a hue, even shall we say a pathology, among today's Calvinsts, and one which is not very healthy.You've lamented the fact of "insults" here at your blog. And yet, would you rather simply be a "loser" or, would you rather be what you and others have called men advocating the FV, namely a "heretic"?That's a rhetorical question.Secondly, your objection to what Miller has put forth has been ably answered by "Cranmer", yet you simply dismiss what he has written with, by and large, snarks. Cranmer, if I'm understanding him correctly, is asking how it is that covenant youth, from their earliest age, can be taught to confess these things by the very same WCF, WSC, and WLC which allegedly (in your hands) teaches the same children that they can and ought confess no such things until X has happened to them, lest they be in fact "false believers", "hypocrites", etc. I do hope you do not have children yet, nor that you would teach them such Baptistic nonsense. Further, your critique of Miller seems to be (willfully??) ignorant of the fact that the BIBLE ITSELF actually uses such terms as "election", "choosing", "chosen" (and OFTEN) in a way other than "eternally, dectretally so"). Let's go to school for a moment. "Have not I CHOSEN you twelve, and yet one of you is a devil"? (on your logic, Jesus EITHER mispoke in using "chosen" this way, OR, you must assert Judas somehow eternally elect). Don't think so.Then we have a subject cavalierly dismissed by "exegetes" like James White and RS Clark, via union with Christ. "Every branch IN ME which does not bear fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire". Then we have Paul, under Spirit-inspiration, warning those who are said to be "justified, sanctified, glorified", etc, to "boast not against the natural branches, LEST YOU TOO be cut off, etc."Of course, the earliest followers of the Apostles so understood "election" in most cases in the NT to refer to election to the body of Christ, to the historical church, to the covenant of God, WHICH ELECTION the same members are warned of forfeiting. Now, lest we be tempted to sophomorically deem this as "Arminian", let is be borne in mind that Augustine taught this very same thing, viz. an election to grace (the covenant, the church) VERSUS an election to PERSEVERANCE. In fact, Robert Letham, fine OPC historian has noted that roughly 1/3 of the Westminster delegates taught this same doctrine, as did a minority contingent at Dordt. You ought also to consult Calvin on Acts 4, wherein he speaks of an outer and inner election, and of men "cutting themselves out" of the covenant thru subsequent unbelief. Suffice to say that your paradigm prevents you from reading Miller either with accuracy, or with charity (though you are certainly more irenic than the Westminster West Wackos). But, this is ok. in that the world needs ditch-diggers, too. Sincerely, Elihu Smails

  25. Turretinfan Says:

    "Turretin Bro,"So far, so good."One can discern a fair amount about a man from the things about which he protests, or conversely, what he advocates."It would be far better to try to focus on the arguments, rather than the men."I've noticed on your blog your advocacy of men like Ray Comfort (a Calvary Church, adult-baptism-by-immersion Charismatic) and James White (a 1689, or "Savoy Lite" Baptist)."Is Comfort a charismatic? I'm sorry to learn that. I think Comfort has a lot of great answers to atheists.Dr. White is a friend of mine. I don't agree with him on everything, but he's a great minister of God."Then at the same time, here, and elsewhere (other generally useless "Reformed" blogs), you take to task wholly sound and Reformed thinkers like Ben Miller, who happens actually to be ministering in of the 2 or 3 growing OPC churches on the planet ("growing" in every biblical sense of that word)."I hardly ever take to task anyone like Ben Miller (as far as I know … I have no idea who else you think should be in a class with him), and I've hardly criticized anything that Miller has written."This, I would suggest, along with one of the "Anonymous" here, reflects a certain turn of mind, a hue, even shall we say a pathology, among today's Calvinsts, and one which is not very healthy."This is looking more or less like an ad hominem argument."You've lamented the fact of 'insults' here at your blog. And yet, would you rather simply be a 'loser' or, would you rather be what you and others have called men advocating the FV, namely a 'heretic'?"I have been called a "heretic" by Romanists before. That's not an insult, that's a doctrinal claim – and I'm quite happy to be considered a heretic by them."That's a rhetorical question."I've answered it nevertheless."Secondly, your objection to what Miller has put forth has been ably answered by "Cranmer", yet you simply dismiss what he has written with, by and large, snarks."Snarks?[cont'd in parts 2-3]

  26. Turretinfan Says:

    [cont'd from part 1]"Cranmer, if I'm understanding him correctly, is asking how it is that covenant youth, from their earliest age, can be taught to confess these things by the very same WCF, WSC, and WLC which allegedly (in your hands) teaches the same children that they can and ought confess no such things until X has happened to them, lest they be in fact 'false believers', 'hypocrites', etc."And I addressed that by pointing out that a number of the things upon which he was relying were statements to be made by believers. That's an important caveat that is not captured by a "baptism alone" approach."I do hope you do not have children yet, nor that you would teach them such Baptistic nonsense."Thankfully, this blog is not about me. Furthermore, of course, teaching (like I do) what the Westminster Standards teach, is not teaching anything remotely Baptistic."Further, your critique of Miller seems to be (willfully??) ignorant of the fact that the BIBLE ITSELF actually uses such terms as 'election', 'choosing', 'chosen' (and OFTEN) in a way other than 'eternally, dectretally so')."The semantic range of words isn't really at issue here. Miller doesn't simply say "chosen" but "chosen to receive grace and inherit glory with all his people …" which is much more precise than simply "elect" without any other qualifier."Let's go to school for a moment."It appears that the schooling is largely irrelevant in view of the fact that Miller himself explains what he means by "chosen," namely "chosen to receive grace and inherit glory with all his people … ." "Have not I CHOSEN you twelve, and yet one of you is a devil"? (on your logic, Jesus EITHER mispoke in using "chosen" this way, OR, you must assert Judas somehow eternally elect). Don't think so."Your argument there is a straw man. And, it would not be true that Judas was "chosen to receive grace and inherit glory with all his people … ." In fact, he was chosen to betray Christ – a rather different end. "Then we have a subject cavalierly dismissed by 'exegetes' like James White and RS Clark, via union with Christ."There's no reason to apply scare quotes to exegesis. Exegesis is an appropriate task, and those men are equipped to be engaged in it."'Every branch IN ME which does not bear fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire'."As John Gill (warning, Baptist exegete) explains:John 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit,…. There are two sorts of branches in Christ the vine; the one sort are such who have only an historical faith in him, believe but for a time, and are removed; they are such who only profess to believe in him, as Simon Magus did; are in him by profession only; they submit to outward ordinances, become church members, and so are reckoned to be in Christ, being in a church state, as the churches of Judea and Thessalonica, and others, are said, in general, to he in Christ; though it is not to be thought that every individual person in these churches were truly and savingly in him. These branches are unfruitful ones; what fruit they seemed to have, withers away, and proves not to be genuine fruit; what fruit they bring forth is to themselves, and not to the glory of God, being none of the fruits of his Spirit and grace: and such branches the husbandman.[cont'd in part 3]

  27. Turretinfan Says:

    [cont'd from part 2]"Then we have Paul, under Spirit-inspiration, warning those who are said to be 'justified, sanctified, glorified', etc, to 'boast not against the natural branches, LEST YOU TOO be cut off, etc.'"No – you've combined material from two different passages of Romans. In the latter passage, we again have a situation like that above – one where a person is being discussed in the context of their profession of faith."Of course, the earliest followers of the Apostles so understood 'election' in most cases in the NT to refer to election to the body of Christ, to the historical church, to the covenant of God, WHICH ELECTION the same members are warned of forfeiting."The term "election" isn't used in either of those two latter cases. But again, Miller didn't say "election to the visible body" or "election to the outward covenant." He said, "they are chosen by God to receive grace and inherit glory with all his people … .""Now, lest we be tempted to sophomorically deem this as 'Arminian', let is be borne in mind that Augustine taught this very same thing, viz. an election to grace (the covenant, the church) VERSUS an election to PERSEVERANCE."Augustine does sometimes refer to "grace" as being given to the non-elect. However, Augustine reserves the grace of perseverance for the elect. For Augustine, as for Calvinists (i.e. folks like me, who hold to the Westminster Standards) grace is efficient."In fact, Robert Letham, fine OPC historian has noted that roughly 1/3 of the Westminster delegates taught this same doctrine, as did a minority contingent at Dordt."LOL"You ought also to consult Calvin on Acts 4, wherein he speaks of an outer and inner election, and of men 'cutting themselves out' of the covenant thru subsequent unbelief."I read through Calvin's commentary on Acts 4 as well as his sermons on Acts 4. I didn't find those comments. I did find Calvin saying: "… let us acknowledge that we cannot be the body of Jesus Christ and have the kind of fellowship with him that we should unless the Holy Spirit is the means. For if we examine ourselves, how can we say we are joined in such a way with Jesus Christ that he lives in us and we in him? Will we be able to do that by our own efforts? No and no! On the contrary, if we remain our natural selves, we will never have such a union with Jesus Christ. … So if we wish to belong to the body of Jesus Christ and have God acknowledge us as his children, we must ask him to send us his Holy Spirit and cause us, under his leading, to proclaim God's word with all boldness." (Calvin's Sermons on Acts, Sermon 13, pp. 174-75)But perhaps I missed something and there is a comment there to be found where Calvin sounds less like my friend James White and more like that very gifted preacher, Doug Wilson."Suffice to say that your paradigm prevents you from reading Miller either with accuracy, or with charity (though you are certainly more irenic than the Westminster West Wackos)."Your bulverism is noted."But, this is ok. in that the world needs ditch-diggers, too.":eyerolls:"Elihu Smails"I guess you're a Caddyshack fan.-TurretinFan

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