Fine. That's what I get for blogging anyway – a loss of liberty.
A fellow named "Allen" offered this in the comments today:
I think that the issue with regard to baptism here is that we have to regard baptized, non-excommunicated people as our brothers under the same covenant.OK – I can assume that Allen has not read everything I've ever blogged – mostly because I blog a lot and not because he's in some way deficient. If we look over here, I have said something that is critically important to the discussion we are having: it is a mistake to see the "church" effect of the new covenant as something other than derivative of the "soteriological" effect of the New Covenant. Rather than reiterate all the supporting information in and around that, please jump over there (if you click, a new window will open) and brush up on what I would say against the idea that inclusion in the visible church equals inclusion into the New Covenant.
That doesn't mean we have to agree with them or stop calling them to repentance. If I understand Pastor Wilson correctly, he would break bread with McLaren even while he calls McLaren's teachings dangerous and damnable. By the same token, if McLaren were under Wilson's pastoral care, my understanding is that he would consider his teaching grounds for church discipline. To cite an extreme case: Jesus broke bread with Judas, even on the brink of his betrayal.Well, I don't think that's actually the case. I think – and if anyone reading here is an advocate of Pastor Wilson's position, I'm open to correction – that the major advantage of the AA view of baptism is that it gives us ground to reject false teaching as a matter of church discipline. Let's imagine for a second that I'm a guy named Frank, and another guy named Brian and I are both baptized as infants and raised in the church. We both get homeschooled, and become very smart, and when we turn 18 Brian goes to college and becomes an English professor, and Frank goes to seminary and gets a Th.D. in soteriology.
Brian comes home for Christmas, and Frank is preaching on the incarnation for the vigil service. After the service, Frank is glad to see his Homeschool buddy and spends a few minutes before they go home with their families to catch up briefly. Brian, somewhat uncomfortably, tells Frank that his sermon was wrong because the incarnation was not a personal incarnation but merely a "manifestation" of God. Frank, taken aback, tells Brian that he'd like to talk to Brian about that in depth, and they make a lunch date to speak on it.
Turns out after lunch that Brian has written a book advancing the idea of modalism, and it is in the publisher's hands. Now: what is Frank supposed to do about it?
In the AA view, Frank has ample cause and ample justification to proceed into church discipline against Brian because Brian is a member of the New Covenant who ought to know better. So for Frank to work one-on-one, and then with some witnesses, and then with the elders and the whole church is completely justified and warranted, and the verdict of those proceedings – one way or the other – is based on the authority of the covenant for the members of the covenant.
And the AA argument against the Baptist (for example) view is that is Baptism does not mean that one is inside the New Covenant, then taking a person who is not inside the covenant to task using the means of the New Covenant is worthless and pointless. Because the Church is the
manifestation incarnation of the New Covenant, it only has authority over those inside the new covenant. If baptism cannot be seen as the doorway into the New Covenant on an objective basis, then the Church doesn't really have a basis for all the things the church is called to do for itself in the New Testament.
That's a hack summary, but there it is. And I give it to say this: I don't think that Pastor Wilson would use AA theology to say, "it's fine to break bread with McLaren," though he might. I think it is much more likely that he would say, "Covenant Baptism is the basis for rejecting table fellowship with McLaren because he is a covenant breaker."
That's my guess – and I'd be glad to see where I made a mistake there if Pastor Wilson or someone who might know more about this than me has more to offer here.
As for his multiple meanings for "Christian", I think there is biblical warrant for this -- as Paul said in Romans 9:6, "they are not all Israel, which are of Israel."The question is if we can change the meaning of the word in mid-argument. When you play on the multiple meanings of a word in an argument, it is called equivocation. I would suggest that we work hard in this very complex and sensitive matter not to equivocate on words like church, Christian, covenant, and baptism.
Furthermore, if there are none inside the covenant who are not saved (and I presume by this you also mean "will be saved on the last day"), why so many warnings in the New Testament about the dangers of falling away?Because I think it is possible to be inside the visible church and outside the New Covenant. See my link, above. If that link doesn't work it out to the degree that you see my point, I con work it out farther for you.