OK: while I was out of town at a funeral (thanks to all who were praying for my wife's family, btw; they still need prayer if your knees aren't worn out), Tim Enloe came by to add his few cents to my reply to him from Doug Wilson's blog.
Good questions, and good to see an "incurable Baptist" asking them. Unfortunately for you, my answers to the first two are contained in the basic reasoning you dismissed as "Blah, blah, blah."For the record, what I "blah-blah-blah'd" was this from Tim:
- There is not a shred of Scriptural information anywhere which can, apart from a positivistic Bible-Only hermeneutic that looks more like Enlightenment humanism than Reformation faithfulness, be made to teach that the validity of GOD'S OWN sign depends upon subjective human appropriation of certain intellectual content.
In that – which is to say, in agreeing with Doug Wilson that saying works are the way faith is manifest – it is my further statement that faith is the basis for sacrament. That is to say, not a mental cup full of propositions but the second birth which results in a renewed mind and therefore a renewed repertoire of things one will do.
Yes: it is "GOD'S OWN" (note to Tim: Paul Owen doesn't read any better in all-caps than you do) sign – but a sign of what? Is it a sign of what could be, or what might be, or what potentially will be? Or is baptism – as with Christ's own baptism – a sign in which "it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness"? That is to say, rather than circumcision – which is actually a sign of a promise – we have baptism because we demonstrate the fulfillment of the promise.
If faith is more than a mental state, baptism is more than a sign of good will. Faith works out in Baptism. Baptism without faith is exactly the same kind of work as the Temple without faith, or the Law without faith, or frankly the Scripture without faith.
It is the cart put before the horse, with the great hope (in the best case) that the horse can still push the cart.
We don't need to first talk about "clear" verses of Scripture and what they "plainly" teach about baptism; we need to first talk about the sociological assumptions of baptism as a mere act, and what the catholic and baptistic visions of this respectively do to society. This information isn't contained in Scripture, which is exactly why a Bible Only view cannot ever answer the questions, but only produce endless rounds of Prooftext Wars.Let me be honest enough to say that I think that the "popular" Baptist view of things is not great. There's an "s" word for it, and it's not "sacrament". So in the spirit of honesty without being vulgar, we can agree that the "me, my Bible and Jesus" vision of Christian life prevalent in Baptist circles is pretty bad.
The questions are, "is that the Reformed Baptist view of things?" and more importantly, "is that the view of the men at whom Tim Enloe has spit the lion's share of watermelon seeds?"
In that context, Tim's response here is more of the same from him to which I have said previously, "blah blah blah". For example, if for one second we allow the assertion that Tim makes here that there is something necessary for the Christian life which is not taught by Scripture, what does Sociology tell us about baptism? For example, Doug Wilson says that all the members of a Christian synagogue would have been both circumcised and baptized. That's an interesting assertion, but it turns out that even into the 3rd century the massive majority of baptisms were adult baptisms, with baptism being understood as a very serious and important act for the believer to accept. If the Jews were the first believers, and they were baptizing all their infants because they were circumcising all their male infants, why did they not baptize all the children of their Gentile converts in order to give them the same sign they felt compelled to give their own children?
See: I think the socio-historical evidence (talk about an enlightenment class – but it is Tim's class of choice, even above what Scripture teaches) points to something radically different than Tim would advocate. But for us to consider such a thing, we have to go back prior to the medieval church and risk being berated for some ad fonts claim for truth. And again, what we find is that to search the medieval period for the roots of the Reformation is not a bad ad fonts claim, but the search the period(s) prior to the medieval age for the roots of medieval churchiness – that's bad. That's Enlightenment propositionalism. That's Baptistic schismaticism in action.
If Baptism was instituted for the sake that Tim and Doug Wilson would advocate, why was it not practiced in the way that their view would have inspired if their view was present at all in those receiving the sacrament?
So I stand by "blah blah blah".
The answer to the third question is 'Of course the society does not contain people inside its boundaries who are outside its purpose.' This is because the society's purpose isn't to create an eensy "pure" enclave in the midst of vast realms falling away into perdition. The society has a larger purpose than the redemption of Private Individual Persons. But of course it's difficult for incurable Baptists to understand that, since their worldview ultimately reduces to the Private Individual Person, clutching Scripture Alone and never truly becoming able to grasp why the rest of the world "hates" him when all he's doing is humbly claiming to love pure, unadorned TRUTH more than them.Again, it seems appropriate to say, "blah blah blah" to such hyper-polemical finger-pointing, but for the sake of my readers, let me flesh that out a bit.
The first thing to note is that, in spite of the ample and previously-stipulated set of examples of dumb Baptists, it is unfortunate for Tim that none of those people are here. And none of those people are present in the apologists/scholars/theologians upon whom he'd like to grind his axe. Just because they (and I) affirm the very well-attested reformational statement that the Pope is anti-christ, and in that we reject the orthodoxy of people with a baptism which is supposed to be regenerative into a salvation which is mediated in part by a woman about whom we must believe bodily-assumption into heaven (among other things), it is at best overzealous to assign us to some crazy semi-solipsistic theological worldview.
But in that, there is a very interesting aspect to Tim's complaint that ought to be reviewed: in response to the question, "does [the society of faith] ever have people inside its boundaries who are outside its purpose?", he says, 'Of course the society does not contain people inside its boundaries who are outside its purpose.' Now, if we take this reply at face value – and can we grant Tim the grace to say it's not a very nuanced reply, so the record stands open for him to revise and expand his remarks – we have to ask, "then what exactly is your point again?"
See: the point of the AA view of Baptism is to admit those who ought to be admitted to the Covenant (and therefore brought into the church) expressly for the reason of placing them inside the purpose of the covenant. In the best case – like the case where Pastor Wilson, in his debate last year with James White, said he took pleasure in baptizing his grandchildren into the covenant (which, for the record, was indeed cute) – that's a hope of the promise of Christ's work, but in the case at hand – like a Roman Catholic who buries icons in his yard to get his house sold and prays JPII's prayers to Mary – the purpose of the covenant is to lay down curses for covenant-breakers.
See: my view of the church is that it is a city on the hill into which some who are unworthy sneak but from which they do not benefit, a city which proclaims an offer which Christ can (and does) fulfill. In that, the Church's society – its sociological work, its historical presence, its hammers and tongs – draws its lines boldly, based on completed work and not on potential work. "We claim this one based on what God has already done," not "we claim this one and we hope we get to keep him when God does His work in the future."
And when we get through all of that, we are left with these two outcomes particularly for the case of the Roman Catholic. In my view, because his baptism is a phony promise of regeneration, and it is into a phony claim of someone who places himself in the place of Christ, and it demands phony acceptance of things like the mediation of Mary and the godhood of bread, he's no kind of Christian: his faith is phony because it's full of phony (essential) things. But Tim, who is apparently offering the olive branch to this person, would say that the promise of regeneration in Baptism is actually phony, the apostolic place-holding of the Pope is actually phony, and the godhood of the bread is actually phony, but because the baptism was itself made in the proper formula based on a set of pre-enlightenment propositions about the Tri-unity of God, this fellow is a brother: a bad, in-danger-of-covenant-curses, needing-broad-correction, holding-on-only-by-his-baptism brother.
I'm sure that's very consoling.