From The Mailbag; Baptists and Synergism?

Pastor Bret

Could you tease out why it is that you connect synergism with Baptist expressions of Christianity?

Thank you,

EP in Ann Arbor

Dear EP

Thank you for the question.

If you want to skip to the money part of your question being answered skim down to the italicized paragraph.

The answer comes down to the issue of Baptism. All Baptists, of course, refuse to Baptize infants insisting that they must have a confession of faith from the child before the child is to be baptized. This, of course, is the legacy of their Anabaptist heritage which broke with the Magisterial Reformers on the issue of Infant Baptism.

So, we see, that with Reformed Baptists at least, they have tried to slam together the ecclesiology of the Anabaptists with the soteriology of the Reformed. I have always said this tertium quid makes for some unstable and contradictory theology.

This unstable and contradictory theology is seen no more starkly than on the issue of infant Baptism. On one hand the Reformed Baptists avers that we are saved by Grace Alone (soteriology) but on the other hand membership in the Church can only be extended to people who reached some kind of age of accountability so can articulate a confession of faith (ecclesiology). Without that confession of faith articulated children, while perhaps being saved, should not be received into the Church as saved.

The synergism in the Baptist “thinking” I see is that whatever the adult can bring in order to be baptized and so received as a covenant member in good standing in the Church that an infant cannot bring in order to be Baptized is some kind of work that needs to be exchanged (traded in) for salvation. Baptists, in my estimation, when it comes to infant baptism insist on looking for the subjective response to God’s grace (the giving of some kind of confession) as opposed to just looking to God’s grace found in the promises and commands that God gives. However, just as the children of Israel didn’t have to wait for circumcision before they made a subjective response to grace so our children are covenant members from birth.

The upshot of this Baptist thinking is that when Baptism does finally occur in the Baptist church, the emphasis seems to fall on the decision made as opposed to the God who called and who made promises to us and to our children. Baptism communicates that God does all the saving. Baptism does not communicate the wonder of our decision.

The Baptist seems to assume that the infant of Christian parents isn’t saved until the child opts in, whereupon the child, upon opting in by confession is granted Baptism. To the contrary the paedo-Reformed, believing God includes in the covenant both Christian parent(s) and their seed by virtue of God’s promises brings their children to the Baptismal fount to be showered with the blessing of Christ. The paedo-Reformed extends the judgment of charity to their seed and believes God faithfulness until such a time, God forbid, the child has repudiated the blessings of the covenant. At that point we begin to treat them as rebels against God who need to be evangelized.

This is serious serious error that ought not to be lightly glided over. Yet, we realize how patient God has been and continues to be with us so we embrace Reformed Baptists as brothers in Christ and pray that God would open their eyes to a more Biblical Christianity.

May God be pleased to make the faith of both our families truly generational.

” For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. ” Acts 2:39

Woke in The Reformed Church in 2019

Ten “Woke Social Justice” Highlights of 2019. This isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list but rather a kind of “best of.” Keep in mind that when we talk about “Woke Social Justice” we are using a more memorable synonym for “Cultural Marxism.” The below are examples of the inroads that Cultural Marxism is making in the Reformed church (Generously granting that Baptist can be considered “Reformed.”)

What the below represents is the #1 challenge in terms of competing worldviews to Biblical Christianity. The chief danger of this worldview is that it is being adopted as if it is the very essence of Christianity when in point of fact it is the antithesis of Christianity. In other words Christianity is now being reinterpreted through the grid of Cultural Marxism.

As a quick aside notice the participation of Dr. Michael Horton in this list. His “White Horse Inn” blog, has contributed several articles that could be included in this list but have not been. (Horton didn’t write those articles in question but they are under the umbrella of the White Horse Inn organization.)

If the Church Militant doesn’t arise to beat this “Woke” (Cultural Marxism) movement back it will be the case that the modern Church will remain just as dead as it was before Luther marched on the scene.

This list was compiled by Mark Van Der Molen. A friend and Elder who cares about this issue as much as I do.

January: PCA “worship director” Michelle Higgins invites lesbian, transgender affirming speaker to a “social justice” event at her PCA church which is pastored by her father, Mike Higgins. After internet uproar, event not cancelled, but moved to a PCUSA church down the road.

March: Ekemeni Uwan speaks at Sparrow Conference. Tells white people they need to “divest of their whiteness”. Some in audience walk out. Internet pushback results in Uwan video being removed. Uwan plays victim, hires lawyer and demands video be turned over to her. Sparrow organizers comply with Uwan’s demand.

March: OPC minister Mika Edmondson (speaker from MLK #50 event) invited to give 2 lectures at Westminster Seminary California. Talked about the “risk” Christ took in going to the cross as a model for the risk we should take in pursuit of social justice. Suggests that folks not voting in a way that supports critical race theorist’s interest is akin to giving Jews bread during the Holocaust while politically supporting Hitler. Public and private pushback ensues. Videos of his speeches initially taken down, but later re-posted on WSCAL’s facebook page.

March: Westminster Seminary California professor Michael Horton publishes two articles arguing for “social justice” as fulfilling the command to love neighbor.

March: Christina Edmonsdon speaks at Dordt College. Says “racism bankrolled the U.S.” and in America, “one can be a good white Christian and hate your neighbor”.

April: Jemar Tisby invited to speak at Dordt College. Concerned folks ask the College to disinvite Tisby due to his neo-marxist views. College president does not disinvite, but says the college professors can answer student questions if Tisby delivers unorthodox content. Tisby delivers address on how the evangelical church is built upon white racism.

May: PCA Pastor Greg Johnson publishes article revealing that he is a homosexual. Promotes Side B view that his homosexual attraction isn’t sinful in itself.

June: PCA Pastor Greg Johnson speaks at PCA General Assembly against endorsing the Nashville Statement’s on same-sex attraction. Receives applause by delegates. Later states that demographics and time are on his side for the future direction of the PCA.

June: Southern Baptist Convention adopts Resolution #9, endorsing Critical Race Theory as an acceptable “analytical tool”.

September: Rachel Green-Miller’s “Beyond Authority and Submission” published, which argues complementarian views are unbiblical products of Victorian age. Claims she is no longer complementarian. Her book is endorsed and promoted by OPC minister Carl Trueman. Many negative reviews point out the biblical and historical flaws of the book. Green-Miller and her supporters reply by attacking the reviewers as “misogynistic”.

Why Wait Till The Whole R2K Book Is Published?

“The pluralism of the Noahic covenant requires members of the human community, Christians included, to cultivate the virtue of tolerance. Tolerance is a proper feature of justice in our fallen but pressured world.”

David VanDrunen
Politics After Christendom

The above quote was posted as a tweet on twitter by a clergy member who has a Ph.D from the vaunted London School of Economics and is reputed to be an intellectual pillar of the Church. Said minister is quoting this in an approving manner. Apparently it is from a new book that is to be released in April by Van Drunnen on a Reformed Church already punch drunk from his theology of contradictions.

I post this post, first, in order to shred this quote and secondly to demonstrate again how torpid our current clergy corps is. This quote and the mindset that developed it (Van Drunen) as well as the mindset that embraces it is reflective of how far the modern Reformed church has fallen if only because such a “theology” as this represents is completely innovative and has never been held by any Reformed clergy at any time or in any place. In other words the idea that Christians are not supposed to rule in the public square and that it is wrong for Christians to advocate that Christian magistrates rule consistently with God’s Word (as opposed to ruling by the invocation of Natural Law) is an innovation that has zero historical legs prior to the last fifty years. It is complete balderdash.

So, let us examine, first what this quote means in language that isn’t technical. In R2K “theology” (we only call it theology by way of courtesy) the Noahic covenant was a covenant that applied to all mankind and not merely the redemptive line. As such it was a common grace covenant. The implications of this therefore are that in the public square we must realize that God does not rule by His Law-Word as expressed in Scripture but rather rules by Natural Law. Further, because the public square is the space of common grace where all men interact, therefore the public square must be characterized by tolerance (principled pluralism — so called). This means that no one God should be uniquely God of the public square since the God of the Bible, via the Noahaic covenant has ordained that the public square is a realm of common grace and not saving grace and therefore it is to be legislated by a judicial framework that is NOT uniquely Christian but rather one that can be common to all men; to wit, Natural law.

Therefore tolerance is the virtue of all virtues as it relates to the public square. The Noahic covenant included all mankind and therefore is the basis of a required tolerance in and for the public square.

Now, of course what this theory must embrace for the common square is the idea that neutrality obtains in the common square. All men, regardless of their religion, can come into the common square and because they all have access (despite the contested presuppositions of their various religions) to a Natural law that they each and all share. The great premise of this haberdash theology is that the presuppositions of the various religions as owned by various men does not impact the way that they each and all interpret Natural law. In R2K “theology” common grace gives to all men the ability to agree on how natural law should be interpreted and understood. On a prima facie basis this should be instantly recognized to be thorough-going fantasy theology.

Now, as to the Noahic covenant let us note a few matters in order to eliminate the idea that it was a common grace covenant made with all men through Noah.

1.) The Noahic covenant, contra Van Drunen is thoroughly redemptive, both in looking back to creation and looking forward to Christ. Consider that the whole scenic panorama of Noah hearkens back to Adam. Noah is a second Adam who has, by God’s grace, been placed in a garden type setting after God conquers chaos (cmp. Gen. 1:2). Noah, like the first Adam is commissioned to be fruitful and multiply like Adam. All of this is a kind of repristination of the creation account and the Noahic covenant, as part of the covenant of grace, finds Noah as the representative Adam standing in for all mankind. As such it points us back to creation and yet forward to Christ because this new Adam (Noah) falls thus communicating there is a champion seed of the woman yet to come. This is about as redemptive as it gets.

2.) The Noahic covenant comes immediately after the flood which is in I Peter likened unto a Baptism. That is redemptive language. Now, combine this 2nd Adam, who has gone through the flood waters of Baptism, immediately offers sacrifice to God upon landing and it beggars the mind to suggest the Noahic covenant is not a redemptive covenant.

3.) The Noahic covenant is redemptive because inasmuch as the Noahic covenant promises continued life for mankind, in that much there will be those elect within all mankind who will be called and placed in the covenant of Grace. In other words, the general or common aspect of the Noahic covenant serves the larger purpose of maintaining a population out of which the Redeemed will be plucked.

The idea that the Noahic covenant is a common grace covenant related to creation and not redemption does not withstand sustained examination.

Top Rail On Bottom

Deuteronomy 28:43 The foreigners who reside among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower. 44 They will lend to you, but you will not lend to them. They will be the head, but you will be the tail. 45 All these curses will come on you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you.

Here we find ourselves face to face with God’s words to national Israel detailing what His opposition would look like should Israel decide to forsake obedience to His Law. And what this opposition looks like is that Israel as a nation will be no longer be in control of their Nation. Instead, the Christ hating enemy will swoop in and displace the Hebrews in their own land.

This idea is raised again in Psalm 106, only there the enemy who will take over seems to refer to the aliens outside Israel and not within Israel.

40So the anger of the LORD burned against His people, and He abhorred His own inheritance. 41He delivered them into the hand of the nations, and those who hated them ruled over them. 

We might say it this way, when considering God’s promise in Deuteronomy 28 … “The Hebrews will lose their land, their culture, and their identity. They will not rule, but they will be ruled over by those who are foreigners – not Hebrews.”

Now before we get into this we must keep in mind there is a whole swath of Reformed clergy and Churches who do not believe this passage applies any longer. They do not believe there can be Christian nations and if there can not be Christian nations it cannot be the case that the Christians lose their position and status as head and so become the tail. This passage, it is said, is no longer in effect since it is not possible for Nations to be Christian. I don’t want to belabor this point this morning. I just want you to be aware of it. I want you to be aware that much of the Reformed Church could not preach this sermon because they do not believe that it any longer applies. This was, so the saying goes, something that was for the OT economy.

But for those of us, who like John Calvin, do believe this passage apply after the Resurrection of Christ what might we say when we consider this passage?

Well, we might first ask, what would this becoming the tail and not the head look like? What might the alien rising higher and higher among the Hebrews look like? What would it have looked like for the Hebrews to have been pursued and overtaken and so destroyed? What might always borrowing and never lending look like?

Well, we can only offer suppositions but the suppositions to follow would certainly be consistent with that kind of language.

Concretely speaking I think what the Hebrews might have faced to be made the head and not the tail is that their heroes may have been changed out. As the Alien rises higher and higher the statuary of the Hebrews would have doubtless been taken down and replaced. Down go the statues of David, or Moses, or Elijah, and up go the statues of Goliath, Haman, and Pharaoh. Hebrew School names and street names would have doubtless been changed out. As the Hebrews became the tail and the Aliens the head the school and street names honoring Elisha, Joshua, and Caleb would have been changed in order to honor Achan, Jambres and Jannes and Jezebel.

Another sign doubtlessly of the Hebrews being destroyed and the Alien ascending would have been a drop in the Hebrew birth rate to below replacement levels and an increase in the birth rate of the Alien. This would definitely over time lead to their destruction and eventual genocide.

This would be part of a broader attack on the family of the Hebrews by the Alien. The Alien rising higher and higher in order to make sure that the Hebrews continued to sink lower and lower would do all that it could to destroy the integrity of the Hebrew family. They would separate Hebrew parents from Hebrew children. The rising Alien would introduce gross irregularities into Hebrew marriage. The rising Alien would seek to normalize perversion among the Hebrew people which would contribute to the declining birth rate mentioned earlier. They would seek to alienate young Hebrew men from young Hebrew women by infecting the former with irresponsibility and the latter with feminism.

Doubtless a sign of the Hebrews becoming the tail would be a decided increase in the suicide rate of Hebrew men, a decided increase in the usage of Ritalin by Hebrew boys,

Doubtless in the lending department the Alien would construct and control a centralized bank that would forever keep the Hebrews in debt by the usage of fiat money. In such a way the Hebrews would forever be receiving the loans and never the ones to do the lending. In such a way the truth of Proverbs 22:7 would be seen;

The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.

Another sign of the Alien rising higher and higher over the Hebrews would be for the Hebrews to decide that since their economy needed cheap labor in order to manufacture cheap goods what would be advisable is to invite even more non-Hebrews into their land.

In the Hebrews history, this warning in Dt. 28 came to pass more than once. In Isaiah for example we read,

“Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire, strangers devour your land in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers…” -Isaiah 1:7

And all this because of a refusal to live by God’s law. The result of all this is that the Hebrews came down very low; into a very mean condition, to be in great subjection, a vassal and a slave in their own land.

Rosaria Butterfield and FDR

“I know you will not mind my being brutally frank when I tell you that I think I can personally handle Stalin better than either of your Foreign Office people or my State Department. Stalin hates the guts of all your top people. He thinks he likes me better, and I hope he will continue to.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Letter to Winston Churchill

 “Do not preach against homosexuality (which can be ‘vitriolic’), but reach them (Sodomite practitioners) by “personalized hospitality…. We need to share the gospel and we need to stop adding to the gospel. And what I mean by that is we need to share the gospel of hope in Jesus, not rant about anal sex… that can be very distracting”

Rosaria Butterfield
Queer but Celibate Advocate

I’m reading now on FDR’s charm offensive waged on Stalin at Tehran and later Yalta. Supposedly, FDR was convinced that if he just demonstrated to Stalin that he (FDR) was no threat that Stalin would come around to see things his way. This included basically giving Stalin everything he asked for from the Americans. FDR was convinced that if Stalin could only be convinced that the Americans were not out to get them then a reasonable peace could be arrived at. FDR practiced philoxenia at its best. He didn’t argue with Stalin. He didn’t negotiate with Stalin. He didn’t threaten Stalin. He was the perfect host and just gave Stalin everything the mass murderer wanted.

There is a parallel here in the modern visible church in the West.

This is the same exact type of reasoning that Rosaria Butterfield is pushing on Evangelicals. She is telling them that we have to win the sodomite, lesbian, and trannie with “radical hospitality.” Invite them into your homes. Call them by the pronouns they wish to be called by. Communicate that you are not a threat to them. In such a manner they will be converted.

Now, I am not opposed to hospitality and I have set more than one table for friends who were sodomite and lesbian. I’ve also been to “gay” bars in hopes of reaching sodomites with the Gospel. But these people, whether sitting in my home breaking bread with me, or whether in the dark environs of an unseemly bar, had no illusions about where I stood on their sin and how they, by that sin, were destroying themselves. You see, love and hospitality, constrained me to have spoken the truth to them.

I don’t think Mrs. Butterfield is correct. I believe that the practical effect of what she is advocating is to drop the work of the law in favor of the sweetness of the Gospel. However the Gospel is only as sweet as the law is bitter and while hospitality is certainly sometimes an option it should never be hospitality at the expense of speaking the truth… yes, Rosaria, even about anal sex.

It is my conviction that Mrs. Butterfields approach works as well as FDR’s approach worked with Stalin. Roosevelt’s hospitality approach resulted in millions and millions of souls being consigned to living under the darkness of Communism. Rosaria’s approach is sure to consign people to live for eternity under the darkness of hell.