Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Quick Update Pt. 2

I received word from our attorney yesterday that our appeal was denied. Now pay close attention, lest you come into an encounter with Social Services. You would think an appeal would mean that you would actually be heard and that a basis would be heard concerning this matter. Not in Social Services (notice anything familiar about the initials of said organization? hint:Gestapo). Nope, we are not in a judicial matter hear, it is purely administrative. So our appeal was heard by a judge? NOpe. An outside party? uh uh. Anyone who could objectively look at evidence and hear testimony. Nada. It was looked at by the same organization that has accused us of neglecting our son, who by the way is crawling, chattering, eating well, and has tremendous strength in his legs!

All in all, we are at the mercy of DSS. They will determine when and IF we go to court. Please remember to pray for us that our conduct may be that which glorifies Christ and His gospel and that God may grant us grace in this matter. As soon as a court date has been set I will post that, but getting that will be diffcult for getting anyone from DSS to return a call is like pulling teeth.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A Quick Update

We are still in Limbo concening our appeal. Our attorney has advised us to be patient that DSS is notorious for drawing things out over a long period of time. The woman in charge of the appeal will not contact me though I call and request it of her every week. We must continue to allow them in our home until the appeal takes place and then we will see whether it goes to a family court. More than likely it will, unless the Lord brings us into favor with the judge. He can do it, just as He brought Daniel into favor with those who were in authority over him and so we petition Him for this. Many wonderful brothers and sisters have encouraged us with letters and even some financial support. We are tremendously humbled by their love and if you read this and have even offered prayers for us, let me say on behalf of my family, "Thank you so much."

Indeed God is sovereign and we have learned much about ourselves (both good and bad) and experienced the loving hand of the Father working in our midst. Also, we have recently found out that the Lord has added to our number. We are now 10 B's in a hive. Yes, Denise discovered last week that she is pregnant again. We rejoice, though we realize that people probably think we are crazy (we didn't have to have 8 children to determine that:).

Please remember us before the throne if the Lord brings us to mind, especially Denise. The added stress is not good for the adults, much less the baby that grows in her womb.

By the way, I am toying with the idea of actually recording a few thoughts rather than typing them and offering them sort of like a podcast. There is lots of "free" time in my van, but it is so noisy, so this week my boss is looking to replace my van with a new quiet one or possibly.......could it be?.........a new truck (please please please). If so and the road noise is significantly minimized, then I will probably record thoughts each day entitled, "One for the road".

That's a quick update, I post more as soon as things change.

Understanding Paedo-Baptism

A couple of weeks ago our family was invited to spend the weekend (a much needed vacation) with a dear brother in the Lord, Jerry Johnson. Many will recall Jerry as the author of the Apologetics Group’s wonderful DVD “Amazing Grace – The History and Theology of Calvinism”. Jerry has been a great friend in the last few years. He has housed us on several occasions for the Apologetics Group’s Conferences and we have had many wonderful discussions of theology and books, as well as, shared in some business together.

During our past stay with Jerry we were able to relax on a beautiful mountain in Draper, VA right on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We drank lots of coffee, took it easy, watched a few movies, and discussed numerous theological matters. One of these topics was the subject of infant baptism (paedo baptism). This subject sometimes becomes lost in understanding the connection and also the disconnection of the covenants of the Bible. Let me make clear that my comments are not in anger, nor are they saying that those who baptize their infant children non-Christians. I do not believe that at all. However, I have not come to the conclusion that they are correct either. With that said, I wanted to be able to question Jerry regarding the reasoning behind coming to this conclusion. Jerry was more than willing, since he understood I was not trying to argue with him, but to understand his position. Therefore, I will try to lay out the position as I understand it. Note: I said, as I understand it, this way I will be able to be open for correction from any paedo Baptists who might read this entry. Please do not take this in any way as me trying to be inflammatory towards paedo Baptists, but I truly want to understand the position because should I be found in error, then I want to repent. As of this moment, I cannot turn into the path of paedo baptism.

First, I understand the paedo Baptist position to be consistent up to a certain point, that is from their perspective of how the covenant works. They see a continuity of the covenants, as do I. We both see one over-arching covenant and that is the covenant of grace. Historically, as you read many paedo Baptist authors their language does seem to imply baptismal regeneration, though, thankfully, at least orthodox writers do make the point of stating they do not believe in such a thing. Nevertheless, I have run across numerous statements that even in their context, seem to suggest that. I will provide some of those in a future installment.

We must keep in mind that while there is one over-arching covenant and that being the covenant of grace, there were numerous covenants throughout history between God and man. The covenant of grace is a covenant between God the Father and God the Son, with men being the beneficiaries. The other covenants include the Adamic covenant, the Noahic covenant, the Abrahamic covenant, the Old covenant, and the New covenant. In the New Covenant is the fullest expression of the covenant of grace. In it is the fulfillment of all of the promises that He has made because in this covenant comes the promise that He made and that is in the person and work of Jesus Christ. However, the issue we are concerned with requires that we understand the difference between the Abrahamic covenant and the Old covenant and the difference of these from the New covenant.

First there is a difference between the covenant God made with Abraham and the covenant God made with the nation of Israel at Sinai (the Old covenant). The major difference is two-fold.

The Abrahamic Covenant was unconditional, while the covenant made at Sinai was conditional. God made promises to Abraham that were not dependent upon Abraham, but upon God. However, at Sinai, that covenant was accepted by the people and was dependent upon their obedience. Consequently, this is why this covenant has passed away
The Abrahamic Covenant is most clearly extended in the New Covenant, while the Old Covenant is made obsolete and ready to vanish away.

Here is where our dispensational friends get tripped up. They intermingle the two as though they are the same covenant and as Dr. John MacArthur showed in his recent attack against a straw man he called a-millenialism. Now paedo-baptists recognize the difference here between these two covenants well. But it appears to me that there is a melding of some of the thoughts behind the “covenant community” of Old Testament Israel and the “covenant community” of the New Testament. This is where I see a glaring inconsistency.

First, we will note that in the Abrahamic covenant we see that this covenant is completely dependent upon God. Abraham is simply the recipient of the promise of God. We find in Genesis 15,

12 ¶ Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him.
13 Then He said to Abram: "Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.
14 "And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.
15 "Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.
16 "But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete."
17 ¶ And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces.
18 On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates—
19 "the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites,
20 "the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim,
21 "the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites."

They covenant was completely dependent upon God’s own word. We find in Genesis 17 that Abraham believed the promise of God and as it was counted unto him for righteousness, there was also given to him a “sign” of this covenant, circumcision. Abraham, his son Ishmael and all the males in his house were circumcised. Later we discover in the Old covenant that all the males of the nation Israel would take up this sign of the covenant on the eighth day.

Now if one was not circumcised he was to be cut off from his people (Gen. 17:14). In the New Covenant, the paedo-baptist sees continuity between the covenants concerning this sign. That continuity is that the new sign of baptism, which identifies one with the Lord of the New Covenant, is simply a replacement for circumcision. They will reference such passages as Romans 4:11 and possibly their strongest argument comes from Colossians 2:11. We will take a look at these passages in the next post.

They believe, and their argument is really an argument from silence, that the mind of the first century New Covenant Jew would be that since baptism replaced circumcision that it would be natural for believers to baptize their children into the covenant community. I remind us, this “mindset” is argued from silence in the Scripture. I will attempt to show that the covenant community of the New Covenant is not the same as the covenant community of the Old Covenant. For in the New Covenant there are only believers, not unbelievers. All in the New Covenant community are the elect or the true Israel of God.

Now, much like our dispensational friends who want to go back to separating believers based upon ethnicity and end up promoting some fleshly appeal to the Jew for the future, I believe the paedo-baptist does something similar. They have carried the idea of the Old Covenant community into the New Covenant and therefore, they baptize their children based upon flesh (ie. They are their offspring). However, if they are to be consistent with the Scripture it would seem that they would baptize only the children of Abraham. And who might the children of Abraham be? The apostle Paul identifies them for us in Galatians 3,

27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

The children of Abraham should receive the New Covenant sign of baptism because they are of the same faith as Abraham and because they are Christ’s, not because they have believing parents.