Monday, October 24, 2011

More on FV and Baptists

Recently, I have heard an informal presentation of one Reformed Baptist position of Covenant Theology. Now, this is informal and not meant to be representative of the theology of all or even most Baptists, neither is it official and necessarily well thought out, but it illuminates one possible manner in which Baptists can appropriate Federal Vision (FV) theology while still remaining Baptists (proving that FV is NOT necessarily a Presbyterian issue).

The manner lies in the understanding of how one enters the Covenant. In that informal presentation of one Reformed Baptist position, the statement is made that "There is no external federal relation to Jesus Christ." I am sure that the presenter was not consciously using the language of the Federal Vision, but this statement reveals to me one manner of how Baptists can be FVists too.

FVists also believe that there is not external federal relation to Jesus Christ. In traditional FV theology, the practice of infant baptism and oftentimes even paedocommunion is due to their arguing as follows:

P1: Infants are included in the Covenant of Grace

P2: There is only one vital federal relation to Jesus Christ

C: Therefore, infants are in true vital federal relation to Jesus Christ and are to have all the benefits of believers including baptism and partaking of Holy Communion

FVists who are Baptists can reason as follows:

~P1: Infants are not included in the Covenant of Grace, which is only for believers who profess their faith

P2: There is only one vital federal relation to Jesus Christ

C: Therefore, infants are not believers, not in true vital federal relation to Jesus Christ and are not to be baptized much less partake of Holy Communion.

As it can be seen, Premise 2 is one of the distinctive teachings of the Federal Vision. Premise 1 is basically the difference between the Reformed and Presbyterian, and Baptists.

Just for contrast, the Reformed position is this:

P1: Infants are included in the Covenant of Grace

~P2: There is more than one federal relation to Jesus Christ (namely two ways: external and internal)

P3: Baptism is initiation into the Covenant community, while the Lord's Supper is for those who can discern the Lord's Body

C: Therefore, infants are in the external form of the Covenant of Grace (as all professing believers are even those who eventually fall away), but cannot discern the Lord's body, so they are baptized but cannot partake of the Lord's Supper.

Contrary to what John Piper thinks, FV is a threat to Baptists too.

8 comments:

Committed Christian said...

Having been a Baptist, I could see how premise 2 (There is only one vital feferal relation to Jesus Christ) could be taken to the extreme in order to promote a "regenerate church membership". The reasoning would be based on the Reformed Baptist interpretation of Jeremiah 31, which is taken to mean that all New Covenant members are regenerate and the only people eligible for baptism.

PuritanReformed said...

@Committed:

Agree. In fact, some NCT (New Covenant Theology) advocates do use the term "regenerate church membership."

Brandon said...

Daniel, your posts about baptists are getting absurd. You honestly sound like you do not understand the baptist position at all. Baptists don't believe baptism enters anyone into the covenant of grace, so your comparison is completely invalid. Denial of any external federal relation to Christ cannot in any way be considered FV. Yes, NCT use the term "regenerate church membership" and so do non-NCT baptists. The point is not that membership regenerates anyone, but that regeneration is a condition of membership (and we are to discern based upon profession of faith, though we may err, meaning that not all members are regenerate)

PuritanReformed said...

@Brandon:

you have missed the entire point of this post. I have never claimed that I am presenting the Baptist position. Please read the piece again.

Jenson Lim said...

Hi Daniel

I'm surprised the Baptists are influenced by the FV. Is this a trend in America and/or Singapore?

Jenson

Brandon said...

I did not misread your post. Daniel, you said "The manner lies in the understanding of how one enters the Covenant." And yet you have misunderstood what baptists believe about entering the Covenant. The phrase "regenerate membership" does not mean baptists believe all members are regenerate or that baptism enters one into the Covenant.

FV teaches that one enters covenant through baptism, baptists deny this. Therefore agreement on there being only one form of federal union with Christ is a moot point.

PuritanReformed said...

@Jenson:

it is not exactly a trend. Some Baptists in America are influenced by the Federal Vision, probably among those who emphasize covenant and home-schooling.

PuritanReformed said...

@Brandon:

OK, I started off this post with the following sentence:

===
Now, this is informal and not meant to be representative of the theology of all or even most Baptists, neither is it official and necessarily well thought out, but it illuminates one possible manner in which Baptists can appropriate Federal Vision (FV) theology while still remaining Baptists
===

These are the parts you were supposed to look at.

Whether Baptists affirm or deny that in baptism one enters the covenant is a moot point. There is nothing necessarily contradictory in believing that in baptism one enters the covenant, and believing in believers' baptism. It may be the case that such a belief is contrary to historic Particular Baptist thought, but we are dealing with the naked belief in believers' baptism, not the entire system of doctrines held to by Particular Baptists.