Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Some questions pt. 1

As I've been reading others' blogs lately, I've realized a few things, mainly my gross underqualification to have anyone seriously reading my reflections, theological or otherwise. There's nothing right now that I can say about theology that would contribute anything original to the conversation, so I've resigned myself mostly to shut up and read for a while. That said, I'll just be posting lots of questions for the next bit of time. I've got my opinions about the answers to these questions, but they are comparitively uneducated ones. Please feel free to answer if you are so inclined.
1. Into what covenant (or covenant administration, if you prefer) are we baptizing people? Is baptism an initiation into the covenant of grace in general or into a specific administration of that covenant? Both?
2. Who holds the majority view as it concerns the landscape and nature of bibical covenants, M.G. Kline or O.P. Robertson? They seem to diverge at important points, though they are both quoted approvingly in some of the same books.
More on the way... get excited!


James Grant said...

Hi name is James Grant. I pastor a church outside of Memphis, TN, and Glenn Jones directed me to your blog and questions. I'll take a stab at these and feel free to respond back here or via email.

Into what covenant (or covenant administration, if you prefer) are we baptizing people?

I think the new covenant. I do not think it is some church covenant. It is a real covenant with real members and a covenant that can be broken. John Frame (RTS-Orlando)helped me to see the distinction between eternal covenants and historical covenants, and this is often soemthing that gets confused. But whatever we want to say, it must be a real covenant, and baptism must mean something.

By the way, I noticed you might be headed to are asking the fundamental question that will determine where you end up theologically.

Is baptism an initiation into the covenant of grace in general or into a specific administration of that covenant? Both?

Why don't you blog on this one and explain the distinction between initiation and administration.

Who holds the majority view as it concerns the landscape and nature of bibical covenants, M.G. Kline or O.P. Robertson?

Well...they have a lot of similarities, and it depends upon what you are asking about...the covenant of works, Mosaic Covenant, etc...?

Trey said...

I hope things are going well for you. It appears you will be getting a head start on me as far as seminary goes. I won't be starting till fall of '08, probably at Covenant Seminary in St. Louis. Anyway, don't belittle the wisdom that you have gained in your short years of life. It is no less miraculous or less the work of God than that which has been done any many others. It is wise to recognize that you and I have a lot to gain from the saints before us, but to think we have nothing to add is to diminish what God is capable of doing it our lives. Here are some of my equally uneducated answers to your questions.

1. When we baptize people they are entering into a covenant with God's visible people. While the church and its leaders will certainly do its best to affirm a regenerating work that has taken place, we as humans can only know so much and never the inner workings of another's heart. In this way a baptized member does become the recipient of certain graces that can be found within the church, such as fellowship, discipline, proper administering of the Word, and accountability. I would tend to classify it as special grace, since it is beyond that what those outside of the church experience but it is not the same as saving grace. No act of man can provide saving grace, only God can do that.

2. Do you mean to ask are biblical covenants primarily agreements or relationships? I would also like to clarify to which covenants you are referring. In my mind there are the big three: redemption, works, and grace. There are other covenants as made between God and specific men, but my guess is that it is to these that you are referring.

Paul Cable said...

Rev. Grant,

Thanks so much for you generous responses! I appreciate your time. It's great to hear that Glenn pointed you my way. (I was beginning to consider hiring some comment writers)=)

I agree, for the most part, but it's my understanding the the new covenant, in effect, can't be broken, as God assumes sole responsibility, like a grant, not a bilateral treaty. He keeps his covenant. That's just my understanding. I've read Michael Horton's God of Promise since I wrote this post, and it answered a lot of my questions, especially the relationships the Biblical covenants have to each other. I could be misunderstanding this point still, though.

Yeah- I'm excited about SBTS and about the varied perspectives that are represented there, but I'm also going to keep reading in the WTS vein, because I'm really liking the Redemptive Historical stuff that came/ is coming from those guys.

By "administration" I think I meant the successive republications of the Covenant of Grace, (Noah,David, etc.)

About Robertson and Kline, I was referring to their differing concepts of the covenant of works. Robertson seems uncomfortable with that term, Kline loves it.

I've really enjoyed looking over your blog, and am looking forward to having another discerning eye reading over some of this stuff! Thanks!

James Grant said...

Kline and Robertson are quite close on the covenant of works. In fact, they are basically in agreement concerning its contents and necessity. They differ over the Mosaic Covenant.

Paul Cable said...

Rev. Grant-
Thanks! That seems to make more sense. I got it mixed up a bit. Thanks for the clarification.

Trey said...

On the covenant of works issue, does Robertson follow along the thinking of John Murray and others in thinking that the pharse is a misnomer. From what I have read, several scholars have issue with the term, because it seems to imply that God was not gracious toward Adam even before the Fall. They would say that God showed grace toward Adam by making a covenant with him. By grace they mean unmerited favor, as opposed to demerited favor which would be that which we experience today.

This issue is actually one of the ones central to some debates going on within my denomination over Federal Vision.

Matt Haeck said...

Paul, if I may enter this conversation...

I think you are asking the right questions, and for that you are to be commended. Much of good theologizing seems to be more about asking the right questions than know the answers.

You are right about there being differences between Kline and Robertson. Personally, I think Kline's view to be the more traditional confessional Reformed view. Maybe I'm just saying that because Horton is one of my profs, but I don't think so. God of Promise made things a lot clearer for me in this area too.

You know, I think you might REALLY like WSC... (And we have a lot of "credos" out here too...)

Paul Cable said...

Thanks for your response! "Biblical Theology" by G. Vos has helped with my understanding of the progress of the covenants, too. He was a big influence on Kline (and Horton) right? I've heard good things about WSC, and I've thought about doing further work either there or at WTS/P or Moore. Please continue to stop by and weigh in on subsequent questions!