A Week Getting Worse

ESPN.com is reporting that Cleveland Browns Center LeCharles Bentley was carted of the field at training camp today with an apparent knee injury. Here is to hoping it is either not very serious or it is one kind of sick preseason joke.

I cannot handle 7 out of 8 bad seasons for my Browns since they came back let alone the fact that my 3 other favorite sport teams had sub-par to horrendous seasons in the last calender year.

1) Marshall Thundering Herd Football goes from media darlings to a 4-7 season in year.

2) Pittsburgh Penguins win the draw of the century and pick phenom Sydney Crosby, sign some top-level free agents and then proceed to finish next-to-last in the 05-06 season.

3) 14 Seasons of futility. ’nuff said. It is tough being a Pittsburgh Pirate fan.

Prayer Request # 2

To All:

I was laid off from my job today and therefore I more than likely will not be able to attend seminary on a full-time basis. My wife who recently had a baby is not working either so please pray that we both find employment soon.

God Who In All Things Triumphs, To Him Be The Glory. Do not feel sorry but be glad that Christ is Victorious over sin and death. The Earth can only kill you. God can only save you.

New Wineskins Conference

If the first report is any indication I am very disturbed by the focus of the New Wineskins Conference. It seems to me that the leaders of this group have no real belief in Presbyterianism or the Reformed faith. Their words are very focused on emotion-driven Christianity without any real desire to seek anything substantive or foundational. Evangelical Big-Box at heart this quote from the story on Layman Online is especially disturbing:

Dean Weaver, pastor of Community Park Presbyterian Church and co-moderator of the New Wineskins Initiative, as part of an “action plan” that also calls for the evangelical group to become formally organized as the New Wineskins Association of Churches. Although first organized as a parallel evangelical movement within the Presbyterian Church (USA), the New Wineskins Initiative has made almost no reference to being denominational or Presbyterian. Weaver emphasized that distinction during his presentation of the action plan, although it did include a reference to a connectionalism “as understood by the historic Reformed tradition.”

So here we have a “Presbyterian renewal group” that is neither Presbyterian in any fashion nor is it in the least bit interested in reforming the church. It seems that this conference is an insult to anyone who really desires to reform the church. I was never really impressed by the NWI nor the Constitutional Presbyterians and the beginnings of this conference has definitely not changed my understandings of this Renewal Group. Hopefully the Layman is printing an incorrect translation of what is really going on in Tulsa.

http://www.layman.org/

What Kind of Judge is the Father?

My most recent issue of Modern Reformation magazine-if you do not subscribe to this thought-provoking magazine you should-had an essay written by Korey Maas (who is an assistant professor of theology and church history at Concordia University in Irvine, Calif.) that dealt with an issue that is at the forefront of a discussion going on at Classical Presbyterian’s blog-which you can access from this website-dealing with who gets to be married at a Christian Church. One side of the argument says that there must be standards and those standards should be enforced. The other challenges with the viewpoint that if we tell the sinful couple no that they will driven away from the church and that we should accept them into the church and hope that they see the error of their ways by being in the body. As is with most arguments it stems from two basic premises:

1) What is Holy Scripture and how authoritative is it?
2) What kind of judge is the Father?

The First question-I believe-can be answered by the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy and can be found here:
http://www.reformed.org/documents/icbi.html

The Second question is answered by Korey Maas and can be found here:
http://www.modernreformation.org/km06judge.htm

Infant Baptism

Infant Baptism

The soon to be baptism of my daughter has brought me to a further deep study of Infant Baptism, specifically focusing on the regenerational effect of baptism on the child. As is my usual study habit I first looked at Scripture then the WCF and its scriptural backing then to Calvin then to Edwards. What I found was an agreeing view on the basics: (from the WCF)

Of Baptism

I. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, or his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life: which sacrament is, by Christ’s own appointment, to be continued in his Churchy until the end of the world.
IV. Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one or both believing parents are to be baptized.
V. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.


But what I found was a very divergent opinion on the regeneration of the infants who died in infancy. While Edwards was clear on his opinion of the questioned validity of the Baptism if the parents were not believers, neither Calvin nor the WCF are very clear on this point. Calvin when he does speak of Baptism refers almost exclusively to Adult Baptism and the sincerity of the Adults and very briefly mentions the regeneration of infants. Edwards believed that by no means that all children bap­tized in infancy-even those of godly parents-or even those who died, were regenerate. This is interesting because it mirrors many beliefs of Adult baptism, in other words, why should Adult baptism be seen in a different light than Infant baptism? Because of age or ability or is it because of human sensibilities? There is no biblical evidence for a so-called “age of consent”. What we find in the biblical accounts of baptism is of salvation that derives from an inward calling by the holy-spirit not from the actual baptism itself. As the WCF says, “Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.” Calvin says that “God’s truth everywhere opposes all these arguments”(Inst.4, 16, 17). Calvin shows that if infants are regarded as the children of sin, “they are left in death, since in Adam we can but die (Rom.5:12), (Inst.4, 16, 17). This baptism is an outward sign of an inward movement. Infant baptism-as the WCF says without actually stating-is an outward sign of an inward movement on behalf of the congregation and the parents that they will bring up the child in the Christian Faith not that the actually baptism guarantees nor even leads the child to salvation. While it may seem unfair to require children under age x to believe for their sake I am still unable to find any biblical witness as to their being a certain age where God says, “You are now accountable”. Anyone who believes in Original Sin must recognize that from the moment of conception the child is reprobate in the eyes of God and therefore is responsible from conception for their own salvation. Edwards makes a good point when he says:

A person who comes to faith in Jesus Christ becomes, on credible profession of that faith, a communicant member of the church. Then, and then only, is he entitled to have his children baptized. They are not only baptized on the basis of the parents’ Christian profession and life, but the efficacy of their baptism seems to be very intimately related to the thoroughness of the Christian parents’ living on the child’s behalf. The children in turn are regarded as Christ’s own, dedicated to Him, virtually confessing faith in Him, and called upon as they come to years of discretion, if they do not turn away and renounce that faith, explicitly to profess it, and to live according to it.

Again we must look at what is the point of baptism? Are we baptized so that we might be saved or are we baptized so that we may show our regeneration as true? While we can all agree that baptism is absolutely necessary for those that claim to be reborn in Christ those who are not baptized cannot be said to have not been regenerated. We need only look at the robber whom Christ promised would be with him in heaven. When was he baptized? Obviously he wasn’t so we must conclude that the actual physical baptism is a requirement but not necessarily a pre-requisite for salvation.
So what does this have to do with Infant baptism? The point to be made is that the child-though still an infant-is still responsible for their own salvation. I am interested to hear others opinions on this. Please feel free to disagree.

Required Reading

A very interesting discussion among two very prominent Baptist theologians-Rev. Albert Mohler and Rev. Paige Patterson-about Calvinism and its place in Baptist Theology. Rev. Mohler-President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (in Louisville, KY ironically) is a believer in Calvinism. A definite must read for all of us.

http://www.sbcannualmeeting.net/sbc06/newsroom/newspage.asp?ID=21