Thursday, March 20, 2014

Infant Baptism Debate: Chris Gautreau vs. Zachary Kueker

"Is the Practice of Reformed Infant Baptism Consistent With Biblical Teaching?"


Chris Gautreau's opening statement:


PB = Paedobaptist
CB = Credobaptist
OC = Old Covenant
OT = Old Testament
NC = New Covenant
NT = New Testament 
Scripture 

The most common method of approaching this subject of infant baptism by those who reject the practice is to survey the NT landscape and demonstrate the complete absence of any commands to, or examples of, infants being baptized.

Though there is nothing wrong with such an approach to refute the practice, as such argumentation is legitimate, I do, nevertheless, have a few reasons as why I will not be taking this approach.

1)      Since this tends to be the most common approach, I thought I’d make an attempt in presenting something different.

2)      All honest paedobaptists will concede this point and I will have spent 3,000 words arguing something my opponent will likely be in full agreement.

As the paedobaptist B. B. Warfield has expressed:

“It is true that there is no express command to baptize infants in the NT, no express records of the baptism of infants, and no passages so stringently implying it that we must infer from them that infants were baptized."

3)      Since the absence of any commands or examples of infant baptism doesn’t seem to deter the paedobaptist, given their hermeneutic, I figured I would take another approach.

I believe the source of the problem lies in the paedobaptist’s failure to recognize the nature and extent of the NC.

Here I am going to employ the transendental method. We will be asking the question, “What must be, in order for what is, to be what it is.” That’s just a fancy way of saying, “If something is true, what should we expect to find."

Allow me to illustrate. We’ll use the doctrine of Jesus as the God-man. If Jesus is the God-man, what kinds of things should we find in scripture that would communicate such a doctrine? Scripture should refer to Him as both God and man. Scripture should discuss both His infinite and finite origins.

Scripture should show Jesus praying to God as well as being prayed to.

This is the “what must be, in order for what is, to be what it is” approach. If something is true, there are certain things we explicitly must find within the pages of scripture documenting, defining, and defending any particular doctrine and practice.

In using this method I will not be dealing with infant baptism directly, but rather the underlying assumptions which inappropriately result in the unwarranted doctrine of infant baptism.

If it can be demonstrated that one of their main assumptions is in error, then so to will it, by necessity, demonstrate infant baptism to be in error.

Reformed paedobaptists hold to a system called covenant theology. In this system, it is believed that the NC is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. According to them, infants were included in that covenant through birth and subsequently circumcised, and since the NC fulfills the Abrahamic covenant, then, by implication, infants must be included in the NC.

This is why you will often hear paedobaptists refer to Israel as the church and the church as Israel.

As B. B. Warfield says:

“God established his church in the days of Abraham and put children into it... ...they are still then members of his church and as such entitled to its ordinances."

And Randy booth states:

“Since God has not changed the terms of church membership, NC believers and their children are likewise included in his church."

Since Israel under the OC was a mixed community, so too is the Church under the NC. Believers and unbelievers are both partakers and members of the OC as well as the NC. This is what gives paedobaptists a supposed justification for baptizing infants and including them in the NC, as unbelievers.

As one who holds to New Covenant Theology, I agree that the Abrahamic covenant is fulfilled in the NC; however, I disagree how, exactly, it is fulfilled. Baptists agree that the OC was a mixed covenant; we disagree when it comes to the NC. Only the elect, or simply, believers are members of the NC.

If it is true that the NC includes infants in particular and unbelievers in general, then what must be in order for it to be true? If the NC Church is OC Israel, specifically in the sense of being a mixed covenant, what kinds of things should we expect to find? Should we not see the same language used of Israel being used of the Church? More importantly, should not this language be used in the same sense, with the same meaning, and with the same subjects, without any equivocation?

Since scripture uses similar, and in many instances, the same language to describe both Israel and the Church, paedobaptist concluded that the Church must have mixed membership the same as Israel, because they are essentially the same entity. But is this enough? Are paedobaptists guilty of equivocation leading to unfounded conclusions and faulty doctrines? This is what I will be putting to the test.

I will be doing a side by side comparison of OC Israel and the NC Church using the same words, terms, and phrases. Using the “what must be, in order for what is, to be what it is” approach, “what is” of OC Israel “must be” of the NC Church in order for the paedobaptist to make their case that Israel and the Church are essentially the same, a mixed covenant, which is what they believe gives justification for the practice of infant baptism.

If the NC also has a mixed membership like the OC, then these words and phrases must be used without equivocation in the NT and include both believers as well as unbelievers. This, I will demonstrate, is not the case. Since space is limited, I will only present a few examples.

Their God and My people (OC Israel: Mixed membership)

Leviticus 26:12

 “I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.” 

Their God and My people (NC Church: Believers only)

2 Corinthians 6:16 

“...For we are the temple of the living God: just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’” 

Priest and holy nation (OC Israel: Mixed membership)

Exodus 19:6 

“...and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priest and a holy nation...” 

Priest and holy nation (NC Church: Believers only)

1 Peter 2:9 

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession...” 

Husband/Bride (OC Israel: Mixed membership)

Isaiah 54:5, 6 

“For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the Lord of hosts... ...For the Lord has called you, Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit...” 

Husband/Bride (NC Church: Believers only)

2 Corinthians 11:2 

“For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.” 

Though both believers and unbelievers were “chosen” and were God’s  people, Israel, in the OC, this is not so with the Church in the NC. The “chosen” in the Church age are unambiguously believers alone.

To be a “son” in the OC was through physical birth, born into the covenant family and being circumcised on the eighth day. To become a “son” in the NC is through spiritual birth (John 1:12, 13); being born from above (John 3:3) and placing faith in the risen Savior.

Many more comparisons can be made which demonstrate how the same words used to describe OC Israel as a mixed covenant are used of believers only in the NC, demonstrating that the NC is not a mixed covenant.

This is why Peter, for example, can quote from the OT where mixed Israel is referred to as a holy nation made up of priests and now apply that to the Church in the context of speaking to and about believers alone.

As John Reisinger stated in his book, Abrahams Four Seeds:

“We must see that every single word like elect, chosen, loved, redeemed, son, ect. that describes Israel’s relationship to God as a nation has a totally different connotation when the identical words are use of the church’s relationship to God. One cannot mix spiritual and natural. One cannot treat the type as the reality.”

Now, speaking of priests, allow me to also apply the transendental method here. Since both sides of this debate agree that the OC was “added” to the descendants of Abraham, and the NC is the ultimate fulfillment of both the OC and the Abrahamic covenant, we must look at the high priest of both the Old and New covenants and examine their role and duties.

What must be of the NC High Priest in order for Him to be like the OC high priest? If the covenants are the same in that they are mixed, then each high priest must represent both believers and unbelievers in their person and work.

It must be understood the OC priest and their duties were intrinsically and inseparably tied to the covenant and the covenant people whom they represented.

In other words, the priest represented and worked on behalf of the entire covenant people of God. They did not represent the Egyptians nor did they only represent the remnant. Their representation was all of Israel, and Israel alone.

Moreover, there is no separation between provision and application. Put simply, whatever the priest provided through their priestly duties on behalf of the covenant people is likewise applied to the covenant people. Provision and application go hand in hand.

When the priest offered a sacrifice for himself, that sacrifice is likewise applied to him. When the high priest offered a sacrifice for the sins of covenant Israel, that offering was applied to covenant Israel. When the priest confessed the sins of covenant Israel while placing his hands on the scapegoat, those sins were then applied to the scapegoat.

In short, the priests acted as representatives of God to covenant Israel and represented covenant Israel to God. They were mediators between covenant Israel and God. When they sacrificed, they sacrificed on behalf of covenant Israel. When they prayed, they prayed on behalf of covenant Israel. When they taught the commands and precepts required of God, these requirements were for covenant Israel.

Why, then, was it possible for covenant Israel to be a mixed community? Why could covenant Israel include unbelievers and infants who had no saving faith?

The answer is simple. The OC was a defective covenant. Here are a few reasons as to why the OC was a defective covenant.

1) The priest and high priest were sinners.

2) The priesthood had to be passed on due to the death of the priest.

3) It was a covenant based upon law. “Do this and live. Don’t do this and die.”

4) The blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin.

For these reasons, unbelievers could partake of the covenant made with Israel. Since the blood of the OC was the blood of bulls and goats, and since the blood of bulls and goats do not take away sin, that is, their blood is not effectual in bringing about full and eternal pardon from sin, then this covenant blood did not require one to be in saving union with God in order to be in covenant union with God.

Though God nevertheless required perfect obedience and genuine faith from covenant Israel, the covenant itself could not bring about perfect obedience and saving faith. This is because the priest, their intercession, and the sacrifices were all defective by their very nature. This resulted in a defective covenant with defective people.

A defective people, of a defective membership (mixed), represented by defective priests, partaking of defective sacrifices, results in a defective covenant.

What must be, in order for what is, to be what it is?

What is? A defective covenant! What must be in order for it to be a defective covenant? Defective priest, sacrifices, and people. This has been established.

Now, what must be of the NC in order for it to be like the OC? Well, it has to have a defective High Priest, defective intercession, and a defective sacrifice. This will lead to a defective people, that is, a mixed community. To this I will now turn.

Scripture is quite clear, Jesus the Christ is the Head of the NC. Jesus is the High Priest of the NC. Jesus is the mediator of the NC, the One who intercedes on behalf of those in NC relationship. It is the blood of Jesus that establishes the NC.

Allow me to provide some scriptures.

Jesus is the High Priest of the NC

Hebrews 7:26 

“For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.” 

The NC is established in Christ’s blood.

Luke 22:20 

“This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” 

Christ is the Mediator of the NC.

Hebrews 8:6 

“But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.” 

This results in a regenerated church.

Ephesians 5:25-27 

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” 

Given the fact that my opponent is a Calvinist, I should not have to labor this point too much. Remember what was said earlier as I pointed out how provision and application go hand in hand. What is provided is necessarily applied to those for whom provision is made.

Christ, as our covenant Head, Who represents His covenant people, cannot fail to apply that which He has provided for them. In other words, since it was Christ Who provided His very own blood in order to establish His covenant, He likewise cannot fail to apply its benefits to all who are in covenant relationship with Him.

Just as the priest of the OC represented covenant Israel before God, Christ likewise, as our High Priest, represents His covenant people to God, His Father. He does this through the shedding of His blood (His sacrifice), mediation, and intercession.

This obviously begs the question, for whom did Christ die? Who does He mediate for, and whom does He intercede for?

Again, since my opponent is a Calvinist, the questions just asked are rhetorical questions. Christ shed His blood, acts as a Mediator, and intercedes on behalf of the elect alone.

As a matter of fact, Hebrews 9:15-22 tell us that there cannot be a covenant without the shedding of blood.

Hebrews 9:16 

“For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it.”

A simple positive implies a simple negative. If a covenant exist, then there had to be bloodshed (simple positive). If no blood was shed, then there can be no covenant (simple negative). This has profound implications. If Christ shed His blood for the elect alone, then only the elect can participate in the covenant established in His blood.

The covenant, blood, mediation, and intercession are all coextensive, a package deal. This is how it was under the Old and this is how it is under the New. The failure to understand COVENANT is what leads people to misunderstand the works that go along side of and correspond with the respective covenants. The failure to understand covenants is what leads people to make the covenantal works go beyond the covenant or make them less extensive than the covenant itself. The blood and the covenant are coextensive. One does not go beyond the other. 

This is precisely why Jeremiah 31 tells us that everyone in the NC will have their sins forgiven. Why? Because it’s a covenant established in the blood of the Savior!

This makes the paedobaptist position an impossibility! It means that the NC is made up of believers alone; excluding the possibility of covenantal membership based upon physical descent.

What the paedobaptist have done is to utterly divorce the covenant from the means through which it was established. In other words, if their position is true, then covenantal membership does not require a High Priest, mediation, intercession, and most importantly, it does not require the shedding of blood.

Paedobaptists have so called covenant members who have no Priest; no King; no Mediator; no intercession, no promise, and no blood! Sure, they say that Christ is the covenantal Head of these unbelievers, but when pressed as to the implications of such a position, their claims begin to disappear as they are exposed in light of what it means to be the Head of the covenant as well as what it means to be under that covenantal Head.

They are consistent in running “parallel lines” through the OC; that is, they acknowledge how covenantal membership included being under the head of that covenant as well as having all the priestly duties applied to them, including the sacrifices and intercessions, but these parallel lines are completely severed as we reach the NC.

I have attempted to apply a certain approach in evaluating covenantal infant baptism. What must be, in order for what is, to be what it is.

I believe that I have demonstrated that “what is” of the NC is not “what is” of the OC. Though there may be similarities due to type and antitype, or promise and fulfillment; they are, nevertheless, fundamentally different.

A perfect Priest, perfect mediation, perfect intercession, perfect sacrifice, and promise fulfilled, does not lead to a host of covenant members spending eternity in hell. It results in a regenerate covenant community.

And because of this, the only proper recipients of baptism are those for whom Christ died; those who have experienced eternal pardon from sin.



Christ saves those whom He represents. That’s Calvinism!


Zachary Kueker's Opening Statement


Thanks to Chris, a.k.a. FivePointBaptist, for his patience and understanding throughout these past couple years as I was going through life's struggles that come with a new marriage, newborn son and multiple employment changes. It's been a rough two years for me, and I have [barely] set some time aside at last to get this debate started. Since I have become fully convinced of infant baptism through my sanctifying examination of the Scriptures and reformed theology, coupled with my increased responsibility as the head of my household, an obligation for me to better understand covenant theology and household baptism has skyrocketed. Scripture and our rich history of the church have led me to a desire to not withhold the blessings of God from my child; namely, infant baptism. Although this puts me into the reformed and historical position commonly known as "paedobaptism," I prefer "oikosbaptism" due to the fact that the first century understanding of the term "household" (or "oikos") would have naturally presumed that children were included unless otherwise specified. My "credobaptist" friend and opponent, Chris Gautreau, rejects household baptism in this way and will argue that each and every NT household baptism somehow excluded infants. This is nothing more than a presumption based on prejudice. Chris and I both believe in "Believer's Baptism" but, while he holds to Believer's Baptism alone, I also believe in household/oikos baptism. It is my contention that the children of believers have never been removed from covenantal status. I intend to prove that the credobaptist position fails to understand this and is inconsistent with the Biblical record. 

Let me start off by clearing up a few things. "Thou shalt baptize infants" or "Thou shalt not baptize infants" said no Bible verse ever. In other words, "[n]either practice has explicit biblical support. There is no example of anyone born to Christian parents being baptized in the New Testament at any age, and no precept addresses their specific situation. The time and circumstances that are appropriate for baptizing such children must be inferred from general biblical teaching concerning baptism" (James Scott). Infant baptism is not a position that can be defended easily by proof texting. It's a combination of mutually reinforcing and mutually dependent exegetical and biblical-theological points. Reason must be considered as well as the full context of NT baptism. Christianity doesn't begin in Matthew. Believing Jews would have understood this differently, and that's the place to start. The NT is informed by the OT, and the OT is understood through the NT. If one comes to the NT without an understanding of the OT, he's baptistic. Many churches with "Community" or "Bible" in their name were started by Dallas Theological Seminary guys, or dispensational guys, or 4-point calvinistic guys. This isn't always true, because some PCA churches use those names but, historically, that was the case. Failure to understand covenant theology and how the Jews understood it is what leads to a wrongful perspective of infant baptism. With that said, let's move on to my two main points I call Chris to focus upon which are expounded by Bryan Chapell and Jonathan Watt in The Case For Covenantal Infant Baptism (ed. Gregg Strawbridge). I have outlined and summarized them below.



              (1) The explicit instances of believer’s baptism in the NT do not serve as an argument against infant baptism, because you cannot establish a principle of baptism by just appealing to isolated instances. The credobaptist’s argument from Acts (for example) is often, therefore, an argument from silence. Proof texting doesn’t work in this debate.

              (2) There is biblical justification for the paedobaptist view. I will argue this by appealing to three points:



              (A) All covenant members should receive the sign of the covenant. If children of Christians are in the covenant – and I will argue that they are – then children of Christians are to receive the sign of the covenant, which is baptism.

              (B) The first century understanding of “household” would have naturally assumed that children were in view, regardless of whether they actually were in this particular case or that case. This argues in favor of paedobaptism, at least in principle, when considering the “household” baptism texts.

              (C) The argument for credobaptism suffers from a couple logical flaws.

When these considerations are taken together we will see clearly that at the very least the credobaptist position bears the burden of proof. It bears this burden for at least two reasons. First, it must be able to demonstrate how particular examples of baptisms in the NT justify the establishment of a certain principle of baptism – namely, how the mere fact that we have examples of adults being baptized after they believe somehow “proves” that all baptisms are to take place in this fashion, despite the fact that there is no explicit command to that end. Second, this position must be able to somehow demonstrate that “household” baptisms would not have included children or infants, since to the first century reader it would have been the default assumption that they did.

Point 1
The covenant which God made with Abraham was a promise to bless all of His people, past, present, future, Jew and Gentile. This was a covenant of grace (Gen. 15:1-6; 17:1-8). The distinction between “old” and “new” covenant is an unfortunate one, and somewhat of a misnomer. We are not under a “new” covenant today. We are under the same covenant of grace that God established with Abraham and to all his descendents (Gal. 3:8; cf. Gen. 12:3). What has changed is the sign of entrance into that covenant, given what Christ has done for us. Hence, God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham, a covenant of grace, which continues to cover all those who have faith (Gal. 3:6-7, 9).

When God established His covenant with Abraham, He also provided a sign of entrance into that covenant. In the OT, this sign was circumcision. Circumcision marked God’s people as being separate and consecrated unto Him. Further, this sign was given to Abraham’s “house,” which means the sign was to be given to all who were of Abraham. This included children (Gen. 17:23; cf. Ex. 12:43-48). In both testaments, as the spiritual leader of the household, the patriarch of a family would represent all who are related to him (cf. Eph. 5:25-27; Heb. 11:7).

But even under the old covenant the true recipients of the covenant blessings were those who had faith (cf. Gal. 3:6-9). Why then was the sign of circumcision to be given to infants? Paul elaborates in Romans 4:11:

He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well

Circumcision was a sign and seal of covenant membership. It was a sign of covenant membership in that it marked the recipient as a covenant member. It was a seal in that the rite of circumcision served to illustrate God’s pledge to honor His covenant for those who expressed faith in Him. That is, the seal does not guarantee covenant blessings. It guarantees that if the covenant obligation is met on the receiving end (faith), the blessings will be received as well. For this reason, God did not require that covenant parents wait until a child could express faith before commanding them to give the covenant sign and seal of circumcision. The sign and seal is to be given on the basis of the faith of the parents (the spiritual leader representing the household), which then serves as God’s pledge to honor the covenant member with the promised blessings, on the condition that they later come to faith. They may not come to faith, in which case they would be covenant breakers. But it is clear from Scripture that not all covenant members are regenerate believers. Hebrews 10:28-30 makes this case, in its warning toward covenant members of the dangers of apostasy. If we should take this warning seriously at all, and not just write it off as a hypothetical situation that couldn’t actually occur, and, if we agree as Calvinists that believers cannot lose their salvation (John 10:27-29; Rom. 8:30), then it follows that some members of the “new” covenant can be unregenerate members of the visible church who will be “judged” for breaking the covenant.

Again, the language of “old” and “new” covenant is somewhat of a misnomer. There is one covenant of grace, not two. What has changed between those covenants, with respect to our debate, is the sign that members receive. Under the OT it was circumcision; under the NT it is baptism. The reason for the change is to reflect what God has done in Christ to maintain His promises to the seed of Abraham. In other words, the bloody sign of circumcision is no longer necessary because of the blood that Christ shed. NT believers therefore receive a new sign that indicates what Christ accomplished for them (the washing of sins, hence baptism), but it's a sign of the same covenant (cf. 1 Pet. 1:18).

Baptism is therefore a replacement of the OT sign (circumcision) of entrance into the one covenant of grace that is still active. In both testaments the promise is made for believers, but, the sign is given to the visible church as a seal – a pledge, to extend the covenant blessings if the condition of faith is met. The children of believers still receive the promises of the covenant (Acts 2:38-39). This is the context in which Paul writes to the Colossians in 2:11-12. Salvation comes by faith, but the sign and seal of circumcision has simply been replaced by that of baptism. Since the sign changes but the covenant and its characteristics remain, NT believers, in a Greco-Roman society, would have operated under the assumption that they were to apply the sign not only to themselves, but to their children as well, just as the old sign had been applied. This leads to my next point.

Point 2
We have several instances in Scripture in which “households” are said to be baptized (Acts 10:18; 11:14; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 1 Cor. 1:14, 16). The burden of proof here rests on the credobaptist to demonstrate that these “households” would not have included children, not on the paedobaptist to demonstrate that they did. To see this point we have to understand a bit about the first century understanding of “household” (oikos/oikia).

David DeSilva elaborates on this issue in his book, Honor, Patronage, Kinship and Purity. He describes how in NT times, an individual would fall into a number of classifications – your “nation,” your “tribe,” your “clan,” and your “family” or “household.” These classifications are descending tiers. Your tribe was a collection of clans, and your clan was a collection of extended blood-relatives. Your household was your closest family, but it would have consisted of more than just immediate relatives. A “household” would often include the patriarch and his wife, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, and yes, children. This was the Greco-Roman cultural notion of a household. Oikos, therefore, does not depict the Americanized idea of a simple nuclear family, which would include a husband, a wife, and maybe a couple children. It depicts the idea of a quite large group of relates – a family gathering or reunion, if you will – in which family members of all kinds would have been the norm. This is a critical point, because what it demonstrates is that the original readers of Scripture would have assumed by default that children were in view in these “household” baptisms. Even if there were particular instances where this was not the case (we are not told one way or the other), the point is it would have been the natural assumption of the first century reader to understand there to be children, and therefore the author most likely would have specified family members, excluding children, rather than just use the term oikos/oikia, if there were no children or infants involved, so as to dissuade the first century reader from what would have been his assumption.

“[I]n light of the use of the word oikos in the OT and according to the Semitic manner of speech and of thinking in terms of families rather than individuals, the authors of the NT would have explicitly excluded children from the 'oikos' had the act been restricted to those old enough or cognitively sophisticated enough to make a credible profession of faith, and so the burden of proof is on credobaptists to produce a text which excludes children from the 'oikos'” (Daniel Calder). Daniel goes on to list the occurrences of the word “oikos” in the Septuagint translation of the OT:

Gen. 7:1, 12:17, 18:19, 36:6, 45:8, 11, 18, 46:3, 31, 47:12, 50:7-8, 22 Exod. 1:1, Lev. 16:6, 11, 17, Num. 18:1, 31, Deut. 6:22, 12:7, 14:26, 15:20, 26:11, 34:30, Josh. 2:18, 6:25, 24:15, Jdg. 14:15, 15:6, 16:31, 18:25, 1 Sam. 1:21, 22:1, 2:30, 31, 9:20, 22:15, 16, 25:6, 27:3, 2 Sam. 2:23, 6:11, 21, 9:9, 14:9, 19:41, 21:1, 4, 1 Kgs. 2:31, 16:7, 18:18, 2 Kgs. 8:1, 2 Jer. 38:17, Neh. 1:6, Esth. 4:14, Isa. 7:17, Jer. 12:6

That the Saptuagint translators used "oikos" to render the OT meaning of "household" indicates that the understanding had not yet evolved much by the first century. To the first century reader, an individual's "household" was not a nuclear family. It was a community of extended relatives which would have naturally assumed the presence of all kinds of people of multiple generations.

Taking into account all that has been said to this point, Chris must demonstrate that the OT use of “oikos,” which at least principally in meaning would have assumed the likely presence of children and infants, should be understood to not include such individuals with the six accounts of oiko-baptisms in the NT. Daniel lists them below:

"1. The household of Cornelius (Acts 10:44-48; 11:13-18)
2. The household of Lydia (Acts 16:13-15)
3. The household of the Philippian jailor (Acts 16:30-34)
4. The household of Crispus (Acts 18:8; 1 Cor. 1:14)
5. The household of Stephanus (1 Cor. 1:16)
6. The household of Gaius (1 Cor. 1:14 – by implication)"

Therefore, it follows that the burden of proof is on the credobaptist position, both to demonstrate that the particular instances of believers baptisms should be taken as a standard or rule (especially given the considerations offered), and to demonstrate that the instances of “household” baptisms would not have included children, despite the first century context surrounding the meaning of this term.

This means that continuity in the scope of application of the sign and seal is presupposed unless otherwise specified. The "New Covenant" is the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham, and the same language is used in Acts 2 as is used in Genesis 17 of the institution of circumcision. Baptism, like circumcision, is a sign and seal of regeneration (Deut. 10:16, 30:6, Jer. 4:4, etc.) and justification by faith alone by the imputed righteousness of Christ (Rom. 4:9-12), contrary to baptists who argue that circumcision was purely a carnal ordinance. Reformed/Covenant theology is consistent with the Scriptures in maintaining parallelism between circumcision and baptism. Each practice signifies an entering into the community of faith and undergoing a process of purification. In addition, each covenant sign is applied to whole households with the children being set apart for God because of parental belief, even if it's only one believing parent (1 Cor. 7:14). Infants as early as 8-days-old were included under the Abrahamic covenant and, since it continues to be in effect with only a changed sign, there's nothing in Scripture that has indicated an exclusion of infants. Again, as I've mentioned in the beginning, arguing for a discontinuity is a presumption based on prejudice; it is a presumptuous position because it reads into the text a modern understanding of terms without recognizing that the first century Christians would have had a very different understanding of "household" than we do today. It's prejudice because it fails to acknowledge that thousands of these household baptisms had to be taking place which often included infants. Credobaptists would have us believe that none of these household baptisms commonly practiced in the apostolic church included children. Really? These early Christians were more family-oriented and "quiver-full" than we are today. "This crucial distinction between ‘with’ and ‘and’ (regrettably obscured by some translations) is clear in similar passages in Acts: 1:14; 3:4; 4:27; 5:1; 10:2; 14:13; 15:22; 21:5. In each case, ‘with’ introduces those who follow the lead of others and join with them in their activity, however actively or passively. In Acts 21:5, for example, Paul is escorted to the harbor by all the men in the church at Tyre, ‘with wives and children,’ which no doubt included a number of small infants" (James Scott). This was a common first century Christian family as it relates to operating as a single unit. James Scott continues, "In the household baptism passages, the head of the house always believes 'with' his household, but he 'and' they are baptized. Just as the heads of households escorted Paul to the harbor 'with' infants who were only passive participants, so also heads of households were baptized 'with' whatever infants were in their families."

Chris may argue for a further distinction between "old" and "new" as it relates to the covenant of grace in order to avoid the parallelism between circumcision and baptism and, hence, begging the question for a discontinuity. Keep in mind that the OT and the NT are not two covenants, but two administrations of one covenant before the fulfillment and one afterward. The Old which testifies of the promised Christ administered with copies and shadows, and the NT administration now administered by the Holy Spirit in that Christ fulfills the requirements of salvation once and for all time in going to the cross. We are not under a "new" covenant today because we are under the same 'everlasting' covenant (Gen. 17:7) of grace that God established with Abraham and to all of his descendents (Gal. 3:8; cf. Gen. 12:3). Abraham believes the gospel as the apostle Paul, and it is the same gospel that Paul is preaching. Therefore it is accounted unto him as righteousness. The gospel that saved Abraham is the same gospel that Paul believed and we are saved in by faith, that is trusting the promises of God about Christ the mediator. It's one covenant, and it begins in eternity with the triune God wherein Christ is determined to be the redeemer of the elect. Abraham represents the elect in the sense that we are identified with believing Abraham as he represents a type of Church. He also represents the high office of Prophet. It is a partial revelation of the covenant in that it speaks of Christ as Prophet. The Lord's dealing with Abraham here is the third covenant manifestation. There are a total of five covenant manifestations (i.e. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David) and one fulfillment (the life of Jesus). Revelation of salvation is progressive. The first "photo of redemption" or protoevangelium, if you will, is found in Genesis 3:15. As the covenant manifestations unfold, we see Christ and that He manifests Himself in all three offices of prophet (through Abraham), priest (through Moses) and king (through David). All the types are fulfilled in Him. Christ is the final visible covenant and is the fulfillment of the covenant of grace. The substance of both "old" and "new" is salvation by faith trusting in the promised messiah. Therefore Christ must give to His church new sacraments, for all the sacraments as types are fulfilled in him. OT circumcision is a type of Christ and, thus, it is only a corollary to NT baptism.

Chris Gautreau's first Rebuttal 



PB = Paedobaptist

CB = Credobaptist

OC = Old Covenant

OT = Old Testament

NC = New Covenant

NT = New Testament

OS = Opening statement

Zach
Scripture


It is my contention that the children of believers have never been removed from covenantal status.

This assumes in times past that only the children of believers were part of the covenant. What has happened to the children of unbelievers? Have they all of a sudden been removed from covenantal status?


Let me start off by clearing up a few things. "Thou shalt baptize infants" or "Thou shalt not baptize infants" said no Bible verse ever.

Neither has scripture ever said “thou shalt circumcise only the children of believers” or “thou shalt not baptize the pagans.”

Infant baptism is not a position that can be defended easily by proof texting.

Amen!

The time and circumstances that are appropriate for baptizing such children must be inferred from general biblical teaching concerning baptism (Zach’s quote from James Scott).

I just want to make sure everyone sees this. Infant baptism is something that must be “inferred.” This means, it cannot be exegetically demonstrated from the pages of the NT. Remember my quotation from B. B. Warfield in my OS. He stated the same thing. Lets look at what the great PB Charles Hodge had to say:

“The difficulty  on this subject is that baptism from its very nature involves a profession of faith...but infants are incapable of making such a confession; therefore they are not the proper subjects of baptism...the Church is the company of believers; infants cannot exercise faith, therefore they are not members of the Church, and consequently ought not to be baptized.”

He goes on to say:

“In order to justify the baptism of infants, we must attain and authenticate such an idea of the church as that it shall include the children of believing parents.”

Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, page 548

Zach admits as much when he states:

It's a combination of mutually reinforcing and mutually dependent exegetical and biblical-theological points. Reason must be considered as well as the full context of NT baptism.

In other words, PB are forced to admit that infant baptism cannot be exegetically demonstrated from the pages of the NT. They must first begin with a ‘system’ that will allow such infants into the covenant community. Once they have a system, they can then appeal to logic and reason their way to infant baptism. This is generally done by forcing OT understandings into the NT.

Christianity doesn't begin in Matthew. 

Of course it didn’t. The NC was established at the cross while Christianity “began” at Pentecost.

Believing Jews would have understood this differently, and that's the place to start. The NT is informed by the OT, and the OT is understood through the NT.

We are dealing with a NC and a new sign which is found in the NT, yet Zach and his fellow PB wants to begin their understanding in the OT? Of course, they have no other option. Since the NT doesn’t give us one word to infant baptism, where else can you go? The reason why such an approach is dangerous is because the PB has a nasty habit of reading OT/OC concepts back into the NT/NC without first considering the NT context.

Failure to understand covenant theology and how the Jews understood it is what leads to a wrongful perspective of infant baptism.

I agree. If I accepted covenant theology, I would be a PB. This proves my point above. It is a ‘system’ called ‘covenant theology’ that drives their understanding of NC baptism, not the exegesis of the text. If we would just read scripture through the ‘covenantal’ paradigm we’d all be PB. I agree with this, but I’d rather just exegete the individual text.

The explicit instances of believer’s baptism in the NT do not serve as an argument against infant baptism, because you cannot establish a principle of baptism by just appealing to isolated instances.

Translation: The “isolated instances” of baptism in the NT do not support infant baptism in the least; therefore, I am forced to come up with some other means of getting my kids in the NC.

This is an interesting claim given the fact that Zach goes on to present “isolated instances” of household baptisms to support his position. If I cannot appeal to “isolated instances,” then neither can he.

He continues:

The credobaptist’s argument from Acts (for example) is often, therefore, an argument from silence.

Again, Zach complains about “isolated instances” of baptism, and now becomes more specific by bringing up the book of Acts, but it is the book of Acts that Zach appeals to in order to supply us with his “isolated instances.”

And irony to end all ironies is his claim that the CB use of the baptisms in Acts is “an argument from silence.” Did he really say this or was he hacked? Not a SINGLE example of or command to baptize infants and we’re the ones arguing from silence? Maybe Zach it just trying to lighten the mood with some humor.

Proof texting doesn’t work in this debate.

It doesn’t work in any debate.

All covenant members should receive the sign of the covenant.

Agreed.

If children of Christians are in the covenant – and I will argue that they are – then children of Christians are to receive the sign of the covenant, which is baptism.

Zach is quite sloppy in his thinking here. I could give a hearty ‘amen’ to his statement above. He is trying to argue in a linear matter. Remember what he said above, “All covenant members should receive the sign of the covenant.” I agree. I also agree with his next statement, “If children of Christians are in the covenant... then children of Christians are to receive the sign of the covenant.”

The question is NOT, “should covenant members receive the sign,” this is obvious, but rather, “how does one become a covenant member?”

What Zach means is, “If [unbelieving] children [infants] of Christians are in the covenant – and I will argue that they are – then [unbelieving] children [infants] of Christians are to receive the sign of the covenant, which is baptism.

This sloppiness is important to note. 1) No one denies that children can be in the covenant and 2) No one denies that covenant members ought to receive the sign and 3) “children” is not the same thing as infant. I have a 19 year old child who does not believe, will the PB baptize him, or has he reached the age of accountability? They ought to. He is part of my “household.”

how the mere fact that we have examples of adults being baptized after they believe somehow “proves” that all baptisms are to take place in this fashion, despite the fact that there is no explicit command to that end.

“Repent, and each of you be baptized” sounds like an explicit command. Seems no less explicit than “every male among you shall be circumcised” (Genesis 17:10). Unfortunately this explicit command is dismissed because it won’t allow for infant baptism.
The covenant which God made with Abraham was a promise to bless all of His people, past, present, future, Jew and Gentile.

This statement is WAYYYY over simplified. Who are “his people?” Are we speaking of Abraham’s physical people or spiritual people? Is Ishmael or Esau part of “his people?” What types of blessings are “his people” to receive? Physical or spiritual? Are us Christians promised earthly blessings like the Nation of Israel was? Were the Gentiles considered “his people” before the cross, or did that have to wait until the establishment of the NC (Ephesians 2:11-16)? Are unbelieving Jews still “his people,” or were they broken off like Paul said in Romans 11?

This was a covenant of grace (Gen. 15:1-6; 17:1-8).

Said no text ever!

The distinction between “old” and “new” covenant is an unfortunate one, and somewhat of a misnomer. We are not under a “new” covenant today. We are under the same covenant of grace that God established with Abraham and to all his descendents (Gal. 3:8; cf. Gen. 12:3).

So it was unfortunate of God the Spirit to use the words “old” and “new.” Maybe the Spirit should have consulted the covenant theologians first.

The “old” covenant isn’t really old? Is it still around today? Is Moses still mediating from atop Sinai? Zach misunderstands, the “new” is in contrast to the “old,” and if the “old” is no longer around, then how is the “new” not new?

The old and new covenants are contrasted with each other. They are not being contrasted with the Abrahamic covenant. The Mosaic, or Sinai covenant was “added” (Galatians 3:19) to Abrahams descendants. In the OT, the Mosaic covenant was not referred to as the ‘old covenant’ because it was still in force. It was not referred to as the “old covenant” until after the establishment of the new covenant (2 Corinthians 3:14 and Hebrews 8:13). The Mosaic covenant is now “old” because it has been replace by the “new.”

For Zach to claim as he does that the NC isn’t really new because it’s the same “covenant of grace” established with Abraham, demonstrates that he doesn’t understand that the NC is set in opposition to the OC, not the Abrahamic covenant. We’ll never mind his mythological creature called “the covenant of grace.”

We are under the same covenant of grace that God established with Abraham and to all his descendents (Gal. 3:8; cf. Gen. 12:3).

The problem Zach has here is that he fails to define “descendants.” This was the same problem we encountered above regarding “his people.” Now why doesn’t he note the definition of Abrahams descendants found in the very passage he cited? He wishes to speak about the descendants of Abraham, yet, he ignores the definition given in the very passage he cites! Lets look at a few verses from Galatians 3 and find out who Abrahams descendants are.

3:7

“Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.”

3:9

“So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.”
3:29
“And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.”
Furthermore, if we are still under the same “covenant of grace,” then why aren’t we receiving all the blessings promised to “his people?” Where’s my piece of property in Palestine?
Genesis 17:8
“I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession.”
I WANT MY LAND! Heck, it even says this land is my “everlasting possession.” How come I’m not receiving the blessings found in Leviticus 26:1-13?
The coming of the Messiah and the establishment of the NC radically changed the scene. Abrahams descendants are no longer those who come from his loins, but rather those who share his faith. This is how the NC fulfills the Abrahamic promise. “...it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as [Abrahams] descendants” (Romans 9:8).
PB still believe that children of the flesh are the children of Abraham. This is why Zach and his fellow PB fail to understand “his people.” Like Marty McFly, they’re stuck in the past (OT times) and simply will not allow the NT to interpret the Abrahamic promises in light of the establishment of the NC.
What has changed is the sign of entrance into that covenant, given what Christ has done for us. Hence, God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham, a covenant of grace, which continues to cover all those who have faith (Gal. 3:6-7, 9).

The “everlasting” covenant with Abraham is not the NC. How can they be the same covenant when Jeremiah 32:40 says, “I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.” Jeremiah could not say “I will make” if, in fact, the covenant to which he is speaking already existed.

But even under the old covenant the true recipients of the covenant blessings were those who had faith (cf. Gal. 3:6-9).

Umm, NO! First, Galatians 3:6-9 is not speaking about the OC. Zach is confusing the Abrahamic with the Old. Secondly, the blessings of the OC were material in nature. Read Leviticus 26:1-13 for a list of OC blessings. Moreover, Why would Zach utilize a passage which, in its context, is speaking about the NC? Why is Zach, in attempting to prove OC blessings, refer to a passage (Galatians 3:6-9) that is speaking about the prophetic blessings of the Gentiles now fulfilled under the NC?


Why then was the sign of circumcision to be given to infants? Paul elaborates in Romans 4:11:

He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well

Zach ask the question, “Why then was the sign of circumcision to be given to infants,” but utilizes a passage that doesn’t answer that question. Romans 4:11 does not tell us why infants were circumcised. The focus of this passage is to inform us about the TIMING of Abraham’s circumcision and the implications that stem from that. It is the TIMING of his circumcision that makes him the father of both Jew and Gentile. Infants are obviously not circumcised in order that they may be the father of the Jew and Gentile. Thus, what circumcision meant for Abraham is not what it meant for his descendants. Romans 4:11 only tells us why ABRAHAM was circumcised.

The sign and seal is to be given on the basis of the faith of the parents (the spiritual leader representing the household),

Not a single text in all of scripture tells us that only children of believers were circumcised. I have no idea where PB get this idea. All children were circumcised. The faith of the parents was irrelevant.

They may not come to faith, in which case they would be covenant breakers.

Wrong. To break the Abrahamic covenant was to not be circumcised. Nothing is said about faith (Genesis 17:14). This wasn’t even the case with the OC. Faith was NEVER a prerequisite for covenant membership, otherwise there would be no covenant people, because everyone would have broken covenant the moment of conception, birth, or circumcision. Unless, of course, PB wish to invoke the ‘age of accountability.’

Jeremiah 11:3, 4

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Cursed is the man who does not heed the words of this covenant which I commanded your forefathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, ‘Listen to My voice, and do according to all which I command you; so you shall be My people, and I will be your God...”
This passage harkens back to Exodus 24:3:
Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!”
Notice the word “do” in the passages above. The OC was an ‘external’ covenant; do this, don’t do that. It did not require a changed heart but only outward conformity. If the people would outwardly obey what Moses told them, God would give them the blessings of Leviticus 26:1-13. This is why the OC was a ‘legal’ or “law” covenant.
Again, the language of “old” and “new” covenant is somewhat of a misnomer. There is one covenant of grace, not two.

Already dealt with this but let me add Galatians 4:24 into the mix. “This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants...” Here Paul is contrasting the OC with the NC and tells us they are “two covenants.” Zach says there is only one, scripture says there are two. Not a difficult choice.

I love it when PB speak about the “covenant of grace,” a covenant that is nowhere found in scripture; and when the bible actually calls something a covenant, these aren’t really covenants, they’re just “administrations.” I’ll stick with scripture, thank you!

What has changed between those covenants, with respect to our debate, is the sign that members receive... ...the sign changes but the covenant and its characteristics remain

This grand NC which was spoken of way back in Ezekiel and Jeremiah, the covenant that was to be established in the blood of Jesus the Savior, and the only difference between the covenants is the sign? How anti-climatic.

Under the OT it was circumcision; under the NT it is baptism.

Zach confuses ‘covenant’ with ‘testament.’ There is no such thing as an OT or NT sign. Moreover, he fails to make mention of the OC. The sign of the Abrahamic covenant was circumcision, the sign of the OC was the Sabbath, and the sign of the NC is baptism. Three signs, because there are three covenants.

The reason for the change is to reflect what God has done in Christ to maintain His promises to the seed of Abraham. In other words, the bloody sign of circumcision is no longer necessary because of the blood that Christ shed.

This is true, but over simplified. Circumcision was no longer needed because of the nature of the NC. Colossians 2:11 makes it clear that circumcision is fulfilled in regeneration (not baptism), which obviously sheds light on the nature of the NC. If the NC brought about the fulfillment of circumcision, which is regeneration, does it not follow that only those who have been regenerated can partake of the covenant that fulfilled the Abrahamic sign?

It is also interesting to note which part of the body was circumcised.

Genesis 17:11

“you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin...”

The penis, which is the means of bringing about “children of the flesh”, is the thing which bears the sign. This isn’t an accident. The Jews received the sign of circumcision because they were the physical descendants of Abraham. Since covenant membership is no longer based upon physical descent, then a sign which marked out a physical people must be done away with. This would seem quite obvious since Gentiles are now included in the NC. Gentiles can’t be given a sign that represents physical descent from Abraham. This is in perfect harmony with all those Galatians passages Zach keeps referring to.

The sign changed, because the people changed. From physical descendants (circumcision) to spiritual descendants (baptism). I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the casting off of Abrahams physical descendants coincides with the termination of circumcision.

Galatians 4:30

“Cast out the bondwoman and her son,
For the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.”

Romans 11:20

“...they were broken off for their unbelief...”

Both passages are speaking about the removal of unbelieving Jews now that the NC has been established. In both cases the unbelievers are ‘cut off’ (snip, snip), leaving only Abrahams spiritual offspring. Circumcision can no longer convey what it once did; thus, it’s termination.

(It is true that some Gentiles received the sign of circumcision even though they were not physically tied to Abraham. However, this is because the sign did not ONLY represent a physical tie to Abraham; it also represented national ties as well.

All of Abrahams offspring received circumcision representing their physical union with their father. Gentiles were also circumcised because this circumcision represented their relationship to the nation of Israel.

The point, however, is that come the establishment of the NC, Gentiles could no longer receive the sign of circumcision because 1) they are not physically linked to Abraham and 2) Israel as a nation has now been cut off, there can be no tie to a nation that either no longer exist, or at least, no longer has any covenantal relevance.

Having stated this, I believe the NT clearly focuses on circumcision being first a racial thing (Abraham) and secondly a national thing (Israel), though they are obviously related. I hardly think I need to cite all the “Jew and Gentile” (circumcised and uncircumcised) passages, despite some Gentiles receiving circumcision)

I realize Zach had more to say, specifically in regards to household baptisms. Due to the limitations of our responses, I will not be able to address those here as I have already gone past our limits. The first response I wrote to Zach’s opening statement focused entirely on household baptisms. I felt, however, that focusing only upon household baptisms would limit Zach’s response and not give the two of us as much to discuss. It would have made for a less interesting debate. Unfortunately I could not address all that Zach had to say, so I had to pick one over the other. I chose this response because there’s a bit more to chew on for both the debate participants, as well as the audience.
 
Zachary Kueker's first Rebuttal
 
This rebuttal to Chris Gautreau's opening statement will not require more than a couple of paragraphs to demonstrate that for him the debate has already been lost. I love Chris but, in trying to argue something “unique,” he has merely drawn a few key assertions in which he has not bothered to argue. He assumes, without argument, that the entire membership of Israel under the OC is to be paralleled to believers alone in the NC, rather than the whole visible church. IOW, he compares the visible church of the OT to the invisible church in the new, rather than the visible to the visible, and this becomes the basis of his entire argument. Why should we accept that the sign and seal of the covenant was to be given to all of Israel (the visible church) and not just the remnant (the invisible church) in the OT, but suddenly in the NT it's to be given only for the invisible church (the elect) but not the visible church (all who profess faith and who are under those who profess faith)? Chris finally makes a small attempt to argue for this when he gets to his argument on how the OC is “defective,” but he simply doesn't do service to his argument.



This leads to a bigger and more obvious problem. He says a few times throughout his argument that the sign of the covenant is to be given to the elect only. The obvious question is: How do we know who the elect are? If the sign is only to be given to the elect, then Chris must confess that it is inappropriate for us to perform baptism at all today, because we cannot distinguish between true and false converts. If, on the other hand, he wants to say that baptism is to be given to all who profess faith, regardless of whether their conversion is genuine, then he must confess that the sign is not to be given to the elect alone, but to both elect and non-elect members of the covenant (i.e. he must acknowledge that the covenant still consists of both) because there are some who profess faith who are not genuine converts.



Honestly, Chris would've been better off approaching the subject of infant baptism the way he eloquently put it (and said he would take a different route): “[T]o survey the NT landscape and demonstrate the complete absence of any commands to, or examples of, infants being baptized.” He says, “there is nothing wrong with such an approach” but of course there is, as I have pointed out in my opening statement, because it is an argument from silence. You cannot argue for Principle A on the basis of pointing to a supposed lack of evidence for Principle B. That is the classical definition of an argument from silence, a logical fallacy. But even that aside, we don't need explicit examples of infant baptism in Scripture to make our case, because we do have sufficient evidence to establish the principle, which is the opposite of what the credobaptist has to offer (this is precisely why the credobaptist bears the burden of proof).



Chris kicks off his OS by quoting B. B. Warfield who confirms what paedos shamelessly confess pertaining to the “lack” of explicit examples of infants being baptized. Warfield was concerned to use the OT as the center of his argument for paedobaptism because that is where the principle is grounded. He acknowledged that there are no explicit instances of infant baptism in the NT, but the argument he gave for infant baptism was sufficient enough to not require such instances. He does still appeal to the NT to make his case. He references Acts 2:38, 39, for instance, and points out that Strong, in arguing for credobaptism, conveniently quotes only a selection of this passage (leaving out the bit about the promise being “for you and your children”) – Studies in Theology, p. 394. The bottom line is, the case for infant baptism is based on a principle understanding of what the Bible teaches about the covenant and its sign. It is therefore not a “concession” of anything to “admit” that there are no explicit instances of infant baptism in the NT, because we have never claimed otherwise, and neither does our position require such evidence.



Chris states, “I believe the source of the problem lies in the paedobaptist's failure to recognize the nature and extent of the NC.” What's unfortunate is Chris never bothers to argue for this claim. This will become his assumption upon which he bases his arguments for the rest of his statement, as we'll see. He informs us that the method for argumentation going forward will be the transcendental method. Again, I love you, Chris, but your understanding and use for this method is laughable. You don't turn to transcendentalism to argue this issue. A transcendental argument is focused on investigating the necessary preconditions of a fact or experience. IOW, you'd pose it against the methods of empiricism and rationalism in arguing for a worldview. You don't use a transcendental argument when debating an in-house issue pertaining to interpretive difficulties in Scripture. That's just silly, and I'd dare say it suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of presuppositionalism. Credobaptists have good and fair arguments as it is. There is no need to try and get fancy by inventing something new. Chris continues,



“We will be asking the question, 'What must be, in order for what is, to be what it is.' That's just a fancy way of saying, 'If something is true, what should we expect to find.'”



No it's not. A transcendental argument is not about expectations. If you read the Bible while asking, “What should we expect to find,” you're just reading it eisegetically. Period. In a sense the real concern of transcendentalism is opposite of that. It seeks to question the soundness of a position by unveiling and challenging its presuppositions. Those presuppositions are usually suppressed (i.e. the one holding to them is not consciously aware they are holding them), and that's the point. If Chris wants to argue from a transcendental approach, he needs to (1) demonstrate what the presuppositions of paedobaptism are and provide an argument against their soundness, and (2) demonstrate that only the presuppositions of the credobaptist position can really comport with what we find in Scripture. He does neither of these things in his argument. To what extent he even attempts to articulate and challenge paedo assumptions, he merely makes unjustified assumptions and claims of his own.



His first illustration of his line of reasoning is the doctrine of Jesus the God-man. He asks, “what kinds of things should we find in Scripture that would communicate such a doctrine?” Again, that's not the right question to ask. Here is the difference between asking about expectations, and investigating presuppositions: If you're investigating presuppositions, you're inquiring as to what the necessary preconditions are for a fact or experience to be true (IOW, a successful TA would, by nature, demonstrate any and all alternative ideas to be necessarily false by virtue of the impossibility of the contrary). What Chris is doing is merely positing what he envisions to be a explanation for some thing –  i.e. his own set of assumptions. That is quite a different thing from demonstrating the impossibility of the contrary. He is not arguing “transcendentally” at all. The reason we call the transcendental argument a TA is because it highlights the fact that the presuppositions of a fact or experience transcend that fact or experience. Chris argues that “Scripture should refer to Him [Jesus] as both God and man. Scripture should show Jesus praying to God as well as being prayed to.” Why? Why can't it show something else that might demonstrate His divinity in some other way? If Scripture never included any instances of Jesus praying to the Father, or of anyone praying to Him, would that prove that He is not God? No, it would not, and therefore it is not a necessary precondition. And that alone indicates that Chris does not understand what a TA really is. That's really not the point of this debate, but at least it serves to demonstrate that he's really not going to get anywhere with this line of argument.



Pertaining to Chris' disagreement with paedos on who is to be included as covenant members in the NC, he has a serious problem here and, since he has quoted Warfield twice now (without reference, oddly), it would have been nice if he had interacted with what Warfield argued (in the very same work he's quoted from) in response to this claim. Warfield, Murray and others have soundly refuted this argument. If the NC consists only of the elect, then on what basis do mere humans have the right to perform the rite of baptism at all? – For, how can we possibly know who the elect are? If Baptists are consistent, they must agree with us that baptism is a rite to be given to the visible church, and that visible church does not necessarily consist of only believers – in fact, Scripture promises us that it does not. If Chris believes that only true believers are members of the NC (a claim which he cannot possibly justify biblically), then he would have to admit that the sign of the covenant is being provided both to covenant members and non-covenant members. If, on the other hand, he believes that the sign of the covenant is to be offered to anyone who professes faith in Christ, then he does not in fact believe that the NC consists of only the elect, for we all know that not everyone who has professed faith in Christ is necessarily a genuine convert. Chris has a problem here if he's going to be appealing to this view of his as one of his base assumptions for his argument.



Chris argues, “If the NC church is OC Israel, specifically in the sense of being a mixed covenant, what kinds of things should we expect to find? Should we not see the same language used of Israel being used of the Church?” Again, why? What is it about the nature of the covenants that requires the NC to use the same language as the old? How is this a necessary precondition? Why is it unfeasible that one thing could be described in two ways? He goes on to say, “Since Scripture uses similar, and in many instances, the same language to describe both Israel and the Church, paedobaptist concluded that the Church must have mixed membership the same as Israel, because they are essentially the same entity.” Actually, that's not the reason why we take the position we do. This is a misrepresentation of our view. Paedobaptism is not based on an analysis of the similarity of language in the old and the new. It is based on an exegesis of particular passages that specifically identify the old and new as different representations of one continuous covenant consisting of the same features and spiritual blessings. To chalk this position up to simply being nothing more than an inference based on a similarity in language is almost too superficial of a criticism to even warrant a response.



In both testaments we see two kinds of ways of referring to the people of God. In the OT you had the nation of Israel, which was God's people in a covenantal sense. But at the same time we see God continuously visiting Israel in judgment and reserving a remnant among them for Himself – a chosen people by faith. Here we see a distinction between the visible and invisible “church.” Both are members of the covenant, but only one receives the full extent of the promised blessings. In the NT we see the same thing. There is indeed a shift in emphasis to the elect through faith in particular, but this does not exclude the reality of the fact that the visible church includes both the elect and non-elect people, and that church is the recipients of the covenant. Once again, Chris must acknowledge this with us because surely he would not concede that an outward profession of faith proves the reality of true inward conversion. So his assertions here prove nothing at all. He hasn't provided any exegesis to demonstrate that the OC extended to the whole of visible Israel while the NC extends to only the invisible church. He offers nothing but an assertion to that end.



The offering of the sacrifices in the OT that Chris brings attention to was a temporary means of appeasing the wrath of God. They were never intended to actually save anyone. So we can hardly draw a parallel here where Chris speaks of “provision and application” as it relates to the priestly duties and practices in the OT. No analogy is a perfect analogy, or it wouldn't be an analogy, by definition. Again, salvation only came to the remnant, not all of Israel. It is spiritual Israel that is the true recipients of the promise. Sure, we can say the covenant was a defective covenant if what we mean by that is that the old never intended to actually save anyone. But that doesn't do anything for Chris' argument because all that proves is what we've been saying all along.



If I sound like a broken record, it's because Chris' entire argument is based on the same faulty assumption that he failed to actually argue for. Why are we to accept the assertion that the entire covenant community in the OT is to be paralleled to believers only in the new, rather than the whole visible church body? In the OC Israel did not consist of believers only, and the promised blessing, despite the provision and application of secondary blessings to the whole covenant, was not for all of Israel. It was for the remnant. We see the same pattern in the NT. We have a visible church which consists of believers and unbelievers, who benefit from various covenantal privileges – as Murray argues, they taste the beauty and power of the gospel, but do not ultimately experience a genuine and lasting conversion – but it is the invisible church which receives the true promise.



Chris states at one point in his OS, "...Since both sides of this debate agree that the OC was 'added' to the descendants of Abraham, and the NC is the ultimate fulfillment of both the OC and the Abrahamic covenant, we must look at the high priest of both the Old and New covenants and examine their role and duties."

I don't know that this is the best way to put it. The Abrahamic covenant is not being "fulfilled" by the NC in the same sense that the NC fulfills the OC. The paedo view is that the Abrahamic covenant is still binding, still in the process of unfolding. God's promise to Abraham was a promise to provide him with heirs. It was the promise of election. And that promise is still being fulfilled. And the NT writers continually affirm that it is Abraham's spiritual descendents, not physical descendents, who are the heirs of this covenant and its promises (Acts 3:25; Gal. 3:16-4:7; Heb. 6:13-18, in addition to Romans 9). The promise that God made to Abraham was a promise of eternal life (Heb. 9:15; 1 John 2:25) and, that covenant is being fulfilled in the salvation of God's chosen people. Hence, the NT authors often speak of the unity and continuity of the church throughout both the OT and the NT (this is the basis upon which we see similarity in language between the testaments -- the authors are making this connection); see Acts 7:38; Rom. 2:28-29; 9:6, 27-29; Gal. 6:16; 1 Pet. 1:1; 2:9-10; 5:2.


This is what makes Peter's words in Acts 2:37-39 so important. He is preaching a sermon there to a crowd in Jerusalem, who are "cut to the heart" (vs. 37) after hearing Peter relate the day of Pentecost to the OT (in other words, he's exegeting the OT Scriptures to a bunch of Jews). They react to Peter by asking him what they should do, and Peter responds by telling them to repent and be baptized, for the promise (that is, of the Abrahamic covenant) is to you and your children (vs. 38-39). Peter is affirming that the Abrahamic covenant is still unveiling today, because it is actually fulfilled in the salvation of God's chosen people, the elect; and, he is directly stating here, therefore, that since that covenant is still binding, the promise of that covenant continues to extend not only to professing believers, but to the children of those professing believers. The sign has changed, but not the features of the covenant itself. Baptism has replaced circumcision, but it still functions as a sign of a promise that God has made to believers and their children.


The reason I bring this up is because Chris, in the above quote, parallels the OC and the Abrahamic covenant. He's wrong to do this. The OC has become obsolete in the wake of the NC; Paul even calls it a "ministry of death" (2 Cor. 3:7-9). The Abrahamic covenant, however, continues. It is the covenant of grace. This is the comparison we are making between baptism and circumcision.


This also answers his argument about the OC being a defective covenant. His argument concerning the priesthood is unsound because the paedo position is not drawing its comparison between the old and the new covenants. It is arguing that the promise God made to Abraham is a promise that still exists today. It was the promise of salvation for God's chosen people, the spiritual descendents of Abraham. In other words, it is God's covenant promise with Abraham that continues eternally -- and that promise was, under the OC, signified by circumcision, but under the NC, signified by baptism. The sign has changed, but the features of the covenant promise, however, have not. The promise God made to Abraham has not been modified.



I end with this: Don't be like Moses who failed to give his son the mark of the covenant, because God, even though it is a secondary issue, went after him to kill him (Exodus 4:24ff).

Questions: Zachary Keuker

1. You criticized my argument that "isolated instances" of believers baptism is not enough to establish credobaptism as a principle. I don't think you understood what I was saying. I was not saying that particular instances of baptism don't serve as evidence of anything. I was pointing out that you need more than particular observations to establish a universal principle. What is your biblical evidence suggesting not just that believers baptism took place, but that it should be understood as the rule and not just the exception?

2. Are you aware that in covenant theology we do make the distinction between the Old, New, and Abrahamic covenants? Can you describe, from a covenant theology perspective, how we understand these three and their relation to one another?

3. In your opening statement you made the claim that only the elect are to receive the sign of the covenant under the New Covenant. Can you clarify this? How do we know who the elect are? By "elect" do you really mean elect, or professing believers? If you really mean elect, then how do we know who the elect are? How do we know we are not giving the sign to the wrong people? If you really mean professing believers, then how do you argue that the covenant does not still include unbelieving people, since certainly there are false converts in the church?

4. I'm just curious about how much you've studied from the other perspective. You quoted from the introductory comments of Warfield and Hodge, but you didn't interact any with the arguments they gave. Can you summarize one argument for paedobaptism, in a fair and responsible way, as paedobaptists themselves would argue? Having represented that argument as accurately as possible (provide quotes and references if you can), can you interact with it and demonstrate one thing you believe to be problematic about that argument?

5. Is it your view that the covenant God made with Abraham was a promise of external and national privileges only? (e.g. the provision of physical land and descendents.) If so, then what is the simple meaning of “I will be your God, and you shall be my people”? Was not circumcision simply a sign and seal of the union and communion with the God of Israel, a union which, by nature then, must be defined as a spiritual union? Is it not the case that this has always been God’s promise, and the national privileges and external blessings were therefore accrued from the spiritual blessing which the covenant embodied and imparted? If so, hasn’t this promise continued, only with a chance in the sign and seal? But if not, then can you explain what significance and relevance this promise of exclusively external/national privilege has in the context of God’s plan of redemption in the history of creation? 


Questions: Chris Gautreau


1) Can you please explain Jeremiah 31:31-34 in light of covenantal baptism?

2) Which “seed” classification does an unbelieving infant fall under which makes them privy to covenantal status?

3) If the NC “works” (blood, intercession, ect.) are not effectual for covenant members, how then is the NC not just as defective as the OC?

4) What was the purpose of God including the seed in His covenants?

5) How is it possible for the NC to be broken?


Answers: Zachary Kueker 

1) Can you please explain Jeremiah 31:31-34 in light of covenantal baptism?

I will spend the majority of my time answering this first question, since some of the others will be answered by my observation of this passage as well. (This argument is summarized from Richard L. Pratt Jr.’s exegesis on the passage.)

The passage is part of a greater context in verses 27-40, in which three related prophecies are made about the future reception of blessings. First it is promised that God’s people would return from exile to their land (vv. 27-30); second, that a new covenant would be established with God’s people (vv. 31-37); third, that the holy city would be rebuilt and permanently established (vv. 38-40). It is important to recognize this context, because this demonstrates that the new covenant was not a stand-alone idea in Jeremiah’s thinking. The fulfillment of this prophecy is part of a greater three-fold fulfillment of a promise made to Israel after the exile. In other words, for this new covenant to be fulfilled it is necessary for these other promises to be as well.

The terms “new” and “covenant” appear elsewhere in the prophets with reference to prophecies concerning the restoration from exile. Consider for instance “a new spirit” (Ezek. 11:19; 36:26) and “a new heart” (Ezek. 36:26), and the freedom of God’s people as “a new thing” (Isa. 43:19; 42:9), and the anticipation of “a new heavens and a new earth” (Isa. 65:17; 66:22). The concept of a “new” covenant fits this broader conception of restoration. The same is true of the language of “covenant.” “Covenant of peace” is occasionally used in the context of prophecies of restoration (Isa. 54:10; Ezek. 34:25; 37:26). As Pratt says, “These covenant expressions reflected a basic theological outlook that stemmed from the days of Moses: forgiveness, refreshment, renewal, and blessings come to the sinful nation of Israel only as they renew the covenant (e.g., Ex. 24:7-8; 34:10-28; Deut. 29; 31; Josh. 24:1-28; 2 Kings 23:2-3; 2 Chron. 34:30-32). So, it is not surprising at all that Jeremiah spoke of the divine arrangement after exile as a new covenant.”

The bottom line is, because the passage in vv. 31-34 is inseparably connected to the immediate context of vv. 27-40, and because that context involves a collection of prophecies concerning restoration and those prophecies are not to be fully realized until the return of Christ, and because the language of renewal and covenant is used throughout the OT in reference to that anticipation of ultimate restoration and renewal, it is not only legitimate, but necessary to understand Jeremiah’s concept of the new covenant as something that has not yet been fully realized.

It would also be helpful to note that the Hebrew term for “new” here, hadash, does not mean “new” in the sense of something original. It actually carries the idea of renewal. The same term is used for the “new moon,” for instance.

This broader connection between Jeremiah’s concept of a new covenant and the hope of restoration from exile tells us that the new covenant is not something that can be thought of as isolated. In other words, to properly understand what the Bible means by a “new covenant,” we have to interpret this language in light of a broader consideration of prophecies of restoration.

Now, I don’t have the space to go into detail, but several places throughout the NT declare Jeremiah’s prophecy to be fulfilled by the Christian faith (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; 2 Cor. 3:6; Heb. 8:8, 13; 9:15; 12:24). However, at the same time we must understand that the promises God makes in Jeremiah 31:27-40 are not fully realized in this present age at all. In other words, like so many things in Scripture, there is an “already/not-yet” aspect to the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy. There can be no denying this when vv. 31-34 are considered in the context of what comes before and follows. The new covenant has become a reality, in some way, through the earthly ministry of Christ; but it will not become a full reality until the eternal future. It has been inaugurated, but it has yet to be consummated. The OT prophets were unable to anticipate how the prophecies they were giving were going to be fulfilled. Thus, they may have written with the idea that this fulfillment would happen completely and all at once, when in actuality the “already/not-yet” principle we see so frequently in the NT demands that we understand that this is simply not the case. The expectations of restoration have been fulfilled, and are being fulfilled, over a long period of time. The explanation of this process of fulfillment was the point of Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed (Matt. 13:31-32). There are three stages of restoration fulfilled: inauguration (in the incarnation of Christ), continuation (throughout the present age), and consummation (at the return of Christ). The OT’s predictions of the state of blessing after exile began their fulfillment at the first coming of Christ, continue to be fulfilled today, and will be fully realized only when Christ returns.

To state the matter simply, what Jeremiah prophesied in 31:31-34 is not yet fully realized. It is realized only in part (just as our resurrected life is currently being fulfilled, in regeneration and sanctification, but also not yet fully realized). This not to say that the new covenant is defective; it is only to say that it is continuing to be fulfilled.

This is the necessary way to understand this passage in light of its context. We cannot separate out verses 31-34 from the larger 27-40 segment and interpret those four verses as something that came to be realized in fullness at the first coming of Christ. These verses exist in the context of a larger passage that is subject to this three-fold stage of fulfillment between the first and second comings. Therefore, any use of Jeremiah 31:31-34 against paedobaptism is a misuse of Scripture. The text does not say that the presently inaugurated new covenant cannot be broken, or that it cannot include false converts who only outwardly profess faith. This will be true of the new covenant in its fully realized state, at the return of Christ, but it has not yet been consummated and therefore has not yet been realized to that extent.

There is more that can, and should be said on this passage, but my space is far too limited here to give this question the answer it deserves.

2) Which “seed” classification does an unbelieving infant fall under which makes them privy to covenantal status?

This is a loaded question because the credobaptist understanding of the covenant is being assumed. The unbelieving infant’s reception of covenantal status is not based on what “seed” he or she is a member of. There are those of Abraham’s seed in the covenant community, and there are those who are not. Again, the fulfillment of the new covenant is only in its continuation status; it has not yet reached its full realization. That is how we can say that there are members of the covenant community who do not truly belong to God.

3) If the NC “works” (blood, intercession, ect.) are not effectual for covenant members, how then is the NC not just as defective as the OC?

Again, because it has not yet fully been realized. These works will be effectual at consummation. But until that point, the covenant still anticipates that time. It would not be proper to classify this as “defective” because unlike the old covenant, this new covenant will not need to be renewed at the consummation of the ages. It will simply come to its full realization. By way of analogy, we live a renewed life as Christians, but we are still susceptible to sin and we are continually undergoing progressive sanctification. The perfection of our renewal – the full realization of it – will not come to pass until the second coming of Christ.

4) What was the purpose of God including the seed in His covenants?

I am not sure I understand the question. The purpose is secret to God and His sovereign plan. He simply chose to save a people, not just a person. If I can try and anticipate where I think Chris is going with this, though, I would just say, again, that it is not that paedobaptism denies the fact that entrance into the new covenant (i.e. into the true seed of Abraham) is by faith (cf. Rom. 9:6). Rather, it is that the fulfillment of that covenant has yet to be fully realized. And until it has been, we recognize that covenant blessings extend to those beyond the actual classification of “elect,” of which we have no way of discerning who is a member.

5) How is it possible for the NC to be broken?

Hebrews 10:28-31 makes it plain that until Christ returns, it is possible for the new covenant to be broken. The new covenant is unbreakable only in its realized fulfillment at the consummation of all things.

Answers: Chris Gautreau


The rules of the debate were clear. No commentary, just ask your 5 questions. If you count up the question marks, you will note that Zach asked 17 different questions.


1. You criticized my argument that "isolated instances" of believers baptism is not enough to establish credobaptism as a principle. I don't think you understood what I was saying. I was not saying that particular instances of baptism don't serve as evidence of anything. I was pointing out that you need more than particular observations to establish a universal principle. What is your biblical evidence suggesting not just that believers baptism took place, but that it should be understood as the rule and not just the exception?


First, I never stated that only believers baptism took place. It is obvious that unbelievers have and do get baptized. This is not the issue as I have argued. My entire argument thus far centers around the objective nature of the NC. We all agree that covenant members ought to be baptized, but we disagree as to who is a covenant member. Therefore, my entire OS is an answer to Zach’s first question. If the NC is made up of the regenerate alone, then only the regenerate should receive baptism.


My arguments also prove Zach’s implied assertion that us CB merely lean upon “particular observations” is in error. My entire OS was built upon something other than “particular observations” of baptism.


2. Are you aware that in covenant theology we do make the distinction between the Old, New, and Abrahamic covenants? Can you describe, from a covenant theology perspective, how we understand these three and their relation to one another?


Of course you make a distinction, that’s not the issue. The issue is that covenant theologians do not make enough of a distinction due to their man made system called ‘covenant theology.’


In this theological, not biblical system, you have two major covenants in scripture, the covenant of works established with Adam in the garden and the covenant of grace established at Genesis 3:15. The AC, OC, DC, and NC are all part of this one covenant of grace. In a technical sense, these are not really different covenants, as there is really only one, the covenant of grace, as Zach has already argued (“The distinction between “old” and “new” covenant is an unfortunate one, and somewhat of a misnomer. We are not under a “new” covenant today. We are under the same covenant of grace that God established with Abraham and to all his descendents” and “There is one covenant of grace, not two”). The various covenants, as the scriptures call them, are only differing administrations of the ONE covenant of grace. This theological theory is what flattens out the distinctions between the covenants in CT and results in infant baptism.


Since covenant theologians disagree on so many aspects to this ‘covenant of grace’ idea, it is impossible to list them here and do justice to Zach’s question. Some argue that the OC is not part of the covenant of grace, while others do. Some argue that the covenant of grace is made with the elect alone, and others don’t. Some argue that circumcision is a sign of grace while others argue it’s a sign of judgment.



3. In your opening statement you made the claim that only the elect are to receive the sign of the covenant under the New Covenant. Can you clarify this? How do we know who the elect are? By "elect" do you really mean elect, or professing believers? If you really mean elect, then how do we know who the elect are? How do we know we are not giving the sign to the wrong people? If you really mean professing believers, then how do you argue that the covenant does not still include unbelieving people, since certainly there are false converts in the church?


The issue is NOT whether we as fallible individuals can peer into the hearts of professors, but rather what is the objective nature of the covenant established in the blood of Christ.


PB often misunderstand the CB position. Unlike the PB, we do not believe baptism to be the means of entering the NC. It is a renewed heart that gets us in. Or, as I put it in my OS, “To be a ‘son’ in the OC was through physical birth, born into the covenant family and being circumcised on the eighth day. To become a ‘son’ in the NC is through spiritual birth (John 1:12, 13); being born from above (John 3:3) and placing faith in the risen Savior.”


Under the Abrahamic covenant, and subsequently the OC, inclusion was through physical birth. Because people become covenant members by virtue of birth, they are required to have the first covenantal work performed on them, that being circumcision. The pattern is quite similar, but ‘spiritualized,’ under the NC. One enters through spiritual birth, then they are led to waters of baptism in order to obey the first command. “Repent, and each of you be baptized....those who received his word were baptized.” Abrahamic and the OC: Physical birth----->circumcision. NC: Spiritual birth----->baptism.


The fact that unbelievers, even reprobates, have and do receive baptism does not in any way change the objective nature of the NC because baptism is NOT how one enters the NC, but through spiritual birth.


A profession is made, then comes the baptism. As argued already, this has nothing to do with the objective nature of the NC. Simon is one example of a false convert that was baptized. However, his baptism did not make him a covenant member, just as circumcision did not make one a covenant member in the AC or OC. Fallibility on mans part has no bearing on the objectivity of the Messiah’s blood covenant.


Baptizing a false convert due to our inability to know a persons heart is not the same as willfully baptizing the unregenerate. But again, this is really a side issue. The real issue is the objective nature of the NC and who is a member of it. Baptism is a subordinate, but related issue. Since we both believe only covenant members ought to be baptized, we must first come to a correct understanding about the nature of the NC and how one becomes part of it.


PB are left with the same dilemma. They baptize the infants of at least one believing parent, but how do they know the parent is truly saved? They can only base it off a profession.


Once again, the issue is not whether we as fallible people mistakenly baptize people, but who OUGHT to be baptized. Only the regenerate ought to be baptized and we can only, but fallibly, do this based upon a profession of faith. Christ knows His sheep; He won’t be confused by our (CB and PB alike) mistaken baptisms.



4. I'm just curious about how much you've studied from the other perspective. You quoted from the introductory comments of Warfield and Hodge, but you didn't interact any with the arguments they gave. Can you summarize one argument for paedobaptism, in a fair and responsible way, as paedobaptists themselves would argue? Having represented that argument as accurately as possible (provide quotes and references if you can), can you interact with it and demonstrate one thing you believe to be problematic about that argument?


This is the second time Zach has asked me to give and articulate PB belief. This is quite a strange request and one wonders why he would ask me to do this. Under this section of the debate, it is not my responsibility to expound on what he believes, but rather, I’m suppose to answer questions that are either designed to stump me or at least clarify my position. I graciously did this in question #2; I will not do so again. I will not use my limited space to promote infant baptism, that’s Zachs job.


As I see it, Zach lost an opportunity to ask me penetrating questions that could have advanced his position by either stumping me or by allowing him to springboard off of in our next section. There are many proof text Zach could have appealed to and asked me to answer, but he didn’t.



5. Is it your view that the covenant God made with Abraham was a promise of external and national privileges only? (e.g. the provision of physical land and descendents.) If so, then what is the simple meaning of “I will be your God, and you shall be my people”? Was not circumcision simply a sign and seal of the union and communion with the God of Israel, a union which, by nature then, must be defined as a spiritual union? Is it not the case that this has always been God’s promise, and the national privileges and external blessings were therefore accrued from the spiritual blessing which the covenant embodied and imparted? If so, hasn’t this promise continued, only with a chance in the sign and seal? But if not, then can you explain what significance and relevance this promise of exclusively external/national privilege has in the context of God’s plan of redemption in the history of creation?


The covenant made with Abraham was two sided; one physical and one spiritual. If we only had Genesis, we would not even be aware of the spiritual promises made. It is the coming of the NT authors who inform us that the real promise was spiritual in nature.


Both the OC and the NC fulfill the AC. The OC fulfills the natural or earthly side, while the NC fulfills the spiritual and heavenly side. This is how all 3 covenants are related.


Abraham was promised a physical seed (Isaac), a physical land (Canaan), a physical nation (Israel) and physical blessings (cattle, money, kids, ect.) All this was fulfilled under the OC. Abraham had Isaac who had Jacob. Jacob became Israel. The Jews inherited the land of Canaan and became the nation of Israel. When the Jews “obeyed” the Law covenant made at Sinai, God gave them material blessings.


However, given what we now know from the NT, the Abrahamic promises were to be ultimately fulfilled another way. Abraham was promised a spiritual Seed (Christ------->believers), a spiritual land (new heavens and earth), a spiritual nation (the Church), and spiritual blessings (justification through faith).


Abraham’s spiritual Seed (Jesus) ‘gives birth’ to his spiritual descendants (all believers). They are given the spiritual blessing of justification. These believers make up the spiritual nation (the church). Once the fulness of time comes, this nation will inherit the new heavens and earth. All of this is fulfilled in the NC.


The reason the OC was replaced by the NC is because the OC could not be kept. It was a conditional covenant; ‘do this, get that, don’t do this, you don’t get that.’ The physical descendants of Abraham were unable to keep the covenant, thus its termination. However, this doesn’t mean that NO ONE had to keep the OC. This OC still had to be kept. In comes Christ!


The NC, however, is an unconditional covenant. All NC blessings are procured by Christ and given as a gift to His covenant people. There is no “Law” to keep us in covenantal standing. We don’t get kicked out for lying, cheating, or stealing. This is why the NC can only be made with the elect, or regenerate, those in union with Christ. This is why the NC cannot be broken. Its unconditional nature makes it impossible for the unregenerate to partake or break.


The conditional covenant made with Abraham’s physical offspring gave way to the NC made with his spiritual offspring. This is why his physical offspring were “cast out” (Galatians 4:30) and “broken off” (Romans 11:17). A new covenant needed be made by One who kept the OC, whose descendants don’t need to worry about keeping covenant, because their covenant Head already kept the conditions for them. That’s the gospel!

All 3 covenants are related, this is the continuity; however, there is also discontinuity. The AC was fulfilled in 2 ways; one was physical (OC), the other was spiritual (NC). Because God’s first covenant people were cheating whores, He had to ‘divorce’ them. The purpose of the NC was to create a faithful bride, one who would not cheat on Him. The Church, or NC people, are faithful because her federal Head was faithful for them. That’s justification. That’s the gospel.

Response to Answers: Zachary Kueker 

The rules of the debate were clear. No commentary, just ask your 5 questions. If you count up the question marks, you will note that Zach asked 17 different questions.

No, 5 questions were asked. A question can have multiple parts. If you consider the questions in their context, they would make no sense separating them out, and there would be no way to get to the point in only 5 statements. The “debate rules” are ridiculous, if they are interpreted how Chris interprets them. The whole point of a debate is to have cross examination, and the whole point of cross examination is to be able to follow up on the questions you ask. The only way you can do that when writing the questions in advance is to anticipate the different avenues the opponent may take in answering, and ask questions pertaining to those. That is not commentary. That is necessary context.

To prove my point here further, Chris’s “5 questions” actually turned out to be only one. You’ll note in the response that was given to his questions that they were all answered by the exegesis given of Jeremiah 31:31-34. Chris has wasted valuable time in this debate.

1. You criticized my argument that "isolated instances" of believers baptism is not enough to establish credobaptism as a principle. I don't think you understood what I was saying. I was not saying that particular instances of baptism don't serve as evidence of anything. I was pointing out that you need more than particular observations to establish a universalprinciple. What is your biblical evidence suggesting not just that believers baptismtook place, but that it should be understood as the rule and not just the exception?

First, I never stated that only believers baptism took place. It is obvious that unbelievers have and do get baptized. This is not the issue as I have argued. My entire argument thus far centers around the objective nature of the NC. We all agree that covenant members ought to be baptized, but we disagree as to who is a covenant member. Therefore, my entire OS is an answer to Zach’s first question. If the NC is made up of the regenerate alone, then only the regenerate should receive baptism.

This isn’t really an answer to anything. No one is going to disagree that only the regenerate are true members of the new covenant. The whole point is that since we have no way of knowing who the regenerate are, we cannot use that as a standard in determining who is to be baptized. An individual’s profession of faith no more qualifies them as being a true covenant member than does a believing parent’s promise to raise the child in the Lord. So our standard in determining who is to be baptized should inquire into who receives covenant blessings, and should not necessarily even take regeneration into consideration.

My arguments also prove Zach’s implied assertion that us CB merely lean upon “particular observations” is in error. My entire OS was built upon something other than “particular observations” of baptism.

Here Chris has taken his own rabbit trail and laid the blame on me for making it. It was never asserted that Chris’s argument leans upon “particular observations.” The sober reader will note that in the opening statement it was merely stated, by way of introduction, that such an argument will not work in this debate. The claim was never made that Chris actually uses such an argument. But Chris decided to waste time in his rebuttal responding to that statement as if it were an argument. And in that response, he misunderstood what I was saying, so I responded in kind to explain more clearly. Now, he’s accused me of misrepresenting his argument, when it was he who made this an issue in the first place! I only responded to his misunderstanding and misuse of what was actually said.

2. Are you aware that in covenant theology we do make the distinction between the Old, New, and Abrahamic covenants? Can you describe, from a covenant theology perspective, how we understand these three and their relation to one another?

Of course you make a distinction, that’s not the issue. The issue is that covenant theologians do not make enough of a distinction due to their man made system called ‘covenant theology.’

This is a truly odd statement to make, not to mention loaded. Reformed Baptists do not typically deny covenant theology. They simply eternalize it so that they don’t normally see a distinction between the eternal decree and a temporal administration in the covenant. So to altogether deny covenant theology, and more, arbitrarily claim that it is a “man made” system, really brings into questionwhether Chris is even legitimately Reformed. If Chris is dispensational this debate is a waste of time, because we’ve gone about it all wrong from the beginning.

In this theological, not biblical system, you have two major covenants in scripture, the covenant of works established with Adam in the garden and the covenant of grace established at Genesis 3:15. The AC, OC, DC, and NC are all part of this one covenant of grace. In a technical sense, these are not really different covenants, as there is really only one, the covenant of grace, as Zach has already argued (“The distinction between “old” and “new” covenant is an unfortunate one, and somewhat of a misnomer. We are not under a “new” covenant today. We are under the same covenant of grace that God established with Abraham and to all his descendents” and “There is one covenant of grace, not two”). The various covenants, as the scriptures call them, are only differing administrations of the ONE covenant of grace. This theological theory is what flattens out the distinctions between the covenants in CT and results in infant baptism.

If Chris cannot get hold of his emotions enough to explain a contrary view in a manner that the proponent of such a view would appreciate, he really can’t do justice to the question. For the most part this is not a bad explanation. But you know he just couldn’t resist throwing those first and last sentences in there. But it is to his own loss, because now he has made empty assertions that he has not justified, nor does he have the room to.

Since covenant theologians disagree on so many aspects to this ‘covenant of grace’ idea, it is impossible to list them here and do justice to Zach’s question. Some argue that the OC is not part of the covenant of grace, while others do. Some argue that the covenant of grace is made with the elect alone, and others don’t. Some argue that circumcision is a sign of grace while others argue it’s a sign of judgment.

Again, evidence? References? Even some names? Nothing given at all. Just empty assertions. Chris should have realized that the question asked of him was a great opportunity to help himself in this debate. All he would have to do is explain what his opponent’s position is, to prove that he knows it. That would certainly add credibility. Instead, he has harmed his own case, by making use of the opportunity to make a number of unjustified claims and arguments instead, which will simply have to remain unargued.


3. In your opening statement you made the claim that only the elect are to receive the sign of the covenant under the New Covenant. Can you clarify this? How do we know who the elect are? By "elect" do you really mean elect, or professing believers? If you really mean elect, then how do we know who the elect are? How do we know we are not giving the sign to the wrong people? If you really mean professing believers, then how do you argue that the covenant does not still include unbelieving people, since certainly there are false converts in the church?

The issue is NOT whether we as fallible individuals can peer into the hearts of professors, but rather what is the objective nature of the covenant established in the blood of Christ.

PB often misunderstand the CB position. Unlike the PB, we do not believe baptism to be the means of entering the NC. Take the log out of your own eye before pointing out the speck in your brother’s. Immediately after stating that paedobaptists often misunderstand the credobaptist position, he, as a credobaptist, misrepresents paedobaptism in the very next sentence. No paedobaptist I am aware of would ever argue that baptism is a means of entering the new covenant. That is simply ridiculous. Baptism is a sign and seal of entrance into that covenant, not the means. Chris will never understand his opponent’s position if he does not begin by inquiring into the Presbyterian understanding of covenant and how it is administered. Baptized infants, strictly speaking, are not necessarily in the covenant. Their baptism is not a means of entering the covenant. Faith is the means of entering the covenant. But we baptize infants because of what we believe to be the biblical mandate to apply the sign and seal of the covenant’s blessings to all believers and their children. Children who are raised under the leadership of believing parents are to be given the sign and seal of the covenant with the promise that they are provided with a special measure of grace that other people do not have (namely, growing up in a Christian context). Hence, it is reasonable to assume that they will grow up and become confessing covenant members themselves, even though it is not a guarantee. It is a renewed heart that gets us in. Or, as I put it in my OS, “To be a ‘son’ in the OC was through physical birth, born into the covenant family and being circumcised on the eighth day. To become a ‘son’ in the NC is through spiritual birth (John 1:12, 13); being born from above (John 3:3) and placing faith in the risen Savior.”

This is true, but Chris is missing the whole point. The issue is not sonship, but the temporal administration of God’s covenant blessings in the present age. Chris’s understanding of the new covenant, period, is what Presbyterians understand to be the consummated form of the new covenant. But we have yet to reach that form. All eschatological prophecies in Scripture, including those related to the new covenant (again Jer. 31:31-34 is in the middle of an eschatological context), have a three-fold fulfillment in history. There is the inauguration, at the first coming of Jesus, the continuation, in the present age, and the consummation, at the second coming of Jesus. We live in the age of continuation, the church age. The promises are here “already,” but have also “not yet” been consummated, and thus have not reached their fully realized form.

Under the Abrahamic covenant, and subsequently the OC, inclusion was through physical birth. Because people become covenant members by virtue of birth, they are required to have the first covenantal work performed on them, that being circumcision. The pattern is quite similar, but ‘spiritualized,’ under the NC. One enters through spiritual birth, then they are led to waters of baptism in order to obey the first command. “Repent, and each of you be baptized....those who received his word were baptized.” Abrahamic and the OC: Physical birth----->circumcision. NC: Spiritual birth----->baptism.

Again, this is true insofar as the consummated form of the new covenant is concerned, but we have yet to reach that stage. What Chris needs to ask himself iswhy children in the Old Covenant were to be included in the covenant. He is not inquiring at all into the considerations regarding God’s temporal administration of the covenant and its blessings in history, which is his problem. He only compares thefact of sonship in each covenant without taking into consideration the reasons why sons were included in the first place.

The fact that unbelievers, even reprobates, have and do receive baptism does not in any way change the objective nature of the NC because baptism is NOT how one enters the NC, but through spiritual birth.

Again, the paedobaptist would have no disagreement with this. Our answer again is summed up in the already/not-yet distinction of the fulfillment of New Testament prophecy.

A profession is made, then comes the baptism. As argued already, this has nothing to do with the objective nature of the NC. Simon is one example of a false convert that was baptized. However, his baptism did not make him a covenant member, just as circumcision did not make one a covenant member in the AC or OC. Fallibility on mans part has no bearing on the objectivity of the Messiah’s blood covenant.

Baptizing a false convert due to our inability to know a persons heart is not the same as willfully baptizing the unregenerate. But again, this is really a side issue. The real issue is the objective nature of the NC and who is a member of it. Baptism is a subordinate, but related issue. Since we both believe only covenant members ought to be baptized, we must first come to a correct understanding about the nature of the NC and how one becomes part of it.

PB are left with the same dilemma. They baptize the infants of at least one believing parent, but how do they know the parent is truly saved? They can only base it off a profession.

No we are not left with the same dilemma because we are not the ones claiming that the new covenant blessings are only extended to the elect. We are consistent with our claims because we recognize that the fully realized form of the New Covenant is still a future reality, waiting for its consummation at the return of Christ.

Once again, the issue is not whether we as fallible people mistakenly baptize people, but who OUGHT to be baptized. Only the regenerate ought to be baptized and we can only, but fallibly, do this based upon a profession of faith. Christ knows His sheep; He won’t be confused by our (CB and PB alike) mistaken baptisms.

4. I'm just curious about how much you've studied from the other perspective. You quoted from the introductory comments of Warfield and Hodge, but you didn't interact any with the arguments they gave. Can you summarize one argument for paedobaptism, in a fair and responsible way, as paedobaptists themselves would argue? Having represented that argument as accurately as possible (provide quotes and references if you can), can you interact with it and demonstrate one thing you believe to be problematic about that argument?

This is the second time Zach has asked me to give and articulate PB belief. This is quite a strange request and one wonders why he would ask me to do this. It’s not strange at all. The reason why you have the question is simple: On numerous occasions you have misrepresented your opponent. It is reasonable to challenge you to demonstrate that you actually know what the opposing position believes. Under this section of the debate, it is not my responsibility to expound on what he believes, but rather, I’m suppose to answer questions that are either designed to stump me or at least clarify my position. That’s exactly what the purpose of the question is (and apparently it has worked). You have given reason to believe that you are not familiar with the position you oppose, so you are being challenged to prove otherwise. It is not your place to question the motives behind questions that are asked of you. If you will not answer the question, especially when it has already been explained why it is a pertinent question, your lack of answer is to be considered an answer in itself. In other words, you have none. You’ve told us you cannot explain your opponent’s view, because you likely haven’t bothered taking the time to study it. Why then are you even debating? I graciously did this in question #2; I will not do so again. I will not use my limited space to promote infant baptism, that’s Zachs job.

As I see it, Zach lost an opportunity to ask me penetrating questions that could have advanced his position by either stumping me or by allowing him to springboard off of in our next section. There are many proof text Zach could have appealed to and asked me to answer, but he didn’t.

5. Is it your view that the covenant God made with Abraham was a promise of external and national privileges only? (e.g. the provision of physical land and descendents.) If so, then what is the simple meaning of “I will be your God, and you shall be my people”? Was not circumcision simply a sign and seal of the union and communion with the God of Israel, a union which, by nature then, must be defined as a spiritual union? Is it not the case that this has always been God’s promise, and the national privileges and external blessings were therefore accrued from the spiritualblessing which the covenant embodied and imparted? If so, hasn’t this promise continued, only with a chance in the sign and seal? But if not, then can you explain what significance and relevance this promise of exclusively external/national privilege has in the context of God’s plan of redemption in the history of creation?

The covenant made with Abraham was two sided; one physical and one spiritual. If we only had Genesis, we would not even be aware of the spiritual promises made. It is the coming of the NT authors who inform us that the real promise was spiritual in nature.

Both the OC and the NC fulfill the AC. The OC fulfills the natural or earthly side, while the NC fulfills the spiritual and heavenly side. This is how all 3 covenants are related.

Abraham was promised a physical seed (Isaac), a physical land (Canaan), a physical nation (Israel) and physical blessings (cattle, money, kids, ect.) All this was fulfilled under the OC. Abraham had Isaac who had Jacob. Jacob became Israel. The Jews inherited the land of Canaan and became the nation of Israel. When the Jews “obeyed” the Law covenant made at Sinai, God gave them material blessings.

However, given what we now know from the NT, the Abrahamic promises were to be ultimately fulfilled another way. Abraham was promised a spiritual Seed (Christ------->believers), a spiritual land (new heavens and earth), a spiritual nation (the Church), and spiritual blessings (justification through faith).

Abraham’s spiritual Seed (Jesus) ‘gives birth’ to his spiritual descendants (all believers). They are given the spiritual blessing of justification. These believers make up the spiritual nation (the church). Once the fulness of time comes, this nation will inherit the new heavens and earth. All of this is fulfilled in the NC.

Overall, this is great. But it is a shame that Chris has not been consistent with his own explanation here throughout the debate, and in his position. If he recognizes that the New Covenant has not yet reached its fully realized state, then he has no leg to stand on here. Jeremiah 31, in context, and as interpreted by Paul and the author of Hebrews, must be recognized as a promise of a time still to come. The New Covenant has been inaugurated, but it has not yet been consummated. Thus the prophecies such as Jeremiah 31:31-34 which we reach in Scripture are eschatological promises, and are not intended to communicate to us what the New Covenant is to look like today. Couple this consideration with the greater argument of Covenant Theology, which Chris has illegitimately simply dismissed without argument, and you have a biblical warrant for the inclusion of infants in the New Covenant as in the Old.

The reason the OC was replaced by the NC is because the OC could not be kept. It was a conditional covenant; ‘do this, get that, don’t do this, you don’t get that.’ The physical descendants of Abraham were unable to keep the covenant, thus its termination. However, this doesn’t mean that NO ONE had to keep the OC. This OC still had to be kept. In comes Christ!

The NC, however, is an unconditional covenant. All NC blessings are procured by Christ and given as a gift to His covenant people. There is no “Law” to keep us in covenantal standing. We don’t get kicked out for lying, cheating, or stealing. This is why the NC can only be made with the elect, or regenerate, those in union with Christ. This is why the NC cannot be broken. Its unconditional nature makes it impossible for the unregenerate to partake or break.

Again, this is fully true only in its consummated form. It is curious that Chris hasn’t bothered yet to actually look at the Hebrews passages that specifically quote from Jeremiah 31:31-34 and warn against the danger of breaking covenant. The covenant can be broken today because it has not yet been fully realized. This is the whole point of the warnings against apostasy in Hebrews. They quote from Jeremiah 31:31-34 when issuing the warning.

Response to Answers: Chris Gautreau

1) Can you please explain Jeremiah 31:31-34 in light of covenantal baptism?


I will spend the majority of my time answering this first question, since some of the others will be answered by my observation of this passage as well. (This argument is summarized from Richard L. Pratt Jr.’s exegesis on the passage.)

The passage is part of a greater context in verses 27-40, in which three related prophecies are made about the future reception of blessings. First it is promised that God’s people would return from exile to their land (vv. 27-30); second, that a new covenant would be established with God’s people (vv. 31-37); third, that the holy city would be rebuilt and permanently established (vv. 38-40). It is important to recognize this context, because this demonstrates that the new covenant was not a stand-alone idea in Jeremiah’s thinking. The fulfillment of this prophecy is part of a greater three-fold fulfillment of a promise made to Israel after the exile. In other words, for this new covenant to be fulfilled it is necessary for these other promises to be as well.

The terms “new” and “covenant” appear elsewhere in the prophets with reference to prophecies concerning the restoration from exile. Consider for instance “a new spirit” (Ezek. 11:19; 36:26) and “a new heart” (Ezek. 36:26), and the freedom of God’s people as “a new thing” (Isa. 43:19; 42:9), and the anticipation of “a new heavens and a new earth” (Isa. 65:17; 66:22). The concept of a “new” covenant fits this broader conception of restoration. The same is true of the language of “covenant.” “Covenant of peace” is occasionally used in the context of prophecies of restoration (Isa. 54:10; Ezek. 34:25; 37:26). As Pratt says, “These covenant expressions reflected a basic theological outlook that stemmed from the days of Moses: forgiveness, refreshment, renewal, and blessings come to the sinful nation of Israel only as they renew the covenant (e.g., Ex. 24:7-8; 34:10-28; Deut. 29; 31; Josh. 24:1-28; 2 Kings 23:2-3; 2 Chron. 34:30-32). So, it is not surprising at all that Jeremiah spoke of the divine arrangement after exile as a new covenant.”

The bottom line is, because the passage in vv. 31-34 is inseparably connected to the immediate context of vv. 27-40, and because that context involves a collection of prophecies concerning restoration and those prophecies are not to be fully realized until the return of Christ, and because the language of renewal and covenant is used throughout the OT in reference to that anticipation of ultimate restoration and renewal, it is not only legitimate, but necessary to understand Jeremiah’s concept of the new covenant as something that has not yet been fully realized.

It would also be helpful to note that the Hebrew term for “new” here, hadash, does not mean “new” in the sense of something original. It actually carries the idea of renewal. The same term is used for the “new moon,” for instance.

This broader connection between Jeremiah’s concept of a new covenant and the hope of restoration from exile tells us that the new covenant is not something that can be thought of as isolated. In other words, to properly understand what the Bible means by a “new covenant,” we have to interpret this language in light of a broader consideration of prophecies of restoration.

Now, I don’t have the space to go into detail, but several places throughout the NT declare Jeremiah’s prophecy to be fulfilled by the Christian faith (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; 2 Cor. 3:6; Heb. 8:8, 13; 9:15; 12:24). However, at the same time we must understand that the promises God makes in Jeremiah 31:27-40 are not fully realized in this present age at all. In other words, like so many things in Scripture, there is an “already/not-yet” aspect to the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy. There can be no denying this when vv. 31-34 are considered in the context of what comes before and follows. The new covenant has become a reality, in some way, through the earthly ministry of Christ; but it will not become a full reality until the eternal future. It has been inaugurated, but it has yet to be consummated. The OT prophets were unable to anticipate how the prophecies they were giving were going to be fulfilled. Thus, they may have written with the idea that this fulfillment would happen completely and all at once, when in actuality the “already/not-yet” principle we see so frequently in the NT demands that we understand that this is simply not the case. The expectations of restoration have been fulfilled, and are being fulfilled, over a long period of time. The explanation of this process of fulfillment was the point of Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed (Matt. 13:31-32). There are three stages of restoration fulfilled: inauguration (in the incarnation of Christ), continuation (throughout the present age), and consummation (at the return of Christ). The OT’s predictions of the state of blessing after exile began their fulfillment at the first coming of Christ, continue to be fulfilled today, and will be fully realized only when Christ returns.

To state the matter simply, what Jeremiah prophesied in 31:31-34 is not yet fully realized. It is realized only in part (just as our resurrected life is currently being fulfilled, in regeneration and sanctification, but also not yet fully realized). This not to say that the new covenant is defective; it is only to say that it is continuing to be fulfilled.

This is the necessary way to understand this passage in light of its context. We cannot separate out verses 31-34 from the larger 27-40 segment and interpret those four verses as something that came to be realized in fullness at the first coming of Christ. These verses exist in the context of a larger passage that is subject to this three-fold stage of fulfillment between the first and second comings. Therefore, any use of Jeremiah 31:31-34 against paedobaptism is a misuse of Scripture. The text does not say that the presently inaugurated new covenant cannot be broken, or that it cannot include false converts who only outwardly profess faith. This will be true of the new covenant in its fully realized state, at the return of Christ, but it has not yet been consummated and therefore has not yet been realized to that extent.

There is more that can, and should be said on this passage, but my space is far too limited here to give this question the answer it deserves.


There is one word that can summarize Hebrews 7-11, and that word is “better.” Christ is a better Priest, a better Mediator, of better promises, based upon a better hope, because of the better sacrifice and better blood, which results in a better covenant and more excellent ministry. The entire apologetic theme of Hebrews 7-11 is the betterness, or superiority of the NC over the OC. In the middle of all this “better” talk, the author of Hebrews cites an OT passage, not once (Hebrews 8), but twice (Hebrews 10), in order to establish or defend his apologetic. What passage does he cite? Jeremiah 31:31-34.

The author of Hebrews says this in chapter 8:6-8:

“But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. 8 For finding fault with them, He says...”

The statement above is immediately followed by the quotation of Jeremiah 31:31-34.

In Hebrews 10:14, 15 the author says:

“For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying...”

The statement above is immediately followed by the quotation of Jeremiah 31:31-34.

The purpose of the author of Hebrews is to deal with those who have professed the faith but are now leaving in order to go back to Moses and his Law covenant which saved no one. In an attempt to discourage these would be apostates, he gives an apologetic defense regarding the “betterness” of the NC over the OC. He then defends his arguments by appealing to and quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34.

It was a contemporary issue that was being addressed, thus, his apologetic and OT citation must be understood in a contemporary context. That is, his arguments and proof was for THEM! IOW, all this NC betterness results in.....and then he cites Jeremiah 31. Jeremiah 31 was for THEM!

Why would the author of Hebrews, while aggressively defending the betterness of the NC, cite a passage to prove and defend his position if, in fact, as Pratt and other PB contend, this betterness was not to be fulfilled until thousands of years later?

Lets quickly look at another “parallel” passage. Paul gives similar arguments in Galatians 4:21-31. In this context, Paul is dealing with the Judiazers who claimed that Mosaic Law must be kept by Gentiles in order to be saved. In this passage, like the context of Hebrews 7-10, Paul is juxtaposing the OC with the NC.

Just like Hebrews, Galatians 4 gives us a clear understanding of the nature of these two covenants. One is defective and can save no one (Law), while the other is effectual in its salvific abilities (promise). Like Hebrews, “all will know the Lord,” so too in Galatians only the offspring of the free woman are party to the “Jerusalem above” (NC).

The PB attempt to get around the implications of Jeremiah 31, as Zach has presented, is clever, but doesn’t work and completely destroys the very purpose of citing this passage in Hebrews in the defense of the betterness of the NC.

When we read Hebrews 3:5, 6 we note that Moses was faithful over his house and that Christ is faithful over His house. Now this “house” is a covenant house. Moses was faithful for his OC house while Christ is faithful over His NC house. Question: How can Christ be faithful over His house if many in His house ultimately burn?

Read Hebrews 9:6-14

Remember my OS? Remember my arguments regarding covenantal blood? Is not this entire section speaking covenantally? Is not “covenant” the entire theme of Hebrews?

When did Christ become our High Priest? When Did Christ enter the tabernacle made without hands? When did Christ spill His blood? When did Christ enter the Holy Place once and for all time? When did our consciences become clean? Are we still waiting for this? Has this been fulfilled?

The author of Hebrews is contrasting the two covenants, and it could not be any clearer. And right smack in the middle of all this covenant talk he quotes a passage that says in the NC “they will all know Me and have their sins forgiven.”

I have always found it strange how uncovenantal those who hold to covenant theology can be.


2) Which “seed” classification does an unbelieving infant fall under which makes them privy to covenantal status?


This is a loaded question because the credobaptist understanding of the covenant is being assumed. The unbelieving infant’s reception of covenantal status is not based on what “seed” he or she is a member of. There are those of Abraham’s seed in the covenant community, and there are those who are not. Again, the fulfillment of the new covenant is only in its continuation status; it has not yet reached its full realization. That is how we can say that there are members of the covenant community who do not truly belong to God.


It was not a loaded question and neither was it based upon a CB understanding. PB all argue from Genesis 17 and the Abrahamic command to circumcise his offspring. IOW, it is Abraham’s offspring who are to be circumcised/baptized. This is the supposed justification for infant baptism, is it not?

Alright, then. Which “seed” does the unbelieving infant belong to that makes them a seed of Abraham? Scripture tells us that Abraham had 4 different seeds. 1) Ishmael. 2) Isaac------>Israel. 3) Jesus. 4) Believers. Is the unbelieving infant a descendant of Ishmael? No? Then they are not privy to circumcision. Even if they descend from Ishmael, they still would not be privy because the covenant was made with Isaac. Are they a descendant of Isaac? No? Even if they were they would still not be privy because Isaac’s unbelieving descendants have been “cast out” (Galatians 4) and “broken off” (Romans 11). Are they Jesus? NO!!!! Are they believers? NO!!

Since these unbelieving infants are in NO WAY tied to Abraham, they are not privy to covenantal status or its sign.


3) If the NC “works” (blood, intercession, ect.) are not effectual for covenant members, how then is the NC not just as defective as the OC?


Again, because it has not yet fully been realized. These works will be effectual at consummation. But until that point, the covenant still anticipates that time. It would not be proper to classify this as “defective” because unlike the old covenant, this new covenant will not need to be renewed at the consummation of the ages. It will simply come to its full realization. By way of analogy, we live a renewed life as Christians, but we are still susceptible to sin and we are continually undergoing progressive sanctification. The perfection of our renewal – the full realization of it – will not come to pass until the second coming of Christ.


Reread my question, then note Zach’s statement. These works will be effectual at consummation. WOW!!!!!!!!!!! Christ’s blood and intercession won’t be effectual for thousands of years after the cross?????? Did I read this correctly? Has Zach become an Arminian? Christ established this NC with the shedding of His blood and yet Zach freely admits that Christ’s blood is not effectual in saving those in the covenant established in His blood. Nuff said!


4) What was the purpose of God including the seed in His covenants?


I am not sure I understand the question. The purpose is secret to God and His sovereign plan. He simply chose to save a people, not just a person. If I can try and anticipate where I think Chris is going with this, though, I would just say, again, that it is not that paedobaptism denies the fact that entrance into the new covenant (i.e. into the true seed of Abraham) is by faith (cf. Rom. 9:6). Rather, it is that the fulfillment of that covenant has yet to be fully realized. And until it has been, we recognize that covenant blessings extend to those beyond the actual classification of “elect,” of which we have no way of discerning who is a member.


Scripture doesn’t state it explicitly, but I think scripture is clear, nevertheless. The reason God creates covenants with a physical seed is found in Genesis 3:15.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman,

and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.”

The reason for having a physical seed was for the purpose of bringing Jesus into the world. Scripture is clear that the Christ had to come, but He had to come through a certain person (Abraham), from a certain nation (Israel), and a certain king (David). However, once this Christ has come, there no longer remains any reason to continue covenantal status through physical means. It was ALL about Jesus!

Now that Jesus has come, covenantal status passes on and through the descendants of Jesus. Since Jesus was never married, nor had any physical children, His offspring can only be a spiritual offspring. Just as the “barren woman” of Galatians 4 has more children than the “one who has a husband.” Notice the parallels and consistent pattern yet? SPIRITUAL OFFSPRING!


5) How is it possible for the NC to be broken?


Hebrews 10:28-31 makes it plain that until Christ returns, it is possible for the new covenant to be broken. The new covenant is unbreakable only in its realized fulfillment at the consummation of all things.


Basic PB understanding of Hebrews 10:29 and the “sanctified.” They argue that the apostate is the one sanctified and once they have fallen away they have broken covenant.


I’ll respond with a question. How is it that the author of Hebrews can say this...


Verse 10


“By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all [time].”

And this...

Verse 14

For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”

...then turn around and just 15 verses later tell us that those sanctified can fall away and burn in hell for all eternity?

The problem is that it is not the apostate that it is “sanctified” in verse 29; it is either Christ Himself or it is the NC that is sanctified. I personally hold to the latter as that seems to fit the context of Hebrews 7-10 which is CONSTANTLY telling us how the NC is superior to the OC and how the NC is established by means of the blood. Thus, I find the NC to be what is sanctified by the blood.

Moreover, where is all the “and they broke my covenant” language in the NT? Why is it that NOT ONCE does the NT say “and they broke my covenant” or, “don’t break the covenant” or something else along those lines? Doesn’t the OT freely use this language? Why not the NT if, in fact, the NC can be broken?

Lastly, what Law does one have to break in order to break the NC? I thought the Law was done away with; that is, conditions that must be met and kept. Is it really the PB position that the NC is a Law covenant? The covenant established in the GRACIOUS blood of Jesus has conditions? Not in my NT!

Zachary Kueker's Closing Statement



The basic objection the credobaptist has to infant baptism is that infant baptism fails to see a movement from the age of promise to the age of fulfillment. The argument is that on the paedobaptist view, the New Covenant is no better than the Old, which was defective. Further, it is argued that there are no longer any external blessings of the covenant, as there were with the Old, and therefore it is wrong to give the covenant sign to those who are our children externally. Instead, the sign is only to be given to those who are inwardly regenerated. But as we’ve seen in my answer to Chris’s questions, which he did not sufficiently respond to, this interpretation ignores or simply misses the reality of already/not-yet fulfillment. It is not conclusive to fault paedobaptism with making the New Covenant defective like the Old, when our point, which has been shown to be derived from Scripture, is that the New Covenant is still being fulfilled. Just like redemption, it is both a present and future reality, and the present aspect is an inaugurated aspect that has not yet been fully realized. What about the bodily resurrection? What about the new heavens and the new earth? These are promises of the New Covenant, and yet they have not yet been fulfilled. Only their spiritual corollaries are being fulfilled in the present age. But there is a clear already/not-yet distinction here.


If Chris were to calm himself, he might learn something about theology from this exchange. What I said was clear, and Chris’s attempt to construe what I said is just as clear. I did not say that Christ’s cross work is not effectual until the consummation of the present age. What I alluded to was the already/not-yet distinction of eschatological fulfillment. This two-aspect fulfillment is pervasive in all of Pauline theology, and is so commonly accepted by theologians it is not even considered an exclusively Reformed point of view. For Chris to be unfamiliar with this distinction, or to dismiss it without argument (whichever is the case), is simply unacceptable. Allow me to help my opponent out here.


The New Testament interprets salvation, Old Testament prophecy, and basically everything else, in light of an eschatological dualism popularly referred to as the “already/not-yet” of fulfillment. I would encourage Chris to read Vos’ The Pauline Eschatology for the classical overview of this. This distinction is especially evident in Paul. He speaks of Christ’s work as accomplishing the ultimate victory, and speaks of us participating here and now in a completeness of that final victory (2 Tim. 1:10). And yet, at the same time, he also speaks of the fact that there is more to come. For instance, those who are in Christ have died (Rom. 6:8; Col. 2:20; 3:3) and have risen again (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12; Eph. 2:6), so that a new creation has come (2 Cor. 5:17) and we have already been freed (Rom. 6:14, 18), and yet at the same time we are still subject to the domain of sin and death (Rom. 7:17, 20, 21, 25). We are called a “new creation” in a present sense (2 Cor. 5:17; cf. Isa. 65:17; 66:22), and yet at the same time we are also told that the body, as well as the whole creation, await resurrection (2 Cor. 4:16-18; Rom. 8:10ff). The kingdom of God has been inaugurated, but it still awaits consummation. The new covenant, as everything else, must be understood within this same interpretive grid.


Thus, on the one hand, we are presently participating in the victory that Christ has won, but at the same time we are not yet experiencing the fully realized state of that victory. This already/not-yet distinction is not an affirmation of two fulfillments, or of a future fulfillment only. Chris should really know better than to accuse me of arguing such nonsense. If he cannot grasp such a basic interpretive concept as this, he must be quite theologically illiterate and I don’t suspect that his reading in Reformed theology actually probes very deeply at all. This already/not-yet distinction is in aspects only.


The bottom line is this: The New Testament, in its entirety, makes use of this eschatological dualism, especially when interpreting Old Testament prophecy, and particularly eschatological prophecy. As I demonstrated in my response to Chris’s questions, Jeremiah 31:31-34 is in the middle of an eschatological context. Chris did not bother to give this point any attention, and that is to his own detriment. I really think his entire response to my answer to his questions is rendered null, because he didn’t even bother to focus on the points I have raised. In fact, that has been quite characteristic of this entire debate. He has spent the majority of his time using his responses as a spring board to make all sorts of pot shots and scattered arguments, while half the time not even focusing on the gist of the arguments I have actually made. Given the eschatological context of Jeremiah 31:31-34, and given the already/not-yet dualism of New Testament interpretation, and given the further three-fold interpretive scheme I have already demonstrated in my exegesis of Jeremiah 31:31-34 to be present in the apostles’ understanding of fulfillment of Old Testament eschatological prophecy, it follows that the description of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34 is of something that has already been inaugurated and thus is presently being experienced by the church to a real degree, but is also not yet fully realized as it has yet to reach its fully consummated form. Chris has offered nothing in response to any of these three crucial points, which leaves a very strong argument against his position decidedly unanswered.


Chris wants to say that the New Covenant is not like the Old because the Old was defective, and he is absolutely right! But what he fails to take into account is the fact that the New Covenant, despite carrying the perfect promises that it does, is still being fulfilled. It has been inaugurated, but it has not yet been consummated. It has been semi-realized, but it has not yet been fully realized. We have died in Christ, we have been raised in Christ, we have been justified, sanctified, and adopted, and likewise we have entered the New Covenant. But all of these things have only been partially realized. There is another sense in which all these things still await their final form of fulfillment. Chris cannot fault this argument as suggesting the New Covenant is no better than the Old, unless he likewise faults the entire process of salvation as not really and truly saving, since we aren’t in the final age yet.


What makes matters worse for him is that he has not spent any time seriously dealing with the Hebrews texts that quote Jeremiah 31:31-34 and then go on to talk about apostasy. Why would the author of Hebrews use this very passage in his warning against apostasy unless his precise point was to tell covenant members that it is possible to break the New Covenant? If we take the credobaptist’s interpretation of Jeremiah 31:31-34, which demands that election and covenant membership in this present age include the same group of people, then the only option you really have when you get to the warnings against apostasy in Hebrews is to say that they are basically hypothetical; they are not warning against something that could actually happen. But what exegesis argues that idea? Chris simply has an over-realized eschatology. He has not allowed for the already/not-yet principle of biblical theology to interpret these texts.


What this distinction argues for, therefore, is that although we are now under the New Covenant and the age of fulfillment, at the same time we have also yet to fully reach that fulfillment and therefore there are elements of the Old that still carry over into the New. It has been argued that baptism is the continuation of the sign of circumcision, and in the New Testament we have the same promise made to believing parents and their children that was made to Abraham and his offspring. Yes, it is true that the promise to Abraham was a promise that had in view his physical descendants, whereas in the New Covenant the promise is revealed to refer to spiritual Israel. But again, spiritual Israel is not yet synonymous with covenant membership. We cannot understand it to be this way when we take into account Jeremiah 31 and the Hebrews texts that quote it.


Further, there is another critical point that must be made here. There is a close corollary between the Old Covenant and the New that I am afraid my opponent has missed. At the beginning of this statement I asked about the bodily resurrection and the new heavens and the new earth. These are external, physical promises of the New Covenant, much like the land promises of the Old, which have yet to be fulfilled. We have yet to enter the new heavens and the new earth. This is analogous to the Israelites and their anticipation of entering the Promised Land. And notice this: The sign of circumcision, which was the sign of entrance into the covenant, was given to Abraham before he and his offspring entered the land. In other words, the administration of the sign of the covenant came before the realization of physical promises. But if that sign was meant to symbolize the inheritance of those promises, then the giving of that sign before the promise means that the blessings in the Old Covenant also had an already/not-yet distinction about them. There was a sense in which the promise made to Abraham was a promise of a future inheritance that he did not receive at the time that he received the sign. This is a parallel to the church age with its own already/not-yet distinction. We are also waiting for our heavenly inheritance (Heb. 13:14). We have received the sign of the covenant, which is baptism, but we have not yet received all of the covenant’s blessings.


What is significant about this is that this means that any objection that is raised against paedobaptism, must also be raised against circumcision when it was given to Abraham. This was the argument of Calvin himself. He argued that if anyone were to successfully argue against paedobaptism, they would have also successfully argued against circumcision, and Abraham would have been just to question God’s command to circumcise his children (see Institutes IV.16). Imagine Abraham asking God, “Why are you commanding me to give the sign of circumcision to infants, who neither have faith, nor have they inherited the promise of land?” Why would this be an illegitimate question? I suggest any reason the credobaptist would give he would also have to give against his own denial of paedobaptism. The Old Covenant was not a failed plan of God. It was always intended by God to be an imperfect typological example of the heavenly reality that would one day come. Canaan is symbolic of the new heavens and the new earth; the temple is symbolic of Christ; Jerusalem is symbolic of the new heavenly city. The external blessings in the land of Canaan were simply the typological form through which God conveyed His redemptive blessings to His people. The New Covenant is the fulfillment of the Old, but what that means is that it takes that typological form and presents the real thing. In other words, everything has a parallel. That includes the sign of entrance into the covenant. Prior to the reception of those external blessings, which will come in the eternal age, we live in the time of anticipating that promise, which has been given to us and our children. Thus, we give the sign of that covenant, baptism, to our children, just as Abraham was commanded to do in the “same,” though typological, situation.


In closing, I want to return to an argument I made in my opening statement that Chris never bothered to address in this entire debate. That is, the oikos formula. This argument challenges Chris’s position so seriously his total lack of response is tantamount to conceding the debate. There is a clear continuation of the language from the Old Testament into the New Testament as far as God dealing with households. Simply read these texts, in their order: Gen. 7:1; 12:17; 18:19; Deut. 14:26; Josh. 24:15; 1 Sam. 25:6; Matt. 10:12-14; Luke 19:9; Acts 2:38-39; 11:14-18; 16:14-15, 31-34; 18:8. In all of these examples, both Old Testament and New, the concept of “household” has a representative, federal idea to it. In other words, it is simply assumed that all those under the authority of the male head are included, even if there are no infants or children. In fact, when children are present but are not included in what is taking place, the text explicitly tells us this! For example: Gen. 50:7-8; 1 Sam. 1:21-22.


Here is the bottom line: Since it is assumed in the concept of “household” that there are children or servants in view, as I argued in my opening statement, such that the authors even find it necessary to specifically point out where children are present but are not included, to say that “he and his household was baptized” would have naturally communicated to the first century reader the idea that children were included, even if they weren’t. Regardless, in other words, of whether there were actually any infants present in the specific instances of “household” baptisms, the very language used would have caused the reader to assume that children would have been included, or that it is at least appropriate for them to be, and the author would have known this. So either the authors were being knowingly deceptive, or they meant to communicate the idea that infants are to be baptized on account of their believing parents. Just as with circumcision, the sign of the covenant is to be given to the children of believing parents because the promise extends to them and their children. There is no argument against baptism that cannot also apply to circumcision. So being in the covenant does not mean that they are elect and saved, because some will reject the faith before it truly becomes their own. But as long as we live in the present age, we are to continue to recognize God’s promise to us and our children and assume that they are members of the elect, until they prove themselves otherwise.


Much more can and should be said to really make the best case for paedobaptism, but I have sufficiently done my job here. Throughout this entire debate, Chris has wasted valuable space mocking my position rather than actually critically interacting with it. In his response to my opening statement he did not even address the oikos argument, and gave the excuse that he had run out of space to do so. But note how much space he wasted in that response on needless pot shots and irrelevant criticisms that really have little to do with the truth of my main arguments. With respect to my opponent, in this entire debate he has consistently avoiding any kind of meaningful response to my main arguments. He has not demonstrated his assertions that covenant theology is “man-made.” He has simply asserted the fact, even after I had presented arguments for a single covenant of grace. That is not the hallmark of a serious-minded person capable of interacting thoughtfully with other ideas. He has also failed to deal with the already/not-yet issue, he has not exegeted the Hebrews texts, he did not complete his response to my exegesis of Jeremiah 31, he danced around answering my own questions to him, has on several occasions made rather ridiculous insinuations about my position that are clearly untrue to the honest reader, and ultimately, again, he has flat out ignored the argument concerning the first century understanding of oikos, one of the most crucial points I raised! Whatever your view on baptism ultimately is, the credobaptism position simply was not defended in this exchange.

Chris Gautreau's Closing Statement

No one is going to disagree that only the regenerate are true members of the new covenant.



“True members?” Is this in distinction to “false members?” I’m reminded of the JW who says Jesus isn’t the “true God” but only “a god.” Well, doesn’t that make Jesus a “false god?” Thus, if one is not a “true member” doesn’t that make them a “false member?” And if you’re a false member how can you call this “covenantal baptism?” Doesn’t the term “covenantal baptism” imply true covenant membership? Were those who were circumcised on the 8th day “true members” or false members, which brings up another interesting point. Covenant membership was not based upon circumcision, but through birth. One was born into the covenant, not circumcised into it. It was the failure to be circumcised that led to one being a “covenant breaker.” Can “false members” break a true covenant? Can a false god lose his true Divinity? It appears that Zach realizes that “true” NC membership is for the regenerate alone, but this wasn’t the case Abraham’s physical descendants. They were “true” covenant members despite a lack of faith. So why isn’t Zach consistent and call the unregenerates “true members?”



The whole point is that since we have no way of knowing who the regenerate are, we cannot use that as a standard in determining who is to be baptized. An individual’s profession of faith no more qualifies them as being a true covenant member than does a believing parent’s promise to raise the child in the Lord.



I agree, but Zach hasn’t followed along. I have not claimed that a profession of faith qualifies a person for “true” covenant membership, and neither does baptism make one a “true” covenant member. I thought I had been quite clear up to this point given that my entire thesis has been that faith is the means of entering into the NC. I also made it clear that us CB simply use the biblical examples. What does scripture show us? A profession is made, then comes baptism. This is undeniable. But this is also not the same as “who is a NC member.” Since neither circumcision nor baptism made/makes one a covenant member, but rather, people are born into covenant relationship, we must ask, “which birth qualifies for NC inclusion, physical or spiritual?” The NT is clear, spiritual birth is the means of NC membership.



So our standard in determining who is to be baptized should inquire into who receives covenant blessings, and should not necessarily even take regeneration into consideration. 



This is the problem Zach and his PB brethren have, which is the problem I have been pointing out since my OS. NC blessings are procured by Christ. The basis upon which Christ was able to procure these blessings was through His life, death, and resurrection, or, His BLOOD, for short. It was the sacrifice of Christ that was deemed acceptable by the Father through which Christ was able to earn blessings for His people. Thus, and this is Calvinism 101, only those for whom Christ died can receive the covenantal blessings He obtained through His person and work! This is the very reason why we OUGHT to take “regeneration into consideration.”



I’m reminded of those Geico commercials right now.



You see, PB promote, unwittingly, an Arminian covenant. What does Arminian theology tell us?They tell us that the work of Christ, that which He earned on our behalf, can fail to be applied to people because of a failure to believe the promise. Us Calvinist have no qualms telling the Arminian that this makes Jesus a failed Savior. Is this not exactly what PB do with respect to “covenant members” as oppose to the Arminians “whole world?” Do not the PB tell us that covenant members can fail to receive the full benefits of Christ’s person and work do to a failure to believe the promise? Do they not teach that these baptized infants, who are in the covenant (the Arminians version of “world”) established in the blood of Jesus, can fail to have Christ’s blood applied to them because they broke the covenant due to a lack of faith? Does this not make Jesus a poor, nay, a failure as a covenant Head?



Understand folks, Arminians tell us the the blood of Jesus was for the “world.” The bible, however, tells us that His blood was for the covenant. This is precisely why it’s called “the blood of the covenant” and why Hebrews 9 tells us that the covenant could not be established without the “shedding of blood.” How then can you have the unregenerate partakers of a covenant that was established in blood that was limited to the elect alone? No blood means no covenant.



"In the Old Testament, when the high priest would offer the sacrifice, everyone for whom he offered the sacrifice was those for whom he was interceding. In the New Testament, when Christ, our high priest, offered the sacrifice of His life for our sins, everyone for whom He offered that sacrifice are those for whom He is also interceding (cf. Rom. 8:31-35).”



Zach posted the above statement on his FB page on February 21st 2013



I couldn’t agree more with his statement, though I would change “testament” to “covenant.” As a matter of fact, doesn’t this sound a whole lot like my OS? What is unfortunate is that Zach fails to understand the COVENANTAL implications regarding this, his statement. You see, Zach has no problem recognizing how the sacrifice and intercession go hand in hand. I’m also quite sure that Zach would have no problem admitting that this sacrifice and intercession was for Israel ALONE. It was not for the pagan; it was “limited.” But what Zach misses, which is where he and all PB become very inconsistent, is that it was limited to COVENANT Israel. The sacrifice, intercession, and COVENANT were all intrinsically tied and inseparable.



1) The covenant did not extend beyond the sacrifice and the sacrifice did not extend beyond the covenant. 2) The sacrifice was for ALL of COVENANT Israel. If you were in the covenant, you had the sacrifice applied to you. If you had the sacrifice applied to you, it was because you were in the covenant. 3) There was no “visible/invisible” distinction. The sacrifice was just as much for the regenerate Israelite as it was for the unregenerate Israelite. The regenerate were not exempt from having to offer the sacrifices. Aaron, a believer, still had to offer a bull as a sin offering in order to make atonement (Lev. 16:11).



Now lets fire up them grey cells. What does this tell us about the COVENANT Church? Are we going to be consistent? Are the NC sacrifice and intercession covenantally limited? Does the sacrifice extend beyond the covenant? Does the covenant extend beyond the sacrifice? Does the sacrifice cover ALL the covenant people? Do not the sacrifice, intercession, and COVENANT all go hand in hand? Or shall we separate the covenant from the very blood that established it?



As Calvinist, these rhetorical questions create quite the dilemma for the PB. Ask yourself: Who is being COVENANTALLY consistent. There is a reason why I stated previously that I’m amazed at how uncovenantal CT can be. The blood, whether it’s OC blood or NC blood, is COVENANT blood. Do the math, limited atoners.



Reformed Baptists do not typically deny covenant theology.



Zach is correct, but I’m not a Reformed Baptist.



They simply eternalize it so that they don’t normally see a distinction between the eternal decree and a temporal administration in the covenant.



This is theological jargon and has no biblical support. The bible knows nothing of a “temporal administration in the covenant.” Covenants are not called “administrations” and his singular “covenant” is likewise unbiblical. I have already pointed out that scripture says “covenantS.” You know when someone is relying upon a system rather than the scripture when they use the systems words and not the bibles. Paul said in Galatians 4 “these are TWO covenantS.” Always be leery of those who substitute the biblical language for their own.



So to altogether deny covenant theology, and more, arbitrarily claim that it is a “man made” system, really brings into question whether Chris is even legitimately Reformed.



It’s not “arbitrary;” it’s a historical fact. CT was invented during the Reformation period. This is where the “covenant of grace,” “the covenant of works” (with Adam), and the “covenant of redemption” all come from. The Reformers wanted to retain the practice of infant baptism but could no longer do so upon the same basis it had been “justified” previously.



Prior to the Reformation, the Church always tied faith and baptism together; though, how they tied together wasn’t always agreed upon.



1) Fides Aliena: The church supplies the faith necessary for infant baptism.

2) Fides Infusa: Baptism infuses faith into the infant.

3) Fides Infantium: An infants’ own faith is present in baptism

4) Sacramental Symbolism: The legitimacy of infant baptism is independent of faith.

5) Pre-credobaptism: Baptism precedes faith in the infant, but does not guarantee it.

6) Presumptive Regeneration: The church assumes its baptized infants have faith until proven otherwise

7) Baptismal Regeneration: Baptism imparts faith to all infants (including the non elect).

8)  Paedofaith: Infants have faith prior to their baptism.



Zwingli came along and stated:



“In this matter of baptism--if I may be pardoned for saying it--I can only concluded that all the doctors  have been in error from the time of the apostles.”



What Zwingli did was to separate faith and baptism altogether. He argued on the basis of circumcision found in the OT; thus, the beginning of Reformed CT. In comes the formulations of the “1 covenant, 2 administrations” ect.



(Thanks to Jeffery D. Johnson for his list and insights)



If Chris is dispensational this debate is a waste of time, because we’ve gone about it all wrong from the beginning.



Again, I don’t think Zach has been paying close attention. Not a single word have I typed would lead one to conclude that I’m dispensational.



(For context in my next response I must provide my statements from the last section of this debate so you understand what Zach is complaining about)



“Since covenant theologians disagree on so many aspects to this ‘covenant of grace’ idea, it is impossible to list them here and do justice to Zach’s question. Some argue that the OC is not part of the covenant of grace, while others do. Some argue that the covenant of grace is made with the elect alone, and others don’t. Some argue that circumcision is a sign of grace while others argue it’s a sign of judgment.”



Again, evidence? References? Even some names? Nothing given at all. Just empty assertions. Chris should have realized that the question asked of him was a great opportunity to help himself in this debate. All he would have to do is explain what his opponent’s position is, to prove that he knows it. That would certainly add credibility. Instead, he has harmed his own case, by making use of the opportunity to make a number of unjustified claims and arguments instead, which will simply have to remain unargued.



Zach is basically accusing me of just making this up. I challenge ANY PB to prove that I have misrepresented CT in my aforementioned claims. Furthermore, how is it that I am suppose to “explain what his opponent’s position is” if I’m not certain what his position is? I do not know whether Zach believes the covenant of grace is made with the elect alone. I do not know if Zach believes the Mosaic covenant is part of the covenant of grace. I do not know if Zach believes circumcision/baptism is a sign of judgment (Meredith Kline) or a sign of grace (John Murray). Has Zach written a book on the subject that I’m not aware of?



You see, in this context, our debate, it is not possible to know every detail of your opponents position, especially in light of the fact that neither of us have written extensively on the subject that we may reference each others works. Thus, I can only explain CT in light of what various covenant theologians hold to, including their disagreements. So again, I challenge any PB to prove that I have misrepresented CT by claiming, for instance, that some of their theologians hold to the covenant signs as being signs of grace and others signs of judgement; or, some say the covenant of grace is for the elect alone and other say it includes the reprobate.



The reason covenant theologians disagree about the covenant of grace is due to “conditionality.” Is the covenant of grace conditional or unconditional? Some argue that a covenant of grace cannot be conditional because conditions are antithetical to grace. Some view faith as the condition of the covenant of grace.



My point is, there is no such thing as “covenant theology,” there are covenant theologIES.” Thus, Zach’s request of me to explain “covenant theology” actually only illustrates his own ignorance on the matter. I say this not to be mean, as I do love him, but his question nevertheless shows that he apparently is not even aware of all the disagreements amongst covenant theologians; thus, it is not even possible to explain “covenant theology,” per se. This is why I gave the most basic understanding that is held by those who hold to CT and only noted a few of their disagreements.



At this point I wish to quickly address an argument Zach brought up in his rebuttal to my OS, something I slightly touched upon above.



He assumes, without argument, that the entire membership of Israel under the OC is to be paralleled to believers alone in the NC, rather than the whole visible church. IOW, he compares the visible church of the OT to the invisible church in the new, rather than the visible to the visible, and this becomes the basis of his entire argument.



Zach assumes a covenantal division (visible/invisible) when no such division exist. I argued COVENANT against COVENANT not “the visible church of the OT to the invisible church in the new.” Just because the OC was mixed does not mean there are 2 ‘versions’ of the one covenant; one for the remnant and one for the reprobate. The remnant was just as obligated to keep the Sabbath or refrain from bacon as was the reprobate. The remnant  was not exempt from passover simply because they were saved. The reprobate were no less citizens of the nation than were the remnant. The covenant and its works were for EVERYONE.



There is a reason why I labored this point in my OS. The covenant and its works are all inclusive. Just a Moses did not mediate for only one portion of this so called visible/invisible covenant, neither does Christ only mediate for a portion of those in His covenant. Moses mediated on behalf of everyone in the OC, and Christ mediates on behalf of everyone in the NC. The implications of this is what has Zach in a bind which is why he all but ignored these arguments. A so called visible/invisible distinction does not change these facts.



If such a thing as a visible/invisible covenant exist, and there is a visible/invisible church, then there must also be a visible/invisible kingdom as well. Didn’t Christ say “unless a man be born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God?” Didn’t Christ say that His Church would be built upon the genuine profession that He “is the Christ, the Son of the living God?” Didn’t Christ say “this cup is the new covenant in My blood?”



Zach wants us to believe that Christ has a visible kingdom that does not require the new birth. Zach wants us to believe that Christ has a visible church that does not require a genuine profession of faith. Zach wants us to believe that Christ has a visible new covenant that is not in His blood. Unfortunately, none of this can be supported by text of the NT.



Christ’s Kingdom, Christ’s Church, and Christ’s covenant are only made with those who have been born again, who have a genuine profession of faith, and those for whom He shed His blood.





In closing, I simply request the reader to ask themselves, who has been consistent in their approach? Who has applied a consistent hermeneutic? Who is really being covenantally consistent. Ask, who has stuck with the biblical language and who imports theological jargon that cannot be found in the bible (covenant of grace, 1 covenant 2 administrations, visible/invisible church, ect.).



Lastly, I ask the reader to examine the book of Hebrews, particularly chapters 7-10 and ask yourself if the author, while quoting Jeremiah 31 TWICE, is really telling us that the NC established at the cross does not ALREADY fulfill the “they will all know me?” Does the author of Hebrews quote, as his contemporary apologetic, Jeremiah 31, when it actually had no contemporary relevance because those promises must wait at least 2,000 years before fulfillment?



Us baptist do not deny that there are aspects of the NC promises that await the future (resurrection, inheriting the new earth, ect.) but a regenerate church is not one of them.



May the Lord Jesus Christ be glorified though His effectual NC that actually saves those for whom He is the covenant Head!


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