Monday, May 21, 2007

Douglas Wilson: I may be becoming a fan

Though people I like and respect tend to like and respect Douglas Wilson, I have not particularly done either.

Almost like forcing myself to try to read Jonathan Edwards because of his reputation, I've kept Wilson's blog on my list of favorites — but I've seldom read one through. I just don't get him. The one time he linked to one of my own posts, I didn't even get what his point was.

I've generally assumed that this was my problem.

Well, maybe it was, and maybe I'm coming 'round. Because (thanks, I think, to Frank) I made myself read his debate (at "Christianity" "Today," of all places) with Christopher Hitchens. Goodness, but it's simply deft and brilliant. (Go HERE to start; it has links to the other three parts.)

Hitchens, who is a very articulate and intelligent burbling fool, is an atheist who (like virtually all atheists) insists on groundlessly labeling things and people "evil" and "good." He asserted his position recently in a book. He prides himself, it seems, on being offensive in his attacks on people who are well-regarded by others, and/or recently deceased.

As you will see, Wilson simply shreds Hitchens' position. He leaves Hitchens with nothing except his very emotional and baseless assertions, which Hitchens keeps repeating as if repetition = proof. Wilson does this so well and so skillfully that, like a razor-blade's cut, I'm not even sure that Hitchens even now suspects the real depth and extent of the damage Wilson has done. But Wilson has laid Hitchen's position waste, and left only smoking ruins.

The challenge for Wilson and all presuppositionists. I'm told that Wilson is a presuppositionist. So far, he is true to that mold: they are without peer in demolishing their opponents' cases. Where I've never seen them strong is in establishing their own position. Van Til was always very critical of evidentialists because the latter do not leave unbelievers "without excuse." Yet I never read van Til himself making a positive case that had this effect. His "Why I Believe In God" was, I thought, very disappointing.

Similarly, in Bahnsen's debate with atheist Gordon Stein (get it and a lot more HERE), I thought the same pattern played out — or I misheard. I thought by the end of the debate, there was a blackened crater where Stein's assertions used to be. But Bahnsen did not establish his position.

So will Wilson do what he has shown that Hitchens cannot do? Or will he do as most presuppositionists seem to do: pulverize the opposing position, maybe make some Gospel assertions, but not provide what they demand from the other?

(As a reformed presuppositionist, I've tried to do what I challenge presupp's to do HERE. I've invited presupposionist interaction with that essay again and again, but never received any.)

20 comments:

D.R. Brooker said...

Count me among the minority when it comes to giving applause to Wilson, but for a different reason. I'm not sure I quite understand why he is lauded. Why? Read my recent post here.

DJP said...

Normally, it's considered poor form to come on a blog just to say "read this on my blog." But your quotations are troubling, at best. In fact, they're repulsive and disgusting. They're like every credobaptist's nightmare come true, when he hears a pedo saying "So, this act marks this little baby as a member of the New Covenant community."

I wonder what Frank would say about your quotations?

Now, if all Wilson were saying were that baptism/church membership made someone a Christian in the sociological sense, he'd have a point. But it sounds as if he's saying much more, and what he's saying makes utter nonsense of John 1:12-13, as well as a host of other verses and the whole point of NT spirituality.

So, to my post: even if Wilson got around to establishing a positive case with Hitchens, what would it be? Was Hitchens "haptized" into the Church of England as a baby? Then I guess he'd be telling him he's already a Christian? Yikes; it'd be better to say nothing.

D.R. Brooker said...

Dan....I have never posted on another blog before saying, "Read my post here" as I'm not looking for traffic. I just thought it relevant since I posted it in the last week, and not something out of my archives. I didn't want to post the whole thing as a comment. Accept my apology nonetheless.

I really wish people would read Wilson's Reformed is Not Enough. His portions on our "covenant faithfulness" are quite troubling to say the least. The quotes I listed really are just the tip of the iceberg. We can talk about defending the gospel all we want, but if we're not willing to rebuke those who teach things contrary to it, even our friends, then what's the point?

DJP said...

Thanks, no need to apologize, my point was that yours was an exception worth making.

I would agree that Reformed is not enough, but his solution as you represent it is a step back and Romeward, not forward and Bibleward.

Scribe said...

I am glad Wilson is taking on Hitchens, and he is the right man for the job (as Hitchens is a bilious sort of creature). But I find Wilson himself to be a very dangerous, albeit clever thinker. He constantly pleads being misunderstood as he dismantles the Reformed view of justification and advocates paedocommunion, etc. He doth protest too much. "Reformed Catholicism" is an oxymoron.

Enjoy your blog, by the way...

Kaffinator said...

Hi Dan,

I've been following the Hitchens/Wilson "debate" as well (Wilson's chapter-by-chapter reviews of Hitchens God Is Not Great are just as good). As for his presup approach, I hope you'll note that Wilson has consistently cast his position as the one that is at least capable of making rational value judgments, and that for this reason, Christianity is indeed "good for the world". Wilson's argument is that his position is more epistemologically pragmatic, an argument not unlike your own in Why I Am (Still) a Christian.

In my opinion, this is as good a tack as any when dialoguing with an avowed atheist, because it appeals to reason, your only common ground. And it leaves the reader with much more than scorched earth. It leaves him with a clear choice: which author is able to make any sense out of the question?

On Brother Brooker's pull quotes, I can only hope for caution before deciding a full condemnation of Wilson is in order. The apostle himself often applies the language of belief and non-belief to the very same group of people ("to the churches…you are so quickly deserting Him", Gal 1:2 and 6 to name just one example). Perhaps Wilson is doing something similar. I'm not familiar with Federal Vision but I'm willing to extend Wilson the charity of a full hearing, and I hope you are too.

CraigS said...

I quite like Wilson, and I have no objection paedocommunion whatsoever - it seems perfectly consistent with paedobaptism.

Regarding the "troubling" quotes, we need to first understand what Wilson means by Christian.

I'd want to see the full context, but I suspect Wilson is using "Christian" as a label for the full covenant community. However, Reformed theology has always taught that the elect are a subset of the covenant community.

So you have young Billy Smith, baptised, communing, brought up in the church, going to church every Sunday - yet during the week he is a drug dealer and sleeps with prostitutes. You can't deny that he is a part of the covenant community - but the evidence suggests that he is not saved.

It's very similar to what happened in the Old Testament. Everyone who was circumcised was a Jew - but not all Jews were saved.

CraigS said...

Oh, and I thought Wilson p0wn3d Hitchens... ;-)

Do Not said...

I read the entire PDF of the Bahnsen/Stein debate and appreciated how Bahnsen consistently pushed Stein to define the origin of the "laws of reason and logic." I thought it was a great debate and as you say, Bahnsen just crushed Stein.

Too bad in that debate, the Gospel, was almost presented clearly. He had an opportunity when making an appeal to the audience as they went home to consider the theistic or atheistic worldviews. I think stating his position as rooted from the bible (which he did) along with why God has revealed his character in the bible and ultimately point the hearer to Christ would have been what would have made that debate "great" in my mind.

centuri0n said...

Just to keep you from wondering very long, Dan, I think Mr. Brooker quotes the idiosyncratic parts of Pastor Wilson without actually understanding Doug's points.

Let me give a short review of the first couple-4 quotes on the page he links:

I want to begin by saying that when we first start talking about the objectivity of the covenant and it starts to sink in what we are saying. You mean that you are saying that lesbian Eskimo bishop lady is a Christian? She is not a Buddhist, she is not a Muslim, yes, in the New Testament sense, she is a New Testament Christian.

There are two important things to keep in mind when Wilson speaks like this:

[1] What Wilson here means by "Christian" is that, if she is baptized, she is inside the church -- the gate to the church is Baptism. Even we Baptists believe this -- but the problem is that we believe that baptism is for believers only. All who come through the gate are in, but only those who believe should come through the gate.

See: we (rightly) theologize that baptism is what we use externally to demonstrate what God has already done internally. The question for us is not if this person was baptized but rightly baptized. We'd say she wasn't, and if she came to faith and repented of her sins, she could get a proper baptism.

For DW, because he is a paedobaptist, if this woman's parents were in the church, she also has a stake in the church. That's classic presbyterian baptism theology. The question, really, is if classic presbyterian baptism theology implies that baptism is useful for anything apart from faith -- and I think (if we read the WCF a couple of times) the answer is "yes and no". In many senses, baptism is waiting on faith and is given to infants affirming God's promise to be faithful.

But does that baptism make one a full member of the church? I think that's a fair debate in presbyterian circles.

[2] There is also the question of what we mean by "Christian". Does Wilson here mean, "someone whose name is written in the lamb's book of life"? The answer is "no": he means "member of the church, added by baptism".

This is one of the most complicated aspects of his theology, and most people don't get it. On the one hand, Christ established the New Covenant in his own blood, amen? Nobody would call that a heresy, so the New Covenant is established.

In Baptist circles, the only and true result of the New Covenant is salvation -- eternal life, culminating in the resurrection and a bodily reunion with Christ. When we talk about the New Covenant, we are talking about the eternal implications of the Cross. In that, when we say "Christians" in this sense, we mean "those who get the eternal benefit of the New Covenant".

But for DW, and his FV cohorts, the New Covenant is not that singularly-eternal -- because another obvious side effect of the NC is the church. That is, because Christ didn't come just to save Israel but all people, and Gentiles can now be grafted in in an objective or visible way, a real-time effect of the NC is the church.

So when an FVer says "Christian", he can mean the large group who are visibly in the church today (which includes some people who will not be saved in the final account), or the larger group of those who will be saved when the final trumpet sounds, from all people at all times.

I think it's pretty obvious that DW places our lesbian bishop inside the visible church, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find where he says she is going to spend eternity with Christ if she stays in her sins.

“A Christian…is anyone who has been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by an authorized representative of the Christian church.”

Our friend Mr. Brooker adds:
This is no different than the teaching of Rome. Wilson believes that baptism makes one a Christian.

And on the one hand, I'd add that Rome also teaches about a Triune God (at least it did when I went to bed last night; who can tell what they've cooked up this morning), so let's not simply assume that if Rome teaches something it must be false.

But on the other hand, what Mr. Brooker has done here is over-reached and misrepresented both Rome and Doug Wilson.

From the standpoint of Rome, baptism saves in an temporary sense by washing away the effects of original sin -- and in that, it adds one to the church. This matter of baptismal regeneration is a grave one, and it points to other errors in the Roman system.

But, as I noted above, even we Baptists consider baptism as the gateway to the church. No one is a member of our churches who is not baptized, and to be honest, some are baptized who are members in name only. So taking offense at the idea that baptism = "initiation to the church" is, at best, short-term thinking.

But the misrepresentation of DW's comes here: saying that his theology of baptism "is the same" as Rome overlooks the fact that his statement is a popularized version of what the WCF says on this subject.

For those of you who don't know where it is or what it is, here is the WCF side by side with the LBCF so you can check my work.

Anyone who has read the confessions and understands them has to recognize that baptism, as a "sign and seal", places one inside the bounds of the church. Whether that has any eternal consequence, or what that might be, is entirely another matter.

“The Bible says that baptism saves. Why do we not use this language? It is because our systematic language has replaced scriptural language. And although I hold to sola fide as the right scriptural interpretation, I have to do so recognizing that the only time the Bible uses the phrase “faith alone,” it does so in order to deny it….(James 2:24).”

Of course, this must be Romish sacramentalism, right? yeah, the problem is that Wilson is right, and if the rest of his book -- or even the rest of this section -- were included here, we'd see that he doesn't mean "saved to eternal life" but "saved to the New Covenant".

And again, our Baptist theology kicks in and wants to holler "heresy", but that statement has to be contexted into the idea that the NC has both temporal/temporary effects and eternal/redemptive effects. One can be baptized into the New Covenant but never be saved to eternal life.

Let's face it: as baptists, we hate that idea. But to be honest people, we know factually that this is true even in our own churches. In our view, we have to trust God to do what He says he's going to do, and in the paedo/FV view, it's more of the same -- only rather than rely on our inability to really know if someone's confession is sound, the FVer relies on God's promise to save.

Yes: I think they take it too far. I'm a credo-, not a paedo-. But in order to refute or respond to the mistake, we have to properly identify the mistake -- and it's not the mistake that baptism = regeneration.

Last DW quote for today:

If someone has been a Christian his whole life, but then comes into the new life that Christ presented to Nicodemus, we can say that he has become a Christian inwardly…And if we know what we are saying, and we qualify it as Paul did, we might even say that he has become a Christian.

Yep. Listen -- we have to relinquish our baptist stranglehold on words for 5 seconds to understand what DW is saying here. What he is not saying is that someone is saved and then saved again in the eternal sense. What he is saying is that a person can live his whole life inside the boundaries of the church, and then suddenly have the Holy Spirit quicken his heart and come to Jesus as Lord and Christ -- making him no longer just a dead man in a pew but a man like Lazarus who comes forward, now born again in the John 3 sense.

What Mr. Brooker doesn't like is the fact that Doug uses the word "Christian" in more than one way. I admit it: I don't like it much either because it lends itself to being misunderstood. But is his usage really so different than, for example, the way James Dobson uses the word? When Dobson calls our nation a "Christian nation", does he mean we are a nation of saved people -- or does he mean we are a nation founded by churchmen with church-based principles, and even today we are, by and large, a nation full of church-going people?

What gets exposed here rather quickly is Baptist tunnel vision. We can reject the paedo/presbyterian theology of baptism only if we rightly understand it, and we have to chase a guy like Doug Wilson down because it is possible he's more true to the WCF than his detractors. But it's completely shallow to gloss a few sentences and decide that, since it doesn't fit into baptist sunday school categories, it must be "Roman catholic".

That's prolly enough controversy for your blog in one day, Dan. :-)

tomgee said...

Wow, Cent, that comment is a tour de force! That's the clearest summary of this part of the FV I've ever read.

Well done!

centuri0n said...

Tomgee:

Understanding baptism is a hobby of mine. The last time this came up at DW's blog, I think I sent the paedos packing. However, that's just one skermish.

Moreover, I see this entire conflict as one in which [a] paedos are seeking the proper definition of the bounds of their theology, and [b] credos can then convince them of their errors once and for all. :-) Once the paedos get their story straight, they will see that baptism apart from faith is useless (and in some spiritual ways, dangerous), and then they will join us in covenantal joy by foresaking their mistaken errors in order to help us credos see our legalistic errors about wine and dancing.

Maybe not tis side of the resurrection, but a guy can hope ...

Rhology said...

Back to Wilson and whether he CAN do it, you might take a listen to Wilson's debate w/ Dan Barker. It's a great example of humor used in a debate and Wilson tied the hapless Barker in knots. It's probably one of the most entertaining debates I've ever listened to.

D.R. Brooker said...

Just to make one thing clear: Amongst confessional Presbyterians DW and his Auburn Avenue cohorts are vastly in the minority when it comes to their take on the covenant, and their re-defining of key words like salvation, justification, etc. This is NOT an issue that just comes to light through our "baptistic tunnel vision," but one rejected by a lot of Presby's still faithful to the WCF; with many more in the process of ruling on it. I think both Frank and I would agree that the credo position can far more easily address these issues biblically, but let's not forget that Wilson's position has, and is, being ruled on (against) by Presbyteries that certainly don't agree with Frank's take on it.

I think Mr. Brooker quotes the idiosyncratic parts of Pastor Wilson without actually understanding Doug's points.

I could have quoted just about anything from any page. I understand Wilson. I have read most of the official Presbyterian documents denouncing the FV as heresy and happen to agree with them. There are many voices being raised against the FV making exactly the same points, so unless you're going to allow Wilson to hide under his "nobody understands me" blanket, you're going to have to paint a lot more people than just me with the same brush. Please consider that people DO understand him and find what he teaches to be a grave error. I hope you realize that that IS a possibility.

[1] What Wilson here means by "Christian" is that, if she is baptized, she is inside the church -- the gate to the church is Baptism. Even we Baptists believe this -- but the problem is that we believe that baptism is for believers only. All who come through the gate are in, but only those who believe should come through the gate.

The Bible teaches that a Christian is one who is a regenerate follower of Jesus Christ. It does not teach that a Christian is a baptized member of the visible church and we shouldn't defend such a notion; just like we don't defend Dobson's notion of the US being a Christian nation.

See: we (rightly) theologize that baptism is what we use externally to demonstrate what God has already done internally. The question for us is not if this person was baptized but rightly baptized. We'd say she wasn't, and if she came to faith and repented of her sins, she could get a proper baptism.

Amen.

For DW, because he is a paedobaptist, if this woman's parents were in the church, she also has a stake in the church. That's classic presbyterian baptism theology.

Yes, but confessional presbyterianism does NOT consider this person a Christian. You see, Wilson needs to redefine this term in order to maintain his "objective covenant" and FV theology.

[2] There is also the question of what we mean by "Christian". Does Wilson here mean, "someone whose name is written in the lamb's book of life"? The answer is "no": he means "member of the church, added by baptism".

That is neither an historical presbyterian definition of the word, nor a baptist definition, and certainly not a biblical one. Why defend it?

But for DW, and his FV cohorts, the New Covenant is not that singularly-eternal -- because another obvious side effect of the NC is the church. That is, because Christ didn't come just to save Israel but all people, and Gentiles can now be grafted in in an objective or visible way, a real-time effect of the NC is the church.

I'm not sure if these are your words or your attribution to DW, but first off, Christ did not come to save all people, or else He failed miserably. He came to save the elect from every tongue, tribe, and nation. WE make the distinction of the 'visible' and 'invisible' church. In God's mind the true church IS our 'invisible church.' The lesbian Eskimo Bishop is not part of the church, even though she can point to her objective baptism. Wilson is dead wrong here and we need not mince words or gloss over the fact.

So when an FVer says "Christian", he can mean the large group who are visibly in the church today (which includes some people who will not be saved in the final account), or the larger group of those who will be saved when the final trumpet sounds, from all people at all times.

So? Is this biblical? No! We measure against scripture, not Wilson's paedo-paradigm. According to FV'ers then, there are currently many Christians in hell. "False Christians" to use a term he's used, but Christians in some sense. Do we really want to let this go unchallenged?

Our friend Mr. Brooker adds:
This is no different than the teaching of Rome. Wilson believes that baptism makes one a Christian.

And on the one hand, I'd add that Rome also teaches about a Triune God (at least it did when I went to bed last night; who can tell what they've cooked up this morning), so let's not simply assume that if Rome teaches something it must be false.


Even a broken clock is right twice a day. We agree, Rome isn't always wrong on every jot and tittle....just most. :-)

But on the other hand, what Mr. Brooker has done here is over-reached and misrepresented both Rome and Doug Wilson.

Huh? Rome teaches baptismal regeneration; they teach that baptism is necessary for salvation.

#980 - “It is through the sacrament of Penance that the baptized can be reconciled with God and with the Church: Penance has rightly been called by the holy Fathers ‘a laborious kind of baptism.’ This sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation for those who have fallen after Baptism, just as Baptism is necessary for salvation for those who have not yet been reborn.[Council Of Trent (1551): DS 1672; Cf. St. Gregory Of Nazianzus, Oratio 39,17: PG 36,356.]”

#1257 - “The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.[Cf. Jn 3:5 .] He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them.[Cf. Mt 28:19-20; cf. Council of Trent (1547) DS 1618; LG 14; AG 5.] Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.[Cf. Mk 16:16 .] The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are ‘reborn of water and the Spirit.’ God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.”

Read also #1213, #1256, #1263, #1265 from the Roman Catholic Catechism.

How is this any different than Wilson's comment: "The Bible says that baptism saves. Why do we not use this language?" Saves to what? Saves to membership in the visible church? If that's what Wilson is saying, it is just nonsense and should be pointed out as such. Salvation unto eternal life? That's what salvation is, and that's not what baptism does. Why not just call the statement for what it is. Paedo or Credo viewpoints aside, it is a statement that does violence to the gospel and the finished work of Christ.

But the misrepresentation of DW's comes here: saying that his theology of baptism "is the same" as Rome overlooks the fact that his statement is a popularized version of what the WCF says on this subject.

If you mean "admission into the visible church" then we have no beef. But neither confession comes close to intimating what Wilson implies by his "baptism saves" comment. As an aside, I was once an avid reader of Wilson but slowly noticed his drift in Credenda Agenda about a decade ago. I have many friends and relatives in Presby churches and this cancer is reaching them all in one form or another---and many are right to fight against it; not just slough it off as a new take on the covenant. I would love nothing more than for DW and the Auburn Avenue men (Schlissel, Barach, Wilkins) to turn from their heretical views of salvation and justification for the very reason Dan's post was made.

Of course, this must be Romish sacramentalism, right? yeah, the problem is that Wilson is right, and if the rest of his book -- or even the rest of this section -- were included here, we'd see that he doesn't mean "saved to eternal life" but "saved to the New Covenant".

I can't imagine why you would defend a statement as ludicrous as "saved to the New Covenant."

Yes: I think they take it too far. I'm a credo-, not a paedo-. But in order to refute or respond to the mistake, we have to properly identify the mistake -- and it's not the mistake that baptism = regeneration.

I didn't even begin to get into the laundry list of errors encompassed in the FV. It teaches that ultimately, our justification is based upon our "covenant faithfulness" which is a wholesale denial of justification by faith alone. It's almost the same error Shepherd was ousted from Westminister East for, with some new variables attached. Wilson redefines what a Christian is, what justification is, and what salvation is. If that is not enough evidence for us then any exhortations we may give to gospel faithfulness are mere platitudes.

What Mr. Brooker doesn't like is the fact that Doug uses the word "Christian" in more than one way. I admit it: I don't like it much either because it lends itself to being misunderstood.

It isn't biblical! That should be enough for us to reject his use of the word. None of us should "like" it.

and we have to chase a guy like Doug Wilson down because it is possible he's more true to the WCF than his detractors.

Now I've heard everything. That's a good one.

centuri0n said...

Dan:

see? You bring up baptism, and it goes 12 rounds right away.

Back with a reply in a little while.

centuri0n said...

Holy Dave Armstrong! This response is 10 pages!

| Just to make one thing clear:
| Amongst confessional
| Presbyterians DW and his Auburn
| Avenue cohorts are vastly in the
| minority when it comes to their
| take on the covenant, and their re-
| defining of key words like
| salvation, justification, etc.

There is no question that FV is a minority view today. That hardly means that the majority are on the money or completely in-step with the form and intention of the WCF.

Let me put this another way: while the SBC is a direct descendent of those men who wrote the LBCF, it is impossible – completely and utterly without merit – to say that the SBC conforms in the majority to historic Baptist theology. It is one stream of Baptist theology, but it's hardly confessionally-robust. I think it remains to be seen whether orthodoxy Presbyterianism today is any more or less WCF-compliant than FV is – of whether it is more consistent with the WCF than FV is.

Some of my Presbyterian friends will object to that, and I accept that my view may be flawed. However, I reject that the matter is completely transparent and about to be resolved by committee.

| This is
| NOT an issue that just comes to
| light through our "baptistic tunnel
| vision," but one rejected by a lot of
| Presby's still faithful to the WCF;

I agree.

| with many more in the process of
| ruling on it. I think both Frank and
| I would agree that the credo
| position can far more easily
| address these issues biblically, but
| let's not forget that Wilson's
| position has, and is, being ruled on
| (against) by Presbyteries that
| certainly don't agree with Frank's
| take on it.

I don't think that solves anything because of the kinds of rulings which have come forth. The most-authoritative have been the least-critical of the essential positions of FV. And the best thing to do it to take the WCF to the Scripture and to its source to discover what its intentions and meanings are or ought to be.

| [quote]
| I think Mr. Brooker quotes the
| idiosyncratic parts of Pastor
| Wilson without actually
| understanding Doug's points.
| [/quote]
|
| I could have quoted just about
| anything from any page. I
| understand Wilson. I have read
| most of the official Presbyterian
| documents denouncing the FV as
| heresy and happen to agree with
| them. There are many voices being
| raised against the FV making
| exactly the same points, so unless
| you're going to allow Wilson to
| hide under his "nobody
| understands me" blanket, you're
| going to have to paint a lot more
| people than just me with the same
| brush. Please consider that people
| DO understand him and find what
| he teaches to be a grave error. I
| hope you realize that that IS a
| possibility.

I think most people don't understand FV – and part of the fault lies in the popular rather than technical language Doug and the FVers tend to use. You know: I think calling the church "the New Covenant" is somewhat loose talk, and calling it the "New Covenant community" is only somewhat-less loose.

They do it not to confuse but to express the expansive nature of the New Covenant, which is how they extrapolate the version of baptism expounded in the WCF – the covenant faithfulness of God.

Many people consider what DW teaches to be "grave error". Most of them cannot enumerate what he teaches, so you have to weigh their criticisms against their ability to express what they are criticizing.

| [quote]
| [1] What Wilson here means by
| "Christian" is that, if she is
| baptized, she is inside the church -
| - the gate to the church is Baptism.
| Even we Baptists believe this -- but
| the problem is that we believe that
| baptism is for believers only. All
| who come through the gate are in,
| but only those who believe should
| come through the gate.
| [/quote]
|
| The Bible teaches that a Christian
| is one who is a regenerate follower
| of Jesus Christ. It does not teach
| that a Christian is a baptized
| member of the visible church and
| we shouldn't defend such a notion;
| just like we don't defend Dobson's
| notion of the US being a Christian
| nation.

I think the Bible teaches that all the people who are baptized are "added to the church" (Acts 2). As a Baptist, I think the precondition of baptism is "faith and repentance" (also Acts 2); the Presbyterian would say that Acts 2 also extends this to their children also. Whether, as Baptists, we accept that is irrelevant to whether that is a standard, common, WCF-compliant view of paedobaptism – because it is.

What the non-FV majority don't like are the consequences of seeing baptism this way – for example, paedocommunion, and calling groups like Roman Catholics "Christians". See: we baptistic types reject the idea that someone can be a "Christian" if his doctrine falsifies the Gospel. For example, to make the immaculate conception of Mary a mandatory belief adds to the Gospel and, in Galatians form, adding to the Gospel makes one anathema – out of the church.

We say that baptism doesn’t enter into it – these people are preaching a false Gospel, and they went out from us but they never where part of us. That sounds pretty good, I guess, but the FV say that it's not that simple because there are covenants involved, and not merely human covenants of cooperation but God's covenant which establishes the church.

And in that, baptism causes one to be entered into the covenant which constitutes the church. In the same way circumcision causes one to be in Abraham's covenant with God (Ishmael and Esau notwithstanding), baptism causes one to be in Christ's covenant with the church.

So far, so presbyterian. The question then becomes "how far can we take this covenantal view of things?" Isn’t the basis, for example, of the trials in the various presbyteries that DW and his companions are baptized into the church? Isn’t the authority of the presbytery over those inside the covenant? Why would they be after DW when someone like Christopher Hitchens is far more dangerous in terms of blasphemy – isn't that because Hitchens has disavowed his baptism and Wilson has not?

The matter of who is and is not "Christian" is a wholly-practical matter of theology. Simply waving a hand at it and saying, "well, the Bible never says ..." isn’t good enough – when, in fact, the Presbyterians do say that the Bible says that Baptism makes one a Christian.

And I think it's rather, um, lacking in self-awareness to say that we Baptists don't use the word "Christian" this way. We say 4-year-olds who are baptized are Christians. We say that our teenaged kids who, upon entering college, begin living like the world lives (and stay that way) are "Christian" in the hope that their baptism and confession didn’t mean nothing – that is, that they meant something. We use it this way – we just found it on other criteria which we say is more Biblical.

We may be right. We'll see.

[snip]
| [quote]
| For DW, because he is a
| paedobaptist, if this woman's
| parents were in the church, she
| also has a stake in the church.
| That's classic presbyterian baptism
| theology.
| [/quote]
|
| Yes, but confessional
| presbyterianism does NOT
| consider this person a Christian.
| You see, Wilson needs to redefine
| this term in order to maintain his
| "objective covenant" and FV
| theology.

I disagree. WCF 28.1 reads thus:

1. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life: which sacrament is, by Christ's own appointment, to be continued in his Church until the end of the world.

The italic part voids your case: baptism is for admission of the party into the visible church, and then other things, too.

Next.

| [quote]
| [2] There is also the question of
| what we mean by "Christian".
| Does Wilson here mean, "someone
| whose name is written in the
| lamb's book of life"? The answer is
| "no": he means "member of the
| church, added by baptism".
| [/quote]
|
| That is neither an historical
| presbyterian definition of the
| word, nor a baptist definition, and
| certainly not a biblical one. Why
| defend it?

Aha. Not a Baptist definition, either?

Quoth the LBCF, 29.1:

1. Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, to be unto the party baptized, a sign of his fellowship with him, in his death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into him; of remission of sins; and of giving up into God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.

The question is only to whom baptism ought to be given, with the dividing line being believers only (LBCF 29.2) for baptists.

| [quote]
| But for DW, and his FV cohorts,
| the New Covenant is not that
| singularly-eternal -- because
| another obvious side effect of the
| NC is the church. That is, because
| Christ didn't come just to save
| Israel but all people, and Gentiles
| can now be grafted in in an
| objective or visible way, a real-
| time effect of the NC is the church.
| [/quote]
|
| I'm not sure if these are your
| words or your attribution to DW,
| but first off, Christ did not come to
| save all people, ...

Pray, tell: which people (that is: race; the comparison is between the racially-limited Israel and the call sent out in every language at Pentecost to all people through the Gospel) was God not saving?

See: it is this kind of heresy-hunting which causes a lot of antagonism toward FV. The Gospel is not just to Israel, but to all people – every tribe, tongue and nation. It is for the Jew first, and also for the Greek. It is by which we may be all things to all people in order to share its riches with them.

There is no question that not all are saved – in spite of your concern that both DW and I are universalists. The question is if all ought to have the Good News delivered to them – and plainly, unless one is a Gospel-corrupting bigot who thinks some race or people is excluded from the Good News of Jesus Christ, all ought to have the Gospel presented and proclaimed to them.

| ... or else He failed
| miserably. He came to save the
| elect from every tongue, tribe, and
| nation.

No question, the elect are the ones who are saved. No question. The problem is that you want to make "election" (something no man can see) a method of incriminating the FV – when they are willing to concede "election" and use the tools of the church (particularly baptism) to send the call out as far and as clearly as possible.

Pray, tell: are all the people in your church elect? So have you abused the ordinance of baptism – or do you trust God that faithfulness in the ordinance creates the church He intends? The FV do no less – even if we would bicker with them over what those promises are.

BTW, John Piper had a fabulous rebuttal of familial covenantalism a couple of weeks ago when he preached on how the Gospel expands vs. how the Old Covenant expands. His view was that Gospel fruitfulness is more effective than procreative fruitfulness, and that those who are single can be more fruitful than those who are married relative to the New Covenant. Bracing Baptist preaching.

| WE make the distinction of
| the 'visible' and 'invisible' church.
| In God's mind the true church IS
| our 'invisible church.' The lesbian
| Eskimo Bishop is not part of the
| church, even though she can point
| to her objective baptism. Wilson is
| dead wrong here and we need not
| mince words or gloss over the fact.

This turns a completely and utterly blind eye to the matter of whether a visible church exists. It makes the local church irrelevant.

Let's assume your view of this woman for a second. Let's imagine that she started out as an IFBx missionary, but the wiles of the lesbian Eskimos got to her – and they made her a bishop for her concessions.

Was she never really a Baptist? Honestly now: can you say that with a strait face? You can quote John's letters all day to me, and you can disown her (as I think is almost right), but was she ever part of a local church? Does it matter?

If not, why have local churches at all?

| [quote]
| So when an FVer says "Christian",
| he can mean the large group who
| are visibly in the church today
| (which includes some people who
| will not be saved in the final
| account), or the larger group of
| those who will be saved when the
| final trumpet sounds, from all
| people at all times.
| [/quote]
|
| So? Is this biblical? No! We
| measure against scripture, not
| Wilson's paedo-paradigm.
| According to FV'ers then, there are
| currently many Christians in hell.
| "False Christians" to use a term
| he's used, but Christians in some
| sense. Do we really want to let this
| go unchallenged?

As Baptists, I think we have a better way of talking about this in some ways – and we also have theological and ecclesiological problems which Wilson's view exposes.

But I think there's no question: there are some people who have been in the church – the visible, people of God – who were not saved. They were "Christians" in the sense that they belonged to the church. The question – as you pointed out, above – is whether they were elect or not.

Those are two different sets of people, and I think – I think -- one is a subset of the other.

| [quote]
| Our friend Mr. Brooker adds:
| This is no different than the
| teaching of Rome. Wilson believes
| that baptism makes one a
| Christian.
|
| And on the one hand, I'd add that
| Rome also teaches about a Triune
| God (at least it did when I went to
| bed last night; who can tell what
| they've cooked up this morning),
| so let's not simply assume that if
| Rome teaches something it must be
| false.
| [/quote]
|
| Even a broken clock is right twice
| a day. We agree, Rome isn't
| always wrong on every jot and
| tittle....just most. :-)

That doesn’t address the objection I have provided to your mistake.

| [quote]
| But on the other hand, what Mr.
| Brooker has done here is over-
| reached and misrepresented both
| Rome and Doug Wilson.
| [/quote]
|
| Huh? Rome teaches baptismal
| regeneration; they teach that
| baptism is necessary for salvation.
|
[stipulate the CCC]
|
| How is this any different than
| Wilson's comment: "The Bible
| says that baptism saves. Why do
| we not use this language?" Saves
| to what? Saves to membership in
| the visible church?

That is exactly what he's saying.

| If that's what
| Wilson is saying, it is just
| nonsense and should be pointed
| out as such.

In what way is that nonsense? Saying it is nonsense certainly doesn’t cure the problem that your equation of this to RCC doctrine is, itself, unfounded. Wilson isn’t teaching baptismal regeneration; Rome is. The equation you established is out.

| Salvation unto eternal
| life? That's what salvation is, and
| that's not what baptism does. Why
| not just call the statement for what
| it is. Paedo or Credo viewpoints
| aside, it is a statement that does
| violence to the gospel and the
| finished work of Christ.

Wilson doesn’t cross that bridge, so you crossing it for him doesn’t really make him a wrongdoer, does it?

| [quote]
| But the misrepresentation of DW's
| comes here: saying that his
| theology of baptism "is the same"
| as Rome overlooks the fact that his
| statement is a popularized version
| of what the WCF says on this
| subject.
| [/quote]
|
| If you mean "admission into the
| visible church" then we have no
| beef. But neither confession comes
| close to intimating what Wilson
| implies by his "baptism saves"
| comment.

Aha. WCF28.1 again:

1. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life: which sacrament is, by Christ's own appointment, to be continued in his Church until the end of the world.

The WCF does, in fact, talk of baptism as a sign and seal of regeneration and of remission of sin. And since it's WCFers we're talking about here, I guess you've made a mistake.

| As an aside, I was once
| an avid reader of Wilson but
| slowly noticed his drift in
| Credenda Agenda about a decade
| ago. I have many friends and
| relatives in Presby churches and
| this cancer is reaching them all in
| one form or another---and many
| are right to fight against it; not just
| slough it off as a new take on the
| covenant. I would love nothing
| more than for DW and the Auburn
| Avenue men (Schlissel, Barach,
| Wilkins) to turn from their
| heretical views of salvation and
| justification for the very reason
| Dan's post was made.

You should be careful about how you talk about this when you don't even really know what the WCF says, let alone how it ought to be interpreted.

| [quote]
| Of course, this must be Romish
| sacramentalism, right? yeah, the
| problem is that Wilson is right,
| and if the rest of his book -- or
| even the rest of this section -- were
| included here, we'd see that he
| doesn't mean "saved to eternal
| life" but "saved to the New
| Covenant".
| [/quote]
|
| I can't imagine why you would
| defend a statement as ludicrous as
| "saved to the New Covenant."

Because in order to oppose something, you have to understand what it means. When one simply goes "pheh!" and doesn’t listen to something which may be screwy, there's no way to refute the thing if it takes root.

I am hardly a defender of FV: I'm a pretty staunch Baptist, all told – and you can't be FV if you're Baptist. But what is completely useless is simply skimming a text for potentially-offensive language and proof-texting it to make the other guy's case into an oversimplified mess.

| [quote]
| Yes: I think they take it too far. I'm
| a credo-, not a paedo-. But in
| order to refute or respond to the
| mistake, we have to properly
| identify the mistake -- and it's not
| the mistake that baptism =
| regeneration.
| [/quote]
|
| I didn't even begin to get into the
| laundry list of errors encompassed
| in the FV. It teaches that
| ultimately, our justification is
| based upon our "covenant
| faithfulness" which is a wholesale
| denial of justification by faith
| alone.

What complete malarkey. Tell me: do you, as a Baptist, believe that people who are baptized but then – in a few weeks, or a few years – go back to drinkin' and smokin' and chasin' wimin' and die in a state of reprobation go to heaven?

If you don't believe that, then you yourself uphold a standard of holiness which runs directly parallel to the FV view of covenant faithfulness. The difference is that the FV use a theological category for their view and you don't.

| It's almost the same error
| Shepherd was ousted from
| Westminister East for, with some
| new variables attached. Wilson
| redefines what a Christian is, what
| justification is, and what salvation
| is. If that is not enough evidence
| for us then any exhortations we
| may give to gospel faithfulness are
| mere platitudes.

Norm Shepherd had a lot of other problems, too. Don't simplify that case, either.

| [quote]
| What Mr. Brooker doesn't like is
| the fact that Doug uses the word
| "Christian" in more than one way.
| I admit it: I don't like it much
| either because it lends itself to
| being misunderstood.
| [/quote]
|
| It isn't biblical! That should be
| enough for us to reject his use of
| the word. None of us should "like"
| it.

If it isn’t "biblical" we Baptists should be chasing all Presbyterians down for it – not just the FV.

| [quote]
| and we have to chase a guy like
| Doug Wilson down because it is
| possible he's more true to the WCF
| than his detractors.
| [/quote]
|
| Now I've heard everything. That's
| a good one.

I have many more – all from the WCF. The jokes will be funnier, however, if you read the WCF first.

DJP said...

You have fontificated DR's post into Ann Kiemel-style "poetry."

(And boy, anyone who knows what I'm talking about — are YOU old!)

centuri0n said...

I just can't find a better way to quote other people's text ... sheesh ...

DJP said...

Frank's favorite poem by Frank's favorite poet.

(c;

D.R. Brooker said...

I'll try and keep this as short as I can, responding to the main points of contention.

Many people consider what DW teaches to be "grave error". Most of them cannot enumerate what he teaches, so you have to weigh their criticisms against their ability to express what they are criticizing.

This is just untrue, or at best, an opinion based upon little knowledge of FV opponents. I think many of them do understand him perfectly and Wilson, as you said previously, hides behind imprecise language and loose definitions. "Nobody understand me" is the mantra of all the FV and NPP proponents. It gets old after awhile. The fact is, many do understand him and don't let him get away with it.

I think the Bible teaches that all the people who are baptized are "added to the church" (Acts 2). As a Baptist, I think the precondition of baptism is "faith and repentance" (also Acts 2); the Presbyterian would say that Acts 2 also extends this to their children also. Whether, as Baptists, we accept that is irrelevant to whether that is a standard, common, WCF-compliant view of paedobaptism – because it is.

If those in Acts 2 were those "that gladly received his word" were regenerate and baptized, then they were those who may be properly called "Christians." If they were "stony ground hearers" who "received the word with joy for a time," they may have been added to the visible church, but cannot properly be called Christians. Baptism is not the distinguishing mark of the word "Christian", and the WCF certainly doesn't teach that. They may receive covenant blessings, but that is all.

And in that, baptism causes one to be entered into the covenant which constitutes the church. In the same way circumcision causes one to be in Abraham's covenant with God (Ishmael and Esau notwithstanding), baptism causes one to be in Christ's covenant with the church.

There's no disagreement on this point. Baptism is given as a sign of the covenant to both believing and unbelieving. Only the former may be properly called "Christians." Again, baptism is not the distinguishing mark of a Christian, but rather, regeneration and faith are.

Why would they be after DW when someone like Christopher Hitchens is far more dangerous in terms of blasphemy – isn't that because Hitchens has disavowed his baptism and Wilson has not?

Hitchens is far less dangerous to the church. He is a blasphemer and denier of the faith, plain and simple. He will fool far less people. The other's subversion of the faith is far more subtle and cunning. When attacks come from within they are of much greater danger then those from without.

in fact, the Presbyterians do say that the Bible says that Baptism makes one a Christian.

Again, this is clearly incorrect. I'll answer your misunderstanding below.

And I think it's rather, um, lacking in self-awareness to say that we Baptists don't use the word "Christian" this way.

Perhaps in your SBC circles that may be the case. It certainly isn't in our Sovereign Grace churches or any other Reformed Baptist denomination I know of. But that's a whole other discussion.

We say 4-year-olds who are baptized are Christians.

We say this, not because of their baptism, but because of their "credible profession of faith" upon which they were baptized. It is not because of an external sign we call them "Christians", but rather, because of what we have ascertained as the inward reality.


| Yes, but confessional
| presbyterianism does NOT
| consider this person a Christian.
| You see, Wilson needs to redefine
| this term in order to maintain his
| "objective covenant" and FV
| theology.

I disagree. WCF 28.1 reads thus:

1. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life: which sacrament is, by Christ's own appointment, to be continued in his Church until the end of the world.

The italic part voids your case: baptism is for admission of the party into the visible church, and then other things, too.

Next.


Nice try. What is the point of this entire discussion? The meaning and use of the word "Christian." That is what my original linked post referred to. Being baptized into the "visible church" does not make one, or mean that one is, a regenerate follower of Christ. What 28.1 means above is that baptism is a sign that points to a reality; it is not the reality itself. We pass a sign on the road that says, "Toronto 50km." The sign points us to Toronto, the sign is not itself Toronto. Any other reading, including yours, leaves us with some form of baptismal regeneration.

Francis Beattie (1848-1906) in The Presbyterian Standards says this on the WCF:

"The Spirit's baptism first unites the person to Christ, and thereby makes him a member of the invisible church, while water baptism is the outward initiatory rite of admission into the visible church. The latter is what is chiefly under notice in this paragraph."

There is a clear distinction here that Wilson misses. The former makes one a Christian, the latter makes one a member in the covenant community; the two are NOT the same.

He goes on to say (note the last line):

"It is to be observed, also, that according to this view of baptism, it sustains a somewhat different relation to adults than it does to infants. In the first case, water baptism is simply their solemn admission into the visible church, upon their profession of faith in Christ. But in the second case the ground upon which the infant seed of believers are baptized is the covenant relation of their parents. On this ground the birthright privileges of the infant seed of believers, through the covenant relation of their parents, is recognized by their baptism, and it supplies the faith-ground for the administration of baptism to them. In both cases, therefore, water baptism may be regarded as the formal initiation into the visible church, just as the Spirit's baptism is the condition of admission into the invisible church."

Failing to make this distinction is, in my opinion, one of the biggest problems in Presbyterian circles. My brother is currently ordained and pastoring in the PCA and he says that this is one of the worst things to infect paedo churches: that many point to their baptism as their grounds for union with Christ and remain unconverted. They neither understand the scope of the sacrament nor the necessity of Spirit-wrought conversion. Wilson just helps to further muddy the waters.


| I'm not sure if these are your
| words or your attribution to DW,
| but first off, Christ did not come to
| save all people, ...

Pray, tell: which people (that is: race; the comparison is between the racially-limited Israel and the call sent out in every language at Pentecost to all people through the Gospel) was God not saving?


See: it is this kind of heresy-hunting which causes a lot of antagonism toward FV.

That's just plain juvenile. Which do you think is worse? "Heresy-hunting" or aiding and abetting the heretic as per 2 John? I won't accuse you of the latter so don't accuse me of the former.

There is no question that not all are saved – in spite of your concern that both DW and I are universalists. The question is if all ought to have the Good News delivered to them – and plainly, unless one is a Gospel-corrupting bigot who thinks some race or people is excluded from the Good News of Jesus Christ, all ought to have the Gospel presented and proclaimed to them.

What in the world are you talking about? We preach the gospel to all men indiscriminately in the hopes that God will draw His elect to Himself. No one is saying otherwise. We preach to all men, but we also know that all men will not be saved. That is all that is meant by the comment. For you to imply that comment means "we are not to preach to all men" is simply ridiculous.

The problem is that you want to make "election" (something no man can see) a method of incriminating the FV – when they are willing to concede "election" and use the tools of the church (particularly baptism) to send the call out as far and as clearly as possible.

Again, this does not follow from anything I have said. Here's Barach:

"At baptism, God promises that you're really one of His elect: I will be
your God and you will be my child. And God never hands out counterfeit
promises. If He made that promise sometimes but not all the time, then
you could *never* trust the promise. But God's Word is true and you
must trust Him. Doubting your election when God has promised it to you
is sin."

"But a promise is not a prediction. God never promises that you will be
saved regardless of whether you respond to Him in faith and love. His
promise always makes you responsible."

I mean honestly, baptism promises nothing of the sort. How is this a concession on election? It certainly seems they are errantly conflating baptism and election. And I won't even comment on the errors in the last paragraph.

Pray, tell: are all the people in your church elect? So have you abused the ordinance of baptism – or do you trust God that faithfulness in the ordinance creates the church He intends? The FV do no less – even if we would bicker with them over what those promises are.

It's not the abuse of the ordinance that is at issue. It is calling ALL who have received the sign of baptism "Christians", despite what may be damning evidence to the contrary, i.e. a lifestyle marked by unrepentant sin; eg. Wilson's lesbian Eskimo bishop or his defense of Roman Catholics as our brothers and sisters in Christ because of their baptism. Many/most presbyterians do not even recognize Roman baptism as true baptism, and rightly so.

Let's assume your view of this woman for a second. Let's imagine that she started out as an IFBx missionary, but the wiles of the lesbian Eskimos got to her – and they made her a bishop for her concessions.

Was she never really a Baptist? Honestly now: can you say that with a strait face? You can quote John's letters all day to me, and you can disown her (as I think is almost right), but was she ever part of a local church? Does it matter?


She may have been a Baptist but we have no evidence that she was ever a regenerate follower of Christ; a Christian. She was part of a local church sure. But she was never a part of the the body of Christ, His bride, His church. We are told that the wheat and tares will grow together. We are never told to call the tares "wheat," which is exactly what Wilson is advocating.


| How is this any different than
| Wilson's comment: "The Bible
| says that baptism saves. Why do
| we not use this language?" Saves
| to what? Saves to membership in
| the visible church?

That is exactly what he's saying.


That's the point: it's not what the scriptures teach salvation is! Salvation is not about covenant membership because some/many covenant members will go to hell. What kind of salvation is that?


| If that's what
| Wilson is saying, it is just
| nonsense and should be pointed
| out as such.

In what way is that nonsense? Saying it is nonsense certainly doesn’t cure the problem that your equation of this to RCC doctrine is, itself, unfounded. Wilson isn’t teaching baptismal regeneration; Rome is. The equation you established is out.


A timely post by a fellow "heresy-hunter" this morning may help you. Scott Clark posts here. But he probably doesn't know what he's talking about either.

You need to understand what the FV ultimately does to the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Perhaps then you'll see the danger in the FV. I didn't address that in my original link so I won't introduce that now.


| If you mean "admission into the
| visible church" then we have no
| beef. But neither confession comes
| close to intimating what Wilson
| implies by his "baptism saves"
| comment.

Aha. WCF28.1 again:

1. Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament, ordained by Jesus Christ, not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life: which sacrament is, by Christ's own appointment, to be continued in his Church until the end of the world.

The WCF does, in fact, talk of baptism as a sign and seal of regeneration and of remission of sin. And since it's WCFers we're talking about here, I guess you've made a mistake.


No, you don't understand what the WCF is saying. Baptism is a sign that points to a reality, it is not the reality! It is not teaching that "baptism saves". To say anything, or word it as you have just done, is to posit baptismal regeneration.

You should be careful about how you talk about this when you don't even really know what the WCF says, let alone how it ought to be interpreted.

Sorry, I haven't received by Marvel Commentary on the WCF yet.

What complete malarkey. Tell me: do you, as a Baptist, believe that people who are baptized but then – in a few weeks, or a few years – go back to drinkin' and smokin' and chasin' wimin' and die in a state of reprobation go to heaven?

No. And I don't call them Christians either, despite some ordinance they participated in falsely. That is the travesty in this whole thing: that those whose lives are marked by unrepentant sin are called Christians because they had a little water sprinkled on them. No wonder the world can't tell the difference between themselves and the church.

I have many more – all from the WCF. The jokes will be funnier, however, if you read the WCF first.

You have the address for Marvel?

Good day. The last word is yours.