devotional

29FEB
2016

LBCF 1689 Reflections (part 51)

Reflections on the Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689. 23 Aug 14 began a perhaps unbroken, orderly, and personal journey through my favorite written confession of faith. This will be my personal reflections on this beloved written codification of the Christian Faith which is according to a Baptist flavor.

 

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Chapter 4, paragraph 1b: “…for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom and goodness, to create or make the world, and all things therein, whether visible or invisible…”

 

As we saw last time, the Triune God made this world. The title “Creator” is an exultant title. God is the eternal Creator of all things. The wisdom displayed in his creation is beyond all human comprehension. I see what we make as humans. Technology is amazing to me. We are hard at work as humans to create, showing the image of our Creator in it all. I’m amazed at technology, but it’s literally nothing next to creation. After all, it is the mind (electronic meat) he made that makes human things.

 

The wisdom of God in creation is denied a lot today. Not just in the delusions of Darwinian mysticism, but even among the church. When we say that this world as it is is not his design, his plan A, we strip him of his wisdom in creation. One truth that therefore seems to have no place in the theology of many today is his intention to demonstrate his wrath in his creation. Romans 9:21-22 asks us: “has the potter no right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special use and another for ordinary use? But what if God, willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath prepared for destruction?” God made people and angels good, ordained the Fall of both, elected many (men) to salvation out of it, came to earth for a time to display himself to us, lived, died, rose, ascended and will come again to deliver everything to a glory that none (even Adam #1) have yet seen! He will judge the world. That’s called a Day of Wrath in the Bible. This is his plan A. It will be perfect in the end to a degree that even those in hell will attest to their hatred of his perfect judgment. We living idolaters don’t like to call this wisdom so we tinker with our tools to make another god we like more. One less wise perhaps, but more open to sin in his kindness.

 

Another point made here in this part of the confession leads to a more robust understanding of God’s perfect wisdom. It’s that God not only made all the visible stuff, but also all the invisible stuff. Speaking of Jesus, Paul writes in Colossians 1:16: “for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him.” The old Manichean heresy is the heretical “Christianesque” equivalent to a Buddhist’s yin-yang. It’s also rightly called “dualism” by many in history. It is the idea that God and the devil (and that part of the “invisible” stuff) are in any way equals. God created all things including his devil that he will one day bring to justice. His wisdom is to be seen and praised in this, as it is, in its perfection.

3 responses to “LBCF 1689 Reflections (part 51)”

  1. Adrian says:

    Reading LBC always gives me pause for thought. How can such doctrinally sound Christians hold to immersion of believers as a biblical ordinance? The purpose of Baptism was so clear to the Westminster Divines, and yet… Does this demonstrate that we all bring certain preconditions or proclivities to the text? Do we say the other side is wrong in their convictions, such difference is illuminating, or say, I could be wrong, though will not invest further time resolving that because I trust my prayerful consideration, with the text, and the teachers I’ve been blessed by? Which controversies should we avoid and how do we differentiate?

    • Joseph Pittano says:

      Immersion is what’s shown to us in the NC. Repentance and Faith are prerequisites to baptism, or the Lord’s Supper. The pedobaptist’s “why would anyone change” infant baptism’s practice argument from history, I believe, should submit to NC example and typology. The “game” or rules changed entirely in the NC regarding everything. Unless the NC expressly upholds something from the OC it’s my general hermeneutical rule to call it done as prescriptive in the NC in any way. This leads me to immersion. Credobaptism is ultimately founded and interpreted on what it’s to represent- spiritual union with Christ. Infant baptism (or circumcision in the OC) does not fully carry through on this spiritual symbolism. Our kids being clean by believing parents is not strong enough to carry it through either in my study. The stress placed on immersion is in its credo role. It follows in an ordo salutis in its orthopraxy best in my study of the Scriptures. Honestly, from a practical standpoint, I’d say you lose nothing in credobaptism, but that maybe, just maybe, you misrepresent union with Christ in pedobaptism and that as a general rule therefore we should leave acts of obedience to those who can profess them. We miss nothing. Again, that’s just pragmatics. We may still be wrong in baptizing professors, but it’s not in a way we could prevent as we would have qualified them in truth as much as any man can.

      Having said all that, I have no problem with infant baptism, really. I enjoy the debate! No sound system would teach that it saves or in any way procures mercy for an individual over God’s divine election. I think we all come to the text with preconceptions, yes, including the Westminster Divines, and the writers of anything else like the LBC(s)of F in 1644 or 1689. Let’s not avoid controversy. Let’s get after the text, make our positions plain in love, and realize that there’s adiaphora “by God’s design”, I say. Two examples to make a viable point here: 1) Luther taught consubstantiation or “the real presence” of the Lord at the table citing “hoc est corpus meum” with his dagger in the wood even at the Colloquy of Marburg. His refusal to compromise here ultimately prevented union between the Reformed and the Lutheran positions. I believe Zwingli had this best in the memorial view. Ex 2: Calvin and others had magistrates executing both tablets of the law in their day thus Calvinism, in all regards, cannot be practiced here in the U.S. in our form of government. My point: we are all products of our times, and that the advantage of history is seeing this. Scripture transcends us all, and must be held above all in every culture and time.

      I agree with John MacArthur that infant baptism is a symbol of an incomplete reformation. I’d like to offer you a link to an audio message that blessed me tremendously. You may have seen it already. It’s a debate between two esteemed brothers in our Faith. It’s John MacArthur and RC Sproul on baptism. “This” type of disagreement, between brothers, excites me to no end! I feel that MacArthur made his case here. I hope it’s a blessing to you, and welcome any comments anytime. http://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/baptism_debate/

    • Joseph Pittano says:

      The Westminster folks were clearly wrong on this. If we just stick with the New Covenant paradigms on this we’d be fine. We’d then no longer baptize infants as we’d offer them the Lord’s Table. We’d have the conviction that faith must precede all the works of a disciple as is fitting. The presence of tradition in much of Reformed thinking, precisely such as is seen in the works of infant baptism, shows indeed how powerful traditions can stick in there. We shouldn’t avoid the truth in any controversy in my opinion. As we find ourselves able, we should interact with all humility.

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