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Ehud said:
My only point is those who perished in the wilderness are at one point referred to as the people of Yahweh. That's my only point. And my question follows that if God can refer to all of Israel as "My people" even though all of Israel is not Israel, then why can't we call our "holy" baptized babies "Christians"?
You just ain't getting it, eh? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/rolleyes2.gif" alt="" /> God referred to the nation of Israel as the "people of God" as a conglomerate which was the VISIBLE CHURCH within which were both believers and unbelievers. But by doing so it does not follow that God considered the unbelievers to be His "people". Nor does it follow that the appellation "people of God" was applied specifically to the unbelievers among them. And lastly, in case you don't get it yet.. it's one thing to address a congregation within which the pastor knows there are believers as "beloved in the Lord" but it doesn't mean that he considers everyone in attendance to be true Christians. Again, this heretical idea of one being "in the covenant" somehow qualifies one to be called a Christian or to be presumed regenerate is nowhere to be found in God's inspired word.

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Ehud said:
I agree that Augustine has some problems with baptism. But the point is he allowed for children to be called Christians, and to your admission Calvin allowed for children to be members of the true church. Now the WSC doesn't have a question, "What is baptism for unbelieving babies?" All it asks is "What is Baptism?" It seems to me that if the WSC wanted to make such an important disticntion as you have made that it would have taken the time to address the difference in baptism of believers and baptism of infants.
On this point Augustine was dead wrong and Calvin erred. Neither had a biblical warrant for their respective views re: infants/children being regarded as "Christians". The question you raised about the WSC not including a section on baptizing unbelieving infants is irrelevant. Whether an infant of believing parents has faith or not is a mute issue because the faith of the recipient does not determine the efficacy or meaning of the sacrament. This is the error which Baptists have always laboured under unfortunately. What baptism means is propositionally true. The application of those truths depends upon the spiritual condition of the recipient. Thus where faith exists ALL of what baptism means is applicable. Where no faith is present, NONE of what baptism means is applicable at that time. However, if a child is eventually called of God by the Spirit, regenerated, given faith is therefore converted, then ALL that baptism signifies THEN applies. Receiving baptism is not to be understood as a cart blanche receiving of God's salvific grace. IF that were true then ALL who are baptized are of necessity heirs of eternal life in Christ Jesus. But we've been down that road already and you took a turn off right from the start.

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Ehud said:
How is this for context for the WSC?

Quote
Elect infants do ordinarily receive the Spirit in
baptism, as the first efficient principle of furture actual regenreation...It is most agreeable to the institution of Christ, that all elect infants that are baptized....do ordinarily receive, from Christ, the Spirit in baptism, for their first solemn initiation into Christ, and for their future actual renovation, in God's good time, if they live to years of discretion, and enjoy the other ordinary means of grace appointed of God to this end.
I don't see where this does anything for your argument. In fact, it serves my argument quite nicely. Again, notice the CONTEXT of whom he speaks..... "elect infants". He is speaking objectively and not subjectively of every infant who is baptized. ONLY "elect" infants are guaranteed future regeneration and are called to faith, aka: conversion "in God's good time". There is nothing here that warrants presuming the regeneration of ALL infants nor of any infant in particular. He is simply but clearly referring to a specific group of infants; i.e., those who are "elect". A similar truth is found in the WCF:X:III-IV which states:

Quote
III. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases:[13] so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.

IV. Others, not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men, not professing the Christian religion, be saved in any other way whatsoever, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the laws of that religion they do profess. And to assert and maintain that they may, is very pernicious, and to be detested.
In His grace,


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Pilgrim #35040 Tue Feb 06, 2007 2:16 AM
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Ehud Offline OP
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You just ain't getting it, eh? God referred to the nation of Israel as the "people of God" as a conglomerate which was the VISIBLE CHURCH within which were both believers and unbelievers. But by doing so it does not follow that God considered the unbelievers to be His "people".

Okay. Take this idea on home with John 15. Are those branches who are torn out, were they ever at one point abiding in the love of Christ?

Or maybe a better question is, how do you define "abiding in the love of Christ" in John 15?

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Again, notice the CONTEXT of whom he speaks..... "elect infants". He is speaking objectively and not subjectively of every infant who is baptized. ONLY "elect" infants are guaranteed future regeneration and are called to faith, aka: conversion "in God's good time".

I'll forego the fact that you didn't mention that Cornelius says elect infants recieve the Spirit at baptism.

So we have examples of in the scriptures of infants being saved and we have examples of covenant children in the scriptures being reprobate. Both examples are given. Some could end up in the hand of God and some could not.

Another important question is, "What criteria are you using to presume that children are not true members of the church?" Since you have examples of saved infants as well as examples of non-elect infants why do you choose to assume all infants are not true members as opposed to all infants being true members of the church.

I think you'll say because they can't show fruit. I'll be gracious and give you the first three years of life, but after that, come'on, the kids in our church are praying with their parents at home, they proclaim to love Jesus, under the discipline of their parents they are learning to obey God. Granted their understanding is small but who can say they have great understanding to the One who has laid the foundations of the world. Even Jesus says "UNLESS you become like one of these..."

I'm not arguing that unweaned infants take communion. Let's go with three years of age. At three years, they can be seen to be true members of the church and take communion... do we have an agreement? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/cheers2.gif" alt="" />?

Ehud #35041 Tue Feb 06, 2007 3:04 PM
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Ehud said:
Okay. Take this idea on home with John 15. Are those branches who are torn out, were they ever at one point abiding in the love of Christ?

Or maybe a better question is, how do you define "abiding in the love of Christ" in John 15?
The main emphasis of the allegory of the "Vine and Branches" is the distinction between two groups: 1) Those who bear fruit and who are actually abiding in Christ and 2) Those who do not bear fruit and who appeared to have been abiding in Christ. When one considers the historical occasion on which Jesus taught this allegory it becomes clear that at least in great part, Judas was to be an example to the disciples as one who fit in category #2 and the disciples were in category #1. This is even more clear when one considers chapter 13 and especially vvs. 10 and 11:

John 13:10-11 (ASV) Jesus saith to him, He that is bathed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew him that should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.


So, in regard to the two groups we have: 1) branches that bear fruit and are clean and 2) branches that bear no fruit and are not clean. Being "clean" is a definite reference to one who has been washed in the redeeming blood of Christ and therefore in reality and spiritually has been "in Christ". Those in the second group were only in close proximity to Christ outwardly, i.e., by appearances they were close to Christ. Their being "in the vine" does not necessarily mean that they were joined to Christ spiritually but in fact it was nothing more than an external relationship. Not all who are in the covenant are in the covenant. Not all those who were baptized into Moses were saved (1Cor 10:1-5). Another salient example can be found in John 8:30ff where many believed on Him but these same "believers" are those who claimed to have no need of Christ because they claimed to be "Abraham's seed", etc. What we see there are covenant members who outwardly even believed on Christ yet were rejected by Christ for their unbelief.

There are a number of other illustrations one would refer to in order to establish the fact that there are those who appear to be "in the vine (in Christ)" but who are not so, e.g., the parable of the Sower (Matt 13:3ff; Mk 4:3ff), those who were confessing members of various congregations (1Jh 2:19), et al.

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Ehud said:
So we have examples of in the scriptures of infants being saved and we have examples of covenant children in the scriptures being reprobate. Both examples are given. Some could end up in the hand of God and some could not.

Another important question is, "What criteria are you using to presume that children are not true members of the church?" Since you have examples of saved infants as well as examples of non-elect infants why do you choose to assume all infants are not true members as opposed to all infants being true members of the church.
I am aware of covenant children being saved, but that isn't the issue since we both agree that covenant children are in fact saved. The issue is whether or not one can presume that ALL infants of professing believers are saved, aka: presumptive regeneration either by virtue of their being born to believing parents and/or in baptism. There are only a few examples given of individuals who were apparently regenerate in the womb; David, Jeremiah? and John the Baptist. However, it is fallacious to assume these individuals to be paradigmatic and thus base a doctrine of universal fetal regeneration upon them. The overwhelming majority of covenant children within Israel perished in unbelief and therefore serve far better for one to presume the spiritual state of any and all infants including covenant children. If that were not enough, again there are the two texts which I have previously referred to and to which you have failed to make comment: Romans 3:9-18, 23 and Eph 2:1-5 to which can be added a plethora of texts which teach the inherent corruption of nature and alienation with God of the entire human race. So again, upon this massive repository of biblical evidence which consigns the entire human race to be under the just condemnation of God due to Original Sin; i.e., 1) imputed guilt and 2) inherited corruption of nature, one can only presume that infants/children are outside of Christ, enemies of God and are in dire need of regeneration and justification in Christ.

Being "in covenant" is NOT de facto salvation. Being "in the covenant" is NOT to be equated with being reconciled with God. Being a "member of the covenant" is not to be understood as a place where a person works out their salvation via alleged "good works" and if this is done consistently to the end they are then justified.

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Ehud said:
I think you'll say because they can't show fruit. I'll be gracious and give you the first three years of life, but after that, come'on, the kids in our church are praying with their parents at home, they proclaim to love Jesus, under the discipline of their parents they are learning to obey God. . . .
One may only hope that such perceived behaviour is genuine. But given that children will parrot adults and can be taught to emulate just about anything by those whom they respect, particularly their parents, such behaviour is hardly one to base a doctrine of paedo-communion. Secondly, even if such children of 3+ years of age were regenerate and possessed a saving faith in Christ this would still not meet the qualifications that one "examine themselves" and be able to "discern the body of Christ" before partaking of the Lord's Table. Being a believer is only part of the requirements to partake of the Table of the Lord. These other two requirements cannot be circumvented and to this date I have not read any reasonable arguments why they should be.

In His grace,


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