Monday, April 19, 2004

Covenant Kiddos

Prepping a bit for what might be my sermon next week. And in any case, scratching a mental itch I've had for awhile. In case you hadn't heard (and if you haven't . . . go back to the rock you've been under, you don't want to know), some quasi-Reformed folk have been stirring up a hornet's nest about the Covenant, the nature of it, and who is/isn't in it. Incidentally, I think too many of my Baptist friends lump the historic Presbyterian understanding of the Covenant and the place of children in with those who are promoting the "Federal Vision."

Now, there's been a lot written about the Covenant in response to the F.V.--which I really, really appreciate--but it's kind of draining to read everything about the Covenant and it's Sign & Seal (i.e., baptism) in light of the controversy.

So it was a real breath of fresh air tonight to read over Fisher's Catechism, Shaw's Commentary on the WCF, and some other things and find: 1. No reference to this present controversy. 2. Clear refutations of some of the errors of the controversy by orthodox paedobaptists.

For example:
Q. 36. Does baptism make or constitute persons church members?
A. No; they are supposed to be church-members before they are baptised, and if they are children of professing parents, they are born members of the visible church, 1 Cor. 7:14.

Q. 37. Why must they be church-members before they are baptised?
A. Because the seals of the covenant can never be applied to any, but such as are supposed to be in the covenant; nor can the privileges of the church be confirmed to any that are without the church.

Q. 38. Why then do our Confession, and Larger Catechism, say that "the parties baptised are solemnly admitted into the visible church?"
A. Because there is a vast difference between making a person a church-member, who was none before; and the solemnity of the admission of one, who is already a member. All that our Confession and Catechism affirm, is, that, by baptism, we are SOLEMNLY admitted into the visible church; that is, by baptism we are publicly declared to be church-members before, and thus have our membership solemnly sealed to us: "For by one Spirit we are all baptised into one body," 1 Cor. 12:13. (Fisher's Catechism What is baptism?)